Sunday, November 4, 1990

The Marathon That Wasn't

On September 23, 1990, I was working late at night for Kemwel.  I had just had another huge fight with Lorraine again as well.  The stress of my job, and of Lorraine, was getting to me.  And on that night, I didn't go to bed, but rather felt like I blacked out.  A few hours later, and when I work up, I felt dizzy, and had zero balance.  I nearly fell trying to stand up. 

The condition lasted me for months.  I went to see many doctors, even paying $500 for a doctor whose practice was on the corner of 5th Ave and 86th (i think).  He thought I had some form of "Tropical disease".  About a month later, it was all over the news.  CFS.  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  The symptoms were identical to what I had.  Literally, I was unable to stand or even sit for too long without getting dizzy spells, headache, and sometimes wanting to pass out.

I had been accepted to run the marathon in 1990.  But there was no way that I was going to do the race with this going on.  This was all about self-preservation.  I didn't feel good enough to stand for a few minutes, let alone run for 1 mile.  How was I going to run 26.2?  In the end, I didn't.  The buses kept going by my house showing the ads of the Marathon. It was a tough day to watch this race.  All the training for waste.  

I worked so hard for this Marathon.  All to just vanish into thin air.... :(
I waited until nearly the week before to cancel.  I had hoped that this malaise would pass.  I prayed every day and night that it would.  But every morning, as I would get out of bed, the dizziness came, and so did the pounding in my head.  I went to three different doctors, and no one could figure out what it was.  Of course, and as I had mentioned before, I think it was CFS.

Till the bitter end.  I had hoped I could run, but it was not to be.
Even with the guaranteed entry the following year, I had zero incentive to run, especially as my ailment took nearly a year to go away.  By now I was weighing about 145 too.  I wanted to run, but I was in ill shape.  It seemed as if my metabolism made a radical shift to slow down after this disease had struck me.

Gerard Murphy, who had started running the year before, was going to run in the 1991 NYC Marathon.  As we were good friends at the time, I decided to at least be a part of the race, even though it pained me greatly not to be able to run the whole race.  So, I went to see him at 1st Ave & 60th just off the base of the Queensboro Bridge.  I came dressed to run, because the temptation to run was just too hard to resist, and that's despite the fact that I hadn't run in over a year now. 

As I saw Gerry come up 1st avenue, I decided to seize the opportunity by running with him.  I wasn't going to run this race in total, but I decided that I would run most of the last 10.2 miles.  As I ran with him, it became evident that I couldn't keep up with him. He was running with a friend of his, that seemed to have been slowing him down, so he went ahead, and I wound up running with this stranger, who I coached until nearly the finish line.  In respect of the run and the other runners, I pulled myself out of the race near Columbus Circle.  No medal for me.

I finally caught up to Gerry at the finish line.  I was happy for him, but it was a true test of my sanity to partially do this race and not be counted, or get a medal.

Years later I would buy the medal off of ebay.  But the not being counted part has cost me dearly, for even if I run every NYC Marathon between now and 2015, I will fall short of the now-required 15 Marathons needed to automatically qualify.....BY ONE.

And as for me back then in 1991?  Well, it would be the start of a recurring nightmare I would have at night, where I would dream that I would get to the Marathon late, or get lost, and never finish.  Should there be one, is that what my private hell is to be???

Monday, August 6, 1990

REFLECTIONS: August 1990 - Bob Glover Training Class

1990 was my second attempt at a comeback to running and the New York City Marathon.

And in addition to training, and racing, one of the things that I did was to attend the now legendary NYRR Running Class programs held by Bob Glover, author of the Runner’s Handbook, the Competitive Runner’s Handbook, and the Injured Runner’s Training Handbook. He still teaches these classes today, with the help of Shelly Glover. However, back in the day, it was none other than Fred Lebow himself who stood side by side with the instructor. but with the help of his It was near the Road Runner’s Club in an auditorium of a school.
Classes were held at P.S. 6, located on East 81st Street between Park and Madison Avenues. The instruction was informative, but for me it was no eye opener. Having read all of his books took away much of his lesson plan. Still, it was a good reinforcement to hear him preach what he had written. And that was only second fiddle, to seeing Fred Lebow go there from time to time.

I only went to one class, but it was extremely memorable but heartbreaking as well.
Fred approached the microphone, and started talking about something that none of us had any idea about. He had mentioned about this “annoying thing” he had been diagnosed with, but was confident that he would beat it. As it later turned out, that annoying thing was lymphoma of the brain, for lack of better words, brain cancer. Fred Lebow always spoke with a lot of hope. He was probably the type of guy who could lie to you over and over again, and you would never pick it up, because he was so genuine, and so full of positivity that you would believe every word. Something had compelled me to thank him for knowing what the NYC Marathon had done for my life. Not knowing whether or not, I would ever see Fred Lebow, totally cemented the need to at least shake his hand.

When the class had ended, and as most people where walking out through the exit doors in the back, I went in the other direction and walked up to Fred. He seemed tall to me, and was definitely a very lanky fellow, with sharp discerning eyes.

I spoke up as I walked towards him and got his attention,
“I just wanted to thank you for everything that you have done for me. Giving me the opportunity to run my first ever marathon, the New York City Marathon 6 years ago in 1984, had turned my life around. It’s still the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, and I just wanted to share my gratefulness to you.”
I kinda felt guilty about saying this, because my daughter had been born just the previous summer (1989). However, running came to me while in the midst of one of the lowest points in my life (like it did again in 2004…wow). The problems I was having at home were nothing compared to my situation at school. And the school problems, paled in comparison, to what was really the overarching problem in my life. And that was a massive heartbreak. It was over a girl, named Patr.icia Lang. I had met her the first day I started working in McDonald’s. I’ll save the details to prevent derailing this story, but in short, I fell in complete love with her. In retrospect, I always think how different life would have been for both of us, had she taken took full advantage of it instead of opting instead to do nothing about it. Even to this day, she would have been the happiest woman in the planet. Oh well, that’s both our loss.

Fred extended his hand, grasped mine, and firmly shook it.

“Thank you,” he said, then added,

“It’s people like you that make me want to do this every year.”

Then he beamed a great smile, and waited for me to stop shaking his hand.

This was actually the fourth time I ever knowingly came in contact with Lebow. The other three times was when I crossed the New York City Marathon. I’m not sure about 1986, but I do remember seeing him there for my first and second finishes in 84’ and 85’. I guess just like we believed in Fred., he completely believed in us. That unusually cool night in August was the only time that we spoke face to face however. And even for that short period of time that I connected, he felt…fatherly.

Leaving that moment of nostalgia for a second, I now look upon Mary Wittenberg, the current President of the NYRRs club. Mary has been doing a terrific job thus far in running the “empire”, but it was Fred who built that empire. He did so from the ground up. He was a modern-day architect in marketing the sport. A legend in his time, for all time.
And now for a completely senseless picture:

This is of my father in 1990. I was not with him at the time. Apparently he did not look to happy. After all this running talk, I figured this would knock the readers off their feet.
Well? Did it?
I eagerly await all your solicited and unsolicited, sweet, salty and or salacious replies....

Monday, June 25, 1990

Acceptance into my 4th New York City Marathon.

It was only a couple of days removed from the Westchester Half Marathon. When I got the good news in the mail.  I've been accepted into the 1990 New York City Marathon!  The comeback which was already well under way, was on a temporary hold after suffering a knee related injury at the hands of the grueling Westchester Half Marathon just days earlier.

Still, there was NOOOOO way that I would not run this Marathon.  After all, I had been accepted into the 1987 Marathon, and I just let it slip out of my fingers, without even applying for a postponement either.

Sunday, June 24, 1990

RACE REPORT: Westchester Half-Marathon

This was me finishing the Westchester Half Marathon in New Rochelle.

I was DEAD, DEAD, DEAD!  It was the second time in nearly 4 years that I had ever run a half-marathon.
Somthing in my body seems to just want to die when I run more than 10 miles.  And despite 6 weeks of legitamate training, my stress with Lorraine was driving me to the point of physical sickness.  My job at Kemwel, was also somewhat stressful too, but not quite Misty's continuous badgering.  We had been married 4 years already, and Amanda-Rose was now 9 months old on this date.

We all left in the morning, after Gerry came and we followed one another to the start.  It was going to be a hot day (not date) as the mercury would soar to 79 degrees.  There was not a cloud in the sky, meaning that I would need to put sun tan lotion on.  Too bad I left it at home.  My skin would start to get as red as what I wore that you see in the picture above.

The race was acentuated by one hill after the next, all in the bright hot shadeless sun.  For the first 7 miles I had kept up with Gerry, who was on his way to finishing remarkably well, but I couldn't keep up his pace of 8 minutes flat.  Imagine that.  I had weighed 142 pounds by now, but despite the fact that I had slept 8 hours the night before and had a resting wake up pulse of 57, it made no difference.  I could not do what I wanted to do.

I finished in 552nd out of 1098 runners, while Gerry finished in 440th place.  My time of 1:49:01 was just shy of 4 minutes slower than Gerry (meaning that I started to make some headway towards the end).  About the only thing that I did better than him, was that I finished better amongst my age group (106th) then he (175th) did.

This was a tough run. The heat took over, and I slowed a bit more, until the hill near New Rochelle.  That was where I had lost all hope.

Short write up in the Westchester Gannett about my race.

After the race was over, Gerry slapped me in the back and Icy Hot wound up on my balls. Definitely not a smart thing to do. Lorraine laughed, but I was in no laughing mood.

Sunday, June 17, 1990

Cycling Maniac - And Employee of the Month.

What happens when you bike round trip 24 miles to work?  You win the Kemwel Employee of the Month Award.  That's what happened in May of 1990 when I rode to work May 23rd, May 30th, June 8th and June 13th.  On June 13th, Eugene, Gary and Eddie Greer hid the front wheel of my Panasonic bike under one of the raised floor tiles in the reservations department! 

Besides that, I was doing a lot of running whenever Lorraine and I went to see her grandparents down in Penns Grove, New Jersey.  They lived a ways from exit 2 in NJ, near Delaware.  She (Lorraine) used to go to the Cow Town fair, and visit Fashion Bug Plus while I used to go on these long runs listening to songs like "Poison" by Bell, Biv and Divoe  and "The Power" by SNAP.

I had just gotten myself a pair of Gel Asics 110 sneakers.  They worked very well.  Almost as good as the Brooks, and definitely better than the Nike Transverse.

Sunday, May 13, 1990

A Record Broken, A Record Scratched, A Marriage Broken, an Itch To Be Scratched...and a Comeback Reborn...

After skipping out on the 1987 NYC Marathon, and going dark for 3 years, it was about time to reinvent myself.

That's the cover of the New York Running News which I received as part of my membership to the NYRR's club.  it shows Juma breaking Alberto Salazar's 1981 course record and Ingrid Kristiansen's narrow miss of Allison Roe's record (by 1 second!) also from that 81' roster.

Amanda was now born, and it was now time to get myself back into the world of running again.  Chapter 1 would be my 1979 Freshman year in High School and the track team I was a member of.  Chapter 2 would be one of those glorious moments in time when I would forever change my life.  Most of it would be for the bad, but the little of it that was good, was grand.  Running in 3 marathons from 1984 thru 1986, and doing several other races, I thought I was here to stay.  

Then came Lorraine.  Then came the Bronx.  Then came Amanda.  Then came Kemwel.  In short, life took over.   Chewed up every last cent of my paycheck, along with every last free minute I had too.  Looking at this magazine over the winter months, and seeing how my name wasn't in the 89 Marathon, or the 88 or 87 for that matter, meant that it was too long.  It meant that I needed to return to something good.  Something healthy and wholesome.   I was approaching the quarter-century mark in my life, and needed to get back to fundamentals.  

So I made up my mind, and began my training in earnest on April 30th. 

Perhaps however, there was a darker side as to why I may have taken up running again however.  Working in Kemwel for now 3 years, I had become a pretty important figure there.  Entrusted with me enough so, that I became a supervisor for the reservations department after a year or so, and this year even began to work on telephone systems here in the office.  

As a supervisor, I had about 30 people or so that would report to me at any one given time.  One of these people were none other than a younger girl (about 20 in age I think) named Fernanda Rodrigues.  Yes, I was married, and unhappily so.  I will leave it to your imagination as to what would unfold later on in the year with Ms. Rodrigues, but the bottom line was that I ran to her house on May 13th and back.  For one, it was only my 10th run.  Secondly, it was to her house.  And lastly, I did this on Mother's Day.  Nothing happened between Fernanda and I...on that day.  But still, the signs of a failed relationship were becoming more and more evident.  Where the running was perhaps initially a way to keep me from going crazy with Lorraine, it would turn out to also be an aphrodesiac to the young single women.  Like Fernanda. 

She lived on North Fulton street and the smell of the flowers were as sweet as she was back then.  Of course, nothing good from this would ever matriculate.  It was like running into a dead end.  She wanted more, but I was too guilt-ridden to anything more