Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I never really 'got' the meaning of celebrating the Fourth of July before this year. Don't get me wrong, I love the USA and am so grateful for our 'freedoms'. The reason I couldn't embrace the holiday is because I did not feel free within myself. With the practice of yoga, body work and journaling, I am finding freedom from within. I would talk about feeling free when I ran but in truth I needed to find the freedom deep within in order to fully embrace and feel freedom as I run. Be sure to take a moment to watch Katy Perry's video of "Firework". I first heard the song when I met Suzy Favor Hamilton and heard her speak. She played the song and had us go to the front of the room and just rock out to it. The words now resonate deeply in my soul. "Ignite the light and let it shine/Just own the night like the Fourth of July."

I am so blessed to have met in person a woman I met on Just Finish, a running community, three years ago. We became facebook friends and have talked on the phone several times. We are kindred spirits and we made a vow that one day we would run a race together. Pamela Robbins is a true hero. I know she will poo poo me for saying that and tells me that I am her hero and source of inspiration. Pam and I are the same age. She has several health challenges that she lives with and neither one of us fits the typical 'look' of a runner. She has blogged about her adventures on the road. Pam, like myself, runs with heart and Pam runs with a passion for a purpose. She will be running the NYC Marathon this November (her 9th marathon) for Team Hole in The Wall Camp. She and her daughter Alex ran this year's More Half for Women for Team Hole in The Wall.

When she said that she was coming to Boston and would like to run a road race on July 4th I was beside myself with excitement. She signed her and her daughter Alex up for the Harvard Pilgrim 10K. We met at their hotel and drove to the Race Expo together. As my husband Tom said, "It's a reunion for the first time." We spent a delightful afternoon together and posed for a pic in our race t shirts. We even bumped into one of our friends from "Camp Hyannis."

And took a picture of the start:

We picked up Alex and Pam bright and early on race day to avoid traffic and have time to chill out before the start of the race. I had a tiny bit of pre race jitters but was so focused on the excitement of running with Pam. Pam met a fellow Team Hole In The Wall runner in the parking lot and Tom and I met one of his team mates from Childrens Hospital Miles for Miracle Team. As we made our way to the start, we spotted the Patriots Cheerleaders. I just had to take a photo of Tom with the cheerleaders and it's about the only picture I have of him with a full on grin. Bill Rodgers was introduced before the start of the race and I wondered where Team Hoyt might be. Tom spotted them right in front of us. We went over and hugged them, introduced Pam and Alex to them and snapped a photo (which is in my camera needing to be uploaded along with the photo of Tom and the Patriots Cheerleaders).

Gun time - Pam said that if we needed to go ahead because she was too slow to feel free to do so. I said are you kidding me? That's not gonna happen and besides I'm slower than you. Pam told me about the half marathon she ran with her friend Laurie who was running her first half marathon who had the same concern that day as Pam had today. She said that they vowed to stay together no matter what. So I was able to help Pam shake off that feeling we 'back of the packers' tend to feel. You know what? I need to start a movement to eliminate the phrase "back of the packers." If there were no back of the packers, there would be no front of the pack because there wouldn't be a pack or maybe we should all just be grateful we are part of the pack. Okay enough digression and pontificating.

It was very hot and we just paced ourselves throughout the entire course enjoying the company, the crowds cheering us on, talking about everything, laughing, and keeping hydrated. We joked with some fellow runners. You meet the most interesting and fun people in the back of the pack - oops there I go breaking my own vow to eliminate that term - oh heck - rather than a need to eliminate it - let's just embrace and love it! I felt so free and comfortable running/walking and being fully present in my own body. I could care less about the time and Pam said it was the first race she had run that she didn't look back to see if she were last. My body dictated my pacing for the day. I was so grateful to Tom for taking photos of Pam and me along the route and staying with us even though he could have easily done another 8:32 min/mile as he had at the Inaugural BAA 10K race last week. As we neared the Stadium we walked, dumped more water on our head and drank some more water so we could gather steam for a sprint to the finish.

As we saw the tunnel ahead we broke into a sprint. The Patriots Cheerleaders were there with their pom poms cheering us on and there we were on the jumbo tron.

We hugged each other feeling the love and respect we have for each other and how we have each learned to honor and respect who we are - no excuses. I felt transformed during today's run and felt the magic in the air as we celebrated our Independence Day - freedom from what others think or say about us; freedom to run our own race and freedom to be just who we are. It was obvious that we ignite the light and let it shine every time we take to the roads. And here is a photo of me at the finish. Baby I'm a Firework - and my colors burst!

From my heart to yours
With love and gratitude,