Monday, August 26, 2013

The Day of Heartbreak - Boston 2013 Part V

I begin running, marginally faster and for slightly longer periods. When I am forced to walk I keep a decent pace, I don't recall us stopping much for the debilitating cramping. We still have a few miles to the Citgo sign, but I know we will get a glimpse of it soon. This is my next small goal, to see that historic sign and run to it. To run up that hill Jason so often crested, to then know we'd have one more mile to go. The last mile and 385 yards.

Randy has told us the temperature often drops as runners head into Boston past Heartbreak Hill and today it is definitely true. We soon pull our gloves back on as we feel the chillier air. Given my slow pace, my sweat production is almost nil. I am starting to cool and look forward each time I can run to generate a little heat in my misfiring engine.

It is a long, slow slog toward Mile 25 and I try not to think about how far we have to go, only keeping watch for the famous sign. The Sign. And then after this long struggle, in the distance, it is there, still far away, but there and visible. I will finish this race.

I push on, trying not to think too much, just keep moving, closer to The Sign.



Evil has struck. We have not heard it. I am thinking I hope I can run up the overpass when we reach it, to not have to walk the incline. In thinking back I might have heard it, but I cannot say with certainty.



And then we are there, the foot of the overpast with Mile 25 mere yards away. I try to run up this short incline, thinking of Jay being here, of us being here, his brother Randy with us, guiding us to the finish. I cannot do it, my leg twinges and I walk.


I think of Jay, of him running with only his left foot, being at this very place. He is here. Mike, Randy, Jay and I crest the bridge together.

Our brother, The Greatest
And then, just like that, we make a right on Commonwealth, one mile to go. One mile. One more mile. I want to run, in my mind I want to be flying, picking up the pace, heading for home. I cannot do it.

I think ahead, of an underpass, at some point, a right turn. Hereford. A short straight. A left. Onto Boylston. I think...my leg will probably cramp. How will it be? How will it feel? How will it really be...? Those crowds. This day that was never to be. Glorious it shall be.

It will be...a day like no other.


*******

I have not been able to write this part for a long time. I have started, sometimes just opening the post to look at it and close it, other times to write a few words and stop again....


Ahead it seems the road is more congested, are the crowds pushing onto the course? I have been running bent at the waist, generally not looking too far in front of me, and when I look up it makes no sense. We slow. The screams of the spectators grow quieter.




We all walk and then come to a stop. For a moment I think there has been some sort of accident, perhaps a runner has died on the course, something Jennifer and I have seen happen.

It makes no sense for the entire road to be blocked...what....

Sirens. Helicopters. I recall someone saying the race has been stopped...it will not be restarted...there has been a bombing....people are dead...did I hear two people? A man shows us a pic on his cell phone, seems like gray dust is everywhere but I only get a glimpse of the finish line area on the tiny screen.


I curse. I am angry. How can this be? There is no way this should happen, be allowed to happen. Not today. Not at this race. I curse and curse and crazily apologize for my words. Scott appears and then heads off to find a ride to the hospital, saying his legs were hurting.

The sky is so blue. The day, beautiful. 

I must call Jennifer and tell her I am okay. I fumble with my phone and try to call but no connection. My battery is in the red zone despite being fully charged in the morning. I managed to get one text out.

"I am ok."

What I was saying was:

"I am not hurt."

And later:

"I am not dead."


Others were.


Krystle Campbell.

Martin Richard.

Lu Lingzi.

*******

I sit on the curb when the chill overtakes me and start to shiver, I try to stop but can't. Randy gives me the long sleeve shirt off his back and insists I take it. I am so cold that I put up little resistance and accept the gift.

I think about Kelly as the impact of what has happened seeps into my brain. I begin to worry about her, hoping she has finished and is not hurt. It does not occur to me that she might have been waiting at the finish line for us. What about Janelle? And Kim? Could Jennifer and the family possibly gotten transportation to see me finish? No....that just can't be. Can't be.

Randy and Mike try to make phone calls, Randy is able to talk to his wife. A volunteer comes by with water. I am not afraid. And the thought does not come to me that I have not crossed the finish line.

Our locations when we stopped

*******

We finally are directed to continue down the opposite side of Commonwealth to get back to the hotel. We were unable to find our gear bags after many bus drivers abandoned their stations; I overheard they had instructions to never do this, but given what happened I suppose they had personal reasons for doing so.

Back at the hotel I agree to give a phone interview to a local tv reporter, thinking it may ease some minds since it has been hard to make cell calls. I am not able to say a proper goodbye to Randy or Ashley or many others who came by our room after the race, but I was so happy when Kelly first appeared and gave me a crushing hug.

Everyone we know is safe. Alive. Intact. Janelle had left the finish line to go charge her phone, and Kim left to do some work seeing my pace had slowed.

So many stories of what-if. Too many of why.

*******

On the way home Jennifer tries to talk to me...I begin but find I cannot speak as I am overcome with what happened to the victims, the lives lost, the bodies torn apart, the bravery of those who ran to their aid. All of it and the immensity of allowed evil. All of it seems bursting in my heart and I cannot go on.

As we land and make our way to baggage claim, we see a television crew staked out near a door. I quickly exit to the bathroom, remove the jacket I had thought I'd never wear and stuff it away in my laptop bag. I will not be able to talk about this.

And many days I still cannot. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Day of Why - Boston 2013 Part IV

 I will only know this Boston. I will never know that Boston.




The spectators along the Boston course are legendary, yet until experienced it cannot be believed. Every adjective fails. They, however, are beyond failure. They are the best. THE BEST. And today they will prove this to be true.

*******

As we start I see several runners sprint ahead. For me, a too-fast pace will be a disaster and something I must avoid. Adrenaline can make those first few miles seem like a walk in the park and then reality sets the concrete in the shoes. I remain mystified why I am so calm; my only explanation is that I am in disbelief of where I am and what I am doing and this keeps me from coming out of my skin.

All I want today is to run the entire race and not be reduced to walking because of fatigue. I did not have time to prepare for the pace I wanted to run, but I did feel ready to go the distance. And on this perfect running day, I did not want to waste the gift that was given to us. My race would be far slower than what I had hoped to run, but I knew if I attempted my original pace, even having an otherwise extraordinary day, that I would blow up not too many miles into the race. Run smart, watch the quarter mile splits early, DO NOT GO OUT TOO FAST.

How does it feel to run the Boston Marathon, to be one of the leaders in the race even if given an early start and knowing most of the field will catch and pass you over the next few hours? It is beyond words, beyond reality. I could use surreal but that does not do the day justice either.

For me, it is a miracle.

It is emotional overload so as to numb the senses to the point of disbelief. It seems like an ordinary training run except you know what you are doing, what you have dreamed about, sweated, froze and cried about; done what it took and more than should have been asked to get here. But I did it. I did not question the why. I did it. Here I was running the Boston Marathon. This runner, all of his life, now without his right foot, I was running the Boston Marathon. How can this be?

In many ways it felt like that ordinary training run, today with my friends Mike and Randy. My pace is slow enough to talk comfortably; we chat and they keep watch for the wheelchair athletes that will be the first to overtake us at the fastest speeds of any elite athletes on this day.

It would seem like any day's run. My heart rate was not elevated, I was not anxious, and I had the best of company. I told the guys several times that it seemed so strange...running The Boston Marathon and we were nearly alone.

Nearly. The one thing that makes me realize this was no training run, no sweet dream I'd awaken from, was the crowds, the most incredible spectators of any race I have experienced in my life. Randy had a shirt made for the race, honoring his brother Jason Pisano and having the words "Go Richard" printed on the front. As we ran the crowds would scream, and I mean SCREAM GO RICHARD!!! GO RICHARD GO!!!

video
The cheers...I kept wondering who they were for.

Often I would hear their voices and wonder who was coming up behind us. There was no one, these cheers were for us, oh my god this has to be a dream, I cannot believe this, who am I to be here, for people to deafen us with shouts of joy and celebration on this day like no other?

My plan had to be run "quietly," to concentrate on my running and not be distracted as to elevate my heart rate and unnecessarily waste precious energy. Uh huh.

As we ran I found it impossible not to acknowledge these amazing spectators, it was difficult not to constantly wave a hand or give nod or touch hands or even speak a word as we ran by. Even now I think the energy they infused in us was far more than any I spent responding to their support of my band of brothers.

*******

My right hip is feeling sore. It works harder having to lift the dead weight of the prosthesis and was a source of prerace concern. This has happened on training runs and often simply goes away. As my body temp rises I remove my black gloves and tuck them over the front of my hydration belt. I noticed they flap as I run and I think the blackbird has come to be me.

*******

Just before the 9 mile mark we catch up to Shariff, The Singapore Blade Runner. Shariff, Kelly and I became FB friends a couple of years ago as we were planning on running the 2012 race. Now here we were running together; we are at Fisk Pond and this is one of the few places there are sparse spectators.


We grasp hands for a moment. Here we are, runners a world apart, South Carolina, USA, and Singapore, finding in our physical adversity a common ground we all can believe in. This is how we live. There is no other way.

*******

A bit later the elite women zoom past us. It looks to be a tactical race to me, none seem to be in distress in the lead group. As the still very fast women begin to pass, more and more say words of acknowledgement to us. I find this a bit hard to believe, these women are running extremely hard but find the breath to encourage us. As I wrote this I shook my head, thinking back to being there that day...

Grit and Jodi: TeamPisano Supporters Extraordinaire! 
This turned out to only be the beginning of the support not only the crowds but the runners themselves offered us. It would go on and on and on. All three of us were somewhat in disbelief of the camaraderie. These runners have all worked very hard to get here, qualifying to run this greatest of marathons.

And today we run as one.

*******

My left leg feels a little odd. Overall I feel strong, but I am getting a sensation something isn't quite right, that my leg is a bit lame.

As we run toward Wellesley I am on pace for what I felt I could run this day. My own prediction that I told Jennifer was 4:42 so they would know when to expect me at Mile 21. I am thinking of the legendary noise we are destined to hear firsthand, and I wonder if it will live up to the years of hype.

Oh yes, yes it does.



The only thing I recall hearing this loud outside of a couple of rock concerts were jet fighters winding up their engines. My god my right eardrum is quivering. It is hard to believe human beings can create such a ruckus, but there no denying this wall of sound emanating from these college women.

As we move on toward mile 14 my left hamstring is making it known in a way I know from years of running that it is going to revolt. The inevitable, utterly futile bartering begins, oh please go away not today, not today.

Yes. Today. NOW.

The muscle clenches in a tight knot and stops me in my tracks. I lean against Randy while Mike massages the leg. This is an industrial-strength-gotcha-sucka cramp that means business. I know in these few seconds there will be no good finishing time today, and we haven't even hit the Newton Hills yet.

"Impossible is Nothing" Randy tells me. Jay's words. The Greatest. I clench my jaw and screw my eyes shut willing away the pain. It finally eases.

We walk on. I run a little. The hamstring quivers. I walk. I am walking in the Boston Marathon.

TeamPisano member Kelly Watts joins us for a while; I am in the slow grip of disappointment as we move on. We are constantly shouted words of encouragement and we still comment just how often they come. Yet I feel a sadness that on this most perfect day at the greatest marathon on the planet that I do not belong here, among these best of the best. What am I doing here in this dream, walking. I should wake up and go to work and remember this dream I had where I was leading the Boston Marathon only to have to be reduced to an old man's shuffle....

*******

Boston volunteer PT tries to help with cramping
We are now in the midst of the bulk of the runners. I generally keep to the left side of the road more out of habit than anything else. We have to stop numerous times as I feel the twinge that precedes a cramp. The flock of runners glide by in bright colors befitting the celebration of this day.  Run a little, maybe 100m, then walk until I can go again. I stop often.

So many words of encouragement from the runners...in truth I am unhappy I have been reduced to long walks and short jogs, the feeling I do not belong here. They tell us otherwise. Today we are all Boston marathoners. Every one of us. Yet the pang of disappointment remains though pushed aside.

My residual now serves notice it is uncomfortable. Not a specific pressure point, but something akin to friction or positive pressure. So both of my legs are taking the stage of revolution and we are only around mile 18. I fleetingly wonder if I will literally be reduced to crawling. Mike tells me about Deanna Babcock, a fellow Getting2Tri athlete, who he had once encouraged to remove her prosthesis to "reset" her leg. I hear him but in this runner's mindset find I do not want to stop for one second more than I am forced to even given the large chunks of time I am losing from walking.

The sensation grows in my socket and I am wondering if sweat is building within. I see I have vacuum so it should be pumping the moisture out. What is going on, I have never felt anything like this. A shroud of despondency grows over me, more that I am wasting such a perfect day to run and beginning to doubt I can finish this race upright. My leg feels like it is going to explode. Is it swelling?

Finally with insistence from Mike we pull over to remove the prosthesis and I am shocked at what we find.

Nothing.

There is no sweat, no skin abrasion, completely opposite of what I expected. My skin is bone dry; all of the lotion I apply to provide the interface with the liner is gone. Mike is able to track down some vaseline for me as the small tube of ointment I had has fallen out of my hydration pack. He is also able to get us some pretzels for the salt content. A volunteer comments I am not sweating, I explain my pace is slow and the temperature is cool so I am not working hard enough to bring those tears to the cooling glands.

Suddenly BethAnn, Kelly's guide, appears and asks what is going on, am I hurt or what? She says Kelly wanted to come over but she insisted that Kelly kept running while she checked on us. This is how a great guide does their job....

We quickly explain it is not an injury, just a reset and for them to keep on running. Appeased, BethAnn heads back out to Kelly who is having a very good day on the course.

*******

Donning the prosthesis, the sensation has disappeared and my leg feels completely normal. No burning, no pressure, in fact it feels better than when I started the race. The left leg also feels better; although it twinges often it does not fully cramp again.

Yesterday I was 7

In my mind I see the picture of the day I was running as a child...and I did run whenever I could get away with it. Over 50 years separate the boy running around The Battery to the man running The Boston Marathon. Well, running some, walking more now.

The thought comes now to get to Mile 21, to see my family who have been waiting a long time. To see Jennifer and John Ryan and Kristen and Jack and to see our Ashley, who has come all this way to support me as I run to raise funds for the IFOPA. This is what keeps me moving, this thought, to see my family. I need to get there.

*******

I am barely aware we are heading up Heartbreak Hill. You will hear various stories of this famed rise. Some trail runners like to point out how it is not so steep compared to the mountains they run - and walk - in. Others understand the historic significance of this place, where it comes on the course and how its name came about. It is a little steeper than I expected and I walk a little more. Up. Up. Up.

I keep thinking soon I will see my family and then nothing else matters, each step is closer to them and whatever happens afterward...happens. I will get there. I will.

I start scanning the crowd. Walk. Walk. Run. Walk. Where are they? Walk. Run. Walk.

Location of my family
I don't remember if it was Randy or Mike, but someone points them out to me. There they are not far over the crest, all decked out in the bright green shirts that depict my blade with "RUN RICHARD RUN" or "RUN KINGPOP RUN" emblazoned on the front.

My race pace would have had me here much earlier so they have waited a long, long time. I stop and lose it, emotion overtakes then overwhelms me. I take time to speak to everyone, trade hugs, and refill my heart with their love. I tell Ashley "we will get to that finish line" not really meaning the one on Boylston, but the one where we find the cure for FOP.

A final hug and words of encourage from my Jennifer and we are off. I am refreshed, my left leg feels stronger, and I can now run more before the twinge warnings. My next mini-goal is to see and then run by the Citgo sign at mile 25.

It is a place I have long thought about because of a photo of Jay Pisano climbing that bridge incline with the sign over his right shoulder. I want to run over the bridge and into Boston. I want to honor this day, running to the finish line, not walking, my head up, my dream embraced on this day like no other.

We run on.



My family
A quick hug with Jack

Restored



All In #BostonStrong


Moments ago I completed my registration for the 2014 Boston Marathon. Jennifer and I already have our room reserved and plane tickets purchased, so now I must train hard and stay healthy until the race.

I am once again overwhelmed by emotion...remembering what happened just over 4 months ago, it seems so distant yet so newly raw. Yet what I feel is insignificant over the dear ones we lost that day...Krystle, Martin, Lu, and then Sean. The lives forever changed physically, emotionally, mentally and spirtually.

We will never give in and never give up. We will remember and the love will go on and on.

This is true, this is in our hearts.

We remain BostonStrong.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Day Like No Other - Boston 2013 Part III

I am here. Wake Up.

I often thought about how I would feel about being at Boston. I could only think it would be a day like no other. Whenever I imagined being on that starting line in Hopkinton and then leading the race for those first few miles with my fellow mobility impaired friends, well, it was beyond what was possible. It had to be a dream. Yet I hold my race number in my hands on the morning of April 15, 2013:

21202.

Pink sticker.

9 a.m. start.

How is this possible? How is this not a dream?

*******

"Tightening of the laces. Serious stuff." - Jennifer
I woke up one minute before my alarm went off, 3:44 am. I took my time getting ready, a little spacey but not so much as to not go through my checklist to make sure I had all I needed. Randy came by our room and we talked about pace, what camera he would take, and other details for the race. He also changed his left shoelace to the Terry Fox one I had given him.

I make a last weather check and decided what clothes I would need and what I could leave behind. What I leave behind could have caused big problems.

*******

We leave to go downstairs to meet Kelly and BethAnn at 5 a.m. I am mostly calm, still not quite sure of this reality, this strange world I am passing through. Photos, a hug and kiss to my sweet wife Jennifer, and we begin our dark walk to the buses. For Hopkinton. To run The Boston Marathon.

On our way
Jennifer is going to meet the kids and Ashley around mile 21 to watch the race. I know this will be a good place because it is just beyond the crest of Heartbreak Hill. Either I will be struggling and will need love's lift, or I will be running well and will get that boost to drive myself home.

Kelly leads us to the buses. I don't have a good idea of how far we have to go, but fortunately the walk is shorter than to the expo. We board quickly which surprised me, and soon we are on our way. To Hopkinton. To the start of The Boston Marathon.

Kelly and me
We exit our bus in a chill air and enter the Athlete's Village for the must-have "It All Starts Here" photo. My sweatshirt is one Jennifer gave me from her college, and I love that I was reading "Again to Carthage" once more on our trip up to Beantown.

We walk over to the school gym where the wheelers and other early start MIs gather to prepare themselves for the race to come. Along the way we meet John Young, who hoped to be the first person in his category to run this greatest of races.

First Boston for John and me
I set up shop next to Scott where some power outlets are so I can put a final charge on my prosthetic vacuum pump. The time goes by quickly. I snack on a bagel with peanut butter as I make final adjustments. Donning my leg I realize I am missing something...my extra prosthetic socks. I need one single ply to snug up my fit but have none. If this was a 5k I'd not be concerned, but I go into a mild panic thinking of being uncomfortable for 26.2 miles.

My residual is long and Scott's socks are too short, but I add a longer, thin sheath and that will have to do. The mental note is made in big red bold letters for next year. Bring the $%&! extra socks.

One last pit stop and a note on Jay's poster Randy has taped to the wall: One More. My first Boston, One More for The Greatest. I would not lack for inspiration this day, in fact, it was endless.

*******

Who I Am
I remember walking out of the gym, seeing the Hoyt sculpture, and briefly waiting until we were lead to the starting line. I wore our beloved Don Pablo's bright orange collar on my right wrist and my "Cure FOP" bracelet on my left.

It seemed like any other race. Maybe I was overwhelmed. Maybe because there was only us MIs, perhaps 20 altogether, that we didn't have the buzz of a huge corral. This just couldn't be happening to me. I don't have a foot. I am in Hopkinton. On the starting line. Of. The. Boston. Marathon.

It is announced that there will be 26 seconds of silence for the 26 victims of Newtown. The crowd hushes. I bow my head. My thoughts wander then grow quiet. Into my mind a vision appears, that of children. I see them above. A boy. Not sure, but maybe a girl out of focus on his left. And then I hear singing, the high, sweet sonorous singing of children. It is all in my mind. It is what I believe. In a few seconds this vanishes.

*******

We begin the 2013 Boston Marathon. Mike, Randy and I turn our backs to Boston, facing Hopkinton, taking the first few steps as Jay would have done, running backward in his chair. We turn and run in near perfect conditions, far from the furnace of last year.

It will be a day like no other.


Monday, August 5, 2013

The Day Before - Boston 2013 Part II

Sunday was filled from morning to night.

Registration for Persons with Disabilities (Jennifer & Randy on far left)
Jennifer and I had breakfast with Kelly Luckett in the morning and I presented her with the medal I had made, and gave her another to give to her friend and guide, BethAnn Perkins. From there Jennifer and I headed to the expo while Kelly went back to wait on BethAnn who would be arriving at any minute.

Shariff and me
The walk to the expo was far longer than I preferred. My plan was to be on my feet as little as possible on Sunday and I didn't do too well on that account. I remember walking under the stands on south side of Boylston Street and seeing how open they were, thinking there wasn't as much security there as I would have expected. We did see many law enforcement and military personnel about, so I didn't feel unduly concerned.

The Mobility Impaired registration is in a smaller room adjacent to the main hall. Randy and Mike were not there yet but we immediately meet Shariff Abdullah Peters, a.k.a. The Singapore Blade Runner. We chat a bit and took some pics before he had to return to the North Face expo display. Shariff is a wonderful ambassador for his country of Singapore, and faces quite a challenge being an amputee runner in the nearly year-round heat and humidity of being so close to the equator. We experience a similar climate here in the South for about 3 months, so we understand how difficult it is for him.

Kelly (L) 7 BethAnn (R)
Soon my friends who would be my guides arrived, Randy Spellman and then Mike Lenhart with his girlfriend and fellow accomplished amputee athlete Janelle Hansberger. Randy is probably the most experienced guide ever at Boston, and being Jay Pisano's blood brother I was extremely honored he would be running with me. Mike, the founder of Getting2Tri, has been a guide for many amputee runners at other marathons, including the likes of Richard Whitehead, Scott Rigsby, and Jason Gunter. I would be in the best of hands. The very best.

Janelle would be waiting for us at the finish line.

Soon Kelly returned with BethAnn to round out this august group. I handed out additional commemorative medals as we all finish up the registration process. Kelly has been an amputee since age 2, and is a fount of knowledge of amputee running and all things a Boston a MI runner should know or be aware of. I felt little anxiousness of being at this greatest of marathons because Kelly had answered so many unknowns for me.

*******

I have a moment of being in this dream, for how can I be here, at the Boston Marathon, picking up my race number?

It is not possible.  It cannot be.

"Dude, I'm afraid your running days are over."




From left: Mike Lenhart, me, and Randy Spellman

*******

Randy and I meet Dick Hoyt
We retrieve our numbers and head into the expo. My main objective is to get my Boston jacket which, thankfully, is not sold out in my size. I also purchase a couple of shirts, a coffee thermos mug, and a visor cap, my head gear of choice for everyday running. They had sold out of the shorts and tights I had wanted, so I ordered those later.

Randy and I sat while Jennifer made the expo rounds. It is by far the best expo I have ever experienced and wished I could have spent some time visiting the booths, but decided rest was best for me. We did make a stop at the Team Hoyt booth and chatted with Todd Civin, who co-wrote Rick and Dick Hoyt's "One Letter at a Time" book. Photos are taken and Randy shows everyone the poster he has made in Jay's honor that will go with us to Hopkinton.

*******

The expo is on April 14, the date of my Ampiversary. On this day in 2009 I was in surgery having my foot removed. On this day a few (!) years earlier, Mike Lenhart was born. I have to say it again, I believe Mike cried more than me on this day.

Randy, Jen and I head to the California Pizza Kitchen near our hotel for lunch. In hindsight we should have taken a taxi, I was walking far longer than I had wanted to. My residual was also a little sensitive, which was a definite red flag being raised. We did have a good lunch, the pasta and chicken was precisely what I wanted for this meal.

*******

That evening we attended the Achilles International pasta dinner. Achilles assisted Jay with his later Boston races and Eleanor Cox gave a heartfelt speech honoring The Greatest. She talked about how Jay lived life to the fullest, always wanting to do "one more" of whatever it was he was doing. One more drink. One more marathon. This reminds me of Enzo in the book "The Art of Racing in the Rain":

"One more lap, Denny! Faster!"

We also get to meet Kimberly Gulko, friend and a believer, like me, that Jay did embody his "Impossible Is Nothing" in action, not just words. I still recall Kim's words in her memorial video: "Go Jay go, you changed my life...and we love you."

Jay did this by what he did in action, not what he said. "The way to do is to be." To be.

Kim would be waiting for us at the finish line.

Achilles Dinner - John Ryan and Jack
My stepson John Ryan Nevill, his lovely wife Kristen, and my little training partner/grandson Jack joined us which again gave me moment for pause...am I really here? My family is here to...see me run the Boston Marathon? How can this be? Here...in this room...?

How strange, how foreign I feel.

I speak very briefly to Dick Traum. I mentioned we had spoken after my surgery and he had sent me a signed copy of his book. Dick Traum was the first amputee to run a marathon, and he helped inspire Terry Fox many years later to begin his Marathon of Hope. Dick is the founder Achilles International, the premier organization for supporting disabled people in the world of athletics.

That is what he did with a badly dealt hand.

******

The Gift
Back at our room I laid out what I expected to wear and take to Hopkinton in the morning. I have a list and it helps to check things off. What it does not do is pack anything, leaving that essential detail to me.

I have been sleeping well leading up to the race, and I do not feel any prerace jitters that would portend a restless night. My only negative thought is I have spent too much time on my feet, but it wasn't that bad (was it?) and a good night's sleep will ease any residual fatigue.

I close my eyes, thinking briefly about what I will do tomorrow. I am aware of how calm I am, and think it is because I was so ridiculously excited last year and then, out of the blue, an injury requiring surgery ended that improbable dream. Still, why am I so calm?

I see myself on that starting line and the butterflies stir.

No...no...stop...don't think, you must sleep.


Dear God. These are my guides. Randy and Mike. Please be with them tomorrow. Keep them strong and and safe and free from harm. I know if you do this I will be protected. Amen.


Into dreams I fall.

Once Upon A Time

Thursday, August 1, 2013

262 Days


Only a few moments ago I received my deferred runner registration email for the 2014 Boston Marathon. I am lost for words to say how I felt when I read it...probably an indication of how it will feel to be there next April. Thank you BAA for all you have done and are doing to bring us together.

Jennifer and I have our room and flight reservations already set, coming in the Friday before the race and leaving the following Tuesday. Every day, every run I think about coming back to Boston, being on that course, hearing those spectators who I know will be impossibly louder than before.

I see those faces before me now, those of Krystle, Martin, Lu, and Sean. I think of those stories I have been following of the victims, of where they have come from on their long roads of recovery. I think on the courage of the first responders and of law enforcement who indeed live the verse, "no greater love."

Although we are with you in spirit always, I look forward to us coming together in person next April 21 as the BostonStrong nation.

We rise as one.