By Amy Green
There are no excuses for Martha Sugalski. Not her demanding career as an evening news anchorwoman for local NBC affiliate WESH. Not her husband and three children, each of them busy with athletic activities of their own.
“you just do it. If I don’t eat right and I don’t exercise, it affects every other aspect in my life. So I make it a priority,” says Sugalski, 40. “I just think you can’t make excuses. It’s your body. you’ve got to take care of it.”
PUTTING IN THE MILES
That’s why most mornings before heading to the WeSH studio where she works until near midnight, Sugalski runs four to six miles. Sometimes more. Sugalski is a serious runner who has completed the chicago Marathon and dozens of other half-marathons and 5ks — including the deLand Turkey Trot 5k, which takes place each Thanksgiving day, and the OUC Half-Marathon, which is in orlando every december. For her, running is a means of clearing her mind of her fast-paced work and family life.
“There is a release. There is a high I get,” she says. “If I don’t do something every day, then I’m not
right for work. My whole day isn’t right if I don’t do something.”
ATHLETE FOR LIFE
Sugalski is a woman of high energy, the kind of woman who tweets through a vacation. She explains that it’s sometimes hard to turn things off like flipping a switch. It’s no surprise she is a lifelong athlete who in high school played soccer, softball and volleyball, and also taught tennis to inner-city children. She won a soccer scholarship to emerson college in Boston but turned it down to attend the closer-to-home Loyola university in new orleans.
a native of philadelphia, she grew up in West palm Beach, and after a year and a half in new orleans
she transferred to Florida atlantic university. There she attended classes full-time while interning at a TV station and radio station while also working at her parents’ chemical business. after graduation she was hired as a TV reporter in West palm Beach and eventually became a reporter and anchor in Miami. She joined WeSH in 2006 and now lives in the outskirts of Longwood on the cusp of Lake Mary.
A LUCKY BLIND DATE
She married Rob Reich, an orlando businessman specializing in technology, in May 2009. They originally had met on a blind date arranged by Wendy chioji, another co-anchor and serious runner who left WeSH in 2008 to open a cycling center in utah. Sugalski and Reich dated for a year and a half, training together for the chicago Marathon. They describe the training as grueling. Sugalski tells how Reich would drag her from bed early in the morning after late nights at WeSH. one morning after a 19- or 20-mile run in the summer heat, the two came home and, before collapsing into the pool, Reich knelt on one knee and proposed.
“Thank God she said yes, because I probably wouldn’t have been able to get up,” says Reich, 48.
MARATHON WAS ‘THE BEST’
They ran the marathon in 2008. She finished in just under 4½ hours, a half-hour ahead of Reich. afterward they went back to their hotel, consumed an entire deep dish pizza — a large one with everything on it, as Reich tells it — and then went out for steaks later in the evening. Sugalski
says she felt so emotional she cried as she crossed the finish line.
“There were so many people that came out,” she says. “Thousands and thousands of people are
out cheering you on. It was just the best. So much fun.”
Fitness is a theme permeating the entire family. each of her three children from a previous marriage is
engaged in athletics. chase, 16, is a student at Seminole High School, and he runs and plays soccer. Maxwell, 13, goes to Markham Woods Middle School, and he plays hockey and baseball. Spencer, 9, is at Heathrow elementary School, and she bikes and plays soccer. Reich is a serious cyclist who competes in amateur races.
Together the family bikes, and Sugalski and Reich play golf and tennis. Reich also has horses, and
sometimes the family goes riding. (His parents own an active cattle ranch in Montana.) on Sunday evenings it is not unusual for the family to be in their driveway, the kids riding bikes, kicking soccer balls and hitting hockey pucks. The cross Seminole Trail, a paved recreational trail, is nearby. “We wear that thing out,” Reich says.
AN ‘UPBEAT PERSON’
WeSH co-anchor jim payne describes Sugalski as “probably the most positive, upbeat person I think I’ve worked with in this business in over 30 years.” He credits her fitness.
“you have to be on your toes all the time, and [the job] requires really intense focus over pretty long periods of time,” says payne, also a runner. “If you don’t have that outlet, that way to release physically, this would be a really challenging career.”
To supplement her running, Sugalski lifts weights in the family’s garage, and, with her husband’s encouragement, she is becoming serious about cycling. She already is serious about another important
element of health and fitness, describing her diet as “very bland.” She eats whole wheat cereal or half
of a whole wheat bagel for breakfast, a turkey sandwich for lunch, and chicken or fish for dinner. She
limits her family’s consumption of red meat. and when Sugalski and Reich dine out, it’s often for sushi.
While Sugalski’s life clearly centers on family, exercise and work, she serves on the board of directors for the Florida chapter of March of dimes. She also volunteers at Spencer’s school. When she has spare time, she likes visiting Reich’s parents in Montana and going to the beach with the kids. even at the beach the family forgoes sunbathing for sprints in the sand. Spencer likes to run, and when she runs she likes to be timed, Sugalski says. usually the family heads to daytona Beach Shores or ponce Inlet
so they can bring their dog, a year-old Weimaraner named duke.
Especially in Seminole county, Sugalski says, there is no excuse for not exercising. Seminole cyclists, a group of cycling enthusiasts, organizesgroups for all levels. Wekiwa SpringsState Park offers picturesque trails.
“There’s no excuse why you can’t get out and do something and sweat,” she says. “I want to live a long, full, healthy life. I want to be a good example for my children.”
“ If I don’t do something everyday, then I’m not right for work. My whole day isn’t right if I don’t do something. ”
Amy Green is a journalist
in orlando whose stories
have appeared in people,
newsweek, The new york
Times, The christian Science
Monitor and many other publications. She
swims, spins and does yoga to stay in shape.