my heart belongs to the Boston Marathon

Boston 2013 Finish Line

A year ago today, I was at my first Boston Marathon with my sister. I loved it. I love races: running them, watching them, the whole thing. If it had been up to me, I would have stayed the enitre day. We watched periodically.  We went into some shops on Newbury and on Boylston. I remember wanting to go into different places or spend more time, but deciding against it. We were supposed to have hot chocolate at Max Brenner’s again (because soooo good!). But instead, we made a quick stop and continued on, making our way past the crowds, past the finish line, and on to pick up my niece.  

Yup. We walked past the finish line. Forty-five minutes later, we were walking back to my sister’s apartment when we heard what my niece thought sounded “like thunder.” I’ll never forget even where we were when we heard it. It was a perfectly clear, sunny day. Thunder? Weird. We were already in Cambridge and had no idea what was going on.
Boston Finish
And then the texts started to come in from friends: “Are you okay?” “Aren’t you in Boston?” At first, I didn’t know what was happening until finally someone told me. We turned on the TV and there was the smoke-filled finish line. The rest of the day, I was flooded with messages of love from all over the country.  (Thank you, friends.)

Most of what I remember next is just trying to stay calm, mostly for my niece’s sake. And sirens. It isn’t accurate, but it felt like the whole city was full of sirens. We went on with the evening sort of as if it wasn’t happening. We went to the craft store down the street. We went to dinner in Harvard Square. We exchanged pleasantries with our waiter, who admitted that he was pretty scared. Weren’t we all? What did we even know about details then?

I flew home the next day. Homeland security officers were walking around Boston Logan talking to anyone wearing a marathon related item. I don’t remember too much of that week until the morning of the manhunt. My sister, her family, and her city were in lockdown. I went into work late.

Corgi two week notice celebrationA week after the marathon, I was in a car accident. It wasn’t major, but it messed up my neck and shoulders for a little while. Four days later, I put in my two weeks notice at work. The universe had taken moderate attempts at my life twice in a week. Whatever I was hoping to do, I should probably just do it.

In the aftermath of the marathon, I’ve had some trouble. It isn’t every day that you are so close to that kind of situation. But I wasn’t a victim, not really. We weren’t there when it happened. We had walked away from that finish line with plenty of time beforehand. But I think a lot about the decisions I made that didn’t put us there at the time of the bombing. I can probably remember all of them. I wonder if we walked by one of the bombers and never knew. I think about how grateful I am that my niece wasn’t with us. Who knows what our time frame would have been then? I’ve had some trouble being in close quarters with large groups since: concerts, crowded restaurants or bars. I start to imagine what it would be like if a bomb went off. Sirens freaked me out for a long time. Even now, I see mysterious bags and think “that could be a bomb.” 

I’ve been on my “life sabbatical” since the beginning of last May, less than a month after the bombingRoad trip. I’ve traveled, I’ve almost finished school, I’ve taken on a lot of new challenges. It’s weird to say I’m grateful for the tragedy, but I am in a way. I have made important decisions and experienced amazing things since then. 

This year, I’ll be back at the marathon with my sister. I have a friend running it, who has worked so hard to get there. I’m excited to cheer for her and all the other runners. I can’t say I’m not emotional at the thought of being there. But I’m not scared. I’m so happy that I get to be there again. 

Things happen fast. You never know how close you are to something life changing or threatening. But that isn’t a reason to be scared. It’s a reason to do all the things you love and stop doing the things that aren’t doing you any good.  What did I learn from the Boston Marathon? Life is too short and too precious. Run whatever your race is with all your heart and love every minute, even the hard miles when you think you can’t go any further. 

View from the Mass Ave bridge on race day.

See you again in a few days, Boston.

 

Advertisements

Dear blog,

I haven’t forgotten about you. It’s been a long time since we last spoke and lots of things have happened.

I ran another half marathon.

I quit my job.

I started practicing Ashtanga yoga six days a week.

I went to the Boston Marathon.

I started taking piano lessons as well as continuing to take violin lessons.

I learned how to knit.

I’ve traveled to Florida, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Virginia so far this year with more travels to come.

I’m still getting injured as often as my body can apparently stand it.  This time, it’s my hamstring.  Those things are ridiculous to heal.

So see, blog.  It isn’t you.  I’ve just been busy.  But I’m gearing up to come back.  I have so much to tell you.

Race Recap: Columbus Marathon

I had this recap completely finished except for editing when WordPress ate the post. So much for automatic draft saving.

Thinking back, I am not entirely sure when I started to really consider the half at the Columbus Marathon.  I believe it was probably around finishing my first 5k. It seems so alien now that 5k seemed like such a big deal only nine months ago. Of course, finishing the quarter marathon at Cap City also seemed like a big deal. Why not double the distance with the half?

Before registering, I had been having ankle problems for months.  It wasn’t until June that I discovered I had peroneal tendinitis. Luckily, with a little patience and some KT Tape, that seems to be under control.  Not long after that, I started having toe problems. Then, I dropped part of a projection screen on my toe.  I thought it was entirely possible it was broken after that.  Thankfully, it wasn’t broken, just busted up and infected.  It took a few weeks of doctor’s appointments to get it under control and only a week ago did he say that the half wasn’t a bad idea.

Here’s my big training confession: I never ran more than 7.04 miles before the half. I did that a month before the race.  In the final weeks leading up the race, I ran only about eight miles total. I was not at all prepared for the 13.1 miles ahead.  I was unsure about whether I would even be able to finish it.  If I did finish, I didn’t know what shape I’d be in.  I kept picturing the horror stories of people with their legs giving out, dragging themselves across the finish line.  I stood at the race expo on Saturday negotiating with myself that if I bought anything that said “Columbus Marathon” on it, I had to finish.

So I did.

Race morning, I woke up at 3am with a headache (strike 1) and a bitey, demanding cat (strike 2).  Despite getting everything together the night before and knowing that I was going to go out there and give it a shot, it still took a lot to get out of bed.  Luckily, at 5am, a dear friend sent me some great motivational texts. Exactly what I needed.  Actually, the whole day was filled with encouragement right when I needed it most.

Fast forward through traffic and parking… I checked my gear bag, grabbed the gloves they were giving away because I was freezing, and started the long wait.

Welcome to the Half.

Welcome to the half.

Looking at this picture again, I can’t help but think about how much I love Columbus.  I’m so grateful that I have had the chance to run its streets and see it from a perspective I never would have otherwise.  Thanks, awesome city of mine.

Anyway.

I was in the last corral (where I belonged), which ran along High St with a few others.  The first couple of corrals went up Broad.  I heard almost nothing of the pre-race festivities.  I only knew the mayor was there when I went past him on the way to the start. I saw a little bit of the fireworks, got scared to death when the cannon went off, and finally crossed the start at 7:50am, twenty minutes after the gun. Or cannon, in this case.

My toes were numb for awhile in, but I felt great for the first few miles.  I didn’t go out too fast, but paced myself pretty well.  I stuck to my ten minute run/one minute walk ratio for a good portion of the first half.  Something nice about being slower was cheering on the leaders who were coming down Broad St in the opposite direction.  I got to see a friend of mine and cheer her on while she was working for that Boston Marathon qualifier (which she got! Yay!).

Bexley was great to run through.  All along the course, at each mile marker, there was a different “Children’s champion” from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital that the race benefits.  Some of the kids were actually out, which was awesome to see.  I had read through a lot of their stories the night before and champions they are, indeed.

The first half went pretty well.  I hit the 10k mark feeling like I was in reasonably good shape.  Right after that, a friend appeared off in the distance with a sign…

Do it for the Kittens

I gave her a sweaty hug, heard “I’m proud of you” and ran off thinking “She’s right. I am doing it for the kittens!” Ha. I loved it so much.  She was the best thing to see at the halfway point.

After that, things started going downhill.  As predicted, the first 7 or 8 miles were fine. I started to slow down, but they were fine.  Around 8.5-9, I hit the wall. When you come back down Broad St to turn onto 3rd, you can see the runners on High, who are just down the street from Nationwide and the finish. This was really hard mentally because there was so much more of the race left to go for me.  German Village was a blur of knowing I was too far along to quit, but not feeling strong about finishing. Prior to the race, my game plan was to break it down into 5ks.  I’d run 5k plenty of times, so of course I could run a series of 5ks. I ended up walking a lot of the last 3-4 miles and I spent most of that time in my head.  I think that was part of the problem.  I was too consumed with thinking about what was going on, not just running.

Around mile 12 or so, I caught sight of another familiar face.  It was a glorious present from the running gods. I was so defeated with all the walking and the slowness, but there was another friend! I got a big hug, some water, and the motivation to keep going.  I started to mentally make a new plan called “Finish Strong.” I started to run a little bit more than walk, but still save my energy for the finish.

Then there it was.  Actually, not yet. Because the finish goes downhill on Nationwide, you have to first go uphill to get there.  It’s not a big hill, but it does seem looming when you’re in it and thisclose to the end. Finally! I turned the corner onto Nationwide Blvd and was met with a band, lots of people, and that great downhill finish.  I saw the race director on my way and almost stopped to hug him in gratitude. I didn’t, of course, because THE FINISH LINE WAS RIGHT THERE!

Columbus Marathon finish

Sort of in the middle on the way down to the finish line.

My official time was 3:17:35. I wanted it to be under 3 hours, but I finished. I really finished.  13.1 miles completed!  I can still barely believe it.

Post race, I grabbed almost every liquid or food item handed to me in the finish chute. I keep saying it, but it’s true: more races need a food bag.  Seriously: food bag. I started eating and stretching immediately.  The last cruel joke of the race was that the gear check was up a flight of stairs.  Luckily, there was a wonderful little girl who greeted me after that terrible experience and brought me my bag full of post-race goodies: fresh shirt, compression socks, almond butter. All the necessities.

I would tell you about my post-race Ice Bath of Doom or how I ate wonderful things all day after the race, but I’ve already been long-winded enough.  I will say that the race was Sunday, today is Wednesday, and I haven’t stopped thinking about running despite legs so sore that I wasn’t walking right for the first day afterward. Maybe this running thing really does make you crazy.

One last picture…

Do it for the medal.

Inspire.

I’ve gotten a couple of medals this year for the races I’ve done and I love them.  But this one… This one, I’m really proud of.  I somehow blew away all my own expectations of myself and did something I would have never thought in a million years that I’d do.  It feels incredible.

Thank you to all of my friends for their words of encouragement before, during, and after the race. I even thank you for the scary clown pictures. Ha. You’re amazing.  Extra special thanks to the person who helped get me started running in the first place… Life wouldn’t be the same.

The Night Before… My First 1/2 Marathon.

So I said I’d be back in October, but it’s a little later in October than I had hoped.  Life has been kind of trapped in an up and down cycle for awhile.  Here’s the quickest of updates before we start to talk about the good stuff…

The Bad

In the past couple of months two rather emotionally taxing situations arose.  First, there was the unexpected break up from my long time favorite person. All the appropriate words to describe what that feels like just won’t come out, I guess horrible and wasteful and sad generally sum it up.  Shortly after that, my grandmother ended up in the hospital with a broken hip and now has to be in long-term care, a very sudden change in her health situation. She is currently suffering from dementia, which is sad and difficult in many, many ways for her as well as our family.

I don’t really think going any more in depth than that is necessary.  Suffice it to say, enough bad things.  I mean… It feels just like rainbows and sunshine around these parts. As a side note, I highly recommend grabbing Tig Notaro’s “Live.”  It’s $5 via Louis CK’s site. It’s 30 minutes of laughter and perspective.

The Good

:: My new job has continued to go well. It is such a relief to not constantly think or want to say “I hate my job.”  There is so much power in that.

:: I started playing the violin.  I love it.  I have wanted to play for a long time and finally am.  Lessons have been going well, though I must admit that some of the simpler mechanics are hard when trying to put them all together.  I at least don’t sound awful too often.  I just wish I had more time to devote to it.

Violin!

:: School officially started.  I don’t mind the online format at all.  The flexibility is great and I do feel like I’m putting work into it. I am still in somewhat introductory classes because I’ve never done any academic work in business. I will be excited to start getting into more of my focus: human resources.

:: Miscellaneous good things: I have gotten to spend time with family and a lot of time with friends. I’ve seen some people I haven’t in a long time. I got to see some good bands play, caught Bert Kreisher, watched roller derby, etc.  The cats are doing well…

Cat raft

Life on the Cat Raft.

I am probably forgetting a million things. The main attractions in life have been work, school, violin, a little bit of derby, and running.

Oh, yeah… Running!

So my toe was acting up anyway and then I did a dumb thing like drop part of a projection screen on it.  I ended up with pretty bad toe issues, lost most of my toe nail, and had an infection that wouldn’t go away because I waited too long to go to the doctor.  After almost a month of doctor visits, he finally cleared me for the race tomorrow.  I have barely run much of anything over that past month and before that even because I was trying not to make the toe worse.  If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.  At least the peroneal tendonitis went away.

Here we are now, the eve before the Columbus Marathon.  This is a big deal for me.  Last year at this time, I had just had my gallbladder out.  The weekend after the surgery, we were headed to breakfast and ran into the road closures from the marathon. I remember looking out the car window longingly at the running they were doing.  This year, here I am.  It was only a year ago that I started running, when a 5k seemed forever.  Now I’m about to do a lot more than that.

I know I am not well-prepared.  I never got where I wanted to on my long runs in training.  I know I can comfortably do over 7 miles.  I think I can get through the next 3 okay.  At that point, those last 3.1 miles are going to really be something to work for, I think.  I am going in with the mindset that I will be slow and I might have to walk a lot.  This is my first half, so while I have a time goal in mind, it’s a PR regardless of time. No matter what happens, I think I’ve come a long way in a year.

It is already past my bedtime and I haven’t yet gotten everything ready for tomorrow, so I’ll leave it here and pick up post-race.

Here we go…

Blog Hiatus

I don’t think it’s any surprise to anyone that there’s been a bit of a hiatus going on here.  Lots of personal life stuff going on that has been distracting me from things like blogging. I’ll be back at it soon, but I’m giving myself an official break until October 1st.  I’ll catch you up on everything then.  Plus, it will be less than a month before my first half-marathon.  Excitement will abound.

See you next month!

August Goal Update!

Goal: Train for and run the following races: Dash for Donation, Emerald City quarter marathon, and the half at the Columbus Marathon.
Status: I did not get to run the Dash for Donation because of my work schedule and I believe the same will be true for Emerald City.  I did end up doing the 5k at the Giant Eagle MultiSport Festival, which was great and ended up in a PR.  Hoping to write a little more about that later.  I am still on track for the half marathon, though I am nervous about mileage not being enough by race time.

Goal: Strength train 3x a week.
Status: I would like to blame my failure on this in July on a lot of things, but ultimately, I just didn’t make time. I have scheduled myself to go at least once this week and hopefully start to build back up. My new job schedule has made for some adjustments and I haven’t caught up with that yet.

Goal: Write every day.
Status: Nope. Improvement needed.

Goal: Read at least one book a month.
Status: I breezed through Savages by Don Winslow after seeing the movie.  I think I might have preferred the movie to the book, which is a rarity. I started Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner, but I haven’t stayed very well focused on it.  I am also picking my way through Kara Goucher’s Running for Women, which has some really great tips in it.

Goal: Budget! Budget! Budget!
Status:  My recent job changes have caused two things to happen: going a really long time without a full paycheck and also forcing medical things to become more expensive.  I am committed to keeping things under control, though, and excited to start saving money again once everything settles down.

Goal: Try something new once a month.
Status:  I didn’t really have a something new for July.  I may write up something a little late about starting a new job.  We’ll see if I can schedule that one in…  In the meantime, school starts this month!

Goal: Gratitude.
Status: I didn’t do this as much as I had hoped.  I find that I want to repeat myself a lot, so I am trying to open myself up to new things to be grateful for, even tough things.  Look for a best of #gratitudeproject coming sometime.

Goal: Actively work to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Status: As of late, there have been a number of negative things that have been going on in life. There are also a lot of good things.  I am trying actively to not let myself stew in the bad.  It can be hard, but trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel is an every day practice.

How Time Flies and a Mental Note

July went by in the quickest of flashes.  I started my new job the first week and I don’t think I have slowed down since.  I am planning to get everything caught up, including telling you all about my PR at Sunday’s 5k.

This post is really just a mental note to myself.  If I tell you also, I will probably be more likely to remember it…

I should have learned this lesson already, considering how very unhappy I was for so long because of my job.  This week has been kind of a rough one for many reasons and I expected my run today to really take care of my mental state.  What I forgot about is that you have to be focused on the run in order for it to do that.  The worst runs are the ones where I can’t let go of the outside world and just focus on what my body needs to do.  I don’t breathe right, don’t pace myself properly, etc. That was tonight. I was tired before mile one was even done and I only did two today.

Running gives me so much and really doesn’t ask much in return.  Focus and determination are small efforts for a big payoff.  Tomorrow I am hoping to work on this focus and determination in the gym.

I can’t believe it’s almost August.

The Start of 13.1

You may have seen me talking about it on Twitter or Facebook, but I am so excited about it that I just have to say it everywhere: I officially started my half marathon training tonight.

I registered for the half at the Columbus Marathon the other night.  I thought to myself afterwards that maybe I really shouldn’t have done it.  Who knows how my ankle will be?  Who knows if I won’t come up with some other injury somehow? But I did it anyway.  By the time the race comes, it will have been a year since I had my gallbladder surgery and watched with envy as those runners last year gave it their best while I couldn’t do the same.

It was a small start today (only 2.34 miles), but a start nevertheless.

July Goal Update!

Goal: Train for and run the following races: Jaeger Run for Pride, Dash for Donation, Emerald City quarter marathon, and the half at the Columbus Marathon.
Status: Successfully ran the Jaeger Run for Pride.  Race recap is here.  I actually don’t know if I’ll get to the Dash for Donation because of my new work schedule.  I already registered for it, unfortunately.  We’ll see if I can work something out. I am also considering the 5 or 10k at the Giant Eagle MultiSport Festival, but I haven’t decided yet.

Goal: Strength train 3x a week.
Status: I win this time! I win! I officially went back to the gym a week ago today. So I was in Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  That’s four days of strength training, including one day with my trainer.  I also did cardio all of those days, sometimes once at the gym and a short run later in the day. I cannot tell you how awesome it is to be lifting heavy things again.  I started out light, but I am already making progress.  I am also more actively using Fitocracy… find me here.  I am still a little frustrated that I can’t log everything I do because they don’t list all of my exercises.  All of that is besides the point: GOAL ACCOMPLISHED, at least for this past week.

Goal: Write every day.
Status: Ugh. At least I’ve been reading more…

Goal: Read at least one book a month.
Status: I finished  Storm of Swords in record time.  The last A Song of Ice and Fire book took me forever to read.  It was like slogging through a nightmare of awful things happening.  This third book still had awful things (give up all hope for anyone you ever liked), but it went a lot faster. Once finishing that, I started The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  I have seen part of the movie, but would like to read it before finishing the rest.  So far, so good.

Goal: Budget! Budget! Budget!
Status:  Because of my recent job changes, I have worked extra hard to stay on top of my budget. I didn’t do too badly in June, really.  I overdid it a little with the purchase of my new running shoes and some other miscellaneous clothing that I needed, but other than that, I have ended up in a pretty good spot.  If I made no income for July, I could still pay my bills and buy groceries, etc without dipping into my savings, so I think I’m not in bad shape at all.  Any income I make will be helpful and relieve stress, but at least I know I can do it regardless.

I will say also about budgeting that I think I have made a small breakthrough thanks to YNAB (who, by the way, came out with a new version that is AWESOME). I took another one of their free classes and it really got my brain on the right track, as in: look at the budget first. Thanks, YNAB!

Goal: Try something new once a month.
Status:  So for June, I quit my job.  I am coming up on the end of my two weeks of summer FUNemployment, which is a sad thing.  I am onto bigger and better things though, so I am super excited about that.

Goal: Gratitude.
Status: Did a little bit better. If you’ve been following my Twitter at all, you may have seen some #gratitudeproject tweets pop up.  I was especially grateful for my family and friends and all their support.  It has been really awesome.  I am going to continue with this goal since I think it’s been helping my outlook on life.

Goal: Actively work to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Status: This links directly into gratitude, I think.  Since I’m starting a new job and starting school next month, I think that it’s time to get myself mentally prepared for the coming inevitable ups and downs.  I was so long in a bad situation that I need to make sure that I’m going into the new ones with a good attitude.

Here’s to July!

The Search for Shoes

I have been rocking the same running shoes since September: my beloved Merrell Pace Gloves.  I love them.  I love what they have taught me about my contact with the ground.  I love how light they are and how much they breathe.  Love. Love. Love.  But then this pesky peroneal tendinitis poked it’s ugly head and won’t go away.

When I saw the doctor, he did not tell me that I should skip the minimalist shoes, only asked how long I’d used them.  My physical therapist has also never told me that I shouldn’t use then, just that I need to be smart about them.  Despite both of them not having problems with minimalist shoes, I decided the other day that maybe it was time to try a little more cushion.  I want to increase my mileage (someday) and I want my feet, ankles, etc to stay in good shape.  I still want to do that half marathon in October, after all.  Maybe my peroneal tendinitis has nothing to do with my shoes, but I’d like to give new ones a try and see how it goes.

So I started looking at shoes.  I read a few things.  I went to Frontrunner today to finally test drive a few pairs.  Going in, I  thought maybe something from Brooks Pure Project would work out.  I tried a couple of them, but all of them seemed like too much.  I like my Merrells for their light weight and zero drop.  The Brooks were nice, but they just weren’t quite right. I almost settled on the Pure Grit because it seemed the flattest of them all and the least all up in my arch (which is a new technical term, by the way).  I tried the new Nike Frees, which were significantly better than the old Nike Frees.  I would consider a pair of those in the future, but not right for my needs today.

So what did I end up with?  These beauties…

Wait. You said you wanted more cushion and ended up with another minimal shoe?  What the hell?  So as I was going back and forth between the Pure Grit and these, the lovely gentleman helping me was struck with the idea of putting the Grit’s insert into the Minimus Zero. I kept going back to the New Balance shoes because of how light they were, but couldn’t say yes to them because the whole point was for more cushion. VOILA! Stick an insert in there and you get the best of both worlds.

I took them for a mini-run a little while ago just to test them out.  They are actually a smidge lighter than my Pace Gloves, though the added insert probably kills that.  They’re super flexible and breathe well. They are a little narrow in the toe box, but that could be more because of the insert since my feet are reasonably narrow themselves.  I am slightly concerned that the insert makes them a bit too tight, but I am hoping that it sort of wears in.  I’m planning to do some extensive walking around with them tomorrow, so we’ll see how it goes.  The other thing is that I don’t anticipate always using them with an insert.  After tomorrow, I may try on a bigger size if they don’t start to give a little more, but other than that, I am super pleased with the purchase.  The best combination of minimal plus added cushion.

Kitten Approved

Kitten Approved.