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Posts Tagged ‘Team Up! with Autism Speaks’

Yesterday I paced a buddy of mine to his first NYCM finish – we started strong, got knocked down around 18, but got up and finished strong.  Way to go brother!

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Dear Boston 13.1 Team Up with Autism Speaks Runners,

I am truly sorry.  I have not kept up my end of the bargain we made last Spring.  I was supposed to lead you through your training, inspire you to run long, ready you for the 13.1 miles you will conquer next month.  I have done none of those things.  Unfortunately, lung issues have put me on the shelf for the last month and I have not been able to lead long runs, any runs really, at all.  It has been 28 days since I last laced up; and truth be told, the week leading up to that last run was labored at best.

No, I have been neither a good leader nor team captain, and for that I am truly sorry.

I hope you have been training.  I hope you have been running at least three time a week with one long run on the weekends (you should shoot for 10 slow miles this weekend).  I hope you’re on target with your fund raising goals.

I’ve got one last challenge for you.  I know it’s a lot to ask, particularly as I have been an absent leader, but I ask you nonetheless.  As of this coming Sunday, there will be three weeks until Boston 13.1.  I want you to convince a friend to come join you in our little jaunt by the sea.  It’s okay if they say they are in no shape to run 13.1 runs because you know what?  Neither am I!  But I will be there – despite the complete breakdown of my running since mid-July, the Blue Afro and I plan on being on the course with you.  I may have to walk, but I will be there – and if I can do it, so can a friend.

I can’t promise dinner with Jess (adiaryofamom) since she is not running this year, but I can promise that the team dinner the night before the race will fill you with words of inspiration and feelings of hope and promise…oh, and a chance to break bread with the Blue Afro and me.

I look forward to seeing old faces and meeting new friends on the 14th and 15th.

Sincerely and Apologetically,

Luau

PS:  If you can’t join us for Boston 13.1 but would like to contribute in some way, please consider donating to my fund raising page (link below).

—>Luau’s Fund Raising Page<—

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Some of you have asked if it is possible to follow my progress during the TARC 100 this weekend.  I didn’t think so and had planned on tweeting my progress live (@luau), but it turns out that yes, yes you can.

If you go to:

http:ultralive.com/tarc100

you will arrive at this page:

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Just type in “Luau Wilson” at the top right where it says runner, this page will pop up:

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from there you can follow along as I attempt to cover 100 miles in less than 30 hours.  Keep in mind that the first 50 miles or so will be run through the night…perfect for you night owls and insomniacs.  Another thing to keep in mind is that we won’t be running quickly.  Although my peak marathon pace is in the mid- to low-7’s, JB, UltraDoug and I are planning on running the TARC no faster than 12 minutes per mile…and even THAT will be considered fast considering the distance.

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On a separate note, after I wrote this:

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many of you asked if there was a way you could sponsor me.  The direct answer is no.  I have not been actively fund raising for this race – however, if you feel compelled to sponsor me in this race indirectly or just want to help a crazy man out, I just registered for Boston 13.1 with Team Up with Autism Speaks.  So if you still would like to sponsor me for this run, how about a pledge per mile that you can then donate to that run?  You can write your pledge in the comments below and then calculate what you would donate based on the miles I cover (which of course is hopefully 100 – a 25¢ per mile pledge would max out at $25).  The link is:

http://events.autismspeaks.org/boston13.1marathon/runluaurun

This will bring you to my fund raising page for Boston 13.1 which takes place September 15.  I would love to have your donations for that race, but I would be even MORE excited if you joined me.

***

One day to go!  So excited!  Just have to fight off whatever this sore throat/headache-y thing Katie and I have going on these last few days.  I will still tweet from the race, but now that there is a live progress feed, I will probably do less to conserve battery power.

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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.

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

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

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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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So after yesterday’s post, which I wrote hours before the Mayor cancelled the marathon, many of you commented both here, on Facebook and on Twitter that I would have a whole year now to get Katy Perry’s attention for a donation of wigs.  I have to be honest with you, because I didn’t want to put anyone in an uncomfortable situation, I didn’t tell you the whole truth yesterday.  My struggle with deferment was much greater than a “should I or shouldn’t I run”.

I went to bed on Thursday night pretty much having decided that in the morning I would write to Lara, our amazing Team Up with Autism Speaks coordinator, and let her know I was deferring until 2013.  What I had seen on TV and heard from friends was simply horrifying and I could not see myself running when so many needed assistance.

I woke up at 5AM and instinctively reached for my phone.  I still had another half hour to sleep, but I notice the email alert said I had several emails that had arrived around 3AM.  This is what one of them (from one of Katy’s assistants) said:

Katy would be happy to make a donation of 25 wigs.

My new friend Andrew (Katy’s friend who I had been working with) sent this email:

Just got this email from one of the peeps at Katy’s management!

Which was followed by an email from Gene over at Charity Miles (he knows Andrew and is in the loop):

HOLY COW! THIS IS AMAZING!

I was ecstatic!  It had worked.

Katy Perry was donating 25 wigs!!!

As Gene said, how amazing was that???

Suddenly, I was back in it.  I was going to run New York!

But then reality started to hit me.  The fact that Katy Perry was generously donating 25 wigs to the cause did not change the fact that people in the City and surrounding areas were suffering.  I went back and forth all day, finally coming to the decision that I did.  Fortunately, the mayor finally called the event, taking a huge weight off of my shoulders.  I didn’t mention the wigs in yesterday’s post because I wanted to make sure that it was okay that I did – after all that they did, Katy and Andrew deserved the option of deciding whether or not to be mentioned.

I want to thank Katy and Andrew publicly.  Although the marathon was cancelled, at the very least, the wigs will be waiting for us for the 2013 New York City Marathon – all of you who volunteered to wear one this year have my gratitude and the right of first refusal for next year.

Thank you Andrew.

Thank you Katy.

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Holy cow!  Where to start?  I’m not even sure where the beginning really is on this one.  Is it months ago when I met with the folks from Team Up With Autism Speaks?  Is the when I began leading a training group every Sunday morning 10 weeks ago?  Is it last Saturday night when I got up in front of 220 Team Up Runners at the pre-race dinner for a pep talk?  The whole thing is just a little overwhelming, so maybe I’ll start in the middle.

***

I could feel the pain coming on.

You know, that little wet, burning feeling.  I don’t know where it happens for you, but blisters almost always start either just above my heel or near the front of my arch.  I had committed the cardinal sin in road racing – wearing footwear for the first time in an endurance event.  Last Wednesday or Thursday I had completely grossed myself out with my old Bikila’s.  They smelled so freaking bad and that was AFTER I had sent them through the washing machine…TWICE!  It was time for new ones, and considering that I would be pacing my dear friend Jersey during the race, I didn’t want  her to have to deal with my smelly shoes.  So, I went and bought a new pair; and then they sat for 4 days.

Yeah, I know, brilliant!

And so it was just a couple of miles in that I started to feel it coming on.  I tried to ignore it.  I tried to focus on my Garmin.  My friends Doug (from Really Not A Runner – even though he is) and Sassy had joined Jersey and I and my primary goal was to get Jersey to the finish line at just under 2:00.  We were clipping along at 9:00/mile pace, which translates to about a 1:58 half.

Sassy, Jersey and me early on, pacing smoothly around 9:00 per mile.

Me and Doug, who was in a showdown with Jersey – winner take all.

But the burning was growing.

I kept pushing it to the periphery.  I had a job to do: get Jersey to the finish in under 2:00 and then shuttle in the rest of the Team Up with Autism Speaks Runners.  We were having a fabulous time cheering other runners on.  I kept checking in with the Team Up runners we would pass, letting them know I would see them at the end.  We caught up with Paula from Perspicacity.  She had decided months ago that her first half-marathon was going to be Boston 13.1 with our Team.  We exchanged a quick hug and continued on.  I knew I would see her at the end.

Sharing some pavement with Paula from Tallahassee.  You can also see Superwoman Rebecca from Orlando just to the left of Paula’s ear.

As we made the turn onto the beach just after mile 3, I realized that I had two choices – either leave the footwear on and end the day with some monstrous blisters or take the footwear off.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  The farthest I had run in my attempt to rid myself of plantar fasciitis was 5 miles, and although the barefoot running had cured my PF, it wasn’t easy on the skin of my feet.  After trying to suck it up for another quarter mile, I threw caution to the wind and off came the shoes.

Surprisingly, it felt really good!  The pavement along Revere Beach is nice and smooth and the 9:00 pace meant I wasn’t pounding my feet either – a perfect combination for running with proper form!

We continued along our merry way, cheering runners we passed, all the while keeping our pace around 9:00.  Around mile 4 I saw Jess coming the other direction.  She was walking the half.  I jumped through the park that was between us and gave her a big hug, telling her I would be back.  I ran back to my charge and we continued on.  This barefoot thing was working out great.

Since we had started near the back of the pack, even at miles 5 and 6 we were passing other runners.  I would give a word of encouragement to every Team Up runner we would pass.  Through the turn arounds I got to see the runners I had trained over the past 10 weeks.  Every single one of them looked great.  All of them were smiling.

Between mile 8 and mile 9, Jersey began to fade.  Her spirit was there, but on this day her legs began to rebel.  Any experienced runner will tell you that there are days you have it and there are days you don’t.  Sometimes we can battle through the pain; others, the pain is just too much.  Sassy was on a mission to hit sub-2:00 as well, and we told her to go.  She would finish in 1:58.

Jersey and I took a little walk break.  It wasn’t her lungs, it was her legs.  We had banked enough time that we still had a shot at sub-2:00.  The next 3 miles would be a mix of run/walking.  She was determined.  I kept an eye on the Garmin.  Approaching mile 10 I said we needed to make a decision of whether to go for it or let it go.  Jersey is from, well, Jersey and she wasn’t gonna go down without a fight.  We needed to pick up the pace, which we did, but ultimately her legs said no.

I changed gears on her.  Sub-2:00 wasn’t in the cards this day, BUT her previous best was a high 2:04.  I knew we had an excellent shot of beating that.  I started doing the math.  If we could walk/run the next 2 miles at a certain pace, she was gonna come in around 2:04.

We hit mile 11.  I shortened the the distances we walked.  Even as we walked I kept my legs in a running motion, trying to pull her along.  As we got to mile 12, I said to her, “you can do anything for one mile.”  She was hurting but determined.  She kept pushing.

With a half mile to go, I shouted at her, “no more Mr. Nice Guy, let’s go!!!  How pissed are you gonna be if you miss this PR because you walked!  LET’S GO!!!”

She kept going…the clock was ticking…tic, tic, tic.  The finish line came into view.

Push, push, push.  The clock said 2:05:something but I knew we had at least a minute because we started so far back.

Tic, tic, tic.

We made the turn into the chute.  Jersey has broken into a dead run.  I tried to avoid the broken glass and pebbles that littered the ground.  On last turn in the chute, I yelled, “go get that medal! save me some beer!!!”.

Jersey’s PR was 2:04:47.  She would cross the finish line in 2:04:44.  A PR by 3 seconds.  Any runner will tell you, a PR is a PR is a PR!

I turned back to start part two of my job that day, shuttling the rest of the Team Up runners to the finish.  It was poetic that the first three runners I paced in were Roberta, Jana and Mark, followed closely by Kara, four runners who attended just about every single one of my Sunday training runs.  I was so proud of them!

What fun it was pacing people in!

Still blue afro-ed, still barefoot.

The absolutely amazing thing was just about every Team Up runner had a smile on their face.  Even after covering 13.1 miles, most for the very first time in their lives, there was a huge smile.  There was one woman who was crying, BUT it was because she knew she was A) doing something she had never thought she could do and B) knew her son was waiting at the finish line for her.  I told her that it was okay to be crying.  I started to well up as she turned the final corner for home.

The pebbles and gravel in the chute finally got to my feet, so I slipped my Bikila’s back on as slippers and continued to pace runners in.

Still blue afro-ed, but no longer barefoot with Dave from dailymile

After 5 miles of shuttling, I got a text from Jess.  She was fading.

I caught up to her at around mile 11-ish – Garmin said I ran low 7’s coming for her.  She told me she had never been so happy to see a blue afro.  I gave her a hug, told her she was doing great and we walked.  We were soon joined by her cousin John (who unexpectedly ran a PR!!!) and his girlfriend, then by our buddy Doug, then by Jersey and our friend Judith.  Over the last mile we were escorted by EMS and some State Police.

Jess crossed the finish line and then I finally did the same.  I was (and am) so proud of her.

The final numbers?  Almost 22 miles, 16 of which were run barefoot, 3:40:55 and a whole lot of love.

Next stop: New York City.

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As of 8:45 PM, September 14:

Which means:

I will be running the 2012 New York City Marathon with the Katy Perry Blue Wig.  Thank you to all who have donated to my cause.  I am blessed to have you in my life.  For those who would still like to give, please consider giving to Jess’ Boston Walk page – her company will match donations made to her page dollar for dollar.  The link is —>HERE<—.

Because you beat the deadline by a full day, I will be wearing this for Boston 13.1 on Sunday:

Thank you again!  You are amazing! I am blessed to know you. I am lucky to have you. I am humbled by your friendship.

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