Saturday, February 29, 2020

Camp Hyannis 2020 - Part 5 - The Heart of a Champion

One of the first people to inspire me calling Hyannis Marathon Weekend, Camp Hyannis, was Mary Tyler. Her signature hairstyle and warm smile have been a staple at the Weekend for as long as we have been attending the weekend in February of 2009. This year her husband took a photo of us together at the Expo and she purchased a copy of my recent book, 'The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953.'

She heard my talk at the Pre-Race Pasta Dinner.

"My first 5 mile race was the Marathon Sports 5 Miler," I shared with the audience.

"It was quite the contrast to my first road race ever, The Corrib Pub 5K, which was a friendly neighborhood race. Tom shouted as we ran, 'This is her first race. She is a polio survivor," and the neighborhoods cheered."

"But the Marathon Sports 5 Miler was an evening race and I was in the early stages of healing Post-Polio Syndrome. It was hot and a fast field!" I shared how I wanted to quit; how I didn't know where sweat began and tears ended. I wanted to quit as memories of being left behind lugging a full metal leg brace when I had polio reared their head.

Tom wouldn't let me quit and told me that if I quit that race, there was no way I would be able to run Boston. And so mile by mile we made our way through the back roads of Weston to the finish line, getting support from the Marathon Sports Team at the water stops.

As we came onto the field being the last finishers in the race, the Marathon Sports Team honked the horn of the sweep vehicle and made me feel as though I was the one to break the finisher's tape.

I encouraged everyone at the Dinner to think of themselves as Champions regardless of the time on the clock when they ran their Sunday races.

From Mary Tyler's Facebook Post:
Mini-vacation for the Hyannis Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K. Ted planned to photograph. I had signed up for the 10K months ago before knee problems and had no idea what I was going to do. We went to the expo and pasta dinner Saturday and talked with a bunch of people, took some pics with guest speakers Mary McManus and Bill Rodgers, plus Paul Clerici, Larry Cole, and Steve Bedsole. Sunday I started the race, thinking about just walking a mile and back since my knee was already hurting. HOWEVER, it loosened up a little and there were a few other walkers, so I continued on. Around 4 miles it got worse, but at that point nothing to do but carry on. I tried to put on a good face for Ted (see picture) and finished, but didn’t feel really great until bagel and hot soup (pic with fellow GFRC runner Joe Koziol) at the post-race festivities! 😀 😋 All in all a good weekend, knee's a little better today, so hoping the 10K hasn't set me back.

Tom excitedly told me after he crossed the finish line that he saw Mary and Ted out on the course. I was shocked and surprised! He said that Ted told him, "in her mind, she is a champion!" I got goosebumps and my eyes filled with tears that I was able to touch her heart with my words and inspire her to finish her race.

Mary experienced a serious fall several months ago and is still healing. She manages to still show up and participate in races whenever she can or supports others who are running. She finished the Hyannis 10K in 1:52 at age 72!

She does indeed have the heart of a champion.

I wrote this poem after my knee injury in December of 2014 while I had my sights set on going the distance again: {From Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life}
The Thoroughbred

A dark horse
dark past
finishing last
ready to quit
battered and bruised
a foal fouled
yet Spirit unbroken
a thoroughbred deep inside
despite appearances
all she needed was a chance
someone to believe in her
a horse whisperer
in the mist
amidst fog and foliage
she runs
breaking free
into the champion she was always meant to be.

On April 19th, at 10am, I will be a member of a panel as part of the Runners Seminar Series entitled, "Late Life Running and Whole Life Running," sharing how the sport of running transformed my life at the age of 53! I will be sure to include what it means to have the heart of a champion even when you haven't broken the finisher's tape!

From my heart to yours,
To your health and wellness

Be sure to visit my website

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