Debbi Lawrence is passionate about three things in her life. There’s her husband, Don, of course. There are her eight bunnies that have their own special room in the Lawrence’s home just a mile from Lake Michigan on the north side of Kenosha, Wisconsin. And there’s her dream. A dream most people her age would have wrapped in brightly colored memories and put in the attic long ago.
At the age of forty, when most world-class athletes would have set aside their Olympic aspirations, Debbi is the third-ranked female race walker in the United States and has been to three Olympics.
Never mind that she’ll be racing against athletes who are almost half her age. “I’m still competitive,” she points out. “I can still hold my own. And I’m taking the steps I need to reach my goal.”
“You know how they say you have to walk before you run? Well, I was just the opposite. I ran in high school. My senior year, I was fourth in the state in the mile, and that same year, set the girls’ mile record at my high school with a 5:08. That mark stood for ten years.”
“When I graduated, I wanted to stay in Kenosha, so I went to Gateway Technical College. They didn’t even have a women’s track team, so I ran with the men’s team.”
“All that pounding my legs were taking running was taking its toll. My knees started falling apart. I knew I was going to have to quit running. How would I fill the void? By that time, I’d done two things that would answer the question. I transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, which is also in Kenosha, and most importantly, I met Don. He was a runner who’d become a walker, and I thought he was so cute with that funny little stride he had to do. Anyway, he and my coach convinced me to try competitive walking.”
Debbi’s resume reads like that of your normal everyday elite world-class athlete:
U.S. Race Walking Indoor Champion 1992, ‘93, ‘94, and ‘97; among the top three finishers at the Olympic Trials in 2000; currently ranked third in the United States at 20 kilometers; placed fifth in the 1998 Goodwill Games in New York City and more.
Of course, what makes this level of performance even more remarkable is the age at which she’s doing it, a fact she tries to play down.
“I’m lucky,” she says. “Part of the reason I can still compete is the sport I’m in. Walking is not running. Or swimming. Or playing basketball. You can stay competitive in walking long after you’ve passed your prime. Besides, if Michael Jordan can even think about playing professional basketball at his age, I can walk competitively at mine.”
Like most world-class athletes, Debbi is associated with several sponsors, but her relationship with The AIM Companies™ is a very special one. AIM products form the nutritional cornerstone of Debbi’s training regimen. “I’ve concentrated on natural products because they’re so important to my success,” she says. “Imagine someone who walks 12½ miles as fast as they can not having the right shoes. Chances are they wouldn’t last half the race. The same is true for the right nutrition.”
“You can’t just fill a blender with whatever’s in season,” Debbi says. “You have to be very careful about what you eat, and you have to take supplements to help fill in the gaps. Of course, supplements are wise for everyone, whether you’re a vegetarian or not. But athletes, especially world-class, competitive athletes, have to be careful about what supplements they take. The wrong ones can do as much, if not more, harm as not taking any at all.”
Her training diet is strictly balanced to thirty percent protein, 30 percent fat, and forty percent carbohydrates. When her trainer first proposed it, the fat requirement startled her. “Thirty percent is a lot of fat,” she thought. “I was afraid I wouldn’t be walking around the track, I’ll be waddling around it.” But, as her coach pointed out, the fat content gives her the endurance to walk every one of those twelve miles as fast as she can.
A typical daily menu around the Lawrence household includes oatmeal, protein powder, a bagel, olive oil, honey, V-8 juice, and BarleyLife™, Just Carrots®, RediBeets®, PrepZymes®, Proancynol® 2000, Bear Paw Garlic®, Herbal Fiberblend® and the most recent addition, Frame Essentials™.
“Okay, I’m sorry if this sounds like a commercial,” she says, “but AIM’s products are great. Take BarleyLife™. It helps balance my system before and after I work out.”
“Exercise creates acids in the body, and BarleyLife™ neutralizes those acids. The RediBeets® and Just Carrots® help me maintain the healthy iron-rich blood I need. And the other AIM concentrates promote overall joint, muscle, and cell health. The overall benefit has been a huge boost to my immune system and muscle recovery.”
It must be working. At the 2001 World Track and Field Championships in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in August, Debbi was the highest American finisher in the 20-km walk, beating a number of women who have yet to see their 30th birthday, to say nothing of their 40th.
“People are always saying you’ve got to be young to be vibrant,” she says. “You have to be young to be competitive. I don’t buy that. I’ve found my fountain of youth, and I don’t have to quit competing just because everybody says so.”
“You have to throw out your belief system,” she continues, the passion in her voice growing. “I don’t care if you’re racing around the track or after the kids. Change your diet, exercise, take the right supplements, and you’ll feel better.”
And if there’s anybody who knows about keeping up with a bunch of kids, it’s Debbi Lawrence.