Uncategorized

A Sisterly Visit

I always love it when people come to visit me in DC because not only do I get to spend quality time with my visitors, I also get to play tourist in my own city. This rang especially true this past weekend when my sister Wendy and her family came to visit me. They live in Philly now, which is most of the reason that I am there so frequently, but they actually lived in DC when I moved here in 2002 while Wendy went to law school. Crazy that they left almost 9 years ago, and I’m still here!

Remember this little guy?

harper and lincoln

The little man on the bottom is my nephew Harper, who is doing AWESOME if you’ve been following my blog for a while and know the backstory there.

We started the day on Saturday in fullout tourist mode, with a walk around the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln, and the Washington Monument.

washington monument

It was a little chilly in the morning since Harper is up and at ‘em early, but the entire weekend turned out to be perfect weather so we got really lucky!

After walking around the monuments, we headed to the Air and Space Museum since Harper is super into planes, but it was a little disappointing for him since everything was covered with plexiglass and he couldn’t actually touch much. Good luck explaining to a two year old why you can’t “open” all the barriers that were up! The one part he did really like was this exhibit that simulated what it was like to ride a plane way back when. You pushed a button and the ground vibrated and shook, which thank God is not the way planes fly anymore.

After the busy morning, it was family nap time for them, and I actually went out for a really great run since the weather was so awesome. Despite the fact that I should have run 8 or 10 miles, it was better to do 4.5 hilly ones than not go at all!

photo (1)

After showering and visiting the playground close to my apartment, we headed for dinner to Rasika where I literally had one of the best meals of my life. I wasn’t sure how Harper would do, and while it was touch and go for a minute there, we ended up being able to enjoy our meal immensely while he was distracted with not one, but two iPhones. Highlights of the meal included (besides everything we ate. literally.) Palak Chaat, which is deep fried baby spinach leaves with yogurt and date chutney and Sev Batata Puri.

rasika

That dish actually made the list of 40 dishes Washingtonians shouldn’t live without this year and it was AMAZING. I honestly can barely explain it, but it was similar to a cracker on the bottom with chopped potatoes, mango, a crispy garnish, and such a complex sauce on it that I could barely get over how good it was. I have been thinking about that meal nonstop ever since it ended!

After dinner, Wendy and I went out and got a drink with some of my girlfriends, which was fun.

Beth and Wendy

Sunday was a blur of a day since Harper didn’t realize he should sleep in, but we did manage to make it to the zoo in the morning.

KKs at the zoo

It was so funny that the animal Harper took to the most to was a random black crow in a cage off to the side, rather than the lions, zebras, pandas, and other picturesque animals. The crow was cawing (is that a word?) really loud, and each time he did Harper would caw back and just laugh and laugh and laugh. It was so adorable to watch and it made me want them to stay even more! But Harper’s nap time is around noon, so they got on the road back to Philly around then so he could sleep in the car. Weekends always go by waaaaay too fast!

Do you have any siblings? How often do you get to see them?

I have two older sisters and we all live within a 4 hour drive of each other, so I do get to see them quite a bit, but not enough.

Double Digits

This past Saturday, I ran 10 miles for the first time in a LONG time. It was my friend Matt’s 30th birthday and he was starting the day with a 10 mile run, so I decided to join him in the spirit of actually sticking with my training plan. Somehow, my sixth half marathon is coming up just three weeks from Saturday, so there’s no more time for excuses! Not that I really had a choice with my minor surgery which sidelined me for two weeks, or getting knocked down by strep for five days, but I haven’t been very consistent this go-round with training.

The day started with a 7:30am wakeup call, and I immediately made coffee and got dressed. I almost always have an english muffin with nut butter of some sort for pre-run fuel, but I haven’t been keeping nut butter in the house lately because I can’t trust myself around it. So, I tried something new-to-me before a run:

photo 1

An english muffin with smashed avocado and sea salt. This has been one of my favorite things to eat recently, and it definitely did the trick as a pre-run mini meal.

I drove to Matt’s house and we headed to the trail, and before I knew what I had signed up for, we were off. We ran on an area of the Mount Vernon Trail that I haven’t run on in years, and it was hillier than I was used to. There was a water fountain at the 2.5 mile mark, then the 5.0 mile mark where we turned around for the out-and-back loop, so it worked out well for us to not have to carry water.

The first couple miles went by quick, but I felt like it took a LONG time to get to the turnaround point. Matt has been running way more than me lately, so 10 miles to him was no big deal, but for me it was definitely a stretch. Around the turnaround point, I took a new-to-me Clif Shot that I acquired at my last half marathon.

photo 2

Which was fine. Vanilla Bean GU is still my fav, but the price was right on this one so I went with it.

Once we got to the 7ish mile mark, I was really ready to be done. I had to slow down a bit and mentally talk myself away from wanting to stop running. I kept playing mind games with myself and taking it one mile at a time, and soon we were at 8 miles and then 9. When we had less than a mile to go, Matt took off a little ahead of me which was good because I was able to finish the run at my own pace. And then, at long last, I hit the 10.0 mile mark and stopped immediately.

photo 4

My body will never cease to amaze me whenever I run a double digit run. It is always a challenge in more ways than one, and I ALWAYS feel like a million bucks when it’s over.

photo 3

The one thing I forgot about was chafing! It honestly didn’t occur to me that I often chafe on my collar bones when I run in anything other than a tank top, and once I stopped I realized my neck was super irritated.

photo 5

Ouch. It’s already gone down considerably since then, but I can guarantee you I will not forgot body glide on this weekend’s long run!

Even though the run was really hard for me, it definitely helped me feel more confident about the upcoming half marathon. I am going to attempt 10 miles again this coming weekend, and I’m hoping it’ll be a bit easier for me this time around. I know that the challenge was more mental than anything because I wasn’t sore at all after the run or the next day, so I really just need to work on the mental part of things over the next few weeks.

Do you struggle mentally with runs? Any tips for overcoming it?

My Week Turned Around

So this week started out pretty crappy for me. On Monday, I went to the dentist for the first time in far too long and had to get some work done. I ended up shedding almost $500 out of pocket which I wasn’t expecting, plus I just hate the dentist in general. Once the day came and went I got home, and realized my car was not where I left it. I started panicking that it had been stolen because I grabbed an umbrella out of it that morning and thought maybe I’d left it unlocked. After a few phone calls I realized what had actually happened was that I had an outstanding parking ticket as well as an outstanding photo enforcement ticket, and they had booted and towed my car that day. $400 later, and over an hour of time getting to where they’d relocated my car later, I got my car back. An expensive day, to say the least.

Thankfully, things have been looking up ever since. Here are the top five things that turned my week around:

1.) Tuesday morning’s weight watcher meeting

I’ve been leading Weight Watchers meetings for just over a year, and I cannot tell you how much I love it. I feel like I’m 100% at my prime when I’m leading meetings and it feels so good to be doing something that draws on my passions. I always leave the meeting feeling inspired, recommitted, and so happy.

2.) Dinner at Zaytinya

So remember how I said I was going to Zaytinya on last week’s menu plan? Weeeell I made the reservation for Wednesday instead of Thursday, so all my friends were thrilled when they found out I made us miss it. Luckily, the restaurant extended restaurant week into this week too, so I was able to get a new reservation for Wednesday night. Since there were four of us who went, we literally got to order the entire menu because there were 4 options for each course on the RW menu. It.was.amazing. The highlights for me were fried brussels sprouts with garlic yogurt, the falafel with tahini sauce, and seared scallops with yogurt dill sauce. Just thinking about that meal makes me hungry.

3.) Unofficial 5k PR

If you are on my facebook page, you might have already seen this, but I was SO excited when I took a lunchtime run yesterday, and looked down to see this:

5kPR

3.12 miles in 26:17, or an 8:26 pace. I don’t normally run that fast but since it was a shorter run, I decided to push it and was so happy! The fastest official 5k I’ve run is 26:49, so over 30 seconds faster. Woohoo!

4.) Overall exercise this week

I have been struggling with getting into a groove with exercise lately because of my minor surgery and then getting knocked down with strep. This week was the first consistent week I’ve had in a while, and here’s what it looked like:

    • Sunday: 4 mile run
    • Monday: 3 mile run + 1 hour pilates class
    • Tuesday: rest
    • Wednesday: 4.5 miles of intervals
    • Thursday: 5k run
    • Friday: Rest
    • Saturday: 10 miles on the docket…. eek!

I’m really happy with this week’s exercise, though I do wish I got in some strength training. Next time!

5.) Mumford & Sons Concert

Last night, I went to the best concert of my life, hands down. It was Mumford & Sons, one of my favorite bands ever. The tickets for the show sold out in about two seconds, but I lucked out and got really awesome seats in the second row of the arena and it was unreal. I went with my friend Stacy that I am traveling to Peru with, and we had the BEST time.

photo 3 (1)

The acoustics were amazing and the visuals were pretty awesome too.

photo 5

They also did an acapella encore on a different stage that happened to be RIGHT in front of our seats. Just incredible. Made getting home at 2am on a weeknight worth it for sure.

What’s a highlight from your week?

Valentine’s Day in a Different Way

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’ll tell ya – I traditionally hate this “holiday”, regardless of whether I am in a relationship or single because it’s always overhyped and undelivered.

valentines_day

So this year, I’ve decided to think about it in a different way.

It’s so easy to focus on all the things we hate about ourselves. For years, that is ALL I thought about and my life was filled with negative self talk. I’d pick myself apart from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to bed, always vowing to change the next day. And you know what? Shockingly (not) that negative energy did not help me change a thing.

So today, I want to focus on what I love about myself, and I want you to, too.

If I had to pick the thing I love most about myself, I think it would be my determination. I know that I can do anything I set my mind to, and I’ve proven it time and time again over the last several years. I’ve changed myself from an obese and fragile young woman, to a fit, healthy, and confident person. I’ve gone from not being able to run except if being chased to having almost 30 races under my belt, including five half marathons. I’ve gone from recruiter, to associate, to director in my professional life in under 6 years. I’ve gone from prudent Weight Watchers member to enthusiast leader. I’ve gone from annoying little sister, to friend, confidant and awesome aunt. And, I’m really proud of myself for all that.

Tell me – what’s one thing you love about you?

A Great Run

I hope I don’t give off the impression that I in any way live my life as the perfect healthy living candidate. I still struggle. A lot. And have bad days, and bad weeks, or in this case, bad weekends. This past weekend was SO MUCH FUN, but I didn’t do even one thing that was remotely good for my health.

In case you didn’t read between the lines there, let me translate for you. I overdid it with booze and food this weekend, big time. Late nights out led to eating pizza (twice), popcorn, and chinese food, and it also translated into lazy mornings that didn’t involve any sort of physical activity besides laying on the couch.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I had a BLAST hanging out with my girlfriends.

Girlfriends

And I also found the PERFECT recipe for homemade Bloody Mary mix. (It’s this one, plus 2 teaspoons of fresh horseradish per recipe).

Blood Mary

Fancy garnishes encouraged.

BUT, when I woke up yesterday morning, I felt like crap. Bloated, exhausted, headache-y, and just not the way you hope to feel on a Monday morning to start off the week. I had to go to a conference for the first part of day for work, and woke up too late to get a workout in beforehand, and then came home after the conference and plugged away at work for several hours.

I was almost ready to melt into the couch for the evening when I realized I had no excuse to not go for a run before giving in. After overdoing it for so many days in a row, I had a feeling my body might not respond the best, but I knew I had to at least give it a try if I had any hopes of snapping out of it.

It was one of those runs where I set out not sure of how far I’d go, or even where I’d go, I just went. I ended up running from my place in Dupont Circle into Georgetown, and at the point where I would normally turn around to do a 3 mile run, I decided to just keep going and added another mile in for a total of 4 miles.

My runs for the last several weeks have been “fine” at best, and that’s honestly a stretch. I’ve felt out of breath before I started, had to fight for every step of them, and just had to play mind games with myself the entire time. I am SURE that has everything to do with being inconsistent with working out for the last couple weeks, which is why last night was so surprising.

I felt energized, powerful, and confident with every step of the run. I had a pep in my step and felt like a million bucks the whole time as I passed people left and right on the sidewalk (granted, they were WALKING home from work, but still). I probably could have kept going, but I didn’t want to push it. It was one of those runs where I needed it to be good, even if I didn’t expect it to be. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I got home, stretched, and basically bounced up the stairs to my apartment because I was feeling so great.

photo 3 (3)

Not even faking that smile!

And only then did I let myself melt into the couch for the night. And don’t worry, I even showered first.

2012 in Review

Can you believe 2012 is over!? I feel like I say this every time a new year comes, but man is it insane how fast time flies. I feel like once you’re an adult and you work full time and don’t have summer break anymore, every week is so similar that one just fades into the next and before you know it, more time has flown by than you know.

I saw this funny image on Facebook today, which I loved:

2012

Anyway, I wanted to take a look back at the goals I set for myself in 2012 and see how I did with them. Here goes:

1.) PR in my third half marathon March 17th.

2012 was a big year for racing for me. I ended up running 11 races in total, including 3 half marathons, and PRing in not one but two of them! My fastest time was the Philadelphia Half Marathon on November 18, 2012, with a time of 2:05:08. That’s over 5 minutes faster than my 2011 PR!

Half-Marathon-PR

2.) Get back to my goal weight and maintain it throughout the year.

This one, as you may have guessed, did not happen. I struggled a lot with my weight throughout the year and really had a hard time getting back towards my goal weight. I recently met with my doctor to discuss my weight and will be doing a thorough update on this soon, but I think my body might be at my happy weight where it is now.

3.) Keep strength training a part of my exercise routine.

I was pretty good about strength training a lot during the year. Things kind of went downhill with it when I got injured while training for my last half marathon, and it has kind of taken a back burner since then. This will definitely be something I want to focus on for 2013.

4.) Get completely out of debt.

I am SO excited to report that this goal was completely accomplished! You can read the post here – and just rereading it now makes me feel so liberated. It was a lot of hard work and discipline, but man does it feel good to not have it hanging over my head anymore!

5.) Save Money.

I didn’t quite get to 6 months of living expenses saved, but I have over 4 months saved and made a lot of great progress in this area. I am really proud of myself for sticking with this one.

6.) Plan a vacation abroad.

I am in the stages of planning a trip for May with a good friend to travel to Turkey and Greece for a few weeks. I will keep you posted as the planning progresses and am REALLY hoping I can make this happen!

7.) Read more and watch less TV.

I think I did a pretty good job with this one. I lived without cable for over a year (and actually just got it again a few weeks ago) and have been consistently reading books all year. I’m currently working on Room and want to keep this trend going.

8.) Go to bed earlier.

This one is hit or miss and not something I’ve been consistent enough about. This goal is definitely one I’ll keep going with for 2013.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how the year went. I made a huge career move, became more independent, learned to live on my own, and have worked hard to balance social life with being healthy. I was originally planning on doing a post for my 2013 goals coupled with this one, but I still need to think it through a little bit and will be back with those goals soon.

Happy New Year! Here’s to an incredible 2013!

Random Updates

Hi! Life has been a whirlwind lately, but it’s been mostly good things! Here are a few random updates for you from the last week or so:

1.) I was in Houston all of last week for a conference and just got back on Saturday. It was my first conference with the new job, and it was AWESOME. I had such a fun time getting to see it all come to life, bonding with coworkers, and getting to know the members of my organization. It was such a good experience!

2.) Healthy living wise, I made sure to eat healthy breakfasts every day, stay very hydrated, and walked A LOT, earning Activity Points every day (according to my ActiveLink) even though I only worked out one time while I was there in the gym.

3.) Unhealthy living wise, I ate a LOT of candy, and overdid it at many lunches and dinners. I tried to take it one day and one meal at a time, but I just found myself surrounded by temptations everywhere I turned and I found myself giving in more than I wanted to.

4.) I did snap right out of it when I got back on Saturday, and have been fully back on track since. I made myself go out for a 4 mile run on Sunday (which I worked for every step of!) and also worked out after work last night. I had to force myself to do both, but felt like a million bucks afterwards! With 4 workouts total from last week (one before I left, one while in Houston, and two since being back) I managed to earn 57 Activity Points last week!

5.) I also went grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon, did some food prep, and made a meal plan for the first time in a while! In terms of prep, I made a batch of plain oatmeal, as well as a big pot of veggie chili to serve as breakfast and lunch staples throughout the week.

Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snacks
Monday Savory Oats w/Spinach + Cottage Cheese Veggie Chili w/Cheese + carrots w/salsa Baked Chicken w/sweet potatoes Greek Yogurt, Grapes, Banana
Tuesday English Muffin w/Cheese + Egg Whites Baked chicken w/sweet potatoes over greens Out for happy hour Cottage Cheese, grapes, orange
Wednesday Oats w/Pumpkin + Cottage Cheese Veggie Chili w/Cheese Soft boiled eggs w/English muffin String Cheese, Banana, Carrots
Thursday Toast + Omelet w/cheese + veggies Out for business lunch Veggie Chili over a baked potato Greek yogurt
Friday Savory Oats Spinach salad w/chicken, craisins, blue cheese + walnuts TBD Grapes w/cottage cheese + banana

6.) This week and next week are my last two weeks before training begins for my sixth half marathon in March! Here’s what my goal is for workouts for the week:

    • Sunday – 4 mile run (check!)
    • Monday – 30 min tempo run + weights (check!)
    • Tuesday – rest
    • Wednesday – Body Pump + cross
    • Thursday – 4 mile run
    • Friday – rest
    • Saturday – 5-6 mile run

7.) I feel like I have been traveling SO MUCH lately, and I won’t be heading back out of town until the week of Christmas. I’m looking forward to staying put for a little while!

8.) I promise to be back with a video update THIS WEEK. No excuses!

Give me one random update about how healthy living is going for you lately!

Heather’s First 5k

“I want to start running. What do I need to do?”

I nearly squealed with excitement when I heard those opening words from my sister Heather. I’ve run many times with my sister Wendy (including The Broad Street 10 Miler and the ODDyssey Half Marathon this year), but my sister Heather has never been that into the idea of running for voluntary reasons.

Heather is a busy mom of two kids who works, takes care of her family, and has a million and one things to do every day. Running to her sounded like an efficient form of exercise that would take far less time away from her busy life than her beloved 1.5 hour yoga classes.

And I was delighted that she called on me for advice!

I told her to go to a running store to get fitted for a good pair of running shoes, look up the Couch to 5k Program, and get started right away before she could come up with excuses not to. And for one of the first times in my life, my older sister listened to me!

She downloaded the c25k app on her iPhone, went to a running store and bought a pair of shoes (Brooks Glycerine 10) and got started the very next day.

I somehow convinced her that we should sign up for a 5k together around Thanksgiving to keep her motivated and so that we could run together when she was gone with the program. Several times a week she would check in with me on her status with c25k, and her enthusiasm was infectious each time she crossed a new running threshold.

She went from running 90 seconds and wanting to die, to running 22 minutes straight over the course of 6 weeks, and while being delighted to be done, felt she could have run more if need be. She didn’t exactly finish the program in time for the 5k, but we had signed up for a Turkey Trot on the Friday after Thanksgiving and I may have twisted her arm about running it anyways.

I told her the excitement of the crowd and the adrenaline from running a race would carry her through, and if she could run 22 minutes, she could run 36 with me by her side. And, if she couldn’t? We could walk. No big deal.

Friday came and we woke up bright and early and set out the door at 7:30am to make the almost hour drive to the race site. I told everyone who would listen that it was her first 5k and she told me she was going to punch me. Sisterly love. Smile

Before we knew it, it was time to go to the starting area and I was being far too excited for her taste, but she had no choice. She was running her first 5k, and I was there by her side!

Heather and Beth

All of a sudden, the announcement was made and we were running a 5k! I told Heather to set the pace and that I would just go along with whatever she was comfortable with, and we started off FAST. She wasn’t sure what her exact pace would be, but was guessing 12 minute miles, and we were running sub 10s at the beginning. I told her to slow down and that we could pick it up if she feeling good for the second half of the race.

We lucked out with a GORGEOUS day for running.

Beautiful

I was so impressed with how she was doing and was trying to think of what I would want someone who was running with me to do for my first 5k, so I did what I do best and just talked and talked. I told her random stories, talked a lot about food/pancakes/post run eating, and updated her about how far we’d gone periodically. And before we knew it we were at the half way mark and she was doing awesome.

The course itself was fast and flat and and pretty scenic. We kept an even pace after that quick start at the beginning and I was surprised we were going closer to 10 minute miles than 12. Before either of us knew it, we rounded the corner and laid eyes on the finish line. Side by side, we picked it up for the last little bit and ran through the finish with arms held high! We’d done it!

Heather 5k

My nephew (her son) Ben had come with his dad to cheer us on (how CUTE is he!?!?) and was so impressed by his mom! As were the rest of us. Not only did we finish, but we finished in just under 32 minutes for her very first 5k!

In His Words: Matthew’s Marathon Story

Hello readers, this is Matt writing to you again. You may remember my In His Words story featured in back in September. In that story I spoke of my intention to run the Chicago Marathon on October 7, 2012. The responses to my story and the requests to hear about my marathon experience were enough that I asked Beth if I could do a follow-up piece for you. She was more than happy to feature it and here I am again.

There are many experiences in life that no matter how prepared we feel, we cannot be 100% prepared for.  The marathon and its 26 miles and 385 yards is most certainly one of those experiences.

Chicago5

Race day is always such a special day for so many reasons.  No matter what the distance or how many races I have done, my emotions always seem to be all over the map.  The marathon was no different for me.  My 4:45am wake up call came and I jumped out of bed.  I was so excited to run my first marathon.

Chicago8

I had my pancake breakfast, showered, stretched and got dressed to leave.

Chicago6

The Chicago Marathon is a very well-oiled machine I’ll tell you.  It was nearly a 2 mile walk to my gear check area because there were three different gear check areas depending on your starting corral. My mom came with me as I got my things in order, stretched a bit, and dropped my gear off.  She gave me a big hug and off I went into Corral L around 7:45am.

It was time.

Standing in my race corral, surrounded by 45,000 other runners was really a breathtaking sight. As we inched toward the start line I found myself becoming more and more serious.  Gone were the days where I could train.  Gone were the days where I could daydream about this moment.  And gone were the days where I was not a marathoner.  The moment had come to actually do it.   At around 8:15am, I blew a kiss to the sky (something I do at every race for certain loved ones no longer with me), started my Garmin, and was off.  It was official, I was running my first ever marathon!

Start to 10K

As I began to run, a huge smile crept over my face.  I just kept thinking “I am running the Chicago Marathon.  This is so cool!”  The 10K distance went by in a blur.  The streets were lined with thousands and thousands of spectators.  That, coupled with adrenaline, had me feeling so good.  I hit the 10K mark in 1:05:48, feeling fresh and confident.

10K to Half Marathon

This might have been my favorite stretch of the race.  I knew going into the race that I would see my friends Jon, Steph, and baby Samantha (people I consider true family) at the Mile 7 marker.  I saw them right where they said they would be.  They jumped up and down and screamed when they saw me and we shared a hug.  I gave baby Sam a kiss, took a photo with Jon and Steph, and was off and running again.  It was such a boost to see them.  Miles 7 through 10 flew by as I was feeling great and knew my Mom would be waiting for me around Mile 10.  As I approached I saw her and my friend Jillian. My mom started jumping up and down like I knew she would.  I got a hug from both of them and a “You got this.” from my Mom and off I went. As I crossed into double digits and hit the half marathon marker I felt so good.  I passed the halfway mark at 2:20:19, ahead of my projected finish time, and figured if I kept at this pace I would be just fine.

Little did I know…

Half Marathon to Mile 20

This was, by far, the most lonely and challenging part of the race for me.  As I passed the Mile 14 marker my body began to do something it had never done in two years and nearly 1000 miles of running … it began to breakdown.  My quads began to violently twitch and spasm.  At first I thought it was a temporary setback and pushed through it the way I had pushed through everything else along the way in life.  The pain became so intense that it forced me to begin walking and, eventually, come to a complete stop.  I was so unprepared for something like this, as I had never experienced it before.  To look down and actually see my muscles spasming to the point that it nearly buckled me was scary.  I did what I could for the next two miles knowing my Mom had said she MIGHT be at Mile 16.  Well, Mile 16 came and went and I couldn’t find her.

At the time it was crushing.  It may seem odd for me to tell you that in a field of 45,000 runners and almost 2 million spectators that I was lonely, but I truly felt that way.  For a split second I thought “I still have ten more miles to go.” but immediately stopped that line of thought.  I made a tough decision and decided to lay down the fierce competitor in me.  The race became about finishing and not about time anymore.  When I finally got to the Mile 20 marker I saw my Mom and she knew something was wrong.  She gave me a tight hug and said exactly what I needed to hear. “Do what you have to do Matthew.  I love you.”  It was then I decided not to seek medical attention because I knew there was a chance they wouldn’t let me back out to finish.  I was willing to risk permanent injury to make this dream a reality.  I was finishing this race … by any means necessary.

Mile 20 to Finish

They say the real race begins at Mile 20.  I can’t really vouch for that, but I can tell you I learned a lot about myself during those last 6.2 miles.  My quads were still spasming but I began to figure some things out.  I shortened my running stride and was able to run easier than walk.  I ran/walked (more like a shuffle) the rest of the way.  I was able to put together a 10:45 pace when I did run and felt pretty good.  I saw the the “1 mile to go” sign and decided to run that last mile.  As I turned the corner past the Mile 26 marker and saw the finish line it dawned on me … I was about to finish.  After 5 hours, 24 minutes, and 45 seconds, I raised my arm to the sky and crossed the finish line.  It was official.  Matthew Frates had become a marathoner.

Chicago4

In the weeks since then I have had some time to really think about the whole experience. While training for this took place in 2012, the real journey toward this moment started back in 2010 when I decided to get my life together.  As much as this race for was for me, I realize now that it was as much for those I hold close as it was for me.  I received an overwhelming amount support along the way and I know I would never have achieved all that I have without it.  I was fortunate to not only have my Mom there, but four of my closest friends as well.

Chicago3

I will never be able to truly express what that meant to me and I know that no matter where my life takes me I will never forget this experience and everything they contributed to making it such a success.  26.2 miles is a humbling distance and the experience of running it taught me many things.  The most important thing it taught me is that no matter what life throws my way, I will never again think or feel that I cannot do it.  I am a marathoner and no one will EVER be able to take that away from me.  Thank you so much for reading my story.

1 2 3 4 41