Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dear Tom: live strong and long!

Tom, we need you, your smile, your love of running, your support to go the extra mile! You gave so much to many of us, runners, it was nice to come and support you for this very special Metro Silicon Valley marathon. The 11th edition of this marathon in San Jose and the 11th for you. 20 years of running marathons and ultra marathons. What a string and what a courage from you given the circumstances.

Yellow, the color of hope

What a colorful party you got going to accompany you for these last 5 miles of your progressive marathon. Music, bells, cheering, friendship, personal stories, camaraderie, team and club spirit, perfect weather, all the components were here to build long lasting memories.
Better than words, here are almost 200 pictures to remember this moving experience: ONLINE PHOTO ALBUM. Including quite a few pics from our personal one-on-one with Tom, as he wished and asked for before the start:
And you will see in the album that some are ready for Halloween, this week!
So many familiar faces from your club, the San Jose Fit, and our club the Stevens Creek Striders, you had more than 100 people today caring for you, Tom, and wishing you courage to keep the fight like you already did admirably so far. What a lesson for us and yet another source of inspiration!

More can be found of on you in:
  1. A Mercury News article this week,
  2. My Rio Del Lago race report.
And photographer and journalist Mark Tantrum walked these 5 miles with us to make a special coverage and story of your adventure in the Saratoga News (scheduled to be published/released on Tuesday 11/4). Check it out!

The Striders

I am less familiar with our "cousin" club of San Jose Fit, the Fitters, so can't list all your friends there but the Striders were well represented: Charles, Peter, Penny, Peggy, Michael S, Michael , Christina (who had run the half in the morning leading blind runner Sharlene Wills in 3:13), Dennis, Robin (who also ran the half in the morning) and Alison, Amanda, John, Bill (just out of Church), Brian and Sophia (who drove from Monterey in the morning) and probably others I'm missing.

After the 5 miles from Blackford Elementary to the finish, we hanged over for a while, with Tom catching his breath and encouraging more Fitters getting to the finish line. Then, like wild animals freed up from their cage, we ran back to mile 20, crossing the last runners on our way.
In addition to the Fitters and Striders, I had also invited the Ultraholics: Adam Blum joined us around mile 23 (he ran the half in 1:29, including taking pictures!) and Rajeev and Anu joined us at mile 25, at the park Tom took a well deserved 5-minute break.

Overall, I walked and ran 14 miles today. Like Tom put it in our one-on-one, "you probably never ran that slow" but that's forgetting about my 5-hour Phoenix marathon of 2003, with my first major exercise-induces asthma crisis. Breathing difficulties which make me appreciate even more Tom's accomplishment of today. With 30 hilly miles yesterday and 51 flat miles in Miami last week, I'm going to taper a bit this week before the Helen Klein 50-miler of next Saturday.

For the love of running which Tom exemplifies! Tom, live strong and long, please...

PS: Tom and Mark Williams at Last Chance aid station on the Western States course, June 2006:

3 comments:

Sharlene said...

Jean, you've said it all! Wish I could see the pictures! Thanks for posting this. It was a wonderful experience for me to try, just a little bit, to give back to Tom, who has given so much to me and to us all! And I thank Christina for helping to make it possible for me to participate in the walk! She guided me all day, as Tom has so often done in the past. Sharlene Wills.

Jean Pommier said...

Sharlene,

Thank you for stopping by and glad to know you were able to get the "prose" of the post, despite missing the colorful and "yellow-ful" pictures of our walk.

Yes, Tom gave us all so much and it was moving he was still spoiling us with his wonderful smile despite the struggle of walking these 5 miles. If I am not mistaken, we walked at 20-22 min/mile, so much faster than the initially 30 min/mile that Tom was shooting for. Hope we did not push the pace too much, Coach!

Looking forward to seeing you running again,

Jean.

Baldwyn said...

Jean, I was the guy who yelled at you on the trail when you blew past carrying balloons, and briefly said hi on the way to the finish. I wish I knew what was going on in advance. My goals were toast for the day, and walking a bit in such a great procession (I was even wearing yellow) would have been worth it.

By the way, I think I yelled at you once on Stevens Creek Trail too, a couple of months ago.