In 2005, shortly after developing and launching Her Times magazine at the Erie Times-News, I said to my boss:
“You know what we should do some day? A woman’s 5K. Just for women. Encourage them to get fit and run or walk it. We could run a story and a training schedule in the magazine. They used to do a woman’s race here and it was awesome. I really miss that race. It’s really empowering.”
Running had changed my life. I knew I could help others change theirs, too.
I don’t remember my boss saying much about it. I didn’t expect her to. I was just sort of tossing it out there as a “someday” idea. But she must’ve mentioned it to her boss.
Later that week, the executive editor of the newsroom said, “I hear you’re putting on a women’s 5K.”
“Uh…uh…um…well, do you think I should?,” I stammered. “I mean, do you want me to? Uh, um…well, I mean, I guess I can. Let me make some calls.”
Nearly 400 women signed up for the inaugural Her Times 5K in October of 2006 and all but a handful of them finished the race despite freezing rain, sleet, and snow. Yes, snow…in October.
Eight years later, at the 8th annual Her Times women’s 5K on Saturday, we have perfect weather –sunny and warm with no chance of rain. I’m in the kitchen of the Rotary Pavilion, checking on the post-race refreshments when, out of the corner of my eye, I see a woman streak by the windows outside.
Oh, crap. I think I just missed the winner. Dang it.
I finish up inside and jog out to the finish line, camera slung over my shoulder. Hopefully Greg, the Erie Times-News photographer, got the winner’s photo. By the time I get there, the fastest women are starting to stream in.
“Go Ange! Nice run!” I yell. 6th overall.
“Pam! Nice race, girl!” 8th overall.
And so it goes. I know many of the women by name. Maybe even most. Definitely the majority. They are my friends, my running partners, my family members, my coworkers, my former high school classmates, my loyal blog readers…and my daughters. They were just 2 and 4 when this race started. This year, at 10 and 12, they are running the 5K by themselves.
I see my friend Dave near the finish line and I ask, “Hey, who won?”
“There were two winners,” he said. “They came in holding hands.”
“What?” I ask. “Mother & daughter? Was it Pam McCormick and one of her daughters?”
“No,” he says. “I don’t think they knew each other, but I don’t know. I didn’t recognize them.”
Huh, that’s weird. Competitive women at that level don’t do that.
When I get the results from my timing guy a half hour or so later, I recognize the winner. Jill Brugger, 34, of Erie, has won before. I look to see who is in 2nd place — Aimee DeYoung, 40, of Saegertown. David must’ve been mistaken. If she’s from Saegertown, it’s unlikely she and Jill knew each other. But, then, maybe they were friends…or family members.
They have the same finish time: 21:01 (a 6:47 per mile pace).
On Sunday morning, Dan and I are up early again. We’re off to another 5K, this time to run it, not direct it. I get the newspaper out of the box and pull out the sports section to look for the Her Times 5K coverage.
There’s a photo of Jill and Aimee (of course Greg got it) crossing the finish line. According to the story below the photo, the two women had never met until they were trading positions back and forth for the first two miles of the race. They started talking and, at some point, they decided to share the victory and cross the finish line hand-in-hand. Two winners.
My tears wet the newspaper.
It’s all so perfect. I can’t believe it happened. Compassionate competitors. Gracious winners. At my race. It’s everything I stand for. It is every reason I do the race. Every reason I started the race. Women supporting each other. Cheering each other. Women growing stronger and more powerful by sticking together.
guys girls do finish first.
About Just Write
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”