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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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!