Wow! Can you believe it’s already December? This year really flew by. But I am excited today to bring you another Running Inspiration Interview. Today’s feature runner is Cecilia. If you’ve been a long-time reader, last December I interviewed Brian & Lindsey and Cecilia is Brian’s mom. I loved learning more about Cecilia’s running journey and I am so excited to share it with you!
Tell me a little about yourself.
My name is Cecilia. I am 63 years old and the Administrative Assistant to the Director of Career and Technical Education at the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation.
How long have you been running and what made you decide to start running?
Half Marathon…me!?? I don’t even like to run.
March 2012, two of my friends asked me to complete a half marathon with them in Indianapolis. Fortunately at the time, I had a schedule conflict because I was attending a college graduation that day. I had no desire to complete a half marathon. After they completed the half marathon, there was excitement in their voices when they talked about their experience. After listening to them and feeling their sense of accomplishment, my husband and I decided to try a half marathon. I heard about the Jump Start program at the YMCA in Evansville, Indiana, and my husband and I decided to join in June of 2012. After the Jump Start Program, we continued to train with a running group, Team 13. Team 13 has a 13 week training plan to prepare for the Evansville Half Marathon that is held in October of each year. My husband is a runner while I am a walker. In training my husband encouraged me to try the run/walk group. I tried it and WOW – I could do it!
How has running made an impact on your life?
I met a great group of ladies and continued with the run/walk group. We encouraged each other in our trainings. Then came my first race, the 5K/10K YMCA pre-half marathon race. We were standing waiting for the start and these ladies wanted to take a group picture before the race so I stepped aside. One of the ladies said, “We need you in the picture, move closer”. I had just met them in training a few months before and they wanted to include me in their pre-race picture. They gave me a copy of the picture, which I treasure. We continue to be friends. When my mother passed away, they came to the funeral home with a plant and a card. I opened the card and everyone had signed it. At the bottom of the card read, “Your running family.” Tears came to my eyes. One lady in the group had surgery and we went to visit her in the hospital. I was invited to a surprise birthday party for one of them. My husband and I completed the Go St. Louis Half Marathon in April 2014. A large group of Team 13 members were also completing the half marathon and invited us to meet them for dinner. In Indianapolis, October 2014, we met Team 13 members after the Monumental Marathon/Half Marathon for dinner to celebrate three of the members completing their first marathon. Team 13 created these great friendships.
I am currently run/walking with a wonderful group of Team 13 members. In our weekly trainings, we talk about nutrition, cross training, our work day, family, what we did over the weekend, races, current events, running shoes and clothing, etc. You name it, we have talked about it. This is good therapy for the days we really do not want to be at the training, but come anyway. I personally could not train for a half marathon on my own.
What do you want other people to know about you/your running in general?
The summer of 2015, Heather who is the Special Events Director at the YMCA in Evansville, Indiana, “twisted my arm” and asked me to be a Team 13 volunteer. Hesitantly, I agreed to be a volunteer which resulted in being a wonderful decision. I have met many people, offered words of encouragement, and am a listening ear when someone is having a bad day. It is rewarding to see the progress runners, run/walkers, and walkers make during Team 13. I just completed my third year as a volunteer and I will continue to volunteer in years to come. Being a volunteer is more than training for the Evansville Half Marathon. It is meeting new people, creating friendships, encouraging others, obtaining advice from other runners and walkers, losing weight, enjoying the outdoors, and living a healthier lifestyle.
My husband and I are members of the YMCA. We used to see runners and walkers in the winter in the lobby waiting for other runners and walkers. They wore layers of clothing, gloves, ear warmers, etc. We used to ask ourselves why they run or walk outside in the winter. Are they “crazy”? Well, we are now members of the “crazy” group.
What kind of nutrition strategies do you use to facilitate performance and/or recovery?
Training year round has become our life. As a result, I personally feel healthier mentally and physically. My meals have become more nutritious and I always drink water. Two days prior to a half marathon, I increase my water and carbohydrate intake. The morning of a race I eat half of a banana with a little peanut butter and a half of a bagel. I do not take any “energy” supplements during a race but do take fruit and candy if offered during a race by volunteers. After a race, I eat fruit if it is available. I always enjoy the sign held by someone along the course that reads “This is a lot of work for a free banana.”
How many races have you done?
“Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment” – Thomas Carlyle
This is what participating in half marathons means to me. I have completed 14 half marathons since October 2012 and many 5K, 10K, 15K and other distances.
What was your favorite race and why?
I have several races that could be considered my “favorite” race for different reasons. My daughter asked me to complete a Color Run in Indianapolis. There were thousands of people in the White River Park with ages 8 to 80. This has to be the happiest race ever, seeing all ages enjoying themselves while completing a 5K.
In February 2014, we had a “Girl’s Weekend” in Disney. It was the first year for the Glass Slipper Challenge. We completed a 10K on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday. In doing both races we received three medals: one for the 10K, one for the half marathon and one for the Glass Slipper Challenge which is a “bling bling” high heal shoe on the medal. Every woman’s dream medal!
July 4, 2014, my husband, our niece, our nephew and I completed a 5K on Governor’s Island in New York City. WOW what a view to see the Statue of Liberty as I ran and completed the 5K!
In April 2015 we completed the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati. The Flying Pig Marathon/Half Marathon has the most race fans. They are cheering for you along the entire course. There are more than 100 entertainment and course experiences “Fun Zones” where fans are handing race participants food and drink. The race starts early so you are on top of a “mountain” when the sun rises. This is the highest point of the course which is Eden Park. The view of the Ohio River and Cincinnati is breathtaking. The course takes you across two bridges which I enjoyed. You run through three cities: Cincinnati, Newport and Covington. It was a great half marathon!
What is your favorite race distance?
I have no desire to complete a race distance longer than 13.1. A Half Marathon is my “comfort zone” distance.
What is your most memorable race/running experience?
Last year at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon/Half-Marathon on November 7, 2015, one of our Team 13 members from Evansville was going to complete her first marathon. After completing our half marathon, my husband and I decided to be a spectator and cheer for the marathoners and half marathoners as they crossed the finish line. We wanted to cheer for Michal who was completing her first marathon. This was my most rewarding race experience. Some were sprinting, some running, some jogging and some walking. Some had tears of joy. Some had tears of pain. When mothers came around the corner to enter the finish chute, family members handed some of them flowers. Some young children entered the chute and ran to the finish with a father or mother. Some couples crossed the finish line holding hands. They hugged and kissed after crossing. One young man collapsed about fifty feet from the finish line. Medical personnel ran out to care for him. The time limit for the marathon had expired. There were still marathoners finishing. Kathy and I knew our friend Michal was still coming. We ran on the sidewalk back to meet her. She had tears and was in pain. With Kathy on one side of her and I on the other, we ran slowly with her the last mile encouraging her. When she entered the chute we ran on the sidewalk outside the chute. We were there for her after she crossed the finish line. There were lots of hugs and tears. Michal said our encouragement helped her complete the marathon.
October 1, 2016, was the Evansville Half Marathon. Ravonda was diagnosed with cancer three years ago. She had seven surgeries. Her goal was to walk the Evansville Half Marathon. When she was a half mile from crossing the finish line, I joined a large group of people who followed her to the finish line. Hearing her story, knowing what she has been through with her cancer and knowing she completed a half marathon makes me proud to know what runners and walkers can accomplish.
“With self-discipline, all things are possible” – Theodore Roosevelt
This year on November 5, 2016, my husband and I again became a spectator after we finished our half marathon. We cheered a friend who completed her first marathon. Again I witnessed the joy, pain, and sense of accomplishment of the marathoners. A man named Mr. Robert used to be very active and always wanted to run a marathon. He loved the outdoors. He was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease and is at Joy’s House in Indianapolis, which is a non-profit community to support families by providing adult day services. After getting to know him, one of the caregivers who had completed the Monumental Marathon three times decided to organize a team and take turns pushing him in a running chair for the entire marathon. He wanted to “feel the wind in his face” again. A loud roar of cheering erupted when they entered the chute to finish the marathon. We witnessed a mother and father on each side of a special needs child complete the race. These are memorable race moments.
Watching and witnessing runners and walkers finish a marathon or half-marathon is a wonderful “moving” experience. Seeing the determination, feeling the sense of accomplishment, experiencing the excitement, witnessing the cheering spectators — WOW there is nothing like it.
One run can change your day, many runs can change your life. It certainly has changed mine!