Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Day 4: Race Day!

The 113th running of the Boston Marathon had 26,000 runners and 2 American hopefuls for the win; Ryan Hall for the men and Kara Coucher for the women.

The closest race in history can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Yfoz-lzx-0

Now, back to us mere mortals! I have a couple of thank you's to start.
- www.newbalancetoronto.com for some great shoes and kit!
- www.race4kids.ca for the inspiration to suffer! Please take the time to read about our cause and Donate here please - it is an important cause.
- Super-duper domestique Meredith for her unwavering support!
- Family, friends, and the team at Wells Fargo Canada for their patience in my chasing of dreams!

Boston is a monument in sport, and unchanged course from Hopkinton into the city, growing alongside the booming sport of running. Morning we take shuttle buses from Boston Common to the race start then wait for 2.5 hrs to get running. Once the F-15's fly over at 1200ft. the race starts its descent from Hopkinton to Ashland, keep downhill to Natick, a few little rollers keep you occupied, then past the halfway point before "the tunnel of love" in Wellesley. From Wellesley you run into Newton, make your first turn of the race and hit the famous Newton hills which is 5 miles of up, down, up, down, then up Hearbreak hill. From Heartbreak there are some rollers into Fenway, then two more turns before the finish downtown.

I was right on track at the half way to run my goal of 3:12 with a 1:35. My right quad was acting up but my mind was focused. Things were good and given my training I was pretty pleased. I kept noticing that I was passing people but that everytime I would crest a roller all I could see were people ahead of me! At Wellesley we can hear the roar of the women's college. Founded in 1870 because Harvard did not accept women, Wellesley is focused on providing women a high standard liberal arts education. They say, "to provide an excellent liberal arts education for women who make a difference in the world". Very cool...back to the race...the roar can be heard from a 1/2 mile away and gets progressively louder until you see the banners that say "GET YOUR EARS READY" and then there is a 1/2 mile of screaming students each with a banner asking you to kiss them! Yep - kiss them. Hence the term, "tunnel of love"! Rest assured Meredith, no stopping, I was far too busy-:)

After that amazing experience we run onto mile 17, turn right and hit the hills. Each on their own are not hard, each after one another between 17 and 21 miles is. I came out of Heartbreak hill feeling energized and still on pace. I had to stop for my second bathroom break, downed some coke and a gel, and followed the game plan. Up the tempo and GO!

Holding on, holding on, pass more people, keep going, keep attacking, 1 more gel, give 'er...this "racing" lasted about 7K.


5K to go the lights went out.

2K to go its a death march.

From 3:12 to 3:18 pace just like that. I love racing, roll the dice and give it your best shot. I am pleased.

Finally finished and sufficiently drained the ritual of finding clothes bag and family begins. We take the red-line back to hotel (where I have to say the locals are very gracious, free ride, give up their seat, ask how I enjoyed the marathon etc. all while I smelled REALLY BAD!)

Get cleaned up and downstairs for a few guiness before Meredith suprises me with a wonderful steak dinner at Morton's over Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet. Great way to end an amazing experience.

In closing, this race is a monument for a reason. The city of Boston embraces this race, every town had 5 to 10 people deep on the streets, the Red Sox fans leave Fenway park and hit the streets to cheer. Frat boys drink beer at 11am to cheer you own. The final 15K there is not a spot without people cheering. It really is unbelievable. And to close downtown completely for Patriot's day and hear no one complain is really a tribute to how Bostonians live. Kind, salt of the earth, east-coasters.

An amazing experience, thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Boston day 3: lets just get started already!

Day 3, a little less eventful today as we rest up for the big show!

Breakfast at the Harvard Square and a walk about campus. The only thing to really say is stunning! The architecture is old colonial red brick, the road layout perfect for pedestrian traffic, the river beautiful with the morning rowers working through their paces. It really was a nice slice of ivy!

Meredith did her shopping downtown but didn't buy anything...I don't get that, but that is just me! I stayed at the hotel sipping Starbucks and watching the Red Sox.

Rest up, feet up, nap time.

Remember, racing Boston is more than just putting my feet one in front of the other, it is to raise funds for the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (www.pogo.ca) Please spread the word!


Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

From Boston - Day 2: Team Hoyt defines YES YOU CAN!

Today was registration, expo, and sight seeing around Back Bay and Beacon Hill areas. But it was certainly more than that at lunch.

If you don't know the story of Dick and Rick Hoyt check out their website here: http://www.teamhoyt.com/ or visit you tube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDnrLv6z-mM

Their story is very important, go to their site and spend 10 minutes. It is important because if you ever doubted yourself capable, if you ever found yourself on a couch saying "maybe tomorrow I will...", if you ever flatly said to yourself "I can't do that..." then this father and son story is a must read. Dick and Rick Hoyt define life and living and their message is simple; YES YOU CAN.

I grew up with this message, my mom and dad instilled it in Joanne and I. Of course Joanne proved that in her own way by graduating chemical engineering in 1990 (you know, back when only a few women did engineering!) and then onto medical school. Joanne is now coroner, doctor, and chief medical officer in her local community Atikokan. Yes, she can do anything. She is a wife and mother of two, and lover of all things outdoors including winter given where she lives! I on the other hand went to last chance U Carleton so didn't inherit the brains of the Spencer's, but hold up the life event side of the bargain with sports I guess -:)

Back to the Hoyt's; Meredith and I were walking through the expo and Dick walked by. I stopped and yelled out his name, shook his hand and let him know he is an inspiration. That was that, he was on his way. Then I heard a women ask a consierge in the convention center where Team Hoyt were speaking and Meredith and I hopped on her heels. Sure am glad we did.

Dick and Rick Hoyt told their story to the 100+ in attendance. I heard it before but I cried again in its inspiration. They had the video from Ironman Hawaii, the pictures from all their racing, their stories of breaking down barriers, they were on Oprha even! Amazing stuff! But then Rick spoke and it was chills, pure inspiration. The facts are:

- Monday is Dick and Rick's 1,000th race together
- It is their 26th Boston Marathon (get it, 26 mile race, 26th hometown marathon)
- they had to qualify for their first Boston marathon using Rick's age qualifying time (not dad's, sons!!). Nice try B.A.A, Dick and Rick qualified by running 2:45!
- they were inducted into the Ironman Hall of Fame, the first disabled athlete to do so
- Rick invented the disabled category in triathlon, that's right, broke down the doors for everybody else
- Rick's brother invented his alpha communication technique
- Dick had a heart attack about 5 years ago, Rick saved his life because without his fitness Dr.'s say he would be dead.

And Dick choked up in tears at the end when he said Monday is their 1,000th race together.

Don't ever say CAN'T again.



Thanks Dick for stopping today and thank you Rick for your kindness this afternoon, it was a honor.

Friday, April 17, 2009

An Ode to DuMaurier - about to live a dream!

Friends and family,

Tonight Meredith and I raised a glass (OK - bottle!) of Cakebread chardonnay together in tribute to the Boston Marathon at one of Boston's most famous fish houses, Legal Seafood. I said, "...an ode to DuMaurier..." and Meredith responded with that beautiful and endearing trucker laugh she has; indeed the Boston Marathon has always been one of the monuments of sport I never thought I could, or would do. 10 Ironmans, many 250km+ bike rides, time trails up Anikus Pass and Mt. Lemmon, sub 40 minute 10K runs off the bike; all of it and I never had the confidence or belief I would qualify and run the Boston Marathon.

so this is blog #1 from Boston, on the campus of MIT (BTW: I thought I was pretty smart till I walked around this campus!!!) and I hope to post daily from now to Tuesday.

So what does "Ode to DuMaurier" mean? Think 7 years of 'a pack a day' habit and you learn why the Boston Marathon seemed so far away when I was in my early 20's.

Last, why do this? Glad you asked.

DONATE PLEASE HERE for pediatric cancer care in Ontario.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

What is it like finishing an Ironman? Take a view!

A great friend of mine recently commented on the photo that graces the header for this website. It is my finishers photo from the 2006 Ironman UK. "You look so happy" she commented. Well, LC has inpired me tell you why because it in fact has to do with cancer, comebacks, and "yes I can" moments in life.

IMUK was in 2006, 8 months after my mom passed. My sister, her husband Doug, their kids Bryan and Sarah, as well as my dad and my super domestique wife Meredith made the trip for a family vacation. I was racing and raising funds for Luekemia, the disease that my mom valiantly fought for 15 years. My previous 2 ironmans in '04, and '05 did not go well so I was in major doubt mode.

There are 4 reasons that photo, and this video, mean the world to me:
1. mom is there, guiding me through my private purgatory, and saying 'YES YOU CAN and YES YOU DID'
2. bear hugging my dad at the finish line meant everything, a private 30 second embrace I will never forget
3. never have I personally won such a mental battle within myself as in this race; in fact yes, you can do anything if you try your hardest to get 'er done.
4. Meredith's joy and pride because she knew what it meant.

Cancer sucks yes, it kills yes, but it also teaches us dignity, grace, empathy, love, and how to survive.

Thanks for reading, thanks for supporting Race 4 Kids, and remember to embrace everyday with the passion it richly deserves.