When Lou asked me to participate in the weekly spotlight, I told him that asking a 66 year old to write about their history could put a lot of people to sleep with so many years to talk about. So here we go…stay awake!
Let’s start with the facts…
Born: February 1948 (two years before color TV)
Age: You do the math and the first digit is 6
Birth Place: East New York in Brooklyn
Places of Residence: Brooklyn, Queens, Plainview, Ridge, and currently Wading River since 1985
Married: July 1969 and to the same wonderful person Pat (who is a saint to live with me)
Children: Kristine, Kimberly, Karen, and Frank Jr. – all married and living within five miles
Grandchildren: 10 and naming them takes up too much space, and yes, Ryan Udvadia is one of them
Favorite Sports Teams: NY Yankees and Green Bay Packers – have no interest in the other sports
Favorite Baseball Players: Mickey Mantle as a kid; Mariano Rivera as an adult
Favorite Football Player: Bart Starr
Favorite Role Model and Inspirational Leader: Vince Lombardi
Favorite Movie: Ten Commandments
Favorite Actor: Clint Eastwood
High School: John Adams (Queens) – Freshman & Sophomore; Plainview – Junior & Senior
College: St. John’s University BBA & MBA
Sports Played in High School and College: Baseball (never had an interest in running back then)
Professional Status: CPA (also means Can’t Pass Again)
Public Accounting – 1970-1973
Chief Financial Officer – 1974-1986
Adjunct Associate Professor in Accounting at Suffolk Community College – 1977-1989
Public Speaker and Training Consultant – 1987-present
Sports Activities as an Adult: Softball and Running
Leadership in Sports: Ran a softball league from 1973 to 1985; current president of NCRW
Dislikes: Politicians (gutless wonders); Judicial System (broken); Political Correctness
Personality Type: you guess from the above
Actually my personality had gone thru some changes in my life. Growing up in a densely populated area like Queens allowed me to have many close by friends where striking up a team of nine players came easy to play baseball which we did every summer. We all knew each other from grade school into high school and I was always one of the outspoken leaders of the group. That all changed when I moved to Plainview where I spent my junior and senior years and went into a shell by not knowing anyone since most had their own friends and clicks back from grade school. I became despondent and shy and even quit the high school baseball team. My grades went down and I wished I had been back at John Adams in Queens. It did change back for me when I went to college and in the service and have kept that same personality since. Yes, I have been called thick headed, stubborn, talk too much, get out of the sixties, and more. But, that is who I am, take it or leave it, because you cannot change the stripes on a tiger.
Have I put you to sleep yet?
Let’s turn to running, since that is what this is really about…
I never ran until I was 33; when I was in high school (in the sixties) I had felt that those who ran were people who could not play football or baseball. Little did I find out later on what a great sport running was and I missed out on it back then. It got started one day when a runner asked me to run around the track with him and after completing one mile, he told me I was fast and I should be a runner. I did that a few times and then I was hooked. So, if I was going to be a runner, I figured I better look like a runner; so I went to the old Herman’s sports store in the Smithaven Mall and bought a pair of running shoes, shorts, and shirt. After running with him a few times a week, he handed me a race application and told me I should sign up for it. I did and when I beat him by a good distance he seemed to not have an interest in running with me anymore. I guess I sweated too much! Or perhaps he did not like looking at my back in a race. Anyway, I proceeded to just run on my own and never knew about running clubs or running magazines. I started running in races and held my own but I was never very fast and never ever thought of running marathons. I ran 5K and 10K races from 1982 to 1985 when one day a runner told me I should consider running a marathon. It was around January 1985 when my father was diagnosed with cancer and he had told me to run a marathon for him. I applied to the NYC Marathon which was only $40 and I got in, but I told him I had to try an easier marathon first so I signed up for Long Island. As his cancer spread we knew in March 1985 he would not be lasting long and my training schedule was hampered by my running back and forth to the hospital each day. In April I told him I would not be ready for Long Island and wanted to pull out but he insisted that I do it so he can see that finisher medal. It was his words that put me back on track to train and I did complete the Long Island Marathon in 4:01 but finished with some real tired legs. Three weeks later he passed on but at least he got to see that medal. In fact, he has that medal with him as he lies at Calverton Cemetery. I have run 21 marathons and each medal hangs on my wall along side each other except for one empty hook where the 1985 Long Island Marathon medal would have been but instead lies with him. Coming off that marathon, I realized what I had accomplished, and being the driven person that I am, I was determined to run another and break four hours at New York. There was no internet back then and I was not part of any running club to learn about marathon training, so I just trained on my own doing most of my training on the SWR track. I had learned from the Long Island Marathon that you must put in the miles which I did. I signed up for road races for speed work and did several 20+ mile runs and with no power gels or water. I was simply stupid back then but at 37 years old perhaps I was able to run without that stuff, but certainly not now at my age. Because of the nature of my business and the out of town traveling that I did in the nineties, I was not able to train for many races or marathons, but once the traveling became less, I got back into the marathons and now average two to three marathons per year. It was in 2004 that I started to pick up the running again due to a more flexible work schedule. But it was in 2008 when I really got back into heavy running and that was due to my grandson Ryan who at the time was just 12 years old and wanted to run races with me. He loved it so much that it did not take long before he was winning his age group and the rest is history as some in the running community know of him. I continued running ever since and while I know my clock is ticking, I want to get as much out of running as possible. I have run several half and full marathons over the years with the Marine Corps Marathon next month being #22. My training has always been very simple and my times have been respectable. And, I never do more than an 18 mile run, mix in some half marathons, 10K’s, and 5K’s, and run the Selden Hills once or twice per month. I do not run the Hills for time but use them for building leg strength by running up and walking down the hills. I am thankful to the person who introduced me to the Selden Hills in 2012 and being able to meet such fine running people. While the Hills are tough, I must have an angel above looking over me since my body seems to hold up and avoid injuries. We all have running goals and I have set my own before I hang up the shoes for good and they are: (1) running 66 races this year in my 66th year (today will be #48); (2) running 131 (like13.1) half marathons and 40 full marathons in my career; and (3) running my very last full marathon when I am 72 which will be NYC and running (or jogging by then) along side my grandson Ryan who promised me he would go SLOW!
The running community is a great family and I only wish I had been part of it when I was in my 30’s. To the younger runners out there, they have many years to look forward to with such a fabulous and growing community of runners. I would hope some day that there might be a Long Island Runners Association formed representing all the clubs on Long Island and establishing a Long Island Runners’ Hall of Fame to which people like Mike Polansky, Bert Jablon, and few other veteran runners who have laid the foundation to which we should all be very thankful for and in return should admit them as its first members.
You can wake up now…I am done!