On October 27th, 1985 I finished what was my second completion of the 26.2 mile distance known as the marathon. That’s nothing novel these days, and neither was my time of 3:03:58, placing First New Jersey Woman and 51st overall in the Women’s division. My previous 26.2 miler was a 3:30:57 on October 23rd, 1983. The dates are significant, and my being able to run on the two legs that weren’t supposed to accomplish it were, for a few reasons.
First, the dates:
October 27th, 1985, my Dad’s Mom, known to me as Nana suddenly took ill. A woman who’d not been in the hospital in the past, but to deliver babies perhaps. It was touch and go the week leading into October 27th that year. And I came from a family that expected you to be there for the family, especially as a young woman. For some reason, I blocked it out of my mind. She died days later, after the marathon.
October 27th, 1985 I was now newly married, and the first marathon I almost did not get to on October 23rd, 1983 because I happened to be off duty to report to the base where I was serving. So, I lucked out that year. The second reason was, I woke up to the news of 235 Marines killed in Beirut that day on October 23rd, 1983 and two of the Marines had been from my unit, I found out later. My husband to be on that morning, pushed me to go race my first 26.2 miler, “Run it for those that can’t…” He’d said. So, I did.
October 27th, 1985 was my brother’s thirty-third birthday, we were born nearly on the same day. I stopped celebrating my birthday by age ten, so did my family to a degree, just cards if they remembered, because I certainly wasn’t going to. Although my brother was older than I, my mother had difficulty having children. The first ten years my brother and I looked almost identical. We played like brothers, beat each other up. You hurt my brother, I hurt you. It was that simple, and my mother demanded that. He was the Prince, our parents had lost their first two sons before we were born. Her words to me before we’d go and play football with other kids, “You are your brother’s keeper.” My response like the guard dog I was, “Yes Mom.” As I would regard her emotions and the family name with my life. It was my duty that I was born for. And before my mother died, I’d pray every night to God, “Please Lord never take my brother before my mother.” My prayer was answered. Right after she died, he got sick and died soon after.
On October 27th, 1985 I defied the doctors. I defied the impossible. I had been swimming two to five miles a day, doing rehab exercises for both knees three to four times a day more than the doctor ordered. I would punch the water in the local YMCA with anger and determination to regain my legs. I would drag my legs behind me, for I was ordered not to use them in swimming either. I did this for from March 23rd, 1984 through November 1984. No one believed in my running. No one I knew was really in shape as an adult by then in my life. Not even at the office that I worked in and had friends, believed I’d come back. The doctors told me I would never run again. Even my now husband never thought, that he would scream years later in 2006, “She is coming back from the dead!” I’d hear him say, over and over again when there was nothing left in my then ultra-running legs. He would shake his head, rubbing my legs. My crew would look like they were walking on eggshells. I would say, “I’m okay, give me ten minutes.” Ten to fifteen minutes later, “Just pick me up. Stand me up.” I’d wobble as they stood me up, “I’ll be fine. I’ll have some black coffee and …You got a plain donut in that box?” This was routine from 2001 till near the end of 2008.
On October 27th, 1985, I would race and complete the New York City Marathon for the second time and my second marathon, racing nearly twenty-seven minutes faster than before my career ending injuries. My best there was the following year 2:57 placing 36th. I ran faster in other cities, before I went on to race much larger distance races and events. As this writing goes to post I still run. I still have one more race or as I feels multiple races in my body left. And now, with 41 marathons and 41 ultras and approximately 500 running events in my body, setting a North American record in 2005. I still remember each running event.---Jody-Lynn Reicher