These days I cry almost every time I run. It usually happens near the end. It's really hard to explain. I think of my friend Alfredo and I cry. I just hope people assume it is tears of joy or the endorphins spilling over. But really, it's that I miss running with my friend and I'm afraid I'll never get to run with him again.
Shortly after being introduced to ultra running I learned of a guy named Afredo Perdo Perro, or Alfredo Pedro, or Alfredo Perro. No one really knows for certain and no one cares. He was a CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association) runner who was a recovering alcoholic and running for PAWS (a dog charity). Between my love of running, dogs and the fact that I was a recovering alcoholic I knew Alfredo was someone I should be friends with. I sent him a friend request and an instant message. He confirmed that we should be friends and meet up soon.
Several weeks later some friends were running across Illinois (west to east) and my wife and I went looking for them to offer assistance. That night we found Alfredo and my friend Kathleen Rytman running along a country road. I jumped in to help and spent the next twelve hours getting to know the person that would become my best friend.
Since then Alfredo and I have done just about anything hard we could think of. We went on to run our first 100 mile race together, the Potawatomi Trail 100:
We then ran the Superior Sawtooth 100 together:
Ran a goofy food challenge through the streets of Chicago:
We did the first World's Longest Turkey Trot from Chicago to Milwaukee:
And so on. I've spent many many hours with Alfredo suffering silently on the roads and trails of America. We didn't talk much. We silently suffered together.
One day two winters ago we ran 30 miles along the Chicago lakefront in subzero temps for no reason at all. As the wind blew us nearly off the trail I turned to look at him and said "You know...when I run with you I feel like there is nothing I cannot achieve." He said he shared that exact feeling.
Last spring and fall Alfredo started falling. He was always a little clumsy, but he started falling hard and hitting his head. He had trouble descending. His neck bothered him. No one could explain why. Running got harder and harder, and eventually he couldn't run anymore. In December he became hospitalized.
In late December he was diagnosed with ALS.
Our last run together was, ironically, the Leadville International Beer Mile. Now we spend more time together watching movies and eating food. We also talk more.
But I have to admit, it's hard. It makes running hard and at times makes loving running hard. If you see me crying and running just smile like you assume I'm super pumped to be running or finishing. Or I'm just my normal emotional self.
Alfredo has limited finances and needs a LOT of help. If you have even $5 to spare, consider making a small donation to his giveitforward fundraiser:
And please, don't ever take running for granted. Never take a finish line for granted. Your entire life can change in one second. Be grateful!