Jamie Watts of Arlington, VA, grew up in a home where you didn’t give up. She was raised to set goals and then smash them.”I was never raised in a way where giving up is a choice,” she explains.
Still, when she set out to run her first 5K, she didn’t tell anyone. She quietly started training in her apartment building’s gym, signed up for the race, took the bus to Quantico, and sneakered up. The starting gun went off, and Jamie says, soon after she realized she was in trouble. She fell behind.quickly.
She heard a person with a radio, “We have a runner down.” Jamie shares, “When you know that’s you, immediately that’s not the best thing that you want to hear.”
Jamie finished that race. She says she’ll never forget the feeling of accomplishment after crossing the finish line, even though she crossed it an hour or more after the rest of the runners.
Jamie was born with cerebral palsy. It affects her legs most.She walks with a cane. And runs with one too.
“Obviously, you realize that you’re different. But, I was never treated that way in my house,” she said.
After that race, Jamie was hooked. She heard about a person who set a goal of running a certain number of races before their next birthday. After she turned 33, she decided she’d run 34 races before her 34th birthday.
Lisa Reeves of Pacers Running learned of Jamie’s quest and made accommodations to allow her to start races earlier so she could feel what it’s like to finish when people were still around to cheer. There was the race it rained so hard, Jamie had to wear a trash bag over her running gear. And the Monster Glow Dash race was a tough one too.
“Total darkness, tree roots everywhere,” Jamie explains. “So like every third stride I’m falling down.”
With Jamie’s birthday approaching, the only race left was the Parkway Classic. It’s a 10-miler. Friends were worried because she’d never ran that far before.
“I said, ‘You know what? I’ve done the first six, it’s going to be my friends who get me through the last four,’” she said.
And it was. Jamie’s close friend Katie flew in to surprise her at the end. Since then she’s run a total of 90 races.
Jamie said the only limits you have are the ones you put on yourself, “No goal that you set is too big.”