‘I said, “Ronald, if you’re going to run your first marathon, do the biggest, the NYC Marathon.”’
“You have 45 good years; I call that youth. Then you have an option, depending on your genes, of going downhill or, depending upon your decisions, going uphill. When I hit 45, I decided I had to start doing something for my body and health. I went up to the beach parking lot and started running. I found out two things: I was not very good at it, but I enjoyed it. So I bought running shoes, and I followed a program to be able to run 30 minutes straight — and I loved it. I found there was a spiritual component where running put me into a different zone, and the kinds of issues that come up in life fade out and the ambience starts to take over.
“When I turned 67, I started to really challenge myself. I joined a running club. I started to run short races. Then something happened. I fell. I face-planted and broke my neck. I broke the same bone the actor Christopher Reeve broke, who became paralyzed. The neurosurgeon saved my life.
I had my name on my chest and my back and people were yelling out, ‘Go Ron!’
“I didn’t run for a year. On top of all that, I found out I had a very virulent cancer growing in my right kidney. I lost my kidney and I lost another year. Then I got back into running, but I was extremely slow. When the pandemic started, I couldn’t go to the gym, so I started running six miles on a regular basis. By May 2021, I could run 20 miles. A light bulb went off: If you can run 20 miles, you can run 26.2. I said, ‘Ronald, if you’re going to run your first marathon, do the biggest, the New York City Marathon.’
“So, the Sunday of the marathon came, and it was everything you see on TV. I had my name on my chest and my back and people were yelling out, ‘Go Ron!’ I ran it under 9 hours. The conventional wisdom is when you run a marathon, rest for two weeks to a month. But I went out three days later on Wednesday. I said, ‘I’m just going to walk.’ After two miles, I started to run. I felt stronger than I did the week before the marathon.
“I have to figure out what to do as an encore. Maybe I’ll start to take swimming lessons and do a triathlon. I’m 76. I always used to think in terms of 10- and 20-year plans, but in 20 years I’ll be 96. There is an end somewhere down the line. But as long as I can keep pushing, I’m going to keep pushing.”