My Game, My Rules—Dave McGillivray, Boston Marathon Director

Along with all the bling, the running (5k & 10k and half marathon) and connecting with new blogging/running friends, the weekend at Runner’s World included a motivating keynote speaker on Saturday evening.

The speaker was Dave McGillivray, the director of the Boston Marathon since 1988 and the author of a newly released book, The Last Pick.

rw dave m race course

Dave McGillivray – Boston Marathon Director

Dave’s personal accomplishments are extensive… check out this impressive list that another blogger in the group, Tina from Carrots ‘n’ Cake, compiled:

  • He’s run 126 marathons
  • He ran a 2:29 marathon
  • He’s a running philanthropist, who has raised over $100 million for various charities. (RW calculated this number because Dave is too humble to put a number on it.)
  • He’s the original Forrest Gump. In 1978, he ran across the country—from Medford, Oregon to Medford, Massachusetts. He average 45-50 miles every day for 80 days with no rest!
  • He’s run 41 consecutive Boston Marathons. He directs the race during the day and then runs it at night. He’s the last one to finish every year.
  • Each year on his birthday, he runs his age. Last August, he ran 59 miles on his 59th birthday.

Since I’m a motivational speaker and I use my personal story as a catalyst to encourage and challenge others, I was totally thrilled that Laura, the fantastic coordinator of our weekend events at RW, included this in our lineup.

Dave was dressed causally and spoke with a relaxed, conversational style. His speech title, Defining Moments, was extremely fitting for the speech that followed. I wish now that I would have taken more notes, but I’ll have to rely on my pictures of his slides I took from my seat way off center. 

Dave didn’t say this in these words, but from his slides and his message, it’s not hard to see that one of Dave’s goals in life is to make life better for as many other people as he can.

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Katie and Dave

This slide accompanied a great story about Katie, a mostly wheelchair bound young lady, who wanted to do the Boston Marathon, but her physical challenges prevented her from doing so. Her desire and determination touched Dave’s heart, so he set up a modified course of 26.2 feet, complete with finishers tape for her to break as she finished running her marathon.

rw dave m ability

We all have some abilities, it’s up to us to use them.

Of course, this is a message that is near and dear to me. Each of us doing what we can with the ability we have. “Instead of watching others and wishing you could do what others do, why don’t you try to see what you can do?” – Dave McGillivray

As he shared defining moments in his life—from failing in the first marathon he attempted to a promise made to his grandfather that he would run Boston every year to last year’s bombings at Boston marathon— he interwove inspiration and challenges for his audience to inspire us to be bold and to never give up.


rw dave m dreams

Keep dreaming and doing!

Dave is short and that issue bothered him growing up, especially because he loved sports, but he was always picked last (hence the title of his book) for every sports team as a kid. But he has learned that even though he was picked last, it didn’t mean he couldn’t accomplish his dreams.

rw dave m game

My favorite slide of his!

I’ve saved the best for last! Love this slide and what he had to say about it. Your life is your life. Therefore you should make the rules for how to live it. Yes, get and listen to advice from others, but only you can determine the best way to live your life.

This goes against the grain of most of what I heard (and wrestled with) for many years. The message I heard repeatedly from family, culture and religion was that life has to lived by a certain set of rules and those rules were determined by others… and you were damned if you didn’t follow them.

My game, my rules also goes against the grain of the typical keeping-up-with-the-Joneses attitude. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking because so and so has this or that, that we need it also. It would benefit us all to pause and think before we do/buy things simply because others have done/bought something similar.

Some will say My game, my rules is a selfish way to live life… and while it could be, it can also be the exact opposite way of living life. As Dave’s life story shows… he’s all about doing what he can to help as many others as he can.

My game, my rules… simply means you set the rules for your life.

Trying to live in ways that goes against your own wiring and/or in ways to impress others is the surest way to feel depressed and frustrated with life. It took me way too long to wrestle free from those mindsets… and the truth is, I still struggle with not trusting myself more than I care to admit. But life is too short to be lived by the rules of others, so therefore, I will keep on being the best me I can be!

My game – My rules!


Have you ever heard a saying or speaker that changed a mindset you had?
Or helped you have more confidence in something you believed?

What’s your favorite inspiring saying?


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My Runner’s World Half Marathon Recap

All kinds of great things happened on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Runner’s World Half and Festival, but the main event didn’t happen until Sunday morning—the half marathon!

bermuda half

Bermuda Half Marathon in 1996

I’ve loved half marathons since soon after I started running back in the early 90s. I’ve done almost 20 of them. (11 pre-accident and 8 post-accident) They are a challenge, but a lot more manageable than a full marathon, both in training and on race day.

The difference with this half was that I had never run a 5k and a 10k the day before a half, so I wasn’t sure how my body would handle it.

As I woke up about 30 minutes before my alarm (why do I do that?) I found complaints running through my mind. Which made me think about what odd creatures us runners can be. We sign up for races on our own free will. No one forces us to, nor is there a law that says we must. We sign up willingly, but then on race day, we complain about having to run x number of miles.

During the years I struggled with severe pain, limitations and depression, I thought I would never complain about running, if only I could run again. Yet how quickly I forget, because here I was, complaining and annoyed at myself for signing up for this half.

Occasionally I need to reshift my mindsets and Sunday morning was one of those times… as I thought I about it, I wrote this…

I don’t have to run today. 
I GET TO run today. 

What a privilege!
To breathe.
To run.

And that made all the difference in the world. I went to the starting line with a smile and I finished with an even bigger smile.

before and after half

Runner’s World Half Marathon with Toni Church from Running, Loving, Living

Toni from Running, Loving, Living was also one of the RW bloggers and over the previous two days we had connected. Toni is a faster runner than I am, but her achilles bothered her during the 5 and 10k the previous day, so she wanted to run the half slower, so she asked if she could run it with me.

Other than running with Bev, I’ve gotten in the habit of running races alone, because I like to be in my own zone. (Jerry says I have personal space bubble issues – whatever) Since I wasn’t sure how I would feel during the race, I knew running with her could be helpful, especially during the last few miles. Or it could be the opposite and frustrate me… because running with someone makes it harder to quit or to walk/crawl to the finish.

But she convinced me that she will run my pace, walking breaks and all, and wouldn’t push me to go faster than I can. So I broke my own rule about running races alone. I’m so glad I did!

Since I was up early, I had a non-rushed morning of coffee, oatmeal, banana, stretches, foam roller and making my sports drink (yes, I had packed all the ingredients). Instead of the blogger bus, I caught a ride to the start with David and Scott of #RunChat fame.

It wasn’t quite as cold as the morning before, but still chilly, so we waited indoors until the start. (kudos to RW for having a few buildings open with indoor bathrooms) The start for the 5k and 10k had been right outside the buildings, but the half started about 1/2 mile up the road. The walk up there was the perfect warmup for me, because I like/need to walk before I run to keep my exercise-induced asthma from acting up.

Toni and I said bye to the rest of the bloggers (all speedy gazelles) and lined up at the 12-minute mile sign, which was at least 2 to 3 miles slower than normal for Toni.

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Runner’s World Half Marathon start – love the glimpse of the full moon!

I love the start of this half, because it’s downhill for the first half mile or so… though that did cause our first mile to be faster than it should have been. But then a left turn into the streets of Bethlehem changed that when we encountered the first of many hills.

I recently lost my run/walk/run timer (living between two states/houses can do that). I had assumed I could buy one at the expo, but none of the vendors had any. So I decided I would gauge my walking breaks with the hills and water stops, so this hill was our first walking break.

We continued like that over the next few miles. And I soon knew that running with Toni had been the right choice. I loved her company, because we chatted at times, but she was also comfortable with running in silence and I liked the mix of both.

Miles 4 to 7 were tough… lots of hills and for a short time I got caught up thinking about how far it was to the finish. Reminding myself what I wrote that morning helped, “I don’t have to do this… I GET TO do this”.

Then I also remembered a mantra I heard from David Willey (editor of RW) “Run the mile you are in” and instead of thinking ahead, I thought about the moment. About running each mile the best I could… about stepping straight and making sure I had good form which Golden Harper from Altra talked about at a running clinic the day before. (post coming soon about that) 

Toni’s the perfect race partner/encourager. She didn’t push me, but she gently said things like:
You got this.
You can do this. 
One step at a time.
Only a few more miles.

She also proclaimed more than once, “This is the best half I have ever run!” Which was true because RW puts on a great race, and also because Toni wasn’t pushing it as much as she usually did, so she was able to enjoy the run more. As she says in her post, “Slow and best can go hand in hand.”

Toni loves mile 7 of a half because that’s where you start counting down. Picture time!

rw mile 7

Runner’s World – Mile 7!

Mile 9 ran through a residential street with the coolest trees… the leaves were various colors and the tree trunks were cool and knobby/gnarly. Seeing them and remembering them from last year gave me a boost. I was reminded, I’ve done this before, I can do it again.

Plus after that, there was a long down hill back into the streets of Bethlehem… headed home to the Steel Stacks! The last mile or so, plus the finish, for all three races was at the same place, so it really felt like coming home by the time we hit mile 12.

The bottom of my feet were hurting during the last few miles. I ran in my fairly new Altra Intuition shoes, which I had done my training runs in the past few weeks. Love them! But since I prefer to train on trails, my feet were complaining about the asphalt toward the end. I adjusted my foot plant and stride a little, trying to land on the outside of my foot sometimes. That alleviated some of the pain (or at least distracted me from it).

One last hill in the final mile and we were on the home stretch. The last 1/4 mile is between building making a long finishing chute. There’s spectators along most of it, so it’s an exciting finish with cheers, music, and a high-five from Bart Yasso.

rw half finish

Three medals in two days!

I finished this half more excited than I have been about any half. Yes, happy to be finished… but even more excited about how good I felt. Which gives me some much-needed confidence for the NYC marathon happening in about a week.

And I was reminded how doing life with a friend makes every step sweeter. 
Rw toni and I finish 1

Thank you Toni!

Have you done a half?
Do you like to run alone… or with a friend?
Most of these photos courtesy of Running, Loving, Living


Disclaimer: RW sponsored my weekend there and Altra provided me with a pair of shoes, but my opinions are my own. Trust me if I didn’t like the race or the shoes, I would tell you, because I’m all about organized races, along with comfortable, healthy shoes and all that jazz. 


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A Runner’s World Event involves Running—Imagine that!

David Willey, the editor of Runner’s World calls the Runner’s World Half and Festival weekend the place where “the Runner’s World magazine is brought to life”. And that is a perfect description of it. So along with an expo, seminars and speakers about all things running related, guess what else a weekend like this includes?

Miles of running. 
22.4 miles to be exact. 
In a 5k, 10k, and half marathon.
Up and down the hills of Bethlehem. 

And I decided I want to do them all! Because I can!
Or I should say… to see IF I can. Plus, I figured all the runs combined would count as my last long training run for the NYC marathon which happens in two weeks.

One reason for my move to Florida this year is that cold weather and my beatup legs don’t have a good relationship. Whenever those two get together, there’s nothing but screaming and yelling (I measure pain by sound levels) along with too much whining.

So doing a race in PA in mid-October was taking a chance, but what’s life if you don’t throw in some risks? But waking up to temps in the low 40s had me cursing the risk-taking side of my personality and made it hard time for me to maintain a pleasant attitude.
Hence my face in this group photo taken about 6:30AM.

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Smiles from everyone – except for yours truly!  Photo by Monica from Run, Eat, Repeat

But it’s next to impossible to pull from a race or to stay miserable when you are surrounded by excited, smiling runners. So before I knew it I found myself at the starting line for the 5k. Shivering, cursing (under my breath) and trying to stretch while rubbing my leg. (it felt like a giant pair of pliers had a solid grip on my left thigh). 

True to my Runner’s World experience last year, everything, from the baggage check to the start, was again very well organized and the start was promptly at 8am.

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Runner’s World 5k start

With 5ks being the shortest distance most people race, everyone tends to run them fast and since I’m not fast, I don’t really like 5ks. So I tried not to think about this as a 5k, but instead to view is as a 3-mile warmup for the 10k I would be running within an hour.

And that mind game worked! I soon warmed up—the hills helped with that! Plus, rubbing my thigh on walking breaks helped it loosen up by mile 2 and that allowed me to enjoy the run more. I took note of some cool historic buildings and beautiful colored leaves on the trees along the route.

I used the running app on my phone to track my miles, but I turned off the audio pace/minute cues, because I didn’t want to put pressure on myself. This gave me the freedom to strike up a conversation with other run/walkers who were embracing the experience rather than being concerned about finishing times. Before I knew it, I was headed to the finish line.

RW 5k finish

Race 1 – Done!


There was water, banana and some other snacks available. And thankfully the visitors center was open and us bloggers hung out indoors between the races.

It was somewhat tough to know when and what to eat that morning with back to back races, so I was cautious. I had eaten a little oatmeal and some of a Belvita breakfast bar (warning: they taste good and are somewhat addicting) from my swag bag about 90 minutes before the 5k. And between the two races, I ate a banana and a few bites from the Belvita bar.

At 9:30, I was back at the start line ready to double my distance. Some of the course was the same, but over half of it was on different roads (Yay!). The first mile or so my entire body was stiff from the wait between the two races. Again there were regular aid stations with energetic volunteers handing out both water (yes) and gatorade (no).

The second mile again proved to be the place where I loosen up and felt better. (so don’t give up in the first mile!) Between doing a few more Bethlehem hills and the sun warming up, I paused at a water stop to peel off my long sleeve shirt. Over the next few miles, I chatted with some runners who remembered me from running here last year. (a funky leg will do that)

By mile five I was tired. Every step was difficult and I wanted to quit. I had to dig deep and remind myself that running is not only a good thing, but it’s a lifesaver for me. A phone call from Jerry the night before served as a good reminder how far I’ve come from the days when confusion and the depression dragon had me wanting to end my life.

The phone call had brought sad news that Jeremy, a good friend of my youngest son Jon, took action to end his own life the day before. So I ran on in his memory. And I also ran for Jon and all Jeremy’s friends and the pain they are faced with.

It wasn’t long before I was feeling gratitude at the privilege of being able to place one foot in front of the other…. even if I only have a calf and a half.

Breathing and running is a gift!

rw 10k finish

Race 2 – Done!

I was thrilled when I finished! (though according to my face above, I wasn’t as thrilled as I remember feeling) I was happy the 9.3 miles were done, but I was even more grateful for the way my body felt doing it. Not fantastic, but not as bad as I thought it might considering how sporadic my last two months of training had been.

For the rest of Saturday, I celebrated the two completed races and tried not to think about the half happening the following day, because whenever I did think about it… I almost panicked. I was concerned whether my legs would be able to do 13.1 miles… but worrying is pointless, so instead I ate, drank and rested!

Janet-purse wine

Celebrating with purse wine—because I’m classy like that.  Photo by Heather from Relentless Forward Commotion

I’ll recap what happened in the half marathon in the next post.

UPDATE: Half-marathon recap


Have you ever run back to back races?
Has depression touched your life?
What motivates you to keep on when you want to quit?


Recap of the two days prior to these two days of running here:
A Spectacular Weekend at the RW Half and Festival


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A Spectacular Weekend at the Runner’s World Festival

I spent the past weekend in Bethlehem, PA at the Runner’s World Half and Festival and had an amazing time! Other than the cold temps in the morning, the weather was great and the scenery was beautiful—the leaves in PA are just starting to change colors.

Along with that, I met great people and I ran not 1, not 2, but 3 races!
And the best part, I felt better for each one than I thought I would. 

Naturally a world-class magazine like Runner’s World (RW) does a world-class event. I did the RW half last year and loved it. So I was excited a few months ago when I received an invitation from RW to be a blogger for this year’s event. Which meant along with the races, I was treated to a fantastic weekend of seminars, seriously good food, celebrity meet and greets, a running clinic and bags full of swag—goodies from the weekend sponsors.

Thursday and Friday Recap

After checking in at the Courtyard Marriott in Bethlehem (thanks RW for the great accommodations!) I met my roommate Heather Gannoe from Relentless Forward Commotion. My husband is always amazed that I will share a room with a stranger, but I’ve never been disappointed, because I love meeting new people. Plus anyone who runs and blogs is cool (duh) and Heather tops the coolness chart. Great gal, endless energy, kind, competitive, and more. Love her blog tagline, Adventure may hurt you…but monotony will kill you. 

rw heather and i

Our selfie!

RW brought 20 bloggers in for the weekend… they provided us with some cool, unique experiences and we helped them blitz social media with tweets, updates, and pictures. Here’s the bag of goodies from the weekend’s sponsor that waited for us in our room.

rw swag first


By five on Thursday the plan was in motion as all 20 of us were in a party bus headed to the RW headquarters for dinner, a tour and a chance to meet many of the RW editors and staff.

RW party bus

The Runner’s World Party Bus

RW seems like a great company to work for. Not for its fancy building, because it wasn’t over the top, but it was nice, comfortable and efficient, but rather for all the cool people that work there. Everyone, from chief editor David Willey to the mayor of running, Bart Yasso to their new intern, Ashley, was all smiles and eager to chat with us and hear about our blogs and why we do what we do.

The dinner (along with a few other meals during the weekend) was provided by RW’s parent company Rodale, which is all about living well and eating natural, organic products. What’s not to love?! Well, for me, the meat… but they also had delicious plant-based options at each meal. It was so nice to have great food that I don’t have to make or clean up after.

After dinner us bloggers were asked to introduce ourselves and then we heard from RW’s chief editor, David Willey along with a few others, including Golden Harper from Altra—the main sponsor of the weekend. FYI… Altra has the best shoes on the planet!

(If you follow my Because I Can page on Facebook, you’ve been seeing endless bragging about my new Altra shoes, because they are everything I’ve ever wanted in a running shoe.) 

Rw Golden and I

With Golden Harper, founder of Altra. Guess running makes you look young – 30, but looks less than 20.

Friday at 7AM – It was time to board the bus again for a trip to the ArtsQuest Center, the buildings surrounding the SteelStacks. This was the hub for all the weekend’s activities, including the start and finish of the 5k, 10k and half marathon.

RW steelstacks

The stacks of the former Bethlehem Steel Plant

The morning started with a shake-out run with Bart Yasso around Bethlehem, but what’s considered a slow run for most is usually too fast for me, so I opted out of that and did my own 2 mile shake-out run/walk.

After breakfast (provided by RW again) we had a seminar and an informational running clinic (detailed post with all I learned coming soon) with Golden and others from Altra. Golden comes from a family of runners, so running is in his blood, so when he sees something, he must run it.



The running clinic was followed by another seminar and then a running recovery yoga class with Melanie from Icon Fitness (largest fitness company in the world). And we were given another bag of swag! Seriously, it was a great swag-filled weekend!

RW swag

Swag from ICON Fitness! (Available at Walmart)


rw heather yoga

My roommate Heather, striking a great pose with the Xfinity fitness band.

Lunch was over-the-top-delicious with recipes from the newly published Runner’s World Cookbook. And they gave us each a copy!

rw cookbook

The Runner’s World Cookbook

After lunch, it was celebrity time. Summer Sanders, 1992 Olympic medalist—two gold, a silver, and a bronze! She is now a runner and appears on this month’s RW cover. She shared a few funny and inspiring stories from her life with us.

rw summer and I

Summer Sanders

The afternoon ended with a demonstration of the Pro-form Boston Marathon treadmill using iFit, an app that will revolution the way you work out. I’m not a big fan of treadmills, but if I had to use one, I’d pick this one. For starters, it has a fan, so you can feel the ‘wind’ as you run. It inclines and declines and has a top speed of 15 mph, so you can do any type of run your little heart desires. 

The accompanying iFit technology is super cool! Along with tracking your workouts, it allows you to use Google Maps and run anywhere in the world that you desire, including the Grand Canyon, up Mount Everest or through your own neighborhood.

Being an outdoor person, I rather run those in person, in real life… but then again Mount Everest is cold, so it would be neat to run that in a warm room with technology that adjusts the treadmill inclines and declines to coordinate with the gps position on your screen (your screen can be the treadmill screen or your tablet or your large-screen TV!)

rw blogger group

The Bloggers – incredible, cool, hardworking, savvy, kind, funny runners!

There were some evening activities, but after such a fun-filled, exhausting day… all I had energy for was dinner and an early bedtime. Plus, the next two days meant doing 22.4 miles – could I finish 3 races in 2 days?! (Recaps coming soon.)

UPDATE: 5k & 10k recap
Half-marathon recap
Keynote speaker – My Game, My Rules by Dave McGillivray


Have you ever experienced an event that you expected to be good, but then it was even better than you expected?
Were you at the RW Half and Festival?


Thanks to Runner’s World and their sponsors for the weekend and for all the cool swag. 

Altra – Running Skirts – iFit – Ortholite –  Icon Fitness – Bondi Band – Injinji – PRO Compression – SPIBelt – The Stick – Belvita – Run Donna 


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