Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Stay Within Myself

A few days ago I received a comment from a dear friend.  Her words always matter to me.  For one, I know she has my best interests at heart.  It was just a light hearted comment to a post I wrote the other day but one part stuck the most:

"Enjoy the beautiful weather and stay within yourself with your goals.."

Stay Within Yourself.  

These three words stopped me...they grabbed my attention. I didn't know quite what they meant exactly but I knew I liked how they sat with me.  I tried them on in different ways. Let them roll around in this head of mine while I chewed them over.  And by the end of the day, they felt so right and resonated with me in a way that I haven't felt for some time.

Stay Within Myself.


As I find myself in a sort of transition here after Boston and in my last two months in Asheville, I have all sorts of renewed inspiration and passion.  I have goals and ideas.  A hunger for some new possibilities.  And most importantly, a sense of self that I've been missing. Not that I've entirely lost myself.  I just think I've been a little out of touch with ME for some time.  Sometimes only one step away and sometimes so far away that it seems I've forgotten who I am.  I've been outside of myself.  Distant.  Blurry.  Perhaps a little lost.

When I mentioned to my husband that my biggest intention for myself right now was to Stay Within Myself, he really didn't understand what I meant.  And that's okay but I really wanted him to know what I meant because of how strongly it makes sense to me.  I wanted to be able to explain it in a way that he would understand me.  This is part of processing for me and letting truth sink in.

If you were to think of the times in your life when you are the strongest...the most alive...energized...influential...passionate, what does that look like for you?  For me, when I reflect on the times I've been in these places of passion, energy, confidence and living my truth, I feel so much possibility.  I see myself as being capable, bold, and courageous in my moments and life choices.  And I am always....

Within Myself.

Quietly confident.
Taking time to reflect on my heart and write down my goals and dreams.
Taking time with just myself to do what I love.
Not comparing myself to others.
Not going faster than I'm ready for.
Shutting out negative voices and people.
Choosing my friends wisely and being the kind of friend I want for myself.
Living my own life and setting my own goals.
Believing in my capabilities and truly trusting that anything is possible.
Not needing others to tell me what I can and cannot do.
Taking risks.

The more I live with these words that ring such truth to me:  Stay Within Myself, the more they energize me.  On my run tonight, the miles flowed so easily and felt so wonderful.  I thought much about my short and long term goals and how every single one of them feel so within my grasp...if I can keep myself right here where I am.  Within Myself.  Centered.  I see this play out in so many ways.  Marathon running is one example.  When we stay within ourselves, listen to our bodies, and not go faster than we are ready for, we find strength to finish strong.  If we trust in ourselves and stay where is just right for us...when we stay within ourselves to know when we can take risks and be bold without letting fear stop us...when we are truly running within ourselves...THIS is when we have our best races!!

Stay Within Myself is most definitely my mantra as I make my way through the next few months of transition and climbing. This means being where I am.  Staying centered.  Trusting in myself enough to take risks and move forward...all it takes is that first step and opening that first door for a whole world to open to us. But also knowing when to be still. These words ultimately mean that I'm the one in control of making things happen for my life.  I'm the one that drives ME.  As a mother, wife, runner, learner, all ways.  By staying within myself I am knowing myself.  I'm focused.  I'm living my life without comparison.  Staying within myself means that I'm staying energized so that I can move forward one step at a I'm ready.  Instead of looking too far ahead of myself and the future, I'm living for today and taking the puzzle one piece at a time.

So, yes!  Yes, I will stay within myself.  And by staying within myself, I will have the strength and confidence to move forward like never before.  Just by being me.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Boston Marathon 2014 in Bullets

Boston 2014 was an event to be cherished.  It was so much more than a marathon.  It was history.  Love.  Community.  Strength.  Healing.  I wasn't going to write much of a blog post on this race this time. I know I mentioned it a bit in my recent post on Post Marathon Funk but I didn't give much detail on the actual trip/race.   I'm having a hard time finding the words.  I mean, how do I even go about capturing this year...this race?  My entire Boston experience was so much more than I'm ready to capture adequately but I do feel some sort of pull to process some of it through writing so a bullet post it is for now!

Lots of special little things in our bags this year.  This sticker just might make it to my car someday when I drive something other than a minivan.  And what a special idea with this bracelet that was made from one of the limited edition 2013 Boston Marathon street banners.  "It is an authentic piece of the world's most historic race.  Please wear it to honor all who were affected as well as a symbol of support for the Boston Athletic Association, the Boston Marathon and the City of Boston." 

  • What a memorable year to be in Boston for the marathon!  We drove the whole family there, stayed with dear friends, reunited with more special friends and took part in one of the most amazing races in the history of marathons!  Boston is probably my favorite city in the U.S...such a mix of beauty, history, vibrance, spirit, and charm.  It is a city I hope to return to again and again for it surely holds a piece of my heart.  
  • I haven't written much about my Boston training this time.  I've kept things quiet and taken a break from being so open with my workouts. A season in my life.  
  • This has been one of the most successful and strong training cycles I've ever had.  I had an awesome coach who planned some really perfect for me workouts along the way.  Since my plan was tailored just to me, I was able to give and take in ways that helped me avoid injury and overtraining like I have experienced in the past.  
  • I went into Boston quietly confident and peaceful.  Ready to be with friends, share Boston with my family (road trip!), embrace and soak up the love and healing that was there with Boston Strong, and run a strong race.  
  • I really had no doubts that I had a PR in me.  But as with many race day realities, things don't always go according to expectation.  
  • Boston held true to her past reputation with me and proved to be a course that challenges me like no other.  
  • I was far from racing a PR but I did run a time I was proud of on race day and I didn't let my disappointment take away from Boston 2014 as a whole.  This was my 4th Boston and my fastest one yet.  I'm proud of this.  
  • My post race thoughts on Facebook:  Thank you all for the love, support, and encouragement today! Wow! What an amazing year to run The Boston Marathon!! Truly an honor. Hard race/course as always. Lots of throwing up at mile 20 and after that, I was just happy ....beyond relieved make it to the finish. 3:28:xx...I'll take it. 10 min off of goal but a Best time for this course!! So many emotions in being here. Mostly Happy and Honored!! Cheers Friends! Love Wins!! And can this running community get any more amazing???!
  • I had the ideal training schedule.  I was able to run many of my runs on a soft trail in a most beautiful place around a lake!  Very little of my runs were on the treadmill this time.  In the past, almost all of my marathon training runs were treadmill runs.  So nice to have been able to be outside so much.  Again, no excuses for not having run my best race.  Just didn't happen.  
  • At the end of this training cycle 7:20s-7:30s  felt easy and strong.  I had that pace!  Almost as if I could run it in my sleep. Seemed like a given that I could maintain a slower pace for the marathon.  But nothing is a given on race day.  
  • I could reflect all day on all the things that could have gone differently in order to run a better race but it is what it is. I didn't have it.  Again, I'm proud of what I did do on race day.  Another race.  But Boston 2014 was surely not just a race.  There was so much more to this experience than a time on the clock.   
  • Weather.  I personally though the weather was perfect!  I know some found it to be hot but I suppose it is just what you are used to and what you prefer.  It was mid 60s (I think...don't know specific temp) with a slight breeze.  My past marathons have been so HOT that this one seemed like a gift.  Boston 2004 was 87 degrees, Boston 2012 90 degrees, Newport 2011 80s, two July Marathons, and Napa Valley the second time was in the 70s.  I'll gladly take the 60s!! 
  • My race splits show that I started to struggle at mile 17 as is the case for  most people that run Boston...the hills of Newton!  I planned for my splits to be slower here but I had hoped to keep them right around 7:45. I guess Newton had other plans.  I started getting sick around that time too and managed to hold it all in until mile 20.  At mile 20 I lost everything.  I just stopped and threw up again and again until it was all gone.  This was my first time throwing up in a race.  Stupid Power Gel...I should have known better than to take that.  I thought that maybe it would go down easier since it is more watery than the other gels but I should have known not to try something new on race day.  By the time I started running again, I saw a 12 or 13 min mile.  ugggh!  Managed to get it down quite a bit and run my next mile strong but then I was toast!!  My last section of the race was at a 6:3x pace...this tells me that I had more than I thought left in the tank.  A disappointing feeling for sure!  My splits:  7:36, 7:26, 7:21, 7:28, 7:36, 7:33, 7:33, 7:38, 7:34, 7:44, 7:41, 7:29, 7:33, 7:37, 7:45, 7:33, 8:06, 8:12, 8:01, 8:17, 9:56 (PUKING MILE), 7:41, 7:57, 8:10, 8:34, 9:02 (arg, worse mile ever in a race...hate feeling like I'm going to faint!), .52 (yes, I know a marathon is only 26.2...ha!) @ 6:37 pace.  3:28:37
  • I'm honored to have been in Boston this year.  As much as I dislike the Boston course, I also love it.  It is challenging and there are so many different ways you could run it.  Fun to think about strategy for the next time.  Yes, I do plan on running it again.  One of those races/trips that has become something my husband and I look forward to.  AND we get to see friends!  
  • This was the first year that we've brought the whole family to Boston for the marathon.  It was fun and the 16 hour road trip was actually not bad!  They spent so much of their time making Boston Band bracelets.  What a great lesson in business.  They ended up selling them outside of the expo. They sold out in 30 minutes.  
This was a nice start to the road trip.   Wasn't quite like this the whole way.  Ha!  But close.  

These bands sold for 2 for $5 or one for $3.  They sold out in 30 minutes.  10% of the proceeds went to the ONE Fund.  

The city of Boston was alive like I've never seen before! And getting to enjoy it with two of my closest friends?  So special!  Love these girls!  

Saturday morning.  Up early for the 5k where my good friend's daughter was running!  It was fun to be there for this event and Boston graced us with a glorious morning.  The whole weekend was glorious.  

This was incredible!  The Marathon Scarf Project.  Volunteers from all over the world made scarves to send to the Old South Church in Boston where more volunteers handed them out with a blessings of remembrance and hope.  So beautiful!! 
This was incredible!  The Marathon Scarf Project.  Volunteers from all over the world made scarves to send to the Old South Church in Boston where more volunteers handed them out with a blessings of remembrance and hope.  So beautiful!! 

Expo fun!  And getting a chance to hug sweet Petra!!  Oh, what a kindred spirit.  Such an authentic and free spirit!  Can't say enough about her.  

A marathon expo wouldn't be the same without a stop by the Nuun Hydration booth!  Always nice to see  Kim.  This year she cheered loudly for me at mile 19...I needed that Kim.  Thank you!

Meetin Kara and Lauren was a highlight of my expo time!  These girls are such inspirations! What perfect women to represent such a great company like Oiselle!  

Could spend many an hour on the Harvard campus!

Layered up in our throw away clothes and ready to head to Hopkinton! 

So happy that I got to ride to Hopkinton with this special girl!   

And we saw Petra again!!!  In line for the loo (isn't that what they say in London Petra?) 

And to think we all met through running blogs!  We truly do find our family /friends in the most unexpected of ways.  

Better than a PR!

A perfect glow greeting me on race morning

The morning we left Boston.  Seems fitting that it would be rainy to match my sadness in saying goodbye.  

One of many favorite churches...this one in Cambridge

Yes, yes, I DO love Boston!

Watch out Boston

Part of school reports on the trip home.  We learned so much!  

I love you Boston!  We'll be back.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Post Marathon Funk (PMF)

LOTS of this since the Boston Marathon
Post Marathon Funk: Otherwise known as Post Marathon Blues or Postpartum Marathon Blues.  A state of blah that occurs after training for and completing a marathon.  This usually comes after 16 to 24 weeks of focused training, goal setting, and looking forward to this one day that may or may not go according to plan.  During Post Marathon Funk (PMF), a runner might exhibit some or all of the following symptoms and behavior:

  • Feel tired and apathetic about daily activities.  
  • Mope around the house not knowing quite what to do with themselves.  
  • Feel the need to have another immediate goal to work towards even though they are perfectly aware that they should rest and enjoy the lull that comes after accomplishing something they worked hard for. 
  • Spend more time than they care to admit googling upcoming races where they could possibly race better than their most recent marathon and still use their recent training despite the fact that it wouldn't be good for them.    
  • Eat ice cream and other various treats in higher amounts than usual.  Comfort foods.  
  • Cry for no reason other than because they feel like it.  
  • Irrational thinking.
  • Avoiding PMF at all costs by signing up for as many races as they can so that there is no time for that floundering feeling that comes from being between goals.  
Yes, I'm pretty sure I'm in a state of PMF.  Gosh, what a real thing!  And it comes after even our best of races.  I don't think it's that we always HAVE to have something to be working towards but the mind of the marathon runner is definitely one that thrives off of having a goal of some sort. A goal or training that adds to their life in all other ways.  They thrive off having some kind of challenge...a focus...something that drives them and adds to their life.  

When we work at something for so many weeks and focus on one specific race, there is bound to be some sort of empty feeling when that focus is gone.  Similar to that somewhat sad feeling many of us women get after having our babies.  At least I experienced some sort of blues after each of my children were born.  Yes, I had these perfectly sweet and healthy babies to hold close and enjoy.  But there was always a process of blues that I needed to work through after birth.  I'd spent 9 months preparing for their births, focusing on that one day of labor, and carrying this life in my body.  And once pregnancy and birth were done, I had to shift my focus to something new.  This took a little bit of time for me.  And although very different things, I find that I feel similar feelings after a goal race like a marathon.  No matter what my time was or whether I met my goals. Yes, I have that sense of accomplishment in finishing a 26.2 mile race.  Yes, I ran a decent race.  But it's done. After all these weeks of training.  And even though my main focus has been on JOY and enjoying the process of this training cycle, missing my goal/what I think I was trained for is understandably disappointing.  That only adds to the PMF.  Even those that set a personal record in their race experience PMF.  Their PMF is sometimes stronger since they are coming off an even bigger high! 

So much is gained from training for something.  So so much!  There are innumerable lessons to learn about ourselves, life, and the limitless possibilities that are out there for us when we are ready to receive them.  The marathon is a race like no other.  Unpredictable.  Challenging.  Something that makes us stronger, wiser, and more capable and prepared for future challenges.  It takes time to process and soak it up after it is all over.  This is true for any marathon but Boston 2014 was most definitely not like any marathon I've run before.  It was an experience that was so much more than a race.  Lots of emotion being there this year.  The crowds and support were amazing.  The city was alive with LOVE, hope, healing, courage, pride, resilience, and gratitude!  The spectators were loud, strong and alive like I've never seen them.  Never before have I had so many people thanking me for running.  Never before have I felt so much community and strength pulsing through the marathon was electric.  My only regret was not soaking it up more.  Instead I think I was a little too focused on my paces and trying to stay in my zone. But that's just it, no matter what, it was impossible to not take in the life force and energy that was BOSTON STRONG!  It was beautiful and I am incredibly honored to have been there running this year.  

What a joy and honor to be doing Boston with this special friend!  I even got to ride the bus with her.  True inspiration here.  Love her!

THIS is so much better than a PR!  A 3:28 this year. Not a PR but it's my best Boston time! I'll get that PR...I have time.  

So, here I am.  Almost a week out from Boston 2014 and I'm definitely ready to shake this Funk!  I'm ready to set my sights ahead and on the right now.  I'm ready to fully embrace and process all that Boston was and all that I learned from my training and race experience.  And yes, I'm ready to set some new goals.  Maybe that will involve some future races and maybe not.  But my goals will certainly involve finding focus on the next few months of my life as we gear up for some big changes and new chapters that will come with moving back to Oregon!  I'm ready.  

Things to help shake the PMF:
  • Allowing yourself the time to just rest your body and mind.
  • Being ok without a goal for a short time.  
  • Focusing on and enjoying the things that you didn't get as much of during training.
  • Thinking of some possible new goals to get excited about.  Not because we need them but because these new goals are part of what makes us us.  They are part of what gives our life energy and strength.  Our goals are what allow us to make ordinary extraordinary!  
  • Go on some happy runs that bring you back to yourself and help you remember just what a GIFT running is!!  
  • Be Thankful.  Focus on gratitude. 
  • Write down all the things you did really well during this training cycle and your recent race!  Then write down the lessons you learned and what you can apply to the next training cycle.  
  • A Runninghood follower on Facebook reminded me of just how important it is to have a group of friends...a support group...that really understand this post race funk.  Sometimes, it's the support of these friends that make all the difference in the world!!  I know this has been such a wonderful thing for me.  Thankful for my running friends that truly "get it".  
Today's run was definitely needed.  Soul food!  Happy.  A PMF shake out.  

Do you get the Post Marathon Funk?  What do you do to shake it?  


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

One Year Later. Remembering Boston 2013 and Looking Forward to Boston 2014. We All Stand Together.

"I'll see you next year Beautiful Boston.  And our spirits will be STRONGER.  They already are.  Fear doesn't win.  Love does." --taken from my reflections from Boston 2013

This blog doesn't get much exercise these days.  Seems like I go longer and longer between posts.  Inconsistent at best.  So, while I'm in better shape than perhaps I've ever been, my blog is wildly out of shape.  And this is probably a good thing right now.  It means I've been focused on other!  Training for the Boston Marathon 2014 has been a big part of that but definitely not the main focus.  Life has been pretty balanced these days and the marathon training has been so much less of the main focus and so much more of a beautiful and energizing compliment to the other areas of my life.  Just the perfect place really.

Today, one year after Boston 2013, seems like a fitting day to blow the dust off this blog a bit and do some reflection.  I've never been one to remember exact dates all the time.  I remember moments.  Experiences.  Feelings.  So, even though I was in Boston last year...running, watching, experiencing...I did't entirely register 4-15 as the exact day that it was.  I remember Boston 2013.  Very much.  Of course.  I remember my feelings on that day.  I remember what the race meant for me.  I remember the outreach of love from family, friends and the running community world wide.  I remember so much.  And I won't forget.  But waking up this morning to register that today is the exact year exactly...brought with it some unexpected emotions.  Emotions I haven't entirely allowed myself to feel.

There have been many times over the last year that I've found myself thinking that since I was one of the lucky ones that wasn't physically harmed or that didn't have any loved ones who were harmed or killed, that I don't really have a right to feel too much emotion.  I remember thinking this directly after the bombings and on into the night of the marathon as we made our way out of the city to a friend's house. I told myself this on my flight home and when I hugged my kids when we arrived safely.  I pushed emotions away when people asked me about the race and my experience.  I almost felt like I didn't deserve to grieve or feel deep emotion compared to so many others.  I'd quickly replace my feelings of sadness with all the reasons I had to be thankful:  My husband and friends who were near the finish area were safe, kids were with their grandma back home, I finished with plenty of time to not only have had my race but to be far enough away from the bombs to where I only heard many things to be thankful for.  But that didn't take away from the real emotions that were also part of that day...that moment.  The truth is, so many of us were affected by this tragedy.  All our feelings are valid:  grief, sadness, fear, anger, relief.  All of us that feel something are entitled to those feelings no matter how silly we feel about expressing them.  All of us:  Those that were physically harmed or that lost a loved one.  The families and friends back home who were watching and hearing about the tragedy.  The running communities near and far.  Those of us that raced.  The citizens of Boston.  Or those that just FEEL for HUMANITY.  It's the way we come together after tragedy (of any size) that adds to the beauty of life...the way we come together to


I look back to Boston 2013 with a lot of different feelings.  It isn't lost on me even a little in the power that this race held for me when it comes to letting go of fear and replacing it with love.  That's what this race was for me.  My words to myself during this race were all about self love and comfort during a somewhat unpredictable time in life.

"Leave fear on the course.  Let fear go with every step.  You are in control. You are where you are at this time and that's just where you need to be. All will be okay."

I didn't realize at the time that this very race would be what would not only help me get rid of fear in my personal life, but what would bring me calm during a tragedy that came to a city, a race, a day, the community and sport that I love so much.

"It is this very act of letting go of fear and replacing it with an incredible amount of self love that gave me peace and calm during those hours of tragedy that touched Boston at the finish line of one of the greatest human sporting events of history. It was those 26.2 miles of remembering myself and finding an Amanda that I'd never fully seen before that prepared me for what was to come and what is still here to process."  

I love Boston.  I love the city.  And I especially love the Boston Marathon.  It is a race I hope to run as many times as I can.  It isn't just a race for me.  It is an experience.  It's the energy.  A celebration of the sport of marathoning that I love so much.  It is a spirit.  And I couldn't be more excited to return to run again next week.  It will be my fourth Boston Marathon and probably my most special.  I'm excited to be there with my family and spend time with some of my dearest friends.  I'm excited to be running in a race with so many of my favorite runners from all around the world.  It will be a day where we all come together....with love, resilience, passion, and spirit.  Together.  As spectators.  Runners.  Community.  STRONGER.  STRONG.  BOSTON STRONG.  Boston 2014 will be yet another way to come together and send a message of:  LOVE WINS.

Below is one of my favorite songs lately and one that gives such a beautiful tribute to this race, this tragedy, this sport that we love....

Be Well Friends,


I don't write here as often as I used to but you can find Runninghood on: