This blog is posted on behalf of BC-AC athlete, Dan Minzner who it was written by.
There is nothing worse than setting your sights on running a marathon only to come up short. After running the Chicago Marathon, I found that I was not quite 100%. I decided the best thing to do was to take a month off from running, to shut down and give my body a break.
It had been an amazing year of running. I managed to run two marathons in one weekend and then a few months later I went to the Grand Canyon and ran from the south rim to the north rim and back in one day. It was tiring, but I was able to head to Chicago in the Fall and run my fastest Marathon, a 3:01:08. While I was hoping to break 3 hours I was still happy that I beat my previous best by 8 minutes.
But now that the Boston Marathon is only a few days away I’ve had to admit to myself that injury and illness then took too much out of me to run a great race now. Thankfully, I don’t have $200,000 dollars of potential winnings on the line. I can only imagine how devastating it is to an elite runner to have a lousy training cycle. Their livelihood depends on months of grueling training that could easily go wrong. For me it is different of course, it’s not a job, even if my training went perfectly wouldn’t be taking any prize money home. So I figured I would just have to go out there and actually be present; to put my focus into soaking in the race experience.
This also got me thinking of why I run. When I meet an new runner I always find it interesting to learn why they started running. For me it was about health: to get my blood pressure and cholesterol under control and initially it was a chore. When I started, I didn’t look forward to it very much but when I finally broke through and decided to run a marathon I actually started to enjoy running. I did all my training for my first marathon solo; I hadn’t even thought about joining a running club. I didn’t know how to train for a marathon so I just went out and ran longer each time until race day….but a lot of that has changed.
Running for me today is rarely done alone. I enjoy the connection with the people I train with. When we run we talk about many topics, but rarely about running. So I suppose I run because I enjoy the running community; And I run to support my fellow runners achieve their goals; And I run because I enjoy getting to know my training partners and them getting to know me.
When I think back to the race in Chicago I can only really remember 3 moments after the gun went off.
- The first moment was when I crossed the “half” (mile 13.1) mat alongside John Weidner and Eric Eisenhart. We had trained so hard together and it showed, I was able to hang with their pace for the first time.
- The second moment was when I was coming down the final stretch and I could hear Louan cheering me on. It was right around there that the three hour pace group passed me and I knew I was close to the finish so I was damn close to three hours.
- The final moment was when I saw John and Eric waiting for me at the finish. I have to admit that while I was disappointed I didn’t break three hours I was excited to run such a great race.
Looking back now, I’ve run over thirty marathons and each one I’ve run and tried to do my best. It’s true, I’ll never win the money; but I’m not in it for the money…I’m in it for a whole different payoff.
When I’m running and I need to dig deep I think about my friends and family. I draw strength from them, knowing that they struggle at times and they make it through just fine. I think of my friends Steve Martin and Ralph Lee who died suddenly without warning. I’ve thought of my friend Rick Alderman who at a young age nearly died and was fortunate enough to get a last minute heart transplant. When I ran a marathon in Sioux Falls my Son Josh was waiting at the finish line for me. It was one of the most amazing feelings seeing him there waiting for me.
This year, coming into Boston, I’ll be thinking of my Father In-Law Tony Catalanotto. Just before his 82nd birthday he was diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer. There’s no doubt that I’ll be drawing strength knowing that he is being strong for his family. I’m confident that I’ll persevere when things get tough just knowing how tough he is. When I’m standing at the start in Hopkinton, I’ll know the finish line is exactly 26.2 miles. I know whatever pain I may be feeling will be short lived. I know when I feel like I can’t run another step I’ll be one step closer to the finish. And I know that when I cross the line this year I’ll be thinking of him.
My Father In-law’s finish line isn’t quite as clear. I’m hoping that like me, he will allow himself to soak it all in during this part of his race. I’ll be carrying him with me from Hopkinton to Boston. I’ll take the high fives along the way with him in mind. Heck, I may even stop in Welsley and kiss a few girls. When I make the right on Hereford and the most amazing left hand turn in racing onto Boyelston Street I plan to soak it all in. I plan to be present every moment…..and honor the courage of someone I care about along the way. It’s so much more than running.
If you have the means and care to make a donation to the Lustgarten foundation for Pancreatic Cancer in honor of my Father In-law, please visit www.LUSTGARTEN.com