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 I really here? My family is here to...see me run the Boston Marathon? How can this be? 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.'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

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