Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An Amazing Race and a Wonderful Documentary: From the Mara to the Marathon

It's been a world-wind of a week...I successfully completed my target race, the North Face 50K Challenge and had the race of my life. I always go into events with neutral expectations, because you just never know what the day will bring. If you think sun and fun, it could be rain and sleet and not-so-much fun. To me, the best part of competing in events like the North Face Challenge is running into the great unknown. And when you run mindfully, there are a lot of wonderful things that happen along the trail of life.

I shed 37 minutes off my best 50K time and for the first time in my life placed third in my age group in a running event. But that wasn't the best part of the day.  The true gift were the conversations along the way.  Somewhere around 6-7 miles into the race, I hear two runners behind me and look back to see them trying to take a picture of the beautiful foliage. It was peaking in color, and just amazing to run through.  I offer to take their picture and start to talk about where they're from and why they are running the event. Turns out they are from Puerto Rico, and were acquaintances of a wonderful man we lost this year to a heart attack, Mike Forte.  Mike, was a veteran, a coach to thousands and an inspiration in the Puerto Rico running world. A man that helped change many lives.  What are the chances of running a race in Wisconsin with 250 runners and meeting a friend of a friend from Puerto Rico?  One in a million.  We shared a moment of silence for Mike, and kept running.

So often in life we focus on the outcome, the destination, but it the journey that is chock-full of life-changing moments.

The producers of this timely documentary "From Mara to the Marathon" have captured the essence of the spirit of running, and how it brings the world closer together.


*Photos by a great friend and crew for the race, Sallie Stiens.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Finish Line

It's marathon season and a busy one at that. Last weekend, I coached our team (Chicago Endurance Sports) through the Chicago Marathon. After two years of very warm, non-marathon friendly weather we finally caught a break. It was almost perfect weather (32/42 F) to tackle 26.2 miles and the smiles that greeted me at the finish were a tell-tale sign.

Many were first-timers who just five months ago never dreamed they could finish a marathon. To look at them when they cross the finish is like seeing their life changing right before your eyes. You can almost see their shock and amazement of what they accomplished. Many take this energy and confidence to continue to run marathons, while others use it to tackle other life goals. Either way, it's an energy I never get tired of watching, and it's the true reward in coaching.

The seasoned marathoners also had a tremendous day with a record number of personal records set. From qualifying for the Boston Marathon to shedding significant chunks of time off their best marathon finishes (50 minutes). The veterans shared in the magic of the day as well. All the planets were in alignment Sunday and the glow will last for months.

The true gift of the day was watching everyone return to the CES Tent/Party after they finished and sharing their journey with their families, friends and fellow runners. Although they had to take every step on their own, running is a community sport and one that brings people together.

Happy Trails,