Category Archives: Marathon

Thoughts on Boston Marathon 2013

Standard

Yesterday my heart broke.  It broke in so many ways and in many little pieces and I’m not even really sure where to begin but I’m going to try.  I don’t know if my words are right or wrong, but this is what came today, these are my words and my thoughts on this horrible event that happened yesterday…

The day was picture perfect.  The sun was shining, the temperatures just warm enough but not too warm and a gorgeous day for a marathon.  My day started at Mile 10.  I was so excited because for the first time since I’ve lived in Boston I was going to see the elites run by.  I excitedly watched Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher zoom by me followed shortly by the insanely fast men.  I made friends with a man from Michigan whose wife Rachel was running, he was telling us about her and how after this they were going to start a very large family, “just a big soccer team size family” to be exact, after Boston and couldn’t be more excited.  We joked that it was an overshare but then commented how the running community is a family so it makes it kind of ok.  Rachel ran by and off he went.  As the morning wore on all 146 Team In Training participants ran by.  My voice started to get shaky from all my cheering and I received many sweaty hugs and high fives.  It was awesome to be seeing a team I was part of last year running by and many of my teammates out again getting redemption from last years high heat.  I felt so happy. 

I headed to Mile 15 and reunited with my boss and coworker and continued to cheer the TEAM on.  We couldn’t believe how many people were having amazing races.  There were PR’s and amazing first marathons happening left and right…we were beyond excited for our team.  After the last runner ran by all 3 of us headed to our cars.  We hopped on Route 9 and headed into Boston.  Our plan was to check in at our hotel suite with our other staff and a few would head to the finish line to watch the rest of the TEAM finish.

On my drive in I was reflecting on how happy marathons made me and was beginning to think about how I planned to run Boston in 2014. We headed into Boston with no troubles at all and then as we approached the Back Bay the traffic slowed.  Traffic stopped and grid lock began right under the Prudential Building over pass and directly in front of the Marriott hotel…one block from the finish line.  I started to notice there were too many people.  Too many people were crying and hugging and walking wwwaaayyyy to fast for just having ran a marathon.  And then the police and state police started emerging from everywhere.  More police than I have ever seen in Boston in my entire life.  Then I saw a line of about 5 to 6 cars…a 2001 baby blue Camry with a man yelling at cars to stop moving while putting on the bright yellow police jacket, an old minivan with 5 or 6 men suiting up in it and 3 more cars just like this behind it.  It was then I knew something was wrong.  Very wrong.

My phone rang and it was my coworker…miraculously she was 2 cars in front of me.  The call went something like this “OMG WhitneytherewasanexpolosionatthefinishOMGIdontknowwhattodothisissoscaryanexplosion!”  I told her to breathe deep and keep driving…she needed to pull into the first parking garage she could, I was 2 cars behind her and was right there.  I think her panic kept me calm.  Then my cousin Annbritt texted me, “Are you ok? There was an explosion at the finish…”  I immediately texted her back to tell her I was ok and told her to call my parents and Michael.  For the next hour she was pretty much the only person I could text.  Calls wouldn’t go through, and texts were failing and my phone was beeping every second with a new text or call with someone looking for me.  The sirens and ambulances trying to get by was unreal.  I just sat in the car shaking and going with the traffic.  We tried to pull into the Marriott parking garage but were told it was full so we just kept driving.  As we sat at the intersection of Huntington Ave and Dartmouth Street our boss came running down the street and jumped in my co-worker’s car.  She had been right near us the whole time and was able to ditch her car.  My co-worker and I were yelling out our windows to each other trying to stick together and park our cars.  I made it through the intersection but she was stopped.  As I stopped on Stuart Street trying to determine if I could park in 100 Clarendon more ambulances than I could count blew by me with their sirens flashing.  I sat paralyzed in the car, shaking.  A man taking photos tapped on my window and told me to pull into the garage and told me it was ok.  I pulled into the garage and parked on the first level…I was hoping my colleague saw where I went.  Two minutes later she pulls in and takes the spot next to me.

The three of us headed to our hotel where we made it safely.  We spent the next 4 hours establishing a plan and finding our participants. Thankfully everyone and their families were safe and accounted for.  We heard incredible stories of kindness as we sat in the hotel suite waiting for news.  Fossil was handing out clothing so runners could stay warm, spectators were giving people clothes off their backs, cell phones, food and even a place to stay safe.  We heard of professors at BU opening their offices to runners and letting them make long distance phone calls.  I heard countless stories of kindness and love.

Once I got to the hotel I was able to text my family and friends so people knew I was safe but it was only people with iPhones who I was able to talk to.  I wasn’t able to talk to Michael for almost 3 hours and only some of my texts were going through.  It was so scary and horrifying.  We had no idea what was happening and if and when we could leave the city.  The mixed news reports were terrifying and the entire time I was hoping for the best.  Around 8pm we were able to leave the hotel.  As I walked to my car I couldn’t ignore the eerie quite that had taken over what should have been such a busy night.  The air smelled horrible and for the first time, Back Bay felt uncomfortable.  I was never so happy to make it home to the suburbs and be greeted by Michael.  I connected with my family and received many calls from caring friends.  My head was pounding, my stomach hurt and my heart was broken.

The Boston Marathon...You Will Go On.

The Boston Marathon…You Will Go On.

Today I woke up hoping it was all a bad dream and it would all go away. But it didn’t, this is real life.  I felt so empty today and just wanted to go back to bed.  I’m saddened for the families of loved ones and the many many people who are injured.  I’m sad for the runners who were stopped along the course.  I’m sad for the spectators and everyone involved.  And I’m shocked.  I never thought something like this would happen in my world.  I always thought I’d hear about it on the news and it would be in another city where I am not but now that seems so naive.  Yesterday it happened in the city I not only call home but blocks, literally blocks, from my old apartment. And on Marathon Monday.  It happened in my city and on a day I hold so close to my heart. I’m a runner and I’m proud of it.  I’m a Boston Marathoner and proud of that too. Running is who I am, its how I define myself and this feels all to personal and for that it breaks my heart.

If I’ve learned one thing over the many years I’ve been running, it’s that the running community is a family.  We lift each other up, share stories, encourage each other and give each other a shoulder to cry on.  We are connected by the miles we run.  I know that this will only make our family stronger, it will unite us.  And Boston, well I’ve always known the love for this city runs deep but now I’m truly seeing it.  We may be a city but it feels more like a small town.  I know we will carry on.

remember-boston 2

I can’t predict what will happen in the world of running or how marathons and our sport will change as a result of this and I’m not going to try to.  Time will tell.  I can tell you that running takes courage, and strength and running a marathon is more about the mental ability to cover 26.2 than it is anything else.  I know we are strong, and that the sadness will pass.  I know we will continue to be connected by the miles we run, the charities we run for, the BQ’s we all dream of and so much more.  Yesterday my love of running grew tremendously.  My dream of a BQ became even stronger.

Today I ran. I ran for the victims, for Boston, for runners everywhere and for everyone who wasn’t able to cross that finish line yesterday.  I will continue to run for those reasons and I hope you will too.  Our marathons may be marred by heat and hurricanes and horrific events but as runners we always have the pavement, our training runs and our community to hold us together.  Keep running and show the world the courage and strength we all have.

Thank you to all of you.  Yesterday you made me feel blessed and cared for.  There were so many texts and calls from my close family and friends, tweets from readers, comments and emails from so many of you who read faithfully but I’ve never actually met.  I felt blessed and overwhelmed by the outpouring of concern and love.  Thank you all for that…it is much appreciated and means more than you know…

Pushing Past the Comfort Zone to Make 2013 Incredible

Standard

This blog post has been floating around in my head for days…the words just can’t seem to flow on out like they normally do…thus the lack of posting in the last few days, oh and I’ve been busy.  But I’m ready to take a stab at this one so hang with me here...

I’ve been thinking a lot about living outside your comfort zone, pushing the limits and venturing into uncharted territory.  I guess I’ve been kind of doing that for the last year or so.  Since this time last year I ran Boston Marathon, became an NASM certified personal trainer, moved out of the only home I’ve ever known in Boston, moved in with Michael (love that decision), got a new job…ok changed careers in a big way, took yoga teacher training, became a certified yoga instructor and put this little old blog out there in more ways than I can count.  That feeling of pushing your limits, feeling uncomfortable, nervous, anxious even because everything is so new and you have no idea what comes next? Yeah, that’s pretty much how I feel everyday…except those glorious days where I get to be home relaxing.  

So when I started thinking about 2013 and what I’d like to accomplish all I could really think about was how tired I was and how I was ready for some normalcy.  I had visions of movie days, comfort food, sleeping in and downtime dancing through my head.  So I decided to leave 2013 open to fate.  I’d see where life would take me…a year of no goals if you will.  The problem is, that’s not really me.  I have one speed…GO and when you GO that fast you kind of need to have directions.

Everyone around me was setting goals, looking to the future and planning out their year…running races, marathons, half marathons, certifications and everything else.  Part of me was ready to dive in, sign up for a fall marathon and start training.  That I could do and I’ve had my eye on the Marine Corp Marathon for years now.  But then Michael reminded me of the shiny new yoga certification I worked so hard for and the Athleta Sponsored Athlete title I was so excited about and all the other opportunities coming my way.  And then he said, “Don’t you think you should focus on building your yoga business and you name?”

And there it was.  The truth.  Running a marathon is easy (I take that back, they are never easy) comfortable.  I’ve done it before, and I could do it again.  This time, I could probably do it better.  But the truth is, I WANT to build my business as a yoga instructor and I’d like to build this blog.  And there certainly is not enough time in the day to do it all.  There was a choice…run another marathon or focus on yoga and this little business?

So for the last few weeks I’ve been tossing this around.  Some days I was telling myself, I can’t keep chasing my dreams or that I deserve a break…a year or normal if you will.  Other days I was giving myself the pep talk I really needed.  Then the other day I was out running, rolling these ideas around again and it hit me, like it always does on a good run in the pitch black at 5:30am on a cold winter morning.  If chasing down your hopes and dreams was easy and comfortable everyone would do it but it’s not and that’s part of the journey and the challenge.

If I had given up on my crazy idea to leave Chemistry I’d never have the job I love now, if I’d skipped out on yoga teacher training because it made me nervous and uncomfortable I would have never learned that cranial facial massage is incredible and that 15 complete strangers can show each other more love than I ever thought possible.  I’ve learned too many times to stick with it and make your dreams a reality.

So what’s up for 2013…I’m not completely sure yet but I’m going to keep chasing down my dream of being a yoga instructor and building this little business of mine.  Lucky for me, it starts on Wednesday with my very own yoga class that I get to teach each and every week.  And if you think I’m not going outside my comfort zone with that, think again…I’ve been nervous for weeks! This year I want to teach a yoga workshop, be the best sponsored athlete I can be, maybe become a certified running coach and start combining my love of running with my love of yoga in a big way and maybe just maybe PR the half marathon distance. I don’t think 2013 has another marathon in store for me, there probably isn’t enough time for that and I know I can run a marathon.  Building a successful yoga business and taking my dreams to the next level, that’s pushing my limits and exactly where my time and energy needs to be spent.  I’m curious to see what life has in store for me…lately it’s just too unpredictable in the best ways possible. I only hope 2013 is filled with as much love, adventure and success as 2012.

Are you pushing your limits and going outside of your comfort zone to make your dreams come true in 2013?

Women’s Running Blogger on the Run!

Standard

Remember how I mentioned last week that I had more good news to share?!  

I am so excited to announce that I am the featured on the Women’s Running Magazine blog as the Blogger on the Run today!

Please head over to their site to check out the post!  Feel free to leave a comment on the post for a chance to win a year’s subscription to Women’s Running Magazine! Awesome, right?!

Thank you to Women’s Running for featuring me today! I am so excited and honored to be featured along side some amazing ladies!  I’m all smiles today!

Guest Post: Inspired to run (a marathon)!

Standard

While I’m in Maine relaxing in the sun, golfing, enjoying the ocean, sightseeing and more I’m leaving you all in the hands of some of my favorite bloggers.  Jess from EatDrinkBreathSweat is today’s guest blogger! She shares her experiences  with running and barre n9ne on her blog and inspires me to run, sweat and live in the moment.  She always seems to be writing what I’m thinking!  The best part is Jess live *this close* to me and will soon be a blogger turned real life friend!  Hopefully you’ll enjoy her writing as much as I do and take a minute to check out her blog

One of the things that I love about blogging is the people. In fact, it’s the MAIN reason I blog to begin with. I’ve met some really incredible people through blogging – some that I now call my lifelong friends IRL, even.

So when I decided (along with  my husband) to run a marathon this year, it wasn’t just because it was on my fitness bucket list. But it was also because I was finding myself surrounded by some incredibly badass and TOTALLY inspirational runners everywhere I looked (read?). One of those runners is Whitney. I followed her most recent marathoning journey and was constantly impressed by her enthusiasm and sheer joy over the entire process that is marathon training. She immersed herself in the process, she bonded with her Team in Training friends and she ran the toughest marathon ever – Boston.  On one of the hottest days on record for the marathon.

I remember watching that marathon (it was my first time actually seeing the Boston Marathon which is a total SHAME since I’ve lived in Boston my entire life!) and thinking about how incredibly mental running is. Not just racing, but running in general. And my mind popped around to the various people I knew that were running that day along with Whitney. And I was inspired more and more by the minute. Watching the runners pass by me at mile 26 and seeing sheer determination and the WILL to keep going. It was unreal.

So for me – this is sort of becoming a blogging breakthrough for me. To push myself to new heights (all 26.2 new heights) because I’ve seen the transformation it evokes in the bloggers around me who have conquered 26.2 before. Blogging is not just something I do, it’s a part of who I am today and it’s part of what’s shaped me as the person I’m becoming today. The very person that will stare down 26.2 this fall even if it STILL scares the pants off me. Maybe Whitney can talk me off the ledge…I think she knows a thing or two about these things. ;-)

So the moral of this story – if you’re a blogger (or not), stop and look around you once in a while. Celebrate the bloggers (and the people) around you that inspire you, lift you up, and challenge you. Take a page from their book now and then. I think we could all stand to do a lot more “group hugs” up in here, don’t you?

…and if you’d like to stop on by my blog now and then, I’ll try to keep you entertained with plenty of stories along my own journey towards 26.2 this fall. I can’t promise it’ll be pretty though. ;-)

Lessons from Marathons

Standard

Hey Guys! The sun is finally shining here and there isn’t rain in the forecast for days! It’s been so rainy here lately that I’m really looking forward to enjoying the sunshine and some warmer weather.  I plan to get out and hit the pavement tonight, I’m thinking I might do another 5 miler.   Tuesday’s run left me feeling so motivated to run.  I think it was exactly what I needed to get me out of my more laid back approach to working out.   It’s funny how my motivation came back almost one month to the day from the Boston Marathon.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Boston Marathon, it’s hard to believe it was a month ago.   Having ran three marathons it’s funny to me how different each of them were and at the same time how similar they were too.  No matter how you spin it 26.2 miles is HARD and a LONG.  That never seems to change no matter how many marathons I have to my name!

New York City Marathon was my first.  I ran it in 2009 which feels like an eternity ago, crazy how much our lives can change!  I was rather ambitious when it came to a training plan.  I was hoping to get 4o or more miles in each week with my highest week being about 55 miles.  I still had the mentality of a college athlete and felt that I had to train hard to accomplish this goal.  I had just moved to Boston and didn’t have a ton of friends so I spent a lot of my time running.  In late September I started having horrible knee pain.  I went to the doctor a few days later and was diagnosed with ITBS.  I received shots of Synvisc to reduce the swelling and provide pain relief.  I started PT and ran with a knee brace as much as I could.  My longest training run was only 16 miles so I was rather nervous for race day.  I was up at 4am on race day to head to the start which involved taking a cab, a ferry, a bus and some walking.  I was all alone for the race and will never forget standing at the Verrazano Bridge waiting to start.  The first half marathon was easy.  I saw my family at mile 8 and took in the sights.  At Mile 15 my knee started to hurt and I had to stop and stretch.   Around mile 20 I gave myself a talk about how I needed to have more fun, go out for drinks more and give these crazy athletic achievements a break for a while.  I started to come in to Central Park at mile 23 and could barely run, my feet were cramping and everything hurt.  Somehow I managed to keep running.  I saw a woman at mile 25 who grabbed my hand and told me I could do it!  Crossing the finish line was amazing.  I finished in 4:03.51 and felt immense pride in myself.  Celebrating with my family was so fun and being sore for days after seemed like a small price to pay.  I won’t ever forget how challenging it was to finish that marathon but I think part of me expected that.   I knew it would be hard but I knew I’d finish as well.  I really learned about the limits of my body with this marathon.  I knew going forward to be a good runner I’d have to make smarter choices.   More so I learned that a missed training run is a missed training run.  You only wear yourself out when you try to play catch up.

Mile 8

2009 New York City Marathon

They say you have to forget your first marathon before you attempt your next one.  I’d say that’s true.  It took about 2 years before I was ready for another marathon.  Michael’s desire to want to run one also motivated me to tackle it again.  My approach to training for the Chicago Marathon was different, I had learned from my mistakes and was not about to repeat them.  I used the Smart Coach training plan so that if I was sick or injured it would adjust my schedule for missed days.  I knew that if I ran 3 days a week I’d be healthy and I knew that yoga had to fit into the plan.  Speed workouts were also something that I knew were crucial to my success so I was dedicated to doing them this time.  I was also excited to run and train with Michael.  We did our long runs on Sunday mornings and were up by 6am most of those days to get our long runs done before the summer heat became unbearable.  We watched movies on Saturday nights and reminded each other to hydrate.  For me the running went completely according to plan. I never missed a long run and was always on pace, I got in all my speedwork and rarely fought heavy legs.   As marathon day arrived I was confident going in and knew that the race was mine.  In fact Nike’s slogan was Own Chicago.  It seemed fitting for my attitude on race day.  Race day itself was perfect even though it didn’t go exactly according to plan.  Michael and I walked to the start, started together and ran the first 14 miles together.  Once I left Michael I cruised until I hit mile 20 and then counted down the miles.  The reality is, when you run a marathon miles 23-26 hurt.  But I toughed it out and just focused on getting to the finish.  I finished with a 3:51.27.  It was amazing to share the experience with Michael.  The full recap is here.  I think more than anything I learned that a good training plan is the key to success.  I learned that it is more about quality miles and less about the quantity.  Fully committing to the training plan was key and always being flexible to listen to my body and shift runs around a bit helped to make me successful.  Thinking back on it, Chicago seemed easy and fun.

Mike and I at the Finish!

Chicago had given me the marathon bug so I was ready for another one right away.  The Boston Marathon was a little different having ran for charity.  Fundraising and running was very time-consuming and challenging but it was fun at the same time.  My training plan was similar to Chicago since that had worked so well.  I ran my long runs on Saturdays with the team and loved having a running partner and making new friends.  About half way through the marathon bug had worn off and I was getting tired of getting up for long runs, losing half of a day on Saturdays and my legs constantly felt tired.  There was no pushing through it, I ended up taking a week off from running and focusing on cross training and when I came back to running I cut back on my miles.  It was tough for about 3 weeks but then it slowly got better, the miles seemed easier and I felt like I was in good shape.  Team in Training had lots of events along the way that made the high mileage weeks seem more fun.  Towards the end though I was just ready to race.  Michael was ready for it too, he wanted our weekends back and a girlfriend who wasn’t exhausted all the time.   By the time race day came I was excited and nervous about the 90 degree temperatures predicted.  The heat was challenging and I hit a wall at mile 6, again at mile 17 and once more somewhere along Heartbreak Hill.  Boston was unlike any other marathon.  It took more determination, will and grit to finish than I had ever expected.  I thought more than once, this is what hell must be like.  Boston perhaps taught me the most valuable lessons about marathons.  The most obvious was that you can’t predict the weather and you certainly can’t control it.  What you can do  is reset your expectations and adjust your race plans and enjoy the day.   I also learned that marathon training affects everyone around you whether you like it or not.  Luckily I have Michael who understands my passion and supports me no matter what but I know it was hard and that it affected our life as a couple.  Moving forward I realize that a marathon has to fit not only into my life but also into Michael’s and into our lives as a couple.  It’s a commitment, there is no way around that.  Perhaps the most important lesson I learned is that with dedication and grit you can accomplish your goals.  I learned that lesson even before race day, just getting through the training taught me that.  I learned it on race day again, when I was just determined to finish the race.  Knowing I did that is a valuable lesson I’ll take with me every where.

So Proud!

Marathons are never easy and they are never the same.  I’ve learned a lot from each of mine and each one of them was different and unique in their own way.  New York taught me about running and my body, Chicago taught me that a good training plan and confidence can go a long way and Boston taught me that with grit and determination you can accomplish your goals even if it is a marathon in 90 degree heat.

How has the training for each of your marathons or half-marathons differed?  What lessons have you learned?  How do they compare to each other?  What lessons has running taught you about your life?