Thursday, May 3, 2012

Never Tell Me I Can't

For most of you that know me, you know that I am a determined soul. The more you tell me I can't do something, the more likely I am to try and prove you wrong. Yes, it is annoying at times and may sometimes make me look like a perfectionist. The truth is, if I don't think it is a challenge, I probably won't try as hard.

A great example of this is college. I was lucky to have gone to an incredibly hard prep school from 6th grade on. By the time I had gotten to Clark, I knew how to write a pretty solid paper, compose a simple band piece, build a set and so on. This meant that I was not pushed to the limit for school work. Papers were done in the wee hours of the morning and exams were taken with not enough prep. I finished my degree in not as stellar of a gpa as I could have achieved, but a decent one none the less. When it came time for my masters, I was challenged. I was working 60+ hour work weeks while traveling for my job 3-4 times a week. On top of the crazy schedule, I had to fit in paper writing, attending class and studying for exams. As stated above, I was officially pushed to my limit. The results of those crazy years ended up being an amazing gpa and a pretty stellar thesis. Anyone up for reading about employee motivation without compensation?

Once I finished my MBA, I needed a new obstacle to tackle with all my free time. Triathlons it was and I ended up struggling a few years to eventually find my place. I was not top podium finishing, but I progressed to high middle of the pack which was fine by me. I added difficulty by taking on half marathons and was having fun with that when I upped the anti even further by training for a marathon. As we all know, someone was laughing at me when I took up that challenge and gave me 89 degree weather to make it even more of a crazy accomplishment. I finished, albeit it slow, but strong enough to get my name in the paper and my medal. What does this all have to do with present time?

Yesterday our work team had a town hall where the head of the group spoke about this year's vision and goals. At the beginning of the meeting he announced achievements for the year and one slide was devoted to the Boston Marathon. There on the screen were the smiling images of two of my colleagues, but something was missing. I did not make it up there to share in the glory of finishing. Everyone in the room was so supportive and angry at the omission. It is no surprise that I had the support of so many colleagues and executives at my job that they had every right to be not thrilled. I was somewhat crushed at my name not being there. The BAA recognized my finish, all my friends and family did as well, so why was I missing? On the car ride home, I did my usual dwell on life during 30 minutes or less. The ride started with me upset and finished with me angry. The anger drove to passion as it was as if I was told I couldn't do something. And help everyone in sight when I am told I can't.

The anger from omission has driven into a new desire that I never before felt. The bottled up anger went into me wanting to run and run hard and long. The running is my way of showing that I still can do it. Despite everyone, I can run strong and I can run hard. And in return, that man did something he never will know he did. I am more driven to run as fast as possible for Marine Corps. My life is back to running as much as possible and pushing myself to the limit to show everyone that I am a true athlete and can do what I put my mind to. Boston was for the experience, but now I am out for blood and glory. Bring on the next 5 months!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Marathon Wrap Up

Well a week has passed and I finally can process the crazy times that were these past 10 days.
Friday: Taking the advice of a teammate, I knew that my Friday at work was going to be junk. I prepared myself and colleagues for the knowledge that any deadline would probably not get complete. My coworkers wished me luck and I was out the door to drop off my medical forms. I originally thought that getting into the city would be a breeze, but I somehow forgot that people aim to check in for 2 pm which is the same time I was headed to the Marriott. After a long line at the Sheraton to drop off the first of the welcome bags, I headed through Copley over to the DFMC area for the weekend.  Along the way, I saw seas of orange and this sign and knew it was all real.

Once inside the DFMC drop off area, I was greeted by my team mom, Leslie. Seeing her calmed my nerves as she has provided such great encouragement throughout the season. I knew that if she believed in me, I could do it. I went along the line and picked up cookies, the medal for my in memory family, lots of papers and cheering items. Honestly, it was all a blur, but having attended the runner’s meeting a few weeks prior, I knew what was in the envelopes and I could read them at home. As I was walking out, I stopped to talk to Jennie, teammate and board member rock star, who calmed my nerves even further and was able to temporarily distract me from everything.
Back in the car and off to drop off the welcome packets, head home for a nap and clean and await everyone’s arrival. It was in the car that I realized I hadn’t eaten anything all day and probably should. Those cookies saved me on the drive over to Newton. As I had not been sleeping at all the last few days, that nap was epic and I awoke 4 hours later to my mom calling that she had landed. A quick call to the take-out place and she was at my house eating salad and pizza. Next call was from Rachel, one of my besties from college, saying she had landed. Off to the airport to pick her up and ½ of the out of towners had arrived. We went to bed shortly after midnight and I spent most of it tossing and turning.
Saturday: I ended up waking up way too early and convincing Rachel that it was the perfect time to hit the expo. We had been warned that the place gets busy Saturday and to go early. Score, we were finding on street parking at 10 of 9 and walking straight up to get my number by 9 am.

 The expo was a blast and I got to take a million photos, snag a ton of samples and buy stuff that I had been meaning to buy. Before we walked in, I had warned Rachel that her job was to limit my purchasing of marathon apparel as I had already bought the jacket. Surprisingly, I only walked out with an adorable shirt and nothing else. We headed home for a nap to check emails.

All week, there were talks about the heat and how awful it was going to be. At this point, I opened an email from the BAA urging all novice marathoners to drop out and defer to next year. They also let everyone know that they had extended the finish time to 7 hours. For the first time in weeks, I relaxed. I had worked all season to be able to run a 5:45 marathon finish and was worried if I had to stop for the bathroom or such, it would all be out the window. Giving me that much breathing room was amazing! In fact, as Rachel said, I was almost in tears from joy.
Soon after that awesome email, I was getting the call from my dad and stepmom letting me know they were on their way to my place. After a quick discussion of the weekend and receiving birthday gifts, we were off to lunch. Standing outside Zaftigs, I bumped into a friend and fellow runner who wished me luck and helped calm nerves a bit more.  My parents were exhausted after a redeye and shortly ditched us to take a nap as we did the same. The days of no sleep were getting quickly washed away now that my nerves were repaired. My mom called to let us know she was done shopping and ready to meet us for dinner. A trip to Summer Shack for dinner in Cambridge and home in bed by midnight. I finally slept well for the first time in weeks and slept through the night.
Sunday: I headed to the Sheraton to meet up with my dad and stepmom in the am and got amazing parking. We brunched amongst a sea of orange in the hotel restaurant sitting next to Team Hoyt. I figured it was a good sign that I was blessed to be sitting next to local legends and some other heroes including marathon winners. We finished brunch and headed out to see the finish line and festivities going on around town. It was a blast to get to walk around the finish and despite my horrible superstitious nature, still paused to take a photo or two. I left them at the Starbucks after a morning of fun taking in the energy of the city.

My mom and Rachel met me back at my place to head into the pasta party. Along the way I had a few marathon brain moments, but Rachel was quick to calm my nerves. I learned my lesson after nation’s tri last year that Rachel is a calming factor when I am in total freak out mode. We head into the pasta party and quickly find my in honor cards in which I am proud to show my family. The Cruz family overheard us and came over to say hi. For those that don’t recall, I was running in memory of their 3 year old Rylie. It was nice to catch up with them and talk about anything but the running. Karen was another great calming factor and I was glad to have been matched with them. All 9 of us sat down at our table and ate “linner” at 3 pm. The speaking portion of the evening started and they showed the in memory slide show. I started to lose it and could not look over at Karen or John for fear of totally losing it. After it ended, we talked briefly about how they know a lot of the patient partners and the in memory family. Man, are they tough and brave! Utta came on to speak followed by awards and then Jack. I had been talking up Jack all weekend so my family was excited to see who this hyped up man was. It turns out that they had also seen him on the news the night before which added to the hype. He provided humor to us stressed out runners. And like that the program was over, my family was all back in their hotels and I was alone for the first time awaiting the marathon start. A dose of Tylenol PM and I was sound asleep by 8 pm.



Monday: I woke up at 4:45, grabbed my bags and breakfast and was out the door by 5:15. On my way out, I saw my neighbors had decorated my door to give me some added pep. It should did make me smile seeing the pomp and circumstance. After parking the car so my dad could find it, I was over to the Marriott and walking to the buses with teammates. I pictured an orderly walk over with 100s of DFMC teammates on one bus. Man, was it the opposite; pure chaos and pushing and shoving. I was lucky enough to be on the bus with Giles, Alyse, and Pete. It was nice to know them and have run with them over the season as it provided some distraction on the hour ride out to Hopkinton. Soon enough we were departing at athlete’s village were Pete, Alyse and I banded together to find our way to the church. We got to the church and man was it packed. On the weekend runs, we usually had 100 or less people there so to see all 500+ of us was insane. I managed to talk to some of my track/Saturday morning teammates to distract me from the wait. I guess I wasn’t distracted enough as I put diaper rash cream all over my face instead of suntan lotion. At least it provided a good laugh. Shortly after that accident, the Fitbricks team was outside waiting for me to say hi. I hung out with them for a while through picture taking time. Jim came by in his police uniform to wish me luck and soon enough I was sending them on their way to the start. I ended up standing outside with Rob and others as we chose to walk to the start together. Having Rob there to talk me through it was key and I am so glad I got to meet him and his lovely wife this season. A quick photo was snapped and we were walking towards the start.
Jack was the announcer at the start which made me smile. I went the entire season picking his brain over and over and over and here he was in his celebrity mode. He was saying that Dana-Farber was in this wave and wishing us luck. And soon enough there we were crossing the start line. A note to laugh at, I had practiced my race day outfit, but not filled to the gills with GU. Sure enough, it kept riding down from the weight which forced me to hold on tight while running. My first mile was over faster than I expected as I looked down to see 11 minutes on my watch. I slowed myself down significantly and finished my 5k in pretty fast time.
Hopkinton was behind me and I was now in Ashland. Shortly after I hit the Dairy Queen, I saw Tracey jump in next to me and ran about 400 yards with me. It was nice to have my first fan out there. I also saw Captain Ben of Costa Rica fame which made me smile. At mile 4, my dad, stepmom and Ben B’s family was out there cheering me on. In the video they captured, you caught me saying it was hot. That was all that was going through my head…the heat! Soon enough I was rounding into Framingham and hitting the Bone. I know this road pretty well and knew there was no shade to be had. The heat started to get to me and I was doing a jog/walk. My time was still on target for the 5:45 finish as I headed into Natick and saw my mom, Rachel, and friends at my friend’s house at mile 10. Seeing them was key as it gave me strength to keep on trucking. I hit the half marathon point in the time I wanted and was ecstatic. Of course, that is when the proverbial wheels came off. The heat was starting to get to me and I was forced into a walk shortly after. I would jog occasionally followed by walking. As I hit Wellesley, I ended up walking with Liz and Christine, two teammates. We hit the scream tunnel and it was all it lived up to be. Shortly after we were headed to the first DFMC cheer zone where Christine told me that I was an inspiration this season. Of course that made me tear up to hear her kind words that followed. She and I played frog as I met up with a random lady named Laurie. She and I went up the hills as I talked her through what to expect. I jogged ahead as I saw the streets I knew I could push it up.
The hills were starting to be behind me when I saw a green shirt in the street. I knew that this was my next cheering squad as my neighbors, friends and family cheered me on. I don’t think the 10 of them will ever know how much it meant to me to have them there at Centre Street at a time I wasn’t sure I could finish. Ben R. ran with me for a tiny bit and told me how proud he was of me and that I was doing a marathon. That gave me strength to motor on through to the next milestone. My walking kept getting slower and slower, but I was joined with about 5-10 fellow DFMC people. It was a strength in numbers game as we mentally banded together to finish it all. Somewhere around Washington Square I saw my friend Claudia and her nieces. Seeing them cheer for me as if I was winning the race helped so much. Next up was mile 25 and the patient partner area. As true to what everyone has said, seeing all that support made me cry. They were there for us because of what we are doing to help in this awful fight. I am so glad I got to see them on the bridge.  I kept plugging along and soon enough I saw teammate Brian’s sister and her kids. Her cheering helped me speed it up for that last half mile. I was turning onto Hereford with screams of encouragement and shortly onto Boylston where I saw Rachel and my mom. I gave them hi fives before running across the finish line.
At the finish line, I stopped my Garmin to see 27.16 miles. Does this now make me an ultra-marathoner? Jan was there to give us hugs and I stopped to take a photo with my new bff Eric who ran the majority of 10 miles with me. It was on to grab water and get my medal from Janet. Janet and I met my first year doing triathlons and she has been handing out the medals at the finish since the late 90s. She made it a point to stick around and place the new bling over my neck and tell me how proud of me she was. That hug never felt better! I grabbed my bag and walked to the hotel with Sarah and up into the recovery zone. It wasn’t until seeing Leslie that it became real. I had finished the Boston Marathon! A trip to the massage room, to change and grab a sandwich at it was off to see my family and friends downstairs on our way to dinner. A celebratory dinner at Legals where we discussed the race was just what I needed. I said goodbye to my dad and dropped my mom and A off at their cars and Ben R., Rachel and I were off to the after party.
In 72 hours, the events of 18 weeks of training were over. It meant the world to me to have some of the people that mattered the most cheering for me along the course. These people took time off of work, traveled the globe and stood out in 90 degree weather for me. The experience of finishing was amazing. It may not have been in the time I wanted, but it was still a finish. I am so proud to have accomplished the goal while others were not as lucky. In the end, I can officially say I ran the Boston Marathon and have the medal to prove it!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Reality Sets In

This week has been a rough one. Everyone tells you how hard taper is, but I figured it was all a myth as I have taperd plenty of times in the past. I did not know what I was in for! I have spent the majority of this week in a complete panic frazzled state. I cried a lot, I stressed a lot about the wrong things and I could not sleep for the life of me. I really don't know how depressed people survive normal life as it was just super hard. With it also brought virtually no sleep as I tossed and turned in my bed. Life was in a funk!

Like every Thursday since February, I headed to my sport's massage. I talked it over with my massage therapist and she assured me it was normal. Something weird happened after my appointment and magically I was out of my funk. I am glad this period is over, but man do I not want to ever experience it again!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A great tradition

About 3 or 4 years ago a tradition was formed unbeknownst to all of us who took part in it. One of our teammates was competing in an Ironman and we all pledged miles to swim/bike/run that day virtually alongside them. The pledging continued for Ironmen and marathons and races worthy of distinction. As I have never gone further than an Oly tri or a half marathon, I have never had miles pledged for me. Then it happened, an email went out from my coach asking everyone to dedicate miles to my run. People came forward right off the bat pledging 5 miles upwards to 10 miles. Right now there are over 40 miles that will be virtually run alongside me on marathon day with many of those miles being run to watch me at the start. I never realized the power of a village, but it really makes me smile hard and tear up a bit.

So thank you to Diane, Christine, Sarah, Ali, Steve, Leslie, Sarah, Julie, Tracey, Jim and whoever else ends up running for being my support system along the 26.2 miles.

A fun tidbit

When I started this journey, I decided that I wanted to have a person to run in memory or in honor of every mile. This way I could focus on them and bring their determination and spirits with me for that distance. Even when writing my application to DFMC, I included this fun fact. I put that aside as I focused on training runs and fundraising. Then it happened...I was putting together the list for the back of my singlet to bring to the printers. I glanced at the list of people making sure everyone was covered and it happened, 26 names lined the sheet. Wow, is that fate! In addition to those 26 names, I have included the people that were not named when donating by putting a little in honor blurb at the bottom. I am super pumped to drop off my singlet at the printer and see what I get back in return.

Friday, April 6, 2012

In Honor Cards

The DFMC team has a tradition of filling out in honor cards for who we run for. The package came in the mail probably 4 weeks before they were due and in typical Jess fashion, I threw them aside. Fast forward to two days before the due date and someone at track practice mentioned filling them out. Eeekkk...I had a lot of work to do! I ended up staying up until the wee hours of the morning making sure they were all filled out and decorated in a true style that made me proud. These people are those near and dear to myself and my donors and I wanted to show the love felt. In the end, I created more than 15 cards that will be displayed at the pasta party and throughout the marathon weekend.

Look carefully and you may see one of your loved ones on there.

Once the cards were mailed in, it was time to start planning my singlet. As most know, the singlet we were can be customized to include our names and who we run for. With the list assembled, I wanted to make sure it was ok to include the people that were mentioned at the time of donating. Quite a few people donated in support of me without including a name and I wanted to make sure to honor those they might have missed. I sent an email to my donors and the responses back made me cry. Yes, this is a common theme this season, me crying! The words of motivation and thanks for running could fill up books and books of love. Just alone what everyone said makes me still tear up. I know I say it a lot, but I am so blessed to have such supportive people guiding me each step of the way. Thank you to all those that have shown support and encouragement throughout this journey!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Motivation to Calm my Nerves

Every time I think about the marathon, I get mini-panic attacks. It is real, all 26.2 miles of it, but man is it scary! I've made a wall of motivation thanks to pinterest which is now my background on my computer. Looking at it calms my nerves just a little bit.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Trying to fight adversity and failing

I woke up Sunday morning with the knowledge that I needed to run 14-16 miles. I was feeling a bit run down and tired, but figured the run would put me back in the right mindset. I finally threw on my running clothes and headed out the door. I have done this 16 mile course at least 3-4 times already and know it way too well. Run down the long way to Washington Street, follow route 16 for about 5 miles and turn onto Comm Ave following the course into Washington Square. At Washington Square, swing a left onto Washington Street and follow it home for the 2 miles.

As I was plugging along the first part on my way to route 16, the thought of running the course 3 times this week was making me sick. For those that live far away, you are probably ready to yell at me through the screen. People kill to train on the Boston course and yet it is the last thing I want to do. You see, I really have no choice when picking a run. It all at one point has to hit the course based off of where I live. There is almost no way to avoid it unless I run side streets up and down for the entire run and even then it would be parallel to the course. So, as I am not wanting to run the course, I devise the best plan ever. I am going to run 7 miles to the high school, run 5 around the track and then run 2.5 home.

I am instantly in a better mood when realizing that I do not have to do the same course for the 1000th time this year. I continue on my run in good spirits and make it to the track. Low and behold, what do I see, peewee lacrosse games occurring. Ok, I will just run on the side of the track in which no one is viewing the kids. I start until a stray ball comes into my path. The peewee kids may not have the best accuracy! I give up and decide that I will run to the middle school and do the .5 mile course 10 times to get my mileage in. I take the long way to the middle school in which I develop a blister. This blister is now my focus of the run. I threw on new socks for my run and am blaming them as the culprit. I make it to the middle school and the thought of running the block makes me want to kick and scream in a little girl tantrum. I instead call it a day and limp home.

All in all, I fell 1.5 miles short of my minimum goal. Was I disappointed? Surprisingly not. I really was not feeling the run from the start and was fighting it the entire time. Should I have continued? Maybe, but maybe this was a sign from my body that I need to let it rest sometimes. Heck, no rest day really wreaks havoc on your mental state. You feel like an endless exercise machine with only one goal out there. So, today will start a new week and hopefully a much better mental state. And you will see me on the course multiple times during the final push towards Boston.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The amber gold of running

This past Friday, myself along with 3 other teammates hosted a fundraiser for the marathon challenge. It was inspiring to see friends show up and donate and those that have already donated continue to openly give. All in all we raised close to $800 in one night. It was a fun event filled with coronas that went down a little too easy and meeting new people. Friends and I ended the night at the diner down the street. The cool part about this is that when I say friends, yes they are all my friends, but none of them knew each other. Here were 5 strangers to each other eating and laughing the night away. I always say how fortunate I am to have been surrounded by such amazing people over the years in Boston, but seeing them all connect solidified it. These friends, along with others who couldn't make it, have been my rock along these last 16 or so weeks. They've calmed my nerves and listened to my freak outs all while being there in all the right ways. Man, am I a lucky duck!

Saturday was another fun non-running day. I showed up to the Multisport Expo to compete in the team challenge with my tri team. I watched the runners as they were insanely fast along the course. I was part of the bike portion and this too was incredibly fast. While waiting for the bike to start, I talked with teammates and had fun shopping. The bike went off about an hour late which put a kink in my planning for the day. I ended up showing up to Shifter's 5k as the runners were lined up and ready to start. As I felt banditting would be uncool at a race like this, I instead chose to cheer them on at the finish. I headed home after that skipping the party in lieu of a good Saturday nap. I woke up around 5ish to a text from a friend seeing if I wanted to head over to his house for a drink. This means that I had now officially missed the 2nd fundraiser I had wanted to attend that day, Rob's pasta party. I was on a roll!

The plans of the evening quickly changed to going to CitySide. For those that do not know CitySide, it is a bar and grill in Cleaveland Circle that we all run by on marathon day and usually a minimum of 1 night a week in practice. My route for Sunday included running by it as does my route for this Thursday. I somehow was able to pull myself off the couch and away from Dr. Mario to head over and meet people. As we were all ordering, the guy next to me ordered the Sam Adams 26.2. Jamie was much more hip into beer knowledge as they had just released the kegs a day or two prior. Of course I had to order the beer as it was beyond exciting.

We all sat around the table discussing the upcoming marathon while drinking the special brew. I won't lie, it was possibly my favorite Sam Adams they have released yet. The light German style beer was going down super smooth and had all the flavors I like in a beer. In the end, my awesome friends picked up the tab for my 26.2s in honor of the marathon. Yes, I really do have cool friends!

I know many people reading this will vomit in the amount I am getting sucked up into the hype. Heck, I have not even crossed the start line. Yet, this season has been the experience. I started in December having never run more than 13.1 and now I can say I can run 23.5 and live to tell the tale. I can talk about the 800s on repeat that have been done at the track time and time again. I also can talk about the $7,500 I raised for Dana-Farber. So yes, if my running stops today, I would be devastated, but at the same time, I would be thrilled at what I've done thus far. It has been a good run so far with still so much more to come!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My New Orange Jacket

About a week ago, I got a coupon in the mail for 20% off of City Sports. A few nights later, I was walking home from dinner with friends when I walked past the Boylston location decked out in Orange and Black. I was on the phone at the time and started gushing to my friend about how amazing it all looked. Yes, the color is awful, but it is my year!

Fast forward to yesterday and I needed to get in a 4-5 miler. What a surprise, City Sports there and halfway back was exactly the distance I needed. I threw on my running shoes and made my way to the store where I proudly spent $80 on one of the ugliest jackets I have ever purchased. Yes, it is also pretty flimsy. Does it matter? Of course not, as this jacket means so much more than that. I carried that jacket home and hid it away as it is bad luck to have it out and about before then. It is hard to resist looking at it and I am tempted to ship it off to a friend until after the race. Readers, you now see how superstitious I am. In my life, I have never bought race memorabilia until after I have finished. Then again, I have never put so much energy and attention into training for a race before. Good thing the MCM merch is so much cheaper or I may go broke!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

23.54 and Dancing the Night Away

This past weekend ended up starting normal and ending up anything but normal. I came home Friday night and sat down to eat dinner and watch a movie. In bed by 10 pm, I was ready to go for the long run and activities that followed.

My alarm was set for 5:15 am Saturday morning, but I hit snooze a few times. For all that know me, it should come as no surprise! At 6:15 I was finally awake and ready to head out to meet the runners at BC. As I live pretty close to BC, I figured I would walk over to avoid having the hassle of parking in the garage. I also knew that it would probably be better to get some miles in before the run so that I didn't force people to wait for me at the end. 3.7 miles and I was running into the gym at BC to meet up with my team. I hit the bathroom, talked with people and heard the announcements. It was during that time that I realized we were really at the end. A bittersweet ending to an awesome season in which I loved almost all minutes of it.

Runners were off and we headed out west on Commonwealth Ave wishing each other good luck on the 22 miles about to happen. I was keeping a happy pace and stopped at the first water stop to say hi. The second water stop came by pretty fast. In between the 2nd and 3rd water stop, I noticed that there was a slower runner behind me. At the 3rd water stop, she caught up right as I was about to leave. I had two options at that point, keep running or see if she wanted to join up with me. Ruth kept saying that she didn't want to hold me back and I kept telling her that it was better that she did it than me go out to hard on the first half which is common. We were having fun gabbing away on through Wellesley on towards the college. As we were heading onto 135 the crowds started coming. I have run many races, but I have never in my life seen so many people on a day without a race occurring. Often times there would be 50-100 people on one block. So many people were nice and cheering each other on. It was nice to see so much support for each other as we all work towards the common goal of finishing Boston. Like any situation, there were some super rude people that got under my skin. A reminder to runners, we are all out there running for a good cause, so please be kind to each other. And yes, I am looking at the team that earns the rude card who were running in bunny ears and tails....I only wish I knew what team they were so I could write to their coach about the unsportsman behavior that occurred. After dealing with some of those "nice" runners, we were headed right on to Hope Street which signifies the start of the hills. I won't lie, the hills were tough, but it was nice not to go through them alone. We made it to the last water stop and knew we were in the home stretch. Pep talks were given to each other as needed, but we stuck together. 2 miles later and we were turning onto the BC campus.

I felt good as we were turning into the parking lot of the gym. In fact, I almost broke down crying as Ruth told me our final time for the 19.85 miles we had just done. It was a realty that I could make my goal time and finish well. Add the miles I did prior to the run with Ruth and I officially finished 23.59 miles. Way over my goal of 22, but that is what happens when you end up talking and not wanting to leave your running partner. We walked inside, stretched, debriefed and talked with the volunteers. I said goodbye and started the walk home.

As I had made it maybe .05 miles, Leslie asked me if I needed a ride. Leslie has been my team mom and biggest supporter this season and seeing her ask me for a ride was the perfect end to the support that she has provided the last few months. I hopped in her car and walked from the end of my street home. I ended up deciding I needed to loosen up a little more and walked an additional 1.42 miles to make sure I didn't cramp. Up the stairs and into an ice bath followed by a hot shower and I was jumping in the car to drive to the Berkshires.

A good friend was hosting her 50th birthday in true fashion and I couldn't miss it. The theme was medieval and it was necessary to be in full dress. Amazon was my savior in providing me with a nice medieval dress and I had packed my 2xu tights to sleep in. I put on my dress and was happy to see that it went down to the floor. An a-ha moment came into mind as I decided to slip the tights under my dress. Imagine:

and you have what I looked like at the party. I kept loose all night as I practiced my dance moves on the dance floor. Shifter's party, bring it on! I am now officially ready to dance the night away after the marathon as long as I wear my tights under a long skirt or dress. 

I woke up this morning with minimal soreness ready to concur the day and drive home from Lee. Who knew this would be possible? All in all, this weekend was one for the record books and I am happy to have had the experiences.  Bring on the taper!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

14 inches

Years ago I heard about Locks of Love and was drawn to grow my hair out to donate to them. Time and time again my hair would get unruly and I would chop it off and send it in. I, like others, did not do my homework and while thinking that my donation went to cancer, it was really going to alopecia. I am all for providing wigs for kids with problems, but then also found out that the hair was getting sold when not used and that only a portion of the wigs made were actually given to patients free of charge. I stopped donating in 2010 and 2011 and instead kept my hair long.

The week before I got accepted to be on the team

When getting accepted into the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge, I made a decision to grow my hair out for the length of my training to donate to make a wig for cancer. It was my way of adding to the meaning of the run besides all the other reasons I was running. I got accepted way back on September 23rd and my hair has been growing since. 

My hair over the last 6 months has grown and grown to the point of unruly. It was getting a pain to wash and brush and was the longest I've had it in awhile. While it was getting long, I realized how much your hair is part of your personality. People would comment on the length of it and how thick it was. As much as it was driving me nuts, I realized how important these wigs are to someone who has just lost their hair.

This past Sunday

This weekend marks our last group run and with it marks the time to cut my hair. I was originally going to wait until after the run, but thought it would be cool to show up with the short hair as a sign of the culmination of the training (I am continuing to run until the day before the race, but the group activity is over). I made the appointment for this afternoon and showed up to a new salon that had great yelp reviews. There was a bit of a language barrier and I did not understand the question of how short I wanted it cut. All of a sudden she took the scissors to my head and 14 inches were gone.

I had a mini-panic attack when I saw how short my hair now was. I was freaking out the entire cut as it kept getting shorter and shorter with each layer. As she blew it dry, I finally calmed down. I actually ended up loving the new short do and can run my hands through it without issue. The one issue I will have is putting a ponytail in it, but don't think I will need to as it is short enough to not get in my eyes. Small issues compared to losing your hair in clumps as a result of chemo.

My hair is now in a bag ready to be sent off to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths which makes wigs for the American Cancer Association. To date, over 18,000 wigs have been given free of cost to those in need at a variety of cancer hospitals around the country. I feel great for what I did and am happy to give someone the chance to feel a little more like their normal self.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I raised $7k and all I got was #23166

$7,000 got me to this point. $7,000 going to fight a well needed fight. $7,000 from 38 amazingly awesome individuals and families. $1,615 of that $7,000 from matching gifts. Generous coworkers, childhood friends, people I have not seen in 5 years, random strangers, family, friends, teammates, friends of my parents all give without hesitation.  $184.21 the average gift donated. Hard earned money from each person who so generously gave without asking questions or wondering if I was nuts. $7,000 of pure pride in knowing that I can do anything I set my mind to accomplish. $7,000 of tears from each donation I received. $267.18 per mile through Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline and Boston. From here on out, this challenge is real.

Weekend Activities

This past weekend was an active blast. Who knew that you could have so much fun being active and staying active? After Friday night's bike session, I came home, ate dinner and went to bed. When did my life become so exciting?

I was up early Saturday morning headed to BSC Wellesley. For those of you who don't remember, the last run at this location was where the wheels fell off. That run was the day of a meltdown of epic proportions. Saturday was like night and day from that run. I headed out with the group destined to do 12 miles as I had a run later in the day. My times for the first three miles were way too fast, but I was feeling awesome. As the miles progressed, I kept about an equal pace and made it to the 6 mile turnaround in a respectable time and super happy. The run back was equally as nice with the ability to maintain the same pace until Grossman's hill. That hill took the best of me and I slowed down to a 14 minute mile. I never really recovered back down to my awesome pace after that, but finished the 12 miles in a pace that I hope to maintain on Marathon Monday. All in all, it was a great run.

I hit up Whole Foods on the way home and headed on back to my hood for a one hour chill out before leaving for my next run. The afternoon run was with the NH3. I have not hashed in what seems like a decade (really only 5 years) and it was nice to be back to it. The trail ended up being more of a walking situation with barbed wire and embankments, but the group finished a respectable additional 4 miles for a total run of 16 miles on Saturday.

Sunday in Boston is like the Mardi Gras of the north, our St Paddy's Day parade. Everyone and their mother claims to be Irish and runs around like it is amateur hour. I have spent many a years being one of these people and took the last two years off to hit NYC's parade. A little tamer, but still an awesome time. Our friend had us all over to his place to watch the parade and have fun. As the weather was about 70 degrees, the world decided to descend on the streets of South Boston meaning that you had no chance of getting anywhere close to it. I ended up walking about 2 miles to get to the party and an additional 1-2 getting back. I felt every inch of those miles as I hoofed it around the city. An unexpected 4 mile walk is not a bad way to go especially when you are eating and drinking like it is 1995.

I ended the weekend having dinner with a friend discussing my marathon and running. We were laughing about how this is the new norm. As he left, I realized that every aspect of my weekend had something active involved and how it is just life now. I am happy to have found tris and an active lifestyle 5 years ago and continue to live it daily.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Random Ramblings

-In the locker room at the gym on Wednesday a girl was talking about socks. I mentioned that I hate running in that particular brand as the seams are awkwardly placed. Her rebuttal was that fat girls don't run. My first statement was that I am fat and I run. Her response was that I was not fat. Thanks to my coworker for that ego boost at a time when I needed it.

-About a month ago I had RSVPed for a dinner with a social group I am part of. I also booked a computrainer class at the same time. The old me would have blown off the exercise for the dinner. The new me felt that I needed a good sweat after last night's crack fries with friends. It was worth it!

-I've started to get back in tri training for the season. I'm a little worried how far behind I am, but am giving it my all to get those muscles back and work like no other.

-We have muscle conditioning class three days a week at work. I now crave those workouts and am loving the lifting I'm doing.

-I'm inspired and moved by those that have donated to my run. Random strangers and people I have met one or two times have given so much. Couple that with amazing coworkers, awesome friends, my parent's generous friends and my rockin friends and I am floored with how much has been raised for a cause so close to my heart. If you haven't donated, there is still plenty of time. And expect donations in lieu of gifts in the future. Helping to find a cure for cancer is so much cooler than another toaster or bottle of wine.

-Today marks one month to the marathon. The butterflies are getting bigger and bigger.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Who I Run For: Mary Bryant, Ed Kukstis, and Bill Cowell

I honored Rylie Cruz on Monday on her birthday and was tempted to just leave it at that. She in her own right is special enough to warrant the whole week as my who I run for. I then got to thinking of how many other people have come forward with their stories and decided to honor three additional in memory people.

The first person on my list is Bill Cowell. When I originally got the donation, I wrote a somewhat generic thank you as I was running in memory of him, but did not know his back story like I know most other people's. After the Hyannis Half, I joined some of my tri teammates for lunch in which I was able to learn more about this man. Bill is the father of my teammate and friend Melissa. When Melissa first joined our team, I was a bit intimidated by her competitive attitude and desire to push herself. We ended up bonding at the Patriot Tri two years ago and I look to her as a mentor. She taught me to push myself, expect success and work hard at what you want. She also taught me some amazing gluten free brands which I buy to this day. Her father fought a 10 year battle with cancer eventually losing the fight. I can't imagine going through treatment for that long of a time with the hopes of overcoming it only to lose in the end. What a strong man her was. Hearing Melissa talk about him at lunch showed me where she got some of her passion for life and strength. I am proud to consider Melissa a friend and will channel some of her energy and his strength on the run.

Ed Kukstis is another person I am running in memory of. Ed passed away in December right around Mr. Snyder's death. I really knew nothing of Ed prior to his decline, but felt I learned quite a bit in that time. Ed is a friend of my friend Mare. Mare and I met last year during a survival weekend in which we got paired up with someone that should not have been there. She and I bonded over that experience which grew into a friendship. This past July she joined the crew on our Harbor Island camping trip and was instantly part of the group. Mare is a genius as she brought bacon for all to win everyone over! Around November I started to see posts pop up on her Facebook about the health status of Ed. As the weeks progressed, the prognosis seemed worse and worse. Finally, on a sad day, the post went up that Ed had passed away. I never met him, but the outpouring from all of his friends was astonishing. The memories shared, the pictures swapped and the love felt gave me hope in humanity. The loss in this tight knit community was apparent and so sad. With love and respect for Mare, his friends and his family, I proudly add him to the list I run for.

The final person to highlight this Wednesday is Mary Bryant. Rewind the tape of Jess' life to Freshman year of college where I met Cathryn. Cathy was living in the basement of our dorm while I was on the third floor. A mutual friend was in her orientation group and introduced us as we had a lot in common. With a group of friends, we volunteered at the local elementary school in an after school program. Cathy's mom was the head of the program and I ended up spending a lot of time with Donna. We lost touch through Sophomore and Junior year, but luck would have it ended up getting reacquainted our Senior year. That bond continued to grow as the years have gone on including some pretty hilarious vacations, book clubs, dinners, long talks, and so much more. As my family lives in California and is Jewish, Cathy's family took me in as their adopted kid for the Christian holidays. For once I was experiencing the thrill of Christmas and all that comes with it. Mary, Cath's grandma, was one of those to always make me feel welcome. We shared laughs and always had such a good time. I was there when her husband died and saw her come out of shell as she learned to be single after so many years. It was this past year that Cathy told me that they took Mary in for complaints of hip pain when they discovered stage 4 cancer. The treatment option was tried, but it was deemed unsuccessful and hospice was planned. The last few months were hard for the family as they watched her decline in a painful way. Mary passed away earlier this year and in a fitting fashion her funeral was on the day of the one big storm this year. This year marks some big lifecycles in their family and it will be so sad to not have Mary there dancing up a storm, telling funny stories and being the social butterfly that she is. I am glad I got the chance to know her over the years and am saddened to be running in memory of her instead of in honor. We will all miss Mary!

Speed Work Alone

For anyone that is familiar with my neighborhood, a new high school was built in 2010 costing the city a small fortune. It was so state of the art and expensive that the building made national news. For some reason, I have never made it to the school since the opening despite running by it on a number of occasions. Fast forward to today and I received an email saying that track practice was cancelled. With the cancellation, we were supposed to find a track to run 20x400 with 200 breaks. The options of where to run where flying through my head with the first thought being Harvard. I then decided to see the new track at NNHS as I assumed it wouldn't be crowded.
I showed up to the track around 7 and it was amazing. In perfect condition, the 400 track had 2-3 other people running around it. There was a cute old couple watching runners, a private soccer practice going on, some yoga and a family teaching their 3 year old catch. I felt like part of the community as I joined in past the gates. We have been practicing on a 200 meter track all season and upping it to 400 took some time to get used to. Once warmed up, I was in a groove. One other runner seemed to have a similar workout and we found ourselves playing an odd game of chase. About 8 repeats in and these rather odd men came onto the track. Not to stereotype where I live, but these men did not fit in to the scene. They were in jeans, dress shoes and oddly one had their hands down their pants. I got nervous and pictured seeing a fun article in the TAB the next day. I clung as close to the 2 male runners as possible and finished another 2 repeats before getting totally skeeved out. As it was now dark out, I figured the halfway point was a good break point. I headed home and regrouped. The old Jess would have called the 10 repeats a good run and have been done for the night, but I knew I couldn't do that. The marathon is 5 weeks away and every run is as important as the next. I soon remembered this awesome park near my house that I run by each day. A quick input in mapmyrun and I realized that each side of the park was .13 miles. This meant I could do 2 sides of it and get in my 400.

I regrouped and headed off to the park doing 2 repeats along the way. It was still beautiful out and I ended up bumping into a neighbor or two along the way. I made it to the park and did my first 4 repeats. As I hit 16 repeats, I was tempted to bag the rest of the run. I was tired, it was dark and I had almost no fuel left. I realized that quitting was not an option and I gave it my all. Soon enough I was done with the run and jogging on home. I had made the 20 repeats with a cool down!

I won't lie, 20 repeats at a 5k pace was intense as it was 5 miles of speed with an additional 3 of cool down. When I was done, I was happy that it 1. was over and 2. that I completed them without bagging on the last few. I can't believe that this track practice marked the turn towards 1 month left! 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Rylie!

As part of my DFMC experience, I chose to apply to the In-Memory program which matches you with a family who has lost a child from cancer while being treated at Dana-Farber. I had the pleasure to be matched up with the Cruz family who lost Rylie this past April from Neuroblastoma at the age of 3.

Rylie spent 16 months fighting the good fight against this awful disease. You do the math and that is almost half of her life spent with testing, chemo, hospital visits and such. I can't even imagine. I also can't imagine the strength of her parents John and Karen who seem to be invincible having lost their child and managed to raise two others at the same time. I give them so much credit for being the amazing people that they are.

I obviously never got the chance to meet this adorable girl, but upon being matched poured over her blog. The love she had for her family was evident. Her spirit seemed so bright despite spending so much time in treatment. She is a personality to emulate!

Today, Rylie would have been 4. A life taken way too soon before she got to experience the awesomeness of childhood. Riding bikes to the ice cream store in summer, a pick up game of kickball during recess, kindergarten graduation ceremonies, summer camp, and all the other things that make our life so worth living. I think it is fitting that today in Boston, it is 70 degrees in the winter time. It is as if spring is being born with her birthday. A time to enjoy life and all it has to offer.

I will be remembering this little girl all day today and will enjoy a feast of chicken nuggets for dinner.

To learn more about Rylie, you can visit the blog her family kept for her at

Too Much?

As everyone is probably well aware and experienced with, around the age 27-28 you get invited to weddings and a lot of them. By age of 30, your closet is full of "beautiful" bridesmaids dresses to show how much your friends love you and love to torture you. This year is no different as some of my closest friends get hitched in the fall which includes being in the bridal party. Thank you all for not choosing summer weddings as it puts a cramp on tri season!

How do these wedding affect running season? Well, in short they don't until you look at my workout schedule. No one wants to be the fat kid in the picture and no one wants to order a dress in an ungodly size. On our first outing to buy dresses, the old lady measured me for my dress and wrote down some insane size. I got upset and I meant business. I decided I needed to do something about it to get the size down. It turns out, she measured wrong and I am much closer to my real size than she told me which makes me ok. In my head though, I still keep seeing that original number on paper and it freaks me out. With that freakout, I decided to up my game and pick up body pump and other classes during the week to compliment my running. I may have been a bit too aggressive!

Right now, Monday, Wednesday and Friday I find myself sweating away at a muscle conditioning class at work which allows me to add on some weights to my routine. Don't think otherwise, this class is killer. The teachers are awesome and I get my butt kicked while feeling like it is nothing as I am lifting 10 pound weights. Do 100 reps of these and the 10 pounders add up! Wednesday and Friday I am also taking a cycling class in which we practice hill repeats to gain strength when out on the road. Hills are a challenge on the road, but 10x harder in a class where the computrainer can mimic a 9% incline. Five additional classes a week don't sound too bad, but these are hard classes, like really hard. I find myself perpetually tired and sore, but at the same time looking forward to the next class.

So, I am not sure if I am doing too much, but I am having a blast doing it all. I will probably go until the week before the marathon and then take that week off of body pump. Once the marathon is over, I will be back full swing but adding in running with a running group on Saturdays. With the goal of Marine Corps in October weeks after all these weddings, I need to keep pounding it hard.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Best Run of The Season

Yesterday marked one of the first days of spring. We all know that his winter has been pretty mild and amazing for running, but 60+ degrees is beyond that. I realized that coming back into the office after my massage was pointless, so I headed home to work the rest of the afternoon there. The sun was beaming down, the temp read 62 and I was working away chomping on nut-thins. All in all a great afternoon.

As 6 rolled around, I got ready to head out for the run from Woodland to Crossroads. It took awhile to figure out which shorts/skirts had the biggest pockets to fit my Charlie Card and money, but 15 minutes later and I was out the door on my run. I started the run a little sore wondering if running would ever get easy. I don't think it helps that the first .1 miles is a 7% hill followed by the next mile or so at 4%. After surviving those parts, I was quickly on the marathon route and I started to run a little faster. Going up the hills were surprisingly easy and although huffing and puffing, I decided I was not going to walk until BC. As I hit BC, I felt great and was hitting every green light which lead me to vow not to walk and continue the run to 1870 Comm Ave where I turn towards Cleavland Circle. The tailwinds were amazing and I decided that forget that walk thing, I was going to run until 1200 Beacon which would put my around Coolidge Corner. As predicted, I was still feeling amazing and decided to instead walk at St. Marys. By the time I got to St. Marys, I felt like I was flying. Yes, I was probably doing 10 or so minute miles, but to me I felt amazing. I stopped to walk for about a minute at the Mass Pike overpass at Kenmore and then continued on back to Crossroads. As I left about 20-30 minutes before the crew, only about 6-10 people were back at the bar when I got in. I made it in, used the facilities and decided to instead get in another bit of run while the rest of the runners got back. Off to the garden I headed still feeling amazing. As I was headed back along Marlborough, I noted that I finally felt like a runner.

All in all, I conquered dealing with my demons of not trusting my body and not letting myself prove that I am capable of running outside at decent paces. You see, I can rock it on the treadmill at a 10 minute mile for any distance. I move that run outside and I somehow doubt my ability to have enough juice in the system and start to slow down quite a bit. My mind takes over and I end up taking in 12-13 minute miles. Last night I was enjoying the wind, the weather and the scenery so much that I did not have time to think about sabotage. I ran to run and had a blast doing it. Last night, I remembered the love I had for running when everything goes right and all the pieces come together. My 9 mile run will be remembered as my run of the season where things just work!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Who I Run For: Paul Jordan

I often talk about the awesome place I live in otherwise known as the A-hall. I really hit the neighbor jackpot when choosing my home and am pretty sure it has kept me there all those years. When moving in, I was known as one of the young ladies as there were 4 of us under 50 at one end of the hall. The other end held two elderly couples of which we all became close with. Mr. and Mrs. Snyder were like the grandparents right down the hall. They had one child that moved away to Watertown while they remained living in their condo. As fellow members of the tribe, I was quick to invite them to all things holiday related in which Mr. Snyder became the entertainment singing the prayers and opera for the crew. My friends at Passover still talk about his belting abilities as he chanted the opening prayer. Mr. and Mrs. Snyder also ran a public access show called "You on Broadway" which was amazing. Imagine a room full of 70-90 year olds performing like they were still 40 and you have the monthly show. They took such amazing pride in it and looked forward to it every time.

About a year or so ago, we noticed that Mr. Snyder was slowing down. Mrs. Snyder took him for test upon test and his doctor couldn't figure out what was wrong. Months later, they finally opened him up to see what the cause of his stomach pain was to find that he had stage 4 cancer. The decline was fast and he was on meds to try and handle the pain. A once robust man had withered away into a skinny ball of pain who no longer could eat and spent his time awake trying to handle the situation. It was tough seeing this unfold as it seemed so fast and there was nothing we could do to help. Mr. Snyder passed away right before Christmas peacefully going out singing. His funeral reveled in the memories of him that we all had from over the years ala "Big Fish".

As I run the marathon, I will most likely have his singing voice in my head once or twice and it will make me smile. I am glad to have known him and to have made a difference in his life and vice versa.

Great Quote to Live By

Monday, March 5, 2012

Why I Run

I look like I have an extra 50 pounds on me, but the message is still clear.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Fashionable Running

On a regular basis, my web browser finds its way to a former DFMC runner's blog which happens to make my day with all the humor involved. The other day she posted an open letter in sorts to all the running companies that make clothes for only tiny women. It was only a day or so later that I was placing my order for my marathon gear that I realized I should give a shout out to what I wear on a daily basis. Those that run with me always kid around about my skirts and outfits. Yes, I actually do care what I look like in race pictures and thus try to not have too many rolls as I run by the camera. So, in no particular order, my workout attire:

1. Running Skirts
I beyond love this company and is a favorite stop of mine when I am visiting my parents. They have an awesome online store too with a decent return policy. The company was created by two sisters that have run way too many marathons to count (I get running envy of their medals in the store) and learned what not to wear. With that knowledge, the seams face on the outside to prevent chaffing and their outfits are adorable prints made in every possible size. The skirts range from nothing underneath to full tights for the winter.

Now to learn how to look this ripped when wearing their gear. I own that skirt and can guarantee I do not look that good. I will be rocking one of their black skirts with built in compression for the big day. For those that want to see the skirt in action in one of the, you need to check out me in a recent race. The photo has made me laugh at every view!

2. Danskin
My first triathlon ever was sponsored by Danskin in which they featured their wares at the expo. With amazing deals to be had, I ended up buying a ton of their clothes and have worn them since. Some shorts have become worn in certain areas, but after 20+ tris and wearing them for workouts, it is to be expected. The clothing is cute and cut well in almost every size you could need. They also have amazing sales on a regular basis and I was kitted for a whopping $40 including bike jersey this past summer. Who can beat a deal like that?

3. New Balance
I live equidistant from the CEO and the headquarters and thus see all the good they do for the community. My neighborhood center is named after the company, the track at my Y, and so on and so on. They also have a killer outlet in their headquarters in which I frequent a little too much. Although I don't wear their shoes, the clothes are awesome and hold up forever. I am often seen outfitted head to toe in New Balance and am happy to be in it.

4. Pearl Izumi, Sugoi and Craft
I don't wear enough of the two as I only own maybe a half dozen of the pieces combined, but when I do I am so glad I invested in them. Both companies spend time making sure their clothes are up to running and biking standards and are something an athlete would wear. My Craft tights have saved me on more cold runs this season than I'd like to count. My Sugoi tights are also a go to and I get sad when both pairs are in the laundry. Maybe that is why my washing machine is constantly running this year? Add to that the bike jerseys and tights that Pearl Izumi that I own and you have some great items in my wardrobe. Plus, I think it makes my thighs look skinny!

5. Green Apple
Last winter I did yoga a lot. We would all meet on Saturday mornings for a tough workout followed by yoga. It was our thing and I was hooked. This season, most of my group runs are on Saturdays meaning I have not been to a yoga session since summer. I miss it and my flexibility and plan to go back to the routine this coming summer. One night last year, I forgot my gym bag at home and didn't want to miss a workout. I knew I needed new shoes in a short time and could stand to buy a few items of clothing for working out. Into my local running store for shoes and into TJ Maxx for clothes. I ended up buying a pair of yoga pants from a brand I had never heard of and was hooked. The soft bamboo fabric made me want to never take them off coupled with the great cuts and reasonable price. I am now seen bumming around in the clothes as well as doing my workouts in them and am in love.

So there in a nutshell is what keeps me outfitted throughout the season. I guarantee you will love whatever you buy off the list and if you don't, I'll happily take it off your hands. Now, to make up an excuse to buy some more!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Who I Run for Wednesday: Kay

Almost six years ago, I decided to embark on the journey of home ownership. I proudly signed the deed to my condo and moved in with the intent on being an amazing neighbor. About a week or so in, right in the middle of a kitchen remodel, I got a knock on my door from a neighbor. She was introducing herself to the new kids across the hall as well as telling us about her role as a trustee. A trustee she said, man she has the authority. A month or two later, this trustee convinced me to run for the vacant slot on the board and to my excitement, I was elected. Years later, I view that knock as a pivotal point in my life. First, if someone wants you to run for trustee after being in the building for a mere month or two, think twice! An amazing friendship was born with that knock.

The lady that knocked on my door over the years has become the support system for the A-hall as we like to call it. The first summer I lived in the A-hall, we all decided to head on down to E's cape home and visit miss A and her sister in their summer abode. This was a big deal as we had never met her sister and had high hopes for how awesome she would be. We trekked on over and were met with grilled pizza and sangria. They had won us over in a few short minutes! Her sister ended up being just as funny as A and we were in awe of how amazing they were. V instantly has become a fixture in the A-hall and we love her almost as much as we love A. We have taken vacations together as a hall, spent weekends down on the cape, laughed until we literally peed our pants, and experienced major life cycle events. In fact, it was during a jaunt to the Met and dinner in NYC that we concocted the plan to set my college roommate up with their nephew. We all proudly attended that wedding a year ago. Where does Kay fit into all of this? One word, Gerta!

Gerta is one of the coolest little dogs around filled with personality and energy galore. Gerta comes with an interesting story in which V's bestie was named Kay. Kay decided to become the mom to Gerta when she was sick knowing that there was a very high likelihood that the dog would outlive her. Kay was sick with cancer and V took it upon herself to be one of her primary caregivers. This was way back before I knew the two lovely sisters, but knowing the generosity and love that they give, I know that Kay was taken care of in a way no one will ever know. Kay passed away in 2001 when our dear dog friend was just a pup. V has now been the "friend" of Gerta's since and is quick to talk about Gerta's mom all the time. From everything I have heard, this woman is nothing short of awesome just like her dear friend.

When deciding to run the Boston Marathon, the choices of charities seemed endless. I could apply for G-Row in honor of my college running career, the Respite Center in memory of my aunt who taught at a similar school, and so on. None of these charities really struck a pain in my heart as Dana-Farber did. It was all or nothing in the application process as I wanted to be part of the DFMC team bad. One of the reasons was in memory of Kay. You see, I came into the A-hall as a kid without direction. I was working a job to work a job, not a career and living like your average party animal 24 year old. These two sisters showed me compassion and what it is to be part of a family without blood lines. They have always been there for me and are my local in case of emergency contacts because as it says I trust them with my life. Both ladies would do anything for a friend and have always made sure I have a home for the holiday and a shoulder to cry on. Through them, I have learned unconditional love apart from a parent. What better way to honor them by honoring their dear departed friend than by running a marathon in her memory? So it is with great pride and sadness that I run in memory of Gerta's Kay.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What a difference a year makes

I still remember my first half marathon like it was yesterday. I met my mom and sister down in Disney World for the Princess Half. To say I was nervous is an understatement! I ate the perfect dinner the night before, got a full eight hours of sleep and made sure I ate and drank the right things that morning. The 13.1 miles were hard, but some of the most rewarding I will have ever run. Years have passed and I now have plenty of halts, both good and bad, under my belt. Today adds another to that list, the Hyannis Half, but man have times changed.

I received an invite for a going away party for someone I have known almost my entire length in Boston. The party was to be held at 9 pm at a local bar on Saturday night. With the best intentions, I figured I would make an appearance for 30-45 minutes and be home in bed by 10:30. We all know how plans usually don't work like planned. I ended up drinking and eating things that would not be considered half appropriate, but was oh so tasty. Add to that the staying out way too late, I found myself with about 3-4 hours of sleep. The lack of sleep normally would be fine if I had slept well the night before, but the 6 hours on Friday just wouldn't cut it. I was beyond exhausted!

My alarm went off bright and early and I headed on out with breakfast in hand and a change of clothes. I tried to choke down breakfast on the hour and a half car ride, but it just wasn't sitting right. I made it down to the race site in epic time, checked in and had about an hour to kill. The ballroom was getting packed, so I headed to the car for a break. About 30 minutes beforenthe race, I hit the bathroom and met up with fellow teammates at the starting line.

The race went off and runners started to move forward. The first mile was amazing as were the second and third. I was flying and felt amazing with an awesome pace. Then it hit...the feeling of being sick. With no porta potties in sight, my pace slowed down significantly as I tried to hold my composure. It wasn't until mile 6ish that I found a coveted portapottie with line to boot. The next 3 miles were again a blast and I started to pick up my pace quite a bit. For some reason, I felt awful again with only a 5k to go. My legs and body felt great, but I felt like I was on a ship in rocky seas. I struggled to keep it together to finish, but managed to pick off some of the slower runners as I was headed towards the finish. With a mile to go, I knew there was no way I was going to PR and my only goal was to finish. I crossed the finish line, stretched, saw some teammates and got myself cleaned up. I met up with some tri teammates for lunch before heading back to Boston.

The results of the race were somewhat disappointing as I was far from my goal time. Yet, I am also happy with my results. In life you have to pick priorities and this weekend it was celebrating an awesome dude. Races will come and go, but seeing these people was a rare occasion. Am I glad I went? Of course! I also know that my body felt amazing later in the day which meant I had plenty more to give. Now on to the next race and seeing what that brings. I'll be back in Vermont and my goal is to shave 5-10 minutes from last year.