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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Valentine

Run, Run, Run

"We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.”

— Jesse Owens

I get questions about my (first) husband from time to time and I make it a point to focus on the good memories. The story about the Penn Relays is particularly appropriate for this time of year.

He ran track in high school and college. I didn’t know him then, but I had seen pictures. The Penn Relays take place in April in Philadelphia. This is a very competitive opportunity to showcase your track and field talent. You have to remember that this is before we had computers in our homes or mobile phones. I was familiar with the event, but had never attended. My husband tells me that we


have to go because he was asked to be a possible substitute on a team. Up until this point, I hadn’t seen my husband take even a leisurely run just to exercise. I was a new bride and remembering my commitment to honor and obey, I prepared for the ride to Philadelphia. It really is not a long drive from New York, but it was definitely an adventure.

Keep in mind that this is an annual event. Philadelphia is a big town, but rolling in the city the night before without a hotel reservation is not the smartest move. Add to the picture that I am in my first trimester of pregnancy and seriously fighting morning sickness…all day long. I decide that all of this is poorly planned, but I am going to go with it because hey, that’s what wives do…I think. So with no hotel reservation, no training and no idea what is going on, we get into the car to make the trip to Philadelphia the night before my new husband is supposedly, possibly "subing" in a Penn relay race. All of this seems so nonsensical in retrospect. It didn’t make a lot of sense when it was first suggested but one thing I am not going to do is get hungry. I got home in time to pack a greasy bag of chicken, crackers and who know what else, because I am being a good wife.

It’s dark when we get close to the stadium and this family needs a room, but there are no rooms to be had. I was prepared to spend the night in the car. I had my greasy bag, some blankets, and a pillow. I wasn’t sure how conducive a night’s sleep in the car would be for the runner, but the momma and baby were ready. We are driving up and down the main street when we finally see a Howard Johnson Inn. We initially stopped to just use the rest room. I am exhausted by this time. It is close to midnight and I really want to lie down. I ask the innkeeper if he has a room. He said he had a reservation but that family hadn’t showed up yet so if we were interested, we could have the room. Ahhh, thank you Lord.

We get situated. I am fed, comfortable and in the bed. What time do we have to get to the stadium tomorrow husband? I don’t remember what he said, but it was early, of course. Still focused on being a dutiful wife, I am ready for whatever. We get up the next morning and go to the stadium with the throngs of people that have come to cheer, support, and compete. He has his college uniform on. He finds a seat for me and then goes “off to find his team”? He comes back after an hour and says they won’t need him. I haven’t met anyone at this point. It is a good thing that I enjoy track and field.

Looking back now, the entire scenario is almost too silly to even repeat. I kept a very positive attitude throughout, but if I was a smart woman, I would have run after our return. None of the story added up, from the start of this odyssey. I am going to confess that there may be some details of this story that I am not remembering, but this part is certain:

  • We headed up the night before without a hotel reservation.

  • The man wasn’t in training and although he was in good shape, he definitely wasn’t in competition shape.

  • We returned without boyfriend breaking a sweat.

If my present-aged self could go back and talk to that young mother, I would tell her to hang in there. The ride to Philadelphia was nice, something out of the ordinary and you made it back and forth without any harm. I would also reassure little momma that she would have many more of these strange experiences, but if she toughs it out, she will be able to celebrate with three wonderful young men in 30 years. Hang in there, it will be alright.

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