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 www.marymcmanus.com
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.