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The Journal Gazette

  • Courtesy Lisa Roe of Angola will be running her fifth Boston Marathon on Monday after considering canceling the trip. Her husband and daughter encouraged her to run despite being unable to train at full capacity. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018 1:00 am

Life's been a marathon

Angola woman taking another crack at Boston

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

Local Boston qualifiers

• Brandon Jonson, Fort Wayne

• David Hoffert, Warsaw

• Ryan Edington, Fort Wayne

• Lindsay Cordes, Fort Wayne

• Benjamin Steele, Fort Wayne

• Tim Schmitt, Columbia City

• Lisa Roe, Angola

• James Frazier, Fort Wayne

• Donovan Houser, Fremont

• Brianna Johnson, Huntertown

• Mike Soat, Fort Wayne

• Susan Allshouse, Angola

• Rachel Harmsen, Fort Wayne

• Samuel Melo, Fort Wayne

• David Greene, Fort Wayne

• Cindy McGovern, Fort Wayne

• Megan Campbell, Fort Wayne

• Dawn Stine, Fort Wayne

• Peggy Hoffman, Fort Wayne

• Michael Newell, Warsaw

• Brian Bigelow, Auburn

• Amy Bechtold, South Whitley

• Mary Roberts, Fort Wayne

• Cari Hardin, Fort Wayne

• David Heim, Winona Lake

• Laura Whisler, Fort Wayne

• Julie Gregory, Fort Wayne

• Violette Wysong, Wawaka

• Kathy Vrana, Angola

• William Boyer, Angola

• Karen O'Connell, Fort Wayne

• Janice Peters, Fort Wayne

• Javier Bravo Morales, Fort Wayne

• Tom Davis, Fremont

• John Enrietto, Columbia City

Lisa Roe was ready to cancel her fifth trip to the Boston Marathon due to nagging injuries that cut her normal training volume in half.

Couple that stress with the added anxiety of the deployment of her 19-year-old daughter, who's in the Marine Corps, and if it were any other race, a “did not start” result would be justified.

But her daughter, husband and a couple of friends prodded her.

“(My husband David) told me to run it again because I was going to cancel it,” Roe, 48, said. “I said, 'I'm more excited to do the Marine Corps Marathon.' My daughter just left and I'm emotional because she's overseas. It's a struggle for a mom to have a 19-year-old daughter and we don't know if she'll come back to us.

“She said, 'Do it one more time.' I'm going by myself so I'm going to do my best. I'm going to give 110 percent and hopefully my mind stays strong.”

Roe, a native of the Philippines and resident of Angola, began running at age 40. A friend invited her on a training run and, despite not having run before, it felt natural and freeing.

“She never told me how many miles she was going to do,” Roe said. “She was training for the Fort4Fitness half-marathon. I didn't even know what a half-marathon was. We just kept going and I was feeling high in my endurance. I just kept passing them like, 'Come on you guys, let's go.' And they're looking at me like, 'I thought you said you never run before.'

“When we came around the back of the country, she starts screaming, 'Hee hee!' and I asked what that was and she said, '12 miles.' I had never known what 12 miles was. I knew that I kept going and I kept telling them, 'Come on, you guys. Keep going.' I was just feeling energetic.”

Roe celebrated 25 years in the United States on April 3. She was 23 years old when she arrived in Dayton, assisted by three American families with ties to the military.

Roe's biological father was an American soldier and her mother was Filipino. She never knew her biological parents as she was adopted at a young age by another couple. 

Roe's adoptive father, also a U.S. soldier, was sent back to the United States. When he returned to the Philippines, her adoptive mother had hidden her on an island and had moved on from the father.

Roe survived countless hardships while growing up, including the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

She became a housekeeper for an American family and it was through them that she first felt love.

“The family had two kids. They were little and I cooked for them, cleaned and baby-sat,” she said. “They treated me as they were own. Every time they ate, they asked me and I always refused because I felt like they were my boss. They said, 'No, you sit down with us.' I couldn't even look at them and they always put up my chin. They said, 'Lisa, you're going to sit down with us and eat with us.'

“They gave me extra money and buy me clothes and that's when I started trusting people again because they never did anything stupid. The first time they gave me a hug, I never got a hug before. I always looked forward to it. Every Friday night, they gave me a hug. I go outside, 'This is amazing. They love me.'”

Roe was finally able to come to the U.S. in 1993.

Fast-forward 18 years, Roe's first marathon was the 2011 Chicago Marathon. Despite cramping around mile 22, she qualified for Boston with a time of 3 hours and 33 minutes.

The first two years running Boston, 2013 and 2014, were spent combating the course with performances in the mid-3:40s.

“I had to call the Boston training people and ask, 'What am I doing wrong?'” she said. “They said to work on quads. The course is downhill. Even Olympic people have that issue.”

Finally, in 2015, in the pouring rain (her favorite running conditions) and blustery winds, it all came together with a personal best 3:12.

This year, her goal is to enjoy the journey with eyes on the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., in October, but she'll be running Boston for her own Marine.