Rounding off the Summer in running style: A 50K, Speed Runs, and Views to Run for.

Selfie stop @ Vineyard Haven Harbour

It’s been a helluva busy last couple of weeks let me tell you. In fact, I’ve been stretched so thin ( no one’s doing but mine) that I haven’t found the time to get on here and post anything! Excuses, excuses, I know, but the truth is hellishly the same I’m afraid. I’ve run around trying to keep the end of summer at bay by trying to fit in one too many activities to tide me over once it’s well and truly gone. As it is, Labor Day has come and gone and as of this past weekend we’re heading into Fall territory. Ouch! What have I been up to then!

Smart Ass Trail Mix-Up – 50K – 5th Place

Well two weekends ago, I did some impromptu running and ended up with a 50 K trophy for 5th place after running a 31 miler. Yes, my very first ultra! And it happened so by the way that it’s not even funny. Turned out a few runners I know happened to have mentioned that there were two races: 30K and 50K happening in my neck of the woods and I felt challenged to give it a shot – just to see if I was capable of going beyond 26 miles. As it happened, my running was great for the 30K (ie. 18 miles) and got progressively worse as the miles advanced. It didn’t help that I started out with the idea to treat it as a long run – it’s marathon season after all – and I had never run more than 22 miles for a long run. In addition to which I did little to no race preparedness and got all of four hours sleep the night before. I figured this was just to see if it was possible, no big thing really..I wasn’t planning on racing or anything..and just wanted to gauge my ultra running potential. Big mistake of course but two lessons well learnt. I am never one to do laid back running in a competitive setting (or laid back anything for that matter) and trail running requires a different set of running prep – a different strategy for sure – and will not be as easy as road running just because I enjoy it more. It might have been the smarter thing to cut it off at 18 miles but who says I am (LOL), I actually made a decision then that I was going to finish no matter what. I ended up having to run/walk for a few miles, when common sense prevailed. But I did finish, though with a pretty slow time and way below what I would have ever expected to get a trophy for. I guess with just 100 entrants for the entire thing and with just about half of that choosing to go on to do the ultra that didn’t place me in any stellar field of athletes, but hell, in light of the circumstances, I was fine with that.

Part of our lulu run group

A day later I was back in the gym and the following week I joined up with my running group for some speed work in Central Park. I have a standing Wednesday group run with some fine folks at one of the athletic stores in the city and ideally we meet up once a week, twice bi-weekly during summer, to do some speed runs and drills. Ideally, because really I haven’t been fastidious about meeting up, though I have managed to make it count when I do. These speed runs help me work on my pace, running efficiency, and breathing technique as we vary workouts to include speed drills, hill repeats, 1-mile intervals, and Yasso 800s’ among others. Still, I would like to do more and up my training some. Between work, the gym, and getting about this summer, I may have run my lowest record of miles for the month of August.

Bike Trail to State Beach, Martha’s Vineyard

I’m jumping headlong into September though and already have a few runs down. It all started with a Labor Day weekend trip to the Cape where I spent a lovely 2 & 1/2 days on Martha’s Vineyard. A serene- picturesque-tiny-town-old-harbour-countryside feel. It was amazing and way too short. But, I managed to get a run in through the town of Vineyard Haven and along the water with amazing views of the sunrise, the marina, and the endless ocean. Found myself some hills too heading into some winding countryside of sorts and even shared them with a few other runners. We for went running on one of the days and opted to bike to the beach and explore a bit. Needless to say it was great and exhausting fun. It had been a while since I’d been on a bike for that long. When it was all over I felt even more in need of a holiday than I did before the trip had begun. But hey… memories and experiences cannot be bought only lived and enjoyed one day, or one run at a time. I like to say, I will rest when I die! 😁

Summer Runs – New York City

Summer Runs – Martha’s Vineyard

Summer Runs – Queens, NY

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Summer’s Running, So Should You!

Wow..Summer huh! Who can explain this crazy weather! There have been few really hot days so far but a lot of others; everything from a drizzle and overcast skies to torrential downpours and thunderstorms, all under a thin veil of humidity. Overall though, it’s been a runner’s paradise so yours truly is not complaining. Wait a minute! I’m actually raving about the weather! Now that hasn’t happened in recent times, so it must be making me crazy as well! Whatever though, if I get to run to the tune of its randomness and have fun while doing it then that’s quite a feat these days.

For instance, last Saturday amidst the annual summer streets event held here in the Big A, we had the fortune, or misfortune, depends on which side you’re on, of running some 15 miles in an epic thunderstorm. I was so hopping glad it wasn’t in 90° sunshine that even with the prevailing humidity, when the rains eventually let up some, I couldn’t complain. Additionally, the Saturday prior we also got caught in a torrential downpour out in Brooklyn. Before and since then, I’ve had many rain-run encounters leaving me sodden (as the Brits would say) but quite the happy runner. In case you haven’t already guessed, I love running in the rain – thunderstorms are a favorite of mine.

So whilst there has been that enjoyable element added to the summer of 2018, the standard marathon training is in full swing. For many of us racing in the Fall or those with early September runs, now is the time to hop back on the training wagon. And if ever there was a time for an impromptu run, now is the time. Quick, before summer, and free time, and nice weather, and get-out-of-your-box adventure runs are gone. Living in New York is pretty amazing on its own but it’s doubly so because of the amazing opportunities for getting out of one’s comfort zone. A gazillion chances exists to push oneself to try new things. I’d wager that wherever you are there are similar opportunities for those with the urge to make something meaningful of what’s left of these summer days.

Here are some slightly off-beat suggestions to help you to that point:

  • Tag a friend for an extreme racing event – for example; a mud run, an obstacle race, or a slightly tougher warrior race and get your fun-o-meter up there.
  • Run a 5K – it requires minimal training.
  • Do a charity run or walk and make an impact – there are various good cause events hosted throughout the summer, like the Susan Komen Walk to Fight Breast Cancer.
  • Sign up for a sporting or exercise event that incorporates a form of exercise and something fun or relaxing, like a yoga retreat or a surfing workshop. Make sure running is part of the deal..kidding. Or not.
  • Run a half-marathon, a marathon, or an ultra. You knew it was coming! Just be sure training is part of the plan. The goal is to have fun while pushing those perceived limits, not getting injured.
  • Make any of the above a destination race/ experience by traveling somewhere new to add a slightly different -maybe cultural- twist.

I’m just saying. Why should summer just roll on out of here without you putting your stamp on it. All to often, we are so caught up in the day-to-day drudge, barely getting by, and not fully living and engaging with life and those around us. Wouldn’t it be something if this summer was the summer we decided to live out loud.

CrossFit and Running Update

“So how’s that going?…” is the question on many a mind I’m guessing since I’ve been asked it over a dozen times since I started CrossFit back in March. What if I told you, “It is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!” That to this day, since March, I’ve adopted the lifestyle of the over-zealous gym chick who covets her workouts and cannot conceive of the idea of a regular gym. In fact, regular anything no longer exists – is it even a thing – and if so the idea is simply unthinkable.

Right away let me point out that this method of exercise is not just something I do. It is, for all intents and purposes, a way of life I’ve adopted into and I couldn’t be more pleased. As with everything I do, I dove in fully prepared to give 100%. After all, anything less would have been unacceptable and surely wouldn’t have worked in an environment where giving 110% is routine. The term “bring it” well describes my daily workouts as each one seems designed to have you leave it all out there on the floor dripping, exhausted, and hurting, but oh so good. As it is I’ve become rather good at complaining aloud at the demons that drive our coaches when in reality I’m really struck with their ingenuity and creativity in coming up with varied WODs (workout of the day) that keep us interested, excited, and eager to return.

My only complaint is that of there not being enough hours in the day. I find the days slipping away so quickly and I have yet to figure out a sustainable workout schedule that will merge CrossFit workouts, running, and my relatively infrequent but necessary yoga and soul cycle sessions. The truth is now that marathon training has begun and it’s smack in the middle of Summer, I have to schedule my workouts around my job, which has intensified things somewhat and leaves me with but one option of training runs in the morning before work, CrossFit workouts in the evening, and long runs on the weekend. This of course is based on the premise of being well rested ie. getting to bed by 10pm so I can be up and ready to go at 4:30-ish and getting my mid-day nap. At this point, I’m still struggling with making this my reality and know that I will eventually figure it out.

Meanwhile, the jury’s still out on the physical impact CrossFit is having on my running. This is of course largely due to my inability to find a fixed schedule to maximize both workouts. On the other hand, my physicality has improved tremendously: I’m stronger, more flexible, certainly more skilled and adept in the gym, and I’m told I look fit and strong. To that point, I feel great and look forward to the time when I’m able to combine the best of both worlds. For now, I remain chasing dreams and perfection.

Summer Running, World Cup, & Birthday Shenanigans

July has to be my favorite month of the year. Quite apart from the heat, which is well and truly underway and, which I always declare is 100% more appreciated than the freezing cold days of winter, it’s my birth month – let the celebrations begin – lol, there was World Cup (an entire month of football games), and beach trips. Additionally, I have no races planned but sunset and sunrise runs to include speed work mid-week, a mid-long run on weekends, and a lot of Cross Fit everywhere in-between.

Source: cbssports.com

The World Cup, a favorite of mine, wrapped up on Sunday with France, not too surprisingly and my pick upon Brazil’s exit, walking away with the coveted title. Gotta say, I’ve always been a big football fan, a byproduct of my Caribbean heritage, but this time around was pretty amazing. We enjoyed 32 days of wild and unforgettable football; some of the best moments, memories, teams, players and their talent, and surprises we won’t soon forget. I happened to be travelling back to New York on world cup Sunday from Myrtle Beach, SC where I spent my birthday weekend knee-deep in sand, sea, and sun. Of course that didn’t stop me from plugging in to get in some screen time when the playoff for third place was on and pulling up the Fox App and taking in the game where and when signal was available for the finals. While not a very impressive performance by France, Croatia was pretty outstanding on the attack, they were able to score 4 goals and secure a 4:2 win against Croatia. Suffice it to say, I was pleased with the result.

One of my favorite things about Summer is running at sunrise, sunset, and in the night. Another is going to the beach. Back when I lived in Trinidad this was a natural almost weekly occurrence; however, living in New York lends a bit of novelty to the idea because the ocean here is always freezing and is neither clean nor clear. Sure, I sound like a spoiled beach brat but it’s hard when you know what’s out there to settle for less. And so, I mostly wait until I am able to head south to enjoy the beach life. I finally got to do that this past weekend and it was amazing! The water, the beach runs, the beach house, the sunshine, the shopping, my girlfriends, and the cocktails! I promise I didn’t go too crazy with the eating..I also haven’t eaten out so much in a couple of years at least! Going to bed in the early morning and getting up to run on the beach and see the sunrise was the highlight of the trip..well the running on the beach part anyway. The consignment and outlet shopping wasn’t too bad either, and my birthday dinner hangout was super fun at the notorious Senor Frog with their signature special litre of margarita, sombrero, music, dancing and tasty Mexican food. Through it all it’s hard to say I rested but I certainly enjoyed it and got to hangout and catch up with my favorite folks so it wasn’t a hard up for me at all.

Summer comes around but once a year and it’s oftentimes really hot. So far this year it has been near-perfect. You want to take advantage of this beautiful weather to run some and fun some: to get a lot of travel, adventure, friends, beach and memories. These are the kind of moments that give meaning to life and will go on to last a lifetime. My advice y’all is to treasure these summer days; they’re pretty awesome already!

Miles-4-A-Cause 2018: Team Life Without Lupus

The Lupus Research Alliance ™

It’s been a busy past few weeks around here as Summer pretty much crash-landed on us and had everyone skipping to get a break in whether for a few days or a couple of weeks. I, for one, was pretty glad for the past week off to get caught up on my to-do list and try to squeeze in as much gym time as I could, as well as get some running in, and try to ease my guilt for taking some time off this coming week and weekend.

With all that’s been going on and with this race against time (or so it seems), I’ve been mulling over one of my major goals for this year and how best to go about it. Some of you may or may not be aware that each year I choose a cause that’s close to my heart to run for; thus adding meaning to my miles. This year, it took some deliberating but in the end it was a foregone conclusion really as I decided on running the TCS New York City Marathon for The Lupus Research Alliance.

A few years ago I finally figured that it wasn’t that difficult to turn my passion and pastime into something that could benefit not just me but others as well. Now, I fully embrace the ideology that there is no greater purpose than being a blessing. However, unlike previous years, this year the charity I chose is a personal response to a story that struck very close to home. Someone very close to me was recently (in the last 6 months) diagnosed with Lupus. Prior to the diagnosis, we lived a time of uncertainty and fear caught between not knowing what we were dealing with and wondering where the heck it came from. Now, while those two feelings have been largely reduced, there remains a great deal of uncertainty still about this mystery illness. For months we have struggled to come to terms with what this means for our family and the changes it has brought to our lives. Personally, Lupus has opened my eyes to an autoimmune disease that is quickly changing and destroying individual lives in our country and around the world. Within a six-month period, I have seen the uncertainty, pain, discomfort, debilitating weakness, and fear caused by Lupus and I have been shocked and silenced by the heartrending changes it has brought to my life and to that of my family. It is totally humbling to come to a place of understanding the uncertainty of life and our chances of getting by untouched by the illnesses and diseases our world faces.

More than ever, I am convinced the time to act is now, not tomorrow, not next week, not later, but now. It is imperative that we do what we can with what we have to help make our world a healthier and safer place for our children and the generations to follow. It is important to understand that we can all do something; give something of ourselves, our time, and, or talent to help, not just this cause, but in the goal of leaving this world better off than we found it. To this end, I’m running the TCS New York City Marathon on November 4, to support Lupus Research in preventing, treating, and finding a cure.

I urge you to support this great cause and Team Life Without Lupus but also to choose life, act, take a stand, and make a difference and support me as we take back our world one step at a time. As per always, thank you so much for your support!

Click the link below to give and find out more.

https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/lupus-research-alliance-nyc-2018/loricaldon?

Mid-Year Running Goals and Summer Smiles Check

June and Summer is here! That means longer and warmer days, and hotter runs. These are the days we covet early morning and night runs, and even running in thunderstorms and the rain. It’s not hard to see why some of us are still reeling at the pace of this year and how quickly Summer has come upon us, and it hardly seems fair that Spring was here for all of a few weeks and now we’re summer running already. Hopefully that means we’ve gotten off the ground with some, or most, of our 2018 goals and have reason to smile.

Right around now, or mid-year, is always a good time to take a step back to reassess how far along we’ve come and where we’re headed. It may be necessary to even adjust some priorities and expectations. Be OK with that. Let it be enough that you were able to get a few things accomplished, or off the ground, and that there are some months left to work with. We are often our worst critics and are first to beat ourselves up when things don’t work out; that can sometimes be a good thing in that it can cause us to own up to our actions and seek to better them. On the other hand, too much of that and the unwillingness to cut ourselves some slack and apply the necessary pat on the back when it’s due, and we could find ourselves a bit jaded and unmotivated to take on the rest of the year.

For my part, I am one to focus on the positives and run with it; some of which include surviving Boston, which became a last-minute goal upon realizing that a PR was going to be near impossible. I did get in a new course – a destination marathon of sorts – out in Providence, RI and picked up a BQ. Additionally, I’m doing better with managing my time and finances around my running, which has allowed me to focus on other non-running related things that needed my attention. Still, there have been a couple of areas that have lost me or not gotten as much attention. The next six months will present ample opportunity to give it another go and place some focus there and on any other outstanding or unfinished business for this year. Some of that focus will be trained on continuing the run or a half-marathon PR, doing my charity run, and getting back on the logging-my-miles wagon. Yep, I’m shaking my heading with a smile here, I’ve fallen off too many times already but I won’t give up. I’ll get it right eventually I know.

One of the reasons it’s important to check in with our goals is that we can realign our them with our reality, if that reality has changed, and view ourselves and the foreseeable future through positive and realistic lens; this sets us up to achieve our year-end goals and leaves us ready to run this year out. So there you have it. Six months later, we’re looking OK and forward to accomplishing what’s left on that 2018 list. More importantly, we’re still smiling!

Celebrating Running: Global Running Day

Yesterday, the world celebrated Global Running Day. Here in New York, runners turned out in their numbers and laced up for every reason under the sun. While we love to run this city, we were especially excited to be part of this momentous day to showcase the sport of running and encourage others to get moving. The idea was to get out; run, jog, speed walk, or walk, only get active and have some fun doing it, and inspire others to do the same.

Global Running Day was first celebrated in 2016 and was formerly known as National Running Day here in the United States. It’s usually celebrated on the first Wednesday of June every year since 2009. Runners from all over the world pledge via the Global Running Day website to take part in some type of running activity and gain support from like-minded individuals. Lots of runners also use this opportunity to just run amongst themselves and post their miles and motivational pics online.

Runners, like myself, took to the city streets, the parks, tracks, treadmills; wherever and however we could, to run in celebration of the gift of running. And while many teamed up, as is the custom on this occasion, whether through physical run groups or virtually, there were others still who went at it solo because of varying constraints. Regardless, it mattered only that everyone showed up and earned their bragging rights and shared their miles and reason for running. Hopefully this inspired the heck out of the curious, ambivalent, disinterested, discouraged, newbie, or sporadic runner to get running.

We encourage you to join a club, find a group, tag along with someone, or just lace up and hit the road and you will find that there are many others, just like you, all with a reason to run.

Racing in the rain vs Sunshine: A review of the Popular Brooklyn Half

An ideal spring race day would boast an average of 65° temps and be cool and overcast. Lovely right? Lovely and rare. Most runners know we’re at the mercy of Mother Nature on any given day; we can plan and strategize as much as we want, but when it comes down to it – when we stand at the start line of a race- our run is dictated primarily by the weather conditions with ability and efficiency coming in second. I’ve had three races so far this year that have left me in little doubt of that fact.

Last Saturday around 25,000 of us ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon to the tune of pouring rain. Now, I’ll be honest, this was my fourth time running this race and while the course was consistent in its wretchedness in the latter half, it was the first time I felt better able to deal with that part of it. All credit to the rains that never let up. Past races on this course have either been hot or humid, not true of this past one and I was only too glad. Seems, for running, I’m partial to cool weather conditions even if it’s wet as oppose to running with sunshine or in the heat, and please, never when it’s freezing rain.

Conditions at the start of the race were wet and hazy that Saturday morning and one couldn’t really be sure how things would progress. Granted, there was a lot of shivering going on, but it was manageable. We knew it would feel much better once we started to run and thankfully it did. What proved treacherous was navigating the puddles and oftentimes slippery roads. I soon gave up that fruitless struggle and committed to running with soaked and squishy shoes. The advantage of running in the rain is that because one need not be concerned with the perils of heat exhaustion, energy can be better utilized focusing on maximizing running efficiency, thus improving pace. And so, once I chuffed my preoccupation with soggy-less shoes, I was able to run and let the chips fall where they may. This strategy allowed me to really enjoy running in Prospect Park and have a really good first half, hills and all. Unfortunately, it didn’t last; though I did feel great up to mile 10. As usually happens with me on Ocean Parkway, the final stretch to Coney Island, I started to lose steam, and myself a bit, as it seemed that stretch would go on forever. With no end or variety in sight, it took all I had and then some to try to stay under an eight minute mile. I managed to do so to finish in 1:39 but I remain hugely disappointed that I couldn’t improve my time by two minutes.

I feel certain that this was the race to get the personal best I’ve been chasing since last year, except there’s something that I’m doing that’s not working. I’m committed to figuring out what the heck it is and so it stands to reason that I’m looking to my diet, sleep, and/or training to get the answers. I mean we had near-perfect running conditions yet I couldn’t deliver on the time. Meanwhile, after crossing the finish line, while I was a bit breathless, I was perfectly fine in under five minutes. I was neither in pain nor exhausted. I felt great. That begs the question, why then wasn’t I able to push more feeling as good as I was at the end? I’m not sure but it’s a question I mean to have answered.

Measuring Success in Running: The Providence Marathon negates my Boston performance or does it?

If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again…

In running, as happens often in life, there appear to be more failures than successes. As a runner, it’s quite likely that for every good race you have, you may experience two bad ones. How do you reconcile this with a competitive, burgeoning spirit that thrives on success? A slightly baffling quandary if ever there was one, since on one hand you need success to push you and to make it all worthwhile, while on the other hand, failures are what pushes your dig deep, press on, try harder buttons. It is also what causes frustration, despair, and those doggone dry spells that have you questioning yourself and doubting your ability.

What if I told you last Sunday I ran the Providence Marathon and BQ’d. I kinda, totally did! Two weeks after a horrible race experience in Boston, I bowed to internal pressure, of my own design, and ran a race out in Rhode Island that was the antithesis of Boston in so far as the weather was concerned. It was a pretty course with some hills here and there though mostly flat that required a steady approach with incremental increases over time. I’m afraid I was exhausted by mile sixteen, from the week prior, and didn’t really do it justice. Still, I was able to stay within goal range and that meant something. A bit of redemption if you will.

I began this year of running with two major race disappointments, which leads me to the question that’s been on quite a few peoples’ minds – what is it that keeps me going back for more? Doesn’t successive disappointments make me less-inclined to lace up for another race?The simple answer is obviously not and unequivocally no. On a more complex level, I can argue for the feeling of having accomplished something that was challenging, exacting, and totally out there. There’s no feeling quite like it for someone with a competitive nature such as mine. The daredevil in me will never pack up and go home when failure knocks, but sees (and seizes) the opportunity to push boundaries, overcome limits, and redefine the impossible. This is what motivated me to run last Sunday at a moment’s notice, it is what has motivated me to run the Boston Marathon three times and has me heading for, quite possibly, a fourth. Boston and I, we have unfinished business. Maybe it’s engraved in my DNA, but I refuse to stop until I have conquered that course.

In all honesty, that’s how I live and treat with any challenge that life throws my way. I dust off failures as missed opportunities and consider the next step that will take me closer to my goal. And everytime that I run a race and it doesn’t turn out like I hoped it would, which is often enough, I shake off the disappointment, turn off the self recriminations, dig deep, and muscle up for the next time. So if anything, I’ve learnt that goals are simply benchmarks we put in place to help us navigate this life with some accountability and a modicum of affirmation, challenge, and encouragement. Perspective allows us to see each step of the journey as just another move forward to realising our true potential. As Des Linden, female winner of the Boston Marathon 2018 likes to say, “keep showing up.”

The Spirit of the Marathon thrived at Boston 2018

It is often said one should be careful what one asks for. It is also said that one should be specific in prayer. Whichever it is, it seems I didn’t cover all my bases as far as preparing for the Boston Marathon last Monday. On any typical spring day 26.2 miles is a good and challenging run. Because we haven’t been enjoying typical weather since last season, I shouldn’t have been overly surprised at what blew our way and maybe a bit more prepared – though I’m at a loss as to how, maybe mentally. On said day, the weather was unforgiving in its intent and threw everything it had at us. In fact, it was considered the worst conditions in the 122 years of the running of the Boston Marathon. I won’t dwell too much on the unceasing pouring rain, which started with the light snow on Sunday and ended with Snow again on Monday night post-marathon, or the 40 m/ph wind gusts, and the resulting permeating coldness and chills that saw many runners suffering hypothermia-like symptoms yet fighting valiantly to the end. There were also those for whom conditions made it too difficult to finish, and yet more still adjusted pace and hunkered down with raincoats, heat sheets, or plastic bags determined to run the race of their lives if just to finish. I won’t dwell I promise; Instead, I prefer to focus on the amazing spirit of the Marathon that shined through the heavy rains on that Marathon Monday and the fact over 30,000 runners braved it and got their moment to shine amidst the overwhelming clouds.

Runners entering Athlete’s Village

It was something that you couldn’t really prepare for. We began our trek to the buses at Boston Commons, from our respective hotels last Monday, also known as Patriot’s Day in Boston, aware that things were going to be a bit dicey. I mean from the day before at the Expo, we were hearing lots of “good luck out there tomorrow, you guys are gonna need it” and so the seed was down..it would not be an easy one. Hell, I doubt there’s anything like an “easy” marathon in Boston. In any event, I felt it was rain and that couldn’t possibly be worse than the heat of the two years prior. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Runners I spoke with at the hotel and on the bus that morning were, like me, wet but optimistic and excited. Not so exciting were wet shoes, which we tried to cover up for as long as possible. Under the tents at Hopkinton we huddled while the rains continued to make mud pies and pools everywhere. What stood out to me then, and even now, was how determined people were to not let the elements outside of their control dictate their ability to see this race through. I recall standing next to a guy under a raincoat, who sounded quite the Englishman, he mentioned being part of a larger group who were all running that day and that they were scattered about seeking warmth but would meet up in their corrals. “We’re running it,” he said, “I just need to change my socks.” See, the question of not running never even entered the conversation. At the hotel earlier, runners had been busy detaining the inevitable onslaught of wet shoes and feet by taping up their shoes or wrapping their feet in bags –It took all of two steps outside to see how futile that thought was. So there we were busy with strategy on how best to get started and staying as dry as possible for the duration. I don’t think quitting even entered anyone’s mind. What you think about are the months of training, the road to qualifying, how far you’ve come, and/or the cause you’re running for. At the end of the day it was the only motivation that was needed to face the weather. And out there, when the wind and rain kept drumming away at that thought and the cold was attempting to chip away at fortitude months in the making, thousands of us hunkered down, adjusted expectations and determined we would remember this day, maybe forever, and certainly because it was the day Boston kicked ass but we also kicked back with over 90% of runners finishing the race in miserable conditions.

Volunteers give high-fives as well as fuel to runners (source: boston globe.com)

EMT officials helping a runner across the finish line (source: bostonglobe)

Another heartening image ingrained with my memories of this race is that of the amazing volunteers that carried us through. From start to finish they were out there with not just fuel but words of encouragement and support that embodied the heart and spirit of the marathon. You had to give it to them, who leaves their warm and comfortable home on a day such as that to stand out there for hours on end to support people they didn’t even know. It’s the bigness of heart that was present time and again, from the kind words and help offered from one runner to the next, to the volunteers at mile 16 water table that offered an encouraging smile along with a drink under pouring rain, to the police men throughout the course, some of whom added a few stripes to their uniform, in my opinion, when they offered words of encouragement while carrying out their duty. The odd soldier was also in attendance along with fire department officers quietly cheering us on and in support of us having a safe and enjoyable race. I remain thankful for their service.

Spectators cheering runners on (source: bostonglobe.com)

Runners on Heartbreak Hill (source: bostonglobe.com)

Additionally, the spectators were an outstanding feature of the race that spoke to the indelible awesomeness of the people of Boston. From Hopkinton to Newton, through Brookline to downtown Boston, despite the rains and in spite of the damper atmosphere threatening to overshadow this race, Bostonians came out and cheered their hearts out for the runners. And yes, the crowds might have been a tad smaller than previous years and the funny, unique, and sassy signs were pretty much absent, but that in no way diminished from either the race or the experience. It would be remiss of me if I didn’t call out the volunteers at the finish, in particular for staying the course really and waiting it out as each runner made it home and crossed that finish line. There they were all lined up, ready to assist and help us transition from, what was for many, a difficult run. They hugged, congratulated, and saw to our needs – with the medics and those in the medical tent especially – providing first class care to those of us that were shaking, crying, shivering, hurting and having difficulty breathing.

Desiree Linden wins the women’s race @ the Boston Marathon in a time of 2:39:54 (source: bostonglobe.com)

Runners crossing the finish line on Bolyston Street (source: bostonglobe.com)

The true spirit of the marathon was present and on full display in Boston that Monday, as it was on that fateful day five years ago in that very same city. Any future obstacle might do well to remember that as American, Des Linden showed us how to rally like the champion she is as she ran her way to finish first place in the women’s division. While it was the slowest winning time ever recorded in Boston, it was an amazing finish in miserable conditions and reason for us all to smile. We did. We are, after all, Boston strong.

Photos courtesy Boston Globe

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