Wow! It's time to get this show on the road! I am going into Monday with a lot of mixed feelings as I am sure you all can imagine. I signed up for this race in memory of Candice and to show my gratitude to Beth Israel. But if I am being honest, I also signed up for me and my survival. I knew I couldn't plan too far out into the future right now and I knew I needed a goal or focus that would get me through the most difficult year of my life thus far. I have had runs that have made me feel on top of the world and others that I have felt crushed and defeated. As the training pushed on, the weather got worse-but I was committed to completing the task at hand. This was in large part because of the constant stream of support and donations from all of you! So thank you, thank you, thank you again! I have trained very hard for Monday and I am excited to be on the course and to cross the finish line.
I know this will be a very emotional run and finish for me. Metaphorically speaking- I could spend a lot of time threading my grief and marathon training together. I am just so very thankful that my body and mind cooperated this winter and hopefully will continue to!
I have been so very humbled by the generosity and support of so many people. In order to run this race, I needed to raise over $5,000. Well we raised $10,355 and this doesn't even include Katie's fundraising in the amount $8,351. This has made both of us top fundraisers.
As race day is approaching - I wanted to be sure to provide you with details. Whether you are coming into the madness of the city to watch or watching it from your couch - you can follow me (and Katie).
Those who are coming down- I have recommended watching the race from Trader Joes at:
1317 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446
There is a bathroom and food (but you need to make sure you are on the right side of the road.)
Follow our bibs (I hope to run between a 9.20-9.40 pace --but who knows as it is my first time and maybe it will be faster --maybe slower):
These directions are done off an 11:20am start time. You'll know when I cross the start by the athlete tracking. You can set this up now by texting 234567 my bib 26842 and Katie's 26852. Probably best to set up now so you know it's working.
Note - the Athlete alerts are not timed/lined up with these directions. HOWEVER:
Thank you all,
It is coming on the year anniversary since Candice died. It still seems very hard to believe that she isn't here. Today I ran the New Bedford 1/2 Marathon with many emotions. Most of my drive down was full of tears and longing for her to be in the car with me. I spent some time with Papa Dennis and Auntie Maureen pre-race which always makes me feel closer to Candice and Cousin Mark picked me up and we headed to the start line where we met up with Katie and Lesley. I ran a pace beyond what I thought I was capable (8.46 minute miles) and I felt Candice and her mother Sharon pushing me. My final time was 1.54.45 - which honestly--it is a true thrill. I got to see Maureen, Dennis and Parker along the route cheering me on. At the finish line was Candice's oldest friend Kristine Souza Buss with her beautiful family. (Thank you Kristine for coming out and for the awesome NB T-Shirt). I will wear it proudly! This was an amazing 1/2 marathon in an amazing place where my wife grew up. She didn't always express the New Bedford pride that I know she had and so today I carried it for her. The race was so well organized and the food after was AMAZEBALLS!
Thank you Patrica and James Souza, Gayle Stern and Maureen Sullivan for being this weeks sponsors! I appreciate all of you who have donated to Katie and my TEAM BIDMC CANCER CENTER fundraiser. Also--the Karoake Fundraiser was a HUGE success. We raised just under $3500! Thank you Tina Cincotti for helping with all the logistics and thank you to all that came out and/or purchased tickets. Special Thanks to Bill's Bar, McCormack and Scanlan and Sound Choice for providing the place and the entertainment!
Yesterday I ran yet another “longest distance” - 18 miles! Whenever I meet a new milestone, there is a different set of pain but I push through and when it is over I feel amazing and I know Candice is proud. As I ran yesterday, I thought of an old high school friend Susan Bisha Leahey who recently lost her husband Bill very suddenly. I dedicate this run to the Leahey Family and prayer for strength for them. Also –thank you to those who sponsored this beautiful run through Boston’s Freedom Trail: Alyssa Pozniak, Fran Newton,Pam Waterman, Michelle ColeWater, Jeremy Whaley, Rebecca Mathews!
I hope to see many of you today at Bill’s Bar. It is not too late to buy tickets online, or just come down at 4:00. We have great raffles and talented singers (I think;)
It is hard to believe the snow in Boston this past month and I feel very fortunate to have escaped it for a few days. However I am back to reality! I can't say that the snow is bothering me too much because it feels like nature's way of telling us to slow down and honestly it is really beautiful. I am lucky to live across from the Arnold Arboretum and the pictures above were taken today on my 4 mile snowshoeing adventure with Parker!
In terms of this past weekend. I had intended to run 14 miles, but my body told me to slow down. So I ran two fast pace shorter runs - 5.5 miles on Saturday and 5 miles on Sunday. I also went to Runner's Yoga which I strangely love. Candice pleaded that I try it on many occasions and I was resistant. She is telling me "I told you so" somewhere! Thank you Sinead McLaughin for getting me going with this! I have also taken up Boxing once a week with Carol O'Connell (thanks Carol for trying this with me). These two new workouts have been amazing not just for strength training but also mentally.
In addition to training for the race, Katie and I have been planning a Karoake Sunday Funday event on March 8th. Thank you Tina Cincotti for guiding me with your fundraising expertise and Auntie Maureen Morris for all the raffle gift cards that you are donating! A huge thank you to (McCormack and Scanlan Real Estate) in particular Paula Callaghan and Karen McCormack for sponsoring the Karaoke. Our Karaoke will be hosted by Sound Choice Events who generously discounted the price by 50% for this fundraiser and they have been recognized as "Best of Boston".
I continue to be motivated and humbled by all of you who have donated. Thank you so much Kirsty (Douchetwinkle Bucket) Carey for being the first to purchase an "amazeballs" ticket to the event, and thank you Maria Grigoriadis and Pamela Grow for your generous donations.
Also-thank you Jen Gaman and Naomi Rivera for continuing to feed me every Sunday with a delicious home cooked meal and good conversation!
I don't know if it was the California sun and the beautiful course through the Golden Gate Park and then along the Pacific Coast but I was thrilled to have completed my 1/2 half marathon in 2 hours and 3 minutes.
The week leading up to my trip to California was very difficult. The change in scenery and being able to see good friends helped me recover a bit. I also was able to visit some new places in the Bay Area and reconnect with some special places that Candice and I loved. A hike in Muir Woods with Niki was so good for me spiritually. I continue to feel Candice with me in nature.
A special thank you to AC, Kim, Marie and Rebecca. I love you guys and I am so thankful to have been able to visit with you. Thanks for providing good company and great weather!
This Saturday I will be back on track running with Katie at Heartbreak Hill. It is a tough transition back into the snow - however I am determined to conquer the winter weather and yesterday I ran three miles. I am thrilled that I continue to receive so many generous sponsors each week who keep me moving! Thank you Dad and Carrie, Katherine Ruiz-Mellot, Erin Grinshteyn, Mary Lee Venuti, Donna McLean and Harvard Chan School's Student Services!
A special thank you to my new sponsors who motivated me to run 10 miles in the SNOWY weather this past Satursday-Jacque Maiorana, Trish Lavoie, Thomas and Olivia Buss, Meredith Rosenthal, Vicki Johnson, Katherine Ruiz-Mellot! It was a tough run and I was exhausted BUT your donations kept me moving!
Missy Campbell started my week off with a donation and has gotten me motivated and excited for my upcoming race! This Superbowl Sunday I will be running my second 1/2 marathon. The last one I ran was in 2009! I will be running the Kaiser Permanente in San Fransisco! It boasts one of this country's most scenic courses. I think after this week, a change in climate will be good for my spirit.
So - if you are trapped in your home like I am because of the blizzard today and you are in need of an activity other than eating, drinking, sledding, shoveling, playing board games - consider visiting this very nifty site that takes credit card donations with great ease: https://www.crowdrise.com/TeamBIDMC2015/fundraiser/stephaniehunt2
In addition to training, Katie and I have been busy setting up a date and location for our fundraising event and we hope that we can pack Bill's Bar down by Fenway on March 8th! SAVE THE DATE - For tickets to the event, please visit: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/sunday-funday-charity-style-tickets-15427878199?aff=eac2
This week has been a very difficult week for me on many levels. The frigid temperatures combined with the short daylight is tough in the best of years. I knew it was going to take every ounce of my being to stay strong this winter. Having a goal like the Boston Marathon has helped prevent me from sleeping this winter away (which is really what I want to do). The picture above was taken exactly a year ago today at dinner in Epcot. This was Candice and my last vacation together. We went to Disney World to surprise our niece Sarah on her 10th Birthday. It was a wonderful trip full of fun memories.
Since this holiday weekend was particularly challenging for me mentally, I ended up running two long runs. My 11 mile run on Saturday was sponsored by new donors (Paula Callaghan, Tara Fischer and Marie Butler) and was a shout out to Sarah on her 11th birthday!
My second long run on Monday was 8.5 miles and was sponsored by and dedicated to one of my oldest and dearest friends - Rebecca Mackey. She encouraged me to eat so much that I had to run off all the calories that I took in on her visit. Thank you Rebecca for making the trip up to help me get through the tough days.
If you haven't donated yet, but are planning to, please consider splitting your donation up. By donating partly now - it gets me out there on those tough mental days when I don't want to leave my home!
Happy New Year! A special thank you to Jeff New, Glory Alipit, Kirsty Carey and David, Chryse and Kearin Hunt for closing out 2014 with very generous donations to BIDMC- Cancer Center in Candice's memory. These donations got me pumped up for 2015 and I was able to get inspired to clock my longest run on Saturday with 13.5 miles. I ran down to the Museum of Science along the Charles River and took in the views of my favorite city!
In addition to my training run, a few friends and I decided to take a dip in the ocean. These "runs" into the water started this summer in Gloucester. We took it to South Boston in the fall after my annual 5K race for Ovarian Cancer. So - of course it made perfect sense to do the same thing in the winter! The ocean provides a healing sensation and I am so thankful that I have been able to have these moments with friends as crazy as myself (Jenn and Kelly with moral support from Amanda and Melanie)!
However I have learned one important lesson and this may be shocking for those of you in the southern hemisphere - the lesson is simple - there are significant temperature changes in the water in the northeast as each season passes. Needless to say- the dips have become much more invigorating!
From this simple lesson, I also acquired a very complex new language! The best way to describe the origins of this language is to try this polar plunge yourself. NO PRESSURE! If this DOES interest you, just grab a few friends and some warm blankets and head off to the beach. Also, there might be a few onlookers who actually seem to enjoy your experience as much as you. You would be amazed the smiles you will receive when you are doing something that others might think insane!
OK -sorry I digressed- back to my new language. I would describe it as primal and it explores the very moment that your brain believes you are uttering words like "please stop filming" and your lips are instead making noises reminiscent of an Icelandic Yedi! (video provided below).
We are moving into 2015 and I am just getting warmed up with this fundraising event. I ask that you consider taking the plunge and donating! Who knows what your donations might inspire next!
Today Katie and I met for the first run at the top of Heartbreak hill (11.5 miles). We would start there so we would finish the run up the hill! It was a beautiful sunny morning and just the right temperature. One of the things I have taken to doing during my runs is to randomly shout a "woo hoo". This provides a way to internally motivate myself but it also changes my breathing pattern and gives me a little burst of energy. Needless to say - I think Newton and Wellesley are not accustomed to the likes of me. Who is really? Katie is slowly getting into this herself. I am prepared to wager that she too will have her full freak on by race day. Speaking of freak on- I am thinking I should get one of those head cameras and start filming the two of us and our conversations as they could provide weekly comic relief. Stay tuned!
On a serious note, the holiday season can be difficult in the best of times because no matter the distance, we can not run away from the memories of those we have lost. I was thankful to be able to spend Christmas with Candice's family and although our hearts were all heavy, I felt a comfort being near to those she loved so dearly.
However, when I got home Christmas evening to an empty house, I felt complete hopelessness and exhaustion. Drinking wine and talking to two of my oldest friends (Rebecca Mackey and Kirsty Carey) over a span of many hours got me through the remainder of the evening. (Thank you both for your love and support). Kirsty of course decided to tuck me in with a Grimm fairy tale. Needless to say, it has been my many friends who have helped me heal and I am forever indebted to so many of you (near and far).
As a recovery day, I decided that yesterday I would go on a "me" date. I went to see the movie "Wild" as I had just read the book. It is about a women who loses her mother and decides to walk the PCT to get her life back to a place that aligned with how her mother wanted her to live. It was a period of solitude and reflection. As with most books, the movie doesn't do it justice. But my date went pretty well, although it would have been nice if she bought me a bigger size popcorn. I guess I shouldn't complain because I really need to have more nutritious dinners if I am running a marathon!
So today- I couldn't help thinking of how this first run at Heartbreak hill was so literally and metaphorically symbolic. Katie was chiding me yesterday because I have not raised as much money as her. So I told her I was going to try to figure out how to pull ahead at the end of our run up heartbreak hill. I was half joking because I thought there is no way I would beat Katie up this big hill at mile 11! But there it was-and I had this moment I get so often when I hear Candice say "you got this" and and then "Defying Gravity" came on my I-pod and I began to sprint and didn't stop until I was at the top of heartbreak hill. I left Katie in my dust! So I hope metaphorically speaking - this can occur with my fundraising efforts too!
I have already reached 20% of my goal! I know it is a hectic time of year for many people, but donations (of any amount) are greatly appreciated and provide a source of motivation for me! I am running this race for Candice and BIDMC and it is giving me hope, structure and most importantly a healthy outlet to grieve.
I dedicate this run to Candice! Although I am heartbroken, I am aware that my heart only aches so because of its capacity to love. That is what it is all about in life! I love you Candice and miss you so very much - you are always with me and never far from my thoughts.
Inspirational moments along the way were brought to me by three new sponsors: Kristen Angelone, Diane and Carol O'Connell. Thank you lovely ladies for you generous donations!
Thank you – donors!