Reflections on Marathon Weekend

Check out my recent post reflecting on Marathon weekend over on the Running for Rare Diseases blog!

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(photo credit to David Parnes)

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Marathon Montages

We’re 10 days out. The intense training is over. I’ve hit my fundraising goal (and then some – thank you friends and fam!). And sometimes it still feels surreal – that I can and will run the 2014 Boston Marathon.

Sidenote: For anyone looking to still donate or just looking for some pretty sweet things – check out the Running for Rare Diseases Online Auction. Bidding closes Friday, April 18 at noon.

With the anniversary of last year’s bombing next Tuesday, the city is reminded of the horrible tragedy, but also of the strength, pride and love that has overcome within the past year. It has been in the news more frequently the past few weeks and many inspirational videos have gone viral. These are two of the best I’ve seen (and watched over and over):

#wewillrun 

Run, Run, Run

I’ve always been a sucker for montages. Something about a set of powerful images, words and video clips set to the perfect song gets to me. These in particular help fuel the excitement/nervousness/gratitude I have about running this year. And also make me wonder if I’ll be able to run a single mile without sobbing. TBD.

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I found this quote from Katherine Switzer to ring true about any marathon, but will resonate even more so this Marathon Monday. Putting aside the incredible athletic achievement accomplished by people from all walks of life, the thing that inspires me the most is the stories behind why runners run. And the complete strangers supporting them with cheers, water, snacks – and even kisses at Wellesley College 🙂

#MarathonRunnerProblems

1. You’ve become a total lightweight. “Long Run Saturdays” keep you from drinking on Friday night and make you dehydrated and exhausted before you even sip your first beer on Saturday night. This could also be related to turning 25 but I’m going to blame running for the time being.

2. On the nights you do make it out for a drink, wearing heels is not an option. You trade in the killer pumps for the sensible wedge boots. Problem solved? Not quite. You now have to use two hands to squeeze and zip said boots up around your exponentially larger calf muscles.

3. You have to explain to the woman doing your pedicure why one of your big toe nails is a yellowish green color, and why your skinny jeans won’t roll up over your calves (see previous problem).

4. You feel zero guilt eating a bagel for breakfast and pasta for dinner. Which sure, doesn’t really seem like a problem, but it’ll quickly become one when you’re no longer logging 30-40 miles a week.

5. Hydration takes priority over any fashion sense you once had. Add all the handy compartments you want. Call it a fuel belt. No matter how you spin it, you’re now rocking a fanny pack.

5b. Body temperature also takes priority over fashion sense. That says a lot coming from the girl who stood in line at bars without a jacket in sub-freezing temperatures just to look cute. When it comes to long distance running, a comfortable body temp trump looks every time. On early morning runs, I don’t mind resembling a ninja -robber hybrid or  wearing more layers than I do at a mountain summit. When it’s warmer out, I shamelessly rock the “sweatshirt tied around the waist” look circa 1995. 

6. You swapped the cute trendy neon pink Nike’s for the running shoes that provide the best arch support and are tailor fitted to your feet. (Still couldn’t resist asking if they came in any cuter colors though. They don’t.)

7. You expect people to know what you’re talking about when you use words like “bandit” “roller” and “PR”. They don’t.

8. You get more excited over a sale at City Sports than J.Crew. Thermal fleece tights ain’t cheap!

9. You can’t walk into a restaurant or store without contemplating the best way to solicit the cashier for a gift card or raffle item for your fundraiser.

10. In addition to losing you to your love affair with logging miles, your boyfriend is also forced to fake interest as you spend every night spewing history tidbits and fun facts from 26.2 Miles to Boston at him. (But seriously,if you’re running Boston and haven’t read this book, buy it now. I can’t put it down.)

Case of the Mondays Motivation

This morning was a true test of will power to get out of bed and squeeze in a run before work. I’d taken a few days off from running and it’s always hard getting back into the swing of things…plus it’s freezing outside…plus it’s Monday, and not just any old Monday but a Monday that most people have off.  I tried not to think about my friends sleeping in late in their comfy, warm beds, and instead thought about the half marathon I’m running in less than three weeks. I’ll be in San Fran (more on that later) and signed up for the Golden Gate Trail Run with my best friend who lives out there. From everything we’ve read/heard, the course is a BEAST. The fear this course has instilled in me was enough to finally get me out of bed this morning, but in case you’re not into using fear tactics to motivate yourself, I’ve put together a playlist of songs that always push me to go that extra mile:

(Apologies in advance for the profanity ridden, offensive lyrics – I can’t help it if dirty rap beats are what keep my feet moving…)

I am running the 2014 Boston Marathon.

That sentence still doesn’t seem real to me. I’m not sure when exactly it will sink in – maybe at the starting line? Running a marathon is something I never in a million years thought I’d be able to do or have the desire to do. And it probably still wouldn’t be if it weren’t for the members of the Genzyme Running Team (GRT).

I started working with them last February, coordinating the annual Rare Disease Day Relay Run. At that point I was not a runner by any means, but somehow they convinced me to run the last leg of the relay, a 5k. Though I couldn’t consistently run the full distance in the few practice runs I went on,  I managed to run the 3.1 miles without any trouble on Rare Disease Day. That was the first time I realized the adrenaline and energy from a group of motivated people running for a cause greater than themselves can push you to accomplish far more than you think you can.

I helped them organize fundraiser events and other projects leading up to the Boston Marathon – the biggest being a dinner the Saturday night before the Marathon, hosting the runners and their families, patient partners and their families, and a few members of the Senior Leadership Team. Some members of the GRT gave remarks before dinner. I wouldn’t consider myself an emotional person but I found myself getting choked up as they spoke about  their fellow runners, their relationships with their patient partners, their experiences with the rare disease community, and the overall mission and accomplishments of the team. That’s when I realized the magnitude of what the GRT does and how it extends far beyond running 26.2 miles.

On Marathon Monday, after an early breakfast with the runners and patient partners, I wished the team good luck and headed back to my apartment close to the route. After plugging everyone’s bib number into an iPhone app to track where they were in the race, I walked down the street with my boyfriend and roommates to cheer at Mile 22. Growing up along the route, I had cheered on Boston Marathon runners since I was little, but I’d never known so many people running it or felt so close to the cause they were running for.

As each GRT bib ran past, I cheered, clapped and yelled for them whether they heard me through the crowds or not. After about half the team had ran by, I saw 2 GRT bibs coming towards me on the same side of the street I was on. It was Phil,the founder of the GRT and ultimately the push I needed to start running, and Shane, a rare disease patient and GRT community partner. Phil gave me a hug and the waterworks started again. My boyfriend looked at me and asked why in the world I was crying. I couldn’t quite put it into words but that’s when I knew, even before the tragedy at the finish line and scramble to account for everyone, that I had to be a larger part of this team. Never in my life have I met a more motivated, dedicated and inspiring group of people. I believed strongly in what they were doing, witnessed the positive impact they were making, and couldn’t settle for being a sideline cheerleader in 2014.

So that is how I got here. To waking up at 5 am to run in the snow in single digit weather (in a Santa hat, no less). To going back the gym after not having touched a treadmill in literally years. To anxiously waiting to find out who my patient partner will be. To figuring how to best leverage my birthday party to turn it into a fundraiser. To being a member of the 2014 Running for Rare Diseases Boston Marathon team. It might be the most challenging thing I’ve ever done but I think it’ll be equally as rewarding. So let the training begin (and get the tissues ready)!