I must note that this is a story that mingles animals and running. What do animals have to do with running? Amazingly so, they’re an essential ingredient in the formula that will take me to Boston.
I am an animal lover, plain and true. I grew up on 30 acres in the middle of Adams County, Iowa, with a variety of cats, dogs, chickens, ducks, pigs, and horses. My sister and I would frequently run around the farm to explore the creeks, pond, woods, and fields. One time we even found an old water pump in the middle of the pasture that spewed out a field mouse when pumped, so we put an old mason jar under the pump and caught the mouse. Little did we know he was too smart for us and figured out how to get out of a hamster cage by twisting off the closure caps.
When my oldest son was a few years old, I started fostering kittens for a rescue near Mooresville, NC. When we lived back in Iowa, I got involved with a no-kill cat rescue. I started a fundraising campaign called “Running for a Paws” for this rescue that netted about $3,000. I ran races to collect donations and pledges, and had initially planned to run the local 1/2 marathon as the final race for this fundraiser, the Lewis & Clark Siouxland Marathon. Because I had collected pledges based on the number of race miles I did, I figured I could jack up the fundraising pot a few hundred bucks by doing the FULL marathon, which was my fourth full marathon. I figured it would be my last marathon. (My husband rolls his eyes at this as he knew better.) I didn’t follow a training plan, didn’t do speed work, tempo runs, and I pretty much ran when I wanted to. Yes, I got my miles in, but it was more for the accomplishment than anything else. I call that “old school” style. Race day was nice and COLD, and I flew to the finish in 4:12. And that was just the beginning.
I remember sitting in my mom and dad’s back yard with a Miller Lite after the race, and out of the blue, I wondered what time I was need to qualify for the elusive Boston Marathon, the race I’d heard of but really didn’t know anything else about. I googled what it was at that time, before it was lowered by five minutes. This was the race that I thought was just for elites and extremely fast people, not for regulars like me. “Hmmmm, if I can finish a marathon that I didn’t really train for in 4:12, I bet I can finish in 3:45 if I really give it a try.” And often times, when I get something in my head, I will try and try until I succeed or get distracted and move on to something else. Three marathons later, here I am, a 2014 Boston Marathon Registrant. And all because of that one marathon that I ran to raise money for the animals.
Isn’t it funny how one decision can lead to so many other things? My desire to help this rescue led to my return to long distance running. It also led me to have some furry “helpers”, but I love them and know that if it wasn’t for me, three of the four probably would not even be alive today. Because I currently do not have a job outside the house and we recently moved here from Texas, I don’t exactly have a bunch of friends beating my door down for coffee talks and fun excursions that were frequent before the move. I haven’t been able to run with my group for the last several weeks because of my injury either. I’m a social person, so I do find myself fairly lonely. But with a little help from my furry friends, I am never alone. I think that, at this particular point, they’re as grateful for me as I am for them.
At first, I was upset that I had to pull out of the Houston Marathon in January. Then I think about the opportunities that may follow because of that decision. What will I do after running the Boston Marathon? Where will my next marathon be? Will I be ready for the 1/2 iron distance triathlon next October? It’s exciting to think of all the possibilities ahead. For now, I’m just going to get through the 1/2 marathon on October 26th the absolute fastest I can, then in November, concentrate on strength building so I can heal whatever it is that’s hurting me. But I’m still excited. Along the way, I know I have people here to train with, to cross train with, and to just be there for me. And my furry little friends will never…EVER…let me be truly alone.
Because there’s ALWAY fur to clean up, always litter to clean, always food dishes to be filled, and always fresh water from the tap to be run so they can drink out of the faucet because “why would a sophisticated cat drink out of a bowl”, I like to take goofy pictures of my cats and share them in order to prove who really is boss. Yes, I know they really are the boss, no matter how much I think that I am.