NOVA Featured Runner: Mark Drosky

By | November 2, 2015
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Mark’s first Boston Marathon (1983), with his longtime running buddy Mike Sinkoski

This week’s NOVA Featured Runner is Mark Drosky. A legend within the DC running community, long time NOVA member (and former NOVA President!), and all around great runner and loyal friend, Mark is a true stalwart of the NOVA gang. He recently ran the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon, and his performance at that race solidified his selection for this week’s NOVA featured runner. But Mark embodies so much more than just a runner of a single race – he is forever woven into the thread of NOVA cloth, and given his 26 year (and counting!) running streak, we hope will ensure he is around NOVA for a long time to come.

From Coach Jerry:
“Mark is one the most dedicated and conscientious runners I’ve ever met. A guy who hasn’t missed a day in 26 years obviously loves the sport, but it’s more than that with Mark. He has learned that it doesn’t matter how fast you run, the important thing is to give it your best every time out, and he does that, every time. He knows full well he’s not going to run as fast he did when he was 30, and yet he takes great pride in running his hardest whenever the gun goes off, and I have the utmost respect for that, and for him.”

Read on for Mark’s responses to a few questions below!

1) What are your PRs (5k, 10K, 10 Miler, Half, Full, any others?
Mile- 4:45, 5k- 16:45, 10k- 34:05, 10m- 57:14, Half Marathon- 1:15:03, Marathon- 2:41:16.

2) Of your many, MANY races over the years – can you select one or two that you consider your best race performances to date?

Best performances include:

1st Marathon 1983, Savannah, Ga. 2:46:52, aiming for sub 2:50 for Boston Qualifier.
2002 Atlanta Marathon Thanksgiving Day. Ran 2:55 and was my first negative split marathon. Running solo most of the way on Olympic course, I felt so smooth last half of race that i didn’t want to stop at finish line.
MCM 2013, Ran 3:04 and placed 5th in AG. 1:32-1:32 splits and felt strong the whole way.

3) What do you like best about the NOVA team?

Running is an individual sport but NOVA instills a “team atmosphere” where we thrive under each other’s support.
Having Coach Jerry is a major plus, as he gives the club credibility.
NOVA has struggled with Thursday Tempo run attendance the last few years. Erin and Greg have been a constant presence at Bluemont Park this past year and therefore a core group has been established on Thursdays.

4) Can you share a bit about what motivated you to start your running streak? How long is it now?

My brother Al’s High School track coach had a running streak when i first met him in 1981. Richard Westbrook started his streak in 1973 and currently holds the 7th active streak at 41.85 years, according to the United States Running Streak Association, Inc.

I would run everyday for months, but noticed that once I missed a day, I would miss three or four at a time. I knew then that running had a special place in my heart, so in 1987 I started my first running streak. It ended 1.5 years later, in 1988, as weights tore through a bag and damaged my foot while handling baggage at Eastern Airlines in Kansas City, Mo. I was on crutches and light duty for five days, and fearing for my job, I broke that running streak.

I yearned to start another streak, so six months later on January 1, 1989, I started my current running streak that has spanned 26 years, ouch! It’s been a normal running streak..minus the running down a hallway at Frankfurt airport, running at 11pm while having food poisoning, or getting my run in while fasting for 24 hrs before a medical procedure.

5) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from Coach Jerry?

The best advice that I received from Coach Jerry was to trust my training. I asked Coach Jerry if I should squeeze in another 20 miler two weeks before MCM in 2013, as my last one three weeks out was a disaster.
Coach knew that my two other pre-marathon runs had gone well. He told me to absolutely not run another 20 and that I would be fine on race day.

6) What thoughts do you have on your recent performance at the Marine Corps Marathon?

Drosky MCM

Last week, I completed my 22nd Marine Corps Marathon. It was challenging and educational at the same time. Due to a security check snafu, I arrived in Athlete’s Village way behind schedule. I was certain that with thousands of runners delayed, the Marines would delay the start. To my dismay, while in the Porta John, I heard the Howitzer sound. As I wandered to the starting line, hoping that I was in a bad dream, I spotted the gold NOVA jersey of Marc Stokes. As we commiserated over our situation, we took off running. I could not keep up with Marc’s weaving in and out of runners from the get go. He ran a superb 3:04 and I’m sure he experienced the same dilemma that I faced.

The clock read 6:49 as our chips crossed the starting mat. I weaved in and out of folks for 10 miles, running on sidewalks, grass and through puddles. My GPS read 7.5 miles when I finally caught up to the 3:45 pace group. They took up much of the road and I actually had to run with them for a bit, until I was able to tiptoe through them. With “Clean Air” as my Nascar reference, I was now able to relax and focus, as I had more room to run.

I thought of quitting and saving my effort for another day several times. At mile 4 near the Key Bridge, and past mile 10 near the Memorial Bridge, Philly and Richmond Marathons crossed my mind. Wow, what ’s my problem with bridges?

My first 5k split was 7:52, but as I continued I cranked it down to 7:29 and 7:25 for my next two 5k splits. At mile 11 (past the bridge), I was all in and set my focus on sub 3:15, possible age group contention. Because I started slow out of the gate, I managed to gradually increase and hold a consistent pace. I was now building confidence as I progressed through the mile markers. As I ran over the 14th St. Bridge into Crystal City, and finally down Rt. 110, I felt strong. I was able to run my last 10k at 7:17 pace.

As Erin mentioned in the recent NOVA newsletter, “One lesson that every marathoner learns eventually is that you have to seek out the good where you can find it.” Sometimes I take life for granted. Last week’s marathon brought me back down to earth. It’s not about me, the world is much bigger than that. Life goes on with or without us. “Time and tide waits for no man” St. Marher 1225:

During the race, this MCM reinforced that I can adapt, I can be patient, I can trust my training and depend on my mental toughness. Many times during the race I felt angry, like the Marines had let me down via my late start. As I passed the “NOVA Cheering Gang” at mile 22, I felt like they wondered why I was so far back in the pack. Was I the only one that knew how well I was running and what I endured?

As I was meandering around the Post Race Festival in Rosslyn in my post race after glow, I finally took ownership. It was ultimately on me. It was my fault that I was late to the start, no one else’s. I came into MCM thinking of 3:10 or under. I’m extremely proud of my 3:14 effort.

I ran the 2015 MCM in a very different way than any of my previous 51 marathons. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

7) What non-running fitness related (or other) activities do you enjoy?

I lift light weights four days a week and attend yoga class on most Friday mornings.