I’m Back: A 2014 Recap and Look to the Future!

It’s been too long, blog-o-sphere!  I’m reinvigorating this blog with a new found purpose to continue chronicling my adventures in health, happiness and RUNNING!  As many of you know, I tackled my first marathon, the Boston Marathon, last year.  Didn’t know that? Well I encourage you to scroll back to the early entries 🙂 I took on that challenge for a number of reasons, as you can read, but underneath it all I had found a new love for running.  After my first marathon, the fun didn’t stop there! I had many more fun races over the remainder of 2014 and have a number of races on the books for 2015, and I’m sure beyond!  I had so much fun keeping track of my training memories by blogging, and let’s face it, it was an excellent tool as far as accountability is concerned!  At present, the cause I’m running for is myself, and there is no more important thing in life than to love the person you are!  I hope that in this reincarnation of run-blogging (don’t worry, you all know I’ve mastered the running selfie but I’ve yet to live-blog while running….yet… 😉 ) is inspiring, funny, and at least mildly amusing.  Feel free to anonymously follow my journeys, cheer me on, or even better sign up for a race with me!  

Let’s look back before looking ahead. Here are some highlights from my 2014 runs 🙂

One more from theBoston Marathon, because honestly that was one of the most amazing moments of my life to date!

A month after the Marathon me and some other #RaceforRehab lovelies took on the Boston Run to Remember Half Marathon (which, is on the dock for this year as well!)

You have to keep things fun, so along with a couple of colleagues who had never run before, and their friends, we took on Color Me Rad . Seriously the pics from this run warrant they’re own post entirely because it was quite the day of photo ops! Here are a few of my faves.

I love the events put on by the Cambridge 5K Race Series so next up was the Freedom Run.

Of course you need to recycle the awesome Color Me Rad neon orange sunglasses, and what better setting than the B.A.A. 10K?

A highlight of my summer was Finish at the 50, a 10K that was on the 4th of July and let me run into Gillette Stadium, the home of my boys the New England Patriots.  No doubt, I was going to lay on the field.

Later in the summer I received the last minute opportunity to be a part of the #RaceforRehab team at the Falmouth Road Race and it was an awesome course and weekend!

Fall arrived and clearly it was time to organize a group of friends and colleagues and their alter egos for a Superhero 5K!

Before I knew it, it was the start of winter and I had to channel my inner elf for the Jingle Bell Run!

Then January 2015 came, and A WHOLE LOT OF SNOW! Boston broke a snowfall record and I broke a record for minimal running, not a record I’m proud of.  There were lots of snow trudges to/from work and throughout the city as well as indoor gym time, but not a whole lot of outdoor runs.  As we began to thaw, this German-Polish hybrid suited up in green for the Craicfest in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and since then it’s been time to get back my running base in preparation for this upcoming year!

In a picture review of the past year, there are also a number of ussies from group runs that remain on my camera roll.  Moving forward, those can become a staple of this blog but are just too many to go back through and post here. But a special shout out to #runbuddies!

So why reincarnate the blog now?  What has happened?  Well really, the best is yet to come as 2015 is the year of my second marathon!  On October 25th I’ll be running the Marine Corps Marathon down in the D.C. area!! I entered the lottery and excitingly I got in!  I look forward to this marathon training which will most certainly not overlap with a polar vortex, but something tells me Boston summer might have some surprises in store for me!

But that’s a ways off and training has not yet officially started, though it’s never too early to get a solid foundation.  Last year, I actually found blogging about my runsperiences, whether they be a fun race day or just another midweek  or long run after which I felt I had something to say or a cool picture to share, was really great in so many ways.  I’m looking to hold myself accountable, potentially engage friends and strangers, and save the memories for a lifetime to come.  I’m still not perfect nor the epitome of an athlete (I believe I stated that from the very beginning!) but I am looking to Eat, Play and Run my way to health and happiness for a lifetime!

Looking ahead, here’s what’s currently on the schedule.  I know me and I know other things will get added in ongoing. Any recommendations, or invites, are always welcome!

4/18/15: B.A.A. 5K

5/3/15: Wings for Life World Run – Niagara Falls! (as far as you can run before the chaser car catches you!)

5/24/15: Boston’s Run to Remember (half marathon)

10/25/15: Marine Corps Marathon

Until the next post, happy running!

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Time for Reflection

So it is now over a month since the marathon and I’m FINALLY getting to the point of finishing this entry.  I’ve had it started since a few days after the marathon, but have been going back and forth to it ever since trying to find a way to summarize all of the emotions that I experienced through the 4 month journey of training and then at the moment of finishing the Boston Marathon.  You’d think that with such prolonged contemplation I’d have come up with an incredibly deep and thought provoking entry.  Alas, I feel that this post will not quite meet such standards.  But that said, I don’t think that’s really all that important because the best decision I made was chronicling my entire experience via this blog.  The amazing feedback and Facebook “likes” was such a wonderful feeling and I truly appreciate everyone’s support and enthusiasm for joining me on this undertaking.  For the print version of this blog I have even included some of the awesome posts my friends and families added on my Facebook wall because I didn’t want those to ever be lost.  So truly, all of the love  and support meant so very much to me and is a big reason why I was able to keep running on.   

The training experience itself was not a straight trajectory of success but I ultimately hit my main goal: finish the marathon.  Looking back now I was not perfect throughout my preparation.  Heck, I even knew that as I was going along!  Training for a marathon and maintaining some semblance of a social life is a very difficult balance. Choices were made, and ultimately not every single run was run and not every meal was a platter of perfectly balanced nutrients.  And you know what, that’s ok.  As someone who likes to do something and do it right, this imperfection was a constant struggle for me during training.  But as much as doing this process was important to me, so was keeping a fun life full of time with friends and family.  I couldn’t avoid making some sacrifices, and I think there’s a lot to be said for what is gained when you do make some sacrifices for training, but I didn’t let myself totally succumb to marathon training at the cost of everything else in my life.  I’m glad I took this approach because it doesn’t take being a newbie marathon runner to know that training for a marathon is going to have it’s demands.  Despite the unavoidable difficulties, I went into taking this on wanting the process to be fun and one that would not totally deter me from taking on future races, and maybe even future marathons.  

Despite some concessions on the midweek runs, throughout training I tackled all of my long runs and generally felt good with most of those.  I didn’t have to walk any of my training runs (though there was one that I had to cut short due to injury/pain).  I got to the start line on April 21st feeling about as ready as I could which is why I was even more surprised to learn on the actual big day that running a marathon was a lot harder than I expected.  Feeling defeated played a tough mental game with me for about 22 of the 26.2 miles on April 21st.  This fairly persistent and unshakeable negative self talk while I was running was really the only bad part of the day for me.  It was very tough in the moment feeling as if I wanted to stop, or that I needed to stop, because my body was feeling so awful.  Whether it’s the full reason or not, the weather on marathon day was a lot hotter than I had been used to during training and I felt that right away.  Despite the sufficient hydrating I thought I had done the week prior and the morning of, I felt dehydrated and heaviness starting at about mile 4 and then all the way to the finish.  I took water and/or Gatorade at every mile and struggled with feeling physiologically inefficient way sooner than usual.  I expected these feelings maybe around mile 20, so when I started feeling like this before I was even a quarter of the way through the race I immediately felt discouraged. 

I’m beyond thrilled to say that my mental resilience won out, however, and I kept on going despite considering every single medic tent as a possible “out.”  Fortunately, I just could not bring myself to pull over and tell anyone “hi, I stopped here because this is kind of hard.” I also did not want to report back to everyone who had been supporting me for months that I just wasn’t able to do this.  So, despite not mentally or physically wanting to, I kept on running. I am incredibly proud of my ability to overcome this mental wall.  I think this accomplishment, above all else, has helped me realize that I really can do anything I set my mind to.  Winning the mental game during my first marathon provides me with a concrete time I can always reflect back on for the rest of my life.  Feeling what I felt that day and being able to still reach my goal makes me feel as if anything is possible if you just commit to it and keep on pushing forward.  Running my first marathon has helped me find my mental, emotional and physical strength.  Prior to starting all of this, I knew people claim that running your first marathon is life changing. Now I totally get it.  And for me, there was no better reward.  

I don’t want to minimize everything I just said about my own strength, however, I derive a lot of strength from those around me and I still believe the final kick in the butt to get me through my negative wall and to the finish line came from the friends who were cheering me on and who started to appear around mile 22.   Hearing my name screamed by people I knew (no offense strangers, thank you all too!) provided such an adrenaline rush.  They snapped me into the reality of the situation: even though I’m on this course alone, I’m not actually doing this alone.  It was around the time of my first friend sighting that I truly recognized I can actually do this, I can actually finish a marathon! 

I ran the final 4 miles, not including a few quick stops for ussies, feeling pretty great.  I still remember my final turn on to Boylston Street and thinking back on it now even brings tears to my eyes.  The emotion overcame me at the moment I made that turn.  I had done it.  I had gotten all the way to the end and this was the final stretch to finishing something that had been feeling so impossible for the past few hours.  I was able to turn and take a smiley and overjoyed selfie on Boylston (please refer to my previous entry for this pic) but then I saw my parents on the sidewalk street level.  They were screaming and cheering and smiling and I ran over to them and burst into tears.  The realization that I could not have done any of this without them completely overtook me at that moment.  All of their various means of support for the arduous training and fundraising was given to me unselfishly and unconditionally for months.  Seeing them that day, at that exact moment of the race, is one of the most important moments and memories of my life.

Since the Boston Marathon I have now also run the Run to Remember Half Marathon, a Color Run and the Freedom Run 5K which is part of the Cambridge 5K series.  I have the BAA 10K in June, the Finish at the 50 10K in July (running on to the Patriots’ field!!) and the BAA Half Marathon in October all also scheduled.  It’s likely I’ll throw a few more in there for the summer and fall and then it will be time to plan a winter schedule!  I guess you can say I’ve caught the running bug. I think some have found my current race schedule a bit excessive, but the sense of community, health and strength running has given to me is not something I want to lose anytime soon.  I am now, literally, running into the future, and it seems to be brighter than ever.  Who knows, I think I might even have Kirby’s Boston Marathon Adventure 2.0 in me 😉

Virtual Pep Rally!

What a fun and motivating post to work on the day before heading out to Hopkinton!

With about a month to go I put a call out for my “virtual cheerleaders” to help keep me motivated in the final push to get to the start line of my first ever marathon.  The results were awesome and I’m feeling so loved! To all my cheerleaders, I would not have been able to take on this challenge without you.  Each of you, and all of your pictures, will be on my mind as I make my way 26.2 miles!

Such a special picture from a very special family and some of my best friends

These next 26 pictures, 1 for each mile, were sent to me from my dear friends, starring their son Ben (aka Chewie). Leslie said that posing for 26 pictures was like the equivalent of a marathon for Chewie. But with that, I feel he really captures the the emotions, and the pain(?), I’ll be experiencing mile by mile with each of his expressions. 
I tend to wear heels pretty often (though near the end of training I cut it down a bit on the daily to try and keep my feet/legs rested).  When I got this pic from my aunt, I thought it was perfect! Maybe I’ll train for my next marathon in heels!
This picture from Krista opened the flood gates to my animal cheerleaders!
All the way from Seattle, Bo is exhausted at the idea of running a marathon and Juan captured it perfectly.  Don’t worry dude, I’ll run it for you!
Took me a good minute of analyzing this pic to understand what, exactly, my mother had in her mouth.  When I realized the marathon was Easter weekend, the fact this was a bunny mouth all made sense.  Kind of 😉
One night Scrimmage was looking at me and I could tell he wanted in on the action of cheering for me (yes, I’m one of those pet people at times!)  So “we” started using his toys to spell out “Go Mom.”  It looked ok, and was even partly legible, but Scrimmage was confused and thought we were playing.  He ran through the piles, I was urging him to “stop, stop!” and we ended up with this….some piles of toys and a confused looking dog.  
My best friend, Lesley, (or really I should say one of her bunnies) got into the cheer zone all the way from NJ.  I do not accept your challenge, Gilbert.  I have to work on pacing!
Can’t go wrong when babies and animals cheer together!  Thanks Amanda, Joe, Lauren & Bailey!
Little nugget cheerleaders are the best!  Thanks Nikki, Brian and Davin!

I was told capturing this next picture took patience, but it was well worth it in my opinion!  Thanks Karla!
I saw this next picture from Gino and thought “wow, what commitment to costuming!”  Then I found out everything he is wearing are edible pieces from a cake and the words just totally escaped me…. 😛
I wish I looked this great when I run, but all that matters is this is how I THINK I look 🙂  Thank you Karen!
Caitlin truly represented cheerleader style and went all out with the makeup, ribbons and signs!  I love that Smithsonian, the trusted travel buddy, also got in on the action!  See you at the finish, Cait!!
I can be a total goof, as many of you know.  Well this picture gives an insider look into where I get it from.  Thanks, DAD! 
Lots of love from two of my favorite little people ever, Riley & Brynna (and their parents Alexis and Jason)!  I love the details of the sign and am totally feeling the love!
It was great leaving work on Friday having received this card from my colleague, Sarah! Too bad no costumes were allowed this year!
Was a bummer to hear you’re sick, Rebecca, but don’t worry I’ll do the running!
This next post is a bit of an inside joke, though I think many have been let in over the years so it probably makes sense to more than I even realize!  Brad you keep me posted, ok? 😉
Oh, and did you know that a marathon is 319,236.92 jars of Fluff long?  Yup.
Q-town love from my girl and ski sistah Randi!  Wish I could have spent some time at the expo with you, but this sign totally rocks (not as much as you!)  Thanks for thinking of me & I can’t wait to be your cheerleader for your Antarctica marathon adventure!
Got this on Easter Sunday, the day before the big run.  I’ll let the Facebook post speak for itself.  Thank you so so much Meghan and Tim!

An oldie, but a goodie, this picture was resurrected to send me some love from my friend Todd, who was our BU mascot Rhett! I remember this day so vividly…Rhett wore my Patriots jersey on the ice!

Dawn, and her chicks, have spirit! Love!!

Thank you all so so much!  This was so much fun, having a virtual pep rally and the loves and support is both overwhelming and inspiring!

Remember, if you’re out on the course tomorrow try to call me over for an ussie along the way!  I look forward to seeing any pics you are able to snap (but maybe use some good judgement before posting, especially if you’re near the finish when I bet I’ll be looking a bit rough.  Might I recommend “blast shot” mode?  1 picture out of 50 will have to look decent, right?? 😛 )