Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Every Day

Less than four weeks to the 118th running of the Boston Marathon. In a turn of events, Randy Spellman and Mike Lenhart, my guides for last and this year, will not be able to run with me at the same time. Randy has graciously said he would start with me as he has had many finishes with The Greatest, Jason Pisano. Mike will take over as copilot around 20k and run with me to the finish.

I will continue to train hard for the next two weeks and then begin an active taper. There will be much going on the weekend before the marathon but most everything is within a short walking distance and not more than a couple of blocks. Lots of old and new friends to see.

And, at my third attempt, I hope to finally cross this:

To have my sweet wife Jennifer there, to see John Ryan and Kristen and running partner Jack and his brother "I Henry!" and so many friends along the course, to remember all that was and all we are, it will beyond the parts that make it the greatest footrace on our blue planet.

It will honor those we lost and those who remain. With every step, every breath, every heartbeat:

We.       Are.       BostonStrong!

Day of Magic

Magic Shirt
Sunday I ran just over 21 miles. I mapped out a route which should have made 22, but as I approached my finish line short I was not willing to push through. I had been doing my best to keep a certain pace and felt I had done enough. "Listen to the body, knucklehead." I get it.

Once in a while a long run goes extremely well, the kind of effort you'd love to bottle and uncork on raceday. Some are real stinkers where you struggle and possibly curse (who, me?) to get through. And some if not most are hard but you get them done, pushing through highs and lows. That was my Sunday run.

I did 9 miles at home then headed to Alhambra Hall to start the remaining 13. I was attempting to run not more than one minute slower than my planned marathon pace (PMP) and largely succeeded, slowing on the steep uphill climb of the Ravenel Bridge that roughly would come where the Newton Hills will begin at Boston.


Jason Pisano and The Boston Strong Ducks
Before I had started this run I was sitting in my vehicle searching for a plastic bag for my phone. I had a Boston Strong Duck with me (I have 3 total) as I did not want to miss a chance to pass it along. It was one of those feelings that kept nagging at me, I need this bright little yellow fellow to fly with me today. I finally located a bag so I was all set. On the card I wrote (as memory serves) "In honor and memory of The Greatest, Jason Pisano."

I usually make a pit stop at the base of the bridge and did so this day.

As I began walking I noticed a man on a bike with a child seated behind him, little guy maybe 3 years old. We start talking and the dad asks me about my prosthesis, how I came to lose my foot, and where I went for my legs. He then said he'd like to get a running foot for his son and that's when it was clear his boy was a right foot amputee, same as me.

I immediately thought of the duck in my hydration pack and asked if I could give it to his son. "Oh, he likes ducks!" and I passed the gift from someone else's hands through mine into his tiny ones. They were heading back into Charleston and needed to go before I could get his son's story. What I received was a smile and a full heart as I ran on.

Small miracles.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Boston Strong Ducks!

Last week I tried to buy a Boston Strong Duck but had difficulty completing my transaction. I messaged them and they are sending me a duck to do what they talk about here (from their website):

Boston Strong Ducks was created because like so many others, I felt helpless and sad by the bombings that took place April 15, 2013 at the Boston Marathon. I wanted to do something. It needed to be uplifting when there was so much sadness, hurt and pain. Tiny little ducks helped Newtown, CT children as they took their first steps to returning to school after suffering enormous loss and tragedy. Ducks are not only cute, but they are very much a part of Boston. This is how the duck was chosen to be the one to travel and carry our message.

I started sending out 100 ducks with the positive Boston IS Strong message to facebook friends. Now, that 100 ducks has turned into 1000 ducks and that message has started traveling around the globe. People around the globe can take a picture of the duck and post it on our facebook page.  We can all connect in a positive way. Boston Strong ducks can be passed along with the message BOSTON IS STRONG, we will get back up and we will do it together.

Please share so everyone can show support!


I had been thinking where I would leave my duck, maybe even dropping it in the Atlantic Ocean to go where the currents would take it. But once told they would send me a duck, I thought how special it would be to pass the message to someone along the course to from Hopkinton to Boston on April 21, perhaps on Boylston where I could honor those not with us.

My brother Mark had a pet Duck named "Henry" which bonded with him and lived a long life. I intend to name my Boston Duck "Henry" and add Jay Pisano's message to be passed along.

Is it strange or not at all how life moves through us, beyond us, beyond our circumstance? It simply is. It is our choice to make it better. These ducks do exactly that, a gift of BostonStrong love to be shared, to make life better.


Saturday, March 15, 2014


I have received my bib number for the 2014 Boston Marathon, 25402. I believe I am the only MI (Mobility Impaired) runner from South Carolina, and along with three VI (Visually Impaired) runners we will represent these categories for our state. I didn't see any HC (Handcycle) or Wheelchair (WCO) entrants from SC.

One step closer to the starting line in Hopkinton. One step close to that finish line on Boylston.

One more.

We ALL Are BostonStrong!

Last year I made inquiries without success as to why the Mobility Impaired Start was not listed on the website on Marathon Monday. I never received any response on either Facebook or Twitter. I couldn't understand why this was happening, why the disabled seemed on one hand be embraced by the race but on the other ignored.

As the 2014 race approached I again made some requests that the Mobility Impaired start be listed on Marathon Monday. Still silence. Todd Civin saw my requests and took it up with the BAA. Todd, who wrote "One Letter At A Time" along with Dick and Rick Hoyt, is a sincere and dedicated friend to the disabled. He is the Senior Acquisitions Editor / Sales Manager at Mascot Books and Owner / CEO at Civin Media Relations.

Turns out the BAA considered that start time only for mobility impaired (MI) runners with expected finish times of 6-8 hours and other, faster MIs would get confused thinking they would start at nine too. I didn't really get that since it is clear in our mailings and registration that MI athletes with slower times start early and other go into corrals with faster times.

To clarify, the MI athletes have a category but it is not an awards division race at Boston. Times are listed fastest to slowest but there are no trophies or any special recognition. I think this is a good idea, because disabilities vary so much, and coupled with age groups, there is no easy way to provide fair and competitive groupings. Still, I feel someone like Jason Pisano should get special recognition for his Boston accomplishments, which transcends what any age group winner could muster as well as most elites.

Given what happened last year I did not feel comfortable pressing this issue home when Todd do not receive a positive response. And then on March 10 when I checked the website there it was, The Mobility Impaired Start of the 118th Boston Marathon. I am sure my jaw dropped and I as I excitedly posted the news to Todd and the world.

So there it is, one small step for...the 118th running of the Boston Marathon for the Mobility Impaired runners. Just then I thought it would never happened...one more small (inclusive) miracle.

Friday, March 14, 2014

State Run

Last weekend Jennifer and I traveled up to Columbia, SC, our state capital for the Run Hard Columbia Marathon Weekend. I was looking to run the half marathon at my planned marathon pace (PMP or MP) on this hilly course in preparation for April 21. Although Boston is net downhill, it does roll and the uphills of Newton are legendary not so much for the steepness as for where they appear on the course.

The day started a bit on a bad foot as a careless driver ignored the pedestrian crossing sign and pulled in front of a group of us crossing the road, so close I didn't have to reach far to slap the rear panel as it went by and give him a greeting I will not repeat here. The driver kept going but then stopped, not sure if he was mad at me or thought he may have struck someone. Ugh, HR and BP up, not a good way to start a race.

Once underway I was able to run at MP without starting too fast despite some early downhills. There seemed to be few flat stretches, which was fine with me as I wanted the training stimuli. I tried to keep better posture which I have been working on since last year's Boston. Although it was around 35o at the start, I warmed up quickly and wished I had just worn a short sleeve shirt.

I have run under 2 hours for a couple of flat half marathons, but I was making sure I ran at MP on this rolling course. There were some challenging uphills and my right hip flexor started bugging me after about mile 11, but I was able to maintain pace and picked it up at the end, passing a few struggling folks.


Afterward I noticed a slight problem I should have been taking better care of was raising its voice. My left calf was sore, a typical running injury where the Achilles tendon attaches to the calf muscle. I took an extra day off after the race and started an aggressive regime if stretching and icing. I also am working on the right hip flexor and both are responding splendidly to the efforts. I am running the miles I need but dropped any faster speedwork scheduled for the weekdays.

I may be dumb for not getting after the injuries sooner but trying to push through them while maintaining a strict training plan would be dumber. They already made a movie about that so I don't care to star in the next installment. I will be doing some MP miles but not too many, there is a fine line sometimes of overdoing it even when being careful as the human body is not a mechanical things where parts are easily fixed or swapped out.

This is the only race I have done while training for Boston so the next race will be starting in Hopkinton. And I have a tiny tidbit of news coming up about that...