Sunday, November 30, 2008

What It's All About

I have had the priviledge of being a "Group Leader" with the MarathonFest Training Program here in Orlando, FL. I started with this program as just another runner in June 2004. Over the years, my focus has shifted from my goals, to assisting new runners complete their first marathon, or veteran runners improve their personal best times.

In June 2008, my co-leader Kim and I took to the roads with approximately 25 runners. The majority of the group was comprised of runners who had completed between one and nine marathons. As a group, we collectively had completed over 80 marathons! While the experience factor was there, the excitement and passion to train and improve was visible.

Within the group we had two runners who had never attempted to run a marathon. It would be the goal of Kim and I as leaders to help guide Aileen and Tom through 25 weeks of training. Both of them trained very hard to reach the start line of today's marathon. I could see the anticipation in their faces and their moods as it became time to test themselves on the road.

The day began slightly overcast, but very blustery. There was a wind of about 15-20mph, with gusts even higher. During the race these conditions continued. We trained for many different scenarios, heat, cold, humidity, but never wind. I have never run on such a windy day.

I was positioned near the finish area in Riverfront Park awaiting their arrival. First it was Aileen, then Tom a short time later. To paraphrase a line from the Master Card commercial, the look on their faces "PRICELESS!" It was a wonderful achievement for them to complete the marathon.

This is what running is all about. Sharing the achievements of your group, your "team". Being part of and sharing in a moment Aileen and Tom will never forget. I don't recall who said it about running your first marathon. "Nobody can ever take that away from you"!

CONGRATULATIONS to Aileen and Tom. It is runners or more importantly, people like you who keep me going. Thank You!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thank You

I would like to thank everyone who has visited this blog and especially those who have left such heartfelt comments for Tim and Susan. A special "Thank You" to Shirley and Charlie, who added this story to their blogs.

I saw Tim and Susan on Saturday morning and Tim wanted to talk about marathons. On Sunday, another friend and marathoner Raymond, took Tim out for a walk in his wheelchair. Tim wanted to go to Cady Way Park where our training group meets for our weekend runs.

In my other blog "The Pink Bandanna", I close with "Prayers & Love". To all of you and to Tim and Susan, my "Prayers & Love".

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Moment to Reflect

The photo is of Tim and Susan Feeney. I took the photo one day after the 2007 Marine Corps Marathon. We had met at the World War II Memorial and walked around the monuments pausing to eat lunch at a hot dog truck. Best hot dog I ever had!

Tim was unable to run the marathon with us. In June 2006, several days after completing the Mickelson Trail Marathon in Deadwood, SD, Tim was diagnosed with a brain tumor. For over two years he has fought hard and endured pain and treatment which puts a marathon in the category of "a walk in the park". I often feel a sense of guilt when I complain about an ache or a pain. We can take two Tylenol and and put an ice pack on the injury and it goes away. Unfortunately, all of the modern technology and medicines could not take Tim's tumor away. Several weeks ago Tim made a decision to cease any further treatment for the tumor. He is at home with Susan and is receiving hospice care.

He has been running about the same time as myself, four plus years. We have done training runs, 5K's, 10K's, halfs and marathons together. He was a "Group Leader" in our training program, teaching new runners how to adapt to the rigors of marathon training. He helped many runners accomplish goals they never thought possible. However, no matter how hard we try, we cannot help Tim achieve the goal of health.

As runners we enter a race with the goal being the finish line. Tim is running the race of and for his life and this time we don't want to see the finish line. We want someone to declare a false start and go back to when things were fun and we laughed and told stories.

Susan has been continuing her running, in fact she completed a training run this morning. She may be tiny, but her nickname is "Big Dog". Several years ago Susan didn't think she could run with our pace group. The old saying is, "if you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porch." Well, Susan got off the porch and ran with the "Big Dogs".

I read a quote from Olympic champion Jesse Owens that's speaks to the battle Tim is facing. "The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself - the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us - that's where it's at."

Please keep Tim and Susan in your prayers.