$ 3,853 175% $ 2,200


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Neil Fleischer's Team In Training Page & "Mostly Elton" Fundraiser

Life, love, music and running...but it's not about the race...

Paula and Neil after the LA Marathon

Welcome to Neil Fleischer's 2008 Los Angeles Marathon Team in Training home page and THANK YOU to my contributors Leah Agus, Mark Amorello, Bera Anders, Jim & Nancy Beaumont, Frank Brown, Jimmy & Ellen Cappa, Brent Christensen, Lainie & Joel Cohen, Ed Conn, Mark & Julie DeJong, Edie Feldman, David & Kim Fernandez, David, Marla, Molly & Sophie Fleischer, Mort & Doris Fleischer, Paula, Anna, Emily & Samuel Fleischer, Abbie & Mark Frank, Kenny Funk, Larry Furman, Yaron & Sue Garmaise, Jane Goldberg, Steven Goldberg, Robin Gordon & Ned Schroering, Joan Gray, Brenda & James Grove, Gladys Hacker, Barry & Becca Hornstein, Brigg Hyland, Jeffrey Isaacson, Sue & Paul Issler, Herb & Roz Klaif, Herb & Sylvia Landau, Laurie Levine & Jonathan Davis, Carol Lewis, Bonnie Long, Rick & Addie Lupert, Selma Lynn, Eileen Mann & Marc Winger, Julie & Ron Marcus, Patricia McKinney, Wayne McWorter, Sandy & Kevin Moore, Julie Muer, Steve & Char Nathanson, Linda & Gene Pizzolato, Ruben & Cathy Resnik, Jon Safier, Dominic Salgarolo, Larry, Debbie & Michael Salgarolo, Adam & Kathy Salzberg, Jean Schneider, David Schwartz, Alan Shapiro, Ed Simmons, Stanley Simmons, Pete & Sue Skaggs, Michael & Dani Sparks, Linda Sussman, Jim & Vicki Tymczyszyn, Eric & Cherie Weiner, Jerome Weiner, Jon & Deborah Weiner, Stephen & Cheri Whelan, Steve & Pam Widom, Shay Wilkins, Cathy Williams, Bauerle & Greg Worden and Asma Yousif & Dan Walker.

For cool shoes and music check out www.annafleischer.homestead.com

Here is my marathon training diary and some personal thoughts:

3/3/08: I ran the LA Marathon yesterday in 5 hours 53 minutes and 1 second. It was a beautiful day and I really enjoyed it all despite the tiring legs. Paula met me at three points during the race to cheer me on and provide her support, and also walked most of mile 25 with me when I could only run in short spurts. Last night I enjoyed a TNT team victory party at the hotel and then slept for 13 hours! Today I feel great and I already know that yesterday will not be my last marathon. Thanks so much to mentor and friend Gerry Philpott who did a couple of lengthy runs with me during training and to Susan Josephson for her incredible support of the San Fernando Valley team. Thanks as well to all TNT staffers who encouraged us throughout the race. Los Angeles is really a beautiful city and I realized that you don't get to appreciate it when you're driving. What a trip to run down Cahuenga past the Hollywood Bowl with no cars! The roads near Staples Center should be that empty when I'm trying to park for a Kings game! It was a 26.2 mile block party. Thanks to the great supporters in South LA, Hollywood, Koreatown and East LA who entertained the runners with music and made us feel really good with their applause, and even better with orange and banana slices, water and ice. Here's to all TNT honored heroes who are fighting leukemia and other blood diseases. I salute your courage. Here's to Todd who's memory lives with me forever. Here's to Oren who I never met and lives on the other side of the globe. You'll get through this and grow healthy and old...and someday, in 10 or 15 years, you can send me a photo of your kids. I'll still be running marathons.

3/1/08: The LA Marathon is tomorrow. I'm ready. I'm running in memory of Todd Schneider and in support of Oren Dobry. Thank you supporters, TNT teammates and cheers to fellow CBS Outdoor colleagues Leah Agus and Misty Harris, who will be running tomorrow too...and probably showered and dressed long before I cross the finish line! "Look at those mountains...look at those trees...I love LA!"

2/23/08: Ran 5 miles in a tune up at Balboa Park. Eight days to the race and feeling good.

2/17/08: Played my second of two "Mostly Elton" concerts today in Queens. Thanks so much to my folks for hosting the afternoon event and to Emily, Linda Sussman and Larry Furman for adding their voices and original songs to the party. It was great to see Emily playing the piano that I grew up with...loved the song "Desdemona". Linda, how I've gone without hearing your beautiful voice for over 25 years I'll never know, but we won't let that happen again! Larry, your song "Sunbathing in Siberia" was brilliant (check it out at http://www.xbcoldfingers.com/siberia2.mp3). Laurie thanks for bringing Rebekah and Brian, her young musically talented friend. Brian, sorry that I didn't know any Hannah Montana songs! Thanks as well to all of my folks' guests. It was wonderful to see you again.

2/16/08: Thanks to Kenny Funk and the rest of the Horseman at McSorley's Old Ale House for welcoming me back to Greenwich Village last night (really this morning). Best dark beer on the planet!

2/10/08: Our home is filled these days with Sam at the piano - music to my ears!

2/9/08: I ran 20 miles with my team in Balboa Park today. I'm exhausted...but I know now that I'll be ready for the marathon.

1/30/08: Sam the man! You were awesome as Macduff in "Macbeth". You worked so hard on this play and you really delivered!

1/15/08: Congratulations to friend and contributor Steve Widom who scaled to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (he must have made a wrong turn in Ft. Worth). Somehow the few hills that I'll encounter running the LA Marathon seem a bit less daunting!

1/13/08: A long run yesterday and music all day today. Our first "Mostly Elton" living room concert was a blast. I was blessed with the presence of several talented musicians and songwriters. Jenni Alpert played piano and guitar and sang her wonderful songs like an angel (check her out at www.jennialpert.com). Jimmy Paxson, the brilliant percussionist from Stevie Nicks' band, enchanced every song throughout the afternoon. Dave Fernandez, my friend, neighbor and the lead singer of Suburban Legend lent his rich soulful voice and brought a new life to my favorite Robbie Robertson songs. My daughter Anna graced us with her beautiful jazz vocals. My daughter Emily played and sang her original moving compositions on the piano. My son Sam knocked us out with his marimba and piano playing, including a slew of Beatles classics. To top off the evening, I walked down the block after our show to join in on vocals and at the keyboard on "Blue Money" and "Gloria" at Dave Fernandez' Van Morrison tribute extravaganza. Tonight I'm just in music heaven...thank you all!

1/1/08: Happy New Year everyone. We're thrilled to have both girls home with us, even for a short while. Life's been busy with preparation for the new year at CBS, catching up with my kids who are all enjoying a break from school, working on my piano repertoire and running and running and running!

12/17/07: If laughter is the best medicine, I should never get sick. I just bought myself "The Completely MAD Don Martin"...ACK GAK GARK! FWADDAPP! PLOOF SPLITCH THUK! MMMP AARH GASHLOIP!

12/15/07: I just got home after running 12 miles at Balboa Park with my team this morning...what a fun group of runners! Tonight Paula, Sam and I are going to see our friend Hannah Wilcox dance the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in "The Nutcracker". She's an incredible dancer. Okay...now my body's telling me "Neil...take a nap". I think I'll listen to my body so I'm awake for the performance tonight....later that day...Hannah, you were amazing!

12/9/07: Friends, here is another way to participate in my fundraiser. As most of you know, I've been playing the piano and singing for most of my 50 years. I am presently rebuilding my long dormant piano bar repertoire and am planning to play two informal living room concerts to raise money. "Mostly Elton - An Afternoon of Songs from the Closet" will be performed on Sunday, January 13 from 1pm to 4pm at our home in Valencia, and again on President's Day weekend in New York (probably at my folks' apartment in Queens, but still TBD) on either Sunday, February 17 or Monday, February 18. Please consider sponsoring a song...perhaps dedicate one to a family member or friend. When I run through my set, I will announce the sponsors and dedications (and anything else that you'd like to pass along). My suggested donation is $25, but $5 is cool too...so is a million bucks...every bit helps and goes to the Society, With music roots based in the late 1960s and the 1970s of my teen years, much of my repertoire is from that era, but I am also open to playing any new music that my children's generation has been listening to for the past 15 years or so. Of course, any standards from my parents' era are great too. I have eclectic taste in music from folk rock to Broadway to classical vocal pieces. If any of you are available to attend either informal concert and would like to participate by performing a song (with or without me), I welcome you (love those harmonies). A sampling of my repertoire in progress is listed below. Please sponsor one or more of the songs listed...or sponsor one that's not listed, and I'll (try to) learn it...remember I'm more of a piano bar balladeer than a rocker. MOSTLY ELTON - AN AFTERNOON OF SONGS FROM THE CLOSET - A repertoire sampler: Randy Newman: I'll Be Home, Marie, Louisana 1927, Sail Away, Short People & You've Got a Friend in Me, Billy Joel: Piano Man, You're My Home, New York State of Mind, Souvenir, James & She's Got a Way, Neil Young: Heart of Gold, Don't Let it Bring You Down, Harvest, Harvest Moon & After the Gold Rush, Warren Zevon: Empty Handed Heart, Johnny Strikes Up the Band, Lawyers Guns and Money & Keep Me in Your Heart for a While, Beatles: Here, There and Everywhere, With a Little Help from My Friends, Cry Baby Cry, Blackbird, Something & Yes it Is, Rolling Stones: Angie, As Tears Go By & Lady Jane, Grateful Dead: Ripple, Candyman, Uncle John's Band & Friend of the Devil, The Band: Up on Cripple Creek, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down & The Weight, Eric Clapton: Let it Grow, Layla (slow blues version) & Tears in Heaven, Paul Simon: America, American Tune, Old Friends & Tenderness, James Taylor: Sweet Baby James, Places in My Past & Long Ago and Far Away, Eagles: Desperado & Everything is Different Now, Standards: Smile, Pennies from Heaven, Misty, Over the Rainbow, Girl from Ipanema & Dream a Little Dream of Me, Show Tunes: One Hand One Heart, Johanna, Maria, All Good Gifts & Lida Rose (if I get three other barbershoppers to sing!), Original Compositions (original music with Brecht lyrics) for Mother Courage and Her Children: The Wise Woman and the Soldier, Fraternization Song & Song of the Great Capitulation, and, of course, Elton John: Your Song, Rocket Man, Mellow, Amoreena, Tiny Dancer, Daniel, Border Song, I've Seen that Movie Too, I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues, Levon, Skyline Pigeon, Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters, Take Me to the Pilot, I Feel Like a Bullet in the Gun of Robert Ford, Blue Eyes, My Father's Gun, Come Down in Time, Can You Feel the Love Tonight.

12/6/07: Paula and I were blown away by the Valencia High Drama Dept's "Dreams & Nightmares" show tonight. Sam and his friend Colin's performance of their original "My Thoughts" piece was definitely a highlight for us. Sam's marimba playing regularly gets my musical juices flowing and I'm thinking about a way to tie in music and fundraising...more thoughts on that this coming weekend.

11/24/07: Got home from Europe last night and ran 8 miles at Porter Ranch this morning. Time for a serious nap!.

11/21/07: This evening, I did a training run in Florence and it felt great...even on the cobblestone. It's a scenic route in every direction. Paula and I have had a great visit with Anna and we've walked all over Lugano, Venice and Florence. They food has been amazing...this would be a fabulous place to carbo load before a marathon. Banners are up around town for the Florence Marathon this coming weekend. We won't be here to see it, but this town will forever be part of my Marathon experience.

11/19/07: Tonight Paula and I listened to Anna sing "Misty" at Libreria caffé La Cité, a jazz coffeehouse in Florence. Life just doesn't get any better than this!

11/16/07: I got a different kind of exercise this evening. After a zillion hours on planes from Los Angeles to Dublin to Zurich and a train to Lugano, I spent 2 hours "pogoing" with the wild hockey fans at the Resega Ice Rink, I don't know how I was still standing after that trip, but you know me and sporting events! For those of you keeping score, Hockey Club Lugano defeated Hockey Club Davos 5-3.

11/10/07: This morning I ran 6 miles with my team at Porter Ranch and then attended a nutrition clinic. To my chagrin, Double Stuf Oreos were not highly recommended. Paula was up even earlier than me today...SCV Quilt Show day. I feel great...should sleep well tonight.

11/4/07: I skipped yesterday's 5-mile run with my team at Balboa Park to attend Sam's club soccer games in San Bernardino, so I did 5+ miles on the Spectrum Club treadmill this afternoon. On most days I enjoy the solitude of running and the quiet contemplative time. However, on the treadmill at the gym, they have TV monitors and I channel flipped between the Colts-Patriots game and one of my favorite movies "Tombstone" while I ran. Talk about a useful distraction...I ran for an extra 15 minutes just to watch the showdown between Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo!

11/1/07: I ran for 30 minutes on the Valencia paseos late this evening at an easy pace. The paseos will be filled with Santa Clarita Marathon runners this Sunday. I hope to catch some of the race and cheer on and encourage the runners who will be streaming by the end of our cul-de-sac just past mile 17. I know from my prior marathon experience that a little bit of encouragement goes a long way. Okay, time to get some sleep, which seems more important right now than encouragement!

10/30/07: After a couple of days of not running, I got up early and ran for about a half hour this morning...one of those mornings where you curse the alarm clock, but once you're out there running, you're glad you made the effort. Even with the short runs, I'm trying to keep a slow, steady pace. With the LA Marathon more than 4 months away, I feel like I should be able to improve upon my prior times from several years ago, if I stick pretty closely to the training schedule and if I'm fortunate enough to avoid injuries. About 3 weeks ago, as part of an overall physical exam, I took a stress echo test on a treadmill at Henry Mayo Hospital and the results were very good...I felt like I could run all day. It was a that point that I began to think seriously about doing another marathon.

This evening, at the suggestion of my cousin Frank, I watched a special on PBS called Marathon Challenge with a dozen "Team NOVA" runners - pretty much all non-athletes - training for and completing the Boston Marathon. Their training schedule is pretty much like our TNT schedule, except that they start a few months earlier. After the first couple of weekends, I can already tell that I have a fabulous team and I'm looking forward to my 5-mile run this weekend.

10/27/07: This morning I completed a light workout on the John Shepard Stadium track at Pierce College. The coaches had us do some stretching and a few core exercises - situps and pushups. We walked about a mile and a half but held off on the running because of the lingering poor post wildfire air quality in the San Fernando Valley. Back in Santa Clarita it started to rain just a bit and I hope it continues...we need it! Paula and I will go on another walk shortly.

Many of you know me for a long, long time, but since some of you supporters are "new to the cause", I thought I'd include emails that I sent out after my first two marathons in 2001 and 2003 (scroll down if interested).

10/24/07: Just finished a 30-minute run at an easy pace along the Valencia Valley paseos. As I circled Valencia Glen and Almendra Parks, I remembered that our little toddlers (now aged 20, 18 and almost 16) used to play on the slides (where did that time go?). The air felt clear tonight - a little bit humid and the wind has subsided. No more smell of ash from the Buckweed, Ranch and Magic fires. Sam is playing and singing Beatles music at the piano "Your day breaks, your mind aches..." Sam's always been his own guy, but hearing this I feel like I've been cloned. I feel good. There's always room in my day for a run and for a few songs at the piano.

10/23/07: Following my TNT training schedule, I did not run today, but Paula and I did take in a marathon of another sort. We were privileged to see the Royal Shakespeare Company's "King Lear" at UCLA's Royce Hall. To say that Ian McKellen's performance was inspiring would be an understatement...wow!

10/22/07: Please stay safe my friends as southern California burns. I'll be training in the gym tonight and not breathing the heavy soot in Santa Clarita.

10/21/07: Welcome to my Team In Training home page. I am training to run the 2008 Los Angeles Marathon as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training. All of us on Team In Training are raising funds to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma from taking more lives. I'm completing this event in honor of all individuals who are battling blood cancers. These people are the real heroes on our team, and we need your support to cross the ultimate finish line - a cure!

Please make a donation to support my participation in Team In Training and help advance the Society's mission.

I hope you'll visit my web site often. Be sure to check back frequently to see my progress. Thanks for your support!

6/2/03: Yesterday I ran the Suzuki Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego and took care of some “unfinished business”. I had trained for this marathon two years ago – it was to have been my first, but a basketball injury kept me from running in San Diego in 2001. I later ran in the Santa Clarita Marathon, but one of my goals was to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll and it certainly lived up to my expectations.

There was a band playing at just about every mile marker and I found my self singing along to songs I knew as I ran – from “Start Me Up” at the starting gun to “Takin’ Care of Business” heading toward the home stretch. Bands were also playing music by the Grateful Dead and Fleetwood Mac – the people running this event must have known that they had quite a few “forty-somethings” running this race! I ran one mile with a guy dressed as Elvis and another with Spider-man.

I remember a much more serious mood when I ran Santa Clarita. It was shortly after 9/11 and my determination came from a different place. In contrast, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon was a huge party. There were over 21,000 runners signed up for this race and almost 17,000 finished. In Santa Clarita, fewer than 400 completed the marathon.

Running a second marathon is certainly easier than the first from a psychological standpoint. I had no doubt that I would complete the race. My legs certainly tired at points in the race and I walked 2 or 3 of the miles, but I was determined to beat my 2001 time and I picked up a second wind at mile marker 24, picked up my speed and never looked back. I beat my 2001 time by 14 minutes and 12 seconds.

The finish of the race was at San Diego’s U.S. Marine Corps base. Seeing the soldiers gave me a great feeling of pride. My experience with soldiers has been limited to airports for the past year and a half and the National Guard during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. These guys were applauding me as I ran by and I thought “how weird is this”, so I applauded them. They put their lives on the line for me…I just run.

This year I wore the names of many honorees during the race, some who have passed on and some who I hope will lead long and happy lives. I chose to wear Todd Schneider’s name on my running bracelet. He was a close boyhood friend of mine who passed away in 1969 at the age of 13, just one year older than me. I thought about him a lot during the race. I remember that in October, 1969 two exciting things happened. Todd became a Bar Mitzvah and the Mets won the World Series. Todd certainly seemed healthy in 1969 – I can still remember his smile, his happy hoarse laugh, his athleticism and his friendship. By December, 1969 Todd was gone and at the age of twelve I was not mature enough to take it in and accept this news. It was a tragedy. I remember that my mom told me that Todd had “lymph cancer”. I didn’t know what “lymph” was and what I knew about cancer was that you’d get it if you smoked. It didn’t seem fair and I even remember questioning whether there was really a God as I prepared for my Bar Mitzvah in 1970. There was no survival rate for leukemia and “lymph cancer” – you just got it and died.

Today the survival rate for lymphoma is over 75% and I just know that my honored hero for this race, six year old Logan Ellis, will survive. I thought of Logan during the race and how strong and good his parents are. I thought of William Levine, my high school sweetheart’s father, who recently passed away. I know that he was a great father because of Laurie, the wonderful daughter that he raised who donated in his honor. I remember his watchful eye during that high school courtship and I realized that I’m about to have two daughters in high school. I’ve become William Levine! I thought of Pablo Kupersmid who I admire more than I can say. His battle with lymphoma has not stopped him from being a great father and husband. I thought of Cyndi Lingua, Sam’s 2nd and 3rd grade teacher and her courageous and seeming endless battle with cancer. Through it all, she showed up at Sam’s chorus and orchestra concert last week and gave Sam a hug and a high five. I thought of my dear friend Robin Gordon who made a donation to Team Logan. Her battles with cancer never broke her spirit and now she’s a mother and someday she’ll be a great grandmother. I recited the names of people who have fought and continue to battle cancer – Ryan Ellis, Doris Pace, Neil Norton, Ann Cash, Manuel Saunders, Steve Eizhlebaum and a boy named Matthew. I said a silent prayer for them and their families at mile 20 and the 20-mile “wall” did not slow me down. I thought of family friends and relatives who died of cancer – Cecile Dunn, Marty Foodim, Leona Garmaise, Lucy Salzberg – they were great people and they were anything but victims.

Many of my fellow Team In Training runners from around the country were running for family members. I read the names on the backs of runners from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas and Arkansas as they passed me and as I passed them. There was certainly enough love in that race to provide more energy than our Powerade drinks and PowerBar gels.

The highlight of this race for me was seeing Paula cross the finish line. I’m so proud of her. I know that she had doubts as to whether she would be able to finish this race, but I never doubted her. She is a great inspiration to our three children (who all called us on cell phones during the race), and she inspires me every day. Paula is a marathon athlete and you can look it up – it’s forever in the record book!

During the race, I ran by a mother who was holding up a sign that read “my son is alive because of you”. Thank you donors and supporters. Her son is alive because of you.

Todd, I believe in God and I hope that you enjoyed watching me run with Elvis!

11/10/01: Last Sunday I finally ran the marathon. I completed the 26.2 mile 2001 Santa Clarita Marathon course in 5 hours and 40 minutes. I ran a lot, I walked some too...I finished.

Thanks to my family and friends, close to $4,000 was raised for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and I am grateful for your support - monetarily or emotionally or both.

My marathon actually began 5 years ago on a Sunday morning in Valencia on the day of the 1996 Santa Clarita Marathon. My friend Jim and I were on our way to our ritual Sunday morning one-on-one basketball duel at Almendra Park when we saw the runners streaming by us along the paseos down the block from our old house on Salceda Road. I told Jim that I'd like to train and run in the 1997 race. Not more than ten minutes later, I snapped my right achilles tendon in our basketball game. Marathon dreams had to be put on hold.

Two days later, an orthopedic surgeon stitched me back together and by the spring of 1997, I had completed several months of rehabilitation. I was happy to be walking and doing strength training exercises at the gym. I was even back on the basketball court.

The most fun part of my exercise and rehab was taking ballroom dance classes with Paula. It helped strengthen me, improved my coordination and it was great fun. Along with dance, I began coaching Sam's soccer team (which I still do today - our game is at 3pm) and it was great to stretch, run around and exercise with the boys.

I was just beginning to think about training for that marathon in 1998 when I had to put this dream on hold because of a heart attack that April. This was a very strange event to say the least. I was in good shape. I was happy. Family life was great. I loved my job. Why me? After recuperating from the heart attack I then suffered a blot clot in my leg. I was then diagnosed with a blood clotting disorder.

Due to this condition, and the doctor's admonition to avoid collisions and major head trauma (something that I would not normally seek out anyway), I gradually began getting my life back to normal. That included working with a trainer to get back in shape, dancing, swimming and eventually running.

Life went on, busy as usual. Early last year, a client of mine told me that she was training to run a marathon to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with a group called Team In Training. She was talking about running 26.2 miles. Two or three miles seemed like a lot to me. I thought about this for a while and after Anna's Bat Mitzvah last year, I decided to further investigate this organization and possibly train to run a race in 2001.

I began training in January with the goal of running the San Diego "Rock 'n Roll" Marathon in June. The months went by, I trained diligently increasing my distance - 2 miles - 5 miles - 9 miles - 16 miles - until I ran 20 miles 4 weeks before the race. I was ready to Rock 'n Roll! Of course I just couldn't stay off the basketball court (why do I love that sport so much?) and a week before the San Diego race I injured my calf muscle in a game. It was a stupid thing to do and because of it I couldn't run with the group that I had trained so hard with. I was disappointed, but I know that there's always another race.

After recuperating for a month, I signed up to run a marathon in Portland, Oregon in September, also with Team In Training. The training went well and once again I built up to a 20-mile run.

Then September 11th came and suddenly running did not seem important. Like most Americans, I sat watching the news in horror as my home city got it's two front teeth knocked out. I was angry. I was distracted. I was not focused on my work. I stopped running.

I thanked the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for the great training and they thanked me for raising the money for them. I decided not to fly up to Portland, but instead signed up to run in my new home of the past 13 years, Santa Clarita. (For those of you who are unfamiliar, Valencia is one of four towns in the city of Santa Clarita).

I was apprehensive come race day as I did not properly train during the month of October. Work became stressful due to a company merger and an economic downturn and I felt very tired.

At the start of the race however, after singing the national anthem with hundreds of fellow runners, I felt like I was not only going to run for me, I was going to run for the people who couldn't run that day because they were undergoing chemotherapy treatment or they were simply not there to ever run again due to the events of September 11th. I was running for the memories of too many people to mention...and they inspired me.

It was great to run through my community. At every mile, supporters gave out water, energy drinks and orange and banana slices. At mile 9 at the Metrolink station, Anna and her Girl Scout Cadettes troop were handing out drinks and cheering me on. At mile 14 at Valencia Glen Park, Sam and our Cub Scout Pack 612 did the same. Each of those stops provided the emotional fuel to go a few more miles.

As I turned north on "The Old Road", at about mile 20 or so, my legs suddenly began to feel very heavy. Then they began to feel very, very heavy. Then they were lead pipes.

Mentally, I was still in it for the long haul, but I knew that poor training during the 6 weeks prior to the race was beginning to take a toll. I had to walk, so I did, but I never stopped moving forward.

I alternated walking with some slow (very slow) bursts of running. I was dreaming about putting my legs up later that evening and watching the 7th game of the World Series with a cold drink.

With about two miles to go, I seemed to get a second wind. I knew the finish line would be in sight pretty soon. When I made the final turn toard Newhall Park I saw banners and balloons...and then I saw Emily with a "Congratulations Daddy" banner. Sam ran up to me and jogged the last few yards with me. Paula was there taking photos and was there to greet me with Anna and my mother-in-law Cathy.

I made it.

My time was not earth shattering. It was slow. But there were still runners coming in after me fulfilling their personal reams, slaying their personal demons.

After a couple of sore days, I felt great. I feel great now. That was not my last marathon. I plan to run one (not sure which one yet) in 2002. Over the next few years, I hope to run the San Diego Marathon, the Los Angeles Marathon, the New York Marathon (if I can qualify) and the Santa Clarita Marathon again.

I will break 5 hours next time. I guarantee it.

Thank you all for your love and support.