Chair Lift Attack Brought Me to the New York Marathon 2010

November 12, 2010 at 10:01 am | Posted in attitudes, New York Marathon 2010, Self Esteem, sports | 10 Comments
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(OK I have finally gotten my NY marathon story written. It’s a four part series. I’m interested in your feed back and comments, as I will be using this in a book I am writing. SOOO I am regifting a prize worth $25 I won from Greg S to be raffled off to everyone who comments on the blog. You can get more raffle chances by commenting on each of the four parts- to be posted over the next few days. Happy reading and commenting)

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My story actually began four years ago when I was in Chile with my family for a ski training vacation.  As I was standing alone preparing to get on a quad chair lift, a young man thought he’d join me.  (He thought I was my 22-year-old daughter- quite the compliment at 47!)

Unfortunately, the chair was coming a bit faster than he thought.  It was going to clip him so he gave it shove away from him.  The chair was attached to a bull wheel so as it went around the centrifugal force made the chair go up eight feet in the air. Then the chair crashed into me.  By the way, the chair weighed 1000 pounds!

I was obviously knocked into with tremendous force.  I was unconscious at first. When I came to my 14-year old daughter was there, a relief until I realized my feet and legs did not move!  But after about ten minutes the toes were back in action!  Let me tell you those were some of the LONGEST minutes in my life.

Because of strength and flexibility due to a life of eating healthy foods and being physically active, and especially from doing two hours of yoga each day with my eldest daughter, my spinal cord was not severed, my hip was not crushed.  I was only severely bruised in my muscle and bone.  And of course those heal easily.

Except that one-week after the accident my bruised muscles did not heal.  They atrophied.  They actually disintegrated and disappeared.  I had a dent in my hip about three inches diameter and one inch deep.

None-the-less, I still thought I would heal just fine doing nothing in particular to help the healing process.

I was completely wrong. After a year the ITB band had slid forward about an inch, towards the front of my hip.  This force torqued my body causing displacement in my bones and muscles from my toes to my neck.  I ended up with a pinched nerve in my neck.  Through two years of physical therapy and chiropractic I was able to retrain my body to its natural position.  No surgery- Lots of time and effort.

My therapist knew that I had been a runner in my youth, running a staggering 100 miles a week, and as I had more and more children (4 total) I had given up my running.  And she knew that I really yearned to get back into running.  Being able to run a marathon would mean that I was truly healed.

During these two years of recovery I had been thinking I wanted to do something for the Women’s Sports Foundation.  The foundation epitomizes and represents so much of what I stand for: Equality for women; and athletics as a major source of health, both physically and mentally.  But I just couldn’t figure out just what to do.

In May (2010) my physical therapist said, “I think you are ready to do anything you want.  You’ll have to stretch everyday, possibly for the rest of your life, but I think you can do anything you want. Maybe even run a marathon.”  The very next day I received an invitation to run the New York Marathon for the Women’s Sports Foundation.

This was the perfect match!

So in June I began my 1000-mile journey on foot.  I started huffing and puffing a measly three miles.  I worked up to six but I was VERY slow!  My daughters could ride their bikes up the mountain road I trained on faster than I could run.  But their support being there and saying, “You can do it Mommy.  You are almost at the top.”  was pure music to my ears.

I used every single motivating idea and inspiring quote I gave to my daughters and clients.  And low and behold they really did work!  I was able to get myself going.

I ran, first just trying to get the distance in.  After I had accomplished some long runs, 18-20 miles, I added speed and technique.  I did workouts with core, Pilates, Zumba, arm strength, specific leg strength and flexibility, and yoga.

All the while I had to be sure I was eating the right foods to replenish and build strength.  Luckily I minored in nutrition at college.

I also needed to keep myself mentally going forward.  Some runs were horrible, some were very inconvenient.  Many were fantastic.  If I did not have the mental stamina I would have quit.

It’s not an easy task to train from scratch, to engage and solicit funds, to educate others about the Women’s Sports Foundation and to do everything else that needed to be done in my regular life of being an education and life management coordinator and coach for young female athletes, being a mother of four active daughters (two of whom are pro- and semi-pro freestyle skiers, homeschooling the three that live at home, and all the other things that come along with being CEO and CFO of a home.

I found that joining some online communities really helped. One was specifically set up for runners.  We post our runs and workouts, notes about running, support and motivate each other.  The other is facebok.   With these two and my local friends I had all the connections and support I needed.

So training and living went on.  Summer heat and humidity, new running shoes, and an unexpected two trips made me wonder if I really could get myself trained and ready for the marathon.

But you know I did!  I spent the last two weeks of Sept and all of Oct getting my final training done.  I had some long runs- all in the New Hampshire Mountains that I live in. One stands out in particular.

It was a nice sunny day. I was going for a ten-mile run.  I ran up the mountain road from my home and down to old dirt, logging road going up into the mountains.  This became a grass path, which turned into a muddy trail.  I reached the pass and started down the other side.

It was a stream that I had to jump from stone to stone with plenty of cold splashes along the way.  I was heading to a road about two miles from the pass, planning to hitch hike back to my town from there.  But all of a sudden there was a marsh in front of me.

I had to turn back!  And the weather had changed from sunny and warm to cold and damp and windy.  It was awful!  So I hopped and splashed my way back trying my hardest to not think anything.  I got to the logging road.  Some hikers were catching up to me.  So I forced my feet to pick up, move a bit faster.  I was back to running again, even though I hadn’t realized I’d stopped running.   All the while my twelve-pound dog was happily bouncing along.  When we got back to the road I put her leash on.  And bless her little soul, she tried to pull me home. She is not a regular leash pulling dog.

I was now two miles from home- and I was feeling dejected, exhausted, and ready to go home and cry!  The cry was going to be the best thing about this run. At least I would be able to get it all out of me.

Then my daughters drove the car up to me.  They were coming up the other side of the road.  They made a u-turn offering me food and water.  I just wanted a sweatshirt. The dog got in the car, not tired, just happy to be with happy people.  And the girls drove off toward home.

But they couldn’t leave me like that, even for the last mile left to get home.  They turned around again, made another u-turn by me and drove close to me blaring out the windows “We Are the Champions Of the World.”  Something happened.

I really can’t say what.  All I know is it was sort of like when the Grinch changed.  My heart warmed up.  I remembered who I was running for, My girls, All my extended family girls, and ALL the girls and women that the Women’s Sports Foundation represents.

How could I quit?  So what if I had a crummy run.  I had an obligation to myself and literally thousands of other girls and women to run!  If I quit what would I be saying to my own girls?

So I really picked up my feet and ran.  I focused deep inside.  I cut all the stings that were holding me back.  I looked at that road and nowhere else.  We were approaching our street.  I was on the right side of the road. The girls next to me. The road to the left.  The car began to turn slowly.  I kept going.  I waved my hand for them to come.  On we went.

Twenty yards further was a road to the right that looped around for a short circle back to my home road.  This was hard.  I looked at that road directly in front of me.  I made my feet keep going.  I picked them up, and ran straight on.   The girls put on other songs of inspiration.

Another twenty yards and I made a right turn.  This was back up the mountain road.  My pace picked up.  I was hauling up that road.  The music was blaring.  I got to the top, made the loop, and began the flight down.

And down I went.  My feet barely hit the ground.  I was here with my girls and I was twenty again running.  I was thrilled and amazed.  A sharp left turn to the flats.  Right turn to go down again.  Then up a short steep hill.  Back on the flats.  And a left up the steep hill to home.

I did it.  I ran those last six miles, in under 40 minutes. That was a pace of six-minute miles after a horrible run.  The total run was 26.5 miles.

I also knew I had changed forever.  I was now able to do my own impossible.  I was able to go beyond my own abilities, reach somewhere deep inside to gather strength and energy I’d only dreamed of.  I could do this because I wanted to show my girls and all girls and women that they could do it too.  We can all pass our impossible.  We can all run those last six miles.

And funny thing, after this run my soliciting became easier. My daughters began to make calls, to post about my running, to email their friends and acquaintances, to think there was more to it than just “Mommy running.”

That training run was the Sunday just three weeks before the New York Marathon, the day after going to an all day Bar Mitzvah with hours of dancing.

Monday I was tired, but I knew I needed to stay strong.  I went to my Zumba class anyway.  I kept right on with my training.  I really ramped up my core and arm strength. I stretched and did as much yoga as I could find time for.

These activities were not only for my physical strength, they added mental power too.

But I knew I had to slow down before the race.  And thankfully Halloween was right there, one week before the race.  My ten year old still wanted me to be with her for lots of festivities the whole weekend.  And she had two ice hockey games and one soccer game.  No time for my training.  But I did know now that if I really wanted to get in a work out I could.

That’s the prelude story of my New York Marathon 2010 race.  It was a race in and of itself.  It was a 1000-mile journey on my feet.  The beginning of the journey.  The next 26.2 are the end and the beginning.

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10 Comments »

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  1. Wow, I had no idea about your accident, but as you suggest it was almost as if fate intervened to put you on the course to your marathon. And what an inspired training run, amazing how often we are held back by fear and inhibition instead of physical ability, thank you for the reminder of how it can feel to just let loose.

    PS – no need to enter me in the contest, of course!

    • Greg you have been such an inspiration on this journey! Thanks for all that you have shared as well.

  2. I too did not know the back-story to all of this. What a wonderful achievement!

    • Its crazy that neighbors can know so little about each other, yet get along so well.

  3. Grace, I didn’t know the whole story to your accident. Thank you for sharing it with us. You’ve had an amazing journey and I am so glad to have seen your wonderful training leading up to the NYCM. Can’t wait to hear the rest!

    • Alicyn- Like Greg you have been such an inspiration on this journey!

  4. Wow Grace! What an inspiring story- you show the true definition of perseverance! Thanks so much for sharing your amazing story with us.

    • Heidi- I loved writing this story! I did it because it just felt right- I love that it’s inspirational.

  5. I loved reading about your daughters driving beside you playing inspirational music.

    • I’m sure you did since they are your grand daughters!


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