Daughter: Halle 12 yrs. (Chocolate Lab)
Sons: Charley 5 yrs. (Mix lionberger\sheperd) Jack 14yrs. (Mix Lab\Sheperd)
Lives: Manorville (Exit 70 off the LIE for you Nassau warriors)
Occupation: Most friends will say, “Retired” but I actually work at Oracle Corp. as a Pre-Sales Consultant. Basically, I help sell software to big companies.
It’s only a matter of time before Lou finds you! It’s an honor to be chosen for this weeks Spotlight.
My running wouldn’t start until age 43! Oh I’ve run a few miles here and there prior but nothing serious like a 10k or worse, a marathon! You see I was diagnosed with severe asthma around age 5. I remember my Mother walking me to the doctor. Yes, in the early 70’s in Brooklyn, you walked to the doctor or they came to you. He would have a metal tray containing ten syringes full of my asthma medicine. He would shoot each syringe into my little arm until all ten were empty. Thankfully, this only occurred for a few years until they came out with inhalers. Having activity-induced asthma kept me from running in my younger years. Over time, with the inhaler, I’ve been able to keep it at bay and run.
I began running as a way to control my weight. You see, I love burgers and beer! So on occasion, I would dart out of the house and go for a two or three mile slog. Inevitably, I’d have to take a few puffs of my inhaler afterwards. But the beer and burger I would eat as my reward would remove any discomfort from the run. Back on October 2003, we sold our home in Huntington and moved out to the country in Manorville. We don’t have any (human) children and the house we lived in was too big for the two of us. The community we live in now contains 5 Selden Warriors of which all have at least one Ironman under their belt and marathons too numerous to mention. About four years ago my good friend and neighborRick Rivera started training for his first Ironman in Arizona. He was losing weight, getting fit and dare I say looking Sexy! This led my other neighbor to start running and losing weight. At the time I weighed 208 (I now weigh 165) and felt like shit! All of us here have had our “Aha” moment. That split second in time when you’re so disgusted with yourself that you decide “NO MORE!” Well, that moment was a warm month in 2011. I had sat down at the kitchen table to tie my shoes. As I bent over I noticed this enlarged growth stuck between my chin and shoe…my stomach! It was at that moment I decided to change my life. I decided to start running with my neighbor who was training for a half marathon. He was much faster than me and I was always a few feet behind him. The weight started to fall off and I was feeling better. I decided to run the 2012 Long Island Half Marathon with Him. I ran it in 1:46 and was ecstatic! At the same time my close friend James offered me a charity spot at the 2012 NYC Marathon. Having no clue how I was going to do that, I said, “Yes!” I raised $5k for the charity organization, “Donate for Life” to get in. They help register organ donors for the over 100k people on waiting lists for an organ. Well, we all know what happened with Hurricane Sandy, and on my way home from packet pickup that Friday before the race, Mayor Bloomberg cancelled the Marathon. I was devastated. Having trained for six months I felt like a drug addict looking frantically for his next fix. I was able to jump in to the Philly Marathon just two weeks later! I finished in 3:45!
Well, I had caught the bug! I continued to run, and run, and run. I had deferred NYC to 2013 and started training for that. This time, I had a specific goal. To qualify for Boston! Hey, why not? I never imagined I’d run a marathon and I had just completed one in under 4hrs. Being in the 45-49 age group I needed a 3:25. Twenty minutes faster than my Philly time! I started training again with my neighbor. Running out here in Manorville is great. There are lots of quiet roads that go on forever. Mother Nature must have felt guilty about Hurricane Sandy and allowed the 2013 NYC Marathon to take place. My half split was a 1:41. I was on pace and feeling good. But as I got closer and closer, I was getting slower and slower. I never expected the Bridge, 1st ave. or Fifth to be so challenging. Once I hit fifth, I was cooked. They say you can win or lose a race with your mind. My mind kept telling me to “Slow down”, “Take it easy”, and “you’re in pain”. I tried like heck not to listen. I kept reaffirming, “You got this!” I remember seeing Karl Himmelmann at mile 26 in the park. He was smiling and cheering me on. I used that as fuel and gave it one last charge. Unfortunately, I fell short by one minute and twenty-three seconds! It stung for about a minute and then I just shrugged it off and said to myself, “I’ll get it next time”. I don’t believe in beating yourself up when failure hits. If that were the case, I’d be bloody and bruised most of the time. There’s a great saying that goes something like, “It’s not how many times you get knocked down that matters but how many times you get back up and fight”. I try to live by that mantra. It seems to work given I BQ’d at my next marathon in Disney and finally ran Boston this year!
During the winter of 2013 I went to a group run at Gubbins in Southampton. Only 3 people showed. One of them was John Graziano (aka Grazzy). We ran those 6 brisk miles together and talked the entire run. We just clicked and became instant friends. We kept in touch through various Facebook groups and I remember the day when he asked me that fatal question that would change my life and the lives of so many forever, “Why don’t we do a Triathlon?” Knowing nothing about Triathlon we both signed up for Riverhead Rocks. It’s an Olympic distance (.9m Swim/25 mile Bike/6.2 Run) race. One you wouldn’t register for until you’ve tried one or two smaller Triathlons called “Sprints”. But if you know Johnny, that’s just how he rolls. He knew I was clueless and wouldn’t even know to contest it.
Once the warmer weather arrived we started to train outdoors and swim at Wildwood Lake in Riverhead. We thought it would be more fun to train with other like-minded athletes and I created an OWS event on a mutual friends Facebook page, Long Island Triathlete and Endurance Sports Community. Well, as they say, the rest is history. Just over two years later we created the largest Triathlon Club on Long Island called the Wildwood Warriors Triathlon Team. We have over 140 members with our own Facebook page. We are USAT sanctioned, have sponsors, Tri Kits and the most incredible athletes and humans on the planet. Of which many have come from the Selden Warriors. I am privileged every weekend to watch these athletes race and accomplish goals they never dreamed of. To see them grow not only as an athlete but also as a person. Many of them were like me. They trained alone or not at all. Were overweight and looking for a positive change in their life.
Since that first NYC Marathon I’ve run it once more, Along with two other marathons. I’ve completed my first 50 Mile Ultra and an IronMan (IMLP 2014). All in the same year! I turned 48 this past May and ran the Bridgehampton Half Marathon on my Birthday. I PR’d by almost two minutes with a 1:31:52 compared to the same race the previous year! I grew up never really being good at much. For some reason, this severe asthmatic kid from Brooklyn was given the gift of running fast. Now that’s some irony!
Jason Marc Cohen