HOULKA – For Kathy Haynes, exercise and fitness is not new, but it took a little nudging to get her back into the groove.
Haynes, now 53, played basketball at Houlka High School, participated in long distance biking during adulthood and had competed in triathalons previously, but life changes put her exercise regimen on the back burner for several years. When she and husband, Greg, married in 1997, the changes started.
“I went from being a single mother with one child to being married with three children,” Haynes said. “Then we built a house with all that goes into that. I guess I wanted to show him I could cook because I gained 98 pounds and he gained 93. I tell people we gained a large person.”
Her concern for her husband’s health really got things turned around again.
“We were all worried about his health and weight,” Haynes said. “He had bariatric surgery in Nov. 2011. That was my cue (to change the family menu) and at that point I started back exercising.”
She admits some of her motivation was based on personal motives.
“I never wanted to weigh more than my husband,” Haynes laughed. “When he first had the surgery, weight was just falling off him. I knew I had to get on the ball.”
She started out using a Nordic Trac and stationary bike. Her nephew, Matt Winter, participated in a triathalon in Columbus and encouraged her to get back into the sport and she heard of the King of the Hill event in Tupelo through colleagues at work.
“I didn’t even know this was in Tupelo and it’s the eighth year,” Haynes said. “I did a couple of triathalons but that was a long time ago. I’m 53 now and I thought, ‘I can’t do that anymore.’ Then I thought, ‘Well, I wonder if I could.’”
First she had to get back in action so she started walking and running again. She participated in the Resurrection Run 5K in Tupelo with a goal of finishing under 45 minutes.
She made it across the finish line in 39.
“I thought, ‘Ok, I can do a 5K,’” Hayes said.
Then she got a new bike and hit the road for serious training.
“I had already signed up for the triathalon and paid the registration fee,” Haynes said.
All her efforts paid off June 29 as she completed a half-mile swim, 20-mile bike ride and 3.2-mile run in the King of the Hill event at Tombigbee State Park.
“I wanted to finish the bike in under an hour-and-a-half,” Haynes said. “I did it in an hour and twenty-five minutes. I wanted to get out of the water in less than a half-hour and I did it in 25-minutes.”
She didn’t set a goal for completing the run.
“Heck, no,” Haynes said. “I figured if I got that far I could finish.”
But her overall goal was to complete the event in three hours and she made it in 2:49:30.
The family and friends who cheered her on led to another personal victory.
“I wanted my grandchildren to be there,” Haynes said. “To see me at 53 and know I could do that. My grandson Tripp is 11 and after we got home he was on the phone telling his friends what I had done. He said he’s going to do one for kids next year. When I heard him on the phone, I knew that’s it right there. That made it all worthwhile.”