Running

Marathoner goes 7-for-7 in finishing under three hour

2013-12-06T19:00:00Z 2013-12-07T02:43:07Z Marathoner goes 7-for-7 in finishing under three hourJohn Burbridge john.burbridge@nwi.com, (219) 933-3371 nwitimes.com

HEBRON | If pets really do tend to resemble their owners, "Boston" and Jeff Mescal are glaring exceptions.

Granted, there are some similarities like the propensity of leading a pack across the finish line.

"We were able to track his record, and he had about 20 wins in his career," Mescal said of Boston, a greyhound he took in while volunteering his services for the American Greyhound Rescue organization.

"He's still is very competitive," Mescal said. "He may look lazy and lay on the couch much of the day, but when he sees me walk up the stairs, he'll spring up and race ahead of me just to beat me up there."

The divergence between the dog and his master is pacing. Boston in his prime had a top speed of nearly 45 miles per hour; Mescal cruises at sub-three-hours per weekend.

Starting with the St. George (Utah) Marathon on Oct. 5 and finishing with the Potomac River Run held Nov. 17 in Washington D.C., Mescal accomplished his goal of completing seven 26.2-mile races in under three hours for seven consecutive weekends.

Mescal, 48, of Hebron, was at his best at the beginning and the end.

"The St. George Marathon was my 'A' race," Mescal said of targeting his training to peak in Utah, which he did with a personal-best time of 2 hours, 37 minutes and 49 seconds. "From there, I just hoped I had enough left."

After St. George, Mescal ran the Chicago Marathon (Oct. 13 -- 2:59:26), recording his slowest time of the stretch due to being a three-hour pace-setter for other runners; then the Louisville (Ky.) Dream Factory Marathon (Oct. 20 -- 2:45:41); then Gary's first-ever marathon at the Dawn of the Dunes (Oct. 27 -- 2:49:50); followed by the Indy Monumental Marathon (Nov. 3 -- 2:47:36); the Outer Banks (N.C.) Marathon (Nov. 10 -- 2:51:46); and the River Run, where Mescal experienced the thrill of the chase, something that often eludes him.

"When you're going for an overall win and you're well ahead of everyone, you sometimes got to imagine someone's right behind you," said Mescal, who was the overall winner at Dream Factory and Dawn of the Dunes by large margins.

"At the River Run, I was among a group of five runners who all seemed capable of winning it," Mescal said. "Then it came down to me and this other guy (Chelmsford, Mass. resident James Sullivan) who eventually passed me at the 18-mile mark and ended up winning.

"Now I wanted to win that race," said Mescal, whose runner-up time was 2:45:03, "but when I met up with (Sullivan) afterwards, we both remarked how much fun it was battling each other out there."

A youth and recreational soccer player most of his life, Mescal didn't start running marathons until he was 40 years old.

"It was one of those things on my bucket list," Mescal said. "You won't know if you're good at something if you never try anything. I only wish I would have started earlier."

The next thing on Mescal's agenda is running sub-three-hour marathons in all 50 states. So far he has 26 checked off.

"There are five other people who have done it, but I may end up being the oldest," said Mescal, who is sponsored by Extra Mile Fitness Company in Valparaiso.

After the seventh race, Mescal took the following weekend off ... sort of.

"I'm one of the coaches for the Calumet Junior Striders," Mescal said of the NWI running club that fielded a team for the Cross Country Coaches Youth Championships held Nov. 24 in Louisville, Ky.

Mescal's 13-year-old daughter, Jessie, recorded a personal-best in the 4K race.

Mescal also coaches the American Cancer Society's Team DetermiNation.

"I became involved with the (ACS) after a friend and I checked out their tent at the Rock-n-Roll Marathon," Mescal of a 2012 race held in St. Louis. "We agreed to wear their (pull-over) shirt at the race, and they said we could write a person's name on the back."

Mescal put his mother's name (Ruby) on his shirt; she had died of cancer 20 years before.

"I was in third place nearing the end and I thought, 'Wouldn't it be great if I took first while running in memory of my mother?' " Mescal said. "Then I got a surge of energy and won the race."

In doing so, Mescal recorded what was then a personal-best time.

"That's my most satisfying win," said Mescal, who has run in three Boston Marathons.

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