Friday, July 5, 2019

Finish at the 50 Race Report: Part I - Signs and Synchronicity

In my Countdown to Finish at the 50 blog the day before the race, I wrote:

I am thinking about how much fun Tom and I are going to have together finding our way around the new course and pretending, as we often do in a race where we don't know the course, that we are part of The Amazing Race.

I am thinking tomorrow is going to be filled with sweet surprises and serendipity as I allow the Universe to weave its magic.

I am thinking how I am going to enjoy every moment while anticipating crossing that finish line of a race I haven't run in 4 years celebrating my freedom from the past and independence from circumstances that once claimed a terrible toll on me mind, body and soul.

As we sat in Gillette Stadium waiting to get to the start of the 2019 Harvard Pilgrim Finish at the 50 5K, a Facebook friend who I had not yet met in person came up to us. "Team Big Heart!" Nicole exclaimed with a broad smile. "Have you seen Scott yet?" We introduced ourselves and just as she looked around, Scott was going to pick up his bib to run the 10K. She followed him into the building and we gathered for a Team Big Heart photo:

Scott presented her son Caleb with a Team Big Heart shirt. Caleb has been the recipient of a Martial Arts Scholarship from The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation and now wants to run for them and raise money for the Foundation! It was his first 5K. We found each other without technology!

While Tom and I were taking our pre-race selfie at the start with another runner friend, we heard, "I'm not in the pictcha." I thought it was some random runner teasing us about our selfie. "I'm not in the pictcha," he said even louder exaggerating his Boston accent. "Well then get in the pictcha" I said out loud.

Tom finally turned to see who was saying this and it was none other than Dave McGillivray! He had over 3000 runners to attend to with his team from DMSE yet here he was greeting us at the starting line with his son Luke. Dave ran the Boston Marathon for Team Big Heart and has a very special place in his heart for Jack and the Middlemiss family.

He thanked us for running and said he'd see us later.

While waiting at the start, we saw this sign:

I was getting pre-race butterflies when I hear, "Excuse me. I work at Boston Childrens Hospital in the cardiac cath lab."

We turned around and shared our connection to the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation.

"I'm getting goosebumps," Linda Dumont said to me.

"Me too...all over."

Linda is the surgical coordinator for the cardiac catheterization lab where Jack goes for his post-transplant procedure to make sure his heart is working well. She knows, as so many people do, the story of Joseph, Kate, Scott, Jack and Grace.

The Star Spangled Banner was sung and the runners were off! We were at the back of the pack and watched the stream of runners ahead of us pour out of the Stadium. The New England Patriots Cheerleaders were there as we hit the start mat.

We descended the ramps and there was Sheryl with her Canadian crutches taking on the Finish at the 50 four years later. You can read about our 2015 Finish at the 50 by following this link.

"Stay with me Mary and keep a steady pace," Tom said.

We found ourselves next to Linda and her sister Rachel as we followed the course around the parking lot. We shared stories of health and wellness journeys. At the first water stop which was beyond mile 1, I said that I was going to slow down at the water stop. They went ahead of us.

I allowed Tom to pace me and given the heat, I knew better than to push my pace. My goals were to have fun and finish!

As we entered the stadium, we began our ascent of the ramps.

"Are you from Dracut?" a woman asked us.

She noticed our Team Big Heart shirts.

"No" and we went on to tell her about our connection to the Middlemiss Family.

She knew all about the Middlemiss Family and the Foundation and has attended their ScoopFest! She missed it this year because her son, 7 years old, was inpatient at Childrens. He was born prematurely and Erin shared with us how she supports and advocates for and with parents who are going through experiencing premature babies!

She told us that she sent her husband ahead to run his own race but was struggling in the heat.

"I didn't know how I was going to do this but I looked up and saw Jack and Joe."

More goosebumps!

We stayed together and she suggested at different points we go ahead of her but we'd always wait for her. I knew we were going to finish together. The ramps combined with the heat made for a very challenging time but together we cheered each other on sharing labor and delivery stories, my journey back from Post Polio and trauma and my knee injury in 2014 and of course the Middlemiss Family. Tom made sure we took breaks if I didn't initiate them and also stopped to take photos:

What a relief to finally descend the ramps:

As we exited the Stadium, we saw the 10K runners at the start of their race. Scott gave us a high five and Erin's friends cheered her on!

The excitement began to build as we knew the finish line was close!

Tom took this video to capture our triumphant finish:

I was so impressed that the announcer was acknowledging the back of the pack runners as finishing strong...and we certainly were!

Erin said she couldn't thank us enough for being there to support her. I told her what a gift and a blessing she gave to us. I told her that I tend to get competitive with myself and not listen to what my body needs. Being able to be there with her allowed me to run a safe and happy race basking in the glow of signs and synchronicity.

She was embraced by her husband and friends who had run the 5K and we parted ways as we got our bling.

Tom and I had dinner at Skipjacks.

We were debating what to do before the Fireworks display and were walking back and forth before finally deciding to go to our car and get changed into dry t shirts.

We walked into the space to get the Elevator and there were Linda and her sister again. We chatted about the race and in walks Erin with her entourage. "I was just talking about you to my husband..." We exchanged last names and became Facebook friends....

To be continued...

Let freedom ring!

From my heart to yours
In Health and Wellness,

Be sure to visit my website at

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon and "Feel the Heal" and "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" are available in Natick Center Cultural District at Paula Romero Dunbar's Celebration Boutique Paper Fiesta coincidentally located on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon Route. Proceeds from the sale of books for July are being donated to The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation to support Tom's Falmouth Road Race. You can also donate directly by following this link.

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