True Confession Thursday: Decisions, Decisions

A while back, I saw a note that the Boston Marathon was opening up some limited entries to those who had some sort of impact from the bombing last April.  I skinnied down my experience and submitted an application.

To my surprise I got this in my inbox on Wednesday morning:

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 5.31.16 PM.pngOh my word yes, yes, yes a million times yes I want to go.  But then I came back down to reality and remembered life and responsibilities, yada yada yada.  So after some reflection and a pretend glass of red wine I got to thinking….

Thinking about the time it takes to train, the fact that the boys were pretty traumatized by my last trip and concern about how they will handle/worry about my being in Boston again especially with what is bound to be high media coverage.  Let’s face it, we talked about bombs for months after the event, nightmares were had, pictures were drawn and tears shed about the event and the worry they experienced.

Photo Courtesy of the OC Register when Strawberry first saw me after the race....

Photo Courtesy of the OC Register when Strawberry first saw me after the race..

I desperately want to be there to do my thing, but I’ve got to think of the impact of my attendance on the boys.  A little mommy resolution is not worth a weekend of anxious, worried kiddos.

Our happy reunion!

Our happy reunion!

So instead, I pinky swore Strawberry that I would run the Boston Marathon with him when he was old enough and qualified enough to do so.  That little nugget puts his mind to things and they happen.  And with that, I can likely say see ya in Beantown 2024!

And so my confession is the struggle of any mom, no less working mom.  There’s the struggle between what you yourself want to do:  train hard, be fast(er), and run all the things.  And what you need to do:  pack lunches, work the job, drive to practices, dig erasers out of noses, schedule doctor’s appointments, etc.

I have my resolve, but in this phase of my life…the hearts and minds of those little boys get to trump that.  So Boston, I will see you soon.  I don’t know when…but know that I’m coming for you in the future!

True Confession Thursday: Short Shorts & Magic Mike

Today’s story is a sad one of janky legs, tweaky toes and my longing for some air on my legs.

In all the chaos about Boston – the excitement leading up to the race and the tragedy after, I never really mentioned my Friday morning before the race.

FADE INTO FIND GIRL SITTING IN AIRPORT SOBBING INTO CELL PHONE.  Passengers walk by giving strange looks.

GIRL:  But mom, [sobbing hysterically] you don’t understand I can’t even walk on it.  My ankle’s so swollen and it’s been 4 days.  I’ve spent so much time getting ready for this and now…I’m just…[wiping snot from nose]…I’m just going to have to quit.  [Resume dramatic crying]

End Scene.

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Oh and there was a lot of this….lacrosse ball rolling in the airport

Yep, that was me in the airport carrying on like a 5 year old who just found out that my mom put the dollar under my pillow instead of the tooth fairy the night before.  Long story short, I twisted my ankle on a rogue roller blade that was laying at the base of the stairs (perfect place for it) and spent Tuesday-Saturday with it swollen, burning and hard to even walk on.

IMG_3273I then rested all my hope on one man….Magic Mike Michael Melander.  Located right off of Boylston across from Copley Park, I begged pleaded cried desperately emailed him asking if he and his Active Release Tecnnique could do something to help my poor leg.

Bless him for rearranging his Red Sox game plans to accommodate seeing me.

Honestly, I don’t know what was wrong.  It was painful and Mike worked his magic for over an hour…and I ran a few miles after to keep it loose.

By Monday – the last thing on my mind as I toed the line was my ankle.

Thank you Magic Mike for getting my ankle in pecking order in order to tackle the 26.2 (or 26.almost6).  The unfortunate part is that at some point in the race my pes anserine bursa is a little pissed of….So bye bye short shorts and hello bike shorts.

2013-04-25While I miss the breeze on my knees and my hatred for the gym and spinning on a bike like a hamster has been rekindled, I know I just need to give it a few more days and I should be good to go.

Until then, I’ll just jealously stare at my Rogas and excessively mileaged out shoes.

What’s your favorite non-running cross-training?

Have you ever tried Active Release?
It’s my fave…I could not recommend it highly enough :)

Boston Strong

3 Miles
Boston Strong Strides

While I might not have been running my fastest, most pain-free strides yesterday, I laced up the shoes, taped up the janky knee and took my body out for my first post-Boston run….as I’ve been sticking to the bike since last Monday.

The doctor says taping it right gives you Shar Pei knee, I just think it makes me feel really old.

The doctor says taping it right gives you Shar Pei knee, I just think it makes me feel really old.

The event:  The BostonStrongLB & BostonStrongOC run (merged and hosted on the border of the two areas).

When I got there I found Pam, Monica, SkinnyRunneand a table of food.  Naturally I minimized all social interaction and stuffed my face while everyone gathered together.  Pam shared a few words and we were off…

Pam saying a few words pre-run.

Pam saying a few words pre-run.

I had to turn around on the bike path to end my run sooner than the rest, as I had to get home to this crazy crew

IMG_3370But it was really good to see the crowd that had amassed as I turned around – runners, walkers, and just general supporters of every age, stage and desire showed up to simply support and be a part of a community – and that was awesome.  It was encouraging and inspiring.

As far as me and my scrawny arms & legs and their marathon recovery – it’s going slower than I anticipated.  I was visiting with Dr. Scott this past week and we were discussing how a lot of Boston runners he had talked to and/or seen were noticing the same thing.

For those who were around when “it” happened – I think there was a lot of cortisol, adrenaline and other non-recovery productive hormones pumping through an already marathon weary body, followed by a lack of fuel, water, and rest (for me in particular sleep for several nights) and those recovery tools are just plain necessary.  So the tweaks and pinches that would hang around after a normal race are lingering and I know a few of my tendons/tissues are inflamed and still ticked off a little longer than normal, but that’s okay…because I’m Boston Strong.

IMG_3371What’s your favorite marathon recovery tip/activity?

Did you attend a local BostonStrong run?

 

Boston Marathon: The First 26 Miles

The last few days have been filled with sharing stories, clamoring home to hug my kids, and then diving back into life as normal…when things, well they don’t feel very normal.

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From the OC Register

I wrote a little about my 27th mile, and have hesitated to tell the whole story about the 26 leading up to it, because it didn’t feel right.  It felt forced. It felt insensitive. It felt insignificant.  But the more I’ve reflected, the more I realize that by not sharing that story, I let the person who caused this tragedy win.

I’ve read countless stories of the goodness of humanity at it’s finest…and today I’m not going to let some crazy whackadoo (or two from what the media says) rob me of one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  Yes, the experience will forever be changed by the 27th mile, no one can take away the first 26.

BH5FvalCMAA8vBu.jpg-largeThe day started out…well, let’s be honest – trying not to throw up.  In a sport where even on my worst day I can usually finish in the top 10%, I sat next to Katherine lamenting on the fact that I’d be happy to be in the top half if I ran a great race.  I felt like the high school freshman who was invited to the varsity meet and told not to embarrass anyone.

We rolled into the Athlete’s Village and there were literally thousands and thousands of people.  After going to the bathroom approximately 10 times and Katherine reassuring me that just finishing was enough because I was here after all, I finally calmed down and was ready to set out to start.

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Sure there were some panicked moments – like going to the remarkably clean port-a-potties by the starting line (what!?!) while they announced my wave leaving in 4 minutes, or the phone case I was wearing on my arm to run breaking literally 90 seconds before starting (yay for safety pins from the bib to the rescue), but eventually I calmed down and set out at a very conservative pace:

 Mission – just finish & have fun trying.

The course:  packed solid with runners.  Everyone warned me to go out slow so I did – first mile at an 8:23 or so and I stood in awe at all of the people running and all of the people cheering.

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On the course….It was literally packed the entire way with amazing crowds!

The weather was perfect, the crowds were fantastic and mile by mile, I continued to be awed by the unending screams, cheers, posters, high fives and offers of cold beer from the people of Boston.  I stopped watching the watch, and started soaking the experience right up.

I wove from side to side on the course high fiving little kids on the sideline, I found new friends to talk to, I talked to old friends I bumped into on the course (not even kidding), I bantered with people holding humorous posters, I stopped to kiss a girl in Wellesley and suddenly I was halfway there running my 5k splits between 8:11-8:16.

I had been running a really steady pace and was ready for the hills which I knew were coming at approximately 1 mile intervals from 16-21.  At this point I was mentally ready to tackle the hills, but forgot about coming down.

Ouchsies.  Despite my conservative out of the gate approach my quads were trashed and I lamented every downhill step.  Heartbreak came and went without little fanfare from my body or brain, but the crowds on the downhill were amazing….

My pace started to slow down some – rounding the 8:20ish mark…but I was just cruising – noshing on Icee Pops kids were handing out and continuing to high five and banter with the crowd.  I was just having fun.

Around mile 22 I was kind of emotionally and physically spent, but came downhill to the area near Boston College and my ears were literally rattling due to the crowd.  I tried to video it, but my iPhone did not do the crowd justice.

Around mile 23 things got really tough.  I considered walking, but remembered a conversation I was so fortunate to have the night before with two incredibly respectable runners who ended up reminding me about how runners have to be a little bit crazy to run through the pain.  So from mile 23-26 I kept lifting each foot up one step at a time chanting, “just a little crazy, just a little bit crazy” until I turned the corner onto Boylston….

I saw the finish line in sight and completely and totally….

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Picture from a few days before

Started crying.  

Not like a little tear trickling down my cheek symbolic kind of cry, but hand slapped over my mouth, awkward ugly sobbing down Boylston type of cry.  Visions of every early morning workout, the chaotic schedule, the amazing athlete’s who’s feet had tread the very ground I was running, all filled my mind.  Feelings of shock, awe, inspiration, relief, fatigue and accomplishment all swirled around in my head and my heart….and I finally crossed the finish line:  3:37:52. (8:18 average pace).

My (errr Katherine’s) Garmin said 26.5- apparently all the zig zagging to high five cost me some mileage/time, but it was worth every second & extra distance.  I had finished the Boston Marathon and everything leading up to that 26th mile had been amazing, and some moments, beyond amazing.  As time goes on, I’ll share some of those stories from the weekend, but getting to the finish line was truly one of the most humbling and thrilling experiences of my life.

I snapped a quick pic to send to my family and as far as the rest of what happened, you can read here….

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The last pic I took in Boston- check out the red popsicle stain that cries “fun” on my shirt.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Boston and those families who were affected.  Talking to others, and from my own experience, there were physical and emotional wounds that will take a long time to heal.

A local reporter asked if I would go back to run – and without hesitation, the answer is yes. With my season in life, it will be a few years, but I will go, I will cross that finish line again and I will get to once again see just how amazing the people of Boston are to the running community.

The 27th Mile

As I’ve reflected on the last 24 hours, there’s a lot to say….I’ve had a lot of people ask if I’m okay, what I saw, how I am.  So here’s the story….

As I was finishing the race and turned onto Boylston street, I saw a sight I never, ever thought in my wildest dreams I’d run to: the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  After running a difficult race, I had made it.  I crossed the 26 mile marker and pulled my hand up to my mouth and just started crying.  I’m sure someone has pictures, and I’m certain I look ridiculous.

Just like that…tears streaming down my face.  Relief, excitement, fatigue, pain, and the thought of telling my kids that their mom had done something she never said she would do all overwhelmed my body, spirit and mind.  I pulled myself together and made a beeline for the fastest way out of the finish chute because I was on a mission:  find a port-a-potty.

For the last 10 miles of the race I knew my stomach was messed up and the bathroom was not a desire, but a necessity before I caused a huge scene.  I snagged a medal, a bag of food in record time for the finisher’s chute and ran to the bathrooms hoping I would make it.  Once inside, I realized I was a little “off” and my mom called.  Yes I answered my phone from the bathroom, but whatever, I just ran the Boston Marathon I could do what I want.  Not to mention I knew I wasn’t going anywhere for a while.

In typical mom fashion, she nagged me to go to the medic tent just to make sure everything was okay.  I was too tired to fight back, so the beer at the pub I had spotted down just before the finish line and the finish line spectating on the way back to the hotel was just going to have to wait.

I’ve never been so glad to have had GI troubles.

After a quick 10-minute pitstop in the medical tent in which I promised to go to an ER if I developed a fever or severe abdominal cramping, I grabbed my checked bag and started making my way down Boylston to watch the finishers come in as a spectator on my way back to my hotel.

As I chatted with my mom on the phone I heard a loud boom, saw a huge plume of smoke about 2.5 blocks in front of me and apparently started saying, “This is bad, this is really bad” right away.  Not 15 seconds later the second boom went off, and I knew immediately things were not okay.  I watched people start tearing down the street in my direction and saw panicked volunteers and police officers moving the side rails on the street, urging people to climb underneath and rushing everyone off Boylston to the side roads.

And there I stood in the other side of the 27th mile facing the finishing line where I had just a short time before cried for so many other reasons, and just started tearing up again.

I turned the corner on a side street and saw one woman with a gash on her face – several of us asked if she was okay but she said she just wanted to keep running and would have someone look at it later.

On the side streets, many spectators, finishers, and others were blissfully unaware of what had just happened – many assuming the loud sounds came from Fenway or were a celebratory cannon of sorts.  Informed loved ones with panic in their eyes searching for family members they could not reach for lack of cell service roamed the streets as they were corralled further and further away from the finish line.

Shell shocked and wandering I ended up walking nearly 1.5 miles to my hotel in the cold due to all of the road closures and reroutes, shivering and hardly aware of my discomfort through eerily quiet streets where the only sounds were sirens and nervous chatter and tears of those who had seen far too much.

Once I got to my room, I saw the news, the pictures, the videos and my heart just sank.  My roommate and I sat in our room bombarded by calls, texts, and social media posts from concerned family, friends and coworkers.  In light of the awful circumstances surrounding it, I felt very loved and cared for.

I was staying at the Sheraton which was pretty much on lockdown since it was connected to Boylston through the convention center and the Prudential building.  The hotel was swept several times and National Guard & SWOT were very present and armed at the one and only available entrance.  The mood was nervous and somber after the race, but as one person put it well “There are two groups of people you don’t mess with: Bostonians and runners”.

As I read the paper on Tuesday morning, I saw a map where the controlled detonation took place – it was literally half a block from where I was standing when everything went down.  Grateful hardly begins to describe how I feel.  More than anything I just want to go hug my babies and snuggle with them for the next few days.

People have asked about security.  Honestly I was walking the area around 9pm the night before the marathon and the security was tight, tight, tight.  At one point, two of the people I was with stopped to take a picture and the Boston Police Department told us to keep walking – no stopping.  Security guards, Police and were on Patrol throughout the week.  I walked up and down that part of the street about 20+ times throughout my stay in Boston (my hotel was very close) and not one time did I not see a ton of security.  Unfortunately, senseless things happen.

I saw the 27th mile from two very different perspectives yesterday.  I am still grappling with the extremes I felt – such accomplishment

The CEO of my company put it well…”You’re shaken, but not stirred”.  I think that resonates with the city of Boston – despite the adversity, stories of bravery, selflessness and a hospitality and warmth have emerged  Even at the airport this morning I had an issue, and several airport employees picked me up in a vehicle and drove me where I needed to go asking if I was okay, had I seen anything (I was in my race shirt and hobbling on an overused knee) and sharing their love for their city.

There are a lot of families needing thoughts and prayers right now.  The 8-year old boy who died has a mother and sister who are severely injured, lots of kids were injured, one family had two sons lose their legs.

Boston, you put on a show and someone tried to steal it away, but you’ve responded in an amazing way.  Runners, you are a true community – and rallied to show the world that yesterday.  While I saw and experienced things yesterday I never thought I would experience, I am also awed and happy to be part of a community who, when hit with the worst, shows the world their best.

Safe and Okay

Thank you for some of you emailing, texting, etc. reminding me that not all of you are on Twitter.

There are hardly words to capture what today was.  I am safe.  Everyone I know here is safe, but sadly many did not have such luck.

I will share more on the story later, but for now, feeling safe with the SWOT team in my hotel and very, very grateful for all of the friends and family who have made sure I was okay and feeling the love.

Give the family, friends and runners in your life a hug.

 

Boston Marathon: Great Place to Stay

For my first night in Bean Town, I needed to find a cheap place to stay.  Let’s face it – I’m not a glitz and glam kind of girl.  When I travel I’m happy to have a bed and a Starbucks nearby is a plus.

Enter:  Adams Bed and Breakfast

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I got a little room, and boy, do I mean little.  Twin bed, desk and room for a suitcase – perfect for me.

IMG_3251-001If you’re one of those people who like luxurious bedding and top notch decor – B&Bing might not be for you.  But if you’re looking for a friendly smile and the best hospitality around – this is your kind of place.  Just like at a hotel, you can hear people around you, but then again I hear my kids snore and talk in their sleep at home so this was nothing new.  I just kicked on my favorite app (the virtual sound machine) to drone out the light sounds of feet walking in the hallway and the murmur of TV’s you hear in any shared-living residence (hotel or B&B).

Yes, I had to share a bathroom.

No, it wasn’t a problem (was available whenever I needed it).

And no, I didn’t have to sell one of my children to stay there.  I paid about $120 with tax & fees for the night and got to hit up the kitchen for breakfast the next morning, which is a big #winning for me.

When I left in the rain, I was offered an umbrella, when I checked out in the morning I was asked if I wanted to keep my suitcases there for the day.  I was asked about a million times if I needed anything – now that’s what I call service.

Think of if this way – instead of the sterile, but pretty hotel, staying at a B&B like Adams is like staying at your Grandma’s house – and I’m totally down with that.

If I were to ever run Boston again, I’d hands down book this place bright and early (and perhaps get one of the bigger rooms they offer).  Charming, quaint and no-frills…almost like me…minus the charming and quaint, – okay so it’s nothing like me, but it is exactly what I would want if I did this again!

Do you ever B&B?

Boston Has PMS

After getting off of what was quite possibly the skinniest plane of people I’ve ever ridden on, I stepped into a spandex and dry wick laden land that we like to call Boston on Patriot’s marathon weekend.  While I’ve found the people and food to be warm and inviting, the weather has hit a 10 in the notsomuch category.  Then again, everyone has proceeded to remind me that it could be snowing.  #dontremindme

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As a Bean Town virgin, I found my way to the cutest little B&B where I am staying for the night.  After a quick deposit of my stuff I walked by the convention center and drooled to my dinner destination – Towne.

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It was attached to the convention center, and while they tend to be a chicken, seafood and steak kind of place, they played to their audience well with a delightful selection of pasta dishes.  #runnerbliss  Seriously, if you want to check it out – they had a lemon ricotta ravioli with asparagus that sounded good, and I had the beef bolognase to get some extra protein & iron in since my diet’s been lacking the last few days.

As my Boston guide and I perused the dessert menu, she pointed out there was a dessert only restaurant not too far from where we were.  Obviously I needed a lot of convincing and arm twisting to hop in a cab to check out the restaurant Finale.

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Remember that time I left dessert on my plate? Tonight was not it….

Situated near Boston Common in the main level of an adorable old building, this little gem offers two things in abundance – chocolate and wine.  Naturally it’s my new favorite place.

After tonight’s monstrous carbo-loading session, it looks like I should stick to the TJ’s salads and lighter fare in my *hopeful* attempt to run on Monday.  I have an appointment with an ART doc tomorrow to have my ankle looked at.  The good news is that it didn’t seem to hurt much on the half mile walk home….but that could have been since it was numb from the cold.

I’m a Cali-weenie.

More on the Boston adventures soon!

Packin’ the Bags

Thanks for all of the encouragement after my last post!  Not much running to write about today, but when in the taper purgatory, I am reminded about how important the mental game is as well.  So this weekend I made sure to take some time to get my mental game on to prepare for the physical journey of this week.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the previews for Oz the Great and Powerful.  Not a day goes by that my kids don’t ask me to take them, but lately…I’ve been thinking (ruh roh)…that I kinda live in Oz.

Oz

You gotta love SoCal, but it’s just a little different than the rest of the world.  I mean, where else would your 8-year old consider that his substitute teacher might not actually be in her 20’s, but “her 100’s with lots of plastic surgery”? For the love of the land, this place is weird…but it’s my home.

On Sunday I took a day of R&R and hit the beach with some family & friends – picnic, soccer in the sand, whales, seals, dolphins and the best gelato in the West….did I mention this was all a 10 minutes from my house?  A few hours remembering just how lucky I am and laughing with good friends went a long way in resetting my mental game.  And the only running involved was chasing a soccer ball along the shore.

IMG_3218Missing feet – #socalproblems

I also took a little time for some of this….

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my actual view from my seat at dinner

There is nothing like a little wine tasting party to help reset your batteries…or at least let your worries melt away for a few hours :)

So Wednesday I pack my bags and leave Oz…I’ll be sure to pack all of the “kit” my boys put together for me:

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The best are the handwritten notes, and the journal to “write about my adventures” for them so they can read them when I get back.  And they said they got a magazine for recipes that I could cook for them.  Shh…don’t tell them I’ll get my People Magazine on as well.

Oh and one of the BEST news I got about Boston this week…is that a little piece of Oz will be right near my hotel.

Logo_staticYep, there is a TJ’s RIGHT out the front door of my hotel.  Trying to do Boston on a budget will be interesting, so this will certainly help!  Unfortunately the whole Rachael Ray $40 a Day approach is tough to do in a seafood faring town when you have a super seafood allergy.

While I can’t wait to try out some fab foods in Boston, I also know what I can/can’t be out eating, and this might be the trick to save money.

What are your fave tips/tricks to save money when you travel?
I’m the queen of the TJ’s salads & snacks to save money instead of eating out…plus it’s a lot healthier.  You’ll almost always spot me sporting a salad or two on the plane.

How do you recharge your mental game?
Snuggles with the babes, sand, sunshine and laughter top my list.  Red wine’s right up there too!

Elusive 20

Friday – 6 miles hill repeats
Saturday – 19 miles running, 2 miles walking
Say What? Strides

It’s now T-4 weeks until Bean Town.  And honestly, I was (am?) feeling woefully unprepared.

In an ideal training world, I would have at least four 18-20 milers under my belt by this point in time.

On Saturday, what did I have?  Oh yeah, that’d be a nice, round…err…ZERO

I set out for my long run this weekend hell bent on finally getting in an 18+ mile run.  I haven’t hit any of them and thanks to mother nature, illness and poor planning, each of my 13+ mile runs have sucked.

And the 15-17 mile runs I’ve had have ended with my legs acting like Vanilla does when we go out to dinner:

Fatigue, party of 2.

Fatigue and crabbiness, party of 2.

SUPER encouraging.  SUPER.

This weekend’s goal was 20-22.  I only got 19 in because my IT band was pissed off and led to general misery.  Minus the pain – I felt great.  Wait, what?!?!

Honestly, minus the pain I felt I could have easily gone another 3-4 miles.

Huzzah?  Who’s legs are these?

I’ve got one week left to get another longer run in and I’m waiting to see how my IT band is to decide what to do.  Honestly, my whole goal for Boston has been to go healthy.  I don’t want to come this far to blow up now.  The name of the game this training schedule has been improvisational training, so why quit now?

Where’s your fatigue wall these days?
Lately it’s been around the 11 mile mark and I just have to push through.  For some reason 5-6 has been ugly too.

What races is next on your list?  Tell me about your training and goals!  I need some final motivation!