Tuesday, June 5, 2012

ÜBER Excited About these Bars!!

So I have been pretty busy over here with a couple of weddings, job searching, workouts, trips, and friend/family time.
Jessie (friends from home) was married on May 18, 2012
Allison and Matt (friends from College) were married on May 27, 2012 
So when I received this lovely package in the mail the other day, I literally leaped across the living room and into the kitchen to bust it open!

Inside I found an adorable little bag filled with four different Larabars.  Not your average, every day Larabars, but new, grainier bars,ÜBER bars.

The flavors I found inside were all delectably titled with the names of some of my personal favorite desserts, which only added to my anticipation to tear each package open!

There was Cherry Cobbler, Bananas Foster, Roasted Nut Roll and Apple Turnover.  Being a big fan of the apple pie classic Larabars, I clearly dug into the Apple Turnover flavor first!
 The nutrition facts are very similar to the original Larabars, which is the reason I didn't dig into them all right away, but the interesting thing was how similar the ingredients are to the original bars.  The only major difference is the addition of brown rice flour, which is due to the fact that these bars, are as I mentioned before, a little grainier than the original bars.
Visually they are closer to a Kind Bar, but texture wise they are a little softer and stickier than a Kind Bar.  The flavors are out of this world!  The apple turnover was sweet enough to be dessert, but had enough salty balance to satisfy my snacking mood.

There are chunks of apple and raisins mixed in with the nut chunks to give the bar a nice mouth feel as well - so if you disliked or steered clear of the originals due to texture, I would recommend giving thÜBER bars a chance - they are a great transition from typical granola bars to a more nutritional dense alternative, such as Larabars.

I had the chance to try the Roasted Nut Roll flavor this past weekend and it was as delicious as expected, but I will admit I had to eat it in two settings.  The bars are very filling, and although the sweet/salty balance is nice, it can be a lot to get down in one sitting (I ate mine throughout a 3 hour car ride).
Finger licking good, let me tell you!
If you have not tried these bars yet, I highly recommend checking them out next time you spot them.   ÜBER  bars get two thumbs up from me, and that is coming from a dedicated Luna Chick :)

Has your spring/summer been busy so far?! 

Have you had a chance to try the new ÜBER  bars, or seen them around your local stores?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Meet the Luna Chix Boston Run Team 2012!

So you may know by now that I run with the Luna Chix, Boston Run team.  It is a fantastic group of women organized by the Clifbar & Co. to get women out and active, while spreading awareness for the Breast Cancer Fund and spreading the Luna Bar love.  There are teams all over the country covering running, mountain biking, cycling and tris - Boston has a mountain bike team, as well as us runners.
Team Luna Chix Boston Run 2012 - minus Paige and Kelli :(
I am so excited for this season, as we have made some changes to our usual Wednesday runs, and are really working on expanding our reach.  We have moved our starting spot to the Crossroads Pub on Beacon St. in Boston - it is close to the Esplanade where we run, it gives a secure space to keep bags and purses, and a great spot to socialize with water, luna bars and beers post-run!
Having some fun with captain Jessie :)
We have already held our first clinic, a run form clinic hosted by Olivia Lord and Nicole Pisani of Balance Multisport.  It went pretty well despite a bit of rain towards the tail end.  The clinic covered proper form while running, stride-checks, and some exercises/moves to improve run form.  We are so thankful to Nicole and Olivia for traveling down from Maine for the event, and especially the women who were able to attend and share in the success of our first big event of the season!
We also had a drawing for a free pair of Ahnu Shoes, an amazing partner of Team Luna Chix, I assisted Cynthia while she chose the winner!
Cynthia with the lucky attendee who won a pair of Ahnus!
The goodie bags for the clinic leaders and the attendees!
Not only do I love running with these ladies and meeting all of the women that come out to the Wednesday evening runs and our other events, but they are a really good time! A couple Fridays ago, eight of the ten of us got together for a BBQ in order to snap some great new team photos - there was awesome food and some great beer and wine to toast to a great season to come!!

Tomorrow evening is our sixth run of the season, and yours truly will be one of the leaders!  We have a four-mile loop and a 3-mile loop, that start at Crossroads Pub, crosses the Mass Ave. bridge and loops around towards the Museum of Science.  It is a scenic and enjoyable run along the Charles, and hopefully the weather will hold out!

If you are in the Boston area, you can check us out for event info and the latest news/announcements at our Facebook  page, sign up for our weekly runs at our newly created Meet-up Group, and follow us on Twitter!

I urge you to check out the Team Luna Chix site to see if there are any groups in your area! Getting involved with this group has been a phenomenal experience and I look forward to several more seasons!
Are you a member of a running club/team, or have you run with one?

Any good ideas for more run clinics to throw? Maybe some clinics you would want to attend or wish you could attend?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Shades of Green

I had the chance to get home this weekend to help my little sister Taryn get ready for her first prom night. She is only 16, but was asked by a senior a few weeks ago to be his date, so I had to document, of course!

I am so in awe of the gorgeous young lady my youngest sister has turned into.  She chose a fabulous green dress, some pretty silver heels, she did her own make-up and I had the opportunity to help her with her hair.

Stunning in Shades of Green...
I am so happy I was able to go home and support her and catch some of the beautiful moments for her. Here are some images of her before heading out to the prom!

Diva ;)

The gorgeous corsage  

Her hair (I was really proud of the pearl hairpins - I made them myself!)
Adorable prom dates!
Mama and her baby

A wear my sunglasses at night...

I am still getting used to the new camera, so the shading is way off, but it was so fun to use the continuous shot and have much sharper images than I am used to taking! I think she made the pics look good no matter what though, so that is all that matters.

She seemed to have had a great night at the prom (and after party...), so I am glad I was able to get home to capture her before she left!

After we saw her off, my mom and I got in a 5 mile run around town and then my parents and I went to a lovely Mother's Day (Eve) dinner at a gem of a restaurant in one of the small towns near to my home (The Gill Tavern) I had a fabulous pear and duck confit salad, with two glasses of a chenin blanc white wine, and we all got the flounder special (we ran them out of stock!! The waitress wiped it off the specials board after putting our order in!).  It was a great day/evening with my family and I was happy to see my mom, as I had to get back to the city on Sunday and she had to work, so we couldn't hang out on actual mother's day.

Did you go to prom? What color dress did you have?

I went to two senior year, each a week apart, both with my ex-boyfriend (we had broken up the week before, but still had bought our tickets and were still nice to each other) - I wore turquoise to my school's prom and hot pink to his :)

If you have a fancy camera, how did you learn all the bells and whistles? I am still semi-stuck in auto-mode!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Providence Marathon, the Recap

So now that you know why I ran this unexpected race, I will let you in on how it all went down, and how we left it all out there on Sunday.

After a stress-free, restful night/sleep, we woke up with an hour to fuel, dress, and prep and headed to downtown Providence with ten minutes to use the bathroom and get to the starting line.  One of the advantages of a small race, we were able to do this with time to spare.  The weather was pretty decent, overcast and low 50's at the start - although there was some sun later on in the course, the weather stayed pretty decent with the cloud cover. 

Since the half was starting 30 minutes after the full, the crowds at the start line were not too excessive and we were able to line up at the back of the starting group, as our race plan was start out smooth and steady with an 8:30 - 8:40 pacing.  When Chris and I race together, we have a tendency to start out a bit faster than goal pace and burning out early, so we were pretty diligent on keeping the goal pace from the starting gun.

The first mile gets you out of downtown Providence and it wasn't too crowded of a start, so we got right into an 8:24ish groove, not too bad, but the lower of our pace range, so we were careful to keep an eye on that the first few miles.  The only real hills in the course are in the first third of the race, with the course really flattening out for the last two thirds (only a few hills towards the end), so we were conservative on the first portion.  We ran into a friend that had run Boston as well (in fact, we ran into a lot of runners that were using this as their redemption run after Boston's conditions - one of the women actually had "Redemption Run 2012" marked on her).  We chatted with him for a while about the race, about Boston, about pacing for the day, until we hit the biggest hill of the whole race around mile 5.5 - 6, which lasted a good half a mile I believe - this was the point I really didn't think the whole race was possible, and he ran on ahead and out of site.

I know this sounds crazy, but at mile 6 or 7, I had gone very quiet, head down, concentration mode, not thinking I could make it much past the half way mark, let alone the whole 26.2 - Chris, who stuck by my side giving some motivational words like "you're a machine" & "you can tackle this hill", kept asking if I was OK, and I just told him yeah and that I needed to focus.  I couldn't believe I was letting the course own me so early, and I shook off my haze around the 8 or 9 mile mark, took my first gel and completely switched my negative mindset.  The race seemed more attainable when I revisited my positive visualization.  Chris and I continued to act as each other's pace police - nudging each other when one of us would start to speed up or encouraging the other when one of us slowed a little too much. We met up with another couple of Boston friends around mile 9 or 10, and ran and chatted with them for 2 miles until they took off ahead of us.  

The goal of the race was not to kill it early on, but make sure we could finish strong with a sub-4.  Chris' race plan was to run an even split (not focus on a negative or positive split), but rather aim for a solid pace for the whole race, but evaluate that pace at the halfway mark and either keep the same or speed up just a bit if the energy was there.  This was a solid plan to get us across the finish line, so there was no need to try to keep up with anyone else on the course, just room to run our own race.

At the halfway mark, I knew the whole 26.2 was going to be possible.  My hip wasn't bugging me too bad, we were keeping a solid, doable pace, our support crew had been amazing at keeping us energized and our water stocked.  I popped a few Advil just to kill the dull pain I was feeling and powered on.  Chris looked so strong throughout and we decided the 8:40 pace we had settled into was a good pace to keep at.  Around the half mark we started walking about every other water stop, to make sure we got our hydration and nutrition in adequately without cramping our stomachs, and then would head back into our 8:40ish pace.  

Miles 14 - 20 were kind of lost to me, not in a delirious light, but I just can't remember much more about them (besides swiping this amazing lubricated cloth on my inner thighs - the one spot on my body I forgot to bodyglide!! That stuff was serious and I need to find more of it, it was a sample from a swag bag, and I need to remember the name of it!).  These miles were split between suburban Rhode Island and the Providence bike trail, so there were some interesting views, and small neighborhoods - at one point we were running through full on traffic, which was not too fun/safe, but thankfully that didn't last too long.  Mile 20 - 21 is where our pace took a bit of a dive, as there was some cramping issues popping up, and Chris didn't want to risk not being able to finish the risk due to muscle fatigue/cramps, so we took some more walking breaks - we hit the other big hill in the race, which we started out walking, but finished in a jog.  

These miles were spent reverse roles, with Chris getting more quiet and me trying to keep his head in the game.  I kept trying to get him to focus on moving his feet, rather than the stabbing cramps in his quad, knowing that the pain was tough (as I was trying to keep my fatigued hip pain at bay - the more I kept moving, the less I thought about it - but as soon as I started to walk it would throb and start to stiffen).  He was a trooper though and pushed through that pain to keep his walk breaks short and his running pieces quicker - we had a sub-4 goal, that we were going to make.  The calculations started around mile 22, figuring out how long we could walk and how fast we needed to be jogging to still get there with a time we would both be happy with.  There were a couple of times when Chris told me to run ahead and finish my race, but I had only run this race because he asked me to, and I had that bib because he secured it for me, and I agreed to run this thing and had hung in this long to get this goal with him - so I didn't leave him.

Miles 25 and 26 were tough.  The course went back onto the bike path briefly and over a highway bridge and down a weird ramp - it was tough to keep the mental game going at this point.  I just kept looking over my shoulder to make sure Chris was sticking with me, and trying to push forward.  The mile markers had been all over the place the entire race, so it was no surprise that the 25 mile marker showed up when my garmin read 25.62 (I feel bad for those who didn't have a garmin to assure them there was less than a mile to go!!), so when we saw that 26 mile marker, we both looked at each and I just said this is it - you are going to make it, so lets run it in! We picked it up and finished with a mid 8's pace, and smiles on our faces - oh, yeah - and a 3:52 on the clock (8:52 pace overall).
Tired, but satisfied with the finish!
I was beyond excited for Chris, and for myself - for both of us pushing through mental and physical battles throughout the (what I believe is the) toughest part of a marathon, that last 10k.  Katie and Tripp - who had been our amazing support crew throughout the race, met us at the finish, as we chowed down some pizza and a greek yogurt for me - and just as quickly as we got the race, it was all over, and we were on our way home.  I was on the phone, assuring my mom I was still walking and healty, before noon.

I laid low the rest of the day, had some amazing steak tips for dinner, and prepared to be dead on Monday (after Newport, I could barely get out of bed, let alone even think about getting down the three flights of stairs).  However, Monday morning came, and I jumped out of bed at 7 am, wide-eyed and ready for the day.  With only slightly sore hamstrings and hips, I powered through my daily to-do list without much fatigue at all, and a faint belief that I had just run a full, untrained for, marathon the day before.  Was it possible, that I felt great, had energy and was walking around? It must have been a dream...
My face was all salt, but it didn't matter - I was all smiles :)
It wasn't though, I have pictures and I have a medal and a bib...my legs are a little heavy today, but since Sunday I have been able to play field hockey (at 10 PM on Monday night, don't know how I did that!), and run a couple miles this morning.  I plan on taking it easy this week and working back into a normal schedule next week, as I realize I need that energy that can only be found through a great workout to function normally.  Who knows, maybe there will be another marathon this year - but this time I might train...I have a goal in mind, and it is a bit quicker than my current PR (3:49)..

Have you ever run a race you weren't prepared for, and still had a decent outcome?

Random tangent - My gym membership ends tomorrow, where is your favorite place for at-home workouts?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why the Providence Marathon?

So I know I made no mention of this race on the blog until it was over, and only a few hints to friends (heck, I didn't even tell my own mother until Saturday night, and my Dad found out after!).  The thing is, I wasn't exactly trained for this race, and I didn't think I was going to finish it, so I didn't want to make a big deal about it.

Let's backtrack a little bit...ok, ok...about two and a half weeks ago, to the Thursday after Boston...I received a text that my friend Chris (you know, the one I supported during Boston) was thinking of running the Cox Providence Marathon.  He wanted to run the race he trained for, the pace and conditions he trained for, the sub-4 marathon he trained for.  Boston's conditions robbed many of their dreams for that day, but left them with an amazing accomplishment nonetheless - to finish in those extreme conditions still holding their heads high and managing a finishing smile.

He asked if I might want a bib for Providence, for either the half or the full, through the United Health Care complimentary bibs (UHC was a big sponsor for the race and only had used about half of their comp bibs, so they were extending it to family and friends, within reason).  I knew I wasn't trained for the full, but I wanted to run with Chris, and the half started a half hour after the full and ran a separate course to boot! So I told him that I would run the full with him, well at least the miles I could run at his goal pace, and then I would drop out and meet his wife, Katie, to cheer him in.

I had two weeks to get in a 16-miler, and then taper...two weeks to try to test my legs without over-stressing them (let alone my ornery hip giving me pain around mile 5).  That Saturday I set out for my 16-miler, with gels and fuel belt in tow.  I was cruising and feeling good, hitting mid to low-8's for paces, but then around mile 7 the hip joined the party, so I turned around a little early and told myself I would do the two extra miles around my own neighborhood.  Then around mile 10, the hip decided it wanted to be the star of the party, and I was forced to stop for a good long stretch.  I still had 4 more miles to even get home, let alone tacking on those 2 extra miles to make it 16.  After a limp/jog home, I made it to my doorstep with some tears in my eyes, an 8:45 split, a killer blister and a painful hip.  I texted Chris immediately and told him I would try to make the first 10 miles with him, but that was all I would be able to muster (I had a week and a half to heel the toe and rest the hip).

Fast forward to this past week...I treated the taper and the fueling and the hydrating like I was going to run the full 26.2 miles on Sunday, but I couldn't get my mind to follow suit.  I was still convinced that I was going to run off the course around mile 16, not able to finish the final 10.2.  That is until Friday night, with only two days to go - I had a dream that I was across the finish line with Chris and the clock was still starting with a 3 hour time. I know that might sound dumb, but I had been trying to visualize the race, and staying on pace and even finishing, even though I didn't fully believe I would complete it.  I kept my activity low the days leading up to Sunday, and I fueled with good foods, hydrated, and got plenty hours of sleep.  I did indulge in a margarita on Saturday, but it was Cinco de Mayo, and the salt helps with hydration, right?!
I hear alcohol helps with pain...I figured I should start the painkillers early :)
After a carb-rich dinner at a great Italian place in the Federal Hill district of Providence, Mediterraneo , I met up with Chris and crashed at him and Katie's place for the evening (literally 15 minutes from the start).  After a stress-free, restful night/sleep, we woke up with an hour to fuel, dress, and prep and headed to downtown Providence with ten minutes to use the bathroom and get to the starting line.  One of the advantages of a small race, we were able to do this with time to spare!

So there is why I chose to run this marathon, chose to tell few people, chose to test my fitness and my mind...next up, race recap...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Motivations

This little baby will hopefully be helping me get my photo-taking mojo back...my blogging has slacked a bit lately, not because I haven't been doing exciting things, or because I just sit on my butt...no - blogging is a lot about bringing life to my pictures for me, sharing my healthy living pieces through words AND images.  For far too long, I have been neglecting my baby point n' shoot and slacking on my posts as a result.  

When I don't have pictures to inspire my words or to capture my important/special/excited moments, I find it hard to post anything too exciting. 

My older sister just bought the above camera in December and then luckily won the T3i from a canon sweepstakes - so she offered to sell me her very slightly used T2i.  I am very excited to receive this package in the mail and get my photography mojo back in working order, so I can liven up my posts and share a bit more of my life and knowledge with you all!

What kind of camera do you own?

If you have an SLR, how long did it take you to learn the ins and outs (or at least how to take a decent picture in less than 5 minutes of fumbling around with settings)?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Center for Women and Business Inaugural Forum

Yesterday I had the pleasure to attend the Bentley Center for Women in Business' Inaugural Forum - Moving from Conversation to Action. As I am an undergrad and graduate alum of Bentley University, I was intrigued about this new endeavor - I also thought it would be a great way to network and gain some career inspiration, as I am still looking for that next piece of my professional journey.

The morning started at 8 AM with breakfast and registration and then shortly past 8:30, Gloria Larson, the President of the University, kicked off the forum.  The forum was a way to introduce the Center to the public and share its values and objectives - to research and build programs to help women envision and reach their potential at every stage of professional life.

Gloria shared some staggering numbers with us, such as that despite efforts made to diversify the workplace, and the fact that women make up 46% of workforce, only 5% are in the CEO position.  She also mentioned how much our thinking and actions have progressed over the years, telling us that in the 70's men were considered women's mortal enemies in business, where as now they are considered strategic partners.

Next up to the podium was the Founding Director for the center, a woman who has previous served as senior adviser to Barack Obama, was COO of and Chair of Women for Obama, served on Clinton's administration, and served as director of the Small Business Administration Office of Women's Business Ownership at Harvard - Betsy Myers.  Betsy is such a strong speaker and will be a great asset to the Center as it gets it's feet on the ground and running.  She highlighted some staggering statistics about women and men in the workforce, noting that globally, only 17% of white men actually graduate college, yet only 12 - 15% of women hold top positions in the corporate world.  Also, did you know that 85% of consumer spending is done by women - well no surprise there, but did you know that 91% of those women consumers feel misunderstood, and that only 3% of women hold creative director positions at the ad agencies serving those consumer?!  Crazy, right?

One of her quotes that I really loved, although it was said in political context - it is still prevalent in how women are viewed today - "Women are no longer an interest group, we're half the population!" and leaving us with another zinger - "What got us here...won't get us there" - meaning there is an overpowering need to find new ways of reaching out, new ways of bringing change - utilizing the new technologies and mediums available to us today.

To continue with the great start to the day, Bob Moritz of PWC, took the mic for his keynote session and started with some personal, yet honest experiences of why he is so passionate about women initiatives and breaking down diversity walls in the workplace.  He describes this mission as a vision, and a "vision is the art of seeing something before others...then doing something about it!"

Keeping with the theme of the forum, he spoke about motivation to get things done - starting that discussion, to bring action and then results - and when going into a change movement, where you start matters, so start small and expand from there.  Although he covered some powerful stuff, what I found most important going forward from this speech, was his discussion of mentor versus sponsors, and how imperative it is to have a strong sponsorship structure in place to foster those discussions around diversity, push the women AND men to their limits, and help move each person along in their career in a way that fits.  He said a mentor is someone that will listen and advise, where as a sponsor is all of that, as well as someone that will break down barriers for you, make things happen that you might not even know they did, and embark on that career journey with you.

This rang so true, as I am personally struggling to find that right next step in my career, and although I have had a few people I consider mentors along the way, I have never had an environment that fosters sponsorship as a necessary and acceptable program.  Take Proctor & Gamble for example - each employee is encouraged to find a sponsor, someone that knows them professionally and personally, and this process is seen as inspirational and coveted to be chosen as that sponsor - in order to become a brand manager, you must have a sponsor who fulfills this. I would love for my next company to offer or grow a similar program to be a part of - heck, I might be able to help that initiative along now that I am more aware of the impacts and power a sponsor can have!

The morning topped off with a panel comprised of some top hitters in the corporate world today, and great thinkers/innovators to boot! There was William Bacic, NE Managing Partner - Deloitte, who spoke about how Deloitte is bringing about change for women in their organization through their WIN program, as well as their Lattice (rather than ladder) policy where women and men alike are allowed to dial down or up (essentially pace) their own career and decide how quickly and how far they can take their career. Then there was Micheline Germanos, Senior Director at Microsoft Corporation, who highlighted the need for consistency in order to get policies and  new ways of thinking to stick, as well as something I think resonates with many women, and especially women athletes - that we need to free our minds, make decisions and do things ourselves - no more time spent feeling guilty for leaving for that Dr.'s appointment - you can either choose to feel guilty, or you can take charge and own the choice you made and feel good about it.
Patricia Flynn (professor at Bentley who led the panel), Bill Bacic (Deloitte), Micheline Germanos (Microsoft), Paul Sagan (Akamai) and Lauren Sen (BJ's).

The panel finished up with Paul Sagan, of Akamai technologies, and Lauren Sen, CEO of BJ's Wholesale Club, both of whom pushed the need for non-traditional fixes to issues in the workplace and organic growth of female presence in the workplace.
Betsy Myers and Tom Peters debriefing on the morning's discussions
After some lunch and afternoon discussion about the forum with Tom Peters, we parted ways with a full head of things to consider, notice and act on...day well spent if I do say so myself!!

I am still trying to digest everything I heard and learned yesterday, and there was so, so much more covered at the event (this is my highlights and notes) but I am really happy I chose to attend this event, and I am excited to see what more this Center will bring!!

I know this was a more unconventional post, but I saw a lot of relationships to female athletes and my own personal road interwoven throughout the conversations, something to open the mind and start noticing in your own communities.

Have a great rest of the weekend, I know I plan on it!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Motivations

Look what just came in the mail! Now I gotta break em in!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Boston Marathon...through the eyes of a support leg

We are being honestly blessed with sunshine and great temps today...not too hot...not too cold...a little different seen from the brutal dry heat that was the 116th Boston Marathon on Monday.

I had been planning on running a few miles with my running buddy Chris, as this would be his second marathon and he was killing his training for it - no seriously, I could barely keep up during his 21 mile training run (and I was only doing 10.5!).  Although I would have loved to be training for this too, it just wasn't in the cards this year, and it is a good thing I wasn't the one slated for the full 26.2, as I had a bachelorette party on the schedule for the weekend of the marathon, and I was going to have less than ideal nutrition and hydration going into this.

This last piece turned out to be a negative for anyone planning on even being outside on Monday, let alone running 10, or 13, or 26.2 miles....you see, I received a frantic call Tuesday morning (after checking the weather Sunday evening and seeing a nice low 60s and cloudy in the 10-day forecast for race day), I barely had a chance to say hi when I hear "did you see the weather report for Monday?", to which I cooly responded, "yeah, I did, it looks like it is going to be close to perfect running weather!" Well, I was wrong and when I checked the information I heard next (high 80's and sunny), my jaw dropped a little, before I remembered that this was still almost a week out, and weather changes all the time....right?

Wrong...the weather advisories started on Friday, as everyone was heading to Boston to pick up their bibs and settle in before the race, Chris forwarded the next one to me, with an even more intense urgency, this time telling those who were running for charity or who were not seasoned runners should think about deferring until the next year's race.  After speaking with Chris, he told me he was going for it, and he had until just before the starting line to make his final decision.

I thoroughly enjoyed my bachelorette plans Friday - Sunday, trying not to think about the onslaught of heat that was to come on Monday.  Sunday and Monday morning were spent trying to re-hydrate, but not over-hydrate,  and trying to get some healthier foods into my system - with the weather predictions, I needed to be physically ready to help Chris, so I wouldn't be another worry to him any more than the situation already would be.

Monday morning I watched the pre-show to the marathon, the announcements and starts of the wheelchair division, elite women, and then elite men.  As the first and second wave of qualified runners started their journey through the already soaring temps (high-80s at the final starts), I started my journey to the halfway point of the race.  I took the commuter rail out to mile 13 (Wellesley Square) and watched in awe as these amazing athletes kept plodding along in front of me - some showing signs of the heat and some looking as if they had just started out!  I actually spotted both Dorothy and SkinnyRunner at the halfway point, both looking strong, despite their internal battles.  It was a sight to behold, and I was happy I had chosen this spot to join in with Chris.

After a couple of hours of watching and waiting, I spotted Chris and jumped in in step with him.  He said the heat was hurting him and he was having a slow race, to which I told him not to worry - everyone was having a slow race, even the Kenyans finished 10 minutes later than they had last year.  I think this brought a brief smile to his face before his determination and focus on the race ahead of him returned.

He told me he had been running until the water stops and then recovering his heart-rate with a fast walk until beginning again - I told him he is lucky the weather is so shitty, or I would have turned into drill-sergeant mode and made him run more.

Mile 15 his calf started cramping and we slowed to a walk.  He told me he didn't think it was a great idea to continue and that he might just stop.  I told him it wasn't a great to start, but he was out here now and he could finish this.  He trained so hard, and I know how bad he wanted that finish line.  We walked for a little bit then would pick up the pace, at the water stops we would walk again for a bit, and then pick up the pace.  He took time to slap the crowd high fives, we took in water at each aide station, and dumped some over our heads, he ran through these incredible human car wash things - as well as hoses and hydrants - to keep cool.  There was barely a cloud in the sky and the sun was just beating on our backs.

We made it to heart-break and kept a brisk walk pace up the devil, we didn't talk a ton (well he didn't, I don't know how to shut up), but there wasn't much to be said - it was hot, really hot - there were runners dropping every mile, it was enough to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

We each took a "shot" of beer from the BC frat guys, we enjoyed popsicles and fruit along the way.  The crowds at BC were insane, I have never seen anything like that - Chris and I ran the fastest we had the whole second half as we slapped hands and cheered back with the crowd.  This feeling alone solidified my need to run this race myself one day.

We ran into a group of friends around mile 23, the same spot I was planning on jumping off the course and into the bar, but I told them I was going to continue on - I could tell Chris needed that, he needed it to keep going, he needed to keep sane.

The walk/jog continued for the next couple miles, but so did the cheers - the closer we got to Fenway, the closer we got to that Citgo sign, the closer we got to the finish - the crowds just got louder, bigger, more intense.  My heart was beating out of my chest from excitement, not exhaustion - the smile on our faces couldn't be replaced.  When we got through the Fenway crowd and past mile 25, to the turn up towards Boylston, Chris turned back on the jets and said this is it - we are running to the finish.  I tried to duck out, but he told me I was coming through with him and that just made the whole 13.4 miles we ran together worth it.  The finisher's shoot of Boston is something unlike anything I had ever experienced - even a few hours after the winners finished, the area was packed...the cheers were roaring...

We finished with huge smiles and walked the half a mile trek to the family area - collecting waters, food, his medal and space blanket along the way.  After meeting up with his wife, mother and mother-in-law and decompressing a little, we wondered into a close bar and finally sat down.  We enjoyed a nice cold Samuel Adams 26.2 (brewed especially for the marathon) and finally breathed in cool air, took in the sights of our bodies, soaking wet with sweat and water, and who knows what else, our legs covered with paper cup debris and salt.

I just keep thinking how proud I am of Chris...of all the runners....no, athletes...that finished on Monday - some with huge PRs, and some just barely crossing the line - but all of them faced the brutality of the heat and conquered it.  This is a marathon for the books, and I am so happy and blessed to have been a part of it...if only as a support leg for a friend.

Did you watch/run the 116th Boston Marathon? What was your favorite part?

The crowds - never in my life have I experienced the feeling they evoked!

Would you have deferred your entry due to the severe heat and medical warnings?

Honestly, had I had a number - after the training and dedication put into the race, I would have run it

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

One Year Ago Today...

I pressed Publish on my first post...which ironically was titled "Horizon Hunting".  Why is this ironic you might ask, well I have come full circle in the past year and I am once again hunting for that next horizon...the next adventure...the new challenge to push me to my limits.

Horizons are a funny thing...you can try your hardest to get to that line...and then realize it extends even further....you can make it to that second line, and see again, that it continues to stretch a little further.

This time last year, April 18th, as I hit publish on my first ever blog post, I was riding the high of a new and exciting position at my company, had just watched a record breaking 115th Boston Marathon with a new-found passion to race, and race hard, I was gearing up for my second relay race experience, and I was searching for my own (and first) 26.2 to enter.

Well...I did finish that relay, and our team really excelled

That marathon? After 8 weeks of injury pre-race and little to no running - I finished smiling in under 4 hours

That job? Well it didn't pan out as well as the team expected and I am now one of the 8% - but hey, everything happens for a reason, and I just know the next big opportunity is around the corner.

Oh, how so much changes in a year...but how, at the same time, it can feel so similar to the previous year, and the one before that.

My physical horizons haven't really changed...I still want to get that BQ, and even more so after my experience pacing my friend Chris during Monday's brutal "Boston Boiler" Marathon, I am looking for the next adventure outside of straight racing (perhaps a triathlon of some sort), and I am looking for a new career.

I want to find that sweet spot of passion and reward, I want to wake up energized for my job and my training...this is my new horizon, which isn't entirely new I suppose, but a new expansion from the horizon I tackled last year.

Thank you all who have followed along, and who are just jumping in...hope you will all be here for the (not-so) terrible twos :)  The blogging community is an incredible network and I happy to have found you!