Boston Report #3: There was no other option

*Note: this is long. Really, really long. But you will want to read every bit!*

by Mike Wilen

This marathon didn’t start this past Monday at 10am EDT in Hopkinton, MA. This Marathon didn’t start last year at mile 24 when I was running towards the sub-3 promise-land, feeling great just having to make up 24 or so seconds in 2.2 miles, when my calves seized up and killed the dream. This marathon started a couple of years ago, when I set a goal for myself to get to Boston, then achieve this dream. The game of life dealt me some crappy hands in the last few years, so I needed a goal, I needed a focus, I needed a dream – a dream that could become reality if I worked hard at it. Sub 3 in Boston 2009 was the plan. The dream evaporated last year , so this year, I needed this more than anything I’ve ever needed. Come hell or high water, there simply was no other option but to get this done.

After Boston, my coach and I agreed I needed a break from road racing , to recharge the batteries. 9 months of high mileage trail running that produced a 2nd overall and a 3rd overall at two local 38mile and 50mile races, culminated in a very disappointing 100km trail race DNF on January 10, due to stupid mental games. I quickly buried that behind me, got mentally angry, and started my relentless focus on achieving my sub 3 goal on April 19. It was time to take that huge fitness base to the streets, bring back the speed and get it done. I was as focused as anyone you’ll ever meet and things were going really well.

On the morning of Feb 23, the tip of the quad by my right knee tightened up and stopped my training like a head-on collision. Immediately went to my sports doctor, and he said, rest would sure it. Ummm… I don’t have time to rest, buddy.

My coach, Steve Sisson, insisted that I hop in the pool, something I reluctantly went along with. Steve made me my very own workout schedule, all pool based, different workouts, HARD workouts mimicking the track and speed work the team was doing on the roads. He claimed that I would come out of there, as good, if not in better shape than my teammates. He quickly turned someone who teased Aqua-joggers, into a firm believer in the benefits of Aqua-RUNNING – easy to do when you have me absolutely exhausted after ever one of the 12-15 pool sessions I did.
Then came the morning when taking out laundry out of the dryer, I slammed my little toe of my right foot into the door frame and broke the toe. It hurt like nobody’s business. It hurt so much, that for a couple of days, it actually helped the pain the in the quad/knee go away. But there was nothing to do but tape it to the sibling next to it, and keep moving.

Sisson and I also discussed 2 crucial runs I just HAD to try and get in. The two “race preps” (race simulations) that would be keys to figuring out if I even had a chance at Boston – a 24 mile run with 20 miles at MGP, which I ran on my own at a 6:41 average (Marathon Goal Pace of 6:45), and a 27.5 mile hilly run that ended on the track for a continuous 6 miles, at progressive paces of 6:45 to 5:58min/mile. I nailed them both, and those where great confidence builders, so I knew I had a shot at this, even though I was still in the pool.

After the 2nd race prep, I had been running a couple of times a week with the team in what some would probably call severe pain. “Mind over matter, mind over matter. Keep the goal within grasp.” Is all I thought to myself. Time was running out, and I just had to run, plain and simple. I’d promptly ice down the issue after each run, and played the icing off as “maintenance”. Not sure why I didn’t seek out a second opinion sooner, but eventually a friend convinced me to go see a second Doctor about my injury as it was simply not improving. This doctor turned out to be the miracle I needed. He quickly re-diagnosed my issue and got to work on it, pulling, stretching, stimulating it with ultrasounds and electric pulses to getting me back on the roads in 2 sessions! I now had less than a month to go till race day. I wasn’t completely pain free, but compared to before, this was heaven. In total I ended up seeing Dr Miller 9 times before the marathon to treat my quad/knee.

Things were starting to look quite rosy for me leading up to race weekend, when on the night of Wednesday to Thursday, I woke up at 2:07am with a ridiculous pain in a muscle on the outside of my right leg, between the knee and the hip. It hurt so bad I couldn’t roll over without waking up, and when friends saw me out and about they couldn’t believe what they were seeing! I joked about someone having a voodoo doll to torture my right leg, and that’s pretty much what was going on. I couldn’t walk, get up, take stairs up or down, or even get in my car with severe pains. Dr Miller worked on it Thursday afternoon and yet again Friday morning and I was sent on my way to Boston really doubting that I would even be able to run 1 mile. The visits to see Dr Miller now totaled 11.

On queue, another miracle happened. My hotel roommate Larry, had brought his little portable electro-stimulation machine for some work on his lower back, so I proceeded to set up my own rehab sessions all weekend long. I iced, then hopped in the shower for hot water on it, then E-Stimulated 1 time on Saturday. Sunday was a 30 test/easy run, and it was bad, bad, bad. The quad/knee and the new muscle issue were both REALLY unhappy with the cool weather, and the plane ride and things were looking dismal. I repeated my rehab of ice, heat and e-stim 4 times on Sunday, and 1 time before we left the hotel at 4am on Monday morning. Larry brought the E-stim with him on the bus out to Hopkinton, so I plugged it on to my problem muscle one more time at 8am, two hours before the start.
My power words I wrote down on my pace band for this race were Family, Friends, Sufferfest, Destiny, Revenge, 24. All key words that would hopefully help me in times of need.

We had a plan. The plan was actually done last April when I analyzed my splits upon my return to Austin. But it was solidified a good 4 months ago, then ratified by all powers well before it was time to get nervous about race day. Jim and David and I all wanted a sub 3, and since they wanted to run with me, I gladly accepted to have company on the run as long as they accepted my plan as theirs. My goal was to run around a 2:57:00 pace (6:45) until the hills start at mile 17, slow it down to a 3-3:05 (6:55-7:05min/mile) pace through those, then getting back on track for the final 5 miles, getting in at 2:59:10 giving us plenty of cushion if things went wrong somewhere. All of this was based on feel, as I don’t run with a garmin and instead prefer to just feel the pace.

Hotel, Bus, Walk to the start – I love Hopkinton.

After a giant bowl of cereal in the hotel room, and some help from Coach to tape up my problem areas, we headed out to the VIP buses. Yes, you pay a bit extra, but it’s worth every penny. Nothing beats having your team around you for 2.5 hours before race day. We were all in the same VIP bus, and we kept each other calm with fun conversations. Dionn and I sat together as we did last year, to not upset the running gods. The ride up there was fine, but my right leg did not enjoy being stuck in a 90 degree angle for that long. Drank 16oz of nuun by 8:30am, ate a banana at 8am, and a 480 calorie magic (trail running) cookie between 8 and 8:30am. I don’t think there is a better walk to the start of a marathon than in Hopkinton. That alone is reason to kill yourself to qualify. Everyone walks together down a narrow street for 15 minutes. On this day… YOU are an athlete. YOU are the spotlight. YOU are a Boston marathon runner.

Miles 1 -3 : +3 seconds

Before the start this kid in a Hansons/Brooks singlet came up to me and asked my goal pace. I told him mostly 6:45’s which he apparently liked as that would keep him slow (2:57) and he wanted a 2:55 which he would achieve by pickup up the pace later on. He asked if he could tag along. I said: sure, just know that we’re running terrain adjusted miles so some may be a tad fast or slow. I’ll call this guy “Hanson”.

National Anthem, then a flyby of two F-16’s, and we were off! I looked at David, and Jim and my friend JT that was also there with us, and that was the last calm moment for me. It was time to put on my game face, get down to business. This was war and I was ready for battle.

First mile was a little congested, but we kept our calm and just found some room to make up time where we could. Two big down hills helped in getting us somewhat close to our goal. We were 6 seconds slow on mile one, but that was irrelevant. Goal for mile 2 was a 6:35 as was mile 3. Both screamingly fast miles, and we just wanted to stay contained but shave a little bit of time. Hanson freaked out when he saw a 6:34 split for mile 2 and told me I was way too fast. I told him it was built into my plan as was the upcoming fast mile. He didn’t like what he heard and ran off somewhere. Mile 3 was more of the same (6:35 goal)… a fast mile, with plenty of down hills. I tossed my tube/sock arm warmer “throwawayables” as it was well warmer than low 50’s with the sunny skies. We clocked mile 3 at 6:33 pace and were now only 3 seconds slower than our goal time. Unlike last year where I simply forgot to drink water, I was well under control on my hydration this time.

Miles 4, 5, 6, 7: Even Steven.
With the major downs beyond us, it was time to get down to business and lock in on 6:45’s. Too bad Hanson had fired us, because here’s where I/we shine. We quickly came upon the 5km timing mat which means the Internet that’s tracking us would be seeing us for the first time. David and Jim are not as talkative as I am, but I made sure I said: “Guys, with this timing mat, the world is watching us. Our loved ones, our families, our friends. This is why we do this. This run is for them.”

I continued to drink out of my water bottle as the plan was to be done with the water by mile 7 and use the last bit of it, to take down my first salts (2 thermolytes pills). But it was well warmer than originally planned and I was sweating so I decided to go with salts at mile 6. My glute muscle issue and my knee were NOT happy with me today, so I also moved up my plan of some pain relievers to mile 7 from the planned mile 10 treat. At the 10km mark, we yet again passed a timing mat, and I made sure I yet again told Jim and David, that the internet is watching and they must be happy to see that we’re on pace!

Miles/pace wise we were doing well. Legs were finally warming up. Mile 4 was planned as a 6:40 and we hit 6:33, mile 5 was 6:45goal, we delivered a 6:49, and miles 6 and 7 were both planned at 6:45, which we nailed at 6:45 and 6:44. We ended mile 7 at 46:52, with a goal time of 46:52. Even steven!

Miles 8, 9, 10: Easy tiger! -14
I guess we either felt great, or there were more downs that we thought, because we finished these 4 miles at about 5 miles too fast on each one. The highlight here was Hanson was spotted talking to 2 more teams of runners clearly inquiring about their race plans and asking if he could run with them. I commented to David and Jim: what kind of a moron comes to Boston without a game plan and expects to run a 2:55? (I hate to say it, but I was looking forward to seeing him some more). Took my first gel at Mile 8. We crossed the 15km marker and yet again, we knew the world was watching and that all of you were getting rewarded for staring into your computer screens. Thanks again guys, you’re keeping us motivated to do well. We ended this stretch 14 seconds faster than where we were supposed to be. Not really a concern as it’s really just 1 second and change per mile.

Somewhere in here I also decided I really don’t like people that write about their lost loved ones on their backs. I truly admire their drive and that they want to dedicate their run to someone they loved that they have lost… but to me, I need positives positives positives, and reading repeated notes on people’s backs that read: “in loving memory of JOHN DOE. I love you.” Etc, just bums me out. I keep thinking, why don’t they write that on their arm for themselves, kind of like my powerwords. They can’t read it on their backs.

Miles 11, 12, 13, 14: Money. -11
Here’s where I make my living. Flat miles – Cruise control – Lock in the pace and enjoy the scenery.
Unfortunately, Jim wasn’t doing too well. He fell off pace a bit and David yelled at him to get back up on our asses. Jim complied but then fell off pace a bit more. He ran back up to us, and told us he was suffering of really bad nausea and was going to take it easy for a bit and hopefully reel us back in. It was unfortunate and as much as we wanted to wait for him, all three of us knew, that we had to continue on with the race plan. We would never see Jim again, but he rallied and came in a strong 3:07 re-qualifying for next year’s war. Here’s the section where I’d get some more pain relief in me, some more salts and a gel at mile 12.

After a 6:45 mile 10, Mile 11 clocked in at 6:48, and then we hit Mile 12 at 6:43. Immediately before mile 12 is where we ran up on Team Hoyt. It was awesome to see them out there yet again this year. Did you know that Dick Hoyt (the father) is 69 years old? (they would go on to finish in 5hrs26minutes.) Awesome!

Right after Team Hoyt, we started to hear the scream tunnel of the girls of Wellesley college. We came upon them and I did my best Hulk Hogan (hand to ear) impersonation to get them to scream even louder! It was awesome. Neither David nor I had time to stop for a kiss, but maybe next year, I’ll add a few seconds to the plan! After the scream tunnel, we came upon the best sighting of the day. Both David and I laughed our asses off! This big burly guy was on the side of the road, NY Jets fan with a heavy heavy Jersey accent yelled at us: “Good stuff guys. This is really good stuff!” Hysterical and easily the best thing anyone has every yelled to me!

Shortly after that David’s bladder gave way, and he veered off behind a tree while I told him I’d stay steady and run on the yellow line so he wouldn’t miss me as he caught back up. This is where I realized his fiancée Christy would be freaking. I crossed the half way timing mat without David. So now she’s seeing me come by, but no David, knowing full well we’re a team and has my pace band in hand so she knows where we need to be! David catches up pretty quick and we clock mile 14 at 6:50, is 11 seconds faster than planned after 14 miles!

Miles 15, 16, 17 – Start getting ready. -6
At some point in the last 4 miles, I’ve been thinking. Wow. My leg hurts, I wonder how bad it would be hurting without pain relief. My hamstring is now also feeling quirky, so I’ve got a knee, a glute and a hammy on my right leg just wanting me to stop. But there is no stopping. There just isn’t. I keep thinking… David has no pace band on him, he is relying on me for timing, but little does he know, all the pulling is done by him because he’s seriously pulling me along here. Without him, I’m toast. David, who had been battling Turf Toe since December and spent a few days in the pool with me, and missed plenty of runs then tells me: Hey, my toe is REALLY hurting so if I can’t keep going, do not slow down. Just keep going. Since it’s time for me to get some more pain relief I extended the offer to share. Today, we make this happen. Mile 15 and 16 have a big down then an up, it’s the perfect greeting to get you out of flat running funk and wake you up for what’s ahead. Along with 17 that has a climb over a big freeway, they’re the miles that break up the flat section and prepare you for 18 through 21.5 where the HILLS await. I missed hitting the split button on my watch for all three of these miles. We needed a 20:35 for this stretch and we clocked in at 20:41. We’re now 6 seconds fast, but come on!, that’s friggin outstanding 17 miles in! Somewhere in here, Sisson found us and ran with us.

Mile 18, 19, 20, 21. – The meat and potatoes.
Time to pop on the tunes, and get some help from Metric, Muse, Airborne Toxic Event and more of my favorites. You take a right and see the fire department, and that’s the start to the hills. 3.5 or so miles of climbs. Not as steep as exposition, but all longer than any of the exposition hills in Austin. I’ve kept my cap on my all this time, even though I’ve been overheating. But the strategy here is to treat myself when I truly need it, so now that we’ve reached the hills, I toss my cap to the side over towards a group of kids. Who know if anyone wanted a brand new, but sweaty cap, but hopefully they washed it and did!?! The cool air on my soaking wet hair is welcome! Ahhh… so refreshing for the few moments it lasted!

Unfortunately, you can’t fool your legs. My legs aren’t fresh, but David is rocking! So he’s dragging me along, and I think he can tell I’m not quite there today. We cross the 30km mat at 18.6miles and yet again, I think of everyone that’s tracking online. It gives me a boost yet again, knowing that I simply cannot disappoint anyone today. I just can’t. Mile 18 goal is 7:05 and I clock it at 7:03, Mile 19 comes along and it actually has quite a lone flat part that allows you to pick up some steam. Somewhere along here, David picks up a little water bottle from a kid handing them out. Then he STOPS, runs back to the kid a few feet, and I’m thinking… what the hell is he doing? What happened? He then catches right back up and hands me a bottle too. Wow. A life saver at this point. Thank you David!

At some point around here, I yelled over to David who is still eager beaver cranking on the hills and motion with both my hands the international sign for slow down, take it easy… we only need a 7:00 here. We clocked in mile 19 at 6:54, but Mile 20 comes out 8 seconds slower than the 7flat we needed so those are a wash. I asked David if we’re done with hills, and he kindly reminds me that there is one more left as there’s no sign of Boston College and the raucous students that will be greeting us. Great! Here we go, Heart Break Hill, you’re next.

A lady dressed and painted in green as the statue of liberty is there to greet us on the sideline. Not sure what that was supposed to represent as Liberty isn’t quite a motivator at this time. I loved the costume, but next time lady, how about a lion, or a gladiator!? We attack Heart break hill, and it’s a doozy. It’s nowhere near the climbs we take on in Austin, but it’s long and it’s steeper than the prior ones and if you’re hurting like I am, you just suffer. I just stare at David’s shirt and keep running, thinking. I am hills. This is my hill today. I’m going to crest this hill, and be done with it. I take our 21 mile split, at 7:08, which isn’t the 7:00 we had planned. But… we’re done with the hills, and I get up next to David, riase my hand for a high five, which he welcomes, and I tell him the good news: We’re EXACTLY ONE SECOND faster than where we are supposed to be at this time! We’re at mile 21, and we are RIGHT ON TARGET!” The race plan is working. We both know we know just need 6:55’s all the way home and we’ll be in at 2:59:10.

Mile 22 – Screaming Eagles!
Part of mile 21, and most of mile 22 is packed with Boston College (Eagles) students on each side. Some have beer cups in their hands, some don’t, but they all have one thing in common. They are loud and it is friggin’ great! At 21.7miles, we crossed the 35km mat and I looked at my inspirational words, staring at where the word Family and the word Friends that have now melted away from the sweat are supposed to be. You guys are watching, I know you are, but damn, this hurts bad.

Mile 22 has a screaming fast and long downhill, so that is a welcome relief. I tell David to not get too crazy on it, as we still have 35 minutes to run. We clock mile 22 as 1 second slow(6:57), and are now at EVEN time with the plan. With 4.2 miles to go. On the downhill I took more salts, more pain relief and another gel. My legs are done. DONE. I looked at my watch at some point and remember seeing 2:24 and thinking. There is no way in hell that I can run for another 35 minutes at this pace. No way. It’s not gonna happen.

Mile 23, 24, 25 – Running on empty.

The work in the pool work has definitely saved me, but it hasn’t totally replaced the 20+ mile runs I didn’t get in to keep the legs conditioned. My legs are dead. Clearly this is where all the injuries, the setbacks, the lack of mileage, the lack of sleep in the last 5 days due to muscle pains has caught up with me. Something out there does not want me to break 3 hours. Something is gonna make this really hard.

David and I didn’t discuss the plan too much. A couple of email exchanges, where I sent he and Jim my spreadsheet and they liked it. I also said something about, we stick together, but in the late miles, whatever happens happens, type of things. David and I would never run together from here on out. I saw his face squirm in pain as one of his calves seized up on him so I knew he was in pain. He slowly distanced himself from me as I just needed to conserve energy and he needed to take what his body gave him. We are even with the plan, and as I said before, all I need is 6:55’s to get me in at 2:59:10 which is now what I calibrate towards.

Mile 23 was brutal. I wanted to quit so bad. My legs have nothing in them, NOTHING. But somehow, deep within the misery brewing in my brain, something tells me to: Just. Keep. Running. I remember my word Destiny and somehow maybe that’s what keeps me barely alive. I’m slow, I clock in at 7:08. 13 seconds too slow. I freak a little, but I also know that I’m now looking at a 2:59:23 finish if I can hold flat 6:55’s.

Mile 24. +16
24 is my number. 24 is the key to this race. I’ve thought of 24 all run long. I have 24 written on my shoes, I have 24 on my pace band and now I run towards 24. 24 is going to be mine this year. 24 is not going to be where I fail again. I may miss my goal, but it will NOT be on mile 24. I somehow pull it together and manage to get the hell and feeling of wanting to just quite and go hide in the sewer out of my head and think 24. 24. 24. 24. I manage to crank out a 6:57, which is outstanding! Now the finish time looks like 2:59:24. I’m still a loooong ways away, and I’m barely at 2hours and 44 minutes in. How on earth can I keep it together for another 15 minutes. This is ridiculous. The thought of “It’s not gonna happen.” repeats itself in my head, but somehow, I just can’t seem to just surrender. David is now nowhere in sight.

Mile 25 – I’m doomed + 31
Just before you hit Mile 25, you cross the 40km timing mat. Which again means the world sees me. I clock in at 2hours 50minutes, and now the game of math begins. I know I need 4min 11-15 second kilometers to hit 6:45ish miles. But I also know a marathon is 42kms 195 meters. Somehow to me, 4:15+4:15 = 9 minutes. But then I realize 15 seconds is not half a minute, so I get really confused. I just decide that it’s gonna be close. It’s gonna be REAL close. More of the same happens here, except it’s even worse in my head. I just want to stop. I can’t physically put my leg infront of the other at a pace that is acceptable. I clock in a 7:10, 31 seconds over goal… which now means the finishline stands at 2:59:41. Oh lord. How am I going to get this done. I literally have nothing left. (turns out David crossed the mat 19 seconds ahead of me )

Mile 26 and 0.2 – I have no idea
The saving grace was a little sign on the street. You see, you still have 0.2 miles to run after you run mile 26. I did some sketchy math and thought that all I needed was to run about a 7:40mile and I’d be safe, but I didn’t trust my match because of the extra 0.2 that I knew needed to be run 1min26seconds. But thank you to whomever came up with the idea of putting an official sign that read: “ONE MILE TO GO” on the course. The 0.2 had now been run on the front end, and my math now wasn’t so fuzzy. I actually had a shot at this, if only my legs had just a little bit more to give me. I kept looking at my watch thinking I might get it done, but it would be close. I knew I was now 20 seconds from disaster but there was no other gear in me. At about 25.7 you go down under a highway, so you have a down, then an up. I wanted to cry on that up. I had no oomph to get me up it, but I stayed calm and slowed down a tad remembering the horrible calf spasm I got the prior year when trying to push the pace. You get up from the underpass, take a right up a side street for maybe 150 yards until you get to Boylston. I’m just running for life here. The side street has a slight incline and it is miserable, but here, there’s Revenge. There’s that building… the building that witnessed my watch go from 2:59:59 to 3 last year. This year, you’re mine you damned building.

I hit the final left turn as hard as I could running for my life. I then looked down at my watch, a moment captured in time by a race photographer. .. high 2:56 is on the screen. The finish line is soooo far away, I have no idea if I can run that far in so little time. I give it all I got, but it’s not much. I’m running on the left side of Boylston, and there in the distance I spot David. I’m slooooooowly gaining on him, which means he knows he’s either gonna make it, or he’s in big trouble. I just focus on running and keep staring at the finish line way in the distance and at my watch. Watch. Finish line. RUN. Watch. Finishline. RUN MIKE RUN. Watch. Finish line. RUN. PLEASE RUN PLEASE. JUST RUN. Watch. Finishline. JUST FUCKING RUN.

It wasn’t till I was maybe 30 or 40 yards from the finishline that I realized I had made it, Finally I could relax and breathe and just close my eyes and let all my muscles let up. I had done it. Last mile was a 6:53 and the 0.2 goal was 1:26. My clock showed 1:24, meaning I had crossed the finishline at 2:59:38.

The brain was overwhelmed. I spotted David over on the right just past the finish line and yelled over to him. He finished 5 seconds ahead and I was so happy we had done it. I walked his way and we high fived. We then began the long walk through the food and liquids stations but just before we did I turned around to David. He thought he was in for a high five again, but this was cause for a hug. We had done it. I still couldn’t believe it. I could but I couldn’t. We collected our space blanket to stay warm, water, bananas, gatorade, little lunchbox with goodies, and finally a well deserved and well earned medal. I continued to thank all the volunteers for making this the best marathon in the world as we continued toward bag pickup.

I was overwhelmed. The dream. The 2.5 year goal, finally acheieved. I wanted to cry but I honestly didn’t know how. I was just overwhelmed with emotions as we walked towards my hotel. We eventually ran into Muz and Niccole who also had great runs 2:49 and 2:53 respectively. That’s where I finally had energy to dig through my bag and pull out my phone. I turned it on and immediately it started to ping from all the congratulatory text messages and emails. Ping ping ping ping ping ping ping… It just wouldn’t stop, and sounded like I’d hit the jackpot at slots in Vegas. It was fantastic. Tears wanted to fill my eyes again as I read them all but again, I was so emotionally overwhelmed that it didn’t happen.

Larry and Steve showed up at the room within minutes, and after a hot shower to loosen the legs, we headed down to begin celebrating. I stepped aside to a quiet space of the hotel and unsuccesfully tried reaching a few people on the phone. And that where it eventually hit me. I had beaten the odds, I had overcome the injuries, I had done it. A goal that meant much more to me than just a time in a marathon had been achieved. A monkey off my back. A release. The flood gates finally opened and the tears streamed down my face as I could finally relax and move on.
Thank you to all of you.

Steve, you always keep telling me that I’m easy to coach because I trust, listen, believe and have the heart to get it done. Well, you make it happen. As I told you in Boston. This medal is as much yours as it is mine.

Ruth, Carolyn, and all the Rogue crew… you’re the best!

Family, we don’t talk often, but you’re there with me every step of the way.
Thank you.

David, we friggin’ did it! We defied the odds and did it!!

Erin, hi! 🙂

Mer, thanks again for the positives, the nutrition and hydration plans and most of all for your belief in me. You and Paul are awesome.

Teammates, you’re the best. You put up with my clowneries, my antics and this season had to listen to all my injury bullshit. Thank you to all of you.

Friends, you all know where you stand with me. You were with me every step of the way. This whole journey and this hell of a battle doesn’t happen without everyone of you. Especially 24. And if for some reason you don’t think you contributed to my success, then know that you are wrong. I draw great strength and inspiration from each and every person I accept into my life. Thank you to all of you.

2 5 9 3 8 what a magical string of numbers.


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