Saturday, August 31, 2019

Book Launch Party: "Running Across America"

What happens when a teacher, a 65 year old runner/philanthropist who has done epic stuff and a "Kindness" Foundation come together with a community of like hearted people? You have an event that kicks off what is sure to create ripples of change and kindness for generations to come.

On August 26th, almost 41 years to the day when Dave McGillivray finished his run across America at Fenway Park to benefit the Jimmy Fund, over 250 people gathered at the State Street Pavillion at Fenway Park to celebrate the release of his latest book, "Running Across America."

Last year, writer and teacher Nancy Wendland Feehrer, and Dave launched the book, "Dream Big".

They are planning a series of children's books based on Dave's epic adventures to teach children the importance of setting goals not limits, perseverance and despite the challenges you face, there are always ways to dream big and reach your goals.

Dave didn't want children to just read the book and say, "Oh that's nice" and put it down. He created a call to action, "The Dream Big Marathon" to read 26 books, run 26 miles and practice 26 acts of kindness.

Dave was inspired by The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation and Nancy, Dave and The Foundation have developed a partnership to bring "Dream Big" and now "Running Across America" to schools across America.

Dave's wife Katie was the Room Parent for Foundation co-founder Kate Middlemiss' kindergarten class. Katie shared with Dave how much Scott was suffering after the loss of their son Joseph and Dave gave him a bib for the Boston Marathon knowing the therapeutic power of running. And they were off and running supporting the Mission and Goals of the Foundation with powerful friendships forged especially between heart warriors Jack and Dave.

On our walk from our parking space to the event, we took photos of iconic Fenway Park:

When we arrived, we took in the scene of The State Street Pavilion:

Diana Colby's husband Chris Colby came all the way from Texas to represent Bluebonnet Elementary School at the event.

We instantly spotted each other across the room from our Facebook photos! Becca Pizzi came over and it was like old home week for Becca and Chris. This is one of the million things I LOVE about the running community.

After greetings, hugs and photos with Nancy and her family

I was stopped in my tracks to see my books and the 65th birthday poem I wrote to Dave on a table along with several other authors' books:

"Um Nancy...this is your book launch. What did you do?"

"Well," she said with so much love in her voice, "I saw the names on our guest list and knew that they had written books so I decided to put out a display of the authors in attendance. Those are my copies of the books."

We hugged and went on our way to see the stunning view of the field and the Fenway Park 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon in progress. Several attendees in the crowd were proudly wearing their bling from the races they had just run.

One of my friends said, "Hey I found you. You're in the program. Do you sign this?" He was referring to the Scavenger Hunt for Authors:

There were hors d'oeuvres being passed around and a make your own Fenway Hot Dog and Fenway Sausage buffet along with a dessert table.

"How do you know Team Big Heart?" I asked someone standing next to the Authors' Table wearing a Team Big Heart shirt.

"Scott was kind enough to give this to me. I run the Boston Marathon with Dave every year in the evening."

We remembered the thrill of Dave running Boston just 6 months after open heart surgery and raising over $200,000 for The Foundation. I shared with Brent Richardson how Tom and I cheered Dave on at Cleveland Circle.

"Well then you saw me," he said.

He introduced us to his wife and son. We discovered that we had a lot in common. Brent had an epic comeback after having suffered Guillain Barre Syndrome. It's a rare disorder in which your body's immune system attacks your nerves. Weakness and tingling in your extremities are usually the first symptoms. These sensations can quickly spread, eventually paralyzing your whole body. He writes poetry for every occasion and his wife creates greeting cards. I am so glad he was wearing his Team Big Heart shirt and that we were able to connect.

We met Kelly Allen McLay at Cleveland Circle on Marathon Monday. She was part of Dave's entourage during this year's evening Boston Marathon run. We became Facebook friends and met again at Becca Pizzi's 5K. Kelly ran 7 Marathons in 7 Days on 7 Continents and has an inspirational story of her own finding her way to running after being diagnosed with early menopause at the age of 21. She was recently featured in Womens Health Magazine and she told us that they used the photo Tom had taken of her running with her daughter:

We laughed about Tom receiving royalties for the photo. Kelly's inspirational story is included in Tales from the Trails: Runners’ Stories that Inspire and Transform. The book will be launched on September 20th.

More inspiration came into the room as Kate and Scott, founders of The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation, Jack and Grace arrived. We were able to get this photo before Jack and Gracie took off:

{Scott was wearing a LaCoste Strong t-shirt to support his Principal and dear friend, Kevin LaCoste who suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury this summer. You can make a donation to his GoFundMe page if you are so inspired.}

After schmoozing and eating, it was time for Dave, Nancy and Scott to express their gratitude for the amazing turnout of friends to support the launch and to talk about "Running Across America", "Dream Big" and the Dream Big Marathon.

The crowd listened with rapt attention including Boston Marathon Champion Jack Fultz:

Unbeknownst to me, Brian Baker, who has run 41 consecutive Falmouth Road Races and who we recently met in Falmouth and his wife Carolyn, were standing next to us but we never connected at the event. Brian shared these photos on Facebook:

When we arrived home, we read "Running Across America"

I may have cried and felt goosebumps all over especially as Dave and Nancy wrote about Dave's grueling challenges and lessons learned at different locales and -- spoiler alert -- when he rounds the bases at Fenway.

"Running Across America" is available on Amazon:
A full-color, inspiring picture book about Boston Marathon Race Director Dave McGillivray’s 3,452-mile run across America in 80 days!

As a teenager, Dave McGillivray heard a news story about a person biking across the United States. “What a great idea!” he thought. “But instead of a bike, I’ll use my sneakers!”

This is the funny, touching, true story of McGillivray’s 80-day, 3,452-mile run from Medford, Oregon, to his hometown of Medford, Massachusetts. In Running Across America: A True Story of Dreams, Determination, and Heading for Home, McGillivray tells the tale of how he braved the Sierra and Rocky Mountains, millions of grasshoppers in Nebraska, days of pouring rain in Ohio, the occasional rattlesnake, and intensely sore knees. On top of it all, homesickness and doubt are constant companions as he tries to achieve his dream of running from coast-to-coast.

And that’s not his only dream―the cross-country run is part of his goal to help kids in need. By making the run a fundraiser for the Jimmy Fund, McGillivray joins his favorite baseball team, the Red Sox, in making lives better for children battling cancer. Through 13 states, blistering heat, and being “pulled over” by a State Trooper, McGillivray relies on good friends, family, a sense of humor, and sheer determination to fulfill a dream―and to help kids who can’t run.

• A true story with lots of humor and heart, this picture book is a follow-up to Dave McGillivray’s book about the first time he ran the Boston Marathon, Dream Big: A True Story of Courage and Determination.

• Running Across America serves as the basis for McGillivray’s Dream Big "Marathon," a challenge explained at the end of the book for kids to run 26 miles, read 26 books, and do 26 acts of kindness in 26 weeks, sponsored by the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation.

I can't wait for their next book which will be about Dave's epic achievement of running 7 Marathons on 7 Continents in 7 Days!

Dave is going to be speaking at Whiraway Sports Center in Methuen on September 11th. Follow this link to register.

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours

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.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Falmouth Road Race Weekend Part 4 - Until Next Year!

There is an arc to destination race weekends. It begins on Thursday or Friday with the Expo. Old friends and never met in person friends but are friends on Facebook plan meet ups. Restaurant recommendations and shake out running routes are shared. There's often an event on Saturday and at Falmouth Road Race Weekend, we participated in the Falmouth Walk. And then it's Race Day! All that energy that was stored up in runners' bodies gets let out over the race course while spectators cheer with their voices and more cowbell. As spectators and runners head to after parties with hoarse voices and sore legs, the race crew begins their clean up.

Crowded streets lined with water stops and charity runner tents, barricades to keep spectators at a safe distance from the runners and the finish line with its clock and medical tents magically disappear. DMSE crew are as quick to break down a race as they are to set it up.

Checkout time at the Falmouth Inn was for 11:00am. We set the alarm for 7:00am on Monday morning to ensure we'd have enough time for our morning meditation, traditional run along part of the course, breakfast and time to pack up the car.

It was a hot and humid morning despite being on Cape Cod near the ocean. I love running during vacations because we make up our route as we go.

Here are beautiful scenes from our run that included part of the Falmouth Road Race course. I love asking Tom how he felt at different points along the course and shared with him how we are able to see the sea of runners across the harbor from Mile 6 as they made their way to the finish line.

Even though the Falmouth Road Race is too crowded and too fast a field for me, we get to be together the morning after the race to share in the race experience. We dedicated our miles as we have for the past month to Kevin LaCoste and his family. Kevin suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury and is now recovering at Spaulding Rehab. If you are able, please donate to his GoFundMe page. And please send prayers for healing to this beloved and kind Principal, husband, brother, runner, friend and father of two beautiful children. Kevin had a bib for Falmouth and his wife Ali was going to run for Team Big Heart.

We finished our run at Mary Ellen's Portugese Bakery across from the Falmouth Inn; one of our favorite breakfast places in Falmouth. We were sweaty and hungry yet our hearts were full from the weekend.

As we headed back to our room, Bill who we met when we arrived on Friday was in the hallway.

"Hey you guys already been out training again? You did what 10 miles?" he quipped.

"No we just did a 5K" and I went on to explain how Tom and I have the Monday after tradition of running part of the course together.

We were thrilled that we saw him before we left because Tom captured a picture of him at the push rim wheelchair start:

"We left a note for you on your car door," Tom told him.

"Well it's better than a ticket," Bill quipped referencing how we met. Bill forgot to put up his HP placard. At first glance, without a HP placard or plate, we thought Bill had parked illegally in the handicapped space but once I saw he was maneuvering to get his wheelchair out of the car, Tom and I realized our mistake. I did ask him gently if he had a placard and helped him put it on the rear view mirror. We all laughed at the memory which brought out another runner from his room, also a wheelchair participant.

Everyone talked about their races and about the stellar performance of Daniel Romanchuk

"We may as just pack it in and go home," Bill said.

"I am going to do something in the Masters Division", Matt boasted.

We asked about next events and wished everyone safe travels home but before we did, we sent off a text to Bill and Matt of the Wheelchair Start:

We ended our encounter with, "See ya next year."

On our way to the car, we bumped into Beth Singleton Craig.

We exchanged big hugs and talked about the weekend while asking about what's next for Team Babsie. They are going to go for a Boston Qualifier at the Bay State Marathon and have their sights on doing Camino de Santiago/b> in 2020. I felt goosebumps all over remembering the trailer she shared on Facebook about the journey of this duo. Beth has a deep faith and believes that whatever is meant to be will be.

We gave more hugs, wished each other safe travels home and said we would see each other at the 6th Annual Middlemiss Superhero 5K in a few weeks.

Runners speak the same language and whether or not we've known someone for a few years or a few days, friendships are easily forged. I often say that runner friendships are like instant oatmeal - just add a race or running and you've got it made!

That's a wrap for the 2019 Falmouth Road Race Weekend...thanks for reading...until next year!

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours

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.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Falmouth Road Race Weekend - Part 3 - Race Day!

After 3 months of fun(d) raising and training, race day finally arrived!

The night before, we set up everything for breakfast and what I would need to take as a spectator and support crew for Tom. We set the alarm for 4:45am to ensure we would have time for meditation and breakfast before heading to 23 Jericho Path where we would meet up with Teammates and other members of our support crew.

We had done a "dry run" from our hotel to the house several times from different routes and from Mile 6 back to the house on Saturday. We left nothing to chance or so we thought.

We arrived with Team Captains Linda and Brad Gilbreth and another teammate Eliza. We parked mostly on the sidewalk near the grass and since it was race day, we didn't give a second thought to where we parked. Eliza left her keys but when Linda and Brad asked Scott Middlemiss, founder with his wife Kate of The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation, if she should leave her keys he said "No. We won't need to move cars."

Andrea's daughters were kind enough to provide transportation to the buses to the start and I was told to make myself comfortable while Kate rested with Jack and Gracie.

I went on social media where many of my friends were posting about race day including Ali LaCoste who was supposed to be running with her husband Kevin but he suffered a fall resulting in a traumatic spinal cord injury. She wrote a powerful poignant post about all the feelings engendered by the recent events in their lives and the outpouring of support gave me goosebumps and tears.

Sydney and Rachel returned from dropping off the runners at the starting line. We were relaxing and chatting in the kitchen when there was a knock on the door. I could see it was a policeman. We were informed that we were parked illegally and had to move our cars. We explained that we were part of the team running for the Foundation and one of the members didn't leave the keys to the car. He had no sympathy for us. The car was going to be towed! We asked if we could have it towed onto the grass where we were able to park. He barked that they wouldn't do it. When two more Team Big Heart members arrived who were going to be part of the cheer squad at Mile 6, we were able to convince him to let the car be towed on the grass.

While we were in the midst of handling what was happening with the cars, Tom and the Team's bus driver went the wrong way to Woods Hole. The driver had to circle back to Falmouth in order to get to Woods Hole again.

The cars were safely on the grass and the Team made it to the start.

Tina, Joanne and I decided to head to the Tent at Mile 6. Something nudged me to not go to Starbucks with them and to just head over to the Tent on my own.

I could see something was not right as there was a water stop being set up right at the Tent.

"Are you with this group?" the lead person at the water stop asked me.

"Yes I am," I said. "What's going on?"

"This Tent has to be moved."

"I see that."

"Who is in charge?"

"I am," I asserted and made an executive decision to have them move the tent to a grassy area in front of someone's house. There were other spectators lining the road in front of the house and it did not seem as though anyone was home. I took a deep breath and hoped for the best! I knew that angel Joseph would be with us watching over us.

Tina, Joanne and I settled in for an incredible spectator experience. Rod Dixon walked by. He gave me the warmest greeting and I introduced him to Team Big Heart and Tina and Joanne.

Kathy Sullivan Boyer and Dick Hoyt set up chairs next to us.

Now that our little crises were behind us, it was time to soak up the excitement of race day.

Tom sent me photos and videos from the start to help me feel like I was right there with him:

Photos at Woods Hole before the start including race director Dave McGillivray, Frank Shorter, and our new friend Bill in the wheelchair division. Out of 12,000 runners, Tom found our friend Steve and took a selfie with him:

The singing of The National Anthem:

The start of the push rim wheelchair division:

The start of the elite women's race:

Having a front row seat at a road race is medicine for my soul and sharing that front row street with the wonderful Team Big Heart running family makes the race that much sweeter!

What a thrill to see Daniel Romanchuk fly by in his push rim wheelchair. He went on to set a new course record. We saw Tatyana McFadden who went on to also set a course record. The 2nd place elite male runner was in hot pursuit of the lead runnner and I followed them with my eyes until they dropped out of sight. An American soldier, Leonard Korir went on to win and his is a story of perseverance and not giving up.

I spotted W27 and screamed to cheer Bill on to the finish.

Jack who is 18 months post heart transplant and his sister Gracie were adorable spectators standing tall on Andrea's daughter's shoulders giving high-fives to the runners:

Joanne and Tina kept watch for Team Big Heart runners to welcome them to Mile 6 and offer them the traditional shot of beer to take them to the finish while I spotted friends Shawn Whalen, Brian Baker and Marc LeBlanc as they ran by. We saw Desi Linden and were all in awe of her stride. Tina became our official Mile 6 photographer. I had just sat down to take a break from all the excitement when Joanne announced, "Here comes your husband." I was stunned because he was going to take it easy with his run especially given the heat and humidity. The day began with fog and misting and we hoped the sun wouldn't break through but it did. Tom arrived looking strong and Tina took these photos:

We welcomed Team Big Heart runners with hugs and high fives wishing them well for the last mile of the race.

Beth Singleton Craig of Team Babsie fame said she would stop for a selfie at Mile 6. They are part of Team Hoyt. Dick and Kathy hugged Beth, Diane MacDonald and two other members of Team Hoyt running with Team Babsie and Joanne took this selfie:

When Tom finished he sent me a text and began walking back to mile 6.

Before he arrived, a woman came up to me holding up her phone. "Is this your husband?" she asked and showed me this photo:

I tried to place her. Tom saw her wearing a Heart Warrior Foundation t-shirt and asked her to take his picture by his finish time. As it turned out, Kimberly and I are Facebook friends through the network of connections through the Middlemiss Foundation. It is indeed a small world and we are all connected.

Crowds made their way back along the route after crossing the finish line but there were still a lot of back of the packers coming through. We made sure to cheer extra loud for them and gave them words of encouragement.

Tina, Joanne, Tom and I made our way back to 23 Jericho Path where Kate and Scott were hosting a team party.

Runners regaled stories of their race and spectators shared the excitement of race day.

To date, Team Big Heart raised $13,126.

As we ate hamburgers, hot dogs, salad, pasta salad, crackers and cheese and chips and salsa, Tina "just happened" to look up.

There was a rainbow that appeared out of nowhere...There had been no rain yet there was a rainbow right over the house.

Kate said there was also a butterfly in the garden.

Joseph Middlemiss let us know he was with us and I believe he was smiling and sending love and gratitude to us for carrying on his legacy of kindness and love.

You can still donate to the Team by following this link.

We said our goodbyes -- our long goodbyes with hugs and agreed that this would become an annual tradition! With hugs and tears we all agreed that somehow, some way Ali and Kevin would be with us again crossing that finish line of The Falmouth Road race together! They were with us in our hearts all day and Team Big Heart ran for #lacostestrong! Andrea was in charge of writing Kevin on the runners. Tom had her write his name down his arm so he could carry Kevin and Ali with him close to his heart:

Tom and I got changed at our hotel and headed to the beach to unwind and relax after an incredibly wonderful day. We went to The Flying Bridge for dinner again, went to Main Street to soak up the energy that is uniquely Falmouth and just had to have a Ben and Bill's ice cream to top off our day.

We had one more day to round out our Falmouth Road Race Weekend.

To be continued.....

To your health and wellness
From my heart to yours

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.