Friday Faves | Run Fast, Turn Left

I’d have to completely agree with my girl Hannah and her Friday Faves post: This week is all about TRACK, the glorious oval that I have a love/hate relationship with. (Concerning the title, those are tongue-in-cheek words of advice I’d tell my track teammates before they’d head out for their race – sort of like the theater version of “Break a Leg.”) Here’s what happened:

  • Last week, one of my favorite track studs Lauren Fleshman had her baby! And guess what? She wrote about it. Hint: It includes a jalapeño-induced labor. Read the rest – it’ll make you laugh, cry, and awww all at the same time.
  • It happens as rarely as this chick gets to the gym, but track is on TV this weekend! USA Nationals is on alllllll weekend long. Best. Birthday. Surprise. Ever. Here’s where to watch it.
  • If this title(s) doesn’t tickle your inner track geek, I don’t know what will. Also, this blog me to a T. Read it.MebSG
  • My hurdle walkover session with Hannah at Lehigh made it on RW’s Instagram. Shout out to my alma mater, say what?
  • Some other RW staffers and I attempted the Beep Test this week – people who refer to it as the “Bleep Test” are entirely accurate. I’d take track intervals over that any day of the week. (Stay tuned for the (probably very embarrassing) video.)
  • And finally, this isn’t track related, but JOIN US for Sunday’s #RunChat! Here are the deets:

     

QUOTE OF THE POST: Via Shalane Flanagan, who CRUSHED the USA National 10-K last night. Way to go! (Shameless plug – I’ve been making these “fancy quotes” for RW – tweet ’em, pin ’em, post ’em, what have you!)headupheartstrong

Advertisements

What a Whirlwind of a Year

photoA couple weeks ago was my alma mater’s graduation day, and a couple weeks before that was my one-year “run-iversary” (I consider mine May 4, the day of my last collegiate race, because I couldn’t tell you what day I started running!). And somewhere in there was my official one-year anniversary at Runner’s World. Seriously, say what? It’s been a whole year?!?

The last time I spoke with my Dad, he said, “Can you believe how much you’ve experienced in just one year?”

After falling right back in sync with my college teammates like nothing had changed, like the year had been shortened to maybe a month, I genuinely can’t believe how different a runner I am today. I’m thankful to report that I’m still just as in love with the sport as I was a year ago. I’d even venture to say that that passion has grown deeper. Career-wise, to say it’s been eye-opening is an understatement.

So here’s what happened this year and a bit of what I learned along the way:

  • I helped cover two major marathons that (unexpectedly) turned into major nationwide events: At the New York City Marathon press conference, I sat beside one of my professional and running idols Amby Burfoot as NYRR CEO Mary Wittenburg announced the cancellation of one of the world’s most famous marathons. After the Boston Marathon, my post was published on runnersworld.com, and the positive feedback I received played an essential role in the healing process. Interviewing witnesses of the tragedy further helped me process all that had happened. After both events, I watched the stellar RW staff pull together two of the most powerful issues I’ll likely ever be a part of in my career. They are the very definition of professionals. I can only aspire to be even a little bit like them in the future. And in both instances, I witnessed the running community unite to support each other and complete strangers. All around, very powerful experiences.      
  • I ran FOUR marathons! I still remember the spring of last year when I registered for my first marathon. I spent the rest of the day in sheer disbelief that I’d just paid $80 to run 26.2 miles…voluntarily. Turns out, it became one of my all-time favorite experiences so far in life. 104.8 miles later, I can say I learned: that following my veteran colleagues’ advice will more than pay off, to respect the distance (feeling like crap at mile 10 sucks) but then discover that mystical “marathon magic,” that the running community is far greater and more awe-inspiring that I ever imagined, and that runners can endure far more than the 26.2 miles in front of them.
  • I started this blog! Beyond helping me grow as a writer, this digital diary has introduced me to SO many incredible runners. Having a platform to share experiences with others and compare notes on all things running has been way too much fun. (I now understand why y’all do it! =) ) I get totally engrossed reading blogs, virtually taking part in your running world. I’ve learned so much, and I’ve grown as a runner and person. I really can’t thank y’all enough for the words of support and encouragement. I hope you know that you have inspired me, too!   
  • I took up running naked (meaning sans watch, not actually naked, hah) most days and adopted what my boss calls “secondhand training.” It’s been a pretty drastic, but freeing change that’s helped me enjoy running for what it is, plain and simple. Rather that worrying over my paces or what workout is coming up on the calendar, I’ve embraced the spontaneity and learned how to love racing again. Let me put it this way: I PR’d after a day (and night’s) worth of St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans, just four hours of sleep, and arriving to the race maybe five minutes before the gun. Compare that to my college self who would hyper-worry over every pre-race meal and warmup drill. Personally, I like modern-day, let’s-just-have-fun-and-see-what-the-day-brings Megan.

And for some not-nearly-as-life-changing, but still pretty sweet highlights:

  • I ran up the Empire State Building and got my butt whooped by Kelly Ripa along the way.
  • I ran my first long-distance, over-night road relay and learned what it’s like not to shower or sleep for 30 hours straight.
  • I met the U.S. women’s marathoning trifecta: I ate Dunkin’ doughnut-holes with Shalane Flanagan, told Colt that his mommy Kara Goucher is one of my running heroes, and ran into (and probably scared the s*** out of) Desi Davila at our hotel at the Walt Disney World Marathon.
  • My current track record for throwing up after a marathon is 50/50. So there’s that.
  • I won the media heat of the 5th Avenue Mile. (It’s not as impressive at it sounds, honestly).
  • I got Nick Symmonds’ sweat on my jacket when he hugged me at the Millrose Games. He’s an incredibly nice guy, and it was very cool getting to meet him in person. (And seriously, where can I sign up to be a contestant on The Bachelor if he ends up being on the show?)
  • I lost whatever upper-body strength that I once had (and likely–hopefully?–channeled that “strength” toward those absurdly long marathon training runs).
  • I ran over the Golden Gate Bridge at midnight and through a closed-down Times Square.
  • I learned how to snot-rocket in motion.
  • I freaked out my 10-year-old self when I met “Figure it Out” (from Nickelodeon, remember that 90s kids?) host Summer Sanders and was meters away N’SYNC member Joey Fatone.
  • I’ve held an Olympic gold medal. Literally made my heart race.
  • I can now run or race at all hours of the day or night, thanks to Disney’s 5:30 a.m. race starts and the midnight relay legs.
  • I’ve done a lunch run in a tutu and did a (totally legit) stair-climb race at RW HQ.
  • I began blogging for–and therefore became friends with–Lauren Fleshman. Love this girl and everything she represents. ‘Nuff said.
  • I’ve almost gotten over being star-struck around elites. This past year, I’ve met or been in the presence of: Bernard Lagat, Meb Keflezighi, Evan Jager, Kim Smith, Alysia Montaño, Hannah England, Anna Pierce, Matt Centrowitz, Leo Manzano, Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce, Jenny Simpson, Brenda Martinez, Mary Cain, Jordan Hasay, Molly Huddle, Amy Hastings, Derrick Adkins, Dean Karnazes, (…and I’m sure a few more) and the legends Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Katherine Switzer. Crazy.

Since it was such a whirlwind of a first year in the “real world,” I wanted to take the time to collect all that happened in one place so future me can go back and remember it. Looking back on this year, all I can say is that I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunities my work has given me and the people who I work with who have made me a better, happier runner. It’s opened my eyes to how truly unique the running community is, and I’m reminded every day of how lucky I am to be a part of it. Runners are a different, but brilliant breed. This year–maybe more than any in at least my life time–this fact was all the more apparent. And I got a front-row seat. What a whirlwind.

Here’s to another incredible year!

QUOTE OF THE POST: “Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.” – Shalane Flanagan

Friday Faves | Uplifting Moments

Here are a few things (a bit from this week and a bit from last) that made me smile, laugh, and warmed my heart:

  • I don’t know if I could love this cover of Boston Magazine any more. It’s downright perfect. Read about its conception from the magazine’s editor-in-chief here, and read Hannah’s interview for RW about it hereBostonMagCover_0
  • Speaking of shoes, some speedy women wore these kicks at the Boston Marathon:
  • Perfect. Y’all deserve a Boston Marathon spectators-sized round of applause.
  • Across the pond at the London Marathon…amazing support.BIZrP6CCcAA9di9

And the non-Boston related favorites of the week:

  • My girl Hannah at @fithappygirl is running her FIRST marathon at Big Sur on Sunday! Suppressing excitement over this. =D Read her pre-race post here.
  • This unexplainable video that’s produced many much-needed laughs this week:
  • And finally the belated BIG news: I’m on the Hood to Coast Nuun Relay team! I can’t tell you how excited I am to a) meet the rest of my awesome teammates and b) go to Oregon! AHHHHHHH! Happy news!

QUOTE OF THE POST: “I learned, one, you shouldn’t ever quit. And I learned, two, you’ll never be able to explain it to anybody.” – Jim Ryun

P.S. Headed to the Big Sur International Marathon today! Stay tuned for a Race Report!

Race Report | 2013 Boston Marathon

I’ve divided this post into two parts: the first will address yesterday’s tragic events at the finish line of the Boston Marathon; the second will share a few of the happier moments from the weekend because, frankly, I’m weary of reading about the sadness that now surrounds what was meant to be a euphoric, celebratory event. I’ve desperately needed a reason to smile, so, in an attempt at some shred of normalcy, I wrote up a quick race report that will hopefully make you smile, too. So, here we go…    

This was taken early Monday morning on the walk to the buses. I'm just about where the first bomb struck.

This was taken early Monday morning on the walk to the buses. I’m just about where the first bomb struck.

I sat this morning at the airport in Boston in a sort of grief-stricken stupor, trying to wrap my brain around all that’s happened in the past 24 hours. I awoke this morning to the TV replaying that infamous clip taken at the finish line. I begged my Dad to turn it off. I’d seen it on loop all afternoon yesterday while I was holed up in my hotel room just a few blocks away from the explosions, and I simply couldn’t take it anymore. A work friend put it perfectly, “I was gonna call my feeling this morning a ‘bad news hangover’ and realized the better word for it is ‘grief.'” Exactly. I put on my yellow Boston Marathon shirt–runners from around the country are wearing race shirts in support of the victims–and headed to the airport. Outside our hotel were a handful of military personnel clutching assault rifles. When I arrived at the airport, the police debriefed me. It all felt like a horrifically bad dream.

The airport was full of Boston Marathoners, all of whom were hobbling thanks to yesterday’s 26.2-mile effort, a journey that for some was cut short. But I’d venture to guess that they, like me, were trying to hide the aches pervading their legs because that post-race pain now seemed incredibly insignificant when others have lost their lives. Our hearts hurt more.

How fortunate are we that our races played out just so so that we were spared from the disaster? I’d finished maybe 40 minutes before the cannon-fire-like booms rang through the city, and my Dad had been sitting in the grandstands right across from the first bomb for over three hours. My editor Tish was on Boylston just before the second explosion, and my colleague and ’68 Boston Marathon winner Amby Burfoot was just three-quarters of a mile away before he was stopped and instructed to go home. Other friends were just meters away covering the race. (By the grace of God, all of us are safe and accounted for.)

What had been an impatient search for my father turned into a frantic one after the explosions. The crowds around me started piecing together what had happened just a couple of blocks away. I noticed a few people near me were crying. Panic started to set in. I hadn’t brought my phone with me, so I used strangers’ phones to try to contact him again. Thankfully (and miraculously), I spotted him across an intersection, saving both of us from what I’m sure would’ve been very unnerving and scary period of worrying about whether either of us were safe. When I started to process it all during the rush back to the hotel, realizing just how close we had come to the danger, I grabbed my Dad and buried my face in his chest, crying and terrified. How very fortunate we were.

I’ve spent the entire day surrounded by the tragedy. Between the man sitting beside me on the plane reading a newspaper with graphic photos of the scene on the cover to countless conversations with coworkers, my parents, and strangers at the airport, it’s all I can think about. After talking through it all day, here’s where I’m at with it all tonight:

Since this was my first Boston, my coworkers have spent the last few months showering me with stories about the unique magic that surrounds this race. I, like I’m sure every runner on that course, pictured the weekend and the race going off without a hitch, imagining turning onto Boylston, crowds screaming, then crossing the famous finish line triumphant. That this event, one that epitomizes jubilant celebrations of perseverance far deeper than finishing the race itself, is stained forever sickens me. This is not how it was supposed to happen. This is not how it played out in my head for months on end. This is not right.

I think this is why my brain is tricking me into thinking that somehow it’s not a big deal. That it wasn’t an earth-shattering, life-changing event. It’s put up a sort of barrier that’s guarding me from fully taking it all in. But then I see photos from the scene and read about those victims who didn’t make it, and it all hits me again. Realizing that so many of my close friends could’ve easily been one of the victims triggers yet another wave of emotions that I’ve been trying to suppress all day. I just can’t believe that this insane event hit so close to home. Much, much too close.

With that being said, I’m trying to focus on the positive as much as possible. That all of my friends are safe and sound fills me with an enormous amount of relief. My faith in the resiliency of the running community could not be any stronger, and I know we’ll pull through this. Though I worry about how this will affect the sport that touches every aspect of my life, I’m confident that we’ll endure and persevere. Heck, it’s what we do.

So here’s my Race Report of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Rather than a traditional recap, I wanted to share with you a handful of moments that filled my heart with joy:

  • Crying happy tears when I said bye to my Dad before loading the busses. I was so incredibly thankful to have him there to experience it all beside me. Knowing that I’d see him at the finish line made me that much more excited to start the race.IMG_0064
  • Making friends with strangers. I chatted with a Canadian woman on the bus who was running her second Boston and later, in the athlete’s village, a triathlete who was a Boston newbie like me. I also made friends with a woman in the corral who wanted to run the same pace as me, and we ran the first half of the race together. We pulled each other along, and even though I lost her around mile 14, she’s the reason I held my goal pace for as long as I did. If you’re reading this, chica, THANK YOU!
  • Spotting my coworkers Warren, Jeff, and Budd by chance near my corral just before the start. They had run the course backwards, and we hadn’t made any plans to meet each other. Finding them was completely by chance, and their last-minute words of encouragement gave me an extra dose of confidence. 529303_10151848507834838_1346390581_n
  • Witnessing the road packed full of a colorful stream of runners moving together with a common goal was powerful and moving. Mix in the spectators that lined nearly every inch of the course, and the feeling of celebration across states, nations, races, ages, backgrounds, you name it, was palpable. Talk about being a part of something much bigger than yourself.
  • The spontaneous YMCA dance mid-race. More than half the runners did the dance while running, and it was way too much fun.
  • Even though I am so not a baseball fan, I appreciated the couple of spectators with whiteboards displaying the score of the current Red Sox game. That’s dedication right there.
  • Seeing encouraging chalk-written words on the streets for Shalane and Kara. Knowing that they’d covered the same streets that I was on was incredibly cool, and they made me hopeful that the girls had had success further down the road.
  • The odd Dr Pepper craving that plagued me for the last 12 or so miles. (This was quenched later that night.)
  • Passing over each timing mat knowing that I was sending my Dad text messages about my progress. I loved knowing that I was sending him little messages telling him I was getting closer and closer to the finish.
  • The bagpiper near mile 20 that made me think of about whole family.
  • The couple times I heard “Thrift Shop,” which made me think about my brother who discovered that song (and played it for me multiple times) long before it was popular.
  • Making the final right onto Hereford, left onto Boylston. I’d been struggling during the second half of the race, but I was relieved to have a little juice left to actually run the final half mile.
  • Finding my Dad in the grandstands right before crossing the line, waving to him and blowing him a kiss. It’s a moment that I’ll remember and cherish forever. LOVE YOU DAD!
  • Finally, the outpouring of support and love from friends and family. It meant the world to me, and I thank you all so much!

Over the past 24 hours, I’ve read dozens of articles and blogs about the event. Here are a few that struck a chord with me:

So Close, Yet So Far, by Amby Burfoot

Bombing in Boston, by Lauren Fleshman

My Thoughts About Boston: Now What?, by Rebecca Pacheco

Eyewitness to Bravery, Horror, by Peter Sagal

The View From the Finish Line Photo Bridge, by Charlie Butler

Boston Marathon: Undone, by Dimity McDowell

An Old Soul Aches for a Simpler Time, by Kelsey Cannon

Love. Strength. Boston., by Pavement Runner

I also have to give a shout out to my amazing, dedicated coworkers who tirelessly reported their hearts out since all hell broke loose yesterday. Check out their work here.

QUOTE OF THE POST: Via @andrewchaklarge-2

Friday Faves | BOSTON, BOSTON, BOSTON

Here I am, typing this out from my hotel room in BOSTON! I cannot really wrap my brain around it all, but it’s slowly starting to sink in. (I snagged an official jacket earlier this afternoon (see below) – I feel so “official!”) For obvious reasons, this week’s Friday Faves is all about Beantown. I’ve included a bit of what I’ve seen today, too! Here we go!

  • Via @whitrunsthis:
    large
  • While I waited to interview Serena Burla, I chatted with Kara’s husband, Adam, while he held Colt during Kara’s interviews. I told him how neat it was to finally “meet” Colt in person and asked him if Colt recognized his mommy on TV during her races. (He does! *Cue cuteness overload!*) It was incredible seeing the pro runner + motherhood dynamic – all I can say is Kara does it with grace.
  • Insanity. Enough said.
  • Thanks to the ever-wonderful RW Facebook fans and Twitter followers, I pulled together this Boston Marathon advice-filled article full of insanely inspiring tips from Beantown vets. Gave me chills!
  • I found out what’s written inside these amazing uniforms for Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher today. In Shalane’s, it reads “Dare to be different.” In Kara’s, “Courage to believe.” LOVE.

    oawib

  • THANK YOU TED! =)
  • I wrote about the awesome Americans flying under the radar on Monday, Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce and Serena Burla. Check it out here.
  • This is sort of Boston-related, but I HAD to share: Lauren Fleshman is officially writing for RW! The tweet below includes a bit of the awesomeness (and click the link to read it, too!)
  • And here are some shots from the weekend so far!
Kara's Boston Banner!

Kara’s Boston Banner!

The finish line is being set up! So ridiculously cool.

The finish line is being set up! So ridiculously cool.

The girls at the press conference. (Ignore the dude's head!) This was the first time I've seen both of them together, and man, they giggled the entire time. It's obvious how close they are!

The girls at the press conference. (Ignore the dude’s head!) This was the first time I’ve seen both of them together, and man, they giggled the entire time. It’s obvious how close they are!

The jacket. And man is it schnazzy.

The jacket. And yep, it is pretty schnazzy.

Stay tuned for updates throughout the weekend–probably more on twitter than here depending now how busy I am–and my race report early next week! To everyone running Boston, GOOD LUCK!

QUOTE OF THE POST: “Here’s my mantra: ‘Every mile is a gift.'” – Amby Burfoot, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon.

Friday Faves | Boston…Because, Heck, We’re Only 15 Days Out!

Sorry everyone, this is a day late! (Crazy busy day at work yesterday, but I digress…Better late, than never!) Here are a few things that got me excited this week:

  • For starters, Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher ROCKED the 10-K at Stanford last night. (Shalane nabbed the World A-standard, and Kara was just over a second off of it! Whoo!) I’ll definitely be thinking about what’s happening a few miles down the road in Boston during the race. These ladies certainly have a shot at doing something special on April 15!

    And this, which makes my inner track nerd freak out a little:

  • I successfully snot-rocketed WHILE running yesterday. Guess I finally got over my fear of getting it all over my face. A killer cold’ll do that to ya, huh? On a related note, my coworkers are snot-rocketing masters:
  • Truth:
  • Even Shalane gets the marathon taper crazies!
  • I think I might just have to start doing this, too.
  • And to close, what an awesome perspective:

QUOTE OF THE POST: “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” – John D. Rockefeller

Friday Faves | Pies and Surprises!

In no particular order of importance (or on any scale whatsoever), here’s this week’s Friday Faves…just a teeny tiny bit late:

  • In what might be the sweetest (pun intended) use of social media ever, two sinfully delicious pies were delivered to my coworkers desk in celebration of Pi(e) Day. She tweeted that she wished we had pie at RW HQ, and not two hours later, @Stridebox had pies delivered to her desk. Long story short, this:

    lead to this:BFWEaNjCYAAZ_Q9Seriously. Read the whole story via Storify here.

  • For the ladies: Now I might be mistaken for a 12-year-old boy when it come to my chest, but this post titled “Have Boobs, Will Test Your Sports Bras” from Once Upon A (L)ime had me laughing literally every other line (and also made me grateful that I’m small). She’s my newest follow on my blog reader, and I can’t wait to read what else she has to say!
  • I added two races to my race calendar this week: the NYC Half on Sunday (stay tuned for a Race Report) and the Golden Gate Relay (I found out one of my legs goes over the Golden Gate Bridge! AHH!) Best. Surprise. Ever!
  • These still-so-freakin’-cool Flyknits left over from the paint-themed photo shoot for the Spring Shoe Guide:
  • “8. Running when all I want to do is eat and sleep and stay snuggled under a nice comfy blanket.” – from Shalane Flanagan’s post about 13 things she hates about running. She should pin Jordan’s tweet (below) up somewhere because it’s awesome. I should, too.
  • This video for the Boston Marathon Banner Day. Gives me chills! 30 MORE DAYS!

QUOTE OF THE POST: “I love this time of spring. It’s starting to get warm, the end of training is in sight (or at least the taper is), and I can practically smell the vaseline Boston feels so close. I’m so excited for you. There is nothing like the first Boston! It’s so much fun! We’re going to have a great time.” – in an email from my coworker, gazillion-time marathoner, and RW Challenge coach extraordinaire, Jen Van Allen