To my athletes running in the Boston Marathon in two weeks, you have come a long way in the past several months since you qualified to run this historic race; and I am pleased as your friend and proud as your coach. It’s been an interesting year to say the least, and I want you to know how honored I am that you chose this particular Boston race as your goal, in my anniversary year. It pleases me no end that you will be there to celebrate my 40th anniversary with me. It is of course more fun for me to watch the race with someone to cheer for. Thank you.
In recent days, I’ve been addressing your individual questions as we are closing in on your tapering period and final race preparations. They are all good questions, and it occurs to me to share some of the answers with others, because friends of friends of mine have been asking for some of the same advice in their own final preparations for Boston too.
I’m happy to answer any and all questions individually, to provide advice that is personally relevant (that goes for anyone out there reading this of course). I’ll just offer some generic running tips I once wrote in a newspaper series. The complete file of more than 20 articles is permanently posted on my Coaching Page, as well as my general 6-month marathon training schedule for every level of runner or walker. I think however one of my athletes pretty well summed up final words of advice with this quotation, which she gleaned from her trip last year to London: “KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.” I think that would serve everyone well as their race day mantra.
This will be Jeaney Garcia‘s first time running Boston, although she has hit the qualifying mark before and been unable to participate. This year, she chose to enter Boston through Team in Training in honor of three close friends in her life: one who has beaten cancer, one who lost a daughter to cancer, and she included me as her third, saying (her words in her team application) — “It is her courage, integrity and resilience which propels me to want to do everything I can with enthusiasm and purpose.” I could easily say the same of her, and I am humbled. Formerly the Southern California director of the Positive Coaching Alliance, Jeaney is currently the Athletic Director of Punahou School in Honolulu, leading one of the largest and finest intermediate and high school athletic departments in the nation, ranked number one by Sports Illustrated at least three years in a row. She is joined by her Hawaii training partner, Michelle Tritt, who has recently joined our group under my advisement. I am impressed at her determination and enthusiasm – a perfect pairing.
Deborah Hafford qualified with one of the faster times in her age group, and at the “top of her age group” at that. She will be celebrating a birthday on the Friday before the marathon. I am amused that she declared it “completely unfair,” however, that Joan Benoit Samuelson is in her new age group. (I wish now I had never shared that press release with her. All my confidence coaching went out the window with that piece of information.) One can never underestimate this tough triathlete although. She has competed in two Ironman world championships, and in all triathlons has consistently placed in the top of her division every time. In her previous six marathons, she has always finished in the top five of her division. More than her competitive spirit, I love that she won a “Golden Spark Plug Award” in her hometown, for creating a non-profit organization “USA Youth Triathlon,” which she directed and coached for five years, training under-served children in triathlon skills.
Their youngest training partner is Charlie Gardner — and I should add “virtual” teammate, because they are each worlds apart on the map, and I coach online using Google Drive for their training schedules and Google Hangout for conference calls. He is turning 40 just days before Boston, as he reminds me he was 12 days old the day I won Boston. What a tribute he paid me when he commented that it’s appropriate that 40 years later, as I celebrate my accomplishment that I would help someone like him to break 3:00 on his first marathon attempt, qualifying for Boston. His first try, imagine! When he told me he “won his division,” I wondered at that, and he said “Clydesdale” division. For those of you who may not know — that means the “big guys.” Yes, Charlie is a converted thrower-turned-runner. It’s quite unusual. As his track coach and my friend, John Amneus, said, “How many people on earth have bench-pressed 400-pounds AND also ran a sub-3-hour marathon?! Charlie is a pretty remarkable athlete.”
I am pleased and proud to be “running” vicariously through these inspirational athletes while, as I’ve told them, I’m resting on my laurels. It is my complete honor to serve as the starter for the elite women’s race on Patriot’s Day. A word of advice to all runners –
Note: Here is me in 1996, at the 100th Anniversary of the Boston Marathon, examining the newly displayed monument, the “winners’ circle” with my name engraved (which Jeaney is pointing to in the picture above).