A TRINITY TODAY ONLINE Special
A shorter version of this article appeared in the Dec. 1 2000 Trinity Today. Here, for Trinity Today Online readers, is the full article.
The Quad Cities Marathon by Colleen Borts
The third annual Quad Cities Marathon took place on Sept. 24, 2000. This 26.2 mile race has a course that runs through five cities, two states, crosses three bridges and wraps around the mighty Mississippi. Over 2,500 people ranging in age from 17 to 81 participated. (The 17-year-old ran the race in 3- 1/2 hours, the 81-year-old in 6 hours, 15 minutes!) I wanted to find out more about these amazing people: how they train, what motivates them to run long distances (or any distance for that matter) and most of all, why they do it. I didn't have to look far. One of the runners was Trinity's Employee Health Assistant, Laura Danay, who ran the marathon with friend and running companion, Anita Johnson, RN, Cardiac Rehab. Both employees agreed to share their experience with us.
"This was our second time to run the full marathon since its inception in 1998. We enjoy this particular race because it's well organized, professional and has an interesting course. The participants, runners and on-lookers alike, are also fantastic." As an added bonus their spouses were involved this year too. As part of the opening ceremony, Brian (Anita's husband) sang the National Anthem as part of the Faithful Men singing group and Dave Danay bicycled the last several miles alongside Laura and Anita to lend encouragement and cheer them on. I asked Anita how long she had been running, and she said, "I've been an exercise enthusiast my whole life but I didn't start running long distance until December 1997, completing my first marathon in the fall of 1998. I always thought marathon running was out of my reach, something only 'special people' could achieve." Laura began running in 1987, initially in preparation for the Bix. "I started training for long distance running six years ago. I have since run two marathons and several half marathons."
According to both Laura and Anita, making the commitment and believing you can do it are two major factors in being a successful runner. "We started training in April, running together every Saturday morning in addition to our individual runs throughout the week. Then in July, we added hill work and longer runs three and four times a week, plus biking and other cross training activities." They both agree that another key factor to their success is having a good running partner. Laura added, "When I wanted to quit, Anita encouraged and challenged me to keep going, and vice versa."
When asked what motivates a person to train this hard and to run this far, Laura said, "It makes me feel good about myself physically, and exercise is by far the best medicine for your mental health. I really enjoy the camaraderie, it controls my weight and above all, it's an extraordinary feeling of accomplishment. As I get older, I realize how important it is to keep moving. By making exercise an integral part of my life now, I believe I can look forward to a better quality of life later."
Anita had similar thoughts. "I want to set a good example for my patients and others. Also, like Laura, it helps to control weight and in my case, cholesterol. As an added bonus, it reduces stress and enhances your self-image. I believe exercise frees you from being a prisoner of your own body. It allows you to maintain your independence as long as possible and you're never too old to get started." Anita shared that her father didn't begin exercising until age 60 and only after a serious heart problem. "He started by riding a bike and within two years rode with me on a seven day, 500 mile ride. He continues to lose weight and has been able to eliminate some of his medication. I have come to realize that it doesn't take a 'special person' to exercise and be fit. It takes ordinary people like us who are simply committed to a long and healthy life."
At the close of our interview, I asked Laura and Anita if they plan to run the marathon again in 2001. They looked at each other, smiled and said, "Well, we hadn't really talked about it, but I suppose we could, what do you think...well, maybe...we'll have to think about that...!" Guess we'll just have to wait and see! Anita completed the race in 4:10:23 and Laura in 4:11:36. Congratulations to two more amazing Trinity Trekkers!