Sunday, April 17, 2011

Only 23,000 strides to go!!!

Give or take a few thousand depending on how long the knee and ankle hold up. I’m actually pretty relaxed about the whole thing. Unlike most of the runners who will toe the starting line tomorrow morning I won’t be worried about running fast enough to qualify for next year, or beat my best personal time or even if I will finish. The first two are not happening and unless something dramatic happens I know I will get to the finish, just not how long or how painful it will be.

It’s hard to describe all the excitement that takes place in Boston in the days leading up to the marathon. I was in Boston yesterday to pick up my number (13534…right in the middle of the 27,000 runners) and the streets were filled with runners and their families from all over the world…93 countries to be exact. Add to that the film crews, reporters, officials and volunteers and you get a sense of the level of excitement. They even have an expo where you can get the latest shoes, running toys, watches, health food, healthy drinks, crazy shoe laces (scientifically engineered to avoid coming untied), and clothes. It says something about the sport that almost half the exhibits at the expo are selling you something to avoid pain, heal your pain or cope with pain. Makes you wonder what that says about the human race….or at least runners. Go figure.

I also had the pleasure yesterday of joining Marshall and Heather at a pre-race event in Boston where the author of the New York Times bestseller Born to Run, Christopher McDougall, brought together professors, characters from the book and of course Marshall (who has written the screen play for the upcoming movie) to talk about the growing enthusiasm around barefoot running (there were hundreds of people at the presentation and a hundred more that had to be turned away). To be clear, this is not just running without shoes but includes those that have switched to Vibrams (rubberized slippers with toes) and those of us who have switched to minimalist shoes (like running in the old track flats). The scientific data associated with avoiding traditional thick padded running shoes with fat heals is impressive.

Marshall and Christopher were kind enough to invite me on stage to talk about giving back through running and to promote Help in the Nick of Time (new web site ). Also on stage was Scott Jurek who is the American record holder for the number of miles run in 24 hours (165.7). Scott answered the question he is often asked “What do you think about when you are running 165 miles in one mile loops?”. His answer…nothing. He tries not to think about the distance because thinking causes self doubt. I can relate. The biggest challenge in any long distance race is thinking too much about how far you have left to go. Like a lot of big challenges, the task (distance) can appear to be overwhelming but if you break it down into smaller pieces and take them one piece at a time, ultimately you get there. So it is with Help in the Nick of Time. We have a long term goal of bringing together a broad group of volunteers from around the community to help families in need but the first step was to raise the initial funding and get the program off the ground. We are almost there but I could use a bit of help to get us over the top.

So tomorrow’s run is a thank you effort to everyone who has helped along the way. Aside from the challenges with injuries this year, I have a lot to be thankful for. After a number of years running for various charities I have finally set up the foundation in Nick’s name. I owe a great deal of thanks to all of you who have supported me over the years to help me get to this point. I also have most of my family with me as well. Heather and Marshall are in from California, and Tiff and Matt are here with my new twin grandchildren. The twins are truly miracle babies. Born 2 months early, they spent a month in intensive care but they both are doing well and their first foray into the world is to come see grandpa run the marathon. I will miss the pre and post race calls with my dad who passed away a few months back but I know he will be out there with Nick and I on the course.

If you have time tomorrow and want to follow my snail pace progress you can register at the BAA site for updates every 10K or so. My number, in case you didn’t catch it earlier, is 13534.

Stay tuned and I will touch base on the other side.

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