Archive for May, 2011

This question has been in my mind for the last several years. It was my friend, Liz, who talked to me about running on New Year’s Eve morning in 2006. The next day was a new year – the perfect time to make a new year’s resolution, and mine was to run a half marathon. How do I remember this? Well, I was returning a printer to her that she had loaned or given me for the new Push to Walk gym that was opening in 2 weeks. I had gotten another one donated that was much better for our needs, so I was returning this one to her. We were standing outside and she was telling me about a run she had done that morning or was doing the next day (I can’t remember EVERYTHING in that conversation!). It had been many, many years since I had done any amount of running, either in distance or for a consistent amount of time. I was feeling good and decided to take on the challenge of the MORE Half Marathon which would be in March, 2007.

I trained and completed that half marathon with a pretty respectable 2 hours and 10 minute finish. I was pleased and satisfied with my accomplishment! At some point after that, I decided that I wanted to run a full marathon before my 50th birthday. Again, the MORE event fit into my plans perfectly – local and it was scheduled for April 6, just 8 days before my birthday. Again, I trained and ran and was happy with my finish. I’m pretty sure I said “I’m never doing that again!”

I didn’t run for quite a while, but then staff and clients at Push to Walk started putting together a group to run either the half or full marathon at Disney in January 2009.  Despite breaking a rib in early September and delaying my training, I was able to train enough and complete the half marathon at Disney that January. But then I didn’t run again until I was training for this most recent event.

So I battle with the above question: am I a “runner?” I like to run; I enjoy running. I like the discipline and having a goal to reach. I like the quiet time, and time all for myself. But it has drained me physically and emotionally. It takes a toll on my body. When I crossed that finish line, tears of joy streamed down my face. Also tears of relief. I finished. I could stop running now. It’s been almost two weeks now, and I haven’t run. I haven’t rode the exercise bike; heck, I haven’t even walked. I am enjoying sleeping later in the morning and not planning my whole day around running, eating, drinking enough water, etc. I know my body needs to recuperate.

If I was a runner, wouldn’t I be running again? I think I could honestly say I have been a runner at various times in my life. Or maybe I am trying to be a runner. I think both of those statements are true. But my real message, although it’s taken me 500 words to get here is – running is part of who I am. I am not defined by my running. I am lots of other things – a woman, sister, wife, mother, aunt, etc. And I write this because how this relates to people with spinal cord injuries. From my conversations, observations and reading up on this topic, a person with a physical disability doesn’t want to be defined by their injury or condition. It might be one of the most obvious parts of who they are if they use a wheelchair, but it is only PART of who they are. They, too, are husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, students, musicians, professionals, etc.  They are not “just” a person with a disability. The people I know, including my son Darren, who have spinal cord injuries, have goals and aspirations. They are working towards accomplishing good and big things in their lives. They are living life.

So maybe that old saying, “you can’t judge a book by its cover” is really true. Who knows who another person really is unless you make an effort to know a person more deeply than what you see from the outside. As I lined up for the marathon with 3,000 other people, I thought, “Wow! Look at all these runners!” But who are they, really? Are they all “runners?” Does it matter?

I encourage you all to look past the obvious; to see the person; to get to know the person. 


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I think it was way back in October when I decided I wanted to run another marathon. I must have gotten an e-mail about the NJ Marathon that would be held in May, and I decided right then and there to register. I knew once I registered, I would think about a training program and set a goal for myself. I am not much of a spontaneous person; I like to plan for things and be prepared. Not having run at all since my last half marathon in January 2009, I knew if I was to be successful, I’d have to prepare very carefully. I tried not to think too much about how I felt after that event and my previous full marathon in April 2008. That would have stopped me dead in my tracks. After both events, I know I said “I’ll never do that again!” Famous last words…………

I believe my training started in November, and I felt pretty pathetic. I could refer to my notes and scribbles in my running notebook, but I think I wrote things like “I can’t even run three miles, how am I going to run a marathon?” and “I must be crazy to think I can run 26.2 miles.” You get the idea. My confidence wavered, and I allowed self-doubt to creep into my head. But thankfully, I stuck with it, and religiously followed my training program.

Marathon Day was beautiful! I was excited, nervous, and felt ready. Everything had fallen into place. All that was left was to run. For the first half and even more, I kept to my training pace of 11 minute miles. I felt good. Somewhere between mile 16 and 17 I was losing focus. I had stopped to use the bathroom and tried to re-group. I tried to concentrate on where I was on the course, but even couldn’t keep track of that. Had I passed the 16 mile marker or the 17? How far was I following this straightaway south before we turned north? Where was the next water station? I definitely was not focused as I had been in training. Why? I’ll probably never know, and it probably doesn’t matter.

I had a goal of finishing in 5 hours. My previous marathon time was 5 hours and 10 minutes. I felt sure I could beat it. In fact, I was hoping to finish in 4 hrs and 50 minutes. I could do it if everything went right. But……….it didn’t. By really concentrating, digging deep and thinking about Darren and those who had inspired me in the first place, I changed my strategy to just finishing. At times, I even questioned that, but I was so determined, and so many people had gotten involved in the cause, I just couldn’t let them down. Nor could I let myself down. One step at a time, and I finally crossed the finish line with a time of 5 hours and 16 minutes.

There – I said it and now I can move on. Am I a little disappointed? Yes. I didn’t reach the goal I had set for myself, but I did finish a marathon. All 26.2 miles of it. And for that I am proud of myself.  Setting a goal, working hard, being committed to something bigger than myself – that’s what this race was all about for me. Concentrating on my training helped me keep other areas of my life in focus. It helped remind me of what’s important in my life. It gave me time to think, to plan, to organize my thoughts and my days. It gave me time to think of Push to Walk, our clients, and our purpose.

Now that it’s over, it’s kind of a let-down. I know I need to recuperate and let my body heal. I will take time to figure out what my next big goal will be. Please, please remind me of my own words “I’ll never do THAT again,” if I ever even mutter the word “marathon” again. It was great, and I am proud of my accomplishment. Maybe next time I’ll have a goal of winning an eating contest instead – hot dogs, anyone???!!!    


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I made it! I finished! Crossing that finish line, arms held high and smiling for the camera, I hugged Darren with tears streaming down my face. I did it – that’s all I could think about. I was physically and emotionally drained. Smiling and crying at the same time, I hugged my dear, dear friend Stephanie who ran with me the entire time – all 5 hours and 16 minutes of it. For those of you who know me, you won’t be surprised to read that I am crying as I write this now. What an emotional journey.

There is SO much I want to write about, and I know I will write several entries all related to the race and the event. But for this morning, I want to thank the entire Push to Walk team and our support crew. From Darren who inspires me every step I take, to my husband for supporting me even though he doesn’t understand (who can?), to my incredible staff, our clients, runners and hand cyclists. To our generous supporters and donors who contributed way more than I ever imagined, to my old friends and new friends for taking part in this great event. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

I told Darren the night before the event that I only wanted him to do two things: do his best in the race and be there for me at the finish line. Being the wonderful son that he is, he came through with flying colors. He finished the half marathon (13.1 miles) in just 1 hour 47 minutes and was there to greet me at the finish. What more could I ask for? I hugged him and held him and didn’t want to let go.

I never expected my dear friend Stephanie to run with me the whole time. We had never spoken about it beforehand. Perhaps that was her intention, but I didn’t know it. She is an experienced marathon runner and a successful Ironman triathlete.  She could have run at whatever pace she desired, but she chose to run with me. For that, I am very, very grateful. THANK YOU, Stephanie. You are a kind, caring, compassionate person and I am proud to be your friend. Thank you for encouraging me, supporting me and running with me.

My husband, John, is my biggest fan and cheerleader, doing for me whatever has needed to be done for the past almost 6 months of training. Whether it was doing the food shopping while I was running, bringing me supplies, checking up on me or picking me up at my ending point, he always did what would help me. While I can’t say he understands why I felt the need to do this or agreed with the whole idea, he was supportive and encouraging. Thank you and I love you!

And last but not least, my daughter Arianne has encouraged me in every way during my training. During my last marathon in 2008, she ran miles 21-25 with me. While I knew she couldn’t be with me this time, I knew she was with me in spirit. As I thought about my aches and pains this time around, I thought of her encouraging words last time, and she helped me keep on going. She also sent me and Darren a very sweet card the day before the race, wishing us success and letting us know she was thinking about us.

While I have so much more to write, I will try to organize my thoughts and write more in the next few days. Two things I distinctly remember seeing on the course – one was a large sign that said “The reward is the journey,” and another hand written on the back of a Team in Training member (running for leukemia and lymphoma) that said, “If you think running is hard, ask my Mom about her chemo.”

So I have accomplished this goal, but not by myself. At times, I was only thinking, just one more step, one more step, and I WILL get there. Thanks for helping me and being a part of this incredible journey.       


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