Archive for April, 2011

Let’s Dance!

Posted: April 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

Today promises to be filled with uncontrollable nerves, fear, challenge, inspiration, enlightenment, tears and achievement….you will never view yourself the same once you cross the finish line today!

This is the day that you’ve been dreaming about for so long.  Yes, the anticipation and nerves are difficult to manage but breathe deeply and savor every moment.  You will reflect on this day for the rest of your life…it will define you and the path you choose to take.

I am so proud of your effort to make such a significant difference in the lives of others.  Any life worth living has to include serving others and your efforts embody that spirit.  As you make your way to Boston today I hope you reflect on all the people who have supported you, encouraged you and inspired you…they will be standing along the course and waiting for you at the finish line.

I’m excited to share this day with you…Go TEAM!

P.S. Please take a moment to read this morning’s interview on The Grafton Patch: http://grafton.patch.com/articles/graftons-marathon-man-helps-raise-14-million

Nightcap

Posted: April 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

Just thought you might like to review the slide show from last evening’s pasta party.  Hopefully it will provide pleasant dreams.  I’m so excited to see you tomorrow at Athlete’s Village, mile 15, and most importantly at the finish.  Please know that I am incredibly proud of each of you and I look forward to celebrating your accomplishment tomorrow.

Here’s the link for the slide show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EGKkPytJfE

Night Of Inspiration

Posted: April 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

Last evening was simply amazing!  We held our first pasta party for the Marathon Coalition runners, their families and friends.  I cherish meeting everyone that has provided support, encouragement and inspiration to every member of the TEAM.  It’s also a perfect opportunity to quell the runner’s anxiety associated with the unknown and anticipation of the marathon.

Being the coach of the 7 education-based charities has revived my love of running and coaching.  I feel just as I did when I first began running 35 years ago.  Because of the Marathon Coalition runners I’m so excited to build my running back from ground zero.  My goals far exceed qualifying for Boston so I look forward to embarking on this new running journey.  And I’ve never been more committed to being the best coach a runner has ever had!

I am proud of the Marathon Coalition charities for being so mindful of the funds each runner raises.  We held our pasta dinner at the First Baptist Church in Newton Centre where we trained every Saturday.  The amount a charity raises is not nearly important as how they utilize and dispense it.   Total money raised minus the related expenses reflects the ‘true’ impact those dollars have in providing hope to the people who benefit. 

The comments and feedbacks I received from runners, their families and friends, and even the Razoo staff that provides the platform for our fundraising efforts; will be forever etched in my heart.  The ultimate validation of the impact my coaching has is the countless interaction I have with my runners and the belief that I instill in them that they can accomplish far more than they ever imagined.  They then go out and live their lives in that spirit and act on that belief.

Nothing significant in life is ever accomplished alone.  I would like to thank the entire staff of Access, Boston Debate League, Bottom Line, Jumpstart, Mass Mentoring Partnership and Summer Search for their tireless work this year and ensuring each runner received all the necessary support to exceed their fundraising goals.  I would also like to thank everyone for allowing me to focus on just being a coach…that is not as easy or simple as it sounds!

Finally, I would like to thank my family.  Lori, Rider and Macie are my foundation.  Because of their love I am a much better and more complete person.  Lori’s example has had a far greater impact on my coaching and the manner in which I live my life than she will ever realize.  She has stood in my shadow for far too long when we coached together for 12 years at Team In Training and continues to today…I’m committed to changing that.  She surprised everyone with a slide show that captured the essence of this amazing journey that we’ve shared the past 5 months.

90% of the excitement of training for Boston will occur tomorrow.  I am so excited to play a small role in the Marathon Coalition runners accomplishing such a significant goal.  One that has required more of them than they likely expected…but the reward will be commensurate…a life-changing accomplishment and experience!

I will see you at the finish line!  Go TEAM!

Sweet Anticipation!

Posted: April 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

In previous years I would obtain my Boston number and spend less than 30 minutes in the Expo.  This year was certainly different.  Although I won’t be running on Monday, I did get my number and t-shirt.  I plan to pin my number in front of my treadmill as motivation and a reminder of my goal for 2012.

I arrived at the Hynes Auditorium just before 2:00 p.m. and didn’t leave until after 7:00 p.m.  I didn’t expect to stay that long but I kept meeting current and past runners from my 15 years of coaching.  Although I feel like I’m 18, seeing my coaching history unfold before my eyes with such a span of runners certainly made me realize I’m heading into the twilight of my running and coaching career.

My running legacy won’t be defined by the times that I’ve run as much as the people I’ve coached.  The best part of the afternoon was observing the excitement of the Marathon Coalition runners…their enthusiasm is infectious!  I was full of pride being with them away from our training location and the environment I’m most comfortable in and knowing they are ready for the challenge of completing the Boston Marathon.

I met Michael Bonadio Sr. and Jr. there as well.  When I first started coaching Team In Training in 1997, Michael Sr. was running in honor of his then 4-year-old son who had survived leukemia twice!  On Monday they will be running the Boston Marathon together!  I called in a favor and was able to get 4 VIP Seating passes for their family at the finish line.  That’s a moment that will be captured in time, etched in the hearts of so many and is the ultimate testament to a parent’s commitment to their child. 

I spoke with a wonderful husband and wife from Utah that are running Boston for the first time…having qualified in marathons in Utah.  They were so curious about how to run the marathon and had a 1,000 questions.  I told two of my previous runners that accompanied me (I trained them for 13 Boston Marathons each) that I was going to set up a booth at next year’s expo as the Palm Reading Coach and put everyone’s mind at ease:-)

I met a young Marine from Camp Pendleton at Nike Town who will also be running his first Boston and explained the best way to run Boston.  That moment brought me back to 1979 when I came to Boston as a 20-year-old to run my first Boston.  I showed him the depiction of the Boston course on the wall and explained the best strategy for covering the distance.  I look forward to seeing him on the course Monday.

I also look forward to spending the day at Mile 15 on Monday and having my entire family with me.  I’ve spent nearly 15 years in that spot offering encouragement to countless runners.  Just as in life, I’ve gotten so much more out of those years than I’ve given.  Each year I continue to be inspired by the effort that I witness from the runners I’m blessed to coach.  I get to see them completely out of their comfort zone…I get to see the raw emotion of the struggle…I get to see the anticipation of achievement…I get to see life reduced to its absolute best and most inspiring.

Monday promises to be another one of the greatest days of my life..I love being a coach!

Bittersweet…

Posted: April 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

During an interview last evening the reporter asked me to run so she could take several pictures.  I haven’t run for nearly two weeks in an effort to rest an extremely tender hamstring.  I ran an extremely hard 8 mile workout on the hills of Newton with the Marathon Coalition TEAM several weeks ago and my hamstring felt like it was in a vice during the closing miles.

I’ve been riding the spinning bike to maintain my fitness and had little doubt that I would be able to run on Monday.  I had made plans to meet several runners that I coached for 12 Boston Marathon’s each at the Expo later today and had all my things packed and ready for the weekend.  Most importantly, I was really looking forward to the test of covering the 26.2 miles on Monday and securing another qualifying time that would have represented the 5th consecutive decade of qualifying for Boston at Boston.

The moment I took my first step I knew my Boston Marathon effort was in peril…very disappointing.  Thankfully my running the past 15 years has been focused on helping others achieve their goals.  My marathon effort was a small aside to my primary focus for the 2011 Boston Marathon… doing everything possible to ensure each of my runners complete the marathon in ‘relative comfort’.

I will now be able to station myself just past 15 miles in Wellesley where I’ve spent the last 15 hears offering encouragement to each of the runners.  I have had my moments at the Boston Marathon and I’m hopeful that I will have many more.  My disappointment will soon be replaced by the incredible excitement of seeing so many runners achieve their goal of completing Boston.

The interview will be posted on the Grafton Patch (grafton.patch.com) this weekend.  This interview reminded me how fortunate  I am to be a coach, particularly one of so many incredible people.  My brief moment of disappointment was soon replaced by the excitement I feel for every runner on the Marathon Coalition TEAM.

As I’ve mentioned numerous times, I’ve learned and benefitted more from my failures and disappointments than I have any of my successes and this will be no different.  It’s time to experience all the Boston Marathon has to offer and I’m filled with anticipation for my runners…I will see you at the finish line!

Risk Versus Reward

Posted: April 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

I am starting to really feel the excitement of the Boston Marathon!  The anticipation of the next 4 days is so exhilarating.  It all begins with the drive to the Hynes Auditorium to pick up my number and visit the Fitness Expo.  Once I present my I.D. and I receive my number from the volunteer, it is real!

Carrying the bag over my shoulder into the expo makes me feel like a soldier preparing for war.  It’s similar to the excitement of the pep rally before the Friday night game, the step onto a military plane before a manuever, the bachelor party before the wedding, it’s the anticipation of a MAJOR accomplishment.

I’ve learned to leave my comfort zone as frequently as possible to feel alive.  After I lost mom to leukemia in 1996 and began talking about the magnitude of loss and inspiration in front of thousands of people, I realized life is lived well beyond my comfort zone.  I am not afraid to lose my emotions in front of others, I’m not afraid to let people know that how much I care about and love them and I’m certainly not afraid of failure.  I’ve learned the biggest and hardest lessons life has to offer through failure and disappointment.

And I’m certainly not afraid of taking on the 26.2 mile trek from Hopkinton to Boston.  But there’s a HUGE difference between fear and respect.  I absolutely respect the Boston Marathon…it’s the most challenging marathon course I’ve ever run.  The weather in New England on Patriot’s Day is as unpredictable as a 16-year-old behind the wheel of a car.

If you’re not nervous about running Boston I suspect you’ll learn some valuable lessons on Monday.  There’s always a little voice in my ear asking if I’m prepared, can I really make it to the finish line, have I done all the necessary training to allow me to finish in ‘relative comfort, do I really have the heart and determination to accomplish this?  Those are reasonable questions and can certainly cast doubt over what has the potential of being the biggest day of your life.

The Boston Marathon makes me feel alive!  I love big challenges because there’s undeniably a correlation between the magnitude of the risk you take and the reward you receive.  Are you ready for this?  I have no doubt that EVERY runner on the Marathon Coalition TEAM will see the finish line on Monday…bring it!!!

Team Spirit

Posted: April 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision.  The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives.  It it the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”   -Andrew Carnegie.

Running is essentially an individual pursuit…it’s one of the primary reasons I was initially drawn to it.  I didn’t have to rely on anyone else.  I could simply put on my running shoes whenever I liked and go wherever I wanted.  In races I didn’t have to rely on a teammate to make the shot, hit the ball or catch the pass.  Whether I did extremely well or was an abysmal failure, I was entirely responsible.

My perspective on the individual aspect of running began to change soon after I became a running coach for Team In Training.  I realized that nothing significant in life, particularly training for and running a marathon, is ever accomplished alone.  The support and encouragement a runner receives during training and along the marathon course is as important as the perfect pass in a team sport. 

Charity runners are undoubtedly part of a TEAM committed to one goal…raising as much money as possible to make a significant difference in the lives of others.  I’ve been so inspired by the example of the thousands of charity runners that I’ve coached who place their commitment to the mission of their respective charity about their individual achievement.

I have never been more proud to be on a team than being on Team In Training and the Marathon Coalition TEAM!  I am honored to be the coach of so many determined and committed runners.  Their example of selflessness inspires me to give more of myself at every opportunity.  The team spirit that exists on the Marathon Coalition TEAM has helped me to think of myself and my personal goals less and far more about how I can help others achieve their goals.

Being a coach of charity runners is one of the greatest gifts I’ve received…I rank it up there with my wife and children!

Energy Management

Posted: April 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

Realizing that you won’t have any more energy than you do at the start of the marathon will help you to manage it.  I’ve always been surprised by the number of runners I witness wasting energy before the marathon even starts.  Ensuring that you stay warm during the wait in Athlete’s Village is critical.  If you’re shivering you’re wasting energy.

I enter the starting corral in a complete state of calmness, knowing my effort to conserve fuel and energy will pay huge dividends later in the day.  Inevitably I will observe runners jumping up and down, whooping and hollering in the starting corral.  They haven’t mastered the art of mental and physical calmess…they simply need to expel pent-up energy and pre-race excitement.  When I pass them later I’m always temped to comment about how different they appear than just an hour ago.  I’ve learned valuable lessons from observing others.  These same individuals race through the woods in an effort to pass thousands of runners slowed by the congestion at the start.

You may be forced to endure the process of running, stopping and running in the beginning.  Don’t let this disrupt your mental focus.  Remaining in your position and avoiding darting around others to find an open space  helps to avoid wasting energy.  It’s similar to a driver racing around you on the highway to gain just one spot ahead of you, it’s a complete waste of energy.

My highest priority is to run easy until my muscles are fully oxygenated and my form is rhythmic.  I focus on running relaxed and light on my feet.  If your foot strikes are loud or you can hear yourself breathe, you’re wasting energy.  Take time for a brief walk break at the water stops to refuel.  This will provide a much-needed and well-deserved mental and physical break.  I always stay to the middle of the road until I’m at the last table of a water stop.  It’s far less congested and less risky.  I don’t want to slip on cups or water or risk running into someone else.  You’ll notice the first few tables of every water stop are complete chaos.  Runners have been anticipating their arrival for quite some time and simply have no patience for doing what’s going to benefit them the most.  Ingesting the fuel that you tested in training at regular intervals also helps to maintain your fuel levels. 

Managing each water stop properly will build your confidence and help to conserve your fuel.  You should be cautious about taking things from spectators.  It’s hard to resist taking a banana or orange slice from a small child but I don’t recommend it.  The bacteria from their hands can upset your stomach.  I’ve been so low on fuel in some marathons that I would have taken anything from anyone…I clearly didn’t manage my fuel very well.

Running a consistent pace is another effective method of managing your energy.  It’s unrealistic and not advisable to maintain your pace on the hills.  It’s better to ease back and conserve your energy, particularly on the hills beginning at Mile 16 to the top of Heartbreak Hill at Boston College (Mile 21).  You are far more efficient if you’re maintaining a reasonable and comfortable pace.  Otherwise, it’s similar to driving a car fast up a hill, it’s inefficient and a complete waste of fuel.

Managing your energy begins from the moment you wake up on marathon day!  How successful you are in properly fueling that morning and how conservative you are in expending that fuel determines how successful you will be in the marathon. 

Dress in warm, comfortable clothes for the wait prior to the marathon, remain in a complete state of calmness, manage your energy effectively throughout the marathon and your spirit and finisher’s picture will reflect it!

Week Of Celebration

Posted: April 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

With one week remaining before the Boston Marathon your focus will likely be entirely on the task of hand.  All other responsibilities will likely suffer but you should try to maintain balance in your daily life.  This is a very common tug-of-war that practically every runner experiences.

The best approach is to try to make this week as normal as possible.  Sleep is extremely important and will become more critical as the week progresses because of the likelihood of the stress and pressure you feel.  The most important night of sleep is Saturday night, you cannot count on a restful night of sleep on Sunday evening.  Cross training is a great option in maintaining your fitness without risking an injury by running.

Sending hand-written thank you letters to all of your supporters is a great well to fill you time and to fully express your appreciation for their support.  Reading the cards, letters and e-mails of support that you’ve received will help reinforce how fortunate you are to be running Boston and should be instrumental in sustaining your motivation.  Nothing significant in life ever accomplished alone and this is certainly reinforced when running Boston as a charity runner. 

Reflecting on the entire scope of support and encouragement that you’ve received the past six months, coupled with the realization that your fundraising efforts will provide significant educational opportunities to so many, should be all the motivation and inspiration that you need to make it through the final miles of Boston.

Take an extremely deep breath whenever you feel the pressure of the final week and take a moment to reflect on how fortunate you are to be running the 2011 Boston Marathon.  This should be an exciting week, possibly the most exciting week of your life.  I love that the few hours it takes you to make the trek from Hopkinton to Boston will likely be a brief period of time that will be constantly referenced throughout your life. 

During that short window of time you will learn so much about the human spirit.  You will also learn about yourself by being provided a glimpse into your soul like never before and seeing precisely where your weaknesses and strengths are …you will be changed by both.  You will also be inspired to pursue and achieve more than you ever imagined.

Focus your thoughts less on whether you’re going to be able to finish the distance and more on all the positive aspects of this journey and the pressure of the week will be minimized.  This should be a week of celebration!

I spent a wonderful day at the Museum of Science yesterday.   The highlight was meeting all the key personnel from the Boston Athletic Association and sharing my thoughts on strengthening the Charity program.  It was very reassuring to see their support of the program, particularly after some of the criticism the B.A.A received after registration closed unexpectedly early and many entries from qualified runners weren’t accepted.

I look forward to working closer with the B.A.A. and helping all the new charities that are accepted into the program each year.  Here is a podcast that I recorded at the Museum of Science that captures the essence of being a charity runner:

http://www.mos.org/events_activities/podcasts&d=4934

Charity runners ALWAYS make it to the finish line!