One Down, Eight to Go

99 Problems Running

I can now officially say that I survived my first week of half marathon training. Okay, so survived may be a bit melodramatic, as I’ve quickly come to learn that this process is far less about survival than it is about simply enjoying the process.

I won’t lie that I used to be daunted by the prospect of running a half, and by distance running altogether for that matter. But, now that I’ve embraced running and taken it more seriously in terms of consistency and competing in a few races, it’s become a mainstay; a required yet welcome part of my routine.

A friend once told me how he starts feeling like some kind of “grouchy fucking bum” after a couple days of not running, and I can totally sympathize. Another friend recently remarked that “Running is a lifestyle.” Again, holla. I view it as not only a means of fitness, but a way to be more in touch with your body and better aware of how you treat it. I guess it goes back to the whole “Your body is a temple.” mantra, which correlates nicely with the vegan thing.

And moreover, why be intimidated by a half? I mean, let’s face it, we all know someone who’s done one that you’d in no manner refer to as a “runner,” a notion that has allowed me to adopt an “If they can do it, then hell anybody can.” mentality.

When it comes down to it, I think the single most important factor involving running is motivation (one’s playlist being a close second). Running gets me out of bed in the morning or feeling inspired to hit the gym over the occasional lunch break, either leaving me feeling hella good the rest of the day.

For much of this, I’ve gotta thank my girl, TL, who lent me her training schedule (below) and who’s become one helluva guru. Between her explanations (I took one look at Wednesday’s training and gave her a call.) and insightful stories, the wise and often inspirational words from others in my life, along with what I’ve found online (pic above), I think I’ll be golden.

With that said, bring on week two!

Half Training Schedule Screen Shot

Do It For Christina!

Christina

Those who know me know I’m not one to get emotional or to ask for money (okay, well at least not often, Mom and Dad), but I’m going to do a little of both here.

Before I ask you to donate, though, let me first ask if you recall your response when people ask you about your role models growing up. Our first response is typically a parent or adult relative or sometimes a sports star or other celebrity.

But how often was one of your greatest role models another peer? This was the case for me with my cousin Christina (pictured above – weren’t we precious?), who has long suffered from cystic fibrosis. I have vivid memories of her having to cart around an oxygen tank in middle school and of her experiencing serious shortness of breath during our trips to the mall.

I think back to the hospital visits, and to the night in college when I learned that a match was found and Christina would soon be undergoing a double lung transplant. I remember my mom calling the match a Christmas miracle, which of course it was. Nevertheless, I was used to miracles bringing joy and not precipitating apprehension. Thankfully Christina made it through the surgery and ensuing several months of recovery – almost literally living in a bubble cut off from most family members and friends – as well as anyone could have hoped.

Through it all, Christina has been both a trooper and a fighter. I’ve never met someone who’s been through so much yet remained so implacably positive; more so than anyone else I’ve ever known. She’s always appeared undaunted by her condition; unfazed by her outward differences. I mean, she was a cheerleader and basketball player growing up – to hell with the oxygen tank!

Christina embodies every bit of what a role model should be. And I’m proud to say she continues to impact the lives of others and to live her own life to the fullest as a pharmacist, wife and proud wiener dog owner. Oh, and as one helluva cousin and friend.

I’ve learned many lessons from her, including courage, perseverance, living each and every day to the fullest and always doing your best not to complain because you can always have it worse. Another equally important lesson I’ve learned is the need to fight for those people who have so greatly impacted our lives.

This is why I’m writing this post and why I’ll again be volunteering at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Great Strides Walk next Saturday, May 18. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not a fan of asking for money, but I’m going to do so here.

Please support Team Do It For Christina! with whatever amount you’re willing and able to give. Seriously, every extra dollar helps to find a cure.

If I meet my goal of $300, which I set in honor of Christina turning 30 this past year, I plan to finally take the plunge and sign up for a half marathon – the Patrick Henry Half Marathon here outside of Richmond in August. Meeting my goal, then, would not only help me cross another item off my bucket list, but to raise money to help give kids with CF more years to complete their own bucket lists as well.

You can find my team page here and learn more about CF here. Thank you in advance if you choose to donate. Thanks also for taking the time to read today’s post.

Lots of Inspiration to Stand as One With Boston

Martin Richards Sign

After tragedies like Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings, many of us search for a way to help, as evidenced by the many inspiring stories of good being done in the aftermath of the attack and over the past several days. I know that finding a way to give back was one of my prevailing thoughts after my initial senses of shock and horror began to dissipate.

Today I heard about a “Boston stands as one” tribute T-shirt being sold by Boston Marathon sponsor adidas, which will donate 100% of the proceeds to the One Fund Boston founded in Monday’s aftermath to help support the victims of the bombings and their families. Mens and women’s styles are available, both featuring a blue and yellow theme – the colors of the Boston Athletic Association that coordinates the marathon – for a very race-appropriate cost of $26.20.

I immediately bought a tee to serve as a tribute to the victims, their families, all of the marathoners, the authorities and the people of Boston. I figured another way to give back at this point is to spread the word about the various ways to give back, which is my aim here.

If a tee isn’t your thing, then check out One Fund Boston and The Salvation Army’s Boston Emergency Services Fund. Another awesome resource is the Boston Marathon’s Crowdrise site listing a ton of teams and individuals to which you can donate. It’s amazing to

In addition to that, I’d encourage you to get out and go for a run to honor those affected as well as to take some time to pray, which I like to think is the most powerful option. Oh, and call your loved ones and tell them you love them!

I wanted to end this post with several inspirational things I’ve seen in the news over the last several days…

The fans at Wednesday’s Bruins/Sabres game stepped in after Rene Rancourt had difficulty overcoming his emotions while singing the National Anthem (occurs around 3:00 mark)…

In a clear display of support, the archrival Yankees paid tribute by playing Sweet Caroline during Wednesday’s game against the Diamondbakcs…

I also wanted to share President Obama’s speech made at today’s  interfaith service in Boston. I point to two statements in particular: “Your city is with you. Your country is with you. We will all be with you as you learn to stand and walk and yes, run again.” and “It should be pretty clear by now that they picked the wrong city to do it. Not here in Boston. Not here in Boston.”

Lastly, the Chicago Tribune featured a very classy tribute on the front page of its Sports Section on Tuesday. I thought this was incredibly well done.

original

6.2 Miles and All Smiles

Me Rach 10k

We came. We ran. We actually finished. was our mantra (check my Twitter timeline) after my friend Rachel and I finished Richmond’s Monument 10k on Saturday. The race was my first 10k and only the second run I’ve done in my adult life. The first run was a 5k turkey trot that I ran with one of my fourth graders in Savannah, so needless to say this was my first quasi-competitive run.

I was initially a bit anxious about the race given my inexperience and the fact that 40,000 others were descending upon downtown Richmond for the event. But after a strong 6.5-mile run earlier in the week, creating the perfect playlist and some solid advice from my friend and running guru, TL, any anxieties began to be replaced by growing excitement.

And following a Friday night chalk full of carbs and Arrested Development, I awoke on race day ready to conquer the world. A beautiful morning and spectators beginning to line the street greeted us as we walked to the start line to join the other runners in our wave, which was comprised largely of unseeded runners like myself.

Then, at 9:08 a.m. we were off. It took mere seconds for me to realize how truly the race lived up to all the hype, what with the throngs of chanting folks (many drunk) dotting the streets and median and the sea of motivational signs (“Run Now. Chase Later.” and “Go Random Stranger Go!” topping the list) suffusing your gaze every which way you turned. The incredible atmosphere, along with the simple fact that such a diverse crowd had come out to participate, made the race so much more inspiring and thoroughly enjoyable to run.

I ended up finishing in 52:27 – well under the one-hour goal I had set for myself. I have to admit, however, that just finishing the race was reward enough and the reason for me smiling like some kind of smitten school girl as I met up with Rach afterwards before proceeding to pound a Powerade and wolf down a granola bar.

This euphoric feeling lasted all day and continues to creep up when I smile back on what was one helluva Saturday. I was toying around with the idea before, but now I have no doubt a half-marathon is in my near future. As a few friends have commented, I’m hooked!

As I sat watching the live stream of yesterday’s Boston Marathon, I imagined the sense of euphoria that the marathoners would soon be enjoying after crossing the finish line. It was only hours later, however, that a completely different feeling filled the streets of Boston; one of shock, panic and utter dismay at the senseless bombings that occurred near the event’s finish line.

I was so thankful to find that my friends in the city were safe, and I know I join people all around the world in praying for the victims and their families, the authorities and the people of Boston. I hope justice is soon served and that one of the nation’s greatest sporting events in the Boston Marathon returns in full force in 2014.

My New Kicks and a Surprise Lesson in Science

Sauconys

With it being a new(er) year, I’m trying to be better about staying on top of accomplishing personal tasks after becoming so consumed with my professional life in recent months… or years, really. With my Nikes showing definite signs of wear, one of my needs as of late has been a new pair of running shoes.

After talking with my bud and running guru, TL, I set out to buy a new pair of kicks  this past week. Of the sagacious advice she offered, the one piece that resonated most was the need to visit an actual running store versus going to a general sporting goods store like Dick’s.

Her advice could not have rang truer. I hit up a running store near me and talked at length with a guy who happened to be a semi-pro runner and the roommate of the assistant track coach I worked with last year at UR (University of Richmond). He asked me a variety of questions and had me jog around the store to get a better feel for my running style and specific type of foot.

I know there’s a science to running, but I had no idea the same was so true for actual running shoes. Purchasing a shoe that matches your specific foot is essential no matter how serious you are about running. Unlike most instances in life, you can’t buy a pair of running shoes simply based on aesthetics. The guy was adamant about this and made the very astute point that you don’t even see your shoes when you’re running. It’s precisely all about the fit.

Not that I’m any kind of aspiring pro runner, but I’ve been running around 15 miles every week and felt it was high time to invest in a quality pair of shoes. After a couple times running in them, I have no question that I accomplished this with my Sauconys and definitely inspired to get out and run even more now.