‘Marathon Man’ Dr. Ouellette Back In Training

By  //  July 21, 2013

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ACTIVE LIVING special feature

ABOVE VIDEO: Dr. Paul Ouellette competes in one of his 17 career marathons. Dr. O is now back in training after a long layoff getting ready for his 18th marathon – the 2014 Disney Marathon. 

THE SPACE COAST, USA – Arnold declared in The Terminator, “I’ll be back,” and after a hiatus of a decade from competitive marathoning, I’m now making good on my promise to begin my training for a comeback into the world of competitive running.

Just like Arnold promised in The Terminator, “I’ll be back,” Dr. Paul Ouellette has returned to training after a hiatus of a decade from competitive marathoning. In keeping with the Marathon Man’s signature question, “Is it Safe?,” Dr. Ouellette, is exercising careful, and patient, planning and training to avoid injury.

But, as Dustin Hoffman was asked by Laurence Olivier in the Marathon Man, “Is it safe?,” is an important consideration as making a return to competitive marathon running after an extended layoff takes careful, and patient, planning and training to avoid injury.

Although I’m not exactly starting from scratch like I did three decades ago, I’m certainly following the best practices, and previous lessons learned, to get the old body back into top shape to participate in my 18th career marathon at Disney next January.

I swam competitively in college, but during dental school and orthodontic specialty training, there was no time (or, I should say, I didn’t make time) to work out and stay in shape. When I was younger, a combination of having an A-type personality and high metabolism kept me in relatively good shape. Then, at age 49 things began to change – pounds became harder and harder to keep off.

FIRST FAMILY OF DENTISTRY: Dr. Paul Ouellette, left, with his family at son Jason’s graduation from dentistry school. With Dr. Ouellette is wife Patricia, second from left, daughter Danielle and son Jonathan. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com)

My wife Patricia would go to the gym on a routine basis, and on several occasions tried to motivate me to start an exercise program. For several years, I would resist, saying, “no way!” Finally, as a New Year’s resolution, I reluctantly signed up with a personal trainer, Mozelle Hicks, on a month-to-month weight and fitness program.

A year and half later, I could bench press significantly more than when I started, and I kept gaining weight. My program wasn’t keeping pounds off, and complaining to Mozelle, he told me to “do more cardio, do more cardio…”

TWENTY-SIX MILES, ‘I MUST BE NUTS’

I used treadmills, exercise bicycles, stair steppers and started “jogging” (not running) around the gym’s indoor track, which lead to my participation in my first race, the Cook-off and 5K Race in Atlanta.

This was my first exposure to the running crowd. What a great group of people – I soon experienced running with elite runners, the masters, and experienced the camaraderie of every young and old runner (that’s my group). At this point, I asked myself why have I missed so many years of this wonderful experience. To my surprise, I won first place in my age group, 50-54 – and I was hooked!

My next challenge was a Jeff Galloway Running Program pre-marathon training run. If I didn’t finish, I could justify the run as additional preparation for my first official marathon, which was set for six weeks later in Orlando, Florida.

Dr. Paul Ouellette’s first marathon was in Atlanta, Georgia.

Twenty six miles – I must be nuts, I thought. There I was with about 1,100 other runners on a cold, dark Thanksgiving morning. Several runners were wearing cut out garbage bags and sweatshirts to keep warm. I was nervous, excited and so full of adrenaline that I hardly noticed the below freezing morning air.

The race started and after a mile or two I was running over garbage bags and other discarded garments. In the ensuing exhilaration of the marathon, I didn’t realize I was running pretty fast, at least for me, as I averaged 7-minute, 30-second miles through the halfway point.

That little voice in my head kept saying, “Remember Paul, this is your training run – you’re allowed to stop at mile 20, where the biggest hill of the Atlanta course was to be conquered.” If I can just get up and over “Cardiac Hill,” I might be able to finish my training run. At this point in the marathon I slowed down considerably. Where is the “wall” they talk about? I was hurting pretty bad and the thought of stopping occurred to me several times, but I kept on pounding away.

That little voice in my head kept saying, “Remember Paul, this is your training run – you’re allowed to stop at mile 20, where the biggest hill of the Atlanta course was to be conquered.” If I can just get up and over “Cardiac Hill,” I might be able to finish my training run.

At this point in the marathon I slowed down considerably. Where is the “wall” they talk about? I was hurting pretty bad and the thought of stopping occurred to me several times, but I kept on pounding away.

I had run 22 miles and only had four to go – why not go for finish? The cramps in my hamstrings were getting worse and I thought, wow, this hurts – now, I know I’m crazy. I will never run another marathon again!

I couldn’t turn off that little voice in my head, but somehow I got to the last mile and saw the Atlanta Stadium ahead thinking, “I’m going to finish! I’m going to finish!”

My training run turned into my first marathon. Soon after the run, I started to analyze my performance and found that I just missed qualifying for the 100th Boston Marathon. Why didn’t I run seven minutes faster? Perhaps next time, but earlier during the run, I had sworn I would never run another marathon.

THE DISNEY MARATHON

Six weeks later I was in Orlando to run my “first” marathon.

RECORD PARTICIPATION: In 2013, the Walt Disney World Marathon featured a record 65,000 runners, and for the first time ever, women outnumbered men, accounting for 57 percent of the field. Dr. Paul Ouellette is now back in training for the 2014 Disney, which will be his 18th marathon. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com)

The little voice in my head was back and told me, “Go out slower and run an even pace – take it easy, Paul! Disney’s flat course should yield a much better performance than in Atlanta.

I tried to follow my plan, but somehow the “speedster” ran the first half of the marathon and the “survivor” finished the last half. To my disappointment, I ran the Disney Marathon two minutes slower than Atlanta. A combination of not completely recovering from the Atlanta training run, and being my own coach, were probably the causes of the slower time. The important thing, I told myself, is that I finished.

RUNNING VACATIONS

After Disney, I really caught the marathon bug. I planned several runs over the next year that included Big Sur in San Francisco, and Athens, Greece. Please note I don’t suggest that anyone attempt to run this many marathons in one year.

Dr. Paul Ouellette competes in one of his 17 career marathons. Dr. O is now back in training after a long layoff getting ready for his 18th marathon – the 2014 Disney Marathon. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com)

You have to understand, that being in my 50s and having an obsessive-compulsive personality is my excuse. I thought that reading articles, talking with other runners and having perseverance would lead to improved performance. I was wrong!

I learned that Jeff Galloway organized marathon training programs throughout the United States including in Orlando. I asked my wife, Patricia, to consider signing up for the Galloway program. I wanted her to travel and run marathons with me (running vacations) throughout the USA and other countries.

As an additional encouragement, I promised to take her to Athens, Greece, to run the 100th “Original Run” as her first marathon. She agreed to give it a try. Patricia went to several of the Galloway weekday and weekend runs to slowly and very comfortably increase her fitness level. Soon she was able to run 12 miles. The Galloway training program is great for first time marathoners.

Jeff Galloway’s quest for the injury-free marathon training program led him to develop group training programs in 1978, and to author Runner’s World articles which have been used by hundreds of thousands of runners of all abilities. His training schedules have inspired the second wave of marathoners who follow the Galloway RUN-WALK-RUN™, low mileage, three-day, suggestions to an over 98 percent success rate.

My orthodontic practice involves my commuting back and forth between Merritt Island, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia. Therefore, I was unable to sign up for the Galloway program due to practice commitments.

When I was in Atlanta I went with my wife to one of the Sunday morning runs. I was invited to run with one of the training groups, the “Dusters,” while I was waiting for my wife to finish with her group. That was the first time I was introduced to the Galloway Walking Break. After each mile, or every seven minutes, which ever comes first, you take a one minute walking break.

The updated Galloway program made so much sense. Training was much more fun and everyone that finishes the program would definitely be able to finish their first marathon. Experienced marathoners would also be able to improve their performance in their next marathon.

When in Brevard County I have had the privilege of running with the Space Coast Runners. Every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. the group meets in the parking lot at the Pines Apartments. We all run up Tropical Trail along the Indian River to our first water stop at the Pineada Causeway.

When in Brevard County I have had the privilege of running with the Space Coast Runners. Every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. the group meets in the parking lot at the Pines Apartments. We all run up Tropical Trail along the Indian River to our first water stop at the Pineada Causeway.

From there, the group usually runs to the convenience store at Wickham Road and Pineada Causeway (seven miles out). Some of the group runs a 21 mile loop towards Brevard Community College, and back across the Eau Galle Causeway.

The rest of the group runs out and back to the Pines parking lot via Tropical Trail (14 total miles). You can run at a relaxed pace or run with some of the accomplished runners that will push you to your limit and beyond. The Space Coast Runners are a great group of athletes, and I always looked forward to Sunday runs.

Ouellette’s Among America’s Premier Dental Families

Dr. Jonathan Ouellette

Dr. Paul Ouellette shares ownership with his two sons, Drs. Jason and Jonathan of DentalSpecialists.com and practices out of their multiple locations. The Ouellette family has traveled to the remote and poverty-stricken parts of the world, and has been recognized as Central Florid Humanitarians by Space Coast Medicine & Active Living magazine.  CLICK HERE TO READ THE STORY

100th ATHENS MARATHON

I had the honor and pleasure to run the 100th Athens Marathon as Galloway took a group of runners from the USA, and every one had a fantastic time.

Pheidippides, hero of Ancient Greece, is the central figure in a story which was the inspiration for a modern sporting event, the marathon. Phidippides pushing himself to the limits of human endurance, reached Athens, delivered his message and died of exhaustion.

Prior to our run during a side trip to one of the Greek Islands, Jeff described the Athens course: “I have some good news and I have some bad news,” he said.

“The good news is the Athens Marathon has only one hill – the bad news is the hill more than 12 miles long.” Jeff was accurate in his description of the run ahead of us – no wonder Phidippides died after his famous run.

SAN FRANCISCO & NEW YORK MARATHONS

In July of 1997 I participated in the San Francisco Marathon for the second year in a row. This time Jason, my then 18-year old son joined me and we planned to have an enjoyable run and later tour San Francisco. The weather was perfect the day of the marathon with the temperature was in the low 50’s, and the sun was shaded by clouds and fog during the entire race.

The first New York City Marathon was held in 1970 with 127 competitors running some loops around Central Park. It is now one of the largest marathons in the world with more than 50,000 runners, and is among the pre-eminent long-distance annual running events in the United States. (Image SpaceCoastDaily.com)

I started running very fast due to the great conditions and pacing off the other runners. To my amazement, I was able to finish the hilly course and also qualify for the Boston marathon with a 3:17:58.

That fall I joined my Atlanta running partner, Eric DeGroot, to run the New York marathon. The weather conditions were very poor as it torrentially rained almost the entire race. Of all the marathons I have run, New York was by far the best supported. Even though the weather was miserable, it appeared the entire city turned out to support the runners. The entertainment along the course and enthusiasm of the people kept all the runners going.
 
BOSTON MARATHON TRAINING

For the 6 to 8 weeks before the Boston marathon my running buddies and I pounded the pavement day after day in the early mornings before work, or in the evenings after work. We ran 6 to 8 miles each day, and did a long run on one of the weekend days.

Dr. Paul Ouellette is among several medical professionals on the Space Coast to have competed in the Boston Marathon. Dr. Jim Shaffer, above, approaches the finish of the Boston Marathon last year. Just like Dr. Ouellette, Dr. Shaffer began running marathons While he was in medical school. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com)

The weekend runs were 2 to 3 hours and we usually cover 14 to 21 miles. I know this schedule sounds like that of an impulsive obsessive, but when you run and get to interact with other people of all age groups, you actually look forward to the workouts. It’s also a great break from the intricate details of my daytime job as an orthodontist.

The race gave us the weekend to tour Boston and the surrounding areas. Eric and I have pledged to each other that we will run a pace that will allow us to enjoy the event.

Dr. Paul Ouellette’s Credo: Life itself is a marathon to be enjoyed every day of the year. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com)

We will not be trying for another “personal record.” It will be fun to enjoy the company of the other runners and the thousands of people that support the event.

GREAT BENEFITS

My motivation to return to marathon running is simple, but the benefits are many, including: Increased energy levels that will definitely make you feel younger; losing weight and the “beer belly;” getting a new wardrobe (all I wear after work is running clothes); frequently experiencing the “runner’s high;” finding a sport that is very enjoyable and continually provides new challenges; taking your workout on the road when traveling; getting to see new places from a different perspective; meeting other obsessive compulsive runners; and keeping the wife from shopping…no time for such folly!

The best benefit of running is meeting new friends and sharing the marathon experience with them, and last, but not least, life itself is a marathon to be enjoyed every day of the year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Paul Ouellette

Board Certified Orthodontist, Paul Ouellette, DDS, MS, ABO, has dedicated his life to his profession as an educator, humanitarian, philanthropist, author, entrepreneur and leading proponent of the implementation of cutting edge technology applications in dentistry. After almost 40 years of practice in Brevard County, Florida, and treating over 15,000 patients, Dr. Ouellette and his staff at Dental Specialists have built a reputation for excellence and caring – and comprehensive general, cosmetic and pediatric dental treatment for all of their patients. He has completed 17 national and international marathons in the last 15 years and is now back in training to take on his 18th marathon. In 1996 he competed in the 100th running of the “Original Marathon” in Athens, Greece.


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