What a difference a day makes ….

Posted: April 22, 2010 in Motivation
Tags: , , ,

Finisher's Medal

107 seconds.  Essentially a commercial break.  Not even 2/10 of a mile.  That was the difference for me between re-qualifying for the 2011 Boston Marathon and a narrow miss.  I have to admit that for the remainder of the day on Monday after finishing my very first Boston those 107 seconds haunted me.

I mean when you think that I ran for 12,166 seconds – 107 is a pretty small number.  What could I have done differently?  If I only took the turns tighter, cut the angles differently, pushed just a bit harder earlier – could I have held on for another Boston time?

But a funny thing happened to me on Tuesday.  I got over it.  The simple fact is that I left absolutely everything I had on the course at Boston.  If I had not trained so hard, ran such a smart race and refused to give up when the famous Boston course tried to take me down – I never could have made it.  The fact is that in my first Boston Marathon I ran a strong race.

You know how I know that?  Because Bill Rogers told me I did.

Yes, that Bill Rogers.  The 4-time Boston Marathon champion.  The 4-time New York City Marathon Champion.  The two-time Marathon World Record Holder who was elected into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.

In a bit of fate Dawn and our friends Ralph and Michele were killing some time before our dinner reservation in Boston on Tuesday evening.  I happened upon the Bill Rogers Running Center and thought I would stop in.  I knew that Bill was supposed to be at the store early in the day – leaving around 3 pm or so if I had remembered correctly – but thought it was still worth a pop in just before 6 p.m.

The store featured some great memorabilia – Bill’s old race shoes, his olive crown from 1975 and a lot of great framed race photos and bibs. 

1975 Boston Marathon Champion Wreath


Now any marathoner will tell you that “stairs” are not your friend the day after a race.  They can be extremely difficult to conquer.  Usually the only way to get down them is to do so backwards.

I stared at the two flights of stairs leading down to the basement level of the store trying to decide if it was worth the trip.  I backed my way down to find more clothing, shoes and photos.  Before heading back up I started chatting with one of the store clerks about my race experience on Monday.  Off in the far corner of the store I heard someone chatting away about Austin, TX.  When I looked over it was two young women talking with none other than Bill Rogers.  Bill was still there 3 hours after he was supposed to be going home – talking to fans about running.  In fact he was talking about my home-town of Austin, TX.

I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning as I grabbed a book and waited patiently to grab just a minute with Bill.  When I shared that I was also from Austin the four of us ended up talking about racing the 3M half-marathon in Austin and our local running store Run-Tex.  After 10 minutes or so Bill asked me how I did on Monday.

I told him that the experience was out of this world, but wished I had raced just a bit better – missing my re-qualifying time by 1:47.  Bill smiled at me and asked how many times I’d run the course.  I shared with Bill that I was relatively new to the sport – running Boston for the first time in only my third marathon.

The Man

Bill proceeded to tell me about his 3 DNF’s (Did not Finish) at Boston over the years – and how it takes a runner several attempts at the course from Hopkinton to Boston to get it right.  He graciously told me that finishing less than 4 minutes from my Personal Best on my first attempt at Boston is something I should be very proud of. 

With my mind still reeling at the spectacle in front of me, Bill jotted something in the cover of the book I had purchased and handed it back to me.  I thanked him again for his time and for getting me in the right frame of mind to race again in just 12 days to honor my good friend Dom.  He said one more thing to me that I am going to keep to myself for the time being and I headed to dinner.

Along the way I peered inside the book to see Bill’s inscription:

That really put it in perspective.  I DID RUN STRONG in my first Boston Marathon.  It might not have been my best marathon time, but it was my finest effort.  I gave absolutely everything I had on Monday – and at the end of the day I know that was the proper way to honor Dom and my commitment to his cause.

As our flight touched down in Austin this afternoon and my legs start feeling just a bit more “normal” I know that I’m back.  The physical side will continue to improve as the days pass as we now have 11 more rest days before Marathon Number Two at Pittsburgh.  But mentally, where the real marathon battle is fought – we’re ready to rock. 

I’m already looking forward to those two tentative miles on Friday morning to start shaking loose these sore muscles and getting those pistons firing once again.  Afterall, I’ve got a race to run – because I’m a Marathoner.  And a damn good one at that.

  1. Martin Cunningham says:

    RFD … you ran the course and have the finishers medal and some pain and stiffness in the legs to prove you did it. WELL DONE! Sadly my Boston trip was cancelled due to the volcanic ash plume and associated flight restrictions over Europe so no medal for me. But hopefully next year will be my year to run Boston and with your wisdom shared via RFD blog I will be a little stronger to manage the course. Your success will continue ….
    All the best for the next marathon

  2. joerunfordom says:

    Martin – thank you so much for the visit and kind words – I am so sorry to hear that you got caught up in such an amazingly “freak” occurence. I actually thought of the runners who couldn’t make it to the start when I was standing in the starting corral in Hopkinton …. absolutely unbelievable.

    I’m assuming/hoping they are granting you a waiver for 2011 if your qualification time was before Sept. 2009 and not eligible for both the 2010 and 2011 race …..

    It will make that medal all the sweeter Martin next year. Make sure you get there – it is absolutely an amazing experience.

    Best to you my friend, Joe

  3. Steve says:

    How cool is that?! You did run strong and you ran a great race. Great story Joe!!

  4. onelittlejill says:

    What an awesome story!!! I would feel like a kid at Christmas too! This is definitely one of those stories to tell your future marathoner!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jill – Bill Rogers was absolutely the coolest! What an amazing guy – perfect way to cap off Boston week. Legs feel pretty good this morning – looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow.

      Thanks so much for the visit and all the support! Best, Joe

  5. Joe,

    It is an honor to know you and what you are doing for your friend. Try to maximize your recovery and get as much rest as you can manage until Pittsburgh.

    – Richard

    • joerunfordom says:

      Richard – You always know how to make me feel 100% Richard … you are the greatest – I’m looking forward to getting together next spring and taking on that bridge run. Hoping you can lay a little “course knowledge” on me. I will never underestimate that going into a race again. If I learned one thing at Boston (and I learned a lot!) – it is that. Take care my friend. J

  6. Ally speirs says:

    Bill is right. You gave it 100% and always had Dom in your thoughts. Of that you can be proud!!!

    Great race and much respect from me to you

    • joerunfordom says:

      Ally – thanks so much for the visits and all the kind words. You are so right – I am really looking forward to seeing Dom at the finish at Pittsburgh – my race time will be the last thing to be worried about.

      Take care, Joe

  7. Ernesto says:

    Joe, you ran a great race. This was my first Boston, too, and I missed my goal time by a bit as well, but like you, I felt like I left everything out there, and was really happy with that! Bill Rogers is so cool. When we were talking at the meetup, I told you my mysterious Bill Rogers story from Hyannis, yes? He has amazing perspective. Good luck in the next one. Re-taper well!

    • joerunfordom says:

      Ernesto! So great to see you prior to the race – I really enjoyed catching up with you. Can’t believe you cranked out a few miles on Tuesday. You Sir are a machine! I did not hear the Bill Rogers story – you will have to lay that one on me. Thanks again Ernesto – “re-taper” …. that’s great, I might have to steal that one. Take care, J

  8. Angel says:

    Nice Blog Joe. Thanks for Sharing such a great time in your running with us.

  9. David H. says:

    This is a great story. You needed to hear that before you could truly move on to the next one, and I’m glad it happened so quickly. Keep it up.

    • joerunfordom says:

      David – so true. I walked out of there looking forward to next Sunday instead of back to race day. Amazing how much of a difference a 10 minute conversation can make. Bill is the man.

  10. Sumcensuvitt says:

    Thanks for your insight. All marathoners are so generous with their knowledge and experiences, from Bill Rogers to you. We all need help to improve. Boston is always out there, ready when you are, for that next challenge. Congratulations on your fantastic race. At 4:05 I missed my qualifying by 5 min., but reading your blog today made me happy.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Denny – you hit the nail on the head – I’m sure you will get back there as I know I will as well. It’s supposed to be hard – which is what makes it so special. Congrats on your race Denny – to come within a whisker of a BQ time on that course is something that I have an immense appreciation for. You really ran strong.

      Hope the legs are starting to rebound a bit – amazing healing power that the body has. Take good care, J

  11. Jodi Higgins says:

    I am new to your blog but I want you to know how inspire I am by your story. I am actually running the Pittsburgh 1/2 marathon for a little girl that died way too soon from a pediatric brain tumor and then I will be running my first marathon (Cleveland, Oh) two weeks later in honor of my friend that has been brain tumor free for ten years the exact weekend of Cleveland. Awesome job at Boston and so cool you got to talk to Bill Rogers!! I will continue to follow your story.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Jodi – thank you so much for the visit and the message. What you are doing is truly remarkable – and for such a wonderful cause. I wish you great luck at both of your races – you will love the Pittsburgh half – the course is flat, fast and fair until the mid-point of the full when you climb the hill up Forbes.

      The Half-Marathon course veers away around mile 12, so you can really run a nice smooth race and be ready in two weeks for Cleveland. Best to you! Joe

  12. Kym says:

    What a great story, and what tremendous motivation to hang on to. After your next Boston, you can find Bill Rogers again and have him sign the book to say you ran a strong 2nd Boston Marathon. Congratulations, Joe!
    Kym Klass

  13. Jay Parker says:

    Fantastic story, Joe! And well written, too!

  14. Kevin D says:

    That’s effing awesome, Joe. Well done, man. You totally rocked it.

    • joerunfordom says:

      Kevin – thanks so much for the visit and comment! Feeling better and better every day about Boston. Now it’s on the Pittsburgh and marathon number two to separate the men from the boys ….. take good care! Joe

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