lighting the way home part 3: sisters find success



The Divas half-marathon at Long Island was Mary’s first-ever half marathon and a special way for her family to honor the memory of their dad, Jim, who passed from cancer 29 years ago on October 7th—the same date as the race.

The weather forecast for race day was miserable—rainy and very cold.   The sisters believe that something greater was working from above when the day dawned with cool temperatures, but bright sunshine.  In fact, the rain did not begin to fall until after the sisters had crossed the finish line.  They called it “love from above!”

Mary’s goals were to get in better shape, complete the half marathon and re-connect with her sisters, who found themselves on opposite sides of the country when Mary moved to Seattle in 1980.  Mary accomplished all three of her goals:  she definitely got in better shape, she completed the half-marathon, and she and her sisters have newfound appreciation for each other.

In Mary’s words:

“This experience was so much bigger than the actual half marathon.  It was so many little and big things—our unspoken connection, a common goal, family dinners, last minute training together, crossing the finish line with each other to the cheers of family and friends.  Truly amazing!  We are strong and united with each other, regardless of the geographic boundaries between us.”

glassybaby extends heartfelt congratulations to the O’Brien sisters for accomplishing their goals and honoring the memory of their dad!  Along with her running shoes, Mary’s carry-on bag included a collection of ‘sister’ glassybaby—one for each of her sisters.


Read more…

lighting the way home:  part 1

 lighting the way home: part 2

lighting the way home part 2: how Mary trained

This is one of West Seattle's "hidden staircases" that Mary took advantage of for cross-training. It is located near the intersection of Northrop Place and SW Thistle Street.

In our Monday post, you met Mary O’Brien, a Seattleite who will soon travel to New York to participate in her first half-marathon on October 7tth.   Her four sisters, who currently live in New York, will join her for the Divas half-marathon at Long Island.

Mary had wanted to get into better shape and find a physical activity that would inspire and motivate her.  Mary’s sister’s, Patty and Meg, learned about the half-marathon and put the challenge out to all four sisters to train and participate in the event.  When Mary realized that the half-marathon would take place on the anniversary of her dad’s passing, and that the course was in her hometown, she found both her inspiration and her motivation.

Mary mentioned the half-marathon to her Seattle friends and found an instant source of encouragement.  One of those friends referred Mary to a personal trainer, and they met for the first time last February.  Aside from forming a friendship and gaining lots of good training advice, Mary said that the trainer kept her accountable.

Mary started out walking three times each week, for a total of two to three miles per week.  She used an app on her iphone called MapMyRun to log all of her training activities.  Mary often walked after she got off work, in the late afternoon.  Some girlfriends would take turns walking with her during the week.  By July, Mary was walking three times each week, and logging between eight and nine miles per week.  Her husband, Paul, would often join her for the longer Saturday walks.  Mary began participating in 5K events, which really helped her training efforts.

In addition to walking, Mary’s trainer recommended cross-training.  For this, Mary supplemented her normal routes with hills and stairs.  Seattle has a number of “hidden staircases” and plenty of hills.   In August, Mary increased her walks to four each week, and also increased her distance.  Mary’s longest walk occurred this past weekend, when she walked 11 miles.

Mary’s journey was not without setbacks.  An injury, a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis and physical therapy complicated her training efforts.  She learned the value of stretching—even on the days that she didn’t walk.  Not only did Mary’s training efforts get her ready for next Sunday’s event, she slimmed down a size or two!

Next time:  Half-marathon results and a homecoming to remember