Dr. J on Running

Natalie Marries Marc

17 October 2009

Natalie married Marc this afternoon. Their story began three years ago at the 20-mile mark of the Rochester Marathon, and climaxed at the altar of Christian Faith Chapel in Lockport, NY.

It all started when my wife and I agreed to train for the 2006 Rochester Marathon. Marla prepared for the Marathon like clockwork, while my training stumbled erratically. Three weeks out, she ran a 50K endurance run at Green Lakes Park, while I goofed off in Denver. Confident that she would not run two marathons back-to-back, we toed the start line in Rochester for an easy run and an early DNF.

Marc acted as my accomplice. I hired him to stalk Marla by car and by bike claiming to be her support crew, to ask her if she felt OK and offer her a ride back every few miles, and to call me as soon as she dropped out so I could do likewise.

Marla had another plan along the lines of finishing the Marathon. By mile ten, I ordered out cappuccino and biscotti that Marc delivered. Around mile 16, I hit the wall. The run held the potential of turning into the tale of a tortoise and a hare.

That pleasant September morning turned into an 87-degree scorcher, so I changed my tactics to survival. If 80-year-old Joe Familo could “run” the Cazenovia 10-miler in 2 hours 30 minutes, so could I. I walked briskly at 15 minutes per mile, and called Marc for a dry change of clothes and more food.

Marc arrived early for our 20-mile rendezvous. He noticed a beautiful co-ed awaiting the baton from her relay teammate. Not known for his original pick-up lines, Marc fumbled his way onto a first date. Their dialog went probably something like this:

  • Marc: “Hi.”
  • Natalie: “Hello.”
    (long pause)
  • Marc: “Are you a runner?”
  • Natalie: “Yes.”
  • Marc: “Me too. My dad is a runner also.”
  • Natalie: “My dad is not.”
    (very long pause)
  • Marc: “Do you go to RIT?”
  • Natalie: “Yes.”
  • Marc: “Me too.”
  • Natalie: “But my dad does not go to RIT.”
  • Marc: “Mine neither. We have so much in common. Can I give you a ride to the Finish Line?”
  • Natalie: “Sure. It beats running 10K in this heat.”

So, Marc gave Natalie a ride to downtown Rochester, and left her to find her way back to the Finish Line. Thus began a courtship that included a long-distance romance between Washington and Rochester, numerous runs and injuries, a wedding proposal at the finish line of an amphibious race, a victory lap along the Erie Canal with family and friends this morning, and a tearful “Guide our feet as we run this race” at the altar this afternoon.

This hare had enough left in him to finish the Rochester Marathon an hour and a half off his PR, but nevertheless a couple of minutes ahead of the tortoise – his second Marathon, her fourth. My pain that day faded into the pleasant satisfaction that my obsessive compulsion may have brought together two beautiful runners.

Dr Kamal Jabbour wore a tuxedo for the first time ever, and matched it with black-and-red New Balance 505 flats and the same pair of red socks that he had worn three years earlier in Rochester. Dr. J receives email at kamal@jabbour.org. His RUNNING Column appears in Cyberspace whenever the endorphines move him to write.

© 2009 Dr Kamal Jabbour