Friday, September 24, 2010


"In the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind, there are few" - Shunryu Suzuki-roshi

Last Sunday, we started a new training group for the Mercedes Marathon. The new runner is always naive to the process of developing this new skill as is any newcomer in any arena of life. They tread very tentively onto unfamiliar ground - "will it be solid, or will I sink like a rock in quicksand?".

It's hard to believe, but for the past 25 years, I have been running with new marathon trainees at least once a week with my various training groups, spanning the Vulcan Marathon, the Mercedes Marathon and my many years with TNT. Their inquisitiveness never fails to fuel my desire to lead them through the thickets and briars of running long distance events. And it also feeds my flame for training, not much different from when I was a Physical Therapy Clinical Instructor with UAB. I always felt that the student's enthusiasm and sponge-like desire to improve kept my professional fires burning.These new runners reflect their enthusiasm that spreads to all levels of runners, no matter what our level of experience. It's a joy to partake in this symbiotic relationship where we all feed off, and benefit, of one another.

I want to say how proud I am of all of you TNT guys that are currently raising money for the Leukemia Society this year. Some of you triathletes complete your event this weekend doing a 70.3 in Georgia (Good Luck Bob), and you runners have San Francisco and Chicago coming up very shortly (YIKES - Chicago is in 2 weeks). Recently, TNT has been having recruitment meetings for the Winter marathon season, and after sitting in those meetings for many years, watching the "let's pump you up" video, I realize how easy it is to lose sight of your real purpose for being out there. The marathon is simply the vehicle you choose to raise money so that you can help to wipe leukemia out. Every 5 minutes, someone else is diagnosed with leukemia, and that's AFTER TNT has raised over a billion dollars for research in the past 20 or so years! The survival rate has increased from 4% to 80% in some forms of blood-borne cancers, but that's not nearly good enough. Heck, 99% is not good enough. You are all bricks in a giant wall. Each one of you is so important to this crusade. Whether you run a 3 hour marathon, or struggle to the finish line just before the sun goes down, that's trivial compared to the good you are doing just by willing to put yourselves on the line. I was with TNT for 15 years, and was always astounded by the continued enthusiasm that the groups showed year after year. Although I only follow TNT peripherally now, I will continue to help you all I can to achieve your physical goals and honor the hard work you have done to reach your fund raising goals. I salute any athlete raising money for ANY charity and I'm sure the same sentiments can reflect on all those charities. I love running and if it can be used to kill the Devil, well then, keep running! Keep running like somebody's life depends on it!!

I know sometimes you wonder how your individual fund raising can really make much of difference. Believe me, it does. The following is one of my favorite stories:

An old man was picking up objects off the beach and tossing them out into the sea. A young man approached him and saw that the objects were starfish. "Why in the world are you throwing starfish into the water?"
"If the starfish are still on the beach when the tide goes out and the sun rises high in the sky, they will die", replied the old man.
"That is ridiculous. There are thousands of miles of beach and millions of starfish. You can't really believe that what you're doing could possibly make a difference!"
The wise old man picked up another starfish, paused thoughtfully, and remarked as he tossed it out into the waves, "it makes a difference to this one."

You are all making a difference guys - we are all starfish throwers!!

OK guys, that's it from Planet Al this week. I'm back up in Boston this week for a week of baby sitting Adam. He's one week short of a year old, and we're going to see if both Adam & I can survive a weeklong edition of Grandpa Bootcamp. This is going to be a ball!! Have a great week guys, and I'll soon see you on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

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