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In the past 20 years, lawyer and runner Roger Foster has logged enough miles to make at least three round trips from Dallas to Paris, France — if there were a road to run on the entire way. But what he’s focused on these days is the 26.2 miles he’ll run in Paris on April 4. On that day, he will line up with thousands of other runners for the start of the Paris Marathon — his 66th marathon and his first in a foreign country. The Paris event marks the second marathon Foster has run in less than two months. On Feb. 29, he ran in the Mardi Gras Marathon in New Orleans. “He’s constantly in the kind of shape he could run a marathon on any given weekend,” says Robert “Bob” Hinton, another marathon runner and a principal in Dallas’ Robert Hinton & Associates, where Foster, a solo, leases office space. To stay healthy and because the beaches provided an enticing locale, Foster started running in the mid-1970s while working as a prosecutor in the State Attorney’s Office in Fort Myers, Fla., and he’s been running ever since. The 56-year-old business and transaction attorney says he starts each day with a run, and runs an average of 1,700 miles per year. “When you run on a daily basis, it becomes addictive because you feel good after running, and that brings you back the next day,” Foster says. His “addiction” took Foster into the world of marathon running in the early 1980s. Hinton says Foster finds time to run even though he typically works 70 to 80 hours a week. “He’s up before dawn running, and then he beats me to the office,” Hinton says of Foster. The main benefit of running is stress management, says Foster, who strongly advocates running as an activity for lawyers and other professionals. Lawyers deal with other people’s problems every day as a part of their job, and they end up taking those problems home, Foster says. Instead of turning to alcohol, drugs or other things that mask their problems, lawyers should find relief from stress through running, he says. His running has taken him to marathons around the country, including 23 in Texas, 15 in California and eight appearances at the New York City Marathon. He hasn’t won any marathon but has made a name for himself. Foster says that one of the standards by which marathon runners are judged is whether they have run in the Boston Marathon — the only marathon for which runners must qualify. “Only about the top 15 percent of all marathoners qualify for Boston,” he says, noting that he’s qualified seven times since 1991. However, Foster admits that running headlong into marathons can be a mistake. He vividly recalls his first marathon run in 1982 at the White Rock Marathon in Dallas. “It was a painful experience, and I won’t forget it,” Foster says. “It nearly killed me.” The problem, Foster says, was that he had not trained properly for the grueling 26.2-mile run. Foster says that at the time of the marathon, his longest training run had been only 7 miles and he wasn’t prepared for the toll that running 26.2 miles would take on his body. “Everything was fine until about mile 18, and the wheels flew off,” he says. “The analogy is that of a gorilla jumping on your back.” Foster says that he was too stubborn to drop out and completed the marathon despite his cramping leg muscles. “I just hobbled along until I finished,” he says. SIMPLE FORMULA Although he didn’t run in another marathon until 1987, Foster says that his first marathon experience provided “a great incentive” for him to coach other runners. “I really aspire to help people to become good runners,” says Foster, who coaches beginning runners through the Park Cities Running Group and marathon runners through Dallas Fit, a program provided by Luke’s Locker, a running store in Dallas. Foster says he wants to prevent runners from making the same mistake that he made in his first marathon, and he offers a simple formula for marathon running. He says runners should gradually increase their running base — the total mileage they run in a week — until they are running about 40 miles a week and should increase their longest run by 2 miles every two weeks until they can run 22 miles. “I can take a person who has never run at all and have him successfully complete a marathon race in a year,” Foster says. Brad Cheves, vice president for advancement and public affairs at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., and formerly associate director of Southern Methodist University’s fund-raising campaign, says he went from beginning runner to marathon runner in 11 months under Foster’s tutelage. “The idea of ever running a marathon, I would have told you, was not in the realm of reality,” says Cheves, who is still licensed to practice law in Texas. But Cheves says Foster just kept “talking it up,” making it sound achievable to run a marathon. Cheves says he began training under Foster in January 1999 and ran in the White Rock Marathon in December of that year. Since then, he has run in three other marathons, Cheves says. John Amdur, an assistant district attorney in the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, says he trained under Foster to run in the December 2003 White Rock Marathon and that Foster’s encouragement kept him running even when he began to feel burned out. Amdur says Foster typically runs in the back of a pack of runners to be with the slower runners and always has a story to tell or pointers to offer to keep his students going. “He’s just a true mentor,” Amdur says. He says that his knee gave out six weeks before the White Rock Marathon, forcing him to stop running and training, but that he still was able to make the race. “I was thrilled to just finish because of the condition of my knee,” Amdur says. When he reached the end of the marathon, Amdur says, he found Foster, who was there to greet all of his students. Amdur says Foster told him that the way to show his appreciation was to run another marathon. “I just might — hopefully sooner than later — run one with him,” he says. Foster knows first-hand what it’s like to run in a marathon despite an injury. He recalls stepping in a hole while doing a practice run with friends before the 1997 Big Sur Marathon, which is run on Highway 1 south of San Francisco. “My ankle went sideways and swelled up like a grapefruit,” Foster says. “I walked on a crutch for a week.” When the day of the marathon arrived, Foster decided he couldn’t sit out the event. “I took a couple of Advil and ran the marathon anyway,” he says. “I was kind of hopping along.” Foster says he was a bloody mess when he ran the 1995 Disneyworld Marathon in Orlando, Fla. While shaving early on the morning of the marathon, he cut his lip and couldn’t stop the bleeding, Foster says. It was so early in the morning, Foster says, that he could not find a store open so he could buy bandages and had to use pieces of toilet paper to stop the flow of blood. “By the time I got [to the marathon], I had blood all over me and little pieces of toilet paper stuck to my face. The workers there asked, “Do you think we should call an ambulance for you?’ ” he says, laughing as he recalls the memory. It wasn’t an injury that kept Foster from running in the 2003 White Rock Marathon. He served as the entertainment director for the event — an activity that also has earned him praise. “He has come up with some truly spectacular ideas,” says Clark Kennington, another Dallas County assistant district attorney who worked closely with Foster on the White Rock event. For the December 2003 marathon, Foster arranged for three U.S. Air Force jets to fly over the starting line as a band played the “Star-Spangled Banner” shortly before the race began, Kennington says. “It was a very moving event for all the starters,” he adds. “He has almost single-handedly propelled the White Rock Marathon into a national marathon,” Kennington says of Foster. And Foster’s nowhere near the finish line when it comes to retiring his running shoes. Foster says he believes his fastest times are ahead of him and cites studies showing that one loses only 5 percent of his maximum athletic potential every 10 years, beginning at age 20. “I am [at] about 85 percent of my potential. However, when you didn’t marathon until [your] mid-30s and didn’t have a Boston qualifier ’til [your] mid-40s, you may have talent resting in the old bones that hasn’t surfaced yet. The trick is just making a commitment to see what happens when you mash your motor.”

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