Archive for April, 2012

My Friend…Johnny “O”

Posted: April 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

During the 2010 Boston Marathon I noticed a striking runner next to me as I passed through Natick.  He caught my immediate attention because he was fully engaged in the race.  He was absolutely cruising and as smooth as silk.  It didn’t go unnoticed that he also appeared to have a couple of decades on me.

I was taken by him and engaged him in conversation.  I complimented him on his form (always the running coach) and how well he was running.  We discovered we were aiming for the same time goal so we ran together for quite some time. 

We have remained in touch and I discovered his coach is a friend of mine, Roger Rouiller.  Roger recruited me as a New Balance Tech Rep. in the early 80’s, during the first running boom.  It was an exciting time in the world of running. 

This article appeared in a recent Running Times…I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy my friendship with Johnny “O”.

At 71, Johnny Ouweleen is setting personal bests. In the Jacksonville Bank Marathon on Dec. 18, the former New Jersey state trooper improved his marathon best to 3:20:17, winning the 70-and-over division by nearly 40 minutes while also topping all 60-plus competitors. His previous best was 3:21:49, set just a little over two months earlier in the Twin Cities Marathon, which also served as the national championship for masters. Earlier in the year, he ran 3:24.45 in the Boston Marathon.

“I was really hoping to go under 3:20 in Jacksonville,” Ouweleen says, “but I’m not disappointed. I’ll take any improvement. It gives me something to shoot for in the next marathon.”

So how does someone in his eighth decade of life continue to improve? Initially, Ouweleen thought he might be defying the aging process, but he’s come to understand that the gains from adaptation–the strengthening and molding of the body to the demands of the sport–generally run ahead of the losses to aging during the first five to 10 years of running. At some point, the aging curve overtakes the adaptation curve, and times become slower. But other factors can produce faster times as one ages, including more intelligent training, more fine-tuning before a race, smarter racing and selecting faster courses.

Ouweleen’s success appears to be a result of all those factors. He became a competitive runner in 2006, after his wife passed away the previous year. Before then, his running was limited to about 5 miles a week in preparation for the annual 1.5-mile physical fitness test required for his state trooper job. “And that was only for a month or two before the test,” he explains, adding that he usually covered the mile and a half at 9-to 10-minute pace, although he ran the Pompton Lakes Labor Day 5K several times during the 1990s, with a best time of 23:28 in 1999.

When he joined a marathon training group sponsored by a running specialty store in July 2006, Ouweleen, who’s 6 feet tall, weighed 207. By the time he toed the line for the Space Coast Marathon in Cocoa, Fla., that November, he was down to 185 pounds and finished the race in 3:39:43. “When he started I didn’t dream he would ever be able to beat guys like Joe Burgasser,” says Roger Rouiller, Ouweleen’s coach. (Burgasser, a former Age-Group Ace, was a top masters runner for more than 30 years.) “He was a big-boned 200-plus-pound guy. He seemed to me to be ambitious and excited, but a plodder I thought, lacking in speed and natural talent.”

For the 2008 Boston Marathon, which he finished in 3:27:53, Ouweleen was down to 175 pounds while training just three days a week and averaging 40 miles a week. “After I cut out alcohol on September 1, 2008, I dropped another 10 pounds,” he says.

Even with having shed those extra pounds, however, Ouweleen seemed to be stuck at 3:27 in the marathon, running 3:27:41 in the 2009 Fort Lauderdale A1A Marathon and 3:27:24 in the 2010 Boston Marathon. But then he came under the tutelage of Rouiller, a standout masters runner for many years. “Roger urged me to do no less than 50 miles per week while remaining on the three-day-a-week schedule,” Ouweleen continues. “I followed his recommendation, placing third and first American [in the 70-74 age group] at New York City [2010]. I felt comfortable with 50 miles and bumped it up into the 60s. This past summer, Roger suggested I try a fourth day of training and my weekly totals jumped into the 70s.”

Three weeks before the Jacksonville race, Ouweleen cut out the Friday 10-miler he’d been doing and went back to running three days a week. (See the training sample below.) “I didn’t want to chance any injuries,” he explains.

Whether he’s fully adapted and reached the point where the aging curve overtakes the adaptation curve, Ouweleen has no way of knowing. He doubts that he can or wants to do more training than he’s been doing and he feels that 154 pounds–the weight he raced Jacksonville at–is as light as he can go without losing strength. Moreover, as far as race conditions go, the Jacksonville race was flat and cool and about as ideal as he can hope for. Nevertheless, Ouweleen and Rouiller are optimistic that he can continue to improve by better pacing himself. “He ran the first 15K at Boston last year like an absolute madman,” Rouiller offers. “Had he run the first 15K a bit more civilized, he would no doubt have run a faster time.”

Ouweleen repeated the mistake in Jacksonville, running the first half in 1:36:24, although a tailwind helped push him along. “I get caught up in the excitement of the race, the adrenaline is flowing, and I don’t like to be elbowed,” he says about his fast starts. “I know I have to work on that and keep the restraints on.”

After testing himself in the national masters half marathon championships in Melbourne, Fla., on Feb. 5, Ouweleen will shoot for another personal best in Boston in April.


Here’s how Ouweleen trained midway between the 2011 Twin Cities and Jacksonville marathons, beginning Nov. 22.

TUESDAY: 20 miles, including warm-up, 2 x 1 mile on track (6:44, 6:40), 1 x 1200m (5:08), 1 x 400m (1:25), 4-mile cool-down on track, followed by easy 10 miles at 9:30 to 10:30/mile pace on the road.

THURSDAY: 20 miles at 9:30 to 10:30 pace with some random tempo runs, fartlek and sprints (3 hours total).

FRIDAY: 10 miles at 9:45/mile pace.

SUNDAY: 20 miles, including 4 times up and down a bridge causeway of about 1 mile at 90 percent effort.
BORN: July 14, 1940 LIVES: Sebastian, FL
PERSONAL BESTS 5K: 22:20 (2011 Boston Marathon, en route) 10K: 44:47 (2011 Boston Marathon, en route) 15K: 1:07:15 (2011 Boston Marathon, en route) HALF MARATHON: 1:35:45 (2011 Boston Marathon, en route) 25K: 1:54:34 (2011 Boston Marathon, en route) MARATHON: 3:20:17 (2011 Jacksonville Bank Marathon)

Beyond The Boston Marathon!

Posted: April 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

Transitioning back to a ‘normal’ life after 5 months of training culminating in the Boston Marathon is not as easy as one would expect.  Although I’m not making the weekly trek into Boston to train, which would consume most of my Saturday, there’s still a lot of time spent with follow-up with each of my runners.

Thankfully, I’ve connected with many of them on Facebook and can now continue our relationship beyond the training season.  Life is too precious to lose contact with such wonderful friends.  I’m impressed by how many have already decided to run another marathon.  I’ve been asked to provide a modified version of my Boston training to support their marathon preparation.  It’s encouraging this group didn’t fall into the ‘one and done’ group that needed to check this amazing accomplishment off their bucket list.

My goal each year is to instill a love of running in every runner.  Not one that necessarily involves continuing to run marathons or even racing.  But to enjoy all the benefits a running life provides.  There is certainly no physical activity that provides a greater sense of accomplishment.  I’ve always said the best part of running is stopping.  Not because it’s painful or miserable, but because the post-run feeling is the best!  Running also connects you more to nature, particularly if you include trail running in your routine.  Sharing a run with friends makes each run even more enjoyable.  Running also allows you to explore and sort through your inner most thoughts.  It helps to work out problems, to identify areas in your life that need attention and develop strategies for simplifying the complexity of life.

So when a group of runners that I’ve trained show immediate enthusiasm and interest in taking their running to new levels…I’m eager to help support them!

Wonderful Perspective

Posted: April 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Boston Marathon was just a week ago, although it seems so much longer.  It is amazing how extremely different the weather was yesterday versus a week ago; running in the cold and rain would have presented other challenges but it would have been my preference over the extreme heat of April 16th.

I have enjoyed the correspondence  between Marathon Coalition TEAM members since the marathon.  It’s always so gratifying to observe the sense of accomplishment and perspective that runners have in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon.  This year I had numerous runners from various states on the TEAM.  They certainly bring an interesting dynamic to the group because they aren’t able to attend our weekly training in Newton. 

I’m always concerned their experience will be lessened because of their distance but, without exception, I’m always impressed by their level of commitment and positive attitude.  I would like to share an excerpt from Jason Caton from the Mass Mentoring Partnership TEAM, he captured the Boston Marathon experience wonderfully.

“I could not be more proud to be a part of this team.  The challenges of this race were large.  We all trained for such a long time and I don’t think any of us were marathon runners before.  This level of training took huge amounts of time and effort.  That’s time we could have spent with our family, friends, or in bed.  Some of us suffered through injuries along the way and were able to fight past that frustration and still become a finisher of the most prestigious race in the world – GOOD JOB TEAM!

On top of that we raised over $84,000 for Mass Mentoring.  THAT’S AMAZING!!!  (BTW, Jeff and Sheree – wow, WOW!).  Our efforts in raising this money will be used to better the lives of so many kids.  That alone makes it all worth it. Having benefited from strong mentors in my life I am so honored to have that level of fundraising to support mentors for future generations.

For me, finishing was very emotional.  I grew up in central Mass and celebrated every Patriots Day by heading to the marathon. Often we would catch the Sox game and then run to Kenmore to see the runners. At this point in my life I have run a lot of races but always knew that I wanted Boston to be my first marathon.  When the opportunity to run Boston AND raise money for Mass Mentoring came up it was a no brainer.  My personal life is full of mentoring and I would not be where I am today if not for the mentors I had.  Unfortunately I developed a stress fracture in my right foot during my training and I was unable to run at all until 2 weeks before the marathon.  It was about 7 weeks of inactivity and that killed my training schedule. My longest run was 16 miles and that had been over 2 months before the marathon.  When I learned of the crazy heat on race day I was wicked worried about finishing.  So when I crossed the finish line and saw my wife standing in the bleachers cheering, I just started bawling.  LOL, seriously, I was crying as I crossed the finish and could not stop for several minutes.  No idea where it came from but I just could not help it.  I gave my wife a huge hug, proudly got my medal, and ran off to the airport.  It was one of the BEST experiences of my life and I really don’t care that it took me 5 hours to finish (5 hours and 12 minutes actually).  It was all worth it.

So when you look at the finish times of all those runners who “qualified” for the Boston Marathon, just remember that you are every bit as deserving of that medal.  In my mind, we all deserve it a little more than they do.  We are not elite runners and we worked our butts off to train and raise money for an amazing charity. All those qualifying runners did was run another race a little faster. They ARE “serious” runners and they should have been able to finish the Boston Marathon. Heat or no heat they are the “better” athletes.  We were the exception to the rule. We are the runners the media and race directors really worried about.  But we are the runners that beat the race and the heat when over 6,000 other runners (many of whom qualified) opted to defer their entry until next year.  WE DIDN’T DEFER, WE RAN – AND FINISHED!!

We earned our medals and should be proud to call ourselves Boston Finishers.”-Jason Caton 2012 Boston Marathon Finisher

Proper Perspective

Posted: April 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

I have heard from so many runners that were disappointed with their Boston Marathon experience.  Most of them felt the extreme heat deprived them of the opportunity to truly test themselves after 5 months of training.  I have run the Rockford, Illinois marathon 3 times on July 4th (2:45:27, 2:39:34 and 2:33:13) and the temperature was always in the 80’s and 90’s.  Running in extreme heat can quickly become more of a struggle to the finish line than achieving a time goal.  So I can appreciate their sentiment but it breaks my heart their Marathon Coalition experience may have been diminished on the most important day of their journey.

I realize just finishing or barely surviving a marathon isn’t nearly as gratifying as achieving a particular time goal.  And being obsessed with just making it to the next aid station or water hose can certainly deprive one of taking in the complete Boston experience, but keeping the proper perspective is extremely important.  Training for 5 months prepared the Marathon Coalition runners to make it to the finish line when others were dropping out as early as 2 miles into the marathon.

The marathon is far more than the trek from Hopkinton to Boston.  Runners had to spend considerable time in the athlete’s village and the starting corrals exposed to the sun.  The first mile at Boston is very different than the first mile of other marathons.  Add in the extreme downhills in the beginning combined with near record heat and you might as well be at mile 10 of another marathon.  I would argue that making it to the finish line of this year’s Boston Marathon is an astonishing achievement.

I am confident once the initial disappointment subsides along with the soreness from the legs, runners will begin to realize and appreciate the magnitude of their achievement.  Training for 5 months prepared them to withstand significant challenges that caused a record number of runners to drop out of the marathon.  The runners that finished the marathon will have bragging rights forever.

Monday should have been a confidence building experience.  If you can survive those conditions you should be able to handle anything else that you’ll experience in running and in life!  While I realize the script on Monday likely was quite different than most runners expected, anyone that finished the 2016 Boston Marathon should be extremely proud and satisfied!

Here is a wonderful response from Marathon Coalition runner Stacey Best:

Rick, you’re right the five months of training prepared us to more than survive the marathon. When I had the strength to finally look at my 5k splits, I noticed that they demonstrated that I was well trained. I ran negative the first half- I recall thinking that I had to be VERY conservative, but I did continue to run faster hoping that I would be able to open up and finally start really running. At the half, I realized with the congestion and starts and stops through the aid stations, it was just about conserving and finishing. My second half splits, though disappointing as stand alone statistics were consistent to the finish. The wheels did not fall off the wagon. That was largely because of our training.

Every athlete, but I think a runner even more so, wants to know what they are capable of in a perfect environment. The reality that we must face is that no such thing exists. There is always something that can and will impact our performance, as least as we recall it. That is, until we feel that magical moment of attaining a performance we could have barely imagined. Here, we all KNEW we would finish Boston no matter the circumstances. You trained us well and to believe that, so finishing was taken for granted. We toed the line because we understood that REAL runners face adversity and you made us REAL runners. But alas, we are human and so we can’t help but to wonder what if…

When I say to people that this was my “first Boston” it suggests that there may be others and maybe therein there is some comfort. But, the prospect of a one-and-done makes Monday tougher to take. I feel like a rock star because I toed the line rather than listen to the winds and waves of doubt, and I toed it with the realization that I would not likely see the race or time I believe possible for me. To me that’s courage. And no one can say I don’t have any. Thanks Rick for providing the support to get me there.”

Major Transitions

Posted: April 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

Now that the Boston Marathon is complete I will transition to a new phase of training and life.  There will be a HUGE void that needs to be filled after spending the last five months with such an amazing group of people.  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 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.   It will now become 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 have NEVER seen a group earn and deserve that coveted title than this group, temperatures approaching 90 degrees with runners abandoning the race as early as 2 miles in…that can be so psychologically distressing.  But they ran in the true spirit of all charity runners…for a cause greater than themselves.

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 spending more time with my family.   I also look forward to riding my motorcycles and flyfishing.  I look forward to preparing for the New York marathon in November.

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!

The Morning After!

Posted: April 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

The 2012 Boston Marathon will certainly rank near the top of most amazing days in my running life.  I have run marathons for 33 years and have NEVER experienced one as challenging as yesterday.

I understand the Boston Athletic Association considered canceling the race due to the extreme heat and the inherent risks of running 26.2 miles on arguably one of the most challenging courses in the world.  This also happened to be the 10th anniversary of the tragic loss of Dr. Cynthia Lucero who collapsed at Mile 22 of the 2002 Boston Marathon from hyponatremia.  The world lost one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known and I was forever changed. 

The thought of another tragedy was omnipresent throughout the weekend.  I attempted to balance the scale between avoiding another tragedy and being as encouraging and positive as the reality of the situation would allow.  I fielded calls and e-mails throughout the weekend from runners and family members seeking my advice on whether to run or to defer.  My tendency is to ALWAYS push forward, particularly at the end of a journey as special as the last 5 months with the Marathon Coalition.  But it was extremely challenging to offer advice without a realistic dose of trepidation.

I wanted to arrive in Athlete’s Village early and spend as much time as possible with my runners.  I needed to provide as much encouragement and reassurance as the conditions would allow.  I didn’t encounter one Marathon Coalition runner that had an ounce of doubt about their ability or desire to make it to the finish line in relative comfort.  When I said goodbye my heart was screaming to stay with them.  I wanted so desperately to run the marathon for them…to place myself in harms way and to protect them.  But I knew  they didn’t need my help and they proved it throughout the day.

I stood at Mile 15 in Wellesley  until the last Marathon Coalition runner passed through an area that appeared like a war zone.  There were sirens blaring from several ambulances, buses passing with runners that chose to end their journey early and debris from hours and hours of incredible spectators offering support in the form of baggies full of ice, bananas, gels, and liquid in every form imaginable.  And when this runner cried briefly and said, “Thank you for being here,” I knew my day in Wellesley was complete and that I needed to transition to getting into Boston and monitoring everyone’s progress the rest of the race and celebrating their amazing accomplishment when they returned to the Westin.

The most special moment of the training season is awaiting the arrival of each runner with their family and friends.  I get chills and unbelievable emotions race through my body as each runner receives a heroes welcome upon returning to the Westin.  The moment I share with each runner is indelibly etched in my heart and serves as an important reminder of the power of giving that each Marathon Coalition runner epitomizes.  This day is far more than completing the Boston Marathon for them…it’s about a commitment that’s far greater than themselves.  That is why charity runners have a far greater rate of completion than any other segment of Boston Marathon runners…including the Kenyans!

Transitioning back to my work life and putting the past 5 months abruptly behind me has never been easy.  I’ve never been one to flip a switch or shut the door on one experience and easily move on to another.  I pride myself on living in the moment and experiencing all that is available in every journey.  Driving home from Boston last night with Lori, Macie and Rider, I commented on how special this TEAM is and what they mean to me.  Lori mentioned that I said that from the beginning.  What a powerful and amazing group of people!  So I will NEVER be fully able to move on from this journey.  But I will be able to do more for others than I ever imagined and commit myself to asking more of myself on so many levels because of their example.

The truth is that I have gotten more out of this journey than I’ve put into it.  So I will put even more into coaching the next group of runners.  My only hope is that the next group will consist of as many 2012 Marathon Coalition runners as possible!

Thank you for all that you’ve done for me.  You have shown me the true power of the human spirit and the difference it can make in the lives of so many…including mine!

Congratulations on your amazing accomplishment!


Cautious Optimism

Posted: April 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

The night before any marathon can be wrought with anxiety.  But when the forecast is for clear skies and record breaking temperatures in the mid to high 80’s, the level of stress can reach monumental proportions.

The best approach is to adopt an extremely conservative approach relative to expectation and pace.  I recommend NOT wearing a watch as it will be more of a distraction and hindrance than an advantage.  Tomorrow is all about running within your limits and constantly making adjustments along the way.  I suspect spectators along the entire course will increase their level of support by offering more ice and water.

The goal should be to finish in ‘relative comfort’.  That will require spending more time at the water stops, incorporating frequent walk breaks and taking advantage of water hoses along the course.  Applying ice to the back of the neck helps to lower the core body temperature.  Applying sunscreen to all exposed skin will prevent excruciating pain in the latter miles of the marathon.

The sense of accomplishment will be considerable and every runner will have bragging rights forever.  Time is completely irrelevant tomorrow.  Yet the inevitable question will be, what was your time?  The best answer to that questions is…It was the time of my life!

Marathon Weekend

Posted: April 14, 2012 in Uncategorized
 It was so nice to finally return home yesterday from North Carolina and Virginia.  After driving home from Providence to see Macie Jo return from kindergarten, I headed immediately into the expo.  It is always exciting to reconnect with so many of my friends from the running community that I only see once a year during this event.  It’s also important to see if there are any new and innovative products or techniques that are worthy of incorporating into my training or coaching.
I did see 2004 Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi.  He is extremely personable and so tiny…I seemed like a giant next to him.  He recently qualified for this year’s Olympic Marathon in London and I have no doubt he will surprise everyone once again.  He was completely written off by so many running experts after a serious injury several years ago and came back to win the New York City marathon and qualify for the Olympic Marathon.  I love his spirit and that he’s so dedicated to his family!
  The Marathon Coalition pasta dinner is this evening and we have over 300 people attending…I am so excited to meet the family and friends of all the runners and to personally thank them for all their support.  Nothing in life is ever accomplished alone!
So now for the marathon:
There’s a strong likelihood the temperature will be in the high 70’s to low 80’s.  While these are certainly not ideal running conditions, particularly since you haven’t had time to acclimate; there are precautions that you can take.  I recommend that you consider the following in an effort to avoid overheating and dehydration:
  • Wear light colored clothing
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Apply sunscreen to all exposed body parts-nothing is more painful than sunburn on the back of your knees
  • Wear a white mesh hat
  • Run in any available shade on the course
  • Stay hydrated throughout the weekend
  • Take Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes throughout the marathon (I take 1-3 every 5 miles) as you will lose sodium through excessive sweat
  • Cut your pace back as the temperature increases
  • If you have support along the course try to encourage them to have baggies of ice for you-you have a thermostat on the underside of your wrist and the back of your neck-apply ice to these areas will reduce your core temperature
  • Drink 4-8 ounces of fluid every 15-20 minutes
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of not worrying too much about the weather.  You have plenty of other things, entirely within your control, that you can focus on.  Remember not to try anything new at the Expo and don’t wear anything new during the marathon.  DO NOT WEAR JEWELRY ON YOUR FINGERS OR TOES!  Your fingers and toes can swell considerably during the marathon and this will not be pleasant.
I look forward to seeing you at the pasta dinner later today and meeting you in the athlete’s village on Monday morning!

The Spirit Of Giving!

Posted: April 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

Coaching charity runners has been one of the greatest gifts of my life.  I have learned more about the human spirit in the past 16 years than all the previous years combined.  Ironically, while I have undoubtedly shared 36 years of running experience with each TEAM that I’ve coached, I have been their student.  They have taught me the powerful lesson of giving and that any life worth living has to include serving others.

My enthusiasm for coaching and giving is fueled largely by their example.

Sometimes it’s important to look back to truly appreciate how much progress has been made.  The Marathon Coalition didn’t exist 4 years ago and was fueled by my desire to continue coaching after deciding to leave Team In Training and Mike Wasserman’s vision of bring multiple charities together.  Mike and I are so proud of all the funds that have been raised by each of our runners and the impact they’ve had in providing hope and opportunity for so many.

Each runner on the Marathon Coalition has a compelling story steeped in sacrifice, determination, and serving others.   I am so proud of the following 3 Marathon Coalition runners that were recently featured in the Boston Business Journal.

Laura Gassner Otting | CEO, Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group. Running for: ACCESS, Laura’s web page for donations. Why she is running: “My marathon training has been about knocking down barrier after barrier in a sweep of momentum and positive energy, surrounded by other amazing charity runners who are running, many for the first time, as a wave of inspiration and dedication. Never have I looked deeper inside of myself to know what I was made of. I ran the first mile of my life less than two years ago, at age 39, as part of a midlife crisis where I discovered my inner athlete. I’d always wanted to run a marathon, but assumed the barriers of distance, time, and fitness were too great to overcome. Then I found out that I could run Boston by raising money for ACCESS, a nonprofit that places College Affordability Advisors inside high schools and community organizations to ensure that all young people have the financial information and resources necessary to find an affordable path to — and through — a postsecondary education. “I started my company ten years ago because I didn’t want the barriers to my professional ambition, and my company runs on a business model that reduces barriers for our clients so that they may hire the best talent possible. It seemed only natural that I would run to support a nonprofit that is knocking down financial barriers for students, many also first in their families, to go to college.”

Megan Herald, Vice President in Alternative Investment Solutions, State Street Corp. Running for: Mass Mentoring Partnership. Megan’s web page for donations. Why Megan is running: “I believe in mentoring. I have had amazing mentors in my life and now I try to do the same for others. I have been a community-based mentor for the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston and now I am a school-based mentor with Big Sister. I look forward to spending time with Angela and letting her talk about anything that she wants. There is nothing better when you and the mentee realize that though you are very different, you have a lot in common. I have been very lucky to have a number of people in my life whom I have trusted and guided me, and I just hope I am doing that for my Little Angela.”  

Ranch Kimball, Trustee, Museum of Science, businessman. Running for: The Museum of Science. Ranch’s web page for donations. (Click “Donate Now” and give to Ranch Kimball.) Why Ranch runs: “I’m running the Boston Marathon for three reasons. I love talking with the families that stand and sit on their front lawns cheering the runners. So many of these front lawns are full of three generations – grandparents, parents, and kids all together, having a good time. I run it to keep fit. Nothing like a training season that starts week after Thanksgiving, runs through the winter and ends in mid-April, to keep you in shape. Finally, I run to support the Museum of Science, where I’m a Trustee. My family and I have visited the museum 296 times over the past seven years! But, the number of school visits to the Museum has fallen in half in the past decade. So, my marathon runs raise money for the Museum’s travelling programs that take exhibits out to kids at their schools. Last year I raised enough for two new portable planetariums. This year I’m raising enough to “adopt” every K-8 student in two cities, to fund traveling programs to come to all their schools.

Risk Versus Reward!

Posted: April 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

The excitement of the approaching  Boston Marathon is palpable!  The anticipation of the next 6 days is so exhilarating.  It all begins with the trip to the Fitness Expo to pick up the official number.  This can be the first time all of this actually seems real!

Approaching a registration volunteer with your official Boston Marathon confirmation and driver’s license  is the first step in the marathon weekend journey; one that is filled with excitement and anticipation.  Once you enter the expo the environment is similar to a 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.

The weekend can be like an emotional roller coaster that you have absolutely no control over.  You simply need to try to remain calm and maintain your composure.  Navigating these emotional waters or doubt and excitement can drain you of energy.  The runners that can stay focused on the task at hand throughout the weekend will be rewarded with unbound confidence when they’re starting at the starting line.

Taking on the 26.2 mile challenge from Hopkinton to Boston is steeped in possibility and risk.  Balancing the scale between possible failure and monumental success is exhilarating.  But there’s a HUGE difference between fear and respect. You absolutely have to respect the Boston Marathon…it’s the most challenging marathon course imaginable.  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 the voice of doubt asking if you’re prepared, can you really make it to the finish line, have you done all the necessary training to allow me to finish in ‘relative comfort, do you 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 a runner 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!!!