Sunday, March 27, 2011

Get to the chopper!

After weeks of training and running seemingly endless miles, it was marathon week. At the beginning of the week, the forecast for run day was mid-50s and sunny. Within 24 hours, the forecast had dropped to low 30s with the possibility of snow. Thankfully, the prediction of snow moved to Sunday and the temperature had risen 10 degrees.

Thursday night was the Back On My Feet 1st Birthday Bash at the JW Marriott downtown. Bing was selected as one of a few speakers for the festivities, so there was no question that we would be there to cheer him on. Anne Mahlum kicked off the night telling her story and Bing was then brought to the stage. He retold his story and how he connected with BOMF and was 2 days away from the longest run of his life. Needless to say, he brought the room to tears with his emotional journey. Following a great dinner and dessert, we said our goodbyes with hopes of an earlier bedtime.

Friday was packet pick up day. John was number 102, I was 107 and Bing was 126. We had our bibs, shirts and bags of 589693 random advertisements ready to go. We then made our plan to reconvene for some chicken and pasta to carbo-load before the big day. A few hours later we were eating away while catching up on some March Madness Basketball. 12 hours to go...

The 5am alarm rang and it was time to get ready. Having everything laid out made life easy, but there was still nervous energy as we worked our way to RFK Stadium for the start of the race. We met up with other Back On My Feet runners and did our traditional calisthenics and stretching. We wished the others well and went to the starting line.

In the starting area, John, Bing, Amanda and I went over our plan to keep an even pace and take our time over the 26.2 miles. The horn sounded and we were all off. We crossed the starting line about ten minutes after the horn and headed out on the course. We go to Lincoln Park and saw John's wife Cory and his sister Karen and Karen's boyfriend Steve. We had expected to hear Cory's trademark cowbell, but as we ran by, she suggested that the neighbors had told her that 7:30 on a Saturday was too early for a ringing cowbell. Babies. We moved passed mile one and saw my folks who had journeyed down from snowy New England to wake up at the crack of dawn, go out into the cold, and cheer us on. I would argue that running a marathon is less difficult than cheering on runners for 26 miles in the cold.

The miles went by quickly...we kept an incredibly even pace of 9:00 minute miles. The crowds were active and very supportive as we passed Lincoln Park, the Capitol, Union Station and the Mall. We cut up 18th Street heading north towards Dupont Circle. As we moved on Connecticut Avenue under Dupont Circle we saw the first of our supporters, Cara Sheridan, her fiance Adam and pooch Latte. Not only did the have a great sign, but Latte was fully dressed for the occasion.

We continued north into Adams Morgan with incredible support. There were bands, DJs and countless screaming fans. We passed Wendy Davis who came out with co-workers to scream support. We cut back south passed Howard University with great student support. As we hit mile 9, John stopped for a bathroom break and said "stay left and I will catch up". We saw Dave Delcher out cheering and then ran into the CUArch cheering section with Michelle Rinehart, Aidan Fredericks, Mike Doster, Alex Bahr and Lee Cooper [I think there were others, but in my attempt to not trip over my own feet, I couldn't look to the side for too long]. We got high fives as we went by.

We passed mile 10, then mile 11. With encouragement from BOMF team members Carolyn, Kristen and Ellis we turned onto H Street NE. Soon we were back at RFK and the half marathoners were splitting off to finish as we wrapped around the stadium. Still no John. We passed Lincoln Park and saw Cory, Karen and Steve again. Cory informed us that John was not lying in a ditch along the race route, rather her had connected with another team member, Tyrone, and was running with him.

We weaved through DC again and cut south under the mall in SW DC. As we approached Nationals Stadium and mile 19, Bing's legs decided they were not interested in continuing. He had hit a wall. Amanda and I did everything we could to keep him loose and moving forward. Bing gave the proverbial "go on without me" [insert Arnold Schwarzenegger voice here...thankfully he did not yell "Get to the chopper!"] We reminded him that we were pretty sure that we weren't going to win and we were doing this insanity as a team. Bouncing between walking and running for the next couple of miles, at miles 23 Bing made the decree that he was going to finish and nothing was going to stop him. BOMF DC Executive Director, Autumn Campbell, joined us in working to finish the race.

We came out of Anacostia Park and went up the hills of Minnesota Avenue. We made the turn onto East Capitol Street and could see RFK. All we had to do was run halfway around the stadium and cross the finish line. As we navigated around the stadium, we could see the crowd increasing and then saw the finish line. Carolyn, Kristen and Ellis screamed from the right and my folks, Maureen and Brighid cheered from the left. Step after step...We crossed the finish line as a team and all immediately embraced.

National Marathon - Details

We looked down at our medals and tried to take in the last 4+ hours. It is incredible how after torturing your legs for 26 miles, when you have finished and see everyone who has supported you, you feel no pain. After posing for few photos we gathered our belongings and waited for John and Tyrone. A few minutes later, they crossed the finish line and we began to recount the morning's journey.

We split up to go shower and relax and then reconvened for big, juicy hamburgers followed by cake and ice cream. After months of preparing, we had attacked the National Marathon and won.

Thanks for everyone for their emotional and financial support. We are so proud of all the runners especially our BOMF brothers and sisters! We are planning on a few days to rest the legs and then will be back our for our normal morning runs. Come out and join us!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Counting Down

We are 2 long runs away from the marathon. With John heading out on vacation tomorrow for 10 days, we decided to add on to our normal Back On My Feet Wednesday Run to get a few more miles in. We rolled out of Blair House and headed downtown. It constantly amazes me that our runs include things like "right at the Capitol", "down the Mall", "passed the Washington Monument" and "around the Lincoln Memorial". The city is wonderful as it is waking up...just a few joggers, bikers and folks going to work. Nice way to start the day...

Wednesday BOMF Run +

We are still campaigning hard to raise money for BOMF! We are a few dollars short of supporting one member for an entire calendar year. We have received some wonderful support from individual and companies and hope to add to that.

As mentioned, we have two long runs left before the marathon. We will be doing 15 miles this Saturday and 10 miles on the 19th. We will be running at 4:15p both days from Ted's Bulletin on 8th Street SE in Capitol Hill and always love people joining us! Even if you want to run one mile, come out and join us!

On marathon day we will need supporters as well! The route is pretty extensive as it weaves in and out of the neighborhoods of DC. Take a look at the course map and plan on coming to cheer the runners on! We would love to see you out there!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Bing + Brighid

Two peas in a Ted's Bulletin Pod!

one month to go!!!

We are less than one month away from the National Marathon!!! First off, thank you to everyone who has helped our fund raising and supported Back On My Feet! We cannot thank everyone enough for their generosity!

Training has been going well. With crazy schedules and insane weather [bitter cold, high winds, rain, sleet] we have managed to keep running. Two weeks ago, we ran 18 miles with wind gusting over 40 miles an hour. I won’t lie to you, it hurt. A lot. I just pray that on 26 March, we will have absolutely no wind whatsoever. You can check out the run at

This past weekend was a bit of a scheduling debacle. I had a series of events all day Saturday, so I was unable to get out with the team. Instead, I had to hoist myself out of bed at 4:45 on a Saturday to hit the pavement. DC is wonderfully peaceful at this early hour on a weekend…just a few other runners and a spectacular view of the sunrise from the Key Bridge. 15 miles later, the weekend was in full swing and after a busy day, bed felt sooooooooo good. While I didn’t bring a camera on the run [I should have] you can see my route at

We are going to need as much support as possible leading up to the marathon and on the big day! We love people coming out and running with us [even if it is only for a block] and giving us emotional support [and some water]. Any marathon runner [except those crazy ones that win the race] will tell you that thing biggest thing that helps get us through the race [aside from training] is screaming fans. The race is on the 26th of March starting at 7am and goes all through DC. You can find a course map at Come out and yell! We LOVE familiar faces and screaming friends.

If running before dawn is not your thing, we still could use some donations to reach our goal. ANY little bit helps…just look in your couch cushions, center console in your car and winter coat…I am sure you will find a few spare bucks! Go to and chip in just a little bit. Back On My Feet is an amazing cause and is worthy of every cent. DON’T FORGET…SunTrust is matching DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR EVERY DONATION!!!

Check out the shout out from BOMF on their page at We love it!

Lastly, I wanted to say a special thanks to Dean Sara Thompson at Catholic University’s Metropolitan School for Professional Studies. Not only has Sara helped financially and she ALWAYS offers her moral support when I see her and talk to her but most importantly, Sara is facilitating a connection between BOMF and CUA so that some of our members can take classes and further their education with a goal of a better job and better life. From everyone associated with BOMF, thank you for your time and energy!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Meet Team BOMF

This week Mother Nature came calling with some snow to put an additional challenge in our training. John, Chris, Brian, Amanda, Bing and I all agreed to meet after Bing got out of work on Saturday for a long run. Some of the snow had melted, but there were a fair amount of sidewalks still iced over. With determination and team spirit, we crushed the 10 miles in just over 80 minutes.

Weekend Long Run by BOMF

In lieu of going into long winded detail about the run, I figured I would showcase one of our marathon team members, Kenneth P. Kenneth was an original member of Back On My Feet when it began in DC almost a year ago. Here is my brief interview with the man we all know as Bing...

DSB: What is your full name?
KMP: My full name is, Kenneth Marlin P.
DSB: Where were you born?
KMP: I was born in Washington, D.C. in (D.C. General Hospital).
DSB: What is your shoe size?
KMP: My shoe size is, ten.
DSB: What is your favorite food?
KMP: My favorite food is a whole, deep fried turkey.

DSB: How did you end up living at 801 East?
KMP: After 14 years of incarceration, I found myself homeless and ended up moving into 801 East.

DSB: What made you sign up for BOMF?
KMP: Three members from a running group called, "Back On My Feet", by the names of Wylie, Monica and Amanda, came to recruit ten guys out of 801 East, to join their group. They explained that with successful completion, (six months), we would receive a grant for one-thousand dollars. I immediately signed my name on the dotted line.

DSB: What was your reaction to the first day running with BOMF?
KMP: My first reaction to the first day running with Back On My Feet was "we're not only running with dudes, there are also good looking chicks running!!"

DSB: What was your first race? What were you thinking / feeling before, during and after the race?
KMP: My first race was a 5k at George Washington Parkway. The only thing I could remember thinking was, completing 3.1 miles at a consistent pace. I wasn't absolutely sure before the race, that I'd still been able to stick to the plan, having considered the likelihood of it almost certain outcome, would surely hinder me. There were hills to climb throughout the course, which I felt were slightly brutal, and couldn't be ran up, only walked. I convinced myself that if I could stay more focused on deep breathing through my nasal passage instead of only my mouth, then I may stand a chance. It was only a half mile left to go and my shoelace came loosened. After finishing the race I cut back on smoking cigarettes and double tied my shoelaces.

DSB: What was your favorite race with BOMF? Why?
KMP: My favorite race with Back On My Feet was the Crystal City 5k where I got the chance to eat Ann Mahlum's dust. After finishing the race I felt like I've achieved the beginning of many more accomplishments to come and that is impossible to fail at as long as I continue trying. I also felt drenched, because it rained cats and rats after-wards!

DSB: What made you sign up for the National Marathon?
KMP: I signed up for the National Marathon for two reasons, one's that I wanted to experience what it feels like to have absolutely no energy to do or say anything and then a few twenty-four hours later, feeling like, probably in the best shape I'd ever feel in my entire existence!! Second, I have to represent my bank SunTrust!

DSB; What is your favorite part of running with BOMF?
KMP: My favorite part of running with Back On My Feet is the unconditional generosity, that each one gives and has taught me to give, no matter what!!

DSB: What are your running goals for the next year?
KMP: My running goals for next year will be something sort of a re-cap of last year’s runs but to incorporate much swimming as possible, as far as my short-term goes. My long-term goal is to complete a triathlon.

DSB: As a former “resident”, what would you like to teach / show the current residents?
KMP: As a former resident I would like to teach the current residents the importance of having to do something different, in order to want something different. I want to show them how determination, sacrifice and staying focus can bring about a change.

Interviewers Note: I have run [by "run" I mean, "I tried to keep up with"] several races with Bing...he is a physical beast. He is skinny and roughly 9 feet tall with 7 foot tall legs. He makes the weekend long runs look effortless. What I am trying to say is, be careful "elite" marathon runners...if a tall, high speed blur runs screaming passed you during the race, just wave and smile at our man Bing.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Why would anyone in their right mind...

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday my alarm goes off at 5 o’clock in the morning. By 5:30am, I have run by John's place to meet him and we both run to Blair House, a homeless shelter in NE DC. Almost a year ago, we joined a "running" group called Back on my Feet. This group pairs homeless “residents” with “non-residents”. Each resident member is given running gear to get kicked off; after that, it is up to them. After every 30 days, if a resident has 90% attendance, they qualify for career training, and can apply for grants or housing assistance.

Selfishly, I joined last March when the group began in DC. I figured, I like to run, sleep is for the weak and I can get out and better my community doing my good deed for each day. With this decision, I convinced myself that I was guaranteed to have people proud of me and my good heart while introducing these guys to running and get them in some races.

On our first day, in 35 degree weather, our group circled up, did 40 jumping jacks, 40 push-ups and went through a basic stretching regimen. Amidst the clapping, we all tightened the circle and put our arms around each other. We then recited the serenity prayer. While simple in form, the prayer is quite complex.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

We then headed out into the dark and ran a mile. One mile. I run 3 or 4 days a week in some cases for hours on end, so one mile wasn’t much of a big deal. What I didn’t expect was how the events following the mile would affect me.

We circled back up clapping for one another. We recited the prayer another time and got ready to leave. I turned to head home and was stopped instantaneously by others in the group as everyone began to hug goodbye. I am an army brat; the son of a former green beret…I am not a big hugger, especially with complete strangers. Within moments I was hugging people I had met only an hour earlier.

As I walked away I watched some of the shelter residents leaving the shelter for the day. Every single gentleman was carrying a duffle bag, suitcase or even a plastic garbage bag, containing everything they owned. Against everything I was taught as a child, I stared. At that point, I realized my make-myself-feel-better-about-myself-ego was being taught a very powerful lesson.

I look forward to my runs each week. I love clowning around with Bing, Ellis, Carolyn, Amanda, Brian, Kristen and Chris, smiling with my morning energy burst before the sun rises. I have heard incredible stories about failed businesses, addiction and thieving family members. I have worked with guys who had never even owned a pair of running shoes and watched them increase their mileage and run in local races. No one in our group is homeless…no one has a permanent residence; we are all just a bunch of insane early morning runners.

I have never once felt good about myself for what I am doing…I don’t need to. The effect this program has certainly involves assisting the residents with basic needs, but the greater effect is on all of us, not only as human beings, but as equals. I have some great new friends who I just love being with.

So why do we do it every week? Long story short, for an hour or two every couple of days, no one is homeless and no one is unemployed...we're just runners trying to out run the cold air in the darkness. So bring it on National Marathon, we are ready for you.

18 degrees and cooling

John was away for the weekend and my schedule was a little hairy, so I had to go it alone on Saturday morning for a long run. Normally this isn't the end of the world, but following 20 brutally cold minutes at the park walking the dogs, I knew it was not going to be the most pleasant of mornings. Following a bagel and 20 more minutes of trying to psych myself up while my wife shook her head in disbelief, I went out the front door. It was 18 degrees with a wind chill of 12. Within about 35 seconds I was ready to hop in a cab and head home, but vowed to fight through.

Weekend Long COLD Run - Details

Following my endurance food freezing, by sweat on my hat freezing to my headphones and loss of feeling in my chin, I made it home. I don't recall a better shower. I spent the rest of the weekend warming up and retelling my tale of woe, feeling increasingly proud of myself and how I ran through miserable weather. That was until I got John's text message Sunday afternoon stating he ran 12+ miles in NYC where is was somewhere around 47 degrees below zero. I am a wimp.