I learned how to juggle while in 5th grade. A couple of hippies came into our school and taught everyone how to juggle with scarves and beanbags. After learning the basic pattern I was hooked. I got pretty good at 3 balls and kept at it through grade school and high school. In college I figured out 5 balls. But it wasn’t until I started running back in 1992 that I figured out I could joggle.
The first time I ran a marathon was in Chicago, 1996. I knew I could joggle a little so I thought it would be amusing to juggle during the marathon. The plan was to run with my bean bags the whole way and then joggle the last half mile. This would really amuse the crowd as I joggled passed the finish line.
Well, the marathon was so crowded in the beginning that I started juggling for the other runners around me. We were going at a pretty slow pace and people started asking me if I was going to do that the whole way. I said, “sure”. And that’s what I tried to do. I made it about 19 miles before I had to stop joggling. But I thought that was pretty good for never having really practiced. From that day on, I decided I would do all my marathons joggling.
My goal is to run 44 marathons. No real reason in particular. I just like the number 44. After about 15 marathons I thought I would try to train to break the world record. In all my previous marathons finishing around 4 hours was a good enough accomplishment for me. But at some point I wanted more. I wanted to be the fastest joggling marathoner in the world. I found the world record and saw that it was within my reach.
And I’ve endeavored to set the world record ever since. The first attempt was in 2004, and the world record at the time was 3:20:49. This was a mere 35 minutes faster than my best time. I trained hard and finished the Chicago marathon in 3:25:44, missing the record by about 5 minutes. A year later in Chicago, I came in at 3:22, missing it by 2 minutes.
Unfortunately, a couple of more talented runners learned about joggling and they set out to break the record. In September of 2005, Michal Kapral raised the bar by running a 3:07:48 in the Toronto Marathon. Then his time was bested in November of 2005 in Philidelphia by Zach Warren who did it in 3:07:05.
Recently, they both did a head to head match-up in Boston and had even faster times. Michal had a 3:06:45 and Zach set the new world record with an incredible 2:58:19! That is a full 24 minutes faster than my best. Somebody moved my cheese.
Records are made to be broken however, and that’s what I’m going to keep trying to do. If a guy in his seventies can run a sub-3 hour marathon, there is no reason I can’t.
My next attempt is in Madison Wisconsin next week. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to break the new world record, but I am certainly in good enough shape to break my best time ever and qualify for the Boston Marathon (3:15). There has been a request that I join Michal and Zach in Toronto this year and I think I’ll take them up on the offer. I will have to train even harder but maybe, just maybe, I’ll have the ability to keep up with them.