Friday, November 19, 2010

Prelude to Philadelphia

I won’t have the time to write this on Saturday so it will get written today on Friday.

I’m less than 48 hours from the start of the Philadelphia Marathon. It will be my first marathon since the Chevron Houston Marathon earlier this year, which I wasn’t ready for.

This is different. I’m ready.

I've done probably 85% of the work that my coach has put out for me, but his targets were lower (i.e. slower time) and I've been fortunate enough to exceed them.

I’m prepared to accept what the course gives to me on Sunday, but I plan to try and take as much from it as I possibly can.

A big shout out to Dr. Dawn Schwab and Dr. Lisa Hanson with Spinal Care Chiropractic Center for helping me get physically ready for race day on Sunday. They've taken care of me as if I were an elite athlete.

As I’ve said before, 2010 has been different. Those that know, know this.

I have one person to thank for being the catalyst to signing up for this race in particular. The candle was already drawn so to speak, but they lit the match.

They know who they are.

I doubt that they’ll read this, but in the case that they do, “Thank you. Our friendship is different and unique, has taken some twists and turns, but it is very much appreciated and am honored to have it."

While I have a lot of friends, for which I'm very thankful, of course, two are particularly close to me - Kim Hager and John Laskowski. Kim, I've known for about five years and if I were to attempt an Ironman, she would be my coach (my apologies to Dana, Michelle, Trent and others) if she would have me as one of her athletes ... ;) I had the honor of watching her qualify for Kona this September at Ironman Wisconsin and her running with Waverly for the 2007 Houston Marathon 5K - while I ran the marathon - will always have a special place in my heart.

Close to my coach, John has been the most consistent and constant source of encouragement for me this year and has developed into a true friend since our first and often laughed about meeting in the last mile of the second annual Armadillo Dash in College Station (2008). It was an honor to travel with John to Ironman Florida to support the 27 triathletes from Montgomery County and Spring that stamped their names forever with the title of Ironman.

I get a third vacation this year because I had to burn an extra one because of a change in company policy in regards to the accrual of time.

All three have been or will be spent with the person in my life who keeps me from ever throwing in the towel, my daughter, Waverly.

I just hope that I can continue to be everything she would ever want from in a father.

Saturday’s marathon will be my 25th marathon. She was at the first one in Washington, D.C. for the Marine Corps Marathon. That was October 31, 2004.

Six years later, she gets to make another road trip for me to finish a marathon. I just hope that with some recent developments in my health, that it won’t be my last one.

Nothing to be alarmed about, but I’ll share them in a post-race report.

We’ll get to see my grandparents in central Pennsylvania, visit Penn State I’m sure (for more gear, of course) and then travel to the Big Apple to witness the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person.

As most of you know, I love her more than anything else or anybody in the entire world.

I will get to stay with a friend of mine, Rob Jones and his wife, Lysa, on Saturday evening in the Philadelphia area. Rob was a co-worker of mine who came down and ran the 2001 hp Houston Marathon in like 2:51 (actually 2:51:23). It was the first year without any prize money and I think Jonesy finished 10th or something (actually 17th). The post-race Chevron Houston Marathon celebration at Pappasito’s every year still takes place after my parents took him there after his visit to Houston.

At 42, he just did the St. George Marathon in 2:47, I believe. On 30 miles a week running as part of triathlon training. He tells me he wishes he had gotten into tri's sooner.

Rob was one of the reasons why I finally decided to try and run. He ran out to the mile 5 mark of a 10K race in Kennett’s Square, Pennsylvania after a company meeting a number of years back and it appears that I’ll get some post 20-mile pacing help from him on Sunday. I’m so blessed.

While Waverly, of course, is the best, my last note of thanks is to perhaps my best friend.

He took my motivation for this race and helped me frame it appropriately.

His selflessness is absolutely incredible and sometimes knows no bounds.

Anybody who will get up and ride his bike with you at 3 a.m. in the morning -- and in the cold -- to help you achieve your goal is to be treasured as a friend.

While he has a lot of runners that he coaches who have a wide range of ability, his love and passion for them as athletes and, most importantly, people are equal and is as committed – if not more than - as any coach in our area (and we have some excellent ones).

Bill Dwyer, thank you for being an incredible friend, coach (yes, coach … strange for me to use those words) and consistent and committed source of encouragement to me and my daughter.

We’ve been blamed for a lot of things over the last few years, but the one thing that nobody will ever take away from us is that everything we’ve done has come from the heart and has been to give back to people who have given so much to both of us.

I hope that I can put forth the effort on Sunday that comes close to the support that you have given me this year. Without that support, I wouldn't be ready to step to the starting line as prepared as I am. Thank you.

And thanks to all of you who have read this. I hope that I can give you something to talk about me ... finally! :)

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