“Wheresoever you go, go with all of your heart. ” – Confucius
My son’s buddy reminded me that this year marks the tenth anniversary we ran the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, Pennsylvania together. It was Shawn’s first. I should have remembered because I qualified for the Boston Marathon. You’d think I’d be embarrassed that I forgot. Dah!
I shared a hotel room with Shawn and his buddy Paul the night before the race. The two of them bantered and traded insults all night long, and then continued when we woke four hours later. I laughed the entire time. It was bliss. Made me feel twenty years younger, perhaps a factor in my finishing time.
My daughter, Colleen, was attending the University of Scranton that year. Col and her friends cheered me on down the final stretch to the finish line on Washington Avenue. After the race, we were all standing around and Shawn blurt out, “Who put that *#$!ing hill in the last mile,” referring to the steepest upward incline of the race at mile twenty-five. Instinctively, I hauled off and punched him in the chest and screamed, “Shawn!” Colleen and her friends were mortified, and she asked, “Dad! Why did you do that?” Apparently the old man was living in the past.
I’ll return to Steamtown this week and line up with Shawn and his brother-in-law Chris. They will finish well ahead of me ten years after I qualified for Boston, but I will savor every step through the mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the small towns with their high school bands, passing the smiling kids from the Saint Joseph’s Center, my alma mater Marywood University, and listening to he deafening music and cheering crowd on Washington Ave. I’ll be the happiest man on earth to run 26.2 miles in my sixtieth year, and celebrate with a pint of Guinness at Andy Gavin’s Pub after the race.
You can read the entire account of my experience training and qualifying for the Boston Marathon in the Steamtown chapter of Twenty-four Years to Boston.