Archive for April, 2010

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When we run races, we all use a variety of methods to keep us focused and moving.  Sometimes it’s a mantra, like the one I used last February at the Super Sunday 5K/10K.  Sometimes it’s keeping someone in mind who has inspired us.  Sometimes it’s the crowd that pushes us on (Women of Wellesley, you are awesome!).  Sometimes, it’s a game we play with many of our fellow competitors – a game my buddy Mike calls Heroes and Villains.  The thing about this game is that generally only you know that you are playing, despite the fact that many of those around us are unwittingly playing as well.  You pick runners around you that you want to run like (the Heroes) and runners that you want to catch or stay ahead of (the Villains) – check out Mike’s recap of his Boston Marathon and his bitter duel with the Cat in the Hat.

I was floored, flattered and thankful when I received this email yesterday:

$22 to Autism Speaks; you can decide what to write for Providence.

And at the risk of seeming creepy, here’s the story of how I came across your blog & hopefully return the favor you (unwittingly but undoubtedly) did for me on that little jaunt to Boston on 4/19.

A bit of background:

•  An invite & generous sponsorship from my employer secured a charity bib for me to run, so I also began toward the back of the pack (somewhere in the middle of coral 25).

•  For a number of reasons, I’ve been interested in transitioning to barefoot running but decided to hold off until after the marathon. A friend, mid-transition to barefoot himself, asked that I report back on how many barefoot/VFF runners I saw during the race.  My attention was thus double-primed toward anyone in the category (I saw a grand total of three).

•  I run for fun, fitness, mental health, perspective, etc. and while I did have a tiered set of time-related goals, my primary focus was to enjoy my first experience participating in the grand event that is the Boston Marathon.  [Incidentally, goals were (a) beat my fiance’s ex-girlfriend’s time of 4:23 – very mature of me, (b) come as close to 4:00 as possible, and (c) qualify for 2011 – under 3:41] But my approach to the race was pretty much to just go out and run for fun, disregard the clock, and see what happened for me.

Flash forward to Hopkinton.  I always run on the left side of the road, against vehicular traffic, and out of habit I took to the left shoulder from the start.  I also found it easier to weave through the throng from the side than the middle while I sought whatever pace felt right.  About mile 3, I moved inside to allow what turned out to be VFF-wearer #2/RaceMenuSinglet pass ahead.  I had passed the nearly-hobbling VFF #1 (apparently dealing with a pre-existent ankle injury) around mile 1, and this was my first chance to see a minimally-shod stride/running form in action.  I was struck by the runner’s apparent lightness & energetic but graceful stride – a beautiful thing, that forefoot strike, what I took to be joy in running and in the overall experience, and his consistent effort to give a high-five to every child with an extended hand.  With all the anticipatory chatter on the bus about the grueling course, the training, the times, the splits, the will-I-even-make-its, etc., it made me really happy to see someone else seeming to enjoy the gorgeous day, and to love the experience for it’s own sake (and not just the outcome).

Water stops aren’t a part of my normal runs, so I passed through most of the initial aid stations without stopping.  After one of these, I found myself somewhere ahead of VFF #2 but continued on at the pace I had adopted.  After another mile or so I encountered VFF #3/VeganShirt, who looked strong but seemed to have a heavier footfall & greater heel/midfoot strike than VFF #2.  His focus seemed different as well.  I followed him for a while, and after a point VFF #2 came from behind again – stride comparison confirmed.  VFF #2 still looked to be going strongly, happily along his way, enjoying himself and the day, and rewarding the outstretched hand of every child lining the street.  It was great.  And so I figured I’d keep pace a while longer, and thus it continued until around mile 11 or 12.

It was then with some disappointment that I let VFF #2 & VFF #3 go on their way:  morning coffee and nerve-driven (fun is fun, but 26.2 is still a goodly distance) pre-run sipping from three bottles of water had me looking for a pit stop.  Unlike the flocks rushing for the woods outside Hopkinton, propriety kept me running until an actual ‘facility’ was readily available – unfortunately short lines don’t always mean short waits, and I lost a solid 4ish minutes.

But I had somewhat locked in on the pace maintained thus far, and fell back in stride pretty easily.  I had no sense of my time, pace, etc., but tried to run hard while staying true to what felt good/right (in spite of the pain setting in) and continue to enjoy the day.  Because who knows what any future holds?  It could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience I was having, and I wanted to be able to look back and love it from beginning to end.

I continued to keep an eye out for barefoot/VFF runners, but through the rest of the race I neither saw any others nor encountered the three previously sighted.  I was curious how these three had fared…Was VFF #1 even able to finish?  Did VFF #2 maintain his admirable stride & enthusiasm?  How were those heels holding up for VFF #3?  How would I be feeling after ‘x’ miles in different footwear?  How long does the transition to barefoot actually take?  Will I end up preferring it, or will I be back to padded shoes and arch supports?

Many other thoughts (irrelevant to this account) & miles later, I reached the finish line.  I looked up to check the clock upon crossing, but the time was entirely meaningless since I had no idea when I had crossed the starting line to begin with.

It was only after meeting my family over an hour later (they had been stranded along the route) that I learned my actual time – 3:40:18.  With a mere 41 seconds to spare, I qualified for Boston 2011.  Quasi-disbelief, a surge of pride, and a silent but exuberant thank you to VFF #2 – the runner who inspired me to set a faster pace than I may have otherwise, and whose manner over those few early miles seemed to resonate with my own approach to the day.  I was curious how the rest of his race had gone, and sent well-wishes out into the cosmos.

But curiosity eventually got the better of me.  By the power of Google, and the circumstantial coincidence of there being but one Boston 2010 runner wearing VFF and a Race Menu singlet who happened to mention these things in his blog, I discovered RunLuauRun – your race report & pics confirm you as VFF #2.  I earnestly hope it doesn’t seem inappropriate that (a) I googled a stranger and (b) I’m emailing* the same.  It’s just that you were inspiring during my run and I wanted you to know as much.

I’ve already taxed my legs a good bit this week (not having had a second marathon on my radar just yet), but by way of returning the favor and in show of solidarity with your commendable 2 in 2 weeks effort, I’ll commit to 26.2 miles of [activity on foot] this weekend.  Congrats on a great race in Boston, and all the best in Providence.  Whether it’s this weekend or some other, your BQ is most definitely out there.

Happy running!!



To unwittingly help someone BQ is almost as good as doing it myself.  It is not too often that we get to learn of the good things we have unknowingly done for others.  I am thrilled for “Ilsa” and I hope that next year we get a chance to chat at the Athlete’s Village as we wait for the start of Boston 2011!

We all have people who help us each and every day, but how often do we really take the time to say thank you?  What if today, for just one day, we follow Ilsa’s lead?

I’ll start.

Thank you “Ilsa” for making my day!  I will be thinking of you (along with everyone else who signed up to use the human billboard) as I make my way through Providence on Sunday.

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Stay with me...this will make sense when you get to the bottom.

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I mean, seriously? 2 marathons in 2 weeks? Really?!?

A lot of my friends, particularly the experienced marathoners, and of those, specifically the crazy ones (Brooke, Erica you know I mean that in the nicest way), are calling me crazy. They’re looking at me and shaking their heads, thinking that this is not a good idea.

I didn’t originally set out to run 2 marathons in 2 weeks.

That would be insane, right?


But that’s how things played out. I had signed up for and spent the bulk of the winter training for the Providence Marathon, which takes place this coming Sunday. I was going to run it in hopes of qualifying for Boston 2011. But then the Running Gods shined upon me a few weeks ago and presented an opportunity to run Boston THIS year.

What was I going to say, no?


So there you are, 2 marathons in 2 weeks. Really, it’s not my fault.

Now leading up to Boston I was convinced I was going to run a 3:20 and then be able to approach Providence as a fun run of sorts – maybe even pace some friends who are also running. Things didn’t work out quite as planned, so now there is a part of me that wonders if maybe, just maybe, I should be taking another shot at 3:20. I know, probably not so smart.

So what’s my approach going to be? I’m not really sure. Last fall, I followed up my meltdown at Manchester by scorching a huge Half-Marathon PR (7 minutes) just two weeks later. The thing is, this is not a half-marathon we’re talking about this Sunday. My thought is to start slow and easy and do a self-diagnostic every three miles or so. If I feel good, maybe speed up a little. If I don’t, well, no pressure, I ran a marathon less than 2 weeks ago, right?

As for wondering whether I’ve lost my sanity simply for running a second marathon so close to the first, I can’t help but think of Sam of Operation Jack, who is running 60 marathons this year to help raise autism awareness and Martin of Marathon Quest 250, who is running a ridiculous 250 marathons this year in an effort to raise $250,000 for Right To Play. (Right To Play is an international, humanitarian organization that uses sport and play programs to improve health, develop life skills, and foster peace for children and communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world.)

One of them is running just over a marathon a week. The other is running nearly 5 a week. 2 in 2 weeks sounds a lot less crazy now, don’t you think? Of course, they are doing it because they are passionate about their causes. I, on the other hand, am running them because of dumb luck. Well, how about I give a little purpose to this? If you are so inclined or moved by the giving spirit, please donate $22 (for 2 in 2 weeks) to your favorite charity. If you don’t have one, feel free to donate to one of my favorites: Autism Speaks or Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Click on either of their names to be taken directly to their donation pages.

Whether it’s one of my charities or Martin’s or Sam’s charities or one of your own, if you let me know by Saturday evening, let’s say 8PM EST, to whom you donated to and in whose name, I’ll write your name, the name of the charity and the person you are honoring either on my arm or my leg for the marathon.

Maybe this makes me a little less crazy – or just crazy with a purpose. Either way, the answer is yes. Yes, I really am doing this.

I hope to have your name written on my arm or leg on Sunday.

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So on Monday I ran the 114th Boston Marathon. It was like no other race I have ever run before – one that may not have ended as I had hoped but was a fantastic adventure nonetheless.

I could start with my 5:15 wake up, my hurried breakfast and shower, my nervous drive to the Boston Commons, my ride to Hopkinton with my RaceMenu Teammates (a story for another post), my wait in the Village, hooking up briefly with my buddy Mike, but I am eager to get right to the race.

The start of the Boston Marathon is broken into 2 waves, with the faster qualifiers in Wave 1 and the rest of us in Wave 2. The second Wave starts 30 minutes after the first. Each wave is further broken down into Corrals of 1000 runners each. Wave 1 had 13 corrals, wave 2 had 14. For those of you not wanting to do the math, that’s roughly 27,000 runners.

In part because I was not a qualifier and in part because my application was sent in last minute, I was assigned bib number 27709 in the 27th and final corral.

This was my view as I looked ahead to the starting line.

No, you can’t actually see the starting line in this picture because it’s over that hill in the distance.

This was the view behind me as I lined up.

Yeah, those people don’t even have bib numbers. They’re bandits. I was literally one of the last people to cross the starting line on Monday. In fact, once the gun went off, it took me well over 15 minutes or so to get there! The trip to the starting line was a marathon in and of itself, filled with false jogging starts and full stops.

From the start I was struck by the crowds. As soon as you cross the line (even before it) there are countless people, young and old, holding out there hands wanting nothing more than a high five. In the few races I have run, I have never seen such support.

Once I got over the starting line, I followed the advice of a dailymile/twitter friend Chris (@cyktrussel) and hugged the left shoulder. He had said that as a runner starting in the back, one of my biggest hurdles to a BQ was going to be the slow moving mass in front of me. On the shoulder I found room to move at a comfortable pace. Most people seemed to be sticking to the middle.

I took a deep breath and tried to find my inner calm. Despite the 15 minute walk up, or maybe because of it, I was completely amped up and ready to run hard. Not the way one should start such a challenging course. As I began to meditate on my pace I was distracted by the sudden flood of runners cutting across my field of vision from right to left. Dozens and dozens of runners were running into the woods. For a moment I couldn’t figure out what they were doing. Was this some weird mass run suicide thing? Had they become possessed by lemmings? It only took a moment to realize that these were all of the people who hadn’t thought to relieve themselves BEFORE the start of the race. I wish I had had the wherewithall to snap a shot of the wall of runners standing in the trees, all lined up.

After a chuckle, I settled into a groove. A half-mile in, Runkeeper beeped. I looked at my watch. 3:50. A little faster than I had planned, but right on the pace I was hoping to run for the whole race. I should have been a little more conservative, but as many Boston first-timers do, I let the pull of gravity pull me. I had planned on trying to run 8:00 miles through the first 10 and then slowly drop it down, but I was so happy cruising along at 7:40 – 7:45, and I felt so good, I thought, that maybe this was where I was supposed to be.

It would come back to haunt me. It’s amazing what 15 – 20 seconds per mile can do to or for you. I should have been running 8’s.

Around the 3 mile mark I heard my name called.


I turned to find my lovely new friend Alett, also known as @petfxr on twitter. Although she has been a relatively new addition to my online community of runner friends, she has very quickly become one of my favorites. Anyone who read my race recap of the Eastern States 20 will recognize her as the angel who brought me water when I had forgotten mine in my car. We hugged as best we could while maintaining stride and I was off.

A couple of miles later I recognized another runner. Not someone I had ever met, but I knew the costume. It was Jason Jacobs (@runkeeper), the creator of my most used iPhone App, Runkeeper, running in a Runkeeper costume. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t be the runner I am today without Runkeeper, but Runkeeper has made it a whole lot easier to get here. We had never met, but I introduced myself and he recognized my name. He quickly snapped a shot on his phone.

I wish I had thought to do the same. As we passed 5 miles, I looked at my watch. 38:40. A little too fast, I thought. I tried to slow down. I actually put my hands out in front of me with a slow down motion, willing myself to ease ease up on the downhill.

About a mile later I came up behind my buddy Mike. We chatted for a few moments before I rolled on. As I did, he yelled “Looking good. Now throw it down!” I wasn’t ready to do that quite yet, but his enthusiasm was impossible to resist. I could feel myself pick up the pace just a little.

As I passed mile 7 or 8, I heard another yell of my name. I turned just in time to see the Inclusion Facilitator Extraordinaire from my younger daughters Summer Camp, Ms. T. As she yelled “Run Luau Run!!!” at the top of her lungs, I was filled a burst of energy. I was brought back to my wait in the corral.


When I went to put on my running clothes early in the morning, I had found a little note the wife had left me, folded over and held shut by an Autism Speaks pin. It read, Read in the Corral. I did. I must have read it 5 times while waiting for the gun to go off.

If you can’t make out the picture (it got a little sweaty in my pocket), it says:

You’ve prepared for this.

You’ve got this.

Know yourself.

Listen to your body.

Trust yourself.

Have faith.

We’re with you at every step.

Game on, baby.


I placed the pin on my singlet and stuck the note in the small pocket of my running shorts, the pin representing my younger daughter for whom the loud cheering crowds would just be too much too handle. Thanks for the note, Honey!

To have Ms. T yelling, “Run Luau Run” (loud enough to be heard in Boston) was awesome. Thank you Ms. T!


The next few miles were a blur, but as I approached 13, I prepared for what I thought Wellesley would be like. Every veteran Boston Marathoner I have spoken to gets a glazed look in their eyes when they talk about the halfway point of the race. Actually, I take that back. Every male veteran of the Boston Marathon gets that look. It’s not that you are halfway and it’s not the beauty that is the town of Wellesley. No, it the women of the college. Every year they line up and form a scream tunnel and they cheer. They cheer and offer kisses to any runners willing to stop.

Though I wasn’t quite willing to stop for kisses, I did remember reading an article last year in which Kara Goucher said she had been told to run as close to the crowd as possible to draw on their energy, so I ran as close to the women of Wellesley as I could. Each and every one of them had their hand out. I’m pretty sure I hit every one over the course of about 100 yards. As we came out of the gauntlet, I shouted to a guy who had been right in front of me,

“That was awesome!”

“Yeah it was,” he yelled back.

“I wanna go back and do that again!” We both laughed, but carried on.

I looked at my watch. 1:42. Pretty much where I wanted to be. As we shot through the center of the Town of Wellesley, I remember thinking, “Ok, you’ve got this. Less than 13 to go.” I ran a self-diagnostic and came to the conclusion that I was pushing the engine hard, but was not quite red-lining it.

Again, the next few miles fell into a blur. I focused on hitting every water stop and staying close to the crowds. As we entered Newton just past 16 miles, I realized something wasn’t quite right. The cheering as you enter Newton is tremendous, especially if you happen to be trailing one of the charity runners because the hospital is right on the Newton-Wellesley border. As loud as the crowd was, I didn’t have the energy to high five every hand that was sticking out of the sea of spectators. I briefly thought about my fears of the 16 mile barrier but I took a deep breath, re-focused and found new energy as we approached the firehouse at the start of the Newton Hills.

“This is it People!” I yelled to no one in particular. I received several enthusiastic “Yeah”s as we made the turn.

I buckled down and pushed ahead. I had been warned that there would be evil psychology at play the moment I hit the Hills. Most people at some point walk them and when everyone else is walking them, your brain starts asking YOU why you aren’t walking them. I wasn’t going to let that happen and in fact, came pretty close to maintaining pace all the way through them.

Somewhere on the Hills

But I paid a price.

Right before Heartbreak Hill I found my wife and older daughter on the right. My daughter was wearing a fantastic hat she and the wife had made.

Check out the hat!!!

I had asked my wife to have a bottle of Nuun water and Clif blocks ready for me. I shouted that I didn’t want the water.

Unexpectedly, she began running with me. She kept pace for about two or three blocks. I looked at her and said, “I’m close, but I think I’m gonna be on the wrong side of 3:20”. She looked at me in surprise. “You got this baby”. But I knew. I thought back to the note she had left me. Know yourself. Listen to your body. I knew the hurt was coming. The wife peeled away and I pressed on . I thought of my little one and the Autism Speaks pin on my shirt. I stared up at Heartbreak Hill. My body ached just looking at it.

Don’t stop on the Hill, I could the voices telling me. Were they from the spectators or in my head? I wasn’t sure. Lost in thought I almost missed a group of spectators called the Boston Hash House Harriers. I had been told by Alett that they handed out beer to whoever asked for it, but more importantly had the motto, “On On!” I yelled it to them at the top of my lung three or four time and received more than I gave. The responding cheer was huge, but the energy only lasted a few moments.

I looked at my watch. 2:35 at 20 miles. That was a full 10 minutes slower than the 20.2 I had run just 3 weeks earlier at Eastern States, yet I didn’t feel nearly as good. The wheels were coming off the bus. The gas tank was running on vapors and I was only part way up Heartbreak. A few moments later, I heard, “Hey Luau”. I turned in surprise to find Josh (aka @bostoncardiovet). He wasn’t running Boston, but as a thank you for running the last 1/4 mile of the Eastern States 20 with him 3 weeks earlier, he ran me up the rest of Heartbreak Hill. I’ve told Josh several times that his run with me probrably saved me 2 or 3 minutes off my total time. Thank you Josh!

Soon after I crested Heartbreak and started the downhill I hit 35K. I looked at my watch. 2:50:43. So close yet so far. The quads cramped up. I suddenly had visions of Manchester running through my head. Oh Lord, please don’t let me seize up! As much as my quads hurt though, I was determined not to stop. I wasn’t going to make that mistake again. The rest of the race was a complete blur. I actually maintained pace for another mile, but then the pain became too much. A little past 23, try as I might, I couldn’t maintain a 7:45 pace anymore. This was where I was supposed to drop the hammer and sprint home for a BQ. It was not meant to be that day. Mile 23 had shot up to mid 8’s; Mile 24 mid 9’s; Mile 25 mid 10’s. I took comfort in knowing I pushed the wall back by 6 miles from my earlier marathon, but it did little to alleviate the disappointment.

I sighed as my watch passed 3:20.

As I hit the Citgo sign,

Photo by @Milesandtrials

I heard people yelling there was only one more mile to go.

I usually laugh at 1 mile. 1 mile is something I could do in my sleep. 1 mile doesn’t even count.

NOT TODAY!!! 1 mile sounded like an eternity. Really? We still have a mile to go? Well, no Luau, actually it was 1.2 more miles. When I realized this there was part of me that just wanted to give up, but I pressed on. With a half mile to go, the crowds thickened, their cheers deafening. As we took the two turns into the final stretch I flashed back to last year’s marathon and watching Kara Goucher and Ryan Hall come through these very streets. I picked up my pace.

As I turned onto Boylston I broke into a dead run. This finish line looked so far away. I pushed harder as the crowd cheered all of us on.

I pumped my fist as I crossed the finish line and almost came to a dead stop, not because I wanted to but because my body was refusing to continue. I had managed to run the last mile in 9:01. I limped along, and ran into yet another online community friend, Audrey. The two of us limped along in pain, wishing we could laugh at the pain we were in,happy to be done, satisfied that we had left it all on the course.

I eventually found a spot to sit down. Big mistake! I was unable to get up for 20 minutes.

I sat and mulled over my failed attempt to qualify for Boston in this race. I had been pretty confident that I was going to pull it off. It was just not meant to be this day. I ended up running a 3:32:05 (22 minute PR), and up until about 22 miles I was well within striking distance. That I could keep pace 6 miles longer than I had in Manchester on a harder course was encouraging. Had this been Bay State or Providence, maybe I would have had the juice to pull it off, but the Boston course is a tough one.

Next year I run smarter. I thought I had run smart in this one, but looking back I know I should have held back even more at the beginning.

Now the question is, are my legs going to be recovered enough by May 2nd for a run at 3:20 in the Providence Marathon or does that become a fun run? That’s only 10 day away. Ouch!

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On the eve of the 114th Boston Marathon, I thought it would be fun to pull this post out from last December.  Hope you find the humor and motivation in it.

I did!

…I finished with a world record shattering time of 1:59:59. The first sub-2 hour marathon in history…AND I did it in my signature Luau VFF’s.

The Exclusive Luau VFF’s

Okay, so no I didn’t. I didn’t even qualify for Boston last year. Shoot, I barely ran a sub 4-hour marathon in my first (and so far only) try. But, somewhere, and I mean that, I did it. I not only won the Boston Marathon, but I won New York, Chicago and London as well.

The coolest part…

-wait for it-

…is so did you!

Of course, it didn’t happen in this universe, but if you are familiar with quantum physics (of which I am – just enough to make a fool of myself) you may also be familiar with the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI). In a nutshell, MWI states that for every decision we come to in life, both/all choices are in fact made and reality branches off in two or more directions instead of just one.

For the infinite number of choices we could have made since the beginning of time, an infinite number of not-quite-identical worlds have branched off into existence. Infinite worlds – infinite possibilities, all occupying the same space, just not the same reality. This is not fantasy. It is scientific theory that is actually gaining support in the scientific community.

In one of these worlds, all of the right choices have been made to turn me into a world-class marathoner. I am simply the best there was, is, and ever will be. There is also one where YOU are the number one marathoner of all time.

Looking at the glass half empty, I could ask: Why am I not in THAT reality? Why am I stuck here as just an average, every day runner? I point this out not to tease us or make us feel bad. No, I choose to look at the glass as half full. This other me is still me – the other you is still you. We are connected by the fact that we are essentially the same person. So when I am out there pounding the pavement, feeling the legs tire, I can reach across the ether, mentally touching that other reality and channel the world-class me. He’s/I’m out there/right here – occupying the same space, often running the same routes.

The next time you feel yourself lagging, draw on some cross-dimensional strength. I’m sure the Olympic medalist you would be happy to lend a hand.

***I also have a best-selling book, Run Luau Run, available on Amazon and at your local bookstores. Well, somewhere I do.

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I Can’t Wait

A little Double-Dip today. In anticipation of the Boston Marathon, my buddy Pete asked me to put something together for the dailymile community blog. You can find it —>HERE<—.

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With 3 days to go, I am filled with all kinds of hope.

I hope that I get to meet a lot of the friends I’ve made through dailymile and Twitter tomorrow at the get together that has been planned post bib pick up.

I hope that they like me.

I hope that I like them.

I hope they’ll let me take pictures.

I hope that I am able to make it to Monday without injuring myself in some ridiculous fashion.

I hope that I am able to fulfill my dream of a BQ.

I hope that BQ or not, I finish.

I hope I don’t miss my family as I run by.

I hope my buddy Mike forgives me for not being his pacer from the Newton Hills to the finish.

I hope I remember to yell, “On On” right before Heartbreak Hill.

I hope that Hill won’t break my heart, body or spirit.

I hope that all of my friends who are running, regardless of whether I’ve met them or not, finish and finish strong.

I hope that my running will inspire someone else to start running, whether it be for the first time or not.

I hope the running revolution is here to stay.

3 days to go and I am full of hope.

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It is the flip side of doubt.

Faith comes in many forms.

Faith can be used for good.

Faith can be used for evil.

Faith scares me.

Faith inspires me.

I am by no means a religious man. I believe in a higher power, but the blind faith S/He inspires sometimes frightens me.


But that is not the Faith I speak of here.

No. The faith I speak of is the Faith in ME.

The Faith in my Training.

The Faith in my Desire.

The Faith in my Focus.

The Faith in my Body.

In 4 days, I will be putting my Faith into these 4 things to carry me through to the end.

It is not a blind faith.

I know what I have done over the past 3 1/2 months and I am sure of what I am capable.

4 days ’til Boston.

See you at the finish line.

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Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.
-Norman Vincent Peale

5 days to Boston.

I believe.

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Last week I picked up the latest issue of Running Times. There was a short article entitled Being in the Moment by Tamara Rice Lave that really struck a chord with me.  The main gist of it was that as runners we should “shut down your brain and just believe”.

The part that really grabbed my attention however was the mention of the Harvard Women’s basketball team and their coach, Kathy Delaney-Smith.  Several years ago she coached her team to one of the greatest upsets in college basketball history with the “Act as if…” philosophy (they are the only 16th seeded team in NCAA history ever to beat a  #1 seed in the Big Dance).

The idea is to “act as if you already are what you want to become”.  Once you sell yourself on the concept, you are that much closer to achieving it.

Now, one of the first things I thought of was, taken to extremes, this could be one of the most idiotic philosophies ever.  We’ve seen those people who act as if they are the funniest person in the room when in fact, they’re about as funny as a bowl of white rice; or the guy who acts as if he’s the smartest person in the office, when in fact he speaks plenty but says little at meetings.

I don’t think the “Act as if…” philosophy works for them.

But I DO believe that if you are aware of who and what you are, and have a grasp on what your talent level really is, you can make this philosophy work to your advantage.

It is the little things that Coach Delaney-Smith insists on her players believing in/acting as if that I think have a huge impact on these athletes when they are in the thick of a hotly contested game.

Act as if you’re not tired.

Act as if you’re confident.

Act as if you’re not hurt.

By acting as if these things are true, you can begin to make them happen.  And once you learn to instinctively apply it to the little things, you can then apply it to the big race/the long run/interval training.  Obviously you (unless your name is Ryan or Mebs, in which case I’m honored you’re reading this) can’t tell yourself or act as if you are going to win the Boston Marathon, but knowing what you know you can do and then acting as if you can go a little faster, harder and longer is well within the realm of possibility.

And you can apply this philosophy to other parts of your life as well.  When and where you apply it is totally up to you.

All I know is that in 6 days, I am going to shut down my brain and just believe.  I plan on acting as if I’m going to run a 3:20 marathon or better…and that’s exactly what I’m gonna do!

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The rest of the article is excellent by the way.  I highly recommend clicking over and reading it.

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10 days.

10 days ’til Boston – and doubt has started to creep in.

I have to remind myself that I have finished a marathon.  It wasn’t pretty, but I did. The thing is, it’s not the finishing that has become the constant occupier of my thoughts.  It is the how.  I have no doubt that I can finish.  I have no doubt that I can finish in under 4 hours.  At this point, especially after my performance at the Eastern States 20,  I have no doubt I can finish in 3:45.

But from that point, things get a little hazy.  3:30 is about where I think I know I can come in, but I want to prove to the running gods that I deserve this gift they’ve bestowed upon me.  Part of me feel like if I don’t run at least a 3:20, then I will be offending them…disappointing them.

I keep wondering what will happen at 16.  I know that Heartbreak Hill isn’t for another 5 miles, but that famed hill is not a mystery to me.  I’ve run it many times.  It will be hard – yes, harder than any time I’ve run it before – but I will know what to expect and for how long I will be running it.  It’s 16, where I seem to hit these “soft walls” that has me worried.

It doesn’t help that my buddy Pete seemed to have an issue with 16 in his first few marathons before he finally broke through with a great run at Disney this year.  What is it with 16?  It was the beginning of the end at Manchester and it shook my confidence briefly at Eastern States.

Doubt.  It’s an evil thing.

But it can also be a motivator.  It can be what keeps you mentally prepared and ready for that “moment”.  In every race, half marathon or longer, I’ve had a moment where my race could have gone one of two ways – when doubt about my ability to not only finish but finish strong grabbed me by the throat and tried to end my race.  In one race, it almost broke me.  In the other three I dug deep, faced doubt down and broke through with a smile on my face.  Doubt can destroy you, but it can also drive you.

The key so far for me has been to use it as a motivator and then draw on the strength of those around me.   At the Boston Run to Remember, I drew on the energy from the crowd.  At the Chilly Half and at Eastern States, it was from my fellow runners.  I have been told by my good friend Rick, a veteran of 22 Boston Marathons and a mentor of sorts, that the crowd at Boston will pull you through.  I plan on using them as much as I can.  According to Rick, you can hear the cheers at Wellesley College nearly two miles before you reach the college.  He says you can feel the fans on the Newton Hills willing you on.  He says as you come into Boston, the roar of the crowd can carry you home.

These are the tools that I will use to push doubt out of my mind while I run hard through the second half of Boston.

In the meantime, I will use my doubts as motivators to train smart, eat right, sleep well and take care of my legs.

10 days.

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