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A New Grandbaby, and a Half-Marathon at 77

Susan and Kathy at the finish line of the Columbia River Gorge Half-Marathon

In October, two incredible events occurred. One week after my 77th birthday, my beautiful second grandson, Ronan, was born, and the week after that, I accomplished something I would not have dreamed I could do when I moved to the Pacific Northwest a year ago: I completed the Columbia River Gorge Half-Marathon, a distance of 13.1 miles. When I first moved here, I huffed and puffed on the steep walking trails, stopping frequently, terrified that I would slip or fall. I worked with a wonderful trainer (shout-out to Skyler Linden @ Fly Fitness) and gradually improved. My walking partner Kathy and I trained every weekend for three months before the race. On the last training weekend, we covered eight miles on Saturday in 88 degree heat, and five on Sunday; both of us were sore, hot, and cranky, and Kathy had foot pain issues. We wondered if after all the work we put in, we could actually do it, until we reminded ourselves that prior to that weekend, neither of us had walked eight miles in one day. 


On race day, the weather was glorious, sunny, in the 60s. The majestic Columbia River sparkled below, towering trees rustled in brisk fall winds, and participants were in high spirits. Kathy and I started in the last group, walkers, and within the first two miles, everyone in our group passed us. Most of the racers were much younger. We kept going. When we crossed the finish line a half hour before the race closed, I felt as exultant as I imagine the winner did! My daughter and her family, including week-old Ronan, were at the finish line to support us, and we all whooped and hollered as they announced our names, played rousing music, and presented us with finisher medals. I'm going to work this year on improving my time for next year's half-marathon, but for now, I'm awash in the glow of taking a leap of faith and achieving something difficult that I wasn't sure I could do!


My late husband John admired grit, and during the low points of training, I could just hear him cheering me on. In the late 1990s, with our young daughter, we followed his lifelong dream, left everything behind and sailed away. Talk about a leap of faith! If you would like to learn more about our three-year sailing adventure, go here to find my memoir, Holding Fast: A Memoir of Sailing, Love, and Loss.


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