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Jack Fultz — June, 2010
Jack Fultz won the 1976 Boston Marathon with a time of 2:20:19, overcoming a 91 degree official temperature that soared along the route to over 100 degrees to take the ‘Run for the Hoses.’ His personal best marathon of 2:11:17 was set two years later at the 1978 Boston Marathon where he finished in fourth place. Jack qualified for three Olympic Marathon Trials in 1972, 1976 and 1980. While at Georgetown University, he ran personal best times as follows: mile – 4:08.3; 2-mile – 8:54; 3-mile – 13:34 and 6-mile – 28:50.9. In 1996 Jack was inducted into the Georgetown University Hall of Fame and the DC Road Runners Hall of Fame. Prior to his Georgetown days, he spent four years in the United States Coast Guard and graduated from Franklin Area (Pa) High School. Jack is an instructor of sport psychology at Tufts University, a fitness consultant and personal coach, and a training consultant to the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge. He also is an occasional motivational speaker. He resides in Medford, Massachusetts.
GCR:Often an athlete has a ‘defining moment’ such as winning an Olympic medal or Super Bowl title that affects his life and forever shapes how others view and relate to him. After more than 30 years since you won the 1976 Boston Marathon, how has that day been a ‘defining moment’ for you?
JFIt launched me into a limelight that I hadn’t been in before. I had heard another athlete who had a big moment like mine say, ‘I hope that it doesn’t change me, but it will change how others view me.’ That was the type of feeling I had and thought about after winning at Boston. It is a reflection of our society and how people look at celebrities based on something they did. Ever since that day, when people meet me, it has been my calling card. I’m not just ‘Jack Fultz, son of Mr. and Mrs. Fultz’ but I’m ‘Jack Fultz, Boston Marathon winner.’ It has been interesting to see how others’ view of me has changed because now I have a label on me by which others define me. In our society there is no memory of second place by the masses so runners like Jeff Wells and Dick Beardsley, for example, who ran great races and just missed winning – each by two seconds - aren’t in the hallowed group of Boston Marathon Champions that I’m fortunate to be a part of. An example is recently when I was at a fund-raising event just chit-chatting and one gentleman introduced me and mentioned my Boston Marathon win. Suddenly people were on their I-Phones googling me and the center of conversation went back to that event. They were excited so I just enjoy their excitement. I realize that it gives me more credibility in their eyes, which I can then utilize in ways that are bigger than me - such as charity causes where I can have a positive impact on society.
GCR:What were your goals for the 1976 Boston Marathon and what was your training leading up to the race since you were still competing collegiately?
JFI had just completed a full indoor track season for Georgetown University. I was a senior, but older than a typical college undergrad at 27 years of age. I had served four years in the U.S. Coast Guard between my two years at the University of Arizona and my final undergraduate years at Georgetown. As I trained during that final ’75 – ’76 school year, knowing I was planning to run the Boston Marathon, I built a bigger aerobic base in the fall than I would have had I been on the cross country team. Ninety-mile weeks were pretty common with occasional weeks topping out over 100 miles. My primary goal at Boston was to race to a qualifying time for the Olympic Trials Marathon, which would be contested in Eugene in May. I had missed the standard in my first two attempts in January and March, both due to horrific weather conditions. In the first one in North Carolina, I was out in front by myself and had to fight a strong head wind the second half of the race on the out-and-back course. I just missed the Trials ‘B’ standard, falling off pace in the final mile. Through the indoor track season, for which I was eligible during this, my fifth year, I would often race on Saturdays and do my marathon prep long run on Sundays. In March I ran the Earth Day Marathon on Long Island but there were gale-force winds of up to fifty miles per hour blowing us around. After about 10 - 12 miles it became apparent that we likely would not achieve the Trials standard so I decided then to drop out and run at Boston. I would not have been at Boston if I had gotten a qualifier at either of those races, but dropping out of that March race turned out to be one of the better racing decisions I’ve ever made. Then I just geared my training for Boston and all of my workouts went great. I tapered off the last week and was supremely confident that I would have a good race.
GCR:What was your race strategy and overall attitude especially in light of extreme heat of over ninety degrees in this ‘Run for the Hoses?’
JFI didn’t do anything in particular as far as my strategy except I looked at prior years’ results and calculated that I’d have to minimally finish in the top ten to achieve a Trials qualifying time. This was before there were mile markers and accurate splits along the course so we never really knew just how fast we were running. While I was running for time, I knew I needed to focus on a high-place finish. I had finished 12th in my first Boston Marathon five years earlier and wanted to win if I had a chance, but that wasn’t my primary aim this time. My attitude was light all weekend long. I read Marathon Man on the train ride to Boston and ironically, I was identifying with the protagonist in the story because he night before boarding the train from D.C. to Boston, I lost the cap on my front tooth. If you’ve ready the book or seen the movie, you know that the protagonist in the story, played by Dustin Hoffman in the movie version of the story, was tortured by having his teeth drilled by a Nazi war criminal dentist who did the same thing to their prisoners during the war. This simply reinforced my confidence because my training had gone extremely well and I knew I was ready to race really well. I simply stayed focused on the elements of my race over which I had control, in particular my pace throughout the race, balancing the extreme weather conditions against what the lead pack of runners was doing.
GCR:Around the 20 kilometer mark in Wellesley you were in about tenth place. At this point how were you feeling and did the leaders appear to be within reach?
JFComing into Wellesley I knew I was in tenth as a spectator or race official yelled my placing. There is that long up hill before the Wellesley College campus and I could see all nine runners in front of me strung out in a single file over about a quarter mile stretch. I remember feeling like I hadn’t even started to race – hadn’t even began to really put in much effort yet. I was still on cruise control. I had an epiphany that it was going to be a great day as I wasn’t all that surprised at how good I felt. I didn’t see the runners ahead of me as enemies. I saw them as allies – the faster they ran, the faster I was likely to run. This is an important and valuable cognitive construct for all competitive athletes. Competition anxiety – which usually robs us of some of our efficacy by causing us to run less fluidly and relaxed – grows out of a focus and concern about things over which we have little or no control.
GCR:You moved into second place just before the Newton Hills behind Richard Mabuza of Swaziland. How did his form look and were you gaining confidence in your ability to challenge for the lead?
JFAround the Newton Hospital stretch, having moved into third place, I remember thinking, ‘Wow – I’m going to finish in the top three!’ Billy Squires, the renowned coach of the Greater Boston Running Club, whom I did not know at the time, ran along side me giving me ice cubes. Being the first American in the race at this point, he was very excited about the prospects of another American victory. They came in handy but melted quickly so I gave the remnants of the ice to the second and third place guys as I passed them, hoping to discourage them a bit with the notion, ‘here, you look like you need these.’ The runners I had passed while moving from tenth to second place didn’t offer much of challenge as I passed them so I didn’t think they would mount a charge later in the race either. In fact, after the race, Jack Foster who finished fourth and was one of the pre-race favorites, said to me, ‘When you went by I was sure that you’d blow up in the hills so I didn’t go with you.’ Once I moved into second place, we rounded the famed Newton fire house, and looking up that next substantial hill, I had my first good look at the race leader, Mabuza. He was struggling and I closed on him very quickly, because he was slowing down, not because I accelerated.
GCR:When you passed Mabuza on the Brae Burn hill in West Newton after 18 miles did he give any effort to stay with you or was he spent?
JFI ran the tangent to the curve in the road and he didn’t, revealing to me that he might not be thinking cogently by then. So when I went past him, we were on opposite sides of the road. We made brief eye contact as I ran by and he had such a vacant a look of exhausted resignation on his face. My first reaction was one of total empathy. I’d been there before, maintaining a lead, only to fall apart and get passed late in the race. He had led the entire first 18 miles, had a recent 2:12 to his credit, was heat-trained and most surely thought he had the win, before his wheels began to fall off. I did pick it up as I went down the back side of that hill so as to discourage him further from trying to sit on my back.
GCR:Now that you were leading, what recollections do you have of the next few miles over the Newton Hills?
JFSpectators were rowdy and drinking beer. The photographers on the press truck weren’t taking pictures for the most part as they had finished their rolls with shots of Mabuza who they all thought was going to win. My race number was undecipherable due to the sweat and water that had caused it to disintegrate and no one seemed to know who I was. The press was yelling, ‘Who are you?’ I thought it was amusing so I played a game and yelled, ‘Guess?’ Since I wore my Georgetown singlet they incorrectly guessed one of my teammates who was a former roommate and marathon runner. Finally they figured out who I was.
GCR:You experienced some calf cramping with about four miles to go. Was this from the effort, heat or a combination and were you concerned that you could possibly cramp up and be caught?
JFI had been feeling giddy, and trying to resist that, as this entire experience was rapidly developing to be the culmination of all my running my dreams when the slight cramping started. I remember thinking, ‘I still have four miles to go, if I cramp now I could lose it all.’ and I had a moment of panic. I had to back off my pace a bit and the thought occurred to me that even if someone caught me that I still was running the race of my life and would have a very high finish. This helped relax me further and soon the cramps abated – I was right back on pace after that and the down hills didn’t require excessive use of my calves at this point and the cramps never returned.
GCR:What was your feeling as you were cheered by the crowds on the finishing stretch down Beacon Street and as you crossed the finish line as the Boston Marathon champion? What happened right after the race when you were recognized as the winner?
JFDespite the heat I didn’t get extremely fatigued. When I approached the finish line I felt like I could have kept right on running. The last three or four miles I no longer had any calf issues and took in the experience. People were yelling, ‘There’s no one in sight’ and ‘You have it in the bag,’ and I was aware that my life might never be quite the same if I could hold on to win. I had thoughts such as whether I was ready for this and it seemed like my dreams were playing out before me as I was racing in the lead toward the finish. And the next thing I knew I crossed the finish line and things happened very quickly. Within five minutes they had me on a podium with the Mayor and Governor who put the laurel wreath on my head and the winner’s medal around my neck. I was ushered into a barber shop where they interviewed me for what seemed to be an hour while I sat in a barber chair. They took a picture of me holding a baby – the barber’s grandson I believe. It would be interesting to know who that baby has grown up to be. As you can imagine, my emotions were sky high during the media inquiry. I thought about how in so many interviews the winner says, ‘I worked so hard for this,’ and it’s true. But my competitors worked equally hard. This just happened to be my day – I ran the perfect race.
GCR:Were there noticeable changes in your life since you were now a Boston Marathon champion?
JFThat summer I ran road races and was certainly recognized for my achievement. Many organizations contacted me to speak at their functions and/or appear at their functions. Politicians asked for my endorsement. It was quite a positive stroke to one’s ego, to say the least.
GCR:What were some of your favorite stamina and speed sessions and hill training leading up to your victory?
JFIn cross country we would do five minute or six minute repeats on the roads. During indoor season we did repeat 400s, 600s, 800s and 1,000s. We had a board track which was eleven laps to the mile that we practiced on two or three times per week. We usually did three miles total so it would be something like six 800s or twelve 400s. Every now and then I’d do a longer workout on my own like twenty 400s. But once I was focused on training for the marathon again, I’d hammer a 14 – 16 miler every week through Rock Creek Park. It was seven plus miles of mostly up hill, then I’d turn around and fly back down hill to home, just emptying my tank on most of those runs.
GCR:You raced well several other times at the Boston Marathon highlighted by your personal best of 2:11:17 for fourth place in 1978. What stands out in your memory from that race?
JFMy biggest memories from that year were in dealing with the press bus after Heartbreak Hill. I’d passed Jeff Wells near the end of the hills, then around 22 miles he made a significant move and gapped me. Soon thereafter the sole press bus on the course came by me and would essentially remain there for the next 3 miles. On Beacon Street the crowd squeezed in so tightly that we had to run single-file through some sections. Just ahead of me the bus got stuck and had to stop. Exhaust smoke was spewing out of the bus and I barely could get past it as spectators who saw what was happening were yelling at other fans to get out of my way. I turned my shoulders and inched my way along the edge of the bus. I couldn’t see Jeff ahead of me but saw the lights of a police car ahead which I surmised was leading either him or a few other runners, including Bill Rodgers. I was feeling great otherwise and still working to catch them. Then the bus came up again honking his horn, so I moved over as I ran and let it go by. But a half mile later it got stuck again and the entire process happened again – me passing the bus by turning sideways and inching my way past it and the cheering fans along the side.
GCR:It’s shocking that something like this could happen toward the front of the race. But the duel still wasn’t over between you and the bus, was it?
JFAmazingly, there was still one more incident with the bus remaining. Once again I was in the middle of the narrow funnel of screaming fans, chasing the flashing police car lights I’d see from the top of each rise the road offered us when the bus came up behind me again, honking at me to get out of the way. This time I thought, ‘No way!’ I couldn’t afford to get trapped behind the bus once more but the driver was persistent and kept honking - so I flipped him off which (laughing) didn’t get into a Sports Illustrated article of the Top Ten Sports Flip Offs (but I believe it is worthy of that list). Finally the space widened and the driver was able to get by me for the third pass. Then at the small rise where we passed over the Massachusetts Turnpike he slowed once again, but there was room for me to run around the bus this time. I was confounded because the spectators were not the cause for his slowing. This time I passed on his right side, knowing the road turned to the right in Kenmore Square (more tangent running) but obviously he did not see me and almost ran me over as he pulled over toward the curb. I banged on the bus with my fist in an attempt to let him know I was there but he must have not heard my pounding. Then, finally, he applied the brakes and as the bus slowed, I moved forward against the bus, but still shoulder to edge. Thinking the worst of this was now over, the driver opened the door to let the B.A.A. officials off of the bus and I almost ran straight into the now-protruding door. I jumped and twisted between the door and a security person, possibly utilizing some residual high school football skills!
GCR:After the craziness with the bus, were you able to finally focus on racing the rest of the way?
JFYes, thankfully I was. The next thing I heard was someone yelling, ‘That’s third place ahead of you!’ I could see three runners up ahead who were third, fourth and fifth and went after them thinking, ‘Top three, top three.’ When I caught them I recognized Randy Thomas, whom I had trained with and raced against a lot, and New Zealand’s Kevin Ryan and went by them strongly. The other runner was Finland’s Eka Tikannen who was just ahead of me as we turned onto Hereford Street. My legs started to buckle a bit on the little uphill, affectionately known to marathoners as ‘Mt. Hereford’, so I had to back off my kick slightly. After rounding the final turn we only had about 200 meters to the finish (the new finish line provides a 600 meter straightaway to finish) I sprinted after Tikannen but just ran out of race – I was closing on him once again. As he collapsed at the finish I jumped over him and looked back at the podium where I stood two years earlier to see who was being crowned. I learned afterward that Bill Rodgers had beat Jeff Wells by a scant two seconds – the closest finish in race history at that date.
GCR:You first qualified for the Olympic Trials Marathons in 1972. What are highlights from your initial Olympic Trials experience?
JFIn 1972 it was only my second year of running marathons so I didn’t have any high expectations. I was in the Coast Guard and living in Alexandria, VA. I raced in the military national championships and then trained with military runners in Seattle where the US National Championship Meet was held. After a week of training in Seattle, a Marine friend and I drove to Eugene, Oregon for the Trials and I came down with the flu. I was sick in bed and couldn’t move. I didn’t run, except to the bathroom, for nearly a week. Then my recovery took several more days and I was totally flat for the race. I also wore new shoes given to me by Nike. The shoes worked fine, but the laces were very long and came untied about a mile into the race – I meant to tape them down but was distracted as they called us to the starting line. After retying them I was in last place out of about 120 runners who had qualified. Slowly I caught up to some running friends and ran with them. They told us ahead of time that we had to finish under 2:30 to enter the stadium and finish on the track before the 5,000 meter race and it was a very hot day. That was the day Steve Prefontaine and George Young were racing in the 5,000 meters finals. I had met George shortly after his Mexico City Bronze Medal performance in the Steeplechase so I was pulling for him and wanted to see the race. Now it didn’t look like some of us would not make the 2:30 time cutoff as we struggled toward the finish line in the hot afternoon sun. Along came the sag wagon and offered us a ride so with little thought, a bunch of us jumped in so we could catch the 5K final. Amazingly we went right onto the infield during the race which Pre won by outkicking George in the final lap, running about 13:22.
GCR:How was it getting ready for and racing the 1976 Olympic Trials Marathon so close after winning in Boston?
JFIt was fun being back in Eugene in1976 but I only had five weeks to recover from my Boston victory. Within a week after Boston I started hard training again, like tempo runs and mile repeats, and by the time I got out to Eugene for the Trials and I was toast. I should have sought some coaching help after Boston as I learned years later that less training and more rest would have been preferable to the overtraining I did. A side story is that the Trials ‘A’ standard was 2:20:00 and I won Boston in the heat in 2:20:19 which only met the ‘B’ standard. Because of those 19 seconds, the US Olympic Committee wouldn’t pay my way to the Trials. They said they couldn’t make an exception for just one person, which I discovered later they had already done – by allowing many runners from the ’75 Boston race into the Trials. The qualifying period for the ’76 trials did not begin until May of 1975. Regardless, fortunately Georgetown alumni came up with the money to send me to Eugene. The race course was the same we ran in 1972. I ran the best I could with what little I had in the tank and finished an uneventful race in around 2:27 or 2:28. Needless to say, it was a real come down after winning Boston, but I was looking forward to some real recovery time during the summer months.
GCR:Politics and sport were unfortunately intertwined in 1980 when President Jimmy Carter boycotted the Olympics because of Russian involvement in Afghanistan. How unfair and disappointing was the 1980 boycott to you and other top American athletes?
JFI geared myself up for the June, 1980 Olympic Trials but was struggling with a back injury earlier that year. Then when Jimmy Carter called the boycott I couldn’t move my training forward enough to be ready for Boston. The boycott was very frustrating but I tried to look at the big picture because I liked President Carter as a person, as our president and I liked his overall policies. I knew he was politicizing the Olympics, but I actually tried to see it from his perspective - that what he was doing was right in the larger scheme of things. The Olympic ideal (and perhaps myth) stated that the ancient Greeks, Romans and Persians putt down their weapons, held Olympic competitions and then resuming their battles. But how much of that is true and how much is mythology? I looked at what President Carter had decided and thought that people like me might have to make sacrifices and pay a higher price than others to possibly help the greater good. But as time went on I came to realize, and feel quite strongly, that it was wrong of him to politicize the Games, even more than they already were. His actions, of course, set the stage for the Russian reprisal in 1984. It’s just a reminder that even though individuals compete for medals, the media and each country emphasizes that it’s about countries (flags and national anthems at the awards stands) and medal counts (suggesting the more medals the better a political system or simply the better a given country).
GCR:How much did it help you in the late 1970s and early 1980s to train with members of the Greater Boston Track Club who were top marathon racers?
JFI moved to the Boston area in February of 1979 after some discussions with Bill Rodgers about getting involved and working for his company. I was apartment-sitting for Bill, watering his plants and feeding his cat while he was training in nice, warm Phoenix. I attempted to negotiate a very small minority-owner position with his business partners, but they preferred to just employee me initially. I couldn’t bring myself to wear my competitor’s name on my racing singlet without having some ownership in that name, so I declined the offer of employment. I trained a fair amount with the Greater Boston Track Club members but I actually wasn’t a member of the team. I lived west of town and trained a lot on the extensive network of trails in historic Concord and its neighboring town, Lincoln. I ran many miles in the Walden Pond area, reciting Henry David Thoreau in my mind as I ran by his cabin site. What I do remember being of tremendous benefit were the group track sessions. When I was exhausted after 12 X 800 meter repeats, the realization that I’d been able to do these workouts with Rodgers and the others bolstered my confidence. Appearance fees for racing were all under the table and only Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers were getting thousands for appearing at races. The rest of us got at most a couple hundred bucks for the most part. We didn’t resent it – we knew they had earned it and knew what we had to do to make the bigger bucks ourselves. It provided an incentive to run faster and to try to move up to their level, but it still wasn’t about the money – it was about pride.
GCR:With the luxury of hindsight, is there anything you could have done differently in training and racing focus that may have resulted in better performances?
JFThere were times when I got so wrapped up in the outcome of races that my performances suffered. This happened while in college but I seemed to leave this behind somewhat after I won at Boston. When I look back I wish I had been able to win an NCAA title or a second Boston Marathon, and there are definitely things I’d do differently to make that happen. In the overall scheme of things though, I’m not sure more or bigger wins would have made a big difference in my life as it is now. Overall, if I had planned out my training program more completely and surrounded myself more with a good support group, like Greater Boston, it definitely would have been beneficial. Coaching would have help me with setting more specific goals and kept me away from some ‘ad hoc’ training that may have not been in my best interest. In hindsight, I would have continued doing regular speed and tempo work after leaving college and returning to road racing. Getting my 10K down to 28 minutes would have set the stage to run a sub-2:10 marathon. Also, I was sort of a ‘running bum’ before settling into the Boston area. I didn’t have the structure needed to break 2:10 or to win at Boston again. I got in the training but wasn’t disciplined enough to get to bed early and take care of the multitude of little things that add up to big successes.
GCR:Are there some other road races that stand out from your career?
JFWhen I resumed good training in the fall of 1976 after taking it a bit easy toward the end of that summer I decided to race the Honolulu Marathon. I ran fairly well and placed third but with more focus I believe I would have challenged for the win. The 1979 Montreal Marathon was held in conjunction with the World Cup Track Meet that year and was very hot. I popped some sugar cubes just before the scheduled start and downed them with a Coke, just to get the sugar and caffeine rush. As we toed the starting line, they announced a delay of the start. That took 30 minutes and as we stood around waiting, I experienced a massive insulin dump. When the gun finally went off, I was just about passing out. About three miles into the race I was struggling badly and this continued until almost halfway. I’d long since resigned myself to being out of the race but hoped to at least salvage an Olympic Trials qualifying time for the 1980 Trials. I hit the half way split at about 1:10 but was still struggling so much, I began to look for a place to drop out. Then a few miles later my system finally stabilized and I started feeling good, slowly picking up my pace. Eventually I passed Bill Rodgers and Tom Fleming, both of whom were struggling with the heat and eventually dropped out. I just missed catching Ron Tabb to earn the top American finisher spot, running 67 minutes for the second half for a 2:17 – which did qualify me for that 1980 US Olympic Trials race.
GCR:You raced some respectable times at Georgetown including a 6-mile of 28:50.9 at the 1975 IC4A Championships, 13:34 for three miles and an 8:54 indoor 2-mile. What did you learn from your Georgetown coaches and how did you end up using some other ancillary coaches during your years at Georgetown?
JFMy coaches were very supportive, but I was sort of out of the system even though I was on scholarship. Coach Frank Rienzo recruited me and Joe Lang was his assistant. By the time I arrived, Coach Rienzo had been promoted to Athletic Director and Coach Lang was Head Coach. I wanted to go higher than I felt the system at Georgetown could take me. It was probably selfish on my part, feeling that more individualized attention would make the difference. So I approached a friend who was a Georgetown alumnus to help me. Garth McKay had trained with Eamonn O’Reilly, another friend and Georgetown alumnus, who finished second in the 1970 Boston Marathon. He broke the Boston Marathon record by 2:30 and the American Record by more than 3 minutes but finished behind Great Britain’s Ron Hill. Hill set the Boston record in 2:10:30, which was, I believe, the second fastest time ever on a ratified course. Derek Clayton’s world record was set at Antwerp which was always considered a short course. Eamonn and Garth were both in the D.C. area and let me run with them at times, so I asked Garth to coach me. After I raced a 3:01 three quarter mile and 2:12 for 1,000 yards he thought I ‘had the wheels’ and started working with me. Joe Lang was a great guy an excellent coach, and was understandably reluctant to allow this. But because I was older and lived off campus, he agreed to allow Garth to coach me within the context of the team’s racing needs. When I got back to Georgetown after winning the Boston Marathon I thought of how one day I had asked Garth, ‘As a top runner, when do you know you’ve arrived?’ His answer was, ‘You do it once. Then you know!’ That’s what Boston was for me. I knew, after all those years of hard training that I had arrived. When I returned from Boston there was a huge party going on in my house. Of course Garth was there and when I saw him, I said, ‘Now I know.’ Garth replied, ‘I know you do – and now I have nothing more to teach you.’ I didn’t think this was true, but I understood what he meant. Eamonn O’Reilly had also talked to me a lot about race strategy at Boston, especially on the Newton Hills and when to make moves. My senior year at Georgetown we took seventh place in the NCAA cross country after being the favorite at IC4As and having a lousy race to finish fourth. I didn’t place as well individually during my years at Georgetown as I should have as I ran too hard day after day in training – sort of the ‘Alberto Salazar method’ but it was too much for me.
GCR:You duked it out with Georgetown teammate Michael Brown at Maryland in 1975 over a mile prevailing as you both ran personal bests of 4:08.3 and 4:09.0. What are your standout memories of that race or other indoor races?
JFI ran 4:08 indoors a few times even though I wasn’t training for the mile. During one indoor meet my job was to take Jim Petersen through the half in 2:00 so he could get his 4:04 NCAA qualifier. We came through 800 right at 2:00 and I was in total control, feeling like I was just getting warmed up. Foolishly I didn’t keep racing but rather stepped out to the second lane to let Jim through, because that was our plan. I felt so good that I kicked myself afterward for not staying in the race qualifying myself. Of course I ran another 4:08. Then at the Penn Relays in April, I ran a 2:58 three-quarter mile on the distance medley so I’m confident that I the ability to break four minutes for the mile, even though I never focused on it. Mike Brown was my roommate, a great guy who had a rough family life growing up in Harlem. His running helped him to get a good education, but his past came back to haunt him after graduation and he died at a way-too-young age in 2000. I ran 8:54 at West Point in January my first indoor season. Their indoor dirt track with four sharp corners was far from fast. I thought I would run much faster later that season, but it simply didn’t happen. Ineffective goal setting I suspect?
GCR:Who were some of your favorite competitors and adversaries from your road racing years, collegiate days and when you first started in high school competition?
JFI always liked racing against the best people because I knew that, if I won, it would be more meaningful to me. And if I didn’t, racing the best would help me run my best, regardless of the outcome. For example, Greg Meyer was one of my favorite competitors because was so tough. He reminded me of Marvin Hagler, the boxer – one of the guys you’d nearly have to kill to beat. Bill Rodgers was the same – just such a tough racer. I felt that the only time I had a shot at beating Bill was if he was off his form due to some loss of training or if it was quite hot which affect him. Bill hated the heat.
GCR:Didn’t you have quite a varied athletic background at Franklin Area (Pa) High School and a serious injury?
JFI had some early athletic success in high school track but I also played football and basketball. I really liked basketball but was second string on my high school team so I joined the town YMCA league so I could get more playing time. I played football all four years in high school but my senior year on the opening kickoff of the first game I go crushed when I block a guy twice my size. My leg wasn’t right and I gimped around for a month. I had cortisone shots, had my knee drained and found out I had a hemorrhaging quadriceps muscle. They hospitalized me for more than a week and gave me anti-inflammatories - cortisone injections and oral medications, every six hours for the whole week. My x-rays were sent to an orthopaedic specialist who said my athletic days were over. There was a calcium deposit directly in my quadriceps and they wanted to cut it out after it solidified. Fortunately my primary doctor was able to dissolve it. My prescription was no running, no basketball and only to swim. Of course, being a teenager, I was I started running as soon as I got out of the hospital. I also was playing basketball, biking and swimming.
GCR:What events did you race in high school and how was your development as a runner?
JFMy freshman year I ran a 330 yard leg on the 880 yard relay which had two legs each of 110 yards and 330 yards . I first discovered I could run distances better than most during my sophomore year. At summer football camp, they had us run two miles every morning at 7:00 a.m. I was always a quarter mile ahead of everyone else on the team. My legs and cardio system were strong from delivering newspapers everyday for years, riding up and down the long steep hills in my small hometown on my single speed Schwinn bike. During my sophomore year I was a quarter miler. During my junior year I still was considered a quarter miler but the Interscholastic Athletic Association initiated a two-mile relay exhibition event for the District and State Championship Meets. Our coach decided to make a team of our 800 meter runners, me and another 400 meter runner. Within two weeks I ran a 2:01 half mile. The coaches saw some promise and decided I would focus on the half mile my senior year. We didn’t have a cross country team which is why I stayed with football in the fall. In the spring of my senior year I started reading some books on running which said to run more miles for my endurance. But my coaches thought that easy running of five or six miles was of no use compared to fast, quality running. So on my own I’d run an extra easy five miles or so in my basketball shoes at recess or at lunch time. The week before our first meet my senior year, we had a time trial and I was set to pace for the ‘miler’ on our team before doing my own half mile time trial. I ran about five minutes that first time so they made me a miler. I ran around 4:54 my first race and got down to a best of 4:34 by the end of the season. That school record lasted for a good while. Ironically my older brother eventually coached at our high school and he coached a runner who broke both my school records.
GCR:Why did you choose to go to the University of Arizona and how did you develop as a runner during those two years?
JFI was a walk-on at Arizona as I had some relatives out there and wanted to get out of Pennsylvania. I walked into the track office in my Chuck Taylor high tops and told the coach I’d done a 4:34 mile. He wasn’t too encouraging, didn’t give me a locker, but did say I could train with the team. He said, ‘Show up this afternoon and run with the guys.’ So I was there at 3:30 in my Chuck Taylors and everyone else was wearing their Adidas and Puma shoes. We ran eight miles and I was sucking air the last few miles. But I just kept showing up and got more and more fit. I ran some all-comers track meets in the spring and got my mile time down to 4:24 or 4:25 which was a huge drop in time which excited me. Those times were winning the state meet the year before in high school, or at least placing. The next fall I was a freshman in eligibility and it was the first year the NCAA allowed freshman to compete on the varsity team in minor sports. The coach gave me a locker and made me an official member of the cross country team. I got a second-hand pair of shoes over the summer from a teammate, which was now replaced by my first team-issued pair of new shoes. I learned a lot and raced my best, and after the season when they added up points scored to see the seven runners who earned an Arizona letter, I was the seventh man on the team. I got a letterman jacket and letter and was a ‘Big man on Campus’ at a large school. I got to know most of the football players and started feeling good about myself and my athletic ability. To this day it is one of my biggest accomplishments to have earned that collegiate letter jacket. I stayed for another year and earned another letter, but was running low on funds for my education. I was beating teammates who were on scholarship, but there wasn’t any scholarship money available, so I transferred to Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio.
GCR:From 1969 to 1973 you served in the United States Coast Guard. How did you end up making the change from Mount Union College to the Coast Guard?
JFThe Federal Government made that change for me. In January of 1969, after four semesters, I left Arizona, having been accepted at Mount Union. But my new college was on the quarter system instead of semesters and classes for me didn’t start until March. My annual draft registration came up every February rather than October because I began college in the second semester of the academic year. I told them I was a student but didn’t actually matriculate until the next month. The draft board in my small town had been unsuccessful in inducting my two older brothers and was after me (just because I was paranoid didn’t mean they weren’t out to get me). I didn’t appeal my classification in the 30-day period because I was sure I’d be starting classes at Mount Union very soon. Then on the 31st day of having been reclassified 1-A (ready for draft) I received my draft notice. It felt like kick in the stomach. Most draft-age men considered it nearly a death sentence. It was frightening. The Viet Nam war had become so incredibly politicized and there was no rational justification for us to be there. (Times haven’t changed all that much either, or so it seems). My best friend’s dad, who landed on Normandy Beach on D-Day, encouraged me to get into an alternative branch of service and serve my time – but if I could avoid becoming a pawn in that needless global debacle as a foot soldier that I should do that. His son was already over there fighting – and I’m glad to say he returned pretty much unscathed, physically and emotionally. I was able to get into the Coast Guard for a four year commitment – and the beauty of the Coast Guard is that branch of the military was created to serve peace time functions. In fact, it is still under the Department of Transportation, not the Department of Defense, yet it is every bit the military experience.
GCR:Did the military mental and physical discipline have an effect on your approach to running and racing?
JFI didn’t like military life, but have some great running memories from those years. One of my old Arizona teammates had run a marathon in Culver City and I became fascinated with this long race called the marathon. This is how I got started doing long runs, but still only 12 to 14 miles. After Coast Guard boot camp I was stationed on Governor’s Island off the south tip of Manhattan. I was in school from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm and did one evening of duty per week. I was free the rest of the evenings and studied my electronics, but usually before or after dinner I would run the two-mile loop around the island. It had the most stunning scenery - on the west side was the Statue of Liberty, the south side had a view of the Verrazano Bridge, on the east side I was looking at the Brooklyn Bridge and on the north side was the south tip of the Manhattan skyline. I banged out six, eight or ten miles. One Friday evening I was doing loops and there were many permanent duty guys drinking beer, having cookouts and they were hollering things like ‘pick it up.’ On each successive loop my paced dropped from 6:30 to 6:15 to 6:00 pace and by the third loop, they were now just looking at me in silence. On my fourth loop I was probably running 5:30 pace and they were applauding for me a little and on my final time around it was practically a standing ovation. It was great! After graduating from electronics and computer school, I was stationed in Alexandria, VA. It was actually great duty. The Presidential Honor Guard was stationed there and if we did our work and kept our nose clean, it wasn’t all that bad. We had most evenings and weekends to ourselves and the D.C. night scene was not far away. The actual base was about the size of a nine-hole golf course so when I had to stay on base, I would just run back and forth loops on the grass fields for up to ten miles. When I went off base I ran on the rods and at a local high school track. I kept reading more about running and heard about a running program called ‘Run for Your Life’ which had a two-mile run and a longer race every weekend in the Washington, DC area. So I started running in these races. The first time I ran both races and the local guys befriended me because I won the two-mile beating a guy who wasn’t well-liked. I soon moved off base and the Coast Guard just became my job.
GCR:What led you to race your first marathons in 1971 and how did you do?
JFThe Washington’s Birthday Marathon, run in February of each was the culminating race after a long fall season of ever-longer road races. I increased my mileage along with everyone else and got ready for it. I showed up and had a goal to break 2:30 which was then considered a pretty good time – one that guys I competed with were shooting for. Not only did I win the race, taking the lead at 25 miles but I broke 2:30 by 2 seconds, running 2:29:58. I worked the pace with a future Georgetown teammate and had planned to make my move with three miles to go. I was struggling a bit after 18 miles but when I hit my mark, I just took off and my legs responded! I had a strong finish, catching the leader, Agustin Calle of Colombia who was then living and training in New York City and who had won the Silver Medal in the 1967 Pan Am Games. It was a slow sports weekend in Washington D.C. so they ran the story on the front page of the Washington Post sports section with the news that a member of the Coast Guard had won the Washington’s Birthday Marathon. I had put ‘Coast Guard’ with stick-on letters on my but most of them fell off. The newspaper mentioned that I had made my own shirt, had no official support from the Coast Guard and that half of the letters fell off during the race – all of which was pretty humorous. Monday morning I was summoned to Coast Guard headquarters in D.C. my dress whites. I spent all day talking training with recent Academy graduates who were now officers at headquarters. They loved the fact that a ‘Coastie’ was actually making a small mark athletically. They put my rotation papers with Special Services, essentially exempting me from duty on a ship or small desolate island for a few years and fully supported my running. This new ‘official’ Coast Guard support enabled me to get long weekends off for road races and to compete in military competitions. I qualified for the Council of International Military Sport Championships in Tunisia in Cross Country. And after winning the marathon in February I upped my training and soon met and trained with Ken Misner, an original member of the Florida Track Club with Shorter, Jack Bachelor and Jeff Galloway. I ran the Boston Marathon in April that year and Jeff and I came upon each other halfway into the race and ran the rest of the way together with Jeff finishing 11th and me in 12th place. That seems to be where it really all started for me as a competitive runner and certainly as a marathoner.
GCR:In 1996, you were inducted into the Georgetown University Hall of Fame and on that occasion were invited to the White House to run with then-President Bill Clinton. Comment on the honor of being inducted into the HOF and how was it running with the president?
JFI was working as the Elite Athlete Liaison for the Boston Athletic Association (Boston Marathon) from 1988 to 1996. Around 1993 President Clinton started inviting the Boston Marathon Champion to visit Washington and to run with him on Wednesday morning. They did this for several years and a small entourage of B.A.A. representatives went along on the trip. I requested each year to that I be included in the group since I was a Georgetown graduate (Clinton’s alma mater) when I won Boston and I was the one who worked most closely with four of the six athletes who went each year. But I never got to go. So when I was invited to be inducted into the Georgetown Athletic Hall of Fame I contacted the Georgetown Athletic Department and suggested that having our entire five-person class of inductees run with President Clinton would be a great media opportunity for both the school and the White House. After numerous phone calls it was put together. It was an amazing honor to run with the President. We were asking him about the Whitewater affair, which was headline news at the time. As he responded, his pace quickened. We could tell this was a raw nerve for him. As his effort increased, I foolishly suggested that we could slow down a little. To his credit the President put his head down and pushed his pace even more. After our run we rode back to the White House, both ways in the presidential limousine. He handed out water bottles and we were all telling stories. Everyone was laughing and having fun. He was genuinely interested in our life stories. Back at the White House he took us in to the Oval Office and showed us many of the artifacts and gifts he had received during his administration. It was cool to see his excitement. There was one item he showed us and said, ‘This was given to me as a gift from Egypt – can you believe it’s over 3,000 years old!’ He was very personable and had lots of fun with us until his aides finally convinced him he had to go back to work. They did send a nice photo of President Clinton and me running together to my local newspaper. I think I still have a copy somewhere.
GCR:Dave McGillivray, Boston Marathon Race Director, runs the marathon course later in the day each year and you joined him in 1995. How was the experience of running into the night and finishing last in the Boston Marathon rather than first?
JFDave and I were both working on the marathon that year and of course I was aware of Dave’s Boston Marathon streak. Each year he had friends join him for parts of his run so I asked who was running with him that year. To my surprise, he said, ‘Nobody.’ I was still healthy and training so asked if he’d like some company, for which he was most happy to have. We ran about nine minutes pace, stopped for refreshments and chatted with some people along the way. We started at 6:30 and finished about 10:30. It was a different experience and gives me the dubious distinction – that of being the only runner to ever finish both first and last at the Boston Marathon. As we rounded the last turn and headed to the finish line, a small gathering of our friends and some TV cameras were waiting. This was Dave’s parade so I slowed to run in behind him, thus inadvertently placing me dead-last in that year’s marathon. I’m proud of that distinction!
GCR:You work teaching in the field of Sports Psychology. How important is the mental aspect with regard to training, competing and winning?
JFMy curiosity about the limiting factors in athletic performance led me to explore the field of sports psychology. I wondered if our performance limitations were more mental or physical. I have concluded that there are mental factors which limit many people much more than their physical ability. My own experiences bear that out. You do have to have natural ability and do the work in training, but unless you have the mental focus it won’t come together for some as well as others. Yogi Berra’s great quote, ‘Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical,’ applies to all sports. You’re most likely to have a successful result if you focus on the process and let your successful completion of the process dictate the outcome. I learned that at the highest levels of competitions. When I knew my competitors were as good as or better than I was physically, I had to not allow myself to get caught up in focusing on beating them in particular. Rather I would focus on performing to the best of my abilities and fitness level. If I did that, I could find success and a sense of achievement and accomplishment, independent of the actual outcome. Then, actually winning the race was icing on the cake. Some athletes compete only to win, but that is different than doing all one can to prepare to win and then execute your game or race plan optimally – and not allow competitive anxiety rob us of the ingredients necessary for a successful outcome, be that 1st place or 10th. The vast majority of professional golfers actually win less than 5% of the tournaments in which they play. It’s the same thing with most runners. Winning has to be defined by more than just beating the others in the competition. Vince Lombardi said, ‘Winning isn’t everything, but the WILL to win is.’ Yet the will to win has nothing to do with the actual outcome. It has everything to do with your attitude toward preparing yourself as best you can and then giving everything you have in the contest. Then whatever happens happens.
GCR:Could you elaborate further on the concept of success versus winning?
JFIn many races success may mean running a personal best time or pushing through some limit that was constraining you - so that quite possible to have a very successful outcome without actually finishing first. We typically define winning as defeating one or all opponents – finishing first of many in a given contest. This means that our effort gets isolated into a ‘mano-a-mano’ duel but it doesn’t require us to actually perform to the best of our ability. Sometimes, quite often actually, it can simply mean performing less poorly than our opponents. Success depends solely on our own performance while winning also depends on our competitors’ performance. The story about two friends running away from a pursuing bear illustrates this zero sum game quite well. In their escape sprint, one friend turns to the other and says, ‘It’s going to be hard to outrun this bear!’ The other friend replies, ‘I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you!’ Simply performing less poorly than the other guy will achieve victory. In the 1977 Boston Marathon I ran within 30 seconds of my winning time from the year before. It wasn’t quite as hot but it was still nearly 85 degrees – considerably warm for a marathon. That year I only finished ninth and after the race I was asked what the difference was between those two races. After all, I ran just about the same time. I replied, ‘This year, eight guys finished in front of me. Otherwise, the two races were quite similar. I ran well and would have won again if those eight runners hadn’t shown up.’ This may sound simplistic, but it addresses this concept of victory vs. success. To be sure, I didn’t run as well in ’77 as I did in ’76 – but I actually ran harder, had to dig deeper and was more totally spent at the finish line in ’77. So in that regard, I might consider my ’77 race to have been even more successful (for my own personal development – what I learned about myself, my limits and overcoming the inevitable doubts that occur when we’re giving it all we’ve got and still its not enough, or doesn’t appear to be sufficient). In marathons most runners are actually running a time trial and testing themselves. Some runners might be racing their friends or running to win or place in their respective age groups, but most are simply running against the clock. Only the handful of elite level runners at the front are actually racing each other. Place finish is more important to them than time. But even the elite level athletes need to pay more attention to their own race and pace than letting the race dictate their pace. Most of the time marathons are races of attrition – the winners are the ones who slow down the least. And crashing in a marathon is not a function of a lack of fitness. It is rather a function of poor pacing and/or poor course management (nutrition and hydration). This is true for the elite marathoner and the first timer.
GCR:We talked earlier about when Jeff Wells made his move in the 1978 Boston Marathon with four miles to go that you didn’t cover. Was it more of a physical or mental limitation that held you back at that point?
JFWhen he made the break I didn’t think it was the decisive move that it turned out to be. I was feeling good, thought it was a little early and felt I could reel him back in. Then with the repeated troubles with the press bus which I referred to earlier, that turned out not to be the case. Once I lost sight of Jeff because of the bus and the spectators who obscured my view of the road ahead, I wasn’t able to use him to pull me along over those final miles. At this stage of a marathon, we can and should utilize the race conditions around us to get closer to our edge. Once we ‘smell the barn’ and realize that we can finish with what energy we have left, then pull the plug and go for it – but one had to time that just right or pay a big price over the final mile or two. But otherwise I was confident I could make my move a bit later, on my own terms.
GCR:After your competitive days you have coached others and helped them to strive toward reaching their athletic potential. How satisfying is it to help others succeed compared to your own personal accomplishments? How much more difficult is it to instill in others the necessary discipline, focus and mental toughness?
JFI’ve been the training advisor for Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team here in Boston since 1990. Our team has grown from 19 runners to 559 this year, our 21st. I create an online training program, and then administer the program with regular updates, training reminders and replies to training and injury-related inquiries. It’s very extensive. Dana-Farber also has other running teams for which I serve as training advisor. I remind myself that my job is to make their dreams come true. I do my best to help them to have a high-quality experience. It gives a lot of meaning to what I do now and to my victory in ’76, without living in the past. As Dave McGillivray likes to say, my biggest accomplishment is yet to happen.
GCR:You’ve worked as an Elite Athlete Coordinator with the Boston Marathon. Do you have any stories of interest while serving in that position?
JFUta Pippig, who won the Boston Marathon three consecutive years, from 1994 – 1996, came to Boston under the auspices of my program in 1990. She and I had a mutual friend in Germany who put us in touch. One thing led to another and I brought Uta and her coach over to run Boston and a local 10K the week before. This was Uta’s introduction to the U.S. and to racing over here. The rest, as they say, is history. My budget was so small at that time that we had to put them up in a private home before marathon weekend. She finished second to Lynn Jennings in that 10K and then third at Boston that year. Needless to say she drew a lot of attention. The next year, Boston Marathon race sponsor John Hancock signed her to a long-term contract. So my program became a de facto feeder system, of sorts, to the extensive program John Hancock administered, bringing in the larger elite field of athletes. There were a few other runners who follow a path similar to Uta’s, whereby they first came to Boston in my program, ran well and proved themselves, then Hancock signed them to contracts. I enjoyed playing a small role in those athletes’ marathon racing careers.
GCR:What is your fitness regimen these days? How rewarding is it compared to running?
JFDuring the spring, summer and fall I bike regularly and each of the past 8 years I’ve ridden in the Pan Mass Challenge – the largest fund raising bike event in the country, if not the world. Last year 5000+ riders raised more than $30 million and the thirty years of the event, $270 million has been raised for patient care and research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute here in Boston. In the winter I swim more often at an indoor pool, lift weights and use elliptical machines to simulate running. I also use a rowing machine, do spinning sessions, none of which bothers my arthritic hip too much. But my hip is bone-on-bone and I have a permanent slight limp. I need hip surgery to correct this problem and I’m looking forward to that happening sometime soon. I would like to have the freedom of movement a hip replacement or resurfacing would bring for walking and daily movement. Whether I return to running depends on a variety of things. We’ll see.
GCR:What goals have you set for yourself in the upcoming years?
JFThere is an indoor rowing championship in Boston and I’ve thought about competing in it but realize that I’ll always be at a disadvantage in my weight class. I’m twenty pounds below the upper limit for lightweights and in rowing, as in wrestling, weight is a huge factor. But such events provide me a goal to train regularly and hard with appropriate – so I can still pursue success by chasing my own time goals, independent of how they stack up against the others, while still using the other competitors to extract even better performances from myself. Again, that’s the ‘will to win’ vs. the actual victory itself. With my biking, as I mentioned, this year will be my eight year doing the Pan-Mass Challenge and I plan to continue with that event. I have a fund raising goal of $10,000 this year so that will keep me busy as well. The rowing, biking and generally keeping fit and healthy are done for their own sake. I don’t see any real competitions in my future, but I never rule them out either. With a repaired hip there ‘might’ be some running – and if so, I’ll just have to see where that leads. But the prospects are exciting to even think about. I do live somewhat vicariously through the people I coach and I let their goals be my goals. So I’m never at a loss for my next adventure in life.
 Inside Stuff
Hobbies/InterestsGolf, daily exercise with biking, swimming, rowing, lifting, stretching – basically staying fit, photography, socializing with good friends, reading, listening to music, movies, new restaurants, travel – never enough time to do all the things I enjoy
NicknamesJack is actually a nickname for my ‘official’ name, Jon
Favorite moviesMany of them are so excellent on different levels – but Breaker Morant, Being There, The Graduate (am I dating myself?) and newer Sci-Fi flicks ‘I Am Legend’ and ‘Hancock’ are only a few. And anything by Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Clint Eastwood, Ron Howard, Steven Soderberg – the list is endless
Favorite TV showsIn addition to good sport broadcasts, ‘24’, Boston Legal, NYPD Blue, Deadwood (everything David Milch every touched – he’s brilliant), Arrested Development (same for Ron Howard), The Sopranos, Sex in the City – again, the list is endless, so much fun, so little time. (I often exercise or practice my putting when watching TV so as to not feel I’m wasting time)
Favorite musicEverything Bruce Springsteen, U2, The Eagles, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, John Lennon, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Boston, Coldplay and Pearl Jam. Did I say Bruce Springsteen? (He as much staying power as a world class marathoner)
Favorite booksShibumi and The Eiger Sanction by Trevanian, The Best American Sports Writing (each year’s anthology), The Inner Game series by Timothy Gallwey, anything by David Halberstam , John McPhee and Malcolm Gladwell. Looking forward to reading Dan Fante – starting with ‘86’d’ – he’s a brilliant writer too
First car1964 Pontiac GTO – it was hot!
Current carsLexus RX 300 SUV, BMW Z3, Mazda Miata (crazy, I know)
First jobDelivering Pittsburgh Post Gazette newspapers up and down the hills of my northwestern PA hometown – The beginning development of my endurance strength
FamilyMy ‘spousal equivalent’ – this is the most current PC term for domestic partner that I’ve heard – and I have been together since 1992. Friends introduced Jan and me because we each had a dog. She and I now work together on a large fund raising event via the Boston Marathon
PetsIn addition to the two dogs which were instrumental to meeting my partner, Jan, we’ve had and lost two cats and have one 16 year old cat named Sushi still hanging in there
Favorite mealWhoa – plenty. But mesquite-smoked grilled salmon (medium rare please) with all the fixings would be hard to beat – with a creamy Chardonnay of course
Favorite beveragesMost good micro-brewery IPA beers – A good wine (white or red) or an Arnold Palmer (ice tea and lemonade mix) if it’s too early for alcohol (like before 2 PM)
Favorite breakfastFrench brioche toast with warm fruit compote, topped with two unseasoned sunny-side-up eggs and fresh local pork sausage, fresh made passion fruit juice and Kona coffee – as served at the Koele Lodge on Lanai Island, Hawaii. But at home, Greek yogurt with cut fresh fruit and Barbara’s Puffins cereal sprinkled on top, English Muffin with cream cheese and Stonewall Kitchen or homemade jam, OJ and coffee or breakfast tea – after a good workout of course
Running heroesAbebe Bikila (I named my dog after him – Bikila), Jim Ryun – to this day he’s underrated as a runner during his era… beating the world’s best in world record time as a 19 year old college freshman… are you kidding me?! (his conservative politics and fundamental religious views are other things though, but whatever works for him)
Greatest running momentWinning the Boston Marathon edges out running my PR at Boston two years later (2:11:17) when nobody believed I could run a really fast time. It also just edges out earning a varsity letter jacket as a freshman during my very first cross country season ever at the University of Arizona – that gave me BMOC status as an insecure pipsqueak finding his way as an athlete and in the world at large
Worst running momentMy last marathon – I DNFed at Boston for a host of reasons – but mostly due to what turned out to be an arthritic hip (later diagnosed) which ended my running career
Childhood dreamsTo become a successful athlete – eventually refined to earning a college scholarship in track – and then to winning the Boston Marathon. My dreams came true
Funny memoriesWhen I returned to Georgetown after winning the Boston Marathon, my teammates, having referred to me as ‘Big Daddy’ because I was 27 years old and had captained the track and cross country teams, painted ‘Big Daddy’ all over campus. I was honored. Second, riding in President Clinton’s limo as the five Georgetown Hall-of-Fame inductees were returning to the White House from a 3-mile run with him. President Clinton was yucking it up with funny jokes with the rest of us while handing us bottles of water – he was hilarious and I was in disbelief that we were really experiencing that event
Embarrassing momentMany – but once as a featured speaker at a home-town banquet honoring our favorite teacher/coach (who meant the world to me), the speaker who preceded me told the same story I had planned to share – so when it was my turn, I completely forgot the other portions of my speech and totally went blank – couldn’t think of a thing to say – just stood there for what seemed an eternity. Then I made a reference to the 18 missing minutes on Evelyn Woods audio tape (President Nixon’s secretary) – and the comic relief saved me
Favorite places to travelI really enjoy seeing new places around the world but I return to Hawaii nearly every year. Every Island has its own personality and feeling. It really is paradise – especially in January as I live in New England