Sunday, December 4, 2011

Saving the best for last and a tribute to Fred Lebow.

Today I ran in my final New York Road Runner race of the year, the Join the Voices 5 Miler.  I chose this race because it was the inaugural run in honor of the late Fred Lebow who was an inspiration and someone I truly admire.

For those who dont know who Fred Lebow is, he was the founder and creator of the modern day NYC Marathon.  Fred Lebow suffered and ultimately died from Brain Cancer.  Before he passed away he ran his marathon for the first and only time in 1992, and even though he was suffering from this horrible disease, he finished his race.

The late Fred Lebow

Statue of Fred Lebow that sits in Central Park by engineer's gate
Coming into this race, I knew I had already accomplished a lot during the last year: several PR's, finishing my first half marathon, breaking a 10 minute single mile, running a full 5k without walk breaks. So I thought hard about my goal for today, sure I kinda knew a PR was in the bag since my prior PR was 1:14 on June 30th, so what could I do to pay my own tribute to Mr. Lebow.  Well, the answer was simple, do something I hadnt yet done, complete a race in Central Park, running the entire distance, no walking.  So this was my one and only goal for the day, and I was determined to make it happen!

The weather was great, cool and crisp in the 40's, early 8:30 AM start.  I got to the park at around 7:45 AM and got to the corrals where I got to quickly say hi to a couple friends Mark Vogt and Gal Cohen.

Getting ready by the starting corral

Getting ready to go
This 5 mile course was a course I was familiar to except for the first 1.5 mile which covered the south portion of the park which I had only ran once but in the opposite direction.  It was fairly simple except the pack was pretty tight for the first mile and I averted disaster when I was able to quickly avoid a lady who stopped right in front of me to pick up a headband! 

After the first 1.5 miles I was back to familiar territory, Cat Hill, which I had no difficulty with, ran thru it with ease.  Mile 3 marked the 102 st transverse where we turned left to get over to the west side of the park.  At around mile 3.5 is where I faced my biggest fear, the rolling hills along the West Side drive.  Ive always found myself getting tired by this point and having to stop to walk, and I knew in my head I COULD do it, it was just a matter of WANTING to do it.   Between having my coach on one shoulder telling me to keep going, and knowing I was doing this also as a tribute to Mr. Lebow, there was NO WAY I was walking.  If my legs arent broken, I'm running!

Well what do you know??  I made it thru those hills RUNNING!  At mile 4.5, the hills were now behind me, I had great momentum, and plenty of energy in the tank, and ran the last half mile with everything I had, and my last mile was in fact my FASTEST mile!

I crossed the start line RUNNING, and when the PA announcer called out my name as I approached the finish mat, I was RUNNING!  I did it!!!!  Ran the full 5 mile course!!  Not only that, but i completely crushed my PR from June 30th by 18 minutes!!!!!  Official finish time was 56:37 and a pace of 11:20 min/mi!

Crossing the finish line

My Splits:


In closing, I was proud to be able to honor the late Fred Lebow in such fashion, and also prove to myself yet again that anything I put my mind to can be accomplished.  There is no such thing as I CANT, as long as I try and give it my all, it CAN be done!


  1. Gary following your progress makes me believe that one day I can win this battle. Thank you for always sharing your success.

  2. Great job Gary! I am green with envy seeing you run all of these NYC runs! So, my goal for 2012 is to get in a race in Central Park! (Technically I did run in NYC at Yankee Stadium!)

  3. If you're interested, I tagged you!

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