(8-18) Norm Solomon, former Dean of Fairfield University's Dolan School of Business, started running at 24. He has run 21 marathons since 2007 and is a big fan of New York Road Runner (NYRR) races where he has been a marathon charity runner with Team for Kids. His favorite marathons are New York City and Ottawa, Canada.
Started Running: 1975 at age 24 (I’m 66. B-day Oct 1951)
Why did you start running? I started running when I was in graduate school to relieve stress. I went to school in Wisconsin so running through those frigid winters really toughened me up (and gave me ice whiskers on some days!) After graduate school I stuck
with it as a hobby but I didn’t really begin entering races until 1984. I enjoy competing against myself and try to beat last year’s PRs when possible. I also like seeing how I measure up in the age-graded percentile which is somewhere near the middle.
Did you have any inspiration or person who motivated you?
Around the time I started running Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers were the big names in running and their exploits were impressive. But my goal (and I know it is running heresy) was never to run Boston. I wanted to run the New York City Marathon, my hometown.
What motivated me the most at the start of my running was a desire not to put on weight that I had successfully lost through dieting in the mid-1970s. Running gave me the best of two worlds: –being able to eat (mostly!) what I wanted, and feel and look good. I also stayed motivated because my fiancé and now wife of 33 years was a big exercise person and in her prime very fast! We met at the local YMCA and working out/running together was a fun thing to do. She continues to be my biggest fan/supporter.
Since 2007 my motivation has shifted a bit—I still run to stay in shape and I was also motivated by the untimely death of a close friend in his early 50s due to heart failure. I also wanted to run for a cause bigger than myself so in 2007 I ran the first of eight New York City marathons for a charity, Team for Kids, with the goal to equip children with the tools they need to become physically fit for life. The coaches were phenomenal and I got terrific mentoring and motivation from some of the legendary coaches of TFK including Frank Handelman, Sid Howard, Gail Kislevitz, Vinnie Corso, Asteria Howard, Kim Watkins and Glen Wiener. I also had the honor and privilege of meeting Grete Weitz, who was an early spokesperson for the charity. I have also met some wonderful and big-hearted fellow runners along the way…what a great group!
Races? My most memorable race was also my first and my toughest…the Ottawa, Ontario Marathon in 2007. I thought I was prepared but I didn’t factor in the temperature (the race is held at the end of May) and the temperatures climbed to the high 70’s. By the end of the race my legs felt like lead weights but I was determined to finish and did so in just over 5 hours. That experience helped me come up with my race mantra, “I certainly won’t come in first and I hope I won’t be last but I WILL finish.” In fact, I have finished every race I have done and went on to do eight more Ottawa Marathons and now do the Ottawa half-marathon each year…Vive Le Canada!
How has your weight changed? I’ve gone up and down within about 5-10 lbs but nothing dramatic.
Cross Training: I do an hour on the elliptical twice a week and crank up the resistance.
Social Running: When I am able to get into Manhattan from my home in Shelton, Connecticut, I run the NYRR races, which gives me the opportunity to see some of my old Team for Kids buddies. I also volunteer at the New York City Marathon Expo and on marathon day at the finish line which I find lots of fun and very inspirational. Running is a great community and I find that as I age I look forward to seeing my running friends at events even if it is just once a year. Runners are so supportive of each other on and off the circuit. They truly are some of my best friends.
Training: As I get older I’ve reduced my weekly mileage to 20-25 miles and do slower training runs but do hills for fun…I sometimes run two days in a row but three days is pushing it…I use the races for speed workouts if you can call them that at my pace. I just think older runners should be glad they can still get out there…when I look at the small percentage of the NYRR race finishers who are over 65 I feel proud of myself and when I think of my friend who died young from heart failure I am so thankful to his memory for literally keeping me on the right path.
Lessons Learned from Running: Never, ever give up! Never, ever care what others may think of your running (“are you crazy?” etc. The way I figure it, if God didn’t mean us to run s/he wouldn’t have invented Nike, Brooks, New Balance etc! I’ve also learned to push myself beyond my comfort level, which isn’t easy at any age but especially as we get older and more used to our creature comforts. Pushing myself to complete those last miles of a marathon or a half marathon are the most rewarding.
Has your running helped with the aging process? Yes running has definitely helped with that. It gives me a sense of accomplishment despite the minor aches we feel. I’m a college professor and am around young people a lot. When I run on campus or bump into a student, former student or colleague on a training run or in a race it makes me feel good to know that I am still `out there’…