San Jose, Calif., and Pine Point Beach
I run the Beach to Beacon because it’s in my hometown. I ran my first one in 2002 and took a few years off when I was in graduate school, so I’m running my ninth this year.
I live in San Jose, Calif., and spend part of the summer in Maine — so registration can be a challenge. I’m at the computer at 3:55 a.m. waiting to hit the register button at 4 a.m. Pacific time. I’ve made it in every year except one, and I got in on the lottery that year.
I run races now with three things in mind: supporting a good cause, health and enjoyment, and the challenge and uniqueness of the event. This race is a gem! The race management and volunteers are first class, the spectators are the best, and the founder, Joan Benoit Samuelson, makes it all happen!
Six years ago this July, I lay in a hospital bed at Maine Med feeling like my body was broken in two. It was, sort of. Late the night before, I had been operated on for a broken hip. Three Herman Munster-sized bolts had been screwed into my femoral head.
So much for the new roller blades and for my attempt at getting in shape.
“Well, I guess I’ll never run the Beach to Beacon,” I told my doctor. But then again I hadn’t run the Beach to Beacon before the accident, or any other race for that matter. Kindly, my surgeon replied, “The worst thing that could result from this accident is that you become less active.”
So began my six-year journey to running my first Beach to Beacon. I am a 54-year-old mother of two and Saturday I will be a newbie on the course.
Why do I run? Because I can run and I want to experience the joy of simply being able to. I have been blessed with good health while many I know are losing theirs. My injury could be overcome but for many people I know, their illnesses and injuries cannot be. They deal with the harsh realities of limited mobility on a daily basis.
So with a supportive family, a supportive workplace, loyal training partners, two surgeries and a realistic start with Couch to 5K Training, I have been given a gift of a second chance.
To honor the many who don’t get one, I’m not planning on blowing mine.
I push my racing chair in the B2B because it’s in my hometown, where I get to go in the middle of Shore Road without worrying about cars; it’s just so exciting!
I also get a chance to be with some amazing wheelchair athletes from all over the country whom I learn from. They also inspire me to improve my personal-best time; they are all so generous with the younger racers like me.
Also, my sister is racing this year; it’s all about family and friends, too. I can’t wait!
This will be my first Beach to Beacon. I began running to keep my high school daughter company during workouts. After 25-plus years at a desk and living with arthritis, I could only run about a quarter of a mile. My daughter started high school sports season and I kept going (with my rheumatologist’s approval). That was 2-1/2 years ago.
I saw friends filing reports from road races on social media and it appeared fun. Nearly 1,700 miles and 40 pounds later, I’m ready for my first Beach to Beacon and I can’t wait.
I run to remember and to forget. To think. To observe. To challenge myself. To entertain. I’m stronger because of it. It is the single most beneficial thing I’ve done during a time of great upheaval.
And now this Clydesdale is going to take part in Maine’s premier sports event.
DR. TONYIA L. GIBBONS
Merritt Island, Fla.
I feel truly fortunate to be running this race for my third time (I like to do things in threes), as it is so popular now, that to gain admission is challenging. This is a GOOD thing, for running to be so very popular, and a huge thanks goes to Joan Benoit Samuelson.
I started running at age 32 back in 1976 with men’s Nikes, as that was the only shoe available where I lived in Florida. I read so much about Joan Benoit in Runner’s World in those days and was actually at the Los Angeles Olympics, the first year for women’s marathons.
I was totally cheering for Joan and was so excited and proud, full of tears of joy when she finished with the gold. Such pride for her and womanhood. She has done more for women being involved with running than anyone. I so admire her gracious and positive self, even with her many injuries.
Never quitting, always supportive of other women, she is the reason I still run and will continue to do so, even though slower than 37 years ago. For me, this is an honors run for her and a tribute to women runners everywhere.