Editor's note: On Feb. 12, Stephenville resident Tandi Rider competed in the SweetHeart 5k Run, held at the Ten Triple X Ranch in Glen Rose. Rider said she began training for the run so she could finish without walking and now she's hooked on the sport. Find out how this 37-year-old woman got in the best shape of her life.
The Sweetheart 5k Run was the first race Tandi Rider had competed in since she was 11 years old.
Back then she had something to prove.
"I took off like a bullet," she said. "I ended up barely beating my mother and 70-year-old grandfather, who were walking, because I ran out of energy so quickly."
This time, however, she paced herself.
With the memory of running out of breath and having to walk most of the race as an 11-year-old, Rider kept her pace low.
"But not too low so as not to pass anyone, since I was using the other people in front of me to set my goal," she said.
At 37, the only person Rider had anything to prove to was herself.
Rider decided to enter the run after a friend encouraged her to do so.
"My friend Molly from Cleburne told me about a 5k in Glen Rose and that we should run it together," Rider said. "So, I huffed and I puffed until I felt like I could make the whole 5k without walking and then paid my entry fee."
Rider was already in pretty good shape, but she did kick up her gym routine about a month before the race.
After tackling the run's rugged terrain - steep hills, waterfalls, ice, cattle guards and bricks - Rider found herself hooked on the sport.
"It was Awesome! Not only was it a 5k, but it challenged our footwork, too," Rider said. "I am now hooked."
Rider said the last part of the race was a "steep climb," with a right-hand turn that took participants over the finish line.
"As I got closer I heard someone tell me that my time was really good and I needed to sprint the last part," she said. "I was thinking that they put this lady here to tell everyone they were doing good to add some motivation, but as I got closer, I saw that it was Molly! What a great feeling!"
Rider will turn 38 in May and before the race, thought she was too old to start running.
"But now I know, you are never too old unless you say you are too old! " she said. "I was the third fastest female in the race!"
Now, Rider is encouraging others to participate in similar races.
"These 5k races are not just for competitive runners, they are also for friends and family to just get together and walk them," she said. "You are outside with friends enjoying life and the best part is you are giving back to whatever charity that is holding these runs. The sweetheart run in Glen Rose raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. My mother passed away in May of 1995 from Leukemia, so it was very special for me to run in that race."