Run the State Series kick off sets new attendance recordposted by Brent Brown on May 2, 2018
Employees run, walk for health, fun at Indiana Dunes
A late spring chill did little to keep a smiling group of state employees, their families and pets from enjoying the kickoff of this year’s Run the State 5K and Hike Series.
In all, 230 participants were joined by more than a few four-legged friends for a 3.3 mile jog (or leisurely stroll) at Indiana Dunes State Park Saturday, April 28.
And though temperatures at the start of the run/walk barely passed for April weather, the large group didn’t appear to mind in the slightest. Hats, coats and gloves helped the participants brave the blustery morning in Chesterton, which ended up setting a new attendance record for the park’s event in spite of the cold. Work for Indiana again partnered with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Go365 to bring the 5K to Porter County.
Some of this year’s group were grizzled veterans of the paved, stroller-friendly course, having tackled the path in either of the two previous runs. Others were new to the picturesque park, which features three miles of beach and sits on beautiful
In much the way that each grain of sand on the beach is unlike any other, it seemed that each participant had a unique story to tell.
Michelle Traughber and her 11-year-old daughter, Payton Wilson, were certainly among that group. Traughber, 48, was the first woman to cross the finish line and Payton, a fifth-grader, followed a short time later.
A 25-year veteran of the Indiana State Excise Police, Traughber said she set a “personal goal” that she would participate in one 5K or similar event per month this year. Sadly, Michelle’s goal sprang from a pair of tragedies. Two of her brothers suffered heart attacks, one of which was fatal to her 56-year-old sibling. Not long after her brother’s death, Traughber made a vow she’s successfully adhered to in 2018.
It helps that the South Bend resident can lean on a little athletic experience.
Traughber was a runner in her high school days, and she attributes that to helping her maintain the endurance necessary to finish long runs today.
The rest just comes down to heart – the desire to finish what she started.
After taking a few minutes to rest, Michelle and her daughter spent time at the park where games and refreshments provided part of the morning’s fun for the many who stuck around after crossing the finish line.
The mother-daughter running team competed against each other in a stacking game similar to Jenga.
“What happens if you run out of moves?” Michelle asked Payton as the structure continued to grow in height. The 11-year-old delicately pulled another piece and placed it atop the increasingly unsteady pile.
“You’re going to lose,” she said to her mom, laughing.
Moments later, the blocks finally collapsed as Michelle unsuccessfully attempted to add a piece.
“I win,” Payton declared, dancing victoriously.
Others played life-size checkers, corn toss or a game similar to Connect 4. Some chatted with one another and listened to music or warmed up with coffee and snacks.
After finishing the course, many participants took “selfies” they could submit to receive 250 Points in Go365.
Health was a major focus for some runners, though few are likely to have as inspiring a story to share as that of Monique Jordan.
Jordan, a State Eligibility Consultant for the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) in Lake County, ran her first 5K in late April 2017. One year later, she celebrated her 34th birthday having lost 76 pounds. Monique said she exercises a total of eight times each week, drinks almost two gallons of water per day and has traded unhealthy foods in favor of vegetables and other nutritious meals and snacks.
Her efforts have not only helped her lose a great deal of weight, but have also contributed to reducing her Go365 age to 39. That means Monique’s overall physical health status is only a few years older than her actual age. The health measurement previously put Monique at age 45 in 2017.
Jordan’s unhealthy habits were physically aging her, damaging her body. But she’s successfully reversed that course.
Infectiously happy and optimistic, Jordan said her improved health is one reason for her ever-present smile.
“I feel great,” she said. “I’ve done many things I’m happy about in my life, but one of the best things I’ve done for myself was the weight loss. I have more energy now. I seem to be a lot happier. I smile more. So, I can honestly say the weight loss is a great thing for me.”
Monique had plenty to smile about at the 5K as she outpaced her husband, son and daughter, crossing the finish line before any of her accompanying immediate family members – Antwan, Antwan Jr. and Addison.
Monique added that her healthier habits have even helped her improve her focus at work. She is also busy recruiting others to join her on her walks and in exercise programs in the hopes her friends, family and work colleagues might see similar health benefits.
Jordan plans to return at next year’s 5K where she may have more inspiring words to share.
“I plan to make this an annual thing,” she said.
Other state employees can do the same as the series continues through late summer, bringing hikes to New Harmony and Madison, and a 5K each to Indy and Bluffton.
Visit the 5K and Hike Series page to register for events and learn more about the Run the State 5K/Hike Series.