Life's little adventures, accompanied by a running watch

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Small But Mighty

Here we are, Thanksgiving.  I have loads of things to be thankful for:  my health, my husband, my family, my friends.  I’m so grateful for all my new blogger friends and have a special place in my heart for the small group of friends who I feel I could share anything with and know they would support me (or give me a good shot of tough love) – whatever’s needed!  At a time when we’re all feeling thankful, I thought it would be a great time to highlight one of my friends.

I’d like to introduce you to my friend Sue.  We’ve shared over a decade of long runs, marathons, bottles of wine, and afternoons on the beach.  Our shared running has provided free therapy for both of us as we weave our way through our daily lives.  She has a great husband and two terrific teens, has a special position at a school where she works with students who have a variety of special needs.  Like all of us, she has her ups and downs, her successes, her challenges; but there’s something about Sue that inspires me in a different way.

First, a picture I shot of Sue as she finished her first marathon at Jacksonville – and BQ’d at that!  Don’t you think NIKE might want this in their next Ad campaign??

She had one remaining lap around this track to finish when I took the picture.  Funny side story:  We were in the stands, completely focused on the finish line clock that was counting dangerously close to 4:00.  We went crazy, cheering her on and willing her to finish in time for her (then) qualifying time.  Suddenly, one of us remembered that her chip time should be faster than the gun time (so she had more time than we thought) – but it was still such a rush thinking she was qualifying within one second of her BQ time!!

But it’s not the completion of that marathon or the BQ that inspires me, it’s what happened approximately two months after this day…

A brain bleed.

Technically, that is a stroke.  However, to this day, I find it hard to use the word ‘stroke’ because for me, it conjures up all sorts of images of weak and dragging and disabled.  And that is NOT Sue.  On that Valentine’s Day, Sue went out for a run with my husband – using part of the Boston Marathon course as their training run that day.  They were both excited to run Boston (it would be Sue’s first Boston!) and what better course than to run THE course.  By the next day though, everything had changed.

Sue, her family, and we friends all dealt with the shock of acknowledging what had happened.  Fortunately, she was seen fairly promptly, diagnosed, and then left to digest what this all meant.  She initially experienced the weakness I mentioned above.  And sometimes still has a slight dragging in one leg after a 20 mile training run.  I won’t be presumptuous and say “she was lucky” because who considers themselves lucky to have had a….brain bleed.  It’s just that one of my classmates in my Bachelor’s program also suffered a stroke in his 40’s and fared much worse in the impact to his cognitive strength and abilities. 

But there would be no Boston for Sue that year.  Like anyone injured in any way, it’s devestating to watch YOUR race come and go and not be a part of it.  A few of us went into the Boston Expo that year (Scott was still running, so had to pick his bib, etc up) and Sue joined in.  Afterall, she was able to defer her number for the next year.  She was a trooper and, if there were tears, I never saw them.  She had every right to feel sorry for herself, but she turned that energy towards healing and getting stronger.

Going on six years later, Sue is….well, Sue!  For those of us around her, she seems no different than life pre-stroke.  She continues to manage her busy household, do an amazing job with some challenging students in her classroom, has run many more marathons, and when she does experience that dragging leg after 20 miles, she usually refers to it as her “silly leg” and just moves on.   I hope that, if something like that ever happened to me, I would handle myself in the same way Sue has.  She has been and still is an inspiration.  I’m so thankful she’s healthy and so glad we’re friends.
There's always time for a goofy pose!
(Derry 16 Miler, Jan'10)

And just for the record, don’t we all start dragging after 20 miles anyway?  Just sayin’…..

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


  1. Happy Thanksgiving Lisa! What a scary thing for your friend to go through and I am so glad that she recovered so well and continued to run.

    Hope tomorrow is a nice relaxing day!

  2. Enjoy your day tomorrow Katie!

  3. Happy Thanksgiving! What an inspiration your friend Sue is!

  4. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!!!! Your friend Sue is one tough chick =D Inspiring story.

  5. Wow what a story. Sue sounds like an amazing person. Just goes to show that we never know what can happen at anytime.Need to be thankful NOW!