My friend Rip used to say, “The way to girls’ hearts is to tell the girls who know that they’re smart that they’re pretty and to tell the girls who know that they’re pretty that they’re smart.” In my characteristically cheeky fashion, I once asked, “And what do you tell the girls who know that they’re both smart and pretty?” Rip said, “I tell those girls that I want to marry them.”
Although it was never discussed, I grew up with parents who encouraged me to lead with my brains, not my appearance. At Mom’s, we watched the MacNeil Lehrer NewsHour together every night while cooking dinner. We played checkers and chess and Scrabble. Mom always cobbled together enough for us to pick out a few books at the Scholastic Book Fair. I occasionally chafed at my mother’s seemingly prude rules–wool tights, not bare legs; no jelly shoes; no stirrup pants; and, believe it or not, no prom. The word “hussy” was tossed out when I came home from a ballet recital wearing eye shadow. Summers with Dad and my brother also gave me little space to be girly. We stayed up for meteor showers, visited the Museum of Science and Industry regularly, climbed giant sand dunes, and helped Dad tinker with satellite dishes. I learned very early how to braid my own hair and tie my own pigtails.
Fast forward to my my senior year of college, and I was identified as a top prospect for a Rhodes Scholarship. The professor who led the fellowship program at Georgetown was a beloved government professor. His classes on leadership were impossible to get into, even for seniors. Yet, he took me under his wing, guiding me through the Rhodes application process and preparing me for my interviews. My world opened up. I had tea with Georgetown President Leo O’Donovan in his soaring office in Healy Hall where he encouraged me to read poetry out loud. Daily. I had prep dinners at the Tombs with ambassadors, scholars, and a U.S. senator to coach me on how to present my best self.
I wasn’t ultimately selected for the scholarship, but the professor asked me to become his research assistant. Over the course of my final semester and the following summer, I helped him research military leadership and presidential history. We had countless discussions about graduate school and potential career paths. With his sage counsel, I ultimately decided to join the Foreign Service.
With a State Department hiring freeze in effect, I moved to New York in January 2001. Sometime that spring, the professor was in New York and invited me to join him for dinner at a university club. I was making $22,000 a year, had no health insurance, and was trying to make heads or tails of life after college. A civilized dinner with an kind, old mentor sounded lovely. I don’t recall what we discussed, but I imagine we talked about his new book, what was happening with the Foreign Service, and my plan to go eventually to grad school.
When dinner finished, he mentioned that he had a copy of his new book upstairs for me. Without thinking, I went up to the room where he was staying. The door had barely shut and he started kissing my neck and wrapped his arms around me. I froze and then backed away, shaking my head and softly said, “No.” He started crying. He told me he was in love with me. He said he was very lonely because his wife was sick. He was nearly 50 years my senior. My professor. My mentor. My Rhodes Scholarship coach. I felt so sad. For him. For me. I got a cab back to my apartment in Hell’s Kitchen. I remember staring out the window on the way home, thinking in a very matter-of-fact way that my innocence was gone. I was only 22.
This episode resurfaced from my deep memory last fall as women started coming forward with stories about how now President Trump had come on to them, and it has returned to mind again in recent weeks.
I’m sharing my story, partly because it’s cathartic, but also because I want people to understand it’s not just the pretty girls, or the smart girls, but also the girls you want to marry. The ones who know left from right, and right from wrong. The ones who can, and do, stand up for themselves a thousand different ways every day. And yet we bury this. We’re ashamed. We want to protect those who’ve taken something from us.
I still feel deep sympathy for the professor for whatever wires got crossed in his head and in his heart to have such a terrible lapse in judgment. I was only 22, and the gap between us in age, life experience, and power was vast. I hid this for 17 years, and I’m not exactly meek. I worry a lot about the women and men who experience things far darker by someone with a lot more power.
I don’t have good answers. I look at the picture of me above with the messy pigtails and the sweet, innocent smile and wonder what other tools my parents could have possibly given that little girl. In truth, I think they nailed it. I was taught left from right, and right from wrong. I can, and I do, stand up for myself a thousand different ways every day. Rewinding the tape, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I would tell my younger self to find good mentors, to trust that they had my best interests at heart, and when that trust was breached, to learn to sympathize and eventually forgive.
I think the growing discussion of the burden shift away from victims and towards those who are committing the wrongs is an important one. Sure we need to root out the true degenerates and both lock them up and get them help. But we also need to raise our boys, and our girls, to respect and value each other as individuals with rights and dignity, to recognize the enormous power each of us has to harm and to do good, and to make the right choices time and again. As the singer-songwriter Jewel wrote, “I’m sensitive, and I’d like to stay that way.”
I never planned to stay this long. Eleven years and counting. Sure, Boston winters are rough. But summer and fall are gorgeous, and I found a job and friends I love. The days and months and years quickly accumulated.
I’ll never forget my first Fenway Park visit with Bill Conway in the summer of 2006. It felt like I was inside of a tin can. The green paint paled in comparison to Wrigley’s green ivy. One of America’s most iconic ballparks? Huh. That September, I began working at Ropes & Gray. As baby lawyers, a law school friend and I were often the lucky recipients of partners’ seats. Kristen kept score by hand. She loved Nick Green, I, Jacoby Ellsbury. We swapped notes on firm life, friends and our adventures in a city that was still not quite home for us.
Within a few years, I was sharing season tickets with colleagues. I figured I would take it one season at a time and pull the plug when it was time for Boston and me to part ways. Fenway became where I would go when slipping out of work on a weeknight or to spend lazy Sunday afternoons, catching up with old friends over crappy beer and sometimes even crappier baseball. Every Saturday before Patriot’s Day, my Dad and I would go to a game, a ritual before lacing up my sneaks and heading to Hopkinton. One year, my Mom came too. And my parents, separated since a few weeks into my life, spent the Saturday before Marathon Monday catching up on family and friends over nine innings.
Somewhere in those years, I became a fast runner. In retrospect, I don’t fully understand it. But some combination of will, training, discipline, self-awareness, mental toughness, and genetics converged. On more than a few Sundays, I’d show up for the 1:35 p.m. Sox game with a 20-miler under my belt. Nothing quite hit the spot like a Fenway Frank (no ketchup, only mustard, thanks).
The 2013 finish line bombings forever intertwined Fenway and the Boston Marathon. Big Papi rallied our wounded citizens by reminding us, “This is our f’ing city!” A month later, many of us descended on Fenway for Boston Bites Back, where local chefs took over the concession stands to raise money for the One Fund to help our bombing victims. That night I took my first stroll on the warning track. A few months later, I found myself on the Fenway Park grass, enjoying what remains my favorite concert of all time–Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z. JT wore a 617 jersey. We were still hurting. In the weeks to follow, with the smell of fall in the air and New England defiance in our blood, the Red Sox won the World Series. Our f’ing city. My city too. My backyard had become the Esplanade, the carriage way along the Newton Hills. The Citco sign, my welcome home.
Fenway remained a fixture in my life. Stifling hot summer games. Frigid April and September nights. Becca, my dear friend and running partner, got engaged while throwing out the first pitch. My brother and I celebrated our Dad’s 75th birthday watching Paul McCartney together, 26 years after our first concert when Dad took us to McCartney at Soldier’s Field.
I suppose this story should end with a remarkable comeback, the aging runner who after a few years of spotty performances regained her stride and ran the race of a lifetime. I hope one of my fellow Fenway runners is telling that story tonight. It’s hard not to love that narrative.
Mine is far from that. My training was imperfect. I pulled my hamstring grinding away miles with Becca on the river. August wore me down with heavy work commitments, too much time in planes, trains and automobiles, two heart-wrenching asylum cases, and the unexpected loss of two friends.
The weather was gross Friday night. Hot and humid to start. Light rain with thunder clouds looming turned to torrential downpours. Our shoes and socks were completely water-logged with many miles to go. The crushed red brick of the warning track found its way into our shoes. The corners were tight and added pressure to our inside legs.
But I was running. In Fenway Park. The constantly shifting gray clouds were stunning in the open sky above us. In between storms, we saw a beautiful sunset. When the darkness set in, the Citco sign blinked beyond the outfield. The Pru stood there proudly too. And for ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN LAPS I had old, dear friends there to cheer me on with their kids and signs and booming voices. I also picked up a few anonymous fans at Bleacher Bar, who shouted words of encouragement every time I looped past.
On Friday night, there was no place I would have rather been than at my beloved Fenway, that green tin can, running a marathon. Our f’ing city. My city too. I never planned to stay this long.
Anyone in Becca’s or my orbit knows we have a special friendship. Perhaps it’s the inevitable intimacy that comes with early-morning grumpiness and aging bodies. But I also chalk it up to hundreds of miles and hours of time together, undivided. For sure, the belly laughs and big cries are most memorable, but the real glue is the little stuff. We worry, we vent, and we share life’s tiny joys. And conversation always spills over to the people we love. For such dramatically different people, Becca and I fundamentally get each other because, to borrow her words, we “love the sh*t” out of our family and friends.
After my sweet pal got engaged to Joe, we often chatted while pounding the pavement about what their wedding might look like. Becca and Joe struggled in the wake of their engagement with how to juggle the outpouring of affection they received with celebrating their lives to come. Both are wonderfully spoiled with loving parents, siblings they adore, and friends near and far who fill their lives with happiness. Ultimately, Bec and Joe decided to keep things simple, exchanging vows only with Becca’s daughter, Taylor, by their sides. In many ways, it was hard because Becca and Joe risked hurting people they loved. But they also felt so deeply supported that they banked on their nearest and dearest understanding and being with them in spirit.
On Saturday, May 27, I had the honor of leading Becca and Joe through their vows under a tree by the Charles River. I wept from start to finish. There it was. Love in its purest form. Husband and wife. Parents and child. The goodwill of a community who got them to that riverbank and will carry them well beyond, through thick and thin, the good days and the tough ones. Becca, Joe and Taylor, I love the [bananas] out of you and am so happy to share with you, your family and your friends, your happily ever after.
Sometimes life is about survival. To back things up.. In February, I was pacing Uncle Steven in The New Orleans Marathon and we were spot on for a Boston Qualifier, when we hit mile 22 he collapsed. He was rushed to the hospital by ambulance, it was exceptionally hot and he suffered. That same day we lost his mom, (my grandmother). Two days later, I developed an unbearable pain in my calf during a track practice. I went to my doctor, and learned it was a 3rd grade tear in my calf. What in the world was happening???
Fast forward two weeks, Steven was going to give this another shot, and finish his first marathon in hopes to qualify for Boston, but really our goal for him was to finish, and I was not missing it for anything. We headed to Austin Texas to give it our all. We woke up marathon day, and It was hot and 95% humidity.. We did everything right, we studied the course, we were hydrated, stretched and foam rolled, and ready to tear down the streets of Austin, despite the obnoxious hills (don’t mess with Texas). At mile two, my calf was shot, and I knew I had a very long day ahead of me. “Steven Go, I’m in trouble!” He went, but nothing was going to stop me from finishing. Jenny forfeited her race time to run with me and make me laugh and to be there for me. Im not sure how I got so lucky to have such an awesome friend I don’t know what I would have done without her. We joked that we were house shopping as we ran by the houses for sale, as we loved Austin! The people, the food, the corn hole, the gelato, the no snow, etc! We laughed at the “Trump has wall issues too” signs (for the marathoners hitting the “wall”) and “walk if you voted for Trump” signs on the course. Austin has a sense of humor. My sister Lauren took one for the team, and ran 13.1 miles with my Uncle so he would not be alone. This was her longest distance in years, we pulled it together and were truly a team that day. Whatever it took to survive and get Steven across the finish line safely. Joe knew I was in trouble, and he had Taylor on Skype as I was running by, and it meant everything to me. She told me how proud she was of me, she showed me her unicorn stuffed animal, and we laughed, said our “I love you’s, blew kisses, air “hi-fives” and I kept chipping away at the miles! She did not know I was in distress. My amazing friend Carrie ran with me for 6 miles giving me a rockstar tour of Austin. We caught up to Steven at mile 18, and ran him to the finish, taking one mile at a time, fist pumping down Congress Street to the finish. We did it!! Watching a stranger hug my uncle as he placed the medal around his neck, made it all worth it. We hugged and hugged just so proud of each other for triumphing. No BQ but Stevens first marathon under his belt. Was it the smartest decision to run through pain? NO. But coming home without a medal seemed at the time a lot more painful to me, given it was Stevens first marathon and I knew he was going to finish and that he’d be so hurt for me if I didn’t. Also, I needed to check Texas off my states list, which marked my 29th marathon state! We ran the Texas marathon for my grandmother, Yia-Yia. Who has taught us that if at first you don’t succeed, TRY TRY again!
Boston Marathon was next for me. Boston Marathon, my absolute favorite day of the year. This year the John Hancock included me in the ambassador field and it was truly the most incredible experience. Hanging with my idols, running on the Red Sox Field with Tay, VIP bus to Hopkinton start, athletes elite village, speaking to Hopkinton middle school, to name a few, it was all so AWESOME!
Saturday we ran the Fargo Marathon in North Dakota. (Fargo Marathon rocks– FYI truly a hidden gem marathon) I knew that on a fast, flat course Steven would qualify and he was in no way shape or form giving up. It was important to him so it was important to me. Again, we hydrated and studied the course, and did everything right. We had a plan. We were spot on with our splits the entire time, and we ran the perfect race, including negative splits. I knew that when he was singing out loud at mile 2 that it was going to be an awesome day. I could feel his energy and confidence, but all guards up until we crossed the finish line. We crossed the finish line inside the Fargo Dome, holding hands and we both ugly out loud cried and he picked me up at the finish. BQ with 17 minutes to spare! I felt like I had won the Olympics it meant far more to me than any race I had ever won or PR I ever hit.
Uncle Steven cheered me on in Miami during the World Marathon Challenge and told me THAT DAY he would run the Boston Marathon and I believed him. I inspired him that day and he inspired me back 1,000 times harder..
This photo above is special to me. Pictured: Dave McGillivray (director of the Boston Marathon) who encouraged me to go for it when I asked him for advice when I ran the World, and he is actually running the World Marathon Challenge this January, and Uncle Steven is running Daves race… Boston 2018! The irony! We LOVED Dave’s motivational talk, especially his quote “Your mistakes are not failures, they are learning experiences”. Yes they are! Go see Dave speak, we were totally moved!
What did I learn over the past few months? If/when life knocks you down. Get up, dig deep, and do not EVER give up. “Keep truckin” as my dad always says to me. Believe in yourself, pace yourself and take chances.
As part of the Title IX generation, I too often take for granted the great strides achieved by and for women before I was born. My own life story would have been impossible had I come into this world a handful of decades earlier. Georgetown University accepted women in its College of Arts and Sciences for the first time in 1969, a mere nine years before I was born. The Boston Marathon didn’t allow women to participate until 1972. Ropes & Gray named its first female partner in 1973. By the time I entered the Healy Gates in 1996, ran my first Boston in 2011, and became a partner at my “white shoe” law firm in 2015, I wasn’t remotely a trailblazer–just a nice kid, with big goals, who worked hard.
What struck me during election season, and has stuck with me since, is that we women still have a ways to go. With the presidential debates, “mansplaining” became part of our lexicon. What men talk about in the locker room spilled over into public discourse. And that final glass ceiling for American women, President of the United States, seems to be indestructible plexiglass fixed to our firmament.
I have dealt with pigs. I have experienced the tragedy too many women have suffered of remaining silent, and burying deeply within us the bad behaviors of powerful men, not trusting that we would be believed or that our own reputations would survive. I daily walk that tightrope between being assertive and being deemed a B. I am asked and expected to do things well below my pay grade that my male colleagues are not. Fellow women, also short on sleep, judge my time-saving ponytail. Embarrassingly, I sometimes understate my accomplishments so I don’t scare away potential suitors. But for so many woman, particularly women of color, those without immigration status, and low-wage workers, the inequality and the inappropriate treatment they face daily is devastatingly worse. Unequal pay, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and straight-up discrimination in work and at school and in their communities. Too often, these women are disproportionately shouldering family responsibilities to boot.
Friday was really hard. I took part of the day off to help with citizenship applications. I hoped it would lift my spirits, but the cold, gray, raw Boston day matched my heavy mood. My regular work day then started mid-afternoon and didn’t finish until close to midnight. Clients and colleagues, neighbors walking their dogs, everyone seemed snippy and cheerless.
Saturday morning, my alarm went off at 5:35 and my battlegear went on: running clothes, sneakers, and a watch. I stuffed my pockets with Gu, tissues, and 20 bucks and stuck some KT tape on my hip flexor. Off to Hopkinton with Joe at the wheel and Becca and me guzzling Starbucks and cracking ourselves up with inauguration memes–George W. and the rain pancho, Melania giving Michelle her speech back, and Bill ogling Ivanka. So good.
My longest run since last March was 11 miles. Becca maybe had run 13 since the fall. But we had a mission, and we had each other. It’s one mile from the finish of the Boston marathon to the State House. 26.2 + 1.
Off we went and slowly chipped away at the miles. We talked about how proud we were of Becca’s mom who had taken a late-night bus to DC. We wondered what in particular was motivating women who aren’t overtly political (I’d put Becca and her mom in that camp) to march. We took breaks when we needed them, and the miles fell away. As we approached Boston, we saw more and more women with pink hats and so many men walking hand-in-hand with them. Right before turning onto Hereford Street, a sign with the letters V-A-G-I-N-A came into focus. We cracked up and kept chugging.
After a few selfies at the finish line on Boylston, we made our way to the Boston Common, paying tribute to the Public Garden ducklings in their pink hats along the way. Many hours into the march, the Common was still packed. Women and men, young and old, every color, race and creed. There we were, as Dr. King would say, “tied together in that single garment of destiny.” The sun was out and shining gloriously on our City upon a Hill.
Becca and I wanted to run that extra mile in honor of the women who endured so much so we could vote, so we could be a small-business owner and a law firm partner, so we could run the Boston marathon, so we could be loved and honored and respected the way that we are by our fathers and brothers and the many other good men in our lives. We also wanted to run the extra mile, one more than either of us has ever run, to honor the strength and commitment and hope that lies in each and every one of us to dig deep and persevere when all seems hopeless and there’s nothing left in the tank.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you to each and every one of you who joined the women’s marches in person or in spirit. As it is said in the good book, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
We left for Chile exactly one year ago today. I was scared out of my mind but little did I know, it would be the most exciting year of my life! I got to throw out the first pitch at Fenway Park, where my fiancé Joe asked me to marry him on the mound, I got a Globie and met David Ortiz, I got recognized at the State House, it’s been incredible. The plan was to fit more marathons in but there was something special about running the World Marathon Challenge and Boston in 2016. I will never forget it.
Fast forward one year.. I still own my day care and I still manage Moozys Ice Cream Shop (go try the Becca 7 ice cream flavor). Taylor is 9 and we are really loving life. She makes me laugh every day. She just competed in her first gymnastics meet at the Hynes Convention Center! We are coming up on February 4th, which was proclaimed Becca Pizzi Day in Belmont, and I will be in New Orleans pacing the Mardi Gras Marathon for my Uncle Steven on his first Marathon in hopes qualify for Boston! I have inspired him to run, which makes me so happy and the reason why I run.. To inspire. Two weeks later Jenny and I will be running the Austin Marathon! Of course I will be running the Boston Marathon on Patriots Day, my favorite day of the year.
I wasn’t prepared for how hard it is to sit out of the World Marathon Challenge, I had so much fun taking on each continent and making the most out of the 10 hours on each continent. This years field is a fast one and I know they are going to have a blast, Im so excited to follow it but I will always wish I was there. I have come to know several of the runners, who are amazing and I hope they have as much fun as I did, they are in phenomenal hands with Richard and this race. It goes by too fast.
What am I most looking forward to this year? Getting married, watching Tay grow and checking off more states in my 50 states marathon journey! April 30th is our second annual Becca Pizzi Family Fun Run 5k which was very successful last year, this date is pending so pencil it in for now!. Two graduating seniors were awarded scholarships through my foundation which I am very proud of! Save the date, I hope to see you there!
Thank you for being there for me and for caring about my dreams. I laid them out there in front of everyone and I could not have chased them without your unconditional love and support. Believe in yourself and take chances.
On this sunny Friday, we bring you another edition of Morning Coffee with Becca. To use one of my favorite expressions, “No lollygagging!” Let’s get to it.
Jenny: Bec, our last coffee talk was before the Boston Marathon in April. Tell us about a few of the exciting developments in your life since then.
Becca: There’s LOTS going on. I still own my day care and am still managing Moozy’s Ice Cream. The rest is a puzzle to fit everything in—speaking engagements, representing lululemon as an ambassador, coaching Tay’s soccer team, and lots of running. I’ll be pushing a rider for Team Hoyt at a race in a few weeks. That will be so much fun! I’ve also teamed up with John Hancock’s marathon team, which I am really looking forward to, as well. I love what I do and that is so important.
Jenny: How are your public speaking opportunities going? Do you ever get nervous?
Becca: Although it will never be easy for me to be on stage, once I’m miked up, I’m good. I love to inspire people and public speaking gives me that chance. I’m really looking forward to giving at Tedx talk in January. That will be huge. Next Sunday, I’ll be speaking in Los Angeles at the Dream Center.
Jenny: Are you still working with the same sponsors?
Becca: Since our last Morning Coffee, I added Newton Running, and am still working with Cool Core/Dr. Cool and Ultima Replenisher. Lyon-Waugh and I are working on a 5K race and kids fun run this spring to raise money for Alzheimer’s. I could not ask for better sponsors. I’m proud to be part of these families.
Jenny: You’re in North Carolina for a very special weekend. What are you there for?
Becca: My parents, Tay, Joe and I are here because I’m being honored as Alumni of the Year at my college. I’m so proud to be an alumni of Mars Hill University. Coach Owens, my college coach, and MHU are a huge part of my success. I credit both for where I am today. I’m psyched to show Tay where I went to college and am looking forward to seeing my friends at homecoming!
Jenny: How’s Taylor these days?
Becca: Taylor is so proud of me, she tells me every day. I am so lucky to be her mom. She is loving gymnastics, dance, soccer and recess! Tay is so happy, I’m beyond proud of her. We are on a count-down until Halloween, 26 days!
Jenny: What’s she dressing up as?
Becca: A sassy skeleton!
Jenny: Immagonna let that one go. . . . Any big races on the horizon?
Becca: I’m being honored at the Tufts 10K this Monday. It’s one of my favorite races! In February, you, PATRICK FALLON, our Marines, and I are taking over Austin, Texas for the marathon! Austin, watch out, we are coming for you!
Jenny: I love that we haven’t asked the boys, but you assume they’re coming.
INVITATION BREAK, BROUGHT TO YOU BY I WASN’T RAISED IN A BARN.
Dan, Cal (d/b/a Marine One and Marine Two), we would love to see you in Austin in February over President’s Day weekend. You can run the half or full. I promise it will be fun. We can even watch Pat vote, as the Texas legislature will be in session. Friends are, of course, welcome.
BACK TO OUR IRREGULARLY SCHEDULED MORNING COFFEE.
Jenny: What’s your training schedule like these days?
Becca: Early morning runs with you on the river a few times a week. Also our hill workouts on Beacon Hill, while hurdling mice and rats (and dogs that look like rats). I still run with the Belmont track club I started on Tuesdays at 5 am (if you’re reading come run with us, all paces welcome!), with the Boston Bulldogs run club on Thursday nights in Cleveland Circle, and with the lululemon run club Friday nights at Lookout Farms in Natick. I’m running about 70 miles per week and I continue to work out at Fitness Together in Belmont, which I love!
Jenny: The skies are my favorite part of our mornings (next to your company of course). Loved spilling out of my car the other day, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, and being greeted with big, bright stars. The fog burning off as the sun rose over the river this morning was breathtaking. What’s your favorite part of our morning runs?
Becca: The sunrise (and us trying to find it) and ordering from my Starbucks “cut the line” app. Thanks for the tip!
Jenny: I dig mobile ordering. A rare VIP moment for this kid. What’s your least favorite thing about morning runs?
Becca: Lack of sleep. Let’s be honest, nothing hurts more than that 4:45 am alarm.
Jenny: Don’t tell anyone, but when I got home this morning, I showered, did about half an hour of work, and then went back to bed for 45 minutes. Chloe napped in solidarity. Last question—how should we celebrate our five years of friendship come January?
Becca: Finding Papi and getting a selfie with him. Was that not that plan!?! Big Papi, we’re coming for you . . . Happy Columbus Day weekend!
Anniversaries are on my mind. Fifteen years ago today, I trekked up Fifth Avenue, away from the rubble of the Twin Towers, to reunite with my roommates in Hells Kitchen. I will never forget those crystal blue skies. It was Election Day in New York.
Two weeks from tomorrow, I will celebrate my 10th anniversary at Ropes & Gray. T.S. Eliot wrote, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.” I have measured out mine in quarter hours, the standard billing increment at law firms around the world. Despite the painful cataloging of my time, the days and years have sped by because I love what I do with people I love.
This year also marks a running milestone. The weekend after the bar exam in July 2006, I ran my first half marathon through the hills of San Francisco. In the Bay Area this past week for work and to celebrate my brother’s 40th birthday, I remembered my first 13.1 with pride. I also recalled finishing the half and watching the marathoners soldier on, wondering how their bodies could cover that distance a second time.
I’m writing this post while flying home to Boston. It is a sunny Sunday across America. Over my left shoulder, I see the places I grew up– the Rockies, the Windy City, and the Indiana Sand Dunes. I have measured out my life with hikes through the aspens. I have measured out my life with Lake Michigan summers. I have measured out my life with school years completed, walks with Chloe, meals shared with friends, tears of laughter, sorrow, and regret, sermons that stir my soul, good days and bad, accomplishments and mistakes.
And, yes, I have measured out my life with miles under my sneakers. My last blog post was the morning of the Boston Marathon. I had decided not to run. My training hadn’t felt good, and I loathed poisoning a race I love so much with what I knew would be a painful slog. For much of the late spring and early summer, I thought I was mentally ready and continued to bike and swim to keep my fitness up. But every run felt like a battle. For the first time in my life, running had become a drag. Other than a birthday run, I pretty much went cold turkey until mid-August.
Since then, I’ve been slowly ramping up. I can feel that I’m getting my sea (road) legs back. How much I’ve missed it. I’ve missed Becca and our weekend runs together. I’ve missed the sense of accomplishment and deep sleep that comes from hard workouts. I’ve missed the routine of planning my days, nights and meals around my runs. And I’ve missed the time with my thoughts, the quiet time to reflect on all that has happened since the Twin Towers fell, since my first half marathon, since my days as a baby lawyer. I’m not far enough along to be confident I still have another marathon in me, but I committed to Becca I’d run another half late this fall. Gulp. My PR days seem gone, but maybe my goal will be to beat my 28-year-old self’s time. I liked that girl an awful lot. But I like this road-seasoned one even better.