One week ago today I completed my “52.4 Miles in 48 hours”. Today another 52.4 Miles were completed, but they were not mine. Starting last Friday Skip Svetanics decided to run his own 52.4 Miles race but in 240 hours. Every day he ran 5.24 miles – for 10 consecutive days!
Some days he ran early in the morning; others at night or at lunch. Some days in the rain; some in freezing temps. Some days he ran alone, others with friends. Sometimes the location was in Blue Ash, OH, sometimes in Newport, KY, and many times around his home in Loveland, OH. Regardless, he ran exactly 5.24 miles every day.
Yesterday and today I ran with Skip.
You can get to know someone well through running – one of the many things I love about it. During our runs, we talked about his mom JoAnn, battling a form of Leukemia, and Parker. We talked about my cousin, Mike, his wife, Erica and their other two children, Harrison and Madeleine. We talked about his family and mine. We talked about his new subdivision, trail running and our connections with Japan. We talked about the Bob Roncker’s Running Group. We even talked about why I talk so much when I run (…guilty!). Skip would give me live updates of what song was playing on his iPod. (one ear bud in for the music; one open to hear me blab!)
Today it was freezing cold as I drove out to Loveland and met him at 7:30 am for Peets coffee before our run (a habit I am bound and determined to help him break so seized the opportunity to load him up with Millstone coupons).
We ran from his subdivision to the Loveland Trail. On the way, we ran down a big hill on Adams Rd. We stopped at the bottom and ran back up it for Parker. Half way up, I understood why he called it “Redemption Hill”. Completely out of breath, we jogged back down, turned right on the flat Loveland trail for about a mile and looped back. Next thing I knew we were back to the bottom of The Hill! This time we dedicated the run back up for JoAnn. We both blitzed up the hill.
This was only appropriate as he called his “52.4 in 240 Hours”, the “J&P Workout”, for JoAnn, his mother and Parker.
But Skip runs for many people. In October, he ran his first marathon in St. Louis. He dedicated each mile to a specific person who was important to him: Mile 1 for his late father Milton, Mile 7 for his mom, JoAnn, Mile 11 for cousin Jen, Mile 18 for a friend’s father and Mile 26+2 for the Bob Roncker’s Running Group.
But I am glad that he also runs for his family and himself, perhaps the greatest gift of all.
You see, I discovered another thing about Skip on our runs. He has been in a lifelong battle with his weight. Just two years ago, Skip weighed 304 pounds. To date, he has lost 107 pounds, He credits many tools including lap band surgery, running, support from friends and family, but mostly his faith in God for giving him the tools. As he shared, ” Whether with weight loss, overcoming addictions, even through a tough run, (God gives us) tools at our disposal. It is our job to recognize and use them to achieve success. Then when we learn how to use the tools ourselves, we can help others.”
Nothing in the world is a miracle cure. It takes a change of mindset, a change of heart. Skip keeps a photo in his car of him from years ago in NY to remind him of what he used to look and feel like. The photo is also next to a ceramic tile he designed. It has a road leading into a beautiful blue and red sky with clouds. In the center where a setting sun would be, he painted the Kanji characters: 継続 – (keizoku) -meaning “continue on/never quit”.
I sprinted ahead so I could take a photo of Skip FINISHING STRONG as he hit the last tenth of a mile of his 52.4 mile race!!
After we finished, his wife, Ko, took some awesome photos of us with the P.A.R.K.E.R. GINORMOUS SMILEY FACE. We had both Finished Strong, smiling all the way!
I then met their three children, Rita, Hal and little son Nico in his PJs, who was the first to greet us at the door. Like me, he had lots to say and chose an interesting mix of English and Japanese to have me completely confused. While there, he did add one important new word to his vocabulary, which he was clearly able to pronounce: “Parker.“
We all said goodbye for now, and as I drove out of his subdivision, I remember him telling me that his dad always urged him to, “shine your light on the world.” He said if we can find a way to do that, we can affect change in the world. We can then truly have an impact on others and others on us.
This sounds like LOVE to me. And I couldn’t help but smile as I approached the road sign in front of me. It read, “Welcome to Loveland, (Ohio)”.
Skip says Parker and I inspire him. I say Skip inspires all of us.
Coming up later this week:
Parker update as he enters a new round of treatments, The Perfect Christmas Present from Road ID and The Best Videos EVER!