Meg LePage is an attorney and partner at Pierce Atwood in Portland. The mother of four grown children (including a set of twins), 56-year-old LePage lives with her husband, Mike, in Cumberland. She began running following her successful treatment for uterine and ovarian cancer three years ago.
HITTING THE PAVEMENT
Typically I run before I go to work, somewhere between 5:30 and 7:30 in the morning. In Cumberland, there is a group called Run and Done—as many as 40 women showing up at the high school parking lot at 5:30 a.m. I run with that group, and with a few other smaller groups of friends. I try to go out five days a week and take Mondays and Fridays off, but I adjust things with snow and sub-zero temperatures. I won’t run when it is below zero. Occasionally I’ll run from work. We have showers at our office, so it is possible to run down to the East End Beach and then around Back Cove, and that’s nice. Once I get in the office, it’s really hard to get out. If I get it done in the morning, then I know it’s out of the way.
ENJOYING THE WORK EXPERIENCE
I do a lot of different things, but I’m primarily focused on human resources. My work offers a variety of experiences, and I like that: talking to a hospital one day about issues involving nurses, and then the next day talking about manufacturing, welders, or some other kind of completely different occupation. Every day I’m brought into some new human drama. It keeps me on my toes.
GETTING THE MILES IN
As part of training for the Boston Marathon this spring, I ramped up my mileage and
ran Saturday mornings with a group. We went out to Cousins or Littlejohn Islands and covered anywhere from five to 13 miles. Each week, I try to run at least one long run, one medium-length run, and then the rest of them are four, five, or six miles. The longest training run for Boston was 20.
ONCE UPON A TIME…
For quite a few years, I was working full- time while juggling the schedules of four kids. Mike and I were at their athletic and music events almost all the time. We didn’t miss a whole lot. We both had jobs where, although we worked a lot, we had some flexibility. I think the kids felt that we were very much present in their lives even though we were very busy. I found it very difficult to incorporate exercise during that time. It almost felt self-indulgent. I played some tennis, and at times played squash, but not on a regular basis.
THEN LIFE CHANGED
All four of my kids ran through high school and college, but I stood on the sidelines. Mike is a life-long swimmer. He was diagnosed with cancer a few years before me, and it was a difficult time. Right before his last treatment he got his doctor to agree to postpone chemotherapy so he could swim Peaks to Portland. We thought we were in the clear, and then I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and uterine cancer.
THE HEALING POWER OF RUNNING
I had a neighbor who was an avid runner. She kept encouraging me to go out. She ran at five in the morning, which wasn’t appealing, but one day I came back from visiting my daughter in South Africa and my time was all messed up. That day my neighbor asked me, “Why don’t you come out and run with me tomorrow morning?” I had just finished chemotherapy about six months before that, and I was trying to get my strength back and so I said on a lark, “Sure, I’ll run with you.” My oncologist is one of the people who encouraged me to run longer. I went to a checkup almost a year after my last treatment and I told him that I hadn’t been able to run a half marathon because of stomach flu. He looked at me, and said, “What are you doing running a half marathon? You should be doing a full marathon.” I said, “I’m not ready for that.” He picked up my chart and looked at my age, and he said, “You’re 54 years old. When are you going to be ready?” I thought, “That’s a good point.”
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Last summer I ran the San Francisco Marathon with my kids. Two of my daughters ran the full marathon with me, and the twins ran the half marathon. Mike ran the 5K the same day. My daughters and I decided we’d all run together for 20 miles and then whoever felt like they could pull ahead would. At about 16 miles I thought, “I’m going to definitely take off at mile 20,” but something happened between mile 18 and 20. The wheels sort of fell off, and my daughters went ahead, but it was really a lot of fun.