By Rio Michelle Parker
The nurse and mother of three from Carl Junction began running in junior high but had to put her hobby on hiatus when college and motherhood began demanding most of her time. After a 10-year break, she found it surprisingly easy to revisit her teenage pastime.
“When I hit my 30s, I knew I needed to do something for my physical and mental health. At that time, I was going to school to become a nurse practitioner, working full time and raising three kids. I needed something just for me, and running was something I was familiar with.”
It didn’t take long after once again lacing up her running shoes that the busy mom rekindled her love for pounding the pavement. Though some 50 million Americans (about 15 percent of the U.S. population) participate in some type of running or jogging according to a 2020 Sports & Fitness Industry Association, a leisurely stroll is not what she had in mind.
When her best friend decided to join her in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, she also convinced Adkins to run her first 5K. From that point on, she was completely hooked on the competitive side as well as the mental and physical benefits running provided. Within a year, she was training for her first half marathon.
“I did several half marathons, four full marathons, several 5Ks and some long-team relay runs called Ragnar Races. Those are 200-mile races all over the country that involved two vans with six people in each van running three legs each. These are intense, overnight runs to push your physical and mental limits.”
Ragnarians will run anywhere from 12 to 25 miles (or double that on an ultra team), divided into three sections. The exact mileage varies by race, with at least one leg of the race taking place late at night with only a headlamp and reflective signs to light your way. The Ragnar Relay Series is a series of long-distance running relays organized and orchestrated by Ragnar Events LLC, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, but take place at various geographic locations. It is the largest relay series in the United States. (For more information, go to www.runragnar.com.)
It’s that part of running – going to extremes – that appeals most to Adkins. Juggling the daily responsibilities of a full-time career and family is taxing and gratifying enough to most, but not this marathoner. Her ambitions lie well beyond her own small part of the world, reaching into every aspect of her life, including her job in healthcare. Her own experiences with running make her highly qualified to pass along information and tips to certain patients seeking similar results.
“What I love about running as an adult is pushing myself into uncomfortable places to see what my body can do.
“I am constantly advocating to my patients about eating right and exercising, and I want to set a good example for them. My patients motivate me to want to be the healthiest version of myself, and I want that for them, as well. Running is something nearly everyone can do, and it only requires a pair of tennis shoes.”