For Hanover Township’s Patty Phillips, running was more than a resolution

By GeneAxton - [email protected] | January 3rd, 2017 9:00 am - updated: 9:00 am.

Sean McKeag

Patty Phillips tells her story

FOR YOUR HEALTH

Running gave Patty Phillips an outlet for her stress, time to be alone and new social circles. Those factors helped improve her mental health and quality of life, but according to Geisinger cardiologist Dr. Martin Matsumura, Phillips’ status as a longtime runner comes with benefits beyond cardiovascular health.

“There’s evidence that lifelong running reduces the prevalence of dementia diseases, Alzheimer’s diseases, memory loss, Glaucoma,” said Matsumura. “Believe it or not eye diseases have shown to be reduced in runners versus non-runners.”

Matsumura said it’s never too late to start an exercise program, but those new to exercise should start with a moderate walk.

“I always tell my patients start at a level where you can carry on a comfortable conversation during the exercise session and increase it slowly in two month increments,” Matsumura said.

Matsumura said to be mindful of the development of any worrisome symptoms while exercising — at that point, consult a physician before continuing.

HANOVER TOWNSHIP — Forget the self-help books, gym memberships and fad diets — all one local woman needed to change her life was a pair of running shoes.

Since Patty Phillips started running 32 years ago she has completed 35 marathons, including 13 Boston Marathons and all 21 Steamtown Marathons in Scranton. The walls of the upstairs office in Phillip’s Hanover Township home are adorned with medals and finish line photographs, but running didn’t just supply the now 61-year-old with a wealth of accomplishments. Running was a foundation for Phillips to rebuild upon, and her only tool — a pair of black, white and pink Nike Zoom shoes — gave her more than podiatry support.

“My best friend (Pittston native Rita Skechus) and I met at a race about 25 years ago. She’s divorced, she had her kids with her and we had the same sneakers on and that’s what kind of did it,” Phillips said. “We’ve been to Boston together, we’ve done The Boiler Maker (race) in New York, we’ve been down to Penn State and did the half (marathon) down there, so we’ve done a lot. She volunteers at Steamtown — she’s at the finish line, so she’s my welcoming.”

Phillips is also an active volunteer in the running community. She’s a 25-year member of local running club Wyoming Valley Striders and served as an officer in the organization for some time. She still volunteers with registration and runner clocking during the organization’s trail runs (Phillips self-identifies as directionally challenged and doesn’t take part in off-road running).

“I can’t even count how many years she has been helping with registration at those races,” said current Wyoming Valley Striders Secretary Linda Wojnar. “It’s wonderful that even though she’s no longer on the board that she still volunteers to help, not only participate in our races or functions.”

Spurred on by the determination shown by American long distance runner Joan Benoit Samuelson in the 1984 Olympics, Phillips purchased a pair of running shoes and had her then-husband drive her to a track in Pittston for training. Her regimen was pulled from the pages of “Runners World” and her partner was her young son, who rode his bike alongside her on the track. When running gave her the self-confidence to walk away from what she described as an abusive marriage, her hobby became her therapy — she was running 70-to-80 mile weeks, culminating in a personal best 3:18 during the 2001 Steamtown Marathon.

“I’d run in the morning and I’d run again at night,” Phillips said.

Running added more than medals and finish times to Phillips’ life. She met “the best friends ever,” and one assisted her with an eventually successful pursuit of a new career at Sallie Mae. In 2005, her journey through life and her progress as a runner intersected when she met Bear Creek resident Dave Pavlock.

“I remember at mile five at a 10k race she passed me and I thought, ‘Wow, That’s a nice looking girl, I better catch up,’ and I could not pass her,” said Pavlock, 62. “It was an uphill finish at the Sallie Mae 10k and I didn’t have the nerve to approach her then.”

Pavlock eventually worked up the nerve to approach Phillips at a run in West Pittston and ask her on a date — a 12-mile run to a creek in Lackawanna Forest with a pre-positioned pack of water, snacks, towels and a blanket waiting for them. The two will marry early next year — a busy 2017 for Phillips that includes filing for social security, continuing to enjoy her retirement and, of course, running.

“I still go out and run because I love it, I just fell so good after it’s done,” Phillips said. “I can go on with my day with an energy boost.”

The upstairs office in Patty Phillips’ Hanover Township home houses her medals, trophies, photographs and plaques — among them, a proclamation from the City of Scranton that recognizes her and the other runners who have completed every iteration of the Steamtown Marathon.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/web1_TTL12xx16Runner1-1.jpgThe upstairs office in Patty Phillips’ Hanover Township home houses her medals, trophies, photographs and plaques — among them, a proclamation from the City of Scranton that recognizes her and the other runners who have completed every iteration of the Steamtown Marathon. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Hanover Township resident Patty Phillips has 32 years of running experience. During that time she has completed 35 marathons, as well as races in Utica, N.Y., Gettysburg, Pa. and a number of other sites. Phillips said her dream run is Big Sur in California.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/web1_TTL12xx16Runner2-1.jpgHanover Township resident Patty Phillips has 32 years of running experience. During that time she has completed 35 marathons, as well as races in Utica, N.Y., Gettysburg, Pa. and a number of other sites. Phillips said her dream run is Big Sur in California. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Marathon runner Patty Phillips has been in every Steamtown Marathon since 1996, and she has a tattoo from Triple 6 Tattoos in Wilkes-Barre to prove it. The 2015 Steamtown Marathon medal adorns the front of her right arm, while a list of years she has participated in the event is etched below.
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/web1_TTL12xx16Runner3-1.jpgMarathon runner Patty Phillips has been in every Steamtown Marathon since 1996, and she has a tattoo from Triple 6 Tattoos in Wilkes-Barre to prove it. The 2015 Steamtown Marathon medal adorns the front of her right arm, while a list of years she has participated in the event is etched below. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
In 32 years of running, Phillips has finished 35 marathons — but her accomplishments don’t end on the track

By GeneAxton

[email protected]

FOR YOUR HEALTH

Running gave Patty Phillips an outlet for her stress, time to be alone and new social circles. Those factors helped improve her mental health and quality of life, but according to Geisinger cardiologist Dr. Martin Matsumura, Phillips’ status as a longtime runner comes with benefits beyond cardiovascular health.

“There’s evidence that lifelong running reduces the prevalence of dementia diseases, Alzheimer’s diseases, memory loss, Glaucoma,” said Matsumura. “Believe it or not eye diseases have shown to be reduced in runners versus non-runners.”

Matsumura said it’s never too late to start an exercise program, but those new to exercise should start with a moderate walk.

“I always tell my patients start at a level where you can carry on a comfortable conversation during the exercise session and increase it slowly in two month increments,” Matsumura said.

Matsumura said to be mindful of the development of any worrisome symptoms while exercising — at that point, consult a physician before continuing.

Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts

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