This picture was taken moments before we departed for our 15 mile run on Saturday. It was a challenging run that included sub-zero windchill, ice and snow-covered roads and plenty of congestion including traffic and hundreds of other runners preparing for Boston. We covered the most challenging segment of the Boston Marathon course…twice. Overcoming these challenges is perfect preparation for April 21, 2014.
I’m always amazed and inspired when I see pictures of the Marathon Coalition TEAM. This picture includes less than half of our entire TEAM. It’s amazing to me because the Marathon Coalition started 5 years ago with just a handful of runners…several of whom are included in this picture. This incredible growth is proof of what is possible when like-minded people have an opportunity to make a difference in the world.
Maragaret Mead once said:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
When I consider my coaching career, I marvel at how quickly and unexpectedly one’s path in life can change. I never imagined that losing my mom would lead to my journey as a marathon running coach. Mom was diagnosed with leukemia in 1996 and I rushed to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota to be with her. I didn’t think it would be the last time I would be with her. During our last conversation I promised her I would do something significant with my life.
After giving the eulogy at her funeral I returned to New England and did the only thing I knew to begin the healing process…I ran the Ocean State Marathon in her memory. Serendipitously, I noticed Leukemia and Lymphoma Society signs the entire distance and knew the journey of fulfilling my commitment to mom had begun.
I enjoyed a 12 year journey as head coach for the New England Chapter of LLS. With the help of thousands of runners and their supporters, we raised tens of millions to fund research for blood related cancers. I will be forever grateful for all the support I received during my time with LLS, it profoundly changed me and continues to inspire me to serve others.
Iris Gleason was the executive director of LLS during my entire tenure. She was my mentor and helped to fill the gaping hole in my life from the loss of mom. When she retired, I knew I should follow in her footsteps. She had been an incredible source of support and now that was gone.
However, when the Fall training season approached, I knew my love of coaching was as strong as ever and I couldn’t walk away. I identified several charities that received Boston Marathon numbers from the Boston Athletic Association and the next chapter of my coaching life had begun. I met with Mike Wasserman from Bottom Line and he lit the spark that is now the blazing fire of the Marathon Coalition.
Nothing significant in life is ever accomplished alone. That has certainly been true with the Marathon Coalition. I am extremely thankful for all the runners who have been part of each TEAM the past 6 years. The support provided by their friends and families has given hope and opportunity to people who have gone without both for far too long.
I am equally grateful to all the charities that have believed in me enough to entrust the training and care of their runners to me. Thank you all for allowing me the opportunity to continue to honor the memory of my mom…I am truly living the dream!