Saturday Spotlight- Tom Quinton

Tom Quinton
Single, no kids.

First off, I just want to wish everyone a Happy 4th of July. I was dreading this moment trying to stay under the radar. But I then got the message from Lou to take part, so here it is. I’am the very shy, introvert, loner type. So writing about myself is much better than having to talk about myself.

I’ll briefly touch on my childhood. It wasn’t a pleasant time, and I very rarely talk about it. The quick version. Grew up in Brooklyn, 1 of 12. Alcoholic parents, domestic violence, welfare. Mom died when I was 6, Father died when I was 10. Spent ages 10-17, in foster homes and group homes. Some of them quite abusive. Then eventually I ended up in Bayport at the age of 17, to an emergency foster home. And they’re still my family today. The only ones who took kids in for the right reasons.

Running. From an early age I was pretty good at running. My friends growing up, we used to have relay races most days. This was in Brooklyn. One of my favorite races was when we lined up facing in different directions towards the subway entrances at both corners on Prospect Ave. One entrance was on the corner of Greenwood Ave, and the other Reeve Pl. And we would run down the entrance, run underneath the street, then come up the other one. And finish where we started. We were all so addicted to it. We had the adults doing it and then we even had the Bums on the street doing it. Those Brooklyn years were fun. Even though we had nothing. Sports were big in my family. Yankees, Giants, Rangers. I also loved wrestling (Professional wrestling). We used to practice all the wrestling moves. I had it down to a science. Dropping elbows, pulling punches and kicks. Suplexes. Figure Four leg locks. You had to be there. Then these kids came out with videos, Backyard wrestling. Millionaires now. We did that years before. If only we thought to film it.

Anyway, at 17 I joined the Marine Corps. And I only mention that because running was a big part of being in the military. And they ran you and hard. My fastest running was during those years. The only distance you were timed at was 3 miles. That was for your PFT ( Physical fitness test). My fastest on those was 18:01. And my times ranged between 18-20 minutes. But other runs were just long runs in formation. Some longer than others due to how pissed off they were at you. I was in Okinawa and Monday mornings were when they would kill us on runs. Because that morning the CO (Commanding Officer) got the MP blotter on his desk, and every weekend, guys were in trouble. And you can tell by the look on his face. And we were running, then wind sprints, you name it. He would tell us to change from our sneakers to boots. Camp Pendleton was very hilly so when we were punished it was boots up those hills. We were always in trouble. Lol. At 19, I started smoking and drinking heavily. I continued smoking for 20 years. 2-3 packs a day. Even smoking heavily, I was still running those 3 mile tests between 18-20 minutes.

I got out in 1989, and I wasn’t doing much as far as exercise. Bicycle riding was it. I’ll guess I ran about a dozen times from 1989 till 2007 when I started running. I would go to the track to see if I could still run 3 miles. I was able to. Not very fast. And friend of mine asked me to run a 5K in Bayport in ’94. I was so out of shape and smoking, but I still agreed. It was horrible. I finished. I don’t remember the time. The finish line was on the Bayport track. I was huffing and puffing really bad. I’ll say I ran about 3 more times after that.

Fast forward. The year 2007. For years people were telling me about my smoking. And to shut them up I said, when I’m 40 I’ll stop. I stopped drinking years before that. But I had no desire to stop smoking. I had to have my cigarettes. I would ride my bicycle quite a bit at this time. Stop by the beach, smoke a cigarette. Go to the next beach. Light up again. Then this guy I work with was taking Karate. He was taking Karate from an Okinawan Karate Master in Uniondale. I really wanted to take lessons. I loved those Karate movies as a kid. So I called up and started taking lessons.

Feb. 2007, I started taking lessons. And immediately loved it. Still smoking, and not even a thought of running. The fourth lesson the Sensei turned it up on me. There were 10 heavy bags hanging, and at full speed I had to run back and forth through these bags kicking and punching. Right hand, left hand. Left foot, right foot. I died. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t finish the lesson. I was embarrassed and for the first time considered stopping smoking. The Sensei of course told me to quit and take up running. So it was 39 not 40, that I quit. No way cold turkey. I had to use the patch. March 17, 2007 I put my first patch on, and never had another cigarette.

So here I’am on a ten week patch program. Taking karate and now I’m thinking about running. I knew Kellie Stamm through a friend who told me to talk to her about running. Now the thing is I’m not a people person. I’m the loner who likes to do things alone. She was telling me about track workouts that SRC were having on Tuesday night’s at the Sayville high school track. I started going only to realize how out of my league I was. I met some people, but kept my distance mostly. Ran with people my pace. Then they started disappearing. Then I stayed for a little while, before disappearing myself. I was still taking karate, until I had enough of the Sensei’s teaching methods. His verbal abuse was getting too much. Then we had it out in the Dojo. I asked him to show me again how to do this move. He said “F you, you should pay attention. I said ” No, F you, show me the F$&king move again” He said ” I’ll break your f$&king legs, you don’t talk back to teacher” I said “Go ahead, break ’em! Show me the damn move” He said no. I said See Ya!

So my karate career was 8 months. Now I have more time to run now. My first race was the Cystic fibrosis run in July 2007. My time was 34:25. But the thing that burned me was I got beat by a guy, by about 10 seconds who afterwards lit up a cigarette by his car as I was leaving. I was like damn I stopped smoking to get beat by a smoker. It wasn’t until 2008 that I started racing and running quite a bit. Mostly running on my own. Averaging between 30-40 miles a week. I ran my first half, the Suffolk half. 2:03:50. I was happy with that time. 2008 – 2012 I was really enjoying my running and racing. Every Sunday running races, different distances. Improving slowly. My 5K times started at around 26 min. Then got them down and started running them 22- 23 mins. I remember being thrilled getting under 2 hrs in the half, and breaking 50 min in the 10K. All the while being the loner. Saying hi to people at races, nothing more. Became a fan of the sport. Knowing who all the big runners are on Long Island. I started to talk to a few a people. One person I met was John Dunworth. We ran 3 10K’s on consecutive weeks. I didn’t see him for a while until the Suffolk half on 3/24/13. There he told me about a hill group that meets on Wednesday. I said sure, he then had to get me approved. That Wednesday I went to the hills and ran my first hills run.

I ran my first hills run with Kristine Densing. I loved it from the start. But now I’m going out of my comfort zone. Now I have to interact with people. I started meeting people slowly. John Greene and KC I met within the first few weeks. I was hearing people talk about doubles. I wanted so bad to do that. John got me through my first double. So for months I was running the hills having a blast. Running them mostly by myself. But still loving it. I don’t consider myself a real runner, just a regular Joe runner. Having a bad day. Go for a run. People suck, go for a run. I was injured last year and missed quite a bit of running, and throw in laziness and a rough past winter. I lost quite a bit of the strength that I’ve had. I’m slowly making my way back. Can’t wait to get back to where I was. That’s enough out of me. See you all on the hills.

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