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Week 17 + reflections

Instead of telling you about my running this week, since it’s been what I’d call uneventful since it’s taper time, I’ll tell you what’s been on my mind. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this week in lieu of running a lot of miles. A lot of race-day visualization, self-motivation, and reflection on all that I’ve done to train for this. Just thinking about it when I’m in a certain focused mood can give me the chills. I got to thinking about the story of Kathrine Switzer that I had read about once or twice before, who really changed the history of running for all women, and how my story wouldn’t be possible without hers. Here is her story… but first, starting way, way back:

The first Olympic marathon was held in 1896 and it was open to men only. Women weren’t to be counted out entirely, however. A woman named Melpomene snuck onto the marathon route and finished an hour and a half behind the winner, but beat plenty of men who ran slower or dropped out. Women snuck onto marathon courses from that point forward.

Now fast forward to the year 1976 (when it was apparently widely accepted medical advice that running could make your uterus fall out). It is the Boston Marathon, which isn’t just any race… it is the world’s oldest annual marathon and had always been a men’s only race. A headstrong 20-year-old junior at Syracuse University named Kathrine Switzer entered the marathon under the name of K.V. Switzer and was given a number. Kathrine recounts in an article she wrote (which I’ve reduced and added a few notes to below):

“The day of the race was horrible. Sleeting, snowing, windy and cold…As I pinned on my number, the other runners around me noticed I was a woman and got very excited and supportive. They thought it was great that a woman was going to run Boston. We all lined up to go through the starting pen…More people were noticing I was female and congratulated me, all very supportive and excited for me. Arnie [Kathrine’s coach], my boyfriend Tom, John Leonard from our cross country team, and I were in a little group… The race starts and off we go.

Four miles into the race, the media flatbed truck loaded with photographers came through and we all had to get out of the way to let it pass. A bus followed the truck with the journalists and on that bus were co-race directors Will Cloney and Jock Semple. The photographers saw me first and started shouting, ‘There’s a girl in the race,’ and then slowed up in front of us and started taking pictures. By now, I’d thrown away my top sweatshirt and my hair was flying. I didn’t try to disguise my gender at all. Heck, I was so proud of myself I was wearing lipstick!…

Jock [Semple] was well known for his violent temper…He jumped off the bus and went after me. I saw him just before he pounced, and let me tell you, I was scared to death. He was out of control. I jumped away from him as he grabbed for me, but he caught me by the shoulder and spun me around, and screamed, ‘Get the hell out of my race and give me that race number.’ I tried to get away from him but he had me by the shirt…Arnie tried to wrestle Jock away from me but was having a hard time himself and then Tom, my 235-pound boyfriend came to the rescue and smacked Jock with a cross body block and Jock went flying through the air. At first, I thought we had killed him. I was stunned and didn’t know what to do, but then Arnie just looked at me and said, ‘Run like hell,’ and I did as the photographers snapped away and the scribes recorded the event for posterity. The rest is history.”

Since this whole scuffle happened right in front of the news trucks, the whole thing was documented on camera.

It wasn’t until 1972 – 5 years later – that the Boston Marathon was officially opened to women, and Kathrine Switzer was a huge part of making this happen. Since then, so much as been accomplished for women in running.

Sometimes it helps (and takes my mind off my upcoming race) to think about the big picture. Not just how I got to this place, but how women got to this place, and it hasn’t been an easy road. I can’t even imagine being Kathrine where on top of all of my training I am also going against the rules, social norms, and literally fighting (or having your boyfriend do it for you) to stay in a race where you wouldn’t be given an official time anyways. Today, female participation in marathons has been steadily increasing, and I’m so excited to soon be part of that growing statistic! So thank you Kathrine Switzer for setting the precedent and making this marathon training comparatively “easy” compared to what you had to go through. 🙂

P.S. Kathrine is truly dynamic to listen to, so if you want to, watch this short video of her describing her experience in Boston, I enjoyed it a lot.

P.P.S. It’s looking like it’ll be beautiful weather on race day! 5 more days!



Week 1

Week 1 of marathon training is complete – and it went really well – I got in all of my runs each day. During the week my runs were all inside on the treadmill after work. The long run on Saturday was almost disastrous because I was in Charlottesville visiting Matt and decided to do 8 miles of the marathon course – I was PRETTY sure that the portion I chose (on Old Ivy) had sidewalks, but I wasn’t positive since I’ve probably only been on Old Ivy twice, but NOPE, no sidewalks.

At first it wasn’t a big deal because there was a bike lane. But then the bike lane ended, so I tried running in the grass, but after having to wade through fields and mud, I decided it wasn’t worth almost getting hit by a car and/or twisting my ankle, so I ran over to Ivy Road and headed back up toward Alderman (toward campus), deciding I was just going to run for an hour and 30 minutes and hope that I hit 8 miles (my long runs are supposed to be between 11-12 min/miles, nice and easy). After my run I mapped it out on MapMyRun and found that I had run 8.16 miles, phew! (at around an 11:04 min/mile pace, which is a little on the fast side for just starting out, but I felt fine so maybe I can increase the pace a little bit). I bet I’ll be glad that I’ve started out training on the hills, since there will be a lot of them in the marathon. Today I didn’t do any cross-training, and opted to instead be lazy and relax, but I might try to do a little tomorrow on my rest day. Feeling good, bring it on, week 2!

On another note, there are some running gadgets that I am going to need when I’m running longer distances that I don’t own yet. Since I am already feeling a little sore since switching up my running schedule (I never used to run back-to-back days, now I’m doing three days in a row), I decided I would go ahead and get myself a foam roller and The Stick – at the suggestion of some runner friends of mine (thanks guys!). I’ve been told that they are a must-have to alleviate muscle and soft tissue tightness.

A foam roller is  basically a deep-tissue massage without having to schedule and pay for it each time cause  you can do it in your own home – sounds wonderful! My foam roller is 6 inches in diameter and 36 inches long and should be here tomorrow – I can’t wait to try it out!

Foam roller

As for The Stick, or the “toothbrush for muscles” as it is called, this is mostly just for the legs and is thinner, shorter (about 19 inches), and most definitely not made of foam. If you are doing it right, it REALLY HURTS. Wow… can’t wait… It’s supposed to be worth it though!

The Stick