Monday, April 15, 2013

Thoughts from a Runner on Boston

Around 2 o'clock this afternoon my phone started to buzz with text messages asking if I was okay.  

Then my sister texted me "2 bombs detonated at marathon finish" and that was how I heard about the tragedy in Boston.

This morning some of my closest girlfriends, girls I had talked to only a couple days ago were out there-bibs on an ready to run-posting on Facebook "I run this town", "En route to the start!!", and "preparing to be inspired!!"  

Having run a marathon there is nothing like the elation of finishing, the experience of pushing your body to its limit, the roar of the crowd, and the sheer camaraderie of fellow runners surrounding you. Boston is "the" marathon.  One of the toughest in the world to qualify for, and known to anyone who runs as the best of the best.

The coverage throughout the morning, tracking the elites, made me miss my walk to work though Commonwealth Avenue and down Boylston street in front of the public library where I used to stop 2 or 3 times a week, the Marathon Sports store whose running group I was a part of for 3 years and where I was fitted for dozens of shoes, and the Finish line where for 2 years I had joined in the revelry that is Patriot's Day in Boston.  I was monitoring my friends' times and feeling proud…and jealous.  

And then around 2 o'clock this afternoon my phone started to buzz.

I saw the smoke in a place I am more familiar with than most places in Austin.  I saw the my old office window in the photographs at the scene and my apartment in the aerial footage.  I saw so many runners just collapsing and crying and running. I worried about my friends frantically refreshing all my social media and responded to other friends who worried that I was there.  I thanked god that my sister had missed qualifying by 4 minutes, and hated myself for thanking god for that.

I am 3000 miles away, and I am sick with sadness because I can so perfectly picture every minute of it.  I know what it is to finish, to be completely depleted-but I can't imagine what it is to run 20+ miles and have a bomb go off and be unable to run any faster than you have the previous 20.  To have no place to run to.  To worry about all the people who loved you enough to support you at the race and not know where they were or if they were okay.  To know that the runner who passed you and gave you a pep talk for no other reason than runners take care of each other could be dead.  That a place as familiar to you as the back your hand, a place where you knew the divits in the sidewalk was soaked in blood and screams.  

I am a runner, so I can imagine the terror and depletion, and the annoyance of the runners as they were slowed to a stop before they knew what was going on.  I am a runner so I know what "Boston" means-years of tradition, pride, athleticism, inspiration, and excellence and I hate that in an instant someone could change that connotation.  

I am a nomad.  No place has ever felt quite like home to me, but the streets of Back Bay and the Charles River where I ran almost daily and slipped into moments of quiet consciousness  are some of the places that I've felt most at home.  

Boston is where I learned to love to run.  And maybe that, more than any other reason is why I feel guilty for not being there-my community was attacked, and I'm not sure if it hurts more because it was a place I called home or to a group of people that as a collective always make me feel like I'm home.  

Pray for Boston.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Cracks

Before the holidays began my manager left the company and it was decided that given that the holidays are the busiest time of the year it wasn't the best time to bring someone aboard.  So my colleague and I picked up the slack.  I was amply rewarded for this promotion in duties with a 10% raise, stock, and a small bonus.  I was thrilled with the challenge, laying down process as law, dividing product across hundreds of accounts, rolling my eyes in meetings with high level people and generally being bad ass at my job.  

The problem:  being bad-ass at my job and performing at the level I was translated into working when I was home, desecrating my social life to be online and responding to emails, answering calls from frantic sales guys at 11 o'clock at night, accepting more and more responsibility in order to get the work done, even my slumber was surrendered as I would dream I was at the office when I was lucky enough to fall asleep-most nights I was in a ball mentally working through the to-do list. 

I was okay with it, because I knew the commitment I had made through the holidays.  In mid-January though, I was sitting in my cubicle, on my headset in front of a 27" display, giving a presentation to senior leadership, and I bombed my presentation.  Bombed it.  Epic failure.  The slide deck wasn't done, and the work was clearly not up to par.  

I got off the call and set my head on my desk, not even bothering to remove my headset.  So this is what failure felt like?  As I sat there ruminating in what had transpired I recalled a conversation with my management from the week before when they'd asked how I was holding up and I had answered, "I'm beyond my limit, I'm keeping everything together by doing the minimum required for everything, and I'm not sure when but something is going to fall through the cracks."  Hello cracks.  

My phone started to ring.  I got on another call and listened to storming and raging by another team about why my team was out to jeopardize everything they had worked for.

All I could think was, what am I doing here?  

I got up and grabbed my manager and pulled him into a team room for a chat.  In the next 30 seconds I made a bad female employee mistake.  I got angry, I got emotional, I got teary eyed.  My (male) manager didn't know what to do.  Obviously crying girl makes any man uncomfortable, but when one of the rock solid performers on your team is having a crying breakdown in front of you thats obviously hard to handle.  I regained my composure, looked him square in the eye, and told him, "I can't do this anymore.  And I have no choice but to look for another job because if I have to be berated by anymore people I interact with about how I am not doing enough when I've sacrificed my personal life, my family and a relationship to be here I am going to snap."

Then I walked to my desk, grabbed my purse and my keys-and left the office.  At 10 in the morning.

I went home and slept for 20 straight hours.  

I woke up to 18 messages from sales rep desperate for my help.  One of them had called me 8 times.  In a 2 hour span of time.  

I didn't give a rip.  I had fallen through the cracks, and was enjoying the free fall of not giving a damn.  

Reaching my limit was a blessing, because once I got there I remembered that it was just a job, a job I had done well-and far beyond the original expectation that had been outlined months before.  I remembered my priorities: and one of my priorities  is being excellent at my job and respecting the people in my life and having them respect me-and I was being set up to fail.  

And once I realized that, I could remind other people as well.  And draw the line about what was acceptable to me, those cracks made that line extremely easy to see.