Kim Degonia hits the Eastside Trail about 4 times a week—walking, bicycling with her 3 sons, or running with the family dog. Along the way she sees people she knows, even her mail carrier. Sometimes she and her children will see wildlife like squirrels, deer, rabbits, or a stray chicken! What she does not see is the 20 pounds she has lost since she started trekking the Eastside Trail.
Those who know Kim, know she is not new to fitness. On her resume, yoga instructor may be listed just under teacher and judge. Nevertheless, she has improved her conditioning because the convenient location and length of the trails have made keeping up with her routine easier. “I get tired of running in my small subdivision, I don’t like a treadmill, and it’s an easy 5 miles,” she explains. Smiling she adds, “I can’t pass my car. If I see my car, I go home.” In the past, Kim drove a few times a week to the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, which offers a shorter 3-mile trail, 20 miles away. This closer, longer trail just makes sense.
Does the trail really make a difference? “It does,” says Kim. “I began running again last January and this trail made it a lot easier.” Last year she celebrated her birthday and her renewed fitness with a mini-marathon of 26.2 miles, mostly run on the Eastside Trail.
Kim’s fitness attitude no doubt extends to her children, and like other moms, she hopes they too develop healthy lifestyles. While her sons have all raced in the 1-mile Fuzz Run’s Fun Run and they happily hoof the Eastside Trail a couple times a week, they are not thinking about training for races. She jokes that at this age, they are more interested in the trail’s proximity to Zaxby’s.
The Degonias were frequenting the Eastside Trail before it was even completed. They would start at the library, a favorite destination for schoolwork and stories, then begin their trail hike. The library continues to be an important home-base for them.
Describing her hometown’s trail system, which was 11 miles long when she was a child, and now double that, Kim suggests, “I’d love to see (this trail) extended.” Always positive and encouraging, she adds, “I’d love to see it extended.”
For those thinking of following in Kim’s footprints:
· Trail walking/running is just one part of her fitness plan. Trail running is complimented with pilates, elliptical machines and a brief yoga routine to “keep her joints happy.”
· Use the mile markers as a guide. When you are new to walking/running for exercise, markers allow you to start out slow and cover more ground over time.
· Don’t be shy about just walking. Kim says she sees more walkers than cyclists or runners on the trail. And the paths are wide enough to accommodate them all.
· As the Georgia summer heats up, the Eastside trail is cool. Even on these steamy summer days, the woods are always a few degrees cooler than city sidewalks. And with so many trail-users right in town, the woods always feel safe.