We have some superstars among us. People who are amazing inside and outside of the Dental Lab. Today's spotlight is on Jeff Thomas, our Master Ceramist CDT. He is also a celebrated runner. He's taken time out of his day to answer a few questions about his journey!
Tell us about the marathon you ran?
The Austin marathon. The hilliest marathon I ever ran in my life. It was misty, 54 degrees at the start. The weather was perfect, but the hills were devastating. The last 2/10 of a mile was like a mountain.
What was your finish time?
Finished in 3:34, about the 4th or 5th fastest marathon time so far.
When did you start training for long distance running and why?
I ran my first marathon in 2004 in New Orleans. A friend and I trained together, we had no idea what we were doing. We got a training plan from the Internet. My goal was unrealistic and I swore that was my last one. My friend was crying when he finished, and I completely blacked out when I entered the Superdome. Couldn’t see anything. Running a marathon is not healthy for your body. Half marathons, yes. Full marathons, no, they destroy your body. From mile 20 on, is all mental. I swore I’d never do another marathon.
But you did! Why?
In 2007 I went through a divorce. I was sitting, reading the paper and saw where the USA Fit running club was starting a chapter in Shreveport, training for the Dallas marathon that year. I thought, hey I have nothing to do, it’s a turbulent time, I’m going to go do another. It was stupid. But I’ve been with them for years. I’m a coach for them now, and I’ve done about 2-3 a year.
How many total?
Austin was either the 16th or 17th Plus I’ve done probably over 30-35 half marathons in that time. I love half marathons.
Did anyone inspire you?
A friend of mine, Frank Trammel. He was a coach. He was a world class athlete in the 70’s and 80’s. He ran with Prefontaine, Shorter, and others you may have heard of. He ran in two Olympic trials and was paid by Adidas to run. He talked me into running; so, we did it.
Are you going back to Boston?
Last year’s Boston I signed up, I trained 10 months for that one. I was going to run a good Boston, I was in shape for that one. A lot of us were going and had plane tickets, hotel, everything. 5 days before we were leaving I had to have emergency abdominal surgery. I was begging the doctor to do something. I had 32 staples down my stomach and was in the hospital a week. I got out the day before Boston and had to watch it on the TV, crying mad.
This year I qualified. By over 25 minutes, so we’ll see. I’ve run Boston 3 times. You get to mile 17 and that’s when the hills start. You run through 7 towns and it’s lined from start to finish with millions of people. Most of them, drunk college students. It’s like a 26-mile Mardi Gras parade. You top what’s called Heartbreak Hill at about mile 20 and then you’ve got 6 more miles and you know how bad the last 6 miles are going to hurt.
The time I ran during the bombings, was the only time I didn’t have to go to the medical tent. Thank God, because I would have been in there getting an IV when all the bombing victims were being brought in. I got 3:38 on that one.
Did you hear about the bombings before or after you got to the finish?
I finished 20 minutes before the bombs went off. When you finish you go through a finishers chute about 2 blocks long, so we were at the busses changing, and we heard the bombs, we heard the ambulances, we heard everything, but we didn’t know what was going on. We limped to the hotel and a friend called to check on us. Told us about it and had us turn on the TV.
If there’s a next one, it would be Boston, a year from April. Everyone wants to run Boston, except me.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to run their first marathon?
Get with someone that knows how to build a good training plan. You want to train with a group. Don’t train by yourself. That’s why USA Fit is so good. All the coaches have run a lot of marathons and there’s a training plan for everybody.
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