Tag Archives: triumph

Triumph, Running, and My New Article on Runner’s World

PLEASE JOIN ME at the Zelle section of Runner’s World this week for my piece on triumph, motherhood, and running! 

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At top: Lauren Edwards of Run Salt Run crossing the finish line of her first marathon.

We’ve had a very strange six months or so in the Boston area. First there was the historic Snowmageddon winter, then it got nice for like two days, then completely hot, then downright frigid—just a week ago I wore a coat to a Red Sox game. In June! (I was sick that week so I was probably even more susceptible to cold than usual, but it wasn’t just me: The day before that people all over the city were in coats and winter hats! This day, they’d ditched the hats, but it was still freezing.)

Anyway, I say all this to illustrate how wild it was that I went out for a run yesterday without checking my weather app. I’d had a bad start to the morning, so maybe that was why. Plus, I went out later in the morning than usual, so I was a bit off my game all the way around. The temperature felt fine when I stepped outside though, so for a change weather wasn’t on my mind. But then about 10 minutes into my run I felt dizzy and like I was going to pass out, and I realized it was extremely hot and humid. Not only that, but I was running faster than usual (thanks to a new song on my running mix). For the next mile it was a war between two voices, one on each shoulder similar to what you see sometimes in movies, only mine were focused on exercise: the lethargic sloth-y devil on one shoulder—“Oh, this is no good at all. It’s waayy too hot to run. Let’s turn around and go slather Earth Balance on that bagel that’s waiting for us”—duking it out with the drill sergeant/angel on the other—“No! We’re going to run! We’re not going to let this heat beat us! Get cracking people!” (The drill sergeant/angel is a big fan of barking out orders.)

After a few starts-and-stops, drill sergeant had her way, and then something miraculous happened: I felt like I was flying, heat and humidity be damned. I did pop into a convenience store for an ice cold bottle of water which didn’t hurt (and felt very good on my wrists and neck), but not only did I finish my run, I actually looped back to add on more to it. When I returned home—completely drenched and face beet red—I felt so happy and triumphant, literally and metaphorically miles away from where I’d been when I’d left.

Each time I go out for a run, there’s a sense of that triumph—sometimes small, such as when I go when you just don’t want to, sometimes grand-feeling, such as when I want to completely drop out of a run or race, but instead push through and surprise myself with something I didn’t even know I had inside. Running’s ability to supply a triumph is one of the many reasons I love it.

My stories of triumph are small. I’ve never had to overcome anything major to run, and I probably don’t push myself as hard as I could since I’m in it largely for the Zen. But the running world abounds with dramatic stories, and I am absolutely thrilled to have written one them for my favorite publication, Runner’s World. It’s online at Zelle, which is the new section aimed at women.

My piece focuses on Lauren Edwards, who underwent two surgeries to correct her femoral anteversion as a young girl, after which she spent most of the year immobilized in a cast from her waist to her ankles, lying prone on her “wheelbed.” Subsequently she dealt with a number of issues, both external and internal. The “you-can/no-you-can’t” voices I dealt with yesterday were nothing to compared to what she had to overcome.

Check out the story I wrote about her inspirational experience of overcoming limitations, and weigh in with your thoughts!

(By the way, there should be a couple more pieces publishing on Runner’s World soon. I’ll let you know when they do!)

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The Triumph of a Morning Run

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“Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years,” old-school LL Cool J sings to me as I increase the speed on the gym treadmill to begin my run.

I’d bought this song during my new-running-music shopping spree at the beginning of the year. And by new, I mean released sometime in the last 100 years but not yet on my iPod, and by spree, I mean my cheap-about-music self plunked down a whole $20 or $30. (It’s not that I don’t love music, I do. But typically my boyfriend has and buys tons, and since we have the same taste for listening music, some of which I can use for running as well, it’s just an area in which I’ve defaulted to scrimping.)

My music-buying was an attempt to help kick-start a personal running renaissance by not just reshuffling the same old stuff I’d been listening to on runs for about the last, oh, seven years, but actually adding to it. I spent quite a bit of time researching which songs to add to my very particular running library, which includes what may seem like a strange cross-section of artists—Radiohead, Tupac Shakur, Chili Peppers, Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros, 50 Cent, and Justin Timberlake, to name just a few. I’d googled “best hip hop songs for running” and the same for the alternative category. LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” showed up as popular in the former category and although the beat is slow, it has a certain Rocky-esque, I-can-do-anything vibe that makes it easy to do double time, which I found out firsthand in early January when I took my new-for-me songs on a run. It’s amazing what fresh music can do. I felt enlivened, invigorated, like I could bust out a marathon at a moment’s notice.

Fast forward to late February. That is to say, now. Unfortunately, between being sick twice already, once for a week and this time heading toward three—so basically more than half of 2014—not to mention the spate of snowstorms and sub-freezing days, my running renaissance hasn’t exactly happened yet.

But today’s a new day. The antibiotics have kicked in, my cough is on the way out, and I’ve made it to the gym this fine morning.

Knowing that I was going to the gym, I didn’t sleep well past about 4 a.m., because I kept thinking the alarm would malfunction. Finally, about five minutes before the alarm was set to go off, I rolled out of bed bleary-eyed and as quietly as possible so as not to wake my boyfriend. I headed to the kitchen where I made coffee as my two cats threaded around my legs. I gave them both quick cursory petting to appease, then donned my workout wear, and my outside wear over that.

When I walked outside, I felt so happy. I was getting to the gym before work! I can’t even remember the last time that happened. It was 6:15 a.m., and I didn’t need to be back home until 7:30. My Klean Kanteen was filled with coffee, my brain with visions of a solid 50 to 60 minutes on the treadmill. The morning was silent and gorgeous—the trees still flocked from yesterday’s late afternoon storm, fresh snow hiding the dirty icy mini-mountains piled high at the curbs, the sky streaked with pink as the sun came up. Gorgeous yes, but like a cold but beautiful woman, the eye-appeal hid an iciness. Literally.

Not used to being out so early and thinking it was supposed to be somewhat warmer, I went to my car and found that the doors were frozen solidly shut, they and all the windows cemented with a thick layer of ice. By the time I dealt with all that, warmed up the car, drove to the gym, and then cast off my outside wear, I had exactly 20 minutes on the treadmill, which ordinarily I could easily use just for the warm-up and cool-down, especially when I’m not exactly in “fighting shape.” But as my legs turn over, slow but without having to worry about things like black ice or unshoveled sidewalks, I almost don’t care that I have so little time. It just feels so good to be here. And I know it’s a little thing, tiny really, but I feel proud that I didn’t turn around and head straight for bed and a bit more sleep once I realized I would have so little time.

In terms of running, these last two months have been an unfortunate extension of the last few years as I’ve dealt with one injury after another, and spent more time thinking of myself as a runner than actually being one. Sometimes I feel like running is a metaphoric bad boyfriend who keeps breaking my heart, and I wonder why I keep at it. Maybe I should just cut my losses and take up that unusual-looking sport curling, which seems to be on every time I catch some of the Sochi Olympics. Maybe I should just do yoga, and call it a day. But then I always remember: Oh right, I know why I keep going back to running.

I love it. Deep-in-my-bones true love, plain and simple.

When I can actually do it, it gives so much that makes the effort (and I guess even the necessary and boring-to-me spot strengthening) worthwhile. After a run, I feel like I can conquer the world, not to mention those problems that previously seemed insurmountable. After a run, despite a beet-red face and soaked T-shirt, I feel beautiful and thinner no matter what a camera would show or what the scale actually says. After a run, I’m just happier. The world seems like a kinder place.

I get off the treadmill—I managed to run a whole 1.5 miles between my warm-up and cool-down—and I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror that lines one wall of the gym. Being generous, I look a teensy bit disheveled, exactly like a person who rolled out of bed to squeeze in a quick workout. But that’s on the outside.

“I’m gonna take this itty bitty world by storm,” sang LL Cool J as my blood started pumping and my endorphins kicked in. “And I’m just getting’ warm.”

But the inside. That, now, is a different story.

Rocky image from Wakpaper.com

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