Some people run as a hobby to stay in shape, others use it as the means to get from A to B. Cicely Waters runs to honor her mother.
For Waters, running became as much a mental escape as a physical stimulant in 2002. Her mother, Sharon Loftus, had been diagnosed with cancer of the blood and was battling the disease in Pendleton where the family is from. Waters, who moved to Portland in 1996 to attend the University of Portland, would span the state along Interstate 84 back to the dry side almost every weekend to be with her mother.
“Running was the thing I kind of did to keep my sanity,” she said.
As Loftus finished her last round of treatment in September 2002, Waters was putting the final touches on her own project. She ran and completed the Portland Marathon the next month.
Ten years later, with Mama Loftus fully recuperated and all signs of the sarcoma cancer eradicated, Waters felt she needed to mark the occasion. She paired up with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program to raise money for the cause — and celebrate her mother’s landmark anniversary as a survivor.
Waters, now 34, raised $1,660 while this time running the half marathon on Oct. 7.
Now while the mileage isn’t quite as long, the task at hand wasn’t much easier in 2012, Waters said. A Portland resident who works at the Portland Art Museum, Waters doesn’t consider herself an avid runner and has had an off-and-on relationship with the sport over the last decade. Life’s gotten in the way and running has sort of been relegated to the back burner, especially since the birth of her daughter in 2008.
So this year’s training needed a little extra motivation.
“You’re working toward 13 miles and every time I’m completing a mile, $100 dollars is going to someone who’s suffering who can’t get out of bed,” Waters said. “It makes it all make sense, makes it so much easier to push yourself through.”
With her family ready to greet her, Waters crossed the finish line in Portland in 3:03:19, but that’s hardly the number that matters. A few digits with more weight to them are as follows: 500,000, 1988, 200 and 1.3 billion.
As in a half million runners who have competed as part of the Team In Training program since its founding in 1988 in one of the 200-plus races supported by the organization to raise $1.3 billion to fund lifesaving cancer research. A group of 57 participated in the Portland Half Marathon this year and raised more than $122,000.
But this month’s race, at least for Waters, was as much about the millions of folks battling cancer as it was about the one closest to her: Sharon Loftus. The mother/daughter duo built a bond through running, waking up to run every morning at 5:30 a.m. on the levy path along the Umatilla River in Pendleton. Loftus, 58, misses those cool mornings when Waters was back in high school in Pendleton, but seeing her daughter in the crowd of the Portland Marathon was the next best thing.
“I was thrilled, very honored to see what she’s done,” said Loftus, who still lives in Pendleton. “She’s a very determined young woman and what’s more impressive is she’s a full-time mom, works full-time. A busy, busy girl.”
And while in the past a busy life has led to multiple-year stretches separating major running events for Waters, she hopes it won’t be that way moving forward.
Perhaps another half marathon and then the Portlander again? Those are goals she’ll have to set in the future. But whatever the race, Team In Training will be involved, she said.
Because for Cicely Waters, there’s now more to running than the miles.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839.