Dr. Mark J Mendeszoon

Dr. Mark J Mendeszoon

Friday, June 24, 2016

Road to Rio

It has been quite some time since I've entered a blog, so please excuse the length as recently I've had some time for reflection.

Last week I had the opportunity to go back "home" and see family in the Netherlands. My daughter Marijke and I were able to visit family and friends and enjoy our bonding time together.

One of the highlights we were able to share was going to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Stadium to watch the Dutch national track and field championships.  It was at this point that I realized how much of a track junkie I truly am and that my life's common denominator is track and field and athletics. Furthermore, it struck me how my passion for the sport that has provided me everything has trickled down to my children, Marijke and her brother Myles, as well as my wife Kristen.

It's been twenty years since I introduced Kris to my beloved sport, and gradually converting her from a die hard gymnastics coach to a track convert and "widow".  Over the last two decades, she has allowed me to stay deeply involved in the running culture. We were able to create the Maple Leaf Track Club back in 2001 alongside good friend Mark Shafer and have had the pleasure of seeing many children and even adults develop a passion for running, so much so that the club is now a cornerstone in Northeast Ohio for people to participate in this great sport.  We have also been fortunate enough to provide hundreds of student athletes the opportunity to receive a college degree via the pathway of track and field, and have secured several million dollars in scholarships and financial aid to open the doors for these young individuals and for them to continue participating in the sport we love..

In addition, Kris and I compounded my passion for running and athletics by establishing the Achilles Running Shop.  As proud owners of Achilles for over a decade, we have been through the ups and downs of learning a new business and have managed to become a mainstay in the area running community. I am extremely blessed and indebted to my wife for being the backbone behind Achilles Running Shop. Overcoming one hurdle after another, we've put a tremendous team in place to help us improve our performance and strive to be the best we can possibly be as a independent running store.  David, Kyle, Brian, Devin, Steve, Andrea, Carl, and Gene have been our ambassadors to the public, not to mention the multiple part-time fine young adults that have been with us over the years to whom our gratitude is immeasurable.  Like our 13-year-old twins, we are watching the growth of our running stores in amazement.

Now it is the summer of 2016 and an Olympic year, always an exciting time for me and all track and field fans. We have been to the last two Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon and in 2012 I was fortunate to be involved directly with four athletes that qualified for the games.  London followed and it was an incredible experience, not only attending the games but being in the Olympic atmosphere throughout the city. That was capped off by watching one of my athletes and patients win the Olympic gold-medal in the women's pole vault. Jenn Suhr and her husband Rick have allowed me to be part of their medical team and this last year we are working incredibly hard to keep her healthy to defend her title in Rio de Janiero.  In addition to helping Jenn,  I have been blessed to work with other Olympic hopefuls and Olympians: Nathan Brannen, Shana Cox, Bridget Franek, Chelsea Eades, Clayton Murphy, Stephanie Aldea, Mac Wilkins, Erika Kinsey, Bekka Simko and Jessica Beard to name a few.  This year I have been fortunate to go to the Olympics again. Needless to say, I am extremely excited and grateful for this opportunity.

So coming back full circle to our track meet in Amsterdam last week, I have seen the passion develop for athletics in our children.  To be able to shoot hoops with Myles or go for a run with Marijke is one of the most rewarding experiences I have in my life.  Kris and I have never forced athletics on our children but I guess being surrounded with track and field their whole lives is rubbing off on them.  They start high school in the fall, a time when young people start finding their way and I am curious to see how my children develop as student athletes.  I am excited to see them grow and find their paths as I once did as a skinny teenager out of Bay Shore, New York.

Enjoy the summer and enjoy the Olympic experience and fever!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Time to Shine

About 15 years ago at a District Championship high school track meet, my wife and another coach and I were standing on the railing by the third relay exchange zone and when we couldn't help but notice one boy jumping up and down shouting " it's my time to shine". We didn't know who he was nor was his team a favorite. Needless to say, this athlete received the baton in the back of the pack and ran like the wind and won the relay for his team. This young man was ready to compete and this was his ritual to elevate his game.

I thought about that young man as I traveled to Austin, Texas to watch the Texas Relays and see several thousand athletes compete. I reflected on why people compete and how individuals bring out the best in themselves at big moments. I will have the opportunity in Austin to ask the defending gold medalist, world record holder and recent Indoor World Champion in the women's pole vault what makes her continue to compete at such a high level after a long career and to overcome so many obstacles while still being considered a favorite for Olympic gold in her event. Considering she is my client and needs my help to get healthy, picking her brain was a bit easier.

From speaking with her I realized that for the overwhelming majority of people, competition is a form of self satisfaction, knowing that the dedication, sacrifice, and hard work will provide some joy and success.
Not everyone is going to be the best in what they decide to do, but that does not prohibit individuals from doing their best and enjoying their experience. In athletics and generally in life, there are many valleys to go through before one can reach the summit. There is no perfect performance and this is what drives people to continue to fuel the desire to make all those sacrifices worth it as we strive to attain  personal bests or recognition from our peers.

What started me thinking about all this is the unique opportunity I've had to remain close with the man that has had the greatest impact on my life for the last 39 years. His name is Steve Borbet and if not for him I would not be the person I am today. He has coached cross country, indoor and outdoor track for 43 years.  He has graduated thousands of athletes and accumulated numerous honors and awards throughout the decades, including election into the New York Armory Track & Field Hall of Fame. The dedication and effort he has given our sport is endless. Having the opportunity to spend three days this past week with him at my home was priceless.  What galvanizes my philosophy on life and athletics has come from him and that is" not only work hard and have fun doing it, but make people around you better by leading by example".

Despite having some success in high school, college and post collegiately in track and field, I lost more times than I  won and can count on one hand if I ever had that " perfect race". However, because of what Coach Borbet taught me I kept on working hard and learning how to compete within myself. I have taken this approach to my professional career as well and understand that if I apply myself then I will be formidable and be able to live comfortably with that.  I hope this philosophy in life trickles down to my own children, athletes, students, and surgical residents.

On a side note, I look forward to the Achilles Running Shop Championship Game against Mill City Running in the Saltyrunning.com March Madness Tournament for best running shop in the land.
As a 16 seed in the 72 team field, Achilles has made an impressive run thanks to all your support.  We respectfully ask you to vote for us between 8 pm Sunday, April 3rd and 8 pm Monday, April 4th. Remembering that young, underdog relay runner, it is our time to shine!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Going the Extra Mile

After a long winter it is a breath of fresh air to see the grass becoming green, flowers starting to bloom and athletes of all abilities getting into shape to achieve their goals. Outdoor track and field is here and athletes of all ages are starting to get ready for the competition season later this spring and summer. In addition, it is exactly 100 days until the 2016 US Olympic Track and Field Trials. Needless to say, this is an exciting time to be a runner. 

Recent studies have shown that running is enjoying a resurgence even greater than the boom of the 1970s and 1980s.  Back then the biggest challenge was running a marathon. Now not only are marathons available almost every weekend, but so are races ranging from one mile to the ever popular 5k and 10k, all the way to ultra-marathons on roads and trails.  Throw in track and field, one of the top participation sports on the high school level in America, and the opportunities seem endless.

Perhaps due to the availability of competition, athletes have become bigger, faster and stronger over the last several decades, and children are entering our sport and learning to run, jump, and throw at younger age than ever before.  As we have entered an era of everyone receiving a ribbon for participating, what we must not forget is to build good strong fundamentals so that young athletes can develop a love for running and physical well-being that will serve them for a lifetime. Learning to avoid injuries is a big key, but having success and fun should be priorities.

Spring also is a very busy time for myself, being a physician, surgeon, and track coach, as well as being part of a team at Achilles Running Shop. People are getting ready to compete, and unfortunately I treat a lot of injuries caused by trying to do too much too quickly.  For some, it may be a long road back and for others the recovery can be quicker.  No matter what the injury entails, it is important to follow the instructions of your doctor, coach, and therapist, and most importantly listen to your body.

Going the extra mile to help any athlete is what truly inspires me, as I know how difficult it is to be sidelined and unable to compete. I have received phone calls at 6 o'clock in the morning, I've seen patients after hours in the office or my home, have admitted patients to the hospital in the middle of night, and have performed emergency surgery.  Just recently I traveled last minute over 5000 miles round-trip to Portland to help an Olympic gold medalist go for the gold at the world indoor Track and Field championships this Thursday.  She and her coach told me I was crazy for doing something like this, but truth be told to earn the trust and confidence of an athlete as their doctor is priceless to me.  

As much as I would have loved to stay and see the championship meet this weekend, I look forward to coming back home and helping all the great athletes that support us at Precision Orthopaedics, Achilles Running Shop, Maple Leaf Track Club, and our local schools. I wish my best to all of you this spring and summer!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Achilles Running Shop Ten Year Anniversary

Ten years.  A decade.  Half a score.  Achilles Running Shop is celebrating its 10th year anniversary.  It is hard for us to imagine that we have been in business for ten years. In that time we've come to understand the hard work, dedication, compromises, sacrifices and all the ups and downs it takes to become successful in business just as it does in running. Over the years Achilles has supported thousands of runners, and even a few Olympic competitors, a real thrill for us.   Olympians aside, the commitment we see from our patrons to running every day in Northeast Ohio regardless of weather conditions is what truly inspires us to be the best running specialty store we can be.

What was once a dream has become a reality.  From our humble beginnings at a little store in 2006 to the current state of the art location in Mentor and the addition of an Erie store, it has really been an incredible adventure. Achilles has become our family and a staple in our running communities. We have been blessed by your support and patronage and continue to strive for excellence so that we can provide you, our customers, the best advice, service, and knowledge possible so that everyone can continue to strive for their fitness goals. 

Over the last decade, there have been incredible changes in the independent running store business.  Recent reports claim that a new running boom is upon us and as a result we are seeing all types of new runners, ranging from young children and high school kids to young professionals, middle aged adults, and even senior citizens all looking to improve their quality of life. Consequently the engineering and technology behind running shoes, apparel, electronics and supplements/nutrition have become a sophisticated science. We at Achilles take great pride in keeping up with these technological advancements so that we can help our customers make informed decisions about their purchases.  After all, we are runners as well!

At Achilles we understand that time marches on and the world we live in changes on a regular basis. What won't change at Achilles is our commitment to our patrons: we will provide you the best possible care and professionalism to ensure your health, performance, and fitness for the present and future, just as we have since our opening in 2006.

We thank you for your support and look forward to being your training partner and second home for running and walking in the years ahead. Please join us next Friday evening, January 29, 2016 at our Mentor location for a customer appreciation party.