April 09, 2014 - Every day at 2 a.m., LaVon Gula wakes up and goes down to her basement to lift weights and do aerobics.
Then at 3 a.m., she goes outside to run 2-3 miles. She used to run four miles daily, but this winter has been hard and she missed a couple days.
She thinks keeping it to 3 miles might be OK since she is going to celebrate her 82nd birthday this month.
"I can't remember how long I've been a runner— I can't remember much these days," laughs Gula. "I've been running it seems like all my life, but it hasn't been."
She may not remember exactly when she started running, but estimates it was some time during "middle age."
Gula recalls running the Detroit Marathon and winning her age group, but downplays it by joking, "There weren't that many runners in my group."
Asked when the race was and what her time was, she goes to check. Gula raced the Detroit Marathon in 1994, when she was 62, and finished in 4 hours, 5 minutes.
Those in attendance at the "Bookin' It For Your Library 5K" in Ortonville in 2012 or 2013 may have seen Gula. In 2012 Gula was a runner in the event's inaugural year, joined by her daughter, Shelly Mollett, and granddaughter, Hannah Mollett. Last year, Shelly, a Brandon Township resident, was sidelined by knee replacement surgery, but Hannah, a Central Michigan University student, joined her grandmother in walking the 5K.
"My Mom is the runner, she's amazing," said Shelly. "She gets up at 3 a.m. and runs everyday, I think she likes to get it over with."
Gula said she does like to get it done early and despite the dark at 3 in the morning, she feels safer because there is no traffic, a plus in a neighborhood where there are also no sidewalks.
"It's dark, but I like to do it then, because no one sees me then," she laughs. "I'm out there every day, it's a routine. I like the freedom and the exercise keeps me healthy. I haven't had any problems, knock on wood, and I think it's the exercise that does it."
Gula goes to bed around 8 p.m. as there is nothing she likes on television anymore. She runs in almost every kind of weather, making exceptions for thunder and lightning. While there were days that she missed this winter because of extreme cold, she even runs in snow, strapping on "ice joggers" to her shoes.
When she is out there running in the wee hours of the morning, she prays— not that she avoids a fall, but for other people and different things.
"It's a time to be close to God, especially when there is no one around, no interruptions or distractions," said Gula. "I eat breakfast and drink coffee when I come back. There is no soreness, I'm so used to it, I think I would be sore if I didn't do it."
Gula, who has participated in the Senior Olympics in Texas, said while races are thrilling, she will probably walk in any future 5Ks. In addition to her daily morning runs, she also walks her dog between six and nine miles every day. Due to other plans, Gula won't be able to make it to this year's "Bookin' It For Your Library," but she plans to return next year.
"It was a nice course and the people were nice and it was run well," she said. "I'll just keep running as long as I can. God is good to me."
She advises anyone that is thinking about running to just start doing it.
"It's never too late and it's so good for you," she said. "I'm very healthy and that's a big part of it."
The Bookin' It For Your Library 5K Run/Walk, to benefit the Brandon Township Library, 304 South St., Ortonville, begins at 9 a.m., May 10. The event also includes a Dewey Decimal Dash for children 12 and under. Cost for the 5K, with shirt, is $15. No shirt included is $12. Dewey Decimal cost is $10, with shirt, or $8 without. Register prior to May 7. For registration form or more information, call 248-627-1460 or visit brandonlibrary.org or active.com.
Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville