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A Beautiful Day! My Ghostie Run: Leg 19!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I couldn’t help but feel the adrenaline rush kick in about an hour before my scheduled time to start! The tell tale signs were my stomach churning, my heart racing a bit and the urgency to get all kitted up and be ready when my start time approached.
With Ghostie in place on the pull tab of my jacket, music cued, bib pinned to my shirt and Garmin set I left at 8:01 GMT. You know you are in for an amazing event when you turn the corner and a rainbow greets you to the tune of U2s, “It’s A Beautiful Day!!”
I no sooner snapped a photo then the rain arrived. No turning back for a hat, I just kept going even through I knew I WOULD get more rain soaked! The first mile was along the main road and I looked forward to half mile further where I turn onto a side tree lined dirt track. Side stepping the puddles and rocks I pressed onward through my favourite part; the short downhill twisty bit. By now I had hit 2 miles and breathing was good and the rain was easing with a slight hint of sunshine.
Shortly ahead the track met back up with the main road and a quick left to the next side road just 200 yards ahead. This rural road took me to the half way point of the 5.89 miles and the sun continued shining. Just as I approached the long slow drag of my first uphill the song my “real” runner Maria had suggested for my playlist kicked on, “Hard” and it fit that moment. I thought of her out there on her uphill run and hoped I could mentally push her onward.
Mile 4 arrived and the uphill was steeper. Thinking of the crest soon to appear I just pushed to the top and the view of my village on the further hill. Just a few cyclists passed by quickly unaware that I was not just an ordinary runner; I was a Hood To Coast GHOST runner with a little over a mile remaining.
The houses are lovely along this country lane and I always enjoy taking in the view of their gardens. With today’s rain they were lush green and bursting with colourful flowers. I ignored the overhanging vines of blackberry bushes along the road and kept focused on the last 1.5 miles.
At approximately the mile to go mark I saw them….my cheering squad, my lovely country style cheerleaders!! Ok.. no pom poms in their hands or megaphones, but they did their best to acknowledge me by cheering me on with their “cow Like” eyes!!
I was now shifting gears; I left this country lane and returned to the main road I had started on and retraced my steps UP the steep hill to my little village. Keeping my stride as even as I could I did a bit of side-step chi running . I again thought of Maria and her final steps as I climbed higher, passed the village Post Office, then the turn passed the little library, passed the row of houses to my finish line.
I stopped my watch at 1:17:02 for 5.89 miles. I am sure Maria had caught her breath by the time I arrived. I felt so good doing this and being a part of something greater with all of the other Ghosts and Coast runners! Well done to everyone! Simply Amazing!!
(Just an aside, as this was part of my marathon training run, I needed to run a full 8 miles. So after logging in my time, I continued up and around my area to complete my training run!)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ANNERBEES 9/3/2010 10:07PM

    Mary this was awesome!! I love how you post the pics along the way so we can feel like we are there with you!! I especially love your country 'cheerleaders'!! LOL I LOVE cows!! What a great blog and you continue to inspire me!! emoticon emoticon

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TERJEGOLD 9/2/2010 8:21PM

    Oh I LOVE this post. I wanna be a Ghostie too! Perhaps next year if I decide to do my 3-Day in a different city (different weekend). Your protos are wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing. I love that the two of you were so connected during the rtough parts of the route. Amazing!

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GLOBE_TREKKER 8/31/2010 4:15AM

    Mary! Thanks for blogging about your ghost run with me at leg 19. Funny thing is a guy was hurting during the last mile so we helped each other get to the top of the hill...so basically it was like you knew I needed the push and sent someone out to help me (like a true ghosty). I listened to your songs and running my last mile or so up that hill kinda was a b*tch but I LOVED running at midnight, in the backroads and with tall trees lining the road with the moon lighting up the night. More details will be posted soon. THANK YOU for being 1 of 2 awesome ghosts. You and Christy were great company!!! The spark you have within you helped light my running path during leg 19 :)

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ZORAHGAIL 8/29/2010 10:03PM

    Great blog! Thanks so much for ghosting & sharing your run w/ us.

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JACKLIN11 8/29/2010 9:37AM

    Mary I loved this blog with all the pictures I felt like was was on the run with you!

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TAMTAM64 8/28/2010 10:41PM

    Nice blog! Love the pictures!

A fellow ghostie,

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IPA-RAY 8/28/2010 10:15PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

Another happy Ghost!

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JOPAPGH 8/28/2010 10:10PM

    Great blog. It was fun sharing ghostie time with you!

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LYNNANN43 8/28/2010 6:18PM

    I felt like I was there with you, Mary!

What amazing pics!!!

What an emoticon thing to be part of such a wonderful thing:D

emoticon emoticon

P.S. I am now going to go and make my ghostie a zipper pull! I never even thought of that!!!

Comment edited on: 8/28/2010 6:24:41 PM

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FLGIRL_4EVER 8/28/2010 6:11PM

    That is such a wonderful blog! I am so thrilled you got to be ghostie. Love the photos too.

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HEALTH4LYFE 8/28/2010 4:22PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

Thanks for taking us all on your run. Amazing job and love the photos!!

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CASSIOEPIA 8/28/2010 3:16PM

    Very nice, and I agree - it is totally an amazing experience. Kate had such a great idea.

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4 Years of Sparkin'

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Today marks my 4 Year Spark Anniversary! emoticon

I found SP through a post on a running site and was curious. I wanted to have support, information, guidance, encouragement, accountability and motivation to not just keep my running going, but help with the nutrition of it as well as drop some weight.

I have found all of that and more on this site. It took me a month or two to get the hang of things, but I worked through the guidance provided and now am continually amazed at the high level of the information available. (The picture I chose is the icon for the very first team I joined)

My life has changed over these four years by becoming healthier, more active, more dedicated to squeezing every bit of life I can get out of a day! I am constantly learning from all the great blogs, posts, personal experiences found here.

My 20 lb weight loss might not be as impressive as some on here who have lost hundreds of pounds, but to me it is monumental. I have been given so many tools to use and it's up to me to pick them up and like a sculpturer, chisel away and shape my life.

I'm celebrating today! I'm rejoicing today in who I am and what I've learned. I am thankful to all those at Sparkpeople for this site and their dedication. I am thankful to each and every person who has crossed my life's path here; for those who have left messages and part of themselves,and to those who have just stopped by and read my posts, blogs, or looked at my photo gallery. Together we make a WE, and WE are a powerful force!
It's a very Happy 4th!
Mary emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DRB13_1 9/27/2010 1:45AM

    emoticon emoticon
Your blog points out that this is an lifestyle site, and a tribute to Chris Downie's original desire to help people everywhere live fulfilled, productive, healthy lives.
So happy you shared your success with us! emoticon

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RANDOM00B 9/6/2010 3:22PM


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ANNERBEES 9/3/2010 10:13PM

    Congrats on your 4 year anniversary!! You are such an inspiration to a lot of people!! I have not even been on here a year and I am so glad we have crossed paths because you are a great motivator to me!! emoticon emoticon

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SHAPNUP 9/1/2010 8:18AM

    When I first saw the title of this blog, I thought it said "4 Years of Spankin!" emoticon

I celebrate with you. Congratulations!

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EDWARDS1411 8/31/2010 7:50PM

    What a wonderful attitude you have!! Big Congrats on celebrating four years with SP - WooHoo!!!

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QUEENBME2 8/30/2010 11:48AM


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TRINITYROYAL 8/30/2010 6:14AM

    Congratulations on your success!

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CTTAGENT 8/30/2010 12:43AM

    Congratulations on 4 years on this site! I have only been on the site about 4 months, but have found lots of information and support, such as you mentioned.

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ECHOBLUE1 8/29/2010 9:15PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BGOOCH56 8/29/2010 8:47PM

    staying connected says a lot. congrats on your success.

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NANCITA10 8/29/2010 4:45PM

    emoticon Great attitude!! I love it!! Keep up the good work!! Happy 4th Anniversary!! emoticon

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AKSTACEY70 8/29/2010 1:43PM

    I love that icon picture.
Thanks for sharing your story. What a great inspiration you are.

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NOTGIVINGUP49 8/28/2010 7:40PM

I also was struck by your motivational statement: I have been given so many tools to use and it's up to me to pick them up and like a sculpturer, chisel away and shape my life.

I am going to add it to my team's motivation quotes (will give author's rights) LOL Thanks for the motivation and inspiration!

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2RICKIE 8/28/2010 4:47PM

    Yes, your Sparkaversary is inspiration for all of us!

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JIBBIE49 8/28/2010 3:04PM

    emoticonI bet there isn't but a few left who joined the week you did back four years ago. I find it sad that SO many people quit. Glad you didn't!!! emoticon

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KARRYB1 8/28/2010 2:14PM

    Every weight loss achievement is worth celebrating!
Congratulations on your success! emoticon

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GOODHEALTH4EVER 8/28/2010 2:13PM

    emoticon emoticon HAPPY SPARKVERSARY emoticon

Comment edited on: 8/28/2010 2:14:13 PM

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MCJULIEO 8/28/2010 10:39AM

    Great going!
Happy Spark Anniversary!

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KARENE10 8/28/2010 10:02AM

    emoticon Happy Sparkiversary!!!!!!!! I really liked your blog:) Congrats on your weight loss!

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HONEYBUNCH24 8/28/2010 9:40AM

    emoticon Happy 4th Year Anniversary!!!

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ELSEEBEE 8/28/2010 8:02AM

    emoticon on your Sparkiversary! You are so right about this community's positive influence.

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RIPPEDPAUL1 8/28/2010 7:25AM

    emoticon emoticon

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SLIMMER58 8/28/2010 6:39AM

  Happy anniversary! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CAROLYNINJOY1 8/28/2010 6:07AM

    Happy Spark versary!

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MARDGY 8/27/2010 11:59PM

    Happy Anniversary!!!! Thanks for taking the time to share this bit of news. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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RHYNIC 8/26/2010 7:47PM

    happy anniversay Mary. :-)

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AQUAPOWERS 8/25/2010 8:49PM

    Great blog. Congrats and Happy Sparkaversary!


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HPLANDER 8/25/2010 11:22AM

    Congratulations of your sparkaversery. That is great. You have done a wonderful job.

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RAYLINSTEPHENS 8/25/2010 10:27AM

    20 lbs is awesome!

Happy 4th Year Sparkiversary!!

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LIFE-OF-LEISURE 8/25/2010 10:04AM

    Happy Sparkaversary!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LYNNANN43 8/25/2010 9:18AM

    Happy emoticon

As I've told you before, and I will tell you again..

You are my running HERO!!!! emoticon

And have now become a very dear SparkFriend that I can't wait to meet in November!
emoticon emoticon

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COLBERGL 8/25/2010 8:53AM

    I am a newbie, and am amazed at what a great group of individuals I have come in contact on the SP web site. It is the best emoticon

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BILL60 8/25/2010 8:08AM

    Congratulations!! Let's go for "5".

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SCRIPTDUCK 8/25/2010 8:03AM

    Dear Mary: thank you so much for sharing your huge triumph with me. your pictrues are fantastic!
luv from a new sparkler who needs a bit of encouragement today.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
ps: my planned fitness today is a l-o-n-g walk to the hospital where my mom was admitted yesterday with a heart attack. i cancelled my gym class, but thanks to spark people, i found a good substitute [the walk].this place is magic!

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My Mountain has a name: PHILADELPHIA

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Climbing a mountain isn't something everyone can do, or even want to do. I imagine it is difficult, time consuming, dangerous, and takes a huge amount of time preparing for. My nephew has climbed several mountains in the past couple of years and I know he has taken the necessary time preparing.

Marathon running is also something that not everyone can do or has the inclination to partake in. It is something that also is difficult, time consuming, can be dangerous, and takes a huge amount of preparation time. I know this to be a fact as I have run 7 marathons in 4 short years. I am now in the beginning stages of training for my eighth marathon on 21 November, Philadelphia.

I take time in my pre-marathon preparation to make a schedule of training runs on a paper calendar. It allows me to have an over view of the entire training time frame and plan races to test my progress through the weeks. This time the image of mountain climbing and my training crossed into one plan.

Just as a climb up a mountain has stages, my training has stages. There is a base camp in mountain climbing where the climbers aim to reach in the beginning of their ascent. My first four weeks of training are my "Base Camp" stage. It is where I am building my weekly distance from 15 miles up to 32. I have a 10K race to test my progress and acclimate me to the longer runs and 6 days of moderate consistent training.

During the next 5 weeks I move forward towards the secondary camp just as a climber moves higher up the mountain face. The climb gets more difficult, more testing more of a challenge. So has my training, My planned long runs are now double digit and my weekly mile total creeps upward from the 30mpw into the 40s. I test my endurance and stamina and speed by racing another 10K.

In order to reach the summit of the mountain from Secondary Camp, the climber needs to continue to acclimate to the higher altitude and take on additional equipment and their physical abilities and mental toughness is tested further. Thus it is in this4 week stage of my training. My longest of the long runs happen, the mid week marathon paced runs reach their highest, the speed sessions are consistent and the weekly miles crest just over 50. I will challenge myself with a half marathon race. I can see the goal that lies just 3 weeks beyond this point, the 26.2 miles of the marathon.

Unlike the mountain climber who once reaches the summit and the descends, I will gradually decrease my weekly miles but keep my fitness achieved on ascent to the summit by running consistently, running speed sessions and building the marathon paced runs to their highest. I will remain on that mountain top like being on a flat mountain top. I run along the top for a shorter distance, but keep to that level.

These three weeks before the marathon my miles will drop slighty leading up to Philadelphia and the final days are miles to just keep my legs turning over.

Then on 21 November, 2010 I will stand on the start line of my 8th marathon. I will stand at another base camp, I will climb another mountain, this time not over the course of 16 weeks, but I will put to asphalt what I have trained, sweated, ached and persevered to begin AND finish in a single 26.2 miles/42K. I will conquer my mountain, My Philadelphia Marathon.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JLWOF1 8/15/2010 10:26AM

    That was a beautiful blog. I too can see your determination. I wish you all the best while you train and when you climb your mountain!

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LYNNANN43 8/14/2010 11:58PM

    What a great analogy!

I'm hoping to do the 8K in Philly the day before. (my hometown!) It depends how soon it cools down, though, so I can start running again regularly.

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ANNERBEES 8/14/2010 11:01PM

    This was such an awesome comparison! You are so focused and I can feel your determination when I read this!!! What an inspiration you are!! emoticon

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TERJEGOLD 8/14/2010 9:37PM

    I love this way of looking at it. Very nice!!!

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TAKENTOOLONG 8/14/2010 8:54PM

    Loved your training analogy. Good luck with your training and your big race!

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CHARLIE215 8/14/2010 8:38PM

    Good luck with the training Mary :)

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I Stop For Blackberries!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I am an outside runner. I look forward to traversing the rural roads, footpaths and fields which cover this part of England. With the routes pre-planned on my trusty Ordnance Survey map I have explored areas new to me and ones I have committed to memory.
I wait all year for these next couple of weeks. While on my runs I have glanced with caring eyes to the thorny shrub branches which line the roads and paths. They are everywhere; Wild Blackberries. I watch in early spring as the bushes fill with leaves and their long tentacle like branches reach further out into my path. I then begin to notice the first of the white with yellow centred flowers. Some where the white is even tinged with shades of pink, as if to announce the colour of the fruit to appear for those who are patiently observing their formation.
Next the flowers have disappeared and I see the teasing green berry taking shape, the fruit of the flower that was. I notice the ripening progress occurring along various roads and paths and take note of where I think the first ripe ones will occur.
Then it’s something like a pot of simmering pop-corn. The green berries begin to turn a light pink, then darker and all of sudden the first one is black, and another, and another until handfuls of blackberries await picking.
Since my runs take me down so many berry lined areas I have a rotating order in my mind of which bushes to harvest first. That will begin in a week, but for now on my runs I stop to sample the first beckoning berries and enjoy the bountiful snack so abundantly provided.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RENLA6991 8/14/2010 2:45PM

    Ooh, that sounds heavenly! I used to raid my great-grandpa's berry bushes & scour the fence lines for wild blackberries. Your blog makes me wish I still lived out in the country!

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LAGREBE 8/12/2010 4:51AM

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmm....! Not to mention the pleasure of running in the cool of Enland! I plucked blackberries here (Gulf Coast) in May!!

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JACKLIN11 8/12/2010 2:28AM

    I think I need a blackberry trail Yum! emoticon

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AKSTACEY70 8/11/2010 11:13PM

    Great Blog. Enjoy your berries. I've made many stops for blueberries this year but I sure wish I had some wild blackberries to stop for.

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ANNERBEES 8/11/2010 9:49PM

    So is it hard to get your run in with all the stopping?? And are your finger tips all purple????? LOL Great Blog!! emoticon

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A-STRONGER-ME 8/11/2010 8:45PM

    Cute blog!

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LYNNANN43 8/11/2010 8:43PM

    I love blackberries!

How wonderful that you can run rural roads, footpaths and fields! emoticon

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TERJEGOLD 8/11/2010 8:29PM


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JANLEEW 8/11/2010 6:09PM

    MMM love those berries!

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JUDY4652 8/11/2010 5:52PM

    We have a wild blackberry briar growing on the edge of our property, inside our boundary so are reaping the benefits from that, as well as a hybrid garden blackberry I planted last year. Eating lots fresh, stewed with apple and freezing too! Great - they're all free!

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Getting ready to do IT again!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

To prepare myself for Marathon #8 training, starting 2 August, I took a look back at 2007 and the video I made after running my 3rd Marathon and first London. The pictures of my husband, our good friend, the expo, race morning, the elite runners, the aches, the crowds, the finish line, the elation, the medal, the pride! I remember it all and it brings home to me why I run marathons. I'll keep these images as I train for Philadelphia 2010. Enjoy!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FLGIRL_4EVER 8/8/2010 10:42PM

    Mary, you are truly an amazing woman. What a great video and song to put it with. When I struggle with running I play that song to keep pushing me. You are an inspiration, thank you for being you!

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RHYNIC 8/2/2010 9:58AM

    that was so cool. I have to learn how to make videos.


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RAIDERMOM2277 8/1/2010 7:12PM

  Mary, your such an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your video. Good luck with your training and best wishes for your next marathon.

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TERJEGOLD 8/1/2010 1:36PM

    WOW, Mary! Such a great tribute to your accomplishment. It gave me goose bumps to watch it. Thank you so much for sharing it. I can't wait to watch this training schedule. I bet you surprise even yourself with your improvements and your abilities.

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ALLDAY 8/1/2010 7:09AM

    emoticon I looooved this! Thanks for sharing and motivating me as I am training for my next half! Great pics and you are one beautiful and fabulous woman!

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ANNERBEES 7/31/2010 3:38PM

    This was so awesome!! What an inspirational video to really motivate you!! Thanks for sharing this....I want to go run now!!! LOL emoticon

Comment edited on: 7/31/2010 3:38:53 PM

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JILLWILSON2102 7/31/2010 3:19PM

    Mary I have tears in my eyes as I listen to this fabulous song and view your precious photos. I am so very proud for you to go forward to your next marathon. May your feet sprout wings my running warrior friend! emoticon

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    Mary....you have always been and will always be my inspiration and my hero!!! emoticon I love you with all my heart!!! Run strong, my friend!!!

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MEMEEMEEE 7/31/2010 11:53AM

    Awesome and very inspiring!! I'm not a runner but was very moved by your video. Congratulation in all your achievements ant keep up the great work!


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