Jamie participating at a 10k race.
Congratulations Jamie on finishing the Aflac Iron Girl Triathlon- Atlanta, GA! Final time 2 hours, 18 minutes. Great Job!
Read Jamie's story below.
- By Mariah Zajac
You run like a girl.
Most people automatically think of that phrase as an insult. But on June 28, the saying will take on new meaning at the 2009 Aflac Iron Girl Atlanta Women’s Triathlon.
The event, being held for the third time at the Lake Lanier Island Resort outside Atlanta, Ga., will have a first-year competitor and triathlon newcomer who is happy to receive the compliment “You run like a girl” – because she is finally able to run again.
Jamie Williams, 37, of Dacula, Ga., is a claims adjuster, workers’ compensation and petty officer second class in the U.S. Navy Reserve. In December, she began to experience debilitating pain in her lower back.
She was diagnosed with Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction, which is pain in the lower back, buttocks and/or leg. This common condition in young and middle-aged women can be similar to pain caused by a lumbar disc herniation, and is difficult to diagnose without invasive diagnostic testing, according to spine-health.com. According to Williams’ physical therapist John Stuart, PT, MS, “running made the pain in Jamie’s case even worse.”
Williams did not run from December until March while under active treatment for her SI. She had just begun her running routine in October 2008 after barely passing the run portion of her physical fitness assessment for the Navy. She decided to start making changes after her poor physical fitness review.
As a newly active person, Williams found it frustrating to overcome the road block from her SI.
“I had just established a fitness routine and started to feel better about myself, then I was told I needed significant time off to rehab,” Williams said. “I was afraid of losing the progress I had made, and more afraid of not getting back in the habit when I was cleared medically.”
During her rehabilitation with Stuart, Physiotherapy Associates’ Buford clinic director, Williams was able to regain her health, and stay motivated throughout training.
“Not only does John keep me put together physically so that I’m able to train and compete, he’s been more of an outstanding coach,” Williams said. “He’s given me more advice on everything from strength exercises for improving my swim stroke to correcting gait irregularities to what kind of running shoes I should be buying.”
In fact, both Williams and Stuart believe that her shoes were the cause of her back issues. She had purchased a shoe orthosis to help relieve knee pain, which caused an unequal weight distribution and impact on her spine.
As a “semi-retired clinical athlete,” Stuart sang the praises of Williams’ determination throughout her treatment.
“It’s quite an accomplishment to go from a sedentary lifestyle, keep motivated through an injury and become a successful athlete like Jamie,” Stuart said.
According to Williams, triathlons were never on her “list of things to do.” However, an email from Active.com promoting the Iron Girl series made Williams think about her abilities. The sprint triathlon is made up of a 1/3-mile swim, an 18-mile bike and a 3-mile run. After some deliberation on the swim portion of the race, Williams’ thought, “I can do this!”
She stayed on task through her three-month training program with the help of Stuart’s medical treatment and coaching advice. And when she was having doubts, Williams found inspiration in a fellow Naval officer who has exceptional Ironman and marathon finishes to his credit.
Sharing the secrets of her sport, Williams suggests the following to aspiring female athletes:
Her most important tip is to have suspected injuries checked out immediately.
“In my case, I would not have been out of commission as long as I was had I gotten treatment earlier,” Williams said. “Once you have a diagnosis, do your homework – find a good physician and physical therapist who are experienced in treating your injury or condition.”
As an athlete, physical and mental road blocks are an expected evil. But, if anyone ever says “you run like a girl,” just follow after Williams’ example – politely say thank you and leave them in your dust.