Monday, October 20, 2014

My Ferris Bueller Tour of Chicago

Ferris Bueller had his day off, and I had a weekend to recreate it. Encouraged by my father who loves the movie, and inspired by this website, I spent my first day in Chicago trying to visit many of the sights he visited.  I had the day to myself because Laura flew in after work.  After leaving my bag at the hotel, I went to pick up my packet and meet my high school friend, Tuere Wiggins, for lunch.  We had some deep dish pizza near the convention center before I embarked on my route.  First, I hit the Art Institute and took a picture of Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

My father's favorite painting

After the museum, I went to Sears Tower - excuse me - Willis Tower.  While I tried to ascend, I was informed it was over and hour and $20.  One or the other, but not both, so I went on to Wrigley Field.

No October baseball in Wrigleyville

That night, I went to an Italian restaurant for some gnocchi, and read, watched baseball, and went to bed.  Well, Laura arrived a bit late, so I woke when she arrived.  Saturday morning, I went to Solider Field for the shakeout run hosted by Bart Yasso and Deena Kastor.  But, it was so crowded and I needed to get home that I left the run and headed back to the L.

Selfie with Yasso and Kastor

We got brunch with Laura's friend, Emily, and then I went to bath in my hotel room and rest.  For the pasta dinner, we went to Maggiano's and met Alex and Britt.  Then it was a good night's rest and up at 4AM for the 7:30 start.  I met Alex and we took a cab to the start.  I tweaked my right calf walking around on my sandals, but that didn't bother me during the race.  It crept up at mile 10, but I know it didn't hurt my time.  After waiting for the race to begin, we ran into Dan Burns who trained with us for DCRRC and ran with our team along with Joe Kane and Hirsh Kravitz.  We warmed up and then tried to get to the start, but they wouldn't let us both into corral A because I accidentally got placed in B.  I snuck into A, but I couldn't find Alex so we ran separately.

After the race, I waited for Alex who was tended to for cramping.  I met Britt, we left, went to the hotel room to shower, and went to Giordano's for deep dish pizza where Laura met us.  After stuffing our faces with beer and the stuffed pizza, Laura and I went on a boat tour of the river to see the architecture.  Then we walked around to Millennial Park, walked to John Hancock and got a drink at the top in the lounge (way too long a wait to go up and then to get seated), and then got sushi near our hotel.  We left for DC early in the morning.

Sears/Willis Tower in the background while on the river cruise


Random Race Memories:

I really thought I was going to go sub 3 today. I knew early on that I was nailing the miles even though my GPS was erratic due to the skyscrapers so I trusted it to even out which it did. Was going to run with Alex but we were separated at the start due to being placed in different corrals. It really was a flat and fast course.



My splits:

6:47/34/7:05/6:41/45/47/44/46/48/49/46/44/36/47/50/51/54/7:01/08/16/39/48 /55/53/36/30/ 3:00 (.44) - 21:09 5K; 21:10 10K; 21:07 15K; 21:25 20K; 21:12 25K; 21:47 30K; 23:34 35K; 24:25 40K; 10:09 to finish 3:05:58 finish 1st half = 1:29:21 2nd half = 1:36:37; 1488 OA, 231 AG, 1304 M


Our race team of Joe Kane, Alex Albertini, Dan Burns, and Hirsh Kravitz and me placed fifth in our category.

Just a few miles to go!

Vancouver not BC, Washington not DC

This race fooled me.  I really thought I was playing it smart by trying to hold a 7 minute pace and just glide in around 3:05, or at least under 3:08 where I thought the cut off line for Boston 2015 would be.  It was a cloudy day with some drizzle at the start, but I quickly regretted bringing a hat to keep the water out of my eyes as the rain stopped and I ended up ditching the hat in the second mile rather than lugging it around.  The first half of the marathon was very flat and on a highway and boring, but I was able to hold my pace.  The second half had a few hills and a monster hill around the "Wall" that stole time on the way up and crippled my thighs on the way down.  The weather was deceivingly humid - I thought the weather in June was going to be fine, and it mostly was except for the humidity.

I also probably walked way too much the previous day.  We stayed with my friend Howie and his
wife, Helen, in Portland, and walked around touring the city. For future marathons, it is important that I really rest the prior day. The point of the trip was to have a vacation and get me another state.  We did have a good trip as we took in Portland (visited Voodoo Donuts, a brewery, some bookstore) and we also drove to Seattle (took in the original Starbucks and saw the flagship Nordstrom's, watched a Mariners game, walked the city, went to the huge market, ran along the shore, took a ferry to Bainbridge Island, went up the Space Needle).

Random Race Memories:

Ran with Ryan Hagen from Kirkland, WA - his first marathon; not much to see as on highway then neighborhoods and industrial area; really strong finish and Bart Yasso announced my finish and tweeted at me later; passed a limping woman in the last half mile and tried to get her to finish which she did; got a massage and walked around Portland all afternoon and didn't feel so sore - in fact could probably have run a mile or two.

My splits:

6:58/59/7:02/03/02/00/00/03/00/6:56/7:01/04/08/21/23/21/13/21/44/8:43/7:15/45/8:14/14/35/09/55 seconds last .15 - 12/58 AG 47/757 OA
Bart Yasso greets me at the finish with a high five!

Boston recap

While I am tardy in posting my results from 2014 Boston, it's probably because I am not very pleased with my effort.  I had a great training season and set personal bests in a few race distances - most notably the half marathon (Rock N Roll Half - 1:25:47) and Cherry Blossom Ten Miler (63:11).  The cost of these PRs was that I was overtrained, suffered a bad taper, and didn't carb load properly (more on this later).

I had a pretty good training cycle, but by going all out for a half four weeks prior and a ten miler two weeks prior to Boston, it left me exhausted for the race.  Sometimes I think that I am superman.  I also suffered by not properly getting a good carb load since the race occurred during Passover.  I was interviewed by Washington Jewish Week about how I balanced observing Passover with training for Boston.

Finishing the 2014 Boston Marathon in under 3:30

Sara and Lisa greet me on Heartbreak Hill


Random Race Memories:

I knew early on around the tenth mile it wasn't going to be my day, but I was surprised at how tired I was - definitely poor taper. Amanda Hicks passed me and I cheered her to finish strong; took a picture with Lisa McAvoy and Sara on Hearthbreak Hill again; ran with Arnie - boy did he not aid me! Happy to finish. Bad carbo loading with maztah, quinoa, and potatoes - I do rely on pasta, but glad I kept Passover.

My splits:

21:51; 43:33; 1:05:32; 1:29:48; 1:35:00; 1:54:55; 2:21:42; 2:49:37; 3:17:49 (5K splits) Overall 9029

Yet, there is no such thing as a "Bad Boston Marathon." I'm reminded of this as my 3:09:27 wasn't good enough for entry into Boston 2015, 29 seconds short of the cut off line. I will have to wait until 2016 to try to run Boston as well as I know I can.


Full text of article:

In Boston, a celebration of running


After running a little more than three hours, Kenny Ames crossed the finish line at Monday’s Boston Marathon and began eating from his box of Passover Tam Tams.
Ames wouldn’t have minded celebrating with a beer, but due to the holiday, he went with “the little crackers for Passover that are so awesome.”
The 118th Boston Marathon was the third for this D.C. resident. He finished, but didn’t meet his goal of running the 26.2 mile course in under three hours.
“I do think Passover affected me this time. I was not able to carbo load,” Ames, 36, said, referring to his normal heapings of pasta before a race. Instead, he digested lots of potatoes, apples, bananas and yogurt.
“I definitely felt tired earlier than I normally do,” he added, “To me, it’s more important to observe the holiday than to run a marathon.”
For Jewish Washington-area runners at the marathon, Passover was just another hurdle to cross. A year after the bombing that killed three and wounded more than 250, Ames and others saw a city that boasted extra security and heightened pride.
Ames’ parents waited for him at the finish line, just as they had last year.
Fortunately, in 2013 he finished the race about 85 minutes before the bombs went off “so we were long out of the city.” While he didn’t witness any of the devastation, the human toll still weighed on his mind.
“This is so much attached to it. I’m going to have to keep my emotions intact,” he said several days before Monday’s race. The Brookland resident generally runs 50 to 60 miles a week.
There was more security this time. Because runners weren’t allowed to leave bags around, the warm-up jacket and pants that he wore when he first got to the athletes’ village about three hours before race time had to be thrown away, he said.
Warren Margolies of Bethesda also noticed the increased security. ”They were really adamant that you had to show your bib number” when walking around the athletes’ village, he said. He also noticed “snipers on the roof of the middle school.”
Margolies, 33, also saw “a heightened sense of pride in the city. You saw so many Boston Pride shirts.” He called the 2014 Boston Marathon, his second one, “a celebration of running.” The real estate attorney, who has now run five marathons, said Monday’s race was “very special. It seemed like the right thing to do after last year. I feel honored to be there.”
He also was pleased with his time of two hours, 50 minutes and 31 seconds, noting, “I did well.”
Margolies usually runs 45 minutes to an hour every day. “I just clear my head. I can think things through,” he said. Running gives him “inner peace, peace of mind. It gives sort of order and discipline to my life.”
Scott Zoback also was among the marathon’s 35,671 entrants. The 31-year-old had two strong reasons to run in this year’s race. He joined a team supporting Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where his father was a patient for four years before he passed away in 2007.
But Zoback, press secretary for U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), also wanted to return to Boston after witnessing the bombing as a spectator at last year’s race. “I was diagonally across the street from the second bomb,” he said.
When the first bomb exploded, he and his friends weren’t sure what happened. “But when the second one went off, we knew this was purposeful. People started running, trampling,” he recalled. Despite that, Zoback said he had “zero” concerns about security while running through the streets of Boston on Monday.
“The deeds of a couple aren’t going to change how we as a state feel,” the Worcester, Mass., native declared. He was proud of how the crowd “was urging you on at every point. The way Massachusetts came out for this race, it was definitely emotional out there.”
He’s glad he ran, although he said the heat took a toll on his time. So did Passover. “I have never eaten more potatoes in a week than I did” prior to the race, he said. Zoback was happy this year to be able to eat the grain quinoa, which is new to the Passover menu.
Two family seders also created a challenge to his training schedule. However, “There are always hurdles to overcome,” he said. “A little family Seder isn’t going to get in the way of six months of training.”
All his emotions and training culminated in having a medal placed around his neck. “There is no feeling like it in the world,” he said.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ready for Boston!

I haven't been able to write as much as I would have liked because I have been finishing up my master's thesis.  I turned it in on April 2 and now I wait for comments from my reviewers; the defense is likely May 5.  It's title Social Media #FTW!: The Influence of Social Media on American Politics.  Message me if you would like to read it.

This week, I'm preparing to run the Boston Marathon.  It's an exciting day as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts takes the day as a holiday and the Red Sox have their 11:05 AM start of a game.  I'm optimistic that it can be my fastest Boston to date based on some solid winter training and two recent personal bests in other distances.  I have raced well lately, in my opinion.  In March, five weeks before Boston, I ran the Rock N Roll USA Half Marathon in DC in 1:25:47 - 15 seconds better than my previous PR.  The course was hilly so I think I had a faster time in me on a flatter course.  In early April, two weeks before Boston, I ran the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in 63:11, blowing away my previous PR of 64:00 (on a course that was likely short).  I also had a good race at the Club Challenge, which is a notoriously difficult course with lots of challenging and long hills.

I didn't work with my coach this winter since I had too much on my plate (see thesis) so I trained myself.  Since it was a snowy winter, I relied on hill repeats instead of track which was likely icy.  The good part about hill repeats is that if there is a little ice or snow, you can still finish the workout.  I would run a longer warm up, like 6 miles, then do the hill repeats to practice for the hills of Boston that hit between miles 19-21.  I also did a long run of 16 miles around 7:30 miles then the following day raced a 10K so that I would practice racing while tired - again, preparing for the final miles of Boston.    In the two weekends between the half marathon and Cherry Blossom, I ran 22 miles as my long run and 21 miles the following weekend, each averaging a bit faster than 7:30 pace.  Physically, I am ready for this race.

Mentally, I think I am ready as well.  I have a lot on my mind.  Last year's Boston Marathon still echoes in my thoughts.  I truthfully have no idea how I will feel; my family and I were out of the city by the time the bombing occurred.  I know it will be emotional.  The recent passing of my mentor, Arnie Thomas, is weighing on my mind.  Last year, I ran in memory of two of my uncles that passed away in 2012.  I'm sick of running this race in memory of people I care about deeply - please let's not have anymore losses, okay?

I will try to use all this motivation in a goal of doing my best.  My A goal for the day is sub 3 hours; my B goal is sub 3:04 (which would be a PR); my C goal is sub 3:08 (to qualify for next year); and finally, if all else fails, I want to beat my time from last year of 3:19.  I have read and re-read the Sports Guy's article on the Boston Marathon, which I enjoy reading each year.  I'm looking forward to seeing my family.  I have been tapering while observing Passover, and it should be interesting to carbo-load without eating pasta or bread (I'm relying on potatoes, bananas, apples, and yogurt).

The 2014 Boston Marathon is only days away - I can't wait!!

Friday, April 11, 2014

My Favorite Running Quotes

This is a list of my favorite running quotes I have collected over the years.  When I need a boost, I click through to remind myself why I love running.

"Like the marathon, life can sometimes be difficult,challenging and present obstacles, however if you believe in your dreams and never ever give up, things will turn out for the best." - Meb Keflezighi, U.S. Olympic marathoner

"The marathon has so many elements to prepare for. I think that is one reason I always want to come back for more. There is always something to change in your preparation and I am still trying to discover what I am capable of.  I guess I just love the challenge." - Dathan Ritzenhein

"Success does not come to the most righteous and rigorously disciplined but to those who continue running." - Amby Burfoot

"Running has taught me, perhaps more than anything else, that there's no reason to fear starting lines...or other new beginnings." - 
Amby Burfoot 

"Even when our heart aches, we summon the strength that maybe we didn't even know we had, and we carry on; we finish the race." - President Barack Obama at the Boston Marathon memorial service on April 18, 2013

"Winning is not about headlines and hardware [medals]. It's only about attitude. A winner is a person who goes out today and every day and attempts to be the best runner and best person he can be. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up." Amby Burfoot, Editor-at-Large, Runner's World and 1968 Boston Marathon Winner

"Success isn't how far you go, but the distance you traveled from where you started." - Steve Prefontaine

"The real purpose of running isn't to win a race; it's to test the limits of the human heart." –Bill Bowerman

“I also realize that winning doesn't always mean getting first place; it means getting the best out of yourself.” - Meb Keflezighi

"Anybody can be a runner. We were meant to move. We were meant to run. It's the easiest sport." - Bill Rodgers

"You ran to eat and to avoid being eaten; you ran to find a mate and impress her, and with her you ran off to start a new life together. You had to love running, or you wouldn't live to love anything else. We were born to run; we were born because we run." - Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

"Running taught me valuable lessons. In cross-country competition, training counted more than intrinsic ability, and I could compensate for a lack of natural aptitude with diligence and discipline. I applied this in everything I did." - Nelson Mandela

"Running unites us and brings us together... For it isone of the few commonalities left between us as a human race. Toeing the starting line of a marathon, regardless of the language you speak, the God you worship or the color of your skin, we all stand as equal. Perhaps the world would be a better place if more people ran." Dean Karnazes

"Running is a big question mark that's there each andevery day. It asks you, 'Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'" - Peter Maher

"Either you run the day or the day runs you."  - Jim Rohn

"Even when you have gone as far as you can, and everything hurts, and you are staring at the specter of self-doubt, you can find a bit more strength deep inside you, if you look closely enough." -Hal Higdon

"What I've learned from running is that the time to push hard is when you're hurting like crazy and you want to give up. Success is often just around the corner." - Sir James Dyson, Inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner

"To keep from decaying, to be a winner, the athlete must accept pain - not only accept it, but look for it, live with it, learn not to fear it." Dr. George Sheehan

"A marathon is like life with its ups and downs, but once you've done it you feel that you can do anything." - Anonymous

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrificethe Gift." - Steve Prefontaine

"Happiness is pushing your limits and watching them back down."  New Balance Ad

“If I were to be remembered for anything at all, I would want that to be that I am/was authentic. No Mas. Run Free!” - Micah True, American ultra runner

"We all know that if you run, you are pretty much choosing a life of success because of it." - Deena Kastor

"Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow." - Henry David Thoreau

"That's the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is." - Kara Goucher

"Winning has nothing to do with racing. Most days don'thave races anyway. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up." Amby Burfoot

"When you run in the morning, you gain time in a sense. It's like stretching 24 hours into 25. You may need to sleep less and get up earlier, but if you can get by that, running early seems to expand theday." - Fred Lebow, founder of the New York City Marathon

"There's no magic to running far or climbing Everest. Endurance is mental strength. It's all about heart." - Bear Grylls, Host of Man vs. Wild

“If you can find meaning in the type of running you need todo to stay on this team, chances are you can find meaning in another absurd pastime: Life.” - Robert Towne, screenplay for Pre

"You feel good while you're running and you feel even better when you're finished." - Fred Lebow

"The expression 'misery loves company' is meant for winter running. As I'm lying in bed on dark, cold mornings, it's a lot harder to talk myself out of getting up when I know I'm accountable to other people." - Jason Lehmkuhle, of Team USA Minnesota, runner-up at 2008 U.S. Half-Marathon Championships

"Running should be a lifelong activity. Approach it patiently and intelligently, and it will reward you for a long, long time." Michael Sargent

"Never make a decision on a hill."

"Pain is temporary, pride is forever"

"Run into peace." - Meister Eckhart, 14th-Century Philosopher

"There's no such thing as bad weather, just soft people." -Bill Bowerman

"The distance race is a struggle that results inself-discovery. It is an adventure involving the limits of the self." Paul Weiss

"Running, one might say, is basically an absurd pastime upon which to be exhausting ourselves. But if you can find meaning in the type of running you need to do ... chances are you'll be able to find meaning in that other absurd pastime - LIFE." - Bill Bowerman

“Remember, the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running.” - Sarah Condor

"There are times when you run a marathon and you wonder, Why am I doing this? But you take a drink of water, and around the next bend, you get your wind back, remember the finish line, and keep going." -Steve Jobs

“Running is a statement to society. It is saying 'no' to always being on call, to sacrificing our daily runs for others' needs. When we run we are doing something for ourselves.” Phoebe Jones, runner

“The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life.” - George Sheehan

"I've learned that finishing a marathon isn't just anathletic achievement. It's a state of mind; a state of mind that says anythingis possible." - John Hanc, running writer

"It's the one thing that's mine. My runs everyday aremy thing. It's my therapy, my hour to myself. Nobody can really take it away from me... It's such a huge part of me. I love to say that I'm a runner."- Summer Sanders, Olympic gold-medalist

"There is something magical about running; after a certain distance, it transcends the body. Then a bit further, it transcends the mind. A bit further yet, and what you have before you, laid bare, is the soul." - Kristin Armstrong, Mile Markers blog at Runner's World

“When you run, you log on to yourself. You flip through thepages of your being.” - Kevin Nelson, The Runner's Book of Daily Inspiration

"Training for a marathon started out as a life-list thing, and it turned into a lifestyle." - Mike Post

"Running along our journey doesn't only teach us how to keep moving forward through what life throws at us, it also makes us into the best version of ourselves." - Ashley Erickson, freelance fitness writer/editor

"Running is the greatest sport. Your competitors push you to run better, stronger, and faster; and you can only fail by quitting." Kenny Ames 2-6-12

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One more state to finish 2013

The Rocket City Marathon was my 25th total marathon, and Alabama was my 16th different state.  The course wasn't remarkable as it mostly darted through neighborhoods and along highways.  In fact, next year they are using a completely new course that actually goes by some of the attractions.  And, this year it rained a lot before the race and on and off during the race.  Plus, I was coming down with a cold so it turned out that my accomplishment would be simply to add another state.  It is still amazing to think back that I ran my first marathon in 2004 and have run 25 total.  It wasn't until my 16th that I even heard about the 50 State Club to strive to finish.  And that is what brought me to Alabama on a rainy day in December.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express because it was the official hotel, hosted the packet pick-up, pasta dinner, and after party - plus the race started steps from the entrance.  However, after over 20 years as the race host hotel, it is closing.  We found that fact out weeks before the race leaving us no real alternatives.  Had we known they were tearing down the hotel for a reason (i.e. it was awful), we'd have booked a room across the street at the Embassy Suites.  But, a weekend without hot water and the usual amenities you expect from a hotel isn't too bad.

The course itself wasn't especially inspiring.  It started just outside the host hotel and all I really remember are the many neighborhoods and a long stretch of highway that was a wall of wind.  That headwind was positioned right at the halfway point, and until then, I was on pace for 3:03-05.  What I really couldn't believe was how I was still running equal effort, but my pace slowed by 15-30 seconds a mile.  I tried to hold on, but at mile 17, when we turned and the wind was no longer bearing down on us, my legs were gone.  At that point, finishing times went through my head as I readjusted my goals.  On the way, I passed a young runner, Ryan Evans, who stood out due to his long blonde dreadlocks.  I tried to inspire him to stay with him down the stretch, using various coaching insights such as asking him what story will he tell tomorrow and that it is only a few more miles.  He stayed with me for a bit, swapping leads as he'd slow to walk then run and pass me and walk some more.  He finally ditched me with 2-3 miles to go at a water stop.  Later, I checked him times and he struggled in around 3:30.  I held it together as best I could and put in a solid final mile to finish in 3:16:26 - my sixth fastest marathon.  I was 92nd out of over 1300 finishers and 11th in my age group 35-39.  It wasn't a Boston qualifier, but considering the obstacles, I'm pleased with the result.

After the race, Laura and I went to the NASA Rocket Center and toured.  It was neat to see where they have Space Camp and go through the history of our space program.  I even broke down and bought souvenirs for my niece and nephew.  For dinner, we went to a brew pub in town and enjoyed a sampling of beers.  Laura wasn't feeling well, so I went to the post race party solo.  I met some runners from Pennsylvania who happened to be hanging out with Bart Yasso, so I joined them.  It turns out they are his neighbors - not a bad neighbor to have!  It was a very cool experience to hear the stories first hand.  I even managed to connect him with a friend starting a Lyme Disease foundation.

At the airport, Ryan's dad found me and thanked me for helping his son.  They are from Minnesota and were headed home, obviously.  While my marathon wasn't what I hoped, it was very meaningful to be thanked for doing what comes naturally - trying to help a fellow runner.  That's one of the things I love so much about running - we may be competing with each other, but we compete in a way that helps us run faster and reach goals we couldn't alone.

I am still planning my 2014 race calendar.  Boston is on the schedule, and I am considering adding Washington State with the Vancouver USA Marathon.  I'm open to suggestions for the fall.  2013 was an amazing year for running - highlighted with the Boston Marathon and all that transpired - here's to an even better 2014!


Bart Yasso as the guest speaker at the pasta dinner.  They also had a runner's fashion show as local runners walked the runway in the latest sports apparel.


Ready to run Rocket City!


Maybe going on the Mars shuttle ride wasn't smart.  Milk was a bad idea!  (Kidding - I didn't hurl)


Very cool!


Laura where they faked the moon landing (again, kidding!).


Playing around in the command service module.


Posing at the NASA Rocket Center.


Laura enjoying herself.


We sampled the beer on tap at the brew pub.


At the race party with my new running friend, Ryan.


Just hanging out with Bar Yasso and friends - no big deal.



Monday, November 18, 2013

Comparing Red Sox Managers' Leadership Skills

For my leadership class toward my MA in Government, our assignment was to compare two current leaders.  I chose Red Sox skippers Terry Francona and John Farrell.  It really doesn't tie to this blog on running unless you could the running players have to do around bases.

            “Swing and a ground ball stabbed by Foulke.  He has it.  He underhands to first.  And the Boston Red Sox are the World Champions.  For the first time in eighty-six years, the Red Sox have won baseball’s world championship.  Can you believe it (Castiglione 2004)?”
“It hasn’t happened at Fenway Park for ninety-five years!  The Red Sox are World Champions! (Buck 2013)”
The Boston Red Sox have been crowned champions three times (2004, 2007, 2013) in the last decade after a notorious drought that lasted eighty-six years.  This success was made possible due to solid leadership, a shared vision, and the right fits at manager who could communicate the blueprint from ownership to the players.  In 2002, John Henry led an ownership group, including Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino, that purchased the franchise from the Yawkey Trust, and the new ownership changed the culture immediately.  Recognizing the importance of instituting a manager who shared their vision and commitment to winning, Terry Francona was brought in to manage the team in 2004.  Francona won twice but departed after eight years and Bobby Valentine succeeded him.  Valentine was fired after one season in which the team didn’t win seventy games in part due to his deficiencies as a leader and inability to communicate.  To replace him, the ownership recognized the club needed a manager with similar qualities to Francona and brought in John Farrell.
In baseball circles, many often wonder what impact a manager can have on his team.  Some believe that a strong manager can make the difference between winning a title and missing the playoffs.  Others believe that managers would do best to get out of their players’ way to let them just do their thing.  Since these two Red Sox skippers brought these nine (baseball-speak indicting the ball club) to the top of the sport, it is appropriate to compare Terry Francona and John Farrell by examining their leadership styles according to Kouzes and Posner’s Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart (2006, 13).
Model the way: Titles are granted, but exemplary leaders know they must be models of the behavior they expect of others because leaders model the way (Kouzes and Posner 2006, 14).
Being named manager bestows a title, but it is up to the leader to earn respect and influence to wield power gained.  Both Francona and Farrell set the examples for their charges, and players wanted to play for them and would go the extra mile.  Francona had a reputation as a player’s manager who would protect his guys and never embarrass them.  While Francona was being considered for the job, Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein was pursuing Curt Schilling, a Cy Young winner who formerly played for Francona during his first MLB managerial stint in Philadelphia.  Originally, Schilling wasn’t considering joining Boston until “word leaked out that the Red Sox were interviewing Terry Francona as Grady Little’s possible replacement, Schilling decided he might be willing to go to Boston after all (Mnookin 2007, 243).”  Schilling became a clubhouse leader and courageous follower of Francona’s.  He shared Francona’s goal of bringing a title to Boston, taking on the challenge and inspiring his teammates, most famously by pitching and winning in the playoffs with a surgically secured ankle.
The Sox ownership wanted a manager who would be a partner and not a middle manager.  The right fit would, according to Epstein, “Embrace the exhaustive preparation that the organization demands, and Francona quickly emerged from the applicant pool.  His experiences gave him a remarkable understanding of our vision.  His preparation, energy, integrity, and communication skills are exceptional (Shaughnessy 2005, 39).”  Schilling was also known for thoroughly studying opposing hitters, and because Francona modeled the way, players prepared seriously and that contributed to on-field success.
After the collapse of the 2011 team, which squandered a nine-game lead in September failing to make the postseason, ownership elected to part ways with Terry Francona.  They replaced him with Bobby Valentine, whose style was very different.  Where Francona would go out of his way to protect his players, Valentine would publicly call out players, embarrassing them and calling attention to internal discord.  Valentine verbally sparred with fan-favorite Kevin Youkilis, calling him out for poor play at the beginning of the season causing a rift that he never mended.
Recognizing their mistake that resulted in a contentious 2012 season under volatile skipper, Bobby Valentine, and seeking to restore the kind of leadership displayed by Francona, new Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington hired John Farrell.  “The Farrell regime represented a return to Francona’s style.  It’s only natural.  John Farrell and Terry Francona were big league teammates with the Indians.  They were great friends.  Their wives and kids were friends.  Francona brought Farrell to the Red Sox as pitching coach for four seasons (Shaughnessy November 2013).”
Farrell understood the importance of laying out clear personal values and setting the tone.  During a spring training interview with the New England Sports Network (NESN), Farrell explained his views on leadership: “I think the thing that stands out about a leader is how he goes about his work.  It’s not so much what he says.  It’s the example that he provides for a starting pitcher.  For instance, what he does in-between starts to prepare for that fifth day.  What is the daily routine for a Shane Victorino, a David Ross, or a Stephen Drew at shortstop – guys that have been added to this roster?  It’s more about keeping that game the focal point and every preparation step along the way that’s needed to put them in a position for success tonight (Farrell 2013).”  Farrell understood that the players would take their cue from him.  He needed to display his dedication to putting the team in a position to win, and the players would follow. 
Inspire a Shared Vision: To enlist people in a vision, leaders must know their constituents and speak their language (Kouzes and Posner 2006, 15).
Terry Francona had to display that he could communicate in an appropriate manner with his players early on in his tenure.  At the beginning of his first spring training in Boston, there was the annual big meeting to kick off the season where ownership, the general manager, manager, traveling secretary, public relations director, equipment manager, and a representative from the Red Sox Foundation addressed the entire ball club.  This provides the organization with a shared vision for the year while plotting out strategy and mission.  The meeting was to begin at 9:00 AM, but as time approached, Francona noticed Manny Ramirez wasn’t there.  Ramirez was known for being absent-minded and acting out at times, giving birth to the phrase, “Manny being Manny.”  If Ramirez missed this meeting, it had the potential to create a press firestorm and torpedo the new manager.  Francona recruited the affable and popular designated hitter, David Ortiz, who is affectionately called Big Papi by teammates and fans and is a friend of Ramirez’s, to go get him.  Ortiz recognized the situation and respected the way Francona wished to handle this, opting to let a player bring another player to the meeting to avoid making a scene.  The next day, Ramirez approached the manager during spring training drills, draped his arm around him, and said, “I’ll hit third, I’ll hit fourth, I don’t care.  I’ll do whatever you want. (Francona and Shaughnessy 2013, 77).”  This reaction showed that Ramirez valued the way the new manager’s style.
Francona avoided a pitfall by appealing to Ortiz’s shared aspirations.  He let a friend bring Ramirez rather than potentially embarrass the temperamental All-Star.  Farrell also believes in this approach and has had the chance to display it.  A few players lost focus during Francona’s final season with Boston, creating a press storm when they were rumored to be eating chicken and drinking beer in the clubhouse during games.  Their performances suffered, but they were still talented pitchers.  Farrell was able to inspire them to return to a solid workout regimen that produced wins and a low staff ERA.  He earned their trust and respect by appealing to shared aspirations of greatness.
Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner: “John has demonstrated extraordinary leadership ever since he became our manager last winter.  John has the team focused on winning, the clubhouse is happy, and the players grind out at-bats.  His skills range from his calm nature to his in-game strategy.  Whether communicating with our core group of stars or the role players coming up and down from Pawtucket, he has everyone’s trust (Shaughnessy July 2013).”
Challenge the Process: Leaders venture out and are learners.  They learn from mistakes and seek ways to change, grow, and improve (Kouzes and Posner 2006, 17).
The Red Sox ownership rely on a type of data-driven statistics known as Sabermetrics, a methodology popularized by Bill James and expanded upon by the publication Baseball Prospectus.  Not all managers subscribe to this forward-thinking approach; some rely on old-fashioned trusting one’s instincts, eschewing data.  The Red Sox needed to make sure their managers shared and conveyed their approach to the players.  “Francona seemed to intuit the need to combine a deft interpersonal approach with the utilization of as much information as he could possibly get his hands on.  It was clear that Francona would never eschew the detailed reports the team put together (Mnookin 2007, 247).”  Francona and Farrell bought into this innovative approach and succeeded by playing the percentages, which is the heart of what Sabermetrics is.
Both Francona and Farrell had previous managerial jobs in the majors, and both struggled initially.  Francona had four mediocre seasons managing the Phillies in the late 1990s.  But, he learned from his mistakes and was able to use that to his advantage in Boston.  “Francona’s pliability, a flaw in Philadelphia, would be an asset in Boston, where it was reframed as a willingness to learn and grow (Goldman 2005, 29).”
In his first season Philadelphia in 1997, Francona sought to change the direction of his club which he did midseason in a closed door meeting: “He blasted his team – and they promptly won thirty-eight of their last fifty games.  Francona was applauded for his handling of the situation and his ability to motivate a team that had little viable pitching after Schilling and a mismatched roster (Goldman 2005, 27).”
Farrell also failed in his first managerial stint in Toronto.  The Blue Jays were dismayed with his performance after two years and willing to let him go to the Red Sox.  But, he learned from those seasons and applied the lessons to his leadership approach in Boston.  Red Sox second basemen Dustin Pedroia, a former Rookie of the Year and American League Most Valuable Player: “The thing with John is he’s so smart.  I think it seems like he learns from every single person he’s around in baseball.  John has been unbelievable with all of us, just the communication (Ulman 2013).”
Also, Farrell showed strong leadership during the World Series by admitting he made a crucial mistake during Game 3 that possibly cost the Red Sox the game.  In the top of the ninth with the game tied at four runs apiece, Farrell failed to initiate a double-switch at first base and pitcher electing to allow the pitcher to hit.  The Cardinals won 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth on an obstruction play.  After the game, he conceded, “In retrospect, sure, I would have liked to use a pinch hitter (Ulman 2013).”  Down two games to one after the loss, the Red Sox won three straight to win the World Series.
Enable others to act: Excellent leaders foster collaboration because they know that trusting others pays off.  They understand that those under them are expected to produce results and that they must feel a sense of personal power and ownership (Kouzes and Posner 2006, 18).
Francona established a trust system by empowering his players and promoting cooperative goals.  He treated the players as men, yet made clear what he expected of them: “I put the rules out there each year to protect myself.  I wasn’t going to check curfew.  No manager does.  But if somebody did something stupid at night, I could say, ‘This is the rule.’  It was all just basic commonsense stuff: be on time, be respectful, play your ass off (Francona and Shaughnessy 2013, 76).”
An example of how Francona built trust was how he handled his first game as skipper.  In the 2004 Red Sox season opener, ace pitcher and part-time prima donna, Pedro Martinez, did not have his best stuff and took the loss in Baltimore.  In a huff, he left the ballpark before the game was over, infuriating Francona.  However, it is not his style to call out players publicly, especially on his first night on the job.  Yet, he managed the situation deftly by telling the press, “In all fairness to [Martinez], and everybody else, that [rule about leaving early] wasn’t conveyed correctly on my part, and I take responsibility for that (Francona and Shaughnessy 2013, 83).”
“Francona made it a point never to criticize any of his players in public.  If harsh words were uttered behind closed doors, no one heard about it (Shaughnessy 2005, 81).”  That was Francona’s modus operandi: when Sox players misbehaved, he addressed it inside the clubhouse and then diminished the indiscretion to the media.  This style has earned him the perception as a player’s manager because they trusted he would make them look good; the team appreciated his fostering of collaboration by taking the blame.
Farrell operates in a similar manner and that has helped him build a strong relationship with his coaches.  Like Francona, he does not seek attention by criticizing his players or coaches outside of the clubhouse.  An example of how he shared power is on display with his pitching coach, Juan Nieves.  While Farrell served as pitching coach for Francona, he hired Nieves for the role and stays out of his way to let him do his job.  Some leaders can have a tough time relinquishing a role they served prior to their promotion, creating a difficult situation when supervising the new incumbent.  Yet, Farrell respects Nieves and lets him handle the pitchers: his faith of placing his trust in Nieves has been rewarded through a 3.79 staff earned run average, nearly a run less than the 2012 Sox and Boston’s best in eleven years (Ulman 2013).
Encourage the heart: The climb to the top is often arduous and long so people can become exhausted, frustrated, and disenchanted.  Leaders recognize the temptation to give up yet encourage the heart of their team and celebrate success through a spirit of community (Kouzes and Posner 2006, 19).
In the 2004 American League Championship Series, the Boston Red Sox found themselves down three games to none to their hated rivals, the New York Yankees.  No team in baseball history had ever won a best-of-seven series when trailing by such a deficit; in fact, no team had ever rallied to force a Game 7.  Francona kept the team in a positive frame of mind and only thinking about having to win one game at a time rather than focusing on the daunting task of taking four straight.  He avoided the appearance of panic by ensuring his players saw that he wasn’t doing anything differently.  Although his stomach was churning, he knew that when things are getting out of control, players take their cue from the manager.  It was important that he appeared calm and focused: he wasn’t going to give them an excuse to quit.  He told the press after dropping Game 3, “We’re going to show up tomorrow and try to play one pitch at a time, one inning at a time (Francona and Shaughnessy 2013, 112).” 
And the players responded with optimism.  First baseman Kevin Millar told everyone, “Don’t let us win tonight.  If we win, we’ve got Pedro going tomorrow, then Schilling, and then anything can happen in Game 7 (Francona and Shaughnessy 2013, 113).”  Schilling handed out shirts that read, “Why Not Us?” referring to their chance to make history.  And the Red Sox did make history by winning the next two at Fenway in extra innings, winning Game 6 in New York with Schilling pitching on his bad ankle, and blowing away the Yankees in the clincher in Yankees Stadium en route to the title.
John Farrell was brought in to change the direction from the disastrous Valentine era.  “Farrell has brought leadership and dignity back to the corner office at Fenway and the Red Sox at the All-Star break have more wins than any team in baseball.  He has brought back the Tito style of putting the feelings of the players ahead of everything else.  And it is working magically (Shaughnessy July 2013).”
Farrell was able to encourage the team in the way the veterans still on the team were treated by Francona.  Red Sox pitcher Clay Bucholz recalled, “It’s almost exactly the way it was back then [under Francona].  This is the way our clubhouse used to be.  Players get treated with respect, like a professional.  That’s the way it should be (Shaughnessy July 2013).”  Farrell showed his appreciation for individual excellence and that recreated a spirit of community that Francona had built.  He acknowledged the role Francona played, “He taught me a lot.  He has a keen intuitive feel for the game (Shaughnessy November 2013).”  Once restoring that blueprint, Farrell was able to guide the team from worst to first.
Conclusion: Terry Francona and John Farrell are very similar in their leadership styles and personalities, and both accomplished the ultimate goal of a Major League Baseball manager: to guide their ball club to a World Series triumph – and they did it in their first seasons in Boston.  Professional baseball is a multimillion-dollar enterprise; so employing the right manager to direct a clubhouse of twenty-five talented and competitive men is crucial.  This season, Francona returned to the dugout as manager of the Cleveland Indians, his first year back as skipper after his Red Sox days ended.  He guided a club back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007, and the Baseball Writers of America selected him as American League Manager of the Year.  He beat out John Farrell, who came in second; but the Red Sox and Farrell can console themselves with their eighth title in franchise history and the comfort of knowing solid leadership has been restored.
Sources

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Castiglione, Joe.  Announcer for the World Series.  WEEI.  October 27, 2004.

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Francona, Terry, and Dan Shaughnessy. Francona: The Red Sox Years. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  2013.

Goldman, Steven, ed. Mind Game: How the Boston Red Sox Got Smart Won a World Series, and Created a New BLueprint for Winning. Workman Publishing, 2005.

Kouzes, James M., and Barry Z. Posner. The leadership challenge. Vol. 3. Wiley. 2006.

Mnookin, Seth. Feeding the monster: How money, smarts, and nerve took a team to the top. Simon and Schuster. 2007.

Shaughnessy, Dan.  “Indians’ Terry Francona over Red Sox’ John Farrell for American League Manager of Year a shocker.”  The Boston Globe.  November 13, 2013.

Shaughnessy, Dan.  “John Farrell proves right man for the job in guiding Red Sox.”  The Boston Globe.  July 15, 2013.

Shaughnessy, Dan. Reversing the Curse: Inside the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2005.


Ulman, Howard.  “Manager John Farrell’s steady leadership brings Red Sox from last place to World Series.”  The Associated Press.  October 30, 2013.