We All Want to be the Next Joanie

From the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon with Desi Davila, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and my friend Beachy.

From the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon with Desi Davila, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and my friend Beachy.

“We all want to be the next Joanie,” Shalane Flanagan admitted before a packed press conference room following the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Shalane sat next to her training partner, Kara Goucher, both trying, but failing, to hold back tears. Shalane had just thrown down a ruthless race (2:27:08) in an attempt to be the first American woman in years to win the Boston Marathon, only to be outkicked in the very end.

I sat in the second row at the presser and while trying to remain an impartial journalist, as a runner, a female runner, and a Bostonian at that, it was hard not to get emotional.

In 2014 Shalane wanted revenge and ran an even more relentlessly fierce race. Although she didn’t win, she set a PR and broke the American course record of by running a 2:22:02- nearly five minutes faster than 2013.

“I have a good friend, Joan Benoit Samuelson, who for years has told me to run my own race,” Flanagan said after the race.

I used to hear stories about Joanie when I was growing up. My dad was a marathoner and before I was born, my parents lived down the road from her in Watertown. I wasn’t a runner when my dad used to tell me these stories. I had never been really good at sports and I actually hated running, so at the time I didn’t care. But now, my perspective has completely shifted.

I had the pleasure of running with Joanie in 2013 at the Walt Disney World Marathon while I was there for work. She joined us on a quick shakeout run the day before the half marathon. I ran by her side for about a mile and although we didn’t talk much, it was completely surreal. Here I was running next to a legend and it was like we were out on a typical, every day run.

I thought about all of this on my run this morning. When my alarm went off at 5 a.m. I really didn’t want to get up. I had 6 miles, easy on the schedule as part of my Chicago Marathon training. My first mile was slow, a 9:38. Before I started to beat myself up about it, I found myself thinking about Joanie’s impact. Today marks 30 years since her Olympic Marathon win in 1984, the first women’s Olympic Marathon, and as Roger Robinson described the victory in a piece for Runner’s World today, it “was the perfect symbol for the final full acceptance of women’s running.”

As I thought about all of this I noticed my pace start to quicken – 8:46, 8:40, 8:34, 8:10.

I was about a mile out from my apartment when I decided to just give it my all at the end. I finished in front of my door step and clocked in a 7:31 mile – fast for me but two minutes off of Joanie’s Olympic Marathon pace. But I felt strong.

Joanie’s performance at the 1984 Olympic Marathon changed women’s running forever. It brought it into the mainstream and made it possible for people like Shalane and Kara to want to become the next American female marathoning star.

I know I’ll never be the next Joanie, but we all could be.

Enough with Cat Calling Female Runners

(Source: Pinterest)

(Source: Pinterest)

Yesterday, I was nearing the end of my final tempo mile along a busy-ish road near work when all of a sudden a massive tractor-trailer honked his horn at me… four times.

I was so startled from the noise of the honking, and the fact that I was in the middle of a very fast-for-me mile, that I stopped dead in my tracks. Instead of catching my breathe and calming down, I turned to the truck and flipped him the bird with not one, but both of my hands.

I know, bad behavior shouldn’t illicit more bad behavior but I’ve had enough. And I’m not the only one. This week alone, I have been honked at five times during a run by guys driving by. Scores of women runners, of all shapes and sizes, have had moments like this. You’re running along, minding your own business, when a dude driving by beeps his horn at you, and whistles out his window, or says some other obscenities.

It happens to me almost every time I go for a run by myself. It happens when I go out running with a friend. It even happened once when I was doing a hill workout with my boyfriend who was about a half-mile ahead of me. No matter the time of day, year, or what I’m wearing I get beeped or cat called at.

A writer over at Competitor wrote a story about this today, which prompted me to write my own. Another writer friend wrote a post about it for Philly.com and told me that after she published her piece she actually got HATE emails from men (and women too!) defending these actions. What the hell, people?

Besides it being annoying and interrupting my otherwise killer tempo run, I wondered, what did that disgusting trucker think he was going to get out of that? He wasn’t turning me on. I wasn’t flattered. I was pissed off.

Like the author of the Competitor piece, all I wanted to do was get my tempo miles done, cool down, and go back to the office for lunch. Instead my run was interrupted because some trucker decided I looked good enough during my run to honk at. Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution for the problem, and I don’t have much faith in the changing the men who tend to cat call, but we need to make it clear that it’s not a compliment and it’s not OK.

On Being a Stubborn Runner

Today I was editing one of my columnists for Runner’s World and she was writing about a recent flair up of plantar that she noticed last week. She hasn’t run since Wednesday and “instead of pining over lost miles, I turned my attention towards yoga this week.”

I’ve been dealing with a mystery-foot-pain since a run two Saturday’s ago. Since the pain occurred I’ve taken it easy, but I’ve only swapped one of my running days for spin, and maintained my 30-ish mile weeks. Stupid.

I was contemplating going to spin today instead of going for an easy lunch run. Spin would give me the cardio-pumping heartbeat I was craving, but was much less impact than running on icy roads outside. But when the lunch run email went out this morning, I figured, “Why not? I mean, I ran 5 miles last night and felt fine, I should be good to go today too.”

I was wrong. A mile into our run I felt the pain flaring up again on the bottom outside of my left foot. It was clearly compensating my stride so, at the encouragement of my lunch run mates, I turned back.

As I ran (very, very slowly) back to the office, I kept hearing Krsitin’s words in my head. Why didn’t I listen to my gut and opt for spin instead? Why didn’t I give myself a rest day when I woke up this morning and felt the pain again? Why haven’t I seen a doctor in the two weeks since the pain first presented itself?

Answer: I’m stubborn.

I’m stubborn because I hate putting up zeros in my training log. I hate looking back at my log from last year and seeing higher mileage than I’ve been logging lately. I get small panic attacks when I think about how training starts in a little over a week for my big goal race. I worry that days off from running will come at the cost of my fitness. A small part of me worries that not running will cause me to gain weight. An even smaller part of me worries that time off from running will make me forget why I love running.

I know all of this is stupid but sometimes it just feels better to write it down and own up to it. When I read articles (on the website and in the pages of the magazine at which I am employed) and writers ask seasoned elites- what’s one thing you wish you knew about running when you started?- they almost ALWAYS say they wish they took proper recovery time. Or, they wish they recognized the benefit of taking easy days, easy. Or, that putting up a zero for one day might mean being able to put down a PR down the road.

I’ve read all of this. It’s engrained in my memory. But why is it so hard for me to follow? It’s time for me to cut the BS, stop being stupid, and start being smart.

(End rant.)

Ouch (!) My Foot Hurts

Funny, because my Mom had plantar fasciitis.

Funny, because my Mom had plantar fasciitis.

“Ouch! My foot hurts.”

That’s what I said as I came to a hobbling stop about 3 miles into our out-and-back run on Saturday. The run was going pretty smoothly for the first three miles, despite having to run nearly a minute and a half slower than my normal pace due to snow. But when we got halfway through the run I felt a searing pain shoot through my foot.

At first I shook it off, stretched it on a curb, and continued to run for about two tenths of a mile, but it was clear I couldn’t keep running. I waited it out inside nearby while my boyfriend ran back to my apartment to get the car and come pick me up.

I spent most of my waiting time beating myself up for not sucking it up and running the three miles back. I, like many other stubborn runners, pride myself on my tolerance for pain. I can usually deal with aches and soreness but this pain in my foot was unlike any I’d felt before. (Side note: Don’t ever run through pain. It’s really bad for you and my colleagues at RW would agree.)

I spent the rest of the day and most of Sunday hobbling around, unable to put too much pressure on it. After doing some yoga, stretching out on Sunday, and continuing to foam roll both my calf muscles and my foot, it’s started to feel better on Monday and Tuesday.

So, on Tuesday I decided to join in on the group run out of our local running store, the Emmaus Run Inn. It was an easy 4 miles at roughly 8:30/pace. At the beginning of the run I could definitely feel the pain but it wasn’t the same shooting pain I felt on Saturday. My stride was definitely compensated and I felt my opposite leg working harder. But I was able to finish the run and felt pretty fine.

That is until I woke up yesterday morning and the pain was back, but still not as painful as Saturday or Sunday. I opted out of my run on Wednesday and hopped on a spin bike (for the first time). I figured cycling would be a much lower impact way to get my cardio in and I was right – plus, no foot pain!

For now I’m going to continue to take it easy, stretch, and ice my foot. I’m thinking it’s plantar fasciitis but I still can’t be sure. Hopefully I’ll have better news to report soon!

Have you ever dealt with plantar fasciitis or foot pain? What did you do to rehab it?

2013 in Numbers

Running the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon

Running the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon

Yesterday I capped off 2013, my year of chasing down distance, with a 13 mile run. I set a goal last January to run my first marathon and I accomplished not only that by running Big Sur last April but I then ran my second marathon at Marine Corps in October with a 26-minute PR.

So it was only fitting to ring in the New Year today with 5-ish speedy (for me) miles. If 2013 was my year for distance than 2014 will be my year of speed. But before I lay down my New Year’s run resolutions, I thought it would be cool to look back on what I did in 2013- in numbers.

1,480 – Total miles

2 – Marathons

  • Big Sur (4.28) – 4:33:21
  • Marine Corps (10/27) – 4:07:06

2 – Half marathons

1 – First ever 10K (53:55)

24:59 – 5K PR and first age group win

27:46:47 – Team Watermelon for my first relay at Hood to Coast (5th place)

11 – Races

So who knows what 2014 will bring but I know I can’t wait to find out. Happy New Year!

Marine Corps Marathon Training Week Five

LVRR 5K 2This was another busy week of training but it went well. I went back to boot camp on Monday night for strength training- I hadn’t been in a few weeks due to scheduling conflicts- but it felt good to be back. The only problem is the session left me with dead legs for practically the whole week. It didn’t help that I had a high mileage week last week too and decided to run a 5K Wednesday night but my legs were thankful for the full rest day on Thursday

Monday: XT

Vinyasa flow yoga class- 45 minutes

  • Was able to do a full backbend. Yay!

Boot camp- 40 minutes

  • Did four circuits of no repeat exercises

Tuesday: 4 miles, easy

My legs were absolute DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) city after yesterday’s double strength training workout. I went on the run with my roommate who was also really sore from yesterday’s workout too so we decided to take it super easy. Then, the route we took had us go straight through Musikfest (a week-long outdoor music festival in Bethlehem) and there were so many people we had to dodge for about 1.5 miles. But it was good, we needed to take it easy.

Plan: 4 miles, easy
Actual: 4 miles in 37:40 at 9:25/mile pace
(1) 9:42/mile
(2) 9:24/mile
(3) 9:00/mile
(4) 9:24/mile

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: 70 degrees, overcast

Wednesday: Double run day, 6 miles total

Run 1- 3 miles easy

Went for my first run of the day at lunch. I had 6 miles total on the schedule today but I wanted to run the free 5K in the parkway at night so I decided to split up my miles. My legs were still pretty tired from Monday’s strength training (pathetic, I know) so I may have to re-think doing a double strength training day going forward.

Plan: 3 miles, easy
Actual: 3 miles in 24:48 at 8:16/mile (kind of too fast)
(1) 8:58/mile
(2) 8:10/mile
(3) 7:40/mile

Shoes: Asics GT-1000 2 (not loving these)

Run 2- 3.1 miles at the Lehigh Valley Road Runners Summer Series 5K

I ran the Lehigh Valley Road Runners free 5K in the Parkway and felt really good. I went to this with the intention of not racing AT ALL and trying to just jog it, maybe 9:20/mile pace. Well, that didn’t happen. I ended up going faster than intended but definitely still not racing. I had more in the tank for sure at the end but I had a lot of fun. Just a fun little Wednesday night race!

Plan: 3 miles, super easy
Actual: 3.1 miles in 26:04 at 8:24/mile pace
(1) 8:22/mile
(2) 8:24/mile
(3) 8:34/mile

Shoes: Saucony Fastwitch 6

Thursday: Rest

Friday: 6 miles with 2 miles at Marathon Pace

I was really happy with the results of my first marathon pace run. I was supposed to do 6 miles with 2 miles at marathon pace, which for the break-4:15 plan is 9:44/mile. Well, my paces lately have been much faster than the paces my plan has been calling for so I decided to make some adjustments.

Plan: 6 miles with 2 miles at marathon pace (9:44/mile)
Actual: 6 miles with 2.4 miles at “marathon pace” (8:41/mile)
20 min warmup at 9:13/mile pace, roughly 2.06 miles
20 min at marathon pace, 8:41/mile, roughly 2.40 miles
15 min cool down at 9:13/mile pace, roughly 1.6 miles

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: indoors, I did this workout on the treadmill so I would have better control over my paces.

Saturday: 4 miles, easy

I was helping to cover Worlds for Runner’s World all morning so I didn’t get out to do my run until the early evening. I felt pretty good but it was extremely hot out. The sun was strong but it wasn’t as humid as it has been.

Plan: 4 miles, easy
Actual: 4 miles in 35:01 at 8:45/mile pace
(1) 9:18/mile
(2) 8:35/mile
(3) 8:50/mile
(4) 8:17/mile

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19

Sunday: 16 miles, long slow distance

Today’s long run was a lesson in pacing. I did the first 10 miles of my long run with a group training for our Runner’s World Half. I felt pretty good but was very tired because we started early. We did the run on a rail trail and I was running with one of my coworkers who set a much faster pace than I’m used to for long runs and it showed toward the end of my run where my pace slowed drastically. I was kind of disappointed in myself during this run. I’m usually much better at holding a steady pace so maybe I’m better off doing long runs solo. After doing 10 with the group I added on with four of my coworkers to get the 16. I was completely cooked at the end.

Plan: 16 miles, long slow distance (10:40-11:30/mile pace according to my plan)
Actual: 15.6 miles in 2:25:37 at 9:20/mile pace
(1) 8:55 (2) 8:47 (3) 9:03 (4) 8:58 (5) 9:22 (6) 9:22 (7) 9:28 (8) 9:16 (9) 9:31 (10) 9:46 (11) 9:48 (12) 10:03 (13) 9:06 (14) 9:28 (15) 9:31 (16) 5:11 (for 0.60)

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19

Weekly mileage: 36 miles

See all training recaps here.

Marine Corps Marathon Training Weeks Three and Four

My home for the past week!

My home for the past week!

First off I have to apologize for the temporary blogging hiatus! I was on vacation with my family and was trying to completely unplug (OK, I sent out a few tweets here and there) but I really wanted my time away to be spent with family, friends, and the beach so I missed blogging about week three of Marine Corps training. But not to fret, luckily in these past two weeks of training I’ve learn A LOT so I have a quite a few blog post ideas in the works for the upcoming weeks. Also, I can’t even believe it but Hood to Coast is only a few weeks away so I’ll be writing updates about that (including my packing list, fave Nuun flavors that’ll keep me going long, and much more).

Anyway, training for Marine Corps has been going very well. My paces are far faster than what I was doing when training for Big Sur (more on that later) and I should probably take it easy to keep my goals in perspective but I’m having way too much fun with my newfound speedy legs. I’m also proud to report that I didn’t miss A SINGLE training run during my vacation. My runs weren’t exactly in order but I got all of the miles in, so I’d say that’s a win. The beach air was a refreshing change from the humidity and heat wave we had a few weeks ago so I was feeling really good.

Week Three- July 22 – July 28

Monday: Rest Day

Tuesday: 2 runs, 1 day

Run #1- This was my first lunchtime run in awhile and it might be my last for the summer. It was so incredibly hot and I just felt pretty bad the whole time. I had to split up my runs today and do a double because I’m going to a group run tonight that’s only doing 3 miles, I have 6 on my training plan.

Plan: 3 miles easy
Actual: 3 miles in 26:13 at 8:44/mile pace
(1) 8:50/mile
(2) 8:33/mile
(3) 8:12/mile

Conditions: 81 degrees sunny and 65 percent humidity
Shoes: Asics Kayano 19

Run #2- Did an easy group run out of the local running store tonight. It was a lot of fun too! Newton running was sponsoring the run and we ran 1.5 miles out to the Little Lehigh River with a cup, had to fill the cup with water, and then run back to the store dropping as little water a possible. I have no idea what my splits were but it was a blast!

Plan: 3 miles, easy

Actual: 3 miles in 27:00 roughly 9:00/mile pace

Wednesday: 3 mile track workout

It was a beautiful night for a track workout! My right hip flexor has been super tight so I decided to take it a little easier on the intervals. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for the workout when I first got to the track since my plan only called for 3 miles, easy but I decided on 2×400, 2×800, 2×400.

Plan: 3 miles, easy (10:40/mile according to my training plan)
Actual: 3 miles in 25 minutes at 7:41/mile pace
1-mile warmup at 8:55/mile pace
400m- 1:42
400m- 1:43
800m- 3:40
800m- 3:33
400m- 1:41
400m- 1:40

Conditions: 72 degrees, strong headwind
Shoes: Saucony Fastwitch 6

Thursday: 6 miles, easy

It was absolutely perfect running weather today at lunch. I thought I was going to run before work but when I realized it was only going to be 65 degrees at lunch, I opted to wait. It was supposed to be a rest day and my plan had me running 6 on Friday but I’m traveling a lot tomorrow so I didn’t want to be extra tired.

Plan: 6 miles, easy
Actual: 6 miles in 53:46 at 8:57/mile pace
(1) 9:24/mile
(2) 8:54/mile
(3) 9:00/mile
(4) 8:55/mile
(5) 8:45/mile
(6) 8:45/mile

Shoes: Asic GT-1000 2s
Conditions: PERFECT! (65 degrees, overcast, basically zero humidity)

Friday: Rest/Travel Day

Saturday: 3 mile shakeout and strength training

I went to the gym with my sister so I did my 3 miles on the treadmill. I felt like I could have gone forever but needed to save some juice for Sunday’s long run. Not really sure what my splits were exactly but I felt great.

Plan: 3 miles, easy pace
Actual: 3 miles in 26:38 (8:52/mile pace)

Shoes: Asics GT-1000 2

Strengthening: I did two circuits of the standard core routine followed by 2×12 rows with 10lb weights and 2×8 rotating shoulder presses with 10lb weights.

Sunday: Unintended rest day to spend with the family, moved my long run to Monday.

Week Four: July 29 – August 4

Monday: 13-mile long run

I was supposed to do this long run yesterday but I’m on vacation and thought, why not do it Monday? Also, my right hip has been feeling a little funky lately, very tight and sore, so I thought I could benefit from the extra rest day. So I did it today and felt great. The majority of my run was along the ocean and through the harbor and by Nubble Light House. I felt really strong and this actually ended up being a 2-minute half-marathon (unofficial) PR.

Plan: 13 miles, easy
Actual: 13 miles in 2:00:15 at 9:15/mile pace
(1) 9:48/mile (2) 9:11/mile (3) 9:23/mile (4) 9:18/mile (5) 9:10/mile (6) 9:02/mile (7) 9:29/mile (8) 9:23/mile (9) 9:13/mile (10) 9:16/mile (11) 9:23/mile (12) 9:05/mile (13) 8:35/mile

Shoes: Asics GT-1000 2
Conditions: 66 degrees, overcast

Tuesday: 3-mile shakeout run

This was supposed to be a post-long run shakeout but I just felt so great so I decided to kick it up a notch. I was also running along the ocean so that got me pretty excited for the run too.

Plan: 3 miles, easy shakeout
Actual: 3 miles in 24:47 at 8:15/mile pace
(1) 8:46/mile
(2) 8:13/mile
(3) 7:45/mile

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: 70 degrees sunny, no humidity

Wednesday: 6 miles

This was another really great vacation run. I ran to the harbor and onto this little island full of trails. I stopped a few times just to take in the sights but it was absolutely beautiful.

Plan: 6 miles, easy
Actual: 6 miles in 52:43 at 8:47/mile pace
(1) 8:57/mile
(2) 8:44/mile
(3) 9:16/mile (trail mile, I’m really slow on trails)
(4) 9:01/mile
(5) 8:29/mile
(6) 8:14/mile

Shoes: Asics GT-1000 2
Conditions: 70 degrees, zero humidity, slight headwind, and sunny

Thursday: Rest Day with 2.5-mile beach walk

Friday: 5 miles, hills

I did my 5-mile lighthouse loop run this morning and felt really good. I thought it was going to be a bit cooler out but it was pretty humid so I was dripping by the end of the run. In the last mile though I felt a bit of a cramp in my left hamstring which made me stop to stretch but after stretching it felt fine, thank god.

Plan: 5ish miles easy
Actual: 5.05 miles in 43:47 at 8:40/mile pace
(1) 9:06/mile
(2) 8:41/mile
(3) 8:39/mile
(4) 8:34/mile
(5) 8:22/mile

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19
Conditions: 69 degrees, overcast with 87 percent humidity

Saturday: Rest Day

Sunday: 10 mile, long run

I took a nice early morning run around my hometown before traveling back to PA. I just did my usual out and back and felt really great. The temps were absolutely perfect and there was nearly no one on the road.

Plan: 10 miles, easy
Actual: 10 miles in 1:29:44 at 8:58/mile pace
(1) 9:01 (2) 8:58 (3) 9:03 (4) 9:14 (5) 8:36 (6) 9:00 (7) 8:54 (8) 9:14 (9) 8:54 (10) 8:46

Shoes: Asics Gel Kayano 19

Week Three Mileage: 18 miles

Week Four Mileage: 37 miles

See all training recaps here.

When Should You Get a Running Coach?

(source: Pinterest)

(source: Pinterest)

I’ve been mulling over the idea of getting a running coach for a few weeks now. I’ve seen progress in my running over the past year but I know that’s due in part to my inexperience- every race is a PR or close to it. So I thought I’d ask, to improve, should I get a coach?
  1. To get a running coach or not get a running coach, that is the question. Thoughts?
  2. Tons of people were pro-coach…
  3. @FitHappyGirl get one! I love having one and have improved tremendously. Ex 2:03 half from oct 12 to 1:49 this April
  4. Some people said it depends on your goals and finding the right coach (but were mainly pro-coach)…
  5. @FitHappyGirl So important to find one who’s the right fit, philosophically and personality-wise. Otherwise you lose a lot of benefits, imo.
  6. @FitHappyGirl But great to have someone monitor your performance, give advice, and adjust personalized training as you progress!
  7. @FitHappyGirl Absolutely, but a running coach should help you as much with what not to do as pushing the envelope at the right time.
  8. @FitHappyGirl If you haven’t met your goals on your own, try a coach. Make sure he/she works FOR YOU. Then take a leap.
  9. @FitHappyGirl If you have the right coach you’ll love running even more!
  10. @FitHappyGirl i hired @SpeedySasquatch for speed work! so mainly on my own but needed guidance for certain aspect! #justathought
  11. Then there was this…
  12. And you can count on Jason to be the odd man out (just kidding!)…

Luckily I work at Runner’s World so I have plenty of resources here but it might be good to have an objective person (who I don’t work with every day) as a coach instead. I’m nervous it might be too closing to the start of MCM training to get a coach now but maybe not. I’m also wondering about in-person coaching vs. online. I know plenty of people have had success with online coaching but the main reason I want a coach is to have someone push me, especially when I tend to sell myself short. I’m going to keep doing some research into it and see what I come up with.

Tell me, have you hired a running coach? Was it in-person or online and did you see improvements?

A Block Away From the Boston Marathon Bombings and These Are My Thoughts

From inside the press room on lockdown, the race clock never stopped running.

From inside the press room on lockdown, the race clock never stopped running.

I don’t know when I stopped shaking.

Even now, two days later, I can’t stop hearing the booms. One boom, I looked at my fellow editors. The second boom, I looked at the TV.

A spokesperson for the B.A.A. ran out of the press room at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. Seconds, though they felt like minutes, went by. He ran back in- two explosions went off near the finish, he said. We were in lockdown.

Someone has attacked my city, my family, my life, my love, I thought.

My dad has run the marathon many times. My mom worked for the city of Boston as deputy arts commissioner, under Mayor Tommy Menino, and his predecessors. My grandparents immigrated to Brighton from Ireland in 1955 and my grandfather founded the New England Irish Cultural Center. My uncle was the head EMT leading operations at the finish line medical tents when the bombs went off. This was my family’s city.

Boston is my home and the Boston Marathon is our city’s homecoming celebration. In the days that have passed I’ve tried to remain strong. I’ve tried to hold my ground. But we all have a breaking point. Kind of like a long run. There’s always a point where we have to stop, take in how far we’ve come and catch our breath. The unfortunate part of that is the reality that once we stop, we find it easier to stop in the coming miles, moments, or days.

I was waiting for my stopping point, my walk break. I knew it would come. I was trying to be ready for it. But it came like a bonk. A wave of emotion I had no control over. Since it came yesterday afternoon, it’s returned at the most unexpected moments.

I can’t stop hearing the booms, seeing the images on TV of people’s limbs, and shaking, just shaking.

All I know is someone, on that horrific day, attacked my city and our support group. Marathoning, when it comes down to it, is a selfish sport. We train for our own goals, miss out on time with loved ones, family and friends, all in the name of meeting our goal- to run 26.2 miles. At the end of the day, what does that goal mean if we don’t have someone to celebrate it with? If our support group is not waiting for us at the finish line.

And on Monday, April 15 someone attacked our support group. There was no one to meet us at the finish line. The helpers ran in and did what they could but at the end of the day we were all looking for answers. But if I know anything, marathoners, the running community, and most importantly, the people of Boston, are strong. We will reach deep into our energy reserves to rise up and help each other heal. It’s going to take time but I truly think we will come out of this stronger and closer than ever before.

As for me, I’m still shaking and I don’t know when it will stop. But I know it will stop and I’ll find my finish line in Boston, with a huge support group waiting for me and the rest of the community, at the end.

Help to Free Journalist, James Foley

James Foley, Aleppo, Syria – 07/12. Photo: Nicole Tung.

James Foley, Aleppo, Syria – 07/12. Photo: Nicole Tung.

Before you read this I will let you know this has absolutely nothing to do with running or fitness but rather my other passion, journalism. It is a plea for help and I’m not sure how much it will really help but I thought I’d give it a shot.

Yesterday, I found out one of my former colleagues while I was an intern at GlobalPost was reported missing while on assignment in Syria. James Foley, an extremely talented veteran foreign correspondent, was kidnapped in Syria on November 22, six weeks ago, according to a press release published by his family yesterday. Here is an excerpt from the release:

BOSTON – Jan. 2nd, 2012 – The family of American journalist James Foley today announced their son was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in northwest Syria on Thanksgiving Day, November 22. The Foley family wishes to step up public awareness to support the release of Jim unharmed.

“We want Jim to come safely home, or at least we need to speak with him to know he’s okay,” said John Foley, father of Jim Foley. “Jim is an objective journalist and we appeal for the release of Jim unharmed. To the people who have Jim, please contact us so we can work together toward his release.” – via freejamesfoley.org

While I only worked with James for eight short weeks during my summer internship at GlobalPost in 2011, I had a hard time hearing this news. Unfortunately, James is not new to being kidnapped overseas. In the spring of 2011, while on assignment for GlobalPost, James was kidnapped in Libya by Muammar Gaddafi loyalists, along with two other journalists- a fourth journalist was killed in the process of the kidnapping. After spending 44 days in a Libyan prison, James was released. He later returned to Libya to report on Gaddafi’s fall. I met James shortly after his release when I started my internship in June.

James is the kind of journalist the world needs. He reports on what he sees, from the frontlines, completely objectively. He is brave and willing to risk life and limb to get the story. Hearing James’ stories about reporting abroad while I was an intern at GlobalPost sparked my own interest in becoming a foreign correspondent, so much so that I seriously considered going abroad to the Middle East upon graduation to report on the turmoil going on in those countries. It’s news like his recent capture that causes me to consider the sacrifices and dangers of taking such risks. But to me, it’s amazing there are people like James, and countless other foreign correspondents, who risk their lives to get the story. They are truly doing an incredible service to us all.

James’ family, who hail from Rochester, New Hampshire, have set up a website (www.freejamesfoley.org) to campaign for his release. If you have a few minutes, I would ask you visit the site and join the appeal. I realize my readership might not be as in tune with this sort of news but I know the running community is strong and can band together to support a good cause. You can also stay up-to-date with the latest news on Twitter @FreeJamesFoley and Facebook Free James Foley.