Canton native Kendria Moreland Robinson, 33, understands the "no pain, no gain" mantra. As a former gymnast, fitness has always been her drug of choice, and running is her new fix. A couple weeks ago, she completed the five-mile "Over the River Run" in Vicksburg, her longest to date.
"I'm still waiting to get what's called 'runner's high,'" she says. "I don't think I've achieved that yet. I run very slow, but in the end, I still manage to go the distance."
It feels like the sun is piercing through my skin while watching her at the Memorial Stadium. It's like I'm working out just sitting down. I look up and see Robinson walking down the last few steps.
Visibly exhausted, she holds on to the rail. After a few moments, she stumbles over to grab her Deerpark bottled water. This must be what determination looks like.
Sweat is still pouring from her face as she gulps the last of her water. It's been 10 minutes since she finished walking the stadium steps, which gives you some idea of how tough a workout it is. "I'm training for the Mardi Gras half-marathon," she says. A half marathon is 13.1 miles.
Robinson says: "It's hard work. I have so much respect for runners now."
Her reasons for running in the beginning were purely for weight loss. "Now, I actually enjoy it. It has become my me time, which is very hard to come by as a full time working wife and mother," she says.
Robinson has lived and worked in Jackson for eight years. She lives with her husband, Michael, and their daughter, Kennedy. She is the senior payroll specialist at Trustmark National Bank.
Robinson wakes up at 5 every morning to work out. Trading in sleep for a healthier body is rewarding, but it doesn't make getting up any easier.
"There are days when I'd much rather sleep in," she says. But with four months to go before the marathon, sleeping in is not an option.
This year, the "Back to the Big Easy" Mardi Gras Marathon is especially significant due to Hurricane Katrina and the destruction of the city of New Orleans. She says: "All proceeds will go towards the rebuilding of New Orleans, and I'm glad to be a part of it. The effects of Hurricane Katrina were a wake-up call to me. The media's coverage was overwhelming to say the least. It makes us all realize that tomorrow is not promised."