Mizuno’s Inspiration of the Month is athlete Jamie Watts. After completing over 100 road races, including 3 half marathons, 3 ten-milers and countless 5 & 10Ks, Jamie has decided she wants to attempt the next running milestone: her first marathon. She will attempt the New Jersey Marathon on April 29, 2018 with a start time of 10:00 p.m. on April 28, 2018.
What makes Jamie’s story unique is that she lives with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, as a result of premature birth. Born 7.5 weeks early, Jamie’s legs are most impacted. Cerebral palsy is one of the most diverse disabilities and can vary widely from person to person depending on individual circumstances. Hallmarks of cerebral palsy can include: variations in muscle tone, stiff muscles with exaggerated or normal reflexes; lack of muscle coordination; delays in reaching motor skill milestones; favoring one side of the body; difficulty walking, including an asymmetrical gait; or difficulties with precise motions.
The idea to attempt the New Jersey Marathon came about following an awards ceremony honoring Pacers Running and Senior Race Director Lisa Reeves, where the company was given the 2017 Disability Awareness Award by the Alexandria Commission on Persons with Disabilities and the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce. This award goes to a company that has made a commitment to promote positive awareness among employees regarding the needs of customers with disabilities or otherwise makes special efforts to render its goods or services accessible to persons with disabilities.
Jamie had previously discounted the idea of completing a marathon, not based on an inability to train, but concern over logistics for the long period of time required to finish, as well as all associated permitting. Jamie is an extremely determined athlete with the mental toughness to attempt what estimates to be between a 15 and 16-hour run. Jamie has become a fixture in the Washington, DC running community over the last 5 years, and as a result of her active involvement, she has also become an ambassador for the accessibility of the sport for anyone with the desire to try running and invest in themselves and their training.
Jamie attributes running to helping her become the best and most confident version of herself, recognizing that she may not know exactly how she is going to accomplish a goal, but that she has the tools and the drive to make things happen.
Outside of running, Jamie has worked in the disability and diversity and inclusion community for over 15 years. While she does not attempt or assume to speak for all people with disabilities because she recognizes that everyone has a unique and powerful story to share, Jamie is a firm believer that if her running changes the way even one person thinks about or interacts with a person with a disability, that is a fantastic and beneficial outcome. She hopes her story encourages others, with and without disabilities, to attempt things they previously thought were impossible, and that demonstrates the power of being oneself.
Jamie surrounds herself with a diverse team of treasured friends, without whom none of this would be possible. When she crosses the finish line, she will consider the achievement a group accomplishment based on the unique skills each person brings to the effort.
While Jamie has trained on her own for several years, she is very serious about each of the necessary requirements to put her in the best shape possible to attempt a goal in a different class than anything else she has previously attempted in running. As a result, she is thrilled to partner with Pacers Running and Fitness Together for her training plan, conditioning and cross training, and Mighty Meals on her nutrition.
You can follow Jamie’s journey on her social media platforms, including: