In one ear and out the other.

According to my fantastic orthopedic surgeon, the 118th running of the Boston Marathon was not in the cards for me.  If you recall, back on February 4th I sustained an injury during a weekly Tuesday night Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC) speed workout.  It was abrupt and prevented me from running.  Walking was even uncomfortable.  I thought maybe it was a muscle pull or something that would go away quickly.  But it seemed far too painful and spread out so I called my PCP a couple days later to get some advice.  The recommendation was to visit the outpatient clinic at Mount Auburn Hospital to get some X-rays.  No problem.

Carol, my rock star wife, drove me over and after a brief visit to registration I wasn’t long before I was flat on my back getting images done on my pelvis and femur.  Everything looked good according to the doctor but I knew full well that if this was what I thought it was, well, I needed to get an MRI.  As luck would have it, my orthopedic surgeon just so happens to have an office at Mount Auburn Hospital so we made a bee line up there to make an appointment.  A few days later I was back and after some poking and prodding and bending and pushing and pulling, I was told this was probably, and I quote, “a whole lot of nothing.”  Whew.  That’s exactly what I wanted to hear.  Just to be sure, because I was running the Boston Marathon, we scheduled an MRI a couple days later. I got in right before the long holiday weekend.

I would need to wait until after the Presidents’ Day and I was anxious to get my results.  I got a call the following morning and the first words I heard were “I have some bad news.”  I think it was at this point that I stopped listening fully.  Obviously it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.  Considering he said it was probably nothing, I was optimistic.  But my gut told me otherwise.  And this phone call confirmed my suspicions.

It certainly wasn’t nothing.  It was a stress fracture in my pelvis.  In a really bad place.  And to clarify, it really was one of these things:  a really bad stress reaction or a mild stress fracture.  I focused more on the stress reaction because it just seemed less, well, bad.  And my orthopedic surgeon went into great detail as to why I was not going to run. And he didn’t say that I shouldn’t run.  He was quite adamant about stating that I was not going to run.

I think I just blanked out.  I recall hearing something about screws holding together my pelvis if I continued to run.  Something about biking was okay.  And swimming.  Something about no running for several months.  I really wasn’t paying attention because I was freaking out.  How could I continue to raise money if I wasn’t going to run?  Would people really still support me if I was going to be a couch potato for the next 3 months?  Would Ezra still support this initiative if I was sidelined?  All I could think about was how I was going to run.  Because to me, this wasn’t bad news.  In my mind it was really good bad news or really bad good news.

Either way, I was going to work through it.  I’ve been in this boat before, folks.  Early on in my blog postings I briefly describe my previous Boston Marathon experiences.  I have not had good luck by any stretch of the imagination.  In 2000 I had knee surgery just 3 months prior to the race.  In 2002, I got a stress fracture in my pelvis (pubic ramus) that prevented me from training for several weeks.  In 2007 I got a stress fracture in my knee that great affected my training.  In 2009 on my way to my fundraiser I slammed my foot into a curb at a high rate of speed.  I’ve had two surgeries since to fix the damage.  And yet I finished each and every one of these races.  Why would this year be any different?

After I hung up with my orthopedic surgeon, I hobbled around a bit on my crutches and made the decision to, well, um, stretch the truth a tad.  Come hell or high water I was going to cross the finish line on April 21st.  For the next 6 weeks I’d rest.  Take it easy.  At 4 weeks out I’d get on the Arc Trainer to keep my core up.  But rest was my primary objective.  I knew I could take it easy pretty much right up until race day.  And I’m not boasting here, but I’m the kind of person that can just get up with very little training and run 26.2 miles.   I’ve done it before and I put it in my mind I was going to do it again.  No problem.  It isn’t as easy is it was 14 years ago, and I wasn’t going to run an 8:00 minute mile, and I was resolved to that fact.

Luck just so happened to be on my side.  I felt better just a couple of weeks after the injury and was off the crutches.  I was being careful.  I slowly worked back into running.  Walking during the speed workouts and transitioning back to jogging.  I did a 10K on a Thursday night run.  Then a 16 mile long run.  All seemed to be back to normal, albeit at a much slower pace.

Unfortunately something went terribly wrong with my left knee after the long run.  I couldn’t run without great pain.  It also felt like my knee was going to buckle backwards.  I believe the lack of stretching adequately after the long run was the culprit.  I didn’t want to make another visit to my orthopedic surgeon so I made the decision to run through the pain.  And it worked.  I was slow but I was moving forward!  I picked up a knee compression sleeve and that worked like a charm.  I was back in business and ready for the long long run of 22 miles.  I somehow broke my left middle toe before that but it didn’t pose any problems whatsoever.  Always something!

It was smooth sailing through the tapering and I felt great.  Experiencing the injuries really puts thing into perspective.  I really wanted to qualify for the 2015 Boston Marathon during the run this year.  I felt I was healthy and strong enough to do this.  And that would have been great.  But it wasn’t about me.  This race was about raising funds for cancer research.  It was about sharing Ezra’s story.  About learning the stories of so many others on the DFMC team.   Was my experience lessened due to running an 11:00 minute mile versus my targeted 8:00 minute mile?  Definitely not!

So there you go.  In one ear and out the other.  Sometimes it works out.  Sometimes not.  To sum things up, my wife said it best in a fundraising e-mail that she sent to her friends:

He always maintains, however, that whatever shape he is in come Marathon day he is going to finish and just thinks of the 26.2 miles as his “day’s work.”  I am always amazed by his tenacity but I believe that his dedication to those he runs in honor of gives him the mental and emotional fuel to “get the job done.”

Well said!  So, I’m in the afterglow of the Boston Marathon and can’t believe it’s over.  It all flew by so quickly.  As I mentioned in a previous posting, the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC) Pasta Party is the night before the Boston Marathon.  The buffet opens at 3:00 so it’s more like an early early bird special.  I carbo-loaded quite a bit with not just one trip:

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but two:

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I have to admit it was really tasty!  I love dry spaghetti (really, I do)!  The meal goes until 4:00 and is followed by a speaking program that lasts a couple of hours.  It’s actually very entertaining and quite fun.  Uta Pippig always has words of wisdom to share and it’s quite motivational.  Dave McGillivray, the race director of the B.A.A., gave a speech that talked a lot about the resilience of Boston.  In 1978, he ran across the U.S. to benefit the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  What a guy!  The runners with the pediatric patient partners are also inspiring.  The highlight of the night for me was the fantastic video the DFMC put together of the entire training season and highlighted memories of the 25 years as a team.  The pasta party is also a chance to reconnect with people you might not see regularly during the season.  With about 1600 people, it’s tough to touch base with everyone and even tougher to find them!

After the pasta party we headed home and I got everything prepared for the big day:

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Once that was done, Carol painted my nails in the Boston Marathon colors:

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Both Carol and I needed to get up early on Marathon Monday.  Carol was volunteering at the DFMC Hopkinton Refuge (St. John’s Parish Hall on Church Street) and needed to be there at 4:30AM.  Yikes!  I needed to be at the DFMC Gathering Place at the Copley Marriott also at 4:30AM for the walk to the B.A.A. bus loading.  Carol was up at 2:30AM and I rolled out of bed a half hour later.  Considering Carol was driving out to Hopkinton, I needed to find a way to Boston.  Nothing runs at 4:00AM so I got a car service to get me there for the 5:15AM walk to the buses.

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I tried to sleep a little on the ride out but didn’t.  Honestly, the time at the DFMC Hopkinton Refuge was a blur.  Connecting with other runners.  Resting.  Eating.  Resting.  Walking around.  Resting.  Grabbing breakfast at the deli in Hopkinton Center.  Eating.  Deciding what shoes to wear for the race.  Bothering my wife.  Stretching.  Charging my phone.  I wanted to post more via Instagram and Facebook but the cell coverage was spotty at best (for Verizon at least).  I was at least able to write Ezra and it went through.

I didn’t take many photos at all, but did snap a few including one of Bella the therapy dog:

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I grabbed a couple of nice photos from the DFMC photographer.  Here’s one with Carol:

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Here’s some folks decorating their jerseys while announcements are being made by Jan:

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And here’s the team (or well, most of it!):

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Time flew by and it wasn’t long before we were packing up and getting ready to roll.  This was the first time runners had to go through a security check prior to entering the corrals.  It was fast and we were in Corral 9 in no time:

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I believe it was about 60 degrees at the start.  A tad warm.  I would start the race with a couple of my DFMC teammates I trained with over the past several weeks, Nicole and Rachel.  Nicole was going to run an 11:00 minute pace and that sounded perfect to me given the heat of the day.

Considering I was carrying my iPhone with me, the first time I ever carried a phone during the Boston Marathon, I wanted to snap some shots along the way.  Quite frankly, it ended up being too much of a hassle and I only got a few before I abandoned it.  There were just so many people and I wanted to take in that energy.  Plus, I didn’t want to stop to snap photos.

One note, it was in Framingham that I checked my fundraising status on my phone.  I was just shy of the Pacesetter status of $8000 at the start of the race, around $7800.  I was hoping to reach this by the Pasta Party but was quite happy to have raised such a large amount.  Around mile 5 or 6 my fundraising amount was north of the $8000 mark.  I hooted and hollered!  Both Nicole and Rachel are Pacesetters and it felt good to be in that group.  I get a pair of DFMC gloves and a patch for my singlet.  Yes, the race is over but I’m still going to apply it!  I’m quite proud of this achievement I must admit.  Anyway, it made the rest of the run that much more memorable.

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Usually the professional photos taken along the course are quite good.  I was somewhat disappointed with the MarathonFoto selections this year.  I didn’t have any of me crossing the finish line that were any good.  That being said, there were two I liked quite a bit.  First, here’s Rachel, me and Nicole as we just turned right onto Hereford Street:

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I love the energy on the shot.  Amazing we’re at about miles 26!  The other photo I like is of me on Boylston Street.  I did a little editing and like the outcome:

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Not too long after that photo, I had this in my grubby little paws:

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This was a very memorable day.  On so many levels.  I have never run an entire marathon with anybody and running with with two very special DFMC teammates was wonderful.  I have never raised so much money in my 5 previous Boston Marathons.  I have never seen so many people spectating over the entire length of the course.  I have never kissed so many Wellesley College women (hey, I was running at a slower pace so I figured why the hell not!).  There were so many creative signs.  And it had all of the traditional things I enjoyed in years past like the Rocky Theme, live music and the Wellesley College scream tunnel.  And it was a very memorable and historic event because of the horrific events that unfolded at last year’s race.

Anyway, a quick view of the entire collection of my finishing medals and bib numbers:

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Okay, now it’s time for some big love and thanks.

First, thanks and big love to all my donors.  I can’t thank you all enough.  137 donations came in from all over.  $8470.  I am truly blessed to have received so much.  And it went beyond the donations.  I got to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.  I got to hear stories from cancer survivors and those who lost loved one to cancer.  I’m so glad that I went out on top for my last Boston Marathon (seriously, I mean it this time).  I hope that the money we all raised will certainly teach cancer to cry.

Thanks to Jan Ross and the entire DFMC organization for selecting me to be part of the 2014 DFMC.  This is my 4th time with the DFMC and by far my most memorable experience.  The DFMC is an incredibly well run organization that provides an enormous amount of support to its runners.  Jan runs a tight ship, I tell you!  Our DFMC coach Jack Fultz is also fantastic and valuable resource (and all-around good guy) for the team.  He’s with the runners every step of the way during the training.  Both as a coach and friend.

Of course, big love and thanks to Ezra.  I’m so happy he agreed to be a part of this.   A vast majority of you are reading this because of Ezra and I can’t thank him enough for his assistance.  As I’ve mentioned before, his input has been invaluable.  Ezra put the word out as well as consulted with me on so many levels through the entire process.  He also opened up his heart to me and I truly treasured that.  My success on the fundraising front (nearly $8500) is due in large part to Ezra.  I have met so many wonderful people because of him. Donations came in from so many different folks.  His friends.  My friends.  Relatives.  Cancer survivors.  Perfect strangers.  Cyclists.  High school and college friends I haven’t seen in 25 – 30 years.  Ezra brought together quite a diverse set of donors for the 2014 DFMC Boston Marathon.  I hope he can feel all the love and energy that came from all of you who care so very much about someone that you may have never met.  Runners on the DFMC often describe that they’re running because of someone they’ve lost to cancer.  In my case, it was because of someone I found.

And most importantly, thanks to my wife Carol (my favorite wedding photo if us in 2010:

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I really couldn’t have done this without her encouragement and support.  From the very first time I mentioned running while we cheered on the runners at the 2013 Boston Marathon all the way to her going all over creation the day of the marathon, Carol has been by my side throughout the entire journey.  She puts up with me, and let me tell you folks, it’s not easy.  Seriously.  Preparing for the 2014 Boston Marathon was all consuming for me for more than 4 months and she didn’t mind whatsoever.  There is a some sacrifice a spouse will have to endure during the training and this was no different for Carol.  For example, there was a team long run every weekend, and each one is so crucial to the overall training regimen, so weekends away weren’t really in the cards.  We had the best winter in years and I was happy Carol didn’t mind staying local.  We were able to head to Vermont for a friend’s birthday on a DFMC off weekend, though we were only there less than 24 hours because I needed to get back home to run a solo 16 miles.  There were no complaints about this from Carol.

I was also training with the team a couple of nights a week and we often didn’t see each other until very late.  And sometimes my mind so frazzled with all of the craziness surrounding the Boston Marathon that I’d neglect some of my household/husband duties.  Like preparing dinner or finding a fun activity for our weekly date night.  And there were date nights I was just too tired to plan anything and that was okay.   And as I mentioned earlier, Carol was actually a part of the 2014 Boston Marathon as a volunteer out at the DFMC Hopkinton Refuge.  This meant so much to me that she not only wanted support me, but also wanted to join in on the fun.  She has also opened her heart to my newly found DFMC friends and is happy to tag along with me to DFMC events and parties.

It was a particularly difficult winter for me this year with what I was told was a marathon-ending injury.  Carol is often the voice of reason.  She prompted me to call my primary care physician (PCP) to actually find out what was wrong.  I am the worst about going to see my PCP and sometimes I need a nudge to set me straight.  She drove me over and was reassuring and comforting in the waiting room.  I was on crutches for a couple of weeks and she waited on me hand and foot.  Did all of the chores I normally do.  And she sent the most wonderful DFMC fundraising e-mail to her friends.  I should have hired her to write all of mine as hers was so eloquent, insightful and heartfelt.  I hope someday Carol will run the Boston Marathon with the DFMC because I’d love to provide her the kind of support she gave me during the past several months.  She’d definitely breeze right through the 26.2 miles with all the big love!

Oh, and a special little note about our wonderful little pooch Durga who was the best dog ever through my training!

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That’s it for now.  I’ll write a couple more posts.  I have the Pacesetter dinner of which I’m excited.  And of course I’m still planning on joining Ezra for lunch….

If you’d like to donate, select the wicked laaaahge DONATE! link at the top of the page to navigate to my DFMC 2014 Fundraising Page.  That’s right you can still donate up until May 25th!

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow.

The 118th running of the Boston Marathon is only a day away!  The energy around Boston is just everywhere and Mother Nature couldn’t have blessed us with better weather.  The entire weekend has been fantastic. Every year I run the Boston Marathon, I attend the Expo on Saturday.  My wife Carol & I arrived in Boston just as the 5K was finishing.  We started off at the Expo and I have my bib number in my grubby little paws!  We wandered around the convention center a bit and then meandered down to the finish line.  Popped into the Old South Church to thank them again for the scarf they gave me during the Sport Illustrated photo shoot last week.  They received over 7000 scarves and I feel blessed to have received one.

Today is the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge Pasta Party.  It’s always a blast and a great way to connect with runners you don’t normally see during training.  We eat at 3:00PM and it’s more like an early-early bird special!  Considering I’ll be hitting the sack at like 8:00PM tonight, I suppose that’s probably an okay for supper.  Considering I need to get to the DFMC buses by 5:15AM and want to walk over with the team from the Marriott Copley Place, I need to be there at 4:30AM.  I don’t want to drive into Boston so I have a car service coming to pick me at at 4:00AM as there’s no public transportation at the time of the morning.  Which is why I’m going to bed so early.

Okay, a week in review:

On Wednesday, I got a final sports massage from my buddy Ruben at Big Hands Massage Therapy.  I’m ready to roll!

On Thursday, I joined my regular DFMC running partners for a final run at Arc.  Usually there are quite a few runners at Arc but it was just is and a couple other folks that night.  Jack Fultz, our coach, popped in for a beer and conversation later in the evening.  We did an easy out and back.  4 miles.

Here’s the route (go here for the Garmin):

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 7.13.45 AMWhen we arrived back at Arc, my friend Liz from Alazka had arrived from a rather long flight from Anchorage.  Initially she wanted to hook up with us for the run but it just wasn’t in the cards.  I offered to go out for another easy 4 miles, but Liz was pretty beat.  I hooked up with her where she was staying in Cambridge on Friday and we did a nice run along the river (go here for the Garmin):

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My wife and I met Liz at mile 25.8 last year at the 2013 Boston Marathon.  We were on the Green Line (MBTA) heading back to Cambridge when our train was taken out of service.  Well, all of the trains were taken out of service due to the result of the horrific events that unfolded at last year’s race (although we didn’t know that when we exited Kenmore Station).  We decided to walk to the Red Line at Park Street station and started walking down Commonwealth Avenue.  All seemed okay until we saw the runners just stop just before the Massachusetts Avenue bridge.  We walked over and it was then that we got the news there was a bombing.  Lots of runners needed assistance and we stuck around and helped out a couple.  One of those runners was Liz.  She approached us asking if she could borrow a coat because she was cold so we obliged.  My wife snapped this photo on their way to the buses:

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We ended up spending the entire afternoon with Liz as she invited us back to her room at the Omni Parker House.  We shared a bottle of wine at the hotel restaurant and got to know each other.  I’m glad Liz decided to run again.  Initially she was leaning against it.  She’ll be in the same wave that I’m in, just a couple of corrals ahead, so possibly we’ll be able to run together!

On the fundraising front, it has been one amazing week and Ezra is largely responsible for that due to his recent blog posting.  I am absolutely overwhelmed at the outpouring of generosity.  As of this writing, the donations are at $7505.  I have never raised this amount of money in my 5 previous Boston Marathons.

Speaking of the devil, I posted this photo on Facebook as a part of my daily portraits of Ezra.  I usually take a photo from his self portraits but I selected one I took at his 40th birthday party in December.

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I took this with a 35mm Nikon FG w/a 50mm 1.8 lens. I hadn’t used film in years and it was fun to shoot a roll. Also used a trusty old Sunpak auto30DX thyristor flash with a LumiQuest mini softbox filter. I really need more practice!

If you’d like to donate, select the wicked laaaahge DONATE! link at the top of the page to navigate to my DFMC 2014 Fundraising Page.

The Ezra Effect

First let me say how much I appreciate people actually visiting my marathon blog.  It’s a hoot I must admit.  A vast majority of you have come by way of Ezra.  Like I’m guessing most visiting this blog have come here by way of Teaching Cancer To Cry or Facebook.  And not that I don’t have friends.  What I don’t have is a following.  I mean, I’ve had a couple of bikes that have gone viral on the internet, like my Firefly monster-cross, but nothing that would constitute a following.  Like Ezra has.  To give you an example, before Ezra posted a link on his Facebook page, I was getting roughly a few visits per day.  Friends and family and maybe some Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge teammates.  After the first posting on Ezra’s Facebook page back on February19, the count immediately spiked to about 500 visits.  Since then, it’s been a steady 20 – 50 visits per day:

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And you can see the spike when Ezra points folks to my blog:

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And it’s amazing that the people reading my entries are from all over the world.  From 6 continents:

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And 47 countries:

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Wow!  I wouldn’t be where I am today without Ezra.  Seriously.

As I’ve mentioned before, running a marathon is a breeze compared to fundraising.  Having Ezra help out has made the experience far more enjoyable.  And even though he says he hasn’t been able to participate as he initially intended, his input has been invaluable.  In addition to posting on his blog and social media sites, Ezra has contributed his time as an editor, a graphic designer, a tech & social media guru and all-around cheerleader for my efforts.  He is also the voice of reason when I get frustrated.  I wouldn’t be anywhere near my current fundraising amount of $6600+ without all of his help and encouragement.

Ezra is forever apologizing to me about not responding quicker or not posting and my response is that he never needs to say he’s sorry.  All he needed to do was sit back and enjoy the ride.  But he’s done much more.  Much, much more.  And with what he’s going through, that means the world to me.  In the past 24 hours, my Inbox has filled up with these notifications ($1900+):

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Big love everybody.  Big love.

 

Hit me, Hippy Dippy Weatherman.

Yesterday was the final Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC) group long run of the year (okay, we do have one more long run of 26.2 miles on April 21!).  Depending on the program a runner following, 12 miles was the maximum for the day.  I did a nice 10 mile run with Morgan, Nicole and Rachel, my DFMC running partners/teammates.

It was a picture perfect weather day.  Sunny and in the low 60s.  If this was the day of the marathon, it would have been a tad too hot.  Obviously not as hot as the 1976 or 2012 Boston Marathon, but it would be challenging.  My 5 previous Boston Marathons have never been so late in the month.  I’m curious as to what Mother Nature will provide on marathon Monday.  Hopefully it’ll be in the low 50s, sunny (though cloudy is okay, too) and a slight head wind.  You just never know in New England.  Go here for a history of weather conditions in recent years.  To quote Mark Twain, “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.”  As long as I don’t have to wear these, I’ll be happy:

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Prior to the run, we decided to attend the Sports Illustrated Boston Marathon cover photo shoot before (on Boylston Street at the finish line).  The folks in charge said be there at 7:00 (we got there at 6:30) though things didn’t get started until 8:00.  Thankfully the weather cooperated though it was a little chilly in the shade.

The folks from the Old South Church were handing out some of the lovely scarves from their Marathon Scarf Project.  I got this lovely example and it was made by a kind soul named Donna from Hollis, NH.  Nicole’s scarf was also from Donna and we have since spoken with her on the Old South Church Facebook page.  Anyway, last I checked the Old South Church has received about 6500 scarves from people all around the world.  Crazy awesome.  Such a kind gesture!

Considering the long run meeting starts at 8:00, well, we missed it.  After the photo shoot, we made a bee line to Marathon Sports in Wellesley.  We actually didn’t arrive all that late.  DFMC runners were just about 1/2 – 1 mile into the run when we got to the store.  After a brief stretching session, we hit the road.

Here’s the route (go here for the Garmin):

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We popped into Quebrada right across the street from Marathon Sports for a reward!

And, a little relaxation time with a good friend is a good thing too!

This coming week I will continue to taper.  Tuesday is the final speed workout and Jack Fultz, our coach, says if the weather is nice and warm, we’ll have the workout outside. T hat would be pretty groovy.  And I know I said on Facebook/Instagram that the run at Arc this past Thursday was the final run there, well, it’s not.  My running partners want to head back over to Arc this Thursday for a short run.  4 – 5 miles.  One really, really cool thing is that my friend Liz from Alaska will be flying in that day.  My wife and I met Liz at mile 25.7 last year.  We were already helping another runner (Scott, who had hypothermia & dehydration) when Liz approached us asking if she could have one of our fleece jackets.  We ended spending several hours with Liz back at the Omni Parker House.  It’ll be really nice to reconnect.  She’s actually in the corral just ahead of me too.  Fun!

On a final note. the marathon day rules seem to change by the day.  First we couldn’t leave the Athletes’ Village, now we can.  This is important to know as I would love to take a later non-DFMC bus (which is at 5:15AM) say around 7:00AM.  And now, we can also carry items such as extra food, shoes, or clothing on the buses from Boston to Hopkinton if they don’t fit in a fanny pack.  Runners may also bring something to sit on (i.e. blankets, mats, tarps, towels), as long as the item is not carried in a bag or backpack and can be easily carried.  It’s overwhelming the amount of information that is being posted.  The B.A.A. recently sent this right-brained approach to the rules (go here for the left-brained):

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Finally, I thought I’d share this video from a group called Dear World.  The video features Dave Fortier, who was at mile 26.19 when the first bomb exploded.   Dave is also on the DFMC team and I’ve run with him a few times at the Tuesday night speed workouts.

If you’d like to donate, select the wicked laaaahge DONATE! link at the top of the page to navigate to my DFMC 2014 Fundraising Page.