Marathon man

Logan, in the blue shirt, at the finish line of the Richmond Marathon

I learned a lot of things from my son Logan who died in a truck crash last July. One thing I learned was his strong will to be extraordinary.

School and sports did not come naturally to Logan. He had a learning disorder. The Children’s Hospital told me when he was three that they couldn’t be certain how far he would advance. Logan was not normal.

He struggled academically. But with help from dedicated teachers who never gave up on him, Logan broke through some incredible barriers. Seven months before his death, colleges were interested in offering him scholarships.

Nothing came easy

Athletics did not come easy for Logan. He was not gifted. But he was willful. He was determined.

At ten, Logan had dreams of becoming an NFL football player. Logic told him he should begin to prepare for that dream and he did. But one of the first practices with the Swift Creek Cougars, Logan collapsed. He couldn’t keep up with his teammates. He could hardly run one lap around the track because of his asthma. His pediatrician was doubtful he could play football, much less run.

Logan was not a great football player, but he gave it all he got. Out of the four years he played, Logan made one touchdown. A glorious moment for him. As the NFL dream was fading, Logan discovered the freedom he felt when he ran. He eventually led the practices and passed the other boys on the track during football warm-ups.

Logan started to run on his own. He would get up early in the morning and run a few miles before catching the school bus. He ran track  and played football.

He also became the push-up king at Tomahawk Creek Middle School. I think he still holds the record for the most push-ups.

When Logan turned 15 just before he started high school, he got into long distance running. That year, I decided to run in the Richmond half-marathon and he joined me. I thought the half would be okay for Logan, but not the full marathon until I realized he was already running half-marathons on his own in our Woodlake neighborhood. Logan was obsessive and sometimes the running was too much.

Setting the three-hour goal

In the “Logan” way, he set a goal. A very simple goal. It was a goal that made sense to him.

Three hours.

Goal: run the marathon in three hours, enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon, even though he was too young to qualify for Boston.

The goal became real to Logan when he wrote it on a piece of duct tape and stuck it on the wall above his bed. That way he wouldn’t lose his notes. Most times, he wrote his goal on his hand. Then he figured out his objectives to meet that goal. He wrote those down too…on duct tape. He followed his plan religiously, taking  his training very seriously.

Beating his goal

Day of the marathon. As I was getting ready to run my half, I advised Logan it was okay for him to take a break while running his full marathon. He could even walk part of it. Take it easy. Have fun. Pace yourself. You don’t have to lead the pack.

Those were wasted words on Logan.

This was the year that Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast and the New York City Marathon was cancelled. Many of the top New York runners came to Richmond. Logan decided to run in their pack, not toward the end, not in the middle, but with the front-running group. Shock – he didn’t listen to me.

I finished my half-marathon and stood at the end of the course expecting to wait a long time for Logan, hoping and praying he didn’t hurt himself along the 26.2 mile course.

Before I knew it, looking up the last stretch as the sub-three hour runners sleekly ran toward the finish line, I caught a flash of blue shorts and blonde hair off in the distance running his heart out. There he was. In middle of the West Point Men’s running group. They didn’t want this kid to out-run them, with his Tomahawk Middle School running attire.

Logan beat his goal at 2:59:46.

There are many more stories like that, including Logan coming in at the top ten at the Patrick Henry half-marathon and running the 50k in Park City, Utah. Logan did high school track and cross country running too. But it was the long distance running he loved the most. His foot prints are all over the country.

When Logan applied that will to other areas of his life, there was no stopping him.

It had to be HIS goal. Not mine or any else’s.  The goal usually involved athletics, a journey or running…in Logan’s shoes.




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