Goodman succeeded in comeback because she was ‘Born to Run’

Hilary Goodman runs in the Bucks County Roadrunners Club’s Winter Series. (Photo by Pat McCloskey)

After the horrific bicycle crash at the 2008 Steelman Triathlon, the subsequent back operations and the dire warning from doctors she would never run again, Hilary Goodman knew one thing.

She was going to run again.

It was not about throwing caution to the wind. She proved that by getting off her race bike for good. Despite the gloomy medical outlook, she vowed to put everything she had into the thing she loves the most and that’s putting one foot in front of the other in rapid fashion.

Why else do you think she named her Spring House, Montgomery County sporting goods store: “Born to Run.”

The long-time member of the Bucks County Roadrunners Club and frequent competitor in its venerable Winter Series, Goodman continues to amaze local followers with her exploits.

At 60, she still finishes many of the Winter Series races among the top 10 female runners. Her age-graded percentage numbers constantly hover near the 80 mark, which is regional class.

All this some 16 years after a gruesome incident in which she was gravely injured and had no assurances about her athletic future.

“It happened so quickly,” she recalled during a recent interview at her store. “We had a family tragedy a couple weeks before. A nephew had passed away. He had been suffering from multiple sclerosis. There was a lot of stress but we were committed to doing the triathlon.

“My husband (Matt Ryan) had dropped out of the race because his bicycle had gotten a flat. I was going down a steep hill toward the end of the bike. By accident, I hit the front brake instead of the back. I went head over heels on the bike. I didn’t come out of the pedals (because they are lock-in).”

It took some moments but race officials were able to contact an emergency vehicle.

“It had hit my head on the pavement,” Goodman said. “I was taken by ambulance to St. Luke’s Hospital in Quakertown. There were stones embedded in my knee, my elbow, my face.”

Then she added with a smile: “I hadn’t seen a mirror yet. When my husband got there, he looked at me and kidded, ‘I hope you know a plastic surgeon.’

Fortunately, it was mostly just scraped skin which was able to heal.

“The helmet protected me,” she said. “But I was pretty scared, pretty messed up for awhile. After about two months I started running again. But then I tore my hamstring and that’s when I found the disk in my back needed surgery. So I had it fused.”

Dr. Richard Balderson at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia performed the surgery and all has gone well. When she qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon again, she sent the doctor some photographs in gratitude.

She had been given a second chance and she wanted to make the most of it.

“My husband was scared that he was going to be pushing me around in a wheelchair,” she said. “I told him I was fine.”

Goodman was raised in the Cheltenham area, played other sports in high school and college, but didn’t take up running until her 20s.

She pursued a law degree while attending the University of Pennsylvania and was a practicing attorney for seven years in the Tampa area.

“I hated it,” she admitted. “That’s when I started running a lot. I did a bunch of marathons. When I moved back here, I started running with Adam Hyman and other real good runners over at Pennypack Park. That’s where I found out about the Winter Series.”

This was the late ‘90s/early 2000s and a lot was going on in her life. She met her future husband, decided to take a different career path and chose to open her own running store. The dream came true in the spring of 1999 so on May 1, 2024 there will be a 25th anniversary celebration.

Runners come from far and wide because here, instead of just ordering a pair of shoes online, you can try them on and see how they feel.

Meanwhile, the Winter Series gives her the base training for her long-distance races. She’s run an astounding 40 marathons.

“I really enjoy the Winter Series,” she said. “I can’t believe how much it’s grown. It started with Bob Curci when he was the president and there were like 35, 40 runners. Now they get well over 300 people for a race.

“It’s really great competition. We get people around here to go do it. Some people from the Ambler Area Club are doing it. It keeps you in amazing shape all winter. The food is always great. The camaraderie is tremendous, runners there are really great about everything.”

Back in the day, she ran a career-best 3:05 marathon and more recently, a 3:25 at Steamtown. She’s run Boston at least a half-dozen times.

The secret to her long-distance running success?

“You have to put up with the pain,” she said. “A lot of people don’t like running because they say it hurts. But anything you’re really good at, you have to put forth effort. It’s not like you’re getting a massage. I’m pretty good with putting up with pain.”

Now she’s into yoga, weekly weight training and a basically sugar-free diet.

“I want to keep running,” she said. “You have to love it and I love it. I have the store and love dealing with the people. It’s all a lot of fun.”

>Passing of a legend

Bob Doan, one of the most colorful (and successful) coaches in Bucks County Community College history passed away last month at the age of 84.

Some of his outstanding runners from the early ‘70s, including Terry Permar and Joe Kern, contacted us to express their gratitude for the coach’s contributions not only to their running careers but life in general.

“He was the perfect coach for that environment,” Permar recalled. “The program was structured but loose. He understood how his runners’ schedule didn’t always line up for perfect workout sessions but he made it work. I remember him saying, ‘Run your guts out and I’ll pick you up at the finish line.’

“He was the kind of guy you just wanted to run your best for. He was ingenious for coming up with ways to accomplish the training.”

Doan, a 1957 William Tennent High School graduate and member of its Athletic Hall of Fame, coached track and field at his alma mater, then moved to Bucks where he coached from the early ‘70s until retirement in 1995. He won regional, state and national cross-country titles at BCCC.

>Race calendar

>Sunday

Bucks County Roadrunners Club Winter Series Eenie-Meanie-Minie-Moe Half-Marathon (13.1 miles), 9 a.m. Tyler State Park, Newtown/Richboro. Contact www.bcrrclub.com

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About Wayne Fish 2426 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.