From a herniated disk to the Boston Marathon
Every morning at five o'clock, dedicated runners across Columbia slip stealthily from their houses, sometimes taking off alone or in small groups, to run several miles before the sun rises. Many of these runners have something in common, besides a strong will and an affiliation with Strictly Running, a group based here in Columbia. One such runner is Shufy Rowe, a Shandon resident who will be running in the Boston Marathon April 21. His rise from never running to qualifying for the most famous distance race in the country is based in hard work but also to camaraderie and support from family and friends.
Five years ago, Rowe suffered from a herniated disc and was forced to have the pain alleviated through surgery. Suddenly, after having played a good deal of golf over the years, all athletic opportunities were off limits during recovery time. At the same time, Rowe's children were beginning to excel as young tennis players, requiring a great deal of time, particularly on weekends. With these events as a backdrop, Rowe spoke with Ladd Lumpkin, a business partner who was an avid runner. Asked about the joy he derived from running, Lumpkin invited Rowe to join him on a run of several miles when cleared to again exercise. "I never imagined I could run around the block," Rowe admits, highlighting the difficulty of his first real run.
As Rowe ran several more times he was introduced to the Strictly Running group that provides outlets as well as training regimens and social opportunities for runners of all levels. Rowe found time to devote to physical activity. Eventually the running manifested itself into competition as Rowe entered a 5k race. Upon completion of the race, he realized he could probably learn to run longer races and began training for the Governor's Cup 8k in 2005. Completing halfmarathons here in Columbia and in Myrtle Beach, Rowe's hard work and paced running with his Strictly Running friends led to success through 2005 and 2006.
According to Mark Bedenbaugh, co- owner and operator of Strictly Running, Rowe is one of the hardest working members of the running groups. "He has taken the volume of miles and some of our more intense workouts and done them without complaint," Bedenbaugh adds.
In February 2007, Rowe entered his first marathon in Myrtle Beach. Using the team pacing strategy developed and practiced each morning with his running partners from Strictly Running, Rowe completed the 26.2 mile race in 3:34:19. This time met the qualifications to take part in the Boston Marathon taking place on April 21, 2008.
Rowe is now training specifically for the Boston race under the guidance of Strictly Running's Phil Peterson. With a goal of finishing the race in less than three hours 30 minutes, he is training harder than ever. Rowe said, "I love how running keeps me physically fit but also the camaraderie in the group."
Bedenbaugh says Rowe's drive and success have become good examples for other runners within the Strictly Running organization. It would seem the benefits of his picking up running do not end with the betterment of Shufy Rowe's own life but also have manifested themselves in the community and with his friends.