Marathon thoughts dash through head

Jaye Quadrozzi, an attorney with Young & Associates in Farmington Hills, is a runner, and an avid one at that, generally competing in two marathons a year. She has tested her mettle in the Big Sur Marathon along the magnificent Pacific Coast, and has made her way through the historic sites of Berlin in a 26.2-mile footrace that annually attracts some of the greatest runners in the world. This fall, she will take a bite out of the Big Apple, running through New York City's five boroughs en route to the finish line in Central Park. Her passion for running, which she related during a recent interview about her successful legal career, stirred my long-dormant emotions for the sport. For fun, I used to run marathons. Friends and family always questioned the first part, wondering why I wore such a pained expression throughout the marathon experience if I was having so much "fun." Some 35 years ago, when my legs were fresh and the will was strong, covering 26.2 miles in one swoop was a sub-3-hour experience worth relishing for months to come. Then, after my academic days ended, a certain four-letter word crept into my daily lexicon, curbing my appetite for proper marathon training, a regimen that sometimes entailed 10 or more miles of pavement pounding a day. My downward progression in the marathon ranks happened over a 20-year period, climaxing in 1995 when a turtle overtook me in the homestretch of the Chicago Marathon. Of course, it had a built-in advantage of four legs, I reasoned. I suspected that the marathon handwriting was on the wall earlier in the race when I began hallucinating, or so I thought. A marathon friend, whose name is Mike, also was entered in the Windy City race, along with 20,000 or so other fitness enthusiasts. We wished each other well at the starting line before I set off like a rocket while Mike settled into his usual steady pace. Some 8 miles into the race, as we wound through some of Chicago's trendy ethnic neighborhoods, I peered ahead only to see Sir Michael trudging along at what appeared to be a P.R. pace. Somewhat amazed at his early surge of energy, I congratulated him on his marathon performance, while wondering, "How the heck did he get in front of me?" I knew there would be a logical answer that only the noted architect turned runner could provide: "I took a taxi over to the 6-mile mark," he said with a smile, doing his best Rosie Ruiz imitation. "I wasn't feeling so well, so I thought I'd save myself a lot of pain and suffering." We smiled, enjoyed some momentary chit-chat, and then we were on our separate ways again. By the midway point of the race, my dreams of a return to sub-3-hour glory were buried next to the late Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Still, marathoners have a certain death wish about finishing, no matter the pain and futility of their appointed goal. I was no different, plus I was starving at that point, and the post-race spread was reserved for "finishers." The trek out Lakeshore Drive into a 25-mph, 40-degree headwind was my version of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, a death march that was spiced by another up-front appearance by my friend Mike. Now I really knew that I was hallucinating and minced no words when I caught up with Mike, asking him, "How in the world did you get here this time?" "I took the train," he replied. "It shaved off a good 5 miles. This is really a good way to run a marathon." I couldn't agree more. Published: Thu, Jul 31, 2014