This blog launched in November of 2009 as I found myself taking on a large personal challenge in support of a great friend. What began as a chronicle of my first trip to the Boston Marathon, became something very different when a close friend was diagnosed with cancer.
I caught the running bug back in 2005 after a few years of travel, late dinners and rides on airplanes, trains and rental cars turned my previously somewhat athletic build into an overweight 30-something who would have had a hard time finishing a 1 mile jog. I really couldn’t tell you one way or the other as I never attempted it quite frankly.
However, while getting ready for a vacation with friends I realized that I needed to shed a few pounds – so I began to walk a mile every day at lunchtime.
After a couple of weeks my walks turned to 1/2 walking, 1/2 slow jogging then into a full jog by the end of the month. It is at this point that I feel as if my “inner-runner” was uncovered after 36 years. Exercise increased, diet improved, pounds were shed and in a few short months I had lost 41 pounds and was comfortably running 3-5 miles five times a week.
I still considered myself a “sane-person” at that point – until the owner of our company and a great mentor to me challenged me to take on the marathon distance. It is at this point that I feel as if I crossed over to the “other side” and really became a distance runner. I’m sure you know the type who run their distances in any type of weather, have more than 4 pairs or running shoes at any given time, can automatically calculate how quickly they can run 6 miles, 8 miles, 10 miles and still make it to Sunday breakfast on-time …. yup, I’m that guy.
In 2009 I took on the challenge of posting a time that would qualify me for the Boston Marathon – at the time, the qualification requirement for someone my age (42) was 3:20:00.
Training took on a new meaning over the 18-weeks leading up to the Pittsburgh Marathon. Each run had a specific purpose – each mile was taken very seriously and after 681 training miles and a great race – I was able to finish under my goal time at 3:17:43 finishing in 282nd place overall at Pittsburgh (ironically Dom’s hometown).
My wife, her family, our friend Jason and in fact Dom all made it to a great breakfast place in Dormont near Dom’s home called the Dor Stop – not for one moment knowing what lay ahead.
Up until August of that year “Boston” seemed to be a significant challenge and a great accomplishment – until I received the news that our friend Dom was diagnosed with a serious form of gastrointestinal cancer. Suddenly 5:00 am training runs did not seem like such a big obstacle to overcome. Dom was dealt a serious blow as was his wife, 3-year old daughter Sierra and 4-month old son Nico. It was all I could do to think about how lucky I was to have the life that I do and how could I possibly help my good friend.
On a Sunday training run I was thinking about how great it would have been to go back to the Pittsburgh Marathon this year and race in Dom’s hometown once again to support his fight. But with only 13 days between the Boston Marathon and the Pittsburgh Marathon – how could I possibly run both races? Well, that is Exactly the challenge we took on for Dom.
The experience not only changed things for me for all-time, but it brought hundreds of people together in support of Dom and his family, raising more than $33,000 for his children’s College education(s)
One thing that I learned over the past several years and thousands of miles run is that it really is about the journey, not about the ending. Running taught me that lesson in a short period of time when somehow that revelation had escaped me during the first 35 years of my life.
For that I will always be grateful – I hope to learn a great deal more about life, love, sacrifice, challenges and victories this year. 2010 certainly presented its challenges – but we all have more time to make a difference in our own lives and those who we come in contact with. This year is going to be a great, great year – as we continue to keep kicking cancer’s ass 26.2 miles at a time!
Texas Half 2012