Without a finish line

Running: Ruxton's Lee DiPietro is taking her 24th-place finish among women in the Boston Marathon in stride literally.

April 19, 2000|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

With the rain beating gently against the windows of her Ruxton home yesterday morning, it would have been a perfect opportunity for Lee DiPietro to sleep in and bask in the glow of a 24th-place finish among women in Monday's Boston Marathon.

But DiPietro, 42, didn't think much about staying in bed.

She went for an 8 a.m. swim at the Meadowbrook pool, relaxed a little in the hot tub and returned home to clean up the house and prepare for another day as the mother of two boys, 16 year-old Tim and 12 year-old Cryder, and the wife of a Baltimore insurance broker whose first name is also Lee.

There was some time to celebrate as a family last night at a local restaurant, but it was back to a rigid training schedule for mom yesterday.

"I'm a competitive, compulsive person," said DiPietro who was the fifth U.S. woman to cross the finish line in Boston.

She traveled the 26.2-mile course in 2 hours and 47 minutes, her fastest time in 13 years of marathon running.

Her previous best time of 2: 47: 20 was registered in the Chicago Marathon in October and qualified her for February's Olympic trials.

In the 1999 Boston Marathon, DiPietro was clocked in at 2: 51: 51, which placed her 26th among all women.

But Monday in Boston was certainly a defining moment in DiPietro's career, and she was greeted at the finish line by her husband, her mother, Nina Jennings, her sister, Kitty, and her 7-year-old niece, Catherine.

"We all hugged and cried," DiPietro said. "Then I went right to get a massage, and pretty soon it was time to fly back home to be with my two sons. They're both students at St. Paul's School and couldn't take off. They hugged me when I got back at 10 o'clock Monday night."

DiPietro never stops training because, unlike many distance runners, she never takes more than a few weeks off between marathons or Ironman Triathlon competition.

"I recover quickly after a race or triathlon," she said.

The 6-foot, red-haired DiPietro is getting faster as she grows older, instead of slowing down. "Age is no excuse," DiPietro said. "It will bother you only if you let yourself think about it."

When asked to explain her success in a sport that's dominated by shorter women and men, DiPietro talked about having an "efficient stride and running 100-plus miles a week" around the Ruxton area.

But it was a terrifying moment four years ago on Joppa Road that showed exactly what makes DiPietro tick.

She was riding her bike over a bridge near Ruxton Road when a man driving a truck hit her and knocked her onto the road, injuring her head and a hip.

Even though she was in terrible pain and being loaded into an ambulance headed for St. Joseph's Hospital, DiPietro asked the driver if he could swing by St. Paul's to drop off the lunch bag she was trying to deliver to her son, Cryder.

Talk about a woman on a mission.

Fortunately, the X-rays at St. Joseph's were negative and DiPietro was able to resume her long-distance career. But she said, "I still can't lay on the hip a lot, and I don't train as aggressively on my bicycle for the triathlon. I want to make it back home for my family. I do ride aggressively in competition."

And what about the lunch bag for her son?

"The ambulance driver said he couldn't drive me there, but the peanut butter and jelly sandwich didn't go to waste," she said. "My husband ate it when he got to the hospital to see me. He hadn't eaten all day and was starved."

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