A farm girl and poet from Chardon, Ohio, [Grace] Butcher won the national championship for 880 yards in 1958. In 1976, just past her 40th birthday, she made a solo 2,500-mile motorcycle trip through New England, and wrote a feature article for Sports Illustrated. In it she noted, "What life is for, if it is for anything, is to find out what you do well, and then do it, for heaven’s sake, before it’s too late."
Like Butcher, other first ladies of running did many things well. [Bobbi] Gibb is an accomplished painter and sculptor who also worked in the lab of the famed M.I.T. neuroscientist Jerome Lettvin. Julia Chase, the first woman to run a road race in the United States, in 1961, received a Ph.D. in zoology, studying bats and chimpanzees in the field. A quarter-century later, she earned a medical degree at 53 and switched to psychiatry.
-- Amby Burfoot in the New York Times