In September 2006, while registering for my first ever road race, it was serendipitous meeting Lorene Oates, the event director for St. Luke's Women's Fitness Celebration.
I took an instant liking to her
not just because of the name but because of her
kindness and humility.
Even though Lorene
directs America's largest women's 5K race, she
took the time to accept my late registration form and tell me what to expect on race day.
After I made the commitment to run my first marathon in 2007, Lorene
and I met again.
is one of the 2008 Idaho Women of the Year award recipients for her
outstanding leadership and direction of St. Luke's Women's Fitness Celebration
5K Run, Walk, & Stroll
As the director of America's largest 5K race for women, Lorene was recently appointed to the board of directors for Running USA, a national race director's organization.
sits on the board with personalities like, The ING New York City Marathon director, Allan Steinfeld and John "The Penguin" Bingham, my all time favorite adult on-set athlete, author, and motivator that has inspired me to 'Waddle On.' (it would be another happy accident if I ever got the chance to meet "The Penguin")
As an Idaho native and long time Caldwell resident, Lorene's
roots are tied deeply to the JR Simplot Company
, where her
father retired from the Food Division
after 33 years.
While attending the University of Idaho, Lorene accepted an intern position with the PR Department of the JR Simplot Company, where she began honing her craft, but it was Lorene's father that taught her some of the most valuable lessons.
Along with being rooted in old fashioned hard work and having the ability to be part of something bigger than herself, Lorene's
dad taught her
to, "always remember people's names."
Lorene originally joined the Celebration staff to coordinate the Women's Show which is held in conjunction with packet pick-up.
knowledge in sales, media, and promoting events didn't go to waste as she
stepped into her
Lorene was eventually invited by Anne Audain to become the event director.
Besides all the volunteer hours Lorene
had donated to the event, she
had a wealth of creativity and event promotional experience.
By 2001, St. Luke's Regional Medical Center
became the presenting sponsor for the event, changing the name to St. Luke's Women's Fitness Celebration
5K Run, Walk
, & Stroll.
As a not-for-profit corporation, the daily operations of the Celebration
office runs much like a family that lives from paycheck to paycheck.
They make their budget a $1,000 at a time and rely on faith and donations to keep their doors open.
In the earlier years, Lorene's
staff sometimes would juggle payroll according to who needed to make a personal mortgage payment.
remembers those days fondly but is thankful that finances are a little more stable for the organization since St. Luke's adopted them in 2001.
The spoken rules and overall nurturing culture of the Celebration
Family has no room for negative self-talk or contempt.
"Even though I consider myself to be flexible for a fat girl," that rule would take some getting use to for me. (smile)
As part of the successful Celebration
has had to apply many of the same techniques as one would in training for a marathon; a lot of passion, sweat, hard work, coaching, faith, and always keeping her
eye on the ultimate goal.
This year has been pivotal for Lorene
has taken charge of her
own fitness, trained for her
own races, which included the Sawtooth Relay and Robie Creek, and taken time to celebrate her
Lorene feels, "Running is the one thing you can win for yourself.
Take Hold and Keep it!
As a strong Christian woman, Lorene
desires to rely on God and in return give Him the credit for her
Since I started running in January of 2007, I've had countless people tell me why I should never attempt it in my 40's.
I also had a very frustrated orthopedic surgeon tell me I should just take up knitting because my calf muscle wasn't healing the way he
thought it should.
Of course, when comparing myself to Deena Kastor or Constantina Tomescu-Dita, I'm tempted to join the noise, but after meeting someone like Lorene Oates
, I realize I would miss out on some of life's sweetest serendipitous moments.