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President’s Corner: Spotlight on Desmond Duncker, Sue Palermo, and Michael Gorman, by Paul Maloney ERC President

     Our spotlight this month is on Desmond Duncker, Sue Palermo, and Michael Gorman.  All three members come from a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and abilities.

     This month’s spotlight gives me an opportunity to tell the whole membership what I tell people all the time — how much Desmond Duncker does for the club!  Desmond has a hand in assisting in many behind the scenes areas of the ERC.  In the section below, Desmond shares his early running experiences.

My First Marathon.

I started running 1982 after a health scare. I had a persistent pain in my chest that caused me to admit myself at Clara Mass hospital for tests. They found nothing wrong but I then concluded that my lack of exercise since leaving Jamaica in 1978 had somehow contributed to this state of affairs. (I was very involved in Cycle racing & early Motorcross in Jamaica).

I had the good fortune to be working for a cigarette company at that time that had a gym and a lunchtime running group (yes, I am aware of the paradox!). I decided to then start running as this was the only exercise that I could do “on the cheap” since I had very limited financial resources with a wife, child, and being a fairly new migrant to the States.

Shortly after I started running I watched the 1982 Boston Marathon “Duel in the Sun”. I determined that one day, I too would run and finish a marathon. I started running consistently and, by the end of 1982, averaged between 15 to 20 miles a week. But those were the days that it was expected that running a marathon involved training 60+ miles a week. I considered myself a natural competitor and challenged myself to get good enough to actually compete in the sport of running. During 1983, I entered races (starting with the 1983 Newark Distance Classic 4 Miler) along with doing Sunday long runs to build myself up to run a marathon. I went down to the NYC GPO (General Post Office) and lined up to enter the 1983 NYC marathon for the grand sum of $16. Now I had committed to getting ready for the marathon and not only that, quietly set my goal to complete it in the time considered the dividing line between runner & jogger (3 hours 30 minutes). This was a lofty goal for someone that knew little about marathons. But I read everything about running I could get my hands on and built up my mileage to around 50+ miles a week.

I battled injuries running with the early running shoes of the time (anyone remember the Tiger X-Caliber GT & Ultra T?), especially shin splints. By October, I thought I was ready and completed a 50 mile week one week before the marathon, (I didn’t know much about tapering at that time.). The NYC Marathon was on October 23 that year and it was a rainy, cold day (low 50s). That was hard on my Jamaican bones, these were the days before tech fibers. I drove alone to the City to the bus pickup in Central Park to take me to the Bridge. they did not have watches that recorded splits in those days (that I could afford) just overall time. It was a slow start with the 17,000 other runners that day. I do not have much of a recollection of the individual miles, however, I do recall realizing that I was behind in my pace and willed my body to pick up the pace as we went around Manhattan. I had never experienced running any distance over 19 miles before that. I can still recall coming into Central Park and wondering where and when the finish would be. I came around the final bend to see the finish line and the race clock ticking at 3:30! I mustered what strength I had left and finished strongly in 3:30:32! I lined up to receive my medal, and once I received it my legs could no longer hold me. I don’t recall how I got there but was transported to the medical tent where they offered a cot and a blanket as I was in a bout of uncontrolled shivering. When that abated, I recall thinking at the time that if I could do this I could accomplish almost anything I set my mind to. That thought has stayed with me to this day.

When sufficiently recovered I limped to my belongings and found my car and drove myself home in New Jersey. I had the medal engraved with the time and, of all the medals I have earned through running, that is the one I look most fondly at. It is to me, a physical example of what can be accomplished when one sets one’s mind to it. It was only a couple weeks later that I bumped in a bunch of runners on the way to Brookdale Park that were calling themselves the “Essex Running Club”. The rest is history!

     Yeah sure….there are a lot of “sweet, kind, and very optimistic” people in the Essex Running Club.  However, if you look up “sweet, kind, and very optimistic” in the dictionary, you’ll see Sue Palermo’s picture.  Go ahead…honest….you’ll see her picture!  For now, take a look at this list that Sue compiled of running and club experiences.

 1. What is your favorite Essex Running Club experience?

—Going to my 1st meeting at Just Jake’s.

—Running my 1st race in West Orange and meeting Tom and Martta.

—Signing up and running the Berkeley Heights Mother’s Day Run because it was Laura Messina’s race. —-From that race forward she has become one of my dearest friends. From my friendship w/Laura she introduced me to Fleet Feet and the rest is history. John, Paul, Laura and Amy saw something in me I did not see in myself.

—Car-pooling to a race with Catherine Alessi, Martta and Bev Salerno. They had to wait for me and we celebrated at the WO Diner.

—Meeting Joel Pasternak and to this day he’s my coach. One of my fondest memories while training w/Joel at Montclair State was watching Gary Peters and Randy Miller run shirtless, I blushed and came off the track.

—Being asked by Ed Kelly to crew for his R2C team that lead to me getting to know Aileen, Helene, Rich U and everyone else.

—Getting to know the “super-sonic” runners from ERC, Fleet Feet and Grove Pharmacy. I always get a hello, wave, keep up the good work etc. These men and women I consider my friends including-last but not least Beverly Salerno.

2. What is your favorite running experience?

—10/10/10 Chicago Marathon w/Beverly, because it was my 1st one.

—All of my Mother Day races in Berkeley Heights and finally conquering that hill. My 1st Resolution Run from Fleet Feet.

—Last year’s Sunset Classic because Carol Manfria got me to the finish.

—Self-Transcendence Marathon ’10 before Chicago, it was suppose to be a long run for me, Beverly was doing the marathon but when someone said it’s only one more loop around the lake for 26.2 miles I went for it, it was my mistake marathon.

—River to Sea the best experience of a life time all thanks to Fleet Feet, they took a chance on Beverly and I and we did well. I’ve learned a lot from R2C never, never underestimate the human potential, the team and our fellow runners. When I did the Beast and crewed by Charlie Slaughter and John Harvey who waited for me though their runner was on his way to this day brings a smile to my face.

3. What training methods have worked for you? What advice would you give to a new runner?

—Keep smiling and have fun.

—Utilize the run/walk method.

—Be patient w/your progress but consistent w/your training.

—Join a group, motivation keeps you going.

—Sign up for a class like No Boundaries for guidance and support.

—Never, never say the word SLOW or the phrase “I don’t want to come in last”. There’s more things you CAN do than things you CANNOT do. Life is short go out and play.

4. What are your current running goals?

—Would love to run the NYC Marathon ’13, going into the lottery.

—Improving my Half time, < than 3 hrs is my goal. I’m a work in progress with this one.

—When doing Triathlon’s would love to improve my run, the transition from bike to run for me is difficult for the 1st 1/4, 1/2 mile but thanks to Beverly Salerno she always gets me to the finish line.

      The name Michael Gorman is often spotlighted in our club and USATF race results.  Not only is he a talented runner, he’s also a pretty nice guy!  Mike shares his experiences, advice, and goals.

 1. What is your favorite Essex Running Club experience?

My favorite event is the Interclub Challenge. The weather is great, the turnout is great and the age graded starts add an interesting twist. At times there’s an endless string of runners circling the park. Then, when the run is over, there’s a great picnic and lots of laughs.

2. What is your favorite running experience?

I guess it would be completing my 1st half marathon in 2011. I used to think that was a distance for other people, the real runners, not me. But I put in the work, including a first time run with the Grove Street group that had me seriously consider hitchhiking.

3. What training methods have worked for you? What advice would you give to a new runner?

I don’t really have any training methods. I just like to get out and explore. I try not to miss more than 2 consecutive days and go for a long (10+ mile) run each week.

My advice for new runners is to just get out and run. Give yourself some “me time”.

4. What are your current running goals?

I still think I have some improvement in me, so I’d like to get some PRs. Competing in the USATF Grand Prix last year was fun, so I’ll be back at it again.

I’m excited about being invited to run what seems like the most talked about event of the year, the River to Sea Relay.

I also really want another Ashenfelter mug!

 Coming soon:  Spotlights on Paige Sato, Chris Jaworski, and other familiar faces.

Photo Highlights

Photos on flickr

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