It is hard to believe that my day yesterday was so crazy that I missed the entire Boston Marathon coverage. After living in Boston for 4 years, I got addicted to the camaraderie and dedication of Bostonians for those running the marathon. In Boston they have an entire holiday (Patriots Day) where you actually get paid to take the day off and if you feel so inspired go and watch the marathon. Of course Patriot’s Day has nothing to do with the Boston Marathon, but it does have a nice way of working out for Bostonians. We did it a few times. If you get there early enough there are actually restaurants on Boylston Street (where the finish line is) and you can have food and drinks and sit on the sidewalk patio of a restaurant and watch the race in style. I can remember in the early days of Chris and my life together (maybe before we ever really knew where we would end up) we sat together, had brunch and watched the race.
Regardless of whether you are in Boston or not, or whether you watched the race or not, there is a charged excitement and energy around races like the Boston or New York Marathon. Just as there is with the Olympics or World Cup. These are races that show the triumph, drive, and legacy of professional and everyday runners that give it their all either year around as they train to medal in such races, or for those that are trying for their personal best. For me there is something gratifying about someone who works so hard to compete or even try to finish running 26.2 miles. When I saw that the man who placed first was just over 2 hours, I was reminded that he ran 26.2 miles in just over the time it took me to run 13.1 miles. He can run the same amount of miles in half the time that I can – AMAZING!
What inspires me about races like the Boston Marathon is the amount of hours of dedication it takes for these runners (elite or not) to prepare for such a race. Hours, days, weeks, months, maybe even a year back to last year’s race. It might mean giving up on drinks with friends, time with children or other family members. Possibly it means very early mornings to get in those long runs, or being outside in rain, snow, or sleet, or maybe if you live in a warmer climate dealing with extreme heats and dryness. Whatever the weather situation, the time of day, or the toll it takes on your body, training for a marathon is a dedication that not everyone can or wants to do. We are all capable of more than we do, but sometimes there are moments in life when we show that we can push ourselves beyond limits we never were thought were possible. There is also a kindness that other runners spread during a race – see this link for stories of how runners went above and beyond during or after the Boston Marathon.
Running is a sport like no other. This year’s race was cold and rainy. It shows how many people will come out and support you rain or shine while you spend from 2 (elite athletes) to 6 hours to finish running 26.2 miles. Dedication. Perseverance. Friendship. I admire everyone that ran Boston yesterday.
I started with the title: “Why I hate resolutions” but I decided to change it. Why? Well, whenever I hear the word “hate” I think about my dad who always told me that hate is a strong word, and that I should not use it. The funny thing is I am sure that he used it whenever he wanted, however, somehow whenever I use the word, he comes to mind and I wrestle and wonder if there really is a better word to describe what I am thinking.
So…this year I am not going to do resolutions. I am going to have goals. Instead of sharing my specific goals (I may do that soon) I want to share my thoughts around sticking to your goals:
Do not have others talk you out of your goals. I have had that happen. On different years I have made goals to read a certain number of books in the year, or write everyday, or run a certain number of miles. There are some people in your life that think you have carved off too much. They might think that you work too hard or too much and that you should chill out. For those that understand your goals and what you are really trying to accomplish, they will not try to talk you away from your goals. They will support you, challenge you, and psych you up on the toughest of days. Watch who talks you away from your goals.
Stay resilient. Do not give up. It is easy to tell yourself how tired you are, or how hard you worked that day. I think of my goals pertaining to running. While I have never run a marathon, I have done a half marathon, and I think about the days after. Do you never run again or do you give yourself a break and then once you have had the rest needed to recuperate, you go back out and run? Are you back at it, or once you hit your goal do you give up?
Have a support system. Maybe it is one person, or a group of people. For me it is my husband. He often knows when I have hit my limit, but I am usually not willing to call it quits for that day. I have a hard time giving in if I have not done my goal for that day. He barters with me and will say you can catch up tomorrow, and remind me that today I just need to take care of myself (most especially on the roughest of days).
Stay motivated. My goals sometimes fall over a calendar year and sometimes they fall over many years. I recently found a calendar that showed that after some intense health issues, I had started walking a mile a day (that was in 2006). Now I am running 6-8 miles a day. It did not happen overnight, and it required small, mini goals to just stick to my mile a day. Over time, I craved my run however long or short it was, my goals changed, and my life changed as a result.
Decide what is most important. I could have a long list of what I want to focus on. Or, I can prioritize what matters most to me right now. My motivation lately is to try to find balance in my life. That is not something that happens overnight. It is not something that just happens in a calendar year. It happens moment by moment in the choices I make. It is a priority for me.
A good book is always something that brings a smile to my face. This was a good one, maybe not on the top of my list for 2014, but at least one that was worth seeing through to the end. For some reason I have been reading books on running. I am not sure why exactly, but somehow when I read about running (and since I read while running) it inspires and encourages me to keep running. Try it sometime. Whether or not you are crazy enough to read on the treadmill while running, or if you listen to a book on your smartphone while running, a book that inspires running makes me just want to go faster and longer.
The book? “Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run” by Alexandra Heminsley. It is about a girl who never has run in her life and decides to train for a marathon. It is her training experience, how that shapes the relationship with her father (a marathon runner), and then how others ask her to train with them for continued marathons in her future. She is real, down-to-earth, and makes you realize that anyone, yes, anyone can run a marathon if they just put their mind to it and get started. It did not used to be this way, but running is now me. I am cranky when I do not have enough time to run, or if I am just too exhausted after a long day. I feel robbed when I do not get my run in. My thoughts are similar to Alexandra’s:
“That day in October was the day that taught me so much about why I run. It wasn’t a habit, it was a necessity: the essential realization that I can carry on when I am sure I am about to die; that to survive, I just have to keep going, keeping the faith that I could leave the house almost trembling with trepidation about what lay ahead, and if I could keep myself going, a few minutes, a few lampposts, a few blocks at a time, I would be improving not just my running but how I managed my life.” Page 109
Running keeps me sane. Just ask Chris. We often cater our weekend plans around my runs. I either will not leave the house for the day without getting a long run in, or I have to know that whatever event we are off to, when we return home there will still be time for me to run. Addicted? Maybe. Is that so bad? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. When I have an hour to get out of my head, be quiet and present in my moving and sweaty body I feel most like me. There is something rewarding about knowing I have pushed through, and in the end I am often given answers to questions I have been asking, and a greater sense of peace about my life and the world.
It is Boston Marathon day. My heart is always with the runners on Marathon day. I lived in Boston for a few years, and the company I worked for always gave us the day off. The marathon falls on Patriots Day which is a holiday in Massachusetts. So for many years I ventured out to watch runners kick butt in rain or sun on that April Monday. There is a place in my heart for runners, and for the Boston Marathon. Even from across the country, I will be watching and cheering runners on.
This year it is even more heartfelt to think of all those runners that will run in Boston. After what happened last year, this year’s marathon is that much more meaningful. In some ways I feel like there was never resolution for why those boys did what they did last year. They brought fear to so many individuals, and to such an iconic event. Yet, runners are not swayed. They come out each year regardless of the challenge. Runners are resilient. Everyone that runs today is a hero, is fearless, and stands strong that competition is alive, and that no one, yes, no one can stand in the way of the Boston Marathon.
A friend alerted me last Sunday that Shalane Flanagan (a local Portlander) was on 60 Minutes last Sunday. I quickly DVRed it, and was able to catch her interview. Shalane got fourth in last year’s Boston Marathon. This year she is going for first place. I will be cheering her on. For those of you that are runners, I saw this come up in my Facebook feed over the weekend from “Nike Running”
“Run with the Nike+ Running App and tag #strongereveryrun in the notes. We’ll give $1 for every mile you run to the Challenged Athletes Foundation.”
What a cool idea. I will make sure my run today is documented in my NIke+ Running app. I will be running for those that we lost last year, and those that were injured. I will be running for those that are pushing it through the Boston Marathon this year. Join me. It is a day of redemption, it is a day of triumph, it is a day to run.
Here it is the third day of January, and most people are thinking about what they are going to do in 2014, but I want to talk about accomplishments for 2013. Not my accomplishments, though. Two individuals much more admirable. Janette Murray-Wakelin (age 64), a breast cancer survivor who was told she had six months to live and Alan Murray (age 68) fall into this category. They just completed their 366th consecutive marathon on New Year’s Day, their first for 2014, and their 365th for 2013 (365 marathons in 365 days). Both completed a marathon a day, and ran entirely around Australia for charity while also sticking to a raw and vegan diet.
While I have no plans to emulate their current life, I can be inspired and push myself from their example. While the internet mentions them as an elderly couple at 64 and 68, I would have to disagree. I would say they are still young in life. This article states that they also eat a dozen bananas a day, along with their green smoothie. My kind of people! I am always impressed with what individuals are capable of and what inspires and drives them.
So it makes me think, what are you not doing that you want to be doing? What are you afraid of doing because you think you are not capable? Or are you not doing it because you think you do not have time? I always think that is an interesting excuse. We find time to watch hours of our DVR, surf the Internet, and yet some of the things that are the best for us (exercise and eating healthy) are low on the list. It used to be low on my list too, and something shifted in my life and now I look at eating + exercise in an entirely new way.
Take a few minutes to explore their website, they have an amazing story. Hopefully their life has inspired you to know that whatever you set out to do tomorrow, this month, and this year, a lot is possible. You are capable of way more than you realize.