Archives for posts with tag: Running

Team Pop 2017
At mile 4, I started undoing one of the safety pins that held my race number to my “Team Pop” shirt. It was hot. I was tired. I felt done. I would simply pull off my number and sneak away from the race. My car was just across the street from that particular spot on the course. Would it matter if I bailed now? My intent had been sincere. My energy and motivation at that moment were sapped.

But I thought about Pop, who I had met only that morning before the event. Kenny’s dad. Grandpa to Jess and Ken’s 6-month old. Mrs. Morris’s husband. I convinced myself that the overheating misery I was experiencing was nothing compared to the fatigue and illness Pop has been going through as he battles lymphoma. Or the anger and frustration Ken has dealt with watching a parent battle an invisible opponent like blood cancer. And the courage I witness in my own mother as she faces lung cancer head-on.

I re-fastened the safety pin and told myself this was not going to be my induction into the quitting hall of fame just because the run felt hard. Fighting cancer is hard. And so is watching it from outside the ring as a grown child, like Ken & Jess, who only recently became parents themselves.

The conversation that took place in my head included a reprimand to myself with the reminder that this event and this day were not about me. Not in the least. The mental reaming involved a laundry list of thrashings that included the recognition that my ego was getting in the way of why I had come out to be part of Team Pop in the first place.

I thought about standing with my hand over my heart while the national anthem was played before the race and how emotional I felt knowing that Kenny had pulled together a large group of folks who wanted to show their support for him and his dad. I thought about how competitive I am with myself and how at this stage in my life I do not need or even really want the accolades or trophy that come with being first or fastest. That being healthy and strong and able-to are reasons enough to toe the start line and cross through the finish chute. Not an option for Pop right now.

Waiting to cross the finish line with Ken and others from the team he organized made me feel grateful and humble. The smile on Pop’s face, and the appreciation he showed for everyone who had gathered to support and honor him was powerful. The story Ken and Jess saw of their lives only a year ago did not include Pop having to suffer with blood cancer and maybe sooner than later miss out on holding, playing with and passing on wisdom to their child.

Kenny’s effort to do something so tangible to honor his dad, including surrounding him with so many people channeling positive energy in his direction, has to have converted into some sort of healing power, at least for now. I am grateful for the personal awakening that occurred by doing something good for someone else. And I still have not checked the times or results from the race.

I do know that that the lofty goal Ken set of raising $10K for the Leukemia & Lymphoma society was met and will support research and science to help find a cure. That, by far, is the best prize I have ever seen on the podium of any 10-K.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. These are the types of cancer that can affect the bone marrow, blood, lymph nodes or other parts of the lymphatic system. Their mission: cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Funds raised support lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provide free information and support services.

Running for Pop. Fueled by hope and love. Camaraderie. A cause. Distraction from what cannot be controlled. Purple passion. Spirit. Thanks, Kenny. Thank you, Pop.


The second overall woman in the Gloucester County Educational Foundation 8K February 16th was Karla Havens, age 50!  I know that because she and I were talking before the race about how it feels when someone in your age group passes you right at the end, and I kept thinking about that comment as I unfortunately stayed behind her for the entire 5 miles.    Anyhow, I have written before about my admiration for athletes who role model for all of us that age itself is not a barrier to being a healthy competitor.  And I completely agree with the title of then 41-year old 2008 Olympian Dara Tores’ book  that Age is Just a Number.   I am also a fan of Debi Bernardes (55 year old IronMan competitor and triathlon coach at UCanDoIt Coaching) who writes in a blog that some people use “age as just an excuse to not try.”

Bernardes quotes Dr. Ellen Langer, a Harvard psychologist:  “The regular and ‘irreversible’ cycles of aging that we witness in the later stages of human life may be a product of certain assumptions about how one is supposed to grow old. If we didn’t feel compelled to carry out these limiting mindsets, we might have a greater chance of replacing years of decline with years of growth and purpose.”

I find that motivating and it makes me want to personally train harder.  I will remind myself of this during my next training session with Justin Heinle at Tidewater Performance Center in Gloucester,  especially if he tries  to dole out another “Heartbreaker” workout encouraging a healthy competition and challenge between my boss and me.

I would also like to pay tribute to Joan Benoit Samuelson who won her second Boston Marathon in 1983, the year I graduated high school.  Samuelson ran a sub 2:50 marathon at the 2008 Olympic Trials at the age of 50 and continues to break records in the 50-plus age group.  Now that is inspiring.

So with snowflakes falling that are as big as feathers from a down pillow fight, it’s time to hit the road and get outside and run.  Spring is just around the corner and the Sentara Colonial Half Marathon in Williamsburg is next Sunday.