Jim O'Leary

Waverly Star

By Jim O'Leary

An e-mail newsletter for and about Waverly people, used with permission in the HLW Herald and on this web site.

Jan. 21, 2002

"All the maidens shall follow after me; draw me in your footsteps, let us run . . . Daughters of Zion, come and see. My beloved is fresh and ruddy." (From the Song of Solomon, in the Hebrew Scriptures)

One day the scrapbook of my wife's running career will be an heirloom, but for now it is a nifty history of running road races around South Texas, starting off with the Portland, Texas Pioneer Days run April 17, 1982. She came in first in the 10K among women 40 and over.

Then came the Buccaneer Days' Fun Run, sponsored by the Texas Exes along Shoreline Boulevard in Corpus Christi on a hot, humid Saturday morning in May of 1982. The following Saturday, International Bank of Corpus Christi put on a 10K with one-tenth Kruggerands for prizes, the bank president being one of the runners.

Jeanne came in first in her still unrevealed age group, and came home with one-tenth of a Kruggerand (whatever that is).

The next weekend was the Beach to Bay Relay Marathon, an event Jeanne still runs every year on a six-person team. The other teams bear names such as "Agony of Da Feet," "Bodies by Beer," "Federal Heat," (a team made up of FBI agents from San Antonio) and "Six Chicks with an Attitude."

Jeanne's team is called "Rosita's Raiders" after the Mexican restaurant which sponsors them. In all, there are about 500 teams who come to Corpus Christi for this, bringing 3,000 hungry runners to our restaurants and motels.

Vacations were no vacation, because she entered races wherever we went. One year there was a Fourth of July run sponsored by the Jaycees in Park Rapids, Minn., not too far from where we were staying with my brother, John, in Brainerd.

The Fourth of July is Jeanne's birthday. Her father had her christened Jeanne Independence Moosbrugger in honor of that fact. (Side note: If you want trouble, just name your daughter "Independence.")

Jeanne came in with a personal low that day of 38:00 for the five-miler. She noted in her running diary that her condition that day was "poor." She didn't come in First. Poor. Yah, right.

The three mile run around Waverly Lake before breakfast was a piece of cake, but she ran it alone.

Back home in Texas, she redeemed herself in the Pan de Campo fiesta in San Diego, Texas. (In Pan del Campo: they cook tortillas over open fires, like the old Mexican cowboys used to do.)

She won first place with a time of 41:56 for the 10K. The weather was 80-plus and humid. We were back in South Texas.

There were wonderful beach runs those early years at Port Isabel on South Padre Island. Paul and Betty O'Leary, living in Brownsville at the time, used to watch from an air-conditioned Mercedes, Paul observing that it was as exciting as waiting for the paint to dry.

Jeanne won us a turkey one year, at the Brownsville Turkey Trot, a delicious bird as prepared by Betty.

Jeanne ran the Houston Tenneco Marathon and finished in under four hours one January. Sean and I had to drag her between us back to the motel where they had run out of hot water.

Victoria, Texas put on great 10K runs sponsored by the De Tar Hospital there, which apparently thought beer was a health drink, there was so much of it. Harlingen, Texas always puts on great road races.

At one of them, Jeanne came in second on the two-miler at 14:00 "behind the Iowa whiz" as she noted. To this day we don't know who that "Iowa whiz" was.

We know she was a winter Texan. Jeanne is grateful she never turned up again, but stayed home in the Midwest where Jeanne thinks she belongs.

Best of all were the Capitol 10Ks in Austin, with over 20,000 runners, mostly wild and crazy. One year there was even a wedding just before the gun went off.

Shotgun or cannon, I can't remember. The bride wore running shoes under her full length white wedding gown and veil, complete with train, and the groom wore a tuxedo. The preacher ran after them, maybe to get paid.

Soldiers from Fort Hood ran in sixes, calling out their cadences, mostly about the glories of beer and in perfect formation. Others ran in armadillo costumes, clown suits, nightgowns, bib overalls, leprechaun suits, striped prison garb and (gulp!) bikinis.

A motley, wonderful slice of America. The best year was the year in Austin when she knocked off the first place trophy there in her age category. Sean, our son, had figured out that she was in the 99th percentile of women runners on the national scale in her age category. Still unrevealed.

The scrapbook is too thick to reproduce here. My favorite photos, of course, are of Jeanne and Sean, our son, running in a race wearing the numbers pinned to them and competing against each other. (This year they are climbing "Fourteeners" together in Colorado. A "Fourteener" is any mountain that goes above 14,000 feet, and there are dozens of those left to climb in Colorado.)

For more than 15 years, my wife came home with medals and trophies, which now fill many boxes in our attic.

Although she still runs four miles a day, she no longer competes because she is afraid her former students will discover her age if her name appears on the sports page, a fear akin to the man's who made a hole in one when he was supposed to be at work.

My scrapbook could reveal the truth, but only the most favored guest ever gets to see it.

The scrapbook always sets me to musing about my wife the runner, and sometimes mysterious person, who doesn't want her age or accomplishments noted. I know she prays when she runs. It must be the running that keeps her always in a good mood, never whining or crabby (I should try this).

It must be the running that builds up her confidence and assertiveness and keeps her slender and in excellent health. It must be the running that floated away her tension after a long day of teaching chemistry to her high school students, who all marveled at her running ability.

Because she is a runner she watches what she eats and drinks. She usually smiles, except while running. Then she appears with a grimace on her face (No pain, no gain).

Jeanne does keep her priorities straight, though. Her work ethic is in her bones. For her, running is not just a sport, or a weight program, or a way to exercise, or to release tension, or to show off. For her, running is a way of life.

For all of you bachelors out there, I have some infallible advice: Marry a runner . . . if you can catch one.


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