If you are running any of the races this weekend – especially the marathon – and are looking for a little inspiration and motivation before your race then meet Tom “Pacer Tom” Perri.   Pacer Tom will be one of the pacers for the 5 hour pace group with the On Pace team for the marathon. 

Pacer Tom has been running since 1976 and it wasn’t until he was running his 458th marathon  – yes that marathon number is correct – in 2018 when he noticed something wasn’t just right.  It was soon to be found out the culprit was a diagnosis of Stage 3 cancer.  Then the Stage 3 diagnosis quickly became a Stage 4 diagnosis on 7/30/2019.  

A Stage 4 diagnosis is not something to be taken lightly. It will change a person’s dreams and life choices. Pacer Tom decided instead of retiring from running that he would continue his running journey in a slightly different way. 

When he was diagnosed with cancer he was on a goal of completing his second round of a sub 4 hour marathon in all states.  Now after completing his 6th round of procedures/treatments on 12/23/21 he is still pacing and running races, but just not running those sub 4 hour marathons. Note that Pacer Tom

has 99 career sub 4 hour marathons and his goal is to some how to get healthy enough  and have a good running day to get his 100th  Sub 4 hour marathon.

All runners will face different challenges this weekend with each unique to everyone. Some might take you by surprise and others are to be expected. Fatigue might well play a factor while running the marathon. Maybe an unexpected portajohn stop along the way in any of the race distances. None of those are uncommon and are to be expected if you run enough races. 

Since his procedures and treatments Pacer Tom deals with a high level of bladder, bowel, and fatigue issues while running. 

Things that never were an issue before with running have now become a common issue while running. There is no pre-race meal before a race as food can’t be taken 12 hours before he runs. His stomach simply can’t handle it. Just one of the many differences from running before and after a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis.

While dealing with all the procedures and treatments since his cancer diagnosis he has completed 118 races. 89 marathons and even 3 Ultras equal 92 races completed of 26.22 or more since the Stage 4 diagnosis. 

He has run a marathon in 40 states since his Stage 4 diagnosis and has paced a marathon in 23 states since his Stage 4 diagnosis. He is also just two states away from his 6th time 50 state certified finish. 

While he can no longer run as fast as he used to be able to he is still getting to the starting line.

Then taking one step at a time to get to the finish line just like all the runners out there this race weekend. 

If you are currently dealing dealing with any stage of cancer or are a cancer survivor please say “hi” to Pacer Tom. Or if your looking for a sub 5 hour marathon then let the 5 hour pacers help you along the way. 

Remember cancer or whatever your obstacle is that it might tell you what you can’t do, but it doesn’t tell you what you can still do.  And remember you need to get to the starting line to get to the finish line.

Pacer Tom won’t let Stage 4 cancer define him. 

Congratulations to all of you runners challenging yourself by running a race this weekend.  They say that less than 1% of the population will ever ever run a marathon, so whether this is your first marathon or not, you are part of an amazing statistic.


Tom “Pacer Tom” Perri

Check out 34-year-old Larry Cline, a truck driver from Turlock who is in the Modesto Marathon Adult Training Group. Cline, who has lost an incredible 115 pounds, is planning to run the full marathon in Modesto on March 19, 2017.

Cline said he signed up for the training group at the urging of friends in his Weight Watchers group, where he lost 50 pounds before he started running at the gym. Another 43 pounds later and he joined the training group and started running with the ShadowChase Running Club.

As a truck driver staying in shape is not always easy. Not only is the job of a relatively sedentary nature, but the pressures of finding regular work can also be stressful, leading to unhealthy habits. Also, as part of this job, the driver is responsible for ensuring that he is compliant with the ELD mandate solutions (https://www.lytx.com/en-us/fleet-management/dot-compliance/eld) that are required of him by his company, be cognizant of distractions while driving, and be very knowledgeable about the vehicle.

In addition, considering the frequency of accidents, operating a truck is a very risky job. Your capacity to work dictates your income, as it does in most occupations. Always plan for the worst-case scenario. The optimum situation is when a company’s insurance coverage covers truck drivers. On the other hand, while working alone, you must do in-depth research and hunt for websites that can offer a Top HGV insurance quote in minutes. Other than that, to pay the monthly insurance EMIs, steady work becomes even more crucial for self-employed truck drivers.

That being said, the transportation industry has come a long way in recent years to improve the hiring and recruitment process to ensure job security for qualified individuals. For example, the use of truck driver recruiting software and the development of a truck driver application form can ease the hiring process. Additionally, trucking companies can optimize their website in such a way that when a potential driver searches for driver jobs on the internet, it can show them the link to the application page of the trucking website to apply for the same. Say, someone is looking for truck driving jobs in Chicago, the websites of trucking companies in Chicago should show up on the first page of the list.

Consequently, while discussing the pressures of finding regular work as a truck driver, Cline went on to detail his weight loss journey.

“This is the first time since high school that I’ve been under 300 pounds,” said Cline. “I used to play football in high school but still didn’t pay attention to my weight.”

“I always wanted to run (the Modesto Marathon), just my weight has held me back.”

Cline, who drives a semi truck to Oakland daily, considers himself a “wrocker,” combining running and walking to achieve his mileage. “I’m not worried about my time,” he said. “I’m just worried about finishing.”

He tells others considering making the running commitment, “Start slow and be ready, believe in yourself and make it happen!”

The Modesto Marathon may be the perfect place for Cline, since it offers a flat course ideal for first-timers, as well as a generous 7-hour time limit. There’s plenty of swag this year too, such as a tech shirt, jacket and free photos on the course, perfect to capture the memories of a lifetime.

Cline advises that, “I make sure to always put myself first. No one else can lose my weight or run this race for me.” He said he is most proud of himself, not for losing the weight, but “I’m proud that I have the mindset of wanting to give back and encourage others who want to get healthy, that it’s not impossible and it can be done. I’m proof!”

When you’re over the age of 30, running marathons can bring many benefits that are often not the case when you’re younger. Whether you’re aware of the advantages or not, they do exist, and is exactly what I’m going to be going through in this article. Sit back, relax, and enjoy reading some of the many benefits you get when running and training for marathons.

1. Healthy body and mind

The first and often considered the most evident point is that when you run marathons, you become more physically and mentally healthy. You’ve also probably heard that the key to a good race is a healthy mind, correct? Nonetheless, running changes you for the better. When you first begin to run marathons, you’ll find it to be particularly hard as you don’t have much experience. As you become more qualified and experienced as a marathon runner, you’ll notice how much easier it is to run a marathon in comparison to when you just started. You’ll also begin to notice how much better you feel for doing so. Your mind will be clear, and your body will be capable of doing things you never thought were possible! Not to mention you’ll look and feel younger the more fit and healthy you are.

2. More energy for important things

When you’re over 30, you begin to cherish the more important things in life you never really appreciated. This includes your siblings, family, friends, spouse, and other significant others. When you have children, it can be draining to spend a lot of time with them. They can be high-maintenance and a handful at times, but that’s the joys of being a parent (you’ll be more appreciative of this when they grow up and won’t want to spend as much time with you, trust me!). When you run and train for marathons, you begin to feel more motivated and energized to playing and spending time with those who you consider to be important. This isn’t restricted to children: it can be pets, hobbies, travelling, and whatever else you sometimes don’t have the energy to do.

3. Meet awesome people

If there’s one thing I love about marathon running, it’s all the awesome people I get to meet. From all ages, races, sexes, heights, personalities (you get the point) it really allows you to open your mind which helps you become a better person. Marathon running is a community event – everyone is there for one another, supporting each other from start to finish. I have known strangers helping strangers push through the race, with encouragement, whether it is through words or actions. I find that some of the most positive people are marathon runners, and we’re all in it together!

4. Rewarded with a medal at the end

This may not seem like a big deal to many people, but to me, it is – for psychological reasons. Receiving a medal at the end of a long, exhausting marathon is a huge moment, and one you should remember for the rest of your life. The weeks of training put into the marathon, and you’re rewarded with sentimental value at the end (it’s shiny and looks cool, also). It is proof you finished a marathon. When your friends and family are over, you can wear that medal around your neck with pride – after all, you earned it!

5. Travelling experiences

No matter where you live or what your background is, when you become enthusiastic about running marathons, it opens doors to many different travelling experiences. This gets you outside of your own country or state, and allows for you to experience the cultural differences of the location you’re travelling to. You may want to hire a vehicle if your travelling far, say a van, and you’ll want to make sure you have insurance on this (which you can get from moneyexpert.com). Don’t worry, you can still see all the amazing sites and views! Through this, you’ll inevitably meet people from all over the world who are there for the same reasons as yourself, and is an ideal way of making new friends with similar interests as you. And at the end of your travel, you’ll have an abundance of memories, pictures and videos to share with others for the rest of your life. Just imagine travelling from America to, say… Buenos Aires Marathon in Argentina. What a story that’ll be for the rest of your life! Plus, you could even schedule your trip so that you can incorporate some tourist activities! For example, in Argentina patagonia tours are particularly popular. The vast scope of the Patagonia region spans between Argentina and Chile and is the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts, avid naturalists and those with a thirst for adventure. Some people even get to travel all around the world for work. Some companies will look at places like Corporate Housing Associates, LP official website for example, and organise accommodation for staff when they are required to travel for business reasons. Can you imagine being told by your boss that you must travel to another country, and be provided with accommodation? It would be the dream! I can guarantee you your grandchildren would love to hear that one.

6. Running is an antidepressant

The main issue with medication antidepressants is it can be a risk when consuming the medication. Depending on your health status, age and many other factors, you could be putting your body in potential danger. For example, if you’re over the age of 65, you’re more likely to be prone to falls, fractures and loss of bones caused by an antidepressant. However, running is a natural, healthy antidepressant and can be done by almost anyone completely free. If you look back at point #1, you’ll notice this point isn’t exclusive to that point. However, on the topic of depression and antidepressants, running is a proven method of receiving a dose of natural antidepressants, and is recommended by all renowned, credible psychologists. I understand that some people may require medication similar to effexor xr to help with depression and it is up to you to talk to your doctor about whether or running could be helpful to you.


If you’re over 30 running and training for marathons like never before, then I bow down to you, and congratulate you for bettering yourself and your life. It takes heroism to fight against the grain to change your life, and that needs to be acknowledged.

Author Bio

Curt Davies is a marathon enthusiast and has built his own website located at www.marathondriven.com. It’s stacked with information and other goodies regarding marathon running and training for those over the age of 30. If you want to find out more about Curt and what he writes about, you can freely open the link mentioned earlier.


I cannot believe it has taken me a week to write this email, and for that, I apologize.

I’m not sure where to begin so I will just speak from my heart and tell you how great each and every person involved in this race is!

I have been overweight most of my life. In January of last year, I decided to change that. I began eating healthy and took up running, as that seemed to be the only exercise that I would see weight loss results in. April 2013 marked my first half marathon. In September, I took the challenge of running a full marathon in the Auburn, CA trails – what an experience that was! Because I was slow, it took me quite a long time to finish. The volunteers at that race were great as well. I ran several more half marathons and lost a total of 75 lbs by December 2013 – just in time for the California International Marathon. It was a dream of mine to run that race. The cut off time was 6 hours and I knew I wouldn’t make that cut off time, but I thought I would be close. Long story short – I don’t wish to bad mouth another race, but my experience at CIM was not a great one and I will definitely not be returning. They weren’t kidding when they said all aid/support/mile markers would be pulled exactly at the cut off time. The last mile marker I saw was at Mile 9 – it was a lonely 17 more miles and I was only able to finish because of the support (emotional and water/food) of my family. They also supported a few other runners who were behind the cut off time with me. We got to the finish line and the clock had already been disassembled. It was, and still is, heartbreaking to see a DNF by my name in the results, knowing that I finished and received a medal. Again, I knew the cut off time going into it, so it’s not CIM’s fault necessarily – I guess I had just been used to the awesome world of runners that I had come to know, and it was disappointing to feel as if I wasn’t good enough to have aid support along the course and an official finish time like the rest of the runners.

After my disappointing experience/performance at CIM, I got down on myself and thought that maybe running wasn’t really for me. I had achieved my goal of running a full marathon and in fact had run two, but I felt like I would never be fast enough to run a marathon and still feel like a winner. I took a break from running and only ran here and there. However, I had already signed up for the Modesto Marathon before CIM, so I knew I had to at least make it to the start line.

My family and I are from Antelope, CA (Sacramento area). So we drove down the day before and stayed in a hotel which I hear uses some great RevPAR software to ensure it all runs smoothly. We went to the expo and my family mapped my route. While I was excited for the race, I still had doubts, wondering if I would be able to finish and unsure if all aid would be pulled if I wasn’t on pace to finish in 7 hours. I began the race well, but at Mile 9 I had a set back – a mental set back. The self doubt set it. I finally kicked it to the curb at Mile 14, but that was a crucial waste of 5 miles of practically walking that ate up some serious time. By Mile 14, I knew there were only a few runners behind me. I knew I wasn’t on pace to finish in 7 hours. I saw the volunteers in the cars and I was just waiting for one of them to tell me to hang up my shoes and accept a ride back to the finish area.

That never happened. Instead, every one – EVERY SINGLE volunteer – was supportive. They cheered for me. They encouraged me. They asked me if I needed anything – water, food, gels, medical aid, you name it. I was SHOCKED to see the aid stations still in place after I fell behind the time limit. I was shocked to see volunteers on bicycles encouraging me to push hard and finish. I was shocked to see how many people drove by honking their horns and giving me a thumbs up. I thanked them all. But I’m not sure they realize how much it meant. I don’t think they know how much it means to someone like me – to be so slow, to have lost a lot of weight yet still have so much more to go, to have a dream of finishing a marathon on a positive note without feeling like a loser. To them, they were just doing their “job.” But I hope they know that they changed my life and I’m sure they changed many. I was again surprised when a CHP motorcyclist pulled over around Mile 22 to tell me how to safely run back in – watch for cars, stay on the left side of the road, and use the sidewalks when I got back into town. And even more so, I could not believe that there were still aid stations open the last few miles of the race. Not only were they open, they were genuinely excited and were cheering for me. And last but not least – I got to the finish line at 7:37 and saw my family waiting for me. I then saw the clock – it was still on! And the announcer was still there. Really? For me?! Still announcing names! And I saw the amazing volunteers with smiles on their faces, handing out medals. After I received my medal, the nice woman (who I tried to find via the Modesto Marathon Facebook page but was unsuccessful) who put the medal around my neck took me aside and gave me encouraging words, showed me some stretches to do, and even talked to my family about how “great” I did. It was above and beyond.

I left the Modesto Marathon feeling like a winner. I exceeded the time limit. The organizers and volunteers took extra (extra!) time out of their day to see that I (and the few people behind me) had a great race even though we were the slow bunch. I’m slow, but I have dreams just like the rest of the runners out there that day had – only my dream was not to qualify for Boston. My dream was to finish and to FEEL like a winner. To hear my name announced, to get a medal, and to see my name with a finish time on the results page did that for me. To have the aid stations open until everyone was accounted for is maybe a small gesture to some, but a huge gesture to someone like me – it made me feel like I was good enough. I can now wear my awesome Modesto Marathon jacket proudly! 🙂

Another fabulous thing was to send out an email survey of our opinions of the race. I have NEVER seen that done before. Wow!

I have a lot of work to do – a lot of training to do to get better. But I will be back next year! Only this time, my goal will be to finish in sub 7 hours. THANK YOU, Modesto Marathon! Thank you, thank you, thank you. Keep up the amazing work!



Marisa Dixon

Well, the pre-race anxiety finally came to an end at 7:07:56 AM on Sunday morning as I crossed the start line of my very first marathon…which by the end of the day I swore would also be my very last!

We had a perfect day. The temperatures were low but not too cool, and there was no wind. My game plan was to average a 12 minute mile pace for the race, bringing me across the finish line in just less than 5 ½ hours. My usual split times in a long run show me running faster than average in the first 3rd of the distance, slower than average in the middle, and then faster than average again in the last miles. I reached the 14 mile turn around point in 2 hours 40 minutes; about an 11:40 pace…right where I wanted to be. I planned on mile 14 being significantly slower because at this point I knew I would walk awhile and refuel; take my 5 Hour Energy, refill my little bag of Chomps (I was carrying an extra stash in a bag hanging from my hydration belt) take some Aleve…stuff like that, and I did a little over 14 minutes for that mile, and then was back on my target pace of about 12 or less for the next 4 miles.

Then, at mile 19, I started suffering from ITB issues in my right leg. Five times in the last 7 miles I had to stop, massage my leg a little, and then walk until the cramp subsided. When I could run on it, I was easily able to run a 12 minute pace, but those miles that I had to walk for awhile killed my average. But I kept telling myself that my first goal was to finish the race, my second goal was to look strong when I crossed the finish line, and my third goal was to finish in under 5 ½ hours. I reached my first goal and just barely missed my 3rd goal. And in a picture my husband took at the finish line, I think I look pretty strong for an old lady that just ran 26.2 miles for the first time in her life.

There’s something about rounding the corner and seeing that finish line that just energizes me. With about 2 tenths of a mile to go, suddenly nothing hurt. I could see the finish clock on its arch with the crowd lining the street on both sides. I knew Tom was down there somewhere waiting for me, watching me reach this goal I had worked so hard for. Before the race started, when I was still obsessing over whether or not I could really do this, Dave Busby told me he knew I would do great and to remember to look for him because he would be waiting there to share a “high five” as I came down the final stretch. Sure enough, there he was. Even as I was picking up speed, I stuck out my hand and met his open palm, acknowledging his faith and encouragement. I heard Efren on the PA system saying my name, calling me a champion (ok, so he called everyone a champion, but it still felt good!) and remarking on the giant smile on my face. And then my whole focus was on the finish clock. I watched the seconds tick off as I kept running faster and faster, feeling like I was flying. At some point that I wasn’t even aware of, my hands ended up above my head and I was screaming like a fool as ran across that finish line! I couldn’t believe I had actually done it.

And then, best of all, there was Tom waiting for me. The mental picture that kept me going during those last hard miles was Tom waiting for me at the finish line. The hug I got from him was the best thing ever! Even better than the Gatorade that was handed to me after he let me go!

Other great moments at the finish line included seeing some friends that were waiting for me. One was the first person I met in the ShadowChase Running Club, Dave Barrett. When I went to my first group workout, he came up and introduced himself, then promptly directed me to work out with the walkers. (He asked if I was a runner and I said I wanted to be…I didn’t know at the time that the runners who went to that work out were FAST! I was no where close to ready to run with that group then! They’re still twice as fast as I am.) Dave was standing right next to Tom when I came in, and he’s the one who had a Gatorade open and ready for me. Another person waiting for me was a long time friend, Debra Bush. I was so surprised to see her, and she took a picture of Tom hugging me, just as I had visualized so many times when I started to doubt I could do this. That mental image kept me motivated when the training got hard. Now I have a photo of the real thing to remind me that you have to dream it first to make it real!

Also there at the finish line greeting everyone was Marathon Goddess Julie Weiss. She was going to run the Rome Marathon on Sunday, but decided to come to ours instead, and said she plans to come back next year! How about that? Our race getting picked over a race like Rome??? Our little race here in Modesto is growing. We’re getting elite runners, famous runners, celebrities, and now there’s talk of Olympic hopefuls coming to try to qualify for the 2020 Olympics because our course is fast and our race is well organized. We even made headlines on RunnersWorld.com! Look out world, here comes SAMM!

Within an hour after finishing, the rush had finally worn off and I was pretty miserable. I began suffering gastric distress and my joints began to ache. My car was parked 2 blocks from the start/finish area, and when I parked there, I thought that was pretty close. Let me tell you, that 2 block walk to get to my car seemed way longer than the 26.2 miles I just ran! I was never so grateful to be able to sit down! I always keep some herbal remedies in my car for times like these when I need some immediate pain relief. Click here to read more about what I use, without it I don’t think I’d be able to drive home. I had my usual dose, let it sink in then started the 15 minute drive home which seemed to take forever. Then it was some bathroom time, some hot tub time, then some more bathroom time, then a 2 hour nap. (I would have slept longer, but my kids decided to come over, although they didn’t stay long.) The hot tub really did help with easing my muscles, so I’m even half tempted to have one from a site similar to milehighhottub.com installed at home for after every run I do. Hopefully, it will help with muscle rehabilitation! After way, after all that I spent the rest of the evening Facebooking with my running friends and family, relaxing in the recliner with my feet up, and waiting for Tom to come home. (The work of race crew volunteers is not over when the race is done; there’s SO much for them to do. Thanks, all of you, for making this experience possible for me.) And no, I didn’t eat hardly anything after I got home. I know we’re supposed to, but my stomach just wasn’t interested. The only thing I really wanted was a DQ chocolate shake, but I didn’t have the energy to go get one. I did finally manage a Greek yogurt around 8:00 PM, and a little ice cream around 9:00. Then, finally I was able to lie down and go back to sleep.

Monday morning I felt so much better! I had scheduled a vacation day because I had no idea how I would feel, and it was probably a smart thing to do. I didn’t hurt too much, but by around 1:00 PM I was feeling pretty worn out again so I relaxed and started reading up reviews on the best CBD oils that I could use for future purposes if I’m experiencing any soreness, as it’s said that this product helps to relieve that. But today, I’m feeling fairly normal, (well, normal for me), except that my thighs are a little sore, but not too bad.

What an amazing journey this has been! Just over 3 years ago I attended my first Weight Watchers meeting, weighing in at 224.2 pounds. At that time I could not have run from my front door to the curb if my house had been on fire. If someone had told me then that on March 23, 2014 I would run a marathon, I would have thought them crazy.

As for what comes next…well, you just never know. Sunday at about mile 19 I swore that I would never run another marathon, and my resolve became firmer as my misery increased Sunday night. Then as I was analyzing my splits yesterday, I found my self thinking, “next time I should try this or do that…” Next time?? Am I crazy?? Well, maybe a little. J But for now my goal is to see how well I can place in the club’s Grand Prix series. Run for Health is coming up on April 12th. I need to rest up and make sure I’m well recovered before I go out and try to break any speed records, so that run will probably be really slow, and I’ll run it just be for the grand prix finisher points. If I place, fine, if not, fine. Then hopefully by the Modesto Memorial Classic in May I’ll be ready to see how fast I can go again.

Since I worked so hard to get to the fitness level I’m at now, I plan to maintain at least a half marathon fitness level, which means that every other week, once I’m fully recovered, I’ll probably run between 12 and 15 miles for my long run. (I would never have believed I would be saying that a year ago!) And at that level, if I decide to run a marathon again, I hope to be able to train up to it in 3 months instead of taking 6 months to do it! I may have to download a fitness app to help track my progress, so looking into websites like Cell Phone Deal as well as others like it, will be able to help me figure out which would be best for my goals.

And finally, I want to thank everyone who made this possible for me. Heidi Ryan, our fearless race director, you created an event to be proud of. We will miss seeing you at the helm, but your “retirement” is well deserved. You and the legion of people who have worked with you for the past 5 years to make this event into what it has become deserve more acknowledgement than I have words to express. (And, we all know I have a lot of words!) Karen Lozano, thank you for the great job you do with our annual Movie Night, as well as all the other work you do as co-director that most of us don’t know about. Thank you to all the volunteers, whether you gave a couple of hours or week/months of your time, I know this event would not be possible without you. Thank you, Jeff Lozano, Mike Mason, Susan Taylor and all the coaches and mentors of the adult training group. Your knowledge and encouragement helped so many of us first timers make it to the finish line. Thank you, Jan and Colleen, for getting me through a tough training run…my new besties. To all of our sponsors, thank you for your generous support. All of the hard work would be for nothing without the means to put it in motion. Because I know the 2015 SAMM planning starts now, thank you Vickie Chu-Hermis for taking over as race director.

And most of all, thank you, Tom. Thanks for not complaining when the house is dirty, the dishes are piled in the sink, and the laundry doesn’t get done because I am out running. Thanks for being there at the finish line waiting for me when I cross. Thanks for always believing in me, even when I don’t believe in myself. I can’t imagine my life without you.

To anyone reading this that still thinks they could never do it, see it in your mind first…create that mental image, then in believe it, hold that image tight. Let that image carry you past the challenges. Don’t think about how hard it might be; just think about how sweet reaching the goal will be. To quote St. Augustine, “What can be hoped for which is not believed?”

prescottmedalIt was May 24th, 2013, my first day of summer vacation after graduating 8th grade, when my alarm rang at five thirty in the morning. I got up, got dressed, and I laced up my brand new shoes and prepared for my one shot at history. I had decided that I could attempt to break the Prescott Junior High School distance record and endurance time record which could not include any stopping or even walking at all and had to be done all on a quarter mile track. I was the first girl to even attempt to break the boy’s record of 21 miles and three and a half hours that had been set many years before. Having run my first marathon, the Modesto Marathon, with the amazing support of Teens Run Modesto and two months earlier and two half marathons since then, I was pretty sure I could break the record.

I got to Prescott just after six and started setting up the aid station. I was joined by the boys that were attempting the record with me and many of my Teens Run Modesto coaches: Miss Pingree, Mrs. Clark, Mrs. Kern, Mr. Olsen, Mr. Coxford, and my mom. By six thirty we had lined up at our starting line and we were off! They cheered and clapped for us even though we were only running around a ten minute pace and we were all running together; we didn’t have a reason to make it a race. Around mile three the precautionary of drinking more water than a fish to avoid dehydration on a hot day started to set in a little and I think that was about the time I realized how difficult this would truly be. Every thirty minutes we switched the direction we ran on the track to keep the stress on our legs equal. By mile six(right around one hour) my legs were starting to cramp up so I took a shot block and stared thinking about how soon it would all be over. It wasn’t over soon; the sun felt like it was going to bake me alive, even with the amazing efforts of our support team spraying us with water and running through the parts of the track that were getting hit by the sprinklers. By mile fourteen we had already lost one runner, leaving me wondering how long my body could keep me going. Around mile fifteen I was temporarily re-energized when a visiting teacher brought me Fritos. After the wonderfulness of Fritos wore off I was getting really close to stopping, I not only ached but my IT band was defiantly not appreciating the surprise sixteen miles. From then until around mile twenty I don’t remember a whole lot because I spent all of my concentration on pretending I was running anywhere but a track where it was blazing hot on my first day of summer vacation. At mile twenty I snapped out of “my zone” long enough to hear that I only needed to run another mile to tie the distance record; the time record was already mine. I made every painful step of that mile before I realized that I didn’t want to tie a record. I wanted to break it. I went another lap swearing I would stop once I came back around, but for some reason I don’t understand my legs forgot to stop moving. I ran two more laps before notifying the coaches I was on my last lap, for real this time. They pulled caution tape left over from graduation and made us a finish line, which was the second best part of the run. The best part was when Miss Pingree gave us the medals she decorated for us. I can now say that I am the only Prescott girl that holds the same record that a boy does at twenty-two miles and four and a half hours.

By Emily Kleinfelder

juliestanleyTwelve days. Twelve days to the big event. I’ve been working toward this event for six months now. Or a year. Or a couple of years. Or a lifetime. It all depends on where you want to start counting, on what you want to mark as the starting point.

If you use the logic that all past events in your life make you who you are today, then March 23rd will be just another point to where the events of my life have led me. If you consider the starting point to an event as the moment where, if you had not taken a particular fork in the road, you would not be arriving at a given destination, then my path to the marathon started about two and a half years ago when I first decided to take up running.

But, if you want to consider the starting point as where you decided to do something specific, then my marathon quest began last October when I registered for the Modesto Marathon. I had joined the training group in 2012, (for the 2013 SAMM), although never with the intention of running the marathon, or even the half. I just wanted to get faster and stronger for the 5k. But somewhere between March and October of 2013, I got this crazy idea that I could run a marathon. I started out by running some 10k distances, then trained for and ran a half at the Peace Officers Memorial. Encouraged by my performance there, I made the decision to run the full marathon at the 2014 SAMM. Just to keep myself from backing out, I registered very early on.

Then, shortly after registering, I was diagnosed with a stress fracture to my right tibia for the second time in a year. First I cried, then I got angry, then I finally started to think about my options. I could still walk, and it was early in the training program. At the distances we were doing, I could continue to train at a walk. If I was careful and didn’t injure myself further, by sometime in January when the distances starting getting longer, I should be able to start running a little. I realized that as long as I could complete 26.2 miles in less than seven hours, I could still complete this marathon.

And so, I walked…and walked…and walked. And sometimes I cheated and jogged a little, but then I would get scared that I would set myself back by re-injuring my healing tibia, and I would walk again. And finally, January came. It had been two and a half months. I had developed a power walking gate that allowed me to cover distance quickly without the impact I got from actually running, and it allowed me to get my heart rate up higher than I could get it walking with a normal gate. But I had to be careful because it was so easy for that power walk to turn into a jog…and I so wanted to run.

By February I was running all my training miles again, and every time I finished I waited nervously to see if there was any lingering pain in my shin. The long runs scared me the most. What if I hurt myself again? The marathon was so close… My right shin seemed to be fine, but I nearly panicked when my left shin started to hurt. I quickly searched for some helpful stretches and the stretching did help to eliviate the pain a little. It took me a couple weeks to realize that what I was feeling there was shin splints, not a stress fracture. Ice packs on a regular basis, along with some massage, and the shin splints have become negligible. To cure the shin splints properly, the active release technique can be used.

Then, finally, it was time for our longest training run of the season, the longest training run ever for me; 22 miles. There were moments that I didn’t think I would ever finish. In the back of my mind was recurring thought; and the marathon is 4 more miles than this! I began to doubt that I could do it. My time was disappointingly slow…I had been averaging the same pace when I was power walking.

As I drove home I had to remind myself that this marathon was not about going fast, it was about persevering. It was about doing something hard, but doing it none-the-less. It was not about finishing first or finishing fast, it was about finishing something I set out to do, and not because it was easy but because it wasn’t. It was about crossing the finish line, even if I had crawl across it. It was about accepting no excuses. So, when I got home, I went straight out to the pool, sat on the edged wrapped in a towel to keep the cool air from penetrating my wet shirt, and stuck my legs in the cold water up to my knees. Why it had never occurred to me before now that I had a giant ice bath in my own back yard, I don’t know, but once the shock of the cold water subsided, I could almost feel the inflammation leaving my lower legs. It felt wonderful. The sun had come out after the drizzly, cloudy morning had passed and it was warm on my face. A calm peacefulness washed over me. Yes, it had been hard for me, and yes I ran much slower than I had hoped to, but I did it. And I would do it again, plus that extra 4.2 miles, in three weeks. No excuses.

The next day I expected to wake up with the usual stiffness I experience after a long run, but I felt fine. Well, the second day after a long run is always the worst for me, so I figured by the next morning everything would be hurting and stiff, but Monday morning came and I still felt fine. I had run the longest, hardest training run ever, and I felt fine! Nothing hurt! Not my muscles, not my shins, nothing. And then I thought, well of course nothing hurts. That was the point of training, wasn’t it? Not just to be able to do the distance, but to condition your body so that you can do it and not hurt. Imagine that…it worked.

So, now it’s taper time. Saturday was an easy 12 miles. Someone once posted on Facebook about how funny it was that we go from “OMG, I have to run 12 miles today!!!” to “Gee, I only have to run 12 miles today…” Eight months ago I had never run further than 6 miles in one run and that seemed hard. Now 12 miles seems like no big deal. I actually plan social activities in the afternoon or evening after a 12 mile run now, whereas six months ago my plan for the rest of the day after a 12 mile run was to sleep.

Taper time…a couple of months ago I was looking forward to this time where the demanding training schedule eased off a little, where the distances began to get shorter instead of continually getting longer. Now that it’s here I feel a little lost. Maybe I’ll have some time to prune all the dead growth from my garden or hire Milwaukee Spring and Fall Cleanup Services (or similar ones) for spring cleaning the house. But, for sure, I need to find something to do besides obsess over the marathon. Whereas before I thought the training might kill me, now it’s the waiting; the mind games I play with myself; the self-doubt trying to creep in. Perhaps I shall look to a new method of exercise, maybe weight lifting. A friend has mentioned that steelsupplements.com is a great source to start.

Through all the ups and downs during the months of training, there have been a couple of things that have kept me going, kept me focused on my goal. One was the idea of running my first marathon with my ShadowChase friends, some of who will also be running their first marathon. One of the people I was looking forward to celebrating with at the finish line left us on January 2nd of this year. Sweet, sweet Wendell…I miss you man, and this marathon is for you. The times I wanted to quit or drop back to the half, I thought to myself, no…I’m going to run this for Wendell because we were going to run it together.

The other thing that has kept me going when I wanted to just say forget it was the mental image I have of finishing. I see myself coming toward the finish line, sometimes I’m flying, sometimes I can barely put one foot in front of the other, but always there is the feeling of triumph and accomplishment that comes from doing something hard, something you weren’t sure you could do. As I cross the finish line, I see myself accepting my finishers medal, bowing my head so that the volunteer can place it around my neck. And then finally, best of all, my husband Tom waiting for me, wrapping me in his arms, hugging me tight, holding me up. My biggest fan. My strongest supporter. I love you. I want that moment in my memory forever.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling that this goal to run a marathon is such an overwhelming thing, I think about the folks who make it look so easy, the ones who run multiple marathons a year, or the ultra runners who use a marathon as a training run for a much longer distance, and I feel like I must be making this into a bigger deal than it really is. But then I look at me. Just me. I think about where I was a few years ago, and where I am now. For me, this IS a big deal. I remind myself that everyone had to start somewhere. Even the ultra runners started life unable to walk. I’ll never be an elite runner. I’ll never be the fastest or run the farthest or hold any records. But, I’ll have challenged myself to do something beyond what I thought I might be capable of doing.

In twelve days…

Julie Stanley



We all began our journey to run with many different and personal reasons. For me, it was to get healthy, but it has turned into so much more than that. When I began my running journey, I could not run 1 mile without stopping 20 times (and this is not an exaggeration). The weird thing was – I kept at it!

And OMG, when I ran that mile for the first time, I felt like I just ran a marathon and I’m sure I looked like it too. I was dripping with sweat, huffing and puffing, and thought I would never be able to walk again. Surprisingly, this one mile led to many more miles, friends and confidence.

The confidence I felt was overwhelming. I had never known what this felt like, doing something so physical, like running for miles, and not listening to my mind telling me to quit. This feeling, the feeling of conquering my mind, is what has kept me motivated to run. I don’t listen to the voices in my head telling me “I can’t do this” “I’m too old” “My body aches” or “No one will care if I quit.”

Whenever I think I can’t do something, I now know that I am stronger than the voices in my mind and I can conquer anything that is thrown my way!


Got this note and poem from a club member who is training to complete his first marathon at SAMM in March.

Just wanted to share this poem. I have been flirting (literally) with the idea of my first marathon. First step: write a poem about it. Second step:start running. I am still stuck on step one. Thought I’d share.

I am a new member to Shadowchase, but my IT Band and busy schedule don’t allow me to see you guys very often. Hope that changes soon.


Dear 26.2-Mile Run

by Sam Pierstorff
sampierstorffI have been drinking a lot lately,
slugging shots of honey whiskey,
watching you all night leaning
over the bar, legs so long an airplane
could land on your hamstrings.

I want you more than you want me.
We both know that. But still you flirt
with your miles of experience, your wide open
roads that men can’t stop chasing.

All over your body, they have traveled—
slow and gentle, careful not to hurt
themselves along your windy paths.

Others pound your pavement
like machine gun fire, stomp,
stomping along, thinking only
of their own time, their own
personal best.

They never look down, never admire
the mature road you’ve become, your dark,
poreless skin, your edges of soft grass
and golden wheat fields.

I am sorry that I have been with your friends—
5K, half-marathon, mud runs that left me
feeling so dirty I’ve had to hose myself off
at a gas station, but it’s always been you
that I want so badly.

I think near daily about it, what it will take
to get me out there—next to you, on top of you,
gliding along every curve, letting you
wear me down, exhaust me
until I am breathless
on my knees, praying
that you will let me

Dee Cajiuat sports her Modesto Marathon shirt at the Grand Canyon on vacation last month.

Dee Cajiuat sports her Modesto Marathon shirt at the Grand Canyon on vacation last month.

If you’ve been around the Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon (SAMM) Facebook or website much, you’ve most likely noticed there’s one name that creeps up, over and over again. So who is this Dee Cajiuat person who sings the praises of SAMM and KT Tape wherever she goes?

If you ask her, Dee, a second grade teacher from Southern California, will tell you she dislikes running but loves her friends in Modesto so much, so she makes frequent trips north to participate in ShadowChase Running Club events as often as possible. But there’s a serious message she brings with her, no matter where she goes.

“I started my long distance running journey soon after my nephew, Joshua, had his accident. On Nov. 30, 2009, my 17-year-old nephew was involved in a serious car accident. Thankfully he had the support of car insurance providers similar to Oxford Auto (https://www.oxfordauto.com/). They also decided to work with an expert lawyer to ensure that they got the compensation they deserve. It was a complicated and difficult process which is why legal support was critical. I remember Joshua telling me that he spoke to a few lawyers like Brad Keating before starting their case. All these lawyers provided some useful insight into how they could work the case. Thankfully he was alive but he sustained multiple broken bones and a traumatic brain injury which meant he needed family support. He was in a medically induced coma for nearly four weeks. When he awoke, he was in a vegetative state and we didn’t know what the future held for him and his family,” Dee recalls. “During those four coma weeks, in the midst of life and death decisions that needed to be made, I signed up to run a Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon. My goal was to run and tell people about Josh and by being out there I hoped to get as many people possible praying for Joshua. Three years later, I still have people who say they have been and will continue to pray for Josh and his journey.”

Dee Cajiuat jumps for joy has she reaches KT Tape headquarters on vacation last month.

Dee Cajiuat jumps for joy has she reaches KT Tape headquarters on vacation last month.

That’s some pretty heavy-duty stuff coming from a woman who clearly enjoys laughter, dining with friends, riding her motorcycle, reading, traveling the country, and in general, not wasting a second of life, even on sleep. Since that fateful race in 2009, Dee has completed 42 half marathons, eight marathons and a 50K. The 2011 SAMM was her first full marathon, and she’s been back ever since. And every year Dee comes back, she brings friends in tow.

But 2014 will be extra special for the Cajiuat family. Although Dee will “only” be running the half, it’s for good reason. She’ll be running alongside her nephew, Josh, and she’s bringing a whole contingent with her.

Josh’s parents will be running; his father, David Cajiuat, will be trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, as mom Charlotte runs the half. Josh’s brother will be running his first full alongside his father, and Josh’s sister, Hope, will be running the half. And as if that’s not enough, Dee’s San Bernardino Pacers will have some six members present to run with Josh and David.

Asked why she has adopted SAMM, Dee says, “It’s more of SAMM adopting me! I was looking for my first marathon and met (SAMM sponsor) Dr. Calvin Lee via a promotion he was having on his Facebook page and he invited me to do the Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon. As I shared my story of why I run, many ShadowChasers supported my effort and have continued to be a great source of encouragement in all that I do.”

Dee Cajiuat sports her KT Tape at the Country Music Marathon.

Dee Cajiuat sports her KT Tape at the Country Music Marathon.

Dee also looks forward to sponsoring Mile Marker 26, which she has done for the past three years. It features a picture of Josh on it. “To me, that totally personalized the event and SAMM is now a great part of my life. I try to go up to Modesto as often as I can so I can participate in any SAMM related activities.”

And when she’s here, or anywhere for that matter, she can usually be found sporting a Modesto Marathon shirt along with a layers of kinesio tape.

“I heard about KT Tape from my brother,” says Dee. “He mentioned that Josh was using it and I started reading up on it. I was running in Vibram Five Fingers and my calves were dying and I found a tape application that I used, along with the shin pain app. I did my first back-to-back weekend runs and I was hooked. I couldn’t believe how minimal my pain was. As I progressed in my running, I got injured in different parts and KT Tape was there for every injury.”

In her ever-present enthusiasm, Dee continues singing its praises, “KT Tape is THE best invention ever! It can be used for muscular or joint pain. It can be used for support or prevention of injuries and yes, even recovery. KT Tape is flexible and elastic enough to support any part of the body.”

Dee will be bringing that enthusiasm to SAMM in 2014. She got KT Tape to donate its product and she will be taping runners at our Expo for free! And as if that’s not enough, she’s packing up the rolls and bringing it to the Modesto Marathon booth at the Santa Rosa Marathon later this month where she will offer free tapings to help attract potential SAMM runners! Yes, she simply loves that much. Whether you’re her second grade student, her favorite marathon, or her nephew Joshua, it’s love, unconditionally. She’s Dee like that.

How did I hear about the Modesto Marathon?

I was in between surgeries in late October when I bumped into Dr. Harvey Palitz, who told me about the Modesto Marathon, and he told me that they were looking for a title sponsor. He knew that my wife, Dr. Tammy Wu, and I had sponsored other organizations before such as the Modesto Symphony and the Gallo Center for the Arts. Other than that, we had not heard of the Modesto Marathon. I was away for about three months this summer. I was touring Asia on my violin playing in some of the great concert halls in the East. I don’t currently run or have running partners, and it had been about 10 years since I had been regularly running. I don’t think I would have heard about this sponsorship opportunity if it hadn’t been for the chance conversation with Dr. Palitz.

I was very excited to hear about the first Marathon in Modesto. I then shared the info with Dr. Tammy Wu, plastic surgeon, who had been an avid runner. We knew we wanted to help the cause. We really enjoy helping new projects in Modesto, such as the Gallo Center, and now the Modesto Marathon.

Why did we become the Title Sponsor?

Initially we didn’t want to be the title sponsor. But as time went by, the spot wasn’t filled. We decided we needed take some action and fill the spot ourselves. The main push came from Dr. Wu. Our medical group is called Surgical Artistry and much of it focuses on beauty. We are of the belief that true beauty comes from within – a healthy body. This is the goal of many plastic surgeons, such as New York City’s plastic surgeon, Dr. Joshua Hyman. We felt that the Marathon and Surgical Artistry had common goals when it came to healthy living. We also had many patients who have run marathons. Furthermore, on a humorous note, we thought there would be opportunities to look at leg veins of runners and perform acupuncture for leg/back pain caused by the race. Surgical Artistry provides services in veins, acupuncture, and plastic surgery.

About Dr.Calvin Lee…

I’m a general surgeon who specializes in acupuncture and vein procedures. I practice medicine with my wife, Dr. Tammy Wu, who is a plastic surgeon. Our practice is called Surgical Artistry and is located next to the post office on Sylvan Avenue in Modesto.

Before I became a surgeon and acupuncturist, I played a lot of violin. Recently I won a contest on YouTube to be part of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. We performed at Carnegie Hall with famed San Francisco Symphony conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. With my violin videos on YouTube, I was “discovered” and had the opportunity to play violin solos with physician orchestras in Taipei, Hong Kong, and Macau. I also enjoy learning piano, which is new for me.

Early life: I grew up in New York City. I started violin lessons at age seven. I had recognized early that I was very athletic with my fingers but not with anything else. This came in handy for typing, playing violin, and later for performing surgeries. While in high school, I was accepted to great universities such as Harvard and Stanford, and was even thinking about going to one of the best Caribbean medical schools, but chose to go to Brown University. At Brown, I majored in Neurosciences, and got my medical degree eight years later. It was a very thorough course where I learned everything from which coding to use to create medical bills, for example, learn more about 99203 and the treatment that represents, to how to open my own medical business. I came to Modesto in 2003 to work with the McHenry Medical Group as one of the Trauma / General Surgeons. I left the group in 2006 to start Surgical Artistry Inc. with my wife, and I also learned acupuncture at Stanford University. I love being active in the community. I am on the board of the Modesto Symphony and have been invited to be on the board of the Gallo Center. My wife and I are in the process of creating the Surgical Artistry Academy, which offers education to students in the area regarding medicine and aesthetics. We have already informally taught some students in the area.

About Dr. Tammy Wu

Dr. Wu is a busy plastic surgeon in Modesto, CA. She is the only woman plastic surgeon from Fresno to Sacramento. On the web she is considered to be an authority on breast augmentation surgery on runners. This has been the first website listed when searching for “Running and Breast Augmentation.” She graduated first in her medical school class at Brown University and has won plastic surgery research awards. She is on the board of directors for the Cooperation of American Physicians – a company headquartered in Los Angeles. The Cooperative of American Physicians, Inc. (CAP) is a physician-owned and governed organization comprised of the finest doctors practicing in the State of California. If you go to its website,https://www.cap-mpt.comyou will see her picture appear right after the CEO of the company. Membership in CAP is the gateway to Mutual Protection Trust (MPT). Available only to CAP members, MPT is a market leader in the California medical professional liability arena.

Early Life: Tammy Wu, grew up in Taipei Taiwan, and moved to the United States when she was 11 years old. Her parents remained in Taiwan while she learned English and went to boarding school in Atlanta, Ga. She spoke with a southern accent, learned enough French to be awarded second place in an all-USA French speaking competition. She went to Brown University for college and medical school. She majored in Biochemistry. She came to Modesto in 2003 to join the Sutter Gould Medical Group and was the only plastic surgeon for the group until she left in 2006 to start Surgical Artistry Inc. with her husband.

Running History

I started running during my surgery residency. The general surgery residency required many hours at work. Many times it was over 100 hours per week on the job. Running gave me a relief from the stress of surgical residency. I mainly got into running because my wife started running during residency. She was always better than me at running. In fact, she had won races in the past in her age group. I found it to be awkward for me, but I kept at it. A year after I started running, I ran my first marathon, which I finished in a little over 5 hours. To me, the marathon represented my surgical training – it was long – and the fact that I had finished it gave me confidence that I could finish my surgery training. A year later after the first marathon, I ran my second marathon, which took me almost 6 hours – I wasn’t conditioned at all for that race, but I wanted to do it regardless. I had fun racing the truck that said “end of race.” After 2002, both my wife and I had stopped running to focus on our medical practices. Because we have decided to sponsor this event, we’ve both taken up running again. Once again, I’m seeing that I am not genetically made for running, but it isn’t stopping me from watching myself improve again.

Why Half Marathon?

Maybe I’ll walk the Marathon … I reserve the right to change my mind at the last minute … I think I’ll look at the half-marathon marker and decide which direction to go when I get there. My wife thinks the half-marathon is barely the right distance to train for given the 17 weeks left before the event. She’s more realistic. I tend to aim for the stars but am happy if I get the moon at the end. Our Surgical Artistry staff is excited about the event and most plan to attend one of the races that day. I was already looking for ways to motivate myself to exercise again. Hearing about a chance to run in the first Modesto Marathon event was enough motivation to get going. I hope this inaugural event will motivate others as well. Whichever event we choose, it will be a 26.2 mile party because it is the first of its kind in Modesto.

Do you have any advice for others taking on the challenge?

It’s always good to take on a challenge, such as running the marathon. Even if we don’t conquer the challenge in the end, we may have improved ourselves tremendously while trying to reach that challenge.

I see two challenges for me with the Modesto Marathon: I want to run one of the races and I want to help make it as successful as possible.

Things that worked for me when I was training for my previous marathons:

  • Keep a running log
  • Rest is as important as running
  • Read running articles for motivation
  • Do one long run per week.

A simplified version of my current training plan:

Run every other day. If it is a weekday, run 3 miles. If it is a weekend, do a long run. The long run increases each time (i.e. Start at 4 miles, then next week go to 5 miles) until it’s Modesto Marathon time!

Throwdown a Challenge?

The marathon will be a draw for many people. It’s always nice to see Modesto on the map for good things. I hope to see over 2,000 runners on race day. And I want to thank the organizers and volunteers in advance. I’d like to challenge other sedentary types like myself to run/walk the marathon or half marathon. I can say with some certainty that if I can aim for this, many others can too. Plus it’s for a good cause – the Teens Run Modesto program. Couch lovers and runners should all come out for this event because it is history in the making – the inaugural Modesto Marathon.

juliestanley5kThe SAMM 5k…this is my race.

Not in the sense that I own it, or that I started it, or that I’m anything special in connection to it. No, this is my race because it’s special to me, just like all races are special to someone. So we lay claim to our race, along with everyone else who feels this is their special race, even though it doesn’t really belong to us.

The 2012 SAMM 5k was the completion of a goal I had set for myself when I decided to do something about my weight. I challenged myself to become fit enough to run a 5k…someday. As my weight loss progressed and my activity level increased, I began looking for a 5k in the area and found this one. It was an exhilarating experience for a middle aged grandma who had just lost 80 pounds. A year prior to that, I could not have run from the front door to the curb.

Running in that first 5k sealed the deal for me; I was hooked. I was thrilled to find fliers in my goody bag for other races coming up. I immediately registered for the Modesto Memorial Classic. I began to check the ShadowChase calendar on a regular basis to find more races. And, I set a super secret goal for myself; one that I didn’t even want to admit to myself, maybe because I thought it was impossible. Next year, I wanted a medal in this race.

The idea entered my mind in a flash, and was gone just a quickly, but the shadow if its imprint was there, hiding in the back corner somewhere, working on my sub-conscience…a medal…in this race…my race…

Over the next several months I ran in as many races as I could. Manteca’s Hit the Streets for Hunger in April, our own Modesto Memorial Classic in May, the Hilmar Udder Run in June, (now there’s a story all its own…), Escalon Park Fete in July.

Also in July, I decided take my training up a notch. Too bad I didn’t talk to someone who knew something about how to do that.

After Hilmar in June, I began to be concerned about the nagging pain I had been having in my lower legs. It started with some twinges in my ankles, which were replaced with twinges in the outside area of my shins.

I kept running through all the twinges, and they finally went away, but were replaced by something a little more painful on the inside of my shins. Since the pains I had been having had always gotten better after awhile, even though I kept running, I expected this new pain to do the same. It didn’t.

I finally stopped to visit a physical therapist friend who confirmed I had some mild shin splints going on, and said that I should be ok to keep running. What he failed to caution me about was the fact that I should NOT go out and see how far I could push my limits while I was waiting for my shin splints to subside. I guess he figured I was smart enough to know better. He was wrong.

So, in July I went from running less than 10 miles a week to running about 20 miles a week. No gradual 10% a week increase for this tough broad, just 10 miles one week and then 20 miles the next week, and the next week, and the next week…

Then, for good measure, I decided to do some hill work. I had done some with a group about a month before. We ran the long, gradual climb from the park to the parking lot on Scenic Drive for about 20 minutes. I figured if that was good, then steeper and faster would be better. I found a shorter, steeper hill in the park near the golf course, and ran up and down that as fast as I could until I couldn’t do it anymore.

The results of this self devised training schedule were double edged. My next race was Color The Skies in Ripon on September 1, 2012. Even with legs that were painful just walking, I turned in a personal record of 28:12 and placed second for my age group. These were the results I was striving for with my workouts. Unfortunately, the tradeoff for the fast gains I was making turned out to be serious injury.

Sometimes, I can be a really slow learner. Or maybe I just wanted to believe that if I ignored it, the pain would go away. Whatever the case, the Marathon Training Group for the 2013 SAMM was starting up at about this time, and I decided to join. While I had no intention of running the Marathon, or even the Half, I figured training for it could only make me faster in the 5k. And I had this super secret goal…

While I had already registered for it, the training group was making the Riverbank Cheese and Wine 5k one of their training runs. It would give those who had never been in a race some valuable exposure to the excitement and distraction a race creates for a runner, and it was the right distance for where we were in the training program at that point.

Unfortunately for me, because I didn’t want to lose the momentum I had going, I didn’t back off my training and allow my legs the time they needed to heal. I ran the race in Riverbank, but turned in a slow time and left immediately to go home and ice my legs.

I had one more race I was scheduled to run; the Peace Officers Memorial in about a month. I iced my legs every chance I got, took anti-inflammatory meds, gave myself leg massages, and took time off from my running. Unfortunately, I had pushed myself too fast and too hard for too long. I ran my final race for 2012 with a decidedly unremarkable time and finally admitted to myself that I had a real injury that I needed to address.

After x-rays failed to reveal anything specific, I had an MRI performed on both legs. The results were as I expected by this time; I had stress fractures on the tibia of both legs; a result of overtraining. The treatment; no running for 2 months.

I can’t believe it took them this long to find a diagnosis. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t realize it would put me out of action for a while. When I think about it though, at least they diagnosed me properly – at least they took the time to find out just what was wrong with my legs and why I was in so much pain. Unlike my friend, who was misdiagnosed by her doctor, and eventually had to think about hiring lawyers for medical negligence compensation, so she could get the justice she deserved. No, it wasn’t anything like this, luckily! But it was still annoying all the same.

Since I had already stopped running about 6 weeks before receiving this diagnosis at the end of December, I targeted mid January as my date to start training again. This time, though, I would be taking it very slowly. At the first sign of pain, I would back off.

Even though I had finally admitted to myself at some point that I really did want to try to medal at this year’s SAMM 5k, I believed my goal was now out of reach. But, I was still determined to at least be IN the SAMM 5k, even if I had to walk the entire distance. After all, this was MY race. There would be other races to medal in, so long as I got healthy again.

January 8, 2013; for the first time in over 2 months, I have risen before the sun to pull on my running clothes, lace up my shoes, and test out my recently pain free legs. I am to start slowly, walking most of the time, light jogging a little bit. Over the next few weeks, I can gradually run more and walk less until I can do a slow and easy 3 miles without pain. If it hurts, I am to back off immediately.

Fast forward two and a half months. It’s March 24, 2013. The sun is not yet up. My husband, bless him, rolled out of bed at 3:00 AM and is out setting up course barriers for the marathon. I’m wandering around the finish area, checking out where everything is located, lending a hand here and there with set up, trying to cope with the inevitable pre-race jitters I always seem to get.

I still believe my goal of a medal is out of reach, but I am well beyond thinking I should not run. For the past month I have managed to log about 6 miles a week of easy, slow, short runs. I don’t feel anywhere near ready to turn in a good performance, but my legs feel good. I’m mostly worried about my cardio. Will I have enough oxygen to sustain the pace I want keep?

The sky begins to lighten as the crowd thickens. The lines for the rest rooms grow ever longer as the start time for the marathon and half marathon nears. I call my husband. Is he going to be there for the start of the 5k? I have his camera that he left on the kitchen table that I want to give him. Yes, they’re headed back in right now.

I shed my sweats, jacket, and gloves, placing them in my drop bag and handing it over to the attendant at the bag drop station. I’ve learned that it truly takes an army of volunteers to put on an event like this, and I’m thankful for every one of them.

It’s almost 7:00 AM. The marathoners and half marathoners will be starting soon; time for me to warm up. I head out for an easy run away from the race route. Six minutes out, six minutes back. My cell phone rings. My husband is at the start line and wonders where I am. I’m breathing hard as I arrive and he chides me for wearing myself before I even get started. I tell him I’m fine. By the time the gun goes off, I’ll be perfect.

Runners are lining up for the 5k now. Each one tries to find his or her perfect spot to start. Too far to the front and we’ll be in the way, too far to the back and we’ll be dodging slower runners. Ephron is on the high lift next to us, talking, taking pictures. He introduces Karen, who is there to send us on our way.

And we’re off…

Before we reach the first corner the jitters have disappeared. This is what I came here to do. This is what I have been working toward for the past year. This moment. This race. All the training, all the worry about my legs, all the pain, all the impatient waiting as I healed. This is what I had been working toward. This race.

I concentrate on the things I’ve learned in the past few months. I try to keep my strides short and turnover quickly. Am I crossing my arms across my mid body? And smile…this is fun. I decide I will smile and wave at everyone I see; all the spectators, all the volunteers, all the musicians, all the peace officers, all the photographers. I want to keep my focus away from how fast I can go and just enjoy the fact that I’m here. This IS fun, and I’m so happy to be here.

At the first mile marker I check my pace. Not blinding, but faster than I expected. I decide to not check anymore. I’m just here to have fun. Wave to the onlookers. Tell the volunteers thanks for being here. Think about my form. Keep the stride short and quick.

Before I know it, we’re turning the final corner, heading for the finish. I focus on the clock as I get close enough to see the numbers. I can’t believe what I’m seeing. The clock reads 28:…something as I go under it. I can’t focus on it without feeling unbalanced, and I don’t want to fall. This is fast for me. I must have been mistaken.

We head for the results booth. I love this; we can get immediate results. I key in my bib number. My data comes up. My official chip time is 28:24:302.

I turn and bury my face in my husband’s chest. My shoulders start to shake as the emotions threaten to break free of my control. I feel the tears start to burn my eyes.

I’m stunned. This is just 12 seconds slower than my personal best. After pushing so hard that I end up injured. After all the time off. After all the frustration of feeling my goal slip beyond my reach. After weeks of short, slow runs. After making the conscious decision that this run was for fun and not time. Twelve seconds. Wow. .

I’ve finished 2nd for age group.

I did it. I earned a medal in this race. My race. Second place. Double wow

The SAMM 5k was special to me because it was my first. Now it’s special to me because it has taught me that I can achieve more than I thought I was capable of achieving. It has taught me to aim for that which I believe is beyond my reach, because reaching beyond my perceived limits is the only way I will ever learn just how far I can go.