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NYC Marathon 2003 - LA Marathon 2003 - Chicago Marathon 2002
 
     
    CHICAGO MARATHON 2002
   
It was Sunday morning, October 13, 2002 and I stood at the starting line of what appeared to be the most powerful and emotional moment of my life since we lost Ira only a 13 months earlier. I had made it to the Chicago Marathon and there was no backing out now. When I first began running in November 2001, I did it because my father, our friend, Ira could not run and exercise anymore. I felt as though I needed to develop a  
passion that was outdoors and based upon exercise. Ira had a passion for his paddle ball games. He would always call me during the week and let me know the weather for the weekend. When the outlook was good regardless of how cold it was going to be, you heard the enthusiasm in his voice, this
   

passion to be outside, playing his favorite game with his friends and the beautiful weather. Ira had a passion, and as a result I have a passion to run in his honor. The start was at 7:30 am (Chicago Time) and it was cold, about 34 degrees to be exact and they did not expect for it to hit 40 before the race ended. I was standing at the starting line, looking down at my right hand which revealed my father's wedding band which made it home from the devastation of ground zero. My mother and brother had brought it to Chicago with them so that I could wear it and have my father with me for the race. As I glared down at my hand, standing at the start with Matt (a Team IRA runner) and three others friends who were all running this race, I realized it was here, the day had finally come.

Matt, Rachel, Deb, Jordan and myself were stretching and all showing our nerves in different ways. The final seconds came upon us very quickly and before we knew it we were running a Marathon. Mile one was a head game, where we first started to warm our bodies up and shake the nerves which had challenged us the past few hours.

For me, the first 17-18 miles flew by and before we knew it we hit 3 hours of running. It was not until mile 24 that the dense and enthusiastic crowd thinned out and the 31,000 runners were all alone, with 1.5
to 2 miles to go.

 

 
 
   

Mile 24-25 was tough. At that point you knew there was no turning back, even if my legs fell off I had no choice but to finish this race. Mile 24 to 25 seemed to go on forever. All I could think in my head was when am I going to see the mile marker that says 25? When am I going to start to hear the crowd again. I was starting to have a shooting pain in my knee which I was expecting miles ago. Was I going to fall apart right here? I could not get these stupid thoughts out of my head. Then all of a sudden we emerged from this long warm tunnel and back out into the cold air of Chicago for the final 1.2 miles of the course.

We started our climb up the one hill of chicago towards Soldier Field. The adrenaline started to kick in and in the distance you could catch a glimmer of

 
   

the crowd that was awaiting our arrival at the finish line. This was all worth it, I kept thinking that now I knew it was really all worth it. The pain in my knee, which although was only there for a minute or two, finally faded away. 1/4 of a mile to go and the crowd that was so faint to my ears 5 minutes earlier was now much louder and so much more intense. They saw us coming, they felt us coming and we sure felt them. My heart starting beating faster and harder each step I took and a new energy had just come over me.

At this point I was with Matt and we were both feeling the energy. We came into the final tenth of a mile and we were surrounded by 10's ofhousands of emotional fans cheering and showing us their support. They

 
   
twere screaming so load, and so were we. Matt and I held each others hands up in the air in support of our success as we neared the finish line. All of a sudden my ears were able to capture a glimpse of someone calling my name.Out of the 100,000+ spectators sitting there I had found some way to hear my brother screaming my name from the crowd. I quickly turned to catch 2 seconds of his smiling face and then Matt and I gave one final boost through the finish line to a crowd of runners.

As we crossed the finish we were greeted by Volunteers who wrapped us in foil capes that were labeled with the Marathon's logo. The Volunteers placed medals over our necks and were force feeding us Powerbars, water and beer. Without

 
   

more than a few moments passing by I caught a glimpse of my wife who was climbing the 8 foot fence with tears of joy to congratulate Matt and me on our successful run. It came and gone quicker then I had imagined. The weeks and months of training were now gone and I realized that this was truly just the beginning of my running "career". My desire to run for my father had truly evolved over the past 10 months into a true passion. I find myself training in the park or on the street and I look to my father in the stars that follow over head and I feel as though he is truly with me and that every step I take, we take together.

The passion is there and so is my dad. My running will always be for him and thank you to each of you for your love and support and for helping this dream of running a marathon in his honor come true.