Vermont Sports—August 27, 2008
Family: Wife, Lauren; daughter Ariel, 23; son Harry, 19
Occupation: Assistant director for the estate of artist Jules Olitski
Primary Sport: Running
VS: You're a longtime marathoner who has just had his hip resurfaced. What was the nature of the injury that led you to surgery?
BP: I don't know specifically, but back in the early '90s, when my wife and I first moved here, I fell and really damaged my coccyx. I have heard that could possibly lead to some hip displacement. I had pain, and I guess like most people who have pain, you try to manage. By the end of 2001, I couldn't run anymore, it was just too painful. By that time I had already done 37 marathons and hundreds of other races, so I switched to mountain bike races. I couldn't run, but I could ride for hours. Finally I started looking into treatment.
VS: Were you nervous to undergo surgery and about your athletic future?
BP: I had never expected to run again. I was just nervous about the operation, because I had never had major surgery. There's a website called Surface Hippies I found through surfing the Internet. It's a really good support group of people who had the operation and know a lot about it. It helped me feel more comfortable. I really wanted to get rid of the kind of pain I was having, which anyone who has had hip surgery can relate to. And I didn't realize how much pain I was in until after surgery. When I started running again, I was doing it very slowly and easily. Although I guess Mount Washington wasn't going slowly. My doctor was really surprised about that.
VS: You've done 39 marathons; which has been the most memorable?
BP: It took me 18 marathons to qualify for Boston. I can't remember what year it was, but it was the Vermont City Marathon, when I got under 3:20, and I knew I qualified for Boston. That was pretty significant. Then I did 3:03 at Bay State, which was my top time.
VS: What do you enjoy about long-distance races?
BP: I like to tell people it sort of keeps me sane. I was doing long-distance cycling earlier this summer—150-mile, 200-mile rides. There's a certain kind of trance that doing long distances seems to put me in. My background is as an actor, and I've been in theater my whole life. There's a play called "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," and in that play, there's a character named Brick who is an alcoholic. The other character asks him why he drinks so much. He says, "I have to drink until I hear the click, and it takes longer and longer to hear the click." I have found that the longer I ran and the longer I cycled, the longer it took to hear that click.