Monthly Archives: April 2013

Run! Do Not Stop….

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Deena-Race Against Extinction 5K 4/21/13

Deena-#5 for 2013. Race Against Extinction 5K 2013

I may not be fast a fast runner, and I am may not be able to run a marathon, but I’m definitely a runner.  For most of my life I had thought I would never be able to call myself this because I’m asthmatic and never outgrew it.

Growing up with asthma was pretty difficult as you can imagine. Being a bit overweight didn’t help matters since most adults thought my breathing problems were weight related. Even though I was diagnosed at an early age I wasn’t treated until well into my adulthood to get it under control. I can still remember the humiliating experience of coming in dead last my freshman year of high school with one of my PE drills. The dreaded 1 mile run.  I remember I came in well over 20 minutes wheezing like crazy, and inhaling the smell of freshly cut grass that I am highly allergic too.  Needless to say, I didn’t pass.

After getting it under control I did try to see why people loved running so much and gave it a shot multiple times. I couldn’t understand it. My lungs burned, I was hot and sweating profusely, and my legs were rubber. The day after was even worse! I could barely walk. Still, I kept trying. I biked and ran a leg of the Danskin triathlon, but pretty much walked because my legs were tired and I didn’t train for it. Then I ran my first 5K in May 2010. I felt great finishing, but I still didn’t get why people thought it was so awesome to do. I ran mainly for cardio after that just because I liked being outside and like always…trying to lose weight.IMG_0406

Then my mother passed away and I just didn’t care anymore until the holidays started to approach. By then I gained at least 30 lbs and kept spiraling downhill with depression. With the inspiration of good friend I went to school with, I started to work out. Best antidepressant under the sun! I decided to give running another shot and with the help of my Genki sisters, I was able to complete a couple more 5Ks. Most of them I had to take breaks for one reason or another, but I ran The Jingle Bell 5K last December slow and steady without stopping. I decided at that point my New Year’s resolution was to do at least one race a month, and signed up for Dirt In Your Skirt 13-in-13 challenge.

It was the Super Sunday 5 race this past February that was a turning point for me. You could either run 5K or 5 Miles. It was cold out and snowing, and everyone was freezing their buns off. My plan was to finish the 5K and go home to check off my February goal. As I approached the 5K mark I realized it was just halfway through the course, then you had to sit and wait for a shuttle to take you to back to the start of the race (or finish line of the 5 miler). I stood and paused briefly, then my legs said “GO”, so I did. I kept telling myself I could walk some of it if I needed to, but I never had to. When I crossed the finish line I realized I just learned ‘how‘ to run. I finished 5 Miles and I felt AWESOME. I became a runner and part of the running community.

How I feel after crossing the finish line at each race.

How I feel after crossing the finish line at each race.

But what is it that keeps me going back for more? Sure I love the infamous “runner’s high” that I get afterwards, and I love the feeling when I cross the finish line each time.  Then it dawned on me… It’s the folks on the sidelines cheering you on that keeps you going. They have hearts of gold. They are volunteering and cheering you on because they want you to succeed. Whether it’s freezing and snowing, or sweltering and disgustingly humid out, they are there for you! It’s an infectious energy booster that I get every time I hear one cheering. They feel good doing it, you feel good hearing it, it’s just awesome all around. And I remember being one of those helpers …

I have only been to the Boston Marathon once, and that was to drum with my Genki sisters to help runners gear up right before they started going up the famous Heartbreak Hill. I loved every minute of it. Some runners stopped to get their pictures taken with us. We had a taiko group from Japan running it, and I also had a couple friends of mine running. It was the stragglers in the back that I felt most connected to, they were the ones that needed our help the most.  And seeing just a brief smile from them as they saw the sign I was holding I knew I was doing my job. It felt great, and I always wondered what was going through their minds running this crazy race.

Bottom of Heartbreak Hill 2011

Bottom of Heartbreak Hill 2011

I had already planned on doing Boston’s half marathon this October. My training starts in July. I wince every time I see the training schedule, but I know it’s going to be worth it at the end. Right now I struggle with running 5 miles, and I’ll be running just a little over 6 miles with my first 10K this weekend. I can’t imagine what 26.2 miles is like. These people have been training for at least 4 months, and those straggle behind have probably struggled the most, but are doing it anyway.

My heart sank when I heard about the bombs that went off during the Boston Marathon. Those cheering, the ones with hearts of gold, the ones that kept runners going and encouraging them to finish were injured or killed.  Many people have said to me “Thankfully you weren’t ready this year to run it.” I’m not really sure how to respond to something like that. Yes, I am sure all of the runners are thankful for being alive, but if I was running, I would be one among the thousands that weren’t allowed to finish because I am not a fast runner.  The thousands of runners that trained so hard, probably being the first and only marathon, and not allowed to finish. So many hearts were broken and dreams shattered. Crushing.

Being in the running community is similar to being in the sisterhood of The Genki Spark. You have an understanding of one another, you help one another, you love and support one another. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you run, you are loved for being you. I’m on two running sites on Facebook, and the love and support that has been coming in for runners and Boston has been so overwhelming. It’s been the only thing keeping me grounded this crazy week.  The pessimist in me kept waiting for the hate and negative things to be posted, but there has been absolutely nothing like that on either site. The world is still a good place and people do still love, even after a horrible event like this one.

As I start my training, whether it’s sunrise or sunset, I’ll be repeating a blessing I once heard:

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It’s what I run for.

Deena

Reflections from Boston: Jen M

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It is truly an unfortunate event to have occurred here in our city, our home of Boston.  I was born and raised in Brookline and Boston, so a malicious attack like this is absolutely unimaginable.  It attacked me.

Earlier that day, my boyfriend and I were planning to go to the finish line at the Boston Marathon to cheer on those who accomplished the 26.2 miles with their strong persevering spirit, but we decided last minute to go to the Franklin Park Zoo.  While at the zoo, I received numerous calls from my mom, who works at the Hancock Tower in Copley Square.  She heard one loud noise (the first bomb) and thought that the press stage collapsed as she watched several people scurry away from the finish line.  Quickly after, she found out occurred, 2 bombs set off, and called me to tell about it and to see if I was okay or at the marathon.  I was at the duck pond exhibit when I received her call about the explosions.  She was safe and okay, thankfully, but shocked as I am sure we all felt initially.

Shock.  Numbness.  Disbelief.  Denial.  I couldn’t believe it.  It was a bombing.  How?  Why?  WHAT?  What this really true? Confusion.  Hurt.

Ambulance and police sirens blasted through South Boston until they disappeared; we all knew where they were going.  The afternoon news exposed it all.  So many graphic images, so much blood on the ground.  I could not believe Boston was painted red.

The next day…

Leaving from the JFK/UMass redline stop to go to government center and Faneuil Hall, countless numbers of staties/troopers with sniffing dogs, officers from various communities far and wide, federal officers, as well as the national guard were scattered everywhere.  Boston didn’t feel like Boston.  Runners wore their blue and yellow marathon jackets, but did not wear smiles on their faces.  Although it was a busy day for Boston, it was eerily quiet and more subdued than in the winter.  You could hear people talking on their phones about their experiences – where they were at the marathon, what they were doing, what they did after the explosions.  It was the first time I’d ever experienced this – I don’t remember what Boston was like after 9/11.  It was strange and felt beyond weird to have so many uniformed officials on every corner, but their mission and intention are understandable, so their presence did not bother me.  It was probably one of the safest days in the city to go out, but in a strange way, it didn’t feel safe.

It still hurts when I think about what happened to Boston – how could this and why?  Sometimes the unthinkable are inevitable, but I know that sometimes we are caught off guard, sudden, and surprise.  A huge event concentrated with people at that moment is, sadly, the perfect recipe for senseless attacks performed by organized terrorist individuals or group(s).  Their actions have indeed caught our attention.

But it does not mean this tragic event has soiled or should our patriotic hearts.  As President Obama said very nicely, strongly, and hopeful, “Boston is a strong and resilient city”, and yes we flipping are!  And despite the overshadow of the catastrophic events – those who unfairly lost their lives including an 8 year old and others in our community, those injured and affected – we should not forget to be prideful in those who ran and accomplished the marathon because, man, I wouldn’t be able run that!  They are all winners to me.  And we should have pride in our beloved city, many call home, to host these amazing events that celebrate life and vitality.  Boston pride.

I don’t think the bombing will have an affect on whether or not Boston should continue to hold such events and activities – think about the other ones: St. Patty’s Day, PRIDE, 4th of July, Scooperbowl, and other numerous gatherings and festivals, they are events that we would not conceive to remove it from our program because it violates our right and freedom to do so.  We are strong and therefore will continue to have these big events because they are important to us – it’s part of our collective identity.  I am proud to be a Bostonian and I am strong.  WE ARE STRONG!

Jen M

Reflections from Boston: Payal

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Healing Our City: An Interfaith Service – worth getting up at 5:30am for. 🙂

After 2 hours in line, meeting/connecting with new Bostonians, getting a group of 6 of them to sing “Lean on Me” in line and build community without waiting for church, getting interviewed, turning down interviews, cracking jokes at the NBC Los Angeles anchor that seemed totally out of place, and airport like security, it was worth it.

As a spiritual person, being part of an interfaith community was great. Great energy, powerful reflections by faith leaders. Cardinal O’Malley was especially powerful, as well as Nasser S. Wedaddy from the American Islamic Congress.

What was also powerful was Menino’s speech [listen, think what you want of the Mumbles, but he loves Boston, and his energy and voice verified that for me], and President Barack Hussein Obama’s speech. To explain why the president’s speech hit me hard, as I agree wholeheartedly with some of his approaches and disagree wholeheartedly with others, here’s a bit of my heart:

It was especially important for me to attend, because being brown in this city at this time is scary for me. On Monday, I feared leaving my house for two reasons, one, because of the bombings, and the worry that it was not over, and two, because I did not want to cross the path of a suspecting stare, violence fueled by fear or anger, a look that “other-ed” me more than usual, or feared me or those that looked like me.

It is fresh in my head that not less than 6 months ago, Sunando Sen was pushed onto the path of an oncoming train and killed by a woman who blamed Muslims AND Hindus for the attacks on September 11th. In New York City. Oak Creek Wisconsin is fresh in my head. My friends who have been scared THIS WEEK to go to their mosque occupy my thoughts.

Obama’s speech was responsible. Uplifting, powerful, catered to Boston [sports, sports!], but overall, responsible. I needed that, for me, and for my family, and for my brothers and sisters. This was not cowboy mentality. This was unity, community, and support. The church sat at the edge of their seats, caught with his every word, and for a figure like that, arguably one of the most influential people in the world, to send a message of love, not fear, was a very, very good thing.

We are Boston. I AM BOSTON. Let no one, regardless of who is responsible for the acts on Monday, forget that.

Payal

Reflections from Boston: Karen

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This week in Boston has been challenging to say the least. 

Thank you to all our friends and family who have written, texted, and called to check on our well being. We’ve gotten messages of concern from all throughout Boston and New England and as far away as Japan, Alaska, Hawaii, and California. It’s been personally reassuring to hear from folks.

Many of us were at practice on Monday. Our dojo is on Beacon Street and our windows face the street — right on the marathon route. We saw the runners all afternoon, then we saw lots of police cars, by the time we left at 4PM the streets had been cleared and the trains had been shut down.

Mostly I’ve been stunned by the bombings. I’m horrified about the numbers of people who died or were injured and I worry that public events will be banned and no longer allowed. I worry about the future and what will result from this tragedy.  I worry that art and music festivals, parades, and celebrations will require so much security that they will no longer be accessible.

Terrified of racial profiling, more wars in the world, and more acts of violence, I keep praying that the person responsible is a US citizen. I know that may sound horrible but I can’t stand the idea of innocent black and brown people with ‘foreign’ names being beat up, murdered, spat on, or dragged into custody due to panic and hysteria.

Stay strong everyone — I have to believe that love, compassion, and understanding will prevail.

Karen

Reflections from Boston: Lisa

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“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” -Leonard Bernstein

At times, I find writing to be therapeutic. Here is something I wrote today, in remembrance of a friend of mine who took his own life a few years ago, along with a photo I took during the marathon.

Dear B,

Between the 3 year anniversary of your passing and what happened at the end of the marathon today, I’m in a pensive ol’ mood. Not sad, grieving, or depressed, just thinking about the ups and downs of life.

None the less, I am thankful for how gorgeous the morning was, and grateful for the fact that I got to witness the abundance of love; support from the crowd for the runners. And the runners- amazing. Running to compete, to better themselves, to remember loved ones, to raise money for a good cause, or just to say, “I ran the m’f’ing Boston Marathon.” What a wonderful dose of positive energy.

I took a lot of photos during the marathon, but this one is for you. I think the best way I can honor your memory is to live well, take care of myself and appreciate moments of beauty like these.

ALL my love. ♥

Your friend,
Lisa