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A Runner’s Diary: Running for a Friend

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Last week I got an email from my running buddy, Marti DiPaola, asking me if I wanted to run a local Nassau County 5K race. I said “Okay.”

I wasn’t sure where or what the race was about, but I picked her up at her home at 7:30 a.m. and proceeded to follow her directions into Oceanside. The race, which was part of South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, was raising money for cancer research.

She told me about a mutual friend, Bonni Goetz, who has lymphoma and is currently fighting for her life. So we decided to run for her. We’re actually dedicating all of our next runs in her honor leading up to the Disney Half Marathon in January.

When we got to South Nassau Communities Hospital, we had plenty of time to spare. We walked around the hokey fair and visited all of the booths that had information on cancer research. Since Marti is also a health teacher, we also visited booths that had information about smoking, healthy eating, and exercise. And, we collected a lot of swag, which I don’t think we will use, but it was fun to get.

Marti and I walked over to the car, dropped off our swag bags, and started to prepare for the race. We had 15 minutes until the start of the race. I took out two chocolate GU Energy Gels and placed them on the top of my car to get ready.

We walked over to the start line. The whistle blew and we were off. We ran through the streets of Baldwin and Oceanside. We ran by a lake and a small park. We ran past a man with a young child. The child was screaming for us to keep going.

We got motivated and kept going. Then we saw two little girls sticking their heads out the window of a house we were passing. They were screaming, “Keep going!” Boy, did that motivate us!

There were two water stops, which were situated on mile 1 and mile 2. We stopped each time, grabbed a water bottle, threw it on the ground and kept running. At that point, Marti turned to me and said, “Do you have that GU?”

“OMG,” I said, “I left it on the car. I wonder if it will still be there when we get back.”

“Runners don’t steal,” Marti said. I smiled.

We were nearing toward the end. A few runners who finished walked past us and tried to encourage us to keep going.

When we turned the final corner, we saw the finish line. “Okay, let’s sprint,” I said. And with that, Marti ran so fast. For a minute I thought she turned into Roger Rabbit! I couldn’t keep up. I was running hard. My stride was open wide and I just couldn’t keep up with her.

We both came in 20 seconds or so apart and at the end of the race, Marti called Bonni to tell her we completed the race in her honor.

Marti posted a photo on Facebook and wrote: We finished this race in honor of Bonni. We love you! Keep fighting! We’ll keep racing to find the cure for lymphoma.

Bonni replied: There are no words to express my thanks to both of you. Next year, I will be in the race with you…..

We walked back to my car and you know what was on top of the car? Two chocolate GU Energy Gels!


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About Hilary Topper