In February of 1999, my dad suffered a heart attack. Fortunately, he was otherwise in good health, swimming 5 days a week might have saved his life. However, while he was in the hospital, I realized I was looking at myself in another 20 years if I didnít change my life style..
Being born and raised in
So as my dad was in the hospital, going through his ordeal, I decided Iíd change my lifestyle. Iíd run the marathon..
When I first made
this announcement, of course everybody thought I was nuts.
What makes this overweight, middle aged
guy (with shaky knees) think he can run 26 miles?
Only two people didnít laugh at me.
First, my oldest daughter Cara.
To her, I guess I could do anything, so why should anybody doubt it?
Second, Carol, from
our fitness center. Sheíd
She gave me a couple of interesting stats. She told me that of all the people that start a marathon, something like 80% of them will finish it. Hmmm, sounds a little high. Sure, but hereís what really matters Ė of all the people that start training for a marathon, less than 40% of them will start it. Ahh, thereís the key Ė if you can discipline yourself to make it through the training, then you can find a way to finish!
In hindsight, Iím the poster boy for demonstrating that anybody can run a marathon. Seriously, if I could do it, then anybody can do it. When I first started training, I could barely run a single mile, and when I finished my knees hurt so badly that I had trouble walking for 2 days afterwards. No problem, says Carol, here are some leg exercises to strengthen your knees..
Little by little, I persevered. Two friends that also were going to run with me dropped out of the training, but I stuck with it. For each and every pain and injury I suffered, Carol would provide sage advice and encouragement.
On the day of the marathon, a workmate joined me. Matt Jucius, a new hire, young, in shape, and didnít know any better (ďA marathon? Sounds like fun, sure, Iíll join you!Ē). Matt, of course, finished without any problems. For me, the day was hell.
My first marathon turns out to have been one of the most brutal Boston Marathons in recent history. A 20 mph headwind the entire way, which turned into a sea breeze just after the halfway point. I had started with a long sleeve shirt on over my running shirt, but tied it around my waist early, as it wasnít needed. At the half way point I handed it off to a friend who was spectating, big mistake. One mile later the headwind turned frigid, and I was not a happy camper.
At mile 14 I hit my wall. Lovely. 12 miles to go, even starting fresh thatís more than 99% of the human race can manage, and Iím out of energy.
I donít remember much of those 12 miles, except that they were a cold, frigid, hell. I stumbled the entire way, but stuck with it. I am a stubborn bastard, I donít like to give up.
As I rounded the final bend, my eyes filled with tears. Iíd run through hell and made it, now Iíd see my dad and family, and cross the finish line! Whoo hoo! I looked off towards the right of the course, where they were supposed to be, but I could see no sign of them. I stumbled along, now looking to the left and right of the course, still no sign of them. As I crossed the finish line, I remember thinking ďhow the hell am I going to get home?Ē.
Ha! Turns out they were hanging out a bit after the finish line, having come out in the wrong place they werenít able to backtrack along the route.
We had our emotional greeting, and went to dinner afterwards. I was bruised and had a couple of wicked blisters on my toes, but otherwise I was on the top of the world.
Having achieved that goal, I swore Iíd never do it again..