Sunday, April 28, 2013


I am sure you can already figure out what this post will be about but it is necessary and long overdue, so please stick with me here...

Ted, Alex, Evan, and Me
First and foremost, thank you to my family, Ted, Alexander and Evangeline (aka "Evan"). They remained true when I wanted to run away, when I went nuts, when I was tired and cranky, and when I was over the top insane. They supported me at my races and spent many Sunday mornings without me. There were days when Ted would massage my feet and calves and my kids would walk on my back when I was in pain. After every run, they would ask, "How was your run?" They were usually excited for the next long distance and would congratulate me when I reached every goal I set for myself. Marathon training is hard, but patiently waiting for someone's time and attention is more difficult, and they did it week after week. Your continuous love and support have gone unnoticed and mean so much to me. I love you. To my extended put up with a lot of um, witchiness. I know I was absent from a lot of family gatherings and some of you didn't like that. I am sorry, but we're family. You'll get over it. But really, thank you for understanding and being supportive.

This journey came about because I continued to step out of my comfort zone and had a lot of help and support. Last year I attended my first AMTA National Conference. From that, I met so many people within the association and supporters of the massage industry. I had no idea how much my life would change because of it.

Scott, Me, Drew, David
Thank you to my Raleigh running crew: David Otto (NV), Scott Lesieur (WA), and Drew Pickens (AK). 05:00 A.M. runs in an unknown city is so much more fun with company than without. They said they were applying for the Boston Marathon bibs....What happened?! You boys are in trouble. Can't wait to run with you guys again in Fort Worth! Thank you David for forcing me to run my fastest 1 mile ever. See, on our first run, I only had 45 minutes of sleep the night before (thanks to a delayed flight out of Newark) and David INSISTED we still run at 5 A.M. But not just that, he took off and expected me to keep up with him. Okay, okay....truth be told, he told me I should just sleep but you've figured out by now that I am stubborn. I was up so I ran. But David showed me what I am capable of if I push hard enough, or chase after someone.
David, Molly Barker, Me

Thank you Molly Barker, founder of Girls on the Run. She was the keynote speaker at the convention. I had not paid much attention when I registered and was pleasantly surprised to see her there. One of the best 5k races I had run up until that point was a Girls on the Run event. It was inspiring to see so many young girls support one another in a race. You words touched my sole and helped me to dream of bigger things in running. Your passion to help young girls made me want to inspire others to reach their full potential as well. I am so grateful that David and I got to meet you. And I started thinking that the universe puts people in front of your face for a reason and it's our job to figure out why.

Thank you Paul Slomski of the Massage Therapy Foundation. I met him at the convention and he insisted I take an application and fill it out. I said okay but really never thought I would be selected. Anytime he checked in on me, I blamed him for every ache and pain that I endured during my training. Thank you for willingly taking the blame, your encouraging words, and constant support. One day soon, I am going to try this Cross Fit thing you keep talking about. If I can run a marathon, I can do anything! Along with Paul, I want to thank the Massage Therapy Foundation and the selection committee. I am so happy you were able to get the charity bibs (Mary White and Cliff Korn). Not only is this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the little people like myself, but the exposure it brings to the MTF and massage community is HUGE! On behalf of massage therapists everywhere...THANK YOU. I wish I knew the people on the selection committee that put me here. I want to hug you all. You have no idea how much life has changed for me because of this experience. All of it has been a blessing. I just started on an upward spiral before that phone call and now I feel like a "bad@ss" because you challenged me.

Thank you to the American Massage Therapy Association, a community of compassionate people striving for similar goals. I received many messages of support from individual members and state chapters. Special thank you to the Massachusetts, Oregon, and New Jersey Chapters for your donations to this cause. AMTA-OR, I can't believe you did a fundraiser. You ROCK! I am going to have to make my way out there one day. AMTA-MA - marathon host state; what a beautiful place. I am so sorry you have this tragedy to deal with, but the people in and around Boston really showed their heart and compassion. Be proud and be strong. To the AMTA-NJ Chapter; you are my family. We are a chapter that has gone
through a lot of challenges in the last several years. We learn and grow stronger everyday. I love the respect and comradery we have for one another. I have an insane amount of energy and am always bouncing around (or dancing) during our meetings, and yet you never stifle it. Thank you for the love, the interest, the support, and the patience you give me. They have shown a LOT of patience, especially in the last few months when my brain shut down and I kept forgetting my duties within the chapter. JERSEY STRONG!

Top: Debby, Lisa
Bottom: Gary, Stella, Me, Holly
Thank you to my business partners at Hillsborough Massage Therapy LLC: Gary, Stella, Debby, Lisa, and Holly.  This also includes my past partners, Penny and Portia. They know crazy Kathy as much as my family because they ARE family. We have been together for nine years now. Penny was always a mentor to me professionally and personally. She once told me, "Everyone has a story to tell if you let them." I talk ALL OF THE TIME, so letting others tell me their stories took a lot of practice. I am so glad I am getting better at it because I am discovering that everyone has a fascinating life and stories to share. And every story has a lesson in there somewhere. But more than the lesson, is the connection we develop from one person to another. Gary, aka "Old Man" has been like a father figure to me. I used to hate that when we were in massage school and when we first went into business together. It drove me NUTS! However, I grew to love it. He's got a lot of valuable knowledge in that brain of his and he cares about all of us ladies. Gary has coached me through training and given me so much valuable advice about running. The team has also been very supportive and EXTREMELY patient while I chased after my unicorn. I have neglected my office duties and they picked up the slack. I'm getting my head back on and PROMISE I will have that office organized again guys.  (Which means you won't be able to find anything.) And thank you for the massages.  You guys know your stuff!

Thank you to each and every one of you who donated to this great cause. This includes family, friends  colleagues, clients, state chapters, and random strangers. Fundraising while training and working and raising a family and volunteering is NOT easy and you came through for me to get me to my goal. Your contribution ultimately improves my profession as it funds scientific research, grants, education, and community service within the massage industry. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thank you to the Somerset Runner's Group, the Endomondo community, the BURN community, my burpee challenge group, Running Resolution Group, Christine Eremita, Victoria Arvizu, Ange Yeaple, and Powerhouse Gym-Hillsborough. These groups and individuals issued me some kind of challenge that forced me to push beyond my limits.  I am stronger because of you. Thank you so much. Thank you to my friends/FB stalkers. I had no idea I had so many followers for the marathon. I went read everyone's messages and posts on my page that day. It's amazing to see how many sleuths there are tracking my progress and calculating pace time to determine where I would have been. I am impressed and thankful that you all care so much.

Thank you to the MTF Running Team, Tom Heidenberger and Les Sweeny. I wish we had more time together, but it was nice to get to know you even a little bit, as well as your family. We shared in quite the adventure together, one that will never be forgotten. In addition, thank you to our honorary member, Ryan Hoyme for being there with us and documenting the experience (the good and frightening). I hate the camera, but you made it easier.

Thank you to the Boston Athletic Association and John Hancock for providing the MTF these three bibs. This is an exciting event and we are thrilled to be a part of it. Thank you to the people of Massachusetts and the spectators for your sportsmanship and compassion.

I am sure I left many people out, and I am so sorry. It is not done intentionally. I have had so much help with this journey and met so many wonderful people. Thank you all for being a part of my life and helping me to reach my goals. I feel so blessed to have these gifts.

Some people have asked if I will continue to blog. I haven't decided yet. Some days I think yes, and others I am not sure. Next up is the Marine Corps Marathon in October with the worlds best REAL superheros. I can't believe I am hooked on marathons. I blame the Massage Therapy Foundation people for this new addiction. LOL. (Yes, I just LOL'd in a blog.) My piece of advice: Do what makes you happy. Find something you are passionate about, and use it to inspire others. The rewards are worth it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Chasing Unicorns

When disaster strikes, nothing in the world matters more than the lives of the people you know and care about. Even complete strangers you have never met take precedence over what should be a major celebration in one’s life. I was 100 yards away from the 40 k check in (mile 25) when one police officer told me that I would need to turn right at the intersection. Up ahead I saw a bottle neck of runners wrapping themselves in space blankets. The only rational thought I had for this is that those individuals were too tired to finish, or they were injured and had to walk the rest of the way. I had no idea what was going on. Things were getting odd the last couple of miles, but I had never run a marathon before. Maybe things like this happened? I had no idea. So I ran around the people, passed the barricade, and turned right, up the hill as instructed. During my turn, another officer shouted to me that the marathon was over, it was shut down. I glanced at my watch and thought, how is that possible? I should have at least another hour. Am I that dazed and confused? Was I so focused on my leg cramps that I lost track of time? And then I heard him say “There were explosions at the finish lines at the bleachers!” I stopped. Turned around and walked back to him. “I am sorry, what did you say?” He said it again; but not to me, he addressed the crowd of runners that was turning into a mass of stunned and confused people. They were asking, “What happened? Where do we go? How is this possible?” “Head that way to Boston Commons, the marathon is over. That’s all I know,” he said.  I walked back around the barricade and took one of the blankets they were handing out and headed up the hill. My legs were screaming, and I was struggling to walk, but it took second fiddle to the pit that was growing in my stomach. The finish line? The stands? Explosions? My family! My team! Their family! My friends! Oh my God!

And then I heard my husband scream my name. I turned around still dazed and confused. He was walking up the hill with my children in tow. To me he looked angry, and I could not understand why. He told me there were explosions and we had to get the kids out of Boston. He said they were there but the crowds were too big and being that he does not like large crowds and the kids could not see, he walked back down the course to find a better spot to see me. My son, Alex, was quiet but observant, listening to every word. My daughter, Evan, kept asking me to hold her. We walked across an intersection, clueless about where to go and what to do. Ted kept saying we need to find a way back to our hotel in Newton. I told him I could not think, and that I need food and something to drink, and that I was freezing. He pulled out my Boston Marathon jacket that he bought for my celebration. I told him, “I can’t wear that, I didn't finish.” He said, “You would have and you’re freezing, now put it on.” Then he handed me a doughnut that he bought for the kids. I sat my daughter down on the curb and tried to stretch out the cramps in my legs when I saw the people next to us were wearing VIP passes. I grilled them with questions about the stands, what happened, how they got out, is everyone all right, and where were they told to go.” I tried to call and text people I knew at the finish line but the phones were not working and my phone was dying. We crossed the street to Best Buy and asked to charge our phones. Ted was getting a lot of messages from family and friends concerned for us. I asked him to post on my Facebook wall that we are okay, and as soon as my phone was working again, I did the same. We stood there in Best Buy reading news feeds and watching any news we could find on our phones. A young woman entertained my children so they wouldn't be afraid. I hope she knows how much I appreciated it. Word via Facebook was that everyone I knew checked in that they were okay. The moment they announced that outbound trains were running again, we walked to Fenway and jumped on one of the trains.

That night I tried to write my blog, but I just couldn't. I wanted to say something, especially since it had been a few weeks since my last post. I previously had an idea in my head on what it would be about but now it seemed so trivial and pointless. I promised a friend the day before the marathon that I would post something that night, but I was tired. The week leading up to the marathon was tough. I was busy with school visits, work, and preparing for our AMTA-NJ State Convention. It was our first and we had a lot of work to do. I did not rest, hydrate, and eat well despite the urging of family and friends. I knew it would bite me in the butt, but I was counting on all the training I had done to get me through 26.2 miles. Yes, I know better, but when you’re busy, you’re busy! (All you moms out there know what I am talking about.) Feel free to call me stubborn. I already know that I am. Sunday morning we left New Jersey later than intended, which of course put us behind schedule. We completely missed the expo and were late meeting the Massage Therapy Foundation Team. But we made it and I was nervous, excited, and starving. We made our way to the finish line for some photos and then proceeded to dinner. Dinner group consisted of Tom Heidenberger of Bon Vital and his wife lovely wife Elizabeth, Paul Slomski of Massage Therapy Foundation, Mary White, AMTA-MA Chapter President and Coordinator of the John Hancock Sports Massage Team, Mary’s husband Chris Dixon, Ryan Hoyme the Massage Nerd, Cliff Korn, Board of Trustee for the Massage Therapy Foundation and a member of the John Hancock Sports Massage Team, and my family. It was nice to relax, get to know everyone, and learn how these three bibs came about. I tried to get some rest that night, but I was anxious. I think I may have accumulated a total of three, maybe four hours of sleep.  

At four thirty, I jumped up and got ready. I woke my husband and children at 5 A.M. so they could drop me off at the “T” for a ride into Boston. On the train I chatted with a man about the marathon. This is his second consecutive Boston, and probably his 13th marathon. He asked how I could be running Boston as my first marathon and then he asked about the Massage Therapy Foundation and massage in general. He’s never had a massage before and promised to find the post massage tent after the race.  At Back Bay (the busing area) I looked around for Les, but could not find him. I knew I should have demanded his number yesterday. I jumped on one of the lines figuring by the time Tom got there I would be close and he could join in; however, Tom was still at his hotel. The man said 7 A.M. and he slept in! Actually I don’t know what he was doing but he was running late. Eventually, I jumped out of the line all together and waited on the gazebo and watched the beauty of intricate line formations. Organized, happy chaos is how I would describe it. I took a few pictures for several couples and groups, one of which was a team from Sweden. Finally, Tom called to say he was there but since we couldn't find each other in the sea of people we decided to just meet at Athlete’s Village.

On the bus line I met a blind woman and her guide. If a blind marathon runner does not impress you, how about one that runs ultra-marathons? Yes, she does! Then I chatted with a born and raised Bostonian. (She said "wicked" and she had the accent! LOVED IT!) She has run Boston several times before. This time she is running for charity, “Technology for Autism.” She had a lot of great advice, as did everyone I spoke to. On the bus I sat next to a woman who told me that this would be her 8th Boston Marathon. She still gets nervous before every marathon even though she has done so many. She sustained a knee injury last year and her recovery consisted of exercise and a lot of swimming. She said every year she says it will be her last marathon, but like giving birth, you forget how painful it was and just remember the joy of it. Nice analogy and probably true. Today, she runs with her friends who were sitting in the seat in front of us. Five minutes into the bus ride the emergency alarms sounded. Nothing we did could stop it. It did not seem to bother most of us (probably because we were in our own little world) but it drove our bus driver crazy. She stopped twice and tried to turn it off to no avail.

Tom and I waiting at Athlete's Village
Finally, we arrive at Athlete’s Village. It’s situated on the grounds of a high school. Volunteers were directing buses and people. Fans were holding up signs for their friends. Marines were standing on top of the school buildings. “Is that normal?” I asked. The woman I sat with said, “It’s a lot less than there have been in the past.” There were large white tents and rows and rows of port-a-potties. It made for interesting sights and smells. I felt bad for the volunteers standing downwind of that. I found Tom standing by the fire trucks. We looked for Les, but unless he was wearing a banana suit, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. So we found a place to sit, had breakfast and took pictures.

The group of people to my right was part of a running club. They reminded each other that this is just another training run. The two women to my left are work buddies. The old man in front of me was people watching too and we nodded to each other. There was a woman napping, people stretching, people eating, people jogging in place, people applying sunscreen. There were so many people! The one common vibe I picked up was that everyone there loved to run and each one of them seemed happy to be there. Just before our corral was called, I met a man whose leg was amputated years ago. It was replaced with a blade. I have never seen one in person and was mesmerized. He told me that things only hold you down if you allow them to and then he jumped into one of the port-a-potties. 

Tom and I handed our bags over to the buses to be carried back to the finish line and we followed the herd of people because we had no idea where we were going. Along the way we spotted the pre-race massage therapists. Of course I had to hi-five them. I have never met them, but I run for massage therapists everywhere. Those are my people and I have to say hello. I am sure we startled them and they probably thought we were crazy, but we ARE about to run 26.2 miles, so yes. Yes we are. Unless we were on a hill, I couldn't see a thing. Sometimes being short has its disadvantages and this was one of those moments. I held my camera over my head and just started snapping pictures. Then Tom spotted our corral and I followed him.  
Start Line is up there SOMEWHERE but I can't see. 

We just kept walking forward. It was quite loud from all the cheering. I did not hear a horn, a gun blast, or the word “GO.” It was a bunch of people walking and then running.  Okay, so I guess we are off.  Oh look, there’s the start line and there it goes. The combination of the downhill and the waves of people flying pass makes me want to speed up too, but thankfully Tom held me back so I would stay at my planned pace of 10 to 12 minutes. There were so many excited fans and fun signs. I must have looked like one of those bobble, swivel head dolls with my head turning in every direction to see everything. You know when you take a child to a toy store and they want to see and touch everything? That was me. “Look! And there! I like THAT sign! Ooooh, LOOK!” Tom’s too nice to smack me, but anyone else probably would have.

Les - looking good
I incorrectly assumed things would thin out by the 5k mark, but no. It was still crowded. At some point Tom pulled off the course for a quick pit stop and I kept going. Then all of the sudden I see a Massage Therapy Foundation team shirt. Les! I sprint around people to catch up to him. I must have been running alongside of him for close to two minutes, smiling at him before he realized I was there. The man is intense! He said hello, asked how I was doing then ran away from me. Really Les?! You have 20 plus miles to kick my butt, do you have to start now? I snapped a picture of him running away. He looked like he was doing well, so I continued to enjoy my surroundings. I read the signs. I gave high fives to as many little kids as I could, as well as those of the college kids with shirts that read, “I drink when you high five.” There were people on roof tops and hanging out of trees and windows. This is going to be an entertaining day.

Dale, Caroline, Me
All of a sudden, someone grabs my left elbow. I thought Tom caught up but when I turn around, it’s Dale. Dale is a member of the Somerset Running Group which I recently joined. We have run together a couple of times to train for Boston. She insisted I run by her house on the aptly named “Longhill Road.” Can I say thank goodness that road exists?! It prepared me for what was to come eventually. I was so excited to see a friendly face. I took a picture of us as we were running, because I am silly like that. We chatted for a while and then separated. Just after the 10k check in, I saw another woman I recognized standing on the sidewalk waiting with a camera. Caroline, another Somerset Runner. I ran toward her to give her a hug and realized she didn’t recognize me immediately. YES! I’ll jump on her to give her a crazy surprise, but as I got closer she figured it out. Dale was right behind me so we stopped for pictures with Caroline before jumping back onto the course. We smiled for the cameras overhead and then separated again. A little kid handed me an ice pop and I took it.  Why not? It is part of the experience and it seemed to make his day, which in turn makes me happy. Then just up ahead…

‘Twas around mile 7, on the tiniest bump
Waving at runners, and doing a fist pump
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
He had to be sweating, but Hey! No soot!
His eyes, how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
I stopped for a picture and said, “Hello there, St. Nick!”
He handed me a business card and said, “Send me that pic!”
                                                     With a wink and a nod and a pat on the back, 
                                                     I took off like the wind to pick up my slack….

I usually don’t like to stop for a rest room break until about mile 18, but just before Wellesley College I noticed a row of port-a-potties with no lines. Six minutes later I was back out wondering if I would see Tom, or if he passed me in that time. And that’s when I spotted the young, vibrant ladies with some great signs.  Kiss me I’m from XXX. (I nearly kissed the Jersey girl for representation, but took pictures instead.) Some others signs were “I won’t tell your wife if you don’t.” “Kiss me, I am jobless.” “Baby, make my day.” There were a lot and those ladies were LOUD! I think the old man I was following stopped to kiss every one of them. Oh college days…how I sometimes miss you.
A Banana Les Bunch

At some point along the route as I was observing my surroundings I saw a bunch of bananas on the left side of the road. Les' family! I politely cut across and snapped a picture of them crew. They are so cute and hard to miss. Such great spirit. I wanted to ask how far ahead Les was, but then I thought, would it matter at all anyway? I'm having fun! 

At mile 15 I got a cramp in my left quad; my left vastus medialis to be exact. That has never happened before and it was weird.  No, it HURT! I pulled off to the side walk and tried to put pressure on it.  When that did not work, I focused on contracting my hamstrings and ta-da! It went away. Sort of. It was enough to keep on running. I put music on to distract me. But guess what? It was stuck on repeat. Not repeat playlist or album. Repeat single song. I could not get it to stop so I threw on my new Fall Out Boy power song and let it play over, and over, and over again. I think eventually I stopped listening to it and took the ear buds out. This kind of thing happens to me ALL OF THE TIME! Oh well. 

At mile 18 or 19 the right quad started to cramp. Oh hell. I tried to ignore it but then the right hamstring began to cramp too. How is it possible that the quads and hamstrings could cramp at the same time? I made my way to the side of the road to stretch but the moment I stopped running every part of my lower body went into a spasm: both quads, both hamstrings, both calves, both shins, and the right foot. Oh my God! What is happening to me?! This has never happened in training. There was a Marine nearby watching me. I tried to shake it off and run again but everything seized up and I began beating on my thighs with my fists. The Marine walked over to me and said he was taking me to the medical tent. I yelled, “NO! Don’t touch me! I WILL finish this marathon on my own!” He smiled and said, “But you look like hell, Ma'am” Did he just call me "Ma'am?!" An old man passed me and handed me a bag of ice. “This usually helps me when that happens” he says and disappears. I rubbed the bag of ice up and down my legs and stumbled off.  Normally resting would be ideal, but for some odd reason running made it feel better. Maybe the ice was just
distracting enough. Maybe beating up my thighs worked. Whatever it was, I ran and proceeded to hit every medical tent along the way asking for salt. (I was out of the pretzels I brought as a snack.) None of the tents had salt, but one had bouillon. “It’s warm” the man said but I chugged the cup he handed me, said thanks and headed up a hill. I started to see spots and felt that something was terribly wrong so I walked. But the moment I did, the legs started cramping again, so I alternated between walking and running. Then there was Tom. He ran up and said hello. I tried to run with him but everything hurt. I figured I would catch up to him at some point, once I got through this bout of pain. He seemed to be doing fine and I managed to snap a picture of him running away. Except at that moment, he decided to walk and I couldn't catch up.

Eventually I started running again. I had no idea what mile I was on or that I was on a hill I really had no idea of my surroundings other than there were a lot of people screaming, a lot of people walking, and there were drums somewhere to my left. Next thing I know I could see a slope in front of people and the spectators on my right were waving signs in my face that said “Top of the Hill!” A girl came up and hugged me and handed me an orange and yelled, “You conquered heartbreak hill!” Completely clueless, I said, “That was it?!” and then my feet took off. Something in my head told my feet to go and I flew down the hill. Or at least that’s what it felt like considering the pace I was traveling at….which I had no idea what that was by the way. I could see that the spectators were stretching their hands out for high-fives and since I was close I slapped hands. The crowd seemed to get louder and I could feel their energy. YES! I can feed off this. I felt like I was getting my second wind finally and rounded a corner onto Beacon Street when a gang of college boys jumped the barricade to rush their frat brother running to the right of me. I tried to get around them but was knocked over. One of the guys picked me up and apologized but I just waved and keep running. I know I am close and yet still so far away. I pictured the elite runners and all the runners before me looking like graceful unicorns crossing the finish line. I pictured me chasing after them to that finish line. Screw the pain; I am going to be a unicorn too!

I started noticing strange things over the next couple of miles. I kept looking at my watch and calculating my finish time. If I wasn't in pain, I might make it right at 5 hours, but at this point I am thinking 5:15 and I am fine with that. I stopped at the next medical tent and picked up some pretzels for the rest of my run. A wall of Marines ran by and I thought they were the ones I saw earlier. Man, they really want to get this over with, but didn't they already pass me a long time ago? On the sidewalk to my right, three Marines approached a man and asked to search his bag and he panicked. A caravan of vehicles blared down the course and all the runners moved to the side but kept on running. Some of the Marines were telling the pedestrians to get off the street and move back. Then a fire truck sped by. This can’t be normal, something is not right, but I could not figure out what. My phone started chiming with multiple notification sounds and it rang but I couldn't answer it. People want to talk to me now?! Don’t they know I am running here? I struggled to put two and two together. A girl in front of me was on her phone while running then started crying and screaming about her parents. I looked around and other runners were on their cell phone while running. Who does that? Still my brain was not connecting the dots. And then I came upon the barricades I mentioned earlier and forgot all about the marathon.

It always amazes me when people can be so heartless. It’s my nature to look for the good in people. I generally believe most people are good at heart but can sometimes make mistakes. It is human nature, after all. It is difficult for me to imagine why one individual would purposefully, willfully, want to harm another. Maybe that makes me a bit naive but most of the time I look for the positive side of things and the good in people. It is how I am wired. So much has happened in my 36 years of life that I stopped looking for the “why” because many times there isn't a logical reason. Honestly, I do not care why this happened. What I care about are the people at the finish line: the runners, the spectators, the volunteers, the first responders, my friends and their families, and my family. I care about the people along the course. The people I slapped hands with and took drinks from. We came together to celebrate life and accomplishments and that day was bruised. I have heard people say that north-easterners are rude and always in a rush. Sure, there are a few people like that, but I find them everywhere, not just secluded to the northeast. On that Monday, I saw excitement. I saw sportsmanship. I saw compassion. Not one person along the course heckled. They cheered. They celebrated. They offered food and drink and encouragement and first aid. They ran alongside complete strangers. And when we were lost and confused, they offered sweatshirts, blankets, food, and water. One girl I met at my hotel told me how three women asked if she was okay. Two of the women took her into Whole Foods and bought her food while the third woman went to retrieve her car. They drove her, a complete stranger with no identification and no money from Boston to Newton. People in the hotel asked if I was okay and if I needed anything. Runners I met who crossed the finish line felt bad that I trained and never got to cross the finish line. People were so nice, caring, and compassionate; just as I always imagine people to be. 

When I was a child I learned that unicorns were mystical creatures that symbolized purity, strength, and grace, with the power to heal. All this time I equated the Boston Marathoners as unicorns, because well, that’s their logo. And when you think about the elite athletes, they are strong mystical creatures. But they are not the only ones. Every compassionate person willing to help out another, regardless if he or she is in need, is a unicorn. They are all around us every day. 

When I got home local reporters called to get my story. And they asked the same question: “Would you go back?” Of course I will! Despite the terrible end, it was an amazing experience. My heart goes out to those whose lives were cut short and the lives shattered. It is my hope that one day the pain will subside and their hearts will heal. It’s a day I will never forget and when I run, I will forever have Boston and all that it entails in my mind.

Since this was so lengthy, my next post will include my many thank you’s. So stay tuned for at least one more.....

PS: My family got to have breakfast with Tom and Elizabeth the next morning. Elizabeth was kind enough to pick up my bag the night before. It was nice to see that they were okay and give them a big fat hug. As for the rest of the Massage Therapy Foundation team and supporters, I'm going to give each one of them a big fat hug too when I see them again.  
L to R: Ted, Alexm Me, Evan, Tom, Elizabeth

You can still donate to Massage Therapy Foundation's "Running for Research" if you'd like: Thank you.