Monday, April 15, 2013

Chased By a Bear

Today 4 hours and 9 minutes into the 117th running of the Boston marathon, a bomb exploded at the finishline in Copley Square. And then another bomb exploded some 20 seconds later. Chaos errupted. Racers were diverted to side roads. Such sadness on such a perfect running day. My heart goes out to those who were injured and the loved ones of those who lost their lives. I also ache for those who worked and trained and sweat and cried and triumphed and then never got the chance to cross that finishline. I heard one report that most of those who were left in the race (which was actually a large chunk) were the charity runners. These are the people who were fighting more than a personal fight and had run to raise money and show support for a cause near to them. My friend Maren and her husband, Ryan, were running for their beautiful daughter Leah, who has Rhett Syndrom. They raised over $10,000 for Rhett Research! Maren made it to mile 25.5. She and all her fellow Rhett team were safe and accounted for. Maren has been my inspiration when it comes to running. I've been meaning for months to write this post about how I got into running. This post is dedicated to her.

(My husband and me running our first half Marathon in Salt Lake City, UT)
Chased by a Bear
In college my friend Maren tried to get me to go running with her. I'd tell her, "Maren, I will run if a bear is chasing me!" Secretly I think it was because she ran early in the morning and I am not much of a morning person. But she was persistant in asking. While I never did run with her in the time that she and I were neighbors, fast forward many months and a few moves cross country and a baby, to the breakthrough.

After some intense health problems and then getting pregnant, and struggling with my weight, I knew it was time to do something about getting a handle on my health. I could hear Maren in my head inviting me to go running. My sister told me to just go run a mile. I said, I don't think I can even run to the end of my street. Enter inspirational friend #2, Erin. I knew from my experience with Maren that I wanted to try running. We had just moved back to New York from a seven-month training assignment for my husband's work. Erin and her family had just moved to New York with her husband's job. She had been training to run a marathon and then found herself pregnant and scaling back. Some how we became running buddies.

I still can't believe the patience she had. We'd meet every day at our favorite park, pack our little boys in their strollers and run. It was so slow going at first. Again, I am amazed at how willing Erin was to run with me, the girl who would only run if being chased by a bear. First we'd walk and then run one minute. Then we'd increase to two mintues running. We'd gradually add minutes to the running and take away minutes from the walking. In a matter of six or seven weeks I could run a whole loop, about 1.5 miles, without stopping. And then I did two loops! I even hit three one day. There is hardly anything so satisfying as running further than you've ever run before.

Over the many months that followed I ran and exercised and lost weight and felt wonderful. But there was still that little voice called "Maren" in my head. After my second child was born, I knew it was time to heed Maren's call and I signed up for my first half marathon in Salt Lake City. I knew Maren would be there and I was excited to tell her I'd learned to love to run. In the training process she was so good at answering my questions and calming my nerves. Read this for details of the SLC race

I have now run half marathons in Salt Lake City, Utah; Hartford, Connecticut; had another baby; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Troy, New York as well as a handful of other 5 and 10Ks. No longer am I the girl only running from bears. I'm grateful for the inspiring friends that told me I could do it when I wasn't sure I could. I'm grateful for the inspiration of my running friends who make me want to run hard and do good in the world. I'm grateful for Erin and her willingness to pay it forward. I've since trained with and ran two of those halves with friends who were really running for the first time. It's hard to express how proud I felt for them on the days that they ran further than they had ever run before. I'm so grateful for Maren and her steady heart. In the face of her own challenges, she ran on and told me I could, too.

You can read more about some of my running experiences on my post Heart of a Runner


K-Krew said...

Thank you for sharing this. You are amazing and have inspired me to start moving. Happy Spring!

mj said...

Um, we just got back from Boston and I decided to check my feed and was NOT expecting this post at all. You are so sweet! I'm so glad you started running and have kept up with it all these years. It's definitely therapeutic for me and has gotten me through a lot. Stopping at 25.5 miles yesterday was a big let down, but the good we saw in Boston as the events unfolded was truly humbling and heartwarming. There was much more good yesterday than bad. And, we raised almost $125,000 for Rett syndrome! Can't moan about that. Thanks again for this post. It lifted my spirits.