March 31 2015
Shalane Flanagan shares why her parents play a huge role in her running and life.
Since running the 2013 Boston Marathon, I’ll admit – my training has been a little relaxed. Though I was able to remain incredibly calm during the tragic events that occurred near the finish line, I experienced a slight tinge of post-traumatic stress a week after I returned home. It wasn’t until I heard the reaction of my friends and family, who knew I was running the marathon but had no idea if I was near the destruction for several hours following the explosions, that the severity of the situation sunk in. Listening to my loved ones recall the intense worry they endured turned what felt like a surreal experience into something very real and terrifying. After a string of panic attacks, I sought help from my doctor and realized that glueing myself to the television for the latest updates wasn’t healthy. Instead, I needed to relax, unplug from my ever-connected world, and do what I love to do – run.
It’s been two months since Boston and for the past eight weeks I’ve made a conscious effort to run for the pure joy of running. No pressure, no electronic devices (yes, I run naked – read why here!), and no goals – other than to enjoy my surroundings and appreciate the fact that I can run. I’ve enjoyed the relaxed approach and reconnected to why I really run – to feel good about myself. While the break has been nice, I’m finally ready to venture out again and commit to thoughtful training. And this time, I’m dreaming big.
As a writer and general lover of running, I feel very fortunate to work with the Editor-in-Chief of Women’s Running Magazine – Jessie Sebor. For those who might wonder about the woman behind the words you read each month, she’s every bit of a run fanatic, cheerleader and a geniunly sweet friend as you might imagine. In a recent conversation with Jessie, I mentioned that I wasn’t currently training for any race and trying to run just for the fun of it. She mimicked the notion and we shared a quick chat about our experience at Boston. Though Jessie finished the marathon before the explosions, she experienced the panic of not knowing where each member of the Women’s Running staff were and suffered a broken heart for the running community in the aftermath. Determined not to let evil win, she went on to run the Big Sur Marathon just two weeks after Boston as she’d previously planned. It would have been easy to hide and shy away from a race so soon after the tragedy. But not Jessie. She’s one tough cookie and an inspiration in her own right. She’s always wanted to run Big Sur, and decided not to give the Boston terrorists the power to take away her dream.
As we continued our chat, I told Jessie that I planned to run Boston 2014 and looked forward to reclaiming a finish line that was stolen from me. She casually threw out the notion that I should run Boston to Big Sur (two marathons in two weeks) next year and said I wouldn’t regret it. Raving about the incredibly scenic course of Big Sur, Jessie gently nudged saying it was an amazing experience that she’d repeat in a heartbeat.
And so the dream was born.
I’m committing to run two marathons in two weeks in order to dream big. I’m an average runner who competes only with myself and I can’t wait to push beyond my limits. I’m both terrified and excited all at once, but thrilled to chase down a new challenge. Though the races are many months away, I’m already counting down the days. I’m finally ready to reclaim the run (thanks for the encouragement Jessie!).