LONG RUN | Mar 21 | Snowy, Sleepy Streets

Snow in Spring. Quiet Streets. 18 Miles.

Miles: 18

Song in my Head: Lose My Breath by Destiny’s Child

Brunch Food Motivation: Crepes

Meesh and Kate were on a mission. Over the rolling hills, through the sleepy streets (as Eric calls them) of Wayland, we made our way through the flakes of snow silently drifting down. Destiny’s Child stole the soundtrack to my run today. Once I get a song stuck in my head, I’m (and my training partners are) done for.  It could be why I occasionally find myself running alone or chided for unexpected spurts of a song. It’s usually the same line over and over. The lyrics that kept popping into my head this time were, “Can you keep up, baby boy? Make me lose my breath [exaggerated huffing].” It was the best. It gave me a nice distraction and also let me push myself a little further instead of giving into the cold and wet weather.

The run was out of Wayland today (not out of Boston College woot!).  I regret not bringing my phone to capture it. A white, untouched layer of snow blanketed the expansive yards. Several large homes with tire swings, barns, and wood tucked away in the back dotted the landscape. It was my idea of a perfect New England postcard, but that’s just one Californian’s perspective. The roads were clear, except for snow drifting down throughout the run, and the pockets of neon-clad runners making their way along the twists and turns of the black swath of road covering 3 Massachusetts cities.

The route was an out-and-back. 9 miles out and 9 miles back gave us a total of 18 for the day. With one month to go before the marathon, that was a significant chunk. I also neglected to mention it had been the first day of Spring yesterday. So naturally Boston welcomed it with a snowstorm.

I don’t run with music, mostly because I like to carry as little as possible with me, but also because I think it keeps me more in tune with how my body is feeling and lets me work out problems from the day. This run was a bit quieter than the others. Maybe it was the snow or the peaceful town of Wayland, but I think everyone was just reflecting inward this run.

I promised I would talk about the Claudia Adams Barr Program as that is where 100% of the proceeds from this fundraising go, but I think it might be better to hear how it has impacted one of my friends firsthand.

Each run we start with announcements. In those announcements are Barr Program impact statements that highlights projects through the Barr program and lets us see the impact researchers are making using the money we fundraise each year for them. Today one of my favorite and most inspiring people was at the run and read the impact statement: Hilary Hall. Hilary Hall is a research coordinator at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She’s also my friend and embodies positivity. Hilary battled and beat leukemia as a kid and remained cancer-free for 15 years. She became pregnant with her son and then twins two years later, a family she did not think she would have because of the treatment she had received for her cancer as a child. Hilary ran the Boston Marathon and then came back and did it again. Needless to say, she is my hero. I’m completely blown away by her passion for life, her humor, and her unshakable determination. You can read about her story on her blog www.runningbecausecancerstinks.com and you can watch her video about why she runs here.

No photo of brunch, because I definitely didn’t have crepes. Will probably get those tomorrow. But have no doubt, it was part of the motivation behind the run.

As I got home to settle in for a nap, I found out UCLA made it to the Sweet Sixteen in NCAA play, a feat no one saw coming. With an epic game the first round, winning in literally the last seconds of the game, to playing against a team that also had an upset, UCLA crushed their goals even when the odds were against them. I think that was a nice reminder on a day like today.

This was the view from our car as we entered back into Boston and this is how we look after crushing 18 miles in the snow.

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These tights were a weak-moment buy. But I kind of love them. I admit I have a problem. First step to recovery. #ididitallfortheblog

Bright tights and happy trails,

Elise

 

LONG RUN | MAR 14 | Rocked by a Puddle

Rocked by a Puddle. Respecting Grossman’s Hill. Rainy Day Running.

Miles: 16

Song in my head: Go Getta by Young Jeezy ft R. Kelly

Brunch Food Motivation: Warm things

My carpool buddy Tim pulled up alongside my apartment at 7:40am ready to take on the day. With a playlist by Murph pumping, and Katy Perry’s Brave coming through the speakers, we trekked out to a new road. Finally! A run not at Boston College. This route started from the 16 mile mark of the Boston Marathon in Wellesley and wended its way back onto Commonwealth Ave where we’ve spent part of our previous training runs. The real kicker on this route is Grossman’s Hill. Grossman’s Hill is .5 miles of straight incline. It’s great fun going down it, but a heck of a challenge making it to the top. Katelyn told us on the way up, “I’m going to show Grossman’s some respect.” Well played, Katelyn, well played. We respected the -ish out of Grossman’s. Then we got hit with a different kind of surprise.

We had put 12 miles behind us and rocked up Grossman’s Hill, finagling through the speckles of raindrops coming down. It was the type of rain that sprinkles down incessantly until you don’t realize you’re soaked to the bone. Then a car came alongside. If only there was a stop-motion photo of our faces being splashed by the water. I’m talking a huge puddle and hit with enough force that it spanned the length of four runners. If we weren’t sopping wet before, this secured it. It was actually pretty funny. It seemed to be in slow motion as the wave of dirty street water hit us like a tidal wave as all four of us let out tiny screams. I mean what are you going to do? We just (semi) laughed it off and kept on trucking to hammer out the last four miles. While we don’t have photo evidence, I think it looked a little something like this.

I always liked running in the rain. Admittedly, this run was a little chilly for my taste (27 degrees and wet is not a great combo). But I’ve always felt that running in the rain was freeing, untethered. It mixes things up and it’s just a way of letting everything go…splash in a few puddles, get rocked by a couple cars…you can’t control the conditions around you. So why not play around in it? The icy patches made for a tricky obstacle course but simultaneously made the miles fly by.

The only thing playing in my mind was Go Getta by Young Jeezy. No explanation needed.

At the end of the route, the refuge of the Boston Sports Club (BSC) was awaiting us to change into drier apparel. And the best part of a long run is most definitely earning some solid brunch time with this crew. Paninis all around.

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Home called for an ice bath to keep the hamstrings happy and chilling in some bright tights to keep me warm on this grey day. I also just want to say THANK YOU to everyone because we have hit the $2,000 fundraising mark!! You are all so amazing and keep me motivated on days like today! http://runDFMC.org/2015/elisek

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Bright tights and happy trails,

Elise

 

 

 

LONG RUN | March 8 | Dibs, Dunks, Friends

Shorts weather, a semi-new route, and a game of dibs.

Miles: 17

Song in my head: Baby Don’t Lie – Gwen Stefani (because she is one badass lady)

Brunch Food Motivation: Dunks (half hot chocolate, half coffee – a glorious recipe Mal Sakats taught me)

We switched things up today – a new starting destination, a Sunday instead of a Saturday morning run, and headbands instead of hats! It is crazy what starting from a different point can do. Even if it was only a 2 mile change, you view the run differently. There was no avoiding the hills, but we did veer from our out-and-back plan to tack on a few extra miles. We explored down some side streets of Commonwealth Avenue and while there played a game of dibs about which ginormous house we would get to keep. I obviously won by claiming the most houses, despite Chris informing me that was not how the game was played.

25 was the low instead of the high! That meant we saw runners upon runners wearing shorts. (I also claimed dibs on a couple of these. Just kidding…ish.)

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More sweatpants advertising models. 🙂

The only thing getting me out of bed on a Sunday after losing one hour of sleep from jumping forward for daylight savings? This girl. Volunteering at a waterstop for Dana-Farber runners, Bevin came out to hand out water, Gatorade and fuel to the runners pounding miles up and down Commonwealth Avenue. Getting me to the top of Heartbreak Hill was knowing I would see this smile at the end of my run.

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I look like I just ran 17 miles on very little sleep. Alien-like. Bevin on the other hand, hair flowing, looks glowing.

I grabbed my post-run hug from Crystal who crushed 20 miles, before hurrying to catch the bus to NYC for a visit with friends, wedding dress shopping, and for a wonderful, much-needed break from the city of the arctic. Sometimes the only thing getting me out and about are friends. Your support is what gets me moving and picks me up. Thank you for warming me up.

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Bright tights and happy trails,

Elise

 

Throwback Thursday | Why I Started Running Long Distance

For Throwback Thursday (#TBT) I thought I would talk about what prompted me to start running long distance.

I’ve been asked a couple times how I got involved with running long distance. While I had run in high school cross country and carried it through to running club in college, I had always stuck to 5k’s or 10k’s, living comfortably in my comfort zone and saving those lofty half marathon goals for a later date. When I moved to Boston for grad school I had never done above a 15k (10 miles) and that was stretching it.

In the Spring of the year I moved to Boston, I got a phone call that would forever change my life. I was in the BU bookstore when I got a call from a friend I had fallen out of touch with. It was weird that she was calling me. I didn’t answer and went back to my purchases. She called again. Again I let it go to voicemail. Finally, as I was getting on the train, I called her back. The news she delivered felt like a blow to the chest. My roommate and close friend from undergrad had passed away. My world stopped. I got off the train and broke down sobbing. I couldn’t process it. I had just seen her that fall here in Boston. We had just gotten cannolis and visited our other old roommate at Yale.

She had been having trouble breathing. They had thought it was asthma. However, it turns out she actually had cysts on her lungs. They found out when one burst, causing her lung to collapse. She was in the hospital waiting for a lung transplant when she went into cardiac arrest and passed away. She was 23.

It was a shock.

I had experienced loss before, but never a close friend that young and so unexpectedly. I decided I wanted to stop putting off things that were important to me, and do all that I could in the life that was given to me. I didn’t want to wait for tomorrow anymore. I signed up for my first half marathon that fall: the BAA half. And I wore a green ribbon around my wrist to dedicate the run to Shruti. Green was her favorite color. Shruti had a sassy spirit about her, unlike that of any person I’ve met. She didn’t worry about the little things. She laughed a lot and was full of mischief. She was quick-witted. She was the one I could count on to do crazy things with. She taught me how to solve a rubics cube. We took Thai Chi together. We danced baranachtyum in her dorm room floor lounge. We pined over Chris Pine on the magazine photo on her dorm room wall. We made up songs together. We did midnight yell together as she played her flute. We had game nights. We flirted with boys. We ruined a dorm room waffle maker (sorry about that!). We discovered medori sours together. She taught me a lot about loving life and always looking on the bright side. She once told me, “Elise, you laugh from the soul.” Funny, because that was what I loved about her.

So I guess I have one foreverly sassy young friend to thank for propelling me into this journey, for helping me remember you have one life. Live it. Go after what you want, don’t let anything ruffle your feathers, wear lots of jewelry, enjoy it, and take it one step at a time. Thanks, Shrutles.

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Bright tights and happy trails,

Elise

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LONG RUN | Feb 28 | A Repeat of Sorts

More Heartbreak Hill. Superhero costumes taking over. And a familiar road. 

Miles: 14

Song in my head: Sugar by Adam Levine

Brunch food motivation: Barcelona’s Homefries

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At 7:30am I laced up for the outdoors, grabbed my new Garmin, and raced down the steps to hop in a white car and greet a smiling Crystal. Sugar was playing on the radio, and the sky was clear, allowing the sun to scatter sunshine all over the snow-covered streets.

This run felt like a repeat of many runs before. Sugar was playing on repeat in my mind and making me crave something sweet. Heartbreak Bill was back on the course taking pictures with the crew. And for a fourth week in a row, the team was facing the carriage road on Beacon Street heading out of BC. Granted, this was my first time venturing back on the roads as opposed to the warm indoor track. We must have missed the memo because there were superheroes everywhere. At the waterstops. On the roads. Outside of Heartbreak Hill Running Company. On John Kelley’s statue.  I found out later it was for another charity team, Team Martin W. Richard, the 8-year-old boy who was killed at the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. We had our own superhero-themed waterstops, and I saw so many familiar faces – Lindsay, Murph, Kellen, and Grace. I don’t think I properly hydrated because I was too busy doling out hugs to faces I hadn’t seen in a little while.

Repeating the same 4 mile out-and-back for a third straight week did not sound appealing to most. I was just happy to be back outside. It was the first run that I’d done outside since hurting my hamstring and knee a few weeks before. It was also the first run in awhile that didn’t start in the negatives. We decided to go a little further out on the carriage road so we would not have to repeat the same strip of road too much. I’m really not exaggerating that the topic of conversation tended to fall on what is going to be consumed at brunch post-run. Today were the homefries specifically at Barcelona, which Eric described in detail just before we made our way up Heartbreak Hill to give us a little extra boost. It always gets very quiet when we ascend Heartbreak Hill. Everyone turns on another gear to get her done. And then share in high fives at the top.

We got back to BC and tacked on an extra loop around the campus to hit 14 miles, waiting for our Garmins to give that sound of completion.

The best part was after the run I got to hang out with this kid and make plans for more runs and Boston exploring.

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To complete our repeat run, we ended this long run with a make your own bloody mary bar, which in and of itself is amazing. It also obviously means bacon IN bloody marys, which I think is a pretty great combo and not one I mind repeating.

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Bright tights and happy trails,

Elise