Taking the laps for the next competition

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Steve Huffman
For those who consider a jaunt around the block a spirited workout, pause to consider a week in the life of Delaine Fowler.
Over the span of seven days, Fowler will spend anywhere from 10 to 30 hours exercising. She mixes running, swimming and biking, often on the road or in the pool by 6 a.m. as she trains for any number of endurance races.
“I fell in love with iron-man events,” Fowler said. “I’m not one to worry about my weight so much, but I want to be healthy and fit.”
Fowler, 29, earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, then completed her master’s and doctorate degrees in physical therapy at Elon University. Fowler and Alan, her husband of almost three years, live in Spencer.
The couple can often be seen walking their dogs through Library Park.
Iron-man events are grueling competitions that include 2.4-mile swims, 112-mile bike rides and 26.2-mile runs. Fowler completed her one and only full iron-man in Louisville, Ky., finishing the event in a tad over 14 hours.
“Oh, yeah, I finished,” Fowler said, laughing as someone questioned her sanity for undertaking such an endeavor.
She’s training for a half iron-man (divide by half the mileage of a full iron-man) to be held in mid-May near Orlando, Fla. Come September, Fowler will compete in the New York City Marathon, her 10th race of such a distance.
The New York marathon attracts thousands upon thousands of participants, the group moving slowly like one huge mass at the sound of the starting gun.
“It’s a really, really fun race,” Fowler said of the New York City run. “But you’re never going to run your best time there.”
Fowler recently opened a business, Fowler Physical Therapy, at 1508 W. Innes St., in the building beside DJ’s restaurant. The site formerly housed another physical therapy practice, Body Mechaniques, where Fowler worked four years as a physical therapist.
Donna Hopkins, who owns a number of Body Mechaniques practices, said she decided not to renew the lease on her Salisbury branch after 10 years, and figured Fowler would be a great choice to keep open a local office that specializes in physical therapy.
“She’s like a sponge,” Hopkins said of Fowler’s absorption of all that’s involved in the business of physical therapy. “She’s perfect to move into this position.”
Hopkins said that what many people don’t understand about physical therapy is the difficulty of maintaining the business portion of such a practice.
“The easy part of physical therapy is physical therapy,” Hopkins said. “The hard part is growing the business. Delaine is a natural for that.”
Fowler is at her practice a couple of days a week, but also travels to various industries where she’s hired to both prevent and reduce employee injuries.
“There’s a big misconception about what physical therapists do,” Fowler said. “We treat muscular-skeletal injuries better than anyone else.”
She and other physical therapists, Fowler said, do that by both treating the symptoms and addressing the cause of the injuries.
Fowler said that when it comes to her competing in distance events, swimming is her strong suit. She was a member of the swim team at UNC-Wilmington where she competed in sprint freestyle competitions ranging in distance from 50 to 200 yards.
She was a walk-on, and never earned a scholarship, but said she enjoyed the competition immensely. The Seahawks won a Colonial Athletic Association Conference championship during Fowler’s years on the team.
Fowler started competing in distance events during her sophomore year of college. Her fastest time for a 26.2-mile marathon was just under four hours, a time she recorded at the Nations Marathon in Washington, D.C., a few years ago.