June 5th 2011 – 26.2 Miles – Done

It’s hard to think of exactly what to say.  I did it.  I really did it.  All 26.2 miles.

It was not however without some additional challenges that I had not planned for.

Just seven days before the marathon I twisted my ankle by stepping onto a pine cone that jumped out from no-where and placed itself under my left foot.

Ankle swelling Sat-Sun-Mon

This was what my left foot looked the week before I was to run 26.2 miles on it. I know... it looks a little gross doesn't it.

When that happened I wondered if I had just destroyed my chances of finishing the marathon at all.

After a lot of support, resting and medical treatment I felt I gave myself the best shot.

But still I did not know even when I stood in line with the other 26,000+ runners whether I would be able to run for any length of time – let alone finishing.

I had not run all week as requested by my coaches to give my foot the maximum chance to heal.   The first time I ran on my foot was on Saturday afternoon before the race where coach Kevin took a look at what was going on and gave me advice for race day.  “Don’t run for maybe the first 20 miles”.   My first thought was “Oh Crap… I didn’t want to hear that”.

Kevin gave me a special bandage to use for the race in the hopes that would provide the support my ankle needed.

The "all-star" team consisting of Kendra, Liam, Liz, Tiffany

So – I crossed the start line at 6:50am with my fellow pace-group runners Kendra and Liz and my TNT Mentor Tiffany and just decided to enjoy every moment – however far and however long it took me.

I ran the first 16 miles keeping up with my group (completing the half-marathon distance in record time for me) but at about mile 10 or so I developed a growing pain in my left shin – just below the top of the bandage.   I tried loosening it several times but it was not getting any better.

At the 16 mile mark I bid farewell to my teammates and stopped at a medical aid station and just asked them to re-bandage my foot and give me some ice.

My grandson has a special message of support for me "Grandpa, Your'e my hero"

My grandson had a special message of support for me - just when I needed it most.

While sitting waiting to be helped I had a little time to check Facebook and to sit and contemplate what I was up to.  In my belt I had a laminated folded list of every person who had contributed to my fundraising (yes – YOU – all came with me on every step of my 26.2 miles).  I opened that list… and looked at all the names.

I then saw a wonderful photo on Facebook with my 4 1/2 months old grandson “holding” a message saying “Grandpa – you’re my HERO”.   I was just a little choked up by that.

So the Medical volunteer did a wonderful job and I felt inspired to start again with a big bag of ice strapped to my shin.

Photo of my leg with the new bandage and ice.

Photo of my leg with the new bandage and ice.

For a couple of miles I must have looked pretty ridiculous with an ice-bag attached and still a big grin on my face.  I chatted with people running/walking around me.  I spent a mile or so walking with another Team in Training runner from Boston, a firefighter by the name of Bill Cavanaugh.  He and his wife took on training and fundraising after a fellow firefighter was diagnosed with Leukemia.  Bill wanted to do something to help out.  After a mile or so he headed into another medical aid tent.    I know Bill finished strong (I saw the video) so despite his own challenges – he pulled through.  That’s what it was all about really.

So… after chatting with Bill… and walking for a bit it worked.  The new bandage and ice worked.   The pain went away and I managed to complete the marathon – albeit at a much slower pace as I could no longer run for any distance.

The very thing that kept me moving was the incredible support and encouragement I encountered along every step of the course.  This included seeing my own coaches and honored teammates and many others who I have never met before showing signs saying “Survivior – Thank You”. That’s what this is about for me after all.

What also kept me going was the thought of who I was running for and who has supported me through donations and encouragement over the past nearly five months.

My wife Anna was going to be at mile 23 waiting to cheer me on. My honored teammate Jeri Alonzo’s family (daughters and granddaughter) were going to be at the finish line waiting for me.

I just had to complete it.

So I did.

Despite the challenge I enjoyed every second, smiled for 6 hours and 20 minutes (and a long time afterward).  Every single step, all the blisters, everything.  I would not change a thing.  It was perfect.

Below is a slideshow of some photos from the event.

(c) Action Sports International

A special word of thanks to all my TNT coaches / captains and mentor and all the other volunteers who supported me every step of the way from the very beginning of the program in February. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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