The sport of women’s running has come a long way since the 1970s. Line up at the starting line of any race, and you’ll see the majority or a large percentage are women. We all owe that to one outstanding athlete, Joan Benoit Samuelson. She’s helped pave the way for all women athletes professional or not. Without her, we may not have seen Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, and Desi Davila shoot for their dreams of the competing in the Olympics.
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to meet this legendary woman in person and to actually run with her for a brief time. In collaboration with Hannaford( a New England based supermarket), this “Run with Joanie” event was a follow up to the screening of her documentary, There Is No Finish Line. Unfortunately, I was unable to make the screening on Tuesday night. From what I’ve heard it was amazing. When I got to the park for the run, I immediately ran into Amy. I hadn’t seen her since the LoziLu Mud Run back in July. We quickly caught up while we waited for our chance to introduce ourselves to Joan and to snap pictures.
My first impression of Joan is that she is a true New Englander. She doesn’t say a lot but when she does, you listen. Just an FYI – she loved my shirt!
Once everyone was gathered, we did a round of introductions. I actually felt silly at one point that my reason for running was that I like it and it’s ME time when others had powerful stories of overcoming cancer, morbid obesity, death of children, and fighting MS. Proof that inspiration can come from anyone and at any time.
We then took off on a 3 mile trail/road run around an absolutely gorgeous park in Manchester.
It was great to chat with so many other runners to hear their stories. In fact, I found 2 others who are running Smuttynose next weekend. One even told me I should be glad I’m not doing the marathon. She said it’s a very lonely course that is brutal mentally. Maybe my knee injury was a good thing? We’ll see…
After the run, we had snacks and a Q & A with Joanie. I loved that Joanie stressed that you don’t have to be a marathoner or even to run races to be a RUNNER. If you enjoy it, do it for you. Run your own race. A few other Joanie-isms:
She doesn’t believe in supplements. It only makes your pee really expensive.
She doesn’t do any strength training except for her activities of daily living (ADLs) such as gardening. She does enjoy skiing and biking but doesn’t consider it cross training.
Compression socks/sleeves? Doesn’t use but her son uses for every run.
She has run less than 50 marathons in her life. She has not idea what the actual number is.
When training for a marathon, she will never run more than 20 miles except one time when she got lost and ran 23.
She recommends only doing 2 marathons a year.
The most important message that I took from the day was that There Is No Finish Line in life. Whether that means running till I’m 80 and pushing my great grandkids in a jogging stroller or just living each day as best as I can.
Check out this short clip from the local news.
And yes, a woman totally wiped out at the start of the run. Poor thing ran 2 steps, fell into a hole and sprained her ankle!
THANK YOU to Joanie and Hannaford for helping me cross this experience off my Fitness Bucket List!