It’s all downhill from here.

Okay folks.  I did it.  Yesterday was the long run.  22 miles.  Today I feel absolutely fantastic!  No aches.  No pains.  Nothing.  Now, it’s taper time.  Yahoo!  Every runner’s favorite period during training.  Well, at least it’s mine.

I ran with a couple of wonderful teammates yesterday, Nicole and Rachel.  Back in January I ran with them as I started to ramp up on my mileage and pace.  When I returned back to training after my injury (after a 5 week respite), I hooked up with Nicole and Rachel at the Arc and long runs.  Maybe it was serendipitous that we ended back training together.  It’s been great getting to know them better and they don’t mind my really boring stories during out runs.  I don’t know if we’ll run the marathon together but I hope to head to wave 3, corral 9 with them.  I should mention we ran the first half with another teammate, Candice.  She was out for a few weeks with shingles and looked great.  She did 20 miles and ran the first 10 miles with us.  She didn’t seem to miss a beat while she was sidelined.

As I mentioned, this is the longest training run of the year.  Lots of teams running for a charity band together and organize a trek out to Hopkinton.  Thousands of runners take buses out to the start line and run the course back to Heartbreak Hill.  We at the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC) start from Boston College and do an out-and-back.  I think this is a more difficult run as we have to climb out of Newton Lower Falls into Wellesley, which is a real bitch of a hill.  Seriously, it’s tough. From Hopkinton, there is a gradual elevation loss.  The DFMC run loses elevation, then gains it, then loses it before the Newton hills.  At the 11 mile turn-around we’re at pretty much the actual mileage of the course (about 1/10 mile off), so we’re still hitting hitting the hills at the same time if we’d run from the start line.

Mother Nature blessed us with nice weather. It was warm and dry.  We didn’t have any wind until the last few miles which was a blessing.  That cooled things down a bit. I wore my Teaching Cancer to Cry arm warmers for the entire run and they kept me comfortable.  It was my inaugural run with them and I like them a lot.  I don’t know if I gave a description of the arm warmers, but they were made right in New York City.  They are by Search and State and the quality is really nice.  They’re made for cycling but work well for running.

Anyway, overall a perfect day for the longest training run of the year.  Lots of friendly runners and super support volunteers.  Big thumbs up to the local law enforcement who were out on the course in full force making it safe.

A few pictures for your viewing pleasure.  First, inside the Flynn Athletic Complex at Boston College:

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This porta-potty has been really beneficial during a lot of long runs!  I found it amusing as I came upon it yesterday that the dog was patiently waiting with the leash snaking into the structure:

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There were many DFMC aid stations throughout the course.  Always lots of colorful selections.  Sweet and salty ones too.  I didn’t get a photo of them but this table also had Peeps.  I passed!

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The DFMC cones placed to indicate the 11 mile turnaround were actually 2/10 mile too soon.  I have a Garmin GPS and usually rely on that as it’s pretty darn accurate.  The cones are usually fine so I don’t know why there was this mix-up.  Here’s the 11 mile turnaround:

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Going back through Wellesley I had my running partners strike a pose with me.  I couldn’t help but think of the Cabaret lyrics “2 ladies and I’m zee only one, ya!”  Rachel and Nicole obliged with the theater hands:

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At about mile 20 was a support stop and the Johnny Kelley statue.  The mother of this cutie asked if she wanted me to take her off the statue and I said “Heck no!”

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I should mention that at this stop, the MR8 team (Run For Martin Richard) was right next to ours.  Martin Richard, 8, was killed by the second explosion at the 2013 Boston Marathon and his sister Jane lost her left leg.  It was wonderful to see little Jane working the booth without the aid of crutches on her prosthetic.  Very nice.

The Heartbreak Hill Running Store has this gorilla out at every long run.  They snap a photo and you can tag yourself up on Facebook.  I’m striking a pose showing off the arm warmers:

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Done:

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

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And here’s how I replaced some of the approximately 22 calories I burned off during the run:

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It seems more real now that I have the 22 miles behind me. I suppose getting the Welcome packet a few days ago contributed to that feeling…

IMG_6389_2Oh, and a brief recap from my Thursday run.  I ran a tad faster than I probably should have.  It probably ended up helping me for the long run though.  I ran alone, which I don’t prefer, but had a good run nonetheless.

Heading out to the hills:

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Heading back past Boston College:

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Done:

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

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And up, the reward:

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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.

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Just for the taste of it.

Alright, I admit it, I have a vice:

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I got hooked on Diet Coke back during the 2000 Boston Marathon.  It’s a great dietary supplement before a long run.  Keeps me going.  And going.  And going.  Oh, and I don’t like it from the can or from a bottle.  I prefer the fountain drink version.  Something about the bubbles I just like better.  Generally after my training ended I’d just stop cold turkey.  But after the 2009 Boston Marathon I became far too addicted to kick the habit.  I’m weaning myself off the artificially flavored, caramel colored soft drink at the moment.  I searched for a replacement and found these:

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Mmmm.  They’re yummy.  Really yummy.  Lot’s of positive points too.  95% organic.  Vegetarian (of which I am).  Gluten-free (of which I’m not).  Naturally caffeinated from white tea.  I did a test run yesterday with the Cherry Cola flavor and all went well.  No gastrointestinal issues.  Definitely felt the caffeine kick.  I’ll also use them tomorrow at the Arc run where I’ll probably do 5.5 miles, though I might do 8.5 miles if I’m feeling groovy.  This will be a good test to see how well they’ll work on the 20 – 22 mile run this Saturday.  This is the longest run of the training season, folks.  It’s taper time after that.  Yahoo!

In preparation for that 20 – 22 mile run this coming Saturday, I visited my buddy Ruben (Big Hands Massage Therapy) last night.  Bagged the speed workout and glad I did.  He focused on my pesky left leg (hip, knee & foot) and I’m feeling mighty fine today.  Mighty fine indeed.  I also picked up a compression knee sleeve for my left knee.  My good knee mind you.  I’ve had two surgeries on the right knee (torn lateral meniscus) and that’s a-okay.  After my lack of stretching last week it still feels slightly funky and I’m hoping this will remedy that.

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to running shoes.  It’s been a particularly tough year to get something that fits just right.  I have a narrow foot and it’s slim pickings I tell you when it comes to running shoes.  I’m lucky that my Adidas Energy Boost shoes fit quite well and have a ton of heel cushioning, which I really want in a shoe.  Even though they’re a normal width shoe, they do fit more like a narrow width (I’m a B width for the record; a narrow B at that).  These are my dedicated race day shoes. I posted them before on this blog but here they are with a little customization:

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With less than 4 weeks, I want to get another pair of running shoes for training so I don’t put too many miles on the race day shoes.  Even though I like to support my local businesses, I really need Zappos to deal with my neuroses for this.  So far I’ve ordered two pairs of running shoes and after much deliberation (and angst), sent them both back.  I ordered another pair yesterday and according to UPS, they’ll be here tomorrow afternoon.

Here in the metro Boston area, marathon excitement is in the air.  Yesterday a fresh finish line was painted on Boylston Street:

Can’t wait to cross it on April 21st!  My e-mail Inbox is also filling up with recent updates from the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) and the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge.  Lots to report and I’ll do that in my next posting.

WBUR, my local NPR station, currently has a Why I Run (#whyirun) page up on their website.  I took a picture of the thumbnails on Ezra’s photo site and posted it up on Instagram with the #whyirun hashtag along with a description of why I’m running the 2014 Boston Marathon (basically just copied my donation page text).  Anyway, it’s up and WBUR selected it for the Featured section (and they also liked it too!).  To view this (and many more from other runners), go here.  Here it is on my Instagram:

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Finally, local Boston songwriter Michelle Lewis has dedicated her latest single “Run Run Run” to all of the runners of the 2014 Boston Marathon, and has accompanied the song with a video fueled by the runners themselves.  From now until the day of the Marathon, April 21, she will donate all proceeds from the sale of the single to The One Fund.  Very generous indeed.  Oh, and at 49 – 53 seconds, you can see my neighborhood (a few blocks from my house).  Anyway, check out the video.  It’s quite nice.  For the Boston.com article, go here.

Still making noise.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty, a quick note to say that Ezra popped me off an e-mail early Saturday afternoon and I was elated to hear from him after a couple of weeks of radio silence.  I’m bit of a worry wart so was elated to see his reply in my Inbox.  Please check his blog for updates.  Keep in mind it might take some time….

So, with just under one month to go until the 2014 Boston Marathon, I am getting very, very excited.  The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) started putting up the marathon banners on Boylston Street this morning.  John Hancock, the Boston Marathon sponsor, unveiled the first of more than 500 banners that will line Boston streets between now and race day:

This past week wasn’t so good for my body, but I’m feeling much better today.  I made the huge mistake of not stretching enough after my 16 mile run last Saturday.  In addition I went out far too fast at the Ras na hEireann U.S.A. 5K race on Sunday.  I didn’t even stretch after that race either.  Dumb.  My body really felt these mistakes on Monday.  I was limping along and kicking myself for not being more attentive to my body’s needs.

The Tuesday night speed workout was cancelled because of spring break (it’s at Tufts University) so I decided to use the indoor track at the health club I have a 30-day membership.  It’s slightly smaller than the Tufts track, 8.1 laps per mile versus 8, but it’s warm and I’m happy to have this resource.  I should have been doing an 8 x 1000 meters @ 5K race pace workout with 400 meter recovery.  Instead, I didn’t run at all and just speed walked.  The muscles in my legs were super tight.  I felt as if my knees were going to buckle backwards.  Ugh.  I stretched and stretched and stretched and stretched but it just didn’t seem to help.  The walking wasn’t helping things at all so I stopped after an hour and made a bee line to the jacuzzi.  Although it was comforting, it didn’t help all that much.

I bit the bullet and attended the Arc run on Thursday.  I decided to run the 5.5 miles back from Newton Center.  I figured I could always hop back on the T to get back if I couldn’t make it.  I started off at a very slow pace and got really frustrated about a half mile and and just stopped.  I was just so damn mad right then and there.  Angry with myself because I was so stupid.  As I was stopped and was sulking with my head in my hands, I started to tear up a bit and just started yelling the “f-bomb” over and over and over.  Thankfully, I was alone.  I really wanted to just call it quits right then and there.  And not just with the run, but with the entire marathon training.  I quickly regained my composure and started my slow jog back to Brookline.

I don’t much like running alone. In fact, I find it very difficult.  At each team run I have people I hook up with.  It makes running far more enjoyable.  I was resolved to the fact at my snail’s pace back to Arc that I’d be going the route solo.  As I made the right turn onto Commonwealth Avenue, I spotted a runner about 100 meters ahead of me and he was jogging right about at my pace.  Awesome!  I’d try and catch up with him!  He seemed to be doing the Galloway method of running and walking so that would make it easier to decrease the distance.  As I got closer I noticed he was wearing a Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC) team jersey.  Awesome, a teammate!

It didn’t take me long to catch up and as we said hello, we both recognized each other because we had met by chance the week before.  Mike and I just so happened to be at a silk screening company in Malden at precisely the same time.  He’s from Portsmouth, New Hampshire so it was crazy we ended up there together.  Many DFMC folks (and marathon runners in general) have their singlets silk screened with their names on the front and the names of the folks they are running for on the back.  I immediately noticed his DFMC team jersey in his hand and we struck up a conversation.  Typical stuff of why you’re running and where you’re from and what number marathon it is for you.  He said he was running for his father who was currently being treated for lung cancer.  He is also running for his sister who died from leukemia when she was 11.  This is his second Boston Marathon, the first being in 2013.  He was stopped just passed Heartbreak Hill and wasn’t able to finish.

One thing Mike failed to mention during our initial meeting was that he had chondrosarcoma in his right arm, at the top of the humerus.  His doctor caught it early enough where it was eradicated and it didn’t spread to his lungs.  The top of his humerus was removed and he has some type of metal implant in place of the bone.  He’s 4 years out from surgery and in great health.  Fantastic!

It was really great to run with him because I was working through this weird tightness in my legs.  I actually felt much better as we arrived at Arc.  Today, I feel very good.  Walking around normally.  No tightness.  Knee is a little funky but getting better.  I’m going to see my good friend and sports massage therapist Ruben Millor some time next week.  I skipped the long run today and will probably jump om the Arc trainer most of next week.  Will also stretch.  A lot!  I’ll join the team again next week and prepare for the longest run of the training schedule, a 20 – 22 mile run on March 29.  Looking forward to that.

Anyway, just a couple of photos from Thursday:

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

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Speaking of the singlet, I picked up mine on Friday along with some arm warmers I had done.  The arm warmers were made in New York City, so that’s pretty cool I think.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3Oh,and a quick week in review:

1.   I got my bib number last week. I’m number 26488!

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2. This little broken piggy wasn’t a running-related injury. I have NO idea how it happened, though it did occur at home after the race last week.  Crazy.  Fear not though as it doesn’t affect my running whatsoever.  It’s looking quite fine today.

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3.  I usually don’t purchase team paraphernalia but took the plunge at the long run last weekend. I saw a fellow teammate wearing this jersey at a recent speed workout and really liked it, so I bought one!  There was no small so it’s a tad big for me but I’m wearing it for training nonetheless.

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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.

On the road again.

Okay folks, it’s been a fantastic last week and I’m ecstatic to be back running with the team!  Yahoo!!!!

If you don’t follow my Facebook postings, here’s a brief review:

Tuesday, March 11:  Speed workout at the Tufts indoor track was 2 X (400, 800, 1200, 1600 meters) @ 5K race pace with 200, 400, 600 and 800 meter recovery. Whew! With the 800 meter warmup, I ran 8 miles.  1:04 laps which is down from 53 seconds prior to injury.  Felt good.  Very, very good!

Thursday, March 13:  Did an out & back to Cleveland Circle (from Arc) with a couple of teammates. 10K total. A tad cold with a strong headwind but felt good.

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

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Saturday, March 15:  First long since February 1st!  Wow!  Did 16 miles at a slower pace.  I got to reconnect with a couple of runners I started the season and will probably stay with them for the remainder of the training.  I can’t express how lucky I feel that my body recovered much more quickly than I anticipated.  I’ll do 18 next week and 20 – 22 on March 29, the longest run of the season.  Runners start to taper after that date.

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

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Saturday, March 15:  Ras na hEireann U.S.A. 5K in Davis Square, Somerville.  A tad chilly at the start, but the sun felt great.  A sea of green, obviously due to it being a St. Patrick’s Day run.  Started out slow due to the crowds and got up to my desired pace around the 2 mile mark.  Great fun.  I’ve done this race several times and it doesn’t fail to be a crowd-pleaser.  The free beer afterwards doesn’t hurt.

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

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So, that’s my week in review!

There was lots of other Boston Marathon related news in the past couple of weeks.  First, marathon spectators are discouraged from carrying a long list of items, including:

  • Backpacks
  • Suitcases and rolling bags
  • Coolers
  • Glass containers or cans
  • Any container capable of carrying more than 1 liter of liquid
  • Handbags or packages or bulky items larger than 12 inches by 12 inches by 6 inches
  • Large blankets/comforters, duvets, sleeping bags
  • Props (including sporting equipment and military and fire gear)
  • Costumes covering the face or any form-fitting bulky outfits

So, if you’re planning on toting several 2-liter bottle of soda in rather large backpacks along with a cooler and suitcase or two filled with sleeping bags and blankets while wearing your favorite costume, probably not a good idea.  Oh, and you may want to refrain from bringing weapons or items of any kind that can be used as weapons.  Same goes with flammable liquids, fuels, fireworks, or explosives.  Bandit runners are also banned this year.  With 36,000 runners that’s probably a good thing.  Plus, they won’t be able to cross the finish line due to the enhanced security.  Honestly, it’s just common sense for the most part with all of the recommendations.  I’m happy to see the organizers picking up security a notch or two this year.

Runners also have restrictions.  The big thing is the no-bag policy.  No bags will be allowed in certain areas at or near the start in Hopkinton, at or near the finish in Boston, or along the course.  Bags will not be allowed on buses from Boston to Hopkinton, and bags will not be transported from Hopkinton back to Boston.  This makes it particularly difficult for runners who need to brave the elements while waiting for their start time. I imagine there will be a lot of disposable clothing at the start of the race.  Runners generally shed clothing at the start (which all goes to charity I am told), but this year there will be a much larger amount of gear.  Last year, it was 38 degrees the morning of the race.  There’s no heat or indoor facilities for runners, so having bags with additional clothing you could send back to Boston was nice.  In addition, many runners bring a couple of pairs of running shoes out to Hopkinton which really helps if the conditions are wet and sloppy at the Athletes’ Village.  I’m lucky as Dana-Farber has a church that we use so we’re warm and cozy (yay for bathrooms!).  I’m sure it will all work out.  I gather Target will have an influx of runners that weekend picking up cheap sweatpants and sweatshirts!  At the finish line, we do get these new “warmth retention cape” which looks to be much better than the standard Mylar blanket of previous years.

All is not lost, though, regarding gear.  There will be a gear check.  Runners can drop off bags at the gear check on the morning of the marathon at the Boston Common, allowing us to have a change of clothing at the conclusion of the race.  It is a bit of a walk to get to the gear check from the finish line.  In the past, the buses with our bags were parked right past the finish line.  And the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) didn’t forget about security even for this.  A clear bag is provided by the B.A.A. at the number pick-up and no other bags will be accepted.  Forget the clear bag and well, you’re out of luck.  Carol, my wife, is volunteering for the DFMC the morning of the race in Hopkinton so I feel fortunate to have a bag there waiting for me.  I’ll be taking the bus out as it’s a tradition and a lovely way to meet runners from all around the world.  Another tradition is the walk over by the DFMC team from the DFMC HQ from Copley to the buses.  With just a little more than 5 weeks to go, I’m getting excited.

Fundraising is going great.  Really really great!  Thanks to everyone who has donated.  I’m confident I’ll make the minimum ($4000) and am really hoping to reach my goal ($10K+) this year.

Finally, Ezra and I ping each other periodically to check in.  He had a fever early last week was getting back to business in the shop.  We had planned to hook up prior to the marathon so I’m hoping he’s healthy enough in the coming weeks for a visit!  I really really wish he could make it up here for that weekend…..

Oh, one last thing, this marathon-related video made me chuckle:

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.

I feel good, I knew that I would.

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A very brief posting to update my progress.  I am officially back running!  Last night’s speed workout was 2 X (400, 800, 1200, 1600 meters) @ 5K race pace with 200, 400, 600 and 800 meter recovery.  Whew!  With the 800 meter warmup, I ran 8 miles.  Tomorrow I’ll be back doing the hills and will most likely to the full 8 miles.  This weekend I’ll be running 12 – 14 miles, possibly 16 if my body lets me.  Yeah I feel good.  Very, very good.  Hit me James:

Now that I’m running again after a 5 week break, I’ll be posting far more often here and on Facebook.  I downloaded Instagram today and will be documenting my marathon training quite a bit more through photos.  There’s quite a bit to report so I’ll be posting again shortly.  Stay tuned!

Put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the door.

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Yup.  I’m here.  The Arc trainer is actually not all that bad in all honestly.  I spend 2 – 3 hours on the thing per workout and break it up with a few power walks at the indoor track.  Having my entire digital music collection on my iPhone helps.  Just select shuffle and enjoy.  Anyway, I suppose it’s better than the treadmill, which I don’t prefer all that much.  Well, unless it’s doing something like this:

I am happy to report that I am, as the blog title states, putting one foot in from of the other.  Last night at the speed workout, I started running.  Okay, jogging.  I’ll taper back up to running over the next two weeks.  My core is still in tact and I’ll be ready for the last long run of the year on March 29, which is 22 miles.  Just under 7 weeks to go and I’m getting very excited.  There’s still so much to do though I’m confident I’ll achieve all of my goals.

In other marathon-related news I got some local press about my marathon effort yesterday.  The Arlington Patch, a small local news outlet, asked runners to submit information on their involvement in the 2014 Boston Marathon.  So I obliged.  Every little bit counts.  Ezra has been so very kind to link my blog postings and other related articles.  I can’t thank him enough.

On the fundraising front things are looking up.  As always, 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.  I’m just a bit below $3000 and that’s a good place to be at this point.  Ezra really has been generous with his time and resources.  This site has been visited by people from 40 countries all over the world.  So far 20% of the donations have come from the kindness of strangers.  Pretty amazing I must admit.

At the last weekend long run Jan Ross, the director of the Dana-Farber Marathon and Running Programs, brought several Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC) jerseys dating back to 1997.  She asked people take a year where they experienced a memorable moment and to talk about that memory.  I quickly grabbed a 2002 T-shirt as this was the first year I participated in the In-Memory Program, through which a team member runs in memory of a child who was treated at the Jimmy Fund Clinic but did not survive his or her battle with cancer.

I don’t think I did all that well to be quite frank.  I stuttered.  I choked up.  I rambled.  I stuttered more.  I had too much to say and not enough at the same time.  The cameraman stopped me and just instructed me to describe the program and, even though I did choke up a tad, I got through it and I hope that they can use it.  All of the video clips will be put into a presentation that will be shown at the DFMC pasta party the night before the Boston Marathon.

I participated in this program in 2002 & 2007 and had the same family, the Franceschelli’s, for both years and they were great!  Their son Joey was 2 years old when he was diagnosed with an inoperable and rare Astrocytoma Glioma level 3 tumor. He died 16 months after this diagnoses.  Here’s my singlet from 2002:

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And here I am with the entire Franceschelli family in 2007 (Sandy, Dom, Olivia, Hannah and Jared):

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On an aside, my friend Suma is also in this photograph.  I dedicated my 2007 run to her as she was being treated for acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).  I’ll report on her in a future blog posting so keep your eyes peeled.

I actually got to know the Franceschelli’s before I met them.  A friend of mine was involved with the Brain Tumor Society as her brother died from a similar brain cancer as Joey.  She loaned me a videotape of a local news magazine show that featured Joey.  It was one crazy coincidence that we got paired up!  Wow!

I’m glad I participated in the In-Memory Program.  It showed me that with much grief and sorrow can come joy and happiness.  It was wonderful to have a cheering section at mile 25 and even more wonderful to have Joey’s spirit with me the entire race.  I recently wrote Sandy and they’re yet again participating in the In-Memory Program.  It really attests at how good this program is to have families want to keep coming back.  It’s great that so many different runners have honored this this beautiful little boy in their own special way.  I’m elated I got to do it twice.

I could go on and on, but I think I’ll let the Franceschelli’s take over from here.  I converted that show about Joey recently and uploaded it to YouTube.  Without further ado, here’s the WCVB Chronicle Special featuring Joey Franceschelli called Joey’s Song.  Grab a box of tissues.  Seriously.