Tuesday, April 21, 2015

MARATHON WEEKEND:RECAP

Marathon Day in Boston and all of Massachusetts, it's Patriot's Day, and it's a big celebration for us. It's a day when we're kind of the whole world's city there.
~ Elizabeth Warren

As expected, this past week-end was beyond incredible.  While I watched live coverage of the race on Monday, I heard a reporter claim that the Boston Marathon is like the Superbowl for runners.  What a perfect comparison.  People come from all over the world for this event.  And they don't just come for the race itself, but to experience the awesomeness of the whole week-end and to be a part of the city of Boston at a time when it is most alive and at its best.  

Boylston Street
Boston, MA

I did not run the marathon this year, but I had tons of friends and teammates who did, so I was totally swept up in the beautiful chaos of it all.  Here's how it all unfolded for me.

Saturday, April 18th (& BAA 5K Race recap)
On Saturday, I woke up early on account of major pre-race jitters.  I was running the BAA 5K, one of the many additional races held throughout the weekend, with several of my Oiselle teammates.  I've been training for a June marathon since February so the 5K race distance was incredibly daunting.  Thus, I decided I would treat it as a workout, tack on some additional miles before and after, and aim to just push hard and have fun.  My wingman & Oiselle teammate, Jess C., scooped me up a little before 7:00am and we headed into the city.  We had one minor lane-changing incident on Storrow Drive (I may have stopped breathing for a few seconds) and then a wee bit of traffic, but we eventually made it into a parking garage.  Unfortunately, it took us a little longer than we had expected, so my stress level shot up pretty quickly at this point.  We jogged from the car over to the Boston common and immediately found the port-o-pottys.  Despite the fact that there were, like, 80 of them, each one had a line about a mile long.  Of course.  So we waited, sweated (it was hot), stressed some more and finally made it to the front.  Next stop, bag check.  Also a bit of a deal fest as I had to transfer the items from my own bag into a clear one which required my waiting in not one, but two different lines.  No complaints.  Safety first.  Then, finally, we were good to go.  There would be no warm up.  No strides.  Nothing.  Straight from the bag check we made our way over to the start where I continued to sweat and be nervous for the next 10 minutes. There were around 10,000 people running the 5K.  WHAT??  Once the gun blew, there was quite a bit of jostling, jumping and snaking through the crowds to deal with before I finally settled in.  Wait, no.  There was no settling at all, actually.  As I ran, I was reminded that, unlike in the marathon, there really isn't enough time to "settle in" during a 5K.  You just go and then keep going as hard as you can until you're done.  And, man, does it hurt.  Despite feeling like I might keel over at any moment, I finished strong with a 19:16, which is a time that I was more than pleased with given the circumstances of the race day logistics and my fear of the distance in general.

Post-race pain, bliss, etc.

After the race, Jess and I went around looking for some more of our fellow birds.  We found Holly and Laurel, took a quick post-race photo,

w/ Holly, Laurel & Jess
#birdsistas

and then handed our bags over to Batch, Holly's husband, who kindly offered to hold all of our stuff while we tacked on some more miles.  (thanks again, Batch)

Batch, the Sherpa

Jess, Holly and I ran a few miles along the river and then headed back to meet Batch at Starbucks for a much needed coffee.  Fully caffeinated and relatively well rested, Jess and I slowly ambled back to her car so we could get back to Winchester.  Jess had to do some crazy Boston driving to get us out of the city, at one point turning onto a small, quiet alley where we happened to cut off...er..um...see Meb Keflezighi and his family as they crossed the street in front of us.  We didn't stop and ask him for a pic, but we really wanted to.

Sunday, April 19th
Sunday morning, my husband and I got up at 5:00am so we could get our kids to their airport for their solo mission down to Florida to visit the grandparents.  The girls had no problem popping out of bed and into the car.  Me?  Not so much.  I was wiped from both the race and the day before in general, and had some big time heavy lids.  Of course, when we got to Logan, the lines at Jetblue snaked and coiled throughout the entire terminal and the tension among travelers was crazy.  I did my best to remain calm and get my kids through security and onto their plane without freaking out.  Let's just say it was a little too close for my liking as the flight attendant shut the door behind Rosie and Grace as they went down the walkway.  D'OH.  Jeff and I headed back home and I caught a short nap before going back into the city to meet up with the Loopsters, a group of fellow runners that I have connected with via the Loop on runnerworld.com, for breakfast.  Over the past couple years, I have gotten to know many of these cats through their blogs and I was thrilled to finally get a chance to hang with them in person.  We all grabbed coffee and breakfast, hung out and chatted for a little over an hour, which was definitely not enough time.  I could have used an entire day to get to know this awesome crew.  Oh well.

#LOOPFEST

After breakfast, I made my way over to the expo so I could say "hi" to some friends and stop by a couple booths.  Within about 3 minutes, I was sweating as the crowd was huge and the space to get around was nil.  You'd think I would remember this having run the marathon several times, but I was still floored by the madness.  After a few quick conversations and a little bit of exploring, I was out of there.  My husband and I grabbed a bite of lunch in the city, something we never get to do, and relaxed and soaked up the good vibes for a bit (we were kid-free, remember?)  Finally, I headed off to PartyCity to grab the balloons that I'd ordered for the Oiselle team dinner that I would be having later that night.  Yes, I am a total dork.


Starting around 5:00,  people started to trickle in for some pasta and conversation, hopefully a good distraction for those who were racing.  We had a blast, many of us meeting for the first time and some of us reconnecting after not having been together for a year.  In addition to those who would be racing, people brought family, friends, roommates, cats, dogs, etc.  There were about 40 of us all together.  It was a big old love fest and a great reminder of how lucky I am to be a member of the Oiselle family.

BIRD DINNER

Monday, April 20th
Originally, I was going to meet up with Holly on Monday morning for a long run in the city before the marathon.  But because the weather was going to be bad and the logistics might be tricky, we decided to bail and do our own thing.  Around 8:30am, I headed off for a solo 20 miler, trying hard to hold a decent pace so I could get back home in time to then turn around and head out to Wellesley to cheer with the Oiselle crew.  Turns out, my legs have only one pace for a long run, as it took me just under 3 hours to finish.  By the time I got home, it was starting to rain and I realized that it was probably a stretch to get out to Wellesley and find my group before it was too late. That was a bummer.  Instead, I watched the top women and men finish the marathon on tv, which was still pretty sweet.  I was thrilled for Desiree Linden, who came in fourth and told a reporter that she was so happy and felt like it was a win for her.  I got chills as I watched Rebekah Gregory, a marathon bombing survivor who had her leg amputated just 6 months ago, cross the finish line and fall to the ground in tears, and then I both smiled and cried when Meb came down the final stretch, grabbed elite runner Hilary Dionne's hand and crossed the line with her.  I don't believe you if you tell me you didn't, too.

#BOSTONSTRONG

Then I just watched for a while.  People of all ages, colors, shapes and sizes cruised through the finish line in the pouring rain; some smiling, some hurting, but all of them wearing that remarkable badge of courage and pride that is awarded to each runner at the end of every marathon regardless of their time or place.

I went to bed with a huge ear to ear grin that night.  The week-end had been amazing, yes, but more importantly, the city had delivered, yet another life-altering experience to all of us who were part of the Marathon - our Superbowl -  in any way.  Thank you, Boston.  Let's do it again, soon.

Listen to this:
Stronger - Clean Bandit  

Friday, April 17, 2015

MARATHON WEEKEND:PREVIEW


This morning I was bright eyed and bushy tailed at 5:00am.  As most of you know, Monday is the Boston marathon.  As it always is, the week-end is going to be crazy.  Good crazy, but crazy. Hence the reason why my wheels were spinning like mad at the crack of dawn.  Whether you're a runner or not, if you are in the Boston area over this particular week-end, you're going to experience the marathon in some way, shape or form.  For me, a 4 time Boston finisher, it's a little bittersweet not to be running this year.  But, I have done my best to get involved in as many other ways as possible so I can still feel a little of the Boston magic that always accompanies the race itself.  This includes several coffee and dinner dates with friends, training runs with my Oiselle teammates, and a quick (and hopefully not too painful) 3 mile spin through the Boston common on Saturday morning via the BAA 5K.  As I always am around this time, whether I'm racing or not, I am completely giddy.  The Boston marathon represents all that is good and right about this city and the "love thy neighbor" feel that emanates throughout the running community and beyond all week-end is almost tangible.  It's pretty spectacular.  So, back to my week-end.  Here's a few items on my agenda:

FRIDAY:
~ 5 mile shakeout run in the rain with my running buddy, KH. (already done)


~ Marathon blog post.
~ Quick sports massage with Kara P. Hallelujah!!
~ Finish packing up these two jokers for their solo trip down to FL to visit my in-laws.


~ Head over to LHS for practice.  A little speed work on the track today. #LEX
~ Go back home to hang with my family, put my feet up and be stupidly nervous about the 5K I'll be doing tomorrow.  (as an admitted marathon junkie, I am now officially scared of this race distance)

SATURDAY:
~ Head into Boston with my bird wingman, Jess C., who will be running the 5K with me. (not sure how I let her talk me into this)


~ Meet and warmup with a few more birds including but not limited to Erin D., Beth P., & Sheri D.
~ Run the BAA 5K.  Gulp.


~ Enjoy a coffee (or 2) while several of my teammates continue running because they are in training and need to get more miles in.
~ Walk around Boston and just soak it all up for a while.
~ Head home for some QT with the kids before they head out the next morning.

SUNDAY:
~ Get up at 5:00am to get the girls off to the airport for their 6:50 flight.  Oof.
~ Head into Boston to meet up with a few Boston Loopsters for breakfast. #loopfest


2014 Bird Dinner

~ Run around like a chicken with my head cut off for the rest of the day in preparation for the Oiselle team dinner that I'm having at my house.
~ Eat, drink and be merry with over 40 Oiselle birds along with their family and friends.

MARATHON MONDAY:
~ Meet up my Oiselle teammate Holly (aka @fashionablemile) for a long run along the Charles.
~ Drop her off and continue running solo. (she has to run 11, I have to do 20)
~ Zip home for a quick shower and some food.
~ Head back out to watch the marathon.
~ Crawl home for a nap.
~ Go out to a rare and well-earned dinner with my husband since we will be sans kids for a few days.

TUESDAY:
~ Be sad that it's all over.

But for now, it's just beginning.  And I am beyond excited.  Giddy up.

Listen to this:
RUN - Delta Rae

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

BEST DAY YET

I want only positive thoughts today.
I want only positive talk today.
Focus on your race and your teammates.
And make today your best day yet.
~ Bill Babcock

Yesterday we had our first outdoor track meet.  Before the girls began their warmup, our head coach sat them down and said the above statement.  It is something he says before every meet.  Some listened.  Others, not so much.  Some didn't hear it yesterday, but will catch it at the next one.  For me, it resonates every single time.  Each day I'm with these athletes, and on meet days in particular, I need to be positive - to think positively, to act positively and to speak positively.  I need to focus on both my individual runners and on the team as a whole.  And I need to try to make every day the best.  It's a tall order to fill.  But, I'm more than happy, honored even, to do it.  It's why I love my job.

A quiet moment with one of my 2 milers before her race yesterday.
(though it looks like a slap on the face, it was a soft pat of encouragement)
I'm realizing, however, that I need to be doing this 'positive' thing in my personal life a hell of a lot more than I have been.  Lately, I've been bitching and moaning a lot.  Particularly, as you know, about this past winter.  Partly because it has been brutal up until about 24 hours ago, partly because I find it's easier to get through tough times when you're commiserating with others, and partly because I often found it almost stupidly funny.  But, regarding the weather, and so many other things that are similarly trite, I need be done.  To shut and be positive.  So what if it's going to rain today.  There also happens to be a shit ton of amazing stuff going on and I should be grateful.  Before I went to sleep last night I made a point to list out all the things that made my day spectacular.  Below is a sampling:

~ The sun was out, it was warm and it felt incredible.  All.  Day.  Long.
~ The flowers were blooming, the birds were singing and the honeysuckle on Bacon street smelled delightful.
~ My daughter was actually psyched to go to school because she's been working on a stand up comedy routine with her teacher.
~ I ran 18 miles and I enjoyed single every one of them.  No, for real.  (even those last few, KH)
~ I ran 15 of those 18 miles with my running bud, who is ramping up her mileage after having been injured for a very long time.  It is so damn nice to have her back.
~ My high school track team had their first meet and they rocked it.
~ My monthly RUNNERBOX arrived and it was (as always) filled with awesomeness.
~ Did I mention the sun was out and it was warm?  That was awesome.


Needless to say, it was a great freakin' day.  Today is a new day.  As Coach Babcock would say, let's make it the best day yet.  I think he might be on to something.

Listen to this:
Painted - MSMR

Thursday, April 9, 2015

NOT SPRING: A TOP 10 LIST

O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley


So it's spring.  But, not really.  We haven't seen much of the sun these days and I'm pretty sure we haven't gotten above 40 yet here in the Boston area.  A couple days ago, the track coaches and I were chatting while the kids warmed up.   Inside.  Because we still can't run on our outdoor track yet.  The head men's coach mentioned that he'd seen the 'S' word on the forecast for the week-end.  We all laughed because we knew exactly what he was talking about - the 'S' word being snow, of course.  I have been trying really, really hard to stay positive over the past couple weeks.  And this morning...well, this morning I kind of lost it.  It was 32 degrees outside and sleeting.  I believe the weatherman called it a "wintry mix."  Seriously??  Spring is nowhere to be seen.  Want to know how I can tell?

TOP 10 SIGNS THAT SPRING HAS NOT YET SPRUNG

1. The heat is still on in my house and basically everywhere else that I go.
2. I hate the treadmill and yet I'm still using it.
3. My neighbors' Christmas lights are still up and I don't find this the least bit weird.


4. I am still  wearing my hat, gloves and jacket.  Every. Single. Day.
5. There is still snow on the ground.


6. My kids don't want to play outside.  Ever.
7. I stare longingly at the flip flops in my closet every time I look inside.
8. There is not a single flower in sight.
9. The weather forecast says 60 and sunny for this week-end and I don't believe it.
10. It's 35 degrees out, dark and sleeting.  And it's been like this for days/weeks.  That about sums it up.

Listen to this:
Monkey Safari - Cranes