Sunday, April 12, 2015

What I've Learned This Time Around

Friends, we are just about a week out from the 2015 Boston Marathon. This will be my fourth marathon...yet somehow it feels no less special than #1, #2 or #3, as magical as they were.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about how I feel about where I am at with my running. I'm a solid "Marathoner" now. As of next Monday, I'll have run 4 marathons and 17 Half Marathons which -- I think we can all agree -- puts me solid in experienced runner territory. Despite this irrefutable fact, it still feels odd and different as I still don't see myself as the athletic racer. I rather still see myself as the unathletic, chubby girl struggling to hang from the high bar during the Presidential Challenge. :::Shudder::: And don't get me started on the Shuttle Run.

Despite running Marathons, this logo still is my nightmare
And so I've been doing a bit of soul searching as someone who has a personal brand, basically, as an athlete now. As a runner. As a cat-lady runner. As a tapering, crazy, cat-lady runner.

Sing it, sister
This running identity is now just so core to who I am, who I've become, and who I will be in my life. Maybe I'll never run a marathon again. Maybe I will. Maybe I'll set other running or non-running goals for myself. But there's a lot that I've learned about the person I am through this process, which I'm going to try to articulate just a little bit now.

People are asking me if I'm ready. If I'm nervous. Yes, I am ready but I'm not nervous. Of course there will be pre-race jitters (did I pack everything I need? Will my tummy cooperate? Will my quads give out on the Newton Hills?) But the nerves are more manageable now then they were before. Like most things in life, with experience has come confidence. I know what to expect from this race. I know what to do before the race to maximize my results. I know that ultimately what happens that day is as much to the whim of the Weather and Tummy gods [Oh, FYI, side note that I've decided there is a Tummy god who lives in the gut of all runners] as it is to the preparation and training I have put in. So what will be, ultimately will be.

But that doesn't mean I didn't train to the best of my abilities. I found this marathon training season to be surprisingly challenging on the mental front. This winter was simply atrocious to be training for a marathon. Atrocious. I mean, c'mon now. At points that was ri-god-damn-diculous.

What I found even more challenging though was the issue of having done this all before. Many times. When marathoning was a glimmer in my eye and when it was new, the concept of running 14, 16, 18, 20 miles was just beyond fathoming. I'd see it on the schedule and be like, "whaaaaaa.....? Noooo....." and then it would be those weeks and I would get nervous in advance and I would gear up and I would talk about it to everyone and I would kind of freak out, and then I would DO IT and it would be this amazing mental rush! I had pushed my body! I completed something new! I had gone above and beyond!

But then I did it again. And again. And again. And now I find it difficult, especially on bad weather days, to find the mental strength sometimes to find the excitement. Because I know I can run 18 miles solo now. And I know it's going to kind of suck. And I know I'm going to be cold and hungry and tired. And sure, I know I can also find the joy, but I just know the pain as well. Digging deep when you know can sometimes be harder than digging deep into the unknown. It requires a different mental energy to push yourself to be faster, better, stronger....when you know it is achievable.

I also realized that the social support I receive as a runner provides me a joy I didn't think possible. I've learned to accept and appreciate that support with my soul and to allow it to provide me strength.

Super sorry that last sentence sounded so cheesy, but it's true. So I'll say it again.

I accept and I appreciate the support I receive from others. Deeply into my person and into my soul. Now more than I ever have before.

I have met deep and lasting friendships through my running. The community I've found has made me a happier and healthier person. And so many people in and out of this runner community ask me about my running. About how I'm doing. About how I'm feeling. They (inexplicably to me!) read this blog. They care.

And that's pretty darn cool. To have people care about your personal hobby, your personal goal, perhaps your personal struggle so much.

And the Dana-Farber connection. Wow. Just wow. I feel like raising money again this year for DFMC is like the apex to my running climb. It's the cherry on my sundae. The missing piece to a puzzle I didn't know was uncompleted.

I have found a way for my running to be bigger than me. To provide me purpose. I am overjoyed to announce that as of today I (WE!) have raised $11,736 which will go directly to Innovative Basic Cancer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This breaks not only my initial goal of $10,000, but also my astounding fundraising amount from last year. Over the past few years my running has raised -- as of today -- over $23,000 for Cancer research.

And if you'l allow me the self-indulgence...I am happy to say that I've never felt prouder of myself than I do right now. I've never felt more certain that I did something well, something right, and something good.

It's bigger than me just running a race now. It's bigger than any race I could run, walk or -- hell -- crawl next week.

So when you ask me how I'm feeling and how I'm doing and if I have a time goal and if I'm nervous, I say this:

I already did it. I already won. Whether I run it in PR time (which would be nice!) or I stop 50 times to go to the bathroom and end up walking it in 7 hours, I'm happy and I swear you will see me smile when I cross that line.

I've found away to connect my passion for running and my passion for cancer research and to do it in a way that makes me as a person feel physically and emotionally happy. If anything could make a person feel hashtag's gotta be this.

Thanks for continuing to be a part of my journey.

If you'd still like to donate or pass this along, here's the link!

You'll notice I've raised the goal to $13.1K which would make each mile I run worth $500. Can we get there??? 


  1. You are amazing not only for making it through a training cycle in this winter but the fundraising you have done! Raising money for a charity is so rewarding and you are astounding for what you have accomplished!!! I will be cheering you on from NYC :)