Archive for October 7, 2010

I woke up this morning in a strange bed in a strange town – Lubbock, TX home to the Texas Tech Red Raiders and  home town of Buddy Holly among a host of other people and things.  As I walked outside a crisp West Texas morning met me and my 8-mile training run on the calendar.  Just 8 more runs and 12 days remain before we toe the line on October 17th at the IBM uptown classic.

I thought a lot this morning about my running friends who are out there preparing for big races this weekend and how different it is for us “amateurs” who have to balance family, careers and our day to day lives all in the pursuit of the marathon.

This morning’s run which would take me just 57 minutes and 55 seconds, completed at 7:14/mile pace, took me down streets and through parks I had never traveled before.  There were new people to offer up a  “good morning” to, different runners to pass, a new Boxer that decided I was running too close or too fast for his tastes as he tried to nip at my heel.  And like most runs in a new town, the run provided me with a surprise or two. 

Surprise number one was the 6 inch deep trench filled with water that I ran through without seeing it before sun-up on mile three.  Always great to have “squishy feet” for four or five miles.  The second surprise was the “tummy trouble” that showed up at the start of mile 5 from last night’s dinner in Lubbock.  Perhaps Shrimp Vindaloo at the local Indian restaurant was not the smartest decision made during my trip.  I’m still learning.

Buddy Holley's (Mispelled as Holly) resting place, Lubbock, TX

But those types of experiences and runs are all part of the journey.  My journey to the start of the Austin Marathon on February 20th will cover 108 training runs and more than 800 miles leading up to Marathon morning.  That morning is where all the hard work is finally recognized by those around you with the exception of your closest family members and friends who see you working hard day in and day out all in the pursuit of marathon glory.

As I ticked off the miles I thought of three runners who I am proud to call my friends.  Brothers in arms, who will all be racing this Sunday at Marathons across the country.

Marathoner Bob

Bob from Riverhead New York, who will be running in the Mohawk-River Marathon in Albany, NY.

Winston, competing in his 30th marathon, will be looking to break the 3 hour mark at the Prairie Fire Marathon on the day he turns 50 years old. 

And of course Sean from Ohio who will be running his very first marathon at Chicago on Sunday for his wife, his children, himself and also for Dom.  Raising money for Sierra and Nico D’Eramo in their Father’s memory, Running for Dom.

Bob who is a multiple marathoner participated at last year’s Boston Marathon in April is an accomplished runner.  With a daughter who is a budding cross country runner, the sport is a big part of Bob’s life.  What each of us who has been lucky enough to get to know Bob realizes is that the term “Runner” doesn’t define Bob.  It actually doesn’t even come close.   To do so would be to disregard what a genuinely caring and wonderful husband, father and friend Bob is.

Bob is always the first to shout encouragement to runners of all skill levels, share training advice and tips as well as great humor and caring when it is needed the most.  Through his photography he is also able to show us some of the most beautiful New York State Coastal landscapes many of us will ever see.

Sunset captured by Bob on a Run

Bob has trained incredibly hard for the Sunday’s race, covering more training mileage than he ever has before – all in the hopes of running a personal best on Sunday.  This summer and fall Bob simply “crushed” training run after training run, day after day.  At tune-up events, Bob ran strong, confidently and with a level of excellence time in and time out.

But as many of us unfortunately have come to find out, the marathon is a cruel, cruel test with many battles to be fought and won.  Getting to the starting line 100% healthy is sometimes the toughest battle of all.  Bob began struggling with some foot pain with only 3 weeks to go in his training plan.  He visited with his Doctor, changed his orthotics all in the hopes of getting to the starting line ready to give his very best and run well.

Cruelly, Bob then began suffering from respiratory issues and has still yet to fully recover.  I thought of Bob Wednesday morning in the cool West Texas air that for the first time this year formed tears in my eyes from the cool wind blowing against my face stride after stride.  Bob deserves better I thought.  We are all hoping that with 4 more days to race day it all comes together for him and that he gets to run that race on Sunday confidently and healthy, to be given the opportunity to let all that hard work and training show through. 

Bob is a marathoner.  I know he is ready for anything that comes his way this weekend.

Winston at Boston 2010

I hit a particularly flat section on my run and I thought of Winston up in Wichita, KS.  Some of you may remember Winston from our chance meeting on the sidewalk boarding one of the hundreds of buses transporting runners from downtown Boston to Hopkinton at the start of the Boston Marathon in April.

Until that morning we had only known each other from posting our training experience on Dailymile and from my ramblings on this blog.  Winston approached me with a confident look in his eyes on April 19, 2010 and asked “are you Joe?”  I could see just by returning Winston’s focused gaze that he know exactly why I was on that sidewalk and exactly who I was running for.

That day started a great friendship, one where I couldn’t possibly be looking more forward to our paths crossing again.

Winston like Bob is a tremendous athlete.  He is a phenomenal runner, capable of running a monster time this weekend.  I have a number in my mind for Winston this Sunday, but will be keeping it to myself only to share with him only after his race.  Let’s just say I too believe that Winston will be breaking that 3:00 hour mark on his 50th Birthday.

Sunday will be a pretty remarkable day in the life of a remarkable man.  Winston will run his 3,000 mile of 2010 when he reaches the final mile of the marathon.  Truly amazing.

The funny thing is, as incredible a runner as Winston is, he is an even better human being.  If you ask Winston about all the things he is looking forward to on Sunday, he would freely admit that having his daughter make the trip from New York to run on the same course as her Dad is what will make the day so very special. 

She will be running the half-marathon and I have no doubt that Winston will draw strength from her, his two sons, wife, family and friends to do his very best on Sunday.  I would love to be there to see it.  Winston is a true marathoner both in body and spirit.  I have no doubt he is going to leave everything on the course this Sunday at the Prairie Fire Marathon.

Soon to be Marathoner Sean

In Chicago Sean will be running his first ever marathon.  Sean has been another tremendous friend and supporter of our effort to Run for Dom.  In a race that Sean should probably be running for no one other than himself, he is going to battle the 26 mile, 385 yard course in memory of Dom’s battle against cancer which ended this summer on August 15, 2010.

Sean and I have never met in person, but have forged a great friendship over the many months and many miles traveled that has gotten Sean to this point.  He is in the final stretch of taking on a challenge that less than 1% of us will ever even try.

He has trained for months, running farther and faster than he ever has before.

Sean’s journey to the start of the Chicago Marathon over the last year is truly inspiring.  Please click here if you had missed reading about Sean, you can also read more about Sean at Why I Run.

Sean on a 20-mile training run

Sean has committed to not only raising money for the 529 Educational Funds that we have established for Dom’s children Sierra and Nico, but he has also pledged to match 50% of all donations that are made this weekend out of his own pocket.

If you are interested in helping please click here or visit:

I have no doubt that Sean is going to give everything he has on race day to complete every inch of the Chicago Marathon course.  I am so very proud of Sean and all of the hard work and the long training hours he has put in preparing for this moment.

Sean will be joining an exclusive club on Sunday afternoon after battling the elements, the course, the crowds, muscle pain and soreness.  When he covers those final 6.2 miles at the end of the Marathon he will have pushed the limits of his body, mind and spirit to go farther than he ever has before – all in the quest to become a Marathoner.

I would wish each of my friends good luck this weekend, however every marathoner knows that luck has absolutely nothing to do with our sport.  Instead I will wish you all a good race.

I couldn’t be happier for each of you or more proud to call you my friends as your race days approach.  The only bit of advice I can give to you at this point is this.

Stay away from the Shrimp Vindaloo for your pre-race meal on Saturday night.  You don’t want any part of that.  Go get ’em guys!

Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose.