Boston Marathon 2014

April 22, 2014

melanomateam2I ran the Boston Marathon!  Amazing.   Inspiring.  Sad.  Awesome.  Mission.  Accomplished.

And that’s it folks.  The show’s over.  Wally World is closed.  This is the end of the line for the Boston or Bust! blog.  I’ve been at this for a long time.  I documented my first marathon in Run. Fat Bastard.  Run.  (www.rfbr262.com).  Soon after I decided the next big goal had to be Boston.  In fact in my very first post in this blog in November 2011 I said “only 41 months and 26.2 miles to go…”.  That is how long I thought it would take between when I said I’d do it and April 2015.  Fate intervened and gave me the good fortune to join a charity team called Running for Cover raising funds and awareness for the Melanoma Foundation of New England.  It allowed me to obtain a bib number and run this year – 2014; the 118th running of the Boston Marathon.  My goal was running the Boston Marathon but by being part of the team raising awareness for Melanoma and funds for an organization that is doing incredible things I was given more than just the gift of the Boston Marathon; I was given the gift of establishing inspiring new friendships all over the country and the gift of giving back to this cause.  I am incredibly blessed.

I know most of these blogs have been a bit verbose so I thought you’d rather see the event in pictures and then I’ll summarize my thoughts at the end.

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Gourley family in front of the Green Monster and Advil sign (my new best friend after this race). Tribute night at the Red Sox game for the victims and first responders.

 

I was hoping they would drop the big flag again.  So awesome!

I was hoping they would drop the big flag again. So awesome!

 

Big Papi!  The Fenway announcer says "Remember last year when our Big Papi said this is our (something) city?"  He used the word something this time.  Not quite the same effect.

Big Papi! The Fenway announcer says “Remember last year when our Big Papi said this is our (something) city?” He used the word something this time. Not quite the same effect.

Bagpipes, UMASS Marching band, victims, medical staff, police and fire, volunteers, runners all on the field together.  Awesome and tear jerking moments throughout.

Bagpipes, UMASS Marching band, victims, medical staff, police and fire, volunteers, runners all on the field together. Awesome and tear jerking moments throughout.

Adding this one in honor of Team Running for Cover!  (on statue just outside of the gates of Fenway)  I bought a Red Sox hat and adopted them since I love Boston!  So long Braves...

Adding this one in honor of Team Running for Cover! (on statue just outside of the gates of Fenway) I bought a Red Sox hat and adopted them since I love Boston! So long Braves…

In honor of my wife and best friend and the Melanoma she had to have cut out of her right calf.

In honor of my wife and best friend and the Melanoma she had to have cut out of her right calf.

I can't tell you how many people confused the Packers with NC State along the race.  C'mon man!

I can’t tell you how many people confused the Packers with NC State along the race. C’mon man!

Walking to start in Hopkinton

Walking to start in Hopkinton

My running partner through the first half Nick.  He was so close to finishing last year (26 and change) but got to do it this year!  Congrats Nick!

My running partner through the first half Nick. He was so close to finishing last year (26 and change) but got to do it this year! Congrats Nick!

Wellesely girls at the midway point.  Tradition is to kiss them.  5 was my last count.  This killed my time and is where I lost Nick.

Wellesely girls at the midway point. Tradition is to kiss them. 5 was my last count. This killed my time and is where I lost Nick.

 

Holy Crap!  That was brutal.  26.2 miles done.  Boston Marathon 2014.  Might as well jump!

Holy Crap! That was brutal. 26.2 miles done. Boston Marathon 2014. Might as well jump!

I read one quote I very much agree with. “There’s never been a day like this, there’s never going to be another one. Might as well stay out here and enjoy it as long as possible.” – Amby Burfoot, the winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon.  I wish I could make yesterday groundhog day and we could do it over and over.  But there will never be a day like yesterday again.  It was inspiring, motivational, brutally hard (especially the not over-rated Newton Hills and where they come in the marathon) and just plain perfect.  And I got to share it with my wife Lynn, daughter Anne Marie and son Adam.  Perfect.  Since yesterday, my team has been busy sharing pictures and stories from the race with each other.  Some people blew away their PRs, some got injured and hobbled in and some just soaked it all in.  I would say I was in this last camp.  I ran a great first half marathon and then when I realized I was dead on time I just enjoyed it all.  (I should have listened to Bill!)  Kudos to the women I kissed, the kids I high fived, the Boston College kids who were leaning over the rails so far they might fall and SCREAMING c’mon Paul!!  But everyone finished this year.  Also perfect.

When we were flying up to Boston we sat next to Carri who had completed 25.5 last year and was returning to finish what she started.  She said (and I wrote it down) “To me there was so much more good that came out of that day [April 15, 2013 – last year’s bombings] than bad.”  So true.  I slowed down a bit (if I could go any slower) at each of the spots along Boylston and said a small prayer.  It was very emotional and to see the spirit of Boston come alive for all 26.2 miles was the best tribute of all.

Thank you to all my friends and family who came along for this ride.  Many joined in with the campaign for supporting the Melanoma Foundation of New England – and for that I was overwhelmed and grateful.  (FYI – we are now over $400K!).  And many joined along on my endless Facebook posts and e-mails.  I am sorry about that but I think after a while everyone got used to it and had fun with it (just like I did).  And on the day of the race I gave up trying to keep up with all the texts, e-mails and Facebook comments.  I have so many great friends and family and everyone realized how important this race was for all of Boston and all of America.  I thank you all for the comments, “Likes” and support!  You are all awesome!

Say.  Do.  This huge goal is complete.  The End.  No more miles to go.

Sincerely,

BOB (Paul)

 

 

 

 

 


Terrorists And Melanoma…Suck

April 9, 2014

flagbostonUnless you’ve been under a rock or are not my friend on Facebook you know I’m running the Boston Marathon on April 21st.  I’ll write about that amazing experience after the race.  But I thought I’d pause for one moment and write a bit about two of the reasons I’m running – Terrorists and Melanoma.  These might as well be the same word because they both suck.

Heroes

In just a few days the media will be talking about a moment last year we’d all like to forget but will always remember.  April 15 marks the one year anniversary of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing.    We’ve all read the stories and seen the horrific pictures.  And ever since being selected to be part of a charity team running this year’s Boston Marathon I bet I’ve recalled that day in my head and what those poor people went through a thousand times.  Instead of recalling the horror those bastards caused I thought I’d highlight a few of the hero stories I’ve since read.

There was a physician named Dr. Natalie Stavas who happened to run the entire marathon on a broken foot (injured in training) and who, after hearing the blasts, turned and ran some more – towards and not away from the people hurt.  She jumped the barricades and tended to the people on the ground not worrying about her own safety and ultimately saving many lives.

There were also the first responders.  Many of these were, fortunately, EMTs, doctors, nurses, firemen, police officers all trained to treat victims but who probably thought their day might consist of dehydration and possibly a cardiac arrest.  They all likely never expected what they experienced that day but all rose to the occasion without a second thought.

The marathon runners and Boston residents all jumped right in to help.  I remember watching the videos and what really struck me was how quickly EVERYONE ran to the aid of all the victims with no regard for a potential third bomb.

And the one who I originally pointed out in this blog series still sticks in my mind.  Carlos Arrendondo is the guy in the cowboy hat who was famously captured helping a victim, who had both legs blown off, get to medical attention.  I think he was even thought to have squeezed the artery as they raced to an ambulance to stop the bleeding.

I read a great quote in an article highlighting some of the “helper” efforts.  It was from a long time ago and from none other than Mister Rogers.  I’ve honestly never used a Mister Rogers quote in one of my blogs but he captured it perfectly:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” – Mister Rogers

I could go on and on.  There are literally a MILLION stories and it is worth reflecting a bit and taking stock in the goodness in all of us and particularly in the people of Boston.

Teammates

I have reflected on the tragedy and been saddened by the senseless terrorist act.  The acts of heroism have been the shining light from last year and the piece of that story that we should all remember.  On top of reflecting and reading all of these great stories I’ve had a double bonus.  I have become a member of one of the best teams I’ve been a part of in my life.  It is still going on but I’m already sad because I know it will be here and gone before I know it.  Soon I’ll be able to reflect on one of the best experiences I’ve ever had with a group serving a common purpose.

“There is no ‘i’ in team but there is in win.” – Michael Jordan said that (I think).  Well, my team Running for Cover who are raising awareness and funds to support the Melanoma Foundation of New England are all winners!  We’ve already raised more than $300K as a forty-four person team and even though we’re small in number (compared to the larger charities with hundreds of runners) we are actually on the front page of the leader board of all the Boston Marathon charities.  That is the competitive me speaking.  But really, I’m amazed and proud of all the charity runner’s efforts.  Collectively these charities will have raised more than $20M when it is all said and done.  I still can’t believe that number and the generosity of people everywhere.

I know everyone on the Running for Cover team was moved by last year’s events and everyone wants to run the Boston Marathon.  But most importantly I sense a real bond forming amongst the team members in just a few short month’s time.  Most of the team is from the New England area and have been slogging through the snow and ice doing their training runs.  And a few of us are spread out across the country in California, Texas and Georgia among other places slogging through the sunny and ice-free days doing our training runs.  Throughout the entire training period for a marathon you’ll always have ups and downs, injuries and such but I haven’t heard a peep out of this team about their issues (not even much about running 20 miles in the snow.)  Instead, what I’ve heard is an outpouring of how can we do more to raise even more awareness, raise even more money to support the foundation and most importantly how can we help our teammates through their efforts and personal tragedies.

There are many stories on my team but none more powerful to me than one woman who lost her 20-year-old son in January to Melanoma.  Many of us have become friends with her on Facebook and heard stories of her son and seen pictures of the good times they had.  But we’ve also had our hearts torn out listening to her pain as she grieves.  “Melanoma sucks.”  It is a common post on her behalf.  And she is so right.  To use another quote she sent me – “Melanoma is a sneaky bastard and moves through a body with a vengeance like I have never seen. People need to know about this disease.”  She has seen this “terrorist” first hand and what I admire is her passion to spread the word and to help others know how dangerous this disease can be.  I’m proud to call her a teammate and fired up to run with her in person at Boston.

If you go to my donation site (http://www.crowdrise.com/mfneboston2014/fundraiser/paulgourley) and click on any of my teammate’s stories you’ll read the story of  others who have had loved ones die from Melanoma along with those who’ve survived and are now helping raise awareness and funds.  Take a moment to do so and I promise you’ll walk away with a different perspective and might even create a blog of your own to spread the word (and you might even quote Mister Rogers; or not; but maybe).

I’ve had an overwhelming outpouring of support and I thank you all for all of your donations and kind words during this Boston Marathon “run”.  You’d be surprised how many friends and neighbors we all know have been impacted by Melanoma as well.  I know I’ve over-posted and you’re probably ready for April 22nd (the day after the marathon) to be here.  But hopefully I have given you some new insights on this horrible disease and you’ll soon be breaking out the SPF 50 (or higher).

One more blog post and we’ll call it a day for BOB.

Only 11 days (wow) and 26.2 miles to go…


Wicked Awesome!! B is for Boston!!

January 24, 2014

planbBoston or Bust could be Boston after all.  Knowing my aging, larger than desired and injury prone body is never going to get to a sub 8 min per mile pace for 26.2 miles to qualify for the Boston Marathon I went to Plan B.

Each year the Boston Marathon selects twenty-nine organizations to raise money for charity.  In return they distribute a limited number of race numbers for individuals who are raising the funds.  So…Plan B had me applying to two charities that hit close to home – the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Melanoma Foundation of New England.  It is not at all easy to be selected.  They only have around 30-35 team members per charity.  And you need to guarantee a minimum amount of money you’ll raise, write a personal essay on how you are connected with the particular charity and be interviewed by a selection committee.  They then go off and deliberate and let you know.  As you can imagine, the applicants this year are through the roof given the horrible events this past year.  But after all of this and after months of waiting, this week I was selected to be a team member of the Running for Cover Melanoma Foundation charity!  [Plan] B is for “Boston”!  Holy *hit!  I’m running the Boston Marathon this April!

I think this is beyond belief not only because I will get to fulfill a bucket list dream of running in this marathon but I’ll be raising funds for a disease that could have taken my wife from me and my family not too long ago.  Even I took it in stride early on as we’ve all most likely had spots checked, frozen by liquid nitrogen and such.  I don’t take it lightly any longer.  You may not know this but if the cancer that has been found and diagnosed as Melanoma spreads beyond the local area into another organ and reaches Stage IV the prognosis has survival rates of 7-19% of making it five years longer.  In layman’s terms – those aren’t good odds.  This is cancer.  When her spot started to spread significantly (50 cent piece size) they took a big old chunk out of my wife’s calf to try to make sure this sucker didn’t spread any further.  She is very lucky to have caught it early and had it treated.  And now, I feel lucky to be able to give back to the charity to raise awareness and try to find even better treatments to eliminate this disease.

Here is where I need your help (keep reading; and then click link below or click here:  http://www.crowdrise.com/mfneboston2014/fundraiser/paulgourley).   I’ve been writing these blogs for the past 3 years or so.  I try to brighten people’s days and make them as light and humorous as I can.  Remember the “Got a Hemi in There?” one?  Or maybe the “Get in Mah Belly?!” one?  Or there is always the classic “Crop Dusting” issue?  I’ve also had several serious moments when I wrote about getting caught in Mumbai while serious bad guy terrorists were bombing three parts of the city where I had just been.  (Yes, they may have been chasing me – or so I thought.)  And of course the most relevant to this blog – last year’s bombing of the 2013 Boston Marathon.  It has been fun and sad to write all of these and now I think I’m nearing the final six point two miles.  I’ll write more between now and April 21, 2014 (Patriot’s Day) when I run this year’s race.  And I’ll also be asking for you to help me raise funds for Melanoma and to support my efforts and America’s stance against terrorism.  Think of it as a way of saying to these nuts (in a powerful way) that you may have tried to break our spirit but once again the people of Boston and all of America proved that we are unstoppable.  We go on and on and on.  And we will continue to do so.

Here is a link to team Running for Cover’s donation site where you can join my team and contribute.  I’ve never asked for donations on any other run or event I’ve done and kind of feel strange doing so now.  I’ll also commit to not asking you again in the future!  But I do need your help.  This provides a strong combination of supporting Melanoma awareness and research and making a statement in support of my efforts in this year’s Boston Marathon!  I’d appreciate anything you can do.  And I’d also appreciate it if you’d tell your friends about my efforts and pass them the link so they can join in.  Thank you!

http://www.crowdrise.com/mfneboston2014/fundraiser/paulgourley

Skin Cancer Prevention Tips:  Instead of Running Updates I am shifting gears and giving you all a few tips to prevent skin cancer each blog post.  Some of this is common sense but even if it has you putting on sunscreen on a more regular basis I’ll call it success.  Here you go.

  • Do Not Burn or Tan (Avoid intentional tanning; avoid tanning beds (Todd?)) – Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds causes skin cancer and wrinkling.
  • Seek Shade – when the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (go to the Tiki Bar instead)
  • Apply Sunscreen – SPF 30 or higher (on you AND your wife)
  • Use Extra Caution Near Water, Snow and Sand – these surfaces reflect the sun and increase chance of sunburn (think Shark week)

Early detection of melanoma can save your life.  Carefully examine all of your skin once a month.  A new or changing spot should be evaluated.  and click the link above to help Paul.  Or click here:  http://www.crowdrise.com/mfneboston2014/fundraiser/paulgourley  🙂

Boston Strong!

Boston Strong!