Simply The Best

Posted on April 23, 2014 under Storytelling with 2 comments

Boston 1 2011 croppedBoston Marathon 2011

Charlene and Len – Boston 2011

 

 

If you Google the expression “tough as nails”, you are apt to find a description of Charlene Druhan.

Recently she completed her seventh Boston Marathon and won her age group.  Yes.  She beat every other woman of her vintage who had come to Boston from the four corners of the earth.   She also improved her best time in the marathon by almost ten minutes.  Some things and some people just keep getting better.

Charlene was my running partner for eight years.  It probably felt like eighty to her.  We “discovered” each other through Bernie Bo Chisholm who arranged our first date.  One of our first runs was on Back Road Brierly Brook, a place we would traverse dozens if not hundreds of times over the years.  All I knew was that she was a MacLean from Viewville Street.  The house she grew up in was the first home that my wife and I owned.

On that first run, we talked mostly about families.  We both grew up in large, Catholic households where chaos reigned supreme.  You fought for every morsel of food and came to understand that hand-me-downs were just a way of life.  We shared stories of bedlam and dysfunction, along with tales of laughter, love and learning.  After thousands of kilometers and several marathons, we concluded that every family is weird in its own way.

I learned a few things quickly.  Charlene runs hard … all the time.  She shows up promptly, in all weather conditions, and never complains about our climate or her aches and pains.  She is extremely focused on the task at hand.  While I have always been impressed with her physical prowess, it is her mental toughness that puts her head and shoulders above most women in this province in long distance running.  And, as of last week, she leads women from all over the world in her age group.

If you want to understand tough, just ask the poor pit bull on East Ohio Lake Road.  On one of our long runs from the far end of Lochaber Lake to the church in St. Joseph’s, we encountered this very angry dog.  He was in full snarl mode; baring his sharp teeth and blocking the road.  I picked up a large stick, which is what most mortals would do in a similar situation.  Charlene barely broke stride as she charged straight toward him.  She hurled a few carefully chosen expletives and the dog ran into a stand of bushes with his tail squarely between his legs.

I was fortunate enough to run the Boston Marathon twice and am quick to give credit to Charlene for pushing me every step of the way. Pushing turned to pulling the first time I ran Boston. With about 5K to go, my legs simply would not cooperate.  Charlene had patiently run every step of the course with me so far.  When I gently tried to explain to her that I might not be able to finish the race, she gave me “the look”.  She uttered a few profanities. Now I know how the pit bull felt!  She took me by the hand and dragged me to the finish line.  A fellow competitor, who had followed us the entire route, wondered if we were an old married couple.  This runner found it so romantic that we had crossed the finish line hand in hand.  If she only knew.

I have played a lot of sports and have seen a lot of terrific athletes in my day.  Pound for pound, I will take Charlene as the best all-round athlete I have ever met.  Toughness and tenacity personified.

She is, in the words of Tina Turner, “simply the best.”

 

 

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