Saturday Spotlight – Rachel Sumerson (8/15/20)

Saturday Spotlight

Name: Rachel Sumerson

Age: 45

Marital Status: Married to Gene Gamache (I kept my maiden name)

Kids: Jack (12) and Amy (10)

Pets: Gonzo (African grey parrot) and a carnival fish that has been in a dirty fish bowl for 6 years.

Occupation: Attorney, running a title insurance company that Gene and I own.

Hobbies: Running, kayaking, biking, swimming.

Hometown: Cherry Hill, NJ

Current Town: East Rockaway (in Nassau, not in Queens)

College: Albright College, Temple University (Fels Institute of Molecular Biology), St. John’s School of Law

Favorite Race: Summer Run Series

Thank you Lou LaFleur for welcoming me into this group, and inviting me to be the warrior of the week. I’m not the most social person, so many of you may have seen me at the hills but don’t know me. I have only been to the hills one time since the pandemic started. I started running on the hills toward the end of last year thanks to Rachel Vachier Dengel.

This group has been amazing in helping me push myself and also answering all of my crazy questions regarding dealing with this heat and humidity (chafing, blisters and stinky clothes).

I started running to get into shape for field hockey when I started high school. During middle school our field hockey coaches told us that we needed to practice running a mile and 1.5 miles before starting freshmen year of high school because the coaches will time us and expect us to run under an 8 min/mile pace. I somehow ran just enough that summer to be able to make those times in my freshman year. And I did it again in my sophomore year. But then I slacked off and couldn’t do it in my junior year. I was so out of shape that I couldn’t keep up with the rest of the team and I was cut from the team. I was devastated, but I knew that it was my fault for slacking off. Unfortunately, not being on the field hockey team meant that I could take a break from running.

During the summer between my junior and senior year of college, I volunteered in a molecular biology lab in Philadelphia. One day when I was walking to the train to go back home, I was approached by a homeless woman looking for money or diapers. I offered to buy her diapers. When I went in the store, a guy working there warned me that she would return them to get money for drugs. I immediately left the store and she followed me and I took off running. I don’t think she followed me for long, but I was scared and I continued to run until I got on the train. I was completely out of breath and so mad at myself, not for what I did, but because I was so out of shape that I could hardly run the few blocks to the train station. That was the day I decided that I needed to get back into running, which I did.

I continued running through my senior year of college and it gave me the confidence to play for the women’s rugby team. That was an incredible experience. And the parties after the games were insane. I won’t go into details of that. I had a good senior year, and I’m sure that running really played a big role in that. I also met my husband that year, in Puerto Rico, during spring break. Shortly after meeting Gene, I convinced him to start running.

I continued to run after college. I ran my first race when I was in grad school in Philadelphia. The Susan G. Koman, 5K Race for the Cure. It was a good first race to run. It was really crowded and I couldn’t really run at a decent pace until the last mile. But I was afraid to run my first race because I thought I might come in last place, LOL.

Gene and I have been running, on and off since we met. We did the Tough Mudder together in 2013. We have run the Summer Run Series together for about 20 years. And the past few years our kids have run it too, which is why it is my favorite race (series). It has been amazing to see the kids improve throughout the years. We all really miss the races this year. One thing that has pushed me to run harder has been trying to keep up with the kids.

Last year I started adding more miles (and the hills) to my runs. And I also joined a pool and added swimming to my routine. I had decided that 2020 would be my year to run my first marathon and compete in my first triathlon. Obviously plans have changed. I’m thankful that I ran the icebreaker half marathon in January this year, as it was my first half marathon. With the cancelation of all of the kids’ activities, I have had more time to spend on running and getting out on the kayaks and the stand up paddleboard. Hopefully next year will be my year for those events.