Since our first issue of Well-Being, we have covered a wide variety of sports, fitness trends and exercise techniques. We have highlighted two Mississippians who were among the elite athletes to qualify for the Kona Ironman races of 2010 and 2011.
We have addressed the psychological stumbling blocks that can prevent us from maintaining an exercise regimen, and in this issue, we cover the importance of the social aspects of exercising. Our goal is to provide our readers with information and insights into ways to live a healthier, more physically fit life.
As we contemplated story ideas for this issue, we received an email from a reader who made an excellent suggestion. She reminded us of the outstanding senior athletes in our state who are still competing at very high levels in their chosen sports, and who because of their talent, discipline and commitment to training, exemplify the kind of lifestyle Well-Being seeks to encourage.
While limited space prevents our covering all of Mississippi’s many senior athletes who compete at the state, national and even international levels, in this issue we focus on four individuals, who have excelled not only in their appointed sports, but in maintaining healthy habits that have contributed to their overall health and fitness levels. We are privileged to share their stories.
Wade Creekmore, Jr. of Meadeville, age 76, has always been physically active, although he didn’t take up running or competing in races until his mid-forties. “A group of us used to play basketball every day at lunch, so we had stayed in pretty good shape,” he notes. “It was my brother who really got me interested in running competitively. He and some friends decided they wanted to try running a 10K, and I agreed to do it with them. After that first race I was hooked.”
Mr. Creekmore pointed out that the motivation offered by training with a group is probably what helped him stick with it. “It’s very important to have someone to work out with you,” he explains. “If I hadn’t had their encouragement, I’m not sure I would have kept it up. Running with someone else, can also make it less painful. When you are running with a friend or a group, carrying on a conversation can take your mind off how you feel and help you work through the pain without realizing it.”
Just a few of the races Mr. Creekmore has done are the Great Bude Run, the Heart of Dixie and the Governor’s Cup. His best time to date is 38 minutes and 14 seconds for a 10K race. He trains at least three days a week, and the one secret he has to share with other runners, is to stay off hard surfaces. “I run on the shoulders of streets when I run in town, or I run on trails in the woods, where it’s shady. So far I haven’t had trouble with my knees.”
Mr. Creekmore faced a different kind of physical challenge when he was diagnosed with diabetes seven years ago, but he was determined to try to control his diabetes with exercise and diet. “I have picked up my running even more, watch what I eat, and thankfully, I have been able to avoid having to take insulin – something I might not have been able to do if I had not stayed physically active through the years.” he adds.
Martha Keenum, age 75 of Brandon, MS has been competing in race walking since 1990 when she entered her first race, and took third place. “My boss was one of the founders of Mississippi Track Club, and I got interested from being aware of what he was doing. My first race was sponsored by Entergy. When I got the third place trophy with a time of 1 hr. and 4 minutes, that was it. Now, I train three times a week, and I go to races almost every weekend. I walk four miles on my street and I also work out at the YMCA fitness center two days a week.”
Now a recognized champion, Mrs. Keenum has competed in races throughout the state of Mississippi, participates in the National Senior Olympics and has earned countless medals and honors during her twenty-four years of competing. Her best time race walking a 5K is 33 minutes and 11 seconds.
For Martha Keenum consistency is the most important thing to remember – sticking with your training, drinking plenty of water and eating healthy, well-balanced meals, including a lot of fruit. She recommends that you find your own best gait. “If you do that, you’re not as likely to get hurt,” Mrs. Keenum notes. “So far I’ve never had an injury that has kept me from competing.”
Another key to keeping on track is having friends to work out with. She admits that knowing someone is counting on her to help support them is a strong motivator. “If I told someone I would be there, even if I didn’t feel like exercising that day, I would go because I didn’t want to let anyone else down. Now I don’t want to miss my workouts because they make me feel so much better,” Mrs. Keenum adds.
As a result of her active lifestyle, Mrs. Keenum says she doesn’t have to take any prescription medications, only vitamins, and she has been able to maintain her weight (she still weighs the same she did as a teenager). She still works every day, says she feels great and has more energy than ever.
Myron Lockey, who is 80 and a retired Otolaryngologist from Jackson, is a championship swimmer. Mr. Lockey started swimming competitively when he was in high school. He was a member of Mississippi state championship swim teams from 1948 – 1954, the Southern AAU championships from 1949 to 1953, the Southern AAU 2-mile open water swim, and the AAU Junior National championship medley relay. During his four years of collegiate swimming at Northwestern State University in Nachitoches, LA, he was undefeated in breaststroke.
From 1956 through 1996, Dr. Lockey took a hiatus from formal workouts and competitive swimming to attend medical school, start a family and build his medical practice. While he continued to exercise regularly, his busy schedule didn’t allow time for training or serious competition.
After forty years away from the sport of swimming, in 1996, Dr. Lockey began training for Masters swimming. “Since then, I have continued to train and swim competitively as much as possible,” he adds.
Since 1997, Dr. Lockey has earned 10 national championships in U.S. Masters Swimming and has ranked in the top 10 in the country from 1997 – 2007. He competed in 5 FINA Masters World Championships in 2006, finishing 2nd in one, 3rd in one, 5th in two, and 6th in one, and was ranked #2 in the world by FINA in the 50 meters breaststroke, as well as ranking in the top 10 in several other events.
Besides training at least 5 days a week, Dr. Lockey says he tries to stick to the basics of a healthy lifestyle. “I eat a balanced diet, drink lots of smoothies with supplements, and avoid foods with high fructose corn sweeteners, MSG and artificial sweeteners,” he shares. “There’s no real secret to staying fit and competitive – it takes lots of hard work, time working on stroke technique and endurance training.”
Dr. Lockey stresses that his efforts to stay fit and train, have also resulted in good habits that contribute to a healthy life. “There is no question that staying fit, has had a great impact on my overall health,” he adds.
David Oakes, age 76 of Kosciusko, a retired high school football coach and math teacher, has been competing in bike races and triathlons since 1987. As a young man he started out playing high school and college sports, and went on to play semi-pro baseball, before his busy life as a husband and father led to his taking a break from competitive sports for a while.
“I got started competing again in 1987, when a friend got me to go with him to a 5K race,” notes Mr. Oakes. From there he took up triathlons, and in 1997 he began racing bikes. The first year he went to the Mississippi Senior Olympics he participated in 19 events. In 1998 he qualified for the National Senior Olympics and went to the games in Orlando where he placed in cycling. He has also qualified three times for the nationals in triathlon, and plans to participate in the Mississippi Senior Olympics again this April. His competitive racing has taken him to seven states, besides Mississippi, and he has participated in over 150 triathlons and 200 bicycle races, so far.
To stay competitive Mr.Oakes admits it takes a lot of work. “I train between five and seven days a week,” he explains. “I also watch my diet and take supplements. If there is any one secret to successfully competing, it would be to train harder than the race.”
According to Mr. Oakes, staying fit and continuing to compete at his age is more than something he enjoys as a rewarding pastime. He believes it has saved his life. After surviving a serious heart condition and cancer, he is convinced that if it were not for his working to live a healthy life and training to stay fit and compete, he might not have had the physical or mental toughness to get through his health challenges.
“Staying fit has made a huge difference in my life,” Mr. Oakes adds. “I feel better now than I did when I was 30.”