By Sue Ice, resident
Editor’s Note: The following is a reprint of Sue’s “On Thin Ice” column, which appears monthly in the Newton Now newspaper. If you’d like to read more about her adventures, please subscribe at HarveyCountyNow.com. Sue is a Newton Presbyterian Manor resident, community activist, former teacher and school board member. She retired after 23 years at Prairie View, Inc.
I began running (jogging) when my daughter, Nancy, was running track in high school. It started with my trying to see if I could run around the track once without stopping. (I couldn’t.) From there it went on to becoming able to run a mile without stopping. It progressed until I was able to compete in 2-mile races, then 6-mile (10K) competitions.
“Compete” is using the term loosely for me; “finish” is a better word for my efforts in the events. After running in a pre-Thanksgiving event in Wichita, I won a frozen turkey for winning first (and also second and third) in my age group. (You can figure that one out.)
After awhile, I began to get the urge to run a marathon (26.2 miles). My first marathon was the Dallas White Rock. I trained for it for several months. After the run began, in no time at all, I was the last runner. I had my own personal motorcycle police escort, and I heard him say over his walkie talkie, “she be slow, but she be moving.” He stayed with me for three or four miles then apparently his duty time was up (or he was bored).
At the 20-mile aid station, I had to stop and ask for scissors to cut the tops off the toes of my running shoes due to the pain from the big toes hitting against the top of the shoes. I finished the 26.2 miles but, because I was so far behind, the finish line had been taken down and I ran some extra distance looking for it (I got to see the Christmas decorations in the Neiman-Marcus windows; this was not on the route and I, otherwise, would have missed this experience!)
My euphoric feeling after finishing a run of 26.2 miles was that if I could make myself do that, I could make myself do anything. It truly did have a great benefit for me, and I have always thought of it when faced with difficulties.
Dwight Beckham had driven four of us to Dallas: his wife Helen, their daughter Jan, her friend and me. We spent the night before the marathon in a Dallas hotel, but we started home as soon as the marathon was finished (and they had found me). The five of us piled into the car and the first stop was for gas about 3 hours later. When we tried to get out of the car, every muscle in our legs had tightened up so that getting out of the car was as challenging as the marathon. The four of us waddled into the station restroom like slow-moving penguins.
Both of my big toenails turned black. I learned that in runners’ circles, this is called “black toe syndrome.” A couple of days later one of the toenails came completely off. Seeking sympathy, I scotch-taped the toenail onto the refrigerator. Instead of sympathy, I just got “Eeews!”
A year later, I ran the Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham, England, when Ted and I were there on a trip. Many of the runners there were running to raise funds for charities and they ran with big waste baskets strapped on, into which observers could throw coins. British participants run with abandon and humor. A common chant along the route was the runners yelling in unison, “OGGIE, OGGIE, OGGIE!” to which the crowd answered, “OY, OY, OY!”
My third marathon was the New York City Marathon. I sent in my application and was excited when I received a notification in July that I had been accepted. I began training in August for the marathon scheduled for early November. Ted and I made trip arrangements and reservations, with plans to meet friends and my cousin there. Three weeks before the date of the marathon while I was on a training run, I was struck with a sudden very sharp pain in my right foot. An x-ray showed a metatarsal stress fracture. Running the marathon in three weeks was nixed by Dr. Craig as not possible.
Since all of our plans, reservations and flights were arranged, we decided to go ahead with the trip, my first to NYC. (Optimistically, I packed my running shoes and gear just in case.) I walked so much (and without much pain) during the two days we arrived before the date of the marathon, I decided the night before the marathon that I would WALK it. As I was walking through Queens, a cute little boy came running out and exclaimed, “You betta stop!”
I said that no, I wanted to finish. He answered that with, “You not going to win, they went by here a long time ago!” (No big surprise, I had been passed by a disabled runner with no legs, his lower body on a low cart with wheels, pushing himself forward with his arms.) I did finish the race in about 7 hours … a long time to walk! After the race, my cousin and his wife took Ted and me to their home in New Jersey. The next day, I had to come down steps one at a time while sitting. I found that walking uses some different muscles than running.
My advice: If you get the urge to do a marathon, train and do it! But I must say that the only acclaimed “runner’s highs” I ever had was when I finished a run and could stop. However, running taught me I can make myself do anything!