ARLINGTON, Va. — When you’re about to try something new, do you ever doubt yourself and think, “I could never do that!"? Jamie Watts doesn’t.
Watts has cerebral palsy. It affects her legs most. She started training to run so she could keep up on a family trip. Then she had an idea: “I think I want to try doing a 5k, I bet I could do one 5k.”
She signed up for a 5k at Quantico. Once it started, she started to fall behind. She had a radio and heard, ‘We have a runner down.’
“When you know that's you, immediately that's not the best thing that you want to hear,” she said.
But, she finished. A guide stayed with her. Jamie says she was proud, and hooked. She set a goal — to finish 34 races before her 34th birthday.
“I started,” Jamie shared. “I did the first one the day after my birthday and went to the next one.”
Jamie said she never considered quitting, and she never worried about being able to finish.
“Obviously, you realize that you're different. But, I was never treated that way in my house,” she said. “I guess that's how I've always been. I was never raised in a way where giving up is a choice.”
Lisa Reeves of Pacers Running learned of Jamie’s quest and made accommodations to allow her start races earlier so she could feel what it’s like to finish when people were still around to cheer. There was the race it rained so hard, Jamie had to wear a trash bag over her running gear. And the Monster Glow Dash race was a tough one, too.
“Total darkness, tree roots everywhere,” Jamie explains. “So like every third stride I'm falling down.”
With Jamie’s birthday approaching, the only race left was the Parkway Classic. It’s a 10-miler. Friends were worried because she’d never ran that far before.
“I said, ‘You know what? I've done the first 6, it's going to be my friends who get me through the last 4,’” she said.
And it was. Jamie’s close friend Katie flew in to surprise her at the end.
Jamie said the only limits you have are the ones you put on yourself.
“No goal that you set is too big.”