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President’s Corner: Spotlight on John Harvey and Melissa DiMarco, by Paul Maloney

President’s Corner:  Spotlight on John Harvey and Melissa DiMarco

Happy Summer Club Members!  We congratulate the efforts of all, in particular those who ran for Essex at the Interclub Challenge and those who will be running the upcoming River to Sea Relay!

    This month, we focus on John Harvey and Melissa DiMarco.  John Harvey is an active runner and member who is very busy on our Board.  John recently hosted our annual Wine and Cheese Party.  In answering our “four questions”, John expresses his experience at being a member of the ERC and his pride at being a runner.

What is your favorite Essex Running Club experience?

I joined ERC towards the end of 2007 when I was seeking inspiration to train for a marathon, after an 8 year running break, and since then I have had lots of good experiences mainly due to the character of ERC’s members. This is the first group of people that I’ve met that are so genuine, full of enthusiasm, encouraging, positive, did I say genuine? Oh yes and inspiring! But the experience that sticks out in my mind is the first awards dinner I attended with my wife, Faye in 2008. Faye had never considered herself an athlete or runner, far from it!  But after mingling with the likes of Andy Kotulkski et al she insisted I renew with a family membership. She was about to enlist with this running elite group called Essex Running Club. And so after almost 20 years of marriage, being supported from a distance;  Faye started running with me, did 2 years’ service on the ERC Board and is now an official 10k finisher (Newport), Sunset Classic 5 miler and West Essex trail runner (6 miles) who knows what’s next. This is the ERC experience and I’m loving it!

What is your favorite running experience?

I began my long distance running experience by doing a solo 50 mile charity run in Guyana in 1983. Over the next 18 years I trained and ran 11 marathons and numerous half marathons and 10ks, all in Trinidad & Tobago and 95% of the time on my own. “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”  a short story and movie by English novelist Alan Sillitoe was an apt term for me. That all changed when I joined ERC. I love to get out on the road with my fellow club members. My favorite running experience was coordinating a team to take part in the “River-2-Sea 90 mile relay” in 2012. Our team named “90 Miles Just For Pizza” consisted of some of the regular runners of the West Essex Trail; Wayne, Oriana, Randi, Naomi, Elsa and Fernando. The all-day event from Milford to Manasquan is one of the best ways for friends to bond, supporting each other on a very hot summer day each running between 12 – 16 miles.

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

I don’t know if this would be considered a training method, but the times when I achieved a personal record (PR) for a 5k race have been the mornings after I attended some party, drank a couple bottles of Merlot, and maybe a glass or 2 of Scotch (don’t remember how many) got home about 4:00am, awoke at 6:00am rushed out to Teterboro Airport and did 23:17, first time breaking 24 mins for a 5k ever! I have some other unusual’ training’ methods that I’m not sure I should share with others, for example, the 1st 4 months of this year I’ve been only running on the West Essex Trail on a Saturday morning (no better way to start a weekend!) total mileage per week 6! Yet in the Manhattan Half and the Cherry Blossom 10k I achieved PRs!!! I was happy, but don’t ask me to give this advice to a new runner. What I would tell a new runner, is to enjoy your running, don’t take it too seriously, listen to your body to avoid injury, don’t be afraid to rest so you can enjoy running for years to come.

What are your current running goals?

My current running goal is to run a marathon in each State and run at least one marathon each year. Not sure that I have enough time, (I’ve done 4 States so far) but that’s the plan. I have also been bitten by the triathlon bug, and I’ve put a half-Ironman triathlon on my schedule for 2014! (No Ironman…yet) Wish me luck.

Like John, Melissa DiMarco is a very proud runner and loves her ERC buddies.  In the section below, Melissa gives a 2010 account of running 20 miles for the first time and follows with a present day update.  She hopes her accounts will be helpful for first time runners and marathoners.  Take note, her enthusiasm is very infectious!

From September 5, 2010:

    Today’s run 20 miler- if it really happened?!?!

Holy S***! Unbelievable! Oh my God! This is nuts! Still in shock! Want to shout from rooftops and stop random people on the streets to them my news!

Thank God there were witnesses, namely Ellen, Chris, Kevin, Rob, Carlos and my fellow newbie Stacy who is just as shocked as I am.

We just ran 20 friggin’ miles. We did not drive the 20 except with are hips (right Kev?)…we actually ran the entire 20. Still cannot believe this is real. I am not keeled over in pain, nothing seems to hurt. I don’t get it? Is it possible I slept through the 4:45 alarm this morning and am dreaming that I did it? Thank God for digital watches. They have no feelings. They cannot lie? However, they can malfunction, batteries run low and spaz out right?

If I really did do this. If what they say is true. It would not have happened without the support of Ellen, Chris and Kevin. If anyone out there wants to attempt 20 for their first time, you do not want to do it without these three.

First off, Ellen’s route was awesome. I never felt like I was in foreign land and if I needed 911 they wouldn’t be able to locate my body. We were local and there is a safety in that because you know if you have to throw in the towel that you are not that far from your car and you know how to find it (this is how a doubters mind works you see.) It was also pretty and challenging. Who knew I could run up Eagle Rock?

More importantly, the generosity of spirit they exuded for Stacey and I, the camaraderie and the concern…it is truly heart-warming. They rotated with Stacey and I to keep us in the loop, they shared stories with us and just ran next to us, they circled back to force-feed us water, goo, and gels every 15 minutes on the dot…reminded me of how John and Paul always stop at the cross-sections to make sure we all cross safely. They made us laugh. They distracted us. They took care of the little details so that we didn’t have to waste energy thinking. They relieved us so that we could just concentrate on the task at hand, so that we could just be, so that we could just run. They empowered us so that we could feel like them for 3 hours and change, for one time in our lives. They were more than we could’ve asked for or expected them to be. I can’t thank them enough for the sense of accomplishment they allowed me to experience or the bragging rights I now possess. Truly amazing people, Ellen, Chris and Kevin.

I just think their generosity is worth sharing with the group. I imagine that every runner has that someone or probably several people in their running lives at different stages in their progress who got them there, who advanced them, who inspired them…these are my peeps and I want you all to know. So all you elitists who run 20 like its nothing, remember that person in your lives who got you there or inspired you and pick up the phone and thank them. Because if it’s really real and Stacy and I really did it?  It feels pretty f**kin’ cool!!!

I would go into battle with these people. That’s how awesome they were today.

May I one day be able to pass on the gift they gave me today to someone else.

Okay. Enough said. I have to run out and tell the few remaining people left in this world who do not know of what it is that I might have accomplished today if in fact I am not dreaming and it’s really real!!!

I am having my laminated map route framed, in gold of course, as we speak.

Flash to the current: July 11, 2013:

I am now training for my 6th marathon. The ERC’s impact is real and everlasting if you want it to be. Even somehow pulled a 3:53 out of my gluteus maximus in one of them. Don’t know how but I know it couldn’t have been done without this crazy club. Still unbelievable to me.

I am now one of the people that gives off a chuckle with a tinge of superiority when some lay person asks me, “How long is this Marathon?” I now respond with, “Oh you know, it’s 26. 2, anyone can do it. Join the ERC. They’ll get you there.” They welcome you back even after leaves of absences such as during the winter months when you go into protective hiding and hibernate like a bear overloading on carbs for protection from the cold. (You guys do this too, right???…No? Okay, disregard.)

In closing, I am forever grateful for Ellen, Chris and Kevin that day and for the support of this entire club. In any pursuit of long term passion there is always a turning point in time, a moment, a posse of peeps that inspired you….these are mine.

Thank you, you hardcore crazies. I vaguely remember one morning getting up at 3am to eat power bars and meeting them for a 4:45am run, peeing near a tree in the dark because they don’t stop for bladder control….all I could hear over my tinkle was Ellen and Ed Kelly passionately discussing the merits of the latest Garmin:

“Oh my God! You got the new Garmin 5 million version?!”  “Ahhh, let me see!”  I thought to myself, “who are these freaks and what am  I doing here squatting behind a tree…”  But 5 marathons later and…I still love those crazies.

Photo Highlights

Photos on flickr

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