Are There Really ONLY TWO DAYS Until Pittsburgh?

Countdown to Pittsburgh = 2 Days. In a little less than 48 hours I will be running this:
Please do your best to ignore MOUNT Washington somewhere around Mile 7
I’ve never been more scared for a race (although I might have said that before my first half, at least my husband seems to think I did).
I don’t even know what to wear anymore! I think I want to change my outfit and I have to pack and make sure I have all of my running gear! I’ve never made sure to pack my running gear before – I have never run this far away for any more than a 5k!?! Ack! And my stomach is queasy – must be the nerves – my throat is slightly sore – pray to the Heavens that I am NOT getting sick! I need to remember my camera and my cell phone charger and my laptop – right?!
Calming down, in major freak-out mode here!
The support and encouragement I have received from my running buddies has been amazing! Today I do also feel a tinge of excitement. I expect Pittsburgh to be a rollercoaster ride of emotions for me. The tidbits of encouragement and advice you have been sending to me this week have been wonderful – THANK YOU!
Here is just a little of what has been keeping me going:
“You will do great! You have trained hard for this & you’ll have friends & family supporting you.” Laurel, MIT Lucky 13ish (she’s fast!) who is running the half on Sunday
“I just wanted to let you know I will be thinking of you and your journey at your first marathon. I wanted to make sure you lube the following put a ton of lube on these areas:
nipples ( I would even wear nipple guards)
under your arm pits
your thighs
between your butt cheeks
and right where you sports bra is around your chest upper and lower.
You have big boobs like me and let me tell you after so long the bra does start to move and cause friction EVERYWHERE! Be prepared to go through every emotion you have. For some reason I went through it all Excitement, I almost started crying at one point because I got to thinking about way to many things. You are going to want to stop but you just keep trucking and look toward that finish line! I know you will be awesome. Be prepared for every single one of those emotions to hit all at once, once you cross the finish line and they put that medal around your neck. This is your first marathon so always expect the unexpected.” –Adrianne, my friend (Thanks for the tips, girl!)
Me, Bart and my Mom
“I will be thinking about you in the marathon. Start out slowly and enjoy the day. Your Mom will be looking down at you with a very proud smile.” – Bart Yasso, um, only my RUNNING HERO!
“Sara, wishing you great weather and a terrific run this weekend in Pittsburgh. You can do it and your mom’s spirit will be the angel on your shoulder running with you the whole way! You will be in my thoughts and prayers.” – Karen, a family friend
“Every day can be a bad day. But every day can be a good day. Suck it up Wyen and RUN! Make it a GREAT day!” – Wendy, my training partner for most of this MIT season, hero and my friend.
“You rock! Remember to savor the experience because there will be many more marathons in your future, but there is only ever one first marathon!” – Heather, MIT running buddy
“Good luck. I will be thinking of you Sat. I cant wait to hear about your stories. You inspire me.” – Darlene, MIT Lucky 13 
“Good luck in Pitt my friend! This will be epic and you my dear will be AWESOME! I cant wait to read your blog!” – Shana, my friend
I am so excited for you! You are going to be awesome tomorrow. Simply fantastic. You can so do this. Have fun and good luck!!” – Keri, MIT Lucky 13
You’re getting so close to your Marathon! I’ll be rooting for you from afar like a crazy girl. :)” –Jen, my blogland buddy
I could go ON and ON……….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love you guys!
2 days and counting…During the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 15th, I will be thinking of:
Mile 21: YASSO did it!
“Never limit where running can take you.” My mom and I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Yasso earlier this spring and hear him speak. It was unbelievable. He came to run with MIT and even though I was sick that weekend and could not run, meeting Bart is one of the coolest people I have ever met! At Mile 21, I will be thinking about all of the amazing things he has achieved through this sport that we share. I am humbled by his sheer determination to run and overcome the biggest and baddest of obstacles – Death Valley in the middle of summer, a charging Rhino is India, the onset of Lyme disease in the oxygen-deprived atmosphere of Mt. Kilimanjaro, drug and alcohol addiction, bicycling across the U.S. alone, and training ex-cons to run their first relay. Talk about not limiting yourself! 
Bart was a hero to my mother too. We had plans to look for him in Pittsburgh on Sunday (he will be there)! I told him when I met him I would keep an eye out towards the finish line. Bart was even kind enough to remember me and send a message, “Sara, I’m so sorry to hear about your Mom. I remember meeting her at Fleet Feet. I’m sure yesterday [Cap City] was a tough day for you. We never got to run together in Columbus. I hope our paths cross and we can go for a run together someday. Bart” How cool would that be?!? I hope to run with you too, Bart, but don’t worry, you’ll be running Mile 21 with me in spirit!
Mile 22: Terri did it!
“Human beings can accomplish anything they put their minds to. All they need to get started is someone to show them it’s possible.” Mr. Terry Hitchcock – another running hero of me and my family and the star of his own personal story My Run. At 57 years old Terry Hitchcock was left to raise three small children on his own after losing his wife to breast cancer. Not long after his wife’s passing, Terry also lost his job and soon found out how difficult raising a family alone could be. He decided, against all odds, to raise awareness for single-parent households and the struggles that are faced each and every day, by running 75 consecutive marathons in 75 days on an over 2,000 mile cross country trek. If Terry can do it, I can do it. I don’t have a single right to complain about even one single mile in Pittsburgh.
Terry reminds us of the obstacles we face every day – the marathons of life – and that we can overcome them with determination, self-confidence, belief in the extraordinary, and the will to succeed. Right now I am running more than one Marathon in the race of life. Since my mother’s passing, Terry’s story means more than it ever did before.
Mile 23: Don’t Stop Believing
“Hold on to the feelin’?” I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up. I will cross the Finish Line! What are 3.2 more miles? Just about a 5K! Why stop now? You’re practically there!
Mile 24: Pain is Temporary
 This moment, however you are feeling, is only temporary. Savor the moment. The pain you feel now, will only be secondary to the big finish. 
Literally this time. The God-honest truth, for real. Just one more mile to go! Don’t give up NOW! If you run just one more mile, you will be done!
Mile 26: Finishing is Forever
(See Mile 24). You will not regret this – you know this to be true. Running has changed your life. Cherish this moment. Remember it always; you only get one first marathon! Your family and friends will be there to cheer you on!
You went from never even exercising to running a marathon – time to celebrate!!
Until the next mile marker, 

Me and Bart (Yasso, that is) and a Special Surprise for YOU!

Me and Bart

Thursday night I was sitting in Immediate Care as the nurse took my pulse, blood pressure, and temperature. I tried to choke back my coughing and ended up gasping for air in a desperate and embarrassing attempt to conceal the fact that I was actually sick. “You have a temperature,” she said. “I’m training for a marathon,” I said. “You need to rest,” she said. I gulped and asked her for how long. Four to six days was her reply. I felt the tears welling up in my eyes. I’ll be fine, I thought. “Rest, only brisk walking for 20 minutes or less until you feel better,” she said in a stern, but concerned voice. “But,” I nearly wailed, “I’m supposed to run with Bart Yasso on Saturday!” “Who?” She half-heartedly inquired as she wrote out a note for work. “You know,” I said, “Bart. Yasso. The Mayor of Running, practically the coolest runner alive.” “Oh,” she mumbled, “You’ll just have to tell Mr. Yasso to take a rain check.”

Most of you, runners that you are, probably know who Bart Yasso is and would be as perturbed as I was that someone else didn’t. But, if you don’t, here’s a brief introduction. Yasso joined Runner’s World in 1987 to develop the groundbreaking Runner’s World Race Sponsorship Program, creating a vehicle for Runner’s World to work with over 7,000 races representing 4 million runners per year. He was also inducted into the Running USA Hall of Champions in 2007 in recognition of his contribution, impact, and dedication to our sport. He has been dubbed the “Mayor of Running,” and is one of the best-know figures in road racing.

Yasso also invented the Yasso 800s, a marathon-training schedule used by thousands of beginner, intermediate, and advanced runners around the world. He is one of the few people to have completed races on all seven continents, cumulating in over 1,000 competitive races, from the Antarctica marathon to the Mt. Kilimanjaro marathon. In 1987, Yasso won the U.S. National Biathlon Long Course Championship and won the Smoky Mountain Marathon in 1998. He has also completed the Ironman five times and the Badwater 146 through Death Valley. He has also cycled, unsupported and by himself, across the country twice.

He is also the author of My Life on the Run, an autobiography of sorts allowing us a glimpse into the wit and wisdom of a road racing icon. I must admit, before reading his book, I new little about Yasso, but he became my hero overnight. He has inspired me as a runner, writer, and as a person. His sentiments echoed my own, as he overcame life challenges, including battling a debilitating illness, “But then I started running. And when I started running, I started dreaming. It couldn’t be helped. The mind works as hard as the body does during exercise. It knows its role during those lonely interludes – to inspire, analyze, and fantasize.” I suddenly felt as if I had reconnected with a kindred spirit I didn’t know I had been missing when Bart wrote, “Running may be the connective tissue, but the true essence of the sport is passage to a bigger world. So open the door and run through. Just don’t be surprised if you arrived in a place you only dreamed existed.”

After reading My Life on the Run, I wanted to be Bart Yasso when I grow up. Who wouldn’t?
So, when Fleet Feet Columbus announced that Yasso was coming to visit US – I, along with nearly 500 of my closest running friends, FREAKED. How could you not? He was coming to speak to our MIT crew and…wait for it…RUN. WITH. US. And here I was, SICK. You’ve got to me kidding me. I was not happy. Who gets sick when Bart Yasso comes to town? Apparently, yours truly.
Believe me, Friday I stayed in bed all day re-reading My Life on the Run and praying to the powers that be that I would get well soon. I knew I wouldn’t be able to run on Saturday, but there was no way I was going to miss Bart’s talk.
When Saturday – finally – came, I was up before the sun to head down to Ohio State University campus and help direct runners to the lecture hall. Standing outside in the 30 degrees temps for an hour with an upper respiratory infection was probably not the smartest thing I could have done, but I didn’t care. I first glimpsed Yasso when I came in the auditorium, he was chatting with some fellow runners like he had known them all his life.
Bart Yasso (in the middle, red) with the MIT crew.
And that, my friends, is exactly the way you feel when you are in a room with Bart Yasso. Like you have known him your whole life – and like you are the most interesting person he has talked to all day. He gave his admired message and slide show presentation, complete with pictures from his worldly travels, of not limiting yourself in running and in life. “I think a log of people become complacent, or maybe just too comfortable, with their choices and don’t feel the need to shake things up or seek new experiences,” he says. Hence, his tagline and personal motto is, “Never limit where running can take you.” His message was inspiring, invigorating and humorous – I was humbled by his sheer determination to run and overcome the biggest and baddest of obstacles – Death Valley in the middle of summer, a charging Rhino is India, the onset of Lyme disease in the oxygen-deprived atmosphere of Mt. Kilimanjaro, drug and alcohol addiction, bicycling across the U.S. alone, and training ex-cons to run their first relay. Talk about not limiting yourself – I ran some hills in Hannibal, Missouri and thought I had conquered the world!
After his talk, Bart ran with us! It was definitely memorable, to say the least, everyone had a smile on their faces. I wish I could have run too!
Me, Bart Yasso, and my Mom.
Then, I got to meet Bart and talk with him for awhile. It was phenomenal! He is even more remarkable in person than I imagined!
I found myself indulging in every word he spoke, recounting his fondest memories of the Comrades Marathon – the race that truly meant the world to him – in South Africa. He told us in a week he is heading to Israel to run the International Jerusalem Marathon, which will take place for the first time ever in Jerusalem, on March 25, 2011. The selected running course narrates the story of Jerusalem’s 3000 years of  history with breathtaking views and scenes of the city’s rich culture. I wish you the best race, Bart. I can’t wait to hear about it! And Bart said to me after I told him he was my inspiration, “Thanks, I will see you in Pittsburgh. Keep up the great work.” He told me to keep running and to keep writing. I plan to do both, only now, I have the positive influence of a running legend cheering me on.
And, for the news I have been ecstatic to tell you, blogland friends, I asked Bart to sign a copy of his book My Life on the Run just for you, and he was gracious enough to do so! It is signed with his name and “Never limit where running can take you.” Check this out:
If you would like to win this awesome autographed book, all you have to do is let me know! Leave me a comment letting me know you would like to win and I will randomly select a winner from the list of comments on Monday, March 21, 2011 so you have time to tell all of your friends and running buddies! Good luck!
Until the next mile marker,