From the Archives: Thank You Letter to the Boston Marathon

Boston 2011

 

It’s April, and in two short weeks more than 30,000 runners will make their way from Hopkinton to Boston.  I won’t be one of them this year, but this race hasn’t been far from my mind.  I wasn’t writing about running after I finished my first Boston, but I was after my second.  So this week’s post comes from my 2011 write-up for the Deseret News about the experience.  The race is special in a way no other race will ever be.  Even if you never set foot in the Athlete’s Village, the experience is worth the trouble because it’s not just about the runners.  It’s about the spectators, volunteers, at-home cheerleaders, and the work behind the bib.  Enjoy.

 

Dear Boston Marathon,
I was taught at a very young age that I should always send a thank-you note to anyone who has given me a gift. In keeping with this lesson in etiquette, I just want to thank you for the wonderful weekend you provided for my family and I.

First, I want to thank you for playing hard-to-get. They say that the chase is the most exciting part of the hunt, and you sure proved them right. I’ve made it a personal goal to chase you at every marathon I’ve run. You certainly don’t make it easy. In fact, in recent weeks you’ve become even more elusive, but I like that. You seem to know that we runners like a good challenge. Tell me I can’t, and you can bet that I will. Your constant nagging in the back of my brain has given my weekends structure. Who am I kidding? It’s given my entire year structure. I have calendars with long runs, tempo runs, hill repeats and speed work all laid out in a carefully formulated plan just so I can earn an invitation to your party.

Continue reading “From the Archives: Thank You Letter to the Boston Marathon”

Deseret News: Running Myths Debunked

No, I did not address the “Running Makes Your Knees Bad” issue.  I’ve said time and again that there are countless studies that prove otherwise.  The research is out there and there’s no need for me to add to them.  The myths I tackle here are more about the bad advice I’ve received over the years.  Even in the comment section, some of those myths live on (and some commenters obviously skimmed the article and missed some key points, but that’s not new).  In any case, click on the link below to read on.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865676461/Running-myths-debunked.html

Integrity Matters

My first marathon overall win, which I won fair and square.

I recently read an article that could have been great, but took a wrong turn and missed the point.  It should have been an article about online shaming and the harm it does to its targets.  Had the author left the point there, I would have stood in total agreement.  Belittling others in public forums and social media rarely changes a situation for the better.  But what made me bristle was the author’s assertion that publicly calling out runners who cheat during races is worse than the actual cheating itself.  In fact, she goes so far as to ask the question, “Does it really matter?” referring to cheating in general.

Well, you can probably guess where I stand on that.  In case you’re unsure, click on the link below to read my thoughts about this.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865675458/Integrity-in-sports-particularly-when-running-races-will-always-matter.html

Pennies in the Bucket

Life is made of a series of small decisions.  There’s a lot to celebrate in that statement.  Change can be difficult and overwhelming when we focus on the big picture.  But when we break up our goals into smaller steps, suddenly that giant elephant on your plate is devoured (or chips, or cookies- insert preferred snack food here).  The point is if we want change to happen, we have to make it happen.  It doesn’t have to happen in a day.  In fact, slower change is typically more permanent change.  Our family has a “Fun Bucket”.  In this bucket is where we collect our loose coins.  Before a big vacation we typically take it to the bank to cash it in for bills.  It’s amazing to me how much we accumulate throughout the year.  It’s not unusual to save in the hundreds.  The best part it we don’t even notice the impact.  Tell me to put $100 aside, I feel that.  Tell me to put $1 a day aside for 100 days, I barely notice that dollar missing from my wallet.

Click on the link below to read about some of the pennies I’m putting in my bucket now.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865674327/Small-changes-make-a-big-difference.html?clear_cache=1

Happy Valentine’s Day, Running- 14 Reasons I Still Love to Run

Don’t running and I make a good-looking couple!

I might always love running, but I don’t always like it.  Sometimes we just need a break from each other, but we always end up back together again.  Initially our relationship felt very one-sided.  I was faithful, but running let me down: injuries, burnout, perceived lack of progress.  Most of the issues were my fault.  I demanded more than my fair share.  I expected running to reciprocate my affection in ways that just weren’t mine to claim.  I wanted fast legs, shiny medals, and a body made of steel.  I saw others reach these goals in their relationships with running, so why shouldn’t I?  Time and time again running tried to tell me I was unique.  Our situation was one-of-a-kind.  I wasn’t like all the other girls.  I didn’t want to hear that.  I blamed my injuries and fatigue on running until one day it dawned on me.  If running was treating everyone else fairly, maybe the problem was me.  Maybe I needed to change. Maybe the problem was more one-sided than I thought.  When it was good, it was really good.  When it was bad, well, whose fault was it, really?  I needed to own my part in this dysfunctional partnership.  I needed to quit playing the victim and look for ways to make our bond stronger.  I needed to reassess what I really wanted from running.  I needed long-term perspective rather than instant gratification.

Fast forward to today and I think we’re in a good place now.  I respect the recovery running demands from me.  Instead of focusing on what running isn’t giving me, I appreciate what it does.  I understand we need some time apart, but when I take a day off, the make-up runs are so great!  Our relationship is stronger than ever now that we have mutual respect and understanding.  So, to running, Happy Valentine’s Day.

Click on the link below to read all about the 14 reasons I still love running after all these years.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865673241/Reasons-I-still-love-running.html

We Can Come Together

The scarf given to me on Easter Sunday 2014, the day before the Boston Marathon.

 

Almost four years ago, two terrible people committed a horrific act of terror that impacted millions of lives.  Out of that tragedy emerged some of the most profound acts of kindness I’ve witnessed.  Residents giving away coats to freezing runners; hotels offering shelter to those who couldn’t make it back to theirs; strangers sharing food and hugs.  That’s not to mention the heroics of medical personnel, volunteers and fellow runners.

The Boston Bombings in 2013 shook my world to its core.  I knew terrorists existed.  I saw the planes crashing into buildings on 9-11.  I watched the news and tried my best to keep up with current events around the world.  Yes, terrorism was real, but not.  It’s one thing to see bombs exploding in countries across the globe from the comfort of my own living room.  It’s another thing entirely to hear those explosions, feel your hotel room shake and listen to the windows rattle.  It’s another thing to receive a phone call from a friend asking in panic where another friend is.  It’s another thing to emerge from your hotel room only to be greeted by soldiers with large guns telling you to turn around and go the other way.  It’s another thing to sit on the floor of your hotel lobby with hundreds of stranded runners, many of whom never finished their race and who can’t get to their hotel, and watch President Obama talk directly to you through the media in an attempt to soothe our fear and console our hearts.

I don’t think about that day much.  I don’t plan to see the movie.  No judgement towards those who do, but the previews alone leave me in a state of panic.  It was the worst day of my life.  The location of the first bomb was in the exact spot my family stood while I ran my first Boston in 2010.  While my friend and I ran in 2013, our husbands stood across the street from that first bomb, waiting to cheer us on that last .2.  After celebrating our own finish, my friend and her husband went back to cheer on other runners and were directly across the bomb when it went off.  I was back in my hotel room nursing a sore hamstring.  The plan was to let 2013 be my last Boston.  The moment those explosions happened, I knew I’d be back in 2014.

For a year I carried the weight of that day on my shoulders, and I didn’t even realize it.  I did what I always did: drive kids; teach classes; run errands; train for Boston.  Life goes on.  Before I knew it, my friend Shelly and I were flying to Boston where I would meet up with my running partner Tyler and run the marathon one more time.

The day before the race was Easter Sunday.  The Old South Church, located at the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston St.  traditionally holds a service the day before the race and offers a Blessing for the Athletes.  I’d never been, and seeing as it was Easter Sunday and the last time I’d be in Boston for the foreseeable future, Shelly and I decided to attend the 11am service.  It was beautiful.  People from every background packed the pews.  Every race, religion, and gender represented.  Different backgrounds and different stories, but we were all looking for a little peace.  There were a lot of runners wearing their 2013 Boston Celebration jackets.  It was comforting to see so many of my fellow runners who’d lived the same day I’d lived.  Our shared experience made us almost like family. I felt like I was a part of a club, although I never wanted to be a member.

The service began.  The music was beautiful.  The minister’s words more significant than ever.  Near the end the runners were asked to stand for their blessing.  Then those who’d run in 2013 were asked to remain standing.  Men and women walked down the aisles with their arms laden with blue and yellow scarves; each one unique in its design.  The church had spent the past year recruiting volunteers to knit scarves for the runners.  People from all around the country contributed and the final result was making its way around the church.  The minister asked for the person to the right of every standing runner to take a scarf and wrap it around the neck of that runner.  An older gentleman took a scarf and wrapped it around my neck and gave me a hug.  We’d never met, but it didn’t feel that way.  I was crying.  He was crying.  There was a lot of crying.

While we stood with our scarves wrapped snuggly around our necks, the minister explained their significance.  Service is something we give someone else.  Someone had to place those scarves around out necks so they could serve us and we could receive that service.  In that act we are both blessed.  Scarves provide comfort when the world is stormy.  They give warmth on the coldest day.  Those that knitted the scarves also served as they provided comfort.  Those scarves were in essence a hug from a stranger wanting to reach out to let us know that out of that one stormy day there was still warmth.  I wore that scarf for the rest of the trip.

Marathon Monday, was equally as moving.  We had a moment of silence at the start line.  And then we began our race.  There were over 30,000 runners with 30,000 different reasons to run.  At mile 16, after the right hand turn at the fire station on our way to Heartbreak Hill, I’ll never forget the little girl holding the sign, “Remember Who You Run For”.  Underneath was a picture of Richard, the little boy who’d been killed in the bombings.  How could I forget.

Rounding the corner to Hereford and then Boylston, the crowds cheered so loudly I couldn’t hear my own thoughts.  Their energy lifted me to the point I felt like I was floating.  I couldn’t feel my legs, but in a good way.  It was the closest thing I’ve had to a religious experience in the secular world.  It was a triumph of spirit as we crossed the finish line.  We carried the spectators and volunteers with us.  For those 26.2 miles we were one.  Completely and utterly one.

Why do I bring this up now?  The last year has felt more divisive than ever.  I’ve seen friendships ripped apart through tweets and posts.  Families divided over politics.  Divisions in parties, genders, geography are so wide they seem too cavernous to cross.

But here’s the thing.  In the end, we are all human.  We all want peace.  We all want unity.  It’s just a matter of putting each other first and our differences second.  If the diverse group in that South Church can come together in the spirit of support and love, why can’t we all do that?  Is a political season worth the relationships with those we love?  Can we fight for our beliefs and the causes we hold dear without fighting personal battles with each other?   I’d be willing to bet that the man who wrapped that scarf around my neck and the woman who knit it don’t all agree on every issue, but in the end it didn’t matter.  They gave service and I was the grateful recipient and we were all better for it.

Sadly, it’s often through tragedy we find common ground.  I hope to find that common ground before another tragedy happens.  We all want to be heard, but if we’re all screaming at each other we never will be.  In the end, we’re all just runners trying to make it to the finish line.  It’s a lot easier to get there when we cheer each other on.

Social Media Life Isn’t Real Life

Classic. My friend Elfi and I obviously NOT enjoying life post-race. Keeping it real. No filters.

When I was growing up, supermodels set the standard for beauty in magazines and television.  As a 5’2″ girl with no hips, it was tough to look at their tall, lanky bodies and feel like I was falling short (literally).  But I also took comfort in knowing these were paid professionals, and although their pictures were everywhere, I knew deep down they weren’t really the norm.  I didn’t actually know anyone in real life who looked like Cindy Crawford.

But today’s reality is harder to swallow.  There are still supermodels, but the images we’re inundated with most often are of our neighbors, co-workers, and classmates with their bathroom selfies posted on social media.  We look at these pictures and see ourselves.  And when one of our own transforms their body, we feel we should be doing the same or somehow we fail.  What we don’t see in many of these posts is the behind-the-scenes work it takes to get that perfect selfie.  Before we beat ourselves up for not hitting the same mark, we need to remember that social media is as real as the cover of Vogue.

If you view a post feeling feeling inspired to be your best self, that’s a good post.  But if you view a post feeling like a failure, delete it.  For some of us that may mean getting off social media completely.  I don’t think social media is all evil.  I’ve gleaned some great workout info and recipes from some incredible accounts, but even I’m susceptible to the “perfection” that comes through my feeds daily.  So I’ve made a plan to combat the negative influences of Instagram, Facebook and the like.  Click on the link below to read more.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865671196/How-I-plan-to-combat-the-distorted-body-images-on-social-media.html

2017- The Year of Kindness

A rare moment caught at the 2010 Boston Marathon. Kaitlynne, 5, making sure little sister Ali, 2, was warm enough. Kaitlynne even shared her gloves.

I don’t love New Year’s Resolutions.  It’s not that I don’t have goals or want to improve.  It just seems difficult to keep resolutions for more than a week.  For the last few years I’ve chosen a word or phrase to guide many of the decisions I make throughout the year.  Past examples have been: “Trust,” “Try,” “Jump In,” “Dare.”  It’s easier for me to remember a phrase when a decision is in front of me than to have one specific goal.  So, this year’s word to live by is “Kindness.”  We could all use a little more of that, right?  Click on the link below to read more about how I plan to incorporate this word into my daily life.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865670303/Showing-kindness-to-ourselves-may-be-the-healthiest-goal-of-all.html

Christmas Wish List

If you’re like me, your holiday shopping was done a month ago.  If you’re like my husband, you’ve only just begun.  Let me add to the gaggle of Christmas wish lists and give you a few of my wanted items for the season.  (No, this is not a way to sneakily give my family gift hints… or maybe it is.

 

Asics Kayanos-

I’ve run in these shoes since 2008.  The one time I switched, I got a nasty stress fracture.  Lesson learned.  You can find great deals previous seasons’ models right now, too.  If you live close to an Asics Factory Outlet, you can find them as cheap as $60.  Normally they run $150-180.  Worth every penny.  http://www.asics.com/us/en-us/

 

Feetures Socks

You need something to wear with these shoes and I’ve worn Feetures! almost as long as I’ve worn Asics.  With so many styles and options and with their perfect fit, you don’t need to worry about your sock slipping down or causing blisters.  https://feeturesrunning.com

 

Coast LED Headlamp 2-pack

I just bought these at Costco a few weeks ago after an old headlamp burned out.  These are super bright.  But what I love most is that they don’t have a middle strap, so if I don’t want to wear it on my head, I can wear it around my waist.  Still great visibility.  Perfect for your runner during these darker months.

 

Asics Softshell Jacket

I am an admitted jacket hoarder.  I have somewhere around 30, but this one has stolen my heart.  I hate the cold, but with this jacket, I really don’t mind it as much.  Fleece lining.  The sleeves are tight around the wrists to keep out the cold.  Three layers for added warmth.  Thumb holes and a longer sleeve to keep your hands extra toasty.  Tons of pockets, too.  I’m only 5’2″, so this jackets hits me below my hips, but I love that.  Keeps my bum warm!  It’s pricey at $145, but I found it at the outlet store in July and only paid $30!   http://www.asics.com/us/en-us/

 

Sweaty Bands

I love headbands.  Sweaty Bands are among the best.  My head is smaller, so headbands usually slip right off.  Not these.  And bonus for you, you can find a link on this page for a discount code.  http://www.sweatybands.com

 

Run Fast.  Eat Slow- by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky

I don’t have this, but I want it.  Hint, hint.  Written by marathoner and 4-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan and chef Elyse Kopecky, this cookbook is chalk full of delicious recipes designed to help you feel and perform at your best.  Indulgent nourishment is how they describe the recipes.  I’m dying to make the bison meatballs.  The superhero muffins already have a large fan base.  I’m not a cook, but this book makes me want to be one.  Find it at any major book retailer.

 

Audible.com

The only thing I love more than running is reading.  Why not combine these passions with a subscription to Audible.com.  Subscribers can download audiobooks and listen while they run.  It’s great motivation for those days when running becomes a chore.  If I’m in the middle of a juicy novel I only allow myself to listen to while running, I’m more likely to lace up my shoes and go.  You can try Audible.com for free and get one free audiobook.  After that it’s $14.95 a month. http://www.audible.com

 

Trigger Point Foam Roller

Roll your aches and pains away with Trigger Point foam rollers.  It’s pain you enjoy.  Actually, start using these foam rollers and that pain will disappear.  Since I’ve started using mine daily, my hamstring aches have almost disappeared. https://www.tptherapy.com/product/GRID_FoamRoller

 

Epsom Salts

I used to be an ice bath believer.  But I’ve found that Epsom Salt baths feel just as invigorating.  During long, cold runs I find myself fantasizing about sinking into a warm bath with epsom salt and a good book.  The bath is often as long as the run.  Find them at any major retailer.

 

Nutzzo Seven Nut and Seed Butter

This ain’t your mama’s peanut butter.  And it’s not cheap.  It can run upwards of $12, but it’s so, so good!  And it’s the holidays, so splurge a little.  And this is a splurge you can feel good about.  Made with cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds it’s delicious and healthy.  There are a number of varieties and versions, but I have yet to find one I don’t like.  Just don’t let the family find yours.  Put it in a safe hiding spot and hoard it for yourself.  https://www.nuttzo.com

 

There you have it.  My 10 Favorite Things to give to the runner/health nut in your life.  Oh, who are we kidding.  Get these for yourself and don’t feel bad about it one bit.  Happy Holidays!

What the Numbers Really Mean

My miles summary for 2016

Stories are made of words.  Glorious words!  But once in awhile, numbers have a voice, too.  In this case, the numbers are from my 2016 run log.  My running for 2016 is done (more on why later) and the numbers are in.  More than 2700, in fact.  It’s what those numbers represent that is significant to me.  Click on the link below to read my Des News column to find out why.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865669075/Every-mile-we-run-tells-a-story.html?clear_cache=1