A Note From Boston

My flight landed in Boston even later than I anticipated on Friday night after a mechanical issue caused a long delay. Even before this delay, I knew I was going to be short on sleep as I was running in the Boston Athletic Association’s 5K on Saturday morning, and with 10,000 runners participating, getting there early was of the essence. Typically my patience in this situation would have been even shorter, but I spent most of this delay talking to a few people who would be running the Boston Marathon on Monday.

Their stories were very inspirational, and I couldn’t help but feel the passion and excitement in their voices as they envisioned toeing the start line on Monday, but more importantly, crossing the Finish Line. We talked throughout the flight, and I even pitched them on coming to run in the Fifth Third River Bank Run (the “largest 25K in the country!”). Runners are often curious about other races, so they smiled and told me how they’d love to one year. However, even I was having a hard time talking about another race knowing they were on their way to participate in the Boston Marathon, what most runners call the “Mecca of all Marathons”, one year after the bombings shook the race, a city and our country to the core.

Being able to participate in the 5K is a unique experience as the last half of the course includes the last two turns of the marathon’s course, otherwise known as “right on Hereford St., then left on Boylston.” Without having a chance to visit the finish line area before the race due to my late flight, I was overcome with emotion thinking about the victims as I ran passed both places where the bombs went off last year. Then, I crossed over the Marathon’s finish line and my mind couldn’t help but think of all the runners who weren’t able to do so. However, I quickly regrouped my thoughts by thinking of all those who would be able to do so this year! I finished the race, accepted my finisher’s medal, t-shirt, and refreshments bag, but immediately started thinking about the Marathon on Monday.

I’ll be down at the Finish Line cheering on all the runners, especially my Dad (8th Boston Marathon) and brother-in-law (2nd Boston Marathon). As emotional as it’s been revisiting where the devastation occurred last year, I can only imagine what it’s going to be like on race day this year. Only this year it’s going to be more positive emotion, as the participants, city and our country, “take back the Finish Line.”

Enjoy the Finish Line before race day.

Happy Running and Pay it Forward!

-Road Warrior Dan

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Boston Bound, Diane Strong

There is one fearless female that I didn’t include on my last blog post about all of the awesome women that have influenced me as a runner. This special female runner gets her own blog post! She was the very first “crazy” distance runner I had ever known and to this day she is still the most hardcore of them all!

Diane Ebaugh 2013 GR Half

Diane Ebaugh is like a mom to me. Her daughter Jill and I have been very close friends since we were kids. I actually think I spent half of my childhood at their house. There have

Made of Honor and Bride, Jill Dimond's Wedding Day

been countless weekend mornings that Jill and I would stumble out of bed to see Diane already refueling from her (fill in the blank) mile run that morning. In my young brain I really thought she had ran like a million miles because I couldn’t not fathom running more than 2 miles at the time. I looked up to her. I didn’t know as much as I do now about being an adult and finding time for exercise while juggling countless obligations and responsibilities. Diane made it happen. She inspired me in the process and continues to do so to this day.

2013 GR Half

Throughout my entire running journey Diane has been there to answer any questions I have had or to qualm any fears. She is one of the first people to cheer me on, sometimes right at the finish line! Along with my sister actually running by my side for the last few miles of my first half marathon, Diane helped get across that finish line too. I was really sick prior to the race and she gave me the confidence to push through the pain and keep running. I could trust in her push because she is a doctor as well as a runner! As I very painfully and tearfully crossed the finish line, she was there to give me a giant hug, with tears of her own. It was only a few weeks ago that she helped me get the mental push I needed to get up and run my 10 mile training run after only getting a couple hours of sleep the night before. She said, “You will make it Kelli. Mental toughness is an important part of training. You can take a nap after the run.”  So I got myself up ran those 10 miles and took a glorious nap!

Thanks to Diane, I got those 10 miles in!

This week Diane will be heading to the running motherland to race her 3rd Boston Marathon

Diane Ebaugh 2010 Boston Marathon medal!

and it’s my turn to cheer her on. Her first Boston experience was painful, physically, as she was plagued with an injury but she was able to finish. The 2013 Boston Marathon was her second experience and it was emotionally trying. She was stopped ½ a mile from the finish line. The heartbreak of getting so close to the most coveted finish line would bring most people to their knees, but not Diane. Despite the heartbreak and despite the extraordinary circumstances that prevented her from finishing, last year she recommitted herself give it one more try. Diane, YOU GOT THIS!!!

Diane 2013 Boston Marathon

 

 

I will not go into heartache of the events that happened last year because we are runners and runners do not focus on yesterday’s race. We focus on today’s run and tomorrow’s goals. So from the bottom of my heart and the hearts of others in this incredible running community we have here in West Michigan, I want to wish the best of luck to Diane and the rest of our Boston Marathoners! May the conditions be in your favor and you all come home with a PR! BOSTON STRONG!!!

P.S. I will be re-posting with Diane’s picture for this years Boston Marathon, once she returns!

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The Power of WE

 

The Power of WE

As I lay here cuddled up in my bed resting from this morning’s Gazelle Girl Half Marathon, I am feeling overwhelmed with emotions. This was my second half marathon and considering I ran my first one while really sick, I figured this one would be a piece of cake! Well, I wasn’t blessed with an easy run today but I was blessed. This morning’s race proved how amazing the bond is between female runners.  It is almost like we are connected in a collective conscience of sorts. We really know the power of WE!

Road Warrior Yoga

Sisters!

I have been very fortunate to run and train with some truly inspiring women. My first female inspiration was my sister, Cara. The day she finished her first marathon was the day I told myself that I would start running. She is the reason I started down this path and for that I owe her my life. She is there at most of the finish lines cheering me in and sometimes actually running in to the finish with me. She was the only reason I was able to finish my first half marathon. Thank you sister for giving me strength when I didn’t think I had any left!

Grand Rapids Half Marathon

I then had the pleasure to run with a dear old friend from college. Nicole helped me get across a few finish lines too. Most importantly she gave me the motivation to push myself harder, run faster and be stronger. She was there when I was trying to figure out how to keep hydrated and fueled without getting sick! Those were not the most enjoyable runs but they were very important to my growth as a runner. Thank you dear friend for your wisdom, encouragement and laughs!

NO Surrender at Gazelle Girl Half Marathon

The next inspirational ladies in my running journey are two that I have had the pleasure to get to know through our volunteer work with NO Surrender Running Club. Pam and Karen have helped to create an amazing organization where we are able to mentor at risk urban youth through running! They have facilitated an environment where running literally changes lives. They have changed mine in the process too. There is nothing better than running mile loops around Garfield Park with these two ladies and a handful of kids while we all tell each other about our lives. I am so proud to be running for NO Surrender on May 10th! Thank you Pam and Karen for being the change in this world, you have inspired me in the process!

Rose Colored Glasses?

As a Fifth Third River Bank Run Road Warrior I have been constantly amazed with the incredible women I have been training with, my fellow lady Road Warriors. You each come with your own stories, struggles and strengths. I have never met a group of women as dedicated to the sport and to each other as this group of ladies. You have taught me how to run faster than I thought was possible and harder than I thought my body could handle. You have supported me more than I ever would have expected from a group of women that until a few months ago, were strangers! Today you ladies helped me get to the finish line. You each embodied what it meant to be a Gazelle Girl, a Road Warrior and a friend. Thank you for helping break through my mental and physical blocks today. Thank you lady Road Warriors for touching my life in many different ways and helping me become a better runner, a better me.

This is the female runner bond. Thank you Elizabeth!

If any of you find yourselves in a time of need I will be there by your side, because that’s what women runners do. We know and live the power of WE!!! <3

Fellow Flower

 

 

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Runners – we get each other!

In 36 days I will run my fifth Fifth Third River Bank Run. It’s hard to believe, given the fact that I was never someone in to sports or physical activity. In fact, in high school I failed the running section of gym class because I couldn’t run a 15 minute mile. I look back now and can’t believe I’m that same person.

Running transformed my life.Yes, there was a physical transformation.

However, it’s more so much than that. Running transformed the way I look at the world. It has made me a better friend, a better employee, a better member of my community. And, most importantly to me, it brought a group of amazing people in to my life.

I started out by training for the Fifth Third River Bank Run 5k in May 2010. Those were the 3.1 longest and most exciting miles of my life!

The next day I went out and ran four miles with the goal of completing the 25k in 2011. After completing the 25k in 2011 I decided I was up for the challenge of a full marathon. Training for a 25k alone was tough, so I decided to join a local running group. There I met a group of first time marathoners. We all came from different backgrounds, different generations, different parts of town but were united in our desire to successfully train for and finish a marathon. These are people who have become some of my dearest friends – thanks to our shared love of running. Here we are having some fun out on a training run in 2013:

Yes, that’s me rocking the Running Man shirt!

As I look forward to this year’s race, I think about my first 5k and 25k and what a different experience each subsequent year has been thanks to my running buddies. In the short two years we’ve known each other, we’ve traveled together for marathons and half marathons – everywhere from northern Michigan to Las Vegas.

We even celebrated the holidays together this year. In true runner fashion, we had to go for a run before the actual “party!”

And of course, every year we participate in the Fifth Third River Bank Run.

I’m thankful for everything running has done – and continues to do – for me. I’m thankful for my improved health, that stronger tie I feel to my community and my group of incredible running friends. The running community is amazing. And to think, it all started with the Fifth Third River Bank Run!

How has running transformed your life? With whom will celebrate your accomplishment when you cross the finish line on May 10?

Happy running!

-Jen

 

 

 

 

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Hi, my name is

Hi my name is Patrick, I’m an alcoholic and an addict. There are many words that I hoped would describe my life, but alcoholic and addict was never in the running. These labels brought fear and anxiety to me every time I heard them until November 11, 2011.
It all started when I was 13 with a couple of buddies in the back pasture of the farm and a bottle of whiskey. There are many stories describing a child’s first drink that begin similar to this but my ending was very rare. The night was full of the usual stumbling around, acting stupid, and loving the first drink. The next morning I woke up in a puddle of vomit and a headache that should go down in the record books. My childhood friends swore off the bottle, never to drink again. I on the other hand, knew I needed to get better at it because I loved it.
From that day on my life was consumed with addiction. Alcohol dictated my life. Where I would go, how long I would stay, and my mood while I was there was determined by the amount of booze I was able to consume. After many years of drowning in alcohol and destroying every relationship one drink at a time, I decided to take it up a notch. I started taking pain pills to deal with the massive hang over’s from the previous nights debauchery which led to a deeper bottom. No one could smell the pills and I was able to continue the deception.
After many years of lying, cheating, and stealing a fifth of vodka and 20 pills a day pushed me to the bottom. I became so sick I felt my wife and children would be better off if I was dead. I was at a very dark place and had no more fight left in me. I had given up. In a blackout I called a friend and asked for help and began down the road to recovery.
You may be wondering what this has to do with being a Fifth Third River Bank Road Warrior or running in general. I wasn’t sure what running had to do with recovery when I started either. I was told in rehab that exercise would help me in recovery and was hoping it would give me another weapon in my arsenal to fight my addiction. Running has become much more to me than just another tool.
I often feel the darkness of my past sneaking up on me and I run. I sense the emotions that kept me bound in addiction rising and I run. The stress of life starts to cause me to want to lean on old coping mechanisms and I run. Running seems to give me the confidence to fight another day. The training has taught me that you can work through the pain, rest and heal during injury, and push just a little more when you want to quit. Running has given me knowledge that will continue to help in the battle against addiction.
Although alcoholism and addict were something that scared me in the past, they are now badges of honor. It says, I once was bound but now I’m free, broken but now restored, useless but now I have worth because it hasn’t beaten me. I now proudly say, “Hi my name is Patrick , I’m an alcoholic and addict. I haven’t found it necessary to take a drink or drug since November 11, 2011 with the help of a rigorous program, good support, and continuous exercise.

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