> Runner of the Month
Hi, I am Mary Louise Doner. I have been a Runner for about three years. 2012 has been a very trying year for me. In March I lost my Mom (84 YO) and Stepfather (89 YO) , they died 8 hours apart, he died first, Mom followed literally from a broken heart 8 hours later. Neither had been ill other than the usual old age aches and pains but they did everything together for 35 years so Mom after finding stepdad dead on the kitchen floor also passed. Both died from massive heart attacks.
As a way to show tribute to Mom and Louis, I decided to run the 2103 Disney Princess Half Marathon. Mom loved Disney World plus she was a true “DIVA” and loved all things sparkly so this race was a perfect tribute to my Mom’s memory and a good way for me to channel my grief. I began my training in late April, 2012. Registered for the Princess in July same day registrations opened, booked a beautiful vacation for my Husband and I at Disney for the Half Marathon, and even got my bright orange tutu which I had bedazzled in Mom’s memory.
I was well into my training all through the summer into the fall, had run the 13.1 miles and even rewarded myself with a 13.1 charm for my sneakers. I also ran in several 5ks and a 10k as prep races having medal in all of these races since Mom was the wind beneath my wings.
All was going so well till October 29, 2012. You see I live in one of the barrier islands in New Jersey hit by Superstorm Sandy. We were in our home for six days before being taken out. See photo attached taken from our second story. We were forced to move to a temporary home, but one of the few items I took when leaving our home was my bright orange tutu.
Unfortunately, I then came to learn that my flood policy would not cover the cost of my additional living expenses for may temporary home. FEMA offered only up to two months additional living expense with no more monies in sight. Since we cannot return to our home for some time to come, I had to make the tough decision and cancel out from the Princess Half Marathon (shedding a few tears).
That being said, this did not stop me from running. Running is my time for me and I will fight al of life’s curve balls not to have this taken away from me. I have made new friends here at our temporary location, most of them much older than me since we are living in a 55+ community. We all high five each other and I smile. I still continue with my LSD runs on the weekend and hope to one day again be able to run in the Princess Half Marathon albeit whatever age this may be.
Growing up in Massachusetts, in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, I loved watching the Boston Marathon, every year. Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit were my heroes. I remember buying a copy of Runner’s World and savoring every page. I ran my first road race when I was 13, and then ran one season of cross-country, and several seasons of track, in high school. I had no clue what I was doing, though, and, without any kind of guidance, was never any good at it. I gave up my Boston dreams, and running, altogether, by senior year.
I stayed fit, through the years, doing aerobic workouts and power walking, but had convinced myself I couldn’t run. Then, in August, 2009, 24 years after I had given up running, my friend Wendy issued a challenge. She had been through a horrific car accident that mangled her leg, and endured numerous surgeries. Her doctors had told her, “You might walk again, but you’ll never run a marathon.” Being the indomitable spirit that she is, she was determined to prove them wrong. She asked if anyone would be willing to train to run the 2010 Disney Princess Half Marathon with her.
I had been through a very challenging year, and was ready to do something positive for myself. I told her I couldn’t run, but I knew I could walk it under the 16 minute per mile required pace. I went ahead and registered, and started training. After a few weeks, I decided to try adding in a little jogging. At first, I couldn’t even make it a full block, before I’d have to walk, again. But I kept doing it, and was amazed that, within a month, I was running more than I was walking!
In 2010, I not only ran the Princess Half with Wendy, but I also ran the 26.2 with Donna Half, the Disney Wine and Dine Half, and the Space Coast Marathon, followed by the Goofy Challenge, in January, 2011. Now, I’m working on getting fast, to attempt a BQ in December, and fulfill my childhood dream of running Boston.
Along the way, I’ve inspired my entire family. My husband has completed a half marathon. My 11 year old son is training to run the Space Coast Half Marathon, in November. My 9 year old daughter has the fastest 5K time in her age group, in northeast Florida, for the past year, and even my 4 year old daughter is working up to her first 5K. They all love running and racing (and their iFitness belts!)
Running has become my “me” time. It helps me burn off stress, and process my thoughts, when a million different ideas are buzzing through my brain. It has also become a great way to have one-on-one time, with each of my three children. I can take one of them out on a run, and it opens up new lines of communication and connection for us. Traveling to races has become a bonding experience for the whole family. I’m so thankful that Wendy inspired me to take those first steps, and reintroduced running into my life!
Four years ago I wanted to get a workout in that was easy in the sense that I could just head out the door without the door without a lot of equipment (I'm an avid alpine skier so used to equipment). I bought a pair of shoes and started using the treadmill in my apartment complex. Unfortunately I quickly came down with a nasty case of plantar fasciitis and started using my bike for a workout. I entered my first organized athletic event since high school and completed the 2 day Fat Tire Classic in Winter Park Colorado that June. Suddenly I was hooked on endorphins. Less than a month later I completed a bike/swim/bike multisport race.
Over the winter I trained hard on the bike but I really wanted to do a triathlon which would mean running again. I went to a local running store and got properly fitted for shoes and started again. But running hurt. I didn't really enjoy it. I barely eeked through what I had to do. I ran Bolder Boulder but it was painful. That June I completed a sprint triathlon but I walked much of the run portion and felt defeated. A week later I had a minor surgery that took me out of anything for a month.
During that month I moved to a different area of the Denver metro area. Closer to Boulder and even more saturated with athletes. I'd see people out running and they seemed to enjoy it. I wanted to be that person but felt lost in getting there. I had heard about running groups and googled to find a local one. I showed up one late September Saturday morning completely expecting to be dropped and potentially laughed at. And while I was dropped I was not laughed at. The leader waited for me at a gate and then joined me for the rest of the run. We did a walk/run (she was pregnant so she needed the breaks too) and I made it over 4 miles that day. This particular group has coffee/breakfast after run group and I got to know a few people.
That Wednesday I woke up to an email that my 23 year old cousin was in ICU on life support. We disconnected life support on Friday morning. I showed up for running group that Saturday and got more support and love from these relative strangers than a single girl feeling very alone could have asked for. And we ran. The next day I did the Race for the Cure which I'd registered for months before. I sat at the start and sobbed. I know people around me thought I'd lost someone to breast cancer (actually, I was celebrating a family member's victory over the disease) but I sobbed for the loss of such a young life. And I ran. As I ran I felt pain but that pain reaffirmed my life. If I could feel it I was alive and that felt good.
Every run I went on from there on out became a release and a relief. It allowed my mind to settle in a meditative way. And, finally, I understood how people might love it. I didn't yet but I could comprehend how they could. I continued to run with the group every Saturday until I started my own coaching season (ski racing). I cried as I drove home that day because I was going to miss this new tradition. I didn't see people from the group again really until President's Day weekend when we had a break and I was able to join the group again. As we started a man fell in beside me and asked how my coaching season was going. I was stunned. He remembered me and why I was gone? Wow, what a cool person! (Side note: this cool person is running Boston as I type!)
That March 8th I joined the group's paid training program with the goal that spring of running Bolder Boulder again. And on March 17th I shocked myself and registered for my first half marathon in October. I continued training with the group, making PRs and increasing mileage over the summer. I ran a 10 mile race in early September that was a disaster and doubt set it. I was scared. Could I do it?
Nerves were high while I tapered down. I thought I might puke when saw the finish line when I went down for packet pick up. Then, suddenly, the night before the race it changed. I was no longer frightened. I was excited. I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve. I had friends and family along the course cheering for me and when I finished I actually clapped for myself (yes, there's video and you can hear the announcer say something about it because he noticed it).
I've since completed 2 more half marathons, done that 10 mile race again (7 minute improvement the next year) and I truly crave running. I'm not fast, my HM PR is 2:41:16. But I love it. Not every run is a good one but I love what I learn about myself as I work through the tough ones. And I love the feeling, yes, the runner's high, I get on the good ones.
As a footnote, the running group is now the largest part of my social life. Coach Erin is one of my dearest friends. I'm Auntie Robyn to her 2 children (the one she was pregnant with on that first run and now a second one).
Running has given me stress relief and fitness. It gives me friendship and camaraderie. It gives me purpose.
- Robyn Speirn
August 2012 -
October 2012 - Kristy AKA Fancy Pants - Los Angeles, CA
In 2007 I went through a few things in my life that had me looking for something to do for myself and not anyone else. I needed a spark to make me that happy person I once was, and figured doing some huge and exciting would do that. My dad has been a runner for about 18 years, so I was a spectator at many finish lines and always thought "these people are crazy".
One day he convinced me to wake up wayyyyy to early on a Saturday, and try running for myself. Well that one small 30 minute run turned into me joining him every weekend after that. The satisfaction of going farther and farther each week had me hooked. My dad was training for the the Long Beach half marathon that year so I figured what the heck might as well join him. I found out about a small running group that was training specifically for that race, so I got a few friends to join me and we were at the start line of our first half marathon in 2008. I finished my first half in 3:05, with a smile and a spark back in me! If some had told me then that by this time I'd complete over 20 half marathons, many 5k and 10k's, I would've thought they were crazy. Last year I took my "self challenge" to a new level and ran side by side with my dad at the LA Marathon. We ran in rain, hail, and winds but still finished with smiles on our faces and a memory I will never forget.
WIth not many races on my calendar this year, I decided to make running more of a leisure thing to stay healthy. I often run alone to clear my head, or if I'm up for some laughs and chatting I'll call up my group of running buddies. I do my best with my busy schedule to get in a run 2-3 times a week, with yoga and a gym session on my non running days. I took on some trail running recently that I'm absolutely in love with!
I absolutely love the Ifitness Ultimate 2 running belt with a slide on waterbottle attachment! It's perfect for my Iphone/nano, lip balm, car key, I.D, credit card, and my gel packs. I don't always need water for shorter runs, so I like the fact that the bottle can slide right off. I also use my belt for hiking and even sliding it under my tops when I go to theme parks and holiday shopping...beats carrying my giant purse!
I'm so excited to be the "Runner of the Month" for ifitness this month..THANK YOU IFITNESS! if you'd like to read more about my running adventures please check out my blog!
November 2012 - Ian Senior - Langhorne, Bucks County, PA
Here is my running story:
I started running for my health and my two boys. In the Summer of 2010 my wife Shari and were playing in the local park with the boys when my eldest son, Micah (who was 3½ at the time) ran across the field and I was totally out of breath trying to keep up with him.
I had recently changed jobs and there was a gym on the campus where I worked. I started with a ‘Couch to 5K’ program and did my first race over Thanksgiving (a 5 miler). In the process of running multiple times a week I lost about 60 pounds (between August 2010 to April 2011). My running has helped me maintain the weight loss.
The 'Before' picture at my 2010 Company picnic about a month before I started my running.
The 'After' picture celebrating with Micah at the finish line of the 2011 Philadelphia Marathon.
I started running further and further and did my first half marathon in April 2011 (Bucks County Half) and the Broad Street Run 10 Miler (my first ‘Big’ race) in May 2011. The Philadelphia Broad Street Run is the biggest 10 mile road race in the USA. My father in law had run Broad Street many times and I wanted to give it a try myself. It was great. My goal (as a new runner) was to finish and also in the back of my mind was to break 90 minutes. I made my time goal...just. I ran 89:55.
I had bought a copy of Runners World (January 2011 edition) which talked about the top rated Marathons. It had an article about the Philadelphia Marathon which is close to home (I live in Langhorne, Bucks County, PA about 35 minutes drive from Philadelphia). Then I saw that that the Runner’s World Challenge was coming to Philadelphia for the 2011 Marathon. That made up my mind to decide to a Marathon (it was on the ‘before I’m 40’ list which was approaching in 2012). I signed up and followed the training program from the website.
During the marathon (I think mile 22 or so) my body started to realize that this was the furthest I had ever run before and all I could think about was that I was so close I have to finish for my boys. The best part of the day was that once I crossed the finish line my eldest son was there to meet me. We walked back to the hotel together very slowly. I finished in 4:06:48. The Thursday after the marathon, my wife Shari, my father in law and I ran the Thanksgiving 5 miler together (which had been my first race the previous year. I bettered my 2010 time by 6 minutes (43:32) less than a week after running my first marathon.
Now that my wife also had the running bug we decided to head to Walt Disney World for the 2012 Marathon weekend. My boys (Micah 5 and Asher 20 months) ran the kids races, Shari ran the half marathon and I am ran the full finishing in 4:06:18 (beating my Philly time from 7 weeks earlier….again, just!).
Now Shari and I run our races together...well almost. At 5’11” I am 1ft taller than Shari and I have longer legs but she is probably quicker and is usually very close to my time and mostly catches me up – plus she looks better running in a tutu!
In 2012 we are both running in Broad Street Run (May 2012) the Rock and Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon (September 2012) and I will be running the Philadelphia Marathon again while Shari will be running the Half (November 2012).
We will be returning to Walt Disney World in January 2013 where I have signed up for the Goofy Challenge! and Shari will be running her first full marathon. This time I will be running for the charity “Autism Speaks”.
Celebrating our 2012 Disney runs at the Magic Kingdom on the Monday after the race weekend.
Prior to 2010, I wasn't a runner. Not even close. The last time I could remember running was in 10th grade with my friend Kimmy and I hated it and, therefore, didn't do it often. That all changed one day in January, when running suddenly became the most important thing in the world.
My dear friend and coworker, Anna, had just sent me a Facebook message. Since I'm not on FB anymore, I can't repost the message but the gist of it was "I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma last month. I wanted you to hear it from me before I announce it at work today"
I was stunned. Anna was the most active person I knew. She ran marathons, for cripes sake! How could she suddenly have cancer?!?! Hubby strolled into the kitchen while I was still digesting this. I looked up at him and said "Anna has cancer. I need to find a run for Lymphoma and do it!" Without batting an eye, he looked at me and said "But you're not a runner" and I told him "I guess I'm gonna become one!"
With that one statement - my world became a much different one than I had ever known. I was a woman on a mission. I searched and searched for lymphoma races. I was thinking 5K would be good. Something to honour a friend and, maybe, raise a little money in the process. I was coming up empty. It seemed no one had a race for lymphoma. I even wrote to the Lymphoma Foundation of Canada and, after taking their sweet time, they wrote back "We don't hold any races but I think the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society does something"
A quick Google later made me wonder why something as big as Team in Training had never popped up in any of my searches! Soon, my hopes were almost dashed by my mental state. The shortest distance I could run for these guys was a half marathon. And it seemed so huge - running that super long distance and raising THAT much money to do it. But I quickly slapped myself upside the head and said "This isn't about you - dummy. You can totally do it and it would be a wonderful way to honour a friend who's been pretty good to you over the years"
I looked at the races that were available, but the training had already started for them. I spoke to the lady at the head office to see what races might be coming in the Fall and she started to list off what was coming up. When she said Nike Women's, I stopped her. That was a race Anna had done with her daughter a few years earlier. THAT would be the race to do to honour her.
In late February, I started to teach myself to run using Couch to 5K. It was really hard for me. I was down about 15lbs from where I had started the year, but I was still carrying a great deal of weight and was still fairly out of shape. The program made it manageable, though, and I found myself looking forward to lacing up my runners and hitting the pavement. I signed up for a 5K goal race at the end of May to keep me motivated (and to allow me a few extra weeks in case I needed them). Then I heard about another 5K race in early May that benefited the NICUs where my daughters had spent their first week and signed up for that too. Suddenly I was signed up for 2 races and I hadn't even finished learning to run yet!
At the end of April, I attended the info session for the Fall season of Team in Training. I was a bundle of nerves - arriving early and anxious about what was to come. I was sitting in the room when I heard a familiar voice behind me and I turned to see a girl who I had sat next to in a SharePoint course a few years earlier, checking in. We immediately started to gab and get caught up and I felt my anxiety start to go away. I had a familiar face who would be doing this, too (Anna's daughter, was going to do it as well, but I didn't know her that well back then). At the end of the presentation - I signed up and walked away with my training shirt and instructions for setting up my fundraising website.
A couple of weeks later, I started training with the team...and I ran my first 5K the very next day.
The months that followed are a blur to me. I ran several more races as my distances increased, just to keep myself motivated. I made amazing friends who became my running family. I became a part of a community working towards a great cause. And I became annoying to pretty much everyone I knew as I came up with new and creative ways to fundraise (that fundraising minimum is nothing if you pluck away at it in $200 chunks!)
Running had become a part of my life! Something I couldn't do without.
As I trained that summer, I found other benefits to this new lifestyle I had adopted. The Saturday morning runs got me out of the house and gave me a break from the twin terrors, er...toddlers. I got to talk with other women and relate on a level I had never related before. Running made me a better mom to my girls because it gave me something that was my own and let me step away so I could come back stronger.
By September, the big race was looming. Only one month to go. I started to wonder if everything I had gained was going to just vanish when we were done being a team. Turns out I wasn't alone. A few of us started to make plans to keep up the Saturday runs after we were done with TNT. We discussed other races we could run. We started to register to run these races together. There was definitely going to be a running life after TNT!
Suddenly, it was the middle of October and hubby and I were on a plane to San Francisco, with the twinners left at home with Gramma. I didn't know it then, but that weekend in California was going to be one of the most emotionally wrenching of my entire life. This was where we really saw the difference we were making for LLS. This was where we really became a team.
Lining up at 5:30 am in Union Square with tens of thousands of other runners. I found myself quite unprepared for the excitement of a big American marathon. I knew I was ready to run this thing and I was mentally prepared in case I ended up running it alone, despite hoping to stay with my friends. Anna was there too. In remission and running her first half since her diagnosis.
I started the race with my friends, since we were good at keeping pace with each other. Unfortunately, a poorly timed drink of water at the start line meant that I was suffering by the time we were out of the financial district. I needed a portapotty and fast. I thought if I could just run ahead of the group, I could get through the line and meet the girls at the other side. That thought changed as soon as I saw the lineups. I was stuck waiting. Twelve minutes later (as per my Garmin pause), my friends were gone and I was on my own.
From miles 4 to 9 - I plodded on solo. I was losing steam. I was mentally beating myself up. Then, at one point in that solo trek, I came to the mission mile...a mile dedicated to all of the people we were running for. Each region had photo collages up and, as I looked for the Prairie region one...I saw Anna just ahead of me. I ran to catch her and, with tears in our eyes, we had our photo taken with the collage. I hugged her and ran with her group for a little bit and then I was ready to go again. I took off, with renewed determination to finish this. I now remembered why I was there again!
At the mile 9 marker, I stopped to take a self portrait with the sign and a girl came up to me and offered to take that picture for me. Turns out she was on my team - I'd just never met her because she hadn't trained with the rest of us. We decided to finish this sucker together and get our pictures taken with the lovely Tiffany-bearing firemen at the finish.
Suffice it to say - we crossed that finish line. We got that Tiffany necklace. Then we parted ways. For someone who I had never met and whom I had shared the end of an emotional journey with, it is odd that I never saw or spoke to her again. But I'll always remember her. We may not have known each other, but that day we were a real team. I wish I could have crossed the finish line with my friends, but doing it this way made me realize that I was doing it for a bigger reason than myself.
To this date, I still train weekly with people from my team. They have become some of my dearest friends and I cherish every step I run with them! Anna? Well, she is now happily in remission and finally finished her maintenance chemo. Next January, we are planning to do the Goofy Challenge for Team in Training to celebrate her success.
Since starting my running journey, I've run:
- 1- full marathon
- 7 - half marathons (I'm running my 8th on May 6 in Vancouver)
- 6 - 10K races
- 9 - 5K races
Craziness for someone who never thought she could be a runner! But with as far as I've come - I am so glad that I have this in my life. I'm glad that I am healthy and strong and can do this. and I'm excited to see where this journey takes me.
Follow me on twitter: @khourianya or my blog at www.readwriterunmom.com
Langdon, Alberta, Canada