September 30, 2015

Track workout today, I was thinking about strategy.

JPD always had a goal. He started every day, winter or summer, before the sun. First thing every day was a run. I think that if you keep up with these posts, you know this was important to JPD. After the run, it was back to the house and ready for work. A drive to the train and 42 minutes of solace to read the Tribune and/or the Sun Times. A cup of coffee with a colleague and maybe church at St. Peter’s on Madison Street. There is a St. Anthony shrine in St Peter’s and that is probably why my son’s name is Anthony. Off to work as a lawyer or a court reporter depending the year and home after five unless he went to the Newberry Library for the Great Books classes he liked to take. Home and picked up at the train station for a dinner usually after seven. I remember hanging out with Dad from the time he got home until it was time for his desert. There was usually a cookie in the deal and worth the wait. Mom and Dad worked hard to provide support directly or through their example of hard work and love. The smaller goals involved running, the bigger goals involved family. Raise your children with hard work, love and respect and they might follow your lead. Great job Mom and Dad. Grumpy, you crushed on all those marathons too!

This happens every day, whether you see it or not. Favorite song today, Long Time Comin’ performed by Bruce Springsteen.

Running fast, had to stop.

Running fast, had to stop.

September 29, 2015

Progression run today, I was thinking about the taper.

I have been training for the Chicago Marathon. In the final two weeks they tell you to run hard but take it easy. Sleep well, eat properly and be nice to yourself. You are officially tapering your training. It’s hard to go easy. You want to use all of the great training that you have put in but, like a tiger ready to strike, you are trying to be stealth.

JPD had many tapers that led to successful finishes of the marathon distance. During the taper, he most likely had more time to fill. There were many fall or spring chores that could fill the extra time. Replace the screens with the storm windows could take a whole day. Winterize the back porch with the plastic sheets could take another day. Take it all down in the spring. When you really started to do the math, you quickly realized that Grumpy burned the same amount of calories no matter what phase of training was involved. If JPD wasn’t running, he was working. And if JPD was working on the weekends, his boys were close by unless they came up with a good excuse to be elsewhere. JPD was a marathon man no matter what; we just tried our best to keep up. Jimmy has run his race and it is time for a post-race celebration. See you in a couple weeks Dad!

“When you come to the fork in the road, take it” Stengel or Berra, we loved you Yogi! Favorite song today, I’m Ready performed by George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers.

Take it!

Take it!

September 28, 2015

Rest Day today, I was thinking about the marathon.

Less than two weeks away from the Chicago Marathon. Although today is a rest day, please consider donating to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. If you have already donated, thank you so much for your support. If you have been meaning to make a contribution, now is a great time to do it! Here is a link:

Many thanks, Michael

Margie & Jimmy

Margie & Jimmy

September 27, 2015

Long run today, I was thinking about Paw Paw.

When JPD got an idea in his head, he would make the idea a reality. Jimmy never owned a car of his own. He decided that he needed a car for himself and his, soon to be, large family. Jimmy wasn’t always a GM guy. At one point in his life, he was a Ford man. He had spied a Ford Fairlane driving down Monroe Street one day, and he knew that he had to have a one of these beauties for his very own. The sleek lines, the functional practicality, the white-wall tires all had conspired to make him a true believer. Four wheels are what he needed to fulfill his dream just a little bit more.

He headed down to the Ford dealership and started to check out the new models. It wasn’t long before the salesman spied this young buyer and figured he could land a sale or send the window shopper on his way. “Can I help you, young man?”

“Yes, thanks. I am interested in a 1956 maroon and tan Ford Fairlane and I am willing to pay $1,900.00 and not a penny more.”

“How you going to pay for that, young fella?”

Cash and financing, sir.

When you have all of your ducks in a row, come back and we’ll talk.

JPD had saved some dough and he figured Pa would co-sign a loan for the rest. He should have asked first because his dad already had a loan for the house and couldn’t afford the extra risk. Jimmy did the next best thing. He asked his boss. For most, we wouldn’t even consider this option but George Sullivan loved JPD. When he got up the nerve to ask, his boss co-signed the financing and Jimmy had his first car. A brand new 1956 Ford Fairlane. He drove his own family and his extended family everywhere they needed to go. Jimmy was on the move. The car became an important part of the family. It took him and his wife to the hospital when babies needed to be born. It took him and his young family to Wisconsin and to Michigan for weekend getaways. The car gave him some freedom to grow. Growth was part of the plan and a close look at this car and I can just imagine that the kids could get lost in the back seat.

One particular plan in 1960 involved a visit to beautiful Paw Paw, Michigan for an extended weekend. Paw Paw is 129 miles from the west side of Chicago just west of Kalamazoo. Pa’s brother had married a woman that had a house there. Uncle Pete had made it up there and needed to be picked up. The babies were very young but the family was getting big. Plans proceeded to visit Paw Paw and George would drive Pa and Jimmy would drive his young wife and their four children. Picnic supplies and food were loaded up and the cars were packed. All that was left was to pack the three older children in the back, they were always swimming in the back seat. They all came down the stairs from the house on Monroe Street and walked to the curb. Where is the car? It was right here not five minutes ago, where did you move it? I didn’t move it, it was right here. Well it’s gone now. Did it get towed? No. Well where is it? It’s gone, maybe somebody took it. The reality hit them, the car had been stolen. Not the Ford, no not the Ford. No Paw Paw? No picnic? No nothing? George said that if the kids were to stack on each other’s lap. They could still go to Paw Paw. The Ford was gone but the spirit was not. All nine of them piled into George’s Chevrolet 2-door sedan and headed to Paw Paw, Michigan.

Long shadows for the long run. Favorite song today, Pride and Joy performed by Stevie Ray Vaughn and Albert King.

One more long run!

One more long run!

September 26, 2015

As we approach the Chicago Marathon, these posts will be ending. Here is one more post from guest blogger, Maureen:

I’ve been thinking about shirts.

A few weeks ago, I walked a charity 5K (my running days are behind me). This race benefits a pro bono organization in Chicago, and nearly every law firm in Chicago, the State’s Attorney’s Office, AG’s Office, judges, public defenders–practically everyone in the legal community participates. Each team has its own shirt, and lawyers being what they are, there’s a contest for best team shirt. Since I was with the walkers, I had plenty of opportunity to look at the back of all the shirts. Some were really clever.

I was remembering the summer of 1997 when Dad was in his running prime, he organized a race in Bethany Beach while we were on vacation. Since there were so many of the family and the family friends there that year, he thought it would be fun to put on a race for everyone, young and old, among the Dolan’s, Moag’s and Walsh’s. We pretty much took over the small resort town. We had numbers, water stations, race officials showing us where to turn (the spouses of the runners), trophies (empty gallon milk jugs with Barbie and Ken attached with electrical tape for the top female and male runners), and a post-race party and awards ceremony. 

Award for running. Congrats!

Award for running. Congrats!

People in the town thought it was an official thing. Luckily, we finished and got all our stuff off the parkways before the BB Police figured out what was happening. Anyway, one of my favorite shirts was in that race. The Walsh boys had shirts that said on the back: “If you can read this, you must be a Dolan.” Of course, one of the Dolan’s (an outlaw, actually) smoked them, so that was great vindication.

I was thinking about how many race t-shirts Dad collected over his many years of running. I’m thinking at least in the high hundreds. Many of them found their way to Good Will or Salvation Army, and I think Eileen used to send clothing to the poor in South America or somewhere…. But there were certain shirts he kept, among them his marathon shirts. A few years ago, Jim and Sherri had them made into a quilt. It’s beautiful. Chicago Distance Classic, Mayor Daley Marathon, Lake County Marathon, and others. And a Best Buddies and University of Chicago Great Books Program shirt thrown in for good measure. The quilt has a special place on a double bed in the guest room.

I’m thinking as the cool weather comes, we should cover Dad with his quilt and he will be quite comfortable, wrapped up in some good memories.



September 25, 2015

Hill workout today. I was thinking about the London Fog. 

I have had some great comments about these stories. Thanks to one and all. Maureen’s guest blog yesterday was taken from a newsletter that was written 25 years ago. Many of these stories are recollection from 50-60 years ago. For those that have read all 75 posts(!), you may recall a story about a car with a faulty battery. It was a Volkswagen. While we don’t want to “pile on” the German engineers, reports of their lack of integrity are getting out despite what I might say. As the story goes, the battery under the front seat in the Volkswagen shorts out and sets Grumpy’s precious London Fog on fire. I thought that I was partially at fault, but it may have been my memory that was at fault. 

My brother recounted a different version of the story that happened almost 40 years ago, but the result was the same, a flaming raincoat.  

Grumpy would run many miles every day. Maybe it was exactly this reason that he insisted on someone driving him to and picking him up from the train station every day. The station was only four blocks away from the house but car service was required. “Number-six, go get Daddy from the train station”. Now number-six may have been engrossed in a particularly interesting episode of “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” that day. As the show ended, he knew only one thing, he was late. The show had ended, the train had arrived at the station, my father had departed the train, started the slow walk home to I-Oka Street and number-six was still in front of the TV. Number-six jumped into the last car in the line of the single-file driveway, the 1973 Volkswagen 412 Fastback. His route was quickly and strategically planned. Right on Milburn, left on South Wille Street, another left onto Evergreen Avenue and he would position the car to accept my Dad into the passenger seat. He would only need to listen to a lecture about tardiness for two and a half blocks. As he approached the slowly trudging Grumpy on Evergreen Avenue, he reached over, opened the passenger door, smiled and lightly asked “need a lift?” The “look” was given to the driver of the VW. You expected smoke to billow from the ears and crushing noise to come from whatever the hands were gripping.

“Move over, I’ll drive”, this was not good for number-six. Actually stopping the car was difficult. The brakes were faulty, the emergency brake was worthless so turning off the car and putting it into gear was required. Given the fact that he was pointing the car down St. Mark’s hill, he stopped, turned off the car, put it in gear and began the delicate dance of climbing over the console of the manual transition into the passenger seat. Some would argue that at this point he might have caught a wire or a spring on the front driver seat and forever altered the electrical system that was nestled under the front seat. Grumpy entered the car and without a word, pressed the clutch, turned the key and allowed the car to coast down St. Mark’s hill. The words for the lecture were still forming when they both smelled the odor.

 “Is something burning?” Grumpy inquired.

 “Burning? What do you mean, Dad?” They approached I-Oka and turned left, only a block to go.

 “I definitely smell something burning, have you been smoking?” Grumpy accused.

 “No Dad, I swim 17,000 yards a day, I don’t have time to smoke.” Number-six responded.

 As they approached the house, Grumpy felt something warm on his seat. The intensity of the warmth was increasing to a burning sensation. With the car still rolling past the house on I-Oka, Grumpy jumped from the moving vehicle and number-six could see flames shooting from Grumpy’s backside.

 “Stop, drop and roll”. Number-six had always been pragmatic and offered this advice now.

 Considering the car was still in motion when he exited, he had no choice but to drop and roll. Stopping would not be easy. As he rolled across I-Oka Street, the flames turned to smoldering embers. The car came to a stop five houses down the block and number-six exited and ran back to the smoldering Grumpy. Grumpy lifted himself from a prone position and as he did, number six noticed that the flames had burned though the London Fog and the gray pinstriped, dark-blue Brooks Brothers trousers but had spared the Munsingwear tightey-whiteys. Number-six considered that this was one good thing.

Fire investigators were called to the scene and quickly determined that the fire was started when the car was started on St. Mark’s hill.  The battery under the front seat had created the spark that had destroyed the London Fog and Grumpy’s dignity that day. Number-six was absolved from blame and a nameless German engineer was implicated. Much to his relief, number-six had felt little responsibility in the first place. He was even bold enough to suggest that if Grumpy had just let him drive home… Sometimes, Grumpy went beyond mad and, as a kid, you were lucky because the resulting punishment would be too great and most likely illegal. This was the case that day and number-six went back to watching TV.

Thanks to John for his great ideas.

Last hill workout before the marathon. Favorite song today, I ‘m a Man You Don’t Meet Every Day performed by The Pogues.

The Hill at Sunrise

The Hill at Sunrise

September 24, 2015

Track run today, I was thinking about how slow I run.

Back by popular demand: Guest Blogger Maureen.

In 1990. Matt was in Saudi Arabia during Desert Shield, and I put together a newsletter with news from home—all the cousins and aunts and uncles contributed and we sent it off to Matt. This was a recap I wrote of Dad’s Chicago Marathon result from that year.

Chicago Marathon, October 28, 1990. The day dawned sunny and cool. This was to be Jim’s 20th marathon in 13 years. Similar to the pace at which he had children (10 in 13 years), but that’s another story.

As he rode downtown at dawn in a van with long-time running partners McGough, Saccone, Lambert and Dahl, he reflected on past marathons. The first was 1977, the Mayor Daley Marathon; the fastest – the 1988 Chicago Marathon in 3:24:30; the hottest – Lake County, 1987, 85 degrees…. Thinking about today, he wondered about his chances. This year’s course had been changed to feature a longer stretch of Chicago’s lakefront, and the wind was blowing off the lake at a brisk clip.

Gary and Eileen were on hand this year to “help Dad out.” They would join him for roughly the last half of the marathon. Dad started out at a good pace and traversed the near north side, Greek Town, Taylor Street, and the near south side alone. He combed his hair before passing Old St. Patrick’s Church expecting a big cheering section, but alas, no one to cheer him on at the new Mile 5. It was only 8:40 a.m. and of course nobody gets down there until at least 10:00 for the 9:45 Mass.

Finally at Mile 14.5, Eileen stepped out of the crowd at Balbo and Lake Shore Drive. Dad soon realized that her cheerful chatter was enough to make him want to get the race over with, so he quickened his stride.

As he ran the 26.2 mile course, he had plenty of time to consider his chances for a good finishing time. Although he had run the marathon in under 3:30 several times, his goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon had always eluded him. In previous years, the qualifying time for his age group had slipped from 3:50 to 3:40 to 3:20 and back, finally, to 3:35. This maddening change in the standards always caught him on the wrong side of 50, or in a bad year for his time.

Today might be different. With the wind at his back for a good seven miles as he headed south on Lake Shore Drive, he felt good. Later, he said he felt good to Mile 22. Of course, in the words of Dick Saccone, “Any #$% can run 20 miles.”

Sure enough, at Mile 22 Dad hit the wall. He didn’t have anything left in the tank. Eileen and Gary knew they had to prop him up. Gary spoke fast and loud into Dad’s ear: “It’s ok, you can finish. Take it easy. You can make it. How ya doin’? Ok, here we go….” Eileen ran ahead to see if she could find any supporters in the crowd. She saw Katie and Elizabeth at the 25.5 mile mark. She alerted them that he wasn’t doing well. Sure enough, he comes around the bend, walking, head slumped down, mumbling. Katie said, “Should we cheer…or call an ambulance?” Eileen ran out into the middle of the pack and shouted “Cheer for this man!” The crowd started to clap politely. Slowly, Dad raised his head and started to jog. The crowd roared their approval. He smiled one of those weak half-smiles and stepped up the pace, staggering toward the finish.

As he entered the chute, he fixed his gaze on the digital clock above the finish line. He later recalled hearing voices but was in a complete fog and could not find his cheering section – McKenna’s, McNair’s, Dix’s, etc. were all shouting, go, go, go!

The chute seemed interminable. He weaved back and forth, trying to stay upright and on course. The clocked counted off unmercifully: 3:33:55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 3:34:01, 02. Feeling as though in a dream, he crossed the finish line at 3:34:10, qualifying for Boston with less than a minute to spare.

The running buddies posted their own successes. Unfortunately, Fred Dahl had to stop at Mile 15 because of hamstring problems, but Lambert, Saccone, and McGough all had good times. Tom McGough had lied to his family for the fifth year in a row. Since his family worried about the then 69-year-old grandfather running 26 miles, he regularly promised them he wouldn’t run the entire race. Then of course he did.

Dad’s accomplishment was written up in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin – “Federal court reporter’s feet as fast as his fingers, qualifies for Boston Marathon” – but he didn’t go to Boston in the spring. Running in Boston was not the goal; qualifying was!

Reflections of the lake. Favorite song today, Izithenbiso Zenkosi performed by Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

It still looks like summer.

It still looks like summer.