Category Archives: Personal Projects

Forget the PR

My girlfriend is an ultra marathoner.

What does that mean? Well, for the past year and a half, my girlfriend, Sam, has been running races that are longer than 26.2 miles. Any race that is longer than 26.2 is considered an ultra marathon, with common distances being 50k, 50 miles, 100k, and 100 miles (yikes). Sam’s finished every race that she’s started, which in the past year has been two 50ks and one 50 miler.

To kick off the season this year, Sam ran the “Forget the PR” 50k in Loudonville, Ohio, which was where she ran her very first ultra last year. This year, though, we brought along a few of our running buddies from November Project, Amina and Rosa.

Being familiar with the course, as well as her biggest fan, I spent my day darting between checkpoints to support her, delivering food, hydration, clothes, etc., and snapping a few photos along the way. Wanting to stay lightweight so I could run in to the woods unencumbered and go easy on my body — I was scheduled to run the Boston Marathon the week after — I decided to challenge myself by shooting with just a 50mm lens.

After 31 miles, 4,200 feet of elevation and 8 hours, 14 minutes and 33 seconds later for Sam, these are some of the photos I came back with.

4/11/15 — LOUDONVILLE, Ohio — Forget the PR 50k Ultramarathon (Kelvin Ma)

 (Kelvin Ma)

4/11/15 — LOUDONVILLE, Ohio — Forget the PR 50k Ultramarathon (Kelvin Ma)

4/11/15 — LOUDONVILLE, Ohio — Forget the PR 50k Ultramarathon (Kelvin Ma)

4/11/15 — LOUDONVILLE, Ohio — Forget the PR 50k Ultramarathon (Kelvin Ma)

4/11/15 — LOUDONVILLE, Ohio — Forget the PR 50k Ultramarathon (Kelvin Ma)

4/11/15 — LOUDONVILLE, Ohio — Forget the PR 50k Ultramarathon (Kelvin Ma)

4/11/15 — LOUDONVILLE, Ohio — Forget the PR 50k Ultramarathon (Kelvin Ma)

I thought it would be a good idea to do some “before and after” portraits to show how much work these badass ladies would be putting their bodies through. I don’t know about you, but I think they looked even better after the race. Amazing!

Sam:
4/11/15 — LOUDONVILLE, Ohio — Forget the PR 50k Ultramarathon (Kelvin Ma)

Amina:
4/11/15 — LOUDONVILLE, Ohio — Forget the PR 50k Ultramarathon (Kelvin Ma)

Rosa:
4/11/15 — LOUDONVILLE, Ohio — Forget the PR 50k Ultramarathon (Kelvin Ma)

One Year Later

4/15/13 ? BOSTON ? First responders rush to the scene where two bombs exploded along the final stretch of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street on April 15, 2013. (Kelvin Ma)

It’s April 15.

It’s pouring rain outside, but still warm — spring is definitely here. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I’ve thought about what today would be like every day for the past year.

I’ve written about my experience from the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings already, so I’ll try to keep this post brief. My thoughts have been a bit of a jumble for the past few weeks as the 1-year anniversary has approached, so forgive this stream-of-consciousness approach, if you can.

As much as I’ve tried to move on, the crush of media coverage has been overwhelming, unavoidable and unbearable at times. It’s a strange feeling, being a member of the news media and all. I’ve received a bunch of interview requests from other outlets regarding my coverage from the Marathon, but I’ve found myself ignoring them and wishing that they’d just give me an assignment instead. I think it’s part of trying to move forward. Let me continue telling the story instead of dwelling on the past. Of course, that’s easier said than done.

Just this past Sunday, I walked to the completed finish line for the first time since last year to shoot a video piece on the One Run for Boston as it turned on to Boylston Street. I had to take pause walking toward that bridge, remembering what it was like the year before, and me running into the smoke and up those stairs. Carlos Arredondo, the man in the cowboy hat, was on the other side, waiting with some of the survivors. I took the opportunity to reintroduce myself, tell him I shot the other photo of him saving Jeff Bauman’s life that day. I got teary eyed when I told him what it meant to me that he saved Jeff’s life. He gave me a hug, and I went back to work.

The next day, I read a piece by Jeff about the photo my friend and colleague Charlie Krupa took of him from the lower angle.

A few weeks ago, I met the photographer, Charlie Krupa, for the first time. He works for the Associated Press, and he came to my house to photograph my fiancée and I for an article.

The first thing he said to me was, “I’m sorry.”

 

That surprised me. I didn’t think he’d feel any guilt or regret, because he hadn’t done anything wrong.

 

I told Charlie not to worry. He was doing his job that day, and he was doing it well. People still write me to say how much the photo meant to them. I told Charlie that I understand now, like I didn’t then, that he was helping us that day, in the best way he knew how. He was documenting what happened. He was showing the world the truth – that bombs tear flesh and smash bones – and making the tragedy real.

 

via the Guardian

Though he wasn’t referring to my photograph specifically, I appreciated what he wrote. It’s a conclusion I had to come to in order to cope with that guilt that I felt — and believe me there have been some rough patches — but it meant so much more coming from him. So, in the slim chance that Jeff Bauman is reading this, I just want to thank you for your understanding and forgiveness.

It’s been a process, for sure, and the best I can do is just continue looking forward. Thankfully, in the past year, I’ve had a supportive group of friends and family every step of the way. I’ve discovered a wonderful community of awesome athletes who have taught me that anything is possible in the November Project.

Like we say at NP, I’m going to go ahead and drop a #verbal for the 2015 Boston Marathon and borrow some words from my friend and Herald colleague Tom Layman, who was a welcome face to see on Boston Common the day of the bombing as the National Guard rolled in:

… Here we are are, one year since that day. WE are bigger, WE are better and WE are stronger than ever before.

 

Can’t wait to get in the field for the 2015 race.

This is November Project

About five months ago, a pretty girl told me I should drag my ass out of bed to work out with this group of yahoos called The November Project. Before this recruitment effort, my only experience with November Project was seeing a few of its members pass me in the races I ran last year, not knowing exactly what it was but curious nonetheless. Then magazine articles, blog posts, radio segments, etc., started popping up, and they were firmly in my consciousness. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

11/20/2013 -- BOSTON -- Members of the November Project run the seats and walk down the stairs at Harvard Stadium for their Wednesday morning workout on Nov. 20, 2013. (Kelvin Ma)

11/20/2013 — BOSTON — Members of the November Project run the seats and walk down the stairs at Harvard Stadium for their Wednesday morning workout on Nov. 20, 2013.

With that motivating fire lit, I set my alarm clock for 5 a.m. for my first workout at Harvard Stadium, where November Project runs the seats every Wednesday, rain or shine. Right off the bat, I got what they were all about when co-founder Brogan Graham, who’s easily a foot taller than me, lifted me off the ground in a huge bear hug before I even had a chance to introduce myself. Fitness came secondary to what NP is really all about – Community.

11/20/2013 -- BOSTON -- Members of the November Project make their way up the steps into Harvard Stadium in the pre-dawn hour for their Wednesday morning workout on Nov. 20, 2013. (Kelvin Ma)

11/20/2013 — BOSTON — Members of the November Project make their way up the steps into Harvard Stadium in the pre-dawn hour for their Wednesday morning workout on Nov. 20, 2013.

November Project bills itself as a “Grassroots Fitness Movement,” and its reach has expanded across North America with “tribes” in San Francisco, San Diego, Washington D.C., Madison, Wisc., Edmonton, and Denver. It’s gotten quite a bit of national exposure with a cover story in the December issue of Runner’s World and other magazines, but ironically, not a whole lot of local attention. Tom Layman, a colleague of mine at the Boston Herald and a fellow NP member, approached me a few months back about changing that with a feature for Herald. All of the photos in this post are from that assignment.

11/20/2013 -- BOSTON -- November Project co-founder Brogan Graham cheers on members as they finish the final section, 37 in total, at Harvard Stadium on Nov. 20, 2013. (Kelvin Ma)

11/20/2013 — BOSTON — November Project co-founder Brogan Graham cheers on members as they finish the final section, 37 in total, at Harvard Stadium on Nov. 20, 2013.

11/20/2013 -- BOSTON -- November Project member Nina DeLuca, 52, is greeted with a tunnel of hands as she runs up the second to last-section of her workout at Harvard Stadium on Nov. 20, 2013.

11/20/2013 — BOSTON — November Project member Nina DeLuca, 52, is greeted with a tunnel of hands as she runs up the second-to-last section of her workout at Harvard Stadium on Nov. 20, 2013.

In a very short amount of time, November Project has become a highlight to my week, and I get to do it three times a week if I’m not sick or injured, all while getting fit and having fun — for free! — in the process. The folks I’ve met along the way have been some of the most inspiring I’ve seen. Just show up once, and you’ll see.

Here are the rest of the photos!

11/20/2013 -- BOSTON -- November Project co-founders Bojan Mandaric, left, and Brogan Graham discuss their plans for the day's workout at Harvard Stadium on Nov. 20, 2013. Graham is holding the "Helping Hand Award," which is given to a member who has helped out other members in the self-described "tribe."

11/20/2013 — BOSTON — November Project co-founders Bojan Mandaric, left, and Brogan Graham discuss their plans for the day's workout at Harvard Stadium on Nov. 20, 2013. Graham is holding the "Helping Hand Award," which is given to a member who has helped out other members in the self-described "tribe."

11/20/2013 -- BOSTON -- November Project member Manuel Gonzales dishes out high fives to members as they finish their workout, running up the seats of 40 sections, at Harvard Stadium on Nov. 20, 2013. (Kelvin Ma)

11/20/2013 — BOSTON — November Project member Manuel Gonzales dishes out high fives to members as they finish their workout, running up the seats of 40 sections, at Harvard Stadium on Nov. 20, 2013.

11/20/2013 -- BOSTON -- November Project member Jessica Colgan-Snyder, working out on the due date of her pregnancy, cheers on other runners as they run the seats at Harvard Stadium on Nov. 20, 2013. (Kelvin Ma)

11/20/2013 — BOSTON — November Project member Jessica Colgan-Snyder, working out on the due date of her pregnancy, cheers on other runners as they run the seats at Harvard Stadium on Nov. 20, 2013.

11/20/2013 -- BOSTON -- November Project member Laura Ingalls DJs the workout at Harvard Stadium on Nov. 20, 2013. (Kelvin Ma)

11/20/2013 — BOSTON — November Project member Laura Ingalls DJs the workout at Harvard Stadium on Nov. 20, 2013.

11/20/2013 -- BOSTON -- November Project members Evan Dana and Katy Driscoll break in to an impromptu dance off while running the seats at Harvard Stadium on Nov. 20, 2013. (Kelvin Ma)

11/20/2013 — BOSTON — November Project members Evan Dana and Katy Driscoll break in to an impromptu dance off while running the seats at Harvard Stadium on Nov. 20, 2013.

11/15/2013 -- BROOKLINE, Mass. -- To celebrate his birthday, November Project co-founder crowd surfs into the self-described "tribe" before the group's Friday morning hill workout on Summit Avenue in Brookline on Nov. 15, 2013. (Kelvin Ma)

11/15/2013 — BROOKLINE, Mass. — To celebrate his birthday, November Project co-founder Brogan Graham crowd surfs into the self-described "tribe" before the group's Friday morning hill workout on Summit Avenue in Brookline on Nov. 15, 2013.

11/15/2013 -- BROOKLINE, Mass. -- Members of the November Project run up Summit Avenue in Brookline on Nov. 15, 2013. The group, which meets every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:30 a.m., rain or shine, to perform various workouts. (Kelvin Ma)

11/15/2013 — BROOKLINE, Mass. — Members of the November Project run up Summit Avenue in Brookline on Nov. 15, 2013. The group, which meets every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:30 a.m., rain or shine, to perform various workouts.

11/15/2013 -- BROOKLINE, Mass. -- November Project member Katie Fithian, right, escorts fellow member Ashley Brow, who is blind, up Summit Avenue in Brookline on Nov. 15, 2013. Brow has been walking or running up the hill for the past 4 months. (Kelvin Ma)

11/15/2013 — BROOKLINE, Mass. — November Project member Katie Fithian, right, escorts fellow member Ashley Brow, who is blind, up Summit Avenue in Brookline on Nov. 15, 2013. Brow has been walking or running up the hill for the past 4 months.

11/15/2013 -- BROOKLINE, Mass. -- Members of the November Project run up Summit Avenue in Brookline on Nov. 15, 2013. The group, which meets every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:30 a.m., rain or shine, to perform various workouts. (Kelvin Ma)

11/15/2013 — BROOKLINE, Mass. — Members of the November Project run up Summit Avenue in Brookline on Nov. 15, 2013. The group, which meets every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:30 a.m., rain or shine, to perform various workouts.

11/15/2013 -- BROOKLINE, Mass. -- Members of the November Project huddle together for a group photo, a tradition after every workout, at the top of Summit Avenue in Brookline on Nov. 15, 2013. (Kelvin Ma)

11/15/2013 — BROOKLINE, Mass. — Members of the November Project huddle together for a group photo, a tradition after every workout, at the top of Summit Avenue in Brookline on Nov. 15, 2013.

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