Thoughts From the Treadmill

My runs are my me time. Sometimes I think about life in a big picture way, other times I work through specific problems or issues I’m facing.

Other times I think about complete nonsense. Here is a snippet of today’s thoughts while I was on the treadmill.

.03 miles – I should have peed before I started. I hate when I have to pee early in.

.12 miles – I have to pee. Damnit.

.28 miles – Ok, I feel better after peeing. I hope the lady next to me doesn’t think I just had to take a break a minute in. She looks like she might be judging me. Please stop judging me.

.72 miles – I wonder what Buster is doing. He’s probably sleeping. Actually, he’s probably chewing on something. Definitely chewing on something.

1.14 miles – This feels great. I’m going to CRUSH NYC!

1.15 miles– What was that snap? Why is one of the straps of my sports bra hanging in front of me? Did judge-y lady next to me notice?

1.76 miles– Why does my pinky toe suddenly hurt? Is this a symptom of Ebola? Note to self- google Ebola symptoms when I get home.

2.03 miles – Is there something I’m forgetting for the wedding? Hair appointment (check), nails (check), venue (check), florist (check), rings (check)… Checks. I must send out checks when I get home. Then I’ll check our bank account and have myself a good cry.

2.58 miles – This strap is getting really annoying. How does this even happen? Champion is getting a strongly worded email from me.

2.76 miles– Why do they show Red Lobster commercials in MA if we don’t have any Red Lobsters? Any why do they insist on playing them at the gym? I want those cheddar biscuits. And the shrimp scampi. And all the rest of the food. I’m hungry.

2.98 miles– This strap is getting out of control.

3.1 miles– Alright, I better hit stop before my boob pops out and I’m asked to leave. Forever.

 

This is the nonsense I think of.

And in case you were wondering, Buster was sleeping. After he chewed his brand new bone to bits.

 

New York City Marathon Training- Some Updates

I could apologize for not writing as faithfully as I would like to.

But I won’t.

The fact is that I have hit a busy streak in life that is fairly unprecedented and something had to give. While I love this little blog and keeping up with all of my lovely blogger friends- Happy Health Sweaty appears to have taken the hit.

With that said, I’m here and I have a few updates to share.

NYCM Training

As I got further into the Nike+ training plan I wasn’t crazy about how it was structured further into the schedule. The biggest issue I had is that it offers no flexibility to move around runs and hikes the mid-week mileage pretty early on.

So, after some careful consideration, I went back to running 3mi/day for a few weeks and adopted the Coach Dino 18-week training plan. I’m two weeks in and LOVING it! Instead of getting pretty check marks on my Nike+ interface (which is really the only thing I miss about that program), I get to check each run off when I get home. The plan is proudly displayed on the fridge, which Jim thinks is me taking the whole “I’m going to be a teacher” thing a little too far.

I can cross it off just like homework assignments in my agenda in Jr. High. Don't act like you didn't highlight each assignment as it was completed. No, that was just me? Liar.

I can cross it off just like homework assignments in my agenda in Jr. High. Don’t act like you didn’t highlight each assignment as it was completed. No, that was just me? Liar.

This plan is 5 running days and I can throw in cross-training as I see fit. I’ve been consistently improving in terms of speed and endurance and love feeling the changes on each run.

 

In Nike+, this is what progress looks like.

In Nike+, this is what progress looks like.

Hills are getting easier to climb. That doesn’t mean I like them any more, but they’re getting easier. I still dread hill day more than long runs, but I don’t feel sick to my stomach before heading out the door anymore. I’ll take it.

Looking ahead a few months into the schedule and peak week still falls the week of my wedding. There’s nothing I can do to change this, and I’d just be lying if I said I’d be focused on fitting in a 22-miler the week I’m saying “I do”. Maybe it will happen the week before, maybe the week after, but most likely just not at all. I’ll run 20, and hope for the best.

 

Wedding Planning

I’m still not the best “Bride to Be” there has ever been. I’m making progress and knocking things off the to-do list one at a time. Am I forgetting things? Probably. If I am, are they going to become emergencies day of? Probably not. The way I’m looking at it is if I haven’t thought about it and no one else has asked about it, whatever “it” is probably doesn’t mean that much to me. So, just like with other low-priority items, it’s not making the cut. Sorry, flatware selections.

We did decide on cake. So far, that has been my favorite task. It’s certainly the one we took the most seriously.

Bakery 1

Bakery 1

 

Bakery 2

Bakery 2

 

 

At this point Jim said "I'm not tasting anymore, now I'm just eating."

At this point Jim said “I’m not tasting anymore, now I’m just eating.”

 

Bakery 3. There was more eating.

Bakery 3. There was more eating.

 

What I am most excited to be planning is our honeymoon. Right now it looks like Hawaii and Bora Bora are the top two contenders, so if you have a recommendation on either let me know. I’ve done Hawaii, he hasn’t; but I also went 12 years ago and I’m sure it’s a different experience when you go with a spouse. Since we’re waiting until February to go we have some time to decide, but I’d like to get as much planned as possible before the fall semester takes over my life.

 

School

Fall 2014, you are my nemesis. Epidemiology, A&P, Promotion Strategies and 3 other classes to balance while getting married and training for a marathon. If I make it through this semester alive, I’m sure I’ll owe my liver a big-giant thank you detox over Christmas break. For now, there is one summer class left and then a month of academic freedom and lots of beach reading. Taking any and all recommendations.

 

Those Angry Tweets

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed an angry tweet or a million over the weekend. Let me explain- I’m an 80y/o man inside. I enjoy waking up early, going to bed at a reasonable hour and I listen to talk radio in the car and at home. My favorite radio show for the past 10 or so years has been Opie and Anthony. You may have heard of them for a string of ridiculous antics pulled back in the early 2000’s; but the show kind of gets a bad rep. It’s an uncensored show that talks about news and current events and regularly has stand up comedians commenting on issues and it basically makes me laugh my ass off first thing in the morning. A time when everyone needs a good laugh.

Well, last weekend Anthony got assaulted in Times Square, went on a Twitter rant against the woman who assaulted him (clearly a lot of inappropriate/offensive language was used), and Anthony was promptly fired by Sirius/XM, effectively canceling a major part of my mornings. Let me clarify that I don’t agree with a lot of what Anthony had to say, but the fact that he was FIRED for voicing displeasure at being assaulted on his personal Twitter account I think is a HUGE concern for all of us on social media.

Yes, what he said would be grossly inappropriate in the workplace. But he didn’t say it there.

I’m sure I’ve said a lot of things on this blog that people wouldn’t agree with. But this blog isn’t related to my employer. I like to think that I can say what I’d like here without my employer firing me if they disagreed. What it boils down to is a free speech issue and that companies are going overboard in trying to censor employees off working hours. I don’t like it, and made that very clear to a few people, including Sirius/XM.

I try to keep the RunBritRun account friendly. I just felt like I had to use my voice to stand up for my beliefs on that one.

Also, speaking of social media, I made this decision a week or so ago.

 

I'm officially Facebook free!

I’m officially Facebook free!

 

Going Facebook Free

It’s amazing how often we run into people we haven’t seen in months and find ourselves already knowing pretty much everything they’ve been up to since the last time you saw them. That vacation they took? You saw the pictures. Their engagement- you heard the WHOLE proposal story when they posted a status update about it. Your ex’s baby: Seen.

Last week I saw a lot of people I hadn’t seen since last summer and therefore, not since our engagement. I didn’t post much about it on the -book, but who I saw said “Oh yeah, I saw on Facebook- congrats!”. It made me think about how much I would have enjoyed sharing that news in person. A style of communication that seems to be increasingly lost in our generation. That was the final straw. I quit Facebook. And I have to say, I don’t miss it.

 

I do miss this blog though. And I miss you. What have you been up to? Tell me all about it in the comments. Are you running NYCM too? Let’s be friends.

 

New York City Marathon Training: A Fresh Start

This weekend I decided to take off from workouts all together. I knew my NYCM training started on Monday, so I wanted to enjoy my last weekend without a long run to it’s fullest potential. I also had a ton of wedding stuff to do, so that occupied most of my time.

First, I met up with my brother (aka Man of Honor) at the wedding venue for lunch and a few drinks. We hadn’t seen each other in about a month, which is completely unacceptable  by our standards, so it was nice to relax and catch up. The pretty drinks only made things better.

My happy place.

My happy place.

After lunch we went out on the boat for a quick ride and pretended it felt like summer. It’s been nice, but not summer-ish. Considering the awful Polar Vortex winter we all just suffered through I think we deserve some serious summer weather sooner rather than later. So we took the boat out with Jim, Buster and Buster’s girlfriend Sage. They loved it. In fact, they were so happy they tried to run away together. Thankfully Jim caught them before they got too far off the dock.

Such a sweet couple.

Such a sweet couple.

 

Bonnie and Clyde wannabes. Thankfully Jim caught up with them.

Bonnie and Clyde wannabes. Thankfully Jim caught up with them.

 

Sunday was more wedding errands, wrapping up the registry and trying on wedding bands. It’s kind of surreal every time we go do these grown up wedding things, but they’re getting more and more fun as the planning goes on.

And then it came. Yesterday was the day. My training for the New York City Marathon officially began!

With a rest day.

 

Day 1: Rest. I can do that.

Day 1: Rest. I can do that.

 

 

Yeah, it was the most anti-climactic start to anything I’d ever experienced. So waking up this morning, knowing today I’d get to RUN… I was excited to say the least. As I’ve said before, I’m using the 24-week Nike+ Marathon Training Plan. I like it not only because it lays out your workouts in a very easy to digest fashion, but also gives you day by day workout detail, encouraging voice overs during your run and compares your runs to each other for you.

 

I giggle when I read "Fartlek". I'm a grown up.

I giggle when I read “Fartlek”. I’m a grown up.

 

One update I’d really like to see is a voice over after the 1-mi warm-up that times your two minute intervals for you. I know my opinion is SO important to the Nike+ developers, so I’ll expect this in the next update. Thank you in advance.

I’m working on moving my workouts to earlier in the morning to ensure they are done before anything can disrupt my day and force me to miss a workout. I work at the restaurant Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Friday nights (sometimes more) and since my classes for the summer semester are online, I picked up a day job a couple days a week at a local golf course to help pay for the wedding. I’ll be the girl driving around the golf cart full of beer. This new gig requires me to bring at least one book and my iPad to “keep myself entertained” and my uniform is Yoga pants. Something tells me I’m going to like this new job just fine.

Since I had no day job today I made it a point to be out of the house by 9:30 for my run. With the summer months approaching 9:30 will probably be the latest I can get out for my run without serious risk of heat stroke, dehydration or terrible sports bra tan lines. I chugged half of my coffee chased with a pint glass full of water, hit the bathroom then was out of the house.

Coach Nike insisted I go easy for the first mile so I went out feeling comfortable but somewhat restrained. I kept telling myself this was day 1, no need to burn myself out just yet. By the time the nice Nike lady came over my headphones to tell me I’d completed the first mile I was ready to ramp it up.

Mistake 1: I forgot to switch back to slow after the first two minutes. Again, this is where the whole “Two minutes are done, rein it in, Byron” voice over would help. 9-minutes later I was told I’d hit mile two. Oops.

 

Mile 2 was no supposed to be the speediest. At least not by that much.

Mile 2 was no supposed to be the speediest. At least not by that much.

Miles three and four were extra slow to make up for the extra push I’d given at mile 2. Not a perfect Fartlek, but for my first I’m at least proud I managed to change up the pace. I’ve always gone out for runs and just run. Sometimes there was a time goal, but most of the time it was just to hit a distance and be done with it. I like the change up and having a new purpose for every run.

Hitting the 4 mile mark felt great. I felt like I’d gotten in a workout, but didn’t feel drained. I easily could have kept going for another couple miles, which was how I had hoped I’d feel today.

I walked through the front door beaming with excitement about a training cycle starting off so well. Buster was very happy for me.

He celebrates with naps.

He celebrates with naps.

 

A strong run was exactly what I needed to feel confident about trying 26.2 again. I know there will be terrible days mixed in with these great ones, but I’m excited to feel this great a few more times before November 2.

 

Who else is taking the long approach to NYCM training? Any veterans of the race out there to offer me amazing advice? Or at least tell me if bus or ferry is a better option for getting to the start. That would be great. 

My New Start Line

First things first- Thank you to everyone for all the love I received yesterday. The reason I love the running community so much is that it’s not about competing with each other, it’s about competing with ourselves.  We have all come up short of our expectations before and the best among us would never think to put another runner down for that.  So for everyone who sent me a tweet, Facebook message, email or carrier pigeon message in a bottle, thank you. I didn’t really get the last one, but it would have been really cool if I did. As much as I tried to be upbeat yesterday there were also more than a couple moments of some serious sulking. Around 5:30 I found myself on the couch watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta reunion (not quite Married to Medicine, but I’ll take it) and I realized I was embodying everything I am trying to teach kids NOT to be. I knew I’d feel better if I got outside and did something, so I asked Jim to put Buster’s harness on him while I got ready. By the time my workout gear was on and my sneakers laced I felt better. Buster on the other hand knew that the harness meant he was being brought somewhere and he made it clear he was perfectly content where he was.

This is his "I'm not going" face

This is his “I’m not going” face

Deciding I didn’t want to spend my time outside fighting with that face, I told Jim I was leaving Buster home and heading out on my own. Jim decided I was just being stubborn and tried to bring Buster outside himself. Clearly he had a lapse in judgement because Moms ALWAYS know best, which was proven when Buster laid down in the driveway and refused to move. This lasted for 15 minutes before Jim finally gave up. They’re both too stubborn for their own good sometimes. I walked off and tried to decide what to do with my workout. By the time I reached the beach I was still trying to decide but my thoughts sidetracked me to why I started running in the first place. I remembered that walk I took before I ever considered being a runner, I think it was 2007-ish? It was the first really nice day of spring and I wanted to get outside and enjoy it- so I went for a walk. That walk turned into 15 miles through 3 towns without really thinking about it. Remembering how nice it was just to WALK, I decided to just keep walking. Just walking my favorite running route lifted my spirits.

I've said it once, I'll say it a thousand times. I love my neighborhood.

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times. I love my neighborhood.

5 miles later I got home and felt ready to tackle the post-Boston phase of my running life. As I mentioned, I’ve got another pretty huge goal coming up.

I'm IN!

I’m IN!

Three years of rejection earned me a spot in this years New York City Marathon! It feels good to be at the starting line of a new training phase. That time where the whole process is optimistic and nothing has gone wrong yet so obviously everything is going to go perfectly. Right now I’m researching training plans and trying to find any local running groups who may be training for this race (know of anyone in MA looking for a running buddy?). I have decided I’m going to go with a beginner plan and really focus on pace and consistency in my workouts. Once I decide on a plan I’ll get more into detail about what exactly I’m going to be changing, but right now it’s kind of cool to compare all the different plans out there and get advice. So between now and May 19 – yes, I’m doing the 24 week plan – I’m in flux. I’ll be running up to 5 miles, not running the Providence Half Marathon, doing lots of yoga and just enjoying each run for what it is.

What advice do you have for putting the bad races behind you? I’ve never DNF’d before so I could really use some pick-me-ups here! Also- do you know of any running groups in MA that will be training for the NYCM? Tell me, tell me, tell me! 

The 2014 Boston Marathon – The Good, The Bad and The Inspiring

As I may have mentioned once or twice, it’s been 3 long, hard training seasons leading up to one race.

Strap in, because I truly went into this weekend with one goal: to enjoy every last moment of the entire process, and treat this Boston like I would never be back to race it again. And you’re about to hear ALL about it.

Race weekend for me starts at the expo, and I kept this promise to myself from the moment I walked through the doors. I was surrounded by a flood of runners also donning their blue and yellow jackets from last year, smiling, nodding and giving each other pats on the back saying “We’re back!”. I won’t pretend the vibe was all sunshine and roses from the beginning- bags were searched TSA style the moment you walked into the building, bomb sniffing dogs were just about everywhere and way more police officers than I’ve ever seen at a race expo- but I expected just about all of it so I was OK with that.

If you haven’t seen it for yourself, the Boston Marathon Expo is about as big of a deal as the Marathon itself. The expo is M A S S I V E and it’s too easy to get lost and overwhelmed in it. With the extra 9,000 runners it was extra easy to feel overwhelmed. Though to give credit where credit is due- packet pick up was incredibly quick and painless. They broke down the numbers enough that no one had a line and I had my bib number and T shirt in hand by 9:10am. Not too bad for a major.

Found a nice woman who wanted her picture taken and insisted on taking mine too. Obviously I didn't complain.

Found a nice woman who wanted her picture taken and insisted on taking mine too. Obviously I didn’t complain.

 

Heading into the expo I had one item on my to-do list (after picking up my packet- obviously). I wanted to meet Dick Hoyt.

For those who are unfamiliar, Team Hoyt was founded by a father and son who run Boston together every year. The kicker here- the son (Rick) has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair, so dad Dick pushes him. Every. Single. Year. If that isn’t inspiring enough, Dick publicly stated many times last year would be their last Boston. They did all the typical press junkets, a bronze statue was erected in their honor, and they set off that morning to run their last Boston together. They, like 5700 other runners, were stopped a mile before the finish. Instead of saying “We had a great run and unfortunately a last finish wasn’t in the cards”, Dick quickly and openly confirmed that they would not be stopped and they would come back to finish the final race they had started.

A lot of us struggled with the option to come back and run again after everything that had happened, myself included. To hear the horror and disgust in Dick’s voice when he spoke of what was taken from so many that day, I was inspired to make sure I went back to. I felt I owed it to this man to know how much he inspires not just those dealing with disabilities, but everyday not-super-speedy runners as well. I beelined for his booth and thankfully caught him without a line. It was probably the most inspiring 90 seconds of my life.

Myself and Dick Hoyt. Don't mind my awkward "OMG OMG OMG face". I was near tears the whole time.

Myself and Dick Hoyt. Don’t mind my awkward “OMG OMG OMG face”. I was near tears the whole time.

 

From there, I walked around and took in some people watching and product demos. Then, as I was about the head to the finish line to take it in, I heard “Kara Gaucher and Lauren Flieshman will be at the Oiselle Booth at 11am”. Seriously? It was 10:10- no brainer. I was three rows over and have a major girl crush on Kara Gaucher. Done and done. The line was only 10 people long by the time I got there and I met some awesome runners from Michigan (yay Michiganders!) in line who were awesome to talk to. We patiently waited and before we knew it, I was getting a hug from probably the sweetest pro athlete in the world. Seriously, as if I didn’t already have a girl crush- she’s super sweet too.

Just getting a hug from Kara. NBD. Casual Saturday in my world.

Just getting a hug from Kara. NBD. Casual Saturday in my world.

Lauren, Kara and me, trying to act like the crowd wasn't playing a game of "One of these things is not like the others..." in their heads.

Lauren, Kara and me, trying to act like the crowd wasn’t playing a game of “One of these things is not like the others…” in their heads.

Realizing life was not going to get much better at the expo, I packed up and left. Just in time too it seems, as people were starting to get that claustrophobic “Get me the hell out of here!” vibe about them. I walked down Boylston Street and took in the sights that were a little harder to bear.

The memorial marking the spot of the second bomb, and those who died there.

The memorial marking the spot of the second bomb, and those who died there.

 

The memorial inside of Marathon Sports. The first bomb exploded outside their storefront window, injuring spectators and employees.

The memorial inside of Marathon Sports. The first bomb exploded outside their storefront window, injuring spectators and employees.

The daffodils that will be planted all along the marathon route. A sign of peace and remembrance. A sign I wish we didn't need.

The daffodils that will be planted all along the marathon route. A sign of peace and remembrance. A sign I wish we didn’t need.

There were many somber spots along the route, but also many signs of resilience and hope. The race continuing alone gave the city the atmosphere of hope and resurrection after last year. People eating lunch on patios and enjoying the sunshine, taking in the energy from the runners and the excitement of race day nearing. There was also this…

Yes. We. Are.

Yes. We. Are.

Of course I needed a photo. I didn't care if my hair was blowing into my face.

Of course I needed a photo. I didn’t care if my hair was blowing into my face.

 

For the first time since last April, I truly felt invigorated and inspired to run this race again. Suddenly I realized that all of us who were stopped last year were returning not just for ourselves, but to prove to those outside out little world that we won’t be stopped. We will return and not be afraid. We are STRONG.

Feeling on top of the world, I met up with my lovely friend Ali and her boyfriend Jon for lunch. I changed into my new 2014 sweatshirt (nothing against the jackets, I just already have 2 and can’t justify $115 on another one) and soaked in the energy of all the runners around me getting to the city and meeting friends for drinks. A 26.2 brew and a Bloody Mary later, I felt ready to take on the rest of race weekend with every ounce of willpower I had.

Last stop was the finish line, the last time I'd see it before I would cross it on Monday!

Last stop was the finish line, the last time I’d see it before I would cross it on Monday!

 

Sunday was spent at brunch with the family for Easter, and then an afternoon full of worrying, planning and stretching. I ate a bowl of plain spaghetti, plain red sauce, a sprinkle of cheese and was in bed by 9:00pm. It was race eve, and I felt ready.

I drove to my brothers girlfriends house at 8am where we got a ride from a family friend to Hopkinton. We were both worried about the shuttle and chaos Boston Common would be, so we decided getting a lift was the best option for us. We were dropped off about 2 miles from Athlete’s Village, and to be honest it was a perfect distance to loosen up and feel ready for the race. We took in all the excitement of the town, and even got to use a REAL BATHROOM at a Cumberland Farms where some runners had gathered to kill time before the race. A real bathroom on race day is the greatest of luxuries. We were grateful.

We arrived at Athletes Village an hour before our start time and since neither of us had been there before (we had both run with charities who had separate pre-race areas in the years prior) so we made sure to take in as much of it as we could.

We're here!

We’re here!

The increased security was everywhere we turned. Twice before getting to the village we had to stop and be waved with metal detectors, our bags searched and numbers flashed. Once inside the village there were military helicopters overhead and snipers on the roof of the school. I can’t say these haven’t been here in previous years, but I hadn’t heard of them.

Snipers on the roof.

Snipers on the roof.

The original plan was that I’d run the first two miles with a friend named Joe, who I know from the 5700 Strong group. He’s been a great source of positivity and optimism on the page and I was excited to finally meet him in person and run the first few miles together. We kept contacting each other and sadly, there were so many people we were never able to find each other. By the time our wave and corrals were called there were so many people near our meeting place we couldn’t even get close to eat. Chelsea and I couldn’t even start in our designated waves. There were so many people we couldn’t walk past, so even though we were supposed to start in corrals 4 and 6, we both started in 8. Strangely, this was the only place where the course felt crowded to me.

As Chel and I were standing and waiting to start I told her I had nerves, and I could feel them up in my chest. She reminded me that this is just a run, like the hundreds of others we’ve done, it was just keeping one foot in front of the other. Granted, she was going to do it at a WAY  faster pace than I was, but she was right- just another run. The starting line came, we hugged, and we were off…

Waiting t o start

Waiting t o start

The first mile felt great. I was cruising the downhill and feeding off the energy of the crowd and knew my pace was slightly faster than I should have been (10:02/mi), so I made it a point to slow down for the second mile. My plan going into the race was run two miles, walk one for the whole race. My biggest fear was hitting the wall and running out of steam around Heartbreak Hill, so I wanted to keep it slow and steady- truly enjoy the experience.

I started running again at 3 and suddenly at mile 4 those “nerves” suddenly became much worse. I could feel my chest tightening and as much as I knew in my gut what was coming on, I wanted to pretend it wasn’t happening. “Just push through” I told myself. Right past the 5 mile mark a police officer working the sides waved me over and asked if I was ok- I said I was, that it was just a slight flare, that I’d walk it off and stop at the next medical tent. I knew I wasn’t completely OK, but I thought with a walk the feeling would pass.

It didn’t. I got to the medical tent at 7, they listened to my lungs and told me continuing was not a good idea. I won’t pretend I took it well. Of course, I cried. I had wanted to come back, to finish the race I had started back in 2011 and to feel the rush of running down those last few blocks of Boylston St; especially this year of all years. I finally had to admit to myself, it just wasn’t going to happen.

I was brought back to the finish line and have never felt so defeated in my life. My mom was waiting at the Fairmont Copley for me, handed me a margarita, gave me a hug and told me it would all be OK- maybe Boston just wasn’t my race. In my head I thought, “Maybe she’s right, and maybe a Boston finish just isn’t in the cards for me.” I disappointedly drank my margarita and took another puff or two off of the inhaler, then excused myself to use the restroom. I headed into the lobby gasped louder than I ever have in my life.

There he was. Meb.

Meb, 2 hours after finishing the Boston Marathon, looking like nothing happened.

Meb, 2 hours after finishing the Boston Marathon, looking like nothing happened.

I looked at him, and noticed the small entourage around him, with one of his people holding the golden wreathe. Suddenly his security/manager/friend/entourage member put his hand up at me and said “No pictures right now”. Before I could say anything Meb put the mans arm down and said “No, she ran the race, of course she can have a picture”. I was floored- Meb had literally called ME over for a photo- me, who didn’t make it to the halfway point of the race.

OMG I MET MEB!!! OMG I MET MEB!!!

OMG I MET MEB!!! OMG I MET MEB!!!

All I could think to get out of my mouth was “Thank you so much for winning today- it means so much to this city”. He hugged me and said “I did what I could for Boston and for my country. All things in God’s time, today worked out as it was supposed to. God bless and congratulations” and with that, was turned and went off with his entourage.

I could chalk it up to dumb, blind luck; or I could look at this chance meeting as a sign I’m not supposed to give up the Boston dream. Sure, it didn’t work out as I’d hoped yesterday, but lots of people have overcome much more than me to cross than line. Maybe I just haven’t earned it yet. I’ll be damned if I stop trying.

After freaking out and informing everyone I JUST MET MEB, my brother came to the hotel and we went for a couple drinks. I got back home around 8:00 to find Jim and Buster waiting for me with flowers and a steak bomb sub. God I love these two.

So, with Boston behind me, what’s next? I am registered for the Heartbreak Hill Half in June, so I’ll be back to visit Heartbreak before my next crack at Boston. Oh, and there’s one other little thing I have coming up…

See you in November NYC...

See you in November NYC…

 

But more on that tomorrow…

I Think I’ll Go Run Boston

Marathon weekend is upon us.

The weekend I have been focused on for not just the past 368 days, but for the 365 before that too.

The weekend that we, the runners of not only last years Boston Marathon; but any marathon, 5K, treadmill workout or afternoon stroll, will reclaim our day.

Of course this Marathon Monday will be different, there’s nothing we can do to change that. It will be different in great ways, like the expected 1 million spectators, the extra 9,000 runners and the excitement about reclaiming what the Boston Marathon should be about. It will be different in scarier, more precautionary and slightly paranoid ways, with everyone looking a little closer at those around them with the worst case scenario playing in their minds.

My dream is that there would be absolutely nothing different about this Monday. That it will be a Boston like the 116 before last year. That the people who lived along the course would come out and cheer, along with family members of those running. That news outlets from other parts of the country would cover the story from the angle of “So Boston got yet another Monday off of work for a holiday they made up to have an excuse to go day drinking in the spring!” and it would be a quick blurb in the 6:00pm newscast.

Obviously, this dream isn’t going to come true.

So where do we go from here? We move forward. We put one foot in front of the other and we make every attempt to suck every last moment of joy that we can out of the next 72 hours. It’s going to be a unique weekend, and we owe it to ourselves and those who have put up with us for the never ending training cycles to enjoy this gift we’ve been given.

Tomorrow morning I’ll head to the expo (one of my favorite places) and pick up my bib, spend too much money on fun running things that aren’t going to make me any faster, prettier or more comfortable at mile 24 despite what the sales people tell me.

The shoe convinced me to buy way too much at the Chicago expo. Rookie mistake.

The shoe convinced me to buy way too much at the Chicago expo. Rookie mistake.

 

I’m hoping to get a chance to meet so many of the wonderful people I’ve gotten to know through the 5700 Strong group, which has offered so much support for everyone dealing with the roller coaster of emotions after last year and coming back for 2014. There is a special seminar for us at noon on Saturday, so if you’re going to be there let me know!

After the expo, I’m going to have lunch with my wonderful friend Ali, where I will complete one goal I’ve had for the past two Boston Marathon weekends. I will drink a 26.2 brew (or 3). I’ve done more planning to drink this beer than planning for logistics on race day. Priorities.

Ali is on the far left. This was our trip to NYC for the 2011 NYC Half, where we also planned more for the drinking than the racing. Worked perfectly.

Ali is on the far left. This was our trip to NYC for the 2011 NYC Half, where we also planned more for the drinking than the racing. Worked perfectly.

After lunch I’ll walk around the city and take in all the excitement and remember that there are THOUSANDS of runners who so desperately wanted a spot in the 2014 field and were denied. Runners who are faster than me. Runners who have run Boston more times than me. Runners who would not have minded training in a Polar Vortex as much as I did. Seriously, that sucked. A lot.

As for the normal race weekend concerns of “What will I wear?/eat?/add to my playlist/be too concerned about?”, I’ve been surprisingly unconcerned. If I’m hungry, I eat. If I’m tired, I’ll sleep. I’m going very Forest Gump-y in my approach this year.

I can’t promise that I’m not going to cry this weekend, or that there won’t be moments during the race where I wonder why I put myself through this again. What I can promise is that come Hell, high water, blisters, hunger pains or leg cramps on Heartbreak Hill, I will finish and earn my medal the right way this year.

Still in the sock drawer.

Still in the sock drawer.

See you in Hopkinton…

 

The Longest Year

One year ago, I changed.

At 2:53 my iPhone rang and I was expecting to hear “I’ll meet you at Beacon St. and run the last mile or so with you!“. That had been the plan. As with every race I run, there were lots of plans.

Instead, I heard “You need to get off the course now. A bomb exploded at the finish. We think two. I’m so sorry, I really am babe, but I need you off the course NOW- I’m coming to find you“. The screaming in the background made it clear he wasn’t kidding. They weren’t the normal screams of marathon crowds, riddled with excitement and awe at the competitive spirit in people able to bring them 26.2 miles on foot. These were the screams of everyday people who just witnessed something that no one should ever have to see.

Four hours later, he and my mom found me at Boston College. Those four hours were some of the worst of my life, and they were so much better than so many others that day. Despite a few hours of uncertainty when cell phones were turned off and twitter feeds became an actual news source; my two spectators were ok. Jim ran up the stairs of the church at Boston College when he saw me, picked me up and carried me down to see my mom. We waited another 2 hours for my uncle to get into the city and pick us up, and at 9:30 that night we were home. There were no celebrations as we had planned, no recapping how great certain miles were and how challenged I felt at others. There was only sheer gratitude that we were all alive and physically unharmed. And a margarita. We really needed a margarita.

The week that followed was the most emotionally draining of my life. Floods of phone calls from friends and family checking in to see how I was and offer their thoughts on the matter. The city that Tuesday was the strangest I’d ever seen it. I drove in to the administrative offices of Boston Children’s Hospital to get my gear bag that had been left with the team. What normally is a wave to a security guard after identifying yourself had become 3 checkpoints requiring photo ID’s and radio approval from a mysterious man with a list on the other end. Once I got into the offices, the red eyes and sheer exhaustion of everyone around me made me realize I wasn’t the only one who didn’t sleep the night before. Stacy, our team coordinator, had not been home. We talked for a while and we both agreed on one thing- we’d feel better when whoever had done this was caught.

The next two days passed in a blur of exhaustion (physical and mental) and worry that we’d never really know who had done what they did or why. Thursday night during one of our vain attempts at sleep, Jim and I woke up around 2am to the TV we had been keeping on while we slept. The manhunt was on, and we couldn’t turn away. We said, “Ok, he’s cornered, this can’t go on much longer”. But it did. 15 more hours.  15, long, worrisome hours.

A year later, I don’t know if I feel much closure since he has been captured. I don’t feel better knowing there are new security measures in place, and I don’t feel better that there is a bigger field this year. I don’t feel better because we shouldn’t have had to need it in the first place.

My Boston experience will never be untarnished, will never be pure. I’m running Monday, but it feels like a consolation prize. “Sorry you had to go through that, run 26.2 miles to try and forget it”. I am excited to see the resiliency, but nervous to see it joined with a much more visible, threatening police presence. The daffodils lining the street will undoubtedly be beautiful, but will be a constant reminder of horror so many faced miles up the road.

The past 12 months have been spent thinking of what it will be like to run on Monday. To go back, and to see how I’d handle it. My goal is to run this race independently from last years, reminding myself to claim the experience I wanted so desperately since 2011 when I applied to run. I will run, walk, cry and laugh for those who can no longer. For myself and for the years and miles ahead of me, trying to forget about the ones behind.

All I know for sure is 2014 is the year I close the book on Boston. I can’t say how fast or slow, or how emotional. All I can say is on Monday, I will run.