In 2008 I decided it was time to do something bigger than myself. Growing up and wanting to be “just like Dad”, I was always intrigued to try distance running, and wanted complete a marathon. Call it a bucket list item, or whatever you want….it was always something I thought I’d do someday. The difference between 2008 and the other years I attempted distance running (2005 & 2006 at the Newport-Liberty 1/2 Marathon) was that in 2008….I heard the call of a friend who, just before passing after a long and hard battle with cancer, encouraged all of us to “Raise the Bar”. Although I wish I had been closer with Jason Schaible – the incredibly wise-beyond his years (early 20’s when he past) man who told us all to try harder and give more, even in the most darkest of times……..his cousin John was my best friend. And tragically, 4 years prior to his cousin Jason, and exactly 8 years ago tomorrow, we lost John in a motorcycle accident…
I don’t think I can truly put into words what it’s like to lose your best friend….someone you imagined in your life for a long time…someone you always envisioned would be with you when you met your wife, someone that would be one of the first to greet your first-born on her first day home…someone to share family tailgates / bbq’s with…or just someone to tell you when you’re really being an idiot (like John only could). John’s death, and the time following was by far the most difficult time in my life….but at the same time, the most influential. It helped me follow my passion and values, guided me to my current profession, and when his cousin Jay passed….I knew I had to take some of the things learned from John…and combine with advice from Jay…..I needed to do more for others….challenge myself to not only follow my passion, but share it….I needed to “Raise the Bar”.
So in 2008, I decided I would pursue the Virginia Beach Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon (and eventually Philly marathon) and train under the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “Team in Training”, and run in honor of both Jason and John. It was a constructive way of mourning….I raised funds to support a great cause, and pushed myself to a great level of fitness. Each time in my training when the going got tough…I thought of Jay and what he must have dealt with through his treatments….I thought of John and how he’d be looking over all of us….and I’d train harder, run faster, look for ways to share my passion and experiences…and “Raise the Bar”.
Competing in my first year at Virginia Beach was incredible….the pasta party the night before with other team members…..the personal thank you’s from survivors and their families…the never ending cheers from spectators as we ran through the streets of Virginia Beach as part of something bigger, and the top of the world feeling that came from training hard, pushing to the max, and accomplishing something great!
When I got home from Virginia, I couldn’t wait to share my experience…share some stories, and encourage others to get involved in endurance sports….all of a sudden, it was all I was talking about. My brother Mike and another best-friend (and that of John’s) Justin were thinking along the same lines too….and before I knew it, we decided to start this little thing called the PACER (Pro-Activity Conditioning & Endurance Racing) Team….for me, it was a way I could “Raise the Bar” and share my passion. It was a way I could model health & wellness…walk the walk (or run the run in this case), and encourage others to do the same….serving as models of health & strength for their children, spouses, and friends.
Justin, Mike and I believed in it…and we were committed …even if that just meant the three of us having some fun at a handful of races….but to our pleasant surprise….the idea gained some steam, and others started to see the method to our madness. And after a few events in early 2009….I couldn’t wait to get a few of our team members to Virginia Beach for what would be the start of our team’s Labor Day weekend tradition….
Now, three year’s later, with about 20 of us racing and another 20 or so family members aka “Loud Mouths” as we call them making the trek for this year’s race, Virginia Beach 2011 didn’t disappoint! Thank you so much to those racers (below) and families who once again made this weekend unforgettable!
Margaret B – Wow….to think it was only a few months ago when you had never run a race…couldn’t have been more proud to watch and cheer from a distance as you went from run-walker to 1/2 marathoner…awesome!
Deb S. – Lady, your energy is infectious! Not only do you come ready to rock after only two months of training….you bring an entourage of inspired awesomeness in your family!
John S. – They say a great Dad can dig down for a little more strength and effort when needed most….congrats to you….in my mind, you get inspirational moment of the day for your strong finish!
Matt, Jordan, Kellen, Nathan & Kylie – so seriously, no training? Ill-advised, but impressive nonetheless….you’ll probably never know how awesome it was for your parents and loved-ones to have you with them this weekend. Thanks! And by the way….imagine what a few months of training would do!
Cassy B. – a 6 minute PR! Whaatttt?!!! Marine Corps here we come!
Tim & Erin J. – Can you say power couple? There’s something to be said about the couple who isn’t afraid to tackle anything together!
Patti D. – so in 2008 did you ever think you’d call yourself a “veteran”? Congrats on a great race….you approached it like a veteran….listened to your body, ran your race, and came out ahead of where you were thinking you’d be. Maybe just enough to keep you hooked?
Chris B. – gotta hand it to you man…you’re an animal…mentally tough as anyone I know…can’t say I know a ton of people who’d go out and just “get through” a half marathon with a stomach virus.
Wandy B. – another PR! Wow….5 minutes is huge! Your journey continues to inspire us all…..keep going!
Jess B. & Greg E. – well folks….here’s the thing about not hitting the coveted PR….it gives you an opportunity for redemption…talk to Mike E…..he’s making a year of it! Regardless of clock-time….it was great to share this weekend with both of you.
Amy W. & Mike E. – congrats to both on PR’s….it’s an honor to run with you, and share in proudly representing the brand that you both started!
Loudmouths (John & Drew D., Craig family, Booth Family, Brian & Weller kids, Lindsay & Eisenhart kids, Amy & future Eisenhart kid) – I’ve said it at least a hundred times….., your voice, your cowbell, your clappers…and most importantly, YOU, are amazing. I am 100% sure, this race….the race I consider probably my strongest race ever (oh by the way readers, I ran a 1:27:03, exactly a 2 minute PR from what I ran 5 months ago in Boston)…..would not have been possible without you.
Hope you readers will join us on one of our adventures next time…..and / or find your way to “Raise the Bar”.
And to Jason & John….with my deepest sincerity….and for your never ending guidance…THANK YOU!