Tag: inspiration

My First Boston Marathon – Weekend Events

This post is about my Boston Marathon weekend, one week ago. Tara is graciously letting me put it up late, with today’s Weekend Update linkup.


Despite a 2 hour delay that kept me from getting to the expo on Friday, it turned out to be a magical day.

I think we got to our hotel room between 3 and 3:30, which meant I had time to unpack clothes for the fun run and the evening Meb talk and put out some things I’d want at bedtime. Nice view!

fantastic view from hotel

fantastic view from hotel

I changed clothes, swallowed some applesauce and started making my way to the Asics store on Newbury Street for a fun run with Deena Kastor (one of my 3 main role models/inspirations) and one of my all-time favorite guys, Bart Yasso. (together!!)

I got a hug from Bart and from Liz Comeau, editor of RWZelle, such a cool chick – and a picture with Deena. Here’s Deena and Bart:

Deena and Bart!

Deena and Bart!

Then we all set off down Mass Ave to the Charles River path. We got stopped at a number of lights, but at one of them, a BPD car turned on its lights so we could cross against the signal. Boston loves runners!

As if it wasn’t cool enough to be anywhere near these folks, I actually got to run next to and talk with Deena and Bart, and hear some of their conversations with others. Let me just say that again – I got to run next to and talk with Deena Kastor!! We talked about twitter, social media, group runs and her Mammoth Track Club. Deena seems exactly like she’d be from everything you’ve read/watched over the years – nice, funny, warm, welcoming and supportive, enthusiastic and in love with running and runners. I heard she’ll have a book out perhaps next year (not sure if it’s her memoir – please! – or a cookbook (also good). Of course I was trying to watch her form, but I imagine it was a bit different given how much slower than normal she’d be running….that said, it was the fastest Bart shakeout run I’ve been on!

I listened to Deena talking to other runners as much as I could. She said that all marathons hurt, they just hurt differently, and course-specific training is really helpful. (comforting to hear elites say they hurt – just because it looks easy…) She was giving one man course tips on Chicago and he said he’d watched Spirit of the Marathon and loved it. I ran and talked with him about the movie, which I watch the night before a marathon to get inspiration from Deena. I also ran into him at the Meb event in the evening, sat in the row with him. He happened to have gotten a picture of me at the fun run which he kindly shared with me. Pretty great coincidence! I ran for the last bit with another man who gave me tips on Boston and chatted about other races.

I was pretty blissed out, but couldn’t stay for the fruit/veggie/bagel spread and chatting at the store as I had to get back to the hotel and get cleaned up to head over to Old South Church to hear Meb (another of my role models/inspirations) talk about his running and his new book (which I’d already read a couple of times – but we got additional copies, pre-signed, for attending!). I took my Asics swag bag – a nice collection of stuff, and hustled.

The Meb event, moderated by David Willey of Runners’ World (who is a great speaker and moderator) was terrific. Meb was front and center, and joined by Amby Burfoot of RW (1968 Boston Marathon winner, also roommate of/trained with Bill Rodgers), Mary Wittenberg of NYRR (impressive RD!), and Scott Douglas, who co-wrote Meb for Mortals. Left to right: Willey, Wittenberg, Meb, Burfoot (Douglas is obscured).

Meb at Old South Church

Meb at Old South Church



Meb’s wife Yordanos and their three daughters, and Meb’s parents were in the pew one over and one back from us. (I think his dad must be a hoot, he stood up to cheer for Meb at one point.) It was briefly odd to see them all, and Meb’s brother/agent Hawi, when I’ve seen so many pictures of them. Kind of unreal. Meb was candid and humble, gracious and open and genuine – and funny. He was touched that Deena Kastor showed up to the event (they trained together in Mammoth). He takes appropriate credit for his hard work and diligence but cites so many people as his inspirations – his parents, the bombing victims and survivors, his coach and other legendary figures in running, and even us regular runners. Again, he seems to truly be everything you’d imagine from everything you’ve read or seen.

I think that’s one of the reasons I really look up to and try to learn from/emulate Deena and Meb. They’re incredible athletes – champions in so many ways and runners who’ve made comebacks to compete again at the highest levels – but they also seem to be incredible people. They really make you feel like you’re part of the same community of runners they’re in, and that they respect you for your efforts. They work very very hard to be the best they can be – both talk about getting the best out of yourself every day. They also find ways to give to and inspire others, and to support the running community and the communities where they live. Their character and how they live their lives – with joy and passion, with dedication and balance, with accomplishment and service, with continuous goal-setting and perspective – is something I hope I can do with my life and my time and energy. Every time I think of them, I’m inspired to try again, try harder, do more. I’m so grateful and lucky that I had opportunities to get a little bit closer to them this weekend.


I wanted to get to the expo when it opened at 9 to get my bib and jacket and look for quad sleeves before the Meb/Greg McMillan Generation UCAN event at 10:30. I was a bit daunted at the long line outside the building, but as soon as the doors opened, it moved really quickly.

As you might imagine, I had some moments of tears at bib pickup. I wasn’t shy about telling the volunteer it was my first Boston, which of course got me congratulations. I found someone to take a photo of me and my bib at pickup. I then headed into the expo to get quad sleeves (so glad I did) and my jacket – the essentials. I also got two copies the poster that has every entrant’s name on it. Mine made it home safely, but I’ve yet to unroll it and search for my name – not sure my magnifying glass is strong enough. May want to get it framed.

As you enter the expo, there’s a wall covered with graphics and space to write messages. I had to stop and write a message of my own, one I hoped would inspire others. I think the guy said they keep it, but I can’t imagine where they’d put it! (think it’s a John Hancock thing) I headed straight for Adidas – which is the first thing you see anyway – to get my jacket, which I tried on very quickly to avoid bad karma. I also picked up a blue/yellow shirt and a backpack (which I highly recommend). I didn’t love the china mug but kind of wish now I had gotten it anyway.

Would have loved to stay, but I headed back to the Lenox Hotel to hear Meb speak again, along with Greg McMillan (my “coach” as I have used his book to train for all my marathons in 2014 and for Boston).

It was terrific to hear Meb again, he talked about his past races and how he’d sat in this room 5 years ago (with a lot less attendees) at the beginning of his relationship with UCAN. UCAN has an interesting history – they helped Jonah, a child with a severe medical condition that prevents his body from breaking down certain carbohydrates. At one point in his life he had to be tube-fed every 2 hours to survive. UCAN has helped he and his family a great deal. Jonah and his mom were there. Jonah spoke at the end and his mom sat on the panel with Meb, Greg, and Olympic Trials Qualifier Katie Edwards. Left to right: Meb, Jonah’s mom, part of Greg McMillan (Katie is obscured)

Meb at the UCAN event

Meb at the UCAN event

Meb was incredibly generous with his time (and his wife and daughters were there again, patiently waiting) and allowed people to take photos with him, so I got a photo with Meb! I thanked him, and since they’d asked us not to, didn’t shake his hand (germs) even though out of habit he started to stick his hand out to shake. We also got 5×7 pre-signed photos from Meb and a couple of samples of UCAN products. (They had their new bar out for people to try, but I didn’t.)

Meb signed photo

Meb signed photo

I spoke to Greg afterward just to let him know who I was and thank him for the books and support via twitter and his emails to his “Pro” site members that helped me get my BQs and PRs and get to Boston. He told me where the McMillan cheering section would be out on the course. I also asked him for some tips on using UCAN as I had tried it in the past – seeing it worked for Meb, I got enthused and bought a bunch of it – and hadn’t had the results others had. It seemed to not only not work, but cause issues. He had some suggestions, as did the UCAN guys, so I may give it another try. I really want it to work and I can understand why it should work – but me and my tummy may be an n=1 for which it doesn’t. But that’s for me to find out in the future.

Then I stopped at B.Good for a salad to take back to the hotel for a quick lunch.

After that, it was back to the expo for more shopping. While out and about, I saw this

Run Boston billboard

Run Boston billboard

and this….

finish line

finish line

After I’d gotten overwhelmed at the expo, we went to B.Good for dinner. They were safe for my dietary restrictions and right by the finish line. The items I had at dinner were good but not great, whereas I’d really liked the salad I had for lunch. I’d eat there again, but probably choose a bit differently. Very nice and knowledgeable folks about dietary issues and quality product.


Sunday started with a well attended (video from MarathonKoach) Runners’ World 8AM shakeout run w Bart. Liz was there but not running. I saw other RW staff including Hannah McGoldrick (newly minted social media editor). I met and ran with Leah and she gave me some tips for Boston. She also talked about Chicago, which she’s run, and about the race she directs, the Rivanna Greenbelt marathon. I’m interested in perhaps RD’ing someday, so I love those conversations.

In the afternoon, due to the scary weather forecast, DH and I head back to expo yet one more time to search for gloves and then hit Marathon Sports again. If you read my race recap or my Thankful Thursday post, you’ll know I got gloves, a vest, and an ear band, and they made a big difference during the race.

We went to PF Chang’s for my pre-race “dinner”, eating around 2:30. It was quite disappointing. It’s also the 3rd time they’ve screwed up a pretty simple pre-race meal (steamed chicken and mixed vegetables) and it’s not worth the stress it causes, so I’ll be exploring other options in the future. Between the meal and the forecast, I was kind of twitchy and probably could have used more walking around to calm myself, but DH (rightly) was adamant it was time to get off my feet.


After “dinner”, we headed back to the room. Does anyone else feel kind of “trapped” in the hotel room that last day/evening? You know you should just lay down and read/rest but instead you pace, tweet, obsess about gear while taking 15 minutes to pin your bib on straight (a new PR). Then time pulls its accordion trick and all the hours you have left are down to an hour to bedtime. ….. or maybe it’s just me.

DH and I speed watched the Deena sections of Spirit of the Marathon before snacking and reading. I’d gotten slightly better sleep Saturday night and hoped that would be enough. I did my typical “wake up every 90 minutes” thing.

When I woke up at 4:15 on race day morning, I was SURE it was 5 (my “get up” time) or later. When I realized it wasn’t decided not to bother trying to sleep as I figured I wouldn’t but if I did I might be groggy when I actually did have to get up. So, I grabbed my earbuds and listened to my guided visualization one more time to calm me down. Then it was time to get up and head to Boston Commons and then Hopkinton!

All in all, it was a great weekend – parts of it really amazing – filled with people and sights and help that make me so grateful for the experience.

Thankful Thursday after my first Boston Marathon!

2015 Boston Marathon medal

2015 Boston Marathon medal

It’s the Thankful Thursday after my first Boston Marathon!

I am so very thankful for all who helped me along the way to my first Boston Marathon finish, all the way from DNSing Richmond 2013 and training for Shamrock 2014, supporting my BQ efforts that culminated in a dream come true.

  • DH – for so long, for so many things and everything, and extra special gratitude for amazing race weekend support
  • my chiro (especially all the last minute support/appts and calming me down)
  • my sister
  • my friends – especially K
  • my massage therapist (texting me during the weekend with support and after, eagerly asking “did you wear the jacket?”)
  • tweeps & blog readers – for all your support and encouragement every day and especially the times I’ve needed it most – I thought of you all during the race…..and many of you inspire me as well

I’m thankful for my role models and inspirations  – inspiring me in training, in not giving up and coming back, in putting in the time and effort to do the “little” and “extra” things that aren’t truly either: Meb, Deena, Joanie

And I’m thankful for people I’d never met before who helped me me race weekend:

  • The European CompressSport sleeve guy at the expo – If I could hug him, I would. I went to get quad sleeves, which I’d never used before, per my chiro, as I pulled a groin muscle Wed night before the race. The CompressSport guy promised they’d be fine on race day, He was right. I wore Sat afternoon, evening and slept in them, wore them for the Sun shakeout run and then walking around. I then broke rule #1 and wore them for the race – they really helped my hams, groin pull and probably quads for downhill, just as the guy had said! (also kept me a bit warmer as I was wearing very thin shorts) Utterly sold. Wearing for recovery also.
  • The helpful young man and woman at the Saucony expo booth during my desperate search for warmer gloves who sent me to Marathon Sports on Boylston, and the young woman at Marathon Sports who put gloves aside for me when I called ahead. Those gloves, though they eventually were dripping wet and so cold I had to take them off. I think having the warmer gloves really helped.
  • A fellow runner waiting in the Athletes’ Village….a Vermont woman who was one of the charity runners, I think her bib was something like 28xxx. She gave me a long sleeved midweight tech shirt that she was going to toss. She pretty much forced it on me as I was standing there shaking like a leaf as I was SO cold – I think I would have been way too cold without the shirt. In the cold, wind and rain, having that extra shirt layer on my core, plus on top of the arm warmers, really made a huge difference and may have saved me from hypothermia…in retrospect, based on my poor cognitive processes and inability to make a decision in the Village. I may have been inching toward hypothermia pre-race. I couldn’t decide the simplest things: Should I eat my applesauce and Vespa as planned though it was a bit late? Should I take the shirt? I dithered on that for a LONG time and the woman finally almost demanded I put it on.
  • I met Nico, a charity runner, while we were in the corrals. He had such an interesting and inspiring story and was a “double agent” Marathon Maniac. He also helped me find the last set of portajohns and helped me get my sweatpants off without having to sit down.
  • Post-race, the heatsheet volunteer who rushed over to me saying “you look so cold” and I was. She asked if I had gloves (I’d shoved my soaking wet gloves in pockets somewhere back around the hills, seemed colder to have them on) and when I told her they were wet, she said “I bought dress socks and I have an extra pair in my pocket, do you want them?” I took them. They may have helped a bit on the way back to the hotel, when the breeze was quite unpleasant even with the heatsheet (which doesn’t cover everything).
  • People who gave me directions that helped me get back to the hotel (I was pretty cold and tired at that point) and people who let us cut through the hotel’s restaurant entrance though they weren’t supposed to. Then there were (no kidding) 40 people in line for elevators, and some security guy took the 3 of us in our heat sheets into a service elevator to get us to our rooms quickly.
  • The many, many, many volunteers who stood out in really unpleasant conditions to make sure the runners had what we needed and were taken care of. What incredible spirit.
  • The law enforcement and medical personnel who kept us safe start to finish and were a supportive presence along the way, some clapping and cheering us on while they did their duties.
  • The spectators. The crowd support was amazing, even deafening in places, and it really helped. Kids and elderly folks in the road wanting hand slaps, families out in soaking cold weather, people with orange slices and candy and signs, people making noise however they could to lift our spirits and help us keep moving forward despite fatigue or pain or weather. You all are a credit to Boston!

The unicorn had to visit my pal the treadmill who enabled me to achieve this goal….I think they look great together. Dreams CAN come true.

unicorn and treadmill

unicorn and treadmill

And yes, I’ll probably leave the course profile there – why not? We know I’ll start training for Boston 2016 ASAP.

What are you thankful for? If you ran Boston, I hope it was a wonderful experience for you regardless of weather and finish time! 

Friday Five – Gratitude

Welcome to the Friday Five Linkup, hosted by my blog buds/local tweeps

Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!,
Courtney at EatPrayRunDC and
Mar at Mar on the Run.
Make sure to stop by their blogs for their picks and hop along to the other bloggers in the linkup, featured at the bottom of their pages!

Today’s topic is Gratitude. I think it’s particularly appropriate that we’re focusing on this topic the day AFTER Thanksgiving. Gratitude isn’t just for one day of the year, it is needed every day and some days more than others.

I’ve found that the more I can focus my thoughts, attention and energy on what I’m grateful for, the better off I am. I feel better, I have a better attitude, I’m more pleasant to be around, better able to support others and do good things. All this benefit to me from the relatively simple (though not always easy) practice of noticing and naming the good things in my life and the world, big and small – or even the absence of bad things, or just that it could always be worse – and allowing the natural feeling of gratitude that exists inside to swell to the surface for a moment and perhaps cause me to say or do something positive, which makes me (and perhaps someone else) feel even better. It’s a virtuous circle.

The list of who and what I’m grateful for would be pages and pages long. So here are just a few thoughts and other gratitude-related links for you.

I am so incredibly grateful for

  • My health & that of my family and loved ones
  • My running and all it brings/gives/teaches me, all the people and resources supporting me in my running in any and every way, including my tweeps and my blog readers. I have learned so much about myself through running. And in the last year I have realized dreams I barely dared to hope might come true, and achieve goals I might have thought impossible. Now I am (cautiously, eagerly, with fear, with excitement) dreaming bigger, faster, scarier dreams and goals, and planning my journey toward them.
  • People who love me and support me, laugh with me, cry with me, and put up with my quirks, both family and friends, near and far
  • The mind-boggling good fortune of my life – the country and family I was born into, freedom and safety, my job (present and many past), a roof over my head, indoor plumbing, safe and plentiful food and water, insurance and health care, the people who’ve taught me, encouraged me, helped me…..
  • Reading and writing, learning and connecting, curiosity, generosity and all the good in the world….there is so much good and beauty in the world, so much need, and so many working to make things better for others. There is always someone (or some cause) to support, someone who needs a kindness or a listening ear, and I’m grateful that I have the opportunities and the ability to help and serve.

Speaking of those who serve others…..I’ve mentioned Felicia before but want to encourage you to read her blog and support her efforts. This retired Marine Major (Wellesley grad, helicopter pilot!), daily deals with ongoing medical issues that would keep many of us from doing anything other than the minimum. But that’s not her way. Not only is this runner smart, tough, courageous, driven and determined, she is grateful, humble and generous.

While being the mom of two adorable small ones and studying for the LSAT – so she can better help others as an attorney – she is devoting tremendous physical and mental effort and time to her 12for12for1200 project. As she says “retired from the Corps, but not done serving”. She’s running 12 races, totaling 1200 miles, in 12 months to raise funds for the Semper Fi and Marsoc Foundations.

From her blog: The Latin phrase “non mihi, sed tibi, gloria” is my family crest’s motto, it means, “Glory to thee, not to me.” It is a phrase of service and giving, about assisting others to achieve and to succeed. I am raising funds to give back to two organizations which aid injured military personnel and in doing so, giving back to myself – by deciding that I will achieve what they said would no longer be possible.” 

A quote from a recent post: “There’s been some fun activity at the house this week, one munchkin sick for four days plus our downstairs heater conked out Wednesday evening, and yet, I wake up grateful every morning; I’ve no reason to be otherwise.” 

Even in accepting the decision of a military board so she can move on, she is grateful:

“I am grateful for the leadership and mentorship I received, the lessons I learned, the experience I gained and the people I have met and can call friends and family. I am grateful that there were those throughout this process who looked after me, who assisted me, from the medical and legal side, as well as those who continue to help me transition and move forward. I am grateful and humbled that I was given the opportunity to serve; I did my best to do so with honor, with courage and with commitment.”


Please take a look and support her in her efforts however you can – if not with funds, then with RTs and your best wishes. I am grateful for people like Felicia who go above and beyond to help others (but don’t think of themselves as extraordinary) because they inspire me and remind me not only that there is good in the world, but that there is always something I can do to serve.


One last thing from me:

If you are grateful for something or someone (or to someone) – say so. NOW.

Now is all we have, and it could mean a lot to someone to hear your words.


Here are some posts on gratitude by one of my favorite columnists/essayists, Kristin Armstrong. I highly recommend her book Mile Markers, and her posts in the old Mile Markers column on Runner’s World and her new columns on their Zelle sub-site.

Thought for Trot – this year’s Thanksgiving thought – you can see it builds on the ones below…..I echo her “turn a holiday theme into a life practice”

The List

Little Luxuries

Carrying the Weight – go further…when you make the list of what you’re grateful for, include the “why” – and when you thank someone, tell them too!

A post from Leo on 10 ways to show gratitude….and one on why living a life of gratitude can make you happy.


Who and what are you grateful for, and why?


People I’d Like to Run With

I’ve already been fortunate enough to run with Bart Yasso (group shakeout run before Shamrock) and it was just as great as I’d been led to believe it would be. He was gracious and took time to sit and chat with the group afterward.

That experience and some other podcasts, events, and just random thinking made me compile this list of people I’d like to run with. These are the fairly well-known folks (“famous”) people I’d like to run with. I find them inspiring and interesting, and bet we’d have some good conversations. I may do another list of lesser-known folks I’d like to run with….


Dean Karnazes

Mike Wardian

Joan Benoit Samuelson

Jonny Lee Miller

Dave McGillivray

Meghan Arbogast

Ann Trason 

I keep thinking of more people to add to the list!

Who’s on your “I’d love to run with….” list, and why?







One of the things I love about running is that runners are cool people. Whether they’re road runners, trail runners, ultrarunners or all of the above, running seems to either create or draw people you want to know, people with generous spirits who use their time, energy and talents to help others. Through magazines, movies, blogs, tweets and word of mouth, I’ve learned about runners around the world who impress and inspire me with their attitude, their actions and their continued striving to be and do better.

These amazing, ordinary/extraordinary people remind me we all have so much inside us that can go untapped, so many possibilities and opportunities to explore and use our gifts. I thought I’d share a few of my more recent finds with you.

I hope you enjoy learning about them and their projects, admire them, and let them inspire you!

    • Marvellous Mimi – recovering anorexic, ultrarunner who’s got amazing accomplishments and also uses her time to help others. She’s set up a project called Freedom Runners with Samantha Gash (the first woman to complete the 4 Deserts Grand Slam, see her in the Desert Runners movie), to raise money for hygiene products for girls in South Africa. Right now 60% of women and girls in South Africa don’t have access to feminine hygiene products. (stop and think about that for a minute) 30% of South African girls do not attend school while they have their period.
    • Jacquie Millet – the recent V60 winner at Comrades Marathon (V60 = “veteran” 60 years of age, aka age group) She came to running only recently, and her enthusiasm is contagious. Her interview on Marathon Talk is worth a listen. Jacquie doesn’t, as far as I know, have a project, but she’s an inspiration to me anyway.
    • Harriette Thompson – survivor of multiple cancers herself, concert pianist, and new holder of the 90+ women’s marathon WR from Rock-n-Roll San Diego. I listened to this interview with Harriette on Competitor Radio during my Sunday run. Her positive and enthusiastic descriptions of the facility in which she and her 90 yr old husband live, her activities, and her friends were wonderful to hear. For her 90th birthday, she went on a performance tour, giving piano concerts around the country! Makes me want to be like Harriette when I “grow up”. (heck, now!) I actually thought while I was running, “I wonder if, when I’m 91, I can beat her record? I think I’d like to try.”
    • Felicia Wilkerson, who I wish I’d met at the Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon! A military helicopter pilot, injured in service, she’s doing 12 Races, 12 Months, 1200 Miles to benefit the Semper Fi Fund and MARSOC Foundation (a very worthy group I’d never heard of before). Here’s her first post.
    • Lisa Smith-Batchen, ultrarunner (profiled in June Trail Runner Magazine) who is doing 4 Badwater ultramarathons back to back to raise funds for AIDS orphans in Africa via Badwater4Goodwater.
    • Liza Howard, ultrarunner (and new mom who won a recent race while stopping multiple times to use a breast pump!) who founded a trail running camp, partnered with TeamRWB, that brings together experienced and novice runners, active military, veterans and civilians to share and learn about the joy of trail running and an active life.
    • Anna Judd, running across America to raise awareness of veterans’ needs and to raise support for them. Her blog gives you more on why and how she felt compelled to take this on. More info on the project here.
    • Amy Pope Fitzgerald, a local-to-me runner/ultrarunner and mom (of “twins+1”) who shares her struggles with Lyme disease as part of her active, busy life. She uses her running and time to advocate for others who have Lyme disease as well as to raise awareness and funds for research.
    • And one non-runner: Jo Moseley, who’s rowing 1 million meters this year to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer (UK) in memory of her mom and in thanks for their support of both her parents.

These are just a few people that inspire me – the list is pretty long, and I keep finding more people to add to it, which I love!  This collection happens to be all women, but there are plenty of male runners who inspire me and are doing amazing things too. Perhaps I’ll post on them soon. Maybe I’ll even set up a collection of these posts or links on my blog.

Who inspires you and why?