Sunday, May 4, 2008

Another Year, Another Boston Marathon

The 2008 Boston Marathon!!

Piece of cake, cake walk, walk in the park, Sunday stroll, effortless, painless....

Yet I have to say, it was a good experience. How can you complain with such great weather, wonderful crowds and most of all my body held together long enough to make it to the finish.

But…I jump ahead, let’s take it from the beginning. Marshall , Heather and I got on the Lazarus House bus at 6AM. Not a big deal for me to get up before 5:30 (especially when sleep the night before tends to be pretty restless), but Marshall and Heather were on west coast time (not a pretty sight). With the marathon traffic we got to the Hopkinton staging area at about 7:30. Most runners have to catch the school buses out of downtown Boston for a 1 ½ to 2 hour trip out to start. It’s not the most comfortable trip (the buses are built for short legged school leg room and no shocks) and they pack in the runners . When you arrive in Hopkinton the busses drop you in the staging area where you have the privilege of waiting for the next 2-3 hours. Picture more than 20,000 nervous runners scattered around a series of high school athletic fields, all bordered by a never ending row of porta-johns. In the center of the biggest field is a large open tent with bagels, bananas and water. Most of the runners who are not standing in line at the porta-stinks are mostly huddle under the tent trying to stay warm and relaxed.

One of the benefits of running for Lazarus House is the bus. Not only is it comfortable but we were granted permission to park our bus at the staging area (provided we get there before the roads are closed into Hopkinton). That meant we not we not only had a warm, dry comfortable place to hang out but we also had our own toilet on the bus (at least for a while until it reached capacity…a situation that the driver claimed he had never experienced before).

Just before leaving for the start there’s two final activities…try to find a porta-john without 30 people in line and strip down to your running clothes and pack the rest in your bag to be taken to the finish line. It was firmly in the lower forties until 15 minutes before we headed to the start and then the sun came out and the temp went up fast. There’s a strategy to what you wear so that you are neither too cold at the start or too warm during the race. Some people actually head to the start wearing a trash bag over their clothes or wearing old sweats and shirts and end up throwing them away over the first few miles. It looks like a giant strip tease at the start with clothes flying out of the crowd in every direction. Thousands of articles of clothes are collected for charities over the first few miles.

The start is a little over a half mile walk from the staging area where they have corrals laid out based on your bib number (corrals is an appropriate term since we are packed in like cattle at this point). Marshall, Heather and I never made it to our corral. By the time we got down to main street the crowd was backed up almost a quarter mile from the start. I’ve had a number of marathons where people have stood on the side of the road for hours looking for me and never saw me pass by. I’ve had others where I have run into, or been spotted by, people I haven’t seen in over 10 years. While standing in a sea of people at the start I looked up to find my brother-in-law 10 feet away. Go figure.

Heather and Marshall would be running at a different pace from mine so we had planned to stay in touch by cell phone. That, however, assumed I remembered to bring my phone. We made arrangements for my pit crew and cheering team (my wife, daughter Tiffany and son-in-law Matt) bring it along so they could pass it to me during the race.

Finally, with great fanfare, the gun is fired and we are off! Or not. For the first 5 minutes or so we didn’t move at all, then slowly we move into a walk, a fast shuffle and then a slow jog until some 15-20 minutes later we reach the starting line. If you happen to be running at the average pace of the crowd then the next 3-4 miles, which are almost all downhill, can be quite enjoyable (especially if you can ignore the lines of runners on the sides of the road making last minute pit stops). However, if you are attempting to move faster than the crowd it can be as frustrating as trying to move through a shopping mall at Christmas. Thus was my fate, for despite the mostly downhill nature of the first 6 miles, these were the slowest of the day for me. And that was with a certain amount of effort spent attempting to weave through the crowd.

With the warm weather and knee problems I had three key strategies: drink a lot, keep a reasonable pace through half way without hurting the knee, take one mile at a time after that, knowing I could walk in from there if the knee gave out. I missed having Heather with me, it made for a long first 10 miles. But I had Nick with me in spirit and the crowd was great. Can’t say enough good things about the women at Wellesley (about 12 miles) or the students at Boston College at about 22 miles (mostly 3 sheets to the wind by the time I get there but very enthusiastic). It was great to see my pit crew at about 16 and they were joined by my sister in-law Marena and brother in-law Ron, my nephew Drew and some of their friends. It was my own private cheering section for about 20 yards. I was busy waving and soaking it in that I ran right by them without picking up the phone. I had to run back to get it.

Knee started to go at about 15 miles, just before the hills. It was a cat and mouse game with it over the next 10 miles, and it could get snorkie (a technical term) at times depending on the terrain, the pace and even the pitch of the road. But with God’s help and Nick’s company I was able to make it. Final time 3:33:22, fast enough to qualify to get into the race next year (kind of like winning a food eating contest and the prize is…more food).

In the mean time Marshall and Heather were not fairing so well. Marshall is a tall and muscular guy and despite training in the heat of LA he got behind in taking enough water. Days like we had can be deceptive as there is a breeze in your face most of the way and it wicks away most of the sweat. It gives you the sense that you are not overheating and don’t need to drink yet you are losing a lot of moisture and a lot of electrolytes. By the time they got to Heartbreak Hill (around 18 miles) Marshall was feeling the impact. He dug deep and was able to make it all the way but he was rushed to the medical tent at the finish with dehydration. An hour later after some intravenous fluids, a bit of food, and a nice massage, he was up and walking and doing much better. Now I know how to get a massage at the end of the race.

Equally exciting for me is that our whole Lazarus team finished. Susan did run with broken hand and cast and one of our members actually limped to the finished with a stress fracture and ended the day in the hospital. With your help, the Lazarus House team raised over $120K for a food pantry where people who need help can “shop” with dignity for the food of their choice. There's still time to donate if you planned to and didn't get to it .

To all of you who supported Heather, Marshall and I, my deepest and heartfelt thanks. Your generosity has truly been a wonderful gift and I can’t think of a better way to keep my son’s memory alive. I also want to thank everyone for the supportive emails, even the ones commenting on my sanity and age.

Until next year, God bless…may it be a great one for you and your family.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

You Can't Rollerskate in a Buffalo Herd

I love this song (by Roger Miller). Some of you know already…I cheated. I used the same song in my blog the day before the marathon last year. Different verse last year…”You can’t go fishing in a watermelon patch”…but same song.

With some exaggeration, that’s what it will be like at the start of tomorrow’s race. Picture thousands of runners packed shoulder to shoulder into a small street, trailing back for almost a half mile (that’s right, some people will have to travel an extra half mile just to get to the start), and with the pent up energy of a 5 year old on a sugar and caffeine high on Christmas eve. Now if we could only harness that energy think of the effect we could have on global warming: 20,000 runners running 26 miles means over a 1/2 million miles will be run in Boston Monday.

So, it’s the day before the race and like most runners, Heather, Marshall and I are a bit on edge. It’s not that we are not ready; it’s just that we know so much can go wrong. Like most of the runners we worry about the weather, and what we will wear, and not missing the bus to the starting line (ours leaves at 6 AM), and drinking enough, and finding a an open port-a-john just before the start (you laugh…try running 26 miles with your legs crossed), and….well you get the idea. When you think about it, as tough as it is to get from the starting line to the finish line, it’s equally tough to get from the decision to do this to the starting line. Six months of training and hundreds of miles on the roads leave plenty of chances for the random pothole to swallow your foot, or the black ice patches to take you for a ride on your back, or twist an ankle climbing the snow piles on the side of the road dodging the occasional car that comes too close. Then there’s the flu, winter colds, pulled muscles, knotted hamstrings, frostbite and bad knees (yeah…we know that one all too well). Add to this that most marathon runners I know love life, which means they are fitting the training into an already busy life.

I can give you dozens of examples but here’s one that is close to home this year. Our team leader is a working mom named Susan Hurley. Susan is not only our mother hen but also a marathon runner (and has completed the Hawaii Iron Man competition). While training for the race three weeks ago she took a bad fall. Very bad. Broke her arm, mashed several fingers, and banged her head. Picture bones coming through the skin, lots of blood, operations to put in steel rods. On top of all the pain was the heartbreak of being told she wouldn’t be able to run the race. After all the training, effort and camaraderie leading the team, she would have to sit it out. I would not be surprised to see her at the starting line Monday.

But seldom if ever do I hear a complaint from marathon runners about the effort. Oh we will complain about our injuries (see my last blog) and moan about the weather but that’s just because we are obsessing about one thing…getting to the starting line at the Boston Marathon healthy enough and trained enough to get to the finish line.

And then the day is here. Suddenly all those months of training, all the effort, pain, early mornings, cold days, nights when you couldn’t party (those really hurt), all translate from getting to the starting line to getting to the finish line.

Adidas has a great marketing program around the marathon called “Impossible is nothing”. People were encouraged by Adidas to submit their feelings before the race last year and they became the marketing campaign for this year. One of my favorites “Brain Off, Legs On”.

For every runner there’s a story. It’s what has gotten them through all the effort to get to the starting line. We all know there will be pain involved in finishing; it’s only a question of how soon it starts and how intense it gets. It’s the reasons behind the each runner’s story that will give them the mental fortitude to keep going when the rest of the body says enough (another Adidas note “My legs were screaming but the crowd was screaming louder”). For me, and I believe for Heather and Marshall as well, what will carry us through the painful parts will be the support we have gotten from you and knowing we are running to help others. For that, I can’t thank you enough.

For those of you who were able to donate to Lazarus house, you have done the same for a significant number of people who are also in pain. While most of you will never meet the people you’ve helped I have met some and I can tell you their gratitude is immeasurable. Dave McGillivray, the race director for the Boston Marathon and a man I consider to be a real hero, said at a recent meeting (and I paraphrase)….We all know someone who has been touched by cancer and therefore it’s easier for us to support charity efforts in that area. But how many of us know a homeless person. Your efforts will put food in the hands of hundreds of people and prevent mothers from having to make the agonizing decision of paying the rent or feeding her children. No matter what happens tomorrow you are all winners.

So the theme for tomorrow is the chorus from Roger Miller’s song:



See you in Boston!!!

PS: For those of you who might be out on the course or checking online (instructions below)...I plan to start out at around a 9 min./mile pace. We start around 10:30 so if my knee holds out till 13 miles I should be half way around 12:30 (give or take 10 minutes to get through the crowd at the start). Heather and Marshall will be starting at 9:30 pace. We all have white singlets with our names on the front and I will have a picture of my son Nick as well.
For those that might be tracking us online...our numbers are 21757 (Heather), 21758 (Marshall Lewy) and 21755 (me). Go to the BAA site below to check how we are making out.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Waiting Begins....

The training is pretty much over, it’s now all a mental waiting game. Over the years I’ve learned that it is at this point in the training where the Four Realities of Marathoning kick in.

The First Reality: In the two weeks before a marathon there is little you can do improve your chances of success but there is an infinite number of ways to screw it up.

Years ago when I was young, invincible, and ran the marathon to run the marathon I tested this theory. I had run 50+ miles a week at a sub 7:00 minute pace, I could run a sub 6:00 minute mile in work outs and I was mentally ready to run another Boston Marathon in the 2:40’s. But I wanted an edge in the race and there was a fairly new theory on marathoning called “carbo loading”. The theory went something like this…in the days leading up to the race you starve your system of carbohydrates and just feed it protein. Your body becomes carbohydrate starved. Then 48 hours before the race you stuff yourself with carbs and like water on a dry sponge your body sucks up and stores an extra big load of carbs. On race day when everyone else runs out of fuel at 18 miles, you just cruise by them on your reserves. Or so the theory goes.

Have you ever tried to eat a protein only diet? Ok..all you Zone diet guys put your hands down (this was pre Zone). You can have a tuna fish sandwich…without the sandwich. You can have all kinds of meat and fish and some veggies but no condiments, potatoes, rice, or pasta to go with them. Cereal? Nope. Ice Cream? Forget it. Beer or alcohol? Not on your life. When you are running 40-50 miles a week your body becomes this giant calorie furnace and trying to stoke that fire with just proteins is like trying to fuel a blast furnace with twigs. When your body can’t get enough fuel it goes cannibal and starts eating itself. It begins with your fat stores (oh yeah…we marathoners have a lot of those), and then moves on the muscles. While it is busy chowing down on your tissue it is also tearing down your immune system (for a good description of this read “You: Staying Young” by Oprah’s doctor. You can bill it as the Warranty Manual for your body). So here I am thinking I’m building myself up for the big day when in reality I’m reenacting a scene from the night of the living dead.

I would have been happy with a bad day out on the course. Truth is, my body was so run down that I picked up the flu the day before the race and couldn’t even raise my head off the pillow. I can remember telling Pam the morning of the race that I was OK and I could make it, as I tried to crawl out of bed and make it to the bathroom yet again. “Yes honey” was all she said. So after months of 50 mile weeks of running in freezing rain, ankle deep snow, weather so cold a piece of my mustache actually froze and broke off….I watched the race on TV.

The Second Reality: You will be haunted by Phantom Aches and Pains.
Once you’ve proved to yourself that you can run 20 miles in training, the only thing that stands between you and the excitement of race day is the worry that you might get hurt. Every ache, every cramp, every muscle twinge, every stubbed toe is magnified 1000 times until it dominates your thoughts and dreams with a concern that this might prevent you from being able to finish the race. I once knew a guy that got so worked up over a knot in his calf that he ended up in the hospital with an ulcer. In truth almost every runner has to have something wrong with them on the day of the race. Ask any runner how they are the day of the race and they will lapse into a litany of problems. “I have a blister on my left foot, I think I broke my right ankle last night, and I have an acute appendicitis, but otherwise I’m OK.” Establishing the fact that you are not 100% is how we as runners take a bit of the pressure off. That’s not to say some of this is not real. I knew a guy once that finished the marathon with a broken leg. But that’s a whole other story.

The Third Reality: The WALL is real.
The Wall is the point in a marathon when the laws of physics and biology conspire to terminate your ability to continue moving. It’s right about the 18 mile mark when your shoes actually give up the ghost. Despite all our years of technological advances, today’s best shoes have fully compressed the cushioning by this point and effectively you are running in the equivalent of your dress street wingtips (side note…the marathon was actually won once by a man running barefoot). Right about the time your shoes quit, your body runs out of fuel. It has consumed all the energy you have stored for the race and now you are running on shear will power. They call it “running into the wall” because one minute you are feeling OK (a relative statement considering where you are) and the next somebody has put 50 pound weights on each ankle, sucked all the air out of your lungs, and with each step is pounding nails into your thighs. The next 7-8 miles are a mental battle to keep moving at any pace. This is the point where you start to make deals with yourself or with God. “If you just get me to the next mile marker, the next street corner, the next telephone pole…I’ll go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life.”. I’ve convinced myself that God gives a free pass to marathoner promises made in the last 8 miles. He figures they have already done their time in hell.
The truth is, while it is tough for everyone in the last 7+ miles, not everyone hits the wall. You can avoid it by remembering the Fourth Reality…

The Fourth Reality: There’s no such thing as “putting time in the bank” in the first half of the race.
I cringe when I hear someone say “I plan to run the first half faster than my overall pace because I know I’m going to slow down in the second half and this way I can still have a good time.” My advice…just pay 3 big guys to beat the crap out of you now…it will be less painful. It will be a self fulfilling prophecy that if you run the first half of the race at a faster pace than what you expect your average pace to be you will not only hit the wall and slow down substantially, but your last 8-10 miles will make the Bataan Death March look like a Sunday afternoon stroll. When a runner reaches this point I’ve seen spectators in their 80’s with walkers moving faster than they are.

So, if you happen to bump into a Boston Marathoner over the next couple of weeks, be kind. Ask them how they are doing, listen patiently to their list of ailments, and offer them a few words of encouragement and confidence. Whatever you do, don’t ask them what they expect to do for time.

And a quick update on the Hunger Striker Team (the name of our Lazarus House group). We have now raised over $90K on our way to our $100K goal. Thanks to everyone who has contributed, your generosity has been overwhelming. Those of you that would still like to contribute please consider donating in my daughter Heather's name. Her Lazarus House link is

Stay tuned...I'll have one more blog report just before the race to give you my number and let you know how you can check my progress online on the day of the race.

God Bless....

Friday, March 21, 2008

the Significance of the Insignificant

Forgive me for being a bit philosophical's what happens when you have too much "alone time" on your long runs.

Have you ever thought about the small things that have happened in your life that at the time seemed so insignificant and yet looking back turned out to be....well...significant. Maybe even life changing. There are the big ones that immediately come to mind like stories about the people running late on 9/11 who missed their plane or weren't in their office in the Towers. Or the people who by some bizarre series of coincidents, triggered by a chance meeting with an old friend, end up meeting their soul mate. I know a guy fired from his middle level job he never would have left who was then hired by a small company that went public and made him a millionaire.

But the question that bugged me while I was plodding and limping through my two and a half hour long run this weekend was "Which of the insignificant decisions I'm making are actually going to turn out to be significant downstream?” And probably more important given my somewhat questionable track record in some areas, "How do I know what the right decisions are?”
You've probably all heard the saying "Don't sweat the small stuff" (it's even a book), and of course the follow on subtitle "everything is small stuff". I new some guys in college that followed that theory. Last I heard they had a great career in public speaking..."would you like fries with that".
But for every quick fix, "I have the answer", one size fits all, self help book there is almost always a counter position (when the first self help theory doesn't work for you, try the opposite one. It keeps the book industry in business). In this case it starts with the old saying "If you take care of the little things the big things will take care of themselves." Tried this theory with raising my kids. I did my part when they were little things but apparently teenagers have a different concept of what "taking care of themselves" means.

From my perspective, reality falls somewhere between these two. For a while my reality was something like this...I sweat the small stuff...which raises my blood pressure...which causes me to shift to not sweating the small stuff...which lowers my blood pressure...but then the small stuff I didn't sweat becomes big stuff that's not taking care of itself...which raises my blood pressure...until I resolve the big stuff...which lowers my blood I go back to sweating the small stuff to prevent it from becoming big stuff...which... Anyway, you get the idea. But I digress. Ever notice how easy it is to digress on a blog? See what I mean, I'm digressing from my digression.

I was at the doctors the other day getting my knee checked out and it occurred to me that I had one of those insignificant moments back in 1976. Back in college I had run competitively for the first three years I was at school and in my senior year fall cross country season I fell victim to a knee problem. The routine in those days was a couple of days of rest and ice and if that didn't work the trainer shot you up with cortisone so you could compete in the next race. By the end of the season I was getting a shot every week or so and it wasn't getting better. I decided my running career was over and I refused to compete in indoor and outdoor track.

Fast forward a year and half. I'm out of school and working for a fortune 50 company that has a great fitness lab and program. Periodically they would invite guest speakers to come to talk about health issues. At 23 I planned to live forever and attending lectures on life health issues were right up there with worrying about retirement. However, one day a friend dragged me to a session on feet and running and the doctor described how almost all leg and knee injuries start with the foot and ultimately shoes. Obvious stuff today but 30 years ago it was not your everyday conversation. That night I pulled out my old college running shoes (can you say "pack rat"...not sure why I kept them). The outside heals on both shoes were worn down through the outer layers and there was at least a half inch difference between the heel’s outer edge and the inner edge. A new pair of shoes and two years later and I was running my first marathon. Thirty plus years and numerous marathons later and I'm still running (a whole heck of a lot slower mind you). It's become a part of my life and of my children's lives as well. But more importantly, that one insignificant decision to go to the meeting set me on a path that years later has allowed me to use my running to help others who need assistance and hope.

I want to thank again all of you who have taken the time to donate or send words of encouragement. Hopefully in some small way I have given you a window to the significance your kindness is having, and will continue to have on numerous lives. As someone who has seen the joy you can bring to a person who is struggling by just offering a smile, a respectful greeting, a question of concern or a hot meal I can attest to the significance of things that seem so insignificant.

If I've learned anything from my time at Lazarus House it is this...there is no such thing as an insignificant act of kindness.

Speaking of insignificant acts of kindness, here's a suggestion on how you can help the runners on heartbreak hill and in the last 6 miles of the marathon. If you happen to be out on the course that day there is nothing better than hearing your name called out with some words of encouragement (except maybe a beer) when the road in front of you looks like Mt. Everest and you are trying to figure out how you are ever going to make it through the next mile.

Till next time...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Spirit is willing but the Flesh is....

...well...Old. Just when I thought I might make it through the training without injury, BANG!...a problem. You start to question it age, or worn out parts, a skeletal deformity, or over training, the way I slept on it last night or maybe just that snow shoveling I did last weekend. Given the flesh is not helping out, I resorted to the Spirit and I'm reading Chi Running. Desperate measures for desperate times.

I refuse to believe it is age (check out marathoner Ernie at age 94. ). One my heroes is Dave McGillivray, a neighbor in North Andover and the director of the Boston Marathon. Dave is about my age and each year when he is done managing this 20,000 runner, 9 city event with the logistics of a major military ground offensive, he drives out to Hopkington and runs the Boston Marathon...mostly alone. By then most of the cheering crowds are gone, the roads are reopened to traffic and by the time he finishes he will have run most of it in the dark. But what impresses me most about Dave is not that he has completed the Boston Marathon every year since he was 17 (although who wouldn't be impressed by that feat) , or the fact that every year on his birthday he runs his age in miles (I'm in awe...that was over 50 miles the last couple of years). What impresses me most is what he has done to turn his love of running and sports into a way to give back to those that need help. This year through Dave's directorship the Boston Marathon will provide numbers to thousands of sloggers like me to raise money to help people in need. In round numbers they will raise over $6 million. The Boston Marathon is not only THE premier marathon, it is a fountain of good will and hope.

But I digress. So if it is not age it has to have something to do with the way I train. Shoes, stride, speed, intensity...maybe all the above. As runners we obsess over these things when we get injured, especially when we have an impending goal...oh, like say the Boston Marathon. Someone once suggested to me...well, if you are injured, just don't's just a race. In a runner's court of law, a response of death by trampling would be consider justifiable homicide.

In truth, training for a marathon can be more mentally agonizing than the race itself. While training you have months of worrying about finding time to run, eating the right things, drinking enough, drinking too much (water and alcohol) and paranoid about training enough, training too much, did I train on enough hills, getting hurt, get the idea. Every muscle ache, every painful twinge sets off a worry about a crippling injury that may keep you from the race. But on race day it's all about the finish line. Once the gun goes off there is no tomorrow, it's all about the next 26.2 miles and the future be damned. I've know runners who broke bones mid way and finished, I've seen runners crawl across the finish line with a smile on their face knowing the next day they won't be able to stand without crutches. Insane? Maybe. There's a question about one's sanity in just being out there...after that it's just degrees (see my earlier blog) .

So I will concede that my problems are not with getting older but rather with the pursuit of youth. For those of you that followed my blog last year this theme may sound familiar to the one titled "Youth is great, too bad it's wasted on the young". I reread it today and was amazed to find how insightfully I had laid out the three lessons I had learned on how NOT to train for a marathon, most of which I have broken this year. Blame it on early stage alzheimers. There's that age thing again.

BTW...if you are interested in a great read on distance events and giving back to the community, check out Dave McGillivray's book "The Last Pick". Inspiring reading. And of course if the Spirit moves you, the link to help me support Lazarus house is


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Why running a Marathon is like having a baby...Well kind of.

OK...before anyone pulls out the knives and start with the "how would you know?", let me acknowledge that I am not saying that a marathon is as hard as having a baby and I am in no way suggesting that I know how painful birthing is (my wife reminds me she did all the "heavy lifting" while I "coached" from the sidelines. Given this is a PG-13 blog, we won't mention what she said about my coaching at the time).

With disclaimers behind us, one might ask..."OK, what does running a marathon and having a baby have in common"? I'm glad you asked. After watching my wife go through labor with our first baby I figured Heather would be an only child. In an attempt to describe the pain Bill Cosby suggested it was like someone grabbing your lower lip and pulling it up over the top of your head. Judging from my first delivery room experience, he grossly underestimated the pain level. To my surprise, within months Pam was already talking about having our next child andwe didn't stop till we had four and realized we would be retiring to cardboard boxes after paying for their college costs.

I got an email from a friend the other day reminding me of how crazy running a marathon is at my age and how painful it was last year. His exact words were... “are you nuts?” I suppose the excruciating pain subsides and some part of your brain tells you, “C’mon…it wasn’t THAT bad!” . Thus the analogy with having a baby.

The more I thought about it, the more similarities I saw. Like how good you feel when it's over (the marathon and the labor...however, you could say the same thing about banging your head against a wall). The months of preparation and discomfort that go into preparing for that one key day, the hours of effort that go into getting to the finish line (although it is usually shorter for a marathon and we can even eat along the way. Pam got pitocin so you could say she cheated and took a short cut. I would never say that.). There are also some differences. We don't have our own personal doctor with us during the marathon, although we do have thousands of spectators cheering us on (not something I think Pam would have appreciated in the delivery room). And the start of training for a marathon is not nearly as exciting or as much fun as the start of having a baby.

There is one more difference...marathon's require a significant amount of commitment to get ready for the race (especially on those cold New England mornings). But when it is over, so is the commitment. Having a child is a lifetime commitment, it never ends. It doesn't matter that they grow up, color their hair purple, become teenagers who ignore you, go away to college ( but still call for money), get married, and have children of their own (God's payback). They are still our children, they have an unalterable impact on our lives and we are still committed to them. Commitment is such a harsh word...let's just call it Love.

I see the same kind of commitment from the people at Lazarus House in trying to assist those that need a bit of a helping hand. It's why I've chosen to support them and along with my commitment to Nick, why I'm running again this year. As always...if you care to help just click on this link and scroll down to the donate button.

So how are the knees and how is the training coming along? Let's just say I'm getting the miles in but at times moving slower than a woman 8 months pregnant with triplets. Heather and Marshall are doing well and occasionally bragging about the nice training weather in LA.

Oh...and in case you haven't heard, Marshall's new movie "Blue State" was just released on DVD and you can find it in your local Blockbuster and on Netflix. He runs marathons and is a movie mogul.
One more Oh...Speaking of nephew Doug just had his first baby (boy...Aidan). Congrats Doug and Melissa.

Stay tuned...the last 2 months are the best.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

No one ever accused me of being sane....

...but you would at least expect my daughter to know better. You guessed it...Heather an I are signed up to do the Boston Marathon again this year. Proving that insanity can be contagious, we have also recrutited Heather's fiance Marshall. He was so inspired by Heather's accomplishment last year that he signed up for his first Marathon in NY last Nov. (more on that story later) and is now ready to take on his first Boston Marathon.

So we will be running again this year in Nick's memory to raise money for Lazarus House. You can contribute to my efforts by clicking on this link It's been a great year for them and with the help of both the proceeds from last year's marathon team ($75K - thanks to all of you) and the funds raised from their local "Hike for Hope" they have not only been able to help thousands of people with meals and food but they have this year opened up a brand new Transitional Housing center for families who are working to get back on their feet. The center, called Capernaum Place, is located in Lawrence, MA. and has been 7 years in the making. With the help of numerous dedicated people, the leadership of Bridget Shaheen (Executive Director of Lazarus House) and the imagination of Dave McGillvary (who is the race director for the Boston Marathon among a number of high profile races), Capernaum Place is now the home of 11 families (last I checked) and can handle up to 21 when it is at full capacity (if you are interested in details let me know).

But now on to the marathon. Heather, Marshall and I have started our training and despite the weather (more snow in Dec. than all of last year), training is more or less on schedule. Heather and Marshall are training in LA so they get no excuses for weather related challenges. Much like last year I continue to have some knee/IT band challenges but so far not enough to stop me. The real test will be in the next few weeks as my long runs get over 13 miles.

So maybe I'm a good example of Albert Einstein's definition of insanity....Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. Actually, if I get the same support as last year it will be worth the effort and maybe...just maybe... it's not so crazy after all.

Stay tuned...more musings to come.