First Run of New Jersey For Charity 212 miles in 55 hours and 49 minutes. Raised $20,000.
You Can’t Run Through…
I was told a girl will never beat a guy in running, especially a girl like me with no talent. Thusly, I won three races outright over the men and women later in life, in my early forties. A Fifty Miler in Detroit, on a mix of cross-country terrain in a wicked storm that produced tornados in the Midwest in November of 2002.
I won outright over men and women in a six hour trot till you drop trail terrain run in May of 2003. I then won as a first time Mom. I won outright over men and women in a Twelve Hour Trot Till You Drop run in 2004.
I set the Twenty-four Hour Women’s Treadmill Record in 2005 at age forty-two, six months, two weeks and ten days old, for North America. At the time I was ranked second in the world until 2017 for that distance and timed type of a run, now as this book goes to press, I’m third in the world and still holding the North American record for that distance and time for women on a treadmill.
I’ve raced and ran across deserts, trails, all sorts of surfaces. I’ve ran up the side of mountains when I was nearly falling backward due to the incredible grade; such as Mount Whitney in California, and Smuggler’s Notch in Stowe, VT.
In 1985, Un-coached and told my body was unable to handle the miles men would run; I decided to try to train like a man. My mental thought is when someone says, “No”. I respond with physically bringing myself to the point of proving my dream a possibility for myself. The first attempt at such high mileage, I was out of action for over eight months and told running was not for me and wouldn’t be.
My second attempt, I was injured yet somehow rebounded, albeit in pain. Then again my third attempt finally achieving ten weeks of one hundred miles plus per week of running. In 1986, I was sidelined after the third marathon and couldn’t run for two months. I had so many things strapped and taped on me going into that marathon; I look back now and wonder, ‘How did I do that?’
I didn’t produce the time I desired but a 2:57 marathon back then, wasn’t so bad for anyone much less a woman in 1986. It was a PR (Personal Record by over six minutes). However, it was quite physically painful at the time. Hamstring issues, sciatic nerve issues ensued occurring more in the left leg than the right, coupled with the pulled hamstring in the left leg; both feet felt trashed. The left foot arch pained me as constant calf pains coming and going and the shin-splints reared its ugly head as well for the 1986 Waterfront Marathon in New Jersey.
Luckily, I recovered from January’s case of sesamoiditis in both feet, which caused me to take two weeks off running, and instead swam miles per day in the local YMCA. The orthopedic surgeon warned me, that he’d have to do foot surgery if I didn’t stop running, and then a week after I was back running, early February’s battle with acute Achilles tendonitis that kept me up for three nights elevating my feet, putting my legs up on ice, while in screaming pain and trying to fall asleep.
Many injuries plagued me, mostly my left foot, left hamstring; my shins, ankles, bukoo sciatic nerve issues and my sacro-iliac joints were affected. Injuries plagued me even worse, after I suffered a physical assault by a man, in the middle of a light training run, one sunny weekday morning in 1991.
After that, I’d lost two inches in diameter on my right thigh as a result of the attack, and underwent over seven hours of spine surgery. They did bone and bone marrow graphing from part of my right hip, to repair my lower back combined with metal plating and screws.
Prior to the surgery, I was misdiagnosed six times by four different doctors; they didn’t know I had fractures in my back. They took the x-rays wrong. That took me ten years post operatively to get rid of the limp I had, when I’d run a certain speed past two miles.
I ran through most everything. I had much physical therapy from mid-1993 to the end of 1999. I continued to do my own rehab through 2004, after one day in June of 2003 I realized I had my right leg almost all the way back. I then knew ultra-running was the way to go. I’d been doing multiple hill repeats, quite a few sessions on a hill behind and up from where I lived.
I would run out my front door and up Evergreen to Spruce which became Highwood Avenue to Glen Avenue that traverses through another town to a highway, and somehow skips the highway and becomes a road into another town. The hill is approximately one and a half miles long.
I broke the hill down. I’d sectioned off the first portion; that just briefly enters the nearby town of Ridgewood, just past a little delicatessen. That first portion to Monroe Street would be about a half mile. Then on my braver days of hill repeats; I’d sectioned out the bottom mile from Monroe to just past Maple Avenue in Ridgewood. And on my I got to make me tougher days; I ran the entire one and a half miles multiple times after a one mile warm up from my house to Glen Avenue.
There were mornings, before and after we became parents that I really wanted to stay close to home, even though I knew I had to get in a fifty mile training run. I’d boil potato perogies, wrap then in triple plastic and run with them at four in the morning and hide them in a branch in a tree in front of Mr. McCourt’s home on Glen Avenue.
After so many miles, I’d look around, so no one, not even a squirrel would see what I was doing. Then climb the tree a bit and grab the packet and unwrap it to eat a couple of potato perogies and off I was sipping the water in my hand held water bottles, till the Park Wood Deli would open, and I could get more fluid.
One Saturday morning at about five thirty as I climbed the tree, two women out walking their dogs saw me do this. I said, “Perogies in a tree. Please don’t eat them.”
They smiled and wondered what I was doing. I said, “I have a long run of hill repeats I have to do for training and I cooked the perogies last night, and triple wrapped them so the squirrels don’t eat them. I need food every bunch of miles.”
Smiling they said, “We will never tell.” We laughed as I climbed down from the tree with my perogies in hand.
Funny, no one ever stole my food, or the water bottles I hid along Glen Avenue either. However, the Father of Long Distance Running and the Grandfather of Ultrarunning, Ted Corbitt, way back, when he was in his forties and running in the city as he lived. He told me someone stole his sandwiches he’d put into his mailbox at the beginning of his long runs. He would loop around feeling hungry after twenty miles, in one of his ultra-training runs, stop, and take a bite or so to eat, and then continue on.
Ted said, “One day I stopped for some of my sandwich and it was gone.” Ted giggled. He was that kind of guy who could laugh at himself. Ted set the Overall Men’s American Twenty-Four Hour Run, on the track at age fifty-four.
As I ran I would think of men like Ted Corbitt. They influenced my drive, especially in ultra-running. Albeit Ted had a lot more to contend with than that, Ted told me, the police would stop him and ask him, what he was doing. I asked, “What’d you do?”
Ted had a long fuse and a great sense of humor. He said, “Once they got to know me. It was like a joke. But they also kind of thought it was interesting what I was doing. We would cajole each other.”
Last time I saw Ted, he and I talked about the three hundred mile weeks he did, he worked full-time, was married, was a father and dedicated to his career as a physical therapist. He was innovative in being a therapist and a runner. He was the first African-American to win a National Championship Marathon. He also was an Olympian and the first African-American to represent the U.S. in the marathon distance in the Olympics, it was 1952. Ted told me none of this. Which this was just part of him being a humble man. That was Ted.
Ted Corbitt passed December 12th 2007, a month before his eighty-eighth birthday. Many long distance runners do not know that Ted was the first president of the New York Road Runners Club.https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1987532813/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i2