Addicted to endorphins: A runner's regimen

Mary Lynne Richards of Hannibal running in a marathon in Maui, Hawaii.

You're familiar with the dedication of your mailmanâ??rain, sleet, snow, dead of night etc.â??he'll get the job done. That describes the dedication of Mary Lynne Richards to her running regimen. It's her vowâ??for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others till deathâ??she does not part from her running schedule. This is a woman who lives to run. She's so committed, she tells herself she doesn't deserve a shower for the day unless she's logged at least a few miles.

Mary Lynne has worn out her running shoes in some of the greatest places on Earth. She competed in the elite

Boston Marathon

. She laced up her shoes for the massive

New York City Marathon

. She's left tread marks in Maui, San Diego, Miami, New Orleans, San Francisco, even Australia. In all, 28


in some pretty fabulous places. But Mary Lynne's favorite place to run? Riverview Park in Hannibal.

â??I'm probably there more than anyone else on the planet,â?? she told me. â??It's challenging, hilly and it's scenic. It's shaded and the trees provide a wind barrier. It's perfect.â??

Riverview Park

rambles through 465 acres of prime real estate in Hannibal. Three trails wind throughout the park where running and walking options abound. You can take a meandering walk on the level, paved roads. You can hike the bluffs, or you can race the current of the Mississippi River right along its banks. The beauty of the park's trail system is that it's a perfect fit for anyone, regardless of their fitness level. Mary Lynne has covered every inch of it.

A quick look at Mary Lynne and you'll notice those stringy, taut muscles that define a runner. What you don't see is a mother of three who is knocking on the door of 50 years of age. Don't be surprised to see her striding the roadside in the next 50 years.

In Thursday's column, we'll look at Mary Lynne's other passion, Riverview Park, and see some of the options it offers for education, fitness and outdoor programs for the coming season.

Take care~Sarah D.