Wednesday, May 8, 2013

BOSTON STRONG 
The Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon Weekend. 


Pain is inevitable and often necessary, how you choose to deal with it determines if you will suffer. Congratulations on your run. I have no doubt it involved a fair bit of pain but hopefully very little suffering (edited). - Email from Peter van A. from Needham Running Club 

Like most marathons, I usually end up in different cities that I normally wouldn't visit due to a request from someone who has seen my video or knows me from somewhere else. It is my passion to help others learn from my example and do whatever I can to help them out. I will usually end the email or conversation with "If you're serious, I will come run a a marathon with you" and proceed to find one that is convenient and allows enough time for my new friend to train and be ready to run. This was the case with Cincinnati's Flying Pig Marathon. 

I had actually heard great things about this race, plus my niece Kim and her husband live just outside Cincinnati. In addition to my potential new marathoner-in-training, there were several people that I had met virtually online who also lived in the area. So I get to see my niece and her family, hopefully elevating me out of the "Worst Uncle" category to the "He's an OK Uncle I guess" category, help inspire a marathoner wannabe, confirm that the people I had been conversing with over the internet actually did exist and were actually runners, AND run a awesome marathon. It was a "No Brainer".

Unlike most marathons, The Cincinnati Flying Pig marathon is actually part of a weekend long series of races and events. It starts with a concert on Friday evening, the "Toyota 10K" and the "Tri-State Running 5K" on Saturday (8 AM and 10 AM) and the "Flying Pig Full and Half Marathon" on Sunday (6:30 AM). In addition there's the expo, a 1 miler on Friday and tons of kids races on Saturday as well. It truly is a race weekend! 

When registering for the marathon, Skyline Chili offered a special inaugural series of races which included the 10K and 5K on Saturday and either the Half Marathon (Threeway) or Full Marathon (Fourway) on Sunday. One of my best friends once said to me "Mediocrity Abounds" and with those words lingering in my head, I registered for the "Fourway". 

Training went well and I was feeling pretty confident for the upcoming races. That was until I saw the elevation profile and then I freaked a little...

      
Seriously? This was supposed to be a fun race and whoever drew up the course obviously forgot the word "fun" when setting it up from miles 6-9! No PR this time. 

One week before the marathon I ran a 10K with my running club and felt great. I took it easy on Monday and on Tuesday evening went out for my usual 3 mile run. As I was about to hit the 2 mile mark, every runners nightmare happened - an incredible pain that is not supposed to happen when running an easy run five days before a marathon. It felt like someone had taken a knife and stabbed me in the left kneecap. Almost falling in front of an oncoming car, I was able to gain my balance back and immediately stopped running. The pain was incredible and unfortunately it was a new pain so I had absolutely no idea what it was. I did know what this meant and I came to the immediate conclusion that there was no way I could run the 5K, let alone the marathon in 5 days. It took me 25 minutes to limp one mile to my home, devastated, and cursing my knee and running future the entire trip.  

On Tuesday, a friend sent me an email asking how the marathon went. As is typical with Bill, his inquiry was very simple and to the point: "Well? How was it". I assume the he knows that the shorter his question, the longer my response, so I decided to give him a detailed timeline from the point of my injury on Tuesday evening until the trip back home from Cincinnati. That said, I recognized it as a kind gesture so I tried my best to be short and concise... 

Tuesday 7 PM:
Was running my regular 3 miles. At mile 2 stabbing pain in my left knee. Literally limped home in severe pain.

Wednesday 5 PM
Had emergency appointment with my sports medicine doctor in Worcester (West Boylston). After exam said it was bad and if it was anyone but me, he would not recommend running. He said "Roger, you're not normal" which I took as a compliment. Mary was a witness so I wasn't just hearing what I wanted to hear. OK I was. 

Thursday 4 PM
Met with acupuncturist in Needham. After 1 hour treatment and some "magic herbs" topical solution I limped out of office. Not feeling cured.



Thursday 10 PM
Since I could barely walk, I get frustrated and decide that it would be too depressing to fly to Cincinnati and watch rather than run the marathon. Time to cut my losses. Called airline and inquired about canceling trip. Told me I would get $231 credit out of $531 tickets. I hung up on them. Called condo and inquired about refund. They were sorry but no refund (prepaid). I hung up on them. Decided to go to Cincinnati. 

Friday 3:30 AM
Got picked up for trip to Logan Airport. Knee really hurts walking through terminal and the word "stupid" keeps flashing in my mind like a neon sign since there was no way I could run a 5K let alone a 26.2 miles at this point.

Friday 6 PM
Go to Flying Pig Expo and ask for a deferral or race change. No go. Pick up packet as a momento and to possibly give away bib. Packet includes THREE bibs: 10K, 5K (on Saturday 8 AM and 10 AM respectively) and marathon bib (Sunday 6:30). Get depressed as I limp by the official Flying Pig Marathon merchandise booth, knowing that I can't buy a shirt or hat because I won't be running it. Reality sets in and I start cursing. Mary lets me vent. 

Friday 6:15 PM
Pass Dicks Sporting Goods booth and see my DSG video playing on big screen! Recognized by DSG employees from video (now at 155,000 views on Youtube!). Get more depressed. 


 

Friday 6:30 PM
I see a free sports medicine/injury therapist booth. Desperate, I decide to give it a shot. Suzanne concludes that it is not structural but just "nerves misfiring"
in my knee. Massages my knee for 30 minute while I tell her my life story. I leave there somewhat optimistic that I might be able to jog/walk the marathon in under 6 hours if I just ignore the pain and pass on the 5K and 10K. 


Saturday 7:55 AM
Condo is located right at the starting line for 10K and 5K. I tell Mary I'm going to go give the bib away and be right back. Walk down with 10K and 5K bibs looking for bandits who might want them. See a group of people in a circle. They end up being Truckin' Runners (Truckers who Run). A guy (John) from Manitoba takes the 5K one. I still have 10K bib... 



Saturday 8 AM
Gun goes off for the 10K while I am talking to Truckers. I put the bib on and start walking and then running. Knee hurts but I keep reminding myself it is just "nerves misfiring". Finish in 1:00:14!  Told that I cannot have a 10K medal unless I run the 5K at 10AM. Plead my case to no avail. Go back up to condo and apologize to Mary for running. As usual, she knew that I would run so she was happy for me. Greatest wife in the world. :) 

Saturday 9:55 AM 
Go down with Mary to find the guy I gave the 5K bib to and then get breakfast. I see him and his friends in the 5K starting corral. While making arrangements for 10K medal, 5K gun goes off. I look at Mary, say sorry and run the 5K with the guy from Manitoba (John) and his friends (Danny and Cindy). 


Saturday 10:36 AM
Finish the 5K and get both of my 10K and 5K medals. Say goodbye to my new Truckin Friends. :)

Picture courtesy of Danny George.
At this point I have just run 9.3 miles. Ooops. 

Saturday 5 PM 
Meet with some internet friends. Have dinner, talk about marathons for 2 hours which gets me pumped up because runners are awesome and talking about marathons is even awesomer! Convince my friend Kevin to run the BAA Half Marathon in October if I finish the marathon. He agrees. Hope to finish the marathon in under 6 hours as a goal.  


Sunday 6:00 AM  
Get dressed and head down to starting line for race which is .25 mile away. Knee hurts and muscles are sore. In retrospect, running 10K and 5K wasn't such a good idea...


Sunday 6:30 AM  
Stand in corral for marathon start. After a moment of silence for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, bagpipes play "Amazing Grace". I run over the starting line with "Sweet Caroline" playing over the loudspeakers with tears streaming down my face, Mary's face on the sideline and all others who understood the significance of Sweet Caroline. "Boston" shirts, hats, signs/posters are all over the course and I realize that "We're All Boston!" regardless of where you are from. Pain is secondary so I suck it up. Course is challenging with MEGA hills but I keep getting encouraging words for my shirt which helps motivate me.

Sunday 11:01 AM 
I finish at 4:31:00. With the exception of 2009 Boston Marathon, the most emotional marathon I have ever run and without question, the most proud I have ever been of any marathon. As I said on Facebook, it wasn't about time, it was about strength. I Am Boston Strong. :) 


Monday 6:30 AM  
The hardest part of running a marathon is the day after. Ran three miles around downtown Cincinnati. Knees still hurt but my quads easily won the "What hurts the most?" contest going on in my head as I ran. We packed and headed back to Boston. 


Peter (see quote at the beginning of this post) was 100% correct. There was pain, and lots of it, but there was never any suffering. I left Cincinnati with pride and happiness in my heart for what I had accomplished. Boston Strong.

 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"My Race"


My Race

This morning, the day after the 2013 Boston Marathon, I ran the hardest 3 miles of my life. As I ran, tears streamed down my face and I wondered if the cars that passed by noticed. For those that did, I hoped they understood. For those that didn't, I understood and I have no doubt that they shed tears of their own, in their own way and in their own place, for the victims of yesterday's tragedy on Boylston Street and the runningof the 2013 Boston Marathon. 

My father ran the 1968 Boston Marathon when I was 7 and from that point on, it became "my race" and I made a promise to myself that someday I would run it. 


When I moved from Maine to Texas I was surprised that my classmates knew about the race. "Some day I will run it" I told them. In retrospect, I suspect that it was met with laughs of disbelief moments later behind my back

I moved back to Boston after college and each year I would watch the race on TV and say "Someday I will run it" and follow that thought up with another bottle of beer and some chips. But I honestly believed it. As I got older and heavier and more lethargic, I always kept that one "impossible" dream alive in the back of my mind. 

After I got married, Mary and I moved closer to the Boston Marathon route in Wellesley. Each April we would venture to Wellesley and watch the runners pass by and I would say to Mary "Some day I will run it" to which she always smiled and said "Some day you will", lovingly ignoring the fact that I was now a morbidly obese 300+ pound person who hadn't run 1/4 mile in 20 years.

In June of 2008, at the age of 47, my doctor called and informed me that due to my self imposed morbid obesity, my health was in severe jeopardy. The next day I received a call from my sister in law telling me my niece Julia's health, due to cystic fibrosis that she born with, was also in severe jeopardy and had been placed on the lung transplant list. I decided a few days after those conversations that the "some day" had come and I would run the 2009 Boston Marathon the following year, doing everything I could to raise money for CF research and help save Julia's life. And mine.

With help from my friend Rick, I started walking 3 miles and after a week, Rick told me to start running. I was only able to run 10 yards at first, but eventually as the weight fell off in sweat and tears, I gained momentum and got stronger. And faster. And more positive that I could run the Boston Marathon. Ten months later, after losing over 113 pounds, I ran "my race" nonstop, thanks to the never ending support of the smiling people lining the route and cheering on the runners for what they were accomplishing.

When I turned left onto Boylston Street for the final stretch to immortality, I was shocked by the crowd that had squeezed onto the sidewalk 8-10 deep to cheer "me" on. I can say with 100% certainty that it will always remain the most overwhelming sight that I will ever witness in a marathon and no doubt my entire life. Just before I crossed the finish line I looked up into the grandstands and saw my Dad crying in the stands. And my wife Mary. And Rick. And Julia. And I was crying as well for what I had accomplished.

And on that day, April 20, 2009, my life changed more than anyone will ever know. And it was all thanks to "my race", the 2009 Boston Marathon. 





On April 16 I completed the 2012 Boston Marathon - it was my 17th full marathon in the 3 years since I ran my first marathon. It was around 90 degrees on that day but I was not going to be denied crossing the finish line. Literally drained by the heat I turned left onto Boylston Street, and again, the crowd screamed their support and helped  carry me down the street. Just before I came to the finish line, I stopped running and reflected back on just how much the Boston Marathon had dramatically changed my life in those 3 years. I pulled out my video camera and shot a quick clip to capture the moment as I looked down Boylston Street at the smiling crowd of men, women and children, all coming out to watch "my race". I closed my eyes to thank God for allowing me to arrive safely, turned around and ran across the finish line.

Technically, I didn't run the 2013 Boston Marathon yesterday as I was unable to obtain a number, not for lack of trying. I did go out to support my friends who were running and decided to run home the fastest way I could, which was along the marathon route. I joined the other ~500 runners who also did not get a number at the back of the corrals and started yet another journey. Along the way it seemed that the smiles were brighter and the atmosphere was more upbeat - I attributed it to the temperature being approx. 40 degrees cooler than the year before. At mile 13.5 I left the course and headed the 2 miles home.

Approximately 2 hours later I heard the news about "my race". And my heart sank. And with each additional minute of news and details, my heart sank further. 

As a spectator for most of my life, I watched in awe as the elite runners passed me by in the blink of an eye, the medium speed runners making it look easy and the slower runners struggling to put one foot in front of the other. Regardless who they were, they were all running together along the same 26.2 mile path that led to glory on Boylston Street. Our job was to support them every step of the way. It is one of Boston's oldest tradition and everyone there is proud to be a part of it. 

As a runner, the Boston Marathon is about hope, dreams, the spirit of human perseverance and overcoming obstacles in life that may seem impossible at times. And for thousands of people like myself, it is about raising money for a charity that is near and dear to their heart and sacrificing themselves for the benefit of those that need our help.

And yesterday, like every year before, the two groups became one. As I ran yesterday, I saw tears of joy as runners embraced their loved ones, gave a pat on the back, or screamed encouragement to a name on a shirt all along the marathon course be it a mother or father, spouse or child, friend or stranger and everyone in between. And this happened from the start to the finish.

I have watched the devastation on Bolyston Street too many times now. The one image I keep thinking about are of some yellow balloons leaving the sidewalk after the first explosion - I wonder if they were released by some innocent child there to cheer on a family member or friend as they were victimized by the senseless explosion.  As of right now, no one knows who did this or why but with very few exceptions there is outrage, pain, disbelief and questions that will never be answered.

Next year I will run the 2014 Boston Marathon in honor of those hurt on April 15, 2013. And I will run it for my charity. And I will run it for myself because no one will ever take away "my race" from me. It means too much.


Roger 
www.RFME.org 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Boston Marathon

And so, after 10 months and 2 weeks, the big day arrived. Rather than try to rewrite what I wrote on a forum, I will just go ahead and paste what I wrote there, here, as I think it sums up everything quite well and I can get it posted now instead of two weeks from now when I finish making all of my touches to it. Hopefully I will come back and write up additional comments but frankly I am about to fall asleep so I will post this as it is now. Thanks.

Roger

I have now accomplished my goal and completed the Boston Marathon. As my calf was sore almost from the very beginning I purposely kept it slow as I preferred a slower time over the possibility of not finishing or having to walk a portion of it, which I NEVER did! In addition there was a pretty big headwind (~10-20 MPH) the whole way which turned my legs into lead, especially up the hills. I'm also pretty sure that they kept on moving the finish line further and further back as I approached it, but fortunately I they must have run out of room and I was finally able to cross it.

As was posted, I ended up doing it in 4:45:43 which I am pretty happy about as it is under my 5 hour goal, especially under the above conditions. I like numbers and as I progressed through the race, I continually updated the time that I was shooting for. Under 4:00:00 was ruled out around mile 5 so I figured out around mile 18 (first of the "Hills of Newton") that 4:20:09 would be cool since it was the day of the race (04.20.09). Around Heartbreak Hill (mile 21) I re-evaluated my time and thought about 4:32:10 (sequential countdown) but that was gone by the time I ran down to Cleveland Circle (mile 22.5) . By the time I hit mile 25 (Kenmore Square, which was almost surreal, running through a major Boston intersection with all of the cars and buses replaced with screaming and cheering people around 10 deep) I decided to do everything I could to nab 4:44:44, but as I ran down Hereford Street (~ mile 26) and onto Boylston Street, I was completely spent and didn't have any kick left, so I finally decided on trying for 04:45:45. Unfortunately I wasn't actually sure where the exact finish line was (and at which point the clock stopped) so I guess I came in 2/100th of a second too fast!

Frankly I had been envisioning this moment pretty much the entire time I had been training for this journey and my thoughts of crossing the finish line always had me in a breakdown of tears with flashbacks of everything I did to get there rushing through my mind. But that was not to be the case and as I am typing this, I really haven't quite figured out where the dramatic ending went. I suppose that the easy answer is that I was just so worn out that I just wanted to get over the finish line and put an end to my misery that I had been enduring for almost 5 hours. It also could be that the reality of what I have accomplished hasn't actually kicked in yet. Maybe someday when I am walking across a street somewhere, it will hit me and I will finally break down into a fit of tears, as onlookers stare at me and contemplate what is wrong with me. One thing I know is it is a question that I will always think about for many years to come.

So now that it is over, it is time for me to reflect on what has happened and what I have learned in the last 10 months regarding Health, Passion and Love.

Health. While the weight loss is the most tangible facet of this project, it really shouldn't be, because the bottom line is I failed myself in taking care of my body for the first ~47 years of my life. While I voluntarily made myself unhealthy with a complete disregard for healthy eating and a completely sedentary lifestyle, Julia would want nothing more than to have just that - a normal healthy life. Fortunately I have righted this wrong and I will do everything I can to maintain the "new" me for the rest of my life. It is also my hope, as I stated when I first created my www.RunningForMyExistence.com website back in June of 2008, that at least ONE person takes what I have done to heart, sees that they can change their life for the better, and follows my example.

Passion. Running a marathon is a goal a lot of people have and I now respect anyone that has ever run one, especially Boston! I am proud of this accomplishment and it will be hard to come up with a new goal that will top it...but I will find one. I have pledged to my wife, my friends and family and myself to continue to run marathons, although the thought of it right now kind of turns my stomach and causes my legs, almost on cue, almost wince in fear and remind me of the pain that they endured yesterday. Physically my body is screaming NO!!! but my mind is saying come on, it will be fun. Fortunately I have no fear that my entire body, from head to toe, will get itself together in the near future and I will regain the passion I had before. After all, I still need to get that 4 hour marathon under my belt.

Love.
The leaves the only "goal" left that you really can't measure with a scale or a finish line...or can you? To celebrate my accomplishment, my wife and friends put together an After The Marathon Party to celebrate my accomplishments as well as say thanks to everyone who had helped support me on this journey. And it was here at the After Party, that I realized what I had been searching for this whole time.

It goes without saying that I was humbled by how many people showed up for my party and I cannot say thanks enough. I challenge anyone to walk into a room of ~125 of the most important people in your life applauding you and not say "life really doesn't get any better than this" to yourself over and over. At that point, I was handed a microphone to make a speech. Normally this would cause me retract into a full fetal position on the floor but probably because I was just so tired or possibly because I knew every single person standing in front of me, I really didn't have a problem broadcasting my thoughts and voice over the speakers. From what I recall, I thanked everyone for coming, tried to defend my time running the marathon and then thanked the three "women" who had helped me across the finish line: My mom Hope, who died when I was 1 year old but kept constant watch over me as I trained, my wife Mary, whose undying love and patience never ever faltered even though I gave her 10 months of stress that would have broken any other person in the world, and my niece Julia, who gave me the inspiration and desire to see this whole project through. With that, I spoke the words that everyone was waiting for - Let's eat!

And it was also during this speech that Julia's mom explained to me several hours after giving it, what I have been looking for all this time. You see, unbeknownst to me at the time, when I mentioned in my "speech" how important Julia was to me, Julia turned to her mom with tears in her eyes and said "I never realized how much Uncle Roger loved me". And that really does trump everything else in the world that has happened to me. And it was at that point that I discovered that I had found my existence.

Well, I could go on and add another three or four paragraphs but I really don't think I need to. Actually I think the picture below pretty much sums it up so I will leave it at that.

I don't know what tomorrow will bring but I do know what yesterday brought and today I'm a better person because of it.
Thank you for reading these blogs, have a nice day and a better life.

Roger

PS Below are some additional pictures from my "Big Day". The first two were taken by my good friend Mike Lee as I was just about to round the corner off of Hereford and onto Boylston Street for my final .25 mile. The remainder were taken by my brother, Richard Wright, right at the finish line. Thanks again for reading this blog.

Align Center





Final Video

Below is the Final Video that I put together encompassing the last 10 months of my life. Rather than take up a lot of space, I will just post the video and let it speak for itself. Thanks.

Roger :)

Running For My Existence (Final Video)



April Update

Yet another "older" blog that I never got around to launching since I was swamped with work preparing for the marathon after I got the "OK To Run" from one of my doctors. First, I will get the update stuff out of the way.

Since I was not working out as much as I was used to due to my calf injury, I fully expected this to be the first month that I actually gained weight. I really wouldn't have a problem with a small increase since I was actually below the weight my doctor had suggested back in June (165). Also in my favor was the fact that I had reprogrammed my mind to eat healthier. Below are some pictures of me on April 7th.

I am going to end this post here so that I can move on to the Final Video blog that I have meaning to put since I created it. Thanks for reading.

Roger

DATE: April 7th WEIGHT: 163.6
LOSS FOR MONTH: 0.5 TOTAL LOSS: 113.1

After I took the above picture I decided to add a picture of me in my running gear and then I created a quick gif between my first picture in June 2008 and a new picture in my running outfit also taken on April 7th. It seems to do a good job of showing my transformation over the last 10 months although the morph I have on my website (www.RFME.org) is much better.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Roger Has A Bad Day Video

This is an older video that I never got around to uploading. It was recorded on March 30th.

To make a very long story short, I pulled my calf muscle while running because I was pushing myself too hard. I was training to run the Boston Marathon in under 4 hours as a friend had promised me an additional $250 to Cystic Fibrosis if I did it in under 4 hours way back in October of 2008. At that time I was shooting for a 6 hour marathon, stopping every mile for 2 minutes (Galloway Method) so I figured it was extremely unrealistic. That said, as I progressed in my training, I realized I was actually closer to a 4 hour marathon than I thought after I ran 21 miles in 3 hours 19 minutes in March 2008.


Below is the video of the day I hurt myself. I had asked a friend of mine to film me for a "Final Video" that I was putting together summing my past 10 months. At that time (when I got in my friends car) I thought I would be OK in a couple of days, but as I discovered later that day, I did some serious damage to my calf muscle and 3 days later, still was not able to run.

I was pretty depressed as I saw everything I had worked for over the last 9 months starting to fall apart and my worst fear that I might not be able to run the marathon was quickly becoming a reality. Sorry about the language but I was actually in some considerable pain and very mad at myself for pushing too hard.

Roger Has A Bad Day
video
If the above video doesn't work, here is a link to it on YouTube.

I posted the video on Facebook and within ~20 minutes or so, had about 10 friends tell me that I had already won "the race" and that I should focus on the positive aspects over the negative. I was really moved by it and I sincerely believe that it helped me recover from the injury. I rested for the next week and pretty much laid off of any running, although I did continue to swim and slowly got back into Spin class.

Here is the revised video after I got over feeling sorry for myself which is a little more upbeat.

Roger Has A Bad Day Updated


After several failed appointments, I ended up at a Sports Medicine doctor's office on Friday, April 10th. After a 30 minute evaluation, the doctor concluded that I could run the marathon but I really needed to slow it down or I would never make it to the finish line. He also pointed out that no one runs Boston for a personal best time, but rather just finish it. He made a good point that this was my first marathon and not my last marathon.

Since then, my calf has healed pretty well. Bring on the marathon!

Roger :)








March Update

I probably should apologize for the lack of postings but that really has gotten too old. Plus I have a couple of other Blogs I need to write up and it's 1:30 AM right now. Therefore rather than explain my reason for a lack of post in this blog, I will explain it in my next one.

Therefore I will just post the pertinent information and try to update it later. Thanks for reading this.

Roger :)


DATE: March 7th WEIGHT: 164.2
LOSS FOR MONTH: 5.4 TOTAL LOSS: 112.5