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Marathoners find contentment training for a race

Kim Solomine poses with some of the running

Kim Solomine poses with some of the running trophies she displays in her office at work on Thursday, May 1, 2014. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

To the non-running populous, the annual Long Island Marathon is a one-day event, typically celebrated on one bright spring day. To veteran participants in this human race, it's just a moment in a lifestyle.

Two examples:

Kim Solomine, 57, of Syosset, runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays after work as a credit manager for a Garden City Park company, and on Saturday and Sunday mornings -- often with a group from her Fast Feet team. Polar vortexes do not faze her.

"Snow or rain, icy, doesn't matter," she said. "One day it was snowing so hard I couldn't see a couple hundred meters. I ran 22 miles. People think we're crazy, but that's what runners do."

This will be "about my 20th marathon," she said of the 26.2-mile test, and she has run four 50-kilometer (31-mile) races. She just ran the Boston Marathon less than two weeks ago.

Solomine grew up on a farm in South Korea. Not as a runner. But "to elementary school was a walk of more than an hour," she said. "That's how we'd commute."

She married an American based in Seoul and moved to America. In 1994, then a single mother living in Bethpage with a teenage daughter, "going through a tough time and I didn't know anyone here in the U.S., didn't have anyone to take my problems to," she went to the local middle school track and "I think I ran five miles."

"It gave me relief from pain, from heartache, whatever," she said. "I fell in love with running. Struggling financially, I had to release some way and running was one thing that really helped make me stronger."

She discovered the Greater Long Island Running Club in Plainview via the Internet, joined the team and found a community. "I used to run and then go play golf, 18 holes walking," she said. She could shoot in the low 100s.

Her best marathon time is 3 hours and 38 minutes. "If I run 3:45 [today], I'll be happy," she said.

Then there is George Worth, 51, of Islip, the self-proclaimed "fastest 50-year-old on the Island." As a young lad, he played Little League baseball, CYO basketball and soccer on the Islip High School team. "I never ran on the school team," he said, "but even then, I knew no matter what sport I played, I outran everybody."

So, at 19, he completed the first of three Long Island Marathons over three years.

"I couldn't give you any of my times then," he said. "Then, I took about 20 years off from running to raise a family and get my automotive business [in Amityville] started. No races, no running.

"I stayed in good shape, joined men's softball on weekends and always pickup basketball with my five brothers. My wife was always pushing me. She knew I loved running. 'You have to start again,''' she said.

"What helped is my daughter, in middle school at the time, joined the cross-country team and asked me to train with her. We started running three-mile loops in Islip. That got me going again."

He guessed he has run 12 marathons, plus two dozen or so 100-mile races. He averages about 70 miles a week of training, regularly joining a group calling itself the "River Road Rats." They meet Sunday mornings at 7:30 in the parking lot of Uncle Giuseppe's Marketplace in Smithtown and trek north, through St. James and along the Nissequogue River, on journeys of 12 to 22 miles.

"Even this winter, we never missed a beat," Worth said. "We could come up with every excuse not to run, but there are no excuses.

"You have to love running. I love the feeling. My wife used to tell me, 'Please go run; you're so much more pleasant to be around if you've run.' I always told her, 'When you want a new car, new furniture, or whatever the kids want, just ask me after I'd done a long run.' I'm in such a good mood then."

His best marathon is 2:56:06. He's hoping for a 2:57 or better today. Whatever, he expects to be in a good mood at the end.

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