Now that I have officially earned and achieved 26 medals, I announce my retirement from the competitive marathon circuit. This does NOT mean I will stop running. I will continue to run. I will just no longer race on the competitive circuit to earn medals.
Plus, I will no longer run marathons. I will keep to distances of 5k or 10k.
I have been very fortunate to have had a successful 16-year running career. I have qualified for Olympic Trials (but not made the Olympics, obviously). I have represented Team USA in Canada. I have earned a prestigious B.A.A. (Boston Athletic Association) Boston Marathon medal. I have seen many cities across the North American continent by running 26.2 miles through their streets to the cheers of screaming crowds.
I have run races on my bucket list. I have achieved many goals. While some dreams were realized, others were crushed. It has not been all glory. The marathon teaches you, and sometimes those lessons are through failure and heartbreak.
There have been many race dedications. I have officially had three start line songs. Much as baseball players have walk-up songs when they come up to bat, so do marathon runners have start line songs. For the first half of my running career, it was “Lose Yourself” by Eminem (before it became popular.) For one heartbreaking race, it was “Berzerk” by Eminem. For the second half of my running career, it was “Remember the Name” by Fort Minor.
After all, not everyone can start to the Rocky theme song. Although, if you run Philly like I have, you will hear it. Guaranteed. You see, Philly is like my first love. Philly was my first half marathon. Then Philly was my first full marathon. You never forget your first. In fact, 8 of my 26 medals come from Philly.
Speaking of Philly, my running tattoo on my right arm is the Philly logo. It has 8 stars. Each star represents one of my Philly medals. I have done the Rocky Run and stood at the top of the art museum steps literally in Sly’s steps, as there are bronze casings in the cement where he stood.
I have raced in wind, rain, snow, and ice. For one race, it was 23F at the start line. It was so cold; the air horn would not work to start the race. They had to get a police officer to discharge his weapon, so we had a shotgun start. Water and Gatorade would immediately freeze if they hit the ground at aide stations.
I have been quite fortunate through my running career in that I never had a DNF (did not finish). I came very, very close one challenging race, but I DID finish. I did have a few DNS (did not start) due to either finances in being unable to get to the race, injuries, or illnesses. Yet, even with the DNS’s, I managed to bounce back the following season or race.
You meet the most amazing, incredible people at races. Someone once said, if you want to see the best of humanity, watch a marathon. It is true. From the cheer zones, to the hilarious on course signs, every single person at a marathon is kind. You see people do things you never thought possible, and I’m not just talking about the whole running 26.2 miles part.
While I may have four degrees, I will say that my running career and my 26 medals are what make me the proudest. If anyone asks me what the best thing is I’ve ever done with my life? My first answer will be the cats. My second answer will be my medals. In that exact order.
I retire having achieved the category of Master’s runner. Since I also have a Master’s degree, I guess that makes me a Jill of all trades, master of two? I am retiring at the top of my game, on my own terms. I am not retiring when my health or disability force me. I am fortunate to have been able to continue running through the ongoing pandemic. I am blessed to have reached my goal in achieving 26 medals even with covid all around me.
Retirement from the professional race circuit, do not mean stop running. I will keep running. But you see, being on the race circuit? I had sponsorships. I had companies who were paying for my race fees and hotel stays so I could race. I was a ranked runner. That is the life I am leaving behind. I am no longer sponsored. I will no longer race or be ranked. I am just going to run For the Love of Running. Honestly, that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 16 years, but now I won’t be chasing down the medals.
Running is one of the best ways to explore someplace new. It’s a great way to meet new people. The running community is pretty kind. I am a proud supporter of the Back on My Feet program, that helps homeless people find jobs and housing by engaging them in running programs.
So, while I am retiring from the race circuit with 26 medals, the running continues. I will continue to lace up and stop out for 3 miles or 6 miles. However, I will no longer toe the start line for races.
This journey I have been on has been the most incredible of my life. I continue for the love of running. As I have always said, run, walk, crawl or dragged, I will cross the finish line. Rejoice! I have conquered!