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Why There Will Always Be Another Finish Line After Boston

Written on April 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm , by

Betty Wong crosses the finish line at the More/FITNESS Women's Half Marathon.

FITNESS Editor-in-Chief Betty Wong crosses the finish line at the More/FITNESS Women’s Half Marathon on Sunday, April 14, 2013. Photo by John Herr.

The day before the Boston Marathon, I crossed the finish line of the More/Fitness Women’s Half-Marathon in New York City’s Central Park. About a month before Boston, I had crossed the finish line of the Los Angeles Marathon. Both times my tired legs somehow found the energy to surge through the last few hundred yards. With arms held high, a smile on my face and the cheering crowds drowning out whatever playlist has been pumping for hours through my earbuds, something magical always propels me forward as I run toward joy, exhilaration and complete satisfaction.

Crossing the finish line brings relief, pride and bliss, and there’s never a moment you want it more than that last .1 of a 13.1-mile half or the final .2 of a 26.2-mile marathon. On Monday, thousands of runners in Boston had that same drive and focus shattered by two cruel, horrific bombs.

The blasts shook them out of their thoughts of elation, of accomplishment, of post-race celebrations over beer and burgers. In seconds, their hearts went from swelling with gratitude and love for family and friends who had supported them on race day and through months of training, to pounding with fear and panic over when and how they would reunite with their loved ones, if ever.

I was not in Boston on Monday, but from my desk at Fitness magazine, I was there in spirit. That morning, still high on endorphins from the wonderful race we hosted the day before with New York Road Runners, I wished the runners in Boston the same exuberance, strength and determination that were so palpable from the women runners at our half-marathon. I excitedly logged onto the Boston Athletic Association’s website so I could track the progress of my friend and Fitness colleague Amy Macauley as she ran a strong pace through every split of her 26.2-mile trek into downtown Boston. When her final finish time popped up on my screen, I was thrilled and elated, just as I’d been the morning before.

News broke of the explosions less than an hour later. My heart sank for Amy, for the thousands of runners, spectators, organizers and volunteers. How could a day meant to be a celebration of all that is good about the human spirit—from the runners whose athleticism, dedication and grit are so deserving of admiration to the spectators who stand on the sidelines for hours hoping to catch a glimpse of their loved one and scream encouraging hoots and hollers at the sea of strangers running by—go from so right to so wrong?

Those two bombs placed in such close proximity to the finish line were intended to maim and kill, to stop us in our tracks. They robbed us of precious lives and limbs, and my heart breaks for those innocent spectators who were hurt and for their grieving families. The crimes took away our moments of celebration, but they did not end our journey. As any runner will tell you, every race is measured in much more than miles and the time it takes to cross the finish line. Whether in your training you went from fat to fit, weak to strong, doubter to believer, the course keeps going long after the race is over. The bombs in Boston will never take away our collective will to move forward, to sprint toward what is good in life. Already thousands on Facebook have committed to running 26.2 miles in the coming days, weeks and months to honor Boston. We run because we have to. We run for those who can’t. We run because that is how we keep reaching, growing, healing. There will continue to be many more start lines to join, and this weekend our thoughts will be with marathoners lining up in London, as they will be thinking of their running comrades in Boston. In tragic times like this, we simply keep moving forward. We run for joy. We run for good health. We run for peace. That is how we finish strong.

Fit Blogger We Love: Food and Fun on the Run

Written on September 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm , by

Mary dominates during running season. Are you gearing up for any races this fall?

When we think of Florida, we imagine palm trees, sandy beaches and an escape from the hustle and bustle of New York City. If the weather is cool-ish, we’ll toss a jog in for good measure. Mary, a Tampa Bay resident, sees things a bit differently. She details her running adventures on her blog, Food and Fun on the Run, filling us in on the nitty gritty of what it’s like to train in such humid weather, along with the fun food she gets to devour after accomplishing a beastly workout. Nothing screams “balance” to us more!

My favorite way to work out: Definitely running! I started in high school to stay in shape for other sports, and haven’t stopped since! I love the feeling of getting outside and hitting the pavement, with only my current run on my mind. It’s therapeutic for me!

On my fit life list: I want to run all five of the major marathons! I have already completed NYC and Boston, I have Chicago in a few weeks, and then I need to complete London and Berlin! I cannot wait for the day that I have the chance to say I completed all five races!

My biggest indulgence: Chicken fingers and french fries with a side of honey mustard. Yep, it’s that specific! I love this guilty-pleasure meal. A little secret: my husband and I had it the night of our wedding after we left the reception, and it tasted so good! [Editor's note: Be sure to check out our more waistline-friendly chicken fingers. Just as tasty and only 212 calories per serving!]

My fitness mantra: “Attitude is everything.” I truly believe that we all create our lives, good or bad. If you start your fitness journey thinking that you are going to fail, then you have created that for your future. Rather, know that you are going to work incredibly hard to achieve everything you set out to do, and you will accomplish it, little by little. Your attitude is everything – make it amazing!

My motivation comes from: A burning desire deep inside me wanting to beat my times and accomplishments from before. I am very competitive with myself, and constantly strive to make myself a better athlete and overall person. As soon as I reach a goal, I set another one to continuously push myself harder.

After we saw the delicious spread of food she whipped up at a recent bridal shower for another Fit Blogger We Love, we couldn’t help but beg Mary for a tasty dish sending us into the fall season. Check it out below!

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5 Olympic Moments with Ryan Hall

Written on August 7, 2012 at 10:42 am , by

Marathoner Ryan Hall (Photo Courtesy of NBC Olympics)

With a less than a week away from the Men’s Marathon in the 2012 London Olympics, Marathoner Ryan Hall took the time to answer our questions about his Olympic moments. Get a glimpse into the life of  the American Half Marathon and Olympic Trials record holder:

1) Tell us about your first “Holy sh*t, I’m an Olympian!” moment, in regards to the 2012 Games.

We were lucky to get our qualify out of the way back in January so I’ve had a long time to soak in the fact that I’ll be returning to the Olympics.  I don’t think it hit me that I was going to qualify for the London Olympics till I came down the final 100 meters to the finish line in Houston.  In the marathon anything can happen so I was just trying not to pass out and to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I think it was the longest last mile of my life.
2) During the Trials or Games, what was your most challenging moment to get through?

I was having some stomach problems in the race because I was taking Aleve to take the edge off some foot problems I had been battling with leading up to the Trials.  As a result of the stomach problems I wasn’t able to take in my usual calories or fluids which  lead to an out of body experience around mile 23.  The last 3 miles of a marathon is always hard but this was like I was outside of my body watching as my body was trying to tell me it was out of energy and strength.  I was in second at the time but I wasn’t sure I was even going to make it to the finish line let alone finish in the top 3 and earn my spot on the Olympic Team.  I prayed for strength and thought of my wife waiting for me at the finish line and somehow, by the grace of God, I made it.

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Fit Blogger We Love: Once Upon a [L]ime

Written on November 17, 2011 at 3:24 pm , by

This marathoner rarely poses for "normal" pictures, one of the reasons we love her!

Sarah from Once Upon a [L]ime has been working hard to complete a marathon in under four hours for a while, bringing her readers through all of the ups and downs of training along the way. When she missed out on the achievement during her dream race, she led us to believe another attempt was in the distant future. Little did we know she was secretly plotting her victory run! Sarah nabbed the impressive milestone last weekend and has been celebrating ever since. Read on to find out what other goals are on her fit list and why her witty sarcasm keeps us coming back for more.

On my fit life list: You know the Krispy Kreme Challenge? I want to start one with beer. Run two miles, chug a bunch of beer, run back to the finish. I know, real lofty life goals. The college kid in me just won’t die.

Beer or not, I would love to start my own race. I love running for a cause and think it’s a great way to raise funds, awareness and promote healthy lifestyles. Everyone wins!

My biggest indulgence: It comes post-race: bottomless ____ brunch. Insert your choice of mimosa/margarita/beer/any form of delicious alcoholic beverage.

My healthy treat tip: I use the sample cups at Yogurtland for a taste of the “indulgent” flavors—chocolate hazelnut, red velvet, pumpkin pie—and then fill my cup with the “healthy” flavors and top with fruit.

Olympic sport I’d love to try: I don’t want to brag, but I was a pretty awesome ice skater growing up. Oh yeah, I was the next Nancy Kerrigan practicing on the carpet in my parent’s living room. But seriously, probably sailing. It’ll come in handy whenever my husband, Brian, finally buys me that boat I’ve been wanting. It’s so unfair to live in SoCal without a boat. Or a live-in maid. Or a reality TV show…

My “I Did It” moment: I’ve had a lot of people asking me how to get into running and racing recently. The fact that I’ve inspired somebody is so motivating to keep at it, and that they think I’ve got my crap together enough to ask for my advice? Either they’re crazy or I’m doing something right (probably the former).

My fitness mantra: “It’s gotta suck now so it sucks less later.” I’m not one of the lucky ones that jump out of bed every morning excited to work out. Running is hard and it’s a struggle for me to stay on track. Whenever I’m tempted to skip a workout or bail early on a run, I remind myself that it’ll only make the end goal that much harder to achieve. Whether that’s PR’ing a marathon (Editor’s note: Sarah nabbed a sub-four hour marathon last weekend!) or fitting back into my skinny jeans, taking the easy way out isn’t going to help.

Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email blog@fitnessmagazine.com

CEO Julie Smolyansky: Running the NYC Marathon for Maternal Health

Written on November 4, 2011 at 1:06 pm , by

Julie Smolyansky with Christy Turlington Burns, getting ready for the NYC Marathon! (Photo courtesy of Julie Smolyansky)

Running a company is hard work. Add marathon training and raising two kids and you’ve got a challenge. But this Sunday, Lifeway Foods CEO Julie Smolyansky will run the ING New York City Marathon (her first time racing on the streets of New York!) along with Christy Turlington Burns for Every Mother Counts, a nonprofit that aims to raise awareness for and improve maternal health worldwide.

We talked to her about marathon training and why maternal health is such an important issue.

How long have you been a runner?

I hated running until I moved to NYC for work for a month in April 2001. I had no time to do fitness classes at the gym, so I started running in Central Park. Then I started to love it. I ran my first marathon in October of that year.

How do you fit in marathon training and workouts on your busy schedule?

After having my two daughters, who are now ages 3 and 1, it was important for me to get back in shape. I felt like not working out was hurting my emotional health and physical health. Now I bring the kids in a jogging stroller. It’s fun for them and I get to be an advocate for their health.

At first it was hard to find time to work out. It’s usually the first thing that falls off because you think it’s not a necessity. Now I schedule it in my calendar. Just whenever there’s a break in my schedule—an hour to two hours a day, but even 30 minutes can mean a 3-mile run.

For more on Smolyansky, her work with Every Mother Counts and her goals for the marathon, Read more

How Biggest Loser Season 10 Winner Patrick House Is Giving Back

Written on April 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm , by

Patrick finishes the highly esteemed Boston Marathon

Patrick finishes the highly esteemed Boston Marathon

I recently got a chance at the Cybex Arc Trainer launch to spend some one-on-one time with Patrick House, last season’s winner of The Biggest Loser.  As one of The Biggest Loser‘s number one fans (yes, I really am, there is no denying that), this was definitely right up my alley.

After winning The Biggest Loser Patrick went home to South Carolina and founded a co-ed boarding school program for overweight teens. At MindStream Academy kids learn how to follow a healthy lifestyle, get fit, and build better self-confidence. The students are given a unique experience, unlike the schedule that regular junior high and high school students follow. They’re given nutrition lessons (with hands on experiences like harvesting their own fresh food!) and engage in outdoor fitness programs, like yoga, throughout the day. To think that some schools across America have cut P.E. classes seems crazy to me, so I love that Patrick is making health and fitness a top priority with the help of his program. This is something I love as I really hope to one day be able to help teens in the same way that Patrick is able to with his program at MindStream. I don’t think kids these days are as involved in sports and eating right as they were back when I was young (video games, junk food, and technology may be to blame), so we really need to pass on the right habits to them now.

My goal for this summer is to give a helping hand wherever I can pay it forward all that I’ve learned–visiting South Carolina to check out Patrick’s camp is definitely on my must-do list! I think we all need to take some time out of our busy lives and help our youth build a better future for themselves—they are the leaders of tomorrow!

[Another Biggest Loser fan favorite, Tara Costa, is also doing her part to pay it forward with her  Inspire Change Foundation. Check it out!]

What are you guys doing to give back this summer?

P.S. Patrick ran in the Boston Marathon last Monday with a few of his other Biggest Loser buddies. I love how the contestants are like one big happy family!

Mourning the Loss of Marathon Legend Grete Waitz

Written on April 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm , by

Grete crosses the finish line at the 1992 New York City Marathon with New York Road Runners founder Fred Lebow as he battled cancer. (Photo courtesy of Victah

Grete finishes the '92 New York City Marathon with New York Road Runners founder Fred Lebow as he battled cancer. (Photo courtesy of Victah/Photo Run)

We had marathon fever in the office yesterday (as we mentioned last night). Many of us were glued to our computers following the Boston Marathon on Twitter. Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai ran the fastest marathon ever (2:03:02)! And Americans Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher ran personal bests (2:04:58—the fastest ever by an American—and 2:24:52, respectively). It was a wonderful day for running greats.

And today is a sad one, with the news that legendary Norwegian marathoner Grete Waitz, nine-time winner of the New York City Marathon and an Olympic silver medalist, has died of cancer at age 57.

“If Grete had to go, it is somehow fitting that she lived until the day after one of the greatest weekends in the sport of marathon running,” Mary Wittenberg, President and CEO of New York Road Runners said today.

I remember seeing pictures of Grete running the New York City Marathon in Runner’s World magazine while I was growing up and thinking that I want to run a marathon, too, someday. She was one of the first women marathoners I knew about and who inspired me. Grete will be missed.