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Open Mic Friday: Marathon Dude Bill

Open_mic_friday Today we welcome Bill (aka Marathon Dude Bill as we first came to know him many months ago) to Open Mic Friday.  Through his blog, Bill has continued to be a real and virtual inspiration to many runners due to the combination of his disciplined training, fantastic speed and utmost humility about his own running.   Heck, who doesn't want to be like Bill?   I know I have personally appreciated his support and kind words when my running is going well and even when it isn't - and I know I am not alone.   And because Bill has 17 marathons under his belt, we were also excited to learn some of his advice and tips for managing the disatnce.   

Welcome Bill!

Why Did You Start Running?
 
I actually starting running in May of 2003.  If I am being completely honest there are actually two reasons that I started in the first place.  The first reason is common knowledge as I had put on a ton of weight and actually hit 215 pounds.  At that point I had a 36+ inch waist and couldn't have run a mile if I was being chased by the devil himself.  I was quite the couch potato and could eat a whole bag of tortilla chips at one sitting... and not the low fat, low calorie variety!  The second reason is a little more complicated.  When my son Aidan was born on September 3rd 2002 that was the happiest day of my life.  But as time went by we realized that Aidan was going to be a very special individual.  I soon found myself so stressed out and worried about my son that I would literally go for days without more than a couple hours of sleep.  It was almost a relief when Aidan was finally Bill_suntrust diagnosed with high functioning autism at around age 2.  By that time, I was heavily into running and I credit that for saving me from I don't know what.  My son is doing great now and both Donna and I feel so fortunate to be both his home school teachers and parents.  And I actually sleep about 6 good hours a night.
 
What Advice Do You Have For Marathoners?
 
I think the first thing I would tell someone aspiring to do their first marathon is "Congratulations!".  To have the courage to even contemplate doing something like a marathon is something so few people will ever do.  The next thing I would tell them is to check out one of the excellent training programs that are so easily accessible.  Excellent examples include Galloway, Daniels, Higdon, and my personal favorite The Competitive Runner's Guide by Bob Glover.  They all have incredible knowledge about how to train for and successfully complete a marathon. Unfortunately, there was noone to give me advice when I started out.  I trained for my first marathon by running a couple times a week and having my longest run max out at 10 miles.  As you can imagine, my first marathon was a gut wrenching experience as I ran, walked, stumbled, and suffered through the last 12 miles of the 2003 Detroit Free Press Marathon.  And for some reason all that pain made me want to do it all over again.  My last piece of advice would be to enjoy the experience.  The marathon is so long and so hard that you really do have to pace yourself and just take it all in.  Don't run your first 5 marthons for time let alone your first one.  Enjoy the experience from both a sensory standpoint as you take in the course and also from a physical standpoint as your body meets the challenge of 26.2 miles.  It will change you forever.... I promise.
 

What Advice Do You Have For Beginning Runners?
 
I think the most important thing for the beginning runner is to find a way to make running a life long habit.  I believe so strongly in both the physical and mentalBill_with_family benefits of running that I know we could change the world if we could just make it a world of runners.  So how does  one become a life long runner??  Thats easy.  All you really have to do is find the joy in running.  It could be a nature filled trail on a beautiful morning with the sun coming up behind you.  Or maybe a run through the city after work as the moon comes up on a fall night with everyone stuck in traffic except you.  Maybe its the run itself or maybe it is those wonderful post run endorphins... and I'll be the first to admit that I am quite the endorphin junkie myself!  Whatever.  Find the joy in running and the beginning runner will not only become a life long runner, but start converting their non running friends as well.
 
 
Tell Us About Your Cheering And Support Section.
 
I have quite an extended family, but only my nephew from Cleveland has ever come to one of my races.  Outside of that, I have a 2 person cheering section who I think are just the best.  My wife Donna will admit to thinking runners are a little nutty.  Outside of her making fun of us runners, she is incredibly supportive.  She has been to 16 of my 18 marathons and cheered in  thunderstorms, a monsoon, a Noreaster, a blizzard, searing heat, and even the occasional nice day.  She is always there for me through the good runs and the days when things don't go quite as planned.  And that is not to mention those post long run leg rubs....
My son Aidan just turned 6 years old and although he has the body of a young offensive tackle, I can tell he is probably going to be a great ultramarathon guy.  In the meantime, he does a great job of cheering me on at  races.  He has perfected the skill of wielding 2 clappers and shouting "Go Carter go!" all at the same time.
 
 
What Has Been Your Biggest Running Accomplishment?
 
I think there are 3 things that stand out in my mind.  The first was qualifying for the Boston MarathoBill_bostonn.  This happened for me when I ran a 3:15:28 at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in '06.  I honestly never thought I would do it and when it happened I honestly broke down and cried.  The marathon meant so much to me even back then and doing the Boston Marathon twice has been such an honor.  The second was breaking the 3 hour mark for the marathon at the 2007 Richmond Marathon.  I had trained so hard for that race and just had one of those days where everything went right.  I felt so good all the way to the finish and immediately after the race Donna and I drove to Washington D.C. for my first visit.  We walked all over that city and you would never have known I ran 26.2 miles a few hours earlier.  My third accomplishment is that I have become a life long runner.  It won't matter if I get injured, sick, or whatever.  I will always come back to running.  I will certainly come back for the health benefits, but I have found my joy in running and I need it as much as a fish needs water.
 
 
What Life Lessons Has The Marathon Taught You?
 
The marathon has taught me 2 major things that are applicable to life in general.  The first is that hard work and having a well formulated plan can allow you to achieve something really special.  The marathon certainly requires a lot of dedication and you really do have to put in the miles to have a chance of completing the distance.  Also, you have to stick to the plan and trust that it will be enough when it is finally time to show your stuff.  The second life lesson is all about perserverance.  The marathon is a test of your willpower and your ability to keep going despite everything your body is telling you.  There are so many stories of people surviving terrible disasters because they just refused to die.  That is the marathon.... just refuse to stop and you never will.  It really is as simple as that. 
 
 
Who Are Your Running Heroes?
  Bill_with_wife
This is the easiest question of all and one that I couldn't wait to answer.  My running heroes are the people who run the marathon in 5 or even 6 hours.  Or the people who take 2 and half hours or 3 hours to do a half marathon.  Before she had figured out that runners ARE crazy, I talked Donna into doing the 2004 Detroit Free Press Half Marathon which she completed in 3:15:18. I don't know if I conveyed to her how proud I was that day, but I would like to do it right here.  I always say to my blog running friends that "Some people are in a hurry and others like to take their time and really enjoy the course."  And maybe just maybe that finish line means a little more to that second group of athletes. 
 
 
We all run for different reasons and at our own pace.  That is the beauty of running.  The fact that our main competition for 99.9% of us is ourself.  When we run, we all win.  And that could never be a bad thing.

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Comments

Denise

I'm training for my first marathon in November and reading articles like this are so inspirational. I can't wait to be able to speak from my own experience after I finish it...because I will finish!

Jess

I love reading Bill's blog because it is always full of insight and inspiration like this! Tom and Amy, thanks for featuring him!

Betsy

Marathon Dude Bill has a blog everyone should read. I am always inspired not only by his amazing accomplishments, but by his hard work, humility, and support of his fellow runners. Marathon Dude Bill rocks!

steve

"Inspirational Bill", that's what I call him. 17 marathons in a little over 5 years and look how far you've come! And I know you're not done breaking records yet.

Keep the stories coming, keep the running going and good luck in your next marathon adventure in 5 weeks time....

--Steve

Viv

Bill, has such a great blog. He is like the nicest runner on the blogsphere.

Nat

Like we needed more reasons to love Bill...
Awesome awesome man. :)

Marci

I agree with the other posters. Bill is an awesome choice. He is so supportive of runners, especially all of us blogger joggers regardless of our pace or speed. Thanks for featuring him!

Laurel (aka Lily)

Bill, you are an amazing man, thank you so much for sharing your story!

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