Surf City Marathon Is Just One Of Many For Local Lawyer, Author, Lecturer
When Jay Foonberg runs the Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach on Sunday, it will be just another race for the 73-year-old who has now completed 35 marathons and 26 half-marathons—on all seven continents.
A 40-year Rexford Drive resident, Foonberg, a retired attorney, is a lecturer and author of such books as How To Get And Keep Good Clients and How To Start And Build A Law Practice, which has sold more than 150,000 copies, making him the best-selling author in the American Bar Association. He is now completing two books, one is Getting Paid In Good Times And Bad, about the current economy, and another whe’s been working on for 15 years “to expose a previsouly unknown secret of the Holocaust.”
Foonberg waited until he was 56 to enter the running world. His inspiration, he says, came when he saw the musical Blood Brothers and heard the line, “there’s always a price to be paid.”
“It got me thinking,” Foon-berg said. “We as human beings can do anything, subject to the limitations God has given us. I wanted to show my sons that you can do anything in life, but there’s always a price to pay.”
As the self-described “fat guy never picked for any teams,” Foonberg undetook eight months of training for his first marathon with coach Pat Connelly.
After that first race, Foon-berg, said, the pride he felt in finishing, turned to the desire to complete more races “to stay healthy and for bragging rights.”
And Foonberg found he enjoyed the company of runners.
“When there are 20,000 runners out there, you know you’re not going to win. Runners are not competitive like golfers or tennis players. We are encouraging, and the attitude is,‘there’s no slowest guy out there.’”
He also admires runners’ “never quit” attitude. “I don’t know if it’s a trait runners have or develop, but they don’t quit,” Foonberg said. “You finish the race, even if you have to walk, are in pain or bleeding.”
His worldwide marathon schedule has taken Foonberg most recently to such sites as Boston, Paris, Las Vegas, Kenya, Chicago and even Antarctica.
“With below zero winds it was beyond cold,” Foonberg said. “It was like a cross-country obstacle course. The location was much more interesting than the race.”
In the London Marathon, it was at mile 24 that Foonberg was running on pure adrenaline. “I thought I was steaming, and then I noticed that others were walking faster than I was ‘running.’”
It was an English runner who dubbed Foonberg “the dancing bear.” “The wonder of the dancing bear,” the fellow runner told Foonberg, “is not that the bear dances well, but that the bear dances at all.”
“So I guess the important thing is not that I do well, but that I do it,” Foonberg said.
“It takes discipline,” Foon-berg said. “There’s no easy way to train.” Gearing for a marathon for him means running 55 miles, or twice a marathon’s 26-miles, a week. Race training means between 8 and 20 miles on Saturday at Santa Monica Beach.
Foonberg’s three- to four-times-a-week training runs take him from Rexford to Whittier on Elevado (exactly a mile, he says) or from Doheny to Whittier (also a mile) to Sunset around the golf course to the park at Whittier and Sunset. If he’s feeling ambitious he adds a jaunt around the high school. Then he reverses the course to get in four to four-and-a half miles in a morning.
Foonberg doesn’t regret his late start in the marathon world. “People say to me, ‘don’t your knees or back hurt. And I say, ‘I didn’t start running until I was 56, all my parts are new.’ A lot of younger runners are already worn out— they’re ‘has beens’ and I’m a ‘never was.’”
After Sunday’s event, Foon-berg has his eye on a race in San Francisco in August, a half-marathon in Napa and a 5K race to the top of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, on March 18, the only day of the year Iwo Jima is open to Americans.
Foonberg’s three sons are all products of the Beverly Hills school district—Steven, a Beverly Hills reserve police officer for 13 years, who now runs Westside Realty; Alan, a computer executive at Aerospace Corp. and David, a performer who also runs a Colorado music school in Littleton teaching drums.
Foonberg’s wife Lois, he says is encouraging, and accepting of his “craziness.” The couple celebrated their 50th anniversary last year.
“I started to prove that I could do this daunting event. I wanted to show my sons that you can do anything you want. People who complain, ‘I didn’t get a break,’ ‘life isn’t fair,’ don‘t want to pay the price.”