'There's no stopping me'
Groveland woman, 63, to run half-marathon, raising funds for leukemia and lymphoma research
April 06, 2011 - By Susan Bromley
Groveland Twp.- When Ramona Ludvigsen closed her interior design business in 2006 due to the poor economy, she felt like part of herself had been amputated.
"It had been my life," said the township resident, who had owned the business in Clarkston for 12 years and had spent many more years in the industry. "I wanted to find something that would make me come alive again."
It took her a few years, but she found that something and now she is using her new passion to give others hope. At 63-years-old, Ludvigsen is a runner, and one with a cause. On May 28, she will run the Bay Shore Half-Marathon in Traverse City as a member of Team in Training, raising funds for leukemia and lymphoma research.
"I'm the Grandma on the team," laughs Ludvigsen. "I'm the only one on the team this old, but I feel wonderful. It doesn't matter if you're 60, 70, or 80, you can do this. I'm upbeat and have more energy. Runners as a rule are simple people— they like the outdoors, they love good food and they like their naps."
Ludvigsen, who was born and raised in Germany, believes she is now getting a chance at an American youth. In her native country, she wasn't exposed to the team sports that are abundant in the U.S.
Ludvigsen moved to this country when she was 20 and began running when she was in her late 30s for fitness and vanity, but stopped more than 15 years ago. Now she believes, "Once a runner, always a runner."
She returned to running in June 2009 after returning from Arizona where she visited her daughter, Candice, who she describes as a "fitness nut." Ludvigsen was carrying extra weight and felt sluggish, with borderline high blood pressure and borderline high cholesterol. She was determined to make a change and decided to start running again. Every day. Two or three miles each time.
"I took a day off when I was hurting so bad I couldn't move," she recalled. "I would recover and go out and run again. I built up to five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten miles... Running is physical and mental and you have to overcome obstacles on a daily basis."
Some days, Ludvigsen notes, she feels like she could still run after doing 12 miles. Other days, she wants to quit after two, unable to breathe right, every joint hurting, hills mocking her. Usually, she adds, it is better after four miles and then she rewards herself— with a hot shower, wine with dinner, ice cream.
This past January, Ludvigsen convinced Candice to run P.F. Chang's Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon in Arizona after she got her pace to where she wanted it to be— about 11.5 minute miles.
"When you are 63, your pace isn't what it used to be and your body doesn't respond as fast," she said. "I finished in the middle because my daughter is a taskmaster. We finished hand-in-hand... I cried, I laughed, I was hurting, but it was the most wonderful experience and I will always cherish the moment."
That race which she finished in 2 hours, 25 minutes, was another turning point for Ludvigsen. While running it, she was cheered on by runners who were part of Team in Training. When she returned to Michigan, she signed up to be a member, and her next race, the Bay Shore Half, will be to raise funds for cancer research and patient and family support.
"With the economy, I didn't know how people would react, but everybody has been positive and encouraging me," Ludvigsen said. "My pain is nothing compared to the pain of people who have lost a loved one to cancer."
She is hoping she can gain the support of the community. Donations can be made by going to www.teamintraining.org and search participants for Ramona Ludvigsen.
"Any donation will be appreciated," said Ludvigsen. "I'm not running any longer for myself, I'm doing this for many people. It's a wonderful thing— I feel blessed to be out there at my age and I feel wonderful to be able to do this. I will run as long as I can and my body will allow me to. There's no stopping me."
Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville