If you ever want a pick-me-up, some motivation or to just completely restore your faith in humanity, go to a marathon, a triathlon or an ultra. You meet the most incredible people.
The Pittsburgh Marathon on May 5 meant getting up at 4 a.m. to get Downtown before the sun made an appearance. Last year my Darling ran the race in about 3 1/2 hours. This year he decided he'd run it hard and hope for 3:20, maybe even 3:18 if he got lucky.
When I was still waiting at the finish line as 3:30 went by and he still wasn't there after the four-hour mark, I was wondering what the heck happened.
His friends and I tried tracking him, but all we found was that his timing dropped off halfway through the race. Then my phone rang from a number I didn't recognize. I answered to find my Darling on the other end, saying he had had some problems but only had 5 miles left. About 30 minutes later (and five hours into the race), we see him practically sprint across the finish line, looking completely unscathed, in a brand new pair of running shoes.
For some reason, he had decided running the marathon in his cross-country shoes would be a good idea, and maybe it was ... until mile 13. By then his feet were so messed up he had blisters on his toes.
Realizing he couldn't finish in those shoes, he took them off and trekked on shoeless for another 2 miles. That's when another guy running the marathon said, "Hey barefoot guy, need some shoes?"
The kid, who lived close by, pulled out his cell phone and made a call. Moments later his mom met my Darling on the street with three brand new pairs of running shoes. She asked "What's your size?" and handed him a pair so he could finish the marathon.
These days all you have to do is turn on the news and it's pretty easy to become bitter or always expect the worst. It sure would be nice if there was more promotion of positivity like what occurred May 5.
What happened with the kid, the mom and the shoes? Well, we have no clue how to give them their shoes back. We have no idea what their phone number is or where they actually live.
So if you know a kid named Sam who lives around mile 15 of the Pittsburgh marathon route, we owe him a pair of running shoes.
Special help enables shipping of special Pittsburgh sandwich
Every once in a while a request to help someone out turns into a crazy mission -- this time it was a plea from the Bill Cosby Team at CAA (a huge talent agency) to ship a Primanti Bros. sandwich to Los Angeles. Apparently, they were craving a taste of the 'Burgh.
Pulling this off was easier said than done because Primanti Bros. does not ship or sell the pieces of the sandwich. My plan was to deconstruct the sandwich and ship the parts to be reassembled in L.A., with the Cosby Team to provide the fries and tomatoes locally there.
Steve at Primanti was great, but he had to get permission from the owner. It became an ordeal, but in the end I had a whole loaf of bread, a pound of meat, a pound of cheese and a bucket of slaw all shrink-wrapped and ready to take to FedEx.
For cooling, I headed over to Wholey's for freezer packs, only to find them closed. I saw customers coming out of the exit, so I went in and was immediately stopped by a Pittsburgh police officer, who was about to toss me when a tall, kind man in a Wholey's uniform told the cop to let me in. He proceeded to give me the freezer packs -- he didn't even know that I was on a mission to share a bit of Pittsburgh with Hollywood.
Thanks to this kind soul and his random act of kindness, the Primanti Bros. sandwiches arrived on time and chilled. A big thanks to everyone who helped along the way.
Has someone done you right? Send your Random Act of Kindness to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Portfolio, Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. First Published May 16, 2013 4:00 AM