Boston Marathon 2013 : Deeds of Loving Kindness

People often ask me in wonderment, how can you run 26 miles? Answering with such knowledge of what makes a strong
runner physically and mentally persevere is my pat answer. At the start line of Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, a prayer tent was set up in front of a Korean Presbyterian Church. Several members of the church laid hands on me and prayed for
my injured knee and for me to race strong to the finish. Running Boston Marathon this perfect April day, nothing, not
even my injured knee, could stop my perseverance to that ultimate reward of a Boston Marathon finisher’s medal. The
mile markers seemed to go by in good time. Wow, I had just passed the 24 mile mark! As I blissfully strode on,
envisioning my eminently ecstatic finish at Copley Square… someone flipped a switch.
The marathon official was saying to get off the course, the race is
stopped; the finish line is shut down. None of what he was saying
made any sense as I was still running toward the finish in my mind,
but he said, “You have to go down the side street, and stay off the
course, do not go toward downtown.” I was agitated, angry and
belligerent and did not want to go down a side street, where would I
go? He did not know, but as unmarked SUVs and emergency
vehicles sped by, he informed me of a bomb that went off at the
finish line. Wandering in a group of disoriented runners on a side
street at Coolidge Square for half an hour, we were directed to go
back up the course to a medical tent. Limping the half mile back, I
was getting cold and stiff so another runner gave me her space blanket, while another fellow gave me some water and an
apple. Yet another passerby lent me her smart phone, which was not so smart, as all cell signals had been shut down due
to the bombing. Near the medical tent was a synagogue that opened the doors for stranded runners. The inscription over the doors reads, “House of prayer for all people”, so I painfully climbed the twelve steps to enter Temple Ohabei Shalom.
The hallway entry area was a surreal scene of many runners wrapped in shiny space blankets lying, sitting or aimlessly wandering the reserved hallways of this Byzantine Revival style temple. A fellow came around handing out additional
space blankets, since the hallway was cool with the double doors open. A concerned young woman on staff named Ariana, I believe, asked me how she could help. “Do you have a restroom?” Yes, they did, and it was a good one, but
downstairs. Another runner was just coming out and warned me not to slip as he had spilled his Gatorade. The downstairs
was warmer, and more runners were lined up sitting on the heater that ran along the wall. A neighborhood woman came in
with a pot of coffee and started giving cups to everyone. Some frat brothers from BU were trying to hail a cab to
Hopkinton for me, as all other public transportation was stopped. Many cabs sped by, they were busy and would not stop.
Few of the maybe 200 runners knew how they would get back to their lodging, but after about 90 minutes a bus arrived to
take runners to Boston Common. A stranded runner from Orlando spotted me, as we are both in Marathonfest, our local running group. Jim was taking the bus, but was concerned that I had no cash, so he lent me twenty. The bus did not help me, as I was staying in Hopkinton at a friend’s townhouse, 26 miles west of Boston. Angie, my wife, was in Hopkinton and had watched the race and bombing on TV. The lady bus driver let me use her service restored cell phone to let my wife know I was alright and trying to find a ride back. Another Temple staffer, Becca, a young woman on a mission, whirled up and down the hallways trying to help the many runners ASAP. Another started opening boxes of cereal that was part of their food pantry for the needy. Soon, others brought in pans of pasta. A runner was in distress and some were helping with his medical condition, as a gurney was brought in. My body and mind were winding down to exhaustion; a lady brought me a chair, so I just sat there listlessly, while healers and helpers cared for us strangers.
By this time, the majority of stranded runners had received rides.
Then I saw a tall, concerned looking man appear at the entrance,
immediately asking what he could do to help. He headed down the
hallway, straight to where I was sitting, introduced himself as Larry,
a Temple member, and asked how he could help me. I told him I was
trying to figure out how to get a ride to Hopkinton where my wife
and I were staying. He said he would take me right away and I
should call my wife and tell her I had a ride. Ariana, took me to her
office phones to call long distance to let Angie know someone had
offered to drive me. Larry checked to see if other runners were trying
to go west, and we were off. I did not eat the food that had just been
brought in. Since it was dinner time, Larry said he would first take me to his house to get me some warm clothes and feed me. Arriving at his home, he introduced me to his wife, Denise. She gave me a hug and asked what I wanted to eat and drink, while Larry found warm up pants and hoody for me. Denise made me a delicious chicken sandwich, with homemade challah bread, a special treat I had never tasted. As Larry drove the 40 minute drive to Hopkinton we really got to know each other, as Larry had a good talent for opening conversation. I told him about my family, marathons I’ve run, about my company I sold before retiring. He told me about his family, his new grandchild, his profession, his Cantor who ran Boston Marathon and how much he enjoys watching every year. As we discussed our family life, I told him of my son, Tim, who died of complications from leukemia at 18, and how I got into marathons when I joined Team in Training to fund- raise for Leukemia Lymphoma Society in memory of Tim. Though he died 16 years ago, Tim is with me as I run the long miles to finish the race. Larry told me that one of his sons was a pediatric oncologist and was doing great work in saving lives. Many of the runners fund-raise for Dana-Farber Cancer Center in Boston. As Larry dropped me off at the closed security gate, I told him I hoped to be back next year and he urged me to be sure to come and see him. Jokingly pulling the borrowed hoody over my head, I headed to the townhouse.
Three days later Angie and I were back home in Apopka watching the Interfaith Service for Healing Boston on CNN live from Cathedral of the Holy Cross. As speakers from all religions, and government leaders, including Pres. Obama, gave moving messages I had to get the tissues.

PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) had caught up with me. Many conflicted, distressing and sad thoughts built up as I listened to the childrens’ choir and YoYo Ma. I was overcome with grief. I was grieving Tim’s death from cancer and the
Boston Marathon bombing tragedy and how evil tries to destroy our goodness. But a hopeful speaker, Rev. Robert Miranda said, “God has not forsaken Boston. God has not forsaken our nation. He merely weaves a beautiful, bright
tapestry of goodness that includes a few dark strands”. This bright, beautiful tapestry is the community of runners, the volunteers, the fans, friends, our civic leaders, spiritual leaders, families, including church families, those who prayed, those who helped stranded runners, first responders to the bombing, all are part of the larger community. We belong to each other. I experienced such belonging, along with happiness and gratitude. I am thankful for being in this community,
this one nation, under God.
Running is learning through life lessons. Patriots Day and Boston Marathon gave lessons in civics, spirituality, good, evil, and of course running. The next time someone asks how I can run 26.2 miles, my pat answer will be: Community.

Running Bear With Hot Vernor’s

Growing up in the 1950’s, diseases flourished and I got them all, German measles twice. Kids don’t get that disease now, as starting in 1969 a vaccine was given to all children. The second time I had German measles was 54 years ago, just before my twelfth birthday. Whenever I was sick and home from school, Dr. Rowan would come by the house with his wooden tongue depresser and black leather medical bag. This day he just told Mom to keep me in bed for a couple of days and give me plenty of liquids.

This really was a good deal for me, as the the liquids of the day were 7-Up and Vernor’s Ginger Ale. I wasn’t planning on getting out of my soft flannel pajamas until maybe Monday. Mom set the family radio on my bookcase headboard and brought me a cold, green, seven ounce bottle of 7 -Up with a paper straw. I was feeling better already. My favorite thing to do was to listen to rock & roll on the radio and it was nearly time for Pop Shop. The local radio station only played rock & roll from 4 – 5 pm, and a Saturday morning top ten show. The number one song, “Running Bear” so my favorite song and was getting lots of spins. By tuning and turning the radio I could pick up stations in nearby towns and hear “Running Bear” over and over!

Top 40 pop music was an adventure in listening, as the variety of musical genres proved that yes you can please everyone. Top hits like Andy Williams “Village of St. Bernadette”, and Marty Robbins “El Paso” were enjoyed by my Grandpa as well as by me.


Rockin’ My Birthday or How My Sister Got Her Nickname frutti

“Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam bam” screamed Little Richard as he began the new year with his first ever pop hit, “Tutti’ Frutti”. Two weeks later, on my 8th birthday, January 28, 1956, a less frantic cover of that song would enter the pop charts by Pat Boone. After that, Elvis Presley would also record it, but Pat Boone’s mellower version would win out in popularity.

Rock & Roll was being embraced by teens, pre-teens, and parents alike due to wholesome, well groomed, polite Pat Boone. Although Pat Boone, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley had come on scene at the same time, Elvis, with his swiveling hips and suggestive leer, was not the singer parents wanted their children to be exposed to, and his performance was too close to black R&B. Little Richard, well, he was black R&B. Both Elvis and Pat wanted to claim the sound of the black R&B culture for their own, popularizing a form of music which otherwise might never have gained widespread acceptance. The parents liked Pat Boone, as he polished rock’s rough edges away, making songs like “Tutti’ Frutti” palatable to those raised on the soothing songs of a vanishing era.

Howard and Armetta and their four baby boomers, Denny, Kathy, Janice, and Jimmy, were living in a house Howard built on Barnes Street. Our home had oak hardwood floors that my Dad had coated and buffed to a hard, slippery, sheen – perfect for sock skating down the hall.

This would be the year that Denny Pewsey and all of America would discover rock & roll. Elvis Presley charted his first pop hit in March with 16 more hits this year. Pat Boone had charted 15 hits. Instigators of the rock & roll revolution would be the Platters, Carl Perkins, Fats Domino, Bill Haley and His Comets, Little Richard, Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Johnny Cash, Little Willie John, The Five Satins, Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison, The Coasters. These artists provided the first sampling of rock & roll to tickle the AM airwaves!

Dad & Mom, being parents of four kids, eight and under, could have been too old for the novelty of rock and roll. Apparently unaware of the consequences, when the rise of rock & roll was viewed as a sign of the apocalypse, they introduced it to the family with much enthusiasm. Dad brought records home one payday Friday night. This was something new and we watched as Dad took the shiny black disc out of the paper sleeve and put the needle on the record! Neat! Well, Pat Boone’s top ten ballad, “I’ll Be Home”, was putting me to bed early –“ yawn”. But wait… Dad played the flip side and a sound came out of the phonograph that got my fingers popping. Janice, my two and a half year old sister, was dancing, waving her arms and jumping, “play it again Mommy!”, she squealed. Multiple replays set us kids on our glorious hardwood sock hop in the hallway, dancing and sliding. Janice, with her naturally curly brown hair bouncing ferociously, started belting the song out like a future rock star:

Wop-bop-a-loom-a-boom-bam-boom tutti frutti
au rutti tutti frutti au rutti tutti frutti
au rutti tutti frutti au rutti tutti frutti
au rutti wop-bop-a-loom-bop-a-boom-bam-boom

Could lyrics be anymore prophetic. There it is…my first experience with the power and excitement of Rock & Roll.

Now, as to how my sister got her nickname. Mom & Dad had originally had Jane picked out for their new daughter, but my Dad said he didn’t want his little girl to be called a “Plain Jane”. Mom compromised coming up with Janice. My Dad agreed but was not enthused with the name Janice, as it sounded too close to Janet, their sister-in-law. Janice it was, until she gleeful sang over and over, with Dad calling back to her “tutti frutti, tutti frutti!” Dad had finally found the name he really liked for his little girl, shortened to simply, “Tootie”.

12 Days til Boston

Wow, it has been a while since I talked about getting to bed early and getting plenty of rest.  That plan was a bust.  I have always been a night-owl and for the worse, I continue to be, although with only 12 days now til Boston, I hope to get my proper rest.  I have never felt better physically and have no injuries.  My running times are getting faster.  The only big downer is I had a physical this week and the doctor told me my dangerously high blood pressure could cause sudden cardiac arrest while running a marathon and had me start taking 2 blood pressure pills to reduce my BP before the race.  He prescribed BP medicine at my physical two years ago, but I hoped to get it down by exercise and eating better.  It only went up, so now I am hoping the side effects from the medications will not affect my running.  I have only had slight headaches so far from the BP meds, and that may go away in a couple of weeks.  I have never have been on any medication and I was not happy to now be starting, but it is necessary. 

I am now in my taper for training so will spend more time thinking about the race and all that it involves, physically, mentally, spiritually.

From information gathered I understand some of what Boston entails.  Part of my plan for running Boston:

Negative splits – the first half will be slower than the second half, by 4-6 minutes.  Must have enough energy left for the series of three hills that come after mile 20.

The downhills at the beginning can rip you apart.   Be conservative, slow down the first 5-6 miles, then get into a rhythm and run.  Downhills will cause dead legs.  Be cautious on downhills.  The hill are not that big, but come late in the course.  Do not try to bank time, or the hills will get you at the end.

Do not speed up when seeing the Citgo sign near the end, as there is still a way to go.  Keep it steady, with good form, and don’t try to sprint to the finish line until you can read the clock time.

I want to finish in 4 hours, so if the clock time reads 3:58:34 as you approach, run like the wind.  The clock give you 59 extra seconds, plus the extra time it took to cross the start line, so I may have several minutes to spare, but do not want to arrive at the finish line any later than 4:00:59.

I am in the second starting wave which starts at 10:30am.  I have no idea of how long it will take me to cross the start line, so I want to be sure to look at the clock when I cross the start as I will need every second I can get.  This race will be difficult for me to do in under 4 hours.  I may be very close.  I want to do the first half between 2:02-2:03, which will make the second half between 1:57-1:58.  I have done this in Grand Rapids and I am faster and stronger 6 months later, so it is possible if all goes perfect.  Hopefully the weather will be cool, below 60 degrees.  I will check the forecast and take what clothes I may need for all conditions.

Today I go to the gym for cross training on the bike and strength training.

ten more days

On the 28 th of this month the U.S. government will officially consider me retired, as my so-called “early” retirement benefits from Social Security will begin when I turn 62.  At that, it will take till the age of 75 to just get back what I paid in to Social Security.  I am determined to stay healthy enough to enjoy my retirement and spend all of my money that the government was so nice to hold for me these past 46 wage earning years.

At present,  I am the most physically fit of the past 46 years, so I have a start.  Of course no matter how hard I may try, age will overcome my best efforts at staying in top shape.  None the less, I need a plan to motivate me and I need to read and follow my plan regularly and try to make healthy habits.

I will be running the Boston Marathon on April 19th, so now would be the time to really get serious about a number of health items.  A daily log of how I fueled my body and results, miles run, cross training, strength training, hours of sleep,  injuries, healing, mental and spiritual heath as well are all necessary to get my old body ready for the fun years ahead.  This would mean that I consider running 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon  fun.

I only ran 7 miles tonight.  I have a couple minor aches and pains that I need to fix.  One way to help the body heal is to get extra sleep.  This has always been one of my weak areas, as I have always loved to stay up to the wee hours.  Starting tonight, I am officially putting those late nights behind me.  I am going to get a minimum of 8 hours of continuous sleep at night every night from here on.  Of course there will be exceptions for special events.  I will log my sleep times for the next three months, so that I can convince myself of the benefits making this a new habit.

Since it is 10:20pm now, I had better head for bed so I can get my minimum of 8 hours continuous tonight.  With the hard running and training I am doing, short afternoon naps will be additionally needed rest to help heal damaged tissue.

Good Night   .ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZzzzzzzZZZzzzzzzzzzz

running cold

Since New Year’s day, Florida has experienced frigid temperatures.  The Disney Marathon weekend was the coldest, harshest weather possible for a Florida marathon.  I was glad I was not running it this time.  Saturday’s long run was cold and rainy with mixed in sleet.  I did my long run of 16 miles,  fortunately, after nine miles I was able to make an early morning visit to my sister Tootie’s home to dry my clothes and recover before running back home.  There was no one out, making for a peaceful run.  Part of running in the cold and enjoying it is mental and part is how I physically prepare.

Just before putting my shoes and socks on, I massage my legs and feet vigorously with “The Stick”.  This of course increases the circulation and warms my legs.  I layer on plenty to stay warm.  Once finished with my warm up, I remove clothing as my core temperature increases.

Tonight was cool; about 49 degrees Fahrenheit.  Our training group did speed work, so I warmed up quickly and ran in shorts and short sleeve shirt.  I have found a greater tolerance to extremes of temperature since doing speed training.

Tonight’s speed workout was exhilarating  and I felt great and ran well.  And I’m getting faster.

time trial

In the cold, crisp winter air I ran my first six-mile time trial ever.  Today started my Boston marathon training with Coach Lea and she wanted to get a baseline on how fast each runner can do six miles.  A small group of runners met at Natalia’s neighborhood to run a two-mile course three times.  My time was 47 minutes, the fastest six miles I have ever run.  Running a little behind Natalia, who is stronger and faster than I, gave me more energy to keep the faster, under eight minute pace.  I finished strong and felt good afterward.  I have felt some pain in my left knee for over a month, but after a couple mile warmup, it was fine for the trial run.  The temp was 39 degrees, but after warmup I ran in shorts and long sleeve tech top and was comfortable.  The colder weather probably helped my speed for the six-mile distance. 

After the run,  the group met in Natalia’s garage for a special cold weather treat of hot tea with honey.  It really kept me warm on this cold night.  Also, right after the run I drank a cup of chocolate nutritional drink, which helps build my body after a hard run.  My left knee is feeling tender from the run and I have iced it with a cold wrap. 

Tonight was like starting my first day of school, as I had not been training with Coach Lea and this group for a couple months.  I finished my training at Tri N Run with Jerry and Tammy last Saturday.  After being nervous for a couple days about running tonight, it turned out better than expected.  It was really good training with Coach Lea and running with Natalia, who is also training for the Boston marathon.

Coach Lea thanked me for the letter of reference I gave her and she said part of it made her cry.  I wonder which part?

Coach Lea  letter of reference

a cold new year

It was 39 degrees my first day back to work after the holidays.  The forcast is for record low temps for the next couple weeks, which is very unusual for Florida.  Both my wife’s desktop and my laptop are working only sporadically the past few days, so I will be researching a new computer.

Yes, it is going to be a good new year.  I have heard a couple versions of how  to say “2010”.

Two thousand Ten

Twenty Ten

Oh Ten


My current preference is :

Two Aught Ten

It just sounds cool.  Old-fashioned to be sure, but then 2010 is not as futuristic as it was promoted to be years ago.  So why not or why naught aught.

Two More

Yes, there are only two more days left in this year.  Wow, did it go fast.  The year in review…no, the ten best things of my year.  At least ten things I can remember.  So much does happen in every year of life, but it seems to go in one brain and out, well, my same lame brain.  Starting this blog may help me to remember what goes on.  Like:

  1. Mom visited from Albion, Mi.  She stayed for a couple months of the winter with my sister, Tootie.  We did quite a lot while she was here and had a good family time together.
  2. Work was extremely slow to dead during the peak of the recession.  I only worked mornings from 8:30-12: noon.  My main duty was making and drinking the coffee at Screen Master.  Enjoyable conversations with Shivani made the time fly by.
  3. Several races were the lead up to my main goal of the year, to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  Uncle Jack and Aunt Mary and Angie accompanied me to the Grand Rapids Marathon and cheered me on to my goal of under four hours to qualify for Boston.
  4. Races and training for races was my main focus.  It was most fun having Tootie, Mom, Mike, Angie, Niki come to support me.  Running a couple races with my best friends, John and Lesley really made the miles easy and fun.
  5. Digital photography is a somewhat irritating hobby I got into after getting a Nikon D90 for Christmas last year.  I took thousands of pictures, but only a couple a worth looking at.  My pleasure here was the camera’s delete button.
  6. Cruising in the Edsel with many friends and family was just too cool.  Even nicer is the ’59 Edsel Ranger still runs and looks great.  Waxing it is sweet.
  7. Trying to keep up with the social networks to some basic degree was entertaining and of course extremely time consuming.  Now I can spend even more time with this blog.  Facebook, Flickr and Yahoo mail may be overkill, but keeps me thinking and well, contemplating even.  Hmmmm.
  8. The Beatles albums were remastered and put out in a mono box set on 9-9-9.  I got it, plus  Mom got me Abbey Road for Christmas, so my Beatles listening is complete.
  9. This was our last time for Fantasy Fest.  The four, John, Ben, Bob and I have had many fun trips to Key West, but we agreed that this year’s Fantasy Fest would be our last.  All wild things must come to an end. 
  10. Movies, movies, and more movies were enjoyed by our many guests on my big 9’x5′ projection screen.  My favorite DVD was Slumdog Millionaire.

This is just a bit of the fun I had in good old 2009.  I did my best to enjoy every day of it and hope to do even better in 2010.