It wasn’t a PR but it was our best effort. The story is incredible. Read on.
We should start with a bit of background. Shay Hirsch was born June 8, 1947, and raised in Boise. A grandmother, mother and loving wife, Shay brought joy into the hearts of everyone she met. The strength to overcome great struggles learned during her time as a marathon runner helped Shay face her diagnosis and ensuing battle with multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer, with dignity. Throughout her battle, Shay wrote to her friends of the struggles she faced, never for pity and always with a seemingly impossible amount of courage. Every uplifting email she wrote to friends following her progression ended with, “Onward! Love, Shay”; thus, the name of this wonderful race. 100% of the proceeds are donated to local charities and organizations in Boise. Once I found this marathon, I knew that this was the one for us.
We had never traveled to Boise before this race. What a wonderful city! We visited a beautiful park and museum, ate some fabulous meals and enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of a much under-rated city. We even found some very cool artwork in Freak Alley!
As excited as we were to explore the city, Mourad had to keep it light because he was still battling plantar fasciitis. The weather was beautiful and we were excited to run our race! Here we are the morning of getting ready to RUMBLE!
We arrive at the pre-race area. Look who is here to greet us! (There is a Wizard of Oz theme here if you didn’t pick that up yet.)
Off we go! I have to emphasize that Mourad is really a wild card here. He has not run for two months and has been receiving weekly acupuncture treatments for his foot. He has been working out but not in the traditional sense for marathons.
I am the pacer with my snazzy Garmin. We hang together for 13 miles. I notice that Mourad is slowing down but I dare not say anything. I am afraid I will jinx us! At the water station at Mile 14, he tells me: “Well Honey, I think that’s it for me. I have been in pain the last two miles and I think I will head back.” I suggest to him that he walk, take ibuprofen, something! A Good Samaritan by the aid station has Advil in her purse. She offers some and he tells me to go ahead. He’ll try walking another mile but he really thinks that’s it. I am sad but I know he has to do what’s best. I run off and take a deep breath.
Here’s where the story gets incredible…
The last 12.2 miles is an up and back route along what is called the Greenbelt: a beautiful running/walking/bike path that runs along the river. I am doubling back and arrive at the Aid Station at Mile 20. And who do I see coming toward me? You guessed it! My Mourad! He is smiling and laughing (this is Mile 18 for him.) I could barely contain my tears. “How did you do it?” I asked. He replied in a humorous voice: “I wajobbled!*”
* A new technique created by Mourad in which you hobble, walk and jog simultaneously
I couldn’t believe it. I knew at that point he was going to make it. What stamina and perseverance this man has! We kiss and venture on.
I finish the race. With all of the stopping, starting and discussing it is a slow time for me but I don’t care. I finished and felt great! I was worried about Mourad. Volunteers of St. Ambrose Hospital were handing the medals out at the end. I told them what was going on and that I was watching out for him. I called him on the phone and he texted back: “I’m at Mile 25!” Oh yeah WOW!! The line officials were announcing names as people crossed the line. At a bit past 6 hours, the line official told me he was coming around the bend – AND HE WAS RUNNING! The gals at St. Ambrose said: “You have to give him his medal!” With tears in my eyes and an endless amount of pride in my heart, I placed that medal around my strong, brave husband who just doesn’t know the meaning of “give up.”
You may wonder what happened after the race to Mourad – was he severely injured? He was a bit sore afterwards but that evening we did a Yin Yoga class and his pain was minimal. After three days, he felt no pain at all. I attribute his training, good nutrition, regular yoga practice and constant acupuncture treatments as well as the use of some Chinese herbal supplements. We look forward to next year (destination unknown). Not sure how we’ll top this one!