Mom Musings or All I Know About Running I Learned From Observing Andrea Lytle Peet
I have always approached any challenge that was important by thinking there must be a way, if not I’ll make one. I will do whatever it takes. Not this time though; ALS is the outlier. No one has overcome it yet. Incredibly frustrating for a mom!! There is nothing that I can do as an individual except join with others. I know that there is hope through supporting those who have the talent and skill to find a cure.
Joining with the Blazeman Foundation/Team Drea provides a way to honor Jon Blais and my daughter, Andrea Lytle Peet, in the fight against ALS. Inviting friends and family to donate money through a race gives me an opportunity to contribute by bringing awareness of this devastating disease and the urgency to fund research.
I don’t have much of a competitive spirit other than competing with myself. I usually strive toward mastery though. I first considered a triathlon but reality set in when I recognized that I didn’t even know how to judge the distance of a mile let alone run one. I am in reasonable condition given that I’m practically 70. I love working out. Andrea calls me a “gym rat” which I’m sure she means as a compliment :)
"Start by doing what is necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."
-St. Francis of Assisi
Because I love Harkers Island, NC and our little beach cottage is there, it was a perfect (and relatively flat) place to do my first race ever. Coincidentally it was also the first ever Core Sound Run.
I only had 9 weeks to prepare (not a good idea) and was sick for a week (not a good idea either). Andy, my husband, was wonderfully supportive. He helped me check out the course, find the ½ mile, etc. It reminded me of my son-in-law (aka DP) when Andrea did her Half Ironman in Davidson in September 2013. Both husbands are very nurturing and willing to do anything to help.
On race day I woke up at 4:30 am because I was excited. Two hours before the run I had my usual breakfast: steel cut oatmeal, ½ banana, clementine.
It was about 45 degrees when we arrived. I swapped out my shirts several times while noticing how other runners were dressed. I kept it simple: no iPhone, no sunglasses, no head cover so that I had less to worry about. I decided that if my upper body was warm then I would be fine. So I wore long sleeve 179 shirt underneath, a short sleeve Team Drea shirt next and finally a long sleeve pullover to be removed if I got too warm. I stretched. I resisted the coffee and cookies that were offered. Then I stayed inside where I was out of the cold.
While lining up for the run I made a new friend, Betsy Briscoe, 82 years old. She said that she only runs a 5K now. I shared that I was running for Team Blazeman/Team Drea because of ALS. She expressed true concern. I also met another women in her 30s who started running because family members were regularly competing. She said that she got tired of being a bystander.
My strategy was to walk for the first half mile and then do some sprints when I could. Starting out I listened to my body – what’s tight, what’s sore; gave myself time to loosen up; how was I processing oxygen?
Thoughts along the way:
- Andrea Lytle Peet – In My Heart and On My Mind; second consciousness always.
- I wonder what “real runners” think about when they are racing? [Editor's note: Anyone who runs is a real runner!]
- I wonder what Andrea thinks about when she’s racing?
- I think I will take some steps for Steve Gay. I know Andrea won’t mind. Steve is my friend who is a retired Army Ranger no longer able to run. I have great respect and admiration for him, his service to our country and his new career as a physician’s assistant.
- Sure glad I ran the course before the race and drove it by car a couple of times beforehand.
- Love the Down East street names: Island Road, Davis, Bayview, Lewis, Diamond City, Yeomans, Shackelford.
- Race officials made it possible to identify key points along the route by mail box numbers. No doubt local runners know most of the family who live there. I chuckled to myself thinking that only people in a close community could do this.
- Of course I noticed the homes with For Sale signs (I’m a realtor). That one is over-priced; good luck selling this one!
- I wonder if I will be able to deal with anything unexpected? Sure enough, I had puzzled over it earlier, the original course length was more like 3.5 miles instead of 3.1. A volunteer directed me to skip the Shackleford loop and just turn onto Yeomans Street. “Wow! How many times does this happen? This is a GIFT!!”
- I thought that I should look for someone to pass when I spotted a woman speed walking about 200 yards ahead. I couldn’t catch her. I would sprint awhile; make some headway. Walk awhile, then sprint again. Never did catch up nor figure out her secret.
- I checked periodically for Ms. Betsy. I needed to know that she was OK.
- Glad the wind is only a couple of knots. The day of my practice run the wind was brutal coming off West Mouth Bay and very cold. Now it has risen to about 50 degrees with a Carolina blue sky. I relished the fine mix of salt with clean country air!
- No dogs barking or chasing me. Yay!! This is a training hazard in my neighborhood. I had two dogs jump on me as I ran…no fun.
- Watched other runners for ways to improve my style: ones who seemed to be efficient placing their feet and controlling their breathing.
- Some folks came out into their yards to wave a friendly hello or just watch. They all seemed a bit puzzled. Was this yet another invasion of “off islanders” (aka dit dots)? I didn’t worry because people in the community have warm hearts.
- Passed James Allen Rose’s home. “J.A.”, a 2000 NC Folk Heritage Award Recipient, was special to our family. His model boats are known the world over. When Andrea was little, he built her a “boat bed" and said he'd never make another :)
- As I approached the “End of the Road” (literally) at Shell Point I remembered the day that the wind and current were just right for our sail boat. Andrea (about age 10) bailed out onto her boogie board secured by a line to the stern to have a crazy fast ride. She was ecstatic! No wonder this area is famous for sail boarders.
No adrenaline rush for me at the last quarter mile though I did sprint to the end as soon as I saw Cape Lookout Lighthouse. The music reminded me of Ramblin’ Rose last October when Andrea and Julie completed their incredible race. Amazing how motivating that was! Very sweet knowing that I would cross the finish line (Goal 1) and remembered (Goal 2) to SMILE. Then I noticed that there were rugs on the finish line so I made a quick decision to honor Jon Blais and Team Drea by doing a Blazeman Roll. I think I surprised everyone! So far no photos have surfaced but Karen Amspacher, the Director of the Core Sound Waterfowl and Heritage Museum, vouched for me.
After I crossed the finish line, I felt never-before tight muscles in my upper thighs so I paced until that went away and stretched afterwards. Then I had a great reward! It was a gorgeous, juicy orange.
I was pleased to learn that Betsy Briscoe not only finished but placed first in her age group.