I can’t say enough nice things about Georgene. I met Georgene through a mutual friend in our Charm City Run training group. She welcomed me with open, caring arms and I knew that I just added another sole sister to my running family. Georgene’s story has inspired so many in our training group and when you read it, you’ll understand why. Georgene is a fighter and a survivor. She is genuine and she will go out of her way to be there for you when you need her. Below is our interview.
SWIR – When did you start running and why?
Georgene – I was always a runner, since high school and then occasional 3 or 4 mile run to stay active. I didn’t get serious about being a distance runner until I decided in March of 2010 to run the Baltimore Half Marathon that coming fall. After that race, I decided to keep it going and join a Half Marathon Group at Charm City Run. But I think running had to become part of my life’s plan to get me prepared and to get through one of the hardest times in my life… My Breast Cancer Diagnosis in April of 2011. All I can say is thank God I found running and my CCR family to get me through the race for my life, Chemo and Radiation.
Running kept me focused and gave me something else to think about. Being sick was not an option and I was NOT giving up running. I was able to run through all of my treatments and I made sure there was a race of some kind on the calendar after each chemo treatment so I had something to look forward to. But, the most important thing of all was my support system that saw me through every step of the way. It was my running group, the greatest group of people, most I knew but some I didn’t even know their name. It was a really big group that winter, not knowing how tough it would be, or what people would think of me without hair after it was gone was one of the toughest times to just get out of my car. I just went every week and kept things as normal as I was used to and so did everyone else around me. They don’t know it, but as we ran around that track, some nights with tears in my eyes, I would gather all of their energy and take it with me to get me through the next week. I was surrounded by love, compassion and support. I just know in my heart this was part of Gods plan for me to have such loving souls around me during this time, doing something we all loved, running. Every one of my dear running friends were with me every step of the way to see me through to the biggest finish of my life. I am so blessed to have such dear people in my life.
SWIR – What do you find is the most challenging part of running?
Georgene – The most challenging part of running is not to over dress in the cold weather… I am famous for that. But the very most challenging part is over thinking everything about running. Getting caught up in the mileage, running hills, the nasty weather, missing a run, or even running alone ( if your used to running with a partner) even the training plan. I can remember how long it took me to realize it was ok to switch something around for convenience or miss a day on the schedule. I really thought in my mind I needed to stick to the exact plan for it to work. I had to learn to relax and just enjoy it for what it was. Every day brings us all something new, so you just have to lace up, get out there and put one foot in front of the other and remember to have fun.
SWIR – Tell me about your first race and how it changed you, if it did.
Georgene – My first race was the Baltimore Half Marathon in 2010, finishing 2:22:36 but I don’t know if I ran that to actually race it, (remember my training plan was off the internet LOL!) I do know I ran it with all heart. So I will say that my first “race” was the following spring in March of 2011. It was the Shamrock Half Marathon in Va. Beach. I trained through the winter with CCR and knew everything I needed to have a very successful race and I did. I finish that race at 2:09:47 I felt so good during and after that I couldn’t wait until the next one! As far as how it changed me? Not sure if it was change in me or if it was that I finally found a confidence in me that may have been hidden away. The running bug had bitten me!
SWIR – How many races have you ran in and which one was your favorite? Why was it your favorite?
Georgene – I have ran 41 races since it all started. Which has included 21 Half Marathons, 5k’s, 10k’s, a 15k, 5 milers, 10 miler, a 12 miler, and 2 Duathlons one Olympic and one for just women which is half the distance. Picking a favorite is a tough one because of all the places I have been, but I would have to say my Half Marathon in San Diego. It was a weekend I will never forget with one of the best chicks I know… Katye. She called me about 3 weeks before the race and said “you’re going to San Diego with me” All I could think about was that I have never flown that far … and I could never leave my family to go. My husband said “yes, you can…you need to go” and that’s just what I did! It was days before my mastectomy surgery and I was able to get on that plane and leave it all behind and just go and run my heart out for another dear person to both Katye and I.
SWIR – What’s the most important part about training for a race?
Georgene – The most important part of training for me is remembering to relax, give it all I’ve got, enjoy it and have fun. But the very most important thing is Charm City Run and my running friends that I am so blessed to have that make this so great!
SWIR – Have you ever bonked during a race? How did you get through it?
Georgene – Well when you say “Bonked” what comes to mind at first was when I tripped on the timing pad at the finish line and took a nose dive over the finish line!!! You know… in front of 30,000 people…. I’m just hoping no one was paying attention!!! But when you say “Bonked” I am sure you mean a race that is just not going your way, and maybe it hits you and you don’t have any choice but to just finish. It happened to be this same race. It was supposed to rain and I was over dressed, got heated and could not cool down – let’s just say it never got better. It was a miserable run. Then to fall at the finish just topped it off…. one that I would like to forget!
SWIR – How has running changed you, if it has?
Georgene – Running has change me in so many ways. First it has brought me so much happiness, I know there are endorphins that are released while you’re running that truly last the day, and I love that feeling. Physically, I am so happy with the way I feel in my own skin. Running gives me what I need to stay healthy and strong, which leads to cross training and good nutrition. It has changed me mentally, giving me confidence to know I can do it! It has also changed my heart – filled it with so much from those around me that are in the running community and given me something to share. So when someone approaches me to ask how do they start running, I have something very special to give them and it comes straight from my heart. Also, when I run, I always carry someone close to my heart. Could be someone that has passed away, a special person that just needs strength or healing, It just makes it all worth it!
SWIR – What’s the funniest thing that has ever happen on a run to either you are a running partner?
Georgene – There are so many funny things that happen – some I’m not sure if you would want me to write! It’s kinda like that saying “What happens in Vegas…” You know?? But here is a clean, cute one that made us laugh.
Two of my running girls and myself were running together – this was after quite a while of knowing one another and the question of age had never come up before. So we are running along… never knowing where conversation will go, I ask them both … “how old are you ladies”, knowing they were young. One answers “I’m 25″ and the other answers “I’m 28.” Well it just stopped me in my tracks. They stop and turn around to look at me thinking something was wrong and I started laughing, saying “OH MY GOD!! I am old enough to be your mother!!” They were doubting my comment…but yes…it was true!! A very young mother – but it was possible. The mother in me comes out and so does this joke from time to time. This is another thing I love about running with these wonderful people – these things don’t really matter. There is never any judgment and you can just be yourself and just be you!
SWIR – What is your go to pre-race meal?
Georgene – This could be several things. Last May I had to change my diet to gluten free, and dairy free. So learning how to do that and fit that all into my life was a bit overwhelming, and right away I went into panic mode and thought “what the heck am I going to eat before a long run or a race!? NO MORE PASTA!?” I have been experimenting, but I think it working well. My favorite is Quinoa with veggies and egg with coconut oil (all organic). I make it like you would make a vegetable fried rice and it works great for me. But a chicken breast and veggies works good too. I have found that if I need to have pasta, the gluten free that I use is awesome!
SWIR – Who is the most influential person to you and why?
Georgene – This is the question that is the easiest and the hardest for me. First I want to say the most influential person to me is my Dad. He passed away in 2007 before I started distance running, but he knew I had a love for the sport since high school. I know he would be so interested in hearing about ALL of my races… and most of all I know he would be really proud. I know he is always with me at all of my races as I find pennies at every race. I have stopped in the middle to pick them up (of course always with good runner etiquette)! Look up the story of “Pennies from Heaven” and you will understand.
But for this question, I think I need to make a list. I have had so many influential people in my life since I started this adventure. I have to say all of the genuine, loving, caring people that have come into my life because of running with the groups, the entire staff at Charm City Run, the coaches that have taught me so much and more. Especially at the time in my life that was so scary for all of us because of the BIG C. They were there for the long haul, offering love, support and sincerity and ALWAYS listening to me. So many of my running friends told me that if I ever needed anything to just call, and without a doubt, I knew they meant that and I wouldn’t hesitate to ask. I will never forget that…. and I could have never gotten through that time without them. With this being said, all of these people that have come into my life, have been such an influence on me to keep me doing something that I have grown to love so much.
SWIR – If someone is starting out and is thinking about running, what advice would you give them?
Georgene – For a person that is thinking about running… I always tell them “you can do this” just get out there and try it. If they can, go to a high school track, set a goal to just walk the first lap, get back to the start, If you feel you want to go on, then walk the curve, then run easy on the straight, then walk the curve again, then if you can run the straight. Remember those 2 laps are 1/2 of a mile. Go home and feel proud of what you’ve done. Come back the next day and try for 3 laps…less walking if your body is ok with that. Give yourself small challenges, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and set small goals. Also, I always mention to look for a group… there is nothing better than getting out there with a group or just a running partner – you help one another. That’s what runners do. I ran a 5K and I remember before the race started there were a few people speaking and one talked about the race and how it was organized and a person that was a huge help to the cause… said ” Runners help Runners” that about sums it up.
A few quotes that I really love that I try to share……
“Tough times don’t last … but tough people do.”
“The woman that starts the race isn’t the same woman that finishes the race”
I want to thank Georgene for taking the time for this interview. I hope she has inspired you as much as she inspires everyone around her.