A Good Way to End a Bad Week

The streets of Boston were empty today

A lot of emotions today. I was torn between wanting and needing to watch as every detail unfolded, and not wanting to give the suspects the satisfaction of my attention.

Today was a relief and a victory: the suspects are no longer at large, and one of them is alive. And alive means we may finally get some answers.

The thing is: I’m not really expecting answers. Sure, the BPD and FBI did an amazing job to catch this guy alive… but what could he possibly say that would give us any sort of satisfaction?

To ascribe motivation to a mad man, is almost as if to say that hurricanes destroy homes for a premeditated reason. Mad men are just that: mad. Logic and reason elude them. To ascribe to them a “reasonable” motive, is to miss the point: that there is none.

Of course, that makes no sense to us. It’s hard to imagine someone doing something so grave without having a reason for doing so. But it’s hard for us to imagine because we are rational. Trying to describe irrationality within the framework of logic is folly.

Obviously, that’s an oversimplification. Currently, it’s too soon to tell what was going on with these guys. They may have had a real, and horrible motive. They may not be mad men: they may just be purely evil men. But I just hope that in the frenzied aftermath we don’t want so badly for them to have a motive that we inadvertently invent one.

In times of uncertainty, it’s more comforting to think of events like this through the lens of reason. If they did this for a reason, then we should be able to change something… exert some sort of control. We can potentially change something, and create a different set of circumstances thereby preventing the next incident. If they’re just… mad… and these acts are basically random, then we can’t control our own futures.

That’s a highly discomforting thought in an already highly discomforting time. But it doesn’t make that thought untrue. To find out, we’ll have to see what the suspect says in the weeks ahead.

Earlier this week I wrote the following:

It’s moments like these when we really search for some sort of meaning. It has to mean something… right?

And today as we celebrate our relief, I’ll just say that the place we should be looking for meaning should not lie with the suspects’ motive: that gives them too much power over us. We should not be looking for meaning by crafting panicked policy responses promising to prevent the next horrific attack (but ultimately falling short because you cannot legislate away madness). We should not be looking for meaning in any place other than in each other.

Because this week people came together. We came together.

Immediately after the bombing, we saw local heroes like Carlos Arrendondo (pictured above) respond to the scene with an intensity of effort and selflessness that is hard to imagine. We saw the doctors, nurses and paramedics in Boston coordinate a massive and unprecedented relief effort that lead to the survival of every single person wounded in the initial blast. This week, we saw a massive outpouring of MIT student love for their fallen campus police officer. This week, blood donation centers around Austin (and I know this is true of other communities as well) could not take nearly as many people as were offering to help the victims of the West, Texas accident. This week we stood as one.

The weeks to come may or may not give us the bombers’ motive. They may or may not give us a “reason” why this all happened.

But even if they do not, we came together and lifted each other up during this time of heartache. And I take meaning in that. And that is something worth celebrating.


I’ve had trouble making sense of much today. It’s been a daze and a blur.

I first heard about the bombs at the Boston Marathon via a text from my fiancée, Hillary. I spent the rest of the afternoon confirming that everyone I knew in the area was ok… a task that kept me busy, but with no time to process what was happening/had happened. (Thankfully, everyone I’ve gotten a hold of is ok.)


Once I got home, I was able to have a brief conversation with my roommate and great friend, Indy. Just talking out loud made me realize how little I’d really processed.

It’s moments like these when we really search for some sort of meaning. It has to mean something… right? But there’s a reason heinous crimes are frequently described as “senseless.”

Living in a free society, you intellectually accept that there are certain risks associated with that… intellectually you understand that there’s a negligible chance of some fluke accident, or some crazy incident seems like an acceptable risk. But when you confront what that means in real terms… when your fiancée was only a ten minute walk from a bomb site while on her way to that site… you want it to mean something, even though you know it doesn’t. (Frankly, this post is still just me striving in vain to pull some meaning from the ether.)

When I was finally able to talk to Hillary this evening, I was calling for her: in case she really needed to talk. She was there after all. What I found is that I was the one who needed to talk. I needed to process why I was still in a daze. Still so rattled.

Obviously, I was rattled by Hillary’s proximity to danger. But I’m not sure that accounts for how long I stayed upset: in learning the news, I simultaneously learned she was safe (it was her text that informed me). Was this all just a mix of anxiety and relief from the closeness of the call? I don’t think so.

What it was, as I found myself articulating to Hillary, was a combination of her physical proximity to the bombs on the one hand with my emotional proximity to those hit by those bombs on the other. These runners… they are my people.

Laura, an old friend of mine who I met way back in middle school, put it well on Facebook: “A marathon is a celebration of courage, athleticism, hard work, and mostly unity. What a tragedy to see this spirit taken away by senseless violence. My heart hurts for all involved.”

Unity. These are my people.

In that conversation with Hillary, I realized that marathoners–runners–had become my people. And like many of them I had come to share a common goal: a BQ.

I’ve only run one marathon, but as with so many of us… one is all it takes to set the hook. And like so many marathoners, and aspiring-marathoners… a BQ (Boston Qualifier for those not yet initiated), is the most lofty and challenging of goals.

These are my people. And this was an attack on my people. On all of my people: Americans, Loved Ones, Friends, and Runners (from every corner of the globe: something like 90+ countries were represented). And that is why it hurts.

There are still no answers. And there will never be satisfying answers, even when we find out the details of “Who?” and “Why?” There are people, my people, who came to Boston to achieve a lifelong goal, who may never be able run again. What is there to make of that?

This is from an article pointed to by my friend Devan:

Like a scar across someone’s face, the bombing will now be a part of the Boston Marathon, but also like a scar, we have to remember it’s only a part. If this bombing will always be a part of the Boston Marathon, then so is Kathrine Switzer. I want to tell the story of Kathrine Switzer because it’s about remembering the Boston Marathon as something more than the scene of a national tragedy.

Through 1966, women weren’t allowed to run the grueling 26-mile race. But in 1967, a woman by the name of Kathrine Switzer registered as K.V. Switzer and, dressed in loose fitting sweats, took to the course. Five miles into the race, one of the marathon directors actually jumped off a truck to forcibly remove Switzer from the course, yelling: “Get the hell out of my race!” But the men running with her fought him off. For them, Kathrine Switzer had every right to be there. For them, the Boston Marathon wasnʼt about exclusion or proving male supremacy—pitting boys against girls. It was about people running a race. Somehow Kathrine Switzer kept her pace as this mayhem occurred all around her. As she said, “I could feel my anger dissipating as the miles went by—you can’t run and stay mad!” […]

In 1967, Boston Marathon gave us all a glimpse of the possible. Today we saw not of the world we’d aspire to live in, but the one we actually inhabit. Instead of the triumph of the individual amidst the powerful throngs and inspiration of the collective, we have tragedy, disarray, panic, and fear. Like a scar, it now marks us: the loss of security among the mass. But like a scar, we may need to wear it proudly. We will run next year because the alternative is too awful to contemplate.

It’s a scar. But its our scar. There is no meaning in this senseless act, but there is meaning in us… in our community. These are our people.

Tonight, let’s rally around our loved ones. Tomorrow, I’ll see you on the road at 6am. And I’ll do my damnedest to see you in Boston running this race next Spring. Or the next.

See you on the road

“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” – Kathrine Switzer

Austin Marathon Recap

I did it. It is done. It hurt a lot (but in a good way… mostly).


For those interested, my race results are here. And you can see the Strava map for my mile-by-mile splits (which are mostly accurate, but the data is a little noisy in downtown).

As for a summary of the results: my chip time was 3:21:28, which comes to 7:41/mile. I beat my goal pace!

Other fun results for the day include being 34/326 in my division (M 25-29), 199/2235 among men, and 224/3638 overall! I really couldn’t be more happy with the results.

Many thanks to everyone at Conley Sports, who put on the LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon & Half Marathon, for such a well run and fun event! It’s really a great course and fun day, and that’s largely because of the crew they’ve got running it.

Here are some highlights from the day:

Getting Ready
Luke, Meredith and Grant at the starting corral.
Lookin' Good
My biggest fan.
Ready... Set...
Moments before the starting gun.
Mile 8
Hillary took an action shot of me close to Mile 8
This way
Because of where she was standing at the finish… it turns out the kisses were 26.2 miles in the other direction.
All the finishers
Meredith, Grant and me celebrating!
Sexy Sweat
Inside at the VIP after party. Thanks to Eli for getting us in!
Heading Home
Waddling SLOWLY back to the car. Time for nap.

Marathon: T-2 Days Recap

Race weekend. It’s here.

I’ve had that nervous energy that comes with race weekend for the last couple of days. I’ve been re-reading an Austin Marathon course-guide written by Rob Hill (he coaches Team Spiridon), and it’s getting me excited and scared. Which is good.

It’s just that weird time of training… where I’m not actually training any more. And it’s irrational, but I’m terrified that I’ve lost everything over the last two weeks of tapering because I haven’t done anything recently to show myself it’s still there. So… basically I’ve gone ’round the bend.

I did get a nice little run in last night, and I got to see a short section of the course I hadn’t seen before (just the part going up Jackson to Bull Creek), but it’s nice to be able to visualize it all. In various pieces through many different runs I’ve almost run the cumulative length of the route. The only part I didn’t get to is the the part right at the northern end of the course: going east from Great Northern Blvd to Duval. (And also, the time I ran Duval was going the wrong direction: it was going uphill. But I think I can mentally make the adjustment to running downhill to the finish!)

Anyway… I’ve been trying to fine tune my nutrition plan, and visualize the race. Here we go… less than 48 hours to go.

For anyone interested in tracking me, you can follow me using the Austin Marathon App (just click the picture!). My bib number is #2715. Assuming everything works out there, you should be able to see my 5k, 5mi, 10mi, Half Marathon, 20mi, and Finish times as they happen. The app also will use my pace (up to the last check point) to guess where I am, so you can sort of follow me as I run the course, too!

Good luck to everyone who’ll be out there with me!

Run Hard. Run Happy. Here we go!

Austin Marathon: T-2 Weeks Recap

Whelp… I’ve officially done my last pre-marathon double-digit miles run. Now, let the relaxing and true tapering begin. Runs now will be mostly about getting some blood flow and stretching out my legs, not so much for performance.

These last two weeks went really well: every run (including the longer ones) was at tempo. I think that bodes well for race day, but we’ll see!

In other news, I participated in the Strava “Base Miles Blast” Challenge, which was basically a collective challenge to run as many miles as possible during the month of January.

Base Mile Blast

I think I did pretty well on this one: 122 miles total last month! That put me at 1455 out of 9519 participants, which ain’t too shabby. I didn’t even come close to the guy who won… who ran a ridiculous 602.5 miles last month (jaw hits floor).

So anyway… training basically complete. There will be no more gains in fitness other than the general recovery that comes with two weeks of a lighter load. The big challenge now is to not gain weight in the meantime.

Run Happy!


Austin Marathon: T-4 Weeks Recap

Coming down to it! This week was a good improvement (although it’s easy to get in a ~40 mile week when your long run is up to 20 miles).

Started out kind of slow on Tuesday. Too much pizza plus a couple of beers left me kind of loaded down for the first few miles. I didn’t really get going until the last mile before getting home:

On Thursday came probably my best run of my whole training! Starting out at 8:15/mile pace, I had completely reverse splits (meaning every mile was faster than the one before it). My last mile was at about 6:55/mile pace! With an average of of 7:24/mile for 8.5 miles. I felt awesome (and finally healthy again).

I followed that up with a nice quick 4 on Friday:

And then a really solid long run (19.5 miles) on Sunday to polish of the week yesterday. I was hoping to get this above 20 miles, but I messed up by thinking taking the trail (instead of the sidewalk) down to Town Lake would net me more than it did.

So, that’ll be the longest run I do pre-marathon. I need to have a really solid week this week because I’m headed to Boston to see Hillary (yay!), but it’s pretty cold there so I’m sure I’ll chicken out over the weekend. Then I’ll need another really solid week following the trip. But without too big of a long run that weekend because by then we’re down to taper time!

Big goal for the next month: lose a few pounds (or at least don’t gain any) while tapering back the mileage. That’ll come in big on race day.

Run Happy!

Austin Marathon: T-5 Weeks Recap

I was sick (it may or may not have been this flu everyone’s been talking about) from Sunday until Friday… so my running suffered. I did, however, still get in about 30 miles this week, which ain’t too shabby for being sick for so much of it. I also ran my longest run to date (18.4 miles), and it went pretty well.

My sick runs:

My long run (when I was feeling a bit better):

I managed just north of 8:20 pace for my long run. Which isn’t terrible… if I did that for another 8 miles it would translate into the top range of what I’d be happy with for my marathon time. But I’d really prefer to be around 8:00 pace come race day. But not bad for a sick week.

Austin Marathon: T-6 Weeks Recap

Missed the updates over Christmas Break. I got some runs in, including some pretty good ones. This month is really the time to hit it hard and take it to the finish.

Hoping to get in a nice 40+ mile week this week with something close to a 18 mile long run. However, I’ve somehow picked up a cold/flu bug, so hopefully that doesn’t keep me down (at least not too long).

Austin Marathon: T-9 Weeks Recap

So, last week was a little off for the training. That’ll happen when six days are on the road. Would have been nice to get at least north of 20 miles on the week, but that just didn’t work out.

Two runs on the treadmill:

And this one.

And then I got a great little 7ish miler in actually around the Oak Ridge National Lab campus:

This week has also started off slow… need to get back at it before and during the Christmas break!

Update: Oh! I really like my new shoes: