Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Finding your running and fundraising philosophy

I originally wrote this as a guest blogger in 2011 for

In thinking about what to tell the runner's I am coaching in the build up to this year's Boston Marathon, I wanted to talk a bit about how I approach both raising money and training for endurance events. My belief is that by thinking about your running and fundraising philosophy in an explicit way, that you will be able to channel this perspective throughout your marathon preparation.

Some people run because it is fun, healthy or because running provides a great means for social connection. I don't fall into any of these camps. I run marathons, particularly the Boston Marathon, because they are hard and they ask for a great deal from us both physically and mentally. For me, a "no fear" mantra while conquering the event is what leads to joy. My 5 year-old summed up what seems to be a family philosophy a few weeks ago after biking to school in a downpour by saying "we're hardcore!" As you go through your marathon preparations, note what helps keep you motivated and moving forward in your training log along with your miles and the weather conditions. Turn these notes into material for a fundraising letter, blog post or a tagline to guide your fundraising. Last year, several people told me that they only run when chased so my tagline for the 2010 Boston Marathon became "I'm running so you don't have to!"

My "no fear" philosophy seems to mesh well with my perspective on fundraising. Because of taboos around discussions of money, fundraising for many can feel more challenging than the marathon training itself. Remember that by talking about your training and by asking those around you to give, you are helping them to join you in experiencing the marathon. Although some disagree with me, I believe strongly that everyone in our lives is able to contribute some small amount, regardless of income. Last year, a homeless man heard about the reason I was running and offered to donate $5. When I declined his donation, he reminded me that I wouldn't decline the donation if he wasn't homeless and told me he can count many who are even worse off than he was. His voice serves as a reminder that as runners and as fundraisers, we should be open to endless possibilities rather than falling prey to ideas about who should become involved in our fundraising and training efforts - only then, in my mind, are we truly channeling the no fear approach.

So, how do we merge our running and fundraising philosophies? For me, I talk and blog constantly about the run or workout that I conquered that morning. Frozen gel, 27 inches of snow, or anything else that happened that morning is fair game for discussion. I am equally transparent about how my fundraising is going. When the homeless man offered to make a donation, I mentioned it to those around me and it forced them to ask why they hadn't parted with a donation when someone living on the street had. Have no fear about asking for donations, talking about the challenges in training and in fundraising and openly celebrate the small victories that help get you to the marathon start line.

So, you are running this year so I don't have to - what's keeping you moving?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Back At It

So, I've recovered from the Boston Marathon and have gotten back to my regular running schedule. The arrival of spring has also meant a return to the world of bike commuting in our house. I've been spending quite a bit of time with Coach Speedy out on the roads and bike paths in recent weeks. Today, I did 14 miles on the bike commuting to the office with 2 hours of heavy lifting during a project for work - I wonder if that counts as weight training?

As spring turns to summer I'll be gearing up for the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC but before that I'll be running the Chase Corporate Challenge, Bill Oliver 5k in NJ and the Somerville Road Runner's Summer Steamer. Along the way, I'll blog a bit about summer training challenges, summer races in the Boston area and anything else that comes to mind.

I have a few friends tackling new running distances, running their first race this spring, and some who are taking their first (adult) running steps - good luck out there everyone!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Marathon Recap

The Marathon weekend has come and gone with spectacular highs and some challenging moments. My son was home sick on Friday with a stomach virus (yes, you can guess where this is going and be fairly accurate). I spent the first half of the day with him before heading to Hynes Convention Center to pick up my race number and bag.

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of photographing the BAA Invitational mile. What a fantastic set of races from the middle school 1000 meters through the professional mile! Absolutely inspiring performances! I was also happy to get great shots of many of the races and of Sara Hall.

Sunday evening was spent eating the traditional pre-race pasta and sauce with Carolyn, Speedy and Lydia, my fantastic mother-in-law. I had forgotten just how long it takes to prep your bag for race morning - shorts, singlet, timing chip, food for the bus, IPOD, Bodyglide, band aids and the list goes on.

Monday's wake up time was 4:30am so that I could be at the bus to Hopkinton by 5:40. I rode out with my running club, the Somerville Road Runners so that I could have a seat that was more comfortable than a school bus and a bathroom! That bathroom was key.

Race morning is fairly boring. We sat on the bus in Hopkinton all feeling fairly nervous from 7am until around 9:45. Our wave kicked off at 10:30 on the nose. The first miles are always slow as the pack is so close together. Things don't loosen up until mile 5 or so.

At mile 7 it began to dawn on me that the digestive problems I had on the bus were only the beginning and that Speedy had given me the "gift" of his stomach virus and that, yes, it was hitting on race day. I will spare you the details except to say that I barfed at mile 7, waved the medical personnel off (who looked at me like I was nuts) and kept running. My stomach was at war with my goals the entire day but I kept moving toward Boston.

After Heartbreak Hill, it became clear that taking fluids in was the wrong choice. I knew I was dehydrated but the gatorade and water were making my stomach problems worse. I managed to see family and friends at Mile 22 and then another set of friends just before entering Kenmore Square. I so badly wanted to curl up on the sidewalk in a sunbeam but kept reeling in the Citco sign instead knowing that MBHP staff would give me hell if I dropped out (not to mention what clients who found out would say!)

The race ended well - off pace considerably (4hrs 25 minutes) but a 28 minute personal record despite the "gift". With the support of a fantastic community I raised just over $12,000 for Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership which beats setting a new marathon PR any day of the week!

Thanks to everyone for reading, giving, hosting events, and following along with the marathon on race day. I have already registered for the Marine Corps Marathon this fall in Washington, DC so check back in later to find out how training is going. In the meantime, I'm going to step back, rest and celebrate the moment!


Sunday, April 18, 2010

And The Winners Are...

Coach Speedy pulled 6 names out of a hat to determine who the winners of my 2010 Boston Marathon MBHP Raffle were. He was very excited about the process and was designated for the duty because he can only read a little bit which helps keep the results fair! Thanks to everyone who purchased tickets and supported the MBHP Marathon team! The winners are:

Peet's Coffee - Ben G and Liz W.
JP Licks Gift Card - Susan Shea
Amex gift card - Giovanni
Ryan and Sara Hall Autographed Turtleneck - Maura P
Ryan and Sara Hall Autographed Vest - Christiana B

Friday, April 16, 2010

All Systems Go - 3 Days Left

There are just 3 days until the 2010 Boston Marathon! I go this afternoon to pick up my bib number, t-shirt and timing chip. As always, my taper has been somewhat frustrating because my level of physical activity has been relatively low for the past two weeks. My body has been a bit tight but I can tell I've been much better rested. My legs are feeling strong and I feel confident in my training.

As the weekend passes, I am sure nervous energy will come. Someone at the office asked if I thought I would win. With a smile I said that it depends on how you define winning. I have had a great training cycle and if I execute my race plan well then I should set a new personal record. Even if a new PR isn't fast compared to what others run, it will be a win for me. Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership is the big winner in all of this. Thanks to the 2010 MBHP Marathon Team, more than $17,000 has been raised. This will go a long way to housing stability for countless individuals and families in the Greater Boston area.

There are several options for finding out how my race is going this Monday:

1. Simply text the word RUNNER to 31901 using your US mobile phone. You will then receive an sms text response with instructions on how to submit a runner’s bib number. (Message and data rates may apply. You will be opted in to receive four messages during the race. Send STOP to quit. Available on participating carriers AT&T, Alltel, Boost, Nextel, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, and Virgin.)

2. Respond to the athlete alert text message you receive by entering my bib number - 25353

I want to thank everyone for your support and donations over the past months. The marathon is never easy to train for and without you support I would never have made it to the starting line!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hay is in the barn

The long miles have been logged, the body fueled and now it is time to rest. With 14 days until race day, I have just a few short runs left and my primary job is to get to the start line confident in my training and uninjured. I suspect my family and co-workers would add sane to that list but with so little exercise happening over the next 2 weeks, it is likely that I will be a little cranky.

I ran my last long run, a 20 miler last weekend. The run went VERY well. I finished feeling that I had another 6-10 miles left in my legs and ran the 9:40 pace that I had set as the goal for the run. The weather was perfect for running and I picked a fairly challenging course with nice long uphill and downhill sections of 2-4 miles each way. I finished the 20 miles in 3hrs 17 minutes - faster than I have done before despite the conservative training run pace.

A few weeks ago, I ran at the New Bedford half-marathon and knocked 3 minutes off of my half-marathon personal record. I am hoping that I have a chance to knock some time off on the Boston Marathon course this year.

I have also passed my initial $10,000 goal and raised my sights to the $12,000 mark. If you are reading this and have not donated, take a moment to ask yourself why - why pass up the chance to help someone find or stay housed? $5, $25, $50, $500...any amount makes a difference.

A few closing notes: 1. we'll be celebrating my 34th birthday on Tuesday - and I look forward to diving into some ice cream cake - especially after being hungry for much of Passover! 2. The last day to purchase raffle tickets and win coffee for a year from Peet's (West Coast folks - you could use this too!), JP Licks gift card, American Express gift card or items autographed by Ryan and Sara Hall is FRIDAY, APRIL 16th at 5pm. Tickets are $2/each or 6 for $10

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Raffle Time

I am 88% of the way to my $10,000 fundraising goal with five and a half weeks until race day. This week, I have started selling raffle tickets for $2/each or 6 for $10. The drawing will take place the evening before the marathon as friends and family dine on the traditional pasta and sauce. I encourage everyone to purchase tickets by e-mailing me, leaving a comment on the blog or donating through my firstgiving page and leaving "Raffle" in the comment section. The prizes are:

$50 American Express giftcard
$25 J.P. Licks Ice Cream gift certificate
Free Peet's coffee for 1 year (2 of them!)
Boston Marathon Vest autographed by Olympic Marathoner Ryan Hall and Sara Hall
John Hancock Turtleneck autographed by Olympic Marathoner Ryan Hall and Sara Hall

My goal is to knock out the final $1299 in fundraising by March 31st and raise my goal heading into in final stretch in April. This raffle is a great way to help me meet that goal and win some fun things along the way!