|Racing in the 1988 NYC Marathon|
During the 1980s, Gillian Adams Horovitz was among the top echelon of marathoners, ranked sixth female runner in the world by The Runner magazine in 1980. She placed second to Grete Waitz in the 1979 New York City Marathon. During her career, she ran 94 marathons with a PR of 2:36 (Grandma’s, 1993) sometimes competing in 10 a year. Most of them were under three hours, such as the 1980 Essonne (France) Marathon that she won in 2:39:18 just four weeks before finishing third at Boston in 2:39:17. Now 63, and living in Greenwich Village with her husband, Horovitz no longer runs competitively. But she still has the heart of a runner (and that warm, welcoming smile) and is just as happy cheering for others at a race.
Why and when did you start running? I started running in May 1968 (born 1955, Bromley, England). I took my first run with a friend from school and immediately loved it. Started off doing track and field-sprints, hurdles (occasionally), long jump, high jump, discus, shot put, javelin and relays. In autumn and winter, I did road relays and cross-country. I would rush home from school every Friday to read my copy
of Athletics Weekly, which had all the results from the previous weekend racing.
Early Inspiration: Lillian Board, British Olympian in track. Won silver in 1968 400 at Tokyo Olympics. Also David Hemery, who won Olympic Gold in 400m Hurdles in 1968 Tokyo Olympics. And Edwin Moses, who won Olympic Gold in 400m Hurdles in 1976 and 1984.
What was your training like in the peak years of your career? In peak years I ran 90 miles or so a week, occasionally slightly more. I raced frequently, usually every weekend and trained twice a day. I would do an early morning run before I was truly awake, take the train to work in London, then train again at either lunchtime or after work in the evening. That was my routine leading up to my 2nd place in the 1979 New York City Marathon and third place in Boston Marathon in 1980.
I was always advised to take a couple of weeks of rest after so much racing and travelling but I was reluctant to do that as I just loved to train, race and travel, and didn't want to stop. I also ran shorter races on many of the weekends in-between the marathons.
What is your training like now? I am currently unable to run due to arthritis in both feet. However, I can swim, cycle and walk which I do for miles in the city. I love getting around the city on a Citibike.
Were you coached? When I was young I trained with the coaches assigned to the junior program of Kent AC. In 1971 I was fortunate to be trained by Cliff Temple, a runner and journalist for the London Sunday Times. In later years my training was much more sociable and at a relaxed pace.
In August 1980 I moved to America to marry my husband , Israel Horovitz, and trained by myself in the summers in Gloucester, MA, and in the winters in New York City. Sometimes I ran with my husband and once a week with my New York friend Corinna Cortes. But the majority of my runs I did alone and happily so.
Memorable Races? British University cross country Championships in Stirling, Scotland in 1976 -Won the race.
*** Qualifying for the British Cross Country Team 1975. First time that I realized that I had a future in running.
*** Setting the British Marathon Record of 2:41:03 on 9 September 1979 in the OTC Marathon, Eugene, OR. I only held it for about a week before Joyce Smith reclaimed it the following weekend!
*** Finishing second to Grete Waitz in the 1979 New York City Marathon in 2:38:33, overtaking several other women during the last mile.
*** Selected to compete in the first Women's Tokyo Marathon finishing second in 2:39:28 to Joyce Smith of England and having my name and face appear on BBC news in England as my father (my biggest supporter) watched the 9 o'clock news. What a shock and enormous surprise for him.
*** Running the World Cup Marathon for England in Hiroshima, Japan in 1985 and in San Sebastian, Spain in 1993
*** Setting my best time of 2:36:52 at the 1992 Grandmas Marathon.
*** Running the Commonwealth Games Marathon in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, September 1998 having qualified for the English team by running 2:40:15 at Boston in April 1998. I was age 43 and to represent England at that age, or any age, was a great honor. My roommate was the now double Olympic Champion and Dame- Kelly Holmes-an amazingly courageous and gutsy athlete.
Diet and Weight: Now, I don’t eat red meat but plenty of fish, mostly salmon, some chicken and lots of vegetables and salad. Weight has been the same most of my running life but since I am no longer so active I’ve gained a few pounds. Only other times when I weighed more than 130 lbs was when I was pregnant in 1985 with my twins, Hannah and Oliver and in 2008/9 when I was having Chemo treatment.
Setbacks and Obstacles: Being diagnosed and treated for Stage 4 Ovarian cancer in 2007 but thanks to the wonderful care at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in NYC, I am typing this in October 2018. Another setback was a right hip replacement in April 2007.
Favorite Quote: My favorite motto these days is, “The important thing is to Complete not Compete.” Of course in my first 40 years of running, it was very important for me to compete. Whatever the event or distance, my objective was to win although I definitely had a realistic attitude as to how possible that would be. Now I am just happy to be out there trying ....in whatever incapacitated form that is!
Running philosophy? My running philosophy has always been to enjoy myself whether that is by travelling to races in interesting places (I love to travel) or by meeting new runners or by exploring new areas and places.
I tend not to have a set route, although I have spent many hours running along the Hudson River. However, on my long marathon training runs, I ran for time not distance, figuring that it was more important to extend the length of time on my feet than the distance covered.
|With husband, Israel, and twins, Oliver |
and Hannah, Gloucester MA, 1987
At this point in our aging process, I think the most important thing is get outside and exercise-whatever it is that your body is capable of doing. There is such an emotional benefit from being outside and exercising. It is so good for your soul, your spirit and for your well-being.
What are the biggest lessons (life lessons and running lessons) you have learned? The biggest lessons I have learned from life and from running is that you should enjoy every moment. Take the time to appreciate your surroundings and explore new places by running. For example I treasure the memory of runs in the deserted streets of Paris on New Year's Day, of running in the mountains of Switzerland, of runs along the bicycle paths on the Ile de Re in France, of running around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, running in the bluebell woods in Chislehurst near where I grew up in Kent. They were so beautiful that I was very reluctant to leave. Often I did extra laps just to drink in the beauty of the blue carpets of flowers.
Growing up in England and running cross-country races as a teenager, I never lost the pleasure of running in the country across fields, along footpaths, through woods. It was just in my blood. An additional thing I love about running for the past 50 years are the amazing people I have met and the wonderful friends I have made all over the world. It’s really like one big family.
What advice would you give a young runner today who wants to be a lifetime runner? Running is for everyone. All you need is a pair of shoes and some courage and determination. Running is also the greatest common denominator. Whatever your background, wherever you are from, whatever language you speak ... we are doing the same thing and testing ourselves to try and be the best that we can be. These days, I truly appreciate the efforts of everyone who has laced up their shoes, opened the door, and started running.
That’s a long-winded answer to say that running will reward you beyond anything you can imagine so stick with it, treasure it, and nurture it.