Saturday, July 21, 2012

Running with Boomer

One of the greatest benefits of a running lifestyle is the ability to be involved naturally in important causes. Today I was proud to run with former Jets QB Boomer Esiason in his second annual Boomer's Cystic Fibrosis Run to Breathe 10K at Central Park. The event raises funds and awareness for the Team Boomer efforts to help our friends with cystic fibrosis lead long and satisfying lives. His son Gunnar was born with CF in 1993, and at the start line Boomer told 5,000+ runners that his first goal had been to win a Super Bowl ("Joe Montana wouldn't let me do that") and his goal ever since has been for his son to eventually outlive him. Today, Boomer said, Gunnar is a student at Boston College. I am totally behind the Boomer Esiason Foundation and Team Boomer -- those were real tears and that was real inspiration at our start line today, for me anyway. Our friends with CF go the extra mile to wear ThAIRapy Vests to shake mucus out of their lungs, take breathing treatments with nebulizers, digest a regimen of pills right before a specific window in which they can eat -- a lot of work. I ran alongside Jerry ("YOU CANNOT FAIL") Cahill, 55, on the brutal north hill in mile 3, and he is just coming off double-lung transplant surgery. He was 11 when first diagnosed with CF, and that is the same age as Shayna Hersh, whom I wrote about on the day she got to meet her hero, Justin Verlander. When you see someone like them bring cheer to the world on a daily basis, and when you are around the real-life heroic efforts of Boomer and his organization, you appreciate how much they mean and you realize what you can do.

On a less important note but just for my own record-keeping, this was my eighth New York Road Runners race of the year. One more NYRR race plus a volunteer assignment and I will have my 9+1 guaranteed entry for the 2013 ING New York City Marathon! I love Boomer's race on the NYRR calendar and hope it is there for a long time to come. Runners got fist bumps with him at the start line and then he was there to press some flesh at the finish line, and on top of that he ran along with us around Central Park.

My finish time was 1:06:57 for the 6.2 miles, a full loop around Central Park plus a quick left on the 72nd Street Transverse to the finish line near the bandshell. We ran up Cat Hill and we had to take on the mighty north hill, where I counted backwards from 100 and looked straight down, as my NYRR Team for Kids coach once taught me. The weather was picture-perfect: 65 degrees at the start with 87-percent humidity, a gentle breeze. I did a quick check of my NYRR membership history and it was my fastest 10K since the Joe Kleinerman in December 2009, almost identical for time and pace. I am finding lately that every race I run is my fastest since 2009, a sign of progress that is counter to the body's natural aging process. That happens when you schedule three marathons and some half marathons in the same year!

Now it is time to turn my attention toward long runs. My upcoming races include the NYC Marathon Long Training Run #1 (16-20 miles) next Saturday, July 28; NYC Marathon Long Training Run #2 (20 miles) on August 19; and the NYC Marathon Tuneup 18M on September 23. The marathon, my third of 2012 following the Miami Marathon in January and the Marathon de Paris in April, is on November 4. It will be my 10th marathon or ultra since I quit smoking and started breathing easier myself by becoming a runner back on December 1, 2006. Any other running between now and November 4 will be for endurance and speedwork, mixed in whenever I can around a busy baseball schedule. My goal is to step up my strength training and get more use out of my gym membership!

Yours in running...Mark

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