Our Championship Season

Inspiring stories from the MORE Marathon + Half-Marathon.

Interviews by Virginia Sole-Smith
Dixie Douville (Photo: Justin Steele)

Girlfriends’ Group Dixie Douville, 45 Registered Nurse Flanders, New Jersey "As a pre-Title IX girl, the only sport available to me in school was cheerleading. I loved it and cheered all through college before becoming a nurse and fitness instructor. I didn’t start to run until after I had my second child. At first, it was just a way to fit in 30 minutes of solitude. But I found myself wanting to run farther, more often, and with my girlfriends. A group of us started running together, and over the years it has become our time to share the challenges of our careers, worry about our kids’ college searches, and celebrate our friendship."I dreamed up the Girlfriends in Training program in 2003 to encourage women to create time for themselves and strengthen their relationships by walking and running together. We brought 15 women to the first MORE Marathon in 2004, and by last year we’d grown to 115. (My favorite part of every race comes when I do a cartwheel in the final few hundred yards — guess that cheerleader still lives in me.) Many women work so hard to raise their children and advance their careers that they forget to honor themselves — and we give them that chance. It’s not about competition. We don’t ask one another ‘What was your time?’ We say, ‘Did you have fun?’"Celebrating Her Health Lisa Conrad, 44 Comptroller Fitchburg, Massachusetts "Why did I run this race? Because I can! In 2004 I was lying in bed, actually wishing I didn’t have to turn 40 — and I almost got my wish. As I lay there, I had a sudden seizure, and a CAT scan later detected a brain tumor the size of a tennis ball. I was lucky — the doctors were able to remove it entirely, and it was benign — but the whole ordeal was traumatic, and it didn’t end with the surgery. I was put on seizure medications and steroids, I was unable to drive, and I was chronically exhausted. Before the tumor, I used to say, ‘I’m not a runner; I just like to run.’ I thought races were for athletes. But once you go through something like that, it’s like, why be afraid? I decided to go for it. Every time I cross a finish line, I know I’m taking back more control over my body and my life. At the MORE race this year, I loved seeing the thousands of amazing women and all the kids with their GO MOM! signs. Every woman is a hero to someone!""Yes, You Can" Eulah Holland, 62 Retired Secretary Altadena, California "When I was 53, I suffered a stroke that left me half-paralyzed and unable to walk or talk for several weeks. To this day we have no idea why it happened — the only warning sign was a bad headache. It took a long time for me to fully recover. I had to relearn a lot of basic activities like driving and reading. Then, in July 2004, I heard about the American Stroke Association’s Train to End Stroke program, where you enter a marathon and raise money for stroke research. I had never done anything like that before, but I just said, ‘You know what? I’m doing this.’ My husband, Kemp, is a runner, and he offered to train with me. I walked my first marathon that December. It took me seven hours to finish, but as soon as I did, I said, ‘Okay, when’s the next one?’ After a few more races, I started to run a little. I was nervous that I would have a heart attack, but my doctor said the exercise was actually good for me. I have now completed 11 half-marathons and five full marathons. People always say, ‘Oh, I could never do a marathon.’ And I say, yes, you can. You can always stop and walk — and everyone knows how to do that."Mother and Daughter Rosalinda Pena, 64 Teacher & Painter Austin, Texas Tzatzil LeMair, 37 Fitness Coach Austin, Texas Rosalinda: "After 43 years of what I thought was the perfect marriage, my husband announced he wanted a divorce. I needed to rebuild my life, so I moved in temporarily with Tzatzil, my daughter, and her family. Since I didn’t want to cry in front of my grandchildren, Tzatzil and I began taking long walks together. "They were our therapy sessions; we cursed, laughed, cried, and let it all out. When Tzatzil suggested we turn the walks into training for the MORE Half-Marathon, I didn’t think I could do 13 miles at my age.

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