Friday, April 24, 2015

COURAGEOUS-AGAINST ALL ODDS

As dawn broke on the morning of April 19, 1775, approximately 700 British "Regulars," the finest soldiers of the most powerful military force on the planet at that time, marched into the tiny Massachusetts village of Lexington.

On the village green, seventy brave colonists, all ages, from all walks of life, bravely blocked the path of the mighty British army. A skirmish ensued, the first shots of what would become the American Revolutionary War were fired, and in a span of five minutes or so, eight colonists died. No British soldiers were killed.

The bravery displayed by the Lexington militia set the stage for one of the greatest military upsets in the history of the world, leading to the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain.

Each year, New Englanders celebrate the events of that day on the third Monday of April. The holiday is known as Patriots' Day. For the past 119 years the Boston Marathon has been run on Patriots' Day. The race is rich with tales of courage and bravery.

At Monday's Boston Marathon, however, a runner who displayed the against-all-odds attitude exhibited by the seventy militiamen at Lexington so many years ago, taught us all the true meaning of courage.

Rebekah Gregory DiMartino and her then-fiance, Pete DiMartino, attended the Boston Marathon on that beautiful day, April 15, 2013. They were there to cheer for Pete's mother, who was a competitor in the race. After seeing her at mile 17, they hopped on the MBTA to watch her finish on Boylston Street.

Pete and Rebekah's son, Noah, then only 5 years old, were severely injured by the first blast from one of the bombs, placed near the finish line by the terrorists, the Tsarnaev brothers, and Rebekah endured 15 surgeries before having her left leg amputated below the knee last November.

At the 2014 Boston Marathon she tearfully crossed the finish line in a wheelchair, pushed by one of the nurses who helped her through her ordeal.

On March 4, she wrote a letter to one of the surviving animals who tried to destroy her on April 15, 2013. Following is her statement, taken from her Facebook page.

Dear Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,
My name is Rebekah Gregory. We don't really know each other and never will. But over the last two years, I have seen your face not only in pictures, but in almost every one of my nightmares. Moments before the first blast, your stupid backpack even brushed up against my arm, but I doubt you remember because I am no one to you. A complete stranger. And although I was merely just a blip on your radar, (someone that happened to be standing 3 feet from your designated "good spot" for a bomb), you have been so much more to me. Because you have undoubtedly been my source of fear since April 15th, 2013. (After all, you are one of the men responsible for nearly taking my child, and for the permanent image embedded in my brain of watching someone die.) Up until now, I have been truly scared of you and because of this, fearful of everything else people might be capable of.
But today, all that changed. Because this afternoon, I got to walk into a courtroom and take my place at the witness stand, just a few feet away from where you were sitting. (I was WALKING. Did you get that?) And today I explained all the horrific details, of how you changed my life, to the people that literally hold YOURS in their hands. That's a little scary right? And this afternoon before going in, I'm not going to lie..my palms were sweaty. And sitting up there talking to the prosecution did make me cry. But today, do you know what else happened? TODAY...I looked at you right in the face....and realized I wasn't afraid anymore. And today I realized that sitting across from you was somehow the crazy kind of step forward that I needed all along.
And I think that's the ironic thing that happens when someone intends something for evil. Because somehow, some way, it always ends up good. But you are a coward. A little boy who wouldn't even look me in the eyes to see that. Because you can't handle the fact that what you tried to destroy, you only made stronger. And if your eyes would've met mine for just one second, you would've also seen that what you "blew up" really did BLOW UP. Because now you have given me (and the other survivors) a tremendous platform to help others, and essentially do our parts in changing the world for the better.
So yes...you did take a part of me. Congratulations you now have a leg up...literally. But in so many ways, you saved my life. Because now, I am so much more appreciative of every new day I am given. And now, I get to hug my son even tighter than before, blessed that he is THRIVING, despite everything that has happened.
So now...while you are sitting in solitary confinement, (awaiting the verdict on your life), I will be actually ENJOYING everything this beautiful world has to offer. And guess what else? I will do so without fear....of YOU. Because now to me you're a nobody, and it is official that you have lost. So man that really sucks for you bro. I truly hope it was worth it.
Sincerely,
Someone you shouldn't have messed with.

On Monday, Rebekah, along with her trainer, also an amputee, ran the last few miles of the Boston Marathon, and triumphantly crossed the finish line, against all odds.
Next year, she plans to run the marathon, in its entirety.
And, you know what, I wouldn't bet against her!
Thank you, Rebekah, for through your strength and courage, you have made us all strong. You are Boston Strong and a true inspiration to us all.





Thursday, April 23, 2015

HISTORY-MAKING MARATHON

There are so many marathons from which to choose these days, that many runners are searching for a unique race experience.

Well, this Sunday, April 26, runners will have the opportunity to run a picturesque, rural race course, while reliving history by racing on truly hallowed ground.

The race is the 5th annual Gettysburg North-South Marathon and 10-Miler, which will be held in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the site of one of the bloodiest and most significant battles of the American Civil War.

On the website, www.gettysburgnorthsouthmarathon.com, you can learn more about the race as well as register for it. The site offer the following description of the event.

"The Gettysburg North-South Marathon and 10 Miler is run against the setting of a landmark battle of the Civil War, the battle of Gettysburg. The soldiers of the North and South fought on the roads and fields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in the summer of 1863 in the Civil War’s most famous battle, a historic event that symbolized the breach between North and South, marking the turning point of the war and the return to a single United States of America.
This event honors the battle of Gettysburg with a unique marathon competition that pits runners representing the North and the South against each other in a scored competition. The race takes runners from both sides through the hallowed grounds of the battlefield. More information on this one-of-a-kind competition can be found here."

The race is a USATF certified course, and is a Boston Marathon qualifier, so you can not only run on a scenic course, but qualify for the 2016 Boston Marathon as well.

On Saturday evening, the pasta dinner will be held at the Appalachian Brewing Company in Gettysburg. It will be my honor to speak to the runners at the pasta dinner.

From here, it looks like perfect weather for the Gettysburg North-South Marathon on Sunday.


Monday, April 20, 2015

REBEKAH GREGORY-A TRUE HERO




A true hero!

Inspiring victory over the forces of hate who tried to tarnish this event as well as our way of life.

Way to go Rebekah!

You are an inspiration to us all.



MARATHON INSPIRATION: Watch as Rebekah Gregory, a marathon bombing survivor who had her leg amputated just 6 months ago, crosses the finish line of the 2015 Boston Marathon.
Watch the entire moment & see what she said about the day: http://bit.ly/1P6H5fz

THE CENTER OF THE RUNNING UNIVERSE

Damp, windy conditions held down the crowds and ballooned the finishing times today at the 119th running of the Boston Marathon, but, for competitors, spectators, and anyone who is a runner, Boston, Massachusetts today was, indeed, the center of the universe.

Social media enabled runners and those who follow them to chronicle their journey, which began in the pre-dawn hours, as competitors boarded the hundreds of yellow school buses that transported them to the athletes' village at Hopkinton. Arriving at the city of nearly 30,000 runners, marathoners attempted to remain warm, take care of their bathroom needs, amid the armed presence of police and security guards in the woods surrounding the Hopkinton Middle School. Huddled together like vertical firewood, they stayed warm, discarding their disposable clothing in the moments before they began to move. Finally, the soles of their running shoes touching the blue mat at the starting line, their magnificent journey, the product of many months of diligent and dedicated training, began.

At the finish line in downtown Boston, after 26.2 soggy, windy miles, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Caroline Rotich from Kenya, broke the finish tape first for the men and women, continuing East African domination of the storied race.

American runners fought valiantly in both the men's and women's race.

It was then, however, that the stories of the men and women who, perhaps were not blessed with world-class running ability, and are not professional runners, began. They crossed the line, some crossing the line some four hours after the winner. Men and women of all ages, from all over the world, who covered the hills of New England to earn the right to say, "I ran Boston," and to have the medal, emblazoned with the unicorn and the number '119' forged on it.

For them, on this day, April 20, 2015, Boston was more than just the center of the universe, because they were a part of it.

Congratulations to all of you.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

119

Tomorrow, on Patriot's Day, nearly 30,000 runners will descend upon Hopkinton, Massachusetts for the 119th running of the fabled Boston Marathon.

The fickle April New England weather will again rear its ugly head, as the runners will experience moderate temperatures in the 50s, but will be forced to endure some rain and a strong headwind coming off the ocean.

Meb Keflezighi will attempt to defend his crown, while the rest of the field will take on the hilly, historic course in an effort to have a coveted Boston Marathon medal draped around their necks.

Best of luck to all participants in tomorrow's Boston Marathon.



Saturday, April 18, 2015

YES, THERE IS AN APP FOR THAT

The 119th running of the Boston Marathon is less than two days a way.

Most of us wish we were there, running the race with nearly 30,000 other runners, but all of us are cheering for friends or family members who are participating in the race on Monday.

We were so happy way back in the '80s, when we could actually stand in line, wrapped in our space blankets and take advantage of a free phone call to our family and friends to report our finish. (and, no, they were not rotary phones)

Early this week, friend, and 2016 Boston Marathon qualifier, Chris Zelonis, alerted me to a new Boston Marathon mobile App, available at the App Store

The App is free, and it's excellent.

One can follow the elite leaderboard, look up participants' times, find race results, and even learn about some of the rich history of the race.

So, while Monday may be just another day for most of your co-workers, you can secretly spend some time following the race on your Boston Marathon App.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

THE DUEL

A good day to watch a marathon is a bad day to run a marathon.

Non-runners look at a weather forecast for a marathon, see 75 degrees and exclaim, "Wow, it looks like you're going to have great weather for your race."

Not so.

A cloudy, calm, 50-degree day is perfection for running a marathon.

All indicators point to such a day for the 119th running of the Boston Marathon on Monday.

That wasn't the case in 1982, however, and it led to one of the greatest finishes in Boston Marathon history. A race that has been called, "The duel in the sun."

Back in the last century, Boston Marathon race organizers remained stubborn traditionalists, insisting that the race begin at noon, as it always had.

It was a beautiful day...for the beach and for an early spring tan.

The sky was cloudless, the sun was hot, and a slight tailwind sucked moisture from the body like a blow-dryer. Temperatures topped out in the 80s. I completed the race in a respectable time of 2:28:43, and my most significant post-race pain did not stem from sore muscles and joints; rather from pink sunburn lines which outlined the shape of my race singlet on my shoulders, and upon my ankles above the sock line. My nose, a significant perch for birds, glowed like Rudolph's.

Alberto Salazar was the world's best marathon runner at the time. While others, including the iconic Bill Rodgers, wilted from the intense heat, gritty Minnesotan, Dick Beardsley stubbornly hung with Salazar.

Through the Newton Hills, Beardsley refused to be broken.

Crowds went wild on Commonwealth Avenue as the moving duel ensued.

With less than a mile to go, Beardsley's hamstring tightened up and Salazar took the lead.

Beardsley's cramped leg found some unlikely relief from an unlikely ally: a Boston pothole!

Like most potholes we encounter in our cars, he didn't miss it, but miraculously, it loosened his cramped leg, and he drew even with his rival.

Crowds exploded as the gladiators sprinted to the finish, with Salazar prevailing by a mere two seconds.

 Salazar crossed the line in 2:08:52; while Beardsley clocked a 2:08:54. It was the first time two men had broken 2:09 in the same race.

Alberto Salazar, however, paid a steep price for his victory. The searing, dry heat robbed him of fluids, causing his body temperature to drop to a near-fatal 88 degrees and it took several liters of intravenous fluids to stabilize him. By Salazar's own admission he was never the same after the race.

We all hope there are no more "duels in the sun." Let's keep those temperatures in the 50s for Marathon Monday.

Save the beach weather for Tuesday.


More Boston Marathon history the chapter entitled 'Boston,' in my book, Running Shorts. www.muldowneyrunning.com