Sunday, November 10, 2013

Good stuff

I have a couple of feel good (running related) stories to share, but first I have my own!

This happened this morning!  

This is the strongest long run I have had in a LONG time. My speed and endurance took quite a hit when my feet started hurting back in July and for quite a while I was forced to run slow/easy or not at all.  I have been running consistently again since the beginning of September and was able to start adding in some speed/tempo work at the end of September. While I feel good (and am so happy to be training hard again) it has been frustrating to feel slower/out of shape. I have told myself to just be grateful for where I am at, do the work, and know that I will get back to where I was. Coach has been great reminding me that there is plenty of time until Houston.

I have felt my endurance getting better and have had a couple of solid long runs, but I haven't had any great long runs. And then today happened! From the first step of this run I felt fast and strong. When the first few mile splits came up I was shocked and didn't think there was any way I would maintain, (especially when I hit the harder uphill miles) but the miles just kept ticking away. When I finished and saw my average pace for the whole 20 miles had been 7:23 I was THRILLED to say the least. This is just what my confidence needed. :) 10 weeks until Houston!

Now onto some really cool "good stuff".

- Did you read about Jimmy Jenson?

Jenson, age 48, became the first person with Down Syndrome to ever complete the NYC Marathon. How cool is that? Jenson ran the NYC Marathon with his friend, Jennifer Davis, who he met 12 years ago through the Best Buddies program, that connects people with intellectual disabilities with people who do not. Davis and Jenson starting running after Jenson had the idea to run a 5k together. I love that they became runners together!

Along with losing almost 70lbs, Jenson has seen other positive changes. Davis says that when she first met Jenson, "He would sit in the corner, kind of cross-legged. He's become so much more outgoing."  The power of running is amazing!

She also said, "I was able to help Jimmy become more active, get in the community, lose weight, and tie his shoes, but he taught me about enjoying life, dancing and singing like no one is watching, and that a hug and a hot cocoa can solve almost anything."

While running the streets of NYC, Jenson encouraged other runners - telling them if he could keep going, then so could they. After crossing the finish line, he kissed Davis on the cheek, and told her, "Thank you." You can see a great video interview with Jenson and Davis here.

- Also from the NYC Marathon, just about everyone has heard the story of Joy Johnson.

At 86, Joy was the oldest woman to run in the NYC Marathon (and has been since 2011). Tragically, she fell and hit her head around mile 20 of the race, and passed away in her sleep the next afternoon. Officials have said that Johnson died from complications of hitting her head and the blood-thinning medication she took for a minor heart flutter.

It was reported that in the weeks leading up to the NYC Marathon, Johnson  followed her daily routine of coffee, Bible lesson, 8-mile run and on some days, she also did 150 pushups. Incredible.

While it is heart-breaking that she died, her life was amazingly inspiring, and her family said that they take comfort that she died doing what she loved.

I think my favorite thing that I have read is that when a reporter asked to take a picture with Johnson near the finish line, Johnson was worried about the time that the stop for a photo would cost her on the clock. To me that shows her heart, spirit, and drive. I love it!

I want to be just like her when I grow up. :)

- And finally - one more awesome story from the NYC Marathon.

Meb had a rough day. He was way off pace and far back from the leaders. He even found himself having to stop and walk for a minute around mile 19. Most elite marathoners at that point would have dropped out of the race - saved their body from the wear and tear, and save themselves from a disappointing final time. But not Meb.

This video of his emotional interview after the race shows EXACTLY why I love Meb and why is such an inspiring person and athlete. (I ran on his team in the NYC Marathon in 2011 and got to spend an afternoon with him and he is just as humble and kind in person as you think he is).

Meb ended up finishing the marathon with Staten Island runner, Mike Cassidy. They worked together and finished hand in hand. You can read Cassidy's story of the experience here.  If you don't read the whole article, read just this part -

"As we entered Central Park at Columbus Circle, I turned to Meb and told him as much. “It’s an honor to run with you,” I said.

His response is something I’ll never forget.

“No,” he said. “Today is not about us. It’s about representing New York. It’s about representing Boston. It’s about representing the USA and doing something positive for our sport. We will finish this race holding hands.”

I’m a believer that running brings out the best in people. Running inspires. Running unites. Running uplifts. By pushing us to our limits and across them, running takes us to places we never thought possible—or even real. A good run can turn a dark day bright and make a bright day shine brighter. Performed on the scale of a marathon, running can transform communities and change lives.
Last year, around this time, as I saw Staten Island, my hometown, ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, I defended the NYC Marathon as a force for good in our community.

But until this moment, as I strode the marathon’s final quarter mile with Meb, I don’t know if I ever fully appreciated just how real running’s reach is. Our goals, as personal and individualistic as they may have been, were less important than our purpose. Our motives were separable from our mission.
In striving to be our best, we could bring out the best in others. We could honor the victims of Sandy and Boston, embracing pain to lessen theirs. We could inspire others to do the same."

I will say it again - the power of running is amazing. :)


Peppermint Ph.D. said...

Very inspiring stories!! Makes me feel better to hear that sometimes even seasoned runners have to walk.
I'm getting ready to invest in a Garmin. I've tried tracking via my Iphone, and it's just too cumbersome.

greengirlrunning said...

So exactly what I needed to read today! Thank you!!

coach dion said...

Great to see you running well again. And Then the Meb story, I will race this weekend and I hope I don't need to be strong like Meb and run/walk home... I love it when the top guy hurt, but decide that if the 48 000 guys behind them can finish so can I... Well done.

Mark Matthews said...

As a NYCM finisher -- have I said that once or twice? :-) -- I have been following those stories. Amazong. Amazing. You couldn't make that stuff up. All of them inspiring and a testimony to what running brings out of people and its importance.

Jen@runfortheboys said...

I saw Meb's interview, but hadn't read this article - tears again. Love this and thanks for sharing! And of course I'm super proud of your killer long run!

HalfCrazed Runner said...

Great post! I hope I can inspire some - I am running a half in all 50 states to show, they (terrorists) will not keep me, or my family down, in NY, NJ or the rest of the 48!

Amy Lauren said...

Those are all inspiring stories. That's why I love our sport- runners who are elite, older, or have disabilities can all run on the same course together and have the joy of completing 26.2 even with different goals.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing meb and Mike's story! Keep up the great work!!! Carol wv

Kortni said...

Your coach sounds similar to my coach...ha ha! Love that Meb story too...lots of motivation to be found in it!

Teamarcia said...

Meb is awesome and you're so right: running is filled with inspiring stories. Happy for you and a great run!

Suz and Allan said...

What an uplifting post Erin! Hooray for such a strong 20-miler!

Christina Williams said...

Awww, I love Meb and the Joy Johnson story broke my heart. But ... I feel she went out "in a blaze of glory" doing what she loved. She lived to an age we all hope to reach and if her passing was in her sleep as reported, then she left with grace, dignity, and peace. :) It's a way I would hope it could go for me one day and I hope I can be her, still running in my 80s!

jamie smith said...

Awesome post for many reasons, thanks for kick starting my day!

Raina R. said...

There are some very uplifting things coming from you today!! Thanks or sharing the stories. I am so encouraged to see you are running strong, friend!! Keep it up :)

Jill said...

The power of running is indeed amazing. As are you, my friend. I am so happy to hear that things are on the upswing and you're feeling revived and hitting some solid long runs. I know you can do it, you have more positive energy than all of us combined!!


Beth @ Miles and Trials said...

Congratulations on your great long run! I loved all these stories, and am a huge Meb fan too. I was beyond thrilled when I saw him running with Cassidy near the finish line in NY. It made my day/week!

Nicole Leonard said...

Yes! I love this post - especially the story of Meb finishing hand-in-hand with the runner.

I also love how you pointed out that "running brings out the best in people. Running inspires. Running unites. Running uplifts... Performed on the scale of a marathon, running can transform communities and change lives."

I couldn't have said it better myself. SPOT ON. :)

I'm running with Team World Vision to transform communities and change lives in Africa. If you or any of your readers would like to support me, just $50 will provide clean water for one person for life. But a donation in ANY amount is appreciated.

Thank you!

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

Great to see you're doing long runs again! Thanks for the inspiring stories!

heatherhamiltonrunner said...

Thanks for sharing about Jimmy Jenson. That video made my day!