Kevin Saff of Jamestown never thought he could run a marathon.
After all, 26.2 miles is a long way and training for it requires months of hard work.
But when the Swanson Road resident completed the Erie Marathon at Presque Isle last month, it gave him pause.
MICHAEL AND KEVIN SAFF
Not only did Kevin, 46, survive the hot summer workouts to Kennedy, to the Chautauqua County Airport, to Lakewood and points in between, but he also did it with his 18-year-old son, Michael, at his side.
The pair finished the course with the identical time - 3 hours, 53 minutes - and Michael, a freshman at Jamestown Community College, was one of only three runners under the age of 19 to complete the race.
''We wanted to break the four-hour mark,'' Kevin said. ''That was always the goal. We didn't know if it was attainable because it was really a hot summer. Some of our long runs were really quite demanding, but as we got into August, we knew we were in the ballpark.''
But beyond the physical benefits - ''I went from a 36-inch waist to a 32-inch waist,'' Kevin said - there was something far more valuable that he took out of the experience. Instead of training while listening to music from their iPods, the Saffs used the time to talk and to ''bond.''
''We talked about life, we talked about when I was his age and some of my experiences when I was his age,'' said Kevin, the executive director of Jamestown Area Medical Associates. ''As a parent, you cherish it. As a kid, in the back of Michael's mind, I think he was impressed that his old man could run with him and we could accomplish this together.''
The Saffs also made an impression on Lisa, Kevin's wife and Michael's mom. A year ago, Kevin ran a half-marathon and Lisa didn't expect him to try it again.
He didn't, really. He opted for twice the distance instead.
''You can work, work and work until your hands are bloody,'' Kevin said, ''but when it comes right down to it, it's all about family. It's not the destination, it's the journey, it's getting there. It was a great experience.''