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After hours–Giselle Carson: The great outdoors

In addition to participating in many events aimed at promoting and improving the community, Giselle Carson, a shareholder with Marks Gray, P.A. (www.marksgray.com), is currently training to complete her first Boston Marathon and the Miamiman.

“Every year, my husband and I pick two to three key sporting events to participate in from our ‘bucket list,’” says Carson. “This year, they include the Boston Marathon in April and the Miamiman Half Ironman in November.”

As an immigration and business attorney, she works long hours, but still finds time to train four to six days a week—alternating between swimming, running, cycling, yoga and walking. “Since I never know what the day may bring, I schedule my training for early in the morning. I swim and run at 5:30 a.m. during the weekdays and run and bicycle in the morning during weekends.”

At the starting line

Carson recalls that it all started when her and her husband Jeff started training for the Bike MS 150—a 150mile, two-day bike ride that benefits the North Florida Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. “My husband works for Mayo and they have a very strong Bike MS 150 team. In 2002, we started training with them and have completed six MS 150s since,” says Carson.

To add variety to her fitness routine and stay involved with the athletic community of Northeast Florida, she also began training and completed her first Gate River Run in 2004, and is now one of her favorite races. “This year will mark my ninth year running it, and placing in the top 10,” says Carson. “Several running friends told me the Boston Marathon was the world’s greatest running race and that I had to train, qualify and finish it. So I trained, qualified and now continue to train to run and finish the legendary and demanding 26.2 miles across eight towns from Hopkinton to Boston in April!”

Pure joy of it

Carson says the main reason she does all of this is because of the people she has met and the places she has seen. “It is a beautiful sight to run or walk over Jacksonville’s Main or Acosta Bridge at sunrise or sunset,” says Carson. “It is beautiful and peaceful to run, bike or walk through the city in the early morning hours when the streets are quiet, and there is little traffic. You can appreciate the beauty of Jacksonville’s environment and our quality of life.”

Her husband is also very physically active and they enjoy cycling, walking and hiking together in Jacksonville and wherever they travel. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for them to run a race or hike a mountain when they travel. “Last year, while I was a forum speaker at the annual American Immigration Lawyers’ Association conference in Arizona, Jeff and I extended our stay to climb Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous U.S. with an elevation of 14,497 ft.,” says Carson. “Some careful planning, conditioning and a positive mental attitude allowed us to submit and make the 22 mile round trip hike an unforgettable experience.”

Reasons behind it

For Carson, a marathon, a triathlon, a challenging hike is about living life, achieving goals, creating friendships, and learning from the experience. “There are so many reasons why I run and train and compete—the experience, friendships, confidence, bragging rights,” jokes Carson. “But primarily because being physically active and living a healthy lifestyle is the key to my personal and professional development.

“It makes me more productive throughout the day and I have more energy for my profession and life. I encourage anyone looking to have more energy, less stress and a happier life to start exercising! And the effect is compounded. Physical activity will benefit you, your family, your friends and your colleagues….how can it get any better?”


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