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…it’s our turn…NCYM [New York City Marathon] people…THIS IS OUR TIME!

-runninglam

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For the past 3 1/2 weeks I have patiently been waiting.  I have “watched” as my friends ran the Chicago Marathon (10/10), the Bay State Marathon (10/17) and the Marine Corps Marathon (10/31).  I have enthusiastically cheered them on from afar, but deep down inside I have been green with envy.  True, just 4 1/2 weeks ago I ran the best marathon of my short running career, and for a week I reveled in the joy and euphoria of qualifying for Boston.  But then I got caught up in the tweets and dailymile updates of people running Chicago.  Not only were these friends running the marathon, but they were getting to meet each other and hang out.  They were able to sit and talk about running without feeling like they were boring their audience.

I enviously read about tweet-ups and dailymile meet ups.  I couldn’t believe that a friend of mine was able to meet Bart Yasso!  But she and several others didn’t just meet him, they got to spend an evening having drinks with him, picking his brain.  How cool is that?  The following week was Bay State, with several friends shooting for BQ’s of their own (just in time…phew!), followed two weeks later by the Marine Corps Marathon with many getting together at Jon Stewart’s Rally for Sanity.  I wish I could have been at all of those races!

Well, New York City Marathoners and New York City Runners, it’s our turn now.  I’m looking forward to meeting many of you over the weekend.  I hope some of you will join Miss Joy, TK and me for a leisurely 4 miler on Saturday morning or for brunch afterward.  I am so looking forward to meeting the two of them!  Others I hope to meet at the expo.  I also can’t wait to meet the rest of the Team Up with Autism Speaks Team at Saturday night’s pasta dinner.

Oh, and then there’s the matter of the 26.2 miles on Sunday.  If I don’t meet you beforehand, I hope to see you at the finish line.

It’s our turn now.  Let’s have some fun!

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Why do you run?

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One year ago yesterday I ran the Manchester City Marathon – my first.  I was convinced that I was going to qualify for Boston in that race.  Looking back, I realize that I really had no idea what I truly was getting into.  My strategy was rudimentary at best.   It didn’t really matter.  I abandoned it within the first few miles.  I flew through the first half in just over 1:35.  I pumped my fist at my family as I flew by them. There are no pictures of that moment because I was 5 – 10 minutes ahead of schedule. I was flying.

Then I had to run the second half. The second half took me just over 2:20, including 20 minutes to get from mile 20 to mile 21.

I came nowhere near qualifying for Boston. As proud as I was for finishing my first marathon, I was devastated.

It was on that day that I finally realized that running a marathon, forget qualifying for Boston, was hard.

***

In 6 days I will be running the ING New York City Marathon. It will be my 5th marathon in 53 weeks. To say that my experience in New York will be different from that in Manchester is a bit of an understatement. Yes, the cities and crowds are different, but I am speaking more directly to the experience of running the 26.2 miles themselves.

In 53 short weeks I have made a tremendous amount of progress. I have gone from a 3:54 marathon where my quads froze up, to a Boston Qualifying time of 3:19, to possibly gunning for a 3:15 this coming Sunday.

A 35 minute improvement.

Progress.

The best part is that I know that my running is a work in progress.  There is still much to be done, many miles to be run, a number of milestones to be reached.

But I don’t say all of this to toot my own horn.  No.  I say this to tell you that anybody, ANYBODY, can get there.  If you train hard, eat right and run smart, progress is inevitable.  The speed and measure of progress is different for each individual.

If you have a running goal, any goal for that matter…believe! Believe!!!

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Why do you run?

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New York is still just under 3 weeks away. Before running Smuttynose, I had told myself that if I had the good fortune of qualifying for Boston, my approach to New York would be that of a fun run, a celebration, a victory lap. I was going to soak in every mile of the New York City Marathon experience, not caring what my time was.

That was my intent.

However, after watching the fantastic finish at the Chicago Marathon and tracking my friends at Chicago, Portland and Bay State, several of whom had BQ’s of their own, there’s been this voice; this voice that’s whispering in my ear.

It’s whispering, “3:15…3:15…3:15”.

I don’t even know if I can run a 3:15!

And furthermore, there’s no real reason for me to be attempting 3:15. By the time November 7th arrives, I will have already registered for Boston 2011 (registration opens this morning at 9:00AM), so it’s not like I’d improve my corral placement. On top of that, with only 5 weeks between Smuttynose and New York, no one is really expecting to see any kind of improvement, are they? Of course, the last time I ran 2 marathons so closely together, I did manage a 2 minute PR.

So I’ve been asking myself, could I take 4 minutes off in New York? Should I even try?

To make matters worse, my friend David (@DP_Turtle), who BQ’d at Chicago and finished Boston last year 11 seconds ahead of me, has thrown down a challenge. He will be running New York and is thinking maybe we should have a little side bet. Before you try stop me, it’s too late! We have agreed that the loser at New York is buying the winner a beer at Boston 2011. True, that’s not a whole lot on the line – it’s just a beer…and bragging rights!

Now, I did say early on, that I was planning on stopping to see everyone I know along the way and snapping a picture. Can I still do that and run harder than I did at Smuttynose? I don’t know. It’s doubtful.

So you see? I’m conflicted. I want to enjoy my victory lap. I want to hug every friend along the way (though after a few miles they may not want to hug me). But the competitive nature in me is whispering, “3:15…3:15…3:15”.

What’s a runner to do? What do you think?

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Why do you run?

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A little over a month ago I asked for your help.

I asked you to help me help my little Brooke and all the families out there affected by autism. I asked you to click

—>HERE<—

a link which takes you directly to my fund raising page for this year’s New York City Marathon.

I had committed to raising at least $2600.

I asked that you help support me as I tried to make the world just a little more aware, a little more understanding, a little more compassionate.

Out of my past and present you came.  Out of the known and unknown you came.  Friends, friends of friends, friends I have never met in the real world and total strangers.  You all came, and in just a little over a month, took me over the initial goal of $2600.

I hope that this is not the end of my fund raising, but I wanted to make sure that I acknowledged, publicly, those that put me over the top and sent me to New York this coming November.

Thank you.  I will think of each and every one of you as I journey through the five boroughs on November 7th,

The 2600 Club:

Alan Kessler, Andrew Vogel, Arthur Hsu, Bob Votapka, Grammy & Grandpa DD, Catherine Schembri, Christa Lind, Courtney Buie, Courntney Fredericks, Danielle Hair, Elizabeth Blecker, Eva LaBonte, Hugh Hallawell & Stinky, Ingrid & George, Jennifer Ethirveerasingam, Mo, Jack Wack, Jonathan Amir, Judith Ursitti, Kate Mead, Kevin Franck, Kim Borer, Cat Brown, Matt Geller, Michael Kim, Michelle “Miss Joy” Jacobs, Michelle Genin, Mollie Niess, Nancy De Sa, Rachel Thuemling, Randy Price, Rick Reilly, Roxanna Shershin, Russell Levine, Sarah Werner, Sarah Johnson, Stef Nathanson and Yigal Agam

I am in your debt.

I promise to run strong!

Thank you.

Although they do not appear on the list above, a special thank you must go to Blake Jones and Jonathan Harrington.  Each of you in your own way have made a huge contribution to my fund raising goal and for that I am grateful.

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My Little Brooke

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On November 7th, 2010 I will be running the ING New York City Marathon. It will be my 4th, possibly 5th, marathon, but it will be the first that I run representing a charity. I have chosen a charity that is very close to my heart – Autism Speaks. My daughter, Brooke, has autism. She was diagnosed over 3 years ago and when my wife and I were told the news, there was very little support out there. In the time since then, the tools and resources available to families with new diagnoses has come a very long way. Part of that is due in large part to the efforts of Autism Speaks.

They have been a tireless advocate of awareness, something both the wife and I strongly believe in.

Ignorance is the parent of fear and cruelty.

In an ignorant world, my daughter would have been called a brat, or willful child, or worse, stupid. In an ignorant world she would have been constantly punished for behavior that she is unable to control without assistance. In an ignorant world, my daughter may well have been looked upon with disapproval and judgement from both teachers and peers. Thanks in part to the efforts of Autism Speaks and charities like it, my daughter does not live in a world of ignorance. We may not be where we need to be yet, but we are on our way.

Awareness is the parent of understanding and compassion.

With awareness comes understanding which can eventually lead to compassion. I have been amazed how people have responded to my little Brooke once they know what she has to deal with on a daily basis. Once they understand that a room full of talking children can literally be a painful assault on her ears, or that trying to follow what a teacher is saying in class can be as if you were trying to understand a lecture on economics by a professor who spoke 4 out of 5 words in a language you didn’t understand, or that a simple, repetitive sound that you or I simply block out as white noise becomes an itch that she cannot possibly hope to scratch; once people understand this, their awareness quickly turns to compassion. People start looking out for Brooke because they know that in the end, she is just like any one of us, just a little different on how she perceives the world.

I believe that the more people I can make aware of autism and its effects on both those who have it and their families, the better the world will be when my little girl grows up. The wife and I have, from a very early point, been fairly public about autism, Brooke and our family. Not everyone chooses to “come out” if you will, and I have grown to accept and even understand that. By the same token, I feel that as long as autism is kept in a dark corner, hidden away as something to be ashamed of, then ignorance, fear and cruelty will continue to exist and grow.

Running for awareness.

And so I run. This November I will run to help push the boundaries of awareness. I will talk to anyone who asks about the lows and highs (yes, highs) of having a child on the autism spectrum. I will encourage people to speak loud and speak proud of their children or themselves. I will remind parents that no victory is too small to cheer and that no defeat is too large to throw in the towel.

Autism Speaks is a charity I respect and have a passion for. They do so much and work so hard to make the world a better place for my Brooke, for both today and tomorrow. But it’s not just my Brooklet that they are helping. Everyday a new family is devastated with the news that someone in their family, whether they are 3, 13 or 23 years old, has been diagnosed with autism. I have had many friends come to me over the past year asking questions and expressing concerns about their own children. With resources like the First 100 Days Kit, these families are now able to find the tools to help ease that initial pain and start moving in a positive direction.

So I am asking you to help me help my little Brooke and all the families out there affected by autism. You can do that by clicking

—>HERE<—

The link will take you directly to my fundraising page for this year’s New York City Marathon. I need to raise at least $2600. Much of the funds that Autism Speaks raises goes to research, but a portion of it also goes directly to grants that are reviewed by the parents of children with autism. They make an effort to make sure that the funds they distribute can benefit many of us directly. Autism Speaks is truly working to make the world a better place both today AND tomorrow. I know that many of you have helped me in the past when our family has done the Autism Speaks Walks. I am truly grateful for that, and I am asking for your help once again. Having learned to walk, it’s now time for me to run. I hope that you will support me as I try to make the world just a little more aware, a little more understanding, a little more compassionate.

Thank you so much.

Help Me Help Brooke To Fly

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