Posted in boston, health & fitness, running

Second Half Marathon. Second Year On The Blue Carpet.

While most people were grilling and enjoying the 80 degree weather this Memorial Day Weekend, I hit the streets again with my running partner, Ali, to run in the Boston Run To Remember Half Marathon. What I really do enjoy about this race is that it honors Massachusetts Law Enforcement Officers killed in the line of duty by celebrating their lives and giving back to the community. If that’s not enough to keep you going to the finish line, I’m not sure what else is!

The race starts at 7:00 am, just enough time for the weather to remain fairly cool before the summer-like temperatures start to creep in. Sunday morning was really chilly, about 43 degrees around 6:00 am, which made us both keep our zip-ups on before race time. After parking, finding a suitable bathroom (avoiding porta-potties is key), and renting a locker for our post-race junk, we had about 10 minutes before the race began. We both could not believe how much time had gone by and realized we were a bit too casual with our arrival time. Before we knew it, we were in a cluster of people and had little time to stretch and mentally prepare.

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We look exhausted before it started!

Due to the large crowd and I mean, about 10,000 people strong, we were forced in¬†the 11:00 min/mile section which for us, was not ideal. A lot of times when you are in those areas, you are surrounded by slower runners and even walkers and you end up getting held up for at least the first few miles of the race. This year, they ended up doing two different wave starts which was something new. We were able to be up in the front of the starting line which was the second wave. I almost wanted to take a photo because it felt like this would be the only time in any race that I would be ahead of the pack ūüôā

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The cluster of a starting line

Finally, they let us go after about 10 additional minutes of standing around and we were off over the bridge towards the New England Aquarium. The first few miles felt really good and easy for the most part as it usually takes me a mile or two to feel settled. Ali and I were able to continue chatting and try to think of anything that we remembered from last year. Unfortunately we could only recall bits and pieces because honestly, runs make you black out! One thing I did remember from last year was the lining of the police cars along the course and there they were again to cheer us on. It is amazing to be able to give them a high-five and thank them for their service while they are thanking us for running. What a great way to actually honor Memorial Day!

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Things weren’t always so happy and go-lucky after the mid-point of the race. Around Mile 7/8, my legs started to get really tight, specifically my hamstrings. I never felt this tightness before in any type of run and it significantly slowed me down for the rest of the race. There are a few bridges and inclines that we encountered on the course, so I did not find those so welcoming but I stuck it out and continued on.

I would have to say, along with other runners on the course, as well as Ali, that Mile 11 to Mile 12 was about the hardest part of the race, mentally. It seemed to be the longest stretch of the course and it felt like it would never come. I even came to the point of stopping to stretch (something I never do) because my legs were not having any more of this long mile to nowhere nonsense. Ali was great as well and knew I was feeling some pain, so she stopped with me for a quick stretch and we were off again.

We FINALLY turned on Seaport Boulevard and could hear the crowds begin to perk up. Since the race is in the middle of Downtown Boston early in the morning, you don’t see too many spectators so it’s a nice little pick-me-up to get you to the finish line. Up the incline, over the bridge we went and set our sights on the finish line that seemed to not exist. In this moment, all I could think about was that soft blue carpet inside the World Trade Center and how desperately I wanted to lay down and collapse on it.

After a sprint from both of us (where the heck did that come from?) we made it to the end and were both eager to seek out that blue carpet. This race was harder for me this year and I’m not even sure why. Was it the temperature? Maybe the lack of stretching or hydrating before the race started. It could be a number of things but it definitely taught me that race prep is most important. We finished just over 2 hours which was about the same time we finished last year. I was a bit disappointed that I was unable to beat that time because I felt so confident in my training that I could do it! All in all, I was happy that we finished and that I could spend the next 30 minutes sprawled out on that carpet!

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What did get me through this race was a number of things but three really stick out. 1.) James Wilson’s 123 Grow program really helped me build up muscle this winter and feel strong throughout my training and the race. 2) The Greater Boston Running Company/Club-this was my first experience with a running club and I really enjoyed it. The variation of training was excellent and our leader, Trish, was a valuable resource in motivating and getting us through our runs. 3.) Ali. Yup, that’s right. Ali with a period after her name. She was the driving force behind me doing this Half Marathon again and I could not have done it without her. It’s great to accomplish something like a Half Marathon but you feel such greater success completing it with someone you cherish so much as a friend. We went through training together, venting, sharing bathroom stories, and planning our race day without any hesitation or argument. I cannot wait for our next running adventure…maybe and just maybe….it will be the Boston Marathon 2016!

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Blue Carpet at your service!

I’ll be resting my legs until then!

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Posted in boston, inspiration, life, running, thoughts

Who Is #BostonStrong?

It has been a week since the Boston Marathon and with the Tsarnaev¬†trial still going on in Boston, it’s hard to let what happened two years ago slip back into your mind. If you live in the Boston area or have been following this case closely, you know that victims and witnesses were called to the stand just a few weeks ago and explained the horror they endured two Marathon Mondays ago. I still find myself on the brink of tears at the mention of Martin Richard and¬†how his mother clung to his lifeless body begging him to wake up. Or when I see innocent people who now have to navigate life with prosthetic legs because a cowardly act reshaped their lives forever. Then there are the times where I am inspired by that same family and those same people, that¬†after two years, are still fighting with all of their might to remain strong. Boston Strong is what most call it. I believe the phrase #BostonStrong brought the small community of Boston together because after the chaos that shook our city, we needed something to lift us up. After two years though, the phrase that may have saved us all has now taken on a new identity, MARKETING.

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I was driving to work the other day and couldn’t help but make a face at a billboard selling protein shakes. I believe the phrase was similar to “in order to finish strong, you have to be Boston Strong,” with Boston and Strong highlighted in a different color. So what exactly do we have here? A marketing ploy¬†for all of those marathon or wishful marathon runners to drink their product because hey, it will make you strong and we know how much you people like the phrase #BostonStrong. It may or may not have been their full intention but the vibe I received was not a good one. After two years, I strongly believe that the #BostonStrong phrase, hashtag, printed word, or t-shirt should be reserved for those who are the faces of Boston’s strongest, the survivors. Instead of the Richard¬†family being known as the one’s who¬†lost the youngest victim or Rebecca Gregory for being THAT girl that lost her leg, let #BostonStrong remain theirs and only theirs. It was their strength and determination to continue was what has and what will carry this city through and to the end of the finish line, not an artificial product.

Posted in boston, humor, life

Is Anyone Alive Out There?

I recently stumbled upon an article featured in the Washington Post that read “Boston’s record-setting snow blitz ‚ÄĒ a winter’s worth of snow in less than 10 days,” and let me just tell you that this is absolutely true.

I feel like I have gotten to know my Netflix and the food in my refrigerator a lot more closely over the past few weeks. Work has been closed, streets are left unplowed, and you don’t really accomplish anything significant. But hey, who doesn’t wish for a random snow day once in a while? On Grey’s Anatomy, even Alex let Izzy take a Seattle snowday, meaning take the day off and do nothing! I think about those days often after working a bunch of hours and how nice it would be to stay in bed all day.

A man drags a shovel up Beacon Hill during a severe winter snow storm in Boston

I saw a few people (that were not living in New England) on Twitter mention that they would have liked to experience the snowstorms aka Juno, for reasons that I have no IDEA! So for those who fantasize about a winter wonderland and a relaxing day at home. Here is your reality into my experience:

5:45 am– Wake up call from an automated alert from my workplace indicating that we were closed. You would think this would joyous but no, you are thinking about all the things you needed to get done at work today and you have no way of doing so!

8:00ish am-Not being able to force myself to stay in bed any longer, I finally pull the curtain back to see what damage had been done overnight. The street no longer exists and you overhear your neighbors bitching and complaining about shoveling everyday.

8:15 am-Throw on a number of layers (and by this, I mean like nasty sweatpants and sweatshirts, complete with stains) and try to open the front door.

8:17 am- Front and back door won’t open, snow up to waist. Consider going through the window. Consideration over.

8:30 am– Finally get out the door and waddle to my driveway to shovel for a full hour or so. Your snots start to freeze but you keep chugging through because hey, at least it is cardio and the gym is closed!

10:00 am-¬†Return into the house soaked through the various layers. Think about taking a shower because now I’m currently engulfed in sweat. Decide not to because I’m¬†borderline frostbitten and nothing hurts worse then jumping in a hot shower¬†in this state.

10:15 am-Begin to stuff my face because hey, I must have burned close to 1,000 calories shoveling, bending, and brushing the cars off out there.(Pretty sure I brushed my teeth at this point, definitely not my hair).  Weather reports continue to come in that more snow is on its way aka the end of the world.

10:30 am– Warm up slightly and boredom begins to arise. You can’t really commit to anything because you know you will be back outside soon enough.

11:00 am– Dog has to go the bathroom and a trench has to be dug into the snow to her liking. This takes many attempts.

11:30 am-Stuff face again….ohhhh even hot chocolate with marshmallows that you chug because you are so cold and burn the hell out of your throat!

12:00 pm– Repeat everything that just happened for the next two days or until it STOPS!

Snow days aren’t what they used to be. Gone are the days of making forts, cheering when school is closed, and rocking amazing snow pants. So I hope I educated most of you on how unromantic and eventful weather in New England can be.

Posted in boston, health & fitness, running

Signed, Sealed, Delivered..I’m Done!

So if you have been sitting on pins and needles waiting for my half marathon recap (I’m sure you have been), here it goes….

I always thought those 13.1 and 26.2 stickers on the back of cars were cheesy..we get it, you can run far! After completing my first half marathon, I now understand why people have those. It’s not proof that you have finished, it’s the pride in knowing that you have. The Boston Run To Remember Half Marathon is one of the many races I am proud of completing, not only for crossing the finish line but for actually putting in the work to¬†get there.

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It is amazing how a race course in the middle of the city can calm and clear your mind. Each road and overpass is typically filled with bumper to bumper traffic and the hustle and bustle of city sounds but on Sunday morning, it was still. It took me a moment to realize I was running down the middle of Mass Ave, something no one could ever really do. The sounds of trains and buses were non-existent, leaving me to take notice of the pounding footsteps around me and Ali, my running partner, next to me. During our training sessions, we didn’t use music to get us through the long runs, instead, we talked to each other. This was a strategy that we stuck with during the race and it really paid off. As we got further into the course and the crowd began to loosen up, our breathing started to settle and we were able to take our minds off of the mile markers. I had never run a race without music before but this time, I felt like I was really living in the moment and the miles!

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I will say as a first time half marathoner, I did see things that I did not expect to encounter even though I was warned by other experienced runners. To keep it clean here, let’s just say some of the runners stomachs and bowels were not cooperating and it was evident throughout the course. I remember looking over to Ali at one point and saying how grateful I was that we stuck to our training otherwise we could have been among those who weren’t having a great physical experience. Although this was after we shared some¬†horrifying commentary! I was also surprised by the amount of “brave” spectators who thought it would be intelligent to make a mad dash in front of runners to get across the street. I would like to take the time to give a shout-out to the redheaded woman on the red bicycle with the bell. She cut me and the other cluster I was running with off TWICE but I guess it was OK because she rang that damn bell of hers. To this woman, YOU SUCK!

Aside from bowel movements (I wanted to keep it real), the other encounters I had on the course were uplifting. Since this race was in support of families who lost police officers in the line of duty, parts of the course were lined with officers cheering us on and thanking us for participating. Imagine that? Thanking us! I don’t think we thank them enough for all that they do but it was really motivating to know we had them behind us and supporting the runners together. It really moved me to see servicemen and women running on behalf of those who have fallen especially for Officer Sean Collier. Just being aware of the sacrifices these people make every day, was enough for me to carry through each mile. I must say the crowd signs along the route were the best I have seen in a while¬†(Ryan Gosling’s “Hey Girl” was a winner in my book) and ¬†the cheers from spectators helped move us along.

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Then there was Mile 10.

I think Mile 10 was the most mental part of the race for me. I remember thinking and possibly saying to Ali, “We have a 5K left, that’s it!” A slow 5K maybe but it was easier to put myself in that frame of mind to power through the last few miles. Mile 10 also changed the comfort we once shared during the first nine. The conversations had not only stopped between us but also with the people around us. It was time to power through and focus on the finish line without holding anything back. Finally, after clearing the last hill, Mile 13 and the finish line were in our sites. I felt like I was running in slow motion and that I would never get there but the crowds got deeper and the cheers grew louder, so I put in the last bit of gas I had left to get to the end.

We did it.

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Yes, WE did it. Together. Ali and I set out three months ago with a crazy idea to run a half marathon with the goal not only to finish but to finish together. Did we care about our final time? No! We were excited to make it across and know we gave it all we had to give. It’s an amazing feeling to set a goal, complete it, and know it was you the whole time making it happen. Although a full marathon may not be in the cards for me, I think Boston’s Run to Remember will see my entry again next year with a new goal of finishing with a faster time.

Until then, I’ll continue to run for me whether that’s 2 miles or 10 (but let’s me real, most likely 5 at the most!) and remember that distance is only a number and I can conquer it if I put the work into it.

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Posted in boston, opinion, pop culture, television

Trying To Be “Boston” Is WICKED Annoying!

The Departed was on for about the 90th time this month and I couldn’t help but get sucked into watching it. Of all the Boston based movies out there, I’d have to say that it’s one of my all time favorites. It may be¬†the “Dedham Mall” reference (the town I grew up in) or the fact that most of the accents on our point, that keep me tuning back in.

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Blake Lively in The Town

Speaking of¬†the infamous Boston accent, let it be known that it is poorly demonstrated in a number of movies and television shows. Hearing Blake Lively slur “I want a LAWYA” in The Town literally sucked the life out of me.¬†Why are the roles depicting Boston women revolve around drug addition, single motherhood, and little to no education? I believe Lively was even quoted as saying that she slept in her makeup and outfit the night before she had to shoot so she could look more authentic for the part. I’m sorry..WHAT? Granted every city and town have their own mix of citizen high and low but not every female in Boston looks and acts this way. We are among the top universities in the country and have a number of successful women leading the charge in all different areas. Even the 20 somethings are hungrier than ever and don’t need to be half dressed or knocked up to make their money. (May you RIP “Breaking Boston” cancelled after one episode)

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In the last few years, there has been a consistent uprising of television and film coming out of this city. Is Boston the newest trend or are we getting set up to be the latest embarrassment, Jersey Shore style? Watching the short lived reality series Southie Rules and Wicked Single made most of the locals skin crawl. At least we have some positive shows to fall back on like Wahlburgers and Boston’s Finest. (Both produced by the Boston based Wahlburgs. Hmmm, interesting!) There are also some great gems like Good Will Hunting, The Fighter, Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, and¬†Boondock Saints to name a few. Notice I left out The Perfect Storm? Diane Lane’s butchered accent is actually listed in the top 5 of worst Boston accents in film. I can’t watch that movie anymore..sigh!

To those who have yet to experience the real side of Boston, MA, I highly suggest that you don’t let you $10.50 at the Showcase Cinema be your education. We are more than accents, Bulger, and New Kids On The Block and we don’t need some high priced actress to drop some “wicked’s” to represent who we are.

Word to ya motha…

 

 

Posted in boston, thoughts

A True Red Sox Victory

As we all know, it has been a tough few months for the City of Boston due to the horrific events that transpired on Marathon Monday and the months later with victims trying to recover.  The World Series victory last night for the Red Sox was historic; the first World Series win at home since 1918 but for the people of Boston, it was so much more. 

(Photo credit: Jim Davis | Boston Globe)

There has been many conversations regarding the use of #BostonStrong when it comes to associating it with sports. Some feel that it serves as an injustice to the victims when the phrase is joyously used for a game winning hit. In my opinion, I truly believe that 2013 Red Sox team has encompassed the feeling behind what #BostonStrong represents; hope, strength, and resiliency. When the bombing took place on Patriots Day, the Sox had just wrapped up a victory at Fenway Park and from that moment on they became exactly who the city of Boston needed them to be, our strength. Will Middlebrooks coined the phrase “Boston Strong” on his Twitter page. David Ortiz took over the Fenway microphone to yell the infamous: “This is our f*&king city.” The Green Monster was draped in an over-sized American flag and victims and first responders took the field to be recognized for their bravery. Although we were hurt, we were not broken and the scrappy team who fought to win by the hair on their chins (literally) built us up and made us believe that both fans and the Red Sox were in this journey together.¬†

I have posted before about how much of a die-hard Red Sox fan that I am and that will never change but the feelings that I have this morning are more than based on a win, rather a victory. A victory for the city I love that proved to the world that we are strong and when we stand together, we will always be victorious.

So thank you to the Boston Red Sox for being what we all needed and made us believe in the good things in life once again. 

Posted in boston, opinion, women

Not a Pink Hat

I have recently been playing around with the title of this blog because I want to give readers a little more insight as to who I am but not so much (if that makes any sense).¬†In the spirit of the Red Sox taking on the Rays tonight, I figured “Not A Pink Hat” would not only be a fitting post but blog name as well. For those who are not familiar with the “pink hat” identifier, I think Urban Dictionary gives it a proper description: “An overzealous, bandwagoner typically female fan of a recently successful local pro sports franchise. Characterized by the brand spanking new officially licensed pink team hat. Typically spends majority of game chatting on cell phone, waving to TV camera, asking idiotic questions & being a stupid annoying nuisance in general. Most commonly found at Fenway Park & Foxboro Stadium.”

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I believe that the rise of the “Pink Hats” came around the time that were superstars on the Boston Red Sox. Players such as Nomar Garciaparra, Johnny Damon, and Manny Ramirez, to name a few, sent some ladies in a frenzy to buy all “cute” gear representing their love and support for them. In my case, I have never been a fan of the color pink, maybe it was because I was more of a tomboy growing up or the fact that the color never complimented my complexion (Italian and Irish skin tone, yes, figure that one out!) Either way, I would be truly embarrassed to wear any sports team logo or name with the color pink behind it. As a female who is a passionate sports fan, I still get grief from both sexes when I discuss sport headlines and my opinions. Some males will constantly battle my ideas and challenge every word I say where some females will claim that I really don’t watch sports and should stop pretending. I feel as though this whole “Pink Hat” identity has made it harder for true female fans to really show that they are credible.¬†

For instance, one of my favorite mornings shows in Boston is Toucher & Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub. One of their bits after Red Sox home games is to find a “Pink Hat” and ask her some pretty standard questions about baseball and what happened in the game. Most of the responses that they receive are not only hysterical but downright embarrassing, making the definition above stand true. The sad part of it all is that these women think that giving answers such as “Jacoby Ellsbury is my favorite player because he is hot,” or their favorite part about the Red Sox is “singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ with a beer in hand,” make them legit. These responses make me laugh and cringe at the same time because yes, their thoughts are ridiculous but they are the ones getting the platform to represent females, where the true fans do not. With the Sox currently in a race for the American League Championship and possible World Series run, everyone in this area will become fans, whether Pink Hat or not, because it is the thing to do around here. “Did you watch the game last night?” “How about Ortiz’s homer in the eight?” People want to be apart of these conversations because it is the culture and it is what we do up here in New England. So as the Sox prepare to play this afternoon, I am also preparing for the “Bandwagon” Facebook posts and tweets from those who never watched a game all season long. But don’t put it on the Pink Hats, everyone jumps on the ride while it is good!