All my love to Boston

I’ve spent a lot of time staring at my computer screen, trying to figure out what I could possibly write about the bombings at the Boston Marathon. It would feel so wrong to not write anything, but I can’t seem to find the words to do any of it justice. This isn’t going to be eloquent, and it probably won’t be coherent. I know it won’t capture everything I want to say, but I have to say something.

I thought about waiting to write until I had processed more. But then I realized that no matter how long I think about this, I will never fully process it. Nothing will ever make the tragedy at the finish line less shocking. This was a senseless, cowardly act. An incomprehensible violation and a cruel assault.

I wasn’t running on Monday, but as a runner in general, one of the worst things about the attack, to me, is that it was aimed at the spectators. The people watching the race are the most selfless, loving, and supportive group and while obviously no one should have to face the horrors of what happened on Monday, it was especially cruel to target the people who were there purely out of love. Spectators aren’t just there on race day; they provide support throughout entire training cycles. They deal with us when we are hungry or cranky. They listen to us talk enthusiastically about paces and goals, at best, or just as likely, blisters and dry heaving. They understand when we flake on plans because of long runs, or long naps, and they forgive us when we do show up – unshowered and in sweatpants. They put up with us at our worst. They wake up early to battle large crowds and long days in order to see us at the culmination of all our training. They carry us, physically and emotionally, past the finish line. Then, when the race is over, they do it all again. Training to run a marathon is an exercise in perseverance and testing limits, not just for the runners, but for entire networks of friends and families, and I won’t even try to pretend that running is the bigger challenge. Mixed in with all the overpowering emotions I’ve felt about Monday, the most haunting thought is that if I had been running, my parents would have been at that finish line waiting for me. The fact that that’s not a “what if”, but a reality for so many people breaks my heart and brings me to tears every time. Jezebel said it better than I can, but it’s the spectators that truly make running so special.

Despite the anguish and the pain that won’t ever truly heal, the Marathon will go on. Stronger than ever, scars and all. The running community is tight knit and strong; even as people compete there is an overwhelming sense of camaraderie and support. As for Boston as a city, I’ve spent most of my adult life here and there is a fierce hometown pride that comes along with that dirty water. Boston does not just sit back and let itself be defeated.

At the expo on Sunday, Kathrine Switzer said that the more we run, the more fearless we become. To me, fearlessness is not the absence of fear, but the acknowledgment of it, and the strength to act in spite of it. All the stories from the aftermath of the bombings highlight courage and selflessness and truly epitomize the collective fearlessness that will help us band together and heal as best we can. I am so proud of my sport and of my city and so thankful for, and uplifted by, the outpouring of support coming from other communities and cities worldwide. On Sunday, swept up in the energy and excitement of the Marathon expo, I told my family that I don’t care how much work it takes, I will run Boston someday. Despite everything that has happened this week (or maybe even because of it?), I absolutely stand by that. Training plans are pinned up on my cube wall; Active is basically my homepage.

Until I’m actually at that starting line, I’ll be sending all my love to the people who were there, to all the people at the finish, and all the people affected in any way by this monstrous attack.

Stay strong, Boston. Be Fearless.

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My Hood to Coast Application

As I mentioned last week, I applied to be a part of Team Nuun at this year’s Hood to Coast relay. Despite the fact that my post talked specifically about Going Big this year, the link to my application was tiny and easily missed. Subtle, even.

“Subtlety” is not something I’m particularly known for.

So, I decided to repost my video here and share the Nuun love, in all its ‘glory’. I talk a little bit about why applying is a big, bold step for me in my other post, so I’ll spare you my usual wordiness today, and just let my video do the talking.

Nuun announces the teams on the 17th. Until then, I’ll be redirecting all my nervous energy into Boston Marathon excitement. Including, but not limited to, trying to figure out just how long I can loiter near the Nuun expo booth before I ruin my changes at being chosen…

Good luck to everyone else who applied!

My Week in Workouts

Monday (4/1) – 4 mile run, 90 minutes yoga

Tuesday – 35 minutes elliptical, 50 minutes spin

Wednesday – 2000 yard swim, 7 mile run

Thursday – Rest

Friday – Rest

Saturday – NYRR Scotland Run 10k (recap pending)

Sunday – Rest

Scotrun

A few thoughts about the week:

1. I’m just about back to what I would usually consider a “normal” week. This week will (hopefully) be about the same, and then next week I’ll start building on it. Time to get serious about this half ironman.*

...be daintier, Steph. Wow.

…be daintier, Steph. Wow.

*Admittedly the time to get serious was probably about two months ago. But I’m doing what I can with what I’ve got.

2. Another thing I want to get serious about is incorporating more speed work into my regular workouts. I’ve started easing in by treating my shortest run of the week, currently about 4 miles, as an interval workout. For now, that consists of me changing my pace on the treadmill every song, so song by song it looks something like: 7mph, 7.5mph, 7mph, 8mph, 7mph, 8.5mph, 7mph, 8mph, etc. I live in fear of the day my 12+ minute version of OAR’s Crazy Game of Poker comes on during an 8.5 segment. Fear with a side of excitement about how badass I’ll feel when I make it through.

3. I swear chlorine messes with me. One hour(ish) in the pool this week and I dressed for summer in 30 degree weather, forgot my shoes, and took the wrong exit on my regular commute. This is why I can’t judge a certain Olympic athlete who occasionally stumbles over language and is happy to tell the world what he would do in various life situations. If this is me after only 2000 yards, I can only imagine what would happen if I spent an Olympic level amount of time in a pool on a daily basis. I suspect it would not be pretty. Although I wouldn’t say no to the medals.

4. Boston is in less than a week. I’m in full on geek out mode. Anyone running? Spectating?

If you need me, I’ll be over here with my route map and cowbell.

 

 

DISCLAIMER: In case it’s not ridiculously clear, I’m not a coach, expert, doctor, or professional of any sort. I’m slowly figuring out what works for me in terms of triathlon training, speed work, and the time limit on being submerged in chlorinated water, but it’s a lot of trial and error. I’m sure I’m not working the most effective methods out there, but I guess I could be doing a lot worse. If you’re looking for advice on your own training, please don’t take anything I say as being backed by authority or expertise. Not that you would – I trust that y’all are smart – but worth mentioning, just the same.

Scotland Run 10k – Thoughts before the race

This weekend, I’m running the Scotland Run 10k in NYC, and I don’t know what to expect.

Image

The original Scotland run: My first Half Marathon in Edinburgh.

Kidding, mostly. I know what I can do if I really push myself, and I know what I’d like to do in ideal conditions, but my weekend is action packed and while I’m ready and excited for the run, it’s not my main priority; It’s just one part of Scotland Week (which is actually A Thing. Who knew?). This definitely isn’t my ‘A’ race of the season, so I’m keeping my goals/expectations reasonable for the sake of a good run/life balance.

Anyway, my goals:

A. Consistent pacing (BONUS: negative split) – I ran my first (ahem, only…) 10k last year, and I raced that much like I did the St. Pat’s 5k. I went out hard, panicked, pulled way back, crashed, and then finished at the pace I probably should have been racing all along. So my goal for this race is to keep things more even, or as even as possible, considering the Central Park hills.

 B. Don’t be scared of the hills – I ran them three weeks ago and I can run them again. This time I’ll be going in the opposite direction (clockwise), which I hear might be harder, but I’m not letting myself think about that. Remember last time when I triple knotted my shoelaces and was ready to take on the world? Yeah, I’ll be rocking the triple knots again, with all the associated attitude.

C. Run happy – This mostly refers to not getting wrapped up in my own little world and staying out of my head. I want to be aware of what’s going on around me, so I can soak it all in. NYC is full of energy and a little bit magic, after all.

So those are the things I want to focus on this race. As for specific pacing, ideally I’d like to try for 7:30 miles. If that’s not happening, I’d settle for half marathon pace, sub 8s, or sub 8:06 (my pace for that last 10k). And if I can’t hit any of those? That’s fine too. My ego may not be the happiest with that, but the rest of me is fine with it. This weekend is definitely more about the people than the run itself, so I’m not going to miss out on things to rest, and I’m not going to kill myself on the course if I think it will knock me out for the rest of the weekend. This weekend I’m staying positive, setting goals, but also embracing the life outside the run. Balance, and all that.

Anyone else running the Scotland Run this weekend?

My Week in Workouts

Someday I’ll get my workouts up before I’m well into the next week. Not this week, and probably not next week either, but someday.

Monday (3/24): 3 mile run, 90 minutes yoga

Tuesday: 45 minutes elliptical

Wednesday: 5 mile run

Thursday: Rest

Friday: 5 mile run

Saturday: 15 mile bike ride

Sunday: Casual egg hunting (aka: Rest)

This week I was excited. Not for anything in particular, but just a general kind of excitement about possibilities and potential. I was ready and anxious to get out there and do…whatever. I’m always really happy when the seasons change, so that might have had something to do with it. It could have also been the “excessive” amounts of Easter candy I consumed (I regret nothing), or maybe (hopefully?) this Zenned out attitude adjustment is really taking hold. I think it may have finally gone on long enough that I can no longer give all credit to the NYC runner’s high.

Anyway, this revamped attitude, and my decision to go BIG this year, called for some other big happenings this past week:

1. I took my bike out for the first ride of the season. Even better, it was my first ride with real, clip-in bike shoes and I loved it. General wisdom is that when using clip-in shoes you WILL fall at some point. My dad and his group of cycling buddies have decided that it takes two to three falls before you learn to pay attention when stopping. I, being terrified of falling (with visions of derailed race seasons, and memories of that [disastrous] time I bought a skateboard) paid SO MUCH ATTENTION and my first ride went off without a hitch. Yes, I know I will probably fall at some point, but I’m glad it wasn’t on my first ride. This first ride was bliss. Gorgeous, Spring-y, legit bike gear bliss.

Awkward angle, real love

Awkward angle, real love

2. I bought a wetsuit. I’ve always been a swimmer, so I’ve never been overly concerned with the swim portion of triathlons. Also, despite the fact that I’m always cold on land, somehow in the water I’m fine. Up to this point, I’ve mostly scheduled my triathlons during parts of the season when I can get away with not wearing a wetsuit. Fun, but limiting. And I don’t want to be limited by something that is SO easy to change. Also, I don’t love getting run over by people more buoyant than me. So I took the plunge (ha…) and got the suit.

Not a wetsuit

Not a wetsuit

3. This is The Big One: I applied to be on the Nuun team for the Hood to Coast relay this August. Aside from the obvious (it’s HOOD TO COAST. And NUUN. You get to run down a freakin’ mountain with THE gurus of hydration!), this is big because it involves putting myself further out there than I’m used to. The application was a video, so not only did I have to learn how to edit videos, but I also had to watch myself (over and over and over and over…) on video, something I used to HATE. Plus, in making and posting the video, I had to admit – out loud! – that this is something I really want. When I was training for my first marathon I barely told anybody, and I definitely didn’t talk about my time goals. If something went wrong, I wanted to be able to pretend it had never happened. I’m not saying that I want to start putting EVERYTHING out there for the world to see (for the world’s sake, as much as my own), but I don’t need to keep everything so quiet either. If I don’t hit every goal (and obviously, there will be goals I don’t hit – right away anyway!) the people in my life won’t think any less of me. Plus, in the spirit of the year, I’ve decided it’s better to go big, than to look like I’m not going at all. So anyway, I spent my weekend editing “scripts”, pictures, and videos and finally hit submit on Sunday night. This year’s Team Nuun will be announced on April 17th. I have no idea how I’m going to stay calm until then. I imagine re-reading race recaps from previous years is not particularly helpful, but I’m doing what I can with what I’ve got…

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Fingers crossed!

So that was my week: massive amounts of excitement, putting myself out there, and showing all my sports some love. I have high hopes for this week as well, not least of all because this sweet shirt is on its way to me, as a reminder of all these big things I want to do. I’ve got a 10k coming up this weekend, I’ve narrowed my options in The Big Fall Marathon Debate, and I still have some leftover candy.

Life is pretty good.