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The Red Dress Club: Pride

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

(CC) Brian Solis, and

Looking up, I saw him. At the end of a very long path. Waiting for me…


Chalk it up to a premature mid-life crisis. What other explanation could there be? After all, I am not from the athletes. I had never run a mile in my entire life. Not even in high school! I was the kid who was hiding the bushes, waiting for the rest of gym class to head back into the locker room. Yet there I was, sitting in an information session for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team-in-Training program. And signing on the dotted line, committing to train for and complete the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco.

They made it seem so simple. Their experienced team of coaches and devoted alumni would expertly guide me through marathon training as well as assist me with the fundraising. “Fundraising?” you ask. To participate in the program, I had to commit to raising just over $3,000. I like round numbers. And by round numbers, I mean round Jewish numbers. Meaning multiples of eighteen. So I set my goal at $3,600. That kind of fundraising was daunting to most of the folks in the same way that running was to me.

The first day of training arrived. I awakened at an un-Godly hour, very nervous. Everything I wore that first day was new — my shoes, shorts, support bra, training “singlet” (fancy name for a running shirt), etc. I had a filling, but not too filling, breakfast and stashed some post-run snacks in the car.

In the movie version, I kept up with the pack, displaying a perfect stride.
In reality, I was the slowest one, resembling a sloth gasping for air.
My shins hurt…my back hurt…even my fat hurt.
I could not even manage to run the entire 2 miles.

As an aside, when I say that I was the slowest runner…I am not being hyperbolic. I ran with the slowest group. We named ourselves “The Tortoises,” and it is safe to say that I was the slowest tortoise. However, my mentor Ellen often reminded me that as long as I wasn’t planning on winning the damn race, it didn’t matter how long it would take me to finish.

The amazing thing is that within three weeks, this non-runner went from being able to run less than a mile without stopping to running 5 miles. You read that right. I ran 5 miles. Take THAT — all you naysayers. Yes, there were naysayers. The folks who said they were impressed while harbouring the strong feeling that I’d never make it. I saw it in their eyes. I heard it in their voices.

Which was when MamaBear, z”l, said, “anyone who knows you would believe that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.”

Pretty soon, I was adding two miles onto the run each week. Challenging, to be sure. And I wanted to give up. Every time. I hated running. But I’d sent out schnorr letters to over one hundred fifty people, raised over $5,000, and committed to finishing the race. So back out there I went.

Race Weekend arrived. I flew up to SFO with the team. PC, MomGiraffe, JockBro, SIL, and Ace arrived the following day, complete with Tshirts and signs. They popped up at various points along the route, which was very encouraging. Especially after Mile 14. That was when I pulled my IT band. Apparently, a common injury among runners who suddenly increase their activity. Or, as in my case, an predictable injury for this non-runner who suddenly attempted 26.2 miles.

And so I limped. For 12 miles. At which point, I saw him, waiting for me at the finish line. My Team Tortoise teammates returned to the course to run bring me in. 0.2 miles. The longest distance of the entire race. His eyes met mine; I limped towards him.

A very handsome man in a tuxedo, holding a silver tray, piled high with Tiffany Blue boxes.
8 hours, 25 minutes, 16 seconds.
The finisher’s medal was mine.

Remembe(RED) is a memoir meme. This week, we were asked to tell the story (without any trivialization or modesty) of something in my life of which I am proud. In 700 words or fewer. As always, constructive criticism is welcomed!
PS – I haven’t run a single step since the day I crossed the finish line.

30 Comments leave one →
  1. Tuesday, 3 May 2011 6:42 am

    This is awesome!!! I’m kvelling and I didn’t even know you when. 😉 I’m so like this, “And by round numbers, I mean round Jewish numbers.” btw! Seriously.

    How cool of you to reach that goal. That is incredible. I’d never be able to do it. Wow, I’m totally impressed.

    And the writing? Your fat hurt? Hilarious, and yet I FELT it. Well done.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 5 May 2011 9:05 pm

      Never say never. Seriously. I was as shocked as anyone when I finished.

      Thanks so much for your concrit.

  2. Tuesday, 3 May 2011 7:26 am

    Love this. I’ve started and stopped the Couch 2 5k program more times than I care to count, set goals for myself and missed them a thousand times. But you did a marathon. YOU DID IT. I am in awe of you.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 5 May 2011 9:06 pm

      I found that by telling most of the Western Hemisphere that I was doing a marathon that I couldn’t really back out of it. The fear of embarrassment is a powerful motivator!


  3. Tuesday, 3 May 2011 8:39 am

    That is amazing and truly something to be proud of! I used to run before I went and got pregnant and became a mother, but not enough to sign up for a marathon. So good on you, I know how hard it can be and how brave you have to be to do this. I’m inspired, I might just get up and run again.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 5 May 2011 9:07 pm

      Here’s the thing: I was such a novice that I assumed that all runners complete marathons. So I thought the hurdle was running.

      Silly rabbi…

  4. Tuesday, 3 May 2011 1:20 pm

    An accomplishment of which I am in awe, truly in awe! Congrats to you!

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 5 May 2011 9:07 pm

      Thanks so much!!

  5. the writ and the wrote permalink
    Tuesday, 3 May 2011 1:29 pm

    You should be proud. I think about taking up running on an almost daily basis, and yet, here I sit, stuffing my face with Oreos and other crappy food. I am getting older and the writing is on the wall, in big red letters. The walking is not enough. Not anymore.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 5 May 2011 9:08 pm

      Consider this: running justifies the crap food.

  6. Tuesday, 3 May 2011 1:41 pm

    WOW that is so awesome, way to go! I’ve stopped by from TRDC

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 5 May 2011 9:08 pm

      Thanks, Julie. TRDC is how I found you too!

  7. Tuesday, 3 May 2011 2:36 pm

    HOLY MOLY! My first marathon was ALSO Nike Women and I did it through TNT!!! What year? I did it in ‘o7. And I had five or six of my friends run me in – and I also got injured and ended up having to walk half of it!

    Anyway – good for you! I loved seeing the guy w/ the little blue box. Almost as much as I loved having my kids cheering me on on the course.


    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 5 May 2011 9:09 pm

      The difference is that Nike Women was my first and LAST.

      And without a doubt, that guy with the blue box trumped my fan club.

  8. Deborah the Closet Monster permalink
    Tuesday, 3 May 2011 2:37 pm

    $3,000?! My siblings and I had to raise $1,000 apiece to run with the American Cancer Society in October. The good news about the higher commitment is, of course, more money routed to important research.

    This was well timed reading, seeing as my sister and brother in law just ran their first marathon (also for the ACS) on Sunday. I wasn’t even running this time, but my heart was full at the thought of how intense the struggle is to push through the last miles. That’s what makes it such an accomplishment . . . if it were easy, it’d be called “ice cream”!

    Congrats and thanks for sharing this!

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 5 May 2011 9:10 pm

      Actually, the financial commitment is high because they pay for EVERYTHING. Airfare, hotel food, registration fee, etc.

      Mazal tov on your sibs’ accomplishment. What a meaningful way to remember your mom.

  9. Tuesday, 3 May 2011 4:23 pm

    You have every reason to he proud.
    Job well done!

    And well written. This is an inspirational and enjoyable post.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 5 May 2011 9:10 pm

      Thank you so much, Renee.

  10. Tuesday, 3 May 2011 8:05 pm

    So proud of this accomplishment! ive never done anything like that.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 5 May 2011 9:11 pm

      Me neither. But the really cool thing about this is that I will forever be able to say that I completed a marathon. Forever. No one can take that away 😉

  11. Tuesday, 3 May 2011 9:12 pm

    that is awesome! And the tiffany box at the finish line? PERFECTION!

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 5 May 2011 9:12 pm

      I completely agree. I selected this marathon BECAUSE of the little blue box.


  12. Wednesday, 4 May 2011 12:18 am

    Yasher Koach!
    Amazing stick-to-it-ivness in doing the run. I can’t even imagine walking 26 miles. But also, I love the way you write. Double yasher koach.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 5 May 2011 9:12 pm

      How lovely of you to say, Risa. Todah!

      And you’d be surprised how far you could walk with a Tiffany medallion waiting for you at the end.

  13. Wednesday, 4 May 2011 11:34 am

    That is compLETEly amazing. Incredible…good for you!!!

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 5 May 2011 9:13 pm

      Thank sooooo much!!!!!!!

  14. Wednesday, 4 May 2011 11:43 am

    I’m so impressed. What an accomplishment. Your perseverance is admirable.

    Congrats on finishing the race!

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 5 May 2011 9:14 pm

      These several years later, I am still impressed with myself. And look back on that experience whenever I feel like giving up on something.

  15. Wednesday, 4 May 2011 12:34 pm

    That was wonderful! That took some determination!

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Thursday, 5 May 2011 9:14 pm

      And a lot of Gatorade. 😉

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