Archive for April, 2013

Changing The World

Posted: April 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

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


I continue to be inspired by the countless gestures of selflessness in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon tragedy.  One significant example of the outpouring of support  is the $26,235,845 currently raised by The One Fund, one-third represented by private donations.  Corporations have obviously stepped up, including the $1 million donated by New Balance!

We are witnessing the best of humanity as we unite through our recovery.

At the Marathon Coalition training on Saturday, Ace Samz, provided an inspiring speech about his experience at the finish line and the importance of not allowing this event to dampen our spirit for running the Boston Marathon or for living life.  He assured us he would be at the finish line supporting his girlfriend (Marathon Coalition runner Natalie Noir) next year.  I am hopeful he may actually decide to run Boston…no pressure!  Ace was holding yellow balloons near the location of the first blast…you may have seen them being released in news footage.  He was hospitalized with non-life threatening shrapnel wounds and his prognosis is extremely promising.

Dawn Guarriello (wife of Marathon Coalition coach, Greg) also spoke about her efforts to assist the numerous victims dealing with physical challenges.  Dawn works for an architectural firm and has formed a group of caring individuals trying to unite with others to help so many be more comfortable in their homes once they’re released from the hospital.  Dawn described how many people have offered their time and services to assist in this effort. 

Renovate For Recovery

Renovate For Recovery ( is certainly making a significant difference in the lives of so many.

The unity that we are witnessing is an example of how similar we are.  Despite all the differences on the surface, we all care about one another and we have a relentless desire to help those in need.  While our numbers are in the millions, we are all just one person in a small group of thoughtful and committed people trying to change the world…and we are!


Rewards Of Coaching

Posted: April 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

I normally take 5 months completely off from coaching after the Boston Marathon.  It’s a perfect time to assess what changes are necessary to improve the experience for all Marathon Coalition runners and their respective charities.  November seems to arrive sooner each year and then we’re underway for another year.  It’s perfect because, after a 5 month break,  I’m always counting the weeks before the Marathon Coalition kick-off.

This past year I have conducted numerous private two hour Transformational Running clinics covering all aspects of running.  The primary focus is to improve a runner’s form and to maintain their efficiency throughout each run.  Additionally, these sessions truly transform the mental, physical and spiritual aspects of running.  It’s wonderful to observe runners adopt a completely new mindset and approach to their running…one that has far more purpose and meaning.  This has now segued into private coaching, completely separate from coaching a full team of nearly 250 Marathon Coalition runners.

It’s been a nice balance between coaching nearly 250  charity runners to finishing the Boston Marathon in relative comfort and  a smaller group of runners determined to improve their qualifying time.  Working one-on-one with runners has been a wonderful compliment to my charity coaching and added an entirely new dimension to my coaching portfolio.  I have thoroughly enjoyed coaching runners across the country and helping them to achieve their running goals.

I couldn’t be happier with the group of runners I’m currently coaching for fall marathons.  I’m continuing with several runners that I coached for Boston and an entirely new group that all have the goal of pursuing a Boston qualifying time.  I’m proud to say that 90% of the runners I coached for Boston ran qualifying times.  One runner improved his personal best by 90 minutes and qualified for Boston.

I wanted to thank you for your incredible help with my own Boston training. Outside of the tragic events that unfolded, I will always remember your input to my training which helped me achieve an 90 minute personal best!” -Nick Ritter


Although it looks like I won’t have the same break from coaching in 2013, I know that I will have a far greater impact on many more runners.  I couldn’t ask for a more rewarding opportunity.

Purposeful Living

Posted: April 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

I am looking forward to meeting the Marathon Coalition and additional invited guests this Saturday.  I mentioned it would be our last meeting and received the following response from Charlotte Rocker, “On the contrary – it’s the first Marathon Coalition meeting for TEAM 2014!”  I love that spirit!

Charlotte is right, it does feel like the first meeting of a new journey.  I’m in desperate need of reuniting with everyone I didn’t see after Mile 15.  I need to hug them and to begin to heal with them.  I need to console them and reassure them, despite all the suffering inflicted on so many, that it’s okay to feel disappointed about being deprived of the opportunity to cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon-a goal they’ve dreamed of for months, after so much hard work and dedication.

We also need to celebrate the many accomplishments of the previous 5 months.  A group of over 200 individuals became a TEAM.  The tragedy that occurred on April 15th will make sure this TEAM becomes lifelong friends…united in living life to the fullest and continuing to serve others.

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

Living life with a greater purpose will allow us to heal.   It will  also inspire us to continue providing opportunity, hope and life to others!

The Spirit Of Hope

Posted: April 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

It’s difficult to believe it’s been a week since we made our trek to Hopkinton filled with hope and anticipation.  I suspect we have changed more in the past week than possibly any other week in our lives.

We have felt threatened, our faith in humanity shaken, disappointed that we were unable to compete a goal that we invested so much time, effort and dedication, we mourned for those lost and injured, and we were inspired to honor them and to grasp all that life offers and begin preparing for the 2014 Boston Marathon.

I was comforted by the countless stories told my so many runners in the aftermath of last Monday’s horrific tragedy.  Tom Ingrassia, running for the Boys & Girls Club of Newton, shared the following:

“My memories of Monday will be the glimmers of hope and humanity I witnessed in the aftermath of tragedy–the woman who offered me her marathon jacket when she saw me, bedraggled-looking, caked in salt, and shivering in a doorway on Stuart Street, trying to find my wife. The Marathon volunteer who offered to give me money to get some food. The woman who offered me her water bottle. The sheer joy I felt as I watched my wife finally make her way up Stuart Street, and as we clung to each other when we reunited. (Barbara was supposed to have been sitting in the bleachers at the finish line–but had been delayed by traffic and subway backups, and hadn’t yet made it t the finish line area when the bombs exploded–but because of the blocked cell phones, I didn’t know where she was for almost 2 hours.) And, first and foremost, the amazing love, caring and concern we received from friends and family. To be loved is an amazing thing!

You are the best! And, despite the tragedy of the day, running the Boston Marathon was a positive experience for me–my best, most joyful run ever!”


Tom Ingrassia

Unfinished Business

Posted: April 20, 2013 in Uncategorized


If this week is any indication, the 2014 Boston Marathon is going to be the most popular and meaningful ever. I have heard from countless runners, many of whom haven’t run Boston in over 10 years, expressing their interest in running Boston.  Next year’s marathon will be one of healing and celebration, for individuals and for our amazing city.

Personally, I cannot remember when my enthusiasm for running has been greater…as an individual…as a coach.  I suspect it will be extremely difficult to gain entry as a qualified runner but I’m going to commit myself to training so that my qualifying time increases the likelihood of gaining entry.  I am entered in the Hartford Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon, both in October.

We won’t be idle for the next 51 weeks.  We have plenty to focus on as we begin to recover from this horrific week.  We certainly need to begin to heal and to also celebrate while being mindful of honoring the memory of the 4 individuals that lost their lives this week.  Yes…we still have plenty of unfinished business.

The events of Marathon Day no doubt have left us feeling sad, angry, bitter, insecure, and unsettled. We’ll never make sense of this heinous act, but we can find a way to move forward and overcome the negative feelings. Running is my way. Connecting with my friends, family and TEAM is another. It works best when the two happen simultaneously. We did not have closure at the end of the day on Monday like we expected, like we needed. Let’s get together as a team and create our own “end of the day”. On Saturday, May 4th, Grafton is holding it 24th Annual Grafton Gazebo Road Race, a 5 mile run and 1.5 mile fun walk that follows the scenic roads through the Grafton Common to the finish. It starts at 10:00 AM. Our family does this race every year. There are also children’s runs on the track before the race, so there’s something for the whole family.

What better way to begin the healing process than with the camaraderie of teammates, the satisfaction of running and completing the race, in the serenity of a quiet country town and the security of a tight knit community. This time we’ll celebrate together at the end.

Click here to register:

The Road To Healing

Posted: April 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

The road to healing from Monday’s horrific tragedy will be much longer than any marathon. It will test us to a far greater degree than months of training to complete the 26.2 mile distance. But it will also strengthen our resolve to pursue our dreams and our commitment to serving others and making a difference in the world.

A Marathon Coalition runner recently posted this about the marathon:

“You’ve got what it takes but it is going to take everything you’ve got!”

That certainly has additional meaning now that we are faced with the challenge of reconciling ‘why’ this horrific tragedy occurred. My enthusiasm for running has never been greater. I’m looking forward to the upcoming racing season and pushing myself like never before. I’m looking forward to experiencing the running community like never before. I’m looking forward to showing that world that everyone should pursue their dreams, whatever they may be, like never before!

This tragedy will unite the running community like never before. I look forward to running down the road to healing with all of you!

The past 36 hours have been an emotional roller coaster. I have been focused on providing support, understanding and clarity to the hundreds of runners, family and friends that have reached out to me. Ironically, it has been the best way for me to deal with all the confusion and questions that I have about this tragic event.

One of my goals during the nearly 5 month training season is to provide a perfect ending to this amazing journey. Runners deserve Marathon Monday to be one of the most memorable days of their lives. They have sacrificed so much to make it to the Big Stage and have earned the opportunity to experience all that the Boston Marathon provides. I am only beginning to realize the magnitude of confusion and disappointment…both of which are going to take considerable time to reconcile and resolve.

While to goal of the runners is to make it to the finish line of the Boston Marathon, my goal is to provide the most amazing celebration as they arrive back at the Westin to meet their teammates, families and friends. Runners arrive wrapped in Mylar blankets, finisher’s medals wrapped around their necks with salt stained faces, to a heroes welcome…the culmination of work extremely well done!

As I was making my way to the Westin I was astonished by how many women I encountered running in the opposite direction in dresses and carrying their shoes. Approaching the hotel, there was a Boston Police instructing everyone to get inside…my confusion was just beginning. After I arrived on the fourth floor I realized something horrific must have happened. What should have been a celebratory environment was filled with shock, fear and disbelief. I suddenly and unexpectedly had to shift gears. The realization that this incredibly special day, one normally filled with promise, was going to be quite different. I spent hours attempting to provide answers, comfort and reassurance but I feel I came up short on all counts.

I woke up the following morning and just wanted to run. Because I know that running provides answers, hope and inspiration. Lori, Rider and I began the run together while Macie Jo pedaled her bike alongside. Lori stayed with her while Rider and I pulled ahead. It was wonderful to run side by side with him. Here was our 12 year old son running stride for stride with me, breathing rhythmically, at a pace I wasn’t sure I could maintain. And I know he was searching for answers, too.

Afterwards, I asked him if he was afraid and whether he wanted to talk about what happened. He indicated he was scared there may be more explosions and didn’t feel safe until he realized the dust had settled and the worst was over. I hesitated to ask the following question but I just needed to:

‘Do you think you would like to run the Boston Marathon someday, Rider?’ He flashed his amazing smile and provided the answer I needed to hear most…”Yes, I know I’m going to run the Boston Marathon someday!”

Finding Hope

Posted: April 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

I hope everyone begins today with a strengthened resolve to live life to the fullest and with a marathoner’s determination to continue to chase your dreams. It will take considerable time to reconcile why this incredible tragedy occurred yesterday, but I’m confident we will continue to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of so many before and during yesterday’s Boston Marathon.

I am heartbroken that so many runners were deprived of the opportunity to experience crossing the finish line yesterday. Our focus, thoughts and prayers should be with the victims and their families and friends during this trying time. Much like life, yesterday didn’t go as planned for nearly everyone. But we will be defined by how we handle this unexpected and tragic occurrence. We need to not be paralyzed by fear of pursuing our goals. We need to show unwavering determination in paying tribute to all who have suffered and sacrificed so we can enjoy our freedom and live honorable lives.

I am going for a run to begin the healing process and to reflect on how I can be a better coach and father….and a more appreciative person. Despite yesterday’s tragedy, my heart is full this morning because of the knowledge that I am a smart part of a huge community of runners that have a relentless commitment to serving others. A group that provides hope, opportunity and life to others!

Thank you all for allowing me into your heart and your life!

Paying Tribute

Posted: April 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Marathon Coalition pasta party was simply awe-inspiring. As I stood before hundreds of runners and their friends and families, I was overwhelmed with the realization that this was just an idea 5 years ago. I’m comforted knowing we are approaching the milestone of raising $1 million this year for the 13 charities represented.

These funds will provide hope and opportunity for young people that have the aptitude to attend college but not the resources. The college education these first-generation students receive will begin a legacy of learning and opportunity for subsequent generations. Mentoring is a central theme of several Marathon Coalition charities. These incredible and inspiring mentors, in many cases, will be the first person in the lives of many of the young people to believe in them. They will ignite a passion for chasing dreams and pursuing opportunities for so many students that were entirely beyond their grasp.

I will always remember the water stops filled with volunteers from the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, an organization whose mission it is to build girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. I met several amazing 7th grade girls last night that have been supported by Dream-Big! Started just a few years ago by Linda Driscoll, this organization helps low-income and homeless girls achieve their dreams by providing the basic items necessary to enable them to participate in sports and physical activity, helping to lay the foundation for healthy, active lifestyles and quality learning experiences.

Camp Shriver’s mission is to provide inclusive summer program for children with and without intellectual disabilities. Their goal is to provide sports and other recreational and enrichment activities for all participants. To create an atmosphere of understanding, learning, and sharing so that campers from diverse backgrounds with and without disabilities can engage in positive peer relationships and develop new friendships.

The Boys & Girls Club of Newton and Dorchester inspire and enable all young people, from diverse circumstances, to realize their full potential by providing opportunities for personal growth to become contributing, caring and responsible members of the community.

I know that every Marathon Coalition runner will complete the Boston Marathon tomorrow. Charity runners have a higher completion rate than any other segment of the Boston Marathon field, even greater than the front-running Kenyans and the mass of runners represented by the qualified runners. The reason is quite simple…charity runners aren’t just running for themselves…they are running for a much higher purpose. They run to give hope and, in many cases, to provide the gift of life to so many. They have had hundreds of people support them through their fundraising efforts and to say…”I believe in you…I know that you can do this…You inspire me on so many levels…My life will be enriched because of your efforts.”

So tomorrow, and the balance of my life, I salute and pay tribute to all charity runners!

I will see you at the finish line!

Sweet Anticipation

Posted: April 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

I arrived at the Hynes Auditorium just before 1:00 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 17 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.

It is an honor to greet each runner as they enter the number pick-up area and observe their excitement. I was able to meet many of their friends and family. This process is the culmination of months of challenging training and the realization the Boston Marathon is just around the corner.

I also spoke with so many runners from around the world that asked my advice on countless aspects of Marathon Monday. It was a treat when one of the runners I’m coaching privately from Portland, Oregon arrived…I know she’s going to have her best marathon ever.

I also look forward to spending the day at Mile 15 on Monday and having my entire family with me. I’ve spent nearly 17 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 the anticipation of observing so many runners realize the dream of a lifetime!