Column: A medal for the team


Jim Serger, center, pauses with volunteers at the end of the Carmel Marathon. (Submitted photo)

Commentary by Jim Serger

Senior vice president of the Orlando Magic, Pat Williams penned the book “Extreme Dreams Depend on Teams.” Yes, he is clearly the author. But, he gives acclaim on the cover to co-author Jim Denney for polishing the manuscript. The power of a team!

I finished the Carmel Marathon. I ended up 398 out of 399 finishers, setting my new record time: 7 hours and 3 minutes. This is a pace of 16:10 per mile. I felt just like Pheidippides, running from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to report the victory over the Persians. This experience was an epic dream for me, as only 1 percent of Americans have accomplished this, as my friend Margie Engelkamp Massie would share with me when I crossed the finish line.

However, there are more than 800 marathons a year worldwide, which makes for a slew of individuals achieving a single, separate dream. But this is an extreme dream, and it took a team for me to cross the line. For me to reach a new high, or go to the highest degree I had to have guidance, I had to assemble a team, and I had to look for answers on how to achieve this epic mission.

So on Jan. 9, I took my first step. I walked 2 miles around my neighborhood. On April 22, 3:03 p.m., I achieved my extreme dream — my first marathon, the Carmel Marathon, was in the books.

It took a whole team to get me to cross that line, even people I will never know. My shoes were the North Face, trail shoes: 288 miles logged with those bad boys. My Eastbay leggings, which kept my lower torso warm, also logged 288 miles. It was 46 degrees at 7:30 a.m., the start of the marathon. The SramRed socks, the dry feet material, kept my feet in excellent condition for 288 miles. The Under Armour cold gear shirt kept my upper body nice and toasty through old man winters’ harsh conditions. The IPhone 5, which played my Pandora music, kept my mind focused and upbeat on the days I needed a push out there.

To the employees who manufactured those items, this medal is for you: thank you! Your vision came to life that Saturday. But this occasion was more than tangible items taking me to a new extreme dream. To Christina at the VA Hospital in Indianapolis, she and all the staff encouraging me to run this marathon. One day I walked down there from my house in Carmel — 13 miles one way. This medal is for you.

To my co-workers giving me pointers on how to train, from Russ, Dessa, Nikki and Gary, this medal is for you. To Big Chis from Endurance House, West Carmel, who said, “Jim, you will do it!” This medal is for you. To my real estate agent Kurt Spoerle, who taught me how to train—up and down, short and fast, long and slow—this medal is for you.

To my parents, Jim and Marilyn, who cheered me on from Cincinnati. My daughter Maggie, who frequently asked how many miles I did, always telling me to achieve more. To my friends, neighbors and co-workers who posted on Facebook. To Scott Golden always pulling over in his car—yelling at me to walk faster, run faster, every morning he did that—this medal is for you.

I finished second to last in the marathon. To the Carmel Police officer who drove behind me, with his lights on, to the port-o-lets,  thanks, I needed them. To the volunteers who clapped and yelled at me to keep going, to the H2O stations, thank you. To the map the volunteer gave me in case I got lost (but I didn’t), thank you. To Erin Lawry, the women with breast cancer. You inspired me to do this. This medal is for you.

A marathon is such a selfish sport. Each person is given a medal at the finish line. An individual picture is taken at the finish line. But my team got the medal, my team finished the race. My team, was the hundreds of people involved. Remember Extreme Dreams Depend on Teams. My team was everyone involved in the Carmel Marathon. You all will be at the ready in 2018, ready to receive that call. See you next year. One individual with hundreds of people behind them. What a force to be reckoned with.

Jim Serger is a Carmel resident, author and marathoner.

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