Friday, July 13, 2018

Running Through Grief: The Process of Remembering with Less Pain and More Joy, One Step at a Time

Six years ago today, on Friday the 13th, I received the call from my mom that my grandma (affectionately know as GG by my daughter) had fallen and was in the hospital. While hospitalized, it was discovered that she had advanced lung cancer. As my family dealt with the shock, they worked tirelessly with the hospital staff to make sure her pain was under control. They began to plan to take her home on hospice but she died in the hospital on Monday, July 16, 2012. 

While the intensity of the grief has lessened, the anniversary reaction seems to have hit me harder this year. Maybe it's because the dates fall on the same days of the week? Maybe it's because I'm more emotional about life in general this year? Either way, grief still hurts. I know it's OK to hurt and it's OK to cry. 

I'm grateful that I had such a special relationship with my grandma. And, I'm grateful that my daughter adored her, too. My grandma made us feel loved and valued. She was present. She listened. She cared. She was kind. 

I was reminded of my grandma when I recently saw "Won't You Be My Neighbor" - the documentary about Mister Rogers. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it - and make sure to bring a supply of tissues since I was crying buckets.

I'm also grateful that I started running again shortly before she died. I found great solace as I ran in her memory with Team Lemon to support Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer. Each step helped me through my grief and together we have raised over $4,000 for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.

I'm also grateful for the power of music that connected me with others and helped me through my grief. A few months before my grandma died, I met Anne through our love of The Afghan Whigs. After we bonded over music, I learned that she recently lost her husband to colon cancer and she was the mother to a young boy. She has shared some beautiful posts about love and grief on her blog:

I'm also grateful for the wealth of grief resources on the internet. What's Your Grief is one of my favorite resources:

What's Your Grief: Dealing with the Anniversary of a Loved One's Death

I am not the only one who has found solace through running. Below are some posts I found about running and grief:

Running Through Grief

Running Brought Us Together. Now It Helps Me Cope With His Sudden Death

Another Mother Runner Podcast #310: Running Through Grief

Real Runners: I Regained My Life After Extreme Loss

Running Is a Great Coping Mechanism for Grief

Running Through the Tears - Hello Grief

I Used to Hate Exercise—Until It Was the Only Thing That Got Me Through My Dad's Death

Running From Grief: Can Moving Forward Heal?

Running Through Grief - Centering Corporations

Running Away: Running Through Grief - Run Oregon

Running Through Grief - Running Dads

A Long and Slow Run Through Grief

Sweating Out The Sadness: Can Exercise Help You Grieve?

The Runner's World Show Episode 64: Running Through Grief

Running My Way Through Grief Not Away From It

Running Through Grief - USAF Marathon

Running Again

Running Through Grief - Run David Run

Running Through Grief - Widow's Voice

Oldest Marathoner Turned to Running to Cope With Grief

How Running Helped Me Cope With My Husband's Sudden Death

Running From Grief - Trail Sisters

Running After Grief: How Exercise May Help You Cope With Loss

Reston Teen Runs Through Grief to Help Other Military Families

Grief Chats: Running Through Grief

How have you coped with grief?

Have you found solace in running?

Have you found comfort in music?

Have you found support on the internet?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

2018 Boston Marathon - Links to 80+ Race Recaps

It's been over a month since I finished the 2018 Boston Marathon. I'm so grateful for the support I've received and every $1 donated to Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer.

Unfortunately, as usual, I still haven't finished my race recap. Ugh. I'm determined to gather my thoughts so that I can eventually share my story.

In the meantime, I've enjoyed reading other runners' recaps. Below are the links in alphabetical order by blog or website.

And, if you wrote a recap that you'd like to include, please share your link in the comments and I'll ad to the list. Please note that comments are published after approval.

2018 Boston Marathon Race Report by Jane D.
Adaptive Running

Adidas Created Personalized Videos for 30,000 Boston Marathon Runners in 24 Hours

My Boston Marathon 2018 Race Recap
A Foodie Stays Fit

Sarah Sellers, 2nd Female at the 2018 Boston Marathon
Ali on the Run

Boston Marathon Inspiration & The Women I Admire
Ali on the Run

2018 Boston Marathon - 3:41:19
Amelia Gapin

Race Recap Boston Marathon 2018
Asphalt Kitchen

Boston Marathon 2018 Recap: Marathon 27, State 22 - Massachusetts)

2018 Boston Marathon Statistics

Race Recap: The Boston Marathon!
Bellin Run

Team BIDMC Treads Strong at 2018 Boston Marathon
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC)

Boston Marathon 2018 Recap
Blessed with Thunder Thighs

Interview Tuesday: Meet Kentucky and Masters Runner Patrick Jenkins
Bluegrass Runner

10 must-see moments from the 2018 Boston Marathon

Desiree Linden explained why she almost dropped out of the 2018 Boston Marathon

Why I'm Running

The Boston Marathon was all about who could weather the storm
The Boston Globe

Boston Marathon 2018 Live Blog
Boston Magazine

The 2018 Boston Marathon Race Recap
Breathe Deeply and Smile

5 Inspiring Moments From Des Linden Winning The Boston 2018 Marathon
Brooklyn Active Mama

Krista DuChene opens up about balancing motherhood, work, and running on her way to winning third place at the 2018 Boston Marathon
Canadian Running Magazine

23 Elites Dropped Out of Boston Marahon
Canadian Running Magazine

Lessons We Can All Learn from Boston Marathon 2018
Carbs and Kilometres

Boston Marthon Recap
Carlee McDot

Boston Marathon 2018 Race Recap
Catherine Runs Around

Hypothermia ends Waterville native’s Boston Marathon
Central Maine

2018 Boston Marathon
Citius Mag

Thoughts on the 2018 Boston Marathon As Told By GIFS
Citius Mag

Boston Marathon 2018 Recap
Coach Corky Runs

Amby Burfoot On Running Boston 50 Years After Win
Competitor Running

5 Boston Charity Runners Tell Their Stories
Competitor Running

Boston Marathon Race Recap
Cook Stitch Run

Despite bone-chilling downpour and gale-force winds, New York runner, Patrick Cutter, fights for a 2:42 finish at this year's Boston MarathonCorgi Mama Runner

2018 Boston Marathon Race Recap
Crazy Running Girl

Locals conquer the hills and tough weather in Boston Marathon
Daily Progress

Boston Marathon Recap and the Road Ahead
Danny Horgan

Morin: Boston Marathon Recap
The Dartmouth

Together Forward - Garrett Burger's 2018 Boston Marathon Recap
Dashing Whippets

Willpower and Grit - Megan Bongartz's 2018 Boston Marathon Recap
Dashing Whippets

The Weather At The Boston Marathon Overwhelmed The World's Best Distance Runners

Courtice resident runs the Boston Marathon — while suffering from hypothermia
Durham Region

Boston Marathon champ Desiree Linden: 'This is gonna be miserable'

10 Weeks To Boston
Final Surge

Linden, Kawauchi Shock Marathon World in Boston

The 2018 Boston Marathon: By The Numbers

On Marathon's Biggest Stage, Desiree Linden Runs Brooks Sports Past Behemoths Nike, Adidas

Forsyth Central coach, teacher braves elements in fourth Boston Marathon
Forsyth County News

Boston Marathon 2018
Fuel by Rachel Davis

2018 Boston Marathon
Grant Linsell

Race Report: Boston Marathon 2018
Greg Kroleski

Sarah Sellers: the nurse who stunned the world at the Boston Marathon
The Guardian

Adidas Made Video Recaps for Over 30,000 Boston Marathon Runners

Just Run With It: 2018 Boston Marathon recap & a bittersweet goodbye
HPE: High Point Talks

Faith, carbohydrates, commentators, Broncos, and conditions: Krista DuChene takes us inside her Boston win

Mondays Are for Marathons: 2018 Boston Marathon Race Recap
J Bird Run

2018 Boston Marathon
JT Running DC

Boston Marathon Recap
Jaime Kurtz

West Seattle man leaves Boston Marathon with hypothermia, then finishes hours later

Trying to Make Sense of Crazy 2018 Boston Marathon

Sarah Sellers
Lindsey Hein - I'll Have Another Podcast

2018 Boston Marathon
Long Run Life

The 2018 Boston Marathon
Marathon Training Academy

The Boston Marathon Recap 4-16-18
Marathoner Dale

2018 Boston Marathon Race Recap
Matthew Patterson

Race Report: My First Boston Marathon (2018)
Medium - Joy Ebertz

Placing 4th in the 2018 Boston Marathon
Medium - Rachel A Hyland

Boston Marathon Recap
Michigan Marathoner

Boston Marathon Race Recap 2018
Mommy Run Fast

2018 Boston Marathon Race Report
The Morning Shakeout

Five Things We Can Learn about OCR from 2018's Boston Marathon
Mud Run Guide

Boston in a Rowboat
No Limits Endurance

What It Was Like to Run the Boston Marathon in a Freezing Deluge
NY Times

The Nurse Who Took a Very Different Route to 2nd Place in the Boston Marathon
NY Times

Why Men Quit and Women Don't
NY Times

Dr. Erik Heine's 2018 Boston Marathon Recap
Oklahoma City University

Proving Resilience Inspires Resilience, Mile After Mile
One Summit

Why 2018 Boston Marathon Was Perfect Chaos

Here Comes the Rain
Reid Coolsaet - Ramblings of a Runner

BAA 5k & Boston Marathon 2018
Riri Nagao

Boston Marathon 2018 Recap: DNFing is Harder Than It Looks
Run Mary Run

2018 Boston Marathon Recap: Part 1
Runaissance Mom

2018 Boston Marathon Recap: Part 2
Runaissance Mom

Boston Marathon
Runner's World

How to Win the Boston Marathon in Horrible Weather
Runner's World

The Science Behind How Sportsmanship Helped Desiree Linden Win Boston
Runner's World

2018 Boston Marathon Recap
Running Dad

Desiree Linden Didn’t Just Win The Boston Marathon — She Reminded Me Of The REAL Reason I Run
Running From My Problems

6 Boston Marathon Charity Runners Who Could Use Your Help Right Now
Running From My Problems

Race Recap - The Boston Marathon 2018
Running Karma

Boston Marathon Recap
Running Rogue

Harsh weather dampens local runner efforts in Boston Marathon
Santa Fe New Mexican

7 Things to Know About 2018 Boston Marathon Winner Desiree Linden

The physiology of the cold: Why might women out-‘survive’ men?
The Science of Sport

Race Report: 2018 Boston Marathon
SparkPeople - MobyCarp

How Des Linden Beat Fatigue, Weather Conditions to Win the 2018 Boston Marathon
Sports Illustrated

Boston Marathon Race Weekend Recap
Tale of 2 Halfs

Boston Marathon Race Report - Ather H.
Team Run Run

Gallery: 2018 Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon 2018 Weekend Recap Day 1: BAA 5k, Meetups and the Expo
The Thrifty Runner

Boston Marathon 2018 Weekend Recap Day 2: Meet-ups, the Finish Line and more Expo Fun!
The Thrifty Runner

Boston Marathon 2018 Weekend Recap Day 3: Marathon Monday!
The Thrifty Runner

Desiree Linden Just Became the First American Woman to Win the Boston Marathon in Three Decades
Time Magazine

Cancer survivor fights rain, hypothermia, to finish Boston Marathon after midnight

Boston, Finally...

The Wet and Wild 2018 Boston Marathon
A Trail Runners Blog

Marathon Memories: Bring It On

Boston Marathon Recap: 2:58 PR in Unreal Conditions
Two Fab Fit Chicks

Reports of hypothermia as Boston Marathon goes off in miserable conditions
USA Today

Over Those 26.2 Miles, Boston Marathon Runners Leave So Much Clothing Behind. Who Picks It Up?

Your Stories: The Boston Marathon Is More Than A Race

Race Recap: Des Linden Wins Windy, Rainy Boston Marathon On Big Day For U.S.
Women's Running

Boston Marathon 2018 Race Recap

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

2018 Boston Marathon Medal Donated to Medals4Mettle

I donated my 2018 Boston Marathon medal to Medals4Mettle - a 501c3 public charity that collects donated marathon, half marathon and triathlon finishers’ medals and awards them to children and adults for the mettle and courage they demonstrate battling cancer, chronic illness, trauma and other life challenges. I am the Philadelphia chapter coordinator so please contact me for more information.

🏅 💙💛 🏩

Monday, April 2, 2018

2018 Boston Marathon - Pass The Baton

When I saw the Boston Marathon's #PassTheBaton post on Facebook, I knew I had to take this opportunity to give a shout-out to my twin, Leah.

I was inspired when Leah finished her 1st Boston Marathon in 2013 then devastated when the tragedy occurred. In the years following the tragedy, I was determined to qualify so Leah and I could run Boston together in memory of those who died and in honor of those who survived.

Leah encouraged me to keep trying to qualify for Boston (BQ) and I finally succeeded at my 12th attempt at the 2016 Philadelphia Marathon (3:46:13) as part of Team Lemon to benefit Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer.

Five years later, it will be bittersweet to return to Boston without her but I know she will be cheering me on from Charlottesville. I continue to be inspired by Leah’s ongoing volunteer work with the Charlottesville Track Club - she is constantly encouraging others through the training program & supporting charities with the C-VILLE-athon. She also started the Rivanna Greenbelt Marathon so that others could achieve their BQ goals.

Thanks to Leah, Coach Mark, family, friends & followers who have supported me on my journey and generously donated to Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.

If you can, please consider donating $5 to help fighting childhood cancer

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

2018 Boston Marathon - Running with a Good Time for a Good Cause

Malinda is grateful for the opportunity to run the 2018 Boston Marathon as a time qualifier (3:46:13) and charity runner with Team Lemon to benefit Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer in memory of our grandmother, affectionately known as "GG" and Leah's brother-in-law, Michael.

If you can, please consider donating $5:

No donation is too small to help in the fight against childhood cancer.

Thanks for your generosity and support!

Leah and Malinda are identical twins and marathon moms who deemed themselves "Twins Run In Our Family" so they could share their experiences running together while supporting causes they care about.

Since 2012, Leah and Malinda have raised $3,951 to support Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation in memory of Leah's brother-in-law, Michael and their grandmother, affectionately known as GG.

Leah, the faster 1/2 of @TwinsRun, qualified (BQ'd) and finished the Boston Marathon 4 times (2013, 2014, 2015 & 2017).

Malinda, the slower 1/2 of @TwinsRun, finally qualified (BQ'd) on her 12th attempt.

If at 1st you don't succeed, try 11 more times! ;-)

1st attempt: 2013 Chicago Marathon (4:04:21)

2nd attempt: 2013 Philadelphia Marathon (4:04:40)

3rd attempt: 2014 Charlottesville Marathon (3:56:14)

4th attempt: 2014 Rivanna Greenbelt Marathon (4:23:56)

5th attempt: 2014 Philadelphia Marathon (3:47:42)

6th attempt: 2015 Rock 'n' Roll DC Marathon (3:54:58)

7th attempt: 2015 Charlottesville Marathon (4:19:12)

8th attempt: 2015 Rivanna Greenbelt Marathon (4:23:02)

9th attempt: 2015 Philadelphia Marathon (4:01:22)

10th attempt: 2016 Rock 'n' Roll DC Marathon (4:00:23)

11th attempt: 2016 Rivanna Greenbelt Marathon (4:00:49)

12th attempt --> 2018 BQ: 2016 Philadelphia Marathon (3:46:13)

Malinda was grateful to run her 1st Boston Marathon in 2017 as a charity runner with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and finish together with Leah.

Since Malinda finally achieved her BQ goal, she is grateful for the opportunity to run the 2018 Boston Marathon to benefit Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.

Thanks for your generosity and support!

@TwinsRun on Twitter

@TwinsRun on Instagram

Twins Run In Our Family on Facebook

Many thanks to Competitor Running for including my story.

Boston Charity Runners Tell Their Stories
By Theresa Juva, Published Mar. 27, 2018

Malinda Ann Hill
Age: 46
Lives in: Wynnewood, PA
Charity: Alex’s Lemonade Stand

For the second year in a row, Hill will be running Boston to raise money for cancer research and patient and family support. Last year, she joined her twin sister Leah—a seasoned Boston runner—and participated in the marathon for the first time. She ended up raising $5,000 for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Leah’s brother-in-law and the sisters’ grandmother both died of cancer. This year, Hill hopes to raise $1,000 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which was started by 4-year-old Alexandra Scott, who died of neuroblastoma in 2004. “Alex’s Lemonade Stand is very close to my heart since I’m the bereavement coordinator at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,” Hill shared. “I know how important it is to fund childhood cancer research.”

She also continues to be inspired by how a little girl achieved so much in her short life. By age eight, Alex had raised $1 million for cancer research with her lemonade stands. The organization has since raised $150 million for cancer research. “She demonstrated how one person can inspire so many to work together to make a difference,” said Hill.

Hill will also compete in Boston this year as an official time qualifier. After 11 attempts, she finally hit her age mark at the 2016 Philadelphia Marathon, running 3:46 to qualify. “My number one goal for Boston is to enjoy every step from Hopkinton to Boylston Street,” she remarked.


Monday, January 22, 2018

The Verve Pipe at Ardmore Music Hall on January 18, 2018

I've loved running to music by The Verve Pipe for over 20 years so I'm grateful I had the opportunity to finally see them in concert at Ardmore Music Hall.

Even though I really wanted to attend the show, I was hesitant to buy my ticket in advance since I'm usually in bed by 8pm so I can get up at 4am to run.

I'm so glad I decided to attend at the last minute. The concert exceeded my expectations.

The covers of  "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" and "The Chain" were amazing. It was also good to hear a couple favorites from my running playlist: "Villains" and "Photograph" (brief video clips below).

I'm also glad I decided to stick around after the show to meet the band. They were all so kind and appreciative of their fans.

An extra special thanks to Brian Vander Ark for taking a photo with flat Leah. ;-)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon (If at first I don't BQ, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try again)

On November 20, 2016, one year ago today, I finished my 7th Philadelphia Marathon in 3:46:13 and finally qualified for the Boston Marathon (BQ) after 11 failed attempts since 2013.

It's been a year and I still haven't been able to gather my thoughts in any cohesive order. I've never been good at writing except when Twitter was still 140 characters or less. ;-)

As I watched Shalane Flanagan's joy at accomplishing her goal to win the 2017 New York City Marathon, I remembered the joy I felt when I accomplished my goal to BQ.

There were so many meaningful moments on the road leading to my BQ. I will try my best to put those moments into words and will continue to add to this post as I gather my thoughts.

I have to start somewhere, so here it it goes...

I started running in 1994 to impress my boyfriend at the time. He broke my heart just before my 1st half marathon but my love for running continued to grow and I finished my 1st marathon - the Marine Corps Marathon - in 1995.

I finshed my 2nd marathon - the San Francisco Marathon - in 1998. I decided to register the day before the marathon with no training. Needless to say it wasn't one of my best decisions but I finished without injuring myself. ;-)

I don't remember much about my 3rd marathon - my 1st Philadelphia Marathon with Leah in 2008. I don't even remember when or why we decided to do it. I do remember that it was brutally cold. Leah and I ran together most of the time but at one point Leah was in pain and she told me I could go ahead. I don't remember finishing or how I felt afterward.

We ran the the Walt Disney World Marathon together for the 1st time in 2009. We were so focused on trying to finish that we only stopped for a couple character photos. ;-)

When we decided to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon together, we wanted to have a sister-sister team so I came up with the name "Twins Run in Our Family." At that point, Leah was already a self-described race addict and I described myself as the "go with the flow" runner.

When Leah qualified for her 1st Boston Marathon, I was so proud of her for working so hard to reach her goal. At that time, I didn't think I was capable of qualifying for Boston, so it wasn't even something I considered attempting.

When I went to Boston to cheer Leah at the 2013 Boston Marathon, I was so excited for her. Yet, at the same time, when I walked around the Expo and the streets of Boston I started to feel a little bit of sadness that I wasn't one of the runners.

Before Leah began the marathon, I thought about trying to qualify. I also thought that I didn't want the pressure of trying to run fast because I simply enjoyed being able to run.

As I watched the television coverage, I was so inspired to see Joan Benoit Samuleson finish and then talk about how she runs marathons to tell a story. Tears came to my eyes when I saw her joy at accomplishing her goal and telling her story.

I was excited when I saw the text alerts that Leah and my other running friends had finished. When Leah walked in the door, I told her to stop and go back so I could take a photo. Months later, after reviewing the date stamp on the photo, I realized that I took the photo just as the bombs exploded.

I then started to walk to Starbucks to get Leah a white mocha. Our hotel was next to the family meeting area. I noticed runners and family members celebrating but then I saw this woman crying hysterically and thought that was odd. I tweeted about going to Starbucks and then received a reply to be careful because there had been 2 explosions. At that point, I still had no idea what was going on just a few blocks away. When I got back to the hotel, I realized that something horrible had happened. I remember telling Leah there were 2 explosions and then we started to watch the news in horror.

It was so chaotic - we had no idea what had happened or why - and everything was on lock down. I was worried that something else was going to happen and that I wouldn't be able to get home. It all seemed so surreal. We had been celebrating just moments before and everything changed in an instant. Even though we were not directly affected by the tragedy, my heart was breaking for everyone affected by the bombings.

When I returned home, I couldn't stop reading and watching everything I could about what happened.

A few weeks later, I traveled to DC to run the Nike Women's Half. I was nervous but it was comforting to be there with my two mother runner friends. We even had the chance to run with Shalane Flannagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson.

After the tragedy, I knew I had to try to qualify for Boston so that Leah and I could run together in memory of those who died and in honor of those who survived.

I made my 1st attempt in Chicago, my 2nd in Philadelphia and my 3rd in Charlottesville.

I was grateful to return to Boston in 2014 so I could be on the sidelines cheering Leah and all the other runners. While I was disappointed that I had yet to qualify, I was determined that I would keep trying until I succeeded.

At some point, I hope to write in more detail about my 11 attempts to qualify. There were so many emotions and meaningful moments that I experienced.

As I prepared for my 11th attempt at the Rivanna Greenbelt Marathon, my last chance to qualify for the 2017 Boston Marathon, I felt positive. I knew the weather was going to make the race difficult but I was still hopeful that I could accomplish my goal because of all the training I had done in the heat. I ran conservatively and felt pretty good up until the last few miles. I knew at one point that 3:55 was out of reach but I was hopeful to at least finish around 4 hours. As I watched a more experienced runner suffer in the heat, barely able to walk, I knew that I had to give it all I had to finish. I finished knowing that I had tried my very best.

While I was disappointed, I tried my best not to be too hard on myself but it was difficult not to feel like I let down Leah and all those who had been rooting for me to BQ. I decided that I still wanted to run Boston with Leah and would try to be a charity runner. It's always been important to me to run for something more than just myself, so it felt got to be able to run for charity. I still hoped that I would qualify before Boston so that I could run the race knowing that I was a qualifier for 2018. But, I also knew that if I failed again, I was determined to qualify at Boston.

I began to ask myself, is this worth all the stress and anxiety and disappointment. I even asked Meb if there ever comes a time when I should consider that my goal was unattainable and he said "Never give up." He then shared a story about meeting a runner before the 2013 Boston Marathon who tried to qualify for years and finally did it.

Even though I had moments of disappointment, I was so very grateful for all the support I've received for Team Lemon. I received donations from people I only met through social media. It was comforting to know that somehow my persistence and determination inspired people to support Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer.

Every mile I ran, I thought of all the families I know, including my own, that have been affected by cancer. So many families have lost loved ones to cancer and many runners I know also run in memory of their loved ones who died or in honor of those who have survived. I don't take any step for granted. Each mile is a gift.

While I wanted to achieve my BQ goal, it has always been more important to me to run for a reason and support charities I care about. I kept thinking that I would run my very best but I would not let myself be disappointed if I failed to achieve my BQ goal, I knew I put everything I had into training and I was grateful that I could help raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research.

I will continue to add to this post as I gather my thoughts. In the meantime, here are some random thoughts I wrote down last year after the Philadelphia Marathon ...

Tough girls tough it out
Run your own race
Don't blow it
Starting off slow
Looking down
Team Lemon dinner
Why I run
Don't let me down
Mother runners
Our doubts are traitors
Red shorts
Obama quote
Childhood cancer
Weather watching
Running community
Expo sightings
Running playlist
Leonard Cohen
Plastic Ants
Afghan Whigs
What's the point
Photo opps
Flat Leah
Vegan sign
Each mile is a gift
Negative split
Never give up

Monday, November 13, 2017

Philadelphia Marathon

Last year, I finished my 7th Philadelphia Marathon since 2008 and succeeded at my 12th attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon (BQ) since 2013. I am grateful that my Philly Marathon streak ended with a good time for a good cause. Fighting childhood cancer one mile at a time with Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation's Team Lemon.

2011 - 4:40:59

2012 - 4:00:57

2013 - 4:04:04

2014 - 3:47:42

2015 - 4:01:22

2016 - 3:46:13 (BQ & PR)

Will you run, cheer, or volunteer on Sunday?

May the miles ahead be good to all running!

Thanks to all the volunteers and spectators!

ICYMI... Lists of race recaps:

2016 Philadelphia Marathon, Half Marathon & Rothman 8K Race Recaps

2015 Philadelphia Marathon, Half Marathon & Rothman 8K Race Recaps

2014 Philadelphia Marathon, Half Marathon & Rothman 8K Race Recaps

2013 Philadelphia Marathon, Half Marathon & Rothman 8K Race Recaps

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Leah's 8th Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run

I just applied to be a Race Ambassador for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run (CUCB).

When I searched the race results, I realized that the first time I ran the race was in 2008 which means the 2018 CUCB will be the 10th anniversary of my first time running the race. Wow!

When I think about all the miles I've logged, injuries I've endured, and fun I've had training and racing over the past ten years it's hard for me to remember my life before becoming a runner (sort of like recalling life before having children!).

I'm regretful that I don't have a CUCB streak and it's not because I didn't get in the lottery.

When I ran the best race of any distance in my entire life at the 2012 CUCB, I made a conscious decision to not return in 2013, 2014, or 2015. I knew I would never run a race as fast or as satisfying on that course again and I wanted to end on a high note.

It seems sad and silly now that I denied myself the opportunity to enjoy one of the best races in the country just because I was afraid I'd feel like a loser for being slower than my 2012 performance.

In 2016 I finally gained some perspective and decided to return to my favorite race in DC. Yes, my finishing time was 7 minutes slower, but I was even happier than when I ran a PR because I appreciated my experience running the race.

Each mile is a gift and I don't want to let low self-esteem, fear, or doubts keep me from running or racing again.

I'm determined to document my training for this race on this blog regardless of whether I am chosen as a Race Ambassador because I have lots of tips, stories, and insight to share!

I've been volunteering for the Charlottesville Track Club for almost as long as I've been running and I've gained a lot of experience from managing our local ten miler training program to directing a marathon that I created. I'm excited to motivate others to find the joy in running (and racing!).

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"Are You Happy?" Leah's 2017 Chicago Marathon Race Recap

"Are you happy?" A friend texted me the day after the Chicago Marathon asking if I was happy with my race. I know that my time of 4:17:23 is my worst performance on this course by ten minutes (and is one of my ten slowest marathons overall), but I enjoyed my experience so much more this year than in the past and I’m grateful for having a relatively pain-free long run in a beautiful city with amazing crowd support.

Before the race I told everyone that this would be my 30th and final marathon ever. After two very disappointing races in the past year and a painful injury in April that sidelined me for 7 weeks, I had lost my love and motivation to train for the marathon. Five years have passed since my PR and the last time I achieved a time goal was when I qualified for Boston for the 4th time at the 2015 Chicago Marathon. The 2017 Boston Marathon would have been one of the most miserable races of my life if I didn’t have my twin sister by my side for the entire 26.2 miles. I don’t think I would have made it to that finish line without her.

Luckily I had already signed up for Chicago before that race or I probably would have ended my marathon career in Boston. If I did “retire” from the marathon, I could honestly say I had a good run (pun intended!). I achieved my goal of qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon, not just once, but four times. My first marathon was 5:17:03 and I eventually took over and hour and 40 minutes off that time to run a PR of 3:36:35. Not too bad! I had a lot of disappointments and painful races, but I kept trying … running at least 1 and up to 5 marathons a year since 2007.

When I finished my first Chicago Marathon in 2011, I was hysterically crying after the race in the hospitality tent. My training had gone so well, yet I finished well off my BQ goal. The following year when I ran my PR of 3:36:35 I barely enjoyed it because I was so disappointed that I hadn’t hit my goal of sub 3:35. Little did I know then that it would be my best time by far and only the second time I’d ever run under 3:40. I wish I would have appreciated that achievement and let myself experience the pure joy of running a great race without letting my perfectionist self find the flaws in my performance.

My training this year was not ideal. After taking 7 weeks off with no running, I slowly came back in June. Even though I ran two 20 mile runs this cycle, I almost never ran anything under 10-11 minute pace unless it was a race and I only ran a few of those. So I’m pretty happy I ran the first half of the race in 2:02 because that’s the longest distance I’ve run anywhere near a 9:20 minute pace since April and it felt comfortable. The last 8-10 miles I slowed down quite a bit, but I made the decision to just keep running at a manageable pace without pushing myself and accepted that I’d have a huge positive split (I’ve only ever run two negative split marathons.).

I don’t know if I’ll ever qualify for Boston again, but I’m fine with that now. I used to think what’s the point of continuing to run marathons if I can’t hit my competitive goals. I felt so embarrassed, sad, and frustrated (and, to be honest, like a huge LOSER!) and I just wanted to end on a high note. I didn’t have a sub 4 hour marathon or a BQ this year, but I finished the race excited about training again and that’s a victory!

Highlights of the race:

* Running with Team Lemon to support Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer (ALSF) in memory of my brother-in-law Michael & grandma (GG). Thanks to everyone who's made a donation to ALSF. My twin sister Malinda and I joined Team Lemon in March 2012. Together we've have raised $3,756 in memory of Michael and GG.

* Meeting Paula Radcliffe for the 2nd time (1st time was 2012 Chicago Marathon weekend) and having her hold Flat Malinda for a photograph!

* Talking to a Norwegian runner at my table who convinced me to go ask Paula for that photo. I enjoyed telling her all about my Coach and the running community in Charlottesville.

* Getting stopped by an identical twin on the way to one last bathroom break before the race. He noticed my TWINS RUN in our family shirt. We showed each other photos of our twins. J Sadly that shirt got tossed around the ten mile mark.

* Running into a couple of Irish runners who I had taken a group picture for the day before near the Field Museum. What are the odds of that!?! I got some hysterical selfies of the three of us. I hope they find the photos I posted on social media!

* Having PokemonGo Plus to help spin PokeStops and catch Pokemon with a press of a button. Wow, do I wish I had that last year!

* The guy with a bowl of sour patch kids. I said, “I love you!” as I grabbed a handful and he replied, “I love you more!” :)

* Hearing “Leah” and looking over to see the husband of Charlottesville running friend (she ended up running a huge PR of 3:30!)

* Getting a laugh from some spectators when I stopped to re-apply lipstick before Chinatown and then again with a mile to go (that time I dropped the lipstick and had to turn around to pick it up. Doh!)

* The Motivational Signs! Thanks to the Facebook group “Chicago Runners Unite” for having a post and comments that reminded me of my faves!

- “Remember, you won the lottery”

- Run like a millennial, run from commitment!!

- This Sign is BLUE. You’re Delirious!” (on orange paper)

- Plain white poster board that said "motivational sign " in black sharpie.

- I do Netflix marathons!

- A guy with HUGE pink sign with gold glitter that said “My First Marathon Sign. Yay Me!”

- Photo of a dog and said "are you all chasing a squirrel?"

- Guy holding baby and a sign that said "hurry up mom! I'm hungry!"

* After the race running into someone who follows Twins Run on Facebook and having a nice conversation and getting a selfie with her. :)

* Getting a photo of the male winner, Galen Rupp, with Flat Malinda.

* Sightseeing with my kids before and after the race. I don't think anyone should ever complain about the cost of race photos when I spent a small fortune on only 4 green screen novelty pictures with my kids at the tourist spots. #WorthEveryPenny #MyKidsWontPoseForPhotosWithMomUnlessForcedByStrangers

* Being able to check-in to my hotel at 8:30am and head to the expo alone while my kids relaxed in the room. Got my bib and shirt in about 10 minutes. Spent longer on the bus getting back from the expo then I did at the expo (which saved me lots of $$!)

Worst parts of the race:

* Struggling for 15 minutes to connect my Bluetooth headphones and then having texting issues before the race. I ended up calling my daughter a couple times while I was running to make sure she and her brother were OK.

* Squatting to pee under a bridge ... not one of my finest moments. I felt guilty, but really had no choice! :(

* Getting passed by a man in a dinosaur costume around mile 25.

* When my PokemonGo Plus came loose from the wrist strap early on in the race and I had to carefully hold it down in my hand so it wouldn’t fall out (which it did towards the end of the race and I had to turn around and hope no one stepped on it or on me when I reached down to grab it!).

* The battery in Bluetooth headphones dying exactly at 20 miles. SERIOUSLY?!?! The last 6 miles are always the hardest! Luckily the crowds were so loud and encouraging.

* Losing my shoe with an expensive custom orthotic somewhere in the Balboa Hospitality Tent or during short walk back to my hotel room. Although I was amused when I submitted a lost & found request and got an email back that linked to a “What Now?” webpage that started off with “Losing something sucks.”

* The blisters on my right foot … My big toenail hurt so badly I went to MedExpress at 7pm on Monday night to have them drain it because I wasn’t confident in my ability to stick a safety pin under my nail despite hearing stories of friends who successfully performed self-surgery. ;-) After waiting two hours I was told there was nothing to drain and given an antibiotic prescription. THIS IS WHY WE HAVE SUPERBUGS PEOPLE! After frantically calling every podiatrist within walking distance, I finally got an appointment at 10:30am. “Do you want me to pop it off?” she asked after an examination. “Uh, can we try to drain it first.” Even she didn’t think there was anything to drain, but I know my toes and I was right. She poked it with a needle and immediately there was fluid flowing. I only wish I would have taken a video of the procedure to share with the dr and nurse who didn’t even try to alleviate my pain (I had told both of them that “I’m dying, it hurts so bad, you have to do something!”). I also have a blister on the sole of my foot that the podiatrist tried to shave some skin off to help, but that didn’t do anything. I’m contemplating the safety pin.