Friday, October 24, 2014

What's Next?

We never rest, it seems. The week has been full of dealing with the after-effects. Washing coolers and tubs, storing signs, repacking MyWay box with stuff we won't have to use for another year. 

But planning the next thing. Cool stuff on the horizon. Groundhog Day, the Frostbite Marathon Relay, and a few adventures of my own next year that will be crazy. 

In September next year, we'll do our second annual BQ.2 Marathon. Stay tuned for more info on that too!

I'd love to hear about your next adventure that's coming up as well. Anything really cool on the schedule??

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Afterglow


The end of a long journey. The moment you've all been waiting for. The FINISH LINE.

Sunday, I stood at the finish line and greeted many runners, from the speediest guy early in the morning to the last person to finish, somewhere after 3pm. I laughed with people who laughed. I cried with some who cried. I was there to watch the victory being celebrated by thousands of runners. It was an awesome day. 

Yeah. I know I use the word "awesome" a lot. But when you're talking about people who have done what you did, it totally applies!

My inbox is full of great comments. So is our Facebook page. We appreciate them a lot. I share lots of them with our staff. It's a great part of the fun of the event.

We always have a few people who have great suggestions for improvement. Those are great too--because every person on our staff is dedicated to making the event even better next year.

Thank you. To all the runners, the people we work for, who share with us a part of their adventure. 

Thank you. To the nearly 1000 volunteers who make this event a reality. 

Thank you. To the best marathon staff in the business. The people who work on the event because they love it, and they love you. They are truly wonderful people.

Thank you. To our sponsors, who join with us to bring this great event to our community.

One of the runners crossed the line on Sunday and told me that she had a hard time getting through one of my emails without crying. I sometimes have the same problem. This inspires me. I'm crazy about doing this, and I thank every one of you for giving me the best day of my year. And next year, I hope to...


Friday, October 17, 2014

Two days to go ...

Last night was our final pre-race staff meeting. We started early. We loaded all the shirts, packet pickup stuff, signs, medals, and about half of my household furniture into a UHaul truck and a MyWay Storage box and headed for the YMCA. This morning we'll be covering up the gym floor and getting ready for the expo. 

I was looking around the house last night at the amazing staff of people that we have working on this event. Resourceful, passionate, dedicated. Little meetings were going on all over the place as they figured out where everyone was going and what they needed. 

If you see people walking around in a bright yellow/green jacket with our logo on it this weekend, stop and give them hugs or something. They're AWESOME people.

And Then There's YOU.

The reason we're doing this. To give you the best race experience ever! We're all excited to meet you this weekend. 

All weekend--YES, I'm busy. But not too busy to stop for a minute and say hello. Stop me if you see me at the expo or anywhere else this weekend. 

And most importantly, I'm excited to see you Sunday, crossing the FINISH LINE. Looking forward to a handshake or a hug. 

This is a life-changing event. I'm proud of our staff, our runners, our community. Race weekend is here!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

It's Mile 25!

Sunday morning.  Or afternoon.  For YOU!

It's Mile 25. God Save The Queen!

You're almost there, just about to jump off the bike path onto Wealthy Street. The 25-mile mark. Take out the headphones. It's time to engage ALL your senses and fully feel what's going on. Your legs are sore. Your body is tired.  Your stomach has had ENOUGH Gatorade and water. The people around you are all feeling the same.  All that discomfort is a result of YOU, DOING SOMETHING FEW OTHERS WILL EVER DO!  Feel it. It hurts. It's supposed to hurt. But YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES. Talk to your comrades, the people you've been sharing the battle with. Encourage them. Rejoice with them.

The "1 Mile To Go" flag comes into sight. Three more turns, and far in the distance you see the FINISH LINE. The race announcer's voice is heard as you approach the 26-mile marker!

You push forward, giving it all you have as your friends and family come into focus. Your emotions are running faster than your legs. The announcer is calling YOUR NAME. Feel this moment with your whole being!  It's a victory! It's a marathon!

It's gonna be a great weekend! Mothers will be proud. Angels will rejoice!


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Some next-to-last-minute thoughts

It's race week!

The highlight of the year, for me at least. On Sunday I'll be at the FINISH LINE all day, shaking hands and hugging people. Sharing the moment that you've worked so hard to achieve. There's nothing like it. I can't wait to...

There's poison ivy all over the course out on Indian Mounds and a lot of Millennium Park. Just be aware of that when you're heading off into the woods for that emergency break.
Your toenails will grow back. But it's Wednesday, so this would be a good day to trim them down and keep the damage to a minimum. 

If you send me an email asking something you could find on the website or on a weather website, I probably won't get around to answering it until Tuesday.

Marathon recovery works better when you don't have to walk funny due to chafing. Use Body Glide, Sportwax, Gold Bond anti-friction stuff, Aquaphor, or something to lubricate the parts that need lubricating. Guys--nipples!--blood in finish line photos never looks that great.

Oh, and there's this:

YOU'RE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK. No matter what happens, there's a little more still in the tank. It will come out when you run up beside another runner who needs some help and start talking. The best way to take your mind off your problems is by encouraging someone else. The next thing you know, your legs feel better, and you're a half mile farther down the road.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Aren't you afraid?

Lots of feelings creep in during the lead up to the marathon. Let me share this story with you. 

My friend Christa was going to run her first marathon a few years ago.  I had referred her to the same hotel we were staying in, and when we went to her room, her fiancĂ© answered the door.  She was sitting on the bed with a pillow in her lap.  Her head was buried in the pillow.  She was crying. 

There was too much stress and too many things to remember.  All the advice, the coaching, the books, the words of the "experts" were swirling around in her head.  Combined with the next day's venture into the unknown she was completely overwhelmed.


A few years earlier, I had jumped off a bridge in New Zealand.  Don't worry.  I was connected to a big rubber band.  As I stepped off the platform into thin air, I discovered something in the next half-second.  There was nothing I could do.  Either I was going to die or I wasn't.  After that, my mind totally changed modes and I was focused on the experience, the fun, the adrenaline, the sensations.  IT WAS GREAT! 


I gave Christa a hug and shared the lesson that I learned in that very short second in New Zealand. "Either you're ready or you're not. It's too late to worry about that now."  All that advice she had echoing in her head was just extra noise.  We went out to eat, relaxed, and enjoyed the moment.  We met again at the starting line. She was still a little nervous, but enjoying the experience.  On the out-and-back course, I saw her, still on her way out, two or three miles behind me as I was heading back.  She was smiling.  Enjoying.  I crossed the road and gave her a big smooch.  She was having a great time. I was having a great time.  

Later, as she crossed the finish line, I grabbed a finisher medal from a race volunteer and put it around her neck.  The tears of the day before were replaced with joy.  Her first marathon. 

So, I said all that to make this point:


When that moment of truth comes, there's nothing more to be done other than to enjoy the moment. You can't prepare any more. You're as ready as you're going to be. Have fun. Feel the energy of those around you and encourage them. Absorb all the joy from it you can. 

Monday, October 13, 2014


Sometimes doubt will creep in--you're getting to the final days of training. Was it enough? Are you really going to be ready a week from Sunday? Relax. It's natural to have those thoughts. There are a couple things you should know:

1. Your training has probably been adequate! 

2. There's more strength inside you than you realize!

Tomorrow I'll share a couple cool things with you. Dr Ed's last minute instructions for your sports medicine needs, and one of my favorite stories about my friend Christa when she ran her first marathon.

Now get up, go to the nearest mirror and smile at the person you see there. Look that person in the eye and say this:


See you at the finish line.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Nine days!

Let me start out by doing something that no one has ever done before. I'm going to quote the Bible out of context.

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?"

Well, in the gospel according to Marathon Don, it doesn't work that way. Yes, there will be some skinny, speed guy who crosses the finish line first. And he'll get his finisher's medal and a hug. And a trophy. 

But here, everybody wins. 

"I've lost 100+ pounds, and I'm running a marathon." 

Is that a win?

Runners running to raise tens of thousands of dollars for Leukemia and Lymphoma research.

Is that a win?

Last year, I got an email from a 70-year-old who had hip replacements. He knew he couldn't move very fast, but he just wanted to do one more marathon and he couldn't find a race that would let him take as much time as it might take him. Of course, I said yes. His son stuck with him all day, as he walked the course with walking sticks. He arrived at the finish line close to 5:30 p.m., finishing DFL (Dead Freakin' Last) with a smile on his face and his son at his side.


There area as many stories as there are runners. Some of us race to finish first - overall or in our age groups. Some of us race to conquer our own fears and limitations. Some to test their mettle. Some to help others. The finish line is a place of VICTORY, for everyone who crosses it.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Ten days!

It's time for the countdown to begin.

Your marathon staff ran the course on Sunday. The good news is there were no surprises. The course is ready, and it's still 26.2 miles long! 

We run the course every year. Not only to earn our own medals, but to make sure everything was in place when all of you get here in less than two weeks.

It was great, enjoying the cool fall day with friends. That's what running is about! Friends, fresh air and exercise. 

You are about to embark on a life-changing experience! You're heading into the last weekend. The taper has begun. The run this weekend is enough to keep your legs. 

Friday, October 03, 2014

Two Weeks!

Just a little over two weeks. People are starting to taper. Whatever that is. 

Sunday morning - the staff run. The "Dress Rehearsal" for the marathon. We're pretty busy on race day, so two weeks before the marathon, members of the staff go out and run the course so we can earn our medals too. It's not nearly as exciting as race day, but we manage to have fun anyway. It's also where we make sure that there are no surprises. 

A few years back, when we had a short out-and-back on Indian Mounds road, we ran out to the turnaround on the Grand Rapids end of the road, only to find that GR had repaved that piece of the road. Our turnaround and the 21-mile mark had been paved over. Easy to fix, but what if we hadn't found out until the day of the race? 

Then, three years ago, when we changed the course to take advantage of the new trails in Millennium Park, we had a little surprise. We turn off Maynard and onto the trail around the recreation core of the park at the driveway of the brown house. As I instructed staff members at the Y before we started, at least three times I said, "Turn at the brown house." 

Which was all good. Everyone took off, all faster than me. Then, at about 10 miles in, I was running with Judi B. and we went to turn in at the brown house. ???? There's no brown house. Just a bunch of ruts and mud where the driveway was. They tore down the darn house in the week since I last saw it. We were using that driveway. 

We don't like surprises on race day. That's why we do the staff run. 

Sunday. We're running from the Y at 8 a.m. We'd love to have you join us for a few miles.