Advertisement

Bob Cawood: Rare disease doesn't stop local runner Guerieri

Bob Cawood: Rare disease doesn't stop local runner Guerieri
After completing his treatment, Al Guerieri returned to the B&A Trail this winter to continue with his training. Guerieri and his daughter Ashley recently ran the B&A full marathon. (Robert H. B. Cawood / Capital Gazette)

Training for a long distance race, be it a 5K, a half or full marathon, or beyond, is not just about cardiovascular fitness. If it is done right, one learns the value of perseverance, adapting to conditions, and overcoming obstacles.

It is not a “quick” process. Proper training for any goal race is a slow, methodical progression. For example, in marathon training, your first 16-mile run may seem impossible, but at the end of training, you will think “16 miles …no problem. It’s just time on my feet.”

Advertisement

These lessons learned over the course of a long training cycle stick around even years after the initial training.

Case in point? In the late naughts (that’s around 2008 or 2009, sometimes also referred to as the aughts, not to be confused with ought!), a runner showed up for winter half marathon training with the Annapolis Striders targeting the B&A half marathon.

Bob Cawood has been the running columnist for The Capital since December of 2017. NGUX
Bob Cawood has been the running columnist for The Capital since December of 2017. NGUX (Paul W. Gillespie / Capital Gazette)

He was coached up, ran through sleet, snow and cold weather and learned the necessary skills to get to the starting line well trained and to finish his race strong. Case closed and mission accomplished, right?

Nope. The runner got the bug and finished several half and full marathons. Now the case is closed, right? Nope.

This runner was diagnosed with myelofibrosis. What’s that? It’s a relatively rare bone marrow disorder, which can cause anemia, shortness of breath, weakness, and fatigue. None of these symptoms is a runner’s best friend. One might expect our runner to hang up the running shoes and call it a career.

But despite this diagnosis, Al Guerieri was not stopped in his runner tracks. He was treated at the University of Maryland Greenbaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, for eight months.

Now, what should a well-trained runner do?

After completing his treatment, Al returned to the B&A Trail this winter to continue with his training. The difficulty? Due to the myelofibrosis, he had to take certain precautions, including the wearing of a face mask.

Now look, running is difficult enough in the winter. It is cold, dark, sometimes snowy or icy. Compound that with having to wear a mask, creating an obstacle to getting in oxygen to keep running effectively, and you have someone who is demonstrating determination.

As an aside, there is some discussion of wearing a mask that simulates high-altitude while exercising, with the theory that it will improve performance. It’s been established that living for weeks at high-altitude may help when one returns to lower altitude (the common phrase “live high, train low”), but whether a using a mask for 40 minutes a day does anything (expect perhaps a psychological boost), well, the literature is split on whether there is any effect to such a device.

Maybe just run harder without the mask, and you may get the same effect; the body has to compensate somehow for the impact of the mask.

Now back to Al, who most assuredly would not have wanted to train with any mask, altitude simulating or otherwise. In an effort to give back to the treatment center that gave him so much, Al will be running the Maryland Half Marathon on June 8, in Fulton. This race, which also includes a 5K walk/run and a kids’ walk/run, benefits the care of future patients at the University of Maryland Greenbaum Cancer Center.

Al will be running with the Bone Marrow Transplant medical and support staff. If you are interested in running or donating, you can search for “Maryland Half Marathon” (the link is down below, but it is a doozy!)

And if you are interested in running on Al’s team, you can select the BMT Team, captained by Emily Smith. Al will even help you by giving you a training schedule and passing on the knowledge he learned years ago.

Advertisement

Every family has been touched by cancer in one way or another. It is wonderful to see a runner using his training and running skills learned way back in the naughts – perseverance, endurance and “stick-with-it-ness” to give back to the Cancer Center.

Marathon and Half Marathon

The 2019 edition of the B&A Trail Marathon (28th year) and Half Marathon (24th year) were recently held at Severna Park High School.

Some 213 runners finished the full marathon and 626 finished the half. In the men’s marathon, a little more than 90 seconds separated the first three runners. Congratulations to all the runners or another fun filled jaunt up and down the B&A trail.

Across the Bay 10K

The Across the Bay 10K, usually held in November on the Bay Bridge, will not be held this year on the bridge per its organizers due to planned maintenance.

This is a shame, as many runners from around the region looked forward to the race every year. Hopefully next year it will return. In the meantime, the organizers of the run are offering a “virtual run” wherein participants will have the opportunity to run 6.2 miles on their own and have their medal and t-shirt mailed to them.

Although you can do the 6.2-mile virtual run anywhere, it would be fitting to run repeats up and down the Naval Academy Bridge. It’s not the Bay Bridge, but it is pretty nonetheless.

Races and running events

Saturday, 8:30 a.m.- Escape through the Cape 5K, Cape St. Claire, Information: /cscpto.org/2019/02/16/escapecape/

Sunday, 9:30 a.m. - Jennifer Summers Barrett Memorial Volunteers on the Run 5k, Additional race information and registration: jlannapolis.org/volunteersrun2019/

April 28 9:00 a.m. 3rd annual Champions for Children 5K Fun Run/Walk. Quiet Waters Park Information: runsignup.com/Race/MD/Annapolis/ChampionsforChildren5KFunRun

May 5 8:00 a.m.– Annapolis Striders Cherry Pit 10 Miler (40th Year), Edgewater. Information: annapolisstriders.org

May 5 – 9:00 a.m. Cinco de Miler, Terrapin Park Stevensville, Information: charmcity.com

June 5 – June 6 – Run your Towne 24 hour run, Charm City Run Annapolis, Information: charmcity.com

June 8 – Maryland Half Marathon, Fulton, MD, Information: uomms.convio.net/site/TR/RunningTeam/MarylandHalfMarathon?fr_id=1170&pg=entry

Advertisement
Advertisement