03. January 2014 · Comments Off on A vacation from the holidays · Categories: holiday

I decided to take a vacation from the holiday this year. Not a vacation over the holiday, but a vacation from the holiday. While I will go into excruciating detail with my therapist, I won’t go into many details here. She gets the juicy details, you do not – sorry. Maybe when I get around to writing a book or publishing my journal, I’ll share the details. For now, they are to remain private.

Christmas presents were bought, but without the fanfare of seasons gone by. I typically love to buy things for others. I think about it for months, purchase them or create them far in advance, then wait with a giddy smile as they open the packages from me. This year, it was very different. Since late in the summer, the stress in the house has been more than I can stand most days. It made the Christmas present season come without the normal joy or anticipation. A discussion with the wife concluded that I wasn’t to buy any large presents for anyone, but especially none for her. This pretty much took the holiday down to just waiting for it to happen with trepidation, not with anticipation. It was a very different holiday.

One of the biggest challenges this year was finding an appropriate Christmas card for my wife. Given everything going on at home, I struggled to find the Hallmark card with an appropriate greeting. While they may advertise as having the perfect cards, they do not have them for every sentiment or every occasion. I came to find out that she also struggled to find the right card this year. We exchanged cards before the kids woke up, and that was for the best so as to not have anyone question what was going on or wanting to see the card with our sentiments.

It has been a tough year for us, and I’m ready to put it behind us and have a better new year, no matter what next year brings. However, I’m glad the stress of the holidays are over and now we can just deal with moving forward once her (big) annual meeting concludes in late February.

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter decided that she wanted to run the Manchester Road Race again. It had been a couple of years since we first ran it and I thought it would be fun. It would be just her and I running since neither my wife nor son had any interest. There was the thought that this would be a run and not a walk, but my daughter’s hips have really started bothering her lately (it’s a persistent, nagging issue for her). So, run, walk, or some combination would be fine. I got to spend a couple of hours 1-on-1 with my baby girl. We would start in the 40-minutes and up coral, the last of the running corals. I’m not sure where we were in that coral, but probably too close to the front for the run/walk effort we were about to undertake. The distance is a strange (to us) 4.748 miles, surely with some interesting history behind that specific distance.

With the temperatures in the upper 20s and a blustery, northwestern wind, we left the house shortly after 8 AM. We headed to our local Dunkin’ Donuts to get her a peppermint mocha hot coffee; nothing for me since I had my share of coffee before leaving the house. Knowing that we would be waiting around for an hour or more in the freezing cold was motivation enough for me not to need to find a port-o-potty before running. We arrived at Manchester Community College’s parking lot by 8:30 and promptly found our way to the bus that would take us to the race. We were surely not dressed warm enough – a few top layers including a windbreaker, hats, gloves, and leggings with shorts on top. I was wearing my Injinji toe socks, like with any long run or race. Without anyone else with us, we had no one we could hand off our extra clothes, meaning we would need to carry anything we brought for the entire race. This was a mistake, causing us to underdress for the very blustery morning of standing around.

We arrived in the area and walked through a wicked breeze to the starting coral. We had an hour to go and we were both already freezing cold. Fortunately, the 15,000 other runners helped to break the wind but unfortunately, didn’t do much to warm us up. It would be a long wait to the start. Finally, the sun rose above the buildings to provide a slight warm up, but not enough that we were warm by a long stretch. As the minutes clicked by, it was finally time for the (three) wheelchair competitors to start. Just 15 minutes more.

The coral fences were removed and a few minutes later, the starting gun was finally fired. We were off, although neither of us could feel our toes by then. Whisked off with the fury of a normal starting line, we ran down the first street and made the first turn. It was then that my daughter’s hip popped and really started hurting. We were walking. We ran a few more times but mostly walked until the end.

While we did not end up with fast times, we got to spend more than an hour walking together and chatting a bit. I won’t have these opportunities forever, so take each one I can. I am thankful on this holiday season, that I get to spend times like this with at least one of my children. Next year, who knows how things will play out, so living in the moment is the best I can do for now.

Last evening, I attended my 35th high school reunion. While I have attended a couple of these in the past, it was 15 years since I’ve seen most of these people in person. Facebook has certainly help close the distance gap through shared photos, stories of our children, news of our divorces, and our jobs. This closed gap made it much easier to recognize those that I hadn’t seen in person in many years. Faces were familiar, stories of kids came easily, and family photos were mostly shown on smartphones. People forgot the normal high school crap, the cliques and the rivalries over members of the opposite sex. Last night, we were all just friends.

As you might expect, some have aged better than others, and some have lived very hard lives. There were divorces, spousal deaths, and restraining orders; there were those with 30-year-old children and those with children of their own under 10 years old and those with grandchildren. There were a few faces that without a name tag, I would have never recognized. There were others that looked like slightly aged versions of my memories from high school. A couple of the girls have grown into elegant women. A couple of men were handsome as well. From what I was able to pick up, I have moved more than anyone else, and several that still live within a mile of their childhood home. I had the usual problem of trying to explain what I do for a living. “I work with computers” seemed to satisfy most, although anyone that knows me professionally, understands that this is a clear understatement of what I actually get paid to do. It didn’t matter – just that I now lived in New England, a seemingly long way from home.

We graduated from high school in 1978 which was somewhere between the drug-fueled Vietnam war protest songs and the demise of disco and “the emergence of pop, dance music and New Wave.” The 80’s on 80 channel on SiriusXM is still probably one of my favorite channels since I really didn’t have time to sit and listen to music in the late 70s. Back then, I had a 10-speed bike and a car that I borrowed from my parents. We listened to albums in our parents’ basements doing things that would have shocked our parents. But we all came out on the other side with a healthy respect for our parent’s work ethics and the need to raise some great kids.

As you might expect, we had a sad corner – where high school photos of those who had died were displayed. I knew about most, but a few photos of others that died were shocking. In a class of almost 450 students, I suppose the number of deaths was in line with statistics. In the center was the one that impacted me the most personally – my best friend Jay who died during our junior year. His family was my second family, his house my second home. I shudder to think how far Jay could have gone if he were alive today, and how much my life may have changed if he had remained a large influence in my life. The months following his fatal crash were the saddest months of my life. But I moved on and quickly grew up, remaining quite close with his family.

Probably the strangest thing last night was talking with several folks that I have known for more than fifty years. Our parents attended the same church so a group of us attended kindergarten in that church before it was mandated by the state. After all, I’m just too young to have known anyone for fifty years, right?

Yesterday, I went to our Boston office to work and meet with a few of my project colleagues. After leaving the house at 5am and riding the commuter rail, I pulled into the office before 8 with a large container of Dunkin’ in hand per my normal routine. Around 11:30, I took off for a small sandwich shop near the office and got what I think is my last BLT of the year and walked back by the waterfront to sit and enjoy a quick bite and take in the beautiful day. A short 15 minutes later, I was back in the office to finish up. I love the fact that you can get pretty much anything you want to eat within a 10 minute walk from that office. It’s in the financial district, so lots of high rise buildings which make for a busy lunch crowd. Service is necessarily quick almost everywhere – at least at the busy places.

After meetings and other work was done, I took off to walk to North Station to meet my youngest child. Kaite is in college in Maine so she took the Downeaster train from Saco to Boston. The station is about a mile from our Boston office; it’s an easy walk on a beautiful day like yesterday. Once I found where her train was arriving, I found my beautiful daughter and got the best hug I could have hoped for. Being away from her for a month always makes that first hug so much sweeter.

Her food allergies have driven down the number of places we can eat, but there are no complaints on my part. We walked around for a bit, then headed to Cheer’s at Faneuil Hall (the replica bar from the TV show of the same name). We sat on the patio where the heaters were turned on, making it a very nice afternoon to sit outside. A couple of quick burgers later we headed to Mike’s Pastry to get some treats for Kaite to take back to school. Two cannoli and six macaroon cookies headed back to Maine in a box to satisfy one daughter and three roommates. We said a quick goodbye and she headed north and I went off to navigate the T system to make my way south to barely make the 5:55 commuter rail back to Worcester. As I pulled into the house just before 9pm, I was one tired man but very happy that I got to see my girl, if only for a couple of hours. She looks great and, unlike last year, she seems quite happy with her life. And as her Dad, that is the most I could hope for.

07. September 2013 · Comments Off on Inevitable change · Categories: change, family, summer, vacation

I took the week off from work for the first vacation for the year. It was not a relaxing break but was a break from work. Without going into too many details, I did too much outside work, had rainy weather, and spent too much time alone and too much time feeling stressed for this to be considered a relaxing week.

Monday was the day to take my baby girl back to college. She had a rough first year, mostly roommate related. This year, she is in a new dorm with 3 other gals that had similarly difficult roommate issues last year. They are each determined to make this a better year. After less than a week after being at school, she and several of those gals took a road trip to see country star Luke Bryan. Given that she saw him over the summer in Hartford, she was in heaven seeing him again. I am so happy to see her in a much better place this year.

Last Thursday, I went shooting with my 21 year old son. He owns a couple of rifles now and I own one rifle that I’ve had since I was a kid. I inherited mine from my grandfather and have used it in the past to kill two deer as I was growing up in Pennsylvania. The shooting was both fun and entertaining. We had no hope of actually seeing the target from 50 yards away but had fun shooting nonetheless. The ammo was purchased by my son and I paid the range fees. All in all, it was a fun couple of hours together.

The big project that I started this week was the repair of our side yard that had stones covering the slope from the back yard to the front that the previous homeowner created. The stones were needed as the pine trees that were between us and the neighbor down the hill prevented most grass from growing on the hill. We removed the pine trees a few years ago and the soil has returned to a pleasant, grass-growing state. So the landscape cloth that the previous owner has laid down was now covered with dirt from the front yard (thanks to heavy rains) and grass that had both started in and now thrived in that same dirt. As I shoveled the stones into a wheelbarrow, I moved the stones that were on the side, many under the ivy bushes. While I was there, I pulled a few random branches while shoveling. Bad mistake. Poison ivy covered most of the ivy so my arm are now covered with what is left from that poison ivy, a week later. It has been a miserable experience that I don’t want to do anymore! To top things off, I had my first colonoscopy on Friday. Fasting for 48 hours and taking the meds to prep were among the least fun experiences of the year to put it mildly.

While there’s a bit more going on at home, I’m not quite ready to reveal that yet since it’s still pretty much just starting to be juggled and is very much up in the air. Let’s just say that one life coach and one therapist will push a few things into changing. It’s been a rough 5 years with no friends outside of work and two very demanding jobs – things are certainly ripe for change. Also, when you no longer need to have your kids in a specific town or high school, options open up. When one of you is in a job you hate and get beat down every day, things have to change. We’ve been together 27 years, married for over 26, but things change. Hopefully, whatever changes come will include both of us.

More to come…

29. July 2013 · Comments Off on Hitting stride · Categories: family, moving, work

Almost everyone who knows me knows that I’m a runner. I’m a slow, back of the pack older runner. But, when you’ve been running long enough, you occasionally have an excellent run. That run is when your legs feel good, your breathing isn’t labored, and your pace is faster than normal without effort. Without glancing at your Garmin, you know that your time was good, the run was nearly perfect. It is that day that you have hit your stride. The run before this one was hard, the next one will be hard as well. But for now, you are able to enjoy this perfect run; you can enjoy hitting your stride.

But this isn’t about running.

To be clear, this isn’t about being cocky, feeling that you’re working harder than anyone else, or feeling that you’re better. It’s quite the opposite. It’s an internal feeling. It’s about the internal comfort that you feel when things just click — you’re positive that you are making a small difference in the overall scheme of your company. It’s when you’re fairly certain that you have advocates that would shout out, “No” if they saw your name on a list of employees to be laid off.

To me, I consider a long term job as one that I’ve been in for 5 or more years. To date, I have had just three of them, but in each one, I’ve eventually felt like I’ve hit my stride.

The first was in Arizona. I spent two years in the life insurance industry. While I totally believed in the product, I was in the wrong business. So I started working for a small company as employee #40, soon to be one of 250 as we grew like gangbusters and were acquired by a number of larger, public companies as the years went along. In all, I was with the group for 10 years, providing internal support and supporting our largest customers as a consultant. My opinion was not only respected, but often, customers would not decide on a path until I weighed in on their best solution and best path. After working there for a number of years, I was well established as the go-to person to get work done and the guy who could find a solution to almost any problem. When the company was sold for the last time, I was one of the few that was kept on as a valued “transition” employee. I was paid extra to help the transition and ultimately, was scheduled to lose my job when the transition was completed. I’d also get a big bonus at the end of the transition and could have found another, similar position during this fantastic job market. Ultimately, the new company found they desperately needed the skills that I brought to the table, and wouldn’t let me go at the end of the transition. I received both the bonus for working through the transition and was the only person given a job at the end of that transition. I had created a niche for myself. While I didn’t realize it at the time, this was the first time I had hit my stride. But a year after transition, it was time to move the family back East and start over.

The next job was for a Fortune 200 retailer in the corporate headquarters in Virginia. I spent a bit over 10 years there as well, first as a manager, then as an individual contributor leading the information security admin team. After leaving management, I worked at another position as the information security team was started. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, I found myself as the senior most person on the team with influence seemingly across our entire corporation. Through persistent networking both within and outside of the company, I became the one sought out by senior management, HR. loss prevention, and legal teams to facilitate investigations, knowledge sharing, and provide insight as to what course of actions should be taken regarding all things information security related. While the company struggled in many ways, I had hit my stride. I had the respect of my peers, the senior thought leaders, human resources, and our legal team. But with the knowledge that the company was heading for bankruptcy, we decided it was time to move on and relocate to New England.

I am currently in my third long-term position. I’ve been with my current employer for a bit over five years, hoping for many more. This is by far the most fiscally stable company I’ve ever worked for and unlike previous employers, will be in business long after I leave or retire. While I performed the job that I was hired for over the first 3 1/2 years of my tenure, my position morphed into a new position for me. At the time of transition, I was the senior member of the team yet again. To say I was apprehensive of this change is a gross understatement. Many people on my new team have decades of experience in similar positions; I was the newbie once again. My employer is large, although private, but is in a highly regulated financial services industry. We need to follow many standards for data security and processes that I needed to follow.

During my first 3 years, I had the pleasure to interface with individuals across the organization. Finding people networking as one of my top skills, I loved interacting with them. Some of my co-workers laugh when the see just how many people speak to me by name as we walk the halls of our glorious building. Less than two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to have dinner with our Chief Technical Officer in a casual atmosphere. While I have known him for five years, it was the first real social interaction we’ve shared. During dinner, he asked me to act as one of a short list of representatives for the department among our sales leaders from across the company. The annual conference is this week and happens to be in Boston. So I am representing the collaboration space (chat, social networking, video chat, and so on) to this elite group of salesmen and saleswomen. It is quite an honor to be asked to do this, and to be just one of a few asked is even more special. The fact that a senior, c-level exec asked me personally means even more. To me, it means that, perhaps again, things have started to click and I’ve started to hit my stride. This is both when the work cranks up and when my ability to hide disappears.

So I said that this wasn’t about running. That may be because I’ve been fighting with my left hamstring for more than a month. I was training for the Hartford Half Marathon and pulled the hammy late into a 5 mile training run. A couple of PT sessions later, it’s better but I’m still not allowed by the therapist to run. When cleared, it’s going to take slow work to get the leg back and the October 12th deadline will be here long before I’m ready. I’ll struggle and never be where I wanted to be when the half comes around. I’ll never get back into my comfort zone and make it an easy 13.1 mile run. I’ll never hit my stride, at least this year.

In most aspects, I enjoy the work it takes to hit stride. For now, I’ll enjoy living in the moment for as long as time allows. For now, it’s time to focus and do the hard work needed to stay in the zone.

We currently have three vehicles in the house. My wife’s Audi, my Toyota, and an old Chevy Tahoe. We also have four drivers that are all employed and none of those jobs are in town. The Audi is a very fast sports car. My wife lets the kids drive it far more than I like, but that is only because it is easy to go very fast and unknowingly be going way faster than you realize. This car also takes premium fuel, at least 92 octane, so is more expensive to drive than mine.

My car is a Toyota Camry, and is a hybrid. It’s just over five years old and passed 100,000 miles this week. I have tried to keep up with the maintenance but it’s a bit tough with my work schedule. I religiously change the oil every 5,000 miles and have gone to using synthetic oil over the past two oil changes. I plan on driving this car into the ground someday, or until I have to spend $3,800 to replace the batteries according to current costs. My mileage varies, but is never less than 28 miles per gallon (MPG) when I run only highway miles, with air conditioning running full time. Typically, I get a bit over 33 MPG on average, better if I run with no A/C and drive more back roads at 45 than on the highway at 70+. Last May, I was driving and was hit by another driver. Damages were a bit over $11,000; it should have been totalled. The other driver was at fault and her insurance paid the entire claim.

The last vehicle we have is a 2001 Chevy Tahoe. We purchased this in late 2001 from CarMax in Richmond. It has only 6,000 miles on it back then and we now have about 160,000 miles showing on the odometer. It has been in three accidents and a few close scrapes. My wife was driving in the first two accidents, and both times the other driver was at fault. The third accident was very minor and caused the ding in the hood and front bumper, but shook up my youngest quite a bit (first accidents do that). The truck also has a sometimes works, most of the time doesn’t work gas gauge. So, you just count on the odometer to know that if you’ve driven more than 200 miles, you should be thinking about refueling. More than 250 miles, it better be filled soon. Last night, the driver’s side window decided to not go back up. So, it’s currently parked in the garage, awaiting my attacking the window to figure out what is needed to get it back up. Based on what I saw on YouTube, it’s likely a $150 part and a good bit of labor to repair. Since we are selling this as soon as we can, it’s basically money down the drain.

So we are on the hunt for two new vehicles and the quest to sell another. One is for my son and will be his purchase, not mine. When he finally locates the Subaru Imprezza that meets his financial restrictions and is a descent car, he’ll purchase it. The other vehicle has become my task to find and acquire. I will hit a few lots today to see what I can find. Then, we will need to find a buyer for the beat up Tahoe. At least the engine is in excellent shape if people can look past the cosmetic damage.

Time to play mechanic and tear apart the Tahoe’s door. Unlike many guys, I dread tearing into any vehicle.

We met with several contractors this week – a windows’ guy, an electrician, and a handyman. This, was behind work that had already been initiated – tree work and replacement carpet in our living space downstairs. I’m currently on the Acela heading to Washington DC to attend a conference for work. This is so much better than airline travel – and you should try it if your schedule works our.

Manny is the new found handyman that will come to pick up the debris that has collected in the back yard for several years. We’ve lived through two major storms and three hard winters since we’ve cleaned out the pile. All we need is a couple of weeks of dry weather and a spark for it, my shed, my John Deere, and other tools to be up in smoke. It was overdue, and his labor and truck are what will take care of this. Then, we start to collect it again – just not without engaging Manny again!

The electrician was a happenstance. We had an electrician that we worked with for other projects, but he has since closed shop and moved from what our sources tell us. This guy was doing work next door and comes with a great recommendation and excellent prices. We’re having the electric to the shed repaired, the under counter light in the kitchen repaired, and the switch / dimmer repaired in the kitchen. I fully admitted to screwing that one up – the rest were out of my hands!

The big financial move was started with meeting with a windows salesman from Renewal By Anderson. These are, admittedly, about the best, most expensive windows we could buy. When all was said and done, we are out close to $11K, but will have new windows in each of the occupied bedrooms (2+2+2) and the upstairs bath. The purchase allows us to replace any more windows, even one at a time, for the same discount and lifetime parts, labor, and installation warranty. The windows we are replacing are 52 years old, we thought this was the best location for replacements since they are in the air conditioned portion of the home and where we are most affected by loss of heat in the winter. Finally, we’ll be able to see out of our bedroom windows in the winter with no condensation!

Of course, we have the downstairs carpet being installed as well this week, so the women in my life decided to paint the trim in the area above the new carpet before it was installed. A few drips of paint on the old carpet was almost fun to see – certainly better timing than if done after the new carpet was installed.

Finally, we are getting the tree work performed in the next few weeks as well. We’ve paid a hefty deposit already and some of that work is getting paid by our next door neighbor, but the majority of money is still coming our of our savings. I think that we’re done for a long time with projects that cannot be done inexpensively and with our own hands!

This sea of flags was from Somers, Connecticut a few years ago. Each stands for a fallen soldier.

This sea of flags was from Somers, Connecticut a few years ago. Each was placed for a fallen soldier.

First things first. Thank you to everyone who has either served in the military, or supported someone who has served. Countless soldiers, families, and children have sacrificed to allow the freedom we know.

As I relax heading into the long Memorial Day weekend, the rain makes me wonder if I’ll get anything done outside. It’s rained hard for the past few days, and we’ve watched the temps drop into the 40’s today. It hardly seems like late May, but we are in New England where, if you don’t like the weather, just wait because a change always comes quickly. We have embarked on several home projects lately, mostly involving contractors. We’re taking down a few trees, having a large brush pile removed, replacing the carpet in our large basement, and thinking about replacing about a third of our windows. And then there’s the patio.

Working on the exterior of our home and yard has really taken a back seat to life over the past four years. Initially, we went about  things with all the gusto of a new homeowner who had more time than money to keep up the appearances put into the home so the previous owners could sell. In that time, the changes that they made on the surface didn’t last. Since purchasing the home five years ago, we had the house painted, repaved the pothole filled driveway, and, out of necessity, replaced both the roof and the four skylights in the roof of our Florida room. We ignored the landscaping with the exception of occasional focused effort, pruning, and mulch most years.

With each passing season, we know that we need to focus on this 50+ year old house itself. We have been stashing cash away after paying off all of the cars, mostly because we never want to be in the situation we were a year after moving to New England. We had burned through almost all of our available cash just to get by, so we did what we could inexpensively. Inside, we repainted all three bedrooms, the living room, dining room, and hall. We painted both up and down stairways. But, it’s time to step up the game and deal with more than the surface issues. We ignored the gardens except for planting a few new flowering bushes and being very agressive with our pruning tools. This year, our pruning efforts are starting to pay off with plants finally flowering for the first time since we’ve lived here, and trees that look much healthier than they did when we bought the place.

Inside, we have put up with original, 50+ year old windows that leak fog up with every cold winter day, and the underlying windowsills that are now mushy from rot. Energy waste isn’t our primary concern, but the rotting wood from the windows can ruin the walls beneath them and create a huge expense that is bound to follow. We have over thirty windows in all, so replacing all of them at once would come close to $20,000. We’re just not in the position to do at this time as you can imagine. Replacing the worst ones, in some semblance of order, seems like our best course of action. Sue did a rough measurement of each of the worst ones, close enough that a trip to Lowe’s will allow us to ballpark the net window cost. There are additional costs involved such as labor, so experts will tell you to double the window cost to get us close financially. It’s going to be a depressing visit to Lowe’s, I’m afraid.The good news, according to our neighbor, is that we can use new construction windows which are both less expensive and better built than generic replacement ones. Let’s hope he’s right.

And then there’s the patio. Our patio consists of flagstones, sitting on top of what we guess is dirt and stones. There are steps down from the front on the west side, and grass / stones leading down on the east side. Our basement is a walk out, with the south half underground and the north half opening to our Florida room and then the patio and back yard. The patio is contained by railroad ties that are 20+ years old, installed by the original homeowner. The ties have disintegrated as the years have gone by, with the structural support seemingly less and less secure each month. We need a major renovation of the patio – just shoring it up is not smart. No one uses railroad ties anymore for this sort of landscaping due to the deterioration problem.

We have our grill on one corner of the patio and need to come up with a plan to anchor the grill somehow. Our current grill went tumbling off the deck during one of the hurricanes that passed through last fall. The only thing that caught it was the attached gas line hose – and that could have erupted if a spark was present. We had the feeder standpipe from the big gas tank fixed, but only with the contingency that we needed to anchor the grill down within 30 days or they would disconnect the gas. So a temporary anchor needs to be in place after this weekend. The current grill is banged up, broken, but still works a bit until we can replace it. Again, that’s in the plans for this weekend, knowing that a patio replacement will require re-thinking the whole grill situation.

Time to enjoy the rain and relax a bit for the long holiday weekend before working outside if the rain stops.

21. April 2013 · Comments Off on FUT: Fear, Uncertainty, & Twitter · Categories: Boston

This week was a tough one. Following friends and co-workers as they ran the Boston Marathon is a part of every Patriot’s Day for me. I love watching the splits, aching for some of them as the split times decrease in the latter 5Ks, silently cheering as they cross the finish. With the splits shown real-time for every 5K through the end, you have to think about what they are going through as the miles tick by.

On Monday, the 5K splits took on a different meaning. Many of my friends had crossed the finish line in their normal, fast paced fashion. Former co-worker Mike from Richmond clocked in at just under 2:58; current co-worker Cheryl was a tad over 3:54. Just 16 minutes after Cheryl crossed the finish line, the city of Boston, hundreds of families, and my running community was turned upside down.

As I watched fellow runner Chris Russell during the race, he was slowing down particularly after the half. After the half, his mile pace went from sub-ten minute miles to 12:17, 13:44, 13:27, and at 40K, to 15:33. The final time that gets shown for all runners is after they cross the finish line. It was a few minutes after Chris passed the 40K that a co-worker came rushing back to his desk and told me that there were what appeared to be bombs that had exploded at the finish line. Unbelievable horror.

I anxiously checked Chris’ split since he was the last person I knew still on the course, and saw that his finish time was never recorded. If my calculation is right, he was less than a mile and a half from the finish at the 40K split, before disappearing from my visible radar. I cannot believe how his family felt not knowing where he was, if he was okay.

My running feed on twitter lit up. Everyone wanted to know that their friends and family were okay. Twitter seemed to be the best, real time source of news about individuals and about what was going on. I pretty much stopped working while I started following what was going on. There were many people that I follow on twitter checking in with simple tweets. I’m ok was probably the most tweeted phrase of the day, but it was enough. That simple message was all it took to have a family breath a sigh of relief. I’m guessing that it was an hour or more until word came through that someone had heard from Chris’ family had found him in the chaos and he was okay. Chris’ first tweet after he stopped said it all.

“I’m ok. Fucking horror show.”

Here’s a link to Chris’ Run Run Live podcast where he first interviews Dave McGillivray, Race Director for the 2013 Boston Marathon. This interview was done a week or so before the Marathon, before any of the madness started.

Starting just about 25 minutes into the podcast, Chris tells the story of his 2013 Boston Marathon. It’s great insight of what Chris experienced, and I’m thankful that he shared this incredibly difficult story. Please listen – it is well worth an hour of your time: CLICK HERE

Friday brought a Wear Boston Day at work. There was a sea of Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins shirts everywhere you looked. Everyone was supporting Boston, even though the murderers were still at large. Cheryl wore her bright yellow 2013 Boston Marathon technical shirt with pride. I can’t imagine just how many strangers came up to her and asked about the Marathon, and how difficult that must have been for her to answer. She had finished with a very respectable time, but wasn’t celebrating.

Finally, in the latest, special unnumbered The Extra Mile Podcast episode, one caller talks about how the support of our family and friends is so important. It really came home with how many of those friends and family were injured waiting for their runners at the finish in Boston. I’m certain that the events that unfolded on Monday and throughout the week will make everyone think twice about attending a race, and that it will be very difficult to stand at the finish line waiting for your athlete to cross that line without thinking about that fateful Monday. Hopefully, they will remember that this was two sick individuals, and that the greater goodness of the people of this great country of ours came together to stop it and start to heal.