Sarah Porter runs in New York Marathon with a Washington State of mind
Nov. 3, 2011
NEW YORK -
BY WAYNE COFFEY, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
The largest field in the annals of the ING New York City Marathon - some 47,000 runners - will thunder over the Verrazano Bridge on Sunday Morning.
Sarah Porter, a New York marathon rookie in bib No. 121, will stand apart from the herd, the only one in the sweating masses who got here because of her long-distance lineage, and a nasty rooster named Dude.
Porter, 22, grew up in Hockinson, Wash., near Vancouver, a rural enough area that the family kept llamas, chickens, a goat and an array of other animals, along with Dude, on their property.
"He was the meanest rooster. I was terrified of him, and avoided him at all costs," Porter said.
Porter, 22, was a 12-time All-American at Division II Western Washington University, and had the fastest 10,000-meter time (32 minutes, 57 seconds) in the nation this year, at any NCAA level. She started running 10 years ago, quite by accident, going out to the barn one day only to find Dude raising a menacing claw in her direction. She bolted from the barn, and ran around it twice.
"That girl can really run," her father said. Two years later, Porter finished 10th in the state as a high-school freshman, and was on her way.
At 5-3 and 106-pounds, Porter lives in Bowling Rock, N.C., training in the mountains of western Carolina, running up to 130 miles weekly and diving into the family endurance pool. The matriarch of the pool is Maureen Hennessy, Porter's grandmother, a former competitive age-group marathoner and ultra marathoner who ran 90 miles in 24 hours when she was 63 - making 360 trips around a track to do it.
Hennessy, 76, broke her back rollerblading and that ended her ultra career, though she still rides an exercise bike and lifts weights to get her exercise fix. She does 110 reps of a 140-pound leg press in her workouts, heavy lifting for a woman who is 4-11 and 96 pounds.
"This woman is my hero, and she inspires me," said Porter, sitting next to her grandmother at a marathon media event Wednesday. "I talk to her before every race."
Porter's mother, Laurie Porter, is a top age-group marathoner who has run two hours and 45 minutes, and her aunt, Alissa Tower, is a former age-group 10K record-holder. Laurie Porter counsels her daughter on fluid intake and the perils of going out too fast, and other intricacies of life at 26.2 miles.
Said Hennessy of her granddaughter, "Her work ethic is amazing. She runs the way I did - it's her drug of choice, the way she relieves stress."
Porter doesn't figure to be running down such race favorites as Kenya's Mary Kaitany, who won London last April in a personal-record 2:19:19 and finished third here a year ago, or Caroline Kilel, another Kenyan, who won this year's Boston Marathon in 2:22:36. She's running against vastly more experienced marathoners, with world-class pedigrees, and isn't concerned with breaking the tape.
"I'm really embracing the feeling of being a little fish in the big pond," Porter said. "There's a great quote I heard that said, `No one wins a marathon. They just survive it better than other people.' "
Porter's plan is to run the 10,000 meters at the Olympic track and field trials next year, and to race on the track often. Ultimately, she will likely end up following the distance runners she has descended from.
"I think it's time to start the journey," Porter said.
Meanwhile, Dude the rooster, who started her running, has long since reached the end of his journey.
Said Porter: "He wound up in a soup."
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