Here’s how the Statesman Cap 10K keeps Jane Norwood running.
Of the 41 Austin American-Statesman Capitol 10,000 races that Jane Norwood has participated in, there are several that remain vivid in her mind: thick fog obscuring the tops of the downtown buildings; her 10-year-old daughter running by her side in the rain; and experiencing the Congress Avenue course for the first time, with the Texas State Capitol in full, exhilarating view. There was also her first race after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Norwood has lived in Austin since 1976. In her early 30s, she decided it was time to get into shape by establishing a regular exercise program. Running seemed like a good fit for a busy mom of children ages six and three. How hard could it be, she wondered.
After her first run, Norwood was gasping for air and her shins were screaming. Time to regroup. She bought a pair of pink running shoes and set a personal goal of increasing her running distance by half a block each week.
In 1978, the Statesman Cap 10K was warming up for its first race. Norwood pictured many of the participants as Olympians: tall, long-legged athletes running three times as fast as anyone else. She didn’t think she was ready to join them—yet.
Norwood continued her running regimen, eventually progressing to three- and four-mile loops around Lady Bird Lake. She and a group of friends traveled to neighboring towns to participate in their 10Ks. By the time of the second Cap 10K in 1977, Norwood was ready.
For the next several years, participating in the Cap 10K became a tradition. She and her friends would enjoy what felt to her like a celebration in the streets of Austin: runners in creative costumes; spectators lining the course, clapping and cheering; volunteers offering water and encouragement; bands playing their hearts out to keep the runners going.
After each triumphant finish, Norwood and her friends would celebrate with Mexican food and mimosas. At some point, she realized she was on a streak and that she had better keep it going.
Decades later, her streak remains unbroken, despite her Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2014. Since then, running the Cap 10K every spring has taken on greater personal significance.
“The Cap 10K is a marker in my year that tells me how I am doing in the battle to keep Parkinson’s at bay,” says Norwood. “There is no cure. While prescription drugs can ameliorate the symptoms, exercise is the only evidence-based method of slowing the disease’s progression. Exercise is crucial to maintaining strength, range of motion and stamina. It increases one’s ability to carry on with life.”
In addition to running, Norwood takes Power for Parkinson’s classes. The local nonprofit organization provides mul- tiple free exercise, dance and singing classes in Austin and the surrounding communities as well as globally through a home video series.
“We laugh a lot,” says Norwood of the classes.
Norwood also stays active in other ways. Although she’s re- tired from her position as director of professional development for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, she continues her long career in social services by working remotely for a social-service agency in California.
She applies her decades of experience and advanced degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and St. Edward’s University to analyze data on state and federal reporting.
Norwood’s family keeps her busy, too.
“I’m married to a wonderful man, Larry Norwood. Between us, we have four children and four grandchildren. They are a great joy in our lives,” says Norwood.
She and her husband also enjoy volunteering in a clothing room for those experiencing homelessness. Norwood manages to find time to sing alto in her church choir, too. Last summer, she felt privileged to go on a concert tour in Italy, which included a memorable performance in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Like every year, Norwood is looking forward to the upcoming Cap 10K, which has grown into the largest 10K in Texas. She encourages all to participate in the hometown race on April 5. Whether you’re a professional or serious runner, or a costume-wearer and people-watcher, this race has something for everyone.
“Cap 10K race day is a happy day,” she says. “Participants, observers and volunteers are glad to be there. I see lots of smiles. It’s truly an in-the-moment experience. Since the addition of the stroller division, it’s become a family event for us. We now have a third generation of Cap 10Kers!”
While Norwood acknowledges that receiving the diagnosis of Parkinson’s was difficult, “it’s not the end of life as you know it.”
Here’s to your 42nd Cap 10K, Jane, and many more.
To register for the 43rd Statesman Cap 10K on April 5, 2020, presented by Baylor Scott & White, visit Cap10K.com.