Why I run Broad Street: Solace, community, and sisterly competition

    Yesterday, I was grateful for the opportunity to run Broad Street once again. It’s an honor to participate in a race that means so much to so many people while benefiting so many worthy causes. Not only was I able to run to support Alex’s Lemonade, I also ran my fastest 10 miler and finished in 1:16:23. Sometimes, it is possible to run for a good cause and a good time.

    Over the past two years, my identical twin, Leah, and I have shared our experiences on our blog, “Twins Run in Our Family,” Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Much to our surprise, we’ve gained quite a following of runners, twins and/or parents of twins. We’re often recognized at races when we wear our shirt that has our logo on the front and our tagline on the back: “If you’re passing me, I’m Malinda. If I’m passing you, I’m Leah.”

    I started running in 1993 for fun, and I finished my first marathon in 1995. Since then, I have completed 12 more marathons and a few dozen races, including three Broad Street Runs. Over the past couple of years, I’ve become known for tweeting during races while wearing a sparkle skirt or costume. Sometimes I get called out by spectators for tweeting while running, but most of the time people are amazed that I can do both at the same time.

    Leah started running in 2007 to lose weight. Since then, she has become a self-professed race addict, finishing more than 100 races, including 24 marathons. She races nearly every weekend and often wins her age group in local races in Charlottesville, Virginia. She has qualified for the Boston Marathon three times by completing a marathon in less than 3 hours and 45 minutes. She finished her first Boston Marathon last year and returned for her second time this year.

    In 2010, I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, a condition that causes severe stomach pain, nausea and vomiting. There is no cure for gastroparesis and only a few treatments available with varying success rates. In 2011, I had a gastric neurostimulator (stomach pacemaker) implanted, which has provided some relief. My symptoms can be debilitating at times, but I continue to run whenever possible.

    In 2012, our grandmother, affectionately known as “GG,” died suddenly of lung cancer. Her unexpected death affected me profoundly. While the grief was intense, I found moments of solace while running.

    Because of my experience with chronic illness and grief, I’m truly grateful for every step, and I’m determined to make my miles matter. I’d rather run in a charity race to raise awareness for a worthy cause than run a fast time. Sometimes, much to my surprise, I’m able to do both.

    On March 17, 2012, the anniversary of the death from of childhood leukemia of Leah’s brother-in-law, Michael, we decided to run together to make a difference. We joined Team Lemon to support Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer in memory of GG and Michael. Over the past two years we have raised awareness and over $2,000 for childhood cancer research.

    I ran the Broad Street Run for the first time in 1999 when there were just over 7,000 runners. I ran for the second time in 2012 with over 35,000 runners, and I was happy to finish in 1:29:02.

    It’s been amazing to see running increase in popularity while people in the running community continue to be supportive of each other. Whether you run fast or slow, we all run together. Last year, after being present during the tragedy at the Boston Marathon, I decided it was important for me to cheer on my fellow runners on Broad Street. My eyes were full of tears as I saw so many runners wearing red socks in support of Boston.

    Yesterday, I was grateful for the opportunity to run Broad Street once again. It’s an honor to participate in a race that means so much to so many people while benefiting so many worthy causes. Not only was I able to run to support Alex’s Lemonade, I also ran my fastest 10 miler and finished in 1:16:23. Sometimes, it is possible to run for a good cause and a good time.

    Malinda is an identical twin, mother and runner. She is also the bereavement coordinator at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

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