Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Good Old Fashion Comeback Story

I think most people have heard the story of Eric Avila who was a state champion in 2007 in the 3200, who after that title admits to being an idiot and not approaching things right dropping out of college and stopping running completely.  Well he completed a full redemption, coming full circle and breaking 4 minutes in the mile at a meet last week in front of tons of support.  It's a great read if you haven't read it and the video of him crossing the finish line is such emotion it's fantastic (see here).  I think all of us runners who have taken some time off, love a redemption story, something that tells us, we can come full circle too.  Eric had been working in manual labor for a time, but got back into running and achieved such a fantastic thing.  Something I imagine at one point he thought he could never achieve again and it was past him.  Just reading this I know it's something I can apply to my approach to running going forward.

Back in college when I stopped running my senior year, my college coach told me "Someday Nick you are going to regret leaving when you still having more left to accomplish.  Leaving when you still have the fitness to do great things"  I'm paraphrasing a little bit it's been a while but running for me at that point in my life wasn't the same, I had moved on.  For many years I rarely gave it a second thought until I started to get really overweight, my wedding photo's will haunt me forever.  I tried tons of other activities to lose weight but it always came back to running, so I casually started up again.  But it was never about being competitive, about carving out time each day to run and do many other activities.  It was just about losing some weight.  Losing some weight and then running a marathon, but just one that's it.  But once I finished I got the itch again, running grabbed me and I was hooked.  And all the great races and times in my life I had run, no longer seemed unachievable.  That I could still achieve all that I wanted even this many years later, but am I sure?  I am older now,  past my prime?  Many years away from the game.  A great story of someone like Eric helps to level set you, to realize that your effort is on you.  If you want to do great things in running, or anything else in life...put in the effort.  Go for it, don't feel it's too late, that you can never do that again.  After reading this story about Eric, I know I no longer have an ounce of doubt that I can be great again, no doubt that I will put in the effort to run all the times I once dreamed, and at worst case I'll sure as heck enjoy the ride with the friends I have made along the way.

Training Week of  6/2

Monday - A nice easy recovery run, felt pretty good post race.  - 8 Miles
Tuesday - Another 8 mile recovery run, giving myself an extra day post race.  Also worked on core and did plyometrics post run - 8 miles
Wednesday - First workout since Boston - Warmed up for 3 miles, hit the track to do a 3-4 mile tempo.  Felt rough, tempo's are a good effort but should feel at a pace you can maintain.  At 3.5 miles I called it, while running at 6:00 min/pace on the track.  A good starting workout, I finished the workout with 4 x 200 ranging from 31-35 seconds and a 2.5 mile cool down. - 10.5 miles
Thursday - Recovery run 8.5 miles at work, and added 6 x hill strides at the end of the run
Friday -  Made it my long run.  Hit up 8.5 miles in Baltimore at a good clip around 6:20 pace, and met up with Graham for the 25/25/25 challenge(25 beers, miles, wings).  I did not participate but tacked on another 4.5 miles - 13 miles
Saturday - Off day- worked in the yard the entire day - 0 miles
Sunday - Felt terrible the entire run plagued with stomach issues - 8 miles

Total - 56 miles

Thursday, June 5, 2014

You’ve got to start somewhere!

I’ve wanted to at least be blogging once a week with my training but neglected the past three weeks.  It’s a common theme for me when my training hits a setback or isn’t going as I expected my excitement about running goes down, when sometimes that is when you need that motivation the most.  I hit a setback about 3 weeks ago when I had thought I was beginning my build up post Boston when my hamstring issue plaguing me off and on since October got to be too much.  With some talking to my doctor it was advised to hit up some physical therapy to strengthen and get back to 100%.  Some initial advice is this issue is linked to my weak glutes which are forcing my hamstrings to do all the work and the glutes nothing.  Funny thing about running, everyone will say to get faster all you need to do is run, which is 100% true but to stay healthy and always be at your peak you need to make sure you do not neglect all your other strength, mobility, recovery training.  I’ve neglected it too long and now it is beginning to have a negative impact on my running.

With PT under way, a new found respect for core work and new recovery techniques aside, I still had a race to run the Bel Air Town Run 5k on June 1st.  The 5k is an event that gets a ton of disrespect these days but it's to me one of the hardest, most painful races you run.  With everyone sucked into the half and full marathon craze the 5k loses all it's luster as only a 3.125 mile race, but believe you me when you run it all out, it really hurts...  That said having done 0 workouts since Boston and only one 40 mile week, I was not confident about this race.  But I needed a kick in the butt and to just race to get back at it, so I came out here nonetheless.  As I warmed up I was worried but also had some excitement to try and become a 5k runner again, as opposed to the half and full runner I have become of late.  I toed the line, took a deep breath and I was off.  The first 200 meters in I was in about 30th place behind probably the entire Bel Air High School track team.  I settled in and ignored these kids sprinting down the hill and focused on me.  Having forgotten my watch was a fantastic start to this race, so I relied on effort and racing people around me.  I came through the mile in 5:10, which I am told might be 5:20 but it didn’t matter either way I felt pretty good through 1 mile.  As the second mile dragged on I really didn’t feel like I was slowing down but the gentlemen at 2 miles seemed to tell me a different story as he shouted 11:04, doh.  I was a little deflated since I had felt smooth through mile 2 and I knew mile 3 was the toughest but I had to push on, or at least I told myself to.  Mile 3 was terrible though, the lack of training and miles since Boston got me and even as I crested the last hill to the final downhill I had nothing.  I was passed by about 6-7 runners the last 600 meters, just terrible.  I finished in 17:47, 19th overall and 1st in Age Group(Won a sweet glass bowl, not pictured).  That said it is technically still a post collegiate PR(I think I have run faster during the Club Challenge 10 miler, and I did 17:43 on the track 4 days before Boston) but it’s not what I wanted.  As the title says I had to start somewhere and now I know the work ahead of me.  If this race did nothing else it upped my motivation to get faster and my excitement for a summer of pain and fast running, which is exactly what I was hoping this race would do.  Sometimes even when you are tired or not at your best lining up and racing can be a positive experience as long as you can take something useful from it.  For me I learned a lot from this race about where my fitness needs to be improved and got some butterflies of running 5k’s out.

The advice I can give to runners everywhere is don’t be afraid to race, don’t be afraid to fail.  I could have easily bagged this race for not being “ready” and who knows where my mind would be at today.  I could also look at this result and be super disappointed that I lost to a few teenagers, and finished 90 seconds slower than someone who I finished even with at the half marathon in March, but instead it’s about focusing on the positives and using the negatives as fuel to get out there and get stronger.   It’s about having a goal and using races, workouts and any motivation you can to reach it.  I want to run sub 16:30 by the end of this summer, and yesterday gave me my starting point.  The rest is up to me to get strong enough to do it.  I just need to enjoy the process of getting there, one step at a time.

Last 4 weeks of training since last blog:

5/5 – Off
5/6 – 7 Miles, a couple miles in the 6:20 – 6:30 range just to get the legs moving
5/7 – 7 Miles today – Plyometrics
5/8 – Off
5/9 – 7 miles
5/10 – 6 miles – Plyometrics
5/11 -11 miles – strides
Total – 38 miles

5/12 – 7 miles
5/13 – 6.5 miles
5/14 – 7 miles, attempted a workout but just couldn’t get into it, shut it down after second interval
5/15 – Off
5/16 – 7 miles
5/17 – 5/18 – Off   Trip to Cooperstown cut into training, bah to real life!
Total 27.5 miles

5/19 – 7.5 miles
5/20 – 9 miles
5/21 – Off
5/22 – 7 miles
5/23 – 8 miles
5/24 – 10 miles
5/25 – Off – Hamstring
Total – 41.5 miles

5/26 – 7.5 miles
5/27 – Off
5/28 – 8 miles
5/29 – 8 miles – 3-4 at 6:20 pace – No workout until after race so just getting legs moving – Core/Plyometrics
5/30 – 8.5 miles
5/31 – 8.5 miles
6/1 – 10 miles – Bel Air Town Run 5k – 17:47
Total – 50 miles

Monday, May 5, 2014

Before What's Next, There Is Now...

So what's next has been a popular question I have been asked a lot lately.  And sure I have a plan for the summer I know what I'd like to run but sometimes I think as a runner we all get too caught up in what's next that we don't acknowledge the what's happening.  As runners most of us are meticulous planners, we plan out every detail of our training logs, know the workouts we want to run and the races we are looking to peak and train through.  For some of us this intense level of planning carries over to our regular lives, as my wife can attest as I have hundreds of To-Do lists and tons of email plans for our weekends and what I want to accomplish.  Don't get me wrong it's fantastic to have a plan and to know what you want to do in the time ahead, but I also think it's important to acknowledge the now.  As the great poet Ferris Bueller once said: "Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

This is an important lesson to take with me for my current state.  I just finished a really good season with a bunch of PR's and running times I did not think I could achieve maybe ever.  It's easy to put all that behind me immediately and rush forward to the next goal but I think it's even more important to take a step back and realize how I got there  I think as runner's we are quick to call a race result good/bad just based on achieving our goal time.  The good results we immediately attribute to a well designed plan, and the bad results we write a long post in our logs and try and go over everything that could have steered us off course.  We even do this in our lives when we end up somewhere that wasn't part of the plan.  But what we don't do a good job of is, when something goes right to really step back and find out why it went right.  What did we do right this time that allowed us to achieve our goals in running or in life.  It's easy to forget to do this because once you achieve your goal in our minds it's time to get to the next goal immediately.

What I am getting at is, in life or running it's important to treat success and failure the same way.    For a runner this can be done very easily, as you finish a cycle, which us runner's are accustomed to calling a period where we build up, train, and race our peak event.  Write a recap of what happened during this cycle and what worked, what didn't work and importantly how you felt.  At the same time in a different way as you progress through life, you can do the same thing when you get that promotion at work you coveted.  Take time after these milestones to sit down and think back to what worked.  What did you do differently this time?  How you felt on workouts, any injuries or setbacks etc.  All this information should be jotted down and help you improve as a runner in the future.  Sometimes we feel the best lessons are learned in our failures, but our successes can give us equally good information to continue to improve.  Additionally we also do a terrible job of  not fully recognizing or being excited with what we have accomplished when it happened.

Achieving a goal is a huge deal, it's something we planned for and eventually achieved through our hard work and dedication.  But when we are so concerned with the what's next it will leave our accomplishments to feel as just blips on a radar where we focus all our energy on our failures.  When you achieve your goal, you should bask in it's glory.  Be satisfied that you did it, and in due time move on to the next thing you can achieve.  There's a fine line between being ambitious and not taking the time to acknowledge and enjoy one's accomplishments.  For me, I have big goals for this summer in the 5k/10k and even this fall, but for the time being I am just taking in what I have done in 2014 and being thankful I could achieve it.

Training Week 4/28 - 5/4
Monday - Wednesday - Off Post Marathon
Thursday - 5.5 mile easy run at lunch with Dave, felt incredibly sore
Friday - Off
Saturday - 6 Miles with Erik, Cory, Franco at Fiesta 5k, including some bandit miles.... shh don't tell anyone
Sunday - Long Run with a good group from Gilman.  6:45's on a hilly course for 9.5 miles, a little longer than I wanted to go but started to feel a little better

Total - 21 miles

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Boston Marathon 2014, more than a race...

Running the Boston Marathon in 2014 will go down as one of the top 5 moments of my life to date.  The experience was surreal and I still haven't been able to put in words to describe it, but I'll try here.  As I lead up to the race I just thought of how I'd crush a PR, finish in the top 1000 and that it was just going to be like any other race, only with a lot more people.  This race was so much bigger than that in the end, I ran well and had a great time but that's not why I will remember this experience.

As I had been leading up everyone kept mentioning to me how crowded the race was, how their would be large crowds and so on to get me ready for a race of this magnitude.  My largest race to date was the Philly Half Marathon but I started at the very front and only saw a few hundred people, but for Boston I was corral 3 wave 1, about 3000-4000 people back from the starting line.  In the end as I prepared myself mentally I thought the large group would disperse after a mile or two and sure there would be loud crowds in a few spots but it would be like any other marathon, and boy was I mistaken.

So I arrived at Boston on Saturday once again with my fantastic support group to cheer me on and take in this experience with me.  First thing we did of course was attend the Orioles vs Red Sox game, which of course Orioles lost.... but the game had some ceremonies for the marathon which I thought was cool and as I was walking around in my O's jersey and asked what brings me up here I was immediately met with much praise and accolades for running the marathon on Monday.  It was cool to have people actually seem interested that I am running a race.  The race atmosphere did not stop there, the expo was amazing.  Seeing some of the big names in running as I walked around the booths and picked out my Boston swag I was going to wear back at home to show I was really here was just awesome.  When I picked up my bib and got my number it really set in that this is happening I am running.  Even that evening at dinner people saw my Boston Marathon jacket and were talking to me about it and being supportive it was not what I was expecting at all.

So Monday morning was here, I woke to discover the Orioles blew a 5 run lead and lost on last play of the game and quickly snuck out of the room before the wife could find out and say anything, damn red sox fans.  Following a lot of advice I arrived at the buses around 5:30 and had no issue getting on, but wish I had brought some water as it seems that was allowed on the buses.  Doh.  I figured I would sleep on the way over but met a runner as social-able as I am and we ended up talking about running and the marathon for the entire ride over.  Which I think was great for me as everyone complains that drive over makes you really acknowledge just how far you are running that day.  I arrived at the athlete village which quickly helped me realize just how many people were running that day.  Later the 3/4 of a mile walk began and finally I arrived at Hopkinton and got in my corral, shouting my "O" during the National Anthem and had my couple of moments of silence and just like that the gun was off and I was running.  Or not, man not used to this, took me about a minute to arrive at the starting line... but I was off and as I ran down that first straightaway past the crowds looking for high fives I had goosebumps, it was soo loud.  The race had begun...

I was told first half is fast but really first mile is quick so not to worry when I saw it.  Being in this large group of people I had no where to go if I wanted to, so I just settled in and figured we were running around 6:10, oops 6:45.  No panic yet but figured I might as well try and break through this crowd.  I immediately noticed I was 1 mile in and there had been no lack of crowds cheering me, especially in what felt like a empty area.  The crowds continued and I past one of the landmarks I had heard about a biker bar, which I could smell the alcohol oozing out of, it didn't matter these people were loud and it got me excited.  Stay under control your at mile 3!  As I rolled in Ashland I thought it was cool to see they had their own banners, but not only that the town seemed to be out in force 4-5 rows deep of people just screaming their lungs off.  I usually am very in the zone running and I found this day I could not do it, I found myself on several occasions looking around and taking in the crowds, they were so loud.  Every town seemed to really take ownership of their part of the course which I think is really a cool part of this race.

At the 10k mark disaster struck!  The question on should I wear these new shoes I just bought on Tuesday and never raced in before was answered.  The answer was a resounding NO.  At this point I could fear a blister on my little toe, the bottom of my feet were on fire with each step and I had about 20 miles to go.  Fantastic.  Welp I have two choices, stop throw in the towel and figure out how to get to Boston or just deal with it.  There was no way I was stopping so began 20 miles of something to keep my mind off just how tired I was!  Anyways back to the course around Framingham I past the train depot, I think they had a live band playing and so many fans.  I passed Team Hoyt around this point, which was pretty cool I had heard about them for years it was cool to see them out along this course.  Around Natick as the crowds started to get bigger I felt, I started hamming it up(once again this is not me, I R SERIOUZ when racing) doing some fist pumps and even high fiving some kids as I past by.  Who am I?  I had been rolling along and not really focusing on splits to this point and before getting to Wellesley I finally took note of the times I was running, just clicked off a 5:52 mile around 12, yup never thought I'd be in the 5:XX's in a marathon, new territory, all well can't worry about that now to Wellesley!

I remember Ryan telling me about Wellesley and how the girls are loud, and they scream and how he stopped to give out some hugs and kisses.  He was probably joking but the whole thing sounded ridiculous to me, this doesn't happen it obviously some joke I don't understand.  And then I arrived, it was so loud.  For about the half mile or so my thoughts were lost, I was high fiving again, the idea of being in a race was gone and it was just being in the moment and enjoying it.  I did not stop for no kisses, the wife told me she'd find out and she has her ways so onward to the Newton Fire Station.  Rolled through the half in 1:20:40 saw Ryan and mentioned how I felt fine, for me to want to run 2:42 this is where I should be anyways.

The road from Wellesley to the Newton hills was interesting, it just kind of goes by, you know the worst is ahead of you, but you also know you can't slow down in anticipation of it.  The crowds of course did not slow down one bit, nothing compared to Wellesley but this stretch here had people lined up the entire way.  A well timed Keisha song was playing as I hit the first Newton Hill, runners around me must of thought I was possessed as I attacked this hill with vigor, only to find out it goes on a while...  Not knowing these hills was my strategy, I figured how bad could they be, and I've done my hill training.  Wrong... The first hill was by far the worst but I crested it and was on to the next.  I at least knew I had some downhill before every other hill so I got into a nice pace and on to the next.  In typical fashion I of course miscounted hills(I know 4), saw someones sign say "The Heartbreak is Over" and had a fellow runner turn to me and say "Well at least we are over Heartbreak Hill" and was excited to roll to the finish, until I see another huge hill and a banner in the back that says "HeartBreak Hill"  Doh...  This one hurt, mentally and physically but fan support here was fantastic, runners must look terrible attacking this hill but the fans did not care screaming Boston Strong and supporting us every step up the hill.  And now I was home-free I thought until Brookline....

Brookline is so much longer than I thought, it felt like I was running forever in this town, but once again fans were lined up 3-4 rows deep for the entire 5 miles through Brookline.  Also I noticed the Citgo sign in the background and quickly ignored it based on some advice that it feels like you are never gaining on it.  At this point both my quads and hamstrings were stiff, my feet still on fire, more blisters forming, but I got into a good groove around 6:25's and held it for a few miles.  I rolled past the 1 mile to go sign and did some math, Sub 6:30 to break 2:45.  I passed some runner who was carrying an American Flag, not sure where he got it but good for him.  Crowds were going nuts, turned onto Bolyston Street and saw the finish, it was so loud.  The street was so long too, I kicked it in stopped my watch and my run was over, 2:45:03!  I had finished the Boston Marathon and PR'ed by about 10 minutes.  My feet were on fire, I could barely walk, I definitely had some blisters but none of that mattered, I looked ahead and realized I had another mile to walk, doh.  Even as I walked the finish corral, fans were all along the side cheering you on, requesting the Highest of Fives.  It was amazing, the race was over and  everyone was still so loud.  I met my support group and they were so proud, we took pictures as if it was my wedding day.  The city was a buzz and every runner or fan was so supportive of one another as we littered the streets.  After an hour of hanging around we headed back to the hotel and were in the car for our 8 hours of driving back to Baltimore!

It didn't really hit me what I was apart of until of all places a McDonald's rest stop.  I am out changing my shoes and wearing my medal and some woman with her two kids walks by and says "Congrats on finishing the Boston Marathon"  and "Thank you for running it".  Thank me for running it?  I signed up, paid for to run this race to set a PR, why was I being thanked.  It was that moment when I realized why the 1.5M people were lining this course, why they were all cheering their butts off for people they didn't know and making signs.  I knew this race was a big deal for runners, for Boston etc, but a part of me still was thinking it was a chance to run a great time on a big stage. I did run a great time and have a great race but the takeaway for the rest of my life from this race will always be the people.  How much everyone cared about each and every person out there, how much support everyone gave me pre, during and post race it was amazing.  I'm not sure I'll ever experience anything like this again.  I immediately got home and started looking for hotels for 2015 Boston Marathon, I'm definitely coming back.

As for me, a successful season with 3 PR's and a good base of mileage leaves me excited to keep getting better.  As for what's next, it's a summer of pain as I attempt to get back into Mile/5k/10K shape and take a season away from this longer stuff.  It's gonna hurt.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Becoming a runner again....

I've decided for a while I wanted to start a running blog but never really wanted to put in the work to start it and wasn't sure I'd keep it going.  I think running the Boston Marathon this past week really gave me that push that I wanted to get all these thoughts and feelings of running into something I can post and so begins my blog.

I don't think I realized how much I missed running, the community, the friends the joy until lining up for the Boston Marathon this year.  You see even as a high school my dream was always to qualify for the most prestigious race, the one you can't just sign up, the Boston Marathon.  Whenever someone told me they ran it I was always amazed and wished one day that could be me.  Post college when I took my 8+ years off from running that dream seemed like it would never happen, and that maybe one day I would just go watch and it would be the same.  Cheering on and being part of the atmosphere of the Boston Marathon, it's the same thing right?  Last week I learned that statement couldn't be further from the truth but I'll get to that in next post.

In 2011 in an effort to lose weight running became my outlet and a couple days a week during the spring I got out my door and started running.  Always watching my watch and looking to run quicker each day, and talking to my friends ad nauseam about running again, I decided to take the next step and sign up for a race.  And the Baltimore 10 miler it was, a race deemed as a not too hard course that goes past a lake!  So I trained and began to gain confidence and thought I might be back to where I was in college, only a little slower, so I seeded myself around 62 minutes and lined up near the front,  around some of the friends and teammates that are now a part of my running family but had no clue who they were at the time and proceeded to run over 70 minutes and feel just terrible.  My wife and a couple of friends though came down and cheered me and made me signs and despite feeling awful, and running terrible I left that day thinking, thanks to them feeling good about running again and racing.  And I was going to keep this up and sign up for another race.

And the next race was to satisfy a goal I made as a young runner, to finish a marathon by 30!  And being 29.5 time was of the essence, so I searched and found a fun marathon in upstate NY that should have nice weather in September(it did not) and a nice easy course.  And set off on my training for a marathon.  I quickly learned that despite being into running again, solo training and motivating oneself was hard, and this training did not go as I had wanted.  30 miles per week with several 0 weeks but as I got closer I remembered the Boston Marathon and thought, no reason to not make qualifying my goal!  So I found my time wrote it on a piece of paper and kept it on my desk 3:09:59!(Thing was I wouldn't find out until race day the time had changed and it was really 3:04:59!)  Once again I traveled up to the race and my wonderful wife brought a friend to cheer me on, signs were made and I was actually going to do it, actually going to run a marathon.  I lined up with the BQ pace group, which I learned on the line was sub 3:05 and was off with them.  Once again lining up with a bunch of friends and teammates that I did not know at the time, and learning just recently from one friend that his entire family beat me that day!  The marathon was going great for 20 miles, I was chatting, pace felt comfortable and I was gonna do it, I was gonna qualify for Boston, just a 10k to go!  And then the wall happened and it happened hard, one sec I was with the pace group 400 meters later they had 20 seconds on me.  I calculated my last 10k around 52 minutes, and I dragged my broken body across the line I was at first disappointed.  But as it always happens in running perspective sets in as tons of friends and family sent texts saying how proud they were of me, my wife and her friend were so excited for me, and even made me a running video.  I was sore but I had finished my marathon but Boston eluded me still.  But I was not going to quit, but I still didn't think the competitive bug would come back.  I was just trying to run Boston that's it.

Post marathon I figured I'd stay motivated but it did not happen, luckily for me 2012 was the Olympics.  And thanks to the heroics of Galen Rupp and watching him do amazing things my motivation was running high.  But in addition I was new to this thing called twitter,  but thanks to it I found a friend who mentioned being a part of a running group in Baltimore.  Running groups were new to me, so questions like are there fees, mandatory meet ups, what is it?!?!  I eventually learned it was a fun group of men and woman looking to push one another to be their best called Falls Road Running.  They met a few times a week to do easy runs, long runs, workouts etc.  And so the next chapter in my rebirth of running was beginning and I wasn't even aware at first. 

Being the social runner I am as any runs were announced I made sure I was apart no matter the drive, and after a few runs I thought hey maybe I am in pretty good shape I can hang with these guys, and then I was invited to TNT!  And quickly learned that if I wanted to be a runner again, it was going to hurt and I was going to have to get back on the track and push myself.  As the summer died down I had already signed up for Wineglass Marathon 2012, and thanks to my new vigor of running I was gonna do it, I was gonna qualify.  My times on workouts and long runs were so much better than the year before, but 3 weeks out I started getting a pain in my hip that wouldn't go away.  I had been ignoring my core and everything but running for far too long and my IT band was not happy.  It ended up to the point where even a 1 mile run aggravated it and I had to pull out of the marathon.  Thanks to this injury tho I finally learned what foam rolling was, and quickly started to rehab myself and come back better than ever.  So 2012 ended with me no closer to my goal but...more motivated than ever.

As 2013 began I was ready to go, and ready to do whatever it took to qualify.  I began attending long runs with the groups fastest runners and getting smoked every time, but kept feeling myself getting stronger.  Signed up for a few races and results were not what I expected but I knew I was getting better.  But as spring was ending I had no marathon signed up and was worried I wouldn't get the motivation to sign up again.  And then the dreaded day in Boston happened, which I remember sitting in my apartment reading the news and first thing poped into my head was to find out how all the friends I had in Boston were doing.  So I scoured facebook, twitter, and text messages to check in on people. The weeks that followed I heard people talk about the events and all I could think about was I want to be back there next year and run this marathon, to show the world how strong runners and the running community is.  A friend and I signed up for a marathon that we projected was the last weekend to qualify for Boston and set out to train for the Lehigh Valley Marathon..... I quickly learned what a terrible idea it was to train through a MD summer for a marathon...  To fit in long runs it meant getting up at 5am and it still being 90+ degrees.  But I suffered through the summer and also through a move into my first house, which definitely did not help my running.  Home ownership = stressful...

 So once again I found myself driving out to another race, with fantastic support from my family and friends as my wife, mom and sis, and in laws all came out to cheer me on.  And I ran and put everything out there knowing once again that any of these runs could be my last but my goal was in reach.  As I finished in 2:55, I was 9 minutes under the qualifying time and was almost sure I'd be in.  Once again the support from family and friends was amazing.  I went home and signed up during my time period 4 days later and when I got the notice that I was accepted into the race I could not have been happier.  I had finally done it, I was going to be running the Boston Marathon in 2014.   But when I looked back it was bigger than that, running had once again entered my life and on a bigger stage than I thought when I started back in 2011.  I was part of a team, I had made tons of running friends who I shared my life with on runs, who I was generally excited for every time I saw their results.  Everyday I was excited to go for a run, to see my friends and chat and see how they were doing.  I was competing again, PR's and racers were becoming a part of my weekend and the sky was my new limit.  In 2010 I moved to Maryland, no family and some work friends was all I had.  But as I look back it was through running that I finally began to feel Maryland was my new home.  Through running I had made friends in this great state that make me know I can spend the rest of my life here.  Running had finally made my move to Maryland feel right, I had solidified myself in a new state and it was thanks to running.

So 2014 began with me having finally felt like a part of something in Maryland, and so began my buildup to what I thought would just be me running in a huge race going after a PR and ended up probably being one of the top 5 moments in all my life that I will never forget... The 2014 Boston Marathon.