Sunday, November 16, 2014

THE PAUSE BUTTON RELEASED

The year was 1983, and our mileage was big as women's hairstyles of the era.

In my corner of the world, the coal-scarred hills of northeastern Pennsylvania, race times were incredible. From our small city of Pottsville, best known as home of Yuengling, America's Oldest Brewery, local runner, Gary Comfort clocked a 2:23 at the 1981 Boston Marathon. Brian Tonitis, later to become a top triathlete, dropped his marathon time into the 2:30s. Craig Lowthert, best known for his leg speed, had lowered his mile time to the mid 4 and teens during his time at Millersville University. At the 1983 Boston Marathon I achieved my personal best time of 2:22:54.

We all trained together, and our training was intense.

20-miler training runs were often run near race-pace. Mile interval speed workouts rarely rose above the 5-minute mark.

A Pottsville Area high school runner, Wayne Parfitt, was tearing up the league, winning cross country meets and dropping his 3200-meter race times into the 9's.

Parfitt possessed short, powerful legs, as well as a dogged work ethic. High school distances simply weren't long enough for him. He desired to run longer distances, and at age 18, he wanted to run a marathon.

Upon his graduation from high school in 1983, he joined our training group, and before too long, he and I began to turn in ninety to one-hundred mile training weeks. I was training for the New York City Marathon; he for Philadelphia.

In November, at the Philadelphia Marathon, Wayne Parfitt, 18, ran a 2:39:39. Running Times Magazine ranked him as the top 18 and under marathon runner in the country that year.

We went on to run the 1984 Boston Marathon together. Wayne ran cross country at a nearby community college, opened a business, eventually moved to the Newport News, became a success, and raised a fine family.

Good story, isn't it?

But it doesn't end  there.

Let's face it. Running IS an addiction, and this talented, dedicated runner certainly qualifies as an addict.

Two years ago, Wayne returned to Pottsville to visit his father. He had just begun his return to running, participating in races with his son. We got together for a 5-mile mountain run. It had been nearly 30 years since we last ran together, but it seemed as if we had released the "pause" button, as, we picked up on topics, serious and not so serious,  right from where we left off back in the 80s.

Through the magic of social media, we kept in touch via Facebook.

The same guy I know from 30 years ago, when we last toed the line at Boston, released his training pause button and focused on training for another marathon, with the exact same desire and intensity.

Yesterday, after a brief hiatus of 30 years, he crossed the line at the Richmond Marathon with a stellar time of 2:56:57. He's not going to wait another 30 years before his next marathon attempt, however. He has already set his sights on a marathon in March.

And, much like the band, 'The Who,' he and I hope to hold a reunion tour by standing on the starting line together at the 2016 Boston Marathon.

                                                     Wayne Parfitt-Richmond Marathon