Member Spotlight #6: Paul Liebler
- Why do you run? How did you first start?
PL: Watching the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo was my first look at distance running, and initially got me excited. Watching Billy Mills upset win in the 10K and Abebe Bikila’s repeat win in the marathon got me hooked. It took years for me to take running seriously after some sporadic races in school, but it was my wife, Jean’s entry into the old NHPRC 5k that I learned there were other road races besides the Boston and NYC Marathons. Jean pointed out to me that there was an athletic club where we both worked at Sperry Corporation. There I met George Erkmann and the rest of the club that showed me how to race and train for our semiweekly 5k races at Eisenhower park.
- What is your most memorable or proud running moment?
PL: I have several – breaking 20 minutes in the 5k at Eisenhower Park, 40 minutes in a 10k, 19 minutes in the 5k, and 90 minutes in the Philadelphia Distance Run (1/2 marathon). But if I had to pick one race, it was my first qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. I had to break 3 hrs and 20 minutes for a 40 year-old. It was before “chip times” were created. I hit the finish line at the Philadelphia Marathon at exactly 3 hrs and 17 minutes. An honorable mention to that experience was when I ran my second NYC Marathon and trained to break 3:30. The clock read 3:29:59 when I crossed the finish and I knew it would take everything I had as I climbed that last hill in Central Park.
- What do you enjoy doing when you are not running? Other hobbies?
PL: Along with running, I also have enjoyed photography. I started back in 1976 when I was a counselor on a cross-country touring camp. I’ve travelled through 42 of the 50 states, and hope to hit the remaining eight someday. As far as combining the two hobbies, over the years I’ve taken many pictures of my teammates during the Ocean to Sound Relay and other team events.
- Do you have a favorite race/route/distance?
PL: My favorite race has varied over the years, but I would have to say the Philadelphia distance Run (1/2 Marathon) was my favorite. My favorite team race was the Ocean to Sound Relay, where I’ve run most of the legs at one time or other. I’ve enjoyed so many great running routes, some more recently as I travelled to meet friends on long road trips. One of my favorites was in South Carolina, on the outskirts of Charleston, along the West Ashley Greenway bike lane to the Stono River County Park. Watch out for the vultures, though. As far as favorite distance, it used to be the 1/2 marathon, and the one I feared the most was the 10k. However, as I’ve gotten older, the 10k is my new favorite distance. I guess it’s an “older runner’s” 1/2 marathon.
- What is home like? Kids? Pets? Work? And how do you balance daily life, responsibilities and running?
PL: As most of you know, right know I’m still recovering from knee replacement surgery. So future running may have to morph into biking. Being retired, my only concern is taking care of my wife, Jean, who has needed full time care since experiencing a life-threatening stroke 10 years ago on NYC Marathon day. Jean has home care now, which helps me attend races and club events, though weekends require special arrangements. My goal after I recover from surgery is to straighten out the house and entertain more, so my wife can enjoy more company at home. I’m not a pet person, but we do enjoy visits from my son, Michael’s family which includes our 2-1/2 year old grandson, Beau. I also spend quite a bit of time with my son at the new hockey arena as NY Islander season ticket holders. When Michael can’t make the game, I enjoy taking friends to join me in a good time.
- What are your upcoming races, goals and/or dream races you’d like to run?
PL: Well, since my knee was replaced recently, I have no race plans for quite a while. As far as racing, my dream was to qualify and run in the Boston Marathon, which I’ve run twice. Running the London Marathon for my company (Chase) was a dream (we won the team challenge, NY staff vs London staff, by 3 minutes). But just running in new places and discovering things along the way, whether it’s by bike or on foot, is what I’d like to get back to once my recovery says I’m ready.
- Is there a piece of advice you received from a coach or mentor that sticks with you?
PL: The best quote came from my old friend, and club founder, George Erkmann “Showing up is half the battle.”
- What is your go-to running song and favorite sneaker?
PL: During a race I would never listen to music, even in a marathon. On training runs I usually just put on Pandora, which somehow includes a lot of Brandi Carlile. If I had to pick out one song for running though, I might use Daughtry’s Home : “The miles are getting longer, it seems, the closer I get to you . . .”
- What is one thing most people don’t know about you or a guilty pleasure?
PL: One of my favorite things to do is sing and play the piano, though I’m not very good, and basically play around the chords. Since I lost all my favorite piano music books (extensive collections of early Elton John, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash, Gordon Lightfoot, and others) I’ve been trying to remember how to play some of those songs.
- What is your biggest takeaway from being a member of an organized running club like NHP-Mineola?
PL: The camaraderie and the encouragement from this club over the past almost 30 years is filled with memories. Super Bowl parties, holiday parties, relay races, weekend get-togethers, trips, brewery nights, picnics – just so many great times. That’s my big takeaway.
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