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Archive for April, 2013

And now for something completely non-running and non-autism related…

***

I am a child of the 80s. I was 10 when the 1980s started and 20 when it ended. Unfortunately, as the case may be, my musical influences come from that decade. It kills me that my music is now on the oldies stations. Isn’t that what music from the 50s and 60s is?

Anyway, as a young kid, fresh into my teen years, I heard Run-DMC for the very first time.

When I first heard Rock Box, I thought what the heck was that? That was awesome! Here was a band/group that was combining forms of music that had no business being on the same mix tape, much less the same song. This was a new wave of hip hop music unlike anything that had been heard before. Run-DMC followed up their gold record with the platinum selling record King of Rock.

Finally they reached their crossover peak with Walk this Way from the multi-platinum album Raising Hell.

Why am I even writing about this? What’s my point?

As a parent, I felt it was my responsibility to introduce my children to the music their father grew up on, and so not so long ago, while driving about town, I plugged in the iPod and played them a little Run-DMC. I played Rock Box and King of Rock, My Adidas and It’s Tricky, You Be Illin’ and Walk This Way, but which one stuck for the little one? Which one did she latch on to and decide to incorporate into her life?

This one:

Yup. You Talk Too Much. Her favorite part? Where they say “Shut Up!” followed by “You talk too much and you never shut up.”

Now when Katie coughs? Brooke has broken into Shut Up! You Cough too much…and you never shut up!

When the dogs bark? Shut up! You bark too much…and you never shut up!

When someone let a, um, “bottom burp” go the other day? Shut Up! You fart too much…and you never shut up! which was promptly followed by a fit of uncontrollable giggles.

Yup! Quality parenting on my part…pure quality!

***

We now return you to your regular programming…

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Dear Stranger,

I do not know you.  I have never met you.

And yet, you lift me up; you give me strength; you drive me forward.

8 days ago two men attacked you.

They set off two bombs and harmed you, both physically and psychologically, and for that I am angry.

It is YOU who make a race what it is.

True, if I were not there, you would simply be staring at an empty road or cheering the passing traffic, but without you, I am just a runner.

The truth is I need you more than you need me.

You make me run harder, faster, farther with your energy, strength and will.

I am asking that you find the strength to come back.

Don’t let these two men scare you away from what you do, because to me, what you do is the most important part of any race.

Because without you, I am just a runner.

Thank you for all that you have done for me in the past.

Thank you for all that you will do for me in the future.

Yours,

Luau

Dear Stranger...Thank you.

Dear Stranger…Thank you.

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I guess I need to do my part in recruiting some of you…

Below is a letter  I wrote yesterday reflecting on the events of the past week.  The letter is to the Boston 13.1 Team Up with Autism Speaks Team.  If you are so moved, please consider either joining us on September 15th or passing this along.

Thanks,
Luau

***

Dear Team,

The events of a week ago brought to our idyllic world certain realities no person should ever have to face.  As a runner, a marathon runner, I felt like this attack was a personal one – as if the bomber had come into my house; into my safe space.  Yes, Boston is my home, but the road, the race course, is where I find my peace.

What the two men did not realize is that the group of people they chose to attack was one that does not easily shy away from adversity.  Whether it is the half-marathon or marathon distance, every distance runner has had to face obstacles and has ultimately overcome fear.

I witnessed firsthand last year at Boston 13.1 the emotion on so many faces as Team Up member after Team Up member approached and crossed the finish line – so many runners who had just months earlier never believed they could cover the distance in less than 3 1/2 hours.  The tears of joy, the sense of triumph, the feeling of accomplishment were evident on every runner’s face.

This year, in light of last week’s events and with the continuing unfolding of events over the weekend, will feel different.  How can it not?  Here’s the thing – it’s just one more obstacle for us to overcome; and together, we will.

Your strength, your courage will carry you through to the finish and you will once again raise your arms in triumph.

But a race is not just about the runners.  When you toe the line at Suffolk Downs this September, you will be doing so not just for yourself and not just for the people in your life affected by autism.  It is true that Team Up with Autism Speaks is about fund raising for what we believe to be a wonderful cause, but you putting your foot at the starting line in September will also be a nod to all of the other people involved not only with Boston 13.1, but every race including the Boston Marathon itself.  A footrace is about the runners, but it is also about the organizers, the volunteers, the security, and maybe most importantly, those that come out to cheer us on.

It is the spectators that take the experience of an endurance event to a whole new level, and it will be no different at Boston 13.1.

Come September you will not only be running for you, you will be running for everyone.

So here is my challenge to you – run Boston 13.1 this September for you and those in your life affected by autism, but to help show your appreciation for those that come to cheer on runners, not just at Boston 13.1 or the Boston Marathon, but at all races, go out an recruit one friend to join you this Fall as we show not just Boston, but the world just how strong endurance athletes are.

Whether you consider yourself an endurance athlete or not, I have news for you – if you are running Boston 13.1 this September, YOU are an endurance athlete.


The events of the past week shook all of us.  I will readily admit I was rattled to my very core; but I very quickly realized one thing – we WILL persevere; as those affected directly by autism, whether as autistic individuals ourselves or as parents, siblings, relatives, friends, teachers or specialists, we are all endurance athletes so to speak – perseverance is what we are, perseverance is what we do.

I look forward to seeing you in September,
Luau – Boston 13.1 Team Captain

Starting next week, Lara (Team Up Organizer Extraordinaire) will begin featuring the story of us, the runners of Team Up with Autism Speaks Boston 13.1.  If you are so moved, please consider telling your story – who you are, why you run.

***
Team Up with Autism Speaks - Boston 13.1 2012 - where's Luau?

Team Up with Autism Speaks – Boston 13.1 2012 – where’s Luau?

***
Ready to register with our team? Click here
As a part of your commitment to join our Boston 13.1 Marathon team, you will be required to raise a minimum of $500 to support Autism Speaks2013 Team Up! with Autism Speaks benefits include:
  • Guaranteed Race Entry
  • Team Up! with Autism Speaks Runners Tank or Long Sleeve Shirt, and an Autism Speaks hat or visor
  • Private Team Celebration Dinner on September 14, 2013, at Logan Airport Hilton Hotel.
  • Online fundraising page
  • Team Up! Facebook Page
  • Virtual Coaching by a certified running coach Fundraising Tips and Opportunities
  • Dedicated Autism Speaks staff to answer questions you have and assist
  • Race Day Cheering Section- TBA
  • Post Race Team Tent
  • Team Handbook – In a PDF format and downloadable for reference at any time
  • AND if you are local, team runs with me starting in a couple of weeks!

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My training plan for June’s 100-miler called for a 24 mile run yesterday.  As a result of the week’s events here in Boston, my training had been a mess, so I was determined to get my long run in.  Jess was kind enough to take the kids out for the day and leave me to my running.

My goal was to run slowly, somewhere in the 10:00 per mile range, to begin the physical, and more importantly psychological adjustment to running at a slower pace than I am used to.  It’s been a tough week here in Boston.  Last Monday’s bombings went right to my heart.  That, followed by the shootout late Thursday night where one brave officer was killed, the lock down of the Metro-West area on Friday and the eventual capture of Suspect #2 Friday night, has made the week a bit of a roller coaster to be sure.  Although I was able to keep #AutismStreaks going, my mileage was minimal.

When my feet finally  hit the pavement yesterday, I knew almost immediately my plans for the run were changing.  Earlier in the day the London Marathon was run, thankfully without incident.  For whatever reason, maybe it was that the Boston Marathon was still fresh in my memory, I just knew that I too would have to run a marathon – and so I did.  I worked my way to the Boston Marathon course and was pleased to find other runners who had the same idea.  Throughout my 22 miles on the course, I chatted with several runners, all of whom, out of some mystical drive had decided that on this day running 26.2 miles was important.  Some may have been running to show support, others may have been running to show defiance.

Me?  I was running for the spectators, the organizers, the security, the runners. I was running for the heroes, for the doctors, the police officers, the citizens who ran toward danger instead of away from it.

I was running for running.

There was something in the air, because every runner I passed made eye contact and nodded – an acknowledgment of unity, of brother and sisterhood.

At about 18 miles into my run, I passed a car at a stop light.  The windows were closed, but I could see the driver’s Boston 2013 jacket.  I shouted something, and pointed at him and continued on.  Moments later when he passed me, he rolled down his window, beeped and gave me a raised fist of defiance.  I did the same and then wept over the next half mile.

***

What was I looking for out there yesterday?
What did I find?

Early in my run I passed a Church that was just letting out of service.  I have not had a relationship with the Guy Upstairs in quite a while, and although I am currently a non-believer, I think I understand why people have religion.  The parishioners were smiling, speaking happily with each other.  Whatever their pastor had spoken about had obviously done some good.  As I watched them smile and chat, I realized that I too, in my own way, was attending church.  I found myself smiling, despite the fact, or maybe because of the fact, that I was pushing my body.

There is a certain peace one finds on the pavement (or trail as the case may be).  Whether running with friends or running alone, the very act of running, to me, is an act of affirmation; affirmation that I am alive, that I can achieve, that I can overcome.  It doesn’t always make me feel 100% good about whatever predicament I may find myself in, but I don’t think any religion or philosophy can do that.

What did I find out there yesterday?

I found a certain amount of peace.

I found the desire to just be.

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After 26.2 miles – 3:50:56

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dodo1

As I was watching the non-stop Boston Marathon bombing coverage on Monday night, someone came on the television talking about the different phases of how people would process the events of the day. First there was confusion, then there would be fear which would finally be followed by anger.

***

Yesterday I wrote about my confusion as to why one would attack long distance runners and an event like the Boston Marathon. Runners are a quirky, friendly lot; I just didn’t get it.  Speaking with a fellow Bostonian later in the morning, I compared runners to the now extinct dodo bird and the manatee.

Dodo bird? you may ask? The slow moving manatee?

We, runners, are a relatively easy going group that fears almost nothing. We’ve got our issues to be sure.  Who puts themselves through 26.2 miles of hell?  And of course, we can be pretty obsessive too.  Try talking to a marathoner for 15 minutes and I guarantee at some point they will mention running or training numbers or both.  We’ve pushed ourselves to the point of collapse over and over again.  One of our favorite posters is this:

Hell and back - 26.2 Miles

Hell and back – 26.2 Miles

…and then a lot of us go back and do it again and again and again.

So we really aren’t scared of a whole lot.

Our first thought when approached by a stranger is do they run.  Just like the dodo bird or the manatee, the marathoner has no known natural enemies – man, woman, tall, short, skinny, not so skinny, white, black, yellow, brown, red, blue, purple, religious, non-religious, right or left, gay or straight, wealthy or poor, disabled or not, blond, brunette, ginger…we. don’t. care.  We’re just happy if you want to join our band of runners.  We welcome everyone.

***

But I have now gone through the confusion stage, flown past the fear stage and have landed square in the middle of the anger stage.

I am now pissed off.

This dodo is MAD!!!

I saw this on my friend Laura’s open letter to runners, non-runners and even the asshat (my name for the bomber).

...yeah...wicked smaht asshat!

…yeah…wicked smaht asshat!

I thought, yeah!  We will get you MotherF***er!

During my run last night I could feel my anger bubbling over as I flew through a short 3-miler.  Before getting home I knew what picture I was going to post for my daily Instagram #AutismStreaks entry.  It was going to be my middle finger on my chest; a message to the asshat.  A “take that Motherf***er!”  

I was so friggin’ mad.

But then I took a breath.  I was still mad.  I was still angry. I still AM mad.  I still AM angry.  But I wasn’t going to let this guy win.  So I post this instead:

28158_10151457706719915_1312328955_n

#AutismStreaks Day 106 – a message to the asshat: we will persevere – it is who we are, it is what we do! 3.0 miles, 20:33, 6:51 pace.

Yes.  Perseverance is what we marathoners do.  We are patient.  We are focused.  We are relentless.  We are calculating.  We are like water in that we just. keep. coming.

It is who we are.

It is what we do.

 

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Devastated – Boston

We runners, particularly marathon runners, are a quirky bunch. We are all odd in our own way. How else could you explain the desire to punish our bodies with a 26.2 mile run. It doesn’t matter whether we are sub-3:00 marathoners or 6:00+ marathoners, we are willing to put ourselves through a tremendous amount of physical and emotional stress to achieve the marathon distance through relentless forward motion.

Despite that, or more likely BECAUSE of that, marathoners for the most part are a very friendly, supportive and welcoming group. If you are a marathoner, we welcome you as a brother or sister. The camaraderie we feel for each other is genuine.

Which is why the events of yesterday are so confusing and devastating to me. Marathon runners, and by extension their families and friends out cheering for them have no agenda other than celebrating the human spirit and the triumph of will over adversity. On the ground level there are no politics in the marathon, no religion other than the occasional personal pleas for help to get through Heartbreak Hill.

The attack yesterday simply felt…senseless.

There are no words, nothing that I can write that will ease the pain, the fear, the anger. We will all deal with this in our own way.

Last night I left my house and ran hard and fast toward the Marathon Course, determined to run several miles on it in honor of the Marathon and those who suffered earlier in the day. Instead, when I reached the Course, I broke down and cried uncontrollably for a full five minutes. I collapsed on a bench weeping, sobbing. After pulling myself together I realized I barely had the strength to get myself home, much less run several more miles on the course and I stumbled back home.

20130415-234157.jpg

It’s time to Hammer Down Boston! We will get through this. We will run again.

***

Runners Unite – its going around the various blogs and running sites – if you are able, please wear a racing shirt today in support of my home marathon and those hurt (both physically and psychologically) by yesterday’s bombings.

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Last night I hopped in my car and drove so that I could take my daily #AutismStreaks run over to a specific part of the Boston Marathon course.  I ran up to it, refusing to run on it because that hallowed ground belongs to the runners today.  Instead I ran up to the twenty mile marker and took a moment to breath in what I envisioned would be happening today.   Mile 20 is right at the base of Heartbreak Hill, a place where many runners “lose it”.  I laid my hands on the ground, just hoping to absorb some of the energy and buzz that is the Boston Marathon.

Instead, I felt some of my energy flowing into the hill.  You know, energy is the wrong word.  It was more like my will flowing through my hands.  I could feel myself willing runners uphill during what will arguably be the hardest part of their day.

leaving some will power for both friends and strangers at the base of Heartbreak Hill...go get it my friends!

leaving some will power for both friends and strangers at the base of Heartbreak Hill…go get it my friends!

Whether you are a Boston first-timer, an experienced veteran of the Hopkinton to Boylston footrace or something in between, you are in for a treat today.  The forecast calls for 49° weather at the start and 49° weather at the finish.  I leave you with what I posted right before I ran Boston 2011, incidentally my last Boston to this point:

Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted-One moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip?

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti
He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready to drop bombs,
but he keeps on forgettin what he wrote down,
the whole crowd goes so loud

He opens his mouth, but the words won’t come out
He’s choking how, everybody’s joking now
The clock’s run out, time’s up over, bl-OW!
Snap back to reality, Oh there goes gravity
Oh, there goes Rabbit, he choked
He’s so mad, but he won’t give up that
Easy, no
He won’t have it , he knows his whole back’s to these ropes
It don’t matter, he’s dope
He knows that, but he’s broke
He’s so stagnant that he knows
When he goes back to his mobile home, that’s when it’s
Back to the lab again yo
This whole rhapsody
He better go capture this moment and hope it don’t pass him

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo!

-Eminem (Lose Yourself)

***   ***   ***

You never know when your next shot will be your last.

Get it!

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