On Tap for Today

A fun loving, inspired living blog


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Today: Follow the signs.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]As I’ve mentioned once before, marathons aren’t easy.  That’s sort of the point.  This past weekend’s ING NYC Marathon nearly broke my foot (or maybe it did?  I haven’t made it under an X-ray device quite yet.), but New York City stole my heart.  It’s taken me a few days to recount the experience, as I’ve been at a bit of a loss for words.  Moans and groans?  Yes.  Thoughtful, coherent words?  Not quite.  Lots of sleeping? You better believe it.

And then this morning I had the chance to talk with someone about the quieter things.  We didn’t talk about how many hills there were, or those infernal bridges.  We didn’t talk about the medal, or how a Gu somehow exploded in my pocket before the race even started.  We talked about the little moments, each adding up to something so huge that it could push, carry or drag me across the finish line.

I’m not especially in tune with the Universe, but every now and then I look up from my iPhone or Sudoku puzzle, and I notice the smaller things.  The signs.  If there was any question that Sunday was going to be a day to remember, all I had to do was follow the signs.

I am proud of you.

Before I even entered the athletes villages at Fort Wadsworth, I saw an older woman, standing by the side of the road with a handmade cardboard sign.  “I am proud of you, complete stranger,” it read.  I had heard story after story about the incredible crowd support in New York, but if this woman was the only New Yorker I saw all day, she would have been enough.

After finding my way to the green village, I spread out my trash bag and hunkered down with a pre-made PB&J (which tasted like an old shoe), and waited to be overcome with nerves.  And waited.  And waited.  But somehow, amidst the buzzing of 45,000 other runners sampling random flavors of Power Bars (witnessing this gave me a second-hand stomach ache) and going through their pre-race rituals, all I felt was ready.  This, from the girl who usually becomes a hot mess before a walk to work or a friendly 5k.  I knew I had done the work.  I knew I had a plan.  I knew that this was my day (and, like, everybody else’s, too… fairly certain that’s bad grammar.).

Brooklyn loves marathoners.

As I took off running up and over the Verrazano Bridge, and Sinatra crooned over the speaker system, I felt invincible.  Coming down the backside of the bridge, I reminded myself to stay the course.  Slow and steady, not free-wheelin’ and crazy.  After peeling off my gloves and dealing with the aforementioned gu-tastrophe, I looked up to see a man holding a “Welcome to Brooklyn” sign.  Alongside him was the first of several “Brooklyn loves marathoners” signs.

And, man… do they know how to show marathoners the love.  I felt my heart swell with every word of encouragement, every high five, every smile, every nod.  I have never heard my name pronounced so many different ways.  I have never made non-awkward eye contact with so many strangers.  The crowds were dispersed perfectly– there were so many people out on the streets that the energy was constant, but not so many people that you couldn’t say thank you.

There was a rush of noise at the top of every hill, around every turn.  I fell in love with the New York Marathon in Brooklyn.  And fell out of love with it in Queens… just kidding… or am I?  In all seriousness, Brooklyn practically ran those 12 miles for me.  Sort of.

Beware.  Hipsters ahead.

I knew exactly which block my friend Meg would be standing on in Williamsburg, but at some point, I lost track of where that would be mileage-wise.  In an especially daft moment, I mistook the Harlem United cheering zone for our entry into Harlem.  10 miles too early (with no bridge yet crossed, nor 1st Avenue climbed).  When I looked up to see a sign warning us of hipsters ahead, I knew Williamsburg, and therefore Meg, wasn’t far away.  I picked up my pace just a bit, and registered the only bit of soreness I was experiencing: on my face… from smiling.

After hugging Meg and Sue over and over, I set off, feeling like this was going to be the run of my life.  Which was fitting, because I planned to never run again after Sunday.  Not for the T, not from a strange dog, not from a strange man, even.  I was going to crush New York and then hang it up for good.

I’m just trying to cross the street.

An especially cheeky fellow in Brooklyn held up a sign reading, “I’m just trying to cross the street.”  He was either joking, or he needed to make more of an effort.  Dude was just standing there.  He got me thinking, though, about how grateful I should be.  And, most of the time, I am.  I am amazed my body can do this.  But beyond that, some people really are just trying to cross the street, while I get to spend hours lost in thought.  Hours jamming out to Michael Jackson.  Hours running through the city, with only one task at hand: to keep running.  Running is a privilege.  It’s a luxury.

Though at points it sort of felt like I was being poked with a red-hot poker, no one was forcing me to run.  This was a choice I made.  And I am darn lucky to have choices.  Thank you, snarky spectator, for reminding me of this.

Hurry up so I can watch football.

As runners, we ask a lot of ourselves.  We also ask a lot of other people.  We need people to encourage us, to support us.  We need people to walk our dog when we’re out on long Saturday morning runs.  We need people to help us find the perfect shoe, and give us advice.  We expect people to put up with our overwhelming volume of laundry.  We need people to listen to us tell the same stupid marathon story six hundred times.  We need entire cities to shut down, just so we can live the dream.  Marathoners allegedly make up 1% of the world’s population.  The other 99% has better things to do. Like sleep outside South Station in tents and make broadcasts over the “people’s mic.”  Just kidding… kind of.

Thank you, kind sir in the Bronx, for the laugh.  And the reality check.

The body says, Stop.  The spirit cries, Never!

You know how I feel about boxing, so when I noticed that one spectator had borrowed a lyric from Survivor’s “Burning Heart” (yes, from Rocky IV), I just about fell to my knees.

In the warrior’s code

There’s no surrender

Though his body says, Stop.

His spirit cries, Never!

By the time I saw that sign, the race of my life was far behind me.  Shortly after texting Nick “I feel great!” I started to feel… not so great.  I pushed over the Queensboro Bridge, knowing that I would be coming around the bend onto 1st Avenue soon, where Nick, my sister Andrea, and my cousin Katie would be just blocks away.   By the time I reached Manhattan, that legendary “wall of sound” was more like a small row of shrubbery.  Or an old picket fence.  I didn’t mind much; my personal cheering section awaited.  I leaned over the barrier, and buried my head in Nick’s shoulder as one or two tears snuck out.  The three had a plan to see me again towards the finish, so I moved along with that to look forward to.

Thirty blocks later, I saw Kristine running towards me for a big hug.  Am I lucky or what?  I stopped to walk with her for a few minutes, and even sat down to stretch.  Just shy of mile 18, I felt some real concern creeping in.  My foot shouldn’t feel like this, I kept thinking.  Eleven minute miles became thirteen mile minutes.  Though I was still running, I was getting passed by people walking.  Hell, I even got passed by a joggler.

What started as a dull ache in my right foot around mile 16, soon became a sharp pain.  The last eight miles of the marathon were brutal.  I knew something was wrong.   I tried to focus on that sign, and the encouraging smile of the woman holding it, hoping it might carry me to the finish line.  I wanted to cross that last mat so badly, and felt my spirit crying Never! just as I felt my eyes, well, actually crying.  Good thing I’m not melodramatic, eh?

Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose.

Several people advised me to have plenty left “in the tank” for the last few miles.  Despite the best of planning and intentions, I felt like I was trying to coast in on fumes… uphill.  I wasn’t expecting 5th Ave to be such a climb.  I also didn’t expect my iPod to time Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” so perfectly.  I sort of wanted to drop that thing down a storm drain.  But then I saw a solitary sign, left propped up against a tree.  A nod to Friday Night Lights: Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose.  No matter how much it hurt, I wasn’t going to lose.  I couldn’t.  By the time I saw Nick, Andrea and Katie at Mile 25, I could barely put pressure on my foot without wincing.

With tears streaming down my face, I pushed and pushed and pushed through that last mile.  I thought about all of those people who stood along the Bay Ridge Parkway, 4th Avenue, Lafayette Avenue, Bedford Avenue, Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint Avenue and McGuinness Boulevard in Brooklyn.  I thought about the people on 11th Street, 48th Avenue, Vernon Boulevard, 10th Street, 44th Drive, Crescent Street, and Queens Boulevard in Queens.  I thought about everyone on Willis Avenue, E. 135th Street, 3rd Avenue, Morris Avenue, E. 138th Street, Rider Avenue, and 138th Street in the Bronx.  I thought about the people on 1st Avenue and 5th Avenue in Manhattan, and the people who stayed so late in the day to lend their support in Central Park.

I thought about that woman, by the side of the road, on Staten Island, who told me and 45,000 other people that she was proud of us.  I thanked God (and the people who actually put magic marker to poster board) for all of those signs.

In the final 800 meters, I saw the one sign I had been looking for all day.  I looked up.  It said, FINISH.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s the best marathon sign you’ve ever seen?


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Today: Running wild in my backyard.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]One of the many great aspects of condo living is the fact that you’re not really responsible for what happens outside of your three rooms (unless, like, a meteor hits the roof or some other disaster or general building decay occurs).  While it would be great to have a yard of our own someday, it’s rather nice to not have to mow a lawn (not that I have ever done that before).  Or rake leaves.  Or answer the door to strangers hoping to convert you.

Sometimes, though, I just want to run wild through my backyard, like I did as a kid.  In fact, I am really craving a good flying jump into a giant leaf pile.  In the spirit of working with what you have, I’m happy to settle for a less-than-wild run through Fort Point, along the Harbor and past the Financial District.  The city is closest thing I have to a backyard these days.  And what a gorgeous backyard it is.

This weekend I set off for my last long run before Sunday’s New York City Marathon just before the “wintry mix” hit.  I left my watch at home, turned the music down, and just cruised.  I thought about how far I’ve come in the last year.  I never thought I’d be running a marathon, let alone a second marathon.  I would have never believed that on a random Tuesday, I could run over 20 miles.  By myself.  As I crossed the old railroad bridge near the courthouse, I was overcome with emotion (what else is new?).

I am in awe that my body can do this.  I am so thankful my mind can be quiet for an hour or so.  I am incredibly grateful for everyone who supports and encourages me.  I am proud of myself.  And I just can’t wait.  As the harbor and city skyline blurred behind me, I felt like my heart would burst out of my chest.

I should run wild more often.

Also On Tap for Today:


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Today: Twenty is plenty.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]On any other Tuesday, I’d be at the office, working to bring home the imitation bacon bits.  I spent today, however, running through the streets of South Boston, the South End, the Back Bay, Brookline, Chestnut Hill and Newton.  For hours.  With work events keeping me busy all weekend, I took today off to get ‘er done.  By the time I made it back to our condo, I had logged nearly twenty-one miles.  Twenty would have been plenty, but I wasn’t about to take an ice bath at a stranger’s place a mile from home.

After a good cry (I am not sure why the waterworks seem to turn on after the 15 mile mark, but a light breeze or falling acorn could make me weep after a certain point) and a quick shower, I housed two bananas and essentially anything else I could get my hands on, and headed to the gym.  Sort of.  Sarah at Stonyfield Farm kindly invited me a few fellow bloggers to take a yoga class at Equinox, followed by a chat with one of Stonyfield’s nutritionists.  In other words, this invitation was exactly what the (imaginary) doctor ordered following this morning’s long run.

I was the first to arrive and got a chance to chat with Roger Kuhn, our yoga teacher for the event.  He was kind enough to incorporate a hip sequence at the end of class, something he highly recommends for runners.  The class was a great mix of flow and postures, and felt both relaxing and challenging.  At one point, my legs were shaking like… I don’t know… something that shakes a lot.

After class, we headed to Equinox’s main studio for yogurt (jackpot!) and some no-nonsense nutrition advice.  In addition to being a nutritionist, Mary Kennedy is an experienced marathon coach and offered five takeaways for fueling an active lifestyle.  Her reminder that behavior change and setting smart goals is at the core of healthy living really resonated with me.  It’s one thing to know it all (or a lot, at least), and it’s another thing to really plan for smart pre- or post-workout fueling.  I feel like today’s event could not have come at a better time.

I’m looking forward to spending the next 19 days cutting back on my mileage, focusing on smart eating, and getting plenty of sleep.  Twenty may have been plenty today, but twenty-six-point-two awaits.

Is this a bad time to admit that I ate ice cream for dinner?  Probably.  

Also On Tap for Today:

Do you have your eyes on a prize?  How do you stay on track?


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Today: The home stretch.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Between the long weekend and unusually high temperatures, today feels much more like a summer Saturday than an autumn Sunday.  After dragging myself out of bed yesterday to finish my second-to-last long run before the marathon, I was so happy to be able to sleep in a bit today.  By the time I took Clark out for his first walk of the day, it was already sundress weather.  On October 8th in Boston?  I’ll take it!

Yesterday’s run took me through the South End and Back Bay, Allston, Brighton, right past my Alma Mater in Chestnut Hill, to Newton Center, and back through Brookline to South Boston.  Running is the best way to see the city (…welp, besides driving.  Or walking.  Or taking the T.  Biking, too, maybe?  On second thought, being pushed in a stroller probably wins.)

I can’t believe I am weeks away from my second trip across the 26.2 starting (and hopefully finish) line.  Thanks to six months in the boxing gym and a bit more diligence with mid-week runs, I feel far stronger than I did in January.  More importantly, I’m struggling less with the mental game this time around.  Having done almost all of my training alone, I’ve done my best to “run my own race” and steer clear of the comparison trap.  I know I won’t break any speed records.  I know I am a back-of-the-middle-of-the-pack runner at best.  But I know I can complete all 26.2 miles.  That’s the beauty of having done it once before.

Training has been so quiet this time around.  No weekly team training runs.  No fundraising.  Not a whole lot of talk about it here On Tap.  As I (slowly, very slowly) crossed the final bridge on yesterday’s run, my calves burning, I started to tear up.  This is the home stretch (literally, I could see our building at this point).  I had passed the last mental hurdle.  With just one more long run to go, and less than a month until the big day (the marathon; we haven’t set a wedding date yet)– I am ready.  I am proud.  And I am extremely excited.  And I can’t feel my legs.  But I suppose that’s the point of an ice bath.

I am sure nothing will top my first marathon, but I have a feeling number two will be just as memorable.  If nothing else, it will mark my triumphant retirement from running.  Just kidding.  Or am I?

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite neighborhood?  Your favorite way to get around?


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Today: A tartey for the party.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]After having such a great run on the Harbor Walk last weekend, I thought it might be fun to bring a few pals along.  Tina, Ali, Anne and I tackled six miles this morning, running from Southie to Charlestown and back.  It’s sort of fun to hop from neighborhood to neighborhood in the rain.

I stole this photo from Anne, while wondering what on Earth my hand is up to.

I’ve been rather enamored with the waterfront lately; nothing makes me happier than a salty sea breeze.  Besides cheese doodles.  And my dog.  And a few other things, too.

After our run, we enjoyed mimosas and brunch at our condo, while Clark and Murphy provided the entertainment.  I found these fun Japanese vegetable cutters earlier this week and was excited to put them to use.  I cut some fresh watermelon, honey dew melon and cucumbers into tiny flowers and tossed them with mozzarella and fresh basil.  The perfect summer salad.

I also whipped up my first berry galette, a free form tarte perfect for showcasing the summer’s best blueberries, raspberries and–my favorite– blackberries.  I used a Martha Stewart recipe for the dough, and sort of winged it from there.  You know Martha would never steer you wrong.  Clearly, this tartey was perfect for our little party.

All that remains is a piddly, little blueberry.

Running with friends, towards a delightful brunch… now that’s how to train for a marathon.

Also On Tap for Today:

Make anything tasty this weekend?


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Today: I can see my house from here.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Sometimes I take for granted just how lucky we are to live in South Boston.  And then I spot our building, as the boat we’re brunching on cruises past Liberty Wharf towards Castle Island and think, there is no place like home.

This weekend, Nick and I had the pleasure of joining the Boston Brunchers for a complimentary cruise aboard the Odyssey.  We enjoyed mimosas, Belgian waffles, fresh fruit and chocolate cake while circling Boston Harbor.  At one point, the Odyssey lead a boat parade towards the Zakim Bridge.  I only know it was a legitimate boat parade because a BPD boat advised a small craft to move, boat, get out the way.

As best I could tell, this mysterious boat parade was exactly what it sounds like: a group of boats, following one another, in, um… water.  I don’t really know where they were going.  I tried to do some Googling, but came up empty.  Sorry, folks.

Back on board, the food was rather delicious, the company was fantastic and the music was… interesting.  Picture two men singing along to karaoke tracks.  Sort of in harmony, but mostly not.  I never thought of Route 66 as being a slow, sad ballad.  Needless to say, I did not accept Bridget‘s dare to grace the dance floor.  All in all though, we had a great afternoon with the Boston Brunchers gang– many thanks to Renee for organizing the event, and our generous hosts aboard the Odyssey.

Sam, me, Bridget and Stephanie

When we were back on dry land, I knew it was time to squeeze in my long run for the week.  Inspired by the breathtaking views at Rowes Wharf, I started mapping out my route.  I took the Harbor Walk from Southie, out past the Aquarium to the North End (I waved to the Odyssey on my way back, laboring to burn off that chocolate cake) and back.  Despite having to dodge a few tourists here and there, it was the perfect route for mixing things up a bit.  I finished my last two miles on the treadmill in our building, having run out of water (and the will to live… just kidding… kind of).

I love that it only takes a few Michael Jackson tracks to get to a floating restaurant, or the seal tank at the Aquarium, or a gazebo with the perfect view of Dorchester Bay, or the half way point on the Mass Ave. bridge.  Truly, there is no place like home.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Finished another great book last night
  • Soccer game tonight 🙂
  • How on Earth is it August?!
What do you love most about your ‘hood?


9 Comments

Today: Here we go again.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]You know something’s up when you’ve got paper cuts from flipping through old issues of Runner’s World, your blisters grow their own blisters, and giant boxes of Gu Chomps arrive in the mail.

It’s time to train for another marathon.  I learned a lot while training for, and ultimately completing, my first marathon.  That’s one of the great advantages to being a slow runner.  You’re out there for so long, you can’t help but gain experience.  Most of what I learned was really awesome.  For example:

  • The marathon is a gift you give yourself. Like most experiences in life, you get out of it what you put into it… but I hobbled away from the marathon feeling like I had hit the jackpot.  I learned a lot about myself during those hours on my feet, and over the course of our training.  I proved to myself that I can do something pretty incredible.   I overcame physical weakness with emotional strength I didn’t know I had.  And on top of that, I had a really, really good time (as in experience, not clock time… obvi).
  • The marathon is a gift your fellow runners give you.  Unlike 5k or 10k races, people actually talk to one another during a marathon.  The “we’re all in this together” spirit is pretty unbelievable.  My marathon experience feels sort of like a quilt of people sewn together.  It boasts patches of Endorphin Dude, TNT runners from chapters across the country, and a leukemia survivor from Long Island that I was blessed to run alongside for a quarter mile or so.  These people gave me laughter, inspiration, and courage.
  • Running a marathon is hard. That’s sort of the point. There were moments that broke my heart, and miles that nearly broke my legs.  There were times when I wanted to quit, and felt so sick that I worried I would have to quit.  But nothing– nothing– can compare to the overwhelming joy I felt when being thanked by a spectator, encouraged by a coach or fellow runner, and having a big, fat medal draped around my neck.  I did it.  And if I can do it, you can too.

[Read the original marathon recap posts here.]

And everything else I learned can be filed under learn from these mistakes, or else.

The months of training leading up to the marathon are the hard part.  The marathon itself is a party.  Free Gu for everyone, yes even you with the IBS!  As training was winding down the first time around, I felt burned out, stressed out and wanted to punch anyone and everyone wearing Spandex.  Including myself.  Nay, especially myself.  This time around, I have shortened my training plan by a few weeks and am concentrating on making every, single workout count.

I am building in incentives (pedicures, YouTube videos of micro pigs, a new hoodie or twelve, Harry Potter movie marathons, six hour naps, etc. etc.) to stay motivated.  This time around I am more excited than terrified (though I am a little terrified).  My freezer is stocked with ice packs and my cabinet is stocked with peanut butter.  Plus, I have a really cute new sports bra.

I am making time for strength training, cross training that I actually enjoy (and does not involve pedaling a bike to nowhere), stretching, and thoughtful fueling.  My training plan is a mash-up of the NYRR official plan, our old Team in Training plan, excerpts from Four Months to a Four Hour Marathon, and a series of complicated numbers I accidentally typed into the calculator on my iPhone.  Essentially, it looks something like this:

  • Sunday is for recovering: 2-3 mile run, no watch, lots of stretching
  • Monday is for speed: soccer game or track workout
  • Tuesday is for kicking ass: boxing class
  • Wednesday is currently a wild card: rest or cross train (will soon be swapped with Friday, as long run mileage increases)
  • Thursday is for tempo: 2-6 mile run, focus on pacing with a good warm up/cool down
  • Friday is for getting my ass kicked: fighter conditioning class
  • Saturday is for long runs: slow and steady

I am ready for Number 2.  Sort of.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite incentive for staying on track?