By WAYNE JOSEPH
For many people, myself included, approaching the age of 40 meant the downhill side of being strong both mentally and physically.
For Hilo’s Brady Bennett, turning 40 has meant an entire new life filled with many positive blessings.
“By 37 I had written off being a parent,” Bennett said. “But miracles do happen and I was 39 when I had my first daughter and had a second pregnancy when I was 40 years old.”
What is even more amazing is that Bennett ran during her first pregnancy for 7 1/2 months, and then walked right up until her delivery.
“During my second pregnancy I ran all the way till the week before I gave birth,” she said. “For both pregnancies I was very healthy and the running kept the weight off so I only gained the required amount for a healthy baby.”
Bennett also lost all the baby weight within a month after both births, which were 19 months apart, and maintained an exercise routine as soon as she was allowed.
Bennett, a former physical education teacher at Keaukaha Elementary School, fell victim of the budget ax when cuts needed to be made.
“Unfortunately, after too many budget cuts, I had been reduced to 15 hours a week and had to find a new career since PE jobs are far and few between,” Bennett said.
Bennett couldn’t live on her part-time status and got her real estate license in 2005.
“I did both jobs, PE 15 hours a week and real estate after school and on weekend,” she said. “Eventually when the PE program was cut I went fulltime in real estate and this has worked well for having kids since I could make my own hours.
Bennett does hope to return to the classroom one day to teach PE as she is well qualified and close to receiving her PhD, finishing all her course work, but still needs to complete her dissertation.
“I have a B.S. in PE, an M.S. in Sport Performance/sport psychology, and an M Ed in motor learning/Sport physiology in the kinesiology department,” she said. “I miss teaching badly and would like to get back to the classroom or PE field as soon as something comes up.”
This healthy-and-fit 41-year-old mother of two wasted no time in returning to the roads to compete in races.
“I did my first race on Kauai pushing the baby stroller eight miles four months after giving birth to my first child,” she said.
Bennett had intentions of pushing the double stroller in the Hilo marathon shortly after giving birth to her second child, but decided on a change of plans.
“I trained for four months while pushing both girls in the stroller, so I was used to it,” Bennett said. “But after going on a run without them one day I realized I could fly and opted to run Hilo Half Marathon without them.”
Bennett was right; she did fly, finishing the half marathon (13.1 miles) race in a respectable 2 hours, 11 minutes.
“I had an accident three weeks before the race that nearly cut off my big toe and required 10 stitches,” she said. “If I had not been injured I was on course to break two hours in the Hilo Half and will do it in next year’s race.”
Bennett believes that having two children has toughened her up, running-wise.
“Having two daughters, one naturally and the other by c-section, has definitely toughened me up,” Bennett said. “I’ve always had a high tolerance for pain and have been running races since about 7-years-old with my running family. But after the pain of giving birth, nothing compares.”
Bennett regularly pushes 75 pounds worth of stroller and babies with no problem, often for 1 to 2 hour runs.
The mother of two also cross trains by attending a fitness class in Pahoa twice a week that has made her toned.
“I have a fitness trainer, Michele Mulkey of IMFit, that does an amazing job with her workout sessions,” Bennett said. “I feel like she is my personal trainer even though it’s a class.”
During the class, Bennett uses combinations of low impact cardio, weights, medicine balls, bands, and the wall.
“I’ve never been in better shape in my life,” Bennett said. “And I thought hitting 40 meant all downhill.”
Bennett will work out six days per week, adding variety in the mix and taking Sunday’s off as her day of rest.
She will run three times a week, use an elliptical machine after her girls are put to bed, head to Pahoa for her IMFit class twice a week and if training for a race she will add a long run into the mix.
Bennett has four things that she has set on her bucket list, without setting a time frame.
“I’d like to finish my doctorate, teach at Kamehameha Schools, run at least one race with my girls and to compete in the Hawaii Ironman,” she said.
For the present, Bennett is trying to see if she can be in better shape after having children than before.
“I think I already accomplished this goal and feel I am in a lot better shape now,” Bennett said. “I sleep much deeper now than before.”
Next up is to get back into playing Makule Soccer and to play some golf.
“For now, running seems to be the best way to combine fitness and motherhood since the kids love being pushed in the stroller,” she said.
So whoever said that turning 40 was a downhill slide never met Brady Bennett.
And someday should you happen to see an appreciative veteran reflecting on fallen comrades on Memorial Day, remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”
Email the Big Dog at email@example.com.