I’m running my fourth consecutive Boston Marathon in a few weeks – my third with a wonderful charity I got involved with to honor the life of a dear friend and coach in the Boston area.
I’ve mentioned him once before on this blog – his name is Martin Duffy and he ran forty (yes, that would be 4-0!) consecutive Boston Marathons from 1970 until 2009. The most astounding one had to be his final race – because he was running two months after a diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma that would ultimately claim his life in late 2010. It was a cold and windy day, but he pulled it off. I ran the last 10 miles with him (a bunch of friends and family members jumped in to support him at various points) and I remember how hard those last few meters were on Boylston Street, and how happy he was afterwards. (“A ray of sunshine in a hard two months” he said after the race. It was an amazing achievement – one of the great running memories I’ll ever have.)
Running for a cause = Making a commitment
When you sign up for a big race, you’ve just committed yourself to a training program. But when you sign up for a charity race, you’ve committed to helping somebody else, too. That person – or that cause – is depending on you to be all there: organized, healthy, getting your fundraising and training done (in the midst of everything else that life throws at us), and of course, showing up ready to go on race day.
I run Boston to support the Massachusetts General Hospital’s pediatric oncology programs. Martin was treated at MGH by some of the finest oncologists around – and I understand they did some pretty amazing things to prolong his life as long as they could, as long as he could live comfortably.
When I went to his memorial service in Belmont, MA in December 2010, the place was packed. His oldest friend’s eulogy began like this: “I know you’re all here because you think you were Martin’s best friend. Well, you’re not. I am.” And we all erupted in laughter, because he was exactly right. That’s the kind of person Martin was.
He became a father figure and a role model. I trained with him and his motley crew of runners at the Harvard track on Wednesday afternoons when I lived in Boston a decade and a half ago. He modeled good life behaviors without ever lecturing. He was spot-on about life, and people, and the importance of keeping a sunny outlook in the midst of life’s slings and arrows.
So, I run for him. If you’d like to support this endeavor, I would welcome your support. You can click here to donate, or if you’re the non-website type, email me (contact information at the bottom of this page) and I’ll get you an address where you can send a check.
I’ll be raising a minimum of $5000, as I do every year, to support the MGH pediatric oncology programs – they use the money to pay for staff positions, patient and family support, and a host of related services. And the doctor who heads up the department is the founder of the marathon program – and he runs the race every year himself.
If you’re looking for workout inspiration, why not go out there and train for a great cause?
Yesterday’s #every48 workout: SWIM – a one-hour triathlon swim class – Tuesday is sprint day. Ouch. 60 minutes.