Go see “BOSTON: The Documentary,” like, now.

After I’ve accomplished something, I tend to downplay its importance and difficulty. “If I did it, anyone can do it.”

The same applied to the Boston Marathon. I worked my ass off to qualify for it. I registered. I fundraised. I ran.

I had never been so emotional during a race than when I made that right on Hereford and left on Boylston. My throat closed and my eyes blurred with tears as I ran by the sites of 2013’s bomb #1 and bomb #2, marked with blue and yellow ribbons on signposts.

Then, it was over.

I completed the legendary Boston Marathon, the longest running annual marathon in the United States. I celebrated with a Sam Adams 26.2 Boston lager (actually, a few) and was greeted at home — wearing my Boston jacket and medal — a couple of days later by a crowd of runners.

Fast forward to two years later. When people see my jacket or the decal on my car they ask, “You ran Boston?” and, without a thought of the emotion, effort and joy of the race, I say, “Yep. 2015.” Some seem to be in awe. Their eyes light up. They congratulate me. “That’s amazing,” they say. But my reaction is pretty indifferent.

That changed tonight.

“BOSTON: The Documentary” changed me. When I say it was literally the best documentary I’ve ever seen in my life, it’s not an exaggeration. The film was the perfect mix of all of the historical moments that make the Boston Marathon so iconic, from its humble beginning with 15 runners to the year Heartbreak Hill earned its name to the year Meb Keflezighi became the first American man to win the race in 31 years. (It was hard not to throw my hands up and cheer as I watched him cross the line during the documentary, just as I did in 2014 when I watched it live on TV.)

In the past week most people who read the news, or at least what’s trending on Twitter, have learned the story of Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially register for the Boston Marathon. She did it as K. V. Switzer in 1967 and was nearly pulled from the race — literally, she was attacked by the race director before her linebacker boyfriend knocked him to the sidelines — near mile 4. She wore bib #261. At age 70 this year, 50 years after that legendary day, she completed the marathon again along with a sea of “261 Fearless” members.

“BOSTON: The Documentary” included more stories about fearless women who have run Boston. Bobbi Gibb was the first woman to run the race, a year before Switzer did. She did it unofficially, though, as a bandit. Canadian Jacqueline Gareau won the race in 1980, but was denied her moment of glory when another runner, Rosie Ruiz, broke the tape instead. It was later determined Ruiz hadn’t run the entire race, and Gareau was named the winner.

Trust me, the documentary tells it better.

The film’s most emotional moments depicted the scenes and stories from the 2013 bombings. I cry now just thinking about it. I’ll never get over the gut-wrenching pain felt from watching the sanctity of our race destroyed by murderers — and I wasn’t even on the same coast. On the flip side, the courage of the spectators who lined the streets the year after the bombings fill my heart with pride and a deep love for our running community. We are fearless and we are Boston Strong.

There was a quote in the documentary about how the spectators view every runner in the Boston Marathon — from the elites to the folks who cross the line last — as heroes. That single quote brought back that day for me in 2015 when I ran from Hopkinton to Boston. The crowd is what MAKES the Boston Marathon. The energy produced by miles of clanging cowbells, countless homemade signs, the most sincere cheers shouted in Bostonian accents and impromptu aid stations cobbled together by local residents is second to none.

I am honored to have had the opportunity to experience it. I’ll never take Boston for granted again. The documentary sparked in me a determination to go back.  😉

 

Advertisements

Cryotherapy — I tried it for you. Don’t do it. You’re welcome.

 

*** If you know me personally, you can figure out where I went. Please don’t repost this or tag the business, etc. The owner was really, really nice and I don’t want to hurt his business by any means. This is just my honest experience with cryotherapy for your reading pleasure. ***

You know how it’s easy to get talked into trying something when all of your friends seem to be doing it, too? Active Release Technique, chiropractic, myofascial manipulations, acupuncture… the list goes on.

Yesterday I tried the latest sports treatment to hit our hometown: cryotherapy.

Nitro.jpg

Here’s the idea: step into a chamber and get blasted with liquid nitrogen, making your skin so cold your body thinks it’s literally dying. Your body goes into survival mode, delivering blood to your core to protect vital organs.

Once you step out of the chamber, oxygen-rich blood will flow back through the body to your extremities, flushing out toxins and boosting circulation.

People who’ve endured this torture swear that it decreases muscle soreness, speeds recovery and relaxes them.

Sounds great! Let’s give it a go.

Let me tell you, there is NOTHING relaxing about stepping into a octagonal chamber, removing your robe so you’re wearing nothing but socks, rubber-soled shoes and gloves, and waiting for the technician to chill the air inside your chamber to -190 to -260 degrees.

It’s painless, they said. It’s not even as bad as an ice bath, they said.

Don’t believe them!

You spend a maximum of 180 seconds in the chamber — that’s three minutes, for those who are rusty on mental math — and every 30 seconds you’re asked to rotate a quarter turn to ensure that every part of your naked body receives equal freeze torture. It’s like being a rotisserie chicken on a spit, except instead of being licked by flames, you’re being kissed by dense clouds of nitrogen-chilled air.

Open chamber.jpg

 

I’m an ultramarathoner, so I’d like to think that I have a high tolerance for pain and discomfort. Three minutes? I can handle anything for three minutes.

Not.

First of all, before I stepped into the freezing machine, the technician told me a nice little story about how a young woman died in one.

FANTASTIC SELLING POINT, right?

He was trying to make a point about how his machine is different, aka better, than the one she was using. It’s created so that you can’t freeze yourself, you must have a technician present to work the machine while you’re inside.

But, as I willingly stepped inside of the thing, I couldn’t help but picture the poor, frozen-solid woman. What the fuck am I doing?? I’m walking the plank to my certain death. Naked.

“After investigating, it looked like the woman dropped her cell phone while inside of the machine, bent over to pick it up, inhaled liquid nitrogen and passed out … then she froze to death,” the technician had told me.

Note to self: don’t inhale the fumes, or you’ll be passed out, naked, with a dude and his dog. (Yes, his rescue dog came to work with him every day and was currently snuggled up with a pillow on a nearby couch.)

I was dying to get out of that chamber almost as soon as I stepped in — maybe because I was LITERALLY DYING. The extreme cold is supposed to signal to your central nervous system that you’re freezing to death — but I don’t think it stopped there. My brain also thought I was freezing to death. I was gasping, shivering, and using all of my willpower to stop myself from screaming, “Let me out! Let me OUT!!”

Meanwhile, the technician asked me questions about my running habits. At first, I breathlessly whispered one-word answers. When I tried to string more than two words together my breath would fail and I was left gasping for air. After it was apparent that I couldn’t give any answers — because my brain ceased to THINK, instead spending its last moments telling my heart to keep pumping — the technician laid off the interrogation.

Finally, the 180 seconds had passed, I was still (barely) alive and the technician shut off the blast of nitrogen and handed me my robe. I fumbled with it, trying to see what I was doing. I couldn’t feel my body and my hands struggled to find the sleeves in the robe. My arms were half jerking, half shivering and I was in a panic to cover myself in cloth as quickly as possible.

I was almost so desperate to get out of the torture chamber that I considered pushing the door open while still stark naked. Running depleted my boobs a long time ago; not much to see here, anyway.

When I finally managed to get the robe on, inside out, I think, the technician told me to push on the door and step out. It was all I could do to keep from RUNNING out.

I began to “get the tingles,” as the tech called it, as the blood rushed back to my arms, legs and skin. I was led back to the changing room to put my clothes on, and although I was wearing a soft long-sleeve shirt and cozy leggings that day, the usually comfortable fabric felt irritating on my skin. I didn’t want anything to touch me for a couple of minutes.

I got dressed anyway, and as my body returned to normal I felt warm. My body returned to normal body temperature — 98.6 degrees — but compared to the -160 I had just endured, that felt feverish.

As I got dressed, I began to notice little squiggly spots in my vision. FUCK, a migraine.

Of course this would trigger a migraine. Blood rushing around in my body in an abnormal way always triggers a migraine for me. When I run Yasso 800s too fast and recover too slowly, I get a migraine every time.

“How do you feel?” the technician asked, with a huge smile on his face. “Many people feel a sense of euphoria right after treatment. It’s because of a huge endorphin rush.”

“Actually, I feel a migraine coming on. I’m getting an aura,” I responded.

His smile faded.

“Oh… that has been reported…” he said, telling me about another woman who experiences migraines who received a few treatments and didn’t get a migraine EVERY time, just once.

That’s NOT going to convince me to come back and try it again.

He went on to tell me about his clients’ success stories, from a 50-plus-year-old bronc rider who uses cryotherapy to recover from rodeos and a high school football player who was referred to him by a physical therapist who saw nothing in an MRI except massive inflammation after the player took a hard hit during a game.

Well, that’s great for them. Meanwhile, I’m over here having my day ruined by a migraine.

The technician also told me women love to get cryotherapy because it boosts the metabolism.

“You’ll burn 800 additional calories the rest of the day because of it,” he told me. “Except don’t quote me on that number. Just say you’ll burn extra calories, we know that from research.”

Oh, okay.

“I love this job,” the technician continued. “Everyone who comes in here walks out with a smile on their face because they feel so good.”

Well guess what, buddy? I’M NOT SMILING! I DON’T FEEL GOOD!

I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, and as my migraine aura got worse I tried to assess my body. I was sore from a 9-mile hill-repeat run that morning, and I tried to focus on my hamstrings, quads and calves to see if they felt any immediate relief.

They didn’t.

Today, 20 hours after treatment, they still don’t feel any different.

A knot that I’ve had in my back near my right shoulder blade is still there. My shins and hips are still achy. I expect I feel exactly as I would if I hadn’t stepped into that freezing torture chamber for three fucking minutes and then several hours in a prescription migraine drug-induced stupor.

Moral of the story: Even if you see Facebook posts of your runner friends smiling inside a foggy black chamber with the words “So cold but SOOOO GOOOOD!” — DON’T BELIEVE THEM! DON’T FUCKING BELIEVE A WORD OUT OF THEIR FREEZING, LYING LITTLE MOUTHS! They probably posted that before their brains started functioning normally again.

Cryo me.jpeg

Give me a thumbs up! he said. This is a fake smile. My eyes are saying, “I’m dying.”

Cryo stepping out.jpeg

Another fake smile as I step out. Get me the fuck outta here.

Take it from me: leave cryotherapy alone and go get a good, old-fashioned sports massage instead. There’s no need to ALMOST DIE to feel better. 

If you enjoy cryotherapy, you’re weird. There’s no denying it. Cryo me a river.