Baby, we were born to run

This spring has been anchored in running.  Run because you’re strong.  Run because you want to feel better.  Run long because you’re sure as heck not running the Boston marathon.  Run in honor of those who were there that day.  Run in the cold.  Run on the bike path.  Run on the rail trail with mom on the weekend.  Run run run run run.

On Sunday, we finally had the run we were waiting for: my very first half marathon.

The start line at the Cox Providence Half Marathon was gray and overcast – we had lots of company at the 14:00 mile marker, including lots of cops in riot gear.  When the race finally started (late), we started out under cloudy skies.

Cox Start Line

But the next three hours got brighter and brighter, metaphorically speaking, as mom and I ran.  Even though the first half was entirely uphill, it was spotted with awesome sights (thanks, dude playing a banjo on the porch!), beautiful houses, our awesome family and fan club who we got to see SIX times between the start and the finish, some friendly competition with some other gals who were running at the same pace as us, and more.

It wasn’t always easy – the hills were killer, and the downhills made my knees ache even as I was grateful for a change.  We got super hungry halfway through (working out for hours can do that to you!) and it rained for a bit.

And yet.

Through the race, I felt stronger with every footfall that reverberated off the pavement.  With every inch behind us, we got closer to this amazing accomplishment.  The area by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s water stop was paved with inspirational posters that literally brought tears to my eyes – notes about how we run because they can’t, how we run because they can, how we run because they – survivors, patients, loved ones – once did.   Because of the 20+ names on my back that spoke to just how much blood cancer can touch a life.  And because 15 years ago this spring, I was a sick, bald kid in a hospital bed who wasn’t sure I would live to have my first kiss, and today I was a successful woman, running a stellar, challenging race.

When we passed mile 10, I took one step further than I’ve ever gone in my life.  And it got better – the final leg of the race course merged with the full marathon course, and we go an extra boost from finishing alongside some quite fast marathoners.

As we got near the finish, we could see the crowd ahead.  All up and down the sidewalk were fellow runners, family members, neighbors, friends, and students, all out to cheer us on.  Their cheers built into a roar of bells and applause and screeches to push us across the finish line.  You might have thought that the area around that yellow line would be a little less populated this time around, but you would be absolutely, delightfully, overwhelmingly wrong.  Instead, people showed the best of themselves, and passed it on to everyone else around them.

Mom and I crossed the finish line at 3:05:50 – much faster than we expected, with an average pace of 14:11 (including a bathroom break!).  We ran into the arms of our loving family – Kat, Dad, and Wes – and smiled through our sweat.  “We actually did it,” we said to each other, holding our weird anchor medals in our hands.  “We finished!”

Half marathon May 2013

This was my first half marathon, but it’s certainly not my last.  This confirmed the one thing that I was actually afraid of in this whole process – the concept that I can truly do anything.  And now, I have no excuse not to try.

Thank you for all your support this year – I can’t wait to tell you about the next adventure… just as soon as I decide what it is!

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The big finale – half marathon tomorrow!

After five months of training, our half marathon is tomorrow. As we near the finish line (literally), I wanted to share some amazing numbers with you:

259+ miles – that’s how far my mom and I have run since we started our training. We ran on ice, on treadmills while watching “Survivor” (me), on the beach, on the rail trail between meetings (mom), and together along the Charles River on Marathon Monday.
13:04 – that’s my fastest mile to date – I expect to finish the half at about a 14:30 pace, but it’s clear that we’ve gotten tons stronger since we started in January.
13.1 – that’s how many miles we have ahead of us in Providence.
10% – that’s the likelihood of rain during those miles, down from 50% earlier this week.
$7,000 – that’s the amount that YOU have helped us raise to help find a cure for blood cancers. It’s been incredible to have your support for this cause, and we’ll be thinking of all of you as we race on Sunday.
15 years – that’s how long it’s been since I was diagnosed with Leukemia. At this time 15 years ago, I was entering my third month of treatment. My hair was starting to fall out, and our family had lost all sense of normalcy.

But TOMORROW, just 15 years later, we’re going to write a new chapter by finishing the Cox Providence Half Marathon together – with our team, our support crew, and YOU.

Thanks again for all your support – it’s not too late to donate if you’ve been waiting for the right time! Every dollar gets us closer to a cure.

We’ll “see” you at the finish line!

Lessons from the guac-off

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Last weekend, I got to express my undying love for avocados by participating in a cooking contest in my neighborhood: the first annual guac-off at The Painted Burro.  It’s exactly what it sounds like – an epic guacamole contest.  A bunch of us Yelpers submitted recipes online and the top 12 recipies were chosen to compete in person, with judging by fellow Yelpers and local “celebs” (our Yelp community manager, a city councilor, and the restaurant’s chef).

Presenting my plate to the judges

Presenting my plate to the judges

My recipe was lovingly named “Sucker Punch” thanks to the unusual ingredients I added – lemon and curry powder.  It also had all your guacamole basics – avocados, chopped cocktail tomatoes, chopped onions, garlic, salt, pepper.

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I didn’t win the contest, but I did have a great time and learned some serious lessons for my next competition.

Lessons learned at the guac-off:

  • Ask a bajillion questions.  Originally, we were going to have to find and pay for the avocados ourselves, and needed to bring a GALLON of guacamole.  I was able to talk to the organizer and get the expectations down to a reasonable/not cost-prohibitive level.  The restaurant actually gave everyone the avocados in the end, which was amazing.
  • Have a plan B.  Apparently some avocados were not as good depending on what day you got them.  I got lucky, but it’s important to always have a backup plan when it comes to your ingredients.
  • If you don’t know the rules, exploit them.  What does “prepare before” mean? Who is stopping you from bringing your own chips?  Figure out what your ideal situation looks like, then make it happen.  The worst someone can do is tell you to stop (or disqualify you, if it actually is a rule that you’re breaking).
  • Bacon will always win the popular vote.  I mean, it’s bacon.  The competition should just end there.  Just make sure it’s labeled for the vegetarians in the crowd (there were some seriously unhappy people who didn’t know they were eating meat until later).
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Lots of love to my sous chef Sara – cooking with her was the best part of this day!
  • Be prepared.   Did you think the contest was over when you delivered your goods?  WRONG.  We then had to plate (which I barely prepared for), present (which I was totally unprepared for) and rally people to win the popular vote (which I was too nervous for).   The contest is going until the winner is announced, so you should be prepared for every step of the way.
  • Don’t store guacamole in a bag.  Seriously. Don’t.   It’s gross just to watch it get plated.  Surely you have some Tupperware somewhere?
  • Don’t focus too much on winning.  I ate some delicious food, spent the day with one of my best friends, and made a new friend who shared her awesome story about meeting her boyfriend on LiveJournal in 2003.  Be still, my 11th grade heart!
The makings of a great Sunday afternoon

The makings of a great Sunday afternoon

I’ll definitely be throwing my hat in the ring for future contests – I’ve got my eye on Fluff Fest next year.  Let me know if you hear of any other cool competitions in Boston, and share your stories about cooking adventures in the comments below!

Special thanks to my family for brainstorming some very silly names and listening to me make my way through the rules, Sara for helping me make this giant batch o‘ guacamole, and Katie and my coworkers for making good use of the leftovers.

101-years-old and still voting

To the world, you may be one disruptive phonebanker.  

But to a 101-year-old woman, you may be her ride to the polls.

Yesterday was the primary for the special Senate election here in MA, and I knew I wanted to volunteer for a bit before trivia.  After getting some mixed directions from the campaign HQ, I was ready to give up and just consider my vote to be my contribution for the day.  But as I was getting ready to leave work, my coworker convinced me to actually go to Central Square, find the office, and see if the people there could give me some calls to make.

“Fine,” I said, thinking that I would just hit the local thrift shop if I couldn’t find the field office.

Instead, I not only found the field office.
I was able to make 30 minutes of phone calls, contacting 20+ people (thanks to a dialing system that just plugs you into numbers, no dialing needed on my end!).
I was able to help someone get a ride to the polls in the last half hour of voting.
And that voter?  She was 101-years-old.  
And she got mentioned on the front page of the Boston Globe thanks to this Twitter post. (ProgressivePabs is the cool campaign worker who helped me coordinate the ride!)

Sally B.  SallyBrz  on Twitter

 

I was a dedicated campaign volunteer before, but now I’m more determined than ever not to miss an election day.  Just imagine how many elderly voters might be sitting around, eager to vote but without a ride to the polls.  Just think of how many people you can reach in those final 30 minutes.  And just know – if you can’t find the field office, there’s probably at least a coffee shop or a thrift store to make your trek worthwhile.

Oh, and that race?  We totally kicked butt.  Now on to the general!