Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Tale of Two Marathons - Part 2

So here we are...we have just passed the girls at Wellesley College and I feel OK.  Sure my feet and legs are starting to hurt but that's normal...right.  Besides I only have...WHAT!!...I still have 1/2 of the race left.  Ahhhh...crap.  I knew at this point that things were going to get bad...really bad.  I have only run 2 prior marathons so I am not really an expert but I do know my own body and I knew at about the halfway point that things were going to go downhill rather quickly and I still have to make it over the hills of Newton.

As I crossed route 128 in Wellesley my quad muscles were starting to get really sore so, in my infinate wisdom, decided to take a moment and stretch out those muscles.  Well being the picture of physical fitness that I am and given the fact that I had already run 16 or so miles and ALL my muscles were stiff and sore, when I tried to do this I ended up pulling a muscle in my neck that hurt SO bad that I honestly thought that I was going to pass out.  I abandoned the idea of stretching my legs and focused solely on not colapsing in the middle of the street and writhing in pain until the sweet relief of unconciousness overtook me.  I am happy to say that after a few minutes of a shambling zombie-like walk, the cramp in my neck slowly released and I was able to resume my race to glory.  At this point I still had an outside shot of meeting my goal of finishing in under 5 hours. 

Now, the neck cramp happened, as I said, on the bridge over 128 in Wellesley and I had hoped that that would be the worse thing that happened to me for the rest of the race.  However,  as I passed Newton-Wellesley Hospital (only a few hundred yards later) a new problem popped up.  The muscle that is just above and a little toward the inside of my left knee began to spasm.  I got so bad that I had to stop and try to massage it out.  When that didn't really work I began to limp forward and think about what to do next.  I discovered that after a few minutes of walking the cramp worked its way out and I could resume running.  This lasted for maybe a mile or so when  the same muscle began to cramp again but this time it was joined  
by the same muscle on my right leg. ~awesome~

So for the next 10 miles both of my knees would spasm, painfully, on and off.  Along with this delightful annoyance I was also dealing with increasingly painful quad muscles as well as  feet that were starting to hurt as bad as I have ever felt.  The fact that I had to stop so often to try to rub out the cramps essentially ended whatever remote shot I had in finishing in under 5 hours.  Now don't get me wrong, the second half of the race wasn't all bad.  You still run into some great spectators who really push you along and help you get through the tough miles.  After you crest Heartbreak hill at mile 20 the rest of the race is downhill and it takes you through Brighton and it is in this area where you see the bulk of the college kids come out.  Now, when you are running near the back of the pack (as I am) you don't get past the Newton hills until about 4 hours after the start.  By this time the students from some of the countries best colleges and universities are...oh, how should I put it...ah what the hell...they are drunk...very drunk and they are having a good time.  It is one of the things that takes your mind off the pain,  They still shout out encouragement to you but it is not always the most coherent of platitudes.  I'm not judging them, I'm just jealous because they are having a MUCH better time than I am at that point.

So as the last few miles s l o w l y pass by I can't help thinking "are they moving the mile markers further and further apart?"  'cuz it seem like each mile is 6 miles long.  When I hit mile 23 or so I start to have conflicting emotions.  On the one hand I am excited that I am only 3 miles away from the finish but on the other hand I feel like there is nothing that I want to do less than run another step.  It is hard, at this point, to not think about how far you have left to go and for me that is the worst possible thought to have.  To be constantly looking for the next mile marker and not see it fills me with something like despair.

However,  once I cross the Mass Pike and I see the road dip below a bridge, I know that the six greatest words in the english language are coming up.  ***Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston***  I want to tell you, there is nothing sweeter than coming up the hill from under that bridger and seeing the turn for Hereford Street.  It is at this point, two years ago in my first marathon that I actually said to myself "Holy Shit! I just ran the Boston Marathon"  This year it was more of a feeling of surviving the marathon rather than just running it. 

And then comes the turn onto Boylston Street...The finish line looks so close and so far away at the same time.  Of course the first order of business is to find my family who are always waiting for me there and for Max to come running out onto the road to meet me.  This year Max brought out a phone with him and I was able to talk to my mother as I was crossing the finish line.  My favorite moment is when Max and I raise our arms in celebratuion as we cross that bright blue line.  It. is. AWESOME.

Here I am with Max in one hand and my mother on the phone in the other.

 Before I forget, I want to send a shout out to Chris Welch, a fellow runner that was running in his first marathon.  Thanks, Chris, for keeping me company and sharing my misery near the end.  Congratulations on finishing Boston.

So another Boston Marathon is in the books.  I didn't finish first and I didn't finish last.  It was the hardest of the three marathons that I have run but in a way the most rewarding.   This year I saw a lot more examples of how grueling the marathon can be as I watched several people being tended to by medical staff along the course.  I watched a poor young women writhing in pain as searing leg cramps overtook her.  I watched paramedics rushing to a man that had collapsed on the side of the road in Newton.  Boston has beaten better men than me so I am proud that I finshed even though I didn't reach my goal. 

Thanks to everyone who supported me and donated to NF, you are the real heroes.  But most of all thanks to Max who inspires me every day.

Althought the marathon is over for this year that doesn't mean that I am going to stop writing in this blog.  I will continue to run for Max and maybe have some thoughts about some other things too.

Til Next time....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

5:33:20 - A Tale of Two Marathons - Part 1

The 114th running of the Boston Marathon is in the books and I am proud to say that I finished it.  I am not happy to report, though, that I did not meet my goal of finishing in under 5 hours.  I wish I could say that the weather was to blame for my time or that there were some other factor beyond my control that contributed to a slower pace than I wanted, but the fact is that I have no one to blame but mysef.  The weather was fine.  It was a little warm when the sun was out and a little cool when the clouds took over but over all it was good running weather.  No, the problem was me (cuz let's face it, running is not exactly a team sport).  My lack of training in the two months leading up to the marathon are what did me in.  For me, this year was a tale of two marathons.  The first half and the second half.

The day started out good.  The weather was sunny but cool when my cousin Scotty arrived at my house for the trip into Hopkinton.  He was as excited as a kid on Christmas.  You see, Scotty grew up in Natick AND he is a real runner, so running in The Boston Marathon was beyond exciting for him.  We took a couple of pictures on our deck and I want you to notice the difference in outfits between he and I.

Aren't you digging Scotty's short shorts
...and I'm dressed for running the Iditarod

We were pumped and ready!  Kristen dropped us off as close to the starting line as we could get but that still means that we had to walk for a mile and a half or so to get to athletes villiage.  Once there we took in the sights and drank in the palpable excitement that hangs all over that area.

We also did the goofy things that everyone does.

Then it was time to head to the starting line.  Where we would wait in a sea of runners for the 10:30 start of wave 2.

I know the picture quality sucks but this is a shot looking down Rt 135 toward the starting line.

10:30 came and we took off like a shot...oh wait...no we didn't we walked, slowly, toward the starting line for about 10 minutes.  THEN, we were off like a shot. I am proud to say that I beat Scotty to the starting line.  However that would be the last that I saw of him as he got into his stride and quickly pulled away from me as I searched frantically for a quiet spot on the side of the road to pee.  By the way, you really haven't lived until you have peed off the side of the road while you hear cheering from spectators and the din of several thousand runners going past you.  Very surreal.

After, my obligitory early race bathroom break I settled into my stride.  I felt pretty good and as the miles ticked away I noticed that I was averaging about a ten and a half minute mile which was faster than the 11 1/2 minute mile pace that I needed to reach my 5 hour goal.  Everything was feeling good and I was having a great time with the spectators.  There are not many times in your life (unless you are lucky enough to be a professional athlete) when you can hear a group of strangers chant your name but that is exactly what happens about a dozen or more times during the race.  The high fives, the shouts of ecouragement and updates of the score of the Red Sox game are all part of the great experience that is the Boston Marathon.  It really is fun.

What is also fun is seeing people you know along the route and especially seeing your family who have fought road closures and crowds to see you for about 10 seconds.  My family is always in Natick center and it always makes me smile to see them as I head throught the intersection of Rt 135 and Rt 27.

Heading toward the family

I don't know what's going on with my face here

I gotta go.  I have a race to run

Shortly after I left my family a man sitting on the side of the road called out my name and when I looked up at him this rather stout, older gentleman said to me "Scott!...You look great but could you pick up the pace a little?"  I smiled and looked back at him and asked if he would be willing to show me what my pace should be.  He laughed and gestured toward his prodigious belly and said "What...are you kidding?  Look at me. "  Like I said, I was having fun.

One of the things that I look forward to most during the marathon is what they call "The Scream Tunnel".  This, of course, refers to the girls of Wellsely College that turn out in huge numbers to cheer on the runners.  You hear them long before you can see them and there is a certain amount of anticipation that the runners get as they approach the tunnel.  When you get there the sound is deafening.  A solid mile of high fives and signs offering kisses to any runner that would like one.  I can't tell who has more fun the girls or the runners.

Unfortunately, for me, this was about where things started to come apart and I will delve into the second half of the race in part 2 of this post.

Til then...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

People Who Rock III

$2,000 BABY!!!  Goal #1 has been reached!!!  Tomorrow is the marathon and I have reached the first of the two goals that I set for myself this year.  The second goal is to finish the race in under 5 hours.  That goal I can rely on no one but myself but the 1st goal could not have been reached without the help of many, many people.  I have mentioned a number of people that have helped me reach this goal and now it is time to recognize some more people who rock.

Before I forget, I want to make sure that I mention the people who donated but not on the firstgiving website.  First off there is another of my Theatre Group friends, Ed Quinlan, who is a lawyer who rocks.

Then there is the strange case of a donation that I received from un-named people from Studio 109 in Millis.  Their haircuts rock and now we all know that they rock as well.

Charles Gobron is an old friend of my wife that I have met only a handful of times but he gave very generously so it is obvious that he rocks.

There is Jonathan Steeves who is a REAL runner that is the epitome of rock-i-tude.

How about my old boss from Gillette Stadium, Bret Hartley.  Does he rock?  Well I'll give you three guesses but you're only gonna need one.

There is my favorite oldest sister Jean who has rocked since I came home from the hospital after I was born and she would rush into the bedroom and look at me. (That one's for you Jean)

As I have said before, I was recently in a production of a play called Two Into One and I played opposite of a man named Bob O'Neil.  He rocked in that play and he rocks in general.

I have an old friend that, through the miracle that is Facebook, I have recently got back in touch with.  His name is Pat Sibley and he has a beautiful wife named Erin.  I knew when I was in their wedding over 20 years ago that they rocked and I am happy to report that they still do.

I have mentioned before that our old Eden Street neighbors, Terri, Dom and Vito rock and because they donated twice I think it is clear that they rock twice as hard.

There is a girl from my past name Pam Devin (well when I knew her her last name wasn't Devin but that kind of thing happens when you don't see a person for a couple of decades) anyway she rocked then and she rocks now.

As if I haven't mentioned enough of my theatre group friends, here is another one.  The ever beautiful and ever vivacious Donna Cabibo ; if you live in and around Millis you know Donna and you are aware of how much she and her whole family rocks.

At the risk of being repetitive...ah screw it... I'll be as repetitive as I want about just how much my sister-in law Julie Parsons ROCKS!

And finally...my mother-in-law Caryl who continues to rock even though she is not having the best of springs.  Keep the faith Caryl.  We are all right there with you.

Oh...one last thing about people who rock.  If there were an award show for people who rock (Maybe we'll call them The Rockies) there would be one name that would be mentioned more than any other.  She would win Rocker of the Year..hell  they would even name the  Rock Lifetime Acheivement Award after her and then give it to her every year.  This remarkable person is my wife, Kristen.  She has had a lousy year and a half and yet she still finds the time to support me every step of the way during my marathon training, fundraising and run.  Believe me when I tell you, when it comes to the race of who has the most rock-someness, we are all just trying for second place.  Thank you Kristen...YOU ROCK!!

 Now it is time to try to get some sleep because it seems to me that I have something to do tomorrow.  I can't quite remeber what it is but I'm sure it will come to me.

Til next time...

Number Pick-up Day

Yesterday was number pick up day at the Hynes convention Center in Boston so Kristen, the boys and I along with the Christensens all climbed aboard the green line and headed into the big city.  The Hynes on the weekend before the marathon is always an adventure.  Along with 25,000 runners picking up their numbers and shirts there is a sporting goods expo that can only be described as complete chaos.  Being the geniuses that we are we decided that it would be a good idea to wander through the expo with 5 kids who have dressed for the walk from t-stop to the Hynes (cold and drizzly).  When you get about 10,000 people in a single enclosed room it tends to be a tad warm so all of the sweatshirts that we made them where now are making them miserable. (and this doesn't even take into consideration the stress of having to keep track of 5 kids in that crowd) 

Now having said all of that I have to say that I love number pick up day.  I love going into Boston with the whole family and seeing the throngs of runners, all excited to be this close to the marathon and all excited to be taking a tangible step toward race day.  I can't really descibe or explain the charge I get out of the simple act of picking up my number.  It somehow just seems so....I don't know...exclusive?  I know that is a little counter intuitive because how can something that is done every year by 25,000 other people be an exclusive thing.  I don't know...maybe I'm just a dork.  Anyway...although this looks like it was taken at a police station here is a picture of Scotty, Max and I at the Hynes.

Not the best picture of any of us but what do you want for nothin'

Normally we would take the day to go to the swan boats or take in some other sights around Boston but yesterday was just a little too crappy, weather-wise.  But, we did take a walk down to the finish line as we always do only to find that Boyalston Street was still open and we couldn't get right at the finish line but we did get these pics.

The Days

                                                                      The Christensens

...and my personal favorite

How you Doin'?

Many, Many thanks to the Christensens for a fantastic day and a fantastic spaghetti dinner afterwords.  You guys are AWESOME.

There will probably be another post later today to update everyone on my fundraising goal.  You won't want to miss it.

Til next time...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Three Days to Go...

Three days to go...

The training is done and all that is left is the waiting.  I am not as ready as I would like to be.  I wanted to come into this week feeling good about my training and without any worries about any part of my body.  Well, I have run exactly twice in the last 3 weeks and every time I run my left foot gives me trouble.  But...as I am fond of saying...No guts, No glory.  So you can bet that I am going to show up in Hopkinton on Monday give it everything I got.  This year I have a little extra incentive going for me.  While my main inspiration is, and will always be, my oldest son, Max and his daily battle with NF, I want to also run this for another strong individual that is in the midst of the battle of his life.  As you may or may not know my father-in-law Larry Maletta has been in the hospital for the last month recovering from  bleeding in his brain.  Two weeks ago he was transferred to a rehab facility in Natick and he has made amazing strides in his recovery.  One might say inspirational strides.  He is lucky to be alive and we are all lucky to have him in our lives.  I know he would be insanely aggrevated that I am saying this but too bad Larry, there is nothing you can do about it except get better and yell at me later.

The weather on Monday looks like it will be OK.  My girl, JC Monahan, says that it will be partly cloudy and in the low 50's with a slight N-NW wind.  So now is the time that I begin to obsess about how to dress  for the race.  Real runners never have this problem.  It is always shorts and a tank top or t-shirt.  But for me, I am such a pussy about being too cold or too hot that, unless it is 30 degrees or 80 degrees , I never know what to wear.  You have no idea how many times between now and Monday morning I will change what I plan on wearing.  Even when Monday rolls around I will probably end up bringing half of my entire running wardrobe to Hopkinton, you know...just in case.  But, before you judge me for this particular personality quirk, keep in mind that last year at the finish line my temperature was 92 degrees.  Now I never attended any kind of medical school but I am pretty sure that I heard somewhere that 92 is not an ideal body temp.  So I am a little gun shy of under dressing.

I am looking forward to heading out tomorrow to the Hynes Convention Center in Boston to pick up my number.  This year, along with my wife Kristen and our boys, we are going to go in with our cousins Scotty and Jeanette and their two boys.  Scotty is running in his first Boston Marathon but make no mistake about it he is no rookie.  Scotty is one of those people that I consider a REAL runner.  He has run in 5K's, 10K,s triathalons, firefighter challenges, you name it he has done it.  He's one of those looneys that you see out running at 4:30 in the morning when the temperature is in single digits and he is wearing shorts.  Scotty is also running to raise money and awarness of NF and for that we are very, very grateful.  Good luck Scotty.  While I wont see you at the finish line (as he will be back home, showered and have his third beer in his hand by the time I cross the finish line) I will see you back at the house.  I hope to have pictures from tomorrow's trip that I can post here before monday.

As always don't forget to DONATE DONATE DONATE.  Your generosity means more that you will ever understand.  I WILL aknowledge more people who rock  before Monday so be on the lookout for that.

Til next time...

Friday, April 9, 2010

More Randomness

It is only 10 days until the marathon and I must admit I am a little bit worried.  No, strike that, I am A LOT worried.  The cosmos seem to be conspiring against me when it comes to my training.  Due to a variety of reasons I haven't been able (or willing, if we are being honest) to get out and get some miles in.  I have been sick for the better part of the last two weeks and the last time I ran I think that I may have done some damage to my left knee.  I don't think there is anything that will keep me out of the race but I am afraid that I may not be able to reach my goal of finishing in under 5 hours.  I guess we will see in a week and a half.


On Wednesday my lovely wife, Kristen, and I (along with our cousins Scottie and Jeanette) were lucky enough to spend the evening (without kids!) at the annual NF Inc. Northeast Table for Ten benefit dinner in Boston.  We ate at the Caliterra Restaurant with some awesome people that have been affected in some way shape or form by NF.  The company, as well as the food, were great and I want to thank Karen Peluso for inviting us again.


Have you donated yet?  NO?  You really should.  It will make you feel good and besides, all the cool kids are doing it.  Also, while I offer no guarantees, I am pretty sure that if you donate at least $25 you will be granted the power of flight (results may vary).  I am still about $700 short of my fundraising goal of $2,000 and I badly want to meet this goal so please, if you haven't already, donate.  It will mean the world to me and let's face it, how cool would it be to be able to fly? (again, your results may vary)


My FIL is doing much better (knock on wood) and he continues to make progress every day.  Thanks to everyone who sent out their prayers and good thoughts.  It seems to be working.  He wont be able to spray me with seltzer water (he says that champagne is too expensive) after the marathon this year but with any luck at all he will be dowsing me next year and I am already looking forward to that.

I hope to post more often but no one told me that I would have to come up with all of this crap on my own. 

Til next time...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The sun and something numb (TMI? You be the judge)

It certainly will be nice to see (and run in) the sun.  I plan on going out today to get in 10 miles or so.  It is April 1st so I only have 19 days until the marathon and I must admit I am a little worried.  In years past the one thing that I was always thankful for were my feet.  I had shoes that never gave me any problems and I never had to think about my feet.  This year, however, I have had a strange and worrisome problem with my left foot.  When I start out running everything is fine and my feet and shoes feel pretty good.  However, after about 4 or 5 miles the toes on my left foot start to go numb.  If I stop and walk for a few minutes they go back to feeling normal.  But after I start running again they will eventually go numb.  Now I have two different pairs of sneakers that I have tried and this happens no matter which pair I wear.  It is not necessarily something that will prevent me from running but I would rather not have to deal with it for 26 miles.  So if any runners read this please post a comment and let me know if you have any advice.

On another note I have neglected to mention that I now have an official number for the marathon.  It is 27427.  If you want to follow my progress on marathon monday then you can go to the BAA website and enter that number.

On Tuesday I got a call from a lovely young woman from the Boston Globe West who is doing a story on runners from the Millis/Medway/Medfield area and we had a nice long chat about why I am running for Neurofibromatosis and about my oldest son Max and his struggles with this disorder.  We spoke for a good 1/2 hour and she told me that the story should be in this Sunday's Boston Globe, so keep an eye out for that. 

Don't forget to DONATE DONATE DONATE.  I am only about $800 short of my fundraising goal and sooo badly want to meet it this year.  I can't do it without your help.  If you need a reason to donate here is one.

This is Max's 7th grade school picture.

Now I ask you...How can you look at this handsome dude and NOT want to donate???

I am still looking for reviews on chapter one of my epic saga so give it a read and post a comment on what you think.  Don't worry I can take it. 

I would also like some more votes on my marathon finishing time which you can do on the left side of this page.  My goal is to finish in under 5 hours and that would be about 21 minutes faster than last year.  Let me know if you think I can do it or if I'm just kidding myself. (always a possibility)

One last thing...I am happy to report that my father-in-law is doing better.  In case you missed it he was admitted to the hospital with an AVM.  I won't go into details about what that is (if you really want to know then Google it) but let's just say he had bleeding in his brain.  He has been asleep for several days now but he is breathing on his own and he has been moved out of ICU and to a rehab facility in Natick.  The doctors seem pretty optomistic that he will make a full recovery but he still has along way to go.  Send out good thoughts for him and his family.  Get better soon, Larry.  We all miss you.

Til next time...