Saturday, May 10, 2008


#34 Faithful






"Semper Fidelis"
"Semper Fi"
Latin for "Always faithful".




In early 2005, a 59 year old father, former U.S. Navy/ fleet marine hospital corpsman emails his daughter and former U.S. Marine: "want to run the MCM (Marine Corps Marathon) with me?"

She responds: "You've been sampling too many of your anesthesia drugs! I'll come and watch."

Eventually I shamed her into saying yes, but she immediately called her mother to see how she could back out. They proposed to have my daughter's boyfriend substitute for her, and he grudgingly agreed. Mind you now, Josh was/ is a runner, I was not.

With eight months 'til race day, and never having run more than a mile, I went to my favorite book store, Amazon.com to find a book to guide my training. After reviewing a half dozen books on marathon running I settle on Jeff Galloway's book Marathon. Therein he advocates a run/walk technique. He developed this technique primarily for older runners such as myself, but advocates it for marathoners of all ages.

Having smoked cigarettes for thirty plus years (50+ pack year history), quitting at age fifty, here I was approaching age sixty and preparing to run a 26.2 mile race. In fact on the 30th of October, 2005 with the running of the thirtieth MCM, I would, in fact, be sixty years old.

Not to say that I was starting completely from scratch, because I've been a life-long exerciser; mostly strength training but have also been a consistent walker, especially since I quit smoking. Walking 3 to 4 miles a day 5 or 6 days a week with a few 100 ft. jogs was not going get me to the finish line.

Following Jeff's recommendation, I chose and followed the beginner's program titled "to finish." I followed the plan faithfully to the letter.


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Serendipitously, I met Mr. Galloway at the Expo where we'd gone to pick up our race packets. While browsing around the various merchandise booths we happened upon a table staffed by two ladies and they were offering Jeff Galloway books for sale. While pointing out to Josh the book that I had used as my training guide, a well tanned, thin man wearing a ball cap, and standing off to the side of the table interjected, asking if I found the book helpful. I told him that I'd said at the start of my training that I would follow faithfully the plan outlined therein as long as it worked. If the projected results were not forthcoming, I'd trash can the book.
The man introduced himself as Jeff Galloway! Holy smokes! I'd not recognized him because in all the photos I'd seen of him he was not wearing a hat and is distinguished by male pattern baldness.

He asked me the fate of his book. I told him that the book was still on the kitchen table with well worn pages, and that I doubted if I'd be there if it hadn't been for his book.

As we chatted, he asked me how far my longest run had been prior to arriving in Washington, and at what run/walk interval I'd run. I told him I'd run/walked 23 miles two weeks prior and at a 8 and 2 interval (run 8 minutes, walk 2 min.). He said, "if I were you, just sayin', I'd run tomorrow at a 3 - 1 interval and at a pace 2 minutes per mile slower than your 1 mile test run.

The next day was MCM day and I again faithfully followed Jeff Galloway's advice.

I finished the 26.2 miles in 5 hrs. 50 min.

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6 Comments:

Blogger paisley said...

wow... that is a major accomplishment,, not even factoring in the age quotient... i have never been attracted to sports in any way,, but that doesn't dim my enthusiasm for you on your success,, oh yeah,, and meeting the author of the book that saw you thru was really an extra added bonus wasn't it?????

5:22 PM  
Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

A proud day I bet - and so it should be - people who run marathons have all my respect!
I thought I'd commented on your affecting post about the loss of your two friends, but I see it's not there ( I often forget to do the verification task - so sorry) just wanted to say that I am sorry you've lost two friends. It gets hard when they start to fall away ... getting older is a bit of a bummer isn't it? Altho' if you can run a marathon you're doin' pretty well!!!

7:09 PM  
Blogger jellyhead said...

Great story, Rel. I bet that was a truly proud moment, finishing your first marathon.

Seeing as you were unknowingly critiquing the book to its author, it's lucky you liked the book, huh?!

4:05 AM  
Blogger anthonynorth said...

Very well done! Many couldn't have done that in their youth.

5:42 AM  
Blogger Churlita said...

That's so cool. You are a rock star.

1:17 AM  
Blogger jadey said...

Congrats to you on a run well done. I give you credit as much as I would like to start incorporating running into my work out routine I can't say that is one of my fave things to do.

10:34 PM  

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