A motivating force and a life-changing run
“It’s completely changed my life. I have a more positive outlook on life. These activities have made me a better mom and even a better friend,“ Jessica DeShaw said of her fitness journey and taking on challenges. She hopes her story encourages others to get out and be active.
A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, but a mobile app and a looming deadline can help get you off the couch to start.
Five years ago, Jessica DeShaw, a Brainerd mother of three, decided to run a 5k. This was to be no small feat; DeShaw had never run a race before. She had lost about 40 pounds leading up to this decision, and she felt she needed an extra boost to keep the weight off and get in shape.
She signed up for the Warrior Homecoming Run, an annual run hosted during Brainerd High School’s Homecoming Week and sponsored by the Brainerd Public Schools Foundation and the Warrior Nordic Ski Team.
She downloaded a Couch to 5K mobile app on her phone and started training that summer. There was no turning back.
“This was a whole new thing for me,” she explains, of running. “I remember thinking what a monumental feat that running this 5K was going to be for me. I’d been active in high school but I didn’t do much since starting a family. It was something I needed to do for me.”
And she did it.
“It went awesome,” DeShaw recalled of her first Warrior Run. “I thought, ‘Oh, that was pretty cool, I should do a 10K.’”
DeShaw never stopped running. She ran her first holiday 10K a couple months later, and then competed in her first half-marathon in the Twin Cities on New Year’s Day. She learned about the Lakes Country Triathlon and started training, which included swimming lessons. So, about a year after participating in her first 5K, DeShaw was competing in her first triathlon. A woman she met at the half-marathon the day before the triathlon showed her a copy of the Fall 2016 issue of “Her Voice” magazine, pointing out a story about four area women who compete in Ironman competitions.
“You could totally do one of those,” the woman told DeShaw.
DeShaw laughed, and told her she just wanted to survive the triathlon the next day.
But it got her thinking.
“A year after I started running, I had worked my way up to a triathlon. I kept finding longer distances to do. I thought, if I can do this, I can probably do that,” DeShaw recalls telling herself.
DeShaw recently registered for her fourth — yes, fourth — Ironman competition scheduled in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in June 2021. She competed in her first Ironman, also in Coeur d’Alene, in 2017.
To say running has changed DeShaw’s life is beyond an understatement. She has developed incredible friendships with other runners and triathletes. This experience has transformed her life. She and her husband, Adam, are much more active, along with their sons, Dalton, 16; Blake, 14; and Brennen, 9. They enjoy kayaking and mountain biking together.
“It’s completely changed my life. I have a more positive outlook on life,” she explains. “These activities have made me a better mom and even a better friend. “
DeShaw hopes her story encourages others to get out and be active.
“Don’t let anyone ever judge you,” she says. And remember, a 5K isn’t “just a 5K.”
“It’s led to more friendships. It’s led to so many more wonderful adventures in life,” she says, of the Warrior Run. “My first goal was I just wanted to finish. As I increased the distance, it was still putting one foot in front of the other.”
DeShaw, who works at RG Insurance as an insurance agent, plans to virtually run in the Warrior
Homecoming Run in October. She has participated in the event every year since she first signed up in 2015. While the coronavirus pandemic has put a damper on many of her scheduled races this year, she continues to get out and run and train with other area triathletes.
If she couldn't have been getting out to run, DeShaw laughed and said: “I don’t know if I would have made it through COVID sane.”
The 2020 Warrior Homecoming Run
Show your spirit and participate in the 2020 Warrior Homecoming Run virtually! The virtual 1K/5K/10K race will be the week of Sept. 26 through Oct. 3. Participants then upload their times online.
Proceeds benefit Warrior Athletics, Arts, Academics and Activities, along with the Warrior Nordic Ski Team.
Cost for the 5K and 10K is $20 for students, ages 18 and under and $30 for adults until Sept. 30. Cost is $15 until Sept. 30 for participants of all ages for the 1K.
The Warrior Homecoming Run is sponsored by the Brainerd Public Schools Foundation. For more information and to register, visit BPSF.org .