A Resilient RUNNER

Toothman never gives up, makes it eight Halfs this year

RON JOHNSTON, The Marietta Times Parkersburg’s Kelly Toothman will run her eighth News and Sentinel Half-Marathon this year. The 49-year old runner has proven a resilient warrior over her years racing.

PARKERSBURG — Kelly Toothman is a very resilient long distance runner.

The 49-year old Parkersburg native once ran the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon with a bad cough, fractured rib, and poison ivy all over her legs — and still completed the 13.1-mile distance in 2 hours, 33.52 minutes.

“My husband will usually ride his dirt bike and show up at various places to check on me and cheer me on,” said Toothman, smiling. “He took an extra helmet with him that year in case I couldn’t finish. But I finished the race, by golly.”

Last year, after running seven straight Halfs, Toothman had to sit that one out because of a stress fracture.

“I didn’t decide until I woke up in pain the day before when you could register,” Toothman recalled. “That’s when I was planning on registering and I decided it wasn’t worth the chance of another broken bone. So, I cried all day, didn’t register, and came down to cheer my other friends on Saturday morning.”

Toothman paused and grinned.

“Then, I went kayaking for three hours,” she added. “I love being outside.”

A Parkersburg South grad, Toothman said she didn’t compete in sports in high school.

“I met my husband when I was 15, so he was pretty much my life,” she said. “I started running when I was about 40-41, something like that.

“I’d exercised for many years and just wanted to run that race. So, two weeks back in 2009, I signed up to do the 2-mile race. I headed out the front door and started running, thinking it would be nothing. I’d done everything else.”

Toothman ran that 2-mile race with a brace on in 20:57.

“I didn’t run again until that December and then got started again,” she said.

The following year, Toothman and a co-worker (in Judge Beane’s office) decided to run the Half together. She completed the course in 2:48.

“We walked and ran and had a blast,” Toothman said.

In Toothman’s first “solo” Half, she crossed the finish line in 2:27. Her best time was 2:14 three years ago.

“I keep trying to get better every year time-wise,” she said. “But every goal I have is to finish. I like to run and enjoy it.”

Toothman definitely recommended the Monday 5 p.m. training runs at City Park.

“It’s nice to be with a group of people to run and kind of gets you used to being in a group,” she said. “It’s nice camaraderie. You socialize with everybody and try to get some encouragement.”

Toothman also had some advice for first-time Half runners.

“Don’t give up even if you have to walk it,” she said. “I’ve had to walk parts of it. You can finish it.

“The people around you support you, cheer you on. It’s really nice.”

Toothman paused.

“It’s a tough course,” she continued. “It’s not easy with the heat, humidity and hills. But when you complete it and see that finish line, it’s all worthwhile. You’re so glad you did it.”