Father Tirso

Yes, I am doing it again. Namely, I will be running the Chicago Marathon again this coming October 7th. As I return to Chicago from the 3 week trip to the Philippines and Japan, I will be in full “Training Mode.” In all honesty, I have already been in training mode since the middle of May. Knowing that I would be away for several weeks at a time, I needed to get in as much “running time” as possible so that I would not fall too far behind with the training.

As I had done last year, I will again be dedicating my marathon run as a fund raising effort to assist our newly formed Holy Hands Outreach Ministry. It will be close to one year that Holy Hands has filled the void when the parish left the St. Vincent De Paul Society. Last year, I managed to raise about $5K for Holy Hands. I had reached out to my family members, relatives, friends and other personal contacts asking for their support in pledges and donations. Last year, as will be the case this year, I specifically targeted my own personal contacts as a way to avoid having to ask parishioners to contribute to one more appeal. Of course, parishioners will be more than welcomed to contribute as many of you had done last year. In fact, it was by the generosity of one single parishioner that I had reached the $5K amount in funds last year. This person told me that a contribution was coming. I jokingly had said “Oh, so you will pledge $100/mile, right?” We laughed about it but after the marathon, this person gave me a check for that precise amount. It was truly a happy surprise and one that I did not expect.

As with last year, training will take a great deal of commitment. I discovered last year that I really needed to stay focused and driven. Training was not easy and I am sure it will be a challenge again this year. It took a great deal of time and I had to schedule in runs at various times of the day. Oddly enough, this year I happened to run across a rumor going around that I had decided to change the daily Mass schedule so that I would have more time to train for the marathon. This is completely false because I never once mentioned training for the marathon as a reason for the change. As was the case last year, training will always be on my own personal time and commitments to the parish will always be a priority.

So, as with the year before, I know that on some days I will have to wake up before dawn to get in a run because knowing that my day will be too full of commitments. On my weekly day off, I will again be dedicating several hours to run the longer distances as a part of the training program. I arranged the program so that I could run the long distances on my personal day off for the precise reason that I would not have to take time away from my commitments to the parish. The shorter runs may still require me to take some time away during the rest of the week but, again, I will be working around my schedule at the parish. By the grace of God and with the prayers and support of those around me, my goal is simply to survive the training and complete the marathon.

Last year, I had a total time of just less that 6 hours. I would have finished in a shorter time had my calves not started to cramp up at the mile 9 mark. From that point on, I had to keep the running closer to a “power walk” pace. Part of the reason I decided to run the marathon again this year was to try and figure out what I did wrong in the training last year that might have resulted in the leg cramps. Marathon day last year was an oddly hot day for October which, I am sure, contributed to it. This year, whether I manage to run the entire distance or end up having to walk a good portion of it, I will ultimately be happy just to be able to finish the race.

This year, “Team SMM” will consist of 2 runners which include me. The other member of “Team SMM” will be a friend of mine, Wilbert Celestino. He was among the cheering section last year and, after some coaxing, agreed to run the marathon with me this coming October.

In about a month or so, I will be reaching out again to my relatives and friends and contacts to ask for pledges. For the time being, it is “Full Training Mode” for me.

Fr. Tirso S. Villaverde, Jr.

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