Although I have always been keenly aware of these things, in February of this year I became aware of yet another thing about our community that makes Cleveland great: the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway! Let me tell you about my Greenway experience.
When I woke up the day after the Super Bowl, I was 65 pounds overweight and taking two diabetes pills a day. My doctor had encouraged me to become more active with the hope that exercise and improved nutrition would be helpful in treating my Type II diabetes that had been diagnosed two years earlier. The primary obstacles to executing this plan are the two things I hate most: getting up early and exercise. But I got started.
The goal was simply to do whatever was necessary to be able to run the Peachtree Road Race 10K that is held annually on July 4 in Atlanta. My Uncle Hunter used to run this event every year, and I figured if I could get to the point where I could run 6.2 miles in the July heat, everything else would take care of itself. I started all of this on a treadmill that I have in my basement, which to this point was just an expensive dust collector crammed over in the corner. After three weeks of walking every day, I was able to run a mile without stopping. Although I was enjoying the process and seeing results, the treadmill had become really boring. It was time to take it outdoors.
I had heard of the Greenway. I knew where it was and that people enjoyed it, but I assure you I had never given actual consideration to experiencing the Greenway for myself. When I finally hauled myself out there in early March, I was certainly surprised at what I found. The Greenway is four miles of pathway that is well paved, well lit, rolling terrain that offers multiple restrooms, benches and water fountains. While these features certainly offer our community a safe and accommodating place to exercise and enjoy the outdoors, the best part of enjoying the Greenway is the people you see. On any given day you will see serious runners and cyclists, casual walkers, young families with baby strollers and everything in between. The people really make it fun to be out there!
So now that I had familiarized myself with the Greenway, I started following a training schedule to prepare for the Peachtree Road Race (and beyond). Since March, every training run has taken place on the Greenway and to date I have logged over 400 miles. Not only was the Peachtree 10K a success, but I also ran my first half marathon in Chattanooga on Oct. 21. Through all of this I have managed to drop the 65 pounds I needed to lose. I’ve reversed the Type II diabetes and am no longer taking the medication. What’s more, I’ve made many new friends that I’ve met along our Greenway.
As I talk to people I’ve met at these races and the employees of running stores in both Chattanooga and Knoxville, I tell them about the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway and the impact that it has had on my life. I explain to them everything I mentioned above about the Greenway and the way in which it benefits our community. Everyone that I tell responds the same way by telling me how lucky I am to live in a community with such a great place to exercise and enjoy the outdoors. I couldn’t agree more!
So here is my request to all of you reading my story: If you’ve never been to our Greenway, go today. If you’ve been before but not lately, go today. And if you enjoy it as much as I do, tell someone. Our Greenway is truly fantastic and it makes Cleveland a better place to live.
I hope everyone will take the time to experience it for themselves. You’ll be happy you did.
(Editor’s Note: Matt Jenne is the senior vice president/area executive of First National Bank.)