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Every night before I go to bed, I write down the things I’m grateful for, most nights the lists are identical, I’m grateful for my family, friends, house, job, health. Some nights the list contains things like a good hair day, an unexpected dinner request or a great run.

The last few nights my list has looked a little different.

-I’m extremely grateful my friends and I were unharmed in the events that occurred on Monday.

-I’m extremely grateful that I have friends who jumped into action and helped those who weren’t as fortunate.

-I’m extremely grateful for the stranger who didn’t think twice about turning around to pick me up when I fell as the second blast went off.

-I’m extremely grateful for the first responders, the quickness and precision these men and women acted with is remarkable.

It was almost as though it was a dress rehearsal and everyone knew exactly where they needed to be and what actions to take.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a dress rehearsal, despite fact that it still seems surreal.

Monday April 15, 2013 began exactly the same way the last few Marathon Mondays began; I got up, went for a run and showered. My sister came over and along with Erin we stopped at Dunkin before meeting Liz downtown and heading to Max Brenner’s to meet up with a bunch of friends.

We got there around 11 so we could get a good spot on the patio to watch the elites finish and cheer on the runners. A round of drinks was ordered as we cheered on the wheelchair division. As the first finishers approached we marveled at how fast they ran and how effortless they made running 26.2 miles look.

I joined Danielle along the side line and as we cheered on the runners we discussed running. How neither of us could imagine being able to run that fast. How a 4 hour marathon would be a huge accomplishment.

The mood was light and many jokes were made. It was a beautiful day in Boston, the temperature was a perfect compromise for runners and spectators. Spring was finally in full effect after a long winter.

Lisa and Maureen had a fantastic front row spot near the corner of Hereford and Boylston. I joined them continuing the running discussions, talking about running the marathon next year and getting updates on how Lisa’s boyfriend Jack was faring in this years race for a bit before heading back to Max Brenner’s. My sister and her boyfriend left to meet up with a couple of his friends, another drink was consumed and Lauren and Kayla joined us from the Atlantic Fish Company to cheer on the runners. All in all it was shaping up to be the perfect day, great company in an inspiring, electric atmosphere.

About an hour later, I decided to head back to hang out with Lisa and Maureen. I told my friends I’d be back in a bit, grabbed my bag and headed into the crowded sidewalks of Boylston Street.

I heard what sounded like a cannon – just like the one that goes off every night in the Navy Yard to signal the sun set – figuring it was a Patriots Day tribute I turned around to see what was going on. I didn’t see anything at first but then a grey cloud of smoke began to emerge.

I started to reason what it could be, a transformer, a cell phone exploded, a manhole cover blew. Fear started to creep over me, the crowd of people 5 deep along the quarter-mile stretch of Boylston was in complete deafen silence.

The silence was then muted by screaming. I asked “what was that” and remember knowing exactly what it was before someone said “run, it’s a bomb”.

I turned around and started to run with the crowd. I felt extremely alert, I think instinct took over and I went into survival mode. I remember questioning whether I was overreacting, but somehow knew the answer was no. I remember questioning (and hoping) whether I was going in the right direction.

And most of all I remember waiting for another explosion.

The second explosion went off, much louder than the first, and I fell. My first initial thought was that I was going to get trampled; I could feel people rushing around me. I knew I needed to get up as quickly as possible and that I needed to get my legs underneath me. The fall seemed to take forever; I remember seeing the ground coming closer and closer.

The person in front of me scooped me up before I barely had a chance to hit the pavement. He made sure I had both feet on the ground and told me I was ok and to keep running. I think he was wearing a brown coat, I don’t remember looking at him nor do I remember if I said Thank You.

It’s at this point that things start getting fuzzy and the panic and fear started creeping in. I remember running and turning onto Fairfield Street and running down to Newbury before I stopped and looked back. I kept waiting to hear another explosion – how many would there be – and questioning whether or not this was really happening. There were people everywhere, panicked, running, crying and screaming. Everything seemed to be a blur.

I immediately started texting my friends to ensure everyone was safe. I felt sick to my stomach. It felt like forever before I got responses, but in reality it was mere seconds and minutes. I remember more and more people starting to gather on Comm Ave and the continuous sound of sirens as more and more first responders arrived the scene.

I remember debating whether or not to tell Julie (via text) about the explosions, still holding up hope that I had overreacted to the whole thing. She was on the T headed to meet us questioning whether she’d be able to get into the bar.

All of my friends were safe and quickly accounted for. My sister and Matt were at lunch on Newbury. Erin and Kayla (both nurses) had run out to help people after the explosions went off. Liz, Lauren, Danielle and Sarah were all safe at Max Brenner’s, Lisa and Maureen were safe on Hereford Street.

Up until Tuesday morning I had assumed that when I had left Max Brenner’s to go find Lisa and Maureen that I had been walking away from the explosions. I thought the first explosion had gone off a couple of businesses down in the direction of the finish line and that the second explosion happened at the finish line.

I didn’t realize just how close my friends and I had been to the destruction.

The second explosion went off two businesses down from where we were. I had just passed that spot mere seconds before the first explosion went off. I think I was standing in front of the Atlantic Fish Company* when I turned around after hearing the first explosion, I remember there being the black iron fence of the patio to my left and I remember the sidewalk opening up after I started running.

I didn’t turn around when the second explosion went off; I didn’t look behind me when the stranger helped me up. The second explosion sounded louder but I had assumed that was because I was waiting to hear it. I never considered the sound being louder because it was bigger or closer.

I was also surprised to learn there was only 12 seconds between blasts, it still doesn’t seem reasonable that entire experience happened in less than 30 seconds.

The minutes after that are a bit of a blur, I remember getting text messages from numbers I didn’t recognize asking if I was ok. To be completely honest, I remember being aggravated wishing the texts were from friends who had been in the area instead. I remember flipping out on a young boy who was popping balloons while I was trying to locate my friends.

I remember not knowing what to do next.

In the days that have followed I’ve found it hard to associate my experience with the event to what I’ve seen on the news. I didn’t see any of the carnage; the views they show of the explosions are not the views I remember; the blasts sounded differently in real life than they do on the news.

The last few days have been spent questioning everything I did and the timing of things. What would have happened if I left 10 seconds later, or even just 5? What would have happened if I ran in the opposite direction back towards my friends? What if I had just stood there?

I’ve struggled with how to deal with this, physically I’m fine but emotionally I’m not.
I alter between angry, irritable and exhausted. I feel distracted and disengaged. I feel guilty that I ran away instead of running to help people out and most of the time I feel guilty for feeling any of this as I was unharmed.

I’ve also struggled with how to describe what happened. I cringe every time I hear the word “lucky” or “wrong place, wrong time” used to describe people, offered as a condolence or as an explanation. Those words sound far too trivial.

I haven’t cried about the event yet and I feel numb when hearing or talking about what happened. When I see a news segment or read an article detailing the victims or the heroes, stories that would normally bring me to tears, I think to myself “that’s horrible” or “courageous, inspiring” but there’s no outflow of emotion.

While I’ve taken precautions such as being more aware of my surroundings, avoiding being in crowds or on public transportation, I wouldn’t say I’ve felt unsafe. I believe the increased police presence in the city has helped a great deal. Part of me actually feels safer living in Boston after seeing what the first responders and political figures will do to protect this city.

I feel extremely guilty that I will get to go back to being my old self while others lives were changed forever. I still have the freedom to move about as I please and more importantly I still get to hug my family and friends and tell them that I love them, while others no longer have that luxury.

I’ve talked about what happened and how I’m feeling a lot with friends and family this past week. And while I’ve been told what I’m feeling is normal, I’m speaking to a counselor this week.
My thoughts and prayers are with everyone that was affected by this tragedy. Seeing the outpouring of support for the city of Boston from around the globe proves that there is more love and compassion in this world than hate.

I believe the youngest victim, 8-year-old Martin Richard, said it best “No More Hurting People…Peace”.

If you or a loved one are looking to speak to someone the below are just a few of many options:
-The City of Boston Mayor’s Healthline has counselors available from 9am-5pm 4.22.13-4.26.13.
-The Federal Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990; provides immediate counseling to anyone who needs help in dealing with the aftermath of a tragedy.
-The American Red Cross provides Disaster Mental Health Services during local, regional and national disaster incidents. Contact your local Red Cross office. www.redcross.org
-Your place of employment might also offer an Employee Assistance Program that will have resources available.
-Contact your healthcare provider for options of professionals available in your area

If you’re interested in assisting the victims of this horrific event please visit: www.onefundboston.org

*For those of you not familiar with the area, when looking onto Boylston Street from left to right the bars/restaurants are Max Brenner’s, Starbucks, Forum, Atlantic Fish Company. The second explosion went off in front of Forum.

Edited**Editor’s Note: I’ve been working on this post for the past week, attempting to put this experience into words has proven extremely difficult.  I didn’t want to dramatize my experience but at the same time I don’t want to discount what I experienced.  I love writing in that it helps me sort my thoughts, express my feelings and learn from my experiences.   And while it did help to write this post, I learned that I don’t have the words to describe what happened, I’m not sure anyone does. 

I disabled comments for this post as I’m not looking for sympathy the sole The purpose of this post is to hopefully assist others who are struggling with the emotional aftermath of this event.  Learning that others feel the same way I do has helped me.  Please feel free to email me directly if you’d like to talk or share your story kris10take1@gmail.com.

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I managed a course PR of 2:06 on Sunday, the BAA half marathon is always a challenge for me and this year was no exception. 

I’m trying to focus on the positives of this race, but it’s proving difficult.  The course was the same as it was the last two years but this year I really felt the rolling hills (a huge sorry to everyone I told the course is relatively flat!  As you can see in this post, I actually thought it was!).  Between mile 11 and 12 I hit a wall, I was able to run thought it (which actually sounds pretty bad ass) but it was super discouraging.  My legs felt as though they weighed 50 pounds each and it seemed as though I wasn’t making any forward progress.

My sister and I got to the race a little later than I had in years past, the lines for the bathroom were 50 people deep so I was grateful I didn’t have to go.  We dropped off our stuff, stretched out and headed over to the start line where we met up with Lisa, Maureen and Erin. 

Shortly after the race started I had to go to the bathroom, porter potties were available every two miles but the lines were a few people deep so I decided to keep going. 

The first 5 miles flew by, my 5 mile split was 43:38 I was happily cruising along and decided that mile 6 would be perfect for a bathroom stop.  I grabbed a Gu and mixed half Gatorade half water and stood in line.  Luckily there were only 2 people ahead of me so I was able to get back on the road quickly.

It was a little difficult getting back into the groove, but my legs were able to reclaim their previous pace.

My stomach started hurting around mile 7.5, I got off the course in fear that I was going to be sick.  I stretched out my legs a big and walked for a moment until my stomach settled.  I decided to stick with water for the rest of the run.

Around mile 9 I contemplated dropping out of the race, but told myself I wouldn’t be able to partake in the Sunday Funday activities that we had planned if I didn’t finish the race.  Does anyone else threaten/bargin with themselves when running?

I got a little emotional between miles 9 and 11 considering whether or not I’d be able to complete 26.2 miles when I was struggling with 13.1.  I was contemplating calling it quits on marathon training when the rational side took over and suggested making that decision after the race.

After the wall that was mile 11, everything felt easier when I hit the 12th mile.  I knew I would finish, though I was discouraged that it wouldn’t be an overall PR.  I’ve put a lot of work into my marathon training, I honestly thought this half marathon would feel easier.

Way to set yourself up for failure Kristen.  Here’s the thing, I know I’m holding myself to unrealistic goals but I can’t seem to stop.  This is the first time my body has done anything like this, I should be thankful that it’s held up so well so far, that I’ve been able to complete all my runs, I should be enjoying these runs as each week I’m working towards accomplishing something only 1% of the world’s population will ever accomplish. 

Instead I’m comparing myself to others and using their expereinces or times to base how my training should be going. 

Writing this out actually helps me realize just how ridicilious I sound, so thank you for bearing with me.  Free therapy! 

Enough craziness for now…

I tried to play up the course PR in my mind and convince myself that if it wasn’t for the bathroom break I might have broken 2 hours, but I felt really defeated as I crossed the finish line. 

My body hurt, the thought of running twice that distance seems extremely daunting. 

Yes the race took longer than I was hoping it would, but I still finished with a very respectable time.  I did a much better job during this run at remaining positive and fighting back when the negative choir started singing. 

For the first time ever I ran in compression socks, hoping to get some relief for my hamstrings.  I’ve been wearing them after my long runs and I believe that they had aided in recovery as I haven’t been sore the following day. 

While my hamstrings still bothered me, I fell as though it was longer into the run before they made their presence known and if nothing else my calves didn’t get tight at all while running.  I think they might be a keeper for long runs.

So as of right now I’m still planning on running Philly on November 18th.  I’m going to continue my training runs as scheduled and try to up the yoga and stretching.  I also realized that I don’t eat much in the way of carbs so I’m going to try to add more pasta to my diet and see if that makes a difference.

Are you currently training for a race?  How’s the training going?  Are you burnt out from running?

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Happy Friday!

Today’s goal is to write a post that doesn’t’ mention running. 

Part of me feels as though running has been consuming my life lately, or at least a cross between running and work has been consuming my life lately. 

And I have no desire to discuss work…although I will say it’s going really well.

So challenge accepted. 

Bullet points seem to be the most logical way to accomplish this goal:

-I did not watch the Presidential Debate, I contemplated doing so but then decided watching to grown adults argue why they would make a better president just seems counterproductive.  Less talk more doing my friends. 

-If I were President or in charge of a Presidential campaign I’d decline going to the debate on the grounds that I have a job to do and discussing how I do my job oddly doesn’t actually get anything accomplished.  In fact any interview I gave would be while I was working. For example if there was a devastating hurricane, Matt Lauer would be assisting me cleaning up while asking me about relief funds, we wouldn’t be sitting in the Today studios in NY.

-Ok so maybe the above is more of a way to cover my ass.  You know, so when people ask why I haven’t balanced the budget (I’d need to see the budget and spending to come up with a viable plan) or solved our healthcare woes (my plan would look something like everyone would be forced to drink two glasses of green tea and cover 2 miles on foot a day) I could say it’s because I was busy cleaning up another mess/working alongside my fellow citizens. 

-Of course my parents would ruin this by going on Extra and spilling the beans that I’m not very good at cleaning. 

-I would never ever want the responsibility of being President ever.  I cannot imagine being on call 24 hours a day.  I’m way too lazy for that.   

-The other day I needed to sneak out of the office for a few to clear my mind, I put on my headphones and fired up the Ja Rule station on Pandora.  The first song to come on was DMX Party Up (Up in Here). Fitting since the chorus in the song is “Ya’ll gonna make me lose my mind…up in here”. 

I take it as a validation of my coolness then when a song syncs with my life like that.

-Speaking of validating coolness, I did so the other night when I shared with a friend that I iron my clothes for the week Sunday night while watching 60 minutes.  We were at a bar when we had this discussion. 

You’re more than welcome to steal my time management tricks.

-I’m taking part in the BAA half-marathon on Sunday.  I have never ever been prepared for this event in the 3 years that I’ve partaken in the activities.  While I have no idea what I’m going to wear (this is typically the only part of the event I am prepared for), I do know that it will be wrinkled, I have covered the appropriate distances to be able to put forth a solid effort (on paper at least). 

I’m trying to play it smart, my legs are tired from the distances they’ve covered recently, but I really want to push myself and PR.  When I broke two hours back in May, I did so on tired legs, but the distances I traveled were far less and I knew that this was the last finish line I had to cross for a while.  I still have many miles to cover between now and November 18th

I’ve taken a couple extra rest days this week and scaled back my mileage a bit in hopes of having strong legs on Sunday.  Part of me feels as though if I can have a solid showing on Sunday it will help turn my negative mindset around and give me something to show for all the miles I’ve endured.  On the other end I don’t want to push it too hard and hurt myself or derail my efforts. 

I really need to stop analyzing this.

-Goal Achieved!  I didn’t mention running once in this post! 

Have a fabulous weekend!

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