It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since the Boston Marathon bombings. I’ve been doing a lot for reflecting the past couple weeks, sometimes it feels like it just happened yesterday, and other days it seems like it was years ago. Then I remembered I wrote a blog shortly after the event about my views of being a new runner and living in Boston which you can view here: http://wp.me/p2x8O2-ab
I had barely finished my first 10K when registration opened for the marathon last July. I was already planning a trip back home since I haven’t seen my family in years, and thought I would try to get in even though I knew it would sell out being the #1 most scenic marathon in the US. My heart wasn’t set on it, so I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed if I couldn’t get in because I knew I wasn’t ready for a full marathon yet. So you can imagine what my stomach felt and what my face looked like when I got the “Congratulations” email confirming my registration. The marathon sold out a few minutes later at a record time of 59 minutes.
So I started immediately training for a half marathon while still performing with The Genki Spark. I also discovered www.whoirun4.com , a wonderful organization that matches runners with buddies who can’t run, bringing awareness to diseases and disabilities of all types. The wait list is very long as you can imagine, taking up to 2-3 months to get matched. I was matched with Ian and his mom the night before The Susan G. Komen 5K in September. Perfect timing since I knew this race would make or break me knowing I lost my mom to this terrible disease. And I was even debating being a no show. But after getting the wonderful news, I ran my very first race for Ian and also ran my fastest 5K yet.
Autumn is my favorite time of year, and training during this season felt more like a vacation getaway than actual work. I love seeing the autumn leaves turn, making my surroundings a canvas of color. However this didn’t last very long. I ran my first half marathon in early October and winter set in quickly after. As you know, this was one of the most brutal winters New England has had, but I did still manage to run five half marathons by mid December with temps averaging in the 20s to single digits, and I hadn’t even started training for the marathon.
Knowing what was up ahead, I was faced with a really hard decision knowing I couldn’t train for this race and be a taiko performer. A marathon is actually hundreds of miles, the race itself happens to be the last 26.2 of it. I had to step back from The Genki Spark which meant stepping away from one of my biggest support circles. I knew I needed them to help me get through training, and they needed me to help them get through one of their biggest performances in March. It was a hard sacrifice for both parties, but one we all understood had to happen. All of my training was done on my own, with this brutal winter and being in isolation for hours, made my mind play tricks on me. There were several periods of self doubt and wanting to give up on this crazy idea, and I didn’t have my Genki sisters to pick me right back up and tell me otherwise. Luckily as the weekly mileage increased I was able to find a few races that worked perfectly with my my training schedule. Even though I never really interacted with other runners, just having them around me was enough to pick me up. Even though the weather was awful every time, these runners were doing exactly what I was doing and wanted to do.
However, this energy is nothing like I get from my Genki sisters. The night before my longest training run, a 20 miler up in NH which I had been absolutely terrified about, was first performance The Making Women’s History show this year. I hadn’t seen them all together in months, and I wanted to go not only to show them my support, but to see my family again. I sat in the front row so they could see me and something amazing happened . We started kiaiing back and forth feeding off each other’s energy, communicating and bonding without words. By the time I headed home I was 100% confident I would be able to finish the race the next day even though the forecast was 100% chance of rain. I did finish strong, and added another medal to my wall.
So now that my longest training run was over with, the only thing left to do was to start cutting back and avoid illness and injury before the big day. Unfortunately I jinxed myself because I ended up getting a cold, and took a nasty fall at a half marathon I ran last week. I ended up spraining my left ankle and bruised up my entire right shin when I went down. However, I did ended up running my fasted half marathon yet, and I’m confident my ankle will be healed up in time for the marathon.
Watching the Boston Marathon this past Monday has rekindled my spirits at least tenfold. It’s clear the Boston has healed and became stronger. I can’t help but to think that the bombings last year had something to do with my running choices. I’m very excited and proud of myself for getting this far. After seeing the picture of me holding a sign for the runners back in 2011 and wondering what was going through their head during that crazy race, I get to put the shoe on the other foot and experience that myself. What’s even better is that I get to experience this while hearing and feeling the spirit of taiko while running! I am so honored that Watsonville Taiko will be drumming for The Big Sur Marathon runners at the bottom of the biggest hill, just like we did for Boston!
Months of speed intervals, hill training, long runs, polar vortexes, windy and rainy races, dizziness and nausea, my training is finally over. It looks like I paid my dues because the forecast on race day is going to be near perfect. I have to hurdle Hurricane Point, but I will make it thanks to Watsonville Taiko and knowing my Genki sisters will be checking for updates on Facebook every second when I’m running. And I can get some decent pictures and miles in for my run buddy finally! I’m ready.
Peace, Love, Drum, and Run.
-Deena (Genki Alumni)