Archive for April, 2011

Night Of Tribute

Posted: April 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

Lori and I shared a wonderful evening at the Massachusetts School Of Professional Psychology 2011 Gala, Supporting The Lucero Legacy! It is always inspiring to be with people who have dedicated their lives to serving others. The MSPP community is filled with people who place the needs of others before theirs.

When we lost Cynthia at the 2002 Boston Marathon our lives were immediately placed in turnmoil, confusion and grief. Losing such a close friend, an amazingly inspiring person, at such a young age was entirely unexpected. But the MSPP community immediately circled the wagons of support, hope and love and we found ourselves in the middle; being looked after just as Cynthia cared for others in her all too brief life.

We have been blessed with their support and friendship for over 9 years. Last evening was another reminder that we have to continue to support the work that MSPP is conducting throughout the world in Cynthia’s spirit and memory.

Lori and I are also blessed with friends that are ALWAYS there for us. We try to always give more than we take and not ask for anything unless it’s really needed. Supporting the Dr. Cynthia Lucero Run/Walk each year and a Gala every 5 years is at the top of our list. There is a core group of people who is ALWAYS there to respond to our request for support. They are the shining example of the type of person I would like to be…their tireless and selfless example inspires me to be more kind, considerate and dedicated improving the lives of others.

They embody the adage that any life worth living must include serving others. I would like the thank the entire MSPP community and this core group of friends for enriching our lives beyond our greatest hope!

Cythinia would be proud!

The recent Boston Marathon marked the 9 year anniversary of the passing of Dr. Cynthia Lucero. Cynthia was a member of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America’s Team In Training program that Lori and I coached for 12 years. Cynthia had completed her first marathon, the 2000 Rock n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego. She was passionate about volunteerism and was so excited to be training for the 2002 Boston Marathon with us.

Her wisdom defied her young 28 years…she embraced volunteerism more than any person I have known. She received her doctoral degree at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology just prior to the Boston Marathon. Lori and I attended her colloquim along with her family from Ecuador. Her doctoral dissertation was titled, Effects Of A Marathon Training Program On Family Members and Friends Of Cancer Patients. Lori and I both lost parents to pancreatic cancer and leukemia so Cynthia interviewed us in our home.

Cynthia described this time as her ‘week of triumph’ and the completion of the 2002 Boston Marathon was going to me the crown jewel in a week filled with accomplishment. I interacted with Cynthia at Mile 15 near the Wellesley Community Center; it’s where we trained each week throughout the training season. Her larger than life smile will be indelibly etched in my memory and heart forever. She collapsed near Mile 22 in Cleveland Circle and her last words were, “My Honored Hero!” She was rushed to Brigham and Women’s hospital in a near comatose state. I departed immediately for the hospital with Lori, Iris Gleason (Executive Director of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) and Cynthia’s family. She was immediately placed on life support and we gathered with hope that she would make it through the night.

Lori and I visited with Cynthia and her mother and knew the prognosis didn’t look promising. That moment shook me to the core…I was uncertain whether I could continue as a marathon running coach. I don’t think Lori has been the same since. I said goodbye to Cynthia and departed for the Team In Training Victory Party to inform her teammates of what happened. Standing before them and doing everything possible to contain my emotions…I delivered the unfortunate news and we held a moment of silence for Cynthia. I was undoubtedly a different person from that moment on!

She was removed from life-support two days later and we held a Celebration Of Life service in the same room as her colloquim just a few days prior. I have never been on such an emotional roller coaster but I felt such a commitment to Cynthia and her family. Lori and I spent a quiet moment with her parents and reassured them we would NEVER allow their daughter’s memory to fade. I explained that I would begin by trying to live my life similarly to Cynthia’s by embracing 5 attributes that she personified.

1. She removed all worry from her mind.
2. She removed all hatred from her heart.
3. She lived very simply.
4. She gave so much.
5. She expected so little.

While I continue to achieve just one of the aforementioned traits, Cynthia’s memory inspires me to keep trying!

Much positive has resulted from this unfortunate tragedy.

The Dr. Cynthia Lucero Mental Health Program (LMHP)has been established at MSPP.

Runners and physicians throughout the world are now more informed about hyponatremia (water intoxication).

More than 11 women benefitted from Cynthia’s organs.

Marissa Auberach’s life was saved as she received Cynthia’s heart. Here is a picture of Marissa with Cynthia’s parents at the finish line of the Annual Dr. Cynthia Lucero Run/Walk held on the grounds of MSPP to benefit the program named in her honor.

The Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology 2011 Gala, Supporting The Lucero Legacy, is being held on Friday, April 29th. I hope that you will consider making a donation by going to Your contribution will help considerably in the effort to honor Cynthia’s memory and keep her spirit alive in the hearts of so many!

Running Makeover

Posted: April 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’m in a period of transition with my running. I still have the enthusiasm and commitment to continue in the direction that I’ve been heading with respect to racing and coaching goals, but I also feel I need to take a major step back and conduct a realistic self-assessment. My life and my running seem to have gotten unexpectedly busy and complicated and that’s had an effect on my running.

Time seems to trump commitment and organization every time so I need to establish new priorities, attempt to manage my time more effectively and learn to say no. My desire it to always help as many people as I possibly can…that’s been a driving force in my life and my coaching. But I recognize that I need to take a major step back and re-evaluate what is most important in my family life, work, coaching, and fitness. Coaching undoubtedly takes a considerable amount of time, particularly since most of the runners I coach are first time marathoners and require a lot of support and reassurance. This effort takes time from my work and my family. I feel like I’m fast becoming the Jack of All Trades and the Master of None…that’s not a good position for me as I thrive on excellence.

So my plan is to return to the basics in all facets of my life. I’m going to try to spend more quality time with my family. An evening walk provides time to reconnect with Lori, Macie and Rider. I also want to celebrate the small things like Macie losing her first tooth yesterday and what that meant to her. I asked her how much she thought the tooth ferry would leave under her pillow and she responded, “I think $40.00!” She fell asleep wondering how big the tooth ferry is and that she was concerned about her arrival…priceless. This morning she wondered if she was teensy weensy or just little?

Lori continues to do incredible work with the Grafton Land Trust in their effort to preserve open space for future generations to enjoy. I want to be sure to celebrate her accomplishments. Rider can easily be taken for granted because he’s just so consistent and nothing he does ever alarms or surprises us. He’s destined for great things in his life.

And while the Boston Marathon is over, I still communicate with many of the runners and help them with their next BIG goal. I have also become more connected with the charities that I have coached or am currently coaching. I spent an incredible morning at the Museum of Science yesterday learning more about the proposed Hall of Human Life exhibit that will be opening in the next 1-2 years. It promises to be the most relevant, applied and popular exhibit at the Museum of Science. The focus will be on bringing the scientific method to the general public in an extremely personalized way. The theme will be that humans are changing as a result of a changing environment. Dr. Tim Johnson, former ABC News Medical Director, outlined the importance of health care reform prior to the tour of the exhibit. People need to be educated and understand how the human body works and the effect technology and the environment have on our quality of life.

Next week I’ll be speaking at the Perry K-8 School in South Boston as part of Boston Partners in Education Big Cheese Reads program…it’s their signature academic mentoring campaign. The goal is to reinforce the excitement of reading and inspire these students to commit themselves to learning. I will also bring the Olympic Torch that I carried in the 2004 Olympic Torch Relay which is something they’re always excited to hold. I will be pleased if my presentation inspires just one student to dream BIG.

In order to accomplish all the goals that result from my ongoing self-assessment, my health, wellness and fitness have to be at the center of my effort. Completely rebuilding my fitness routine excites me more than running another marathon, although that will certainly be one of my goals. Getting healthier and more fit through better nutrition, yoga and consistent training is my top priority. The quality of my life exponentially improves with a greater commitment in each of these areas.

I am living an incredible life and simply don’t want to take any part of it for granted. I’m determined to be the best that I possibly can. I’m so dedicated to a major revision of my running and what it means to me and the runners that I coach. The status quo or the quagmire of mediocrity are not anything I want any part of…stay tuned for daily updates on how this process is progressing!

I hope that your running is fulfilling and enjoyable!

Nike…Make The World Better!

Posted: April 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

Does running make you a better person? Running has unquestionably made me a far more appreciative and inspired person. It’s helped me to enjoy my health, the environment, the beauty of nature and the inspiration of personal interaction with so many different people.

Running is far more than miles run, average pace, average heart rate and getting it over and moving on with my day. It’s about running and living in the moment, focusing on my breathing and form so that my footstrikes are an exercise of silence. It’s about managing the endless array of emotions that can appear throughout any and all runs…it’s about silencing the negative thoughts and replacing them with a commitment to be the best person I can be.

Does running make YOU a better person?

Transformational Running

Posted: April 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

I think every runner that’s interested in improving and transforming their form should view this video. It captures the essence of what every runner should focus on to become more efficient and ultimately enjoy their running more.

This was produced by Dr. Mark Cucuzzella M.D. (Professor Family Medicine at West Virginia University). Here are some of the important highlights:

Running is not a battle between you and your body.
Get strong in the right places.
Get loose in the right places.
Be in balance…cadence of 180 steps per minute.
Have rhythm.
Place your feet under you, not in front of you.
Do not overstride.
Extend your hips.
Progress slowly.
Light Drills are key.
Develop quick and springy feet.
Pick up your feet.
Your feet are your messengers…listen to them.
Run tall… with good posture.
Relax and Breathe.
Lean just a little from the ankles.
Lower your loading rate.
Lower your impact transient
Run and have fun.
Learn. Evolve. Run

Golf Anyone?

Posted: April 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

Mornings are my favorite time of the day.  I’ve always loved when it rains so this morning is perfect.  Rain seems to briefly slow time and cleanse the earth.  The pellet stove is blazing in the other room and our Rhodesian Ridgeback is curled up at my feet.  He’s content now that he’s had his breakfast.  Eating has always been his top priority, running has been a distant second…much like a marathon runner!

This is the first Saturday in almost 6 months that I’ll not be driving into Boston to train the Marathon Coalition runners.  I am certainly going to miss them and the special time we shared.  I’ve reluctantly accepted that I will never see or communicate with some of them again.  It’s simply a part of life…people accomplish their goal and move onto a new stage in their lives.  However, most of my great friendships are with runners that I’ve coached.  Not surprisingly, I’m drawn to athletic, healthy people, who are committed to serving others and making a difference in the world…they’re been my primary inspiration for over 15 years.

I am taking a good friend golfing this morning.  I took up golf a few years ago and I absolutely love it despite being horrific.  I dress like a pro and play like a schmoe!  I’ve been paired with other golfers that I haven’t known to form a foursome.  The common response has been, “When I first saw you I thought you were the club pro and was very nervous.  Once I saw you swing I knew that wasn’t the case!”  There’s been a lot of pressure to have my golf game keep pace with my outfit for the day.  Maybe the simple solution is a little less ironing and color matching and a bit more practice.

I’m really looking forward to getting my motorcycles on the road.  I now have 5 but I would really like to get down to 2…it’s not been easy!  I am planning another long distance trip to Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana with a little bit of fly-fishing and trail running thrown in for good measure.  Here’s a picture of my Exile chopper:

Many people have asked whether I’ll continue to maintain my blog now the Boston Marathon is over.  I’m absolutely planning to maintain it and hope that you’ll let me know what topics interest you the most.  You can communicate with me directly @

I’ll let you know how my first round of golf for the year goes…I expectect nothing but fairways and greens but it’s likely not going to be pretty.  If nothing else, I will look good doing it!

Predicting Performance

Posted: April 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

I can accurately predict how someone will handle the rigors of training and perform in the marathon the moment I meet them.  The most compelling observation is related to their attitude and enthusiasm.  Training for the Boston Marathon in particular is the ultimate equalizer; it reveals the truth of who you are.

Similar to life, training for  Boston will inevitably include frustration, disappointment and setback.  How one endures and recovers from these experiences reflects how they will perform on Marathon Day.  The runner that maintains a healthy perspective and positive attitude during trying times is more likely to attain their goals in the marathon.  It’s important to handle the ups and downs and the highs and lows with equal emotion.  Not getting too excited with a great, seemingly effortless, run or too discouraged over a disastrous run is as important in running as it is in life.

I’m always so impressed and inspired by the runners that return from a run and I cannot tell how they performed until I ask them.  I feel like I failed a runner if they’re devastated after a poor run.  I try to instill a sense of good fortune in my runners.  We are so fortunate to be given an opportunity to run and we’re absolutely blessed to train for the Boston Marathon on the actual course.  The best runners, not necessarily the fastest, are more determined and motivated after a difficult run.  They attempt to determine what the cause may have been and do everything possible to avoid another occurrence.  It may be simple as something they ate, drank, lack of sleep or training hard on consecutive days; all easily avoidable as training progresses.

There is undoubtedly a spirit about a marathoner.  I understand the attraction of the Boston Marathon and the desire to check it off one’s bucket list.  But I admire the people who live the life of a runner.  Running, particularly being a dedicated marathoner, is not a part-time job…it’s a lifestyle.  You cannot be undisciplined during the week or other facets of your life, simply cover the prescribed long-run distance each Saturday, and expect any significant degree of success on Marathon Day…the odds are stacked too steeply against you!

Running and life parallel one another.  Handling disappointment, having discipline, being grateful and appreciative are attributes that provide a foundation for success.  The people and runners that possess these are so special, they exude this spirit in how they train and live!

Major Transitions

Posted: April 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

Now that the Boston Marathon is complete I will transition to a new phase of training and life.  I will definitely miss being with the Marathon Coalition runners every Saturday because they brought so much joy and meaning to my life.  It was a huge a blessing to spend time with such an amazing group of people committed to a common goal.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed people can change the world.  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has!”  -Margaret Mead

They made such a difference on so many levels.  They raised over $700,000 which will provide educational opportunities to so many and the benefits for those recipients will last beyond their lifetime as the new standard for subsequent generations will be to pursue higher education.  They’ve inspired their friends and families to pursue dormant or abandoned dreams.  They become physically stronger and spiritually healthier because they’ve been committed to training for Boston while serving others.  And they now look at themselves differently now that they’ve become Boston Marathoners!

I find considerable comfort in the small role that I played in their accomplishment.  It warms my heart when a runner says, “I’ve never had anyone believe in me like you!”  So now it’s time to transition to the next chapter in my life.  I look forward to the warmer weather and spending more time with my family.  I look forward to playing golf occasionally with Rider and several of our friends.  I also look forward to riding my motorcycles amd flyfishing.

My life has gotten too busy and complicated.  I would like to simplify it as much as possible and focus on the things that mean the most to me (i.e., family, friends, fitness, work, and pursuing a higher meaning to my life).   I’ve been intrigued by yoga for quite some time and I plan to pursue that interest.  I’m going to build my running back from ground zero by incorporating all the advice I offer to others.  I’ve been inconsistent with my training for too long for a variety of reasons which has resulted in numerous injuries.  It’s time to become more strict with my nutrition and stretching.

I know that November will arrive sooner than expected so I also want to begin preparing for the next group of runners that will join the next Marathon Coalition TEAM.  I want to ensure the runners and the charities that make up the Marathon Coalition have the best possible experience.  Operating in the spirit of continuous improvement has served me well through the years.

Most importantly, I want to live in the moment more and enjoy all that life offers!

Realizing A Dream!

Posted: April 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

I have been so focused on preparing the Marathon Coalition runners for Boston the past 5 months that I completely overlooked an important facet of this journey.  I spent the entire marathon day consumed by my commitment to get each of them to the finish line in relative comfort.

I met them in Athlete’s Village to offer last words of comfort and encouragement.  I spent over 5  hours at Mile 15 in Wellesley running beside them and mentally preparing them for the most difficult 11 miles of the marathon course.  And I spent the remaining hours of the day celebrating their incredible accomplishment with their families and friends at the Westin near the finish line.

It wasn’t until Lori, Rider, Macie and I were walking to our car at the end of a long day when I noticed a lone runner that had recently fulfilled a life-long dream of running the Boston Marathon walking in front of us.  She looked very familiar from a distance and as we approached I could see the Marathon Coalition logo on the back of her singlet.

That is the moment I realized the 2011 Boston Marathon was the first time a runner wearing the Marathon Coalition logo crossed the finish line.  That is also when I realized what that meant to me.  It was the realization of a dream! 

This wasn’t a logo representing a major organization with plenty of full-time staff and seemingly endless resources to support their TEAM.  The Marathon Coalition is truly a collection of 7 smaller charities that work collectively and cohesively to provide an incredibly meaningful experience to each run.  Each charity is composed of only 15 runners but together we total a TEAM of 105+, which rivals the larger charities.  And we will raise over $700,000 when our fundraising is complete.

When the Boston Athletic Association called me several times recently to ask my opinion about several Boston Marathon related training questions, I began to realize that we had finally arrived.  When I spoke at the Museum of Science the week prior to the marathon, I felt honored to have several of the Boston Athletic Association executives sitting in the front row.  Afterwards they offered such encouragement for our efforts to make a difference in the lives of so many.  I look forward to solidifying my relationship with the B.A.A. as I work with the new charities selected each year in an effort to launch their program successfully.

The driving force behind the Marathon Coalition was to offer the most meaningful experience for EVERY runner and not get bogged down in the quagmire of politics, agendas and personalities.  I wanted the Marathon Coalition experience to be pure, empowering and life-altering.  I received this message from one of my runners this morning that made me feel I accomplished that goal:

“Coach Rick, I’m already suffering from withdrawal. Saturday mornings won’t be the same. There was comfort knowing no matter how the week unfolded I could count on the alarm going off on Saturdays and just after 8am, without fail, you’d uplift my and many others’ spirits, instilling confidence, warming our hearts and perhaps most impressive–propelling us enthusiastically out into the elements! Thanks again!”-Lori B.

As I walked away from the Boston Marathon with my family on Monday evening I realized the marathon may have concluded, but my journey and commitment to offering the best marathon training program for the Marathon Coalition TEAM had just begun.  I have been working on the 2012 Boston Marathon program for months.  I’ve worked closely with the staffs of each of the 7 charities to identify how we can improve and enhance the experience for each runner in the ensuing years and bring their missions to the forefront of everything we do.

Our mission is very simply, empowering others through running! 


The Morning After!

Posted: April 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

Yesterday was the perfect conclusion to a long and difficult training season.  After enduring challenging weather for most of the last month months, the weather was as ideal as anyone could have hoped.  A strong tailwind produced a world record (Goeffrey Mutai 2:03:02 from Kenya).  Ryan Hall, the top contender from the United States finished an impressive 4th with a time of 2:04:58; the fastest time ever by an American.  Two American women finished in the Top 5 (Desiree Davila was 2nd in 2:22:38 and Kara Goucher was 5th in 2:24:52).  It’s amazing that Kara’s first child was born less than 8 months ago and she’s already returned to this level of running.

But the real story of the day was the Marathon Coalition runners.  I enjoyed meeting most of the runners and the staff from the 7 charity teams in the Athlete’s Village.  The excitement and anticipation were palpable.  I met several of the runners I’ve been training virtually for the first time and tried to offer as much advice and insight as possible.  I stayed as long as I possibly could before convincing a bus driver to drive me back to my car outside of Hopkinton.  I enjoyed chatting with her but my mind was distracted with thoughts of my TEAM!

Not being able to run this year because of a tender hamstring was a HUGE blessing.  Nothing I could have accomplished on my own compared with how special yesterday was.  I drove to Wellesley while listening to the marathon on WBZ radio and arrived just in time to see the last wheelchairs and minutes before the elite women arrived.  Kim Smith had a sizeable lead on the pack but I later learned she twisted her ankle/foot on the Newton Hills and was forced to abandon.  Kara Goucher was tucked nicely behind a huge pack of African women…I thought that was extremely strategic. 

It wasn’t long before two of the Marathon Coalition runners passed through and my day of coaching began in earnest.  Martin Kon and Paul Crockett, both proudly flying the colors of TEAM Jumpstart, ran 2:57:57 and 3:09:32 respectively.  For those that keep statistics, Martin ran 6:48 per mile pace and Paul ran 7:14 pace…very impressive!

I spent the next 5 hours offering encouragement and support to the entire Marathon Coalition TEAM of runners.  Most were in great shape and ready to tackle the remaining 11 miles.  A few were in extreme difficulty but managed to finish.  Their efforts were the most incredible of the day.  The most challenging miles of the Boston Marathon occur after Mile 15 so their ability to finish personifies the spirit of the marathoner.  I’m so proud of the entire Marathon Coalition runners!

Arriving at the Westin and observing a crowded room of runners, families and friends was the only place in the world I wanted to be.  It warmed my heart and made me so proud when the room erupted in applause with the arrival of each finisher.  There’s no better picture than a runner that’s just completed the Boston Marathon standing in the doorway, wrapped in a mylar blanket with a salt and sweat stained faced, their finishers medal around their neck with the look of achievement on their face and their entourage of supporters proudly standing behind them.  Those moments will be forever etched in my memory and heart!

The runners will awake to the sense of incredible accomplishment.  Oh yeah, they may also awake wondering if a little league baseball team took batting practice on their legs.  But they will also awake with a different view of the world and themselves.  Once the last remnants of pain disappear from their legs, they will begin to wonder ‘what is next?’  It may never be another marathon but I hope it’s something as significant…something that involves committing and challenging themselves in a journey of serving others.

If so, my role as their coach will be successful!