So Now What? I Might Be One Marathon Short….


Marathon Sunday came and went here in New York City, and New Yorkers were really focused more on recovery efforts than anything else.  Runners from all over the globe that were visiting The Big Apple to participate in one of the world’s largest running events decided to help with the relief efforts by bringing needed clothing and goods to Staten Island.  Other runners spent the sunny Sunday in Central Park, hovering around a finish line that felt so close…yet so far away.

 

I realized that, based on my marathon schedule, that the cancellation of this race would leave me one marathon short of my goal for 2012.  11 marathons in 2012 is NOT 12.  I’m no rocket scientist…but that’s math that even a dimwit like me can handle.  So I made a conscious decision to run a solo marathon the following Sunday, November 11th.  That would allow me to finish my 2012 marathon of marathons in Philadelphia the following Sunday, November 18th.  It was a makeshift, aggressive plan – but it would have to do.    

 

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If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause.  Thanks!

 

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

 

The 2012 ING New York City Marathon


 

 

Before the arrival of Marathon Week, the city begins to change slightly.  The air gets a little bit colder.  Billboards advertising the marathon go up in almost every train station.  City buses have marathon advertisements along their sides.  Banners are hung from street lights in close proximity to the course.  Then the official orange Marathon Route banners are hung along actual marathon course.  As a runner, these things are noticed as they appear…and each time a marathon reference is noticed, a smile crosses my face.  I’m going to be running that Sunday.  Goosebumps.

 

Marathon Week began with two big events: The Poland Spring 5 miler Marathon Kick Off in Central Park…and continued, growing concerns regarding the pending hurricane Sandy.  The hurricane was due to hit the tri-state area sometime late Sunday / early Monday morning, and all of the cards were aligned against us: high tides, a full moon, strong, cold winds coming down from the north at the same time as the Sandy ravaged her way up our coastline. 

 

The 5 miler was run under very cloudy skies and a firm wind.  Sandy was already, at this point in the day, RSVPing her arrival.  It was unmistakable.  Less than one full loop of Central Park, I felt inclined to push myself in order to find out what pace I could handle for this distance.  I hammered out the first 3 miles at a 9 minute pace, and was stunned when I passed the 3 miler marker and noticed the elapsed time.  For once, my Marathon Math actually HELPED my situation.  Realizing that I only had 2 miles to go, I kept repeating the same mantra over and over again as I maintained my steady, hard pace: “the mind wants to quit before the body”.  I crossed the finish line with a Personal Record for the 5 mile distance, and renewed enthusiasm based on the fact that I was able to push myself hard and not give in to my desire to ease up.  I felt like the week began with the best possible omen. 

 

Monday and Tuesday of Marathon Week were – quite literally – a disaster.  Record flooding and high winds gave our city a down-home, grade A, no-holds barred schoolyard ass kicking.  Millions were without power.  Thousands of people lost their homes and all of their worldly possessions.  The drama unfolded on the local news stations like a 24 hour car-wreck that you cannot help but rubberneck.  Our government officials worked their butts off to keep us as safe as possible – but let’s face it: a natural disaster is something that no politician can fully defend against.  When the dust settled and the damage was made clear, I think the amount of devastation shocked most of us.  Hard to believe this type of destruction could occur way up here from a hurricane.  Mother Nature punched us right in the jaw.  Hard.

 

Now let me clear something up right now: New Yorkers (and also people from New Jersey – cannot leave them out of this conversation by any means) have an attitude. We like to think of ourselves as pretty darn tough.  We live in a fairly fast-talking, fast-paced location, where something is constantly going on and everyone just seems to be perpetually busy.  No one ever hits the breaks.  Ever.  And because of the highly-competitive environment, we all seem to do our own things and look out for our individual families.  We may come across to people not from our neck of the woods to be rather gruff at times.  However – when something like 9/11 or another horrible incident like this hurricane occurs, that’s when you see who we New Yorkers really are.  That’s when we hit the breaks, take a step back and rally around each other.  It’s also when our attitude really becomes a positive quality.  Mother Nature wants to punch US in the jaw?  Well come on – take your best shot because you won’t knock us out.

 

Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Bloomberg made the decision that the ING New York City Marathon would still be held on Sunday, November 4th.  At first, this announcement brought me renewed hope.  The marathon is the single best day of the year in the city.  It brings us all together.  It sends a message of unity and hope.  And after this storm and the tragedy that it caused, New York City could really use a good day.  As Wednesday rolled into Thursday, and Thursday slid into Friday, the public outpouring of frustration, anger and grief caused by the sheer amount of loss incurred by the tri-state area resulted in the Mayor’s reversal of his decision: the marathon would be cancelled.

 

My initial response was relief.  The hostility that was building for this race being held on Sunday was disheartening.  But I believe that the decision to cancel the race was a good one.  It made sense.  I also want to believe that there were good reasons for delaying the reversal’s announcement until late Friday afternoon – but that seems to be a rather political debate, and I for one have a rather sensitive stomach for politics.  I think that the race should have been cancelled early in the week, and from all I’ve read and heard that seems to be the general consensus.  This race is a day of hope in the city – and I hope that next year’s marathon will be one that is supported by the city on an unprecedented level.  Time will tell. 

 

While I am not a politician and I respect everyone else’s opinion, I want to share one point: I feel that the New York Road Runners CEO, Mary Wittenberg, tried her best to simply do the right thing.  I have met her a number of times – I have seen the care and concern she has for every race put on by NYRR.  The level of planning and organization as well as the sheer amount of workers’ and volunteers’ efforts are incredible.  A year’s worth of countless hours goes in to Marathon Week.  To see it canceled after all of that effort has been poured into it has to be TOUGH.  But the right decision was made.  And sometimes doing the right thing hurts.  I don’t know how I would have handled all of the pressure that Mary had to deal with – I probably would have snapped.  She’s a strong leader, and deserves a ton of credit.  Now some of you may disagree with me, and I respect any opinion out there – but I just know that if I were placed in the same position as she was, I would not have handled things nearly as well.    

 

Saturday morning arrived, and I went for a lite run over the 59th Street Bridge – the edifice that I refer to as Mount Sonofabitch – and I realized how lucky I was.  I had power.  My home was undamaged.  My family was safe and sound.  I am not a real bible-pounding, religious dude – but I can say that I felt blessed to be in the position I was in.  As the sun cascaded over the east river and the cold breeze slapped me in the face, I felt like I needed to do something positive.  This was a rough week – I needed to end it on a positive note.  So I decided to attempt to run 26.2 miles the following morning anyway.  Four full loops of Central Park, plus a little bit more.  That would do it.  But first I headed home, grabbed a ton of stuff to donate to those New Yorkers that now needed the basics, and bagged them up to ship them out.  Marathon Sunday would be a personal endeavor this year for me.  I didn’t know how much of my heart would be into the next morning’s efforts – but I figured I’d give it a shot anyway.

 

(I know I am usually a tad more funny when I post blog entries – but this was a very rough week for us here in NY / NJ / CT.  I wasn’t in a chipper mood.  I wanted to reflect the gravity of the situation – and this disaster is not for me to make lite of in any way.  I’ll be back to my normal wise-ass self soon, I’m sure.  And to my friends that dealt with much rougher circumstances than I did this week – I’m just glad you are all safe.)  

 

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If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause.  Thanks!

 

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

The Hardest Mile I’ve Ever Run


The week after my trek through Central Park, I found that it took longer than usual to recover.  I gave myself two days of complete rest prior to attempting to get up and complete a lite run on Wednesday morning.  Quite honestly, I just went through the motions.  I ran without focus and without a measureable goal.  My head wasn’t into my training.  As the weekend drew closer, I realized that my mind wasn’t really helping my body heal up.  Why?  Because I wasn’t exactly in the most positive frame of mind.

Do you recall how disappointed I was with my poor effort during my August marathon in rye, New York (refer to this one if you want to check out my recap:   https://backofthepacker.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/marathon-8-the-self-transcendence-marathon-part-1/ and  https://backofthepacker.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/marathon-8-the-self-transcendence-marathon-part-2/) ?  While the prior weekend’s solo adventure put me in a fantastic frame of mind because I was surrounding my my teammates during the second half of my run – my Nike + watch kept telling me that I had yet to piece together the kind of mistake-free marathon that I knew that I had in me.  In my blog entry late last week (  https://backofthepacker.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/marathon-9-another-self-inflicted-marathon-through-central-park/ ), I mentioned that I needed to work on my “Shooter’s Mentality” – the ability to forget the bad experiences / races immediately, and continue to “train it and trust it” – continue to work hard so that, on race day, I can trust in my abilities to provide the expected results / improvement.  Well, the Shooter’s Mentality hasn’t kicked in just yet….and I’m training – but not trusting.  Oy.

What I needed was a little taste of success.  I needed to show myself that progress has been made this year.  And the New York Road Runners Fifth Avenue Mile on Saturday was going to be just the opportunity that I required.

The Fifth Avenue Mile is a fantastic race where runners of all ages run down Fifth Avenue from the corner of 80th Street to the corner of 60th Street, finishing just outside of the southeast corner of Central Park.  The one mile course begins with a slight decline, followed by lite uphill run.  The last third of a mile is a sprint down one last downhill to the finish line.  The record for the course is 3:54, I believe.  (And FYI: THAT AIN’T SLOW, FOLKS).  Although the distance is MUCH shorter than the races I’ve particiapted in throughout 2012, this event resulted in…quite honestly…the hardest mile I have ever run in my life.

The runners were broken up by male/female and age group.  By the time my agre group assembled at the starting line, I was resolved to push myself to the absolute limit as far as pace was concerned.  Once I crossed the starting line, I was going to run as fast as I could for as long as I could.  Within minutes, the gun went off and we crossed the starting line.

I “sprinted” (ok, let’s face it – that word is in quotes because it looks good whilst discussing a one mile race; however, I don’t think I can call ANY type of running that I do a true sprint….one cannot sprint whilst carrying a baby grand piano on your back) right off of the line and, within a quarter mile, I felt my breathing become very rapid.  I was not used to running like this.  It began to hurt at I reached to top of the course’s one incline.  I was about to slow my pace down a bit for fear of breaking completely.  It was at that moment, with the finish line slightly less than half a mile away, that I actually got stubborn for once.

Knowing that I only had 10 blocks to cover and the race would be over, I recalled what one of my TFK coaches kept telling me during speed work one Wednesday a couple of months prior.  While running a timed 5k one Wednesday evening, Coach Glen saw that I wasn’t using my arms as effectively as I should be.  So he came up behind me and starting telling me “Use your arms! Throw your elbows back!  It’ll add speed and make your pace easier to hold on to”.  As th arms go – so do the legs.  I heard Coach Glen’s words over and over in my head, and I went to my arms.  AND IT WORKED!  I sped up – I could feel it.  The feeling of actually getting faster instead of breaking down fired me up.  I decided to really push it durin the last quarter mile…and then I noticed the clock over the finish line.  I couldn’t believe it.  

I crossed the finish line and immediately looked for a garbage can.  I really left it all on the course.  I felt sick to my stomach – but I knew that I did the best I could.  Unlike other races run this year, I wouldn’t be able to look back at this race and say “my time would have been a little better if I did this or that differently”.  I could honestly say that I gave all that I had.  And I couldn’t believe the results.  One mile in 7 minutes and 10 seconds.  I have NEVER run that fast in my entire life.  

This was the positive experience I needed to shake myself out of the duldrums that I was dealing with lately.  Now, all I need to do is build on this experience and gain some momentum going into the deepest part of my racing season.

 

 

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If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause.  Thanks!

 

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

 

Marathon #9: Another Self-Inflicted Marathon Through Central Park


After my horrid performance in Rockland County, New York, I felt like I needed to bounce back in a rather quiet, determined way. My September marathon was scheduled for the middle of the month in Dayton, Ohio. I have heard nothing but amazing things about The Air Force Marathon, and I was really looking forward to it; however, life gets in the way at times – and responsibilities elsewhere required me to cancel my reservations. So just like June, when I missed the Lake Placid Marathon, I was faced with a dilemma. I needed to keep my promise of a marathon a month – but I was now left without a race to run.

I enjoyed a relaxing, long Labor Day Weekend visiting family in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I even got to play a really fun round of golf with my cousin Dennis, on the Michigan University course. I hacked away at the ball for a few hours, actually hit 4-5 ok shots (the rest of my swings were downright embarrassing – at one point a woodchuck literally rolled his eyes at me as i attempted (in vain) to escape the rough along the 8th fairway). As poorly as i played, i could have cared less because laughed the whole way through. good company has a way of making you forget some of the things that sat sour in your mind. Spending time with family was just the type of magic elixir I needed to shake off my lousy August performance.

Upon my return, I felt that spark come back. I had been feeling a bit down due to my inability to push through a rather tame injury during the Self Transcendence Marathon. I expected much more from myself than I actually delivered. Now that the spark was back, I decided to capitalize on my new-found positivity and crank out 26.2 in the same manner as my June run. Time to completely exorcise the demon.

The Saturday after Labor Day, I decided to leave my apartment really early and run at least 13 miles before the beginning of my Team for Kids weekly long training run. I would then join up with the team as a mentor, and run with them for my last 13-14 miles. I woke up that Saturday morning…well…in the words of John Geutfriend (former CEO of the old Solomon Brothers) “ready to bite the ass off a bear”. (I think that term is another way of saying “I’m all fired up”…but I’ve been dying to use that quote – so there you go).

I grabbed a water bottle – I chose not to use my hydration pack because there are water fountains all over Central Park – dosed myself with Body Glide, grabbed my studly sunglasses and off and headed to the park.

I paced myself as I made my way along the outer loop of the Park.  As I’ve mentioned a few times before, Central Park is pretty hilly in spots, and I am VERY anti-incline.  So pacing conservatively early on allowed me to save energy for the second loop.  By the time I had completed my two loops, it was almost time to meet up with Team For Kids near the Columbus Circle entrance of the park.  13 miles down in 2 hours, 6 minutes.  I shocked myself – that was a personal best for the half marathon distance.

The team broke up into three groups: those that run sub 9 minute miles (I wish!), those that run approximately 9-10 minute miles (I can do that for a 10k – but it’s tough for 20 full miles, and I had 13 down already), and those running 10:30 minute per mile or greater.  I went with this last group, in order to maintain my momentum.

 As our group made its way along the park’s Bridal Path, the energy generated by running as a team kept the spring in my legs long after the point where I expected to be fried.  Early on I had one teammate that dealt with some nasty stomach issues (and boy do I have my MBA in THAT field!), so I slowed up and tried to coach her through it. I got her around one loop of the path, and then she made the decision to call it a day.  A wise move.  You can prepare as well as humanly possible for a long run…but you never know what your body has in store for you once you’re out there, doing your thing.  Some days are fantastic, and some days aren’t.  As a runner, you just have to be enjoy the good days, and learn from the bad ones.  We parted ways, and I kept slowly chugging along.

As I watched her walk toward our team’s meeting area to pick up her bag, I thought back to my golf game in Ann Arbor.  I hit a BUNCH of lousy shots.  Ones that made the pigeons giggle and the squirrels nervous.  But being with friendly people, on a perfect day, walking on a gorgeous course – my mistakes were forgotten almost instantly.  My head simply stayed in the present.  The 4-5 good shots that I did manage to slug – those are the only ones I can recall.  In my years of studying the game of golf, I read a few books written by Dr. Bob Rotella.  My favorite was “Golf is Not a Game of Perfect”.  Within it, Dr. Rotella talks about how the best players in the world develop a “shooter’s mentality” – the ability to forget the shots that went wayward, and focus on the successful ones.  He also mentions that the best players work really hard at the game – they practice every type of shot, every day.  They practice so much that, when it comes time to play a match, they trust their swing to do exactly what it normally does in practice.  They “train it and trust it”.  As I plodded along the path, attempting to catch the rest of my group, I decided that I needed to develop my own Shooter’s Mentality when it came to running.  In order to do that, I need to train it and trust it – train my legs and trust that they can go the distance I tell them to.

As miles 21-22 were being reeled in, I decided to transfer from the Bridal Path to the outer loop of the park.  I needed the last miles to be focused, and for that I needed to run solo.  In my head, I reviewed prior performances this year.  Some were good and others…not so much.  But I finished each one that I began.  There was my shooter’s mentality: I finish what I start.  I’ve trained enough to trust my legs to get me at least 26.2 miles.  Now all I need to do is improve.  Mile 22 rolled into mile 23…..and suddenly I realized I was 24 miles into my run.  I had begun to walk after talking water at each fountain along the loop, and it was becoming very hard to start running once I downshifted to walking.  My shooter’s mentality came back again – you can do this.  You can do this because you’ve done it many times before.  That was the positive kick in the ass that I required.

The final 3 miles were spent at a VERY slow pace, with a big smile on my face.  I looked at my watch as I neared the Boathouse on the east side of the park: 27.8 miles.  Time to shut this thing down.  I had never felt so good physically after a marathon.  I think it’s because my head was in the right place. 

Funny….one game of golf changed my mental chemistry.

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If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause.  Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

….Assessing the Damage…


After my 29 mile waddle around a decent portion of Manhattan, I limped home to assess the damage:

 

  • My feet were sore – well that’s no big surprise.  I just ran 29 miles and spent a good portion of the time treading on concrete.  The slight pain I felt was focused around my left heel – the very heel that gave me fits with plantar faciitis about two years ago.  I told this as a sign from the running Gods to retire my beaten pair of Brooks Glycerine running shoes.  I made a mental note to hit my local running store for a brank spankin’ new pair this week. (Note to my fellow waddlers, turtles, and/or nuggets out there: don’t wait until your feet begin to feel some serious pain to get new running shoes.  From what I’ve read, running shoes are usually pretty good for 300-500 miles.  Then…well…you’re playing roulette with your feet – and The Tool is Pit Boss of that casino.  Trust me: you’re better off spending money on new running shoes than taking a chance and winding up with plantar faciitis, because that injury can take anywhere from 6-18 months to completely heal.)

 

  • It felt like The Tool found a nice, comfortable spot right on top of my head, and proceeded to pound my forehead with a Louisville Slugger right between my eyes.  My head was throbbing – and since I’ve been running for a decent bit of time, I knew what that meant.  I was dehydrated.  REALLY dehydrated.  Although I tried my best to maintain fluid intake, I screwed up.  I took too much water early on, and not enough later in my run.  Dumb move.  Yet another reason to do as I say and NOT as I do.  I highly recommend NOT trying to run 26.2 solo for MANY reasons, dehydration being only one of them.  I know the rules of staying hydrated, first of which is this: if you wait until you’re thirsty to drink water, it’s already too late.  From what I’ve read in various marathoning books and running magazines, one of the themes I’ve noticed was that distance runners need to make sure that they drink at least 4 ounces of water every 20 minutes.  While I have absolutely no idea what the right amount of fluids are to take in each mile, I do know that I waited way too long in the later stages of my run to find some Chateau Bloomberg 2012.  Say it with me: Joe, you’re an idiot.

 

  • I got too much sun.  Way too much sun.  I left in the morning looking as white as my Mom’s retriever, Henry (oh trust me – his hair is white even though he’s technically a yellow lab)..and I returned looking like the long lost love child of George Hamilton.  I didn’t remember to put on sun block.  Why?  Well you know the answer to that question.  So say it with me: Joe, you’re an idiot.     

 

  • My upper back was stiff – but not as bad as I expected it to be. And my arms were sore – but it was a satisfied kind of sore.  Know what I mean?  It was the kind of sore that was the result of a really good work out.  I guessed that the work I’ve been putting in to strengthen my upper body was beginning to pay dividends. 

 

  • I experienced very little chaffing.  Thank the Gods for BodyGlide.

 

  • I was not hungry. Sounds odd, right?  I just burnt well over 3,000 – 3,500 calories, and when all was said and done I was not hungry.  It was as if my stomach basically sent a message to my brain saying “hey dude, you’ve been running for the last six hours.  All of us in here have been bouncing constantly to the point where we now feel like Michael Spinks about 90 seconds into his bout with Tyson.  So forget the delicious dinner.  Just say no to post-race goodies.  Get all of us home and GO TO SLEEP.  Fortunately my stomach, my back, my sore feet, and every other part of me that felt like it was just pulverized…I didn’t listen to my body.  Instead, I actually did something right: I grabbed a cold bottle of chocolate milk.  According to many runners much wiser than me, chocolate milk is supposed to really help the recovery process.  So I grabbed a big bottle of Quick and continued my trek home.

 

After I took a shower I drifted off to the soothing sounds of a wonderful air conditioner.  I felt like I accomplished something – accidentally running more than 26.2 was dumb, I know.  But it also taught me that I could go longer than I thought possible. 

 

Lord knows I’m not nearly as gifted or as strong as many of the runners I am lucky enough to be surrounded by – but I saw some progression today.  I realized that I could dip into my reserves for more when called upon.  Historically, I’ve been the kind of guy that takes his foot off the throttle when things get really tough.  Although I don’t quit – I’ve found myself getting to the finish line with a few drops of fuel left in the tank.  And I regret that simple fact.  But today was different.

 

As I lumbered into Central Park and realized that my watch had died, I knew approximately how much distance I needed to cover in order to reach 26.2.  But I was not 100% positive.  And I didn’t want to come up short.  As I passed my tiny finish line I had a choice to make: say “enough is enough”, and then go home and possibly come up short – or drop the hammer and see just how much gas I had left in the tank.  Ordinarily, I would have taken the easy way out.  But as I crossed the statue at the 72nd street transverse and the west side drive which was supposed to be my final destination, my feet chose to simply keep going.  Today was a day that I chose NOT to disappoint myself.  To see how far I could go.  Granted I didn’t go another 10 miles or more – I only went about 3 miles more than I really needed to – but I kept going.  As I waddled up the west side drive toward the 102nd street transverse, I kept thinking of a saying posted on one of the walls of the Mission: Space attraction in Epcot.  It’s by Arthur C. Clarke: “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible”.  Yesterday I felt like my absolute limit was 26.2.  Today I ventured past my limits…and it felt good.

 

If you really stop and think about it, there are no limitations as to what each of us can achieve.  Walt Disney came up with a process called “Blue Skying”, where he and his team of what are now known as Imagineers sit down and develop an idea.  Or two. Or three.  During the discussion, only positive terms can be used.    The team “pluses” the idea and grows it, ignoring all limitations and thereby allowing the concept to grow to its full potential.  I woke up Monday morning achy yet refreshed…and determined to Blue Sky my life.  That’s why I’ve begun to place that last sentence on each of my blog entries: “you don’t get today back, so make it count”.  It’s a reminder to myself not to waste time.  To stay focused and develop my ideas instead of sitting back and letting them gather dust inside my head.

 

Paul Tergat once said “ask yourself, ‘can I give more?’  The answer is probably yes.”  That’s the kind of attitude I now need to harness.  Correction: that’s the kind of attitude I now will harness.     

 

 

 

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause.  Thanks!

 

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

 

My Self-Inflicted Marathon


Before you start reading this blog entry find yourself a comfy chair, preferably someplace massaged by air conditioning.  A tasty alcoholic beverage is always a plus.  So – all set?  Good…because you’ll be reading for a few minutes….

OK, for those of you just joining us – welcome.  I’ll give you a brief synopsis of the story line thus far:

  • I made a decision late last year to run one marathon during each calendar month of 2012 in order to generate interest and donations to The Dream Team Project  (www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project).  It’s a charity that I really believe in, for it combines my affinity for the Disney community, my love of running and my desire to help children that are battling life-threatening illnesses as well as their families.
  • The experiences have been wonderful and rough at the same time.  So far I’ve run one race in 27 degree temperatures, I’ve lost a tooth eight miles into another race while in the process of simply taking fuel, I’ve finished a race which provided sixteen miles of hills (which is odd, because the state of Pennsylvania looks so much flatter on a map), and I’ve finished two marathons in a week.  (I just re-read what I wrote, and I just called a shrink.  I need professional help.)  (And yes – I’ve known this for a while – but that last paragraph served as a self-intervention).
  • June’s marathon was scheduled for the weekend of the 9th and 10th in Lake Placid, New York.  Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the race due to personal issues.  (Let me translate that one for you: I was sick as hell and was having a hard time breathing.  Now I’m not the brightest bulb on Broadway – as a matter of fact I’m as sharp as a bowling ball – but even I knew that it wasn’t a good idea to attempt a marathon when I was in the middle of coughing up a lung).
  • I didn’t want to break my promise…so I needed to come up with another marathon to run before the end of June.  I searched the internet – no luck.  There was only one thing for me to do: just run my own race.  So I made the decision to run 26.2 on my own around Manhattan on Sunday, June 24th. (and let me put it this way: in the history of mankind, this was NOT the best decision ever made.)

OK – so now you’re all caught up.  I’ve attached links to the blog entries that described each race, if you’re interested in reading more about my prior races.

I woke up here in Manhattan Sunday morning at around 5am and, quite honestly, I wished that I could simply roll over and catch another four hours of rest.  I took a hot shower, got changed, and had a bowl of raisin bran (just recently determined that this cereal is the key for me on race day  and I’m pissed about that.  Why couldn’t it be Lucky Charms instead?  Marshmallows…sugar…a little leprechaun on the box…it’s breakfast perfection as far as I’m concerned).  This lovely meal was followed by some light stretching, where I simply waved at my toes from a distance.  I threw my hydration pack over my shoulder, and off I went.

I slowly walked west from my apartment to Riverside Park.  I really got lucky: the weather was perfect. Not a cloud in the sky, low humidity and temperatures only going up to about 80 degrees at the height of the day.  I felt strangely relaxed.  I brought money with me, just in case I needed fluids while on the road, my iPhone was fully charged and ready to play music and snap some pictures, and I felt like I was as ready as I was ever going to be.  I made my way down toward the runners’ / bikers’ path that runs along the Hudson River, and stood for a few moments to take in the view.  This might be a nutso thing to attempt – but at least it was a gorgeous day to do it.  I started my watch, and headed south along the path.

Since this was a solo marathon – a so-called “self-inflicted marathon” as some referred to it – I quickly realized that it was simple to keep my pace under control.  Why?  Because there wasn’t a crowd of runners surrounding me that automatically drew out my inner Steve Prefontaine.  I find that, regardless of how many marathons I run, I always go out to fast because of the people around me.  I want to be able to say to myself as I run “hey – look at me – I can stay with these guys, no problem”.  Well the issue of going out too fast was not a factor this morning.  I took off down the path nice…and…easy.

About a mile and a half into my run, I passed the U.S.S. Intrepid – a wonderful retired aircraft carrier which now serves as a museum.  It is accompanied by a World War II submarine, The Concorde, and…as of July 2012…the Space Shuttle.  I took a moment to snap a couple of pictures, and then I waddled on.  My momentum was just beginning to develop.  My pace felt great.  I was truly in rare spirits.  But of course, me being…well…me, my mind went back to that first marathon I ran in 2005.  Mile 15.  The 59th Street Bridge.  Some seasoned marathoner saw me smiling and asked me how I felt.  When I responded in a rather obnoxious, over-emphatic positive manner, his reply was simple: “So you’re feeling good?  Reeeeally good?  Well don’t worry – that won’t last.”

As I made my way downtown along the river, I just found my rhythm and took in the sights: I passed several greenways which were literally extended over the water, I ran past Chelsea Piers (in the area of the city that my daughter is named for), and enjoyed the view of southern part of the island – the financial district.

As I got closer to lower Manhattan, I got the urge to wind through the streets and play the part of a tourist.  So I deviated from my planned course and crossed over the West Side Highway to get up-close and personal with The Freedom Tower.  This is going to be one gorgeous building when it’s completed.  I passed by Ground Zero – and area that still sends shivers up my spine.  I was in midtown that fateful day, and the sights and sounds of that horror are still vivid in my mind, just like I am sure they are in the minds of every other New Yorker – and everyone else for that matter.  I wanted to pass by the memorial reflection pools – but I was too early in the day, and you need a pass to get in.

Once I made my way around the Ground Zero area, I headed back toward the World Financial Center so that I could lift my spirits a bit by staring at luxury yachts in the harbor.  In the World Financial Center Harbor, the types of yachts moored probably have their own zip codes.  They’re huge.  I mean – HUGE.  One was so big that the stern actually acts as a garage for – you guessed it – a smaller boat.  When I grow up, I got to get me one of those!

Just south of the World Financial Center I passed into Battery Park.  I took some shots of the Statue of Liberty before heading past the Staten Island Ferry and beginning my trek up the east side.  I snapped a couple of shots of the Brooklyn Bridge as I approached South Street Seaport; however, it was here that I decided once more to deviate from my planned marathon route and check out a few more touristy locations before moving on.

I headed up Wall Street to the New York Stock Exchange.  Across the street from the Exchange is the location where George Washington took the oath as our first president.  I stopped my watch just for a moment to take a picture…and I hit the wrong button!  8.16 miles into my run.  Oy.  Now I’d have to start my watch up again, and make sure to run another 18.2 miles.  Just my luck.  I reset my watch, and continued on.  Snapped a shot of The Bull on Broadway before turning east and heading back on my original course.

I worked my way northeast from Wall Street, toward the Fulton Street Fish Market. I only got a few blocks north of this area when I realized – I should pass by City Hall.  So – I did.  (Deviating from my planned route once more!)  I then past the Brooklyn Bridge…and decided to run up Broadway instead of the FDR Drive along the East River.  So up Broadway I went.

As I worked my way uptown, I passed Union Square, the Flatiron Building on 23rd Street, and Macy’s on 34th Street.  It was then that I made another decision: I cannot be in this area without passing Madison Square Garden.  As I past MSG, the video playing on the jumbotron was showing great moments in MSG history.  I look up – and there it is.  1994.  Messier (one of my idols).  A good sign.

While in this neck of the woods, I also spun by The Empire State Building before heading back onto Broadway and up to Times Square.  I hung aright on 42nd Street, went past Bryant Park and Grand Central Station, all the way to First Avenue before finally turning north once more.

I ran past the United Nations and up toward the dreaded 59th Street Bridge.  Once under the bridge, I began to run the final ten miles of the official ING New York City Marathon course. It was at this point in the race that I decided not to look at my watch until I entered Central Park.  And…somewhere between 60th and 70th street I also realized that my legs were beginning to get sore.  Plus – I had run out of water.

The water issue was easy enough to address: just run into a store, buy a 20 oz. bottle and move on.  The legs, however – that was another story.  And I knew what was causing the discomfort.

In order to run around Manhattan and not get pancaked by trucks, buses, or crazy cabbies, you need to run on the sidewalks.  Well, New York City sidewalks are all made of concrete…and concrete has virtually no “give” to it.  Any other substance is easier to run on than concrete.  It was along the concrete of the West Side Highway that I first developed plantar facitis during the New York City Half Marathon in 2007.  I should have thought of this factor before beginning Manhattan waddle.  But…this is me we’re talking about.  Just about the only thing I use my head for is a hat rack.

So, after about 14 miles of running on concrete, my legs sent a telegram to my brain.  I believe it was worded as follows:

“To: Brain.  STOP

From: Legs.  STOP

This hurts.  STOP

Concrete sucks for running.  STOP

If you keep this up, you’ll be sorry.  STOP

So – STOP.  STOP”

I was more than half way to my goal, however.  So – I mentally tossed the telegram into the garbage can located in my cerebrum (that’s where I also store other useless data such as my memories of my favorite F Troop episodes, batting averages of the 1977 New York Yankees, and other odd factoids gleamed from countless visits to the American Museum of Natural History), and soldiered on.

By the time I hit the Willis Avenue Bridge, I had already stopped into one small store for a bottle of water.  It was on the corner of 116th and First Avenue.  The gentleman behind the counter saw me, looked at the bottle of water, and asked the simple question:\

“so it looks like you’re running far today”.

“yeah – I’m trying to finish a marathon.  Running for a charity.”

He paused before taking my money. A rather confused / stunned look crossed his face.

“Wait”, he said, “seriously?  A real marathon?  By yourself?”

“Yeah – I have about 9 miles to go.”

He asked me about the charity.  I quickly described what The Dream Team Project does.  His response lit me up.

“Your money is no good here.  Take the water.  You want anything else?”

Now it was my turn to be stunned.  “No – you are way too kind.  Thanks!”  And I continued my waddle northward.  As I made my way to the Bronx, I silently promised myself that I would pay that simple act of kindness forward.

I crossed over into the Bronx with about 7 ½ miles to go.  I had deviated numerous times from my simple route.  I was starting to tire a bit.  And the ache in my legs began to transition to pain.  I started to worry about the plantar facitis coming back.  I chose to ignore it.  I’ll worry about this nonsense when I’m done.

I crossed back into Manhattan, and followed Fifth Avenue to Marcus Garvey Park.  Around the park I went (FYI: I LOVE HARLEM.  There’s something about that neighborhood with all of those turn of the 20th century brownstones that makes me smile), and turned right back onto Fifth.  Up the long incline that I knew so well from past marathons.  Into Central Park at the Engineer’s Gate.  It was at this moment that I checked my watch…and saw that it had died!  I thought I charged the thing!!!  Now I was mad.

I waddled down Cat Hill and across the 72nd street transverse.  The statue on the west side of 72nd street in the park was going to be my finish line – but first I needed to complete one more center loop of the park.  So – up to 104th street.  Then across the transverse.  Back down the east side drive and past the Engineer’s Gate once more.  Past the Boathouse to the 72nd Street transverse once more.  As I turned right to finish, the doubts were rattling in my head – what if all of the deviations from my plotted route caused me to come up just short of 26.2 when I measure it out on MapMyRun this evening?  I cannot come up short, I told myself.  So….I VERY SLOWLY added on one more inner loop.

I finally crossed my pre-planned finish line.  Done.  As I waddled home, I felt content with the effort.  I needed to ice my legs and hope that my old nemesis (plantar facitis) didn’t decide return.

And speaking of returns – I had wondered all day long why The Tool decided to sit this race out.  So I asked him as I sat in the ice bath.  His response was simple:

“Dude, you were running alone.  There was no audience to witness my handiwork.  And think about it, doorknob: you decided to run one solo.  Not the brightest move ever made.  I just figured that you were doing my job for me.”

The little schmuck was right.  Not the brightest move ever.  Hydration was an issue.  Running on concrete was an issue.  The sun was even an issue (I, once more, forgot to use sun block.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am the Wile E Coyote – Super Genius of running…only without any real speed whatsoever).

I logged on to my computer to find out how far I ran.  When I was done mapping my route with all of the twists and turns, the total came out to be just a fraction more than 29 miles.  So I pushed past marathon distance simply because I didn’t know I was doing it at the time.  I gave myself a tour of the city that I love.  I was sore, but I kept my promise…and that – to me – is what really mattered.

_______________________________________________________

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  The Dream Team Project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause, you can do it by visiting the secure donation page here Make-A Wish-Foundation   Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page

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The Night Before…


Pasta: eaten.

Water: consumed.

Clothes: laid out.

Nerves: doing the backflip in my stomach. Oy joy. Something tells me I’m not going to sleep much this evening.

My route will start at 72nd and west side highway. Travel down and around the tip of Manhattan, up the east side to 42nd Street. Hang a left at 42nd, then a right on First avenue. Take first avenue until I cross over into the Bronx via the Willis Avenue Bridge. Cross back into Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge. Down Fifth Avenue to Marcus Garvey Park. Around the park, then down fifth avenue to 90th street. Once in the park, head down to the 72nd street transverse to the west side, hang a right and then to a full loop of the park. The finish is just past Taven on the Green, at the 72nd Street Entrance to the park on the west side.

It’s going to be a fantastic run for some picture-taking!

http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/103733945

Turtle 2.0


After taking two straight days off from running in preparation for this weekend, I was up and out of the apartment early this morning to join my team for its weekly long run.  I know I have 26.2 coming up tomorrow morning – but I also realize that it’s early in the marathon preparation season, and beginner who never ran more than 5-6 miles in their lives might get a little discouraged as the mileage increases.  So I don’t want to miss the weekly long runs, because I just want to do my part to help these nuggets complete the goal in November.

 

I remember how I felt in 2007.  It was the first time I ever ran with a team, and I was even slower than I currently am (which is extremely difficult to believe, yet true nonetheless).  When I began running with the group, I realized that almost all of them were faster than me.  They could run longer and harder.  When they stretched, they could actually touch their toes, while I simply had to wave hello to mine from an embarrassing distance.  I felt discouraged.  I didn’t feel ready.  I didn’t feel like a true part of the team because I felt like I held the team back in some odd way.  So….I stopped showing up.  I didn’t quit – I just stopped showing up.  By the time Marathon Week arrived, I was not physically or mentally prepared for the challenge ahead, and I suffered all day long.  Fifth Avenue felt like a death march.  The 59th Street Bridge looked like Everest.  It was a wonderful experience from a macro perspective; however, it was my third ING New York City Marathon and I was still making DUMB mistakes.  Things had to change.

 

So here I am, five years later.  My sixth year with this Team For Kids and my second with The WDW Radio Running Team.  I have qualified to be a Marathon Maniac, and I’m almost half way there to running a dozen marathons in a year.  All of this would not have been possible if I gave up completely in 2007.

 

And – like I said – I was REEEEEEALLY close.

 

Heaven knows I am NOT a talented runner.  Someday, when I grow up, I aspire to be.  However, presently I remain a work in progress.  If my running life were a technology company, I’d be spending a ton of money on research and development in an aggressive attempt to develop Turtle 2.0.  The battery life would be MUCH improved.  Response times would be much faster. And…yes…the product would weigh less and be a bit easier on the eyes.

 

I know how important this aspiration for personal evolution is to me.  And, for me, running is at the core of this process.  If I had quit in 2007 – this evolution would not even be a consideration.  I’d still be running Turtle 1.0…and trust me: that would NOT be a product that many people would find much use with.

 

Maybe there are other runners that just joined Team For Kids this year.  Maybe they are already feeling like I did in 2007.  Maybe they are looking at this marathon training process as the challenge that kickstarts their evolution into Marathoner 2.0.  And maybe…just maybe…this might be the practice where one of them decides to quit.  Well – I don’t want that to happen.  I want to make sure that I do my part to help these nuggets to stay motivated and positively focused on the challenges ahead.  MAYBE – just maybe – I’ll make them laugh a few times and they leave practice feeling in a slightly better mood than when they began their 5 miler.  That could make the difference between them showing up next week – or not.

 

That’s why I run.  That’s why I love being a mentor.  Sure, I enjoy getting in shape and helping my own evolution along.  But the feeling of getting someone through a long run that they never thought they could handle – yet they did – is the good stuff.

 

So today’s 5 miler was fun.  I got a couple of beginners around the 5 mile loop of the park, and we had a few laughs all along the way.  A good way to start the day.

 

Now that that’s over, I need to focus on tomorrow.  26.2 alone, around Manhattan.  I’ve decided to risk it and use the hydration pack – chaffing be damned (my skin wasn’t silky smooth to begin with).  I figured I’d head out my door at 5am, and start near 72nd and the west side drive.  I’ll take pictures throughout the run, and share them with you tomorrow evening.  My time won’t be great because I’ll be left standing at MANY a red light in the morning, that’s for sure.  But I won’t shut down until I hit my goal.

 

Tomorrow will be interesting.  Yet another step toward a turtle upgrade.

______________________________________

 

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause.  Thanks!

 

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

Happy New Year!


I went for a simple run on New Year’s Eve at around 11am today…and I wanted to fill you in on the rather interesting things I got to see.  It’s the kind of run that reminded me of how lucky I am to live in New York City.  It also reminded me just how whacky people can be!

I geared up and took off into Central Park, entering at 72nd Street and Central Park West – right near the Dakota Hotel and Strawberry Fields.  Go figure: blasting through my earphones was “I Am The Walrus”.

I waddled along the west side drive, and exited at Columbus Circle….

…hung a left at the statue….

…and headed down Broadway toward Times Square.  As I waited for a light to change at 57th Street, I came across a family of tourists encircling a rather large guidebook to New York City. They appeared to be confused – unsure as to where they were currently standing in comparison to where they wanted to be.  So in a moment of actual kindness (I get approximately 5 of these moments a year), I asked the gentleman holding the guidebook if I could be of assistance.  The following was the brief yet funny conversation:

“We are looking for Times Square.”

“No problem, Sir.  Just keep walking down this avenue – Broadway – until you hit the incredible mass of humanity packed shoulder to shoulder, surrounded by tons of billboards and flashing lights.”

“Oh.  We just came from there.  Was that not Occupy Wall Street?”

My gut instinct told me to tease this man mercilessly in front of the fruit of his loins – but in a very un-Joseph like moment of clear perspective I refrained and instead replied…”No Sir.  That’s Times Square.  NOT Occupy Wall Street.”

“……OOOOOH.  Thank you.  But where do all of those people go when they need the bathroom?”

“Sir….that is the $1 million dollar question.  It’s also the reason I will NEVER….EVER….spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square.”

He stood there with a blank stare on his face for a very long moment, before responding with a loud “EEEEEEEEEEWWW!”

“Exactly.  Happy New Year!”   And with that, I resumed my morning run.  As I approached 46th Street, the northernmost checkpoint for the gigantic New Year’s Eve extravaganza, I could not get over the sheer amount of humanity standing shoulder to shoulder 13 hours prior to the Ball dropping.

After snapping a cool picture of the Square 13 hours before 2012 commenced, I headed west to the West Side Highway…where I found a wonderful little apartment designed exactly to my specifications:

Ah yes.  My tastes are unique.

Again – HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

My Sixth Post for Running Disney: Is There a Link Between Disney and the New York City Marathon?


My original blog post Running Disney: Is There a Link Between Disney and the New York City Marathon? can be found here on the WDW Radio Blog. Please check it out!!

Here in New York City the leaves on the trees have begun to change, the temperature has begun to slip into the high 50’s, and children are shopping for their Halloween costumes.  Some boys want to be Captain America this year.  Little girls walk out of the Disney Store in Times Square with Rapunzel costumes.  Children look forward to the end of October and I can relate to that; however, I look forward to what comes right after All Hallows Eve here in the Big Apple…..Marathon Week.

As I walk down Broadway near Lincoln Center, I notice the advertisements for the marathon near train stations and on the sides of our buses.  Banners line Central Park South.  Central Park itself has begun its annual transformation, as grandstands are being assembled near Tavern on the Green, and floods of runners can be seen basically all over the place (most of them passing me as if I’m standing still).  For a runner, this is a magical time to be in Manhattan.  It’s as if The Fairy Godmother waved her magic wand and cast a spell over midtown, spreading the anticipation and excitement.

As I’ve mentioned in prior blog entries, I pride myself on being a bit of a Disney Geek.  Well, truth be told, I’m a bit of a marathon geek as well.  I read the websites and the magazines.  I follow the sport the way that most people from my old neighborhood in the Bronx follow the Yankees.  I study the various books out there about the history of marathoning, as well as how a person can go about improving his/her time. (I keep re-reading those chapters of the books in my small library….but for some reason none of the authors’ brilliant points actually stick with me.  Concepts like “you need to cut down on chocolate or any other foods that might taste fantastic but do not offer optimal nutritional qualities” are lost on me.  Oreos + pop tarts + diet coke = breakfast of champions, as far as I’m concerned).  Well I am happy to say that I found a common link between my Disney Geekdom and my Marathon Nerdyness.  There is a link between the New York City Marathon and the Walt Disney World Marathon…and his name was Fred Lebow.

Now there is a ton of stuff out there on the internet and in books that tell the very interesting story of Fred Lebow – but I’ll quickly give you the crib notes version.  He survived World War II in Eastern Europe, came to New York from Europe, worked in Manhattan’s garment district, and began running with a group of seasoned runners near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.  Through leadership, creativity, and an almost Disney-like ability to see no limits to what he could achieve, Fred helped to put the New York Road Runners on the map.  He turned his unique vision of a marathon that “celebrates the masses” from a small gathering of 127 runners in Central Park to the wonderful race the 45,000 runners and 2.5 million fans experience the first Sunday of each November.

So I know what you’re thinking – great little story, Joe…but where’s the connection?

In the early 1990’s, Disney began to contemplate the possibility of creating a marathon to be held in Walt Disney World.  Fred Lebow, being the consummate cheerleader for the sport of distance running, thought that this was a wonderful idea.  Disney representatives picked Fred’s brain for several years and, in the spring of 1993, the company green-lit the project of a marathon for January 1994.  Fred flew down to WDW during the spring and summer of 1993, providing his advice and sharing his recommendations.  According to the books I’ve read, he added so much value to the development of the inaugural marathon that Disney named him the honorary chairman of the 1994 event.  Fred, battling cancer and in a weakened state, still toed the line alongside 8,200 of his fellow runners that January morning in 1994 and began to slowly jog with the masses that he felt so close to.  He couldn’t finish the race that morning – but he helped get the marathon off to a sound start.  The rest, as they say…is history.

What's up Fred?Fred Lebow passed away from cancer in October, 1994. I pass his statue almost every morning at about 5:30am.  The tall bronze statue stands at the Engineer’s Gate of Central Park, the entrance to the park that every runner of the New York City Marathon waddles through on their way to spectacular finish.  He’s dressed in his typical jogging suit and painter’s cap, and he is staring at his stopwatch.  A true innovator – I bet Walt would have gotten a real kick out of Fred.

On the first Sunday of November, if you have a few minutes to spare during the morning, I’d like to recommend checking out the New York City Marathon on T.V.  It truly is the best day of the year to be in the city, for it shows off some of the character of the five boroughs.  Thousands of volunteers and millions of spectators line the streets, yelling and screaming – doing whatever they can to help 45,000 people achieve a pretty cool goal.  Families wait at the finish line for loved ones to emerge from the mass of humanity – tired, sweaty and in pain….and with medals draped around their necks.  It truly is a sight to behold.

Until next time!  Make sure you double-knot your shoe laces, get out there and get moving!  I’ll leave you with a quote from Fred Lebow.  While fighting cancer, he still managed to get out there and shuffle his feet around the park – but his friends noticed that he actually walked faster than he jogged.  So someone asked him why he chose to jog, since walking would get him where he was going quicker.  Fred’s response was really cool: “…my friend, jogging has a rhythm that walking doesn’t have”.  Get out there and move to your own beat.

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