Half Marathon: Godlewski ready to run this time

Re-posted from the Times Tribune.

Dolly Godlewski has had her share of setbacks.

Multiple injuries. Surgery. Months of rehabilitation and hours of physical therapy. It hasn’t deterred the 63-year-old Taylor woman from pursuing what she’s grown to love.

In fact, it’s pushed her to do more than she thought she ever could.

On Sunday, Godlewski will step up to the starting line of the second annual Scranton Half Marathon on Providence Road. And 13.1 miles later, she plans to finish on the track of Valor Credit Union Field at Memorial Stadium to redeem her absence from last year’s race due to a foot injury.

“I was always an active person,” Godlewski said. “As I began to run over the past couple years, I found that it really motivates me. There’s times I don’t feel like going but I push myself. But I feel so much better afterward.”

Dolly Godlewski

Godlewski’s journey to running half marathons began just six years ago after she fell on a patch of ice and tore her rotator cuff.

Major reconstructive surgery by Dr. Kevin Colleran and months of physical therapy — something she had never endured — at Allied Services in Taylor followed.

She maintained a strict schedule to work her shoulder back to strength but when she wasn’t in those therapy sessions, she admitted she became lazy. That changed in spring 2010, when her son Jared, a marathon runner, came to her with a suggestion.

“He suggested that I give running a shot,” Godlewski recalled. “He said, ‘Mom, you can’t be sitting around all the time.’ ”

Godlewski took her son up on his advice and signed up for the Scranton Running Company’s Couch-to-5k program, something she said was difficult in the beginning, but quickly turned into enjoyment.

The program completed with a 5K race and an accomplishment Godlewski could not have envisioned just a few months prior.

“It was really something,” she said. “It was just a nice feeling to go to that finish line thinking, ‘I did it, I was in charge.’ ”

What Godlewski realized soon thereafter was that her running career was just getting started. After turning 60, she decided to set her sights on completing a half marathon. She registered for the 2012 Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Half Marathon in Wilkes-Barre.

As she was training, Godlewski developed pain in her left foot but didn’t think much of it. As the training progressed, so did the pain.

Although she couldn’t train like she wanted — running mostly on and off when she could — Godlewski finished the race. She later found out the constant pain hindering her was a plantar fasciitis tear and heel spurs.

Unlike her shoulder injury, Godlewski would not need surgery. But she did have to return for physical therapy at Allied. All the while, her mind was set on getting healthy for her next race.

That race was supposed to be the first Scranton Half Marathon. But those plans would have to be put on hold.

During the early part of the harsh winter prior to last April’s race, Godlewski’s right foot began acting up. The result was, yet again, another tear in her plantar fasciitis and bone spurs.

“It was disappointing knowing I couldn’t run in the first Scranton Half,” she said. “But it motivated me. I just knew I had to get better.”

Once again, with the help of Allied’s doctors and physical therapists, Godlewski rehabbed back to full health and decided she didn’t want to let 2014 go by without running in an event.

The event she chose was the Wineglass Half Marathon in Corning, New York, in October. It was a race Godlewski had marked on her bucket list and she finished in roughly 2 hours, 55 minutes.

In January, Godlewski began preparing for another race she had longed to do. She trained with the “Can’t is Not an Option” running group, coordinated by Scranton native Frank Swaha, who has completed numerous marathons after undergoing gastric bypass surgery in 2010.

“I’m being honest, the training was hard,” she said. “I had to use a lot of caution because of the bad weather. This half marathon right now was my toughest to train for.”

It may have been tough but it’s a feeling Godlewski has grown accustomed to. When she crosses the finish line Sunday, she’ll go to the next item on that bucket list — the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon on Oct. 31.

As for what the future holds after that, Godlewski doesn’t know. But running will almost certainly be in it.

“As long as I’m healthy,” she said, “I want to do whatever I can.”