Running Season 2021

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It’s official! Training has started for running season 2021. It does not seem possible, as we are still in the grips of a deadly pandemic. Thankfully, the race for which I am training is virtual. It is way too dangerous and completely irresponsible for any races to be held in-person.

As we all know, the Philadelphia Marathon was my first half marathon and then my first full marathon. Of my 18 medals, 4 of them are from Philly. I love that race so much that their logo was tattooed on my arm in 2012.

When I originally got my tattoo, my intent was to have a star for each medal. Well, I have 8 stars and 18 medals. I do not see the possibility of adding any more stars to my tattoo. So now I have to be creative with the meaning of the 8 stars.

I have decided that I want the 8 stars in my tattoo to represent 8 medals from Philly, since it is the Philly logo that is the design. I currently have 4 medals from Philly, so I am half way there.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that this year for the first time, the Philadelphia Marathon has offered a virtual option! I can still run and do it safely!

I am currently registered for the VIRTUAL Philadelphia Half Marathon this November. I will be participating from my home area and using my Garmin to confirm my mileage and time.

My 19th medal overall and 5th medal from Philly will be coming this fall!

Training has started this week. I take longer to train due to my disability. I build my mileage more slowly and have more rest weeks built into my training schedule. 

I have always used my races to support some sort of charity. Whenever I have ran Philly, I typically support their homeless services programs. The city of Philadelphia has some of the most innovative programs to combat homelessness in the country.

This year, since I am participating virtually, I am fundraising for a cause near and dear to me – animal shelters. I am still running Philly for homeless services, but this year is for homeless animals, not homeless humans. The cats are the only family I have and my only goal in life right now is to be able to outlive them so that I can care for them and keep them all together.

Therefore, if you would like to “support” me in running the VIRTUAL Philadelphia Half Marathon this November, I ask that you do so in one of the following ways by making a contribution to a no-kill animal shelter:

  • Jude was adopted from a local Humane Society. If you choose to make a donation to a Humane Society near you in order to “support” my race, please do so “In Honor of Jude.”

  • Simon was adopted from a small, local non-profit animal shelter. If you choose to make a donation to a non-profit animal shelter near you that is not associated with either the Human Society or the SPCA, please do so “In Honor of Simon.”

  • Jolene was adopted from a local SPCA. If you choose to donate to a SPCA near you, please do so “In Honor of Jolene.”

Finally, I would like to bring your attention to a great program that gives beds to shelter beds that you can use in conjunction with any shelter. There is a USA company called Kuranda Beds that makes chew/scratch resistant, orthopedic beds for cats and dogs. Consider giving a shelter animal the gift of a good night’s sleep by donating a shelter bed so that they are not sleeping on a hard floor.

If you go to shelterbeds.org, you can choose a local animal rescue near you (Humane Society, SPCA, non-profit). Each shelter has a “wish list” of what size beds they need for their residents (ie. cat beds, large dog size, etc.) Choose a bed size on their wish list and checkout. The bed will be delivered directly to the shelter with a card saying that the bed came from you. It is a wonderful program that gives pets some comfort while they spend time in a shelter waiting to be adopted.

We have been overwhelmed with how much kindness total strangers from across the country and all over the world have shown us in the few months I was unemployed after losing my job. I would like to make my race this year as a way to give back for all the love and support we received.

My only wish in life is to outlive my cats so I can keep them together, cared for, and loved.

Please consider either adopting a furry friend or making a donation to your local no-kill animal shelter. I would be honored to “celebrate” my race this year with you by having donations go to shelters in Honor of each of my cats – Jude, Simon, and Jolene. 

Here’s to hopefully a safe, fun, and productive training season for my November race!

Medal # 17

Last weekend, I participated in my first 5k in about a decade. I started out running 5ks back in the early 2000s, and when it got to the point that I was running over 30 races per year, I figured that I needed to run longer. I have been running half and full marathons for the past 12 years.

The 5k last weekend was a fundraiser for a program very near and dear to me, given my educational and professional background. The 5k raised funds for our local community policing initiative. Having completed the Run to Remember half marathon a few times, and numerous other races that support our emergency responders, I was totally on board to do a 5k for community policing after a 10-year hiatus from the shorter distances. Plus, this one supports our local community police officer, who is an all-around amazing person.

I just ran the 1812 Challenge half marathon a few weeks ago, and signed up for this race totally in support of the cause. I did my Canadian 10:1 run:walk method that I instituted this year. This meant I had two walk breaks for a 5k. I also had an unanticipated third walk break in this race, as there was a hill on one of the streets. I don’t do well with hills, so I walked up it. In total, I had 3 walk breaks over a 3.1 mile run.

The weather was perfect. It was 55 degrees at the start, which is my favorite temperature in all of life, and also optimal race weather. Given my hiatus from the 5k distance, I was just treating this as another 3 mile run. I was not expecting any certain time or accolades. The only expectation I had for myself was to finish in under 30 minutes. Based on my race pace a few weeks ago in my half marathon, I was hoping for about 27 minutes, but I figured under 30 minutes was a reasonable expectation.

My fastest 5k time back in my 20s was 25:10. Now at age 40, I knew I would not get near that. I just wanted to run a decent 3 miles. 

I crossed the finish line in 26:17, far exceeding even my wildest expectation of 27 minutes. 

When checking the boards for race times, which were marked “unofficial,” I was surprised to notice that I had placed 2nd in my age group!

I was surprised and elated! While I consistently perform in the top 10% of runners in half marathons, this was the first time I have ever placed in my age group in any race ever. Well, not in the top 10 anyway. 

At age 40, a 5k time of 26:17 is a new PR (personal record) race for me. Placing in my age group was the icing on the cake. When I turned 40 this year, I have now entered the Masters category of running, and I finally feel like I am coming into my own. I may not be as fast as I was in my 20s, but I am a well-seasoned, experienced runner, and to place in my age group felt amazing. I was so excited. I could not wait to tell everyone.

Running awards were announced at the end of the race. The first place finisher in each category received a prize. As second in my age group, I knew I was not going to receive anything, and I was totally okay with that. I was so happy to place second and have bragging rights. I ran a good 5k and then stayed near the finish line to cheer for everyone who came in after me. It was a great race and just a happy day to be part of the running community.

Imagine my surprise, when the female age 40-49 age group first place finisher was announced and it was me! Apparently, the other woman in my age group was the first overall female finisher, which bumped me up in the standings to be the first finisher in my age group. When I looked online later this week, I also noted that I was the third overall female finisher for the race! 

Welcome to medal # 17! This is my first 5k medal and the only medal that is for a distance shorter than a half marathon. However, I am so honored to have placed first in my age group! I am so proud of this 5k! I had a great time and a great run on an awesome course with amazing people! 

I will now officially say that my 2019 running season is over and I am in the off-season. Medal # 17 was a complete surprise, but definitely one of my most favorite medals. I am so looking forward to planning the 2020 race season over this winter and to resume “recreational running” for the duration of the off-season.

Thank you so much to all the volunteers, the spectators, and every one who has supported me in the 2019 race season. This is the best race season I have had in 5 years and I am so grateful to be able to continue to compete in this sport. I truly consider my ability to run to be a gift from God and every step I take is a blessing. I love all my medals and consider it an honor and a privilege to have earned each one. I’m so happy! Medal # 17 rocks!