Category Archives: General

Lucky to be Runners

cherry blossom run
Will this Pittsburgh runner trade three rivers for cherry blossoms?

The 2014 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile lottery goes lives Monday, December 2, 2013 and runs until Friday, December 13, 2013.  The lucky ones who are selected for the Ten Mile Run and 5K Run-Walk will get an email or see their names on the website on Tuesday, December 17, 2013.

I’m so thankful I was able to run this race for the first time in 2011. Many other runners feel the same way. Meet Ali Mathis, one of the runners hoping to be chosen in the lottery system. Like most runners, she’s faced challenges and frustrations. But like most runners, she has big dreams and determination.  Here’s her story:

“Sometimes I feel like an imposter in the running community. At any given moment, it may be discovered that I am the girl who faked illness to avoid running the mile for the Presidential Academic Fitness Test in gym class. As a preteen, I was not a natural runner or athlete and I felt ashamed when by forced comparisons to my peers through the school mile trials. I was the girl who ran with a limp and was ridiculed by her peers. I was the girl who was lapped. At 35, I am still not a natural runner or athlete. It does not come easily to me. I am still sometimes lapped on the five mile trail I regularly run. But even as I am, my head is held high and I smile because I now know I am lucky to be running.

In 1987, Billy Ocean’s song “When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going” was at the top of the charts and I was nine years old. That was also the year that I was hit by a car while I was riding my bicycle. I landed on my face and split my chin open requiring 17 stitches. I also broke my right femur bone; that could not be stitched up as easily. I spent 6 weeks hospitalized with my leg in traction, meaning I was flat on my back with my leg suspended in the air. For two months following my hospital release, I was casted up to my hip. I spent my days mostly confined to bed at home, though occasionally I got to take a spin around our small condominium in a wheelchair. A brace and crutches, and relearning how to walk followed for another few months.

There were years of brutal physical therapy that I fought every step of the way. I loathed the little exercise bike that my mother had in our kitchen that she made me ride every night. My doctor told her that “She’ll be fine, but, she’ll never run marathons.” Perhaps that planted a seed in my brain that eventually grew…though at the time I remember thinking that marathons were only for Olympians. In the midst of this we moved to a new house, a new town, where the new kids couldn’t really grasp what I had been through. I was just the new girl with the limp, the one who sucked at the mile.

Today my legs are different lengths and I have scoliosis, probably as a result of the accident, though it is impossible to know. Most who know me as a runner do not know my story until they notice the scars on my leg from where the pin lived. When I began training for my first marathon it had been over 20 years since I broke free from my cast (and during that time I’d run recreationally, a 5K here or there) but, in my mind, I was still bound by its confines. Screw confines. Today, the girl who faked illness to miss the mile is now also the girl who has run 7 marathons and 3 half-marathons in 4 years. She runs 20-30 miles a week, voluntarily. Sometimes when she runs she still fights insecurities or hears the voices of her classmates snickering. She uses that to run farther, faster. Because just like Billy Ocean says: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

Good luck to every runner entering the lottery!




Welcome Credit Union Cherry Blossom Runners!

Welcome to the official blog of the 2014 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run. We’re excited to have you as a reader, a runner and possibly a guest blogger.

We love talking running and want to hear from you. Maybe you’re hoping to enter this race for the first time or you’ve been at the starting line many times since 1973. Maybe you’re already planning to make completing the 5K Run/Walk your New Year’s Resolution or you’re excited to bring your little one to the Kids’ 1/2 Mile run. Whatever race is on your list,  consider us your online running partners! From gear to goals, mileage to motivation, fartleks to finish lines, we’ll cover it all.

Upcoming Events

The race is five months away and we’re already hard at work. We are accepting applications for the 2014 Social Runners. We need two runners from anywhere in the United States who want to tell the world all about their experiences with the race on Facebook and Twitter. Interested? Apply here!

It’s also time to get your tickets for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Fall Kickoff Reception on Friday, November 15th from 6:00-9:00 PM at The 201 Bar. Your $15 registration includes a drink ticket, appetizers and – the best part – a raffle entry for a guaranteed entry to the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run! Get your ticket here.

From the Editors

cherry blossom runner

I’m Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan, one of the editors of this blog,  I’m looking forward to learning from so many other runners. This race has a special place in my heart.  In 2011, it marked a return to my beloved sport of running after many setbacks. In 2012, I set a personal best for the 10 mile.  Last year, I was thrilled to be one of the Social Runners for the 2013 CUCB but injuries forced me to change my goals. Who knows what 2014 will bring?

I invite you to continue the conversation with us on Twitter at @CUCB and with me at @epagelhogan.

Have a great run.