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 🙂

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)!

Reflections on 2013

2013 was a great year. It was a year of change and a year of firsts. Looking back, I feel accomplished but also exhausted. A lot went down in the past 365 days.  I moved out of my apartment with two of my best girlfriends. I moved in with my boyfriend. We adopted a pup. I went on some great trips – birthday ski trip, NYC, Cape and even added a couple new countries to my passport (see here, here and here).  Two of my best friends moved to the other side of the country. I celebrated friends’ engagements, wedding and babies. I choreographed my first dance (which will be on stage in 3 weeks, ah!). I “became a runner”. I ran my first 5k in February. I ran my first actual race (bib, microchip  and all), then 5 more 5ks over the summer and then trained and completed my first half marathon in the fall. I also started this ‘ol thing, so I guess I can say I became a blogger too.

As the year comes to an end, I’m happy, content and grateful. That’s all you can ask for, so that’s my hope for the next 365. Cheers to a safe, happy and healthy 2014!

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Update: Playlist Fundraiser

With nearly a week left until my half, my runs are tapering off and it’s time to work out all the details. One thing I don’t have to worry about is putting together the perfect race day playlist. I asked my friends and family to do it for me and support Dana Farber Cancer Institute in the process. And boy, did they step up to the challenge!

On the list are some favorite go-to running songs, some middle school throwbacks (appropriate since I’ll be running past my middle, elementary and high schools), songs that will remind me of particular memories and probably make me laugh out loud, and some new songs I haven’t heard before. It’s quite the eclectic mix – rap, country, dance, pop and indie – and will definitely keep me distracted as I run, thinking about what song could be next.

Thank you soo much to everyone that donated. The support of the person behind each song will hopefully be just the motivation I need to keep going all 13.1! Most importantly, we already raised over $400 for Dana Farber. And it’s not too late to add a song to the list!

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Rise and Run

I’m not claiming to be a morning person by any means. I love sleeping and I’m damn good at it. When I started running, I claimed I could/would never wake up to squeeze in a run before work. The first time I agreed to a morning run was with a group of colleagues for National Runner’s Day – I’m a sucker for holidays. I remember dragging the rest of the day but also enjoying the feeling of accomplishment as I walked into the office and knowing that I was free of any workout obligations after work.  One of the reasons I was hesitant to commit to train for a half was watching my roommate train last year and give up her social life. She wouldn’t go out during the week because she was training every night after work. BUT when you switch a few of those night time runs to mornings runs, it gives you the flexibility to make plans after work –  whether those plans are polishing off a pitcher of sangria with girlfriends, shopping til you drop (or the stores close) or curling up on the couch with a bowl of fro-yo and the latest on DVR (all equally destructive #nojudgement). 

I can now say I actually look forward to understand the appeal of morning runs. It’s quiet and peaceful, for city standards. There’s only a handful of people out, fellow runners and early commuters. There seems to be a shared understanding between morning runners – a silent and mutual “Go us!” for hitting the pavement before many even get out of bed.  You can watch another day begin in front of  your eyes. When you first step outside it’s still dark out, as you run the sky brightens and the sun rises, and by the time you return home, the morning is in full swing. Getting in some fresh air, exercise and “me time” makes me feel less guilty about being stuck in the office all day. My whole morning routine doesn’t feel so rushed on days when I run. I’m grateful for those few minutes after my run where I can stretch, watch the morning news (something I’d never do otherwise) and make a green smoothie. By the time I get in the shower, I’m already feeling good and ready to start the day. 

Right now, I usually only get in one morning run a week, but one of my goals (especially after the half when I don’t have as much motivation to run) is to make morning runs more a part of my daily routine.

And let’s not forget the sweet Instagram shots morning runs offer, no filter necessary…

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