Editor’s note: This story is part of the CDT’s Active Life special section.
Telephone pole to telephone pole. That’s how 62-year-old Lynn Moyer, of Yarnell, started on her fitness journey five years ago, when the marathon she completed last November wasn’t even in her sightline.
In spring 2012, Moyer had gastric bypass surgery and knew she needed to introduce some type of exercise to maintain her health. She chose walking but decided to turn to running later.
“To get up and get dressed to go to the gym, that takes dedication, whereas I can just put on my clothes and sneakers,” she said. “If I don’t want to go that far, I don’t have to go that far.”
At first, she ran mostly in her neighborhood and said she was afraid of races, but that didn’t last long. One of her first major races was a half-marathon in October at Penn State, where she said she ran with the “blue angels flying overhead.” She then ran dozens of other half-marathons, 5ks, 10ks — all leading up to a full 26.2-mile marathon.
Moyer began training for her marathon in June, where she had a rigorous schedule of running up to 20 miles per day.
“The hardest part was getting up to go do it. There were so many days I just wanted to slack off. But when you dig deep and get it done, you realize you accomplished it and I realized how much better I felt for the rest of the day,” Moyer said.
In November, Moyer raced in the Aspire Harrisburg Marathon with three simple goals in mind: run in, finish it and not be last. Although she started the race with a friend, she separated and ran the race by herself, with the words “ain’t gonna die today” scrawled out on her forearm.
Around mile 20, her calves and joints started to throb. Her determination and drive pushed her to keep going.
“I said, ‘no, no, we’re gonna do this’ because I knew it wouldn’t kill me and I could finish. Those last six miles were the hardest six miles I ever did,” Moyer said. For the last few miles, all she remembers was thinking about finishing.
“You can do it,” she remembers thinking. “So you hurt? Suck it up cupcake. Finish.”
She was also helped along the race by the people who turned out to encourage her — her husband and colleagues from Mount Nittany Medical Center. Months later, Bill Moyer still gets emotional when he thinks about seeing his wife cross the finish line after 5 hours and 13 minutes.
“(I’m) just proud,” he said. “Thirty years ago, I was a runner and I couldn’t get her off the couch. ... Running is who (she is) now.”
Since her 2012 surgery, Moyer has lost 100 pounds and gained a love of running. Through it, she’s learned important lessons, such as always carry a water bottle and, more importantly, how to deal with the naysayers. More than once, she said she encountered people who told her it would be too hard to run a marathon, especially at her age.
“I was really discouraged, but it made me more determined,” she said. “Don’t tell me ‘no it can’t be done.’ ”
Moyer said she isn’t sure another marathon is in her future, but she knows she’ll keep running. She continues to participate half-marathons and 5ks, including with local running company Left Right Repeat. The company hosts a number of 5ks for State College groups throughout the year, and co-founder Michael Olmstead said Moyer is a fixture at nearly all of them.
“She’s the person that’s always been there for us,” he said. “She always has such a positive attitude and bright smile. (Lynn) is happy go lucky, happy to be alive.”
Moyer is involved in the Run 1000 Miles Challenge, where people on Facebook pledge to run 1,000 miles in a year. She passed her goal in 2016, ending with 1,300 miles, and has set a goal to run 1,500 miles this year. The latest stop on her fitness journey will take her around the world — during the Embassy Run in May, she will pass through various embassies in Washington, D.C.
“I’m going to take my passport and say, ‘can you stamp this?’ ” she said, laughing.