Marshall Mangler 50k

This was not an easy race.  Which is good, I didn’t want it to be.  I truly felt blessed to be ABLE to run this race.  To know that even though it would be hard, I would get to the finish line.  I knew that there was a good chance I’d come home bruised, dirty, or cold, and I did—all three.

I count my blessings, because today, I ran for my mother-in-law, Thelma (Thel). Heaven only knows if she has weeks, days, or just hours left, but Thel’s ticket to heaven has been purchased…we are just awaiting the departure date.

This beautiful woman was once a power walker.  It was not uncommon to see her around her neighborhood or along the path at Niawanda Park.  She was active until she couldn’t be.

Advanced dementia is a horrible disease.  Thel’s conversation skills during the past few years are akin to one of those amusement park rides.  You know, the kind where you sit in a cart on a track.  The cart passes a switch that activates something in the ride.  When Thel would see me, she would ALWAYS ask me the following three questions:
       1.     Are you still running?
    2.     How’s your mother? 
    3.     Is she staying in her house?

Then, unfortunately, the cart would move on and our conversation would end.  Often times she would look at me and it would trigger the questions again, and again, and again.

Today, I ran because Thelma can’t.

Thel was known for some of her recipes.  German potato salad, Autumn Chowder and her sweet red chili sauce are three that stand out.

I wouldn’t dare attempt her potato salad while she is alive.  That would be sacrilegious.  I make Autumn Chowder from Mark’s memory vs. a recipe every year.  He always takes a few bites, makes that face, and I end up donating the rest to the neighbors.  Okay, so not like momma’s---I get it.  But, the red chili sauce was different.  I liked it so much; I helped her make it, so that I could learn the recipe.  Actually, all I was allowed to do was sit at the table while she made it, but that’s okay.  That recipe, I’ve got.

When I came home from the race, I asked Mark how his mom was doing.  He said she was lucid and that they talked about recipes.  German Potato salad came up---even though she is on death’s door, she wasn’t giving up her secrets.  Then she told him where the recipe for Autumn Chowder could be found.  When he asked about the sweet red chili sauce, she said, “Eva likes that”.    It hit me like a ton of bricks, Her cart made a U-turn!  It was as close to ‘I love you' can be without the words. 

So, yes Thelma, I am still running, and today I ran for you.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to grab a tissue and the recipe for red chili sauce.


  1. Eva: I saw your post about your experience at the Philly 20 in 24. I'm interested in speaking with you for an article about 'fat-ass'-style runs, for a local Philly newspaper. If you're willing to participate, would you give me a call at 215-854-5053 or email smelamed (at) phillynews (dot) com?
    Thank you!


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