Sunday, December 15, 2013

Viva Las Vegas! (or A Dashed PR and a 3-State Moose & M.G. Adventure)

It's been a while, folks, did you miss me??  Kidding....I've been up to my eyeballs in work, finishing up school, etc...oh yeah, and the Vegas trip!  As you may remember, I didn't get to finish the Boston Marathon last April. The Rock 'n' Roll Race Series granted those like myself a FREE race entry to any Rock 'n' Roll race held before the end of the year.  My Original CRB mentioned she was going to run in Las Vegas.  My "bucket list" radar went up (I have never been to Vegas, but have always wanted to go...at least once) and I was in!  Another friend who runs for Tedy's Team was going also, so we figured, "Girls' trip! Why not??"  


Paris Las Vegas
Having never been to Vegas, I knew I was in for an experience.  Apparently there is no open container laws there, and there are people on every corner handing out cards for call girls.  So, as we strolled down the strip with our beverages (because we could!), we were surrounded by bright lights, tourists, and half naked "ladies."  Quite the people-watching experience, for sure.  


Picking up our race numbers
We picked up our numbers at the race expo on Saturday, saw the sights there, and then headed back to the hotel to grab dinner and plan for the next day.  If there is one this that is certain, you will never go hungry in Vegas.  If you can't find a food that suits your fancy, there is probably something wrong with you. Seriously. 


Pre-dinner selfie!

On Sunday, we laid low by the pool and prepared for the race, which was at night - difficult since every other long race I have done has been in the morning.  I chose the half marathon, where my travel companions were running the full marathon.  

The race atmosphere was pretty cool.  It started around sunset, and that night there was a full moon.  With the moon rising over the mountains, the sun setting, and the bright lights of the strip, the first half of the race flew by!  We covered the entire strip and Old Las Vegas, with plenty of singing Elvises and little white chapels along the way.  

I was pacing pretty well, but still wary that I would best my goal time.  I felt good, but I knew I was pushing it.  I drank at every water station because I was thirsty.  Knowing we were in the desert, I felt like I always needed to replenish.  My body was used to November in New England - even on a "dry" day it was still more humid than it ever is in Vegas.  Around mile 11, things went south.  My stomach felt awful, I was getting nauseous, and my hip began to hurt.  I slogged along, knowing now that a PR was not going to happen that night.  

I finally finished and found some space to sit down (which was bizarre because they shut down all traffic on the strip for the entire afternoon/evening).  I plopped down, and my stomach finally staged its revolt.  I had a slight chuckle with the girl next to me as she said, "Oh man, I feel the same way," as I watered the bushes with a special water/Gatorade mix. :/ Ugh.  I knew D and C weren't going to finish the marathon for a while, so I took my time and found Jav.  We both succumbed to the same fate - Late-run/post-run stomach issues.  We were a pretty sad looking pair, sitting on a curb looking at the lights and water show at the Bellagio (which was pretty cool, btw).  We finally managed to get ourselves up and heading back to our respective hotels, making sure we texted each other that we made it safely to our destination (me, just in time...). 

Alas, I did not PR that day.  It was actually close to my worst half marathon time of the 7 half marathons that I have run.  But I finished, and really, the trip was more about the experience (that's what I keep telling myself anyway).


D had a marathon PR!! Woo hoo!  

The next day Chris had a spa day planned with the Tedy's Team ladies, so Dayna and I hit the road to Zion National Park.  Best quote of the day: "This is the antithesis of Vegas." ~D.  And it was so true.  As we rode out Interstate 15, which is a convenient drive through the upper northwest corner of Arizona into southwestern Utah, the mountains rose up around us.  D, a.k.a. photog chic, snapped pics along the way.  When it got warm enough, we put the top down (yes, Christine had snagged us a Mustang convertible!) which facilitated capturing the glorious mountains easily. 


Warning: gratuitous selfies abound!

State #3 of the day - and the second time zone!
Utah = Mountain time, Vegas = Pacific time


Thelma & Louise shot

Welcome to Zion 
Of course, we didn't hike that much.  Just a little jaunt up Canyon Overlook Trail, took our obligatory "boot" picture, and saw a whole bunch of big horn sheep!






Trust the boot! (or sneaker!)

Peek-a-boo!


Pictures do NOT do this place justice. At all. 

Yes, he was really that close to the road. Just having a little dinner.

And it wouldn't be a Moose and Mountain Goat adventure if we didn't finish our day with beers and nachos.... at Zion Canyon Brew Pub.



And even caught a sunset on our way back to Vegas.



So, maybe my 7th half marathon wasn't so lucky, but I was definitely lucky to experience a race in Vegas and a gorgeous National Park with great friends! 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Firsts and Nexts

Over the past year and a half, I have had the privilege of running some "first races" with some of my nearest and dearests.  First it was a 5k with Amy in Portland, ME...then a 5K with Derek in Franklin, MA....and this month I got to run another couple firsts:  My co-worker/friend Katie ran her first 5k (at one of my favorite races, no less) and a couple friends ran their first half marathons - all in the same weekend!  

I was so excited for Katie and her first race.  After I posted a picture about the Huff N Cuff 5k on Facebook, Katie registered!  Running your first race at the Huff N Cuff definitely sets the bar high.  Truth be told, I am a little biased, since a friend is the race organizer, however it really is an awesome race - great schwag (long-sleeve T and a snazzy pint glass), live music by the talented Brian Richard, oh yeah, and free beer. Yup, I said it...free WACHUSETT beer.  Happy girl, right here.  (I had to let Katie in on a secret - all races don't have as great a post-race party and race schwag as this race.)

Anyway, we had a great time, with exceptional company. And I was super proud of Katie - her first race and a PR no less! 
Katie and I - pre-race! (Yes, blue was the Training Dept. uniform for the day)
The next day was...dun dun dun...Smuttynose.  As beautiful as Saturday was, Sunday turned out to be the complete opposite.  I should have known, it being Smuttynose and all.  As my friend Henry said, "I've run Smuttynose 4-5 times, and it has rained every year I've run."  Thanks for jinxing us again, Henry. (Kidding!)  Alas, I saddled up the next day with CRB and plans to meet up with at least a few of the dozen or so people I knew running the race.  


CRB and I - ready to run!
It was so chilly and windy at the start that I just wanted to get going.  We met up with Jessica, who was running her very first half marathon that day (yay Jess!), and found our corral.  

Now, I had planned on going for a PR that day, and for the first 10 miles, I felt like I could do it.  Then it happened - tight IT band, lower back pain, knee hurt...I just fell apart.  It definitely wasn't my worst half, by a long shot, but it was not the PR I wanted.  Next up - Rock'N'Roll Half in VEGAS!!  Just have to keep myself healthy and well for a few more weeks. 

A couple days before my October Race Extravaganza (a.k.a. October 5-6), I received a packet from the B.A.A.  It was my "participant" certificate and 2013 race record book.  I've said it since April, the B.A.A. has be so classy and amazing in how they have communicated with all involved in the marathon this year.  It was overwhelming and emotional to look at these things...the proof that April 15 did actually happen, and it wasn't just a bad dream.  Emotions from my first marathon came flooding back.  I just sat and stared at it for awhile.


My first marathon
And then, a couple weeks later another package arrived.  My signed copy of 4:09:43 from Hal Higdon.  He had emailed the 75 of us to say it was coming.  When I picked up my number for the 5k, Henry said, "Hey! You're famous!"  I must have had a confused look on my face, because he said, "Hal's book. I read it. You're famous!"  I felt humbled that Hal chose my blog and a small piece of my story to tell.  I felt more touched that Hal, a runner, told the story of us runners on that day.  He felt it. He encapsulated how we felt (at least a small number of us...the true gamut of emotions that day will never be truly understood.)


Wow. So humbled. 

Next, I have my sights set on Las Vegas. I want my PR. :) 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

CRB's Birthday and October Happenings

Again, I've been slacking in my blogging!  Big things have been happening around here - as in CRB turning the big 3-0 this month!  We had a small football/bday/come-see-our-new-place shindig at the end of September, for which I took on my biggest baking challenge to date - I made Jupiter.  Yes, you read that correctly. And yes, I am slightly insane. :)  

It all started when he "liked" a picture on Facebook. The picture was posted on the Space.com website, and it originally came from an Aussie baker's blog, Cakecrumbs.  I jokingly commented/questioned if he would like that for his birthday cake, his mom seemed to think it was a cool idea, and so it was.  Challenge accepted!  I had to do a bit of research to find the recipe, and realized that all the measurements were in metrics. Ack!  So, after a bit of online searching and recalculating, I had a plan.  

This girl on Cakecrumbs really is amazing. Her recipe and instructions were spot on.  Here is what I did....

First, make the center core of Jupiter (which is a rock core, scientifically speaking, of course) as a chocolate mud cake.  It was a dense chocolate cake, baked in 1-cup glass prep bowls.
Step 1 - Jupiter's core
Next up was the layer of "liquid, metallic hydrogen".... well, let's just go with a white sponge cake.  
Put the rock/ice core in the white layer - hemisphere pan did the trick for this part.

Last layer, "molecular hydrogen"...so blue sponge cake works here.
Yes, it is a little well done. The crusty edges come off in the shaping process.

Ultimately, I baked 4 times - center, middle layer, then outer layer twice, since I didn't have two pans big enough for the blue outer layer. I was toast after 5 hours of baking, so I left the assembly and decoration for the next day.

I shaped both hemispheres, trying to get them as round as possible. Using my Grammy's buttercream frosting recipe, I used that as glue between the two halves, did a thin crumb coat, let that dry, then did a thicker smooth coat of icing.
Crumb coat
(please ignore the mess behind the cake! lol!)
After the smooth coat of frosting dried, I set to work on making Jupiter look like, well, Jupiter. I thinned some frosting with almond milk, and added some orange and brown gel icing coloring.  I then painted on the stripes and swirls of the largest planet.  And of course, the Great Spot too!

Ta da!
And what did the Birthday Boy think??
I think he likes it! (Photo credit to CRB's Mom, Judy)

And the inside (Again, thanks Judy for the pictures)
The next weekend, we had the Smuttynose half marathon.  The one where I wanted to PR.  Well, not in the cards for this girl.  I had an awful head cold for about two weeks prior to the race, didn't get much running in, and didn't feel 100% that day.  Oh yeah, and it was raining. Again. Just like last year.  

More to come on my October racing...which involved another few "first races" for a few of my friends. Stay tuned....

Friday, August 23, 2013

Reflecting and healing

I just finished reading Hal Higdon's 4:09:43: The Boston Marathon Bombings, his compilation of stories and accounts from that day. April 15.  As I read, I ran the course again in my mind. I remember almost all parts of the day vividly.  Some parts were surreal, as if my mind's eye was outside looking in. As if my soul was outside my body, looking on, telling me what to do next.  And that feeling was there even before the bombs went off. 

April 15 was an emotional day to begin with.  I kept thinking of my Papa, and of the arduous 18 weeks that had lead up to that day.  When I decided to run and, my original CRB and kindred spirit had warned me: You will have a meltdown, if not more than one. It will be one of, if not the hardest thing you will do.  And she was right.  I had a meltdown the night before a 14-miler, about a month before the big day.  It wasn't one of my prouder moments.  But I pushed through.  

When Marathon Monday arrived, I told myself to remember everything. Remember what you see, what you hear...this may be the only time you do this.  

Reading Hal's book, I re-ran the entire day. Mine started early in Hudson, when CRB and I awoke early and he drove me to Hopkinton.  As I read, I relived each mile through the stories shared. I remember the wave of emotion that flowed over me as I trotted over that painted line next to Hopkinton Green. I remember all the amazing things I saw on my way from Hopkington to Boston. 

I feel fortunate that I live and work close enough to the epic route that I tend to drive it from time to time.  Today I drove along 135 from Westborough to Ashland, so of course I went through Hopkington center.  The surge of emotion that came when I drove over the starting line, down the hill toward Ashland, is the same as it has been the last few times I have driven over that line. It is close to what I felt when I traversed it on foot.  It happens every time.  I zone out - remembering sights and sounds of the day. I couldn't tell you what was on my radio, how much traffic was on the road, or why I was going to Ashland.  At that point in time, I was back on April 15.  

That day changed us. It changed our memories, our reactions.... Conversations come up at parties, dinners out, seemingly casual conversations about what happened, how crowds freak us out, how the sounds of fireworks and helicopters always make us tense up and take pause.  We are all still thinking about it, whether we let on or not. 

I have never met the other people whose stories Hal included in 4:09:43, yet we are all connected.  I feel fortunate that he included my story, although there are thousands of stories that will take years to be told (Hal's words, my agreement).  Janeen Bergstrom summed it up accurately: "All that time. All that sacrifice. Everything you do is for that moment, the moment of stepping on the mat. And it never came. But the lack of accomplishment and the emptiness I feel is compounded by the guilt."

Hal, you did good, fellow runner. You captured our memories and nightmares from that day, and gave the oft unspoken running community a voice.  The body and tail of the serpent, snaking its way 26 miles and 385 yards, not the head finishing with the laurel crowns and prize money.  Those who struggled to attain a qualifying time, or those who qualified themselves by fundraising thousands and thousands of dollars for their selected charities (I, in the latter population). Tears fell as I read and reread sections. You incorporated our stories with bits of history that anyone could appreciate - runners, non-runners, locals and visitors.

Amby Burfoot's closing quote is spot on: "Our institutions did not become great by following a path of timidity and cowardice. We can only hope that the Boston Marathon, though pummeled, will rise again stronger than before." 

We will. I will. I will be there in 2014.  



Tempus fugit

I've been delinquent in my blogging lately - well, for the past 2 months actually!  I was in a bit of a funk....ok, maybe more than that.  I went on vacation with CRB to Cape Cod, went to a concert, broke my toe, didn't run for a month.... So, I guess I've had a lot going on.  

Vacation was great.  We spent the week hanging around the world-renowned beaches of Dennis, visited with my family, toured Truro Vineyards, and made our annual climb to the top of the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown.  Oh, and of course ate our way through the Cape - oysters, fish & chips, chowder, quahogs - you name it, we ate it. 

We were there for the week encompassing the 4th of July.  I couldn't help but think about Papa a lot.  I have vivid memories of Independence Day up at camp: rides in the boat, water skiing, staying in the lake until our fingers resembled raisins, and Uncle Rob shooting off the best fireworks displays on the whole lake.  
Papa and yours truly circa 1983 @ Camp in Ashburnham, MA
Papa always said that July 4th was the end of summer. Memorial Day starts it, and it's all downhill after July 4th.  Us kids would groan because we had not even been on summer break for a month.  Now, as I am staring down the end of August, I realize what he meant.  It does go by so fast.  The last 4, almost 5, months have passed quickly, yet it seems just like yesterday we said goodbye to one of the greatest men I know.  

Between missing Papa and not running for about a month, I had a rough time.  We went to the Jason Aldean concert at Fenway in July, where I proceeded to trip over a girl who stopped coming out of the ladies room, catch my baby toe on the corner of a cement wall, and break it.  Yup, silly little broken toe.  (Or little sausage toe as I called it, because once it swelled up, it looked like a little sausage! I can laugh now, but then I had a vocabulary that would have made Papa *very* disappointed!)

Rather purple and sausage-like
That did it.  I couldn't run for nearly a month. I was 4 weeks out from the Monadnock Half Marathon in Jaffrey, NH, which I was really looking forward to running. I moped for a week and a half, feeling like a sad puppy when CRB went out for a run and I stayed at home, peering out the window waiting for him to get back.  I couldn't even wear shoes let alone run a few miles.  

I tried running after about a week and a half after I broke it. 

Note to runners with broken toes: THIS IS NOT A GOOD IDEA. IT SUCKS, BUT YOU HAVE TO WAIT IT OUT. There.  I moped for a few more days, then dragged myself to Bikram yoga.  It felt good to use my muscles. My balance was not spectacular given the inability to stabilize my right foot, but boy did it feel good to sweat and push myself.  I returned to Bikram four days in a row (!) and felt better and better.  By the middle of the next week, I gave it a go.  Four weeks of waiting...it felt good!!  Little twinges occasionally, but the toe was better.  I ended up switching to the 5k trail run instead of the half, so at least I got to race that weekend.  Yipee!  Then a week later I ran 7 miles..and felt great! Yipee again!  SO, I am back on track for the Smuttynose Half Marathon in October.  I have a goal to PR this race, and hopefully break 2 hours.  

In other exciting news... The B.A.A. was in communication with the 5,633 of us who did not get to finish the marathon. We all got a special code to register this week.  And I did. I am in for the 118th running of the Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014.  I can't believe that I will begin training for my second marathon in just a few months. 


And I will finish this race. 





Saturday, June 22, 2013

Trial and Error

This week I *finally* had a few good runs!  Last week, I struggled through each and every run. As I slogged through the streets of town I said I hated running.  To which my CRB replied, "No, you don't. You're doing great!" (Then I might have reverted to my 5 year old self and initiated a "yeah I do!" "No, you don't" back and forth with CRB for the next half mile. Hey, we all have our moments...)  

#sneakerlove #solemates


Alas, I broke through. This week, I had a few GREAT runs, including one workout on the track.  My goal for the Smuttynose half marathon in October is to PR.  Really, I not only want to PR, but I want to shave almost 10 minutes off my best time to break 2 hours.  To do this, as my more seasoned runner friends and bloggers have attested, I must do speed work.  Not my favorite activity, since at one point in recent memory, just running a couple miles was enough of a challenge.  Well, since I have run a couple dozen 5ks, 5 half marathons, and a (almost) marathon, I guess I can consider myself a "real" runner.  I need to suck it up and do what I know (and hope!) will work - running 5x400s, tempo runs, and the like. 

I learned a few things this week...
  • I feel like a hamster on a wheel when I run around a track (probably explains why, in my VERY short stint in high school track, I never ran more than the 100 or 200 meter events!)
  • Running around said track is much more tolerable when I have company (Thanks, CRB!)
  • Although I LOVE my shoe collection, I must not wear my cute heels to work too often (high heels = leg pain while running = no bueno!)
  • and foam rolling is SO much better when accompanied with a glass (or 3) of wine. ;)
SO much of running is trial and error.  What works for one, may not work for all.  While I am clearly not an expert, that's what I have learned.  You can take suggestions and ideas from other runners, but you have to figure out what works for you. 

Like foam rolling + wine....works for me! ;) 

Happy Running!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Summer in a Bowl

So, I haven't posted much about my forays in the kitchen lately.  And in truth, I haven't had many!  CRB (Chief Running Buddy) and I recently moved into a new place, and between running, work, packing, unpacking, etc, I hadn't much time. 

Now, I don't think I mentioned this to y'all, but I volunteer for Habitat for Humanity on the Family Selection Committee in my local affiliate.  They are a wonderful group of ladies with whom I have the pleasure of spending a few hours a month.  We haven't had a social activity in a while, so our co-chairwoman, Rosemary, invited us all to her gorgeous house for dinner last Friday night.  At the request of a few, I made a lemon raspberry trifle (aka, summer in a bowl).  It is so light, the perfect mix of sweet and tart.....just delicious!  Many thanks to my friend Laura P. who originally shared this recipe with me. Share the sunshine - pass it on!

 
 
The beauty of this dessert (besides the luscious layers) is that it comes together SO quickly.  My CRB even wandered into the kitchen while I was constructing this and commented on how fast I made it.  It is easy - angel food cake, raspberries (fresh and frozen), and a lemon cream mixture that makes it very tempting to lick the bowl....just sayin'...
 
 
Alrighty - without further ado, the recipe!
 
 
Lemon Raspberry Trifle
 

1 tsp lemon extract
1 - 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
1 - 8 oz. lemon yogurt
2 tsp grated lemon peel
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 cups whipped topping (Cool Whip, or if you are like me, store brand!)
 
1 angel food cake
1 package frozen raspberries
2 pints fresh raspberries
 
Combine the first six ingredients (extract through whipped topping) in a medium-sized bowl.
Thaw frozen raspberries and combine with one pint of fresh raspberries.  Sweeten to taste, if desired (I usually don't add any sugar, since I like the tart/sweet mix).
Cut the angel cake into 1" cubes and arrange one layer on the bottom of a trifle bowl.
Spoon half of the lemon cream mixture on top of the cake.  Spread evenly.
Spoon fresh/thawed raspberries for the next layer.
Repeat layer of angel cake and lemon cream.
Top with pint of fresh raspberries, and toasted coconut or powdered sugar, if desired.
 
TIP: If you are assembling this the day before serving, do a layer of cake, thin layer of lemon cream, raspberries, another thin layer of lemon cream, then angel cake, remaining lemon cream, and raspberries. This way the angel cake doesn't soak up all the juice from the raspberries.
 
 
 
I made this before raspberries were *really* in season, and if you live in the northeast like I do, fresh raspberries are SO expensive. So I bought 3 - 6 oz. packages of fresh raspberries and two packages of frozen.  Two fresh went in with the frozen, and the last package of fresh went on the top.  I also use low fat yogurt and whipped topping, but feel free to do whatever suits your taste! 
 
I hope you enjoy this bowl of summer....I know it was a hit over here!
 
Mangia!
 

 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Catharsis

 
noun \kə-ˈthär-səs\
1: purgation
2 a: purification or purgation of the emotions (as pity and fear) primarily through art
   b: a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension
3: elimination of a complex by bringing it to consciousness and affording it expression
 
(from Merriam-Webster online)
 
 
While not "artful" in a way many would think is, I had a catch up and debrief session with my kindred spirit last week, and it was cathartic for me.  We both ran on April 15.  We both were less than a mile from the finish, she a bit closer to the painted line than I. We had not seen each other since before the marathon.  Our meeting over margaritas and nachos was much needed, for both of us.  (Side note: Best quote of the night: ME: "Wow. The bartender has a heavy hand." D: "I want to go hug him.")
 
We relived our experiences from that day (one month ago today, strange to think) - laughed, cried, cursed (a lot), worked through the emotions of the day and the residual feelings that keep flowing in waves, discussed the bonds that were forged, and tried to solve all the world's problems.
 
The night before, I went into Boston for the first time since the marathon.  I was going to the Sox game with another friend, and thinking traffic wouldn't be too bad (ha!) I opted to go in via Storrow Drive, and onto Comm Ave.  As I creeped through traffic exiting Storrow, it hit me.  I looked to my left - Charlesgate. The underpass.  This is where I stopped, where I was told I wouldn't be able to finish my journey, where the feeling of being lost started.  I had been feeling pretty good - physically, mentally.... but now I was sad.  I can't describe it, really, and I guess sad is the best word I can come up with.  Sad, empty, lost.... 
 
It turned chilly that night at America's Most Beloved Ballpark.  I wore my Boston Marathon jacket.  It got some second looks from people.  Speaking of, does anyone else notice that?  It is starting to become less frequent/obvious, but at first, when I wore my jacket out places, people would look at me a little differently.  Not mean or anything, but almost with a look of sympathy...empathy....pity?  Maybe I was reading into it too much.  Too observant.  Maybe?  It was those sympathetic/pity looks that almost made me take the jacket off.  Why?  I didn't want to feel guilty.  I was unharmed. My family was unharmed.  But the confident, selfish part of me wanted to say, "Look what I did! I ran! Really far! Yeah, you should feel bad that I didn't finish!"  I deserve to proudly wear that jacket.  And I do.  I purchased a "Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston" shirt at the expo.  That is one marathon-related clothing item I still can't put on... because I didn't take that right, and that left...
 
So, I keep adventuring.  I keep running.  This weekend I am running the Reach the Beach Relay from Wachusett Mtn. to Westport, MA, with my sister-in-law and a bunch of awesome ladies.   I am 100% looking forward to no sleep, 200 miles (22.5 of which I will run) over a day+, irregular eating/sleeping schedules, and the general craziness that comes with 12 girls in 2 vans.  True story.  See ya in Westport!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The process of processing.

It has been 12 days since my body and soul journeyed from Hopkinton to Boston - it feels like it was yesterday, but it also feel like lifetimes ago. 

Yesterday, I finished reading "26 Miles to Boston," by Michael Connelly. I had high hopes of finishing the book before I ran the marathon, but it wasn't in the cards given my crazy life lately.  So, last week, I set out to finishing what I started.  As I read, I ran through the miles with the author - reliving the sights I saw, some were the same as he saw 17 years ago (he ran the marathon in the 100th anniversary year), commiserating with him at certain "pain points" on the course.

It has been 12 days, and while my body is healed, my soul is still a work in progress. 

It has been 20 and a half days since my Papa died. One of the last things he told me was how proud of me he was that I was running "the B.A.A. marathon." He said, "You're going to run, and you'll do your best.  Your best is good enough for me."  Papa wasn't a runner, but his heart was always in sports, just as much as us grandkids playing those sports.  He appreciated sports - for the sportsmanship, perseverance, and dedication.  I know he was proud of me for what I accomplished on marathon day. 

I have been overwhelmed with people being proud of me, congratulating me, asking about my story, where I was, how far I got, and the big question: Did I finish?  When I say no, I was around mile 25.5 when the officials told us to stop, their immediate response is, "oh, but you finished. You would have. You deserve the medal."  And I know I would have finished. I had enough gas in the tank to get myself there.  But I didn't have the chance. 

"Too close to home."  Too close is my best friend having stood right where one explosion happened, but needing to nourish herself and the little life inside her, they went to grab some lunch.  Too close is my friend's mom, positioned on Boylston Street to cheer her daughter to the finish, when explosions happen to her left and right.  Too close is a friend who completed 2 Boston Marathons and whose job it is to guard that evil kid in the federal medical facility. Too close is being 0.7 miles from the finish line....that silly line of paint in front of the Boston Public Library....that line which millions may dream of crossing, yet a relatively small population can actually state with pride that they have done that. 

That's why I feel lost...still... like an unresolved minor chord, just ........hanging....... My major resolution hasn't come.  People who don't run or weren't there don't get it.  And I don't mean that maliciously, just as they don't mean their comments and reassurance maliciously.  That painted line on Boylston Street is the Holy Grail of running.  And I didn't get that.  I don't want anyone to think for a minute that I am diminishing what happened that day.  People died, lost limbs, and their lives will never be the same.  My heart breaks for those who were injured, and those who saw the chaos up close. 

One of the last paragraphs in Michael Connelly's book really sums it up.

"Twenty-six miles and 385 yards.  The start in Hopkinton seems as through it took place weeks ago. The runners lived each yard one at a time. As each step was completed, it became a distant memory while each yard in front seemed to stretch farther away. The cold, the heat, the rain, the snow, the traffic, the spilled beers, the car fumes - all for this euphoric feeling of crossing a simple line. The runs in the morning, at lunch, in the dark, past the chasing dogs, the puddle-splashing cars, the cars that pull out onto the crosswalk, the cars that played chicken with you - all for this euphoric feeling of crossing a simple line.

Of course it's not a simple line. It's a mental and physical barrier that, when conquered, offers a feeling of exaltation that is incomparable." 

One of many reasons why I will run next year.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sunshine on a cloudy day

Some sights and thoughts from my perspective on Monday....
 
Crowds along the start line
The fiddlers at Weston Nurseries....
Loud and awesome crowd at TJ’s in Ashland...
Donna P. at her house in Ashland...with her sign :)
1000-marathon Larry in Framingham - “Way to go, Larry!”
80+ lady...you rock.
Meeting Don and Melissa from Team NF in Framingham, after the train station
Firefighters on the ladder truck over the intersection on 135 - cheering us on from the best seat in the house
Garage band getting some exposure...cheering on everyone....
Aunt Kathy and Janet in Natick....right after Speen St.
Seeing a few fellow Anselmians running
Sox game on the radio
Guy on the porch with a full drum set....rocking out...
The MSB crew on 135 near the center of town...with signs!
Maria, Linds, and Lukasz at Natick Center - and a big hug!
Kristen and the boys in Natick
The Wellesley scream tunnel....never felt more like a rock star...
Amy D. at mile 14. A shriek and a huge hug...and some water. :)
Brian and Kelsey at MSB Wellesley... “Look! We made you a sign!!”
Kesha soon after...”Oh! There she is!”
“Our guys” at Newton-Wellesley Hospital - Derek and Dad...then Fred and Catherine right over the hill....
The 3 Marines: 1 visually impaired, 2 guides. awesome.
The “burger people” around us most of the way
The girl dribbling a basketball the entire way. amazing.
Right turn like an airplane....up the hills....
Jo, Ro, and Steve on “the” hill..mile 21-ish....Ro: ”Run for me, Keeps!” Me: “Ro, I want ice cream!”
Never been so happy to see BC
Down into the city.... feeling pretty good...
Brookline - Hi Suz!!
Random strangers cheering us on by name.....
Turn a corner....Citgo sign.
almost there.....

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Untitled Two

So, we stopped after mile 25.  I made friends with a girl next to me, Casey, and learned it was her first marathon too. She was supposed to meet her boyfriend on St. James Ave (ironically, where my brother works). We just kept walking.  I remember saying I wanted to keep walking as long as they let me go, and I needed to find my family. 

We found Mom, Dad, Derek, Andy, and Jen - and then Christine.  I just broke down. We were so close, and someone with a point to prove or a higher power to bow down to ruined it.  They ruined it for 4500+ of us.  We had worked so hard....

We walked on - trying to find cell service, get a call or text message out.... my cell battery died, so I couldn't talk to anyone.  My brother was able to post on Facebook to let our small world know that we were ok.  I was just hoping that the others I knew in town were ok too. 

I felt lost...even after I found my family, and mom made some calls to other relatives... I still feel lost.  What do we do?  We rally, we come together, we support each other...isn't that what running is about?  The camaraderie, mutual love for punishing ourselves, bragging rights...?  I had hopes of going to work today, but I just couldn't do it.  I couldn't process all of this.  I think I am, but I am not sure...

We united with Fred and Catherine in the lobby of Andy's building, but I still hadn't heard from Bobbie, Andy, and that group.  What I learned later was they were so close on Boylston St., ended up in the basement of Uno's restaurant until the staff there could see if it was safe for everyone.... I can't even imagine what they were feeling.  I just am thankful the people I know and love are safe. 

My brother texted me a picture this afternoon that brought on such emotion I was a mess - he got my medal for me.  His text said, "In my eyes, you finished. I got your medal for you."  I cannot begin to decribe the pride I have in my brother, my family, my friends.... I have no words.  I love you all.

As I try to wrap my mind around what happened, I want to ask "why?" over and over again.  But I know I can ask that forever and still not understand.  I can be angry. I can be indignant. But honestly, I am sad. The running communities are so supportive of each other - it doesn't matter what country you are from, what color you are, what age/size/shape you are....that is just how it is.  I will run again next year.  I know this.  And I will cross the finish line.  Because I deserve to...we all deserve to. 

Peace, my friends.

 

Untitled (on purpose)

I sit and write this post while so many thoughts and emotions swirling through my mind.  Yesterday began as probably the biggest day of my life - I was running the Boston Marathon. I had trained hard, rode the roller coaster of emotions that come with training for a marathon (that you don't realize until you actually do it), had to say goodbye to my grandfather the week before, and now I was ready to run.  I had Papa's hankie in my shorts pocket. He was with me...keeping an eye on me.

I walked down the street to meet up with Christine and Tedy's Team.  And I not only got to meet Tedy Bruschi, but I got a hug from him too! Yes, it was awesome. 

Christine, our new BFF Tedy, and Amanda
We all walked down the street to join the rest of the masses heading toward the corrals.  After a bit of jostling with the race "hall monitors" we were in our corral and ready to go. We walked-sort of jogged across the start line and began our journey to Boston.  Little did we know what a journey it would be.

After a quick potty stop and wardrobe adjustment (for me) in Ashland, we came upon my colleague Donna in front of her house.  It was awesome to see an excited, supportive face so early on. :) 

We trotted along, checking off the miles and towns as we went along.  I saw my aunt Kathy and her friend Janet in Natick.  As we approached Natick center, I knew I had a cheering section here - all my MSB people!  I saw Sally holding a neon green sign, Andrea manning the camera, and many other familiar faces.  Soon after, I saw my cousins - Maria, Lindsey, and Lukasz.  They were lucky enough to get a big, sweaty hug from yours truly.  I'm sure they were pleased. :P  Natick was a big spot for fans, as we saw Kristen and the boys next (aka, the biggest NF contingent ever!). 

I enjoyed the flats of Natick into Wellesley, although by now I was struggling.  Things hurt - my legs, hips, and this nagging cramp in my side that just would not go away.  It was getting warmer too. 

Soon came Wellesley and the "scream tunnel" at the college.  What an experience.  Those girls are amazing. I got a much needed boost there.  We were looking forward to seeing Amy at the mile 14 water stop.  As soon as she saw us we got a thrilled shriek and a huge hug!!

Onward - past the MSB Wellesley branch - thanks to Brian and Kelsey for the sign!!  And then Kesha around mile 15.  Next, we knew "our guys" were going to be at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.  Honestly, by now, even though I was ready to be done with running, the time had passed rather quickly.  We went up and over 128/95 and down the small hill until the hospital was in sight.  Then we saw Dad and Derek - so excited to see us - both wielding their cameras!


Then we saw Fred and Catherine and paused for a photo shoot with them.  And we continued on toward "the hills."  Taking the corner onto Comm Ave, I felt it.  My body was talking - no, yelling at - to me.  I was struggling.  I knew Jo would be at the top of Heartbreak, if I could only make it.  I kept chugging. I had to.  We saw Jo, Ro, and Steve around mile 21 (I think...) and Ro kept screaming, "Run for me, Keeps!"  See, Ro always runs Boston, and this year she withdrew because of a nagging injury.  I was so excited to see her there.  To pay homage to her, I demanded ice cream. ;)

I remember saying, "I've never been so happy to see BC in my life."  And then I finally felt ok. I felt like I could do this.  Up until then, I had this nagging self doubt: Could I, really?  I couldn't find my pace, I didn't settle in, I didn't feel comfortable....but now, after cresting that hill, I knew I could do this. 

Descending into the city from Eagle territory, the mood changed a bit. More spectators and police were on their cell phones.  People seemed on edge.  There were still plenty of cheering fans...but something was....off...

I had written my name on the front of my shirt the night before, so I had become accustomed to 22+ miles of "Go Amanda!" "You're doing great, Amanda!"....so when I heard a voice yell, "Go Amanda Cancellieri!" I turned quickly...it was Suzanna, my brother's friend from Holy Cross, and amazing photographer!!  It was such a great surprise!  Thanks Suz!

On we went...Chris still feeling good, me, well, I was alternating between walking and running.... I knew it would come to this, but I was hoping I would feel better.  My mentality was that I would rather make the decision to walk, rather than my body making the choice for me.  And that's where I was.  Another couple miles ticked by, and between 23 and 24, the sirens started... police motorcycles, unmarked cars, and I'm sure a few off duty officers sped by us... At the 40k electronic checkpoint, they were already starting to pull the wires up off the street.  Race officials and volunteers had a cautious look of panic on their faces.  Something was up. 

Making it past mile 25, past Fenway and Kenmore, onto Comm Ave., people were stopping.  People were saying to stop running...that it was over... the marathon was done. We would not be able to finish.  There were two explosions near the finish line on Boylston St.  I had less than a mile to go.....less than a mile...