In the past nine months, Frank Pianki, the director of academics for the Residential MBA program, has run three marathons, three half-marathons, two adventure races, two triathlons, and a 10-mile trail run. Pianki ran his first marathon in 2004. Now he can't stop running.
This September Pianki, age 53, will run a 50-mile ultra-marathon.
"Four years ago I weighed 90 pounds more than I do now," said Pianki. In early 2003, he suffered a heart attack. The incident motivated him to start living healthier. He started running for exercise, but soon discovered that he actually enjoyed it.
"My first marathon took me 5 hours and 27 minutes. I figured I was just one of those slow plodders," Pianki said. "When I did the Chicago Marathon in October, it was my first sub-four-hour race."
Pianki has been improving ever since. This past May, he ran the Bay Shore Marathon in 3:41. He hopes to get his time down to 3:35 in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
But for now, Pianki is focused on the ultra-marathon. "You have to complete it in 12 and a half hours," he said. "This is uncharted territory for me. I'm just hoping to finish." The North Country Trail run is a 50-mile race through the Manistee National Forest, near Manistee, Mich.
"Some people are sprinters. I found out that I'm good at long distance. I don't tire as easily as others. Since I like long distance, I thought I would move it up a level," he said. "I don't know how my body is going to respond. I'd like to do it, and then see how I feel about another."
Pianki doesn't do it alone, however. Larry Maddox, former AU track coach, helps him prepare for and run these events. Training involves 12 to 15 hours a week of cycling, swimming, and running 40 to 50 miles.
Of course, running a marathon is no walk in the park. It takes discipline and dedication. "I ran the Tecumseh Trail Marathon. It's in southern Indiana on a hiking trail. We ran in December in 38-degree weather through knee-deep water at some points," Pianki said.
However, the benefits outweigh the challenges, and Pianki has become quite the running enthusiast. "It's good for my heart. It helps me stay healthy. It's good for keeping stress down," he explained.
Update (Sept. 19, 2007): Frank Pianki completed the 50-mile North Country Trail Run in 11 hours, 2 minutes. The race trekked along hiking trails of the Manistee National Forest.
–David Hynds is the Web Content Specialist for Anderson University.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 60 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.