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October 29, 2010

Grinning and gunning: Ellison on Boylston a half-mile from finish line of 2010 Boston Marathon

Okay, I admit: I play favorites sometime. This week’s momma, a newbie blogger but veteran runner, is one of my best friends in Portland. Ellison Weist, 53, even appears in Run Like a Mother a few times (e.g. she’s the runner who encouraged me at very end of Eugene Marathon). While Ellison is in a different phase of life than a lot of us are—her grown daughter just got married—I look to her for guidance time and time again, whether about running…or reading.

Best Recent Run: Has to be the eight-mile run I did about a month ago in Augusta, GA, across the river from where our daughter, Carol, was married. It was an eight-mile out and back through the Summerville neighborhood which features beautiful antebellum homes. The weather was amazing—mid-60s with low humidity–and the houses were lovely. An added benefit was coming away with an appreciation of living in Portland, OR, where runners and walkers are, for the most part, respected on the road. In the South, it’s runners be wary!

Hellish Half: This past week-end I ran my 10th half-marathon and my worst one to boot, the annual Run Like Hell race in downtown Portland. My time was a full six and a half minutes slower than last year, and I felt stiff and sluggish throughout the whole way. So I admit to feeling relief when my sports massage therapist told me this morning I was more out of whack than he’s felt me in five years. Lessons learned were: don’t neglect my core work, which I admit took a backseat over the last couple of months; don’t skimp on training and expect your overall fitness to carry you; and realize that life gets in the way. i.e., my daughter’s wedding across the country three weeks prior just might have been a tiny stressor!

(Wo)menopausing: When I started running, 30+ years ago, you saw very few older women running, especially in the South. These days I’m surrounded by women runners my age (53) so I thought it would be fun to start a blog about the challenges we face. What I’ve found is that many of my contemporaries love what running does for their bodies and enjoy being seen as younger than they are. But they aren’t happy about discussing the Big M because, as one woman told me, “that labels me as old and dried up and that’s the last thing I want to be seen as. Can we change the subject?”

Can’t run without: Two things: my Garmin Forerunner and a pair of gloves. I’m very anal about tracking my run time, splits, etc. [EDITOR/RUNNING BUDDY NOTE: YUP, SHE SURE IS!!] so I can’t believe I ran without a distance watch for more than 25 years. And I have Reynaud’s syndrome so 10 months out of the year it’s popsicle fingers unless I wear a good pair of gloves.

Running solo: In February 2005, I began running with a new friend, Monica, who at that time lived two blocks behind me. For the next five and a half years, we ran five days a week, no matter what the weather, no matter what was going on in our lives, and at times in spite of being annoyed with each other. Some days it was rainy, cold, and nasty but we never, as Monica once said, “left the other standing on the corner.” We ran the NYC Marathon together and did our first Boston side by side, even though Monica is much faster than I am. She became my best friend, someone I came to not only enjoy but love dearly. And then last July she and her husband, Jay, moved to Sweden for his job. It was like losing a leg, and I am still amazed by how much I miss her. Running solo has its perks (I don’t have to get up as early!) but I would go back to those 5:00 a.m. wake-up calls in a second just to have her around the corner.

Running versus reading: Sorry, but no contest here. As much as I love running, I would give it up in a second if I had to choose between it and reading. Years ago my daughter nicknamed me “The Book Bully” because of my tendency to approach total strangers in bookstores and recommend titles to them. I am the original book-geek, a true bibliomaniac. My maternal side of the family tends to go deaf while my father’s side of the family suffers from macular degeneration, a disease that robs you of your sight. I was elated the other night when my husband, Karl, noted that he thinks my hearing is going.

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Like mother, like daughter: Ellison and her daughter, Carol

25 Comments leave one →
  1. Laurie A permalink
    October 29, 2010 4:50 am

    Yup, it is runner beware here in the South. That is why when I get up at 4:45, I head to the local track to meet a friend. Well that and few sidewalks and/or bike lanes.

    Great story! BTW, I could totally relate to the person NOT wanting to discuss the big M. I am 43 and in peri M and it annoys me to think about too!

  2. Csaf permalink
    October 29, 2010 7:18 am

    Great profile! What an inspiration.

  3. Rebecca permalink
    October 29, 2010 9:22 am

    Ellison, thanks for the inspiration today. I only hope that in 25 years I can be as beautiful and fit as you are.

    I would appreciate running into you in a book store…sometimes I solicit recommendations from strangers and I don’t know that they all appreciate my curiousity :).

    • October 29, 2010 2:08 pm

      Hey Rebecca! Just send me the titles of a couple of books you’ve recently enjoyed and I will be happy to “bully” you with some others.

      • Monica permalink
        October 31, 2010 1:47 am

        This is true! Excellent will give you excellent suggestions.

        • Monica permalink
          October 31, 2010 1:51 am

          oops… I should not type early in the morning.. meant to say Ellison will give you excellent suggestions but then I thought it is really a nice slip to just call you “Excellent”.. I think it is because I am so accustomed to just calling you “E”..

      • Rebecca permalink
        October 31, 2010 7:39 pm

        Oh I would love that! I haven’t read anything that I really adored lately but a few things I enjoyed. I just read Middlesex which was interesting and The Art of Racing in the Rain. I like a lot of different things. What have you read lately that you loved?

        • November 1, 2010 11:21 am

          Okay, Rebecca, my main push would be towards Gail Caldwell’s amazing, “Let’s Take the Long Road Home.” Beautiful writing and a lovely story. Perfect for anyone who’s ever had a dear best friend. Plus if you’re a dog lover, double up on the Kleenex. On the fiction end I’m high on “A Friend of the Family” by Lauren Grodstein, which just came out in paperback. And if you’re looking for something light and fun, pick up “Saving CeeCee Honeycutt” by Beth Hoffman. Enjoy!

          • Rebecca permalink
            November 1, 2010 1:41 pm

            Thanks so much! I’ll be trying all of these!

  4. October 29, 2010 10:41 am

    Ellison is an inspiration to me: With just 4 years of running under my iFitness belt, I still feel like a bit of a poser compared to someone so, um, seasoned (at the sport, I mean!) We are kindred spirits in reading, split obsessing and aging, to boot. Run like a mother, indeed. Nice profile choice, SBS.

    • bowenshea permalink*
      October 29, 2010 1:48 pm

      Thanks, Shelly. I love Ellison dearly so I just had to share her with the tribe.

    • October 29, 2010 2:11 pm

      Shelly – YOU are the inspiration, my friend! I am still awed and excited by your time at Long Beach (3:46, people!!!) and hope to see you either up in Portland or at Boston, 2012. Thanks for the kind words.

  5. October 29, 2010 11:51 am

    Running in south Texas means lots of big pickups on the road so during the week I go out after all have left for work.

    I’m pre-Big M at 42, and I’m so glad that running has become a part of my life (2 yrs now). I’m hoping it keeps the moods in order (along with a daily dose of Estroven). I got pretty cranky earlier this year before marathon training got in full swing.

    • October 29, 2010 2:13 pm

      Gina – It DOES help to be active although it’s not a panacea, unfortunately. Hang in there, honey – I feel your hot flashes/night sweats/and mood swings. And if I had five bucks for every person out in Oregon who hears my South Carolina accent and says, “You’re from Texas, right?” I’d be a wealthy girl!

  6. Tryna permalink
    October 29, 2010 1:56 pm

    I loved this post. My whole theory is that once you turn 70 the qualifying time for Boston is at 5 hours, so I currently have 33 years to knock off 8 minutes from my PR (which will not be happening in Hawaii in December as a side note.)

    I love envisioning myself running for many years to come, and enjoy having magnificent role models like you to keep me going along the way.

    Now you can’t go through a post like this without mentioning your favorite book can you?

  7. October 29, 2010 2:19 pm

    Okay, Tryna – how do I get in on this Hawaii deal!!! and you’ve opened Pandora’s Box per asking me about my favorite book. I guess the “Desert Island” books would have to include “Crossing to Safety” by Wallace Stegner; “Random Family” by Adrian Nicole Leblanc; “Fools of Fortune” by William Trevor; “Serena” by Ron Rash; and some juicy saga by Penny Vincenzi when I just want to lose myself. So far my pick for Best Book of 2010 is the amazing “Let’s Take the Long Way Home” by Gail Caldwell. And right now I’m enjoying “Cleopatra” by Stacy Schiff. You?

    • Tryna permalink
      October 30, 2010 3:23 pm

      Favorites all time are The Good Earth-Pearl Buck, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn-Betty Smith & Angle of Repose-Wallace Stegner and just finished Pillars of the Earth-Ken Follett. Thanks I just wrote all your book ideas down, I love adding to my book list, which is currently at about five pages.

      I am actually from Hawaii, but am dragging a friend and we are doing LLS Team in Training together. I am not a fan of all the running in the rain (I dragged through RLH half too, wasn’t that hill at Fred Meyer all kinds of evil?) But I am sooooooooo looking forward to the umbrella drinks on the beach after the marathon. Aloha

      • October 30, 2010 5:21 pm

        LOL about the Barbour Blvd. hill last Sunday, Tryna! Before the race I heard some poor soul say, “They say it’s not bad until you get to Terwilliger…” but I kept my mouth shut. I am never so glad to SEE Terwilliger as I am at that point!Kudos for you running for Team in T and I will try to squash my jealousy…Hope you enjoy the books!

  8. Emeliee permalink
    October 29, 2010 7:02 pm

    Completely sympathize with the “running solo” part! My BF-RLAM has recently been looking at houses for sale (currently lives 9 houses down the block from me). She sent a text yesterday saying they’d made an offer on one and my heart about broke! Then she said it was only 4 blocks away and it was like Christmas morning! Here’s to understanding how it feels to need that extra body out there every morning (even though she does make me run 2 hours earlier than I would on my own!). Hope you find someone else to fill the running void, though the friend void can never be replaced!!

  9. Jill permalink
    October 29, 2010 9:52 pm

    What an awesome post! Thanks for inspiring us to keep runnin like mothers!

  10. Robin permalink
    October 30, 2010 4:47 am

    I love looking ahead with stories of running mothers of all ages. Thanks Ellison!

  11. November 1, 2010 8:11 am

    Great post, great gal, what a inspiration!!!

  12. November 2, 2010 12:03 am

    Love this !
    thank you
    I love to read also…reading often wins over sleeping…!

  13. Linda Williams permalink
    November 2, 2010 10:06 pm

    Really liked this post. I’m an “older” mom (47 years old) with grown kids and appreciate you spotlighting someone close to my age. I started running again two years ago after a 20-year hiatus. I sometimes think that I’m getting too old be running so much. Reading your story about Ellison makes me realize that I’ve still got a lot of good years left. She is an inspiration to us “older” moms everywhere!

  14. November 3, 2010 4:37 pm

    Oh, Linda! Honey, you’re just cracking Old Gal status and have a ton to look forward to. Good for you for getting back into the game! Like we say, older runners are the only ones who look forward to those hallmark birthdays – when we jump into a new racing age category!!!

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