dailymiler of the week: Ben W.

Three years ago Ben Waldman was training for his first marathon. He was somewhere around mile 17 or 18 on one of his final long training runs when he experienced a moment of great clarity. As he climbed Central Park’s torturous Harlem Hill, his mind and legs arguing over which would give up first, Ben realized that the biggest obstacle to his success was in his head. He saw that distance running is more about mental strength than anything else. Then he realized, too, that this was true of all of life. “The following day I walked into my boss’ office and told him I wanted a promotion and a raise,” Waldman reported. “And I got it!” It was his new found clarity that he credits for the confidence to walk in and make that bold request.

Waldman’s intro to the race scene was the 2004 “Run Hit Wonder” in Central Park, a great 10K with various 80s one hit wonder bands performing along the route. Since that first race, he’s had the chance to run in ten half marathons and three major marathons – Chicago, New Jersey and NYC. His currently planned race schedule includes the Brooklyn Half and a return to the NYC Marathon. The event he’s most excited about, though, is the NYC Triathlon. It’s his first tri.

Speaking of the sport he loves, Waldman said, “Running gives me peace of mind. It gives my brain a moment to shut down and stop thinking. It’s my form of meditation!” He passed along this bit of advice: “Just get your butt out the door and get moving.” He believes that is the toughest part of running. “Don’t worry about mileage or speed,” he suggested. “Take it one mile or even one block at a time.” This approach makes running less daunting, more manageable for Ben.

About the same time as Waldman’s moment of clarity, he made a visit to the eye clinic for a regular check up. He asked his optometrist to take a look at the small white spot he’d first observed the year before and forgotten about. The eye doctor’s opinion was that it was likely nothing, but since Mr. Waldman was already scheduled to see an ophthalmologist to talk about Lasik surgery later in the week, he suggested getting his opinion. The second doctor had great news. Ben was a candidate for Lasik. Then he dropped the bomb. He thought Waldman should go see an ocular oncologist down in Philadelphia. “What?! An oncologist?!” That set Ben back on his heels.

The oncologist’s initial exam was inconclusive. It was a tumor of some sort, but there was no way to tell how serious it was without a biopsy. Waldman opted to have it removed just to be safe. Fortunately, it was benign. Precancerous.
“I was lucky, but I was changed,” Ben stated. “I realized how important health is, and decided to focus more on improving my life in every way.”

Ben decided he wanted to do whatever he could to help others whose results did not come back as positively as his had. This past spring, he joined Team in Training to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. When he began raising money through TNT, he learned of several friends and friend’s family members who are battling various forms of cancer. He also heard many stories of the people and families the LLS helps. Sporting his purple team singlet, he said, “I couldn’t be prouder of what I am doing!”

About Mike N

Mike Neifert is an avid runner and cyclist who lives on the plains of Kansas. He works out mostly in the early morning hours before the sun comes up. He drags his wife and kids along on runs and rides whenever he can. He's run a 50K, but not a marathon. He wants to ride 200 miles in a day sometime soon and plans to run 100 miles in less than 24 hours in November 2012.
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