This wasn’t Elaine’s first event, but it was her first major event alone, although she discovered that you are never really alone at a run/walk. She had participated in Portland to Coast, but it had been somewhat of a family affair. Her father had driven the entire course with her, to become familiar with it and even walked Elaine’s legs with her in preparation for race day. With the actual event, her sons walked with her, so Bridge of the Goddess really was her first ever solo event.
Her father had admired her medal from Portland to Coast hanging from her rearview mirror and wanted to know when she was going to get another one. He was a construction worker and understood hard work. He lived with Elaine the last years of his life and enjoyed seeing her do things. His support both financially, paying for the race, and emotionally, encouraging her, helped her get to the race, but the 10k itself was all Elaine. Elaine and her angel wings.
With a little over 6 miles to reflect, Elaine found herself at the back of the pack, at times not seeing any other participants. At one point she heard rustling in the bushes and thought some runners must be in the woods, unable to find a port-a-potty. It started getting louder and louder, until out came a full-grown black bear. Standing there staring at each other on the trail, the bear finally decided to cross and go his own way. Amazingly, she wasn’t scared, but wanted to ask her dad if he just saw that too.
The bear wasn’t the only memory from this event. Elaine couldn’t believe how supportive the other participants and volunteers were along the way. She noted she was coming in last, but the elite runners were cheering for her, everyone was encouraging her, people were giving her high fives along the way and she loved the support all around her. She was tired and trying to push through the last bit, when another Goddess named Karen came in, ‘like an angel’ and walked a portion with her.
Elaine’s story inspires me in so many ways. I love her sheer determination. Anyone who finishes a 10k has my respect, but I don’t think I’d be ready for one so close to losing my father. I love that she did it for him, to show him she could do it by herself no matter what obstacles were in her way. I’m not dedicated enough to drive two hours in each direction for a race and I definitely wouldn’t stay calm with a bear on the course, so this amazing lady has my admiration. It inspires me, too, to get to hear from another person how awesome the running/walking community is; they support everyone. I’ve had my share of events where someone grabbed my hand and encouraged me to keep going.
Her heart keeps Elaine going. She doesn’t let her weight or finish time discourage her, instead she focuses on getting healthy to help animals. Her father passed along his love for animals and Elaine does what she can to help. Throughout the years, they had rescued dogs, cats and even fish. His dogs are still having a hard time with him not being there, one refused to eat and another still cries outside his window. At his funeral, they asked for donations to an animal shelter in lieu of flowers. His love of animals lives on with Elaine.She helped sponsor and promote the 1st Annual Homeward Bound Pet 5k Ruff Ruff Run and 1 Mile Walk. Elaine is also participating in PETA Pack and all of the money she raises with events goes towards preventing animal abuse.
What started with a medal from Portland to Coast has turned into a new hobby for Elaine. Her dad gave her that little push and that’s all it took. She’s already registered for her next event, The Running Dead 5k in Medford which raises money for Goodwill Industries. “I probably won’t see a bear this time, but I’m sure it will be exciting!’ She also has her Christmas List started and at the top of the list: a medal holder.
I want this woman’s perseverance; she’s truly an inspiration for me. Her story was a good reminder for me to never give up, but more importantly to always do what I can to be supportive. I need to take out my earbuds sometimes and take my turn being someone’s angel. I’ll be better about giving out high fives, shout outs and encouraging others, unless there’s a bear on the course.