Saturday Spotlight- Thomas J. Guarino

Thomas J. Guarino – Age 53

Occupation – Financial Services Professional – 30 years

Residence – North Bellmore

Married to Patricia Guarino, Daughter – Sarah

Favorite Quotes – The race is not always to the swift but to those
who keep on running.

– Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again.

Fail again. Fail better.

The Selden Hills Experience – For me, the toughest 10k & 15k
courses on LI.

My still unanswered question: Will I ever feel good running up & down the rolling hills on Berkshire?

During the inaugural run of the 15k course back on May 21st, Lou asked if I would be interested in being Warrior of the Week and sharing with the group a bit about my journey as well as some of my experiences in the sport we all love. Thank You for extending the invitation Lou. Here it goes.
While I am relatively new to the Selden Hills Group – 1st run on the Hills was 5/22/13 – I am not new to the sport of running & racing. My start though was not by me being proactive but instead by my cousin being annoying, irritating and bugging me for about an hour.

Back in March of 1987 when I was 26 my cousin, Robert Guarino, was visiting from Brooklyn. He asked me: Cuz, Let’s go for a run! Me: Why!! Him: It’s good for you! Me: Sounds pretty boring!! He continued to ask, and ask, and ask for about an hour until I finally agreed. I put on my tube socks, sweat pants, converse sneakers, cotton shirt and we ran from my house in Valley Stream to Hendrickson Park and back. About a 2 mile loop. It was awful. Heavy breathing, stitching in my side, the start of a blister on my foot, heart pounding etc…..One & Done!! Well, 1 week later guess who made another visit from Brooklyn!! Cuz: Let’s go for a Run!

My resistance was not as strong the 2nd time around and after about 20 minutes we went out and ran the same 2 mile loop. I did not dread it as much this time. This was the routine we followed for what I can remember was over a 4 to 6 week period. 2 miles per week!! In May or June of 87 I started running this 2 mile loop solo twice per week. Weekly mileage of 4 miles was what I was logging for approx. 4 months. Back in my teens and early 20s I had been active playing a lot of racquetball, paddleball as well as basketball and thought I was in good shape. Well, the fall of 1987 is when everything was about to change big time in my running life as well as my personal life.

I was reading a local paper, The Valley Stream Mail Leader, and came across an article about The Valley Stream Running Club and that the group would meet every Wednesday night and Sunday morning at Hendrickson Park. I went down one Sunday morning in October and the rest as they say is history. The people I met at the VSRC were just like the folks in this group. Could not have been more welcoming, friendly, open, nice… Acquaintances at first turned into wonderful friendships over many, many years.
Within the first 13 months of joining the club I ran and finished The 1988 Brooklyn Half Marathon (my first official race), The 88 Long Island Half Marathon and The 1988 NYC Marathon!! Occasionally I think back to those early days and wonder how did all this happen in such a short period of time! When you are around others and share a common interest your level of interest, excitement, adventure and confidence continually climbs. I was in awe of the accomplishments of so many of the members of the VSRC. Marathons, Half Marathons, Ultra’s, Races around the country… What I learned back in those days was to just simply go out and enjoy the run with friends and before you know it your 5 to 8 mile workout would be over. You would not even realize you were exercising because you would be so busy chatting with everybody and enjoying each others company. From not being able to breathe w/o pain and stitching in my side to having a normal conversation with a friend while running 8 to 9 minute miles was incredible. I shared with some of you what happened to me on the morning of my first marathon, the 88 NYC race. That will be one of two memorable moments I will discuss on Monday. Do stay tuned and visit on Monday for those details.

Running became such an integral part of my life back in the late 80s, early 90s and remains so to this day. My personal life path was about to change in a wonderful way. In the summer of 1990 after having been a member of the club for almost 3 years I started dating a young lady I had come to know through the club on group runs, Patricia Derdak. Our friend played matchmaker and said that we would make such a great couple and should go out. After finding the courage to ask her out our first date was on 7-29-90, a movie starring Harrison Ford and Brian Dennehy – Presumed Innocent. Later that summer Pat asked me if I would like to go to the US Open Tournament and watch tennis for the day. Little did she know what a huge fan of The US Open I was at that time and still am today. We were standing courtside watching Goran Ivanisevic hit serves over 120 mph. To the tennis fans in this group, do you remember Goran? He would eventually go on and win his only Grand Slam Title, The Wimbledon Grass Court Championship in 1991 defeating Patrick Rafter in 5 sets. Pat and I recently celebrated our 20th anniversary at The Tilles Center on the Campus of C.W. Post, a concert performance by Kristen Chenoweth. I have been blessed to have Pat by my side for the past 24 years.

I do not race much these days. 3 or 4 races a year. The Kings Park 15k, Greenbelt 25k, a Half in the Fall and either a 10k or a Turkey Trot in November. Thinking about The Paine to Pain Trail Half Marathon In September up in Pleasantville. I run for fitness, enjoyment and for the great company and conversation with others. Going out for a 90 minute to 2 hour run is what I most enjoy at this time in my running world.

Have to tell you though that back in the mid to late 90s and early 2000s I ran for me what I thought were some pretty good times: 20:34 for the 5K, 34:50 for a 5 Miler, 43:48 for the 10k on Roosevelt Island, 1:39:38 Half, 2:38:18 for a 20 mile race in Central Park, 3:54:28 Marathon. As Ricardo Montalban said in Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan: ” I never forget a Face”. We runners never forget our PRs!! Right?

Running with friends from the VSRC every Sunday morning, or should I say chasing them, trying to keep them in my sight helped me run faster. I remember a Sunday morning run in Manhasset on Community Drive and Shelter Rock Road. My goal was to keep Tom & Steve in my sight. 5 to 6 Football Fields. If I could do that I know I would be moving at a good clip.

Have done some interesting runs over the years: The Empire State Building Run-Up, Mt. Washington Road Race in 1989 & 90, The Marine Corps Marathon as well as NYC & LI, an awesome trail run in San Antonio, Rock Creek Park in Maryland, running alongside a Trolley Car in San Francisco looking at Alcatraz in the distance, The Deck of a Cruise Ship. Quick note about the Marine Corps Marathon. I ran the course in 1994. It rained for approx. the first 3 to 3.5 hours of the race. Somewhere between miles 7 and 10 I was running along and heard people clapping and saying: Looking good Oprah! Looking really good! I turned to my left and there she was, Oprah running with Bob Greene. I said way to go Oprah and continued on.

It has been 27+ years now out on the roads for me. I am physically fit as well as mentally fit because of this great sport. I love to run. It has not always been pain free ( You know what I mean Lou!!) and pleasant but I keep coming back for more. Thank You to my cousin Robert Guarino for nagging me back in 1987. Without you starting me on this journey who knows where I would be today. My wife Pat and daughter Sarah. I don’t know what I would do without both of you in my life. To all of the people I have met over the years, the acquaintances, friendships, locations I have run. All good stuff. I hope to get to know many of my fellow S.H. Warriors in the months and years to come.

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