>4/14/14: Marathon Monday

by Stride Longley
on April 14, 2014

by Erin Engelson, former Marathon Sports Staff (eternal Marathon Sports Friend)

 

I have a lot of weird feelings about Marathon Monday 2013.

 

2005 was my first year with Marathon Sports and since then, I was there for every Marathon Monday. The great thing about Marathon Monday is that it was the day that we could finally relax. We had worked frantically for months and finally, on Monday we could relax, take a few breaths, and enjoy the day with our coworkers and friends. I loved that day.

 

The Boston store was my home for 8 years. But in 2013, I got a new job. I started April 1st, and decided to take the year off from Marathon weekend – and I certainly did not want to request a day off within my first two weeks of work…so on Marathon Monday I was at my new job. It was weird. I remember texting back and forth with Shane on Sunday night, telling him to enjoy Monday because he deserved it. He said he couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to be there. And I couldn’t, either.

 

On Monday morning I went to work, and kept the BAA website up on the background of my computer screen. I think I texted a couple friends who would be working at the store telling them to enjoy the day.

 

Then a few hours later, my sister sent me this bizarre text: “Something weird is going on by the store.” I thought: what the heck are you talking about? Then another text: “The front window of the store is blown in. They think it’s a bomb.

 

I froze at my desk. We turned on the TV at work. I started shaking and the tears came pouring out, with my brand new coworkers staring at me like I was nuts. Looking at the live coverage, my first thought was horrifying: They’re all dead. Oh my God. How could they not be?? Shane has been like an older brother to me for 10 years and the thought that he, and all my other friends, were in the middle of this disgusting scene, made me sick to my stomach.

 

My second thought: I would have been right there. Standing by the front door.

 

2013 was the first time in nine years that I wasn’t there. On a typical Marathon Monday, I pretty much took any and every excuse to be outside in front of the store – cheering the runners, people watching, talking to friends. And yet here I was, in an office very far away, frantically texting and calling all the guys to try and get some sort of response. I had to go outside and hyperventilate. I was so confused and scared and didn’t know what to think.

 

Finally I got confirmation that everyone was alright, and after the relief washed over me, another set of feelings started to sink in: guilt. Why wasn’t I there? I should have requested the day off. I should have been there. I could have helped. I could have helped my best friends shoulder some of the burden of this horrible day.

 

Over the following few days, I alternated between crying and being glued to the news. I was so worried about my dear friend and what he had to witness and do that day. When I finally got to talk to Shane, he said: “I’m so glad you weren’t there that day.

 

These people are my family. I have developed relationships with friends I’ve made through working at the store I know will stand the test of time. As a result, what happened on Marathon Monday felt personal. I am finally starting to reconcile the weird feelings I have about that day. I will be there this year, and the years following. And I will hug my best friends and be glad that I stumbled into Marathon Sports one day in late 2004 and filled out a job application.

>4/14/14: Tip of the Week - It’s All in the Bank

by Stride Longley
on April 14, 2014

by Dan Soleau

 

Marathon Monday is 1 week away.  You should be proud of yourself!  If you followed a 20 week program, you’ve probably logged 600+ miles!  By now, you’ve done your long run and have started tapering.  From here on out, it’s all about maintenance.

 

Take care of yourself.  Eat good things.  Stay on your training program and get those last runs in.  Sleep.  You have more time for it now that your weekends aren’t being hijacked by 18 and 20 mile long runs.

 

If this is your first marathon, you’re probably nervous.  That’s okay.  That’s completely normal.  26.2 miles is a big deal.  Just remember – all of your work, months and months of training, all the GU and Gatorade – it’s in the bank.  Other than taking care of yourself, there’s no “extra” thing you can do to better prepare you for the Marathon.  There’s no super food you haven’t tried that’s going to make you go faster, there are no magic shoes that are going to make 26.2 miles any easier, and there’s no secret exercise you can do that’s going to get you in better shape.

 

Take care of yourself and make good choices.  Avoid high-risk activities.  The last thing you want to do is go skiing down a black diamond and blow out your knee.  Have your race weekend planned out and stick to the plan.  Make sure you get good sleep the Friday and Saturday before race day.  Stay hydrated.  Enjoy all the extra free time you have.

 

If you’re used to having a glass of wine or two the night before your long run, it’s perfectly fine to enjoy a glass of wine or two the night before the Marathon.  If you drink coffee, no need to cut down on your regular intake.  Taper should be business as usual, with mindful awareness.

 

There is only one Boston Marathon, and this year’s race will be unlike any other.  Enjoy the day.  Remember – all that hard work is in the bank.  It’s there for you to tap into on race day.

 

If this is your first time running Boston, get ready for one of the greatest experiences of your life.  If you’ve run Boston before, get ready for a Boston unlike any other.

>4/9/14: New Balance Boston Edition 890v4's Released

by Stride Longley
on April 09, 2014

Back in March, New Balance began their #LoveBoston campaign all throughout Boston. Since then, it's inspired so many wonderful connections within the Boston running community with people making these connections on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag. We know because we've been inspired by all of these fantastic connections and inspirational posts it's caused.

This whole campaign is culminating with the release of their Boston Edition 890v4. We got these shoes in to our warehouse this morning and are extremely excited about the outcome.

The new FantomFit no-sew upper is a fantastic update, allowing for a seamless upper while cutting down a little bit on the weight. Make sure to get your hands on this limited edition sooner rather than later. They are GUARANTEED to sell out very quickly!

 

You can get them on MarathonSports.com by clicking through here: CLICK HERE to get your New Balance Limited Edition 890's

 

 

 

>4/7/14: Tip of the Week - Navigating the Expo

by Stride Longley
on April 07, 2014

by Dan Soleau

 

The Sports and Fitness Expo is an integral part of the Boston Marathon experience.  Conveniently located at the Hynes Convention Center (where you will also be picking up your bib), it is runner heaven.  Vendor after vendor showing the latest and greatest products; specially created limited edition shirts, shoes and accessories; the Expo has every thing for every runner.

 

So how do you navigate the thousands and thousands of products, the hundreds of vendors, all asking you to spend your dollars on their stuff?

 

1 – Local advantage:  If you live locally, take advantage and go pick up your bib and visit the Expo on Friday.

 

2 – Have a game plan:  Look at the floor plan and the list of exhibitors in advance and see if there are specific companies you want to see.

 

3 – Prioritize:  If you know there is something specific you want to purchase, do that first.  Limited Edition Saucony Kinvaras will sell much more quickly than Vanilla Bean GU.

 

4 – Enjoy the crowd:  There will be LOTS of people at the Expo.  Remember – these people are just like you.  They’re here to browse, sample, shop, and most importantly, to run.  Appreciate the fact that we’re all in this together for the same reasons.

 

5 – Browse before you buy:  Nearly every vendor will have “Boston” specific merchandise, created especially for this year’s Marathon.  After tracking down your priority purchases, make the rounds and see what each exhibitor has before deciding what to buy.

 

6 – Get off your feet:  The floor at the Hynes Convention Center is concrete.  Standing and walking for too long will fatigue your legs.  Take breaks and sit when you have a chance.  Try to stay off your feet starting Sunday afternoon so they are fully rested for Monday morning.

>4/1/14: Apparel Review - The New Balance Boylston Jacket

by Stride Longley
on April 01, 2014

by staff contributor Siobhan Duffy

 

It's official, spring is finally here! Time to say farewell to the polar vortex, which had some of us (well, at least me) logging more treadmill miles this winter than ever before. It's time to box up your hats, gloves and base layers until next winter (hopefully... you never really know with that New England weather) and start thinking bright colors, sunny days, and warm happy thoughts!

 

Over the next month we are still going to be faced with a few chilly days, so it is important to have a light weight, wind and water resistant jacket in your closet. Thankfully, New Balance was nice enough to let me wear test the new women’s Boylston Jacket that will be debuting in select Marathon Sports locations the first week of April. I was able to take it out for a spin last Saturday when it was in the mid-40’s and sunny. Still a little cold but much warmer than the previous few days! Because it was a bit chilly I wore a dry-fit long sleeve shirt under the jacket, and it ended up being the perfect combo for the weather that day. The sweat-wicking technology kept me comfortable and dry during my run, and the vents were perfectly placed under the arms and on the upper back. The breathability of the jacket was just overall great. The jacket is so light that even if I did heat up during the run I would not have minded tying it around my waist for the remainder of my run. I loved the body contour fit of the jacket, it allowed for it to move naturally with the motion of my body while I was running. I can see myself taking this jacket to the track to do some workouts this spring because it feels so minimal but still offers great protection from the elements. Another great feature I do not want to forget is the two front zip pockets that held both my car and house key during my run with very little bounce. It is a perfect feature for myself since I have dropped a house key or two in my days as a runner.


This piece will be a great part of any runner’s spring and fall wardrobe. It’s perfect for when there is a little wind, maybe some drizzle or you just want a little extra protection from the elements. The jacket can be found at our Wellesley, Norwell, and Boston locations. Stop by and check it out for yourself!

>4/1/14: Boston Marathon Rules and Regs for 2014

by Stride Longley
on March 31, 2014

by avid Marathon Sports shopper and friend, Andy Nagelin

 

What you need to know about the 2014 BAA Boston Marathon Baggage and Allowable items policy.

Complete details of the BAA Baggage Policy and Gear Check are available on their web site.

Here are the essentials:

At the Marathon Expo, the BAA will provide a clear 18”x18”x4” bag for gear check. This is the only bag that can be used to check gear on Marathon Monday. This bag must be checked on the Boston Common before boarding a bus for Hopkinton.

This year you have to pick up your number in person. NO ONE ELSE CAN PICK UP YOU NUMBER FOR YOU. Also, you MUST have your ID with you to pick up your number. NO EXCEPTIONS.

At the finish line the BAA will give you a Heatsheet® Warmth Retention Cape for warmth. Often it is cool and breezy on Boylston Street after the race. You can get cold quickly and this hooded cape will keep you warmer than the space blanket they gave out in past years.

Between Hopkinton and Boylston Street

A lot happens between these two points. There are new policies this year that you MUST follow. First of all, your bib needs to be visible at all times. If you are wearing a throw away shirt, pin your bib to your shorts.

The 18”x18”x4” clear bag that the BAA gives you must be left in Boston. The BAA will not bring it back to Boston for you. If you are not going to check it on the Boston Common, don’t bring it. No bags will be returned from Hopkinton. They also will not allow a bag of this size onto the buses.

The BAA will allow you to bring 1 (one) fanny pack measuring no more than 5”x15”x5”. Many of us already have belts. Now is a good time to check the size of your belt. If the pouch on your belt is larger than 5”x15”x5” there is a good chance it will get confiscated. If the pouch is smaller than 5”x15”x5” then you are cheating yourself of valuable space.

You can also have 1 (one) standard manufactured “fuel belt”. The BAA does say that the “Bottles must be one liter or smaller”. Bottles is plural so you can have a belt with several bottles, as long as they are less than 1 liter in capacity.

No other items are allowed. No Nalgene bottles, glass, CamelBak, etc. Please understand that anything that does not meet these specifications could get confiscated and leave you with your hands full. Literally.

Pre-race gear check

Who hasn’t started packing for Boston already?

Now is the time to check your gear. Marathon Sports carries a variety of fuel belts and fanny packs that meet the BAA’s policies. It is best practice not to try anything new on Marathon day. If you need a new belt, fuel or fanny, check out Marathon Sports’ selection.

Take your new gear for a few runs and make sure it doesn’t have an odd bounce that you can’t deal with. Make sure it doesn’t chafe in a new and unexpected place. Load up your belt with the items you plan to take on Marathon Monday and make sure it doesn’t weigh too much.

Race Day

It’s difficult to predict race day weather this far out. In New England 24 hours is a long range forecast! It is usually in the 50s with a breeze before the race. In 2012 it was 800  well before the race started. It can rain.

Runners often bring “throw away” clothes to wear before the race. If you do not have a throw away jacket, the BAA will allow you to wear a clear trash bag. You must be wearing it and not carrying it. Make your cut outs the night before so you don’t have to rip holes in the bag on race morning.

The BAA will allow you to bring a sign no larger than 11”x17”. Since the grass on the Hopkinton High football field is usually wet I would advise you to bring a piece of cardboard no larger than 11”x17” to sit on. They do not put out chairs for us.

I would also advise you to bring a small plastic bag to put your cell phone in. A re-sealable sandwich bag works well. It’s not unusual to spill a cup of water or Gatorade on yourself during a race. Sometimes spectators or fire houses will have hoses shooting out into the road. You can get soaked if you’re not paying attention.

It’s going to be a special day. Make sure you have the items you need and that your gear conforms to the new BAA Baggage and Allowable Items policy. With race day nerves, who needs additional stress?

>4/1/14: Tip of the Week - The Known and the Known Unknown

by Stride Longley
on March 31, 2014

by staff contributor Dan Soleau

 

In an earlier tip we discussed how you can use your Long Runs as dress rehearsals for race day.  Your nutrition plan should be in place and well practiced, your race day clothing options should be more dialed in, solutions for things like chafing and blisters should be tried and true at this point.

 

I cannot stress this enough:  Don’t do anything new on Race Day.  If this is your first marathon, you may have friends and acquaintances dropping “helpful” tips on things you should do: Put Vaseline on your feet!  Take GU!  Drink Gatorade!  Put powder in your socks!  Wear a water belt!  Eat a bagel before the race!  Drink coffee!  Run with a GoPro!  Run in these socks!  Take salt tablets!

 

If you haven’t done any of these things before, DON’T do them on race day.

 

Control the “Known”

 

You want the marathon to go as smoothly as possible, which means making sure you’re not adding any new unknown elements.  You should be wearing clothes that you’ve done long runs in to make sure they’re comfortable and, you’re reducing your risk for chafing.  Only use nutrition solutions you’ve tried in the past to reduce potential for GI issues.  Make sure you’ve been using any accessories – water belts, storage belts, etc – on your long runs so you know how they feel and how to use them effectively.  Even something as simple as socks – you don’t want to use a brand new pair straight out of the package, just in case there’s an irregularity in the stitching that might cause chafing or a blister.

 

Your shoes should be new, but not brand new.  They will ideally have about 30 miles on them prior to race day to make sure any irregularities in the stitching, adhesives, and materials are worn smooth.

 

Understand the “Known Unknown”

 

If your long run prior to the marathon was only 22 miles, then the last 4.2 miles is a “Known Unknown”.  Weather is a “Known Unknown”.  These are things you can’t predict, you can’t control, but you can be reasonably prepared for.  Make a list of Known Unknowns and think about how your training has helped ready you to face them.  You’re better prepared than you might think.  Training this winter has been particularly brutal, but has helped get you ready to understand what wardrobe options you will need depending on what the weather is like on Marathon Monday.  Long runs have provided the conditioning for your muscles, and your nutrition plan will help you to maintain your energy.

>3/31/14: A Runner's Guide to Garmin Fitness

by Stride Longley
on March 31, 2014

by staff contributor Alex Rosenblatt

 

If you are reading this, you are probably a runner, and if so, you probably like boasting about your times, races, training… we all like to brag about our accomplishments a lot. For those of us that “stretch the truth” or tell runners’ tales, the end is here – you can thank Garmin for that. With the new line of Garmin Forerunner products along with the release of the new Garmin VivoFit fitness band, your training log, your racing calendar, your everyday sleep and walking patterns are (potentially) revealed to the world! 2013-2014 is a huge year for our tech savvy friends in Olathe, Kansas at Garmin. The updates to their running watches/HRMs (heart rate monitors) are exceptional, and I have been using the Forerunner 620 along with the Vivofit for the past few months. While wearing my VivoFit fitness tracking band for the past month or so since it was released, I may have become increasingly lazy in my running habits, but I justify that by showing everyone that I walk between 6-10 miles every single day! Through the Garmin Connect website/smartphone application, runners are able to sync their activity through their computer AND their phone, whichever is more convenient. Upon releasing the VivoFit, Garmin revealed an epic face-lift on Garmin Connect as well. This allows the website to interface both the fitness tracking and GPS running/multisport activities on one customizable page, allowing for individuals to monitor sleep schedules, daily walking metrics, their workouts and activities, burnt calories estimates… It’s like having an exercise physiologist in your own home!

Now, it is time for me to introduce the fabulous product line that graces the floor of all Marathon Sports locations. To begin, we have the Garmin ForeRunner 10. At $129.95 (+ tax), the ForeRunner 10 is the go-to watch for a newer or casual runner looking to hone in on distance metrics a bit more than they are used to. It comes in five different colors, two men’s (larger faces) and three women’s (smaller faces). It is very lightweight, looks good as an everyday watch, and can be worn on a run right out of the box, like all of the ForeRunner series. There are different features with each watch. The ForeRunner 10, for example, will tell you how far you are running and how fast, so basic distance and pace features, along with the amount of calories you burn during your run. One of the paramount features of this product – especially for beginner runners – is the run/walk feature to ease newer runners into continuous aerobic fitness by gradually building up aerobic strength. This watch also includes the Virtual Pacer feature, which you can program online to set a pace you plan on running, with the watch telling you if you are ahead of your goal speed, behind, or right on. This helps to measure individual effort level, teaching newer or even more experienced runners how to run on feel for the pace they are shooting for. The ForeRunner 10 also will keep track of your personal records and sync them to Garmin Connect, a feature that helps keep you motivated and focused and can show how you improve over time and continuous training. The ForeRunner 10 has a battery life of ten days when used on average for 30 minutes of GPS running.

Next in the ForeRunner line we have the ForeRunner 220, which comes in two different colorways, This model is more advanced than the ForeRunner 10, where the features start to stand out from the entry level model in order to get a bit more technical, coming loaded with features such as auto pause (a personal favorite), auto lap. The HRM model will do a simple measure of your heart rate along with heart rate zones to show you how intense a run or a workout was on your body. It also differs greatly from the ForeRunner 10 in the fact that it has a color (touch) display and auto pause. The touch screen works fantastic. For those of you worried about that aspect, do not fear, the watches are all waterproof. The touch screen is actually engineered by placing two layers of glass on top of each other, with the tiniest space in between, which allows for a small amount of pressure to be applied on the outer screen to confirm pushing a button on the bottom layer of glass. The screen is much more improved from past Garmin offerings such as the 405, which had a touch bezel. The new screen is functional, it is timely (no pun intended), and it reacts accordingly to touch. Users are also able to lock the screen so they don’t actually hit any of the buttons along the bezel.

Now the lynchpin of the ForeRunner line is the 620, which I have been using for the past six months or so. This is my absolute favorite GPS product I have ever tried. There’s no doubt that when I have my 620 on my wrist, my watch is smarter than I am. Though it cannot do everything I need on a day-to-day basis, it enhances my outlook on fitness and running more than I ever imagined. In the past, I have owned other HRMs and GPS watches, but this is the most innovative product. It is fast, reliable, and it gives you so much more than what you expect, also featured in two colorways. Before you dismiss the HRM strap and the expanded capabilities, listen to what I have to say about the ForeRunner 620 and how it will forever alter your perception of running. In add on to the features that the ForeRunner 220 offers, the ForeRunner 620 also gives you readings of your VO2 max estimate, a recovery advisor, a race-time predictor, running dynamics: cadence (steps taken per minute), vertical oscillation (ground contact time), and a built-in training coach. VO2 max, also known as maximal oxygen consumption, is a measurement that reads a user’s individual aerobic fitness, measured by the relative rate of millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of body mass per minute (mL/(kg*min)). As a user enters his/her height and weight into their Garmin ForeRunner 620 upon the first use, they are beginning the steps of having their watch ‘learn’ their body type and develop a database of information on their running patterns. If you are really looking for a breakthrough in your running and want to nail those elusive PRs, the ForeRunner 620 is the technological answer to hitting the times you desire.

The final product that Marathon Sports is carrying from Garmin is the VivoFit fitness band. For someone looking to get up off the couch and monitor their daily activity. It is a small, lightweight band with interchangeable colored bands (purchased separately), and it comes in the box with two sized bands. The display has one button, a clear view of time, steps you have taken during the day, steps you have to reach your daily goal, calories burnt, HRM capability, and Bluetooth connectivity to your Bluetooth SmartPhone or a USB port on a computer through an ANT+ USB stick. This device is also compatible with the same Garmin Connect app/website as the other models mentioned above. One of the best aspects of this product is that unlike the competitor products available, the VivoFit does not need to be taken off at all. It does not need to charge, it does not miss a single moment of tracking, plus you can also program your sleep cycle in the next day. All in all, the VivoFit is a great stand-alone device for someone looking to look more intricately into their day-to-day physiological behavior, or a great complimentary device to look into your life outside of just your running if you already use a Garmin GPS watch.

All in all, these products are user-friendly, fun, and they liven the competitive spirit inside us as individuals and as opponents come race day. Come into Marathon Sports, talk to some of us about what you are interested in, and we can help find the model that perfectly fits YOU! Here at Marathon Sports, we want to keep your life in motion, and we have the tools to help you achieve that seven days a week at our many Greater Boston area locations!

>3/31/14: Shoe Review - Mizuno Hitogami

by Stride Longley
on March 31, 2014

by Staff Contributor Miles Longley



In the lightweight trainer/ racing flat category Mizuno has always been a game changer with shoes like the Wave Ronin and Musha.  Now, imagine if these 2 shoes had a lovechild and what that would look like?

Well… Let me introduce you to the all new Wave Hitogami!

 

The Hitogami (translation: Person God) comes outfitted with Mizuno’s latest midsole, U4ICand seamless upper (if it’s removed it forms a traditional Japanese mask designed by Greg Newman) makes this one of a kind shoe super light (7.4 oz for men and 6.2 oz for women) while also feeling very responsive when racing.  With it’s Kabuki inspired midfoot wrap the Hitogami will accommodate most foot types. Throw in its’ flat bottomed last,filled in for full ground contact; the Hitogami even offers a touch of stability for the mild over pronater.

In Japanese Kabuki Theater it is said that a normal person would put on the Hitogami mask and be transformed into a god.  I hope the next time I toe the starting line that my Hitogami’s will take me from a mere mortal racer into a racing god and a new PR!

>3/10/14: What is "Boston Strong"?

by Stride Longley
on March 10, 2014

by Dan Soleau, Brand Development Rep

 

The Boston Marathon is 6 weeks away. It is remarkable how quickly the last 10 months have passed. And how quickly April 15th, and then April 21st will be upon us.

 

Even though the past 10 months have passed seemingly on fast forward, it is odd how time can seem to tick by slowly when you are held hostage in the moment. A minute, an hour, even a day can take eternity to pass when you are tied to the actual challenge of coping with trauma, stress and sadness.

 

I remember going to Boylston Street a couple days after the bombings and taking in the scene. The makeshift memorial was starting to take shape, scores of investigators were combing every square inch of the area, hundreds upon hundreds of people solemnly and reverently made their way up to the riot fencing to see the aftermath for themselves. There was an eerie silence that blanketed the Back Bay as people were stuck in the moment, trying to understand how everything could have happened, how to cope with the damage.

 

Of the many images that haunt me is what I encountered on Boylston Street two days after the bombings - scores of abandoned strollers strewn about, trapped in time, littering the crime scene, unclaimed and empty. I picture frantic mothers fighting the sea of chaos and people, grabbing their babies, trying to get somewhere safe.

 

Emotions continue to catch me off guard. Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of a conversation and find myself fighting back tears because something triggered a feeling from that day – I feel my voice get heavy and thick as I try not to betray the sudden sadness that surges. I’ve been out for a run, lost in the rhythm of my steps and suddenly realized that I was crying. Moments like this make me feel weak and embarrassed.

 

One thing I appreciate about running and working out is that you can measure your progress and improvement. Weights and machines are clearly calibrated and labeled to tell you how much you can lift, push, or pull. Running watches can tell you your pace, distance, calorie burn, heart rate, and even your oxygen efficiency. I value being able to measure how much faster, how much stronger, how much I am improving. It’s much more difficult to do that with emotions. Garmin doesn’t make a Forerunner that measures emotional and mental improvements. If they did, I would buy it.

 

Boston Strong. It’s a hashtag. It’s on shirts, stickers, magnets, hats, bracelets, necklaces, cookies – anything you can imagine. But what does it mean?

 

In the immediate aftermath of the bombings, Boston Strong was a mantra for the city. If we repeated it, vocalized it, tweeted and hashtagged it enough, it would actually give us strength to get through the tragedy. After the initial shock of the trauma, Boston Strong became an anthem, a badge that the City of Boston could wear to show solidarity in the strength of our community. For the world around us, it became a way that they could identify the heroic actions of first responders and the brave rehabilitation of survivors.

 

Rarely in the past 10 months have I felt Boston Strong. If anything, I find that I’m in awe of the strength others continue to show and feel personally deficient, unable to live up to their example. Weak.

 

I measure my emotional improvement in ways that most therapists or psychologists would probably frown upon. How many times did I cry today? How many times did I almost cry today? Have I been mostly sad, partly sad, or only a little bit sad today?

 

Is strength the ability to stifle sobs and control your emotions? Is strength putting on a brave face in times of stress? Is strength being graceful, calm? Is strength the physical capability of being able to handle trauma and injury?

 

What is Boston Strong? What is Strength? I look at all the individual moments, hours, and days when I have struggled with the idea of how my reactions and coping mechanisms fit in with the definition of Boston Strong. It can’t be a show of strength to stifle or lock away sadness. It has to be healthy to connect with emotions and understand the tragedy that two bombs can inflict. Strength can’t mean being in control of emotions like an automaton, rather understanding that life – especially in the wake of tragedy – is an unpredictable emotional journey that demands much of our focus and energy. Strength is not the forcing the body to endure injury or trauma, rather understanding the damage inflicted and how we need to heal.

 

I deal with the days that are more difficult the same way I deal with the days that are easy – I get through them. Some of those days seem longer – especially when your To Do list is impossibly long and all you want to do is cry. Some of those days breeze by without a hitch. The commonality is that they all start to melt together, no longer a series of individual moments, but a picture that describes a journey from point A to point B. The moments that we feel stuck in begin to fade away into a larger tapestry – each stitch of experience creating a picture, a story.

 

As April 15th and April 21st rapidly approach, the picture of my journey is becoming more defined. I value moments of sadness because they show that I am receptive to emotion. I appreciate the tears and sorrow because they show that I am sensitive to a community that is continuing to heal.

 

Boston Strong doesn’t mean that we face trauma with a stone face, or lock away tears so we don’t appear weak. Boston Strong is about how we get from point A to point B – the ups and downs, the despair and the hope, and the story it tells as we toe the start line together in Hopkinton and cross the finish line on Boylston Street. The pain, tears, stress, sorrow, hope and inspiration are a burden shared by a community - that is how we are able to cope as individuals. That is Boston Strong. X