Marathon Weekend in Boston

Marathon Weekend in Boston

What a weekend! I’m going to save a recap of race day for its own post (coming ASAP), but wanted to start off by talking about the rest of the weekend and updating you all on the whole fundraising-induced meltdown I talked about here. The past couple weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster–and I’m not talking It’s A Small World at Disney–but I’m actually glad my experience went that way. I met some truly inspirational people this weekend; accomplished the biggest physical feat of my life; and saw a lot of personal growth. This was an incredible opportunity that I wouldn’t want to have gone any other way. I’m so glad my first marathon was as a member of Team With A Vision!

Friday

If we’re still comparing my marathon experience to a roller coaster, Friday was the part where the bottom drops out, your stomach lurches into your throat, and you wet your pants a little. Bear with me through Friday because the rest is nothing but positive.

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It was the start of marathon weekend. I woke up early, did a 10-minute meditation (aka 9 minutes of trying to meditate and 1 minute of meditation), and was ready to tackle the day’s focus: fundraising. I had well over $3,000 left to raise and, while I have until May 31 to do so, I knew the enthusiasm from donors would wane as Marathon Monday passed. I still had this gnawing discomfort with asking people for money and felt that I’d already tapped out friends and family, so my plan was to reach out to brands with whom I’ve worked with on blog projects. In exchange for coverage on the blog, maybe they’d be willing to donate.

My post-meditation calm did not last long. As I was drafting emails, the anxiety and stress started to wrap around me like an itchy wool blanket. I’ll never raise the money. I’m going to have to pay $3,000. I can’t afford that. I need to get out of this. I can’t do this. WHERE IS THE FUCKING EJECT BUTTON.

The negative thought spiral was in motion when I got a text from my mom that just sent me over the edge. I’ve never talked about this on the blog before, but a family member of mine suffers from severe schizophrenia. It’s a topic I want to draw attention to because this country does not take care of its mental ill AT ALL and that needs to change, but at the same time I know he would be enraged if he knew I was sharing things about him here, so it’s a tricky line to walk. I have faith that one day he’ll have his illness managed and want to help others by sharing his story, but sadly that day is not yet here. So without going into detail, the text I received from my mom informed me that a particular incident had gone from bad to sickeningly awful. The type of situation that makes your insides feel both unbearably heavy yet somehow hollow.

This, added to the stress I was already feeling, and I just lost it. Meltdown #599. I actually cried so hard that I gave myself a painful stye in my left eye that’s still going strong as I type this post. Watch out, Boston Marathon, the Hot Mess Express is comin’ in hot!

Joe took a work break to meet me downtown for coffee, which helped calm me, and we agreed I needed to stop fundraising altogether. With everything going on, it was too overwhelming, and from a logistical standpoint, I’d probably never cross the finish line on Monday if I was still in this frenzied state. That actually made me feel relieved. Being mentally done with the fundraising meant one less thing on my plate. And with this mindset, I started to feel excited about running on Monday. I hate to admit it, but that was the first time in over a month I felt any sort of excitement about running the marathon.

There are nonstop activities in Boston during marathon weekend, but I chose not to partake in any of them Friday afternoon or evening (see above meltdown), instead just getting a couple glasses of wine with Joe that night at Minibar and going to bed early.

Saturday

I thought writing my last marathon update was the catharsis I needed to be a good place for the marathon, but turns out that was just the warm up. Friday was the real emotional rock bottom I needed to purge the negativity from my system.

Runkeeper booth at Boston Marathon Expo

At noon on Saturday, I was set to meet Simon, Heather and Andrea from Team With A Vision at the Runkeeper booth at the Marathon Expo. I walked over from my apartment feeling a bit drained but excited to start enjoying the weekend now that fundraising was off the table.* I didn’t want to let the weekend pass me by without fully taking in every moment of it.

*For the record, if you run for a charity, you can’t just not hit your goal. You agree to pay for any deficit remaining when the deadline comes. I was just choosing to deny that logistical detail–the mind is a powerful thing!

This was my first time meeting Simon and Heather in person, and we spent the next couple hours holding down the fort with Runkeeper. It was there that Simon and Andrea talked a bit about Team With A Vision and the obstacles faced for those who live with visual impairment. How the loss of vision can feel like a robbery of one’s independence. The unemployment rate among the blind is in excess of 70%. With that comes a feeling of isolation; of being separate. As if you’re not participating in this life but rather sitting on the sidelines. Then comes the depression. The emotional and psychological pain. Mental illness. Team With A Vision and The MA Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired not only offer logistical, physical support for the blind and visually impaired, but also work to support the emotional and mental health issues that can come hand-in-hand.

Damn. Replace “visual impairment” with “schizophrenia” and they were telling my loved one’s story.

And that’s when the pieces came together for me and I could finally see the big picture. Why I was doing this. Why the fundraising was important. Why it was such an honor to get this opportunity to run for a charity. The $7,500 wasn’t a price to be paid for getting to run the Boston Marathon without qualifying. It was $7,500 of support where support is so very needed. I knew this to be true from the moment I signed on to run, but I don’t think I fully understood it or felt its truth until that point. Proof that as old as 28 feels, I’ve still got a ton of personal growth ahead of me in this life.

When that deep personal connection clicked, suddenly the discomfort I’d felt in asking for donations vanished. Just hours before, I’d given up on fundraising. Drawn a line in the sand. Thrown in the towel. Now, I was overtaken by a surge of enthusiasm for crushing my $7,500 goal. I told you–this rollercoaster is no joke.

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When we parted ways at the Runkeeper booth, Joe met up with me and we spent some time walking around the Expo. I picked up my bib, bought the obligatory marathon jacket ($110 for a turquoise and pink windbreaker straight from the 1980’s … WOOF) and walked along the endless aisles of vendors. Afterwards we grabbed lunch, did some oh-shit-guests-are-coming apartment cleaning, and then later enjoyed a nice dinner with Joe’s mom and aunt.

Sunday

Sunday started off with a team shakeout run together with Runkeeper. We met up by the Charles River and did an easy two-mile run along the Esplanade. As we finished, Simon joked, “We only have to do that 13 times tomorrow!”

When I got home from the run, I sat down to reach out to family members and friends who hadn’t yet donated. In a short, but truly from-the-heart email, I explained how the MABVI offers support; described why, despite the initial dread of fundraising, I now feel so deeply connected to the cause; and asked for a donation, if within their ability at this time. From that one email, I raised $1,500 in less than 24 hours. $1,500!! There was a sense of relief, yes, but more so just overwhelming gratitude. For my loved ones and their generosity, but also grateful that I could give that much more to MABVI.

While that was a huge leap towards the $7,500 goal, I still have a little way to go, and would like to take a moment to ask you for your support. If you’re able to make a small donation, the contribution to this wonderful charity and the people it works to help would mean the world.

Donations can be made at my fundraising page HERE.

To those of you who have already donated, thank you so, so very much!
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The remainder of Sunday was spent enjoying the gorgeous day in Boston. The city vibrates with energy during marathon weekend and the sunny, 60-degree weather only added to that excitement. I wanted to rest my legs as much as possible, but couldn’t resist a stroll around the city with Joe and his family. I ran a few last-minute errands to prepare for the big day, and then settled in at home for a relaxing evening. IMG_1670

For dinner I made a big bowl of brown rice, quinoa, shredded sweet potatoes, brussles sprouts, red onion, avocado and topped with a fried egg. I went to bed full and pumped up for race day.

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I can’t wait to share my race day recap with you next. Guys, it was awesome. I’m still riding the high from crossing the finish line. Stay tuned!

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A Brutally Honest Update on My Boston Marathon Experience

IMG_1837This is a hard post to write. I’m a bit ashamed at how I’ve been feeling lately, and this post certainly doesn’t paint me in the best light. But please read it all the way through because if I start out sounding like a selfish asshole, by the end you’ll find me to at least be a self-aware selfish asshole …?

A big part of me doesn’t even want to publish this because I know the stress and negativity of the last few weeks will be completely forgotten the moment race day arrives and all that’ll remain in my memory is the positive parts of the experience. But as pessimistic and selfish as this post is going to make me out to be, I’d feel phony if I painted this out to be sunshine and roses. I’ve cried more in the past three weeks than I have in the last three years. I’ve wasted a ridiculous number of hours stewing in regret. And, as embarrassing as this is to admit, I’ve even tried to back out of this commitment. I frantically typed an email to the team organizer, tears brimming the edges of my eyes, all but begging her to give my bib to someone else.

And it has nothing to do with the running.

That brief knee injury aside, I’ve been amazed at how naturally my body has adapted to the long distances. My 21-mile run the other weekend didn’t even feel challenging. Um WHAT?! Tackling 26.2 miles honestly feels so doable to me right now that I don’t have an ounce of worry or apprehension about race day. It’s going to be fun!

So why am I stress-eating, battling constant anxiety and calling my mom in tears every other day?

The fundraising. (On the surface, anyway.)

I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so utterly defeated and overwhelmed. I knew it would be a challenge to raise $7,500, but what I didn’t anticipate was how crawl-out-of-my-skin uncomfortable fundraising would make me feel. To say asking people for money and support is out of my comfort zone is a pathetic understatement. I feel annoying. I feel like I’m pestering people. Everything feels so forced. I’m not exaggerating when I say it physically exhausts me to even just send an email soliciting donations. It’s like it conflicts with my core nature and who I am as a person but … WTF? It’s for charity! Why do I feel like I’m doing something wrong??!

I am so caught off guard at how negatively this whole fundraising mission has affected the way I feel. And I’m embarrassed to admit that I let the fundraising stress become so all-consuming that I was finding it hard to feel excited for next Monday–all I could think about was how I couldn’t wait for it to all be over.

GET A FUCKING GRIP, GIRL.

It is a fact that I am prone to dramatic downward spirals of negative thinking. I go 0 to The World Is Ending real quick. A little leak of negativity into my mind and suddenly every single pessimistic scenario is playing out rapid-fire. All very unnecessary. I know this is be true about myself and I’m aware that by controlling these negative thoughts, I can control how I’m feeling.

I’m also aware of how negative thought patterns like this tend to become all-consuming to the point where my worldview becomes myopic and selfishness becomes a default. Everything feels like it’s happening to me and I start seeing the negative in everything. Basically, I become a huge dick. I mean read this post! “I feel this way,” “I feel that way,” I, I, me, me … Girlfriend, you’re running for a charity as a guide. THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU.

Learning to control my negative thinking and become a happier, more optimistic and grateful person is something I’ve been constantly working on since struggling with depression in college. And I’ve come so far! I’ve realized though that the stress of this fundraising challenge has triggered a bit of reverting to old ways.

Thank God for that realization.

I’m not looking at this marathon as a physical challenge anymore. It’s 100% mental/emotional. Can I stop the negativity? Can I focus on the positive and, through optimistic thoughts and gratitude, start to feel better about the whole experience–the way I should be feeling? I think the answer is “yes.” I’ve started to be proactive about this and am making my attitude adjustment my number-one priority going into race day. Daily meditation has been huge (I’ve been using the Headspace app–highly recommend it). Yoga has been helping, too, with its constant reminder to live in the moment and be present. Writing has always been therapeutic to me so I’ve been keeping a daily journal as well in which I write down only positive updates. I’ve officially slowed the downward spiral of my mind and am, day by day, getting my head back on straight with this whole marathon experience.

If you’re rolling your eyes at the last paragraph … I know. It sounds cheesy and even a bit melodramatic but what a shame it’d be if I let myself ruin this amazing experience! The marathon is serving an important purpose: It’s reminding me that I need to make mental health a priority–at times even before physical health. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’m banging out 21-mile runs with unwarranted ease yet falling apart at the seams in tears at the smallest fundraising task. I think it’s the Universe trying to get my attention and put me in check.

Another eye-roll-worthy sentence. I know, I know. I believe in that shit though! And I really am seeing personal growth come from this meltdown. It’s gotten me to meditate regularly–something I’ve wanted to start doing for years–and it’s given me a whole new appreciation for the world of fundraising. I will no longer brush off invitations to donate to a vague Facebook friend’s raffle or attend a charity event. Now that I know what it’s like to be the one responsible for hitting a certain monetary goal, I will do everything I possibly can to help. You need someone to teach a charity fitness class for your school fundraiser? I’m your girl. Looking to fill the last seat of your charity comedy show? I’ll be there. You need to buy your Girl Scout cookies? Dammit, twist my arm, I’ll take 10 boxes of Thin Mints. (Oh the altruism!)

I have until the end of May to reach my fundraising goal so my focus right now is just to enjoy marathon weekend, stay positive and not even think about the money until afterwards. It’s really not as big of a deal as I’ve been making it out to be. I’m hosting a charity ride at Recycle this Saturday that I’m really excited about, and after that, it’s out of mind until after the race. And when I do bring it back to mind, I’m going to focus on the good that will be done with the money I raise, not on the hardship of raising it. In other words I’ll, ya know, stop being a self-consumed shitbag. 😉

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Phewwwf what a blog post! Sorry for the emotional dump, but writing this was cathartic–I’m glad I did. And it’s good you know how I’ve been feeling behind the highlight reel of social media because I’ve honestly felt a twinge of phoniness and inauthenticity with every woo-hoo-look-at-me-crushing-my-long-run-everything-is-perfect Instagram I post. Yeah the runs have been great, but then I go home and have a meltdown, eating everything in our kitchen while curled in the fetal position weeping and texting Joe cryptic, melodramatic messages imploring him to leave work early.

That last part was an exaggeration. Maybe.

Before I end this post, I can’t reiterate enough that these negative feelings are in no way a reflection of Team With A Vision. God no. TWAV has been amazing–everyone involved has been so kind, their mission is amazing, and being chosen to run as a guide is an absolute honor. 

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! I look forward to sharing positive, excitement-filled updates with you as I enter into marathon week!! 🙂

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Marathon Training Update Weeks 13+14: I’m a Fair-Weather Runner

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Time for another marathon training update! Ever since my knee injury, its been going great. Aside from weekly long runs, I’m actually doing very little running, focusing on cross training, yoga and injury prevention. It’s turning out to be just what my body needs.

Adding to the success of my training regime is a newly lightened teaching schedule. I’m now just at Btone three mornings a week and, as bittersweet as it is to leave, taught my last classes at Burn this past Friday morning. I now have more time to focus on making this blog the great site I want it to be, and more energy to direct towards training and my own workouts.

And before we get to the recap, can we talk about how inspirational my running partner for the marathon is?! Read this. Gives me goosebumps.

WEEK 13 RECAP

MONDAY | Spin (Recycle)

TUESDAY | Run 4 Miles + Yoga

WEDNESDAY | Boxing (The Club)

THURSDAY | Run 2 Miles + Core Workout from blog + Yoga

FRIDAY | Rest

SATURDAY | Run 18 Miles

My longest run so far felt amazing! Surprisingly amazing, actually. I had so much energy afterwards and was barely sore the next day!

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I’m nicoleperr on Snapchat

I was going to take the commuter rail out to mile 8 of the marathon course and run home from there but I messed up the train schedule. Instead, I took the green line out to the Woodlawn stop (mile 17) and ran the last 9 miles of the course plus two semi-loops around the Charles River to bring the mileage up to my needed 18. post-18-mile-run-selfie

At the start of training, I opted to keep my weekends open and complete my long runs on Mondays, but I’m so glad I’ve changed that. If you’re lucky enough to train for Boston in Boston, the Saturday morning long runs are not to be missed. I can’t even believe how many runners are out along the course! Charities and local retailers even set up water and gatorade stands along the route that anyone can take advantage of–the running community here is seriously nothing short of amazing.

SUNDAY | Gentle Yoga

WEEK 14 RECAP

MONDAY | Easy Strength Training (Life in Synergy) + Run 3 Miles

TUESDAY | Strength Train (Btone) + Spin (Recycle)

WEDNESDAY | Strength Train (HIIT Workout from blog)

THURSDAY | Run 4 Miles + Yoga

FRIDAY | Rest

SATURDAY | Run 13 Miles

Soooo I’m a fair-weather runner. Also a fair-weather fan of Boston sports teams since I’m on the topic of calling myself out. I had actually registered to run the New Bedford Half Marathon on Sunday but when I saw snow in the forecast I immediately said hellz no and changed plans, doing my long run on Saturday close to home. Why make things miserable if they don’t have to be? It didn’t end up snowing yesterday but I’m still happy to have done my run in 40-degree weather rather than 30.

SUNDAY | Yoga

And here we are today with less than a month until Marathon Monday!!

Spin Class & Cocktails for a Cause

As a reminder to any local readers, I’m hosting a charity spin class followed by cocktails and raffles at Recycle Studio in the South End this Saturday to raise money for MABVI, the charity with which I’m running the marathon. Event details can be found HERE. I would love to see you there! 🙂

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