Here on the East Coast, we’re expecting cicadas this summer. A lot of them, apparently. They’re the locust-like insects that emerge from the ground once every 13- or 17-years (depending on their “brood”) to fill the air with buzzing and our trees with their shed skin. My mom used the occasion to break out the book she made with me back when I was 5, the first time I experienced a cicada summer.
My little book is mostly newspaper clippings like this…
…but there are a couple pics of young me proudly (bravely?) holding some cicadas.
Then – here comes the kind of gross part – it includes some “preserved” cicada shells. Yep, that’s them just squished in some saran wrap. An entomologist I am not.
Although my preserved wings came out a little bit nicer.
My mom even added a page to the book 17 years later (in 2004, when I was 22) when that brood of cicadas re-emerged. Still got that cicada bravery!
I’m hoping when this cycle comes to Richmond this summer that Clara share a similar fascination and bravery with them. Heck, maybe we’ll make a little book of our own…
Don’t worry, I don’t know how to pronounce that blog post title either. It’s just a nod to the fact that my “Aquatober” challenge - where I try to spend the entire month of October drinking water instead of soda and other sugary drinks – has extended itself all the way through April. Hence, Aquatoberpril.
In my original post about Aquatober I noted that I have varying success every year I try to detox myself (and my wallet) on all of the soda I consume (it’s my liquid vice of choice). Some years I don’t make it the full month. Some years I make it a bit further. Well, this time I’m still going strong some six months later – minus a milkshake I made myself the other day.
I don’t say this because I want a bunch of virtual pats on the back or expect someone to round the corner with a trophy. I mention it because it taught me something new this year. It was the first time I ever mentioned it to anyone beyond my immediate friends or family. And suddenly I felt much more compelled to stick to it. Something about declaring it to the blogosphere made me more committed than ever to not slip up and apparently to not give up – even once November rolled around. It wasn’t like I expected a public shaming if I opted for a Coke one night (heck, it’s not like you’d know) but the enthusiasm you guys showed for it in your comments was apparently a strong motivator to me.
It’s funny because there haven’t been lots of visible rewards for being soda free for six months. Sure, there are probably some extra dollars in my bank account from weeks of just ordering water at restaurants. My dentist might like me a smidge better. But overall I haven’t noticed my energy being way up, my skin being more lustrous or whatever and I certainly haven’t dropped weight (although the book tour might be to blame thanks to all the cupcakes). I think the main satisfaction I’ve gotten is the confidence that I can muster up some willpower when I need to. I can stick to something and I can create a new habit. So I wanted to thank you for your role in that, whether you realized you were helping or not.
Oh, and I’m totally not making any promises about giving up soda for good from here on out. We’re about to enter those hot and humid summer months where all my body wants is something cold and distinctly not water tasting. Anyways, what’s keeping you guys motivated these days? Or, if you’ve ever given up soda, did you notice any big differences from the experience?
Like our main blog, we consider this site to be our happy place. A sanctuary away from all the other messes that life can throw our way and a record of the things that we’ll find joy in remembering sometime down the road. So I was hesitant to address this week’s bombings in Boston here, since they’re about as far from happy as you can get.
But two days before the idea ever crossed my mind that participating in a race could end in tragedy, I did just that. Last Saturday I ran Richmond’s Monument Avenue 10k, which USA Today ranked right alongside the Boston Marathon itself. Me and 40,000 others ran 6.2 miles up and down our city’s most iconic street. It was my 12th consecutive time participating and I’d been looking forward to both running it, and sharing it with you guys here (just like last year).
As upset as Monday’s events have made me – both as a person, a runner and a fan of the city of Boston – I figured that maybe offering a reminder of the joy, camaraderie, and sense of accomplishment that can be felt on a race day might be a helpful (albeit small) attempt at bring something positive back. It’s amazing how much love there can be on a day when thousands of runners crowd a city’s streets.
Among the thousands of runners in Richmond that day were my family. Eight of us to be exact. There was my dad, who has run with me for 10 years now (though not literally next to me, since he’s a good deal faster). My sisters Carrie (pink shirt) and Katie (blue), the latter of whom (along with my brother-in-law Martin) traveled from New York City. My cousin Brenna and her son Tyler also traveled (from Northern Virginia) to run with us. And there in the middle is my 12-year-old niece Olivia, who was running it for the first time. We didn’t all start or finish together, but it was still very much a family event.
We also had family on the sidelines cheering us on. Sherry, my sister Emily, and my mom boldly volunteered to (got tricked into?) keep Clara and her three under age four cousins named Emanuel, John and Ben entertained while they waited patiently for the few seconds that each of us would trot on by. That’s dedication if you ask me.
And to my surprise when I approached all four kids were calmly sitting in their strollers, waving some cowbells, and probably wondering where everyone was going. Maybe we all heard an ice cream truck?
This look is the look of someone who has run nearly 4 miles and just got an incredible boost from seeing his wife and child smiling at him from the curb. PS: Note the crowd of runners approaching the turn around point on the other side of the street behind me.
That was also the moment I noticed, as Sherry captured later in this Instagram picture, that Clara had picked out a special outfit to cheer me on. Her “Rad Like Dad” shirt and a neon tutu to match my shirt which, by the way, she helped me pick out the night before. What a girl. Maybe someday she’ll run with me?
It was a really memorable day for our family. I’m so grateful to the people who cheered us on (whether I was related to them or not) and especially to the people who help to organize events like these. I wholeheartedly believe they do wonderful things for us as individuals, as athletes, and as communities. And hopeful they’ll be able to continue to work those wonders as we attempt to process and heal from this week’s tragedy.
PS: Runner’s World has compiled a list of ways you can help and show support for Boston if you’re interested.