Finding Motivation: Marathon Monday

Yesterday was Marathon Monday, truly one of, if not the best day of the year in Boston. The city comes alive with such energy and love on this day every year, and this has only been amplified since the horrific bombings two years ago.

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Before the rain… getting ready to cheer on the runners from Mile 24!

In my 15 years in Boston, I’ve missed the Marathon only a handful of times due to work. I’ve been a medical volunteer at the finish line, and I’ve cheered my butt off for the runners along the route both at the finish line and a few miles out. Every year, I’m amazed at the perseverance it takes for people to reach these points. How do you run 24 miles and then push yourself to run 2.6 more when your legs are screaming and you’re having pain in places you didn’t even know existed? These are the types of things I may never know, but I love watching it all the same.

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This year’s marathon was a rainy, dreary, chilly day, but this didn’t stop thousands of runners from crossing that finish line. And that is the reason that the people of Boston and visitors from around the world were still out there cheering, still holding signs and ringing cow-bells. Because if these people, after training through the worst winter in history, could run 26.2 in pretty miserable weather — well, we could cheer in that same weather.

And the wonderful thing is that the rain may have soaked the city and every one in it, but it didn’t dampen the spirit of the day in any way. 

Watching a marathon is truly a magical experience if you pay attention. There are people of all ages, all sizes, all skill levels all completing the same goal. The elites are awe-inspiring to watch because of their grace, speed, and efficiency.  But the people at the back of the pack are just as inspiring, because they have put in just as much of a grind to get to that point.

Pushing yourself beyond what you previously thought your body is capable of — that’s inspiring. Running the course in fatigues and combat boots– that’s inspiring. Trekking through the wind, cold, and driving rain to reach your goal? That is inspiring. Pushing someone in a wheelchair who wouldn’t be able to complete that course on their own — that’s beyond inspiring.

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The lead women’s pack at about Mile 24. Love that there is 1/6 feet on the ground here! 

The truth is, even as someone who may never run a marathon in her life (I’ll never say never, but it’s pretty unlikely I’ll admit), watching a marathon is one thing that motivates me the most to be better. It doesn’t even necessarily motivate me to run more, as I’ve found a pretty great balance between running and lifting over the past couple of years. It just acts as a reminder that sometimes there are goals that seem bigger than us, goals that seem insurmountable, that we can reach if we just push beyond our comfort zone.

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One of the lead males. The stride is amazing! 

The marathon is a reminder that we all have a little bit more in us when we feel like we have nothing left. It’s a reminder that heartbreak (hill) is not a reason to stop, but a reason to push further. It’s a reminder that we all can come together for a common goal, in support of each other, and find motivation from thousands of strangers.

And now for my favorite shots of the day…

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Hometown hero Shalane Flanagan… Photo credit here goes to my good friend Todd!

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Meb! Winner of last year’s Marathon. Had a tough race this year but finished with his head and hands held high! 

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Uzo Aduba.. AKA Crazy Eyes from Orange Is The New Black! Yes, I was tracking her, Yes, we screamed her name, and YES, she waved at us 🙂 

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I’ve Been Published!

Hello!

Just checking in after an amazing, positive, and uplifting Boston Marathon on Monday. I actually watched the race this year with the same group and from the same spot as last year, so although it was a little bit “groundhog day”, it made it that much more special to get through the entire day with nothing but positivity and smiles. This city and it’s people truly are amazing, and that was so evident on Monday in the faces of the runners, the cheers of the spectators, and the actions of the medical volunteers. Cheers to an amazing marathon, and to letting love and positivity overcome hate and fear.

Today’s post is going to be quick, because I have something much bigger and better that I want you to read!

Remember a while ago, when I mentioned that I had an opportunity to be published in a magazine? I didn’t give any specifics at the time, just in case anything changed, but the time has come! A while ago, Volleyball Magazine contacted me and asked if I would be interested in contributing a nutrition article for the May issue of the magazine. It took me about .5 seconds to say yes, but then I had to actually decide what to write about. I was given the choice of a collection of recipes or an article, and I quickly chose to write an article since I really believe that I am a much better writer than I am a recipe creator. And how often do I post original recipes on here anyway? I think I can count them all on one hand so that was out.

Since this is the off season for most volleyball players and I work with a volleyball team myself, I decided to think about what would be important for my girls to read about in the off season. And then it hit me — many athletes spend their off season recovering from injury or surgery, and many of those have no idea how to handle their nutrition during that time. Should they eat less because they are not as physically active? Should they be avoiding certain foods or eating more of certain nutrients?  So that was the focus of my article, and I must say I’m pretty proud of how it turned out.

So if you’re interested in nutrition for injury recovery, I’m your gal. Check out the article here, or in your latest issue of Volleyball Magazine if you’re a subscriber. 🙂

Now I can officially say that I’m a published freelance writer. Phew! One mini goal down, about a million to go.

Readers: Which of your own goals have you accomplished lately? Were you at the Boston Marathon on Monday?

 

 

Moving And Healing

Today it has been 9 days since the bombings at the Boston Marathon, and I still have a very heavy heart. I am writing today’s post mostly for my own therapeutic reasons, so I understand if you want to skip over this one. But for me, I have to write this.

I almost didn’t publish this post, because I know that not everyone who reads this blog is from Boston, and I know you don’t read this blog to hear about how sad I am. But this is real life, and I want others out there to know that it’s ok if you feel like you can’t just move on, if you still feel fear, or if you’re just having a hard time figuring out what emotions you’re actually feeling.  After this, my regular blog posts will resume, but like I said I just had to write this to help my own healing process.

I’m having a very hard time coming to terms with my feelings about this past week. I have felt every emotion over the past several days, ranging from fear, terror, confusion, sadness, and yes, even happiness. I have been dealing with intense feelings of guilt that as a health care provider, I was not at the finish line to help. I have felt anxiety and tension while waiting for the FBI to release pictures of the suspects. Until the suspects were caught Thursday night into Friday, I felt fear walking the streets of my own city, my only solace being the armed guards at nearly every street corner. I have been terrified inside my own home, with a city on lockdown, too scared to even go out on my front porch, for fear that the suspect could be hiding near by.  I have cried more than I can remember ever crying, and my tears have been set off by emotional events such as visiting the memorial sites, as well as every day experiences like simply hearing the National Anthem.

Boston4One of my favorite spots in the city.

And although the suspects were killed and captured late this week, I can’t say that my fear has completely dissipated. I have found myself jumping when I hear sirens, tensing up when I see helicopters in the sky, and nervously watching people who are walking around with backpacks. All of this has made me feel completely crazy. Living in a big city, police sirens and medical/news helicopters are not rare sounds; backpacks are the most popular accessory in a city full of college students. Yet I feel uneasy. I feel uneasy because these two men were people who were heavily involved in our community, who literally could have been anybody’s friend, neighbor, or coworker.

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I don’t like admitting that I still feel afraid, because I’ve been told over and over again that being afraid “lets the terrorists win”. I’ve been told that Boston is strong and we won’t let them cause fear in our city.  But while yes, Boston is strong, that doesn’t mean that it’s shameful to feel fear. I’m not letting them win, because I’m not going to stop living my life, but I do absolutely feel fear, and I want others to know that it’s ok to do so.

Boston2Boston’s Finest at the memorial site near the bombings on Boylston

Despite all of this sadness though, I have been actively healing. Throughout the tense and highly emotional week, there has been plenty of laughter. I’ve gone to see two movies for a little bit of escape, and have spent precious time with some of my best friends. I celebrated with my city on Friday night after suspect #2 was apprehended, and have taken time to be thankful for the BPD and all of our armed forces who have protected us so well.  I have also healed myself through movement. On Tuesday, I rode my bike around the city all day, taking in the sites, sounds, and smells of the city I love so dearly. I wore a weighted vest to my stadium run on Wednesday morning, and completed 26 sections of Harvard Stadium, pushing myself to the finish for all of those who couldn’t finish the race on Monday.

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So don’t get me wrong, healing is happening. I just know that it’s going to be a long process for me.  And that’s ok. I’ve had a few conversations with people over the past couple days about how we’re all sort of supposed to move on, and it almost seems like we’re not supposed to even talk about this anymore. But some of us need to talk about it, and for some of us, the process of working through all of the emotions that surround an event like this will take a lot longer. And that is ok. Moving on doesn’t have to mean forgetting or ignoring, but simply looking toward the positive and making the best life we can out of what we’ve got. There is a lot of love in this city, and for that, I am thankful.

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I ran into these two the day after the bombing, leaving a trail of chalk-drawn inspirational messages along the Charles River Bike Path. Healing at it’s finest 🙂 

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Boston is One. Boston Strong. 

Boston Marathon 2013: A Letter To The Runners

***EDIT: The following post was written and posted the morning before the tragic Boston Marathon bombing. My heart goes out to all those affected, and to all of those whose lives were turned upside down for one senseless act of violence. Stay Strong, Boston.***

 

Today is one of the best days of the year in Boston; Marathon Monday. Instead of a normal blog post, I’ve taken today to write a letter to all of the runners who will be pounding the pavement today:

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Dear Marathon Runners,

Do you know what you’re about to do? You’re about to run. 26.2 miles.

From Hopkinton to Boylston St, through Framingham, Wellesley, Newton, and Brookline, among other towns in between. Past throngs of screaming students from Wellesley College, BC, BU, and the 30something other colleges in the Boston Area (because of course all of the colleges have this day off, it’s “Patriots Day”). Up Heartbreak Hill, where you’ll want to just crawl your way to the top (or alternatively, curl up in the fetal position and cry… both are acceptable). You’ll run through some quieter areas, but for the most part the crowds will be so loud and excited that, for better or worse, you’ll hardly be able to hear yourself think. You’re about to run.

You’re about to join the exclusive club of people who have run Boston. BOSTON. The world’s oldest annual marathon, and one that is the pinnacle of many runners’ careers. Runners from all over the US and all over the world dream of running in this race, and here you are. You are HERE. You are about to run.  You are becoming a part of history; a part of a century-old tradition, and this is happening NOW.

And I’ll be somewhere in Mile 25 eating handing out Swedish Fish to those who need a little glucose kick (and maybe throwing back a mimosa or two). And for that, that makes you better than me (for today). You have trained your butt off, you have logged countless miles throughout a long, cold winter in order to get ready for today. You have dedicated your weekends to long runs and your social life has taken a back seat to the pavement. For that, I applaud you. Whether you’re an elite, a weekend warrior, a war veteran, running for a charity or simply to put a check check-mark on your bucket list, know that today you are amazing.

As much as I joke on this blog about how much I hate running, I have the utmost respect for all of you. The reality of the situation is, I couldn’t do what you’re doing today. The time, the commitment, the training sessions, the final event; I know it’s not in the cards for me. But you’re about to complete one of the most incredible tasks of your lives. I applaud you for everything that has brought you to this moment, and I will continue my applause all day, from the sidelines, because not everyone has a marathon in them. YOU do.

You are strong, you are determined. You may be fast, you may be slow, but all that matters is that you’re here, and you’re about to run.

And to my friends Kristen, Steph, and Corey who are running today, this message goes out to you three especially. Good luck on the course, have fun, and most importantly, keep an eye out for me at Mile 25. I’ll give you Swedish Fish. And maybe a mimosa if you ask politely. 😉

You can also check out my Marathon Monday post from last year if you’d like, complete with some thoughts about the inspirational men and women who run this race every year. Enjoy! Happy Marathon Monday everyone! 

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Motivation Monday and The Marathon

Ah,

The Boston Marathon. The world’s oldest, most awesome* annual marathon. 

*Ok, I may have added that part in myself.

But The BAA Boston Marathon is amazing.  A race that many runners strive for their whole lives; Boston is a benchmark for success. A true piece of American History. And it just so happens that it falls on Patriot’s day (which I’m convinced is actually just a made up holiday so that Boston can actually celebrate Marathon Monday under the guise of another holiday).

Marathon weekend in Boston is one of the best times of year here; it’s electrifying. The energy around the city is palpable, even if you’re not a runner. Knowing that the best of the best of the world’s runners will be completing this course on Monday is exciting and inspirational in itself. Standing down at the finish line while thousands of runners push themselves to the extreme just to complete the race is an experience every Bostonian should have.

Watching the marathon, you will see every kind of motivation you could ever wish for:

  • The Elites: Let’s be real here. They run a marathon at a faster pace than I can sprint!!
Ryan Hall, Just before the Finish Line, 2010 Boston Marathon 
Another marathon icon, Meb Keflezighi, Boston 2010

  I’m not kidding.

  • The wheelchair racers: if this doesn’t inspire you, you probably don’t have a soul. 
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Yep, I had a good spot that year
  • The military men and women who run in full gear, including fatigues and combat boots. For 26. 2 miles. IT’S CRAZY AND AMAZING all at the same time! 
  • The Average Joe’s who push themselves so damn hard to finish this one race; to make it past Heartbreak Hill in one piece; to just get to that finish line on Boylston and maybe even hit a PR. 
My friend Corey, pictured here, kicked total ass in 2010 
And, to make it even more ridiculous, Boston is slated to hit the Mid 80’s today by mid-day. Talk about making one of the toughest races even tougher.
So, with this quickie post, just stop and think about the thousands that are going to be sweating their way down Comm Ave today, and know that if they can run 26.2 miles in 85 degree heat, you sure as hell can get your workout in today.  Use their determination as your own inspiration, and get after it in your own workouts this week!
Have any of you ever watched the Boston Marathon? Have you ever run a marathon yourself?