FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. My journey to the Boston Marathon began back in 1974, when I ran for the junior high track team. It was the 880 then, a half-mile, before everything was converted to metric. The year and the yardage are dead giveaways that Im old and that Ive been at this for a long time.
Mondays 26.2-mile race will be my 10th marathon and my third in Boston. In 2002, in ideal conditions, my net time was 3:23:08, one of my best ever races. Two years later, I ran 4:04:22 in nearly 80-degree heat, one of my worst ever races.
That race led me to rethink my priorities, and running marathons was not among them. I was defeated, depressed and discouraged to have put so much effort into something that failed so miserably. It took six years to find the mental fire to get back to the marathon starting line, and I requalified for Boston in 2010 by running 3:23:09 in Philadelphia.
Boston has always been the carrot I wanted to chase. The mystique and the history of the race, along with its stiff qualification times, make it the primary goal for many hard-core runners. My dad helped generate my interest in Boston back in the 1970s. He was once a good high school runner, and I followed in his footsteps. Regrettably, he didnt make it to Boston in my first two races. He wont make it this year, either. He died in 2005. To be sure, I will carry the memory of the only man I still idolize for the entire distance on Monday.
I attempted my first marathon in 1978, ran a couple in the early 1980s, but gave them up for a long stretch because they are so hard. My wife, Robin, and colleague Karen Tensa encouraged me to attempt marathons again back in 2001. For some reason, I listened.
One impetus to get me going again after the Boston disaster in 2004 was the Fairfield County running community. When I joined Main Street Connect in February 2010, I thought part of our focus should be increased attention on the recreational community in Fairfield County. The stories, including the profiles of area runners in this years Boston Marathon, provide inspiration on a daily basis. Its hard to sit still when you know so many other runners are out there putting in the miles.
There are other reasons I do them. I still enjoy competition. And I want to provide a good fitness role model for my daughters, Caroline, 16, and Allison, 13. They could care less about marathons or running, but Im hoping some day they can say to their kids, with pride, My dad ran the Boston Marathon.
Finally, I do them because I can. Ill be 53 in June, and the window of opportunity is closing. My stiff joints remind me of that after every run of more than two hours. If my legs were Goodyears, they would have been replaced multiple times by now. One day I'll know that my times up. But until then, I still have races to run, finish lines to cross and goals to seek.
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