Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

It's the time of year when many take stock of things and make plans for the hours, days, months, year ahead.  The tale that follows this introduction is something you should think about.  It's Dave McGillivray's story of his recent encounter with health issues we all hope to avoid.  Who is McGillivray and why should we care?

If you've run the Boston Marathon, you've encountered his work.  Dave is the race's director, the guy who puts together all the parts that allow the race to be held every Patriot's Day in Boston.  If you run at all in races around the country, you may have encountered his work at other races.  When 1984 Olympic marathon gold medalist Joan Samuelson wanted to put on a race in her hometown in Maine, the guy she asked to run the show is Dave McGillivray.  He's the Usain Bolt of race directors in the US, but that's not all.

He doesn't just direct events, he's a prolific runner as well.  Has run across the US and every year, when the Boston Marathon finishes, he goes back to the starting line and runs the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston.  So a  year and a half ago when he started encountering warning signals from his body, it took him a long time to get an answer to why he was having trouble.

How could somebody so seemingly fit have health issues?  I encountered the same questions a decade or so ago when I went out for routine training runs.  Since my daily exercise routine involves long walks with the dog, 50 miles a week of running, and about 3/4 of a mile of swimming, the medical profession was as perplexed as I was of what was not right with my body.

More than 20 years ago 1968 Olympian, Minnesota running legend, and mentor and friend to many of the state's distance runners Ron Daws was having similar symptoms to Dave and myself.  Shortness of breath during runs, inability to do what we could normally do easily.  Ron died in his sleep of a massive stroke.  For whatever reason, Dave and I survived.

That's why what Dave has to say matters.  It gives another meaning to the often used coaching mantra of "listen to your body."  Listening in this case means a lot more than finishing a race or what time you can run.

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