Restoring JOY

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By: Abbey D'Agostino

 

This photo was taken no more than 30 mins after racing in Rio. All my hopeful expectations for that race turned on their head, yet I could still don ^ this face because I knew the Lord had just done something BIG. I look back at it to remind me that no matter what kind of disappointment, chaos, pain we are in — if we know the power and kindness of God our Redeemer — nothing can steal our joy.

So here I am reminding myself again, this week, as I’m managing a flare-up in the heel that’s been nagging for a few months now. The cry of my heart is, “Haven’t I already done this? Been hurt, run through pain, submitted to the one-day-at-a-time training plan without concrete markers of fitness to trust?” In other words, “I’ve been patient enough…. I deserve to be completely healthy by now.”

In my wrestling, I’ve come across Jeremiah 15:10-21, where this amazing prophet of God grapples with similar emotions. As his people (Judah) relentlessly persecute Jeremiah, leaving him isolated and heart-broken (17), he complains to God: “Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will you [God] be to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail?” (18). Jeremiah, like me, accuses God of failing to protect him — and therefore, questions His power and kindness.

But despite Jeremiah’s (and my) prideful audacity, God so gently responds, “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth” (19). He does not answer Jeremiah’s request to understand why he’s still suffering, only tells him what he needs to do. He must turn back to the Lord for restoration, listen and repent, then walk according to His ways.

Then in verse 20, God repeats the promise he had already made to the prophet (1:17-19). He reminds Jeremiah “…they [Judah] will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the Lord” (20). God promised to protect Jeremiah, but he did not promise pain-free living – God does not owe him comfortable circumstances. The people may hurt him, but they cannot harm him, because he has ultimate hope and salvation in the Lord.

The same truth applies to my situation – there will be painful*, uncomfortable seasons of my running career, but they cannot harm me as long as I am in Christ. And if, in my pain, I will keep leaning in to the Lord and obeying, he will give me just what I need to “restore.” That restoration may not come in the way or the time I desire. But, to be sure, my obedience will make me “as [His] mouth;” it will speak life and bring Him glory.

What does all of this have to do with JOY? As Jeremiah tells us himself, “Your [God’s] words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jer 15:16). Obeying God’s Word – even within our hardship and pain – nourishes our hearts. And because we, as God’s creation, are programmed to function and flourish by these words, “digesting” them naturally leads to joy.

So I urge you to join me today – bringing my pains to the Lord, leaning in to listen, and letting his words transform into joy.

 

*By no means am I suggesting that running through “pain or discomfort” is always the appropriate solution. My comments apply only to situations in which such running is approved by a medical practitioner. If you are an athlete experiencing physical pain or discomfort, please consult a doctor. 

Team NB Boston is back in their city

Hi everyone Emily Durgin here to tell you what I thought of my first altitude training camp and to update you on Team NB Boston.

I hope everyone is surviving the final winter months and looking forward to spring.  For those that have been keeping up with Team New Balance Boston we had ideal training conditions for our entire stay in Flagstaff!

This past month and first few months of 2018 have been pure excitement for me.  I rang in the New Year with my fellow UCONN teammates, and then I was off to Flagstaff, AZ to live and train with my newest team. 

I joined Team New Balance Boston this past Fall after completing my 5th year at UCONN.  I cannot express how much of an impact this team has had on me over the span of a few months, and I can confidently say I am going to gain a lot more from Team New Balance Boston.

I had been looking forward to altitude camp since the day Katrina emphasized her love for Flagstaff and how beneficially the trip had been for her in past.  Altitude camp is about training hard in a new atmosphere, being able to get extra recovery, and building stronger relationships with the people around you.  Katrina was not lying and this was exactly my experience at altitude camp.  

While in Flagstaff I was focused on the US Cross Country Championships.  I ended up finishing 5th in my first US Championships and made the NACAC team in El Salvador.  I took a lot away from both of these races and got to experience racing in a different country which will only benefit me in my future competitions. 

The rest of the team finished up the winter season in a variety of ways.  Katriana and Cory ran at the US Indoor Track and Field Championships while Liz prepared for the New York Half Marathon coming up this weekend.

The entire team is now back in our favorite city Boston, MA preparing for the outdoor season.  We have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming months including Abbey and Jake’s wedding in July.  Spring and Summer of 2018 will be jammed pack for Team NB Boston, but with starting the year all together with a successful altitude camp we are ready for everything that is coming our way.

Upcoming Meets for Team NB Boston

Liz: New York City Half (3/24/18)

Cory: Florida Relays (3/31/18)

Emily: BAA 5k (4/14/18)

Katriana: BAA Mile (4/14/18)

Happy & Healthy Training

Emily

Grace > Perfection

   
  
   
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    By: Abbey D'Agostino      What if in January, instead of resolving to more, better, faster, we resolved to less, imperfect, slower? This is the intention I’ve set for this first month of 2018 – not by choice, but by necessity.    Flashback to December 15, 2017, the day before I planned to run my first track race since the Olympics: a 3k indoors at a Boston University mini-meet and an attempt to run the World Indoor qualifying standard of 8:51:00 (also a PR). I rolled out of bed that morning with a sore throat and the chills, but wrote it off as a change-in-the-season cold. As soon as I headed out the door for my 30-minute shake-out run, however, I was weighted by discomfort. I felt unfamiliar: feverish, lethargic, and the aware of that nagging spot on my shin that had been bothering me for months. Though I managed to plod my way through, my post-run easy strides were an undue struggle and by the last one, I was swallowing tears. Despite the “low-key” nature of that meet, I did not want to debut on the track without feeling 100% ready.    After some introspection and several conversations, I decided to scratch from the race. Within the next few days, this became a blessing in disguise – an MRI on my shin revealed an early stress reaction and my “change-of-the-season” cold had actually been signs of the flu.    You would think at that point, I had received enough "nudges" to stop and reevaluate what had been my plan: to ramp up my training and intensity over the weeks ahead.     But instead, as I’ve done tenfold times, I put my head down and plowed forward, failing to remember the lessons I'd learned last time this happened.   Over Christmas “break”, I squeezed in pool sessions between family parties and awkward holiday YMCA hours, woke up early for workouts before flights, and before I knew it, ran myself to the ground… again.     This finally dawned on me a few days after Christmas, while working out in a tiny Y near Jake’s family in West Virginia. We were pressed for time because of a family event later that evening: I had 45 minutes to change, workout, and (maybe) shower. I jumped on the elliptical for 30 minutes, neurotically checking my heart rate to ensure I was getting a decent workout.   But about halfway through, as if someone had placed a magnifying mirror in front of my face, I felt slapped into reality: What in the world am I doing? Why do I feel so exasperated and rushed? I finally admitted my fear of losing fitness, and how badly I wanted to run a fast 5k this spring. But then I came to terms with the fact that I did not have control of the timeline.. and that forcing workouts during the critical period of healing was actually impeding my goal. I must continue believing wholeheartedly in my dreams, but also recognize that they usually come slower and more painfully than I desire.     As many of us know well, there is nothing like illness or injury to require a real “pause” in our lives. Sometimes, physical breakdown is the  only  thing that can snap us out of operating over-capacity. For me, over-capacity meant: re-entry to racing, the holidays, wedding planning, contract renewal, discussions with my fiancé (Jacob) about possible relocation next year, and tying up loose ends at home before a 5-week altitude stint in Flagstaff. Though I knew I was stressed, my pride kept me from addressing it... until my circumstances forced me to do so.     These moments in life are opportunities to “check and adjust” – a phrase Jacob often uses for times when the unexpected strikes. It means stopping everything to reevaluate the current path: radically accepting what  is  to assess what's  next.  The long-term goal can remain the same -- be it PR-ing in the 5k, finding a new job, kicking an old habit -- all that may change is the means of achieving it. "Check and adjust" offers grace where there is imperfection. And more often than not, the adjustments become even better than the original plan.    For as long as I set standards of perfection -- more, better, faster -- I will never allow myself to slow down, check and adjust.   Until I accept my lack of total control, life will continue to humble and slow me, first. This change will take time for stubborn folks, like me :),  but because of the constant grace God offers me, I (all of us!), have hope!        

By: Abbey D'Agostino

 

What if in January, instead of resolving to more, better, faster, we resolved to less, imperfect, slower? This is the intention I’ve set for this first month of 2018 – not by choice, but by necessity.

Flashback to December 15, 2017, the day before I planned to run my first track race since the Olympics: a 3k indoors at a Boston University mini-meet and an attempt to run the World Indoor qualifying standard of 8:51:00 (also a PR). I rolled out of bed that morning with a sore throat and the chills, but wrote it off as a change-in-the-season cold. As soon as I headed out the door for my 30-minute shake-out run, however, I was weighted by discomfort. I felt unfamiliar: feverish, lethargic, and the aware of that nagging spot on my shin that had been bothering me for months. Though I managed to plod my way through, my post-run easy strides were an undue struggle and by the last one, I was swallowing tears. Despite the “low-key” nature of that meet, I did not want to debut on the track without feeling 100% ready.

After some introspection and several conversations, I decided to scratch from the race. Within the next few days, this became a blessing in disguise – an MRI on my shin revealed an early stress reaction and my “change-of-the-season” cold had actually been signs of the flu.

You would think at that point, I had received enough "nudges" to stop and reevaluate what had been my plan: to ramp up my training and intensity over the weeks ahead. 

But instead, as I’ve done tenfold times, I put my head down and plowed forward, failing to remember the lessons I'd learned last time this happened. Over Christmas “break”, I squeezed in pool sessions between family parties and awkward holiday YMCA hours, woke up early for workouts before flights, and before I knew it, ran myself to the ground… again.

This finally dawned on me a few days after Christmas, while working out in a tiny Y near Jake’s family in West Virginia. We were pressed for time because of a family event later that evening: I had 45 minutes to change, workout, and (maybe) shower. I jumped on the elliptical for 30 minutes, neurotically checking my heart rate to ensure I was getting a decent workout. But about halfway through, as if someone had placed a magnifying mirror in front of my face, I felt slapped into reality: What in the world am I doing? Why do I feel so exasperated and rushed? I finally admitted my fear of losing fitness, and how badly I wanted to run a fast 5k this spring. But then I came to terms with the fact that I did not have control of the timeline.. and that forcing workouts during the critical period of healing was actually impeding my goal. I must continue believing wholeheartedly in my dreams, but also recognize that they usually come slower and more painfully than I desire. 

As many of us know well, there is nothing like illness or injury to require a real “pause” in our lives. Sometimes, physical breakdown is the only thing that can snap us out of operating over-capacity. For me, over-capacity meant: re-entry to racing, the holidays, wedding planning, contract renewal, discussions with my fiancé (Jacob) about possible relocation next year, and tying up loose ends at home before a 5-week altitude stint in Flagstaff. Though I knew I was stressed, my pride kept me from addressing it... until my circumstances forced me to do so. 

These moments in life are opportunities to “check and adjust” – a phrase Jacob often uses for times when the unexpected strikes. It means stopping everything to reevaluate the current path: radically accepting what is to assess what's next. The long-term goal can remain the same -- be it PR-ing in the 5k, finding a new job, kicking an old habit -- all that may change is the means of achieving it. "Check and adjust" offers grace where there is imperfection. And more often than not, the adjustments become even better than the original plan.

For as long as I set standards of perfection -- more, better, faster -- I will never allow myself to slow down, check and adjust. Until I accept my lack of total control, life will continue to humble and slow me, first. This change will take time for stubborn folks, like me :),  but because of the constant grace God offers me, I (all of us!), have hope! 

 

 

Happy New Year from Team NB Boston!

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By: Katrina Coogan

Happy New Year from Team NB Boston! Altitude here we come! After spending a couple of weeks at home for the holidays to celebrate with our families, the team is now heading out to Flagstaff, Arizona for a several week high-altitude training camp.

Flagstaff is a town in northern Arizona that is at 7,000 ft. It is home to Northern Arizona University (2016 and 2017 Men’s NCAA DI Cross Country Champions) and proves to be a perfect place to train for elite endurance athletes. Not only does it have miles of soft surface trails and dirt roads for us to train on, but it also has quick access to lower altitudes where we can complete our harder sessions. The proximity to lower altitude locations allows us to work out at paces that we can run at sea level while getting the aerobic benefit of living and doing our easier runs at 7,000 ft and above. I personally love getting on some of the single-track mountain trails out here that we don’t have as much of back in Boston. Flagstaff also has an amazing local running community which includes some of my college teammates (my hoyas, who I love dearly)….HOYA SAXA, BLEED HOYA BLUE!   

With the help of Stephen Haas (Total Sports US), who facilitates many of the logistics of our trip, we rent a house in town and get the privilege of getting to train in a such a beautiful place with all the resources we need - such as massage therapists from Hypo2 Sport and gym access at Summit Health & Fitness.

Aside from the physiological benefits of training at altitude, my favorite part of coming to Flagstaff is the training camp mentality. Being here forces us to be extremely intentional about how we train, how we recover, and allows us to be more focused on the little things we need to do everyday to remain healthy and to get faster.

My other favorite part of coming to altitude is the team bonding time. Living in one house together, unlike how we live in Boston, is a lot of fun!  We get to have team dinners where we rotate the one person who cooks for the rest of the team - shoutout to Abbey Dags for being the MVP last year with the sausage soup after a hard workout. We play card games and board games which, as you can imagine, get pretty intense having a group of highly competitive people playing together.

Most importantly, we really get to know each other on a deeper level and really invest in each others goals, dreams, and journeys within the sport. It is a time where we can fully immerse ourselves in the reasons we were all drawn to this team in the first place and where we become a family. Together, we hold each other accountable to training and competing at a high level while having fun with the process of getting better every day. Not to mention, it is a nice escape from the city and the single digit weather we are getting in Boston right now!   

Thank you to everyone who was a part of our support team this past year!  A special thank you to New Balance for their continued support. 2018 is going to be a great year for Team NB Boston and we are excited to kick it off here in Flagstaff!

A lot to be Thankful for

  BY: LIZ COSTELLO    It’s Thanksgiving week and there is a lot to be thankful for on Team NB Boston since our last post!  First off, although we are sad to no longer have Anna Silvander with us in Boston, we are very thankful for the time we got to spend with her last season, and that she has found a new training home across the pond with our sister-team, Team NB Manchester, in the United Kingdom.     There have also been some additional roster changes over the summer and fall in that we welcomed to the team two new and speedy women, Emily Durgin and Lianne Farber!  Emily is a recent graduate of the University of Connecticut where her primary focus was the 10,000m.  Lianne, a 1500m specialist, joins us from Sacramento, where she had been running with the NorCal Distance Project.  Each of these roster changes have affirmed the friendly and supportive nature of the running community.    We are also grateful to share that our support team in Boston has been growing along with our roster.  Over the fall, we started working with Dr. Andrea Ansenberger of Khalsa Chiropractic in Cambridge and Carl Gustafson, experienced athletic trainer and physical therapist.  We greatly appreciate having this additional care and expertise available to aid and guide us in our recovery and injury prevention efforts.  With these new practitioners, and the continued care of the rest of our support team, we are both regularly and literally in good hands!    As for races, we have some immediate and relatively local action on tap this week.  Before beginning holiday festivities on Thursday, Katrina, Emily, Lianne, and Kemoy will be earning their turkey and gravy by racing in the annual Manchester Road Race in Connecticut that morning.  Both the men’s and women’s professional fields are traditionally competitive and this year is no different.  After putting in weeks of good training, this race should be a fun way to evaluate fitness before transitioning quickly to the start of the indoor track season in December.    Personally, I have much to be thankful for as I look back over 2017 as well.  Both the build-up to and transition from my debut marathon in Boston this past spring made for a challenging, but valuable year.  From the experience, my coach and I have been able to analyze our previous approach and devise a new training plan for a spring 2018 marathon that we are excited to employ.  I am thankful for what we learned from training for Boston, and also from the transition back to the track.  After Boston, I squeezed in a short track season that culminated with a 7th place finish in the 10,000m at the Outdoor Track & Field Championships in June.  While marathons will be a part of the future, I do not plan on moving on from the track entirely, so this past year will help prepare me for future transitions between the two race types.    On a related note, I also must mention how thankful I am for the inspiration Shalane Flanagan has provided with her NYC Marathon win and overall career.  Due to her accomplishments, perceived barriers in my mind with regards to age limits, the ability to bounce back and forth between marathons and the track, and the ability to compete with the best in the world in long distance races have all been pushed back or eliminated.  Thank you, Shalane, for helping pave the way for all of us to dream bigger!     Between a growing roster, new forms of support, and the lessons and inspiration gained over 2017, there is a lot to be thankful for on our team.  We would especially like to thank New Balance for providing the means to make it all possible.  Happy Thanksgiving from Team NBB!

BY: LIZ COSTELLO

It’s Thanksgiving week and there is a lot to be thankful for on Team NB Boston since our last post!  First off, although we are sad to no longer have Anna Silvander with us in Boston, we are very thankful for the time we got to spend with her last season, and that she has found a new training home across the pond with our sister-team, Team NB Manchester, in the United Kingdom. 

There have also been some additional roster changes over the summer and fall in that we welcomed to the team two new and speedy women, Emily Durgin and Lianne Farber!  Emily is a recent graduate of the University of Connecticut where her primary focus was the 10,000m.  Lianne, a 1500m specialist, joins us from Sacramento, where she had been running with the NorCal Distance Project.  Each of these roster changes have affirmed the friendly and supportive nature of the running community.

We are also grateful to share that our support team in Boston has been growing along with our roster.  Over the fall, we started working with Dr. Andrea Ansenberger of Khalsa Chiropractic in Cambridge and Carl Gustafson, experienced athletic trainer and physical therapist.  We greatly appreciate having this additional care and expertise available to aid and guide us in our recovery and injury prevention efforts.  With these new practitioners, and the continued care of the rest of our support team, we are both regularly and literally in good hands!

As for races, we have some immediate and relatively local action on tap this week.  Before beginning holiday festivities on Thursday, Katrina, Emily, Lianne, and Kemoy will be earning their turkey and gravy by racing in the annual Manchester Road Race in Connecticut that morning.  Both the men’s and women’s professional fields are traditionally competitive and this year is no different.  After putting in weeks of good training, this race should be a fun way to evaluate fitness before transitioning quickly to the start of the indoor track season in December.

Personally, I have much to be thankful for as I look back over 2017 as well.  Both the build-up to and transition from my debut marathon in Boston this past spring made for a challenging, but valuable year.  From the experience, my coach and I have been able to analyze our previous approach and devise a new training plan for a spring 2018 marathon that we are excited to employ.  I am thankful for what we learned from training for Boston, and also from the transition back to the track.  After Boston, I squeezed in a short track season that culminated with a 7th place finish in the 10,000m at the Outdoor Track & Field Championships in June.  While marathons will be a part of the future, I do not plan on moving on from the track entirely, so this past year will help prepare me for future transitions between the two race types.

On a related note, I also must mention how thankful I am for the inspiration Shalane Flanagan has provided with her NYC Marathon win and overall career.  Due to her accomplishments, perceived barriers in my mind with regards to age limits, the ability to bounce back and forth between marathons and the track, and the ability to compete with the best in the world in long distance races have all been pushed back or eliminated.  Thank you, Shalane, for helping pave the way for all of us to dream bigger! 

Between a growing roster, new forms of support, and the lessons and inspiration gained over 2017, there is a lot to be thankful for on our team.  We would especially like to thank New Balance for providing the means to make it all possible.  Happy Thanksgiving from Team NBB!

Limitless

 
 

BY: ANNA SILVANDER

When I was 10 we had PE twice a week in school. Our school had a small gymnastics room where the whole class gathered to have 50 minutes of different physical activities. We would do different ball sports, games, play tag, obstacle courses and so on. It was complete chaos twice a week —  too many people in too small a space. In April, we would start having the class outside instead. The class would meet up at a small rock on the schoolyard to listen to the plan for the day's class. It could be the Swedish game ”Brännboll” (a version baseball and therefore my nightmare since I never learned how to hit the ball), soccer (would never touch the ball since all the 10 year old soccer guys thought they were Ronaldo and that girls couldn’t play) or some kind of frisbee game (who can teach me how to throw the frisbee straight?!). PE was definitly not one of my best subjects in school at this age… I was super skinny with no strength nor coordination and had no idea how to throw or hit a ball. I put all my hopes in the warm-up. Before the class started, we all had to run two laps around the schoolyard. As you all can imagine, even the warmup becomes a competition for 10 year old kids. Half of the class would sprint away up the first hill and slowly die after one lap. Others would give up before we even started and walk the whole way. I can still remember the first time I was first to finished the warm-up, ahead of all my classmates. I think we all were surprised — me, the fastest guy in the class, and my teacher. Little did 10-year-old Anna know that 13 years later, she would move from Stockholm, Sweden to Boston, to run professionally.

As I write this, I’m not in Boston, but in my other hometown: Stockholm. I’m getting ready to do my first race in Sweden for this outdoor season later this week. The other day when I did my second run, I accidentally ended up by my old school and could see the little rock where the PE class would sit twice a week, crossing their fingers the teacher would call their favorite sport or game as the activity for that day's class. I thought of the surprise in my teacher’s face when I was the first one to finish the two laps around the schoolyard … and I remembered the happy feeling I felt —  proving that I could do something neither of us thought I could accomplish. That’s the feeling that’s always been one of my strongest driving forces. I’ve always loved to shock people, both myself and others. Whether it's been doing something someone else says is impossible or doing something to challenge myself. Some people hate the saying ”nothing is impossible,” but to me that’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever been taught. I know some things might be hard to accomplish, but the worst thing you can do to yourself is to limit yourself. Therefore on Thursday, when I’m toeing the line of my race, I’m gonna be repeating the words ”nothing is impossible” to myself and be prepared to be shocked.

2017 Boston Marathon

 
 

By Liz Costello

While I had watched the 2015 Boston Marathon after moving to the area in the fall of 2014, I did not yet understand just how much the city gets behind this event.  What I did know at that time, however, was that my coach was thinking of having me try the distance in the next year or so. Fast forward to the fall of 2016, and those debut plans materialized to running Boston in 2017.  

 Preparing for the marathon represented a new and exciting challenge, despite my inability to conceptualize racing 26.2 miles.  Making the decision more exciting, was that my debut would be in my adopted hometown, where New Balance is headquartered and where a great network of people had become a part of my life since 2014.

 Over the sixteen week build-up, my training changed slightly from what I had been doing for the 10k: my mileage increased for a few weeks, workouts were a little longer, and I was introduced to “long run workouts” and fueling.  I also chose to race throughout the build-up, and although those performances were not what I had hoped for, I would make the decision to race during the build-up again as a way to break up the training and not overly focus on the large goal ahead.  Overall, I feel that I have a lot still to learn about preparing for and racing the marathon, but my experience in Boston certainly left me excited to try the distance again.

 What really made the marathon experience unique was that more than any other race I have participated in, the distance was the biggest adversary, more so than the competition.  And because of this, there was more camaraderie amongst the runners, as well as support from the community at large.  Don’t get me wrong, it is still a highly competitive race, but the key to being able to even enter race mode was to first prepare to tackle the distance.  With the understanding that racing 26.2 miles is a formidable challenge for anyone, the event engenders a bond between all involved - both the athletes and the spectators.

 I first began to experience this communal support while training in Flagstaff during this past January with my team for our annual altitude training camp.  During this time, I was fortunate to share runs with other athletes who were currently training for, or had trained for, the marathon.  I was thankful for their willingness to share their insights on this unfamiliar distance, such as preparing to be alone during the race and making sure to log the mileage.

And although my teammates were preparing for their indoor track seasons, they jumped at any opportunity they could to help me prepare for the race.  Whether by joining me for a long run on the course, running a tempo workout from the starting line in Hopkinton in the freezing rain, or preparing a list of “26 things” they wanted to tell me to provide inspirational support before the race, they supported me tremendously.

 As with all big races, race weekend seemed to approach more quickly than expected.  Boston had been transformed in preparation, as all sorts of marathon-related marketing campaigns covered billboards across the city.  I took the familiar ride on the T from my apartment in Brighton to Copley Square, the location of the race hotel, and my mentality transformed as well:  yes this is home, but it had become a large stage!  

 At the race hotel, many of the other women graciously provided encouragement knowing it was my debut, and a few of us were open to working together over the first half of the course.   The same camaraderie that I had first experienced back in Flagstaff was again apparent.  Yes, we are all competitors, but we shared a common goal of conquering the 26.2 mile distance.

 The morning of the race, the Fairmont Copley staff and John Hancock Elite Team gathered together in the hotel lobby to send-off the athletes.  After piling onto the buses that would take us to the starting line in Hopkinton, I’ll never forget the single police officer with his hand outstretched, halting the building traffic on I-90, to allow the buses onto the interstate.  And more notably, none of the cars were honking while being delayed.  Everyone seemed to understand what was happening – on Marathon Monday, it’s all about the runners in Boston. Never have I felt like such a rock star in this sport.

Our buses were accompanied by a police escort all the way to Hopkinton, where we were greeted by local spectators and volunteers.  It was finally time.  I was nervous, but it helped that I had a pacing plan to focus on for the first half.  And once we were off, we were never alone.  The crowd support that I had heard about from others had not been exaggerated.  There were people lining almost the entire course, and they were several deep in some towns.  That support really helped carry me during the race.  And some of the other women that were racing openly embraced the crowd support by waving their hands in encouragement for more noise!

 For me, the race passed relatively quickly.  Over the second half of the course, the downhill running from the first half was catching up with me, as my legs were fatiguing.  And due to the relatively warm day, some muscle cramping occurred over the final 10k.  Although my pace was slowing over the final miles, the crowd support, especially from friends that I was able to recognize, helped me to continue pushing.  It was also helpful at this point that the course was so familiar – I was running less than a mile from my apartment as we ran through Cleveland Circle.

 And soon enough I was making the famous set of turns, right on Hereford and left on Boylston.  The throngs of people, waving flags, and finish line view was all together spectacular.  This was a moment that I had been looking forward to for many weeks, especially since I had my family, New Balance family, and teammates, all watching about fifty meters from the finish.

Overall, while I still have a lot to learn about training for and racing the marathon distance, my experience running the 2017 Boston Marathon was really made special by all of the people that were involved in various forms of support throughout it.  Because of this experience, I look forward to running other marathons, but sense that I may have been spoiled during this personally memorable debut.