The Boston Marathon Journey
After a small social media experiment, some much needed time offline to reset mentally and spiritually, I am feeling refreshed and motivated to continue the work! Work as in writing in all the different forms possible: be it blog posts, newsletters, IG captions or research papers, the show must go on. And as I am practicing this particular muscle, I am indeed enjoying it more and more, so that's great (ha! I even considered a Phd for the first time in my life... so will definitely keep you posted). Read more on the social media experiment down below. As you can see, I am also introducing a new newsletter format and want to try if this will work out better for me. I do at times, feel all over the place, since I am not only consuming and processing a lot, I also feel like I want to share much more with you all!
We're only (damn!) 4 weeks away from the Boston Marathon and I am pretty much getting nervous. This training cycle has been very different, very challenging, but nevertheless, one worthwhile journey:
I am only running 3 to 4x a week at most, the rest of the time, I am swimming, pool running (read more about it here!) or cross training at home (the Nike Training app is a great tool for at home exercises) including Yoga.
I am learning about and appreciating: more is less. It's hard and we runners are certainly stubborn, but I can slowly but surely see what is possible with my body while taking into account that my bones and my muscles just need a little bit more time with growing, building, strengthening and adjusting to running long distances.
I am also being guided and coached across the ocean, which I have to tell you more about in another post.
Training through the winter, training for a marathon through the winter is no joke. And the monotony of running (especially running alone w/o music nor podcast) sucks at times, but it does make you more resilient. I always think of myself during the race, where in my mind, I look back at all these tough training moments, the mentally challenging ones and know: you're stronger for it and you won't quit now!
At this point in my training cycle, I have adjusted my goals and am really focusing on getting to the starting line healthy and being able to run, yes, with a smile on my face. I am not shooting for a PR (in running jargon: a personal best), but instead want to run strong and with no broken bone. Throughout the last big races, I remember I couldn't put too much pressure on myself, but had to go with the flow. The same mantra still holds value. Thus, I am trying to not stress about this race too much, but run for all the girls and women I stand for because you know what, I also have to respect the journey that got me here as well as the sport and all the women before me, who paved this path for all of us.
We have to think of Kathrine Switzer, who (born in Germany fun fact!) is the first woman to ever run the Boston Marathon, on the day of April 19, 1967. Back then, she was the only woman among 740 men to run this race. In an interview, reflecting this particular day, she says: "I am going to finish this race on my hands and knees if I have to. (...) If I don’t finish this race then everybody is gonna believe women can’t do it. I’ve got to finish this race." That day, she not only changed her own life, but the history of women's sports and specifically women's running.
"Five years later, in 1972, the same year Title IX was passed, women were finally welcome to run the Boston Marathon. Two years after that, Switzer won the New York City Marathon, (...), and went on to lead the drive to include the women's marathon in the 1984 Olympic Games," as written in the Unsung Heroines of Sports History
It was one brave girl who wouldn't let go and went on to finish this race, one step in front of another. Thus, it is a pretty big deal... and my sister-friends, who are also running and training, pursuing their individual dreams, fighting for their voices to be heard, remind me of this every single day. After driving up to Boston for 4 years, supporting and cheering on friends and teammates, I feel honoured and humbled to represent them in one month. I have to think of the bigger picture: it will be a day of celebration. Of a celebration of us and our achievements.
On another note, I just ran my longest run in 10 months this morning (celebrating ALL the victories!!), a 16.5miler and while I was mentally somewhere completely else, a little bit disheartened and distracted, it was the team and Daniel who pulled me through. Bless friends and teammates, running partners who cheer you on and sometimes (often times!) kick your butt to get out of your own mind and move you towards a better headspace.
And sometimes, your body just needs some rest, too and it's still funny to me how marathon training works... You're literally pushing your body out of its comfort zone for 3-4months, trying not to get sick or injured for the mentioned time period and then... rest up for 10 days (or so) to then (hopefully!) perform at your best! It is still fascinating to me what our bodies are capable of and how we can form and shape it, but then again, we also owe it to ourselves to take good care, to sleep, rest, take some time off, and eat well.. Yeah, I've been thinking about self respect as well...
After this past Friday's workout, I shared to Daniel that I wasn't sure how the next few weeks will go or how Boston itself will go, he left me with these words: "The Berlin Half marathon? That you can do every year. Boston, you have to qualify. And you will see, the energy and the crowds will be amazing. There are people who work years to get to where you are. My girl, it's gonna hurt, but you must give it your best. Do your best!"
And during my run today, at the final stretch, I had to think of, how I need to take good care of myself, to show up as the best version of myself, not only for me, but for everyone around me. That it is important to work on that. To work on my energy and what kind of attitude I put on for race day.
4 more weeks to go, let's make it count!!!
On Media and more Self Care
What was the experiment and why was I doing it? Well, after these intense weeks (they are still intense tbh, since I have 2 more weeks to go with my papers and work and running... my period even came way too early), I was feeling overwhelmed on Instagram and needed to listen to my body: time offline. I deleted every single person I followed on there, deleted the app and now... slowly but surely introducing it (and the ones I am following) back into my everyday life. My stress and anxiety level decreased and after being offline, I really felt much more content. I've been meditating on the daily again, as well... so to continue this wave, this experiment is followed by new rules for me: 1) to take 1 day off from IG per week and 2) no phones on the table or visible when I am with people, especially during tea breaks, lunches, dinners and hanging out with friends. As a media scientist, I should know better since I studied this at length in my undergraduate studies. Our internet consumption does change our social behaviour and how we interact with one another.
While I was offline, I felt like I was so much more alert, so much more present. I found myself leaving the phone deep inside my tote bag and cherishing some special moments without needing to share it with the world. You should try it, if you feel the need for a small social media detox! I promise, if you're a heavy media consumer, this will give you a new sense of life and a breath of fresh air!
Also, my friend Mekdes reminded me: hey, we should call each other more often! I am bad at texting. And you know what, hearing your friend's voice does make a difference. So, if you're missing anyone, pick up that phone and call 'em!
On becoming more green
This one is long overdue and initially I wanted to share a separate post and newsletter on this, but I figured, it is much easier for me to share bits and pieces on each newsletter since you know, this gold to green journey is an ongoing journey, there is no stopping, but only growing and progressing! So, I better make this sustainability section a regular one as I come across more and better ways to preserve and protect our planet! Again: I am not trying to convert anyone, nor am I perfect myself... these are just thoughts and impulses for you, for us to try out.
Y'all I just completed month 3 of my no-shopping challenge; an idea that started back in 2014, when I completed 6 months of no shopping (yes, I was a shopaholic and guess what... that's where the name gold to green comes from... I turned from gold to green) and I decided to extend it for another 2-3 months. Hence, here comes my invitation to you: will you join me in 1, 2 or 3 months of no shopping? Meaning no clothing, electronics, books? Whatever that is that you consume a lot? Reply to this email and let me know! I am here to support you in this, too.
I haven't bought a book in a couple of weeks and since I am spending A LOT of time in the library, I actually started lending novels and non-scientific reading materials from there. It's pretty amazing to have that free and available. If you have the time, or want to take some time, on a weekend perhaps, walk to your nearest library and get a membership. Yes, there is some nostalgia involved and I do love to think of the 10-year old Huyen who used to go to the public library every afternoon.
Also: one of my friends from university took me to a Zero Waste grocery store in Berlin the other day. It was a full on experience, and so much fun! It made me stop and stroll, and take time to shop and I wasn't feeling rushed in any way, hereare some links for Zero Waste stores in the U.S.
Been drinking pure celery juice every other day for the past 3 weeks including a big cup of water first thing in the morning (y'all marathoners and runners need to stay hydrated!) and I feel like when I make healthy choices first thing in the morning, the rest of the day just flows! Also: my skin has been much better... AND my digestion has been super! Try it and read more on it here :)
Comments from you
The shopping challenge was interesting and felt satisfying. It made me take a moment before buying something. I do get some gratification from shopping, so not buying things meant losing a bit of that gratification, but (I was) feeling content and satisfied that i was doing something that aligned with my values. — Ben from Australia
Have anything cool to share, or an event coming up? I am more than happy to support and share all running + creative life endeavours as I am introducing this section on what I am reading, listening or seeing right now down below!
Let me know and big hugs!
Have fun reading, learning and exploring :)
Bianca Nemelc's first art exhibition Homebody.
Bee Walker's words on her Instagram and her photographs
in the new book Woman of Color by LaTonya Yvette.
Faith Briggs' Medium blog on race and diversity in the outdoors.
Michelle Kay's Hot Knees Newsletter on running,
music, pop culture and politics.
Oprah's Masterclass Podcast with Dr. Maya Angelou.
Jennifer Lau and her fitness group The Real Toronto,
empowering women of color to work out together.
Patty Lu's Fashion label and project Lu Chung.
This interview on sustaining a creative metabolism with Mary H.K. Choi.
The new (+ strong AF) all women's running team in NYC: The Distance Project.