Local Grand Rapids photographer catches running bug and becomes a Warrior

Kristin Coppens

| 3 min read

The Fifth Third River Bank Run, America’s largest 25K road race, takes place in downtown Grand Rapids this May 10, 2014. The race incorporates the West Michigan racing community and beyond from all fitness levels, beginner through advanced. The Fifth Third River Bank Run offers the full 25K, a 5K run, a 5K walk, a 25K hand cycle, a 25K wheelchair race, 10K and kids fun run.
Grand Rapids-based photographer James Fry caught the running bug and has become an inspiration and advocate for runners in the community. In fact, this year, Fry is a 2014 Road Warrior for the Fifth Third River Bank Run. The Road Warrior team becomes a group of ambassadors for the community and shares their personal journeys in training for the race.
Fry began his running adventure by running sporadically around his parents’ neighborhood. His friends then convinced him to pick up running on a more consistent basis. “I signed up for the Irish Jig 5K and caught the bug. If I’m being honest, it was a terrible race. I didn’t train much, but my goal was just to keep running without stopping to walk. I hit [that goal], and it sort of just stuck with me,” explains Fry.
From my experience as well, people either love running or hate it. A great form of exercise, running has benefits for your physical and mental health. The running community also offers a social support team and an outlet.
“I hate the idea of running. Waking up early on a Saturday to run isn’t necessarily the most appealing thing…at first. But now, it’s such a vital piece of my life. Running gives me time to think. It’s such a great time to process, pray, and exhale,” says Fry, “Plus, I’ll be honest. Sometimes I let running justify my pizza consumption.”
Running can be intimidating for a beginner, especially when you cannot run very far the first time. However, the key is to start out slow and build in increments until you reach your goal. Fry reiterates, “Just take that first step! The hardest step is the step out the door. Grab a friend, sign up for a race, and watch an inspirational sports movie. Whatever helps you to take that first step, do it!”
Fry’s training schedule, for example, includes three to four days of running per week. He also mixes in cross training and resting on the other days. Saturdays are Fry’s long runs, and he also enjoys incorporating swimming and cycling as he prepares for this year’s River Bank Run.
Fortunately for the community and other participants, the Fifth Third River Bank Run provides a great deal of resources to help beginners and experienced runners alike. For example, the official website has an online forum, blog tips, and a schedule of community training walks and runs.
“[The River Bank Run is] a chance for me to help encourage other people to take that first step. Honestly, I’m just a normal, middle of the pack, pizza loving, runner. It took some friends to convince me to take the first step. So my goal is to help a few others do the same,” summarizes Fry.
What part of the Fifth Third River Bank Run do you plan to participate in?

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