ChronoTrack’s Time Management would like to introduce Ericka Paddock, Athlete Salute. Ericka has Cerebral Palsy and after completing two 5K’s, she was looking forward to her first 10K. She had been training for a year with her trainer and predicted a finish time of about 4 hours.  She finished in 3:20:05. Here is her inspiring story:

Everything I’ve ever accomplished in life has started with a challenge. I like to think I’ve been blessed since birth with Cerebral Palsy (CP), a neurological disorder that affects body movement and muscle conditioning. CP makes countless everyday activities take twice as long as they would for the average person. It might seem strange to think of a disability as a source of good fortune but it has been for me. Thanks to CP, I relish hard work, I’m very organized, and I plan ahead for everything. CP has also provided me with a network of friends and family who are truly committed to my wellbeing.

ChronoTrack_Athlete_Salute_Ericka_PaddockThese four qualities led me to my first encounter with racing. In the fall of 2012, I was a first-semester doctoral student and wasn’t feeling well. My hubby, Dasa, took me to the doctor and we found that high blood pressure was the culprit. My doctor wanted to prescribe traditional medications but I was against medication unless absolutely necessary. I begged Dr Kim for alternative treatments. “You have a month to get your numbers down,” he said, “If you come back for a follow up and your blood pressure hasn’t improved, I’ll put you on long term medication”.  Dr. Kim’s words were music to my overachieving ears. Shortly thereafter, I sent emails to local gyms explaining my situation. That’s how I met Jill Rooks, owner of The Energy Lab, a fitness studio in town. Since then, I refer to Jill as my “spirit animal” because her training techniques helped me stabilize my blood pressure and accomplish many “firsts”.

Among those “firsts” was our decision to complete the Riverside Mission Inn 10k in November of 2015. Starting in January of 2015, Dasa and I became permanent fixtures in our neighborhood during early morning weekends. If you’ve ever seen a bleary-eyed dog owner walking a yappy little dog on Saturday morning, you’ve seen Dasa and I on our walks. For almost a whole year, he patiently walked me twice a week leading up to the race.

ChronoTrack_Athlete_Salute_Ericka_Paddock_2The big day finally arrived and I was surrounded by an incredible team. My sister, Jannet, flew in, my mom drove up, and my loyal gym friends Cindy, Christie, and Sylvia were all there with Dasa and Jill to lend a hand both physically and emotionally. Nanette Muirhead of Time Management was gracious enough to allow me and my team to start a full hour before the other 10k racers because we were pretty sure I wouldn’t be done until 11am.That extra time proved to be invaluable as the hours ticked on. Although my team made the experience loads of fun, by mile 5 I was struggling. I was completely aware of every step I took to get to mile 6 and wasn’t sure how I was going to make it those last two-tenths of a mile.

My sister read my mind and said, “Hey, Erick! Look at those guys!” I looked up from the pavement to see our brother, Fernando, our two young nephews, and our sister-in-law screaming their heads off, waving signs, and doing what can only be described as super silly tribal dancing. Their excitement was just what I needed to get out of my head and back into the race.

As we approached the finish line after 3 hours and 39 minutes, I heard my mom tell me she loved me and Dasa tell me how proud he was. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jill get emotional and Jannet turn away so I wouldn’t see her tears. Cindy, Christie, and Sylvia were hugging me. My brother and his family ran up to share warm embraces. Everyone I loved was either posing for or taking pictures. It was an unforgettable moment.

It’s been a little more than a month since that fateful day in November and thanks to Jill, Dasa and I are at it again. Our goal is to complete two 5ks and two 10ks in 2016, all with the aim of completing a 15k in 2017. We’re not sure where this adventure will lead, but one thing is certain: Dasa has purchased headphones to get him through our walks.