The New York City Marathon |Experiencing Magic

“There is no need to search; achievement leads to nowhere. It makes no difference at all, so just be happy now! Love is the only reality of the world, because it is all One, you see. And the only laws are paradox, humor and change. There is no problem, never was, and never will be. Release your struggle, let go of your mind, throw away your concerns, and relax into the world. No need to resist life, just do your best. Open your eyes and see that you are far more than you imagine. You are the world, you are the universe; you are yourself and everyone else, too! It’s all the marvelous Play of God. Wake up, regain your humor. Don’t worry, just be happy. You are already free!” ~Dan Millman

I don’t know where to begin, so perhaps I just need to start. This theme of not knowing but also moving forward became a thread that ran through my entire marathon journey, so it’s no surprise I find myself feeling the same way 4 Days Post Marathon.  Don’t search. Just go!

This journey started with a simple yes! When a friend I’ve always admired asked me to join her at the New York City Marathon during her chemo treatment, I screamed yes. Would I fundraise too? Yes! Every time she asked, I said yes. It lead me here to this place of pure joy and satisfaction. 

This weekend was magical. Every moment. Every detail. Every mile. It was all magic. 

But how do you explain magic? You can’t. You have to see it and you have to believe in it. That is what this race has been for me. Seeing and believing in team, in community, in dreams, in friendship, in myself, in a cure, and in achieving. What started as a dream of a friend conquering cancer ended as a dream come true. She did it! We did it! I see and I believe! 

With Karen and Janet (world’s best race support!)

The way the details unfolded can only be described as magical. My job at J&A Racing granted our team Race Director credentials. We were given VIP race bibs, VIP transportation, and access to the VIP pre and post race accommodations. Karen’s story of survival allowed our team to be invited to walk in the parade of nations. We shared dinner with our favorite Olympians, Ashton and Brianne Eaton. We were invited to run the first 10K of the race with the Eaton’s in the first wave of Runners. 

When you defeat cancer you deserve every ounce of magic. Karen deserved every bit of happiness that was showered on her this weekend. As her supporter, I ran beside her in disbelief that this experience belonged to me too. 

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In all my weeks of training, I felt insecure. My running has slowed down. My team mates are fast. Every time I heard them say they wanted to run as a team, I secretly wished they’d run their own race. I didn’t want to hold them back. I didn’t want to be the weakest link. 

They wouldn’t let me run alone. That wasn’t what this weekend was about. We are a team. We are friends. We are unit. We got to New York together, and they would not let my insecurities get the best of me. We were running together. 

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The race cannon went off. A few minutes later we were running across the Verrazano Bridge. It was magical. Our group of 20 Team In Training member were running with the Eaton’s. We ran together for the first 10K at a pace that was faster than I have run all season. I didn’t care. I felt alive. My pace dropped into the 9s. I felt alive. Karen, Steve and I kept glancing at each other. Our faces all said the same thing. This is really happening!

Go Team! Go Kristy! Go Karen! Go Steve! 

We were flooded with cheers! 

With the Eaton’s

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My race plan was simple. Run the first 10K with the Eaton’s. Cool down for 20 Miles. Have fun. Share the miles. 

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The first 10K flew by. We said goodbye to the Eaton’s. We didn’t slow down. The energy on the course was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It propelled me forward. 

We hit the half way mark. I couldn’t stop smiling. 

Our friends were at mile 17. I couldn’t stop smiling. 

There are very few times in my life that I’ve felt so alive. 

At Mile 17

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Those fast early miles and my lack of training caught up to me around mile 18. I didn’t care. I didn’t want the race to ever end. 

Running through The Bronx was the toughest spot for me. I was in a lot of pain, but for the first time ever I didn’t doubt myself. I knew it would be tough. I knew I would hurt. But I also knew I could do it. 

There is no joy without pain. 

For the last few miles I experienced both at a magnitude that can only be described as magical. 

Approaching the Finish Line

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This journey was for Karen. Every mile, every dollar raised, but I was rewarded with a priceless gift. I was given magic. 

I got to witness the magic of conquering cancer. 

I got to witness the magic of team. 

I was given the magic of friendship. 

I gained the magic of belief. I saw my strengths. I saw my teams strengths. I saw our strengths magnify as we worked together. 

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This journey isn’t over. In my heart we haven’t crossed the finish line yet. We are just beginning. There is so much more  magic waiting for us to see it. I don’t know where to begin. All I know is I’m getting started. 

We Did It!
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Fulfillment.

“Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.

There’s a reason why the word full is part of fulfillment. In order to be fulfilled, life has to feel full. Your heart has to feel full. This weekend I came head on with the meaning of being full. If you’re not careful, if your perspective isn’t right, fulfillment can feel heavy. 

My alarm went off Saturday at 4:20am, and I contemplated sleeping in. I knew if I did I’d be robbing myself of my Sunday, so I woke up. I headed towards the beach to tackle another long run in this training cycle. I was tired. I’ve had a full two weeks that included travel, working a race expo, racing, and a charity gala on top of my daily duties of self, wife and mother. As Saturday approached my full week was tipping the scale towards exhaustion instead of fulfillment. 

I ran predawn miles with a new friend. I met my training team for more miles as the sun rose. As the miles ticked by, I felt heavy. I felt tired. I started to feel overwhelmed and burden by all that I’ve been carrying. I knew it was time to let my pack run ahead of me. 

As I slowed to a walk, my running partner Jaime slowed down too. With nothing but compassion and encouragement in her eyes she said to me I’ll slow down if you need me, but I’ll let you be if you need that too. In that moment I knew I needed to turn inward, and I needed to do it alone. 

I moved forward. Slower than my new normal pace, but I was moving forward. 

Our team ran trails on Saturday. When I came time to head towards the exit of the park, I made the decision to turn left. I still had at least 7 more miles to conquer. The moment I turned left to head deep into the woods on the back trails, I knew I was going to be okay. I didn’t give up. I didn’t give in. I kept moving forward. 

I walked most for those 5 miles in the woods. I walked, and I sorted things out in my brain. 

Things can be hard, and I can be okay. 

A run can be slow, and I can be okay. 

It’s a new concept for me. When things have been hard, it’s defined my entire life. Hard things equal a hard life. Turning left into the woods was a defining moment for me. I realized while wandering through the woods that sometimes to get out of your head you have to be willing to go into you head. Hard things simple equals a hard thing. 

I’ve been busy. I’ve been tired. I’ve also never been happier. My new busy and tired has forced me to reprioritize my time and where I place my energy. It’s made me more intentional at home as a wife and as a mother. It’s made me reflect on how I take care of myself and my body. 

Never in my life have I felt more fulfilled. That fulfillment, that feeling so full, can be quickly twisted into exhaustion and being overwhelmed if you forget to approach life with gratitude. 

After my five miles of walking, a little running, and a lot of thinking, I left the woods feeling renewed. I was greeted by my Training Team the moment I emerged. They sent me off to finish the last 2+ miles of my run with a smile on my face. 

The moment I finished I knew it was worth it. I had my Sunday back to spend time with my boys. This particular Sunday was better than most. It included squeals of delight as Chet experienced flying through the sky for the first time. It included Cole experiencing freedom as he wandered Busch Gardens with a friend by himself for the first time. 

Life is full, and my heart is so incredibly fulfilled. I may just need to go to bed a little earlier to fight off the exhaustion. 

RNR Philly: The City of Runner Love 

2:23:17

This is the number on the race clock as I crossed the finish line beaming today at the Rock n Roll Philly Half Marathon. 

Let’s start with the truth. I’ve been struggling with confidence as my running has slowed down. Years of chasing sub 2, and missing it by one minute and missing it by a lot left a void in my journey. Somewhere along the way faster equaled better. Sub 2 was good. Everything else felt like failure (for me and my personal journey). I’ve had so many wins along the way, but a cloud clung to me as I failed to perform physically at the speed I wanted to perform. 

Summer running rocked my confidence some more. With a marathon on the horizon, I’ve run more miles this summer than I’ve ever run. Runs have been slow. The 9 minute miles are a distant memory. Not running 9s anymore caused me to doubt my ability to run. Somehow running 10s, 11s, and 12s seemed less than (for me and my personal journey). 

Let’s talk about the reality of this race. I was in Philly to work the expo. This meant standing for hours each day on concrete floors. This was also my first visit to Philly. This meant walking double digit miles each day to explore. My goal for this race was to run faster than 2:30. Based on my recent runs, the humid and hot forecast for race day and my lack of confidence, this felt like the appropriate goal for me. 

The first 3 miles hurt. My legs and feet were fatigued. My calves were cramping. I doubted my race. I held on. I knew I’d walk through each water stop to hydrate, so I just needed to make it to each stop. 

By mile 3, my legs loosened up! The course entertainment was amazing, and I reminded myself to smile. I wasn’t there to prove anything, but I was there to prove to myself I could embrace my race regardless of pace and all those false lies I have told myself for years of faster being better. I could have my best race yet without setting a personal record on the race clock. Mentally I felt better than I’ve ever felt in a race. 

At Mile 5, my favorite elite runners ran by cooling down from their own blazing fast race. I love the sport of running and sharing the course with these athletes is one of the many reasons I run. What other sport allows you to compete with the pros?

By Mile 9, I was feeling the fatigue, the hills, and the humidity. But that’s race day. Mile 9 shouldn’t feel good. Mile 9 is the place to start working. After my third stop at medical for Vaseline for my chafed thighs, I spotted a girl I had seen at every medical tent dealing with the same issues. We said hi and decided to run together. I found energy in my run again. 

By mile 12, I felt like a brand new runner. All the fatigue had left my body. All the doubt had left my mind. A mile later I crossed the finish line feeling more confident than I’ve felt in a very long time. 

The cloud of doubt that was lingering over my ability to preform at the New York City Marathon disappeared today. I’m working on getting physically ready, but today I proved I’m mentally ready. 

Faster doesn’t equal better. Not for me. Pouring my heart into something I love, dedicating my time and my effort to achieve something great, and overcoming mental doubts and insecurities, that’s my version of best. That’s why I run. I run to know that I can handle whatever gets thrown my way and I’ll always cross the finish line feeling proud. 

Thank you Philly for filling my heart with love!

Staring at the Start Line

Tomorrow morning is Day 1 of marathon training. I’m staring at the start line of a new chapter that I know will transform me. Marathon training has a way of stirring my soul. Every marathon has a story. I can’t wait to run my way through this one. 

New York City Marathon Prologue: The Day before Training Begins.

I’ve lost confidence in my physical ability. My body feels weak. My running feels clunky. Staring at my training plan scares me. 

How I got here doesn’t matter. How I move forward does. My challenge at the start of this training cycle is to meet myself where I’m at while allowing myself to grow. My challenge is to not look back and compare this training cycle to the other 3 marathons I have run. This marathon is new. The good and the bad of previous trainings have nothing to do with right now. 

I know the only way to start this training cycle is to write. Words are how I face my emotions, yet my writing right now feels as awkward and as clunky as my running. While I know exactly how it feels to train for and run a marathon, I have no idea how this training cycle will go. While I know how to write, my words aren’t coming naturally right now. 

And that’s okay! Starting this cycle feeling insecure about my physical ability is making me want to control every outcome. Isn’t this how it always work? When uncertainty appears, my need to control kicks in to overdrive. 

Tomorrow is Training Day 1. I will tackle Day 1. I’ll put a check next to tomorrow’s workout. Then I’ll tackle Day 2. The only thing I can control is the moment I’m in. 

Cancer Better Run

Because of work obligations, I won’t be pacing for the J&A Racing Training Team this fall. While I’ve run for myself for years prior to pacing, the last two years I’ve been pacing others towards their goals. Running for myself feels forgeign again. 

I’ve always relied on my running to fulfill all other aspects of my life. Running has made me a better wife and mom. It has pushed me to explore. It has given me friendships. It has given me success. For the first time ever, I’ll be relying on my confidence in other aspects of my life to fulfill my running. My confidence in every aspect of life has grown because of running. My career is blossoming because of running. 

Running will be simply running. It will be just me and my running shoes tackling miles every week. I’ll be running simply for the joy of running. I’ll be running for me. This is new, awkward, clunky, and slightly terrifying. But tomorrow it begins. Tomorrow I start training. 

It’s just running. I’ll find my stride. I’ll get there, but for now, it’s simply time to start. 

Live, Love, Run.

Cancer Better Run

“The only credential the city asked was the boldness to dream. For those who did, it unlocked its gates and its treasures, not caring who they were or where they came from.” ~Moss Hart

On November 5, 2017, I’m taking my dreams to New York City. Twenty six point two miles through all five boroughs is waiting for me. Truth be told, the New York City Marathon has never been on my bucket list. I’m not a city girl. But when my friend Karen started dreaming during one of her rounds of chemotherapy about how she was not only going to beat cancer but how she was going to help other people beat cancer too, her dream became my dream too.

Through out the course of Karen’s chemotherapy, we shared more miles than we ever had. Cancer slowed her down enough to be my perfect running partner. Together we crushed the Crawlin Crab Half Marathon. With our partner in crime Steve,  Karen and I ran from the Richmond 8k. Chemotherapy on Friday. Race day on Saturday. When Karen started dreaming of running the New York City Marathon for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, I knew I needed to be beside her.

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Richmond 8k

 

Cancer Better Run was born.

Karen, Steve, (fancy) Karen, and I have teamed up to conquer Cancer and this marathon. Our dreams are big. We have 10 months to raise $14,000 dollars to earn our spot at the start line. We have 10 months to prepare our bodies for 26.2 miles. We have 10 months to celebrate Karen’s fight.

Every single person on our team has been touched by cancer, and Karen has defeated it. The New York City Marathon is so much more than a race. It’s a celebration. It’s a start line. It’s a finish line. Its our way of celebrating life and making a difference.

Training for a marathon is hard. It’s a huge sacrifice of time and energy, but it is always worth it. Fundraising is hard. It’s a huge sacrifice of time and energy, but it is always worth it. Combining both is a guarantee that this year is going to be grueling and exhilarating.

If the quote above is true, the only credential the city asks for is the boldness to dream, then our team, Cancer Better Run, is well on its way to unlocking the gates of New York and our fight against cancer. Treasure is ours to claim.

Please donate to our team page here: Cancer Better Run

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Cancer Better Run