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Bethany Takes on Boston: Less Than One Week!

Race day gear.
Race day gear.

T minus six days for Bethany Meyer and the Boston Marathon. Bethany is running as part of the team sponsored by Stonyfield Organic YogurtClick here to check out the other badass runners on the Stonyfield team and see if their feeling as ready as Ms. Bethany.

A pair of capris that I hoped would be race day worthy because--for an instant in the dressing room--I glimpsed the athlete staring back at me in the mirror and not the Mom, lumpy where I once was toned.

An orange Stonyfield singlet that inspired the mantra, “please let it fit, please let it fit,” from the second I saw a teammate’s on Instagram until the moment I slipped it over my head.

A new sports bra in a different style from the comfy, ratty sports bras that inhabit my closet. Because that orange singlet is the racing equivalent of a string bikini. And this body hasn’t seen a string bikini in four kids.

Half a stick of Glide and some SkinFare for good measure because a new bra sometimes announces itself with a scream in the shower from the unwelcome sting of a post-run underboob chafe.

My favorite lightweight Tifosi shades. Cushiony Balega socks. Asics GT-2000 3 that are my new go-to style. Pro Impact inserts that I swear have held my plantar fasciitis at bay.

Gatorade they’ll serve on the course in the water bottle that reminds me of a relay I entered on a whim with a group of women I’ve grown to know and love.

A set of Yurbuds given to me as a random act of kindness by the kindest woman I know.

Four GU’s--jet blackberry, strawberry banana, salted caramel, and peanut butter--three of which I shoved into my handheld carrier and the last I slipped into my Spybelt alongside my iPhone.

One ibuprofen to stay ahead of the hurt. One Imodium because this gut needs it for any run upwards of eight miles.  A compression sleeve on my right calf to keep its nagging to a whisper.

A ponytail holder for the first time in three years. Two headbands because the ponytail is a stretch. A barrette and a bobby pin because even two headbands don’t quite do the job.

Sun Bum sunscreen because it smells like the beach and it never burns my eyes. Asics arm warmers that I suspected I wouldn’t need.

Sunshine. 60 degrees. Breeze that became wind at times. A podcast and an upbeat playlist at the ready. My favorite Easter side dish on time bake so it would be waiting for me upon my return.

And a whole lot of hope.

Those were the ingredients for my longest training run. The one I ran all by myself.

***

“How do you feel?” my friends, my family, my colleagues ask.

Excited. Scared. Nervous. Lucky. Humbled. Ready. Not ready. Confident. Insecure. Relieved it’s finally here. Sad it’s nearly over.

Those are my answers. I choose whichever one fits me--perfectly, like my orange singlet--at any given moment. But I feel them all. Sometimes simultaneously.

I felt every one of them at different points during my solo run.

The uninvited ones began their shouting as my watch logged its tenth mile.

I don’t feel like doing this.

I’m only ten miles in; I don’t want to do this.

Why am I even doing this?!

This race is everywhere for me.

I see it in my home. The foam roller always within arm’s reach. The closet full of shoes that remain unworn because they may aggravate my PF or inflame my right shin which is increasingly, mysteriously, maddeningly wonky. Certain foods (potato chips, oh how I love and miss you) that I pass over because they won’t fuel me well.

I see it in my marriage; in the way that my husband registers how many hours he’ll be solo with the kids on the weekend mornings because of my long runs. Not in the sense that he’s keeping score, more that he’s steeling himself for the hours ahead.

I see it in my relationship with my kids. When Trevor, 13, queues up an episode of Alias--which has become our show, mine and his--and I decline because I cannot keep my eyes open for another 45 minutes. And it’s only 8:00. When, two weeks from his 12th birthday, Sammy says, “It’s OK if we keep my birthday low-key, Mom. I know you’ll be tired from running such a long race.” When I heave myself up to the top bunk to say goodnight to 9-year-old Alex but am distracted because I really felt my IT band when I swung my tired leg over his bed rail. Grrrrr. When 6 year old Chase stands at the top of the steps saying, “Mooooommm, I want you to tuck me in, not Dad,” but it’s the first time I’ve iced my shin all day, so I offer him a hug and a whispered “Goodnight, angel boy,” from my seat on the sofa, regretful that I’m missing my favorite part of the day with him. Those quiet moments before he falls asleep when he grabs his blanket, sucks his thumb, and molds his wiry body into mine. When soaking him in makes all of it--the goldfish crumbs under the table, his screaming and door slamming, his desperate attempts to keep up with his older brothers--worth it. When he is utterly delicious.

I’ve invited this race into my home. It’s taken up residence like a fifth child. One who needs just as much attention as the four I have.

I didn’t even qualify.

And so it went for the 11th mile of my longest run.

Ah, I shook my head in an attempt to usher out the negative talk, but it’s brought so much good.

Tish Hamilton, Executive Editor of Runner’s World Magazine, wrote an essay called Untying the Knot that more than speaks to me. It sings to me. I was lucky enough to tell her that in person during the Tales From Another Mother Runner book tour. In the essay, Tish describes how she began the painful process of divorce on what happened to be the eve of the start of her training plan for the Big Sur Marathon. While my family of six remains intact, my STUFF is pervasive, and I wear it like an albatross. Tish points out more eloquently than I that the simple ritual of lacing up my sneakers and logging the miles when life has been turned on its end is the one thing that’s given me balance. Chunks of my life don’t make sense, but that goes away when I run.

I reminded myself of the friends who’ve supported and encouraged this journey. My long runs would have chewed me up and spit me out were it not for the company of one friend who joined me for nearly every mile. I am of the mindset that the long run is meant to be shared. When she trained over the summer for the Vancouver Lululemon Half Marathon, I offered to join her for long runs. When the Boston opportunity found its way to my doorstep, she promised to return the favor. She was up for every mile.

Every frigid mile.

Nope, we didn’t run one of them in shorts. But the warmth of a cemented friendship sustained us. Her closest friend, the one whose kids she knows and loves like her own, the one she confides in, the one she starts her mornings with on the phone, will move to California in two short months. Nothing will change, and everything will change. I know how that feels. My sister has lived in Arizona for almost 13 years, but I’ve never felt the distance as much as I have this winter. I need her here now. There’s no substitute for a best friend. No substitute for a sister.

But maybe, just maybe, we saved each other a little bit on Sunday mornings. With the acknowledgment, often unspoken, that we are having a hard go of it. Being the Mom, the wife, the sister, the daughter, the friend, the employee, the volunteer--it feels like playing a game of Twister. But we’re short four feet and six hands. We set the expectations unrealistically high, and when we shift our balance to reach for a green circle and crumble into a heap on the board, we beat ourselves up for having fallen. Finding a true friend as an adult is hard. Wishing her well and watching her leave knocks the wind out of you. If there is an ounce of comfort to be found, it’s in the knowledge that we have this safe place, this friendship, this Sunday morning ritual that’s meant enough to both of us that we finished our final run with an enormous embrace and quiet, thankful tears.

Bethany, all hair, and Colleen, all BRF.
Bethany, all hair, and Colleen, all BRF.

I thought about how I’ve had to write. That I am my best self--my bravest, most vulnerable--on the page. It is a labor of love. It’s a long process for me. It is the first thing I give up when I take mental inventory of all that needs doing. I have to feel the breath of a deadline on the back of my neck to keep writing on my to-do list. Dimity, SBS, and the team at Stonyfield gave me deadline after deadline, which allowed me to do what I love, what makes me feel whole. It’s been good for my soul.

I thought about how I’ve put myself on the list and managed to stay there. Believing I belong there alongside everybody else in my family. Some days I have even put myself close to the top of the list. That’s a big deal for me.

Also--forgive me for sounding shallow--I thought about jeans. I’m digging the way they fit for the first time in a long time.

And so it went for the remaining miles of my run.

***

I’ve read that orange is a happy color.

It’s fitting that I wore the orange singlet for my longest training run.

I ran happy.

When I hit my biggest obstacles--my mental roadblocks--I worked through them to get past them. I sensed, if I kept digging, eventually I would uncover more happy. I was right. It’s always there if I choose to see it.

Back in November, when I started this adventure, I asked you to root for me.

I ask you again.

Please root for me.

Not for good weather.

Not for a pain-free race.

Not that I don’t hit the wall.

Not that in the sea of 30,000+ runners, flanked by cheering spectators from start to finish--from the screaming students at Wellesley to the crowd at Kenmore Square--I’m able to pick out the voices and faces of my dear friends who will travel all the way to Boston because they are the type of friends who wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Root for me.

That the loudest voice I hear on Monday is mine. The one in my head.

The voice reaching for happy.

The voice chanting, “Let’s do this, Bethany. You can do it.”

And believing it.

Every step of the way.

I will meet you, Badass Mother Runners, on the other side...

37 responses to “Bethany Takes on Boston: Less Than One Week!

  1. Sending you Wonder Woman vibes for every inch of that marathon. It’s been a pleasure to read your warm, humorous, honest writing over the past few months. Thank you for sharing your training experiences and thoughts with us. I’ve run two marathons and they are both dear to me, but for different reasons. The second was a joyful experience and a big part of that had to do with really paying attention to everything around me. I made eye contact with people along the course, high-fived the kids, said “thank you” to the volunteers. I noticed the houses and gardens and parks along the route. I didn’t spent most of my time checking my Garmin and wishing the miles away. Instead I lived in each one. I’m not the most Zen of personalities, but being so present in that marathon made it such a positive experience for me. So on Monday I’ll be cheering for you and hoping that you find whatever alchemy is needed to make your marathon a positive experience. You’ve got this!

  2. You’ve got this! Remember to soak it in and embrace this accomplishment. I can’t wait to hear all about it!!

  3. Late in the race when things start to nag, and every endurance athlete knows it will happen, keep those voices positive. If your body thinks it is ready to quit, the positive mantra will be the thing that keeps one foot moving in front of the other. Best Wishes, I will be following:)

  4. There aren’t many things that I am sure about in our roller coaster life. But the things I know I can always count on and be sure of are your strength, your courage, your sense of humor, and your never-ending support no matter how far the miles are between us. YOU WILL ROCK BOSTON!!!! I love you and continue to be amazed and proud of your hard work everyday!!!!

  5. You’ve got this! The hard part is over. Feel the support from all the mother runners out here. We are backing you and will be thinking about you (while some of us are at work). Run happy, find your strong and know you are doing this for many of us who haven’t had the opportunity… Yet. You’ve got this!!

  6. This Philly ‘Burbs Mother Runner will be cheering you on! It’s been wonderful that you let us join you on your journey towards Boston, and that you have been so honest about the challenges of training. Good luck!!!

  7. You can do this!

    I may borrow your chant as I run my first Boston – we’ll send good vibes to each other while on the course, just saturate the field with it!

  8. Bethany- Be the Bad Ass Mother you know you are on Monday as you have done a great job training and you DESERVE to be there just as much as everyone else. Don’t forget “what’s the rush” on those first miles 🙂

  9. Ditto everything they said! You have carried us all like a marathon through your journey. We all hope you enjoy every step and take it all in. Godspeed, Bethany!

  10. Such a wonderful, heartfelt outpouring of what this training period has meant to you and your family. I imagine you as such a loving and caring wife and mother. This is your time and I know your family and friends and many you don’t even know support you with loud clapping and hoorays! Bethany, go out and TAKE Boston! You’ve got this!

  11. I’ll be rooting for you from Boston!!! My husband will be running it also. I’ll be in an office over the finish line looking for you. I know how you feel. I ran it last year. I didn’t qualify and I doubt I ever will. I received an invitational entry. It was so worth it. You will love every moment of it, even Heartbreak hill. Remember that when you reach the top of that hill, you will be greeted by a sea of screaming college students who will make you think of your boys and you will smile. You’ll start your descent into Boston proper and will soon see the great Citgo sign that will let you know you’re almost at the finish. Savor every moment those last few miles, no matter how tired you are. When you make that last left turn on to Boylston, remember to smile. It’s the best 3 blocks you’ll ever run.

  12. Oh Bethany! What a journey this has been to follow you on. You truly are an inspiration! As I sit here reading and writing this I am on day 3 of an unrelenting migraine. I wish I had the drive to “get up and go” in spite of the pain like you do. I truly don’t know how you do it. I know it’s been a long time since we’ve spoken, but I want you to know that I am very proud of you and this major accomplishment for what it’s worth. I know that you and the other Stonyfield runners will kick Boston’s a**! Stay strong, Boston strong, and believe that you’ve got this! Here’s wishing you the strength and courage to hear that inner voice and believe it, a fabulous day, and a pain-free run. xo

  13. Rooting for you from AZ! If you run as well as you write, then YOU GOT THIS, GIRL! Thank you for being an inspiration to mamas everywhere.

  14. I just love your writing! And I hope you are reading all these comments and support 🙂 I will be watching (enviously) from Wellesley Center (half-way point exactly) with my 2 girls, ages 3 and 5. If you see any cuties giving out oranges or water, that’s us! And we’ll be looking for that bright orange singlet. You are going to be amazing- no luck necessary- you’ve put the time in training in and the crowds will carry you through!

  15. You CAN do this!!! I look forward to rooting for you next Monday! And I love the orange singlet – that alone can add a little bounce to your step 🙂

  16. Will SO be rooting for you, Bethany!! Can not wait for the re-cap!!!! Take it all in — it’s gonna be awesome 😉

  17. AHHHH! The tears are streaming down my face as I read this. I love how you state it is like a 5th child, so true. (I have 2 daughters, so only a 3rd for me). This is my first Boston, and I wish you the best and can’t wait for the other side! Good luck!!!

  18. GEEZ!! Way to make me cry at 7:15 in the morning over my coffee!!!!
    Running, especially marathon training, is SO mental.
    I trained for and ran my first full last year (running the race in January of this year), and OH could I relate to every part of this post! And I’m especially teary-eyed b/c I am running NYC in November as my 2nd marathon for a charity that is near & dear to my heart. Training starts June 14. I’m excited and terrified all at once about starting this marathon training all over again. (Though I’ve been diligent and consistent with my workouts, but it’s just not the SAME as actually checking off the boxes in your TLAM plan.)
    I am sad not to be in Boston next week. My husband ran in 2013 and 2014, and we have many friends who will once again be making that turn from Hereford to Boylston. But we live in Georgia and this is hubby’s busy season. And we have three young boys. So we just couldn’t justify the trip. But MAN is it a powerful race. I’m rooting for you!

  19. Go Bethany! You’ll be in my thoughts Marathon Monday. You are a BAMR and your tribe will be cheering you on.

  20. Sending a big loud “GO BETHANY GO!” from up here in Ontario, Canada!

    Have a great time & remember to be in the moment. This is what you’ve worked so hard for. You deserve to enjoy this race.

  21. We’re all rooting for you! You’ve put in the training, the energy of the race will carry you. Have fun and good luck!

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