It was 1976….I was in 2nd grade and we had a big “Field Day” at the local high school to celebrate the Bicentennial of the USA.  It was cool to take a school bus and go to the high school football field for a competition against the other grammar school children.  I don’t remember a lot, but I know there were sack races and other fun events.

Ready for the race…..

I was picked or volunteered for the 100 yard dash.  This was my FIRST race ever.  I was so excited – I had followed the Olympics in Montreal that summer and couldn’t believe that I was running a race myself.  I got on the line with the other boys and got into the ‘professional’ start position where my fingers were on the line and I was in the squat position, just like I had seen on TV.

The gun went OFF!  I took off like a rocket (or so I thought)….  I had the best start out of everyone.  Then 1 kid passed me…..and another….and yet another.  It was all blurry after that as I started crying and ran into my mother’s waiting arms at the finish.  I had LOST.   I was no good to run again.   I never wanted to race AGAIN.   That’s it.

Minds change….

In 7th grade Saddle Brook put on a local 5K that began and finished at the local Howard Johnson’s hotel and snaked along some back streets.  I entered the 1-mile fun run – did I remember my bad experience at my previous race?  The next year, I entered the race again – this time I ‘trained’ around my block with a couple of runs the week before the race.  The following year I joined winter track…then cross country and now, about 40 years after that first race?  I’m still running.

I could have given up way back when I was 7….but i didn’t.  Anyone can run and I can make anyone a runner.  What is your story?  Perhaps you are just ready for that next chance.

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Nickolas Joannidis
Nickolas Joannidis
I have been running for over 35 years, having done practically every possible racing event or distance from the 100 meters through the marathon. I competed in varsity high school cross country and track at Saddle Brook High School in the mid-1980's, varsity cross country and track at Division II Pace University and finished well over 200 road races since then, including 20 marathons with a lifetime best of 3:14:50. I was the president of the Hoffmann LaRoche corporate running team for 7 years, growing the team from 25 to over 90 during his tenure. I coached many of these runners to achieve their goals, whether they were beginners or advanced. In 2011 I was an assistant coach for the Fair Lawn Recreation track team, helping the 10 to 14 year old group. I am currently personally coaching dozens of runners, from beginner levels to advanced levels and getting them to be prepared to meet their goals.

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