Friday, April 19, 2013

2013 Boston Marathon

It's hard to know what to say about the Boston Marathon - something so good that ended so badly. Suddenly talking about the race itself and my running of it seems insensitive in the face of so much brutality and tragedy. I didn't know what to post on this blog because I figured, who cares about my first marathon when people were maimed and killed? However, with a little time, reflection and feedback from friends and family, I've realized that that is the wrong way to think about what happened. We can't and won't ignore the horrific events that occurred or pretend not to see the incredible grief and loss resulting from the attack. 
However, nor can we let the cowards who did this take the marathon (and everything that it stands for) away from us. The city of Boston embraces the marathon and every runner and spectator that it attracts. The marathon itself is such a wonderful event and symbolizes incredible devotion, persistence, strength, support and dominion. These things cannot be taken away from the Boston Marathon. The marathon belongs to it's runners, spectators, supporters and to the city of Boston. The finish line doesn't belong to the terrorists. I think it's important to remember more than the horror of the explosions. We need to remember the awesome weather, the incredible crowds, the excitement, the funny/encouraging signs and the running. We need to remember all the good things that happened too because those things are what the Boston Marathon is all about. 

I was very grateful to have finished the race about 30 minutes before the explosions happened (I came in at 3:37 and the explosions happened around the 4:09 mark) and was well clear of the area when they did. I'd been in the women's changing tent when the explosions happened and me and some of the ladies in the tent thought it was a freak thunderstorm. Some others thought it was celebratory fireworks. I was able to eventually get it touch with Graham and meet up with him as well as my father-in-law, my sister-in-law, her husband (and their baby), all of whom had come out to watch me run. Graham filled me in on the horrific events that had happened as we walked (and I hobbled) quickly to our car. For the first 30 minutes of our drive home, the car was essentially silent as we tried to absorb what had happened and send out texts and social media updates to our friends and family, letting them know that we were all safe and leaving Boston. I didn't know what to say about the race even though I was proud of my time. It didn't seem appropriate. We had some disjointed conversation about what we knew (which wasn't much) and listened to reports on the radio, which eventually began to repeat the same information. So, we turned off the radio and drove in silence. 

My splits
A little while later, my husband broke it by saying that he didn't mean to be insensitive to any of the events that occurred but that he wanted to hear about my race. Everyone concurred and I started to talk, admittedly a little awkward at first. I recalled how I'd felt fantastic for the first 16 miles, okay from 17-21 and infinitely worse from 22-26 :) It was really fun to talk about the race itself and to reel off all of the extremely good experiences I had throughout the event. From meeting amazing people while waiting for the buses to take us to the Athletes' Village before the race, to laughing with said amazing people as some of them had to use the trashcan on the bus en route as a makeshift bathroom, to seeing all of the charity runners lined up and excited to run for such amazing causes. 

Bathroom lines at Athletes' Village
When the race began, seeing the spirit and determination on all the runners' faces and the genuine support and joy of the thousands of spectators was a truly incredible experience. While trundling up Heartbreak Hill, I passed a woman who gave me a literal pat on the back as I went by and told me to "keep pushing, don't stop" and yelled at my back that I was "kicking this hill's ass!" When I finally, finally, FINALLY got to the final stretch of the race, the atmosphere was electric with happiness and accomplishment and gratitude. Even though I was in serious pain at that point (my final mile was at an 11 minute pace) and was intently focused on not stopping, the deafening sound of all of those spectators cheering and applauding cut through my discomfort. Although I didn't pick up my head and look around much on that final stretch, I could hear and feel the love booming out from the crowds. 

Sorry MarathonFoto, I'm illegally posting this proof
When I stumbled across the finish line, the race volunteers gently ushered me through the assembly line of goodies, making sure each runner was covered in a blanket, eating and drinking and decorated with a finisher's medal. The wind was whipping through the buildings and in my fatigue-induced incoordination, I couldn't get the blanket to stay around my shivering shoulders. A bubbly race volunteer swooped in and wrapped it around me while another taped it closed so that I wouldn't have to hold it in place. Both were smiling and laughing and congratulating me and the first said that she loved being at the finish line of the race because she got to "mother all of the runners that have just worked so hard and performed so beautifully." She gave my arm a squeeze and gave an encouraging nudge in the right direction. Every runner and race volunteer I interacted with on race day was happy and supportive and the spectators screaming at the top of their lungs for hours on end were the reason why so many runners were able to keep going. The race belongs to all of them.

A lot of people recognized and have voiced this sentiment much better than me; an article on sums it up well: "Bombings Heighten Runners’ Commitment to 2014 Boston Marathon". Click here to read the article. I also really liked the intro segment on The Colbert Report on 4/16/13 saying that "what the Boston Marathon terrorists really don't get is that they attacked an unshakable group of people who run 26 miles until their nipples are raw on their day off." Damn right. Click here or on the picture to the above to watch it. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Boston, running capital of the world?

Being here in Boston for a few days before the big race has been a blast and getting to soak in all the pre-race excitement has been inspiring. We went to the expo on Saturday and the environment was electric. There were hoards of people all milling around the massive convention center creating a happy, anticipatory buzz. Runners and their support crews filled the different stores and exhibits and it seemed like everywhere you looked people were smiling and enjoying themselves. 
Graham and I visualizing my start...

Then my father-in-law and I watched my husband, sister-in-law and her husband rock the 5k run this (Sunday) morning. The whole race was incredibly cool to watch. The wheelchair racers kicked things off, leaving the Start line only 2 minutes before the elite racers. Then the elites stormed off and the leaders knocked out a 4:24 first mile and finished up their second mile at 9 minutes even. They came in with a total time of 13 and a half minutes for the 5k (or 3.1 miles)...impressive. Watching them basically sprint/run hard for three consecutive miles was pretty awesome, but I kept thinking about the elite marathoners who run 26.2 MILES with just over a 5 min/mile pace. Yeah, that's a tiiiiiiiny bit faster than what I'll turn in tomorrow :) The winner of the 2012 Boston Marathon, Wesley Korir, finished the marathon in 2:12:40, which is an average pace of 5:04 min/mile. That is flat out amazing.

All in all, I have been massively impressed with the way that all of Boston gets hyped about the marathon weekend. There are signs everywhere welcoming runners and offering words of encouragement. Adidas, New Balance and Nike paraphernalia decorate the city and the streets are flooded with people clad in the yellow and blue 2013 Boston marathon official jacket. Porta Potties line the course and each mile is permanently painted into the double yellow lines on the roads of the course. I always wondered how and why my sister-in-law and her husband got so into running while residing in a city that endured such intense (aka crappy) weather. Running seems like one of the last sports that would thrive in Boston, but it has...and now that I've been here and witnessed the incredible enthusiasm and support that the city throws behind the marathon and sport in general, I totally get it. Is Boston perhaps the unlikely running capital of the world? I think you could make a case for it. 

Anyways, tomorrow's big race will be a lot of fun. I'm honestly not sure how well my still-ailing granny hip is going to hold up for the full distance (bursitis and IT band issues), but even if that goes to h*ll and I have to walk, who cares? The experience of being here and being a part of it all has exceeded any of my expectations and simply completing the marathon will be an awesome feeling. Now, would I love it if I turned in a solid time? YES. Will I be disappointed if I don't? Sure. Do I wish I was coming in totally healthy? Absolutely. But like Graham said, that's sports for you and you just do what you can when you can. So that's my plan tomorrow...and I'll let you know how it goes!!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

So Much Love

Excuse the admittedly sappy title for this blog post, but I can't help it! There IS so much love! I have been supported everyday by Graham and consistently buoyed up by the CrossFit, running (both virtual and what, real?) and blogger communities. I have overwhelmed by the support and well wishes of people who read my ramblings and still have the energy to supply advice, encouragement and inspiration.

I had reached out to a fellow blogger named Crystal, aka Carpe Diem Crystal, to ask her for any tips she might have about dealing with the hip/IT band issues I was having. I thought I had remembered reading something along those lines in her blog. I was expecting a short reply (if I got one - come on, people are busy and I was a stranger) with some link to a YouTube video. Instead a I received an incredibly heartfelt (and helpful), lengthy response where Crystal detailed her experience and retold similar experiences of people she knew. She offered some tips, asked me more questions and managed to convey, through one Facebook message chain, so much genuine support for me and what I was attempting to do even though she didn't know me from Adam...well, okay from Eve. She has since sent me a couple check-in messages, hoping the hip is feeling well and that taper time is wonderful. Remember, we've never met! I barely remember to stay in touch with my best friend (I'm a lazy communicator) and Crystal remembers to check up on my taper time! That's awesome!! Check out her blog, as it's fantastic ( and

Babies playing soccer our freshman year of college (2003)
And if we're going to go ahead and talk about my best friend, CD, it's definitely worth mentioning that SHE IS THE BEST! We trained and did the San Francisco Half Marathon together a couple years ago and both agreed that there was no way in Hades that either of us would ever even consider running a full marathon. Ha! We were both soccer players since forever and in college tended to view running as conditioning as opposed to a sport in it's own right. Safe to say in the near six years since graduation, we've taken a different view of running, but still, marathons were out...

Best Maid of Honor ever!! (2012)
...until Boston wasn't :) When I decided to give this whole marathon thing a try, CD was so supportive and has showered me with compliments and encouragement throughout my training process. Then today, I get home and am flipping through the mostly junk snail mail when I grasp a thicker than usual envelope. Inside is a card from CD that referenced a statement I'd made in one of my blog posts about not looking forward to beer at the end of the marathon, but Lululemon. Enclosed with the card was a gift card for Lulu. She said that she was so excited for me and the achievement of running my first marathon that she wanted to show her support for my "awesome-ness" with a contribution to my post marathon Lulu shopping spree. She went on to offer encouragement and the reassurance that if I didn't crap my pants during the race, that was a victory in her books. How freaking awesome is that?? 

Yeah, admit want her to be your best friend too!!

To all the awesome people that have offered me so much support along the way, THANK YOU! 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

22 miles done...and exhale :)

The 22 miler has been completed! It started off slow, but I eventually found my groove. It was hot and I drank way more water than I had every other long run. Yeah, I never claimed to be the most observant person in the world. Stubborn? Yes. Single-minded? Yeah, that too. Determined? You bet your a$$ I am.
The beginning of Heartbreak Hill

And I was determined to get through the 22 miler with gusto. I don't know that I necessarily would have given it that descriptor post-run, but I got through it and that my friends, it what matters. The run was made infinitely better when Graham joined me for the final 3 miles home. I always make myself run up this one uphill canyon near my house as my final 1.5-2 miles of every long run - not because I'm a masochist, but because like anyone who has heard anything about the Boston Marathon, I'm terrified of Heartbreak Hill.

Heartbreak Hill is the last of the four Newton hills which begin at around the 16-mile mark. Heartbreak Hill only rises 88 vertical feet to just outside Boston College, but it comes at a point in the race (between miles 20 and 21) where any incline at all will likely seem an impossibility. From what I've heard and read, the hills leading up to the final one aren't exactly pieces of cake either. So with that in mind, I run up the terrible canyon every run, hoping to prepare myself for greatness (or at least completion) when it comes to Heartbreak. We shall see :)

Thinking about the race is still nerve wracking and exciting at the same time. I think I'm prepared, though I'm currently battling hopefully my last of the many common overuse injuries I've had the pleasure of dealing with throughout my training (runner's knee, plantar fasciitis, and now hip bursitis). It's always an inner battle to give your body rest when the mind still wants to go, but I suppose every athlete has to deal with that. So, I'll do what I can from now until April 15 and see where the chips land!

...and eat plenty of burritos along the way :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

The taper is in sight...and Graham is awesome!

It's getting close to taper time...well, relatively close anyways. This was my  last 20 miler (there were 3 total) and the only long runs left are 22, then 18, then 12...then RACE DAY. Figuring that it had been two weeks since my last 20 miler, I decided to repeat the route I'd run for my first 20 miles and see if I couldn't cut off a little time. I felt a hell of a lot better this time around, due largely in part to figuring out some fuel sources that didn't make me cramp up etc. and ended cutting off about a minute and a half. So, though I was hoping that I would have dropped tiny bit more time, I was happy with it. Here's the run-down:


  • Took a minute and a half off of my previous time for this route
  • Didn't sh*t my pants or yell at anyone
  • Rachael Way is a genius and salted, peanut butter-filled pretzel bites are an awesome mid-run snack (I had bought the un-salted ones the first time I tried them and that was a huge's all about the salt)

  • Almost got eaten by an angry dog tied up to a trailer parked by the end of the Boardwalk
  • Was straight up hungry two miles into, digestion system?
  • Tasked with preparing my own ice bath or waiting until Graham came back (he had parked his car by the ocean so he could meet me for the last three miles...then he had to run back down to the car solo), I decided to be a super self-sufficient runner and go get my own ice etc. I went to 7-11 instead of Safeway and finding that they only sold 7 pound bags of ice, opted to buy two and call it good...that was instead of the two 20 pound bags that Graham usually gets. I knew what I was doing, I wasn't confused...I just didn't want to try and carry any more than those two, tiny bags. So I made my bath with 14 pounds of ice instead of the usual 40! And uh, yeah, let's just say that by the end of the 10 minutes I spent soaking in the tub, the paltry 14 pounds was long gone. That will probably be the last time I'm allowed to buy the ice unsupervised.


  • My kick ass husband ran the last three miles with me, encouraging and pushing me to maintain my pace as we made our way up the final mile and a half uphill canyon trail. Particularly mile 19 of this run smashed my previous split and happily contributed to the slightly faster finish. 
  • Drank hot chocolate during the cold bath (realistically can't call it an ice bath) and read the Sunday comics...not too shabby.
  • Ate my customary post-run shrimp burrito and chips, then went and saw Warm Bodies with G, then got delicious Verve coffee flavored ice cream from the Penny Ice Creamery kiosk downtown, then went home and had cereal for dinner like a little kid. It was frickin' awesome.