Running Like a Marine at The Marine Corps Marathon’17

It hardly seems right that we’re hell-bent on gobbling up November already. With the New York City Marathon on in a couple of days (Sunday!) and having just come off a tough 26.2 myself, I feel incredibly rushed – as if I’m on a spinning wheel of sorts with the only option to keep moving or jump off and crash. But I digress. Two Sundays ago, I felt incredibly honored to run the prestigious and inspiring Marine Corps Marathon with about 25,000 runners. It was a huge accomplishment for me, not because of the medal, or the challenge – and it was that, not even because it was marathon #12, but because it allowed me the opportunity to add meaning to my miles and truly make my running count for others and not myself – at least not this time around.

It was beautiful out in Virginia and had the temperatures stayed in the low sixties/ high fifties as it started out on marathon morning, it would have been as near perfect as it could get I’m sure, but as fate or luck or whatever would have it, that was not meant to be. Marathon Sunday, we woke up to a sunrise that displayed the most gorgeous hues of color against the backdrop of a spotless sky. As we shuffled by the thousands into the Pentagon area in making our way to the start the promise was of a bright and beautiful day though a bit misty at the start. This proved to be too hot with temperatures reaching in the high seventies under brilliantly blue skies by late morning. I recall a runner I passed by wondering aloud,”where are my clouds,” then I thought sadly, not today my friend. With the earlier part of the race, we had some cover running through Rosslyn and suburban VA.

It was pretty, gorgeous actually, and heartening to run with such a wonderful group of runners from varying teams. While team Semper Fi was out in their numbers and I had great support from team members along the way and from the spectators, who were phenomenal in every sense giving everything from water, to beer, to candy, to Vaseline, to ice and fruit and everything in between, there were many other charity groups running awesome that day; however, none were more touching than the marines and others who chose to run pushing the chairs of disabled children and veterans. Then there were the disabled runners themselves, who made my heart beat faster with their determination and passion. These runners inspired and pushed me to stay focused and in the moment and to remember it wasn’t about me. Many times when I was tempted to go faster or push harder those thoughts encouraged me to keep a sane and steady pace. It would later prove to be my saving grace as it got hotter and tougher around mile 19.

Wear Blue: run to remember

It would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention the “Blue Mile:” dedicated to fallen marines. Pictures of deceased service men and women lined both sides of the course as we ran along the Potomac river with a backdrop of Washington, D.C . It was the most silent, tear-jerking and inspirational mile of my running years and one could almost hear a pin drop. I ran thinking of all those, so many young marines, who laid down their lives for this country, willingly or not, and that they will never get the chance to run as I am fortunate to do.

Other memorable moments included running through DC and past all the iconic monuments in the nation’s capital to the amazing cheers of hundreds of spectators and the thousands of marine volunteers who were out there faithfully giving us water, Gatorade, and energy gels and encouraging us on at specific locations. They provided profound support and inspiration. We loved it, fed off it and used it to get us over the bridge, through Crystal City and the crowds, where a friendly face tried to pump me up, however, by then I was having a really hard time with pains in my right knee and ankle and was really looking forward to the finish line. The last mile through the Pentagon and finishing uphill was screaming tough for me and made me what I like to now refer to as “marine tough.” Too happy for words, I limped across the finish line revelling in the fact that I did it. I ran for the marines..for the veterans of this great country and had a blast for the most part.

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Chicago Marathon for the Kids of St Jude

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I’ve always maintained that running is not for the fainthearted. If you’re looking for easy, effortless, comfortable and safe then I posit that running won’t work for you. In the years that I have been on the roads, trails, track and treadmill, I have never not been challenged, called out, exerted, pushed and stretched beyond my limits. Through it all, I’ve experienced excitement, sadness, anger, disappointment, success, and every other emotion except boredom and the desire to quit. What I’ve discovered though is that nothing gives me greater satisfaction than running to make a difference in the lives of others.  While I’m all into PRs, racking up medals and destination marathons, these all fall short of a transcendent purpose (and I really do not mean to sound lofty) which adds meaning and value to life. Running for a worthy cause adds true meaning to my miles, it removes me from the center and places focus on the always worthy cause.

I never take this opportunity and gift lightly; opportunity because here is where I get the chance to use the running platform to highlight something close to my heart and do my bit in transforming our world, as I like to say, one step at a time, gift because as long as I understand that I have been blessed with this ability to in turn be a blessing, I will continue to find meaning and value in running. Additionally, it will continue to fuel my passion to get out there; to defeat the hurdles, overcome the obstacles and cross the finish line time and again. In running, motivation works side by side ability to ensure success. I’m convinced that those runners who are in their eighties and still going strong must have buckets of it.

Choosing a cause or charity to run for is relatively easy though not so much at the same time. You’d think, there are tons of them, what’s the big deal? Well for one thing, too many choices can make for difficult decision-making. I try to keep it simple by sticking to causes for children and then choosing those that I feel some connection to. Truth is, that’s the hardest part because almost everything affects us whether directly or indirectly these days. It’s the price we pay for the global village we live in.

This year, I latched on to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. They are such a prominent force for good in this world with the amazing work they do through providing care and conducting research in childhood cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Words fail me when I think of the suffering and pain of so much of our children, we cannot continue to live unaffected lives; at some level, at some point, we must get involved and take a stand. However we choose to do so is our decision, it’s only important that we do.

In that spirit, here is the link to my fundraising page on St Jude’s website with a lot more information on what they do and the impact your gift can make.http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=3992776&pg=personal&fr_id=57054

Please support the cause and share. There are only a few more days left for donations for Chicago Marathon and helping get me to the finish line. I’m thrilled to be a part of Team St Jude Heroes!

The United NYC Half Marathon: miles for a cause

United NYC Half Marathon Start Source: ABC online

United NYC Half Marathon Start
Source: ABC online

Last Sunday was my “miles for a cause” run, the first that I’ve run based on my fundraising efforts with 100% proceeds going to a youth charity. For this reason alone, it was a phenomenal success.  We, my donors and I, were able to successfully raise $1225.00 in just about six weeks with the limit being $1000.00.  I am tremendously pleased and humbled by the support and love shown by everyone for The Seed Project, an organization that provides sport and education scholarships for students in Senegal, West Africa, for which I chose to run. Words are insufficient to impress the positivity and good that will result in the lives that were touched by our efforts. Thus, I’m inspired to continue impacting lives one step at a time, with the hope that it will encourage others to make a difference doing what they love.

Secondary to my fundraising goal was my wish to run a PR, which didn’t happen much to my disappointment.  The NYC Half Marathon is run with much fanfare and spirit: lots of runners, spectators, media hype and excitement; sort of like its bigger counterpart, the NYC Marathon, only on a smaller scale.  With a field size of around 20,000, it’s not hard to see why.  Like the marathon, there are runners from all over the world, dozens of charities to choose from and it delivers a spectacle course. From Central Park to Times Square, then running along the West Side Highway to the heart of the financial district in lower Manhattan, it’s NYC 101, and impossible not to get caught up in the excitement of it all. Also, it’s not everyday one gets to stop traffic in Times Square with the hope of getting caught on the big screen.  I dare say that is the highlight of the race for many, that, and collecting the finisher’s medal.

Secondary to my fundraising goal was my wish to run a PR, which didn’t happen much to my disappointment. While it wasn’t a particularly difficult course, there were some, what I call, challenging moments: the hills in Central Park and the 4-mile stretch of the Westside Highway presented the most challenge and while I could factor in a number of reasons why this was so, I’ll just focus on adjusting my strategy for another race of this length. That being said, I finished in 1:38 while we enjoyed great weather during the run and I couldn’t help recalling the last time I ran that race in 2013, it was a freezing 18 degrees. However, at the finish it got quite chilly as the winds picked up and it turned out to be a very cold day from then on and I could only feel for those runners that were still on the course. I ended the day hanging out with the fundraising team at an after party hosted by the organizers in the seaport area. I really couldn’t be happier with my efforts..well maybe with my time..but I’ll gladly accept that to be able to give those kids in Senegal a better chance at life.

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Cause Running

RunningHD_1-(2) (web optimised) It’s Christmas time; the season of giving. What better time to look at making a difference in the life of someone. Earlier this year, I had decided that I was going to incorporate more charity runs into my racing. I figured it was a way of giving back to the running community and a big thank you to the sport that has given me so much in terms of self-development and taught me a great deal about drive and perseverance. Turns out it’s easier said than done and so yours truly have not fully engaged the process of running for someone or something other than self. Truth is, I find it somewhat intimidating to ask others to help a passion of mine. What’s in it for them? See, when I first thought of running for a cause, it seemed easy enough; sign up for a race and give a donation..pretty easy, no strings attached and doable only for a smaller number of races. It turns out that meaningful giving in running is a bit more involved than that.

You have only to google running for charity and a host of events and information will come up, which indicates the popularity of this method of entry into races from 5ks to marathons. So it’s not for a lack of information that I view this with some trepidation, as races are eager to impart how to best access information and support on how to proceed. What I’m a bit wary of is actually getting on a platform and committing to raise a certain amount of money within a specified period of time; the amount being a big issue and then the time frame allotted in which to do this. I’ll admit right off that a sales person I am not so the pitch just doesn’t come to me nor does it ever sound right, which leaves me questioning my motives cause this is not about me right?

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Cause running has opened up the field of runners to just about anyone with a heart to do good, the bonus is exercise and the chance to do something one might not have attempted but for the pull of the greater good. In addition, there’s the added benefit of training teams and cheering sections This makes it a win-win situation as there are multiple groups with different models that allow runners to consider the cause – which runs from cancer research to providing animal rescue – race distance, fundraising minimum and training programs. The recent addition of crowdrise, peer-to-peer fundraising site, to the running platform allows runners who don’t find a cause they’re interested in to create a page and run for a group of their choice.(Runners World)

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The causes are endless and the opportunities to make my running count are better now than they’ve ever been; all I need is social media, my friend lists and the ability to pitch my cause. I’m giving it a go for the New York City Half Marathon in March. A couple thousands shouldn’t be hard..wish me luck!

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