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Herewith, the entire text of an email Ramon sent out to all of us, his Team in Training alumni runners, on Tuesday February 10th.

Hola everybody!!

It’s me, Ramon, the coach with the accent, remember me? You better say a big YES or huge SI! I am at it again!! Read and find out.

As many of you know last year was a very amazing year for me, I had the opportunity of fundraising a good amount of money for a cause and a program I totally believe in and so proud to be a part of, a program that has given me so much, and a program you once were part of.

Some of you thought that doing that 100 mile race was crazy, and let’s face it, you are right, no news there, the coach with the accent is a bit loco!

Anyway, going right to the chase, I am here to tell you that I am doing it all over again, both the Vermont 100 mile race, and the fundraising!

Why? Because, hmmmmm, because ahh hmmmm, wait, I know, because I am crazy, yes! CRAZY about the many people I have met through my years of coaching that have been affected directly or indirectly by this illness, people that have changed my life and I want to do my part to help them and others to be able to be themselves !!

This year I am going to run for a few people:

  1. Lauren Chiarello, a super amazing young woman, who I met during last season while training for her first half marathon, Disney 2009, she is Hodgkin Lymphoma survivor who only a couple of weeks after a great experience in Disney found out that her cancer is back and is now about to start treatment again. That’s just NOT FAIR!!  Read about Lauren.
  2. Suzanne Donaldson, a person that has enriched my life in ways that she would never know, a friend for life, a survivor that is going through tests right now and hoping that next Wednesday February 11th the news she’ll receive will be the good kind (let’s all keep her in our thoughts). Read about Suzanne.
  3. And of course I am also running in honor of the little girls that got me to the finish line last year, Kate, Emma and Olivia, what can I say? I just love them!!

These amazing people remind me that the fight against cancer still continues, we are not done yet, the race continues, and I want to be part of it!!

So here where all of you come in, Please donate and help me reach my goal of $50,000, just go to my website. Anything and everything counts, you all know it!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you,

Ramon Bermo
TNT NYC Head Marathon Coach

PS–If you decide not to donate you have to come back to us and run another event (or run your first event), you choose!
PPS–Read about last year’s adventure.

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Yesterday evening I took advantage of Nike’s generous offer to listen to and meet Olympians Kara Goucher and Bernard Lagat. How could I not? Kara is not only my favorite female elite, and my girl crush, but she’s also my running muse. I conjure up images of her zooming around the track at the Trials when I need a boost in my own workouts. (I hope I haven’t just freaked any of you out. Or you Kara, if you’re reading.) And Bernard, well, he’s the sweetest–I remember how down-to-earth he was on the podium at the Fifth Avenue Mile last September, what a classy second place. 

Coach Ramon (it was excellent to catch up with him) led us on a 40-minute run from the New York Running Company store (at Third Avenue and 63rd Street; this new location is gorgeous) over the Queensborough Bridge and back. It was strange to be there with a massive group, but not unpleasant. I was scheduled to run 3 for recovery (after Tuesday’s hills and Wednesday’s tempo my legs were feeling a bit battered), so I turned around before the rest of the gang. 

Once I was back at the store and headed to bag check, I caught a glimpse of Kara. She was wearing jeans, black books, and a cropped, olive green satin bomber jacket over a drapey scarf and a bright blue Nike track jacket. I kid you not: my ears started to ring. Then I saw Bernard, who was already chatting with one of us regular runners. And then–bonus!–I noticed Alberto Salazar, hovering in the background. Wow, that man is a legend (and Kara’s coach).

I stood around nervously. I am embarrassed (and disappointed) to admit that despite the gentle prodding of both my TNT buddy SA and Ramon, I could not work up the guts to go say hello to Kara or Bernard. My mind went completely blank–I couldn’t think of a single possible thing to say to them besides “I’m a fan,” which would have been tragic for everyone involved. 

So instead I sat and listened to the Q&A, as rapt as a 5-year old at story time in the library. What they eat, how they train, what events they’ve got coming up, long-term goals, all the standard questions. At one point Kara took a teeny jab at Bernard when she pointed out that her husband Adam was a much stronger runner when the two men competed against each other in college (we all laughed, even Bernard). Then they opened it up for questions, and once again I froze. I’m starting to reconsider if it’s such a good idea to keep her on my dinner date list (you know the game, “If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?”), since probably I’d get her across the table from me at Del Posto and have nothing to say. (Actually I don’t think that’s true; I’m much better one on one than speaking in front of a group.) 

Much of what she told us about her training for the NYRR Women’s Mile and the Boston Marathon she’d said just a day earlier to Runner’s World. But it was still cool to hear this chick casually throw out that she’s running 95 miles a week now and is going to boost that volume to 105 for several weeks leading into the marathon. Then, she said something that was reassuring to me, a mere mortal: her longest run in her marathon training will be no more than 23 miles. I’ve got a 22-miler scheduled for four weeks out from London. She wrapped up with another encouraging tidbit: no matter how fast you are, or how talented you are, running hurts. Whether you’re having a difficult training run or the race of your life, it hurts because you push yourself, period. Those are words I can fall back on during my pace runs, Nike Speed workouts, and Mile 25 of London. Thanks, KG!

Then we all cued up to get 8 ½ x 11″ photos (provided by Nike) signed by the athletes. I met Bernard first, and he obliged me with a quick photo. I wished him luck at the Wannamaker, told him I’d seen him at the Fifth Avenue Mile last year. He was super-cool, he gives off a great vibe. Then, there I was standing in front of Kara. I moved fast–I introduced myself, asked her for a photo, and then told her how the image of her running at the Trials occassionally motivates me during my workouts. In that moment, any cool credentials I may have earned over the years were immediately revoked. Star-struck: so not cool. But to her credit, Kara looked me in the eye, smiled and said, “That means so much to me to hear.” Who knows if she meant it; SA thinks she did. Chances are good, maybe. (How’s that for an equivocation?)

I walked to Second Avenue and 60th Street to get the Q60 bus home, replaying the evening over in my head. Nice! And I still have the Millrose Games tomorrow! Seated on the bus, I pulled my signed photos out of my bag, where I’d placed them carefully in a hard plastic folder. “To TK, Always Believe! Kara Goucher.” Surely that’s what she wrote for everyone, but I don’t care. I’ll believe anyway.

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Last weekend, AG ran her first-ever marathon, the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco, CA, as part of the NYC chapter of Team in Training. Not only is she EN’s girlfriend (which is a sterling recomendation), but she is also funny, thoughtful, a talented baker, and an admirer of the elites (yes, she knows their names and can match them with faces). She is also supportive, having come to Staten Island just to cheer EN and the rest of us on a few weekends ago. Because of all of this, I invited her to write up a race report, which follows.

But before I launch you into her report, I ask you this: can you imagine running the race of your life–a race in which you finish under 3 hours, and beat the elites invited to the course–but yet do not receive proper credit? You don’t get to break the tape as the first finisher, you don’t get to be acknowledged on the podium, nor do you get any of the prize purse? I can’t imagine ever being that fast, but I can imagine the crushing humiliation, and the subsequent anger, of being completely overlooked and underestimated. As it turns out, the winner of this marathon was a talented runner (outrunning the declared winner by 11 minutes), but Arien O’Connell was not an elite, and therefore her winning time was not credited as winning. Click here to read about the gross mishandling of the situation by race officials, who finally declared Arien a winner just today.

Without further ado, onto AG’s account of the race, which is much more uplifting.

Dearest TK, 
I pasted a few emails together in hopes that some part of the following ramble might be useful for Pigtails Flying.  Seeing John Bingham was super-duper awesome and I am glad my notions of celebrity are understood by others. [“Others” being me–PF]
Happy Thursday,
AG

The 2008 Nike Women’s Marathon, and my own first marathon, began on a very chilly and cloudy Sunday morning, only to end on a very chilly and cloudy Sunday afternoon.

I was part of the early start and hit the road at 5:30 AM, after my mandatory double-shot of espresso and Clif Bar.  The group was bubbling with excitement and thinned out early as we navigated the darkened streets of Fisherman’s Wharf.  I picked up my pace at mile 3 and trotted up to the front group by mile 5.  The first 10 miles ticked off pretty easily, but goodness was it cold!  Passing toward mile 11, I caught site of a few firemen [Firemen! Yummy!-PF] in tuxedos making their way to the finish line to get those medals ready for the finishers.  That was the second-best site of the day (of course the best was the Finish Line!). 

Funny moment: Mr. Pace Car hit the brakes and stopped quickly just before mile 8.  As the road was super narrow, yours truly was right on the bumper and ran into the back of the car.  Cross my heart, there is a bump on my knee to prove it! 

The back half of the course was very lonely and one of the most physically challenging tasks I have encountered (can you say “hills?”).  As the elite runners starting breezing by, a few took a moment to wish me a good race and offer a word of encouragement.  Thank you, elites!  At mile 15, I did a quick check of my watch and some pseudo mental-math to learn I could break 5:30, my achievable goal.  Around the rear of Lake Merced, my watch read 4:22 and I thought of some friends who would already be finished running if they were here in San Fran.  So, EN/TK/CN/DH, here’s to you.  I figured ya’ll would be eating up all of the post-race food and I should hurry it up to get my fair share.  That pushed my pace a bit and I came off the lake with a fury to conquer the last 4.2 miles.  Back on the highway I saw that the ocean and the sky were still melted together in a curtain of misty grey fog, which seemed to be unconcerned with the fact that I like a bit of sunshine in my runs. 

The course teased a small amount of flat ground on the last mile.  Lost in the dream of warm clothes and a cup of coffee, I looked up to see our head coach, Ramon Bermo, clanging his cowbell at the 0.2 mile mark.  I caught his eye and saw him check his watch and raise an eyebrow in surprise.  Either he didn’t recognize me or he was shocked to see me actually still running at that point in the course. 

When all was done, I came through the finish in 5:14:30….not bad for my first attempt.  To the joy of my sweetheart, I barely noticed the firemen with Tiffany boxes and made a beeline to ice, water, and bananas.  A quick stop to the medical tent for some ice was highlighted by my first celebrity encounter.  As I sat with a bag of frozen water on my already frozen leg, I looked up to see the face of John Bingham.  He dropped in to stow a bag and chat with the doc, and graced me with a few words of wisdom after hearing I ran the course in over 5 hours: “Good, then you got your money’s worth.”  After picking up my jaw off the ground, I decided to close this chapter on my first marathon and joined the pit of stretchers behind the medical tent and congratulated myself, as I’d just entered the small circle of runners who have successfuly completed a marathon. 

Of all the competitors, about 25% were associated with TNT.  The national total for this event’s fundraising was $18 million!  Thank you all for helping us get to that finish line.

[Congratulations AG on a race well run, and on contributing your portion of the money raised to find a cure for leukemia!–PF]

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Lots of odds and ends to share tonight. But first, may I simply mention that I’ve taken off every Friday in August?

Runner’s Lounge Take it and Run Thursday post is up, and Julie is inviting all runners to post their Six-Word Running Memoir… Hhmm wonder where she got that idea?…. Thank you Whitey for tipping me off to this article by one of my favorite writers about one of my favorite runners. I totally cadged by boss’s copy of The New Yorker off her today so I could read its entirety… My TNT coach, Ramon Bermo, successfully ran his 100-mile Ultra Marathon last month, and has raised over $59,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Here is his amazing, inspiring and fascinating race report, as filtered through the Nike Running Blog (separately, he emailed all his donors the in-his-own-words version, which printed out to seven pages). 100 freaking miles, people! I also found this one… Speaking of raising money, a month or so ago I signed up with Team Fox to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation (for a cure for Parkinson’s Disease), and in exchange they will get me my bib to the Flora London Marathon in 2009. Stay tuned for more, but I probably won’t start fundraising until immediately after NYC…. The New York Times Book Review gives What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami a poor review, saying things like, “There are flashes of quality,” and “the potential readership… is 70 percent Murakami nuts, 10 percent running enthusiasts and an overlapping 20 percent who will be on the brink of orgasm before they’ve even sprinted to the cash register.” Yours truly gave this book a much kinder review here…I am so psyched for the Olympics, even though I acknowledge that there will be doping athletes competing, and that some of them will win medals & go undetected despite testing…There’s a ton of coverage already online, and in print, regarding last-minute athlete updates and predictions. I feel like I need a vacation to absorb it all…Even though he’s not a runner, Michael Phelps is hard to resist, I think (for me) it has something to do with his excellence… Names: Paula Radcliffe, Ryan HallLopez Lomong, Leo Manzano

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Careful reader of Pigtails may have noticed I took off Thursday and Friday. I don’t usually go for two days off in a row, but I was still so tired yesterday I decided I needed sleep more than I needed five miles.  After I slept like royalty last night (from 11pm until 10am), I got up, spent some quality time with my roller stick, strapped on my fuel belt, and headed through the 86-degree weather into the city to run a few laps with my coach as he celebrated his 41st birthday by completing 41 upper loops of Central Park.

By the time I made it to the 102nd Street Transverse, Ramon had just left on his 32nd lap. I chatted with some old TNT buddies (hey PS and SR!) and then caught Coach as he came around for his 33rd lap.  I recognized a bunch of old teammates in the little pack that surrounded him, and latched on. After shouting my greeting, I was flattered to realize EN had adopted my look, and was running with his flowing locks tied up twice. (He’s growing it for Locks of Love.)

Now, I know my coach is a wicked fast runner, who has run qualifying times for both Boston and New York more times than I could guess. But, I figured I had a chance of keeping up with him since he’d already ran 45 miles, and me, just 5.6. Uh, yeah. His pace was still faster than a chat pace for me. And do you people realize that he ran that hill at the top of the park 41 times that day? I am in awe.

My plan had been to run back from the park as well, thus getting in something over 12 miles for the day. But I was all out of fluids by the time I finished my two laps with Ramon, and frankly, was not looking forward to the heat that surely awaited me on the 59th Street Bridge, so I bummed a ride home with SR.

Click here to bring Ramon closer to his $75,000 goal on behalf of Team in Training, to fund the discovery of a cure for all kinds of blood cancers.

Have been geraing up for the Olympic T&F Trials in Eugene, OR — I mean, as a spectator! — and was thrilled to hear Kara Goucher made her Olympic “A Standard” Time. Click here for the Trials site.

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If any of you have ever trained with the New York City chapter of Team in Training, then you all know what an amazing and cool coach Ramon Bermo is. Ramon has trained and inspired thousands of runners to safely complete (or to qualify for Boston, yes, us charity runners are not all back-of-the-packers) in marathons and half-marathons for over six years.  And now, he’s decided to focus on the other side of the charity racing coin: he’s running the Vermont 100 on July 19th, 2008, with a goal of raising $50,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. As it trns out, he’s already raised more than his goal, but, surely as runners you can understand: why stop there? There’s always the next breakthrough on the horizon.

So, this post is just my little shout-out for him. I know many of you have run in races for charity yourselves, I know all of you have had at least one coach or mentor who has helped you turn the corner from “jogger” to “runner.” And, I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that all of you have had your lives touched by the devestating effects of cancer.

If you’re feeling generous (or even if you’re not — Ramon accepts donations of $5), click here and help get Ramon to $100,000. (I just set a new goal for him. Hope you don’t mind, Coach.)

In Ramon’s words:

I am aware that many of you have a direct connection to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s cause, and I plan to run in honor of all of you that have been affected by leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma. I will run in honor of all of you that I have met through all those miles of running.

 A couple of weeks ago I had the honor of meeting Kate Davis, an amazing little lady!! Since I first saw Kate’s picture she has always been my own reminder of why we do what we do. Everytime I looked at her beautiful face and happy little eyes, I always wondered “Why?” such a beautiful little person had to go through that.

 That’s why Kate, as well as her two sisters Emma and Olivia, will be my inspiration as I take on a new challenge. They will be the faces of all of you, the Honorees, and the family’s affected by all of these diseases.

Important Links:

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