Woody Allen said, “Seventy percent of success in life is showing up.” For me that couldn’t have been more true than this past weekend. On my training schedule for Saturday was a 5k race. The River Edge Run. I had run the race 10 times in the past. Its a course on which I have two of my five fastest 5k times. Saturday? Not so much. One of my slowest. But in the Female 50-54 age group, my time was good enough for third place! On Sunday, I had six miles on the schedule; my last long run before next week’s New Jersey Half Marathon – my goal race of the spring season. Since I had to do six miles anyway, I figured why not donate to a local cause, have support on the course, and get a tee shirt! I signed up on race morning for the Thunderbird Run 10k. And, you guessed it, won 3rd place in my age group – again! And actually went home with the 2nd place medal since the fastest in my age group was fast enough for 3rd overall.
I have to confess that I was three out of three on Sunday. Only three woman between the ages of 50 and 54 got out of bed and participated in the 10k. Technically, you could say I finished last! My time was far from my best and far from my 10k times from just a year or two ago. I don’t feel totally deserving of a medal for that. But I showed up! I got out of bed before 6 a.m. on a cold Sunday morning and put shorts on. And I ran…for six miles! And I feel damn good about that! So yeah, I took the medal and added it to my collection. Because I can. I run because I can.
There is a peace to be found pushing against pain, thirst and an ongoing mental conversation with yourself about “why the heck am I running 26.2 miles?”
The answer is: Because I can.
– Alfred P. Doblin, Tom Fleming: a champion I would have liked to meet. Read the full article.
I was saddened to learn last week of the death of Tom Fleming. I had the good fortune of meeting Tom a couple times over the years. I remember being inspired by someone so passionate about and dedicated to the sport – and in awe of his accomplishments. Especially in a local guy. Tom was a New Jersey native who had won the New York City Marathon twice, was a runner up at Boston (twice) and winner of several other Marathons. While most of us will never be the kind of athlete Tom was (or subscribe to his 150 miles a week marathon training regime), we understand his love of running and competing, and why he loved coaching kids and introducing so many to the sport.
The New Jersey Half Marathon is only five days away. I didn’t keep up with the training enough for a time goal, but I did do enough training to be fit, and to finish. And that’s satisfying enough. While I said I wanted to ramp up to run a fast Half, my heart wasn’t really in it. So I changed my goal. I wanted to run races with my boyfriend, and check off a few “bucket list” races; do some sightseeing and train just to cover the distances. And maybe sign up for more races than seem reasonable.
The New York Times wrote about Tom Fleming, “In 1973, during his senior year in college, he competed in a track meet on a Saturday, then ran the Boston Marathon two days later, finishing second.” So maybe we are following Tom’s example when we sign up for more than one race on the same weekend. And maybe in his death, Tom is a reminder that we should seize the moment. Run whenever we can. As runners we are not invincible. And we are certainly not immortal. So show up to everything for which you are able to show up! Don’t take for granted the opportunities you have before you – right in this moment. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll bring home a medal.
A stark reminder of the fragility of life seen on my run. A tribute to 2016 graduate, Sam Berman. Ramsey High School. April 2017.