A few days before I ran the Spinx Half Marathon back in October, I received an email from my cousin, Tommy, that read:
Not that you asked for advice, but one of the things I shared with Jay is that in every endurance event you will have bad moments. It's not a question of "if", it's when. When that time comes acknowledge it and then remember that every endurance event ALSO has GOOD moments. They are both temporary-the key Is not letting either one of them take over your mind and/or your day/event.
Having just completed his second marathon in Portland in 3:40(can I get a what what!), he was freshly familiar with the sort of obstacles, both mental and physical, that accompany endurance racing. I like the way that Tommy views the race as its own microcosmic thing, like something that has a life of its own. Good or bad, we're in it, we're a part of it, and somehow we have to get out of it. And anyone who has done any sort of race at all knows this to be true-that we are going to have good moments and bad moments, and how we handle and respond to these moments is what matters. I find myself thinking about this email on almost every run, as it reminds me to anticipate, moderate,and stay focused.
That Tommy took the time to send this email before my race also points to the kind of person he is-thoughtful, insightful, enthusiastic, encouraging. He shows up. He makes things happen. He's the guy who'll organize a family whiffle ball game or ping pong tournament, or try to get you on board for a 24 hour road race or a half ironman. He's the kind of person you want to be around because he makes you want to be better. It's hard not to throw up a few fist pumps when you're with Tommy. He's just that kind of guy.
Tomorrow is his birthday, and I didn't want to let the opportunity pass to give him a birthday shout out; at the very least I wanted to showcase his ridiculous ability to grow facial hair and to give him props because he's such a good one. If you met him after the Louisville marathon, pictured above with his sister, Molly, and Jay, you'd first say "Hello, Tommy" and then you'd feel compelled to introduce yourself to his mustache too, so formidable is its presence on his upper lip.
So happy birthday, Tommy, and in the words of Bob Dylan--
"May God bless and keep you always, may your wishes all come true. May you always do for others and let others do for you. May you build a ladder to the stars, and climb on every rung and may you stay forever young."
Your (younger) cousin