By Steve Guntli
Heidi Holmes has worked for years to encourage the Blaine and Birch Bay community to get active. On November 2, she led by example by running the New York City Marathon.
Holmes, the program director for Blaine Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2, ran alongside 50,000 people for her first-ever marathon, and found it was bigger and better than she’d ever anticipated.
“It was just a great experience,” she said. “Bands were playing music out in the street, and people were cheering everywhere you went. It was more than I ever expected.”
Holmes got involved with the race as a way to raise money for Action for Healthy Kids, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting nutrition and exercise in young children.
Under the Team Healthy Kids banner, Holmes was able to raise $1,200 for the organization, $200 more than her goal.
Like most large races, the New York City Marathon requires participants to run a qualifier race before they are accepted, but Holmes submitted her name for a special lottery that would let her skip the qualifier and go straight to New York. She was chosen last spring, and had been training hard ever since.
Holmes finished the 26.2-mile course in a respectable six hours and nine minutes, but speed was never her goal.
“It was never about being fast for me,” she said. “I just took it easy and tried to enjoy the whole experience. I walked a lot along the route so I could take pictures and meet people.”
Holmes even got the chance to meet Dean Karnazes, a renowned ultra marathoner and author best known for running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. Karnazes was one of the promoters and guest speakers at the event, and took the time to speak with Holmes after the race.
“He was very nice, very supportive and informative,” she said. “He seemed really impressed that this was the first marathon I ever ran.”
Holmes said she would probably run the race again but she would like to branch out to other races in other cities.
“I was thinking about Chicago,” she said. “Team Healthy Kids does a fundraiser through that marathon, and I hear it’s one of the best.”
Whichever race she decides to run, she knows she can handle the strain. She was able to make it through the New York City Marathon with surprisingly few physical effects.
“I’m not feeling as bad as I anticipated,” she said. “I iced down my ankles and feet afterwards and now I feel great.”