Sunday, April 24, 2011

Week 18 - 115th Boston Marathon DONE!

4,761 dollars for Children's Hospital, 18 weeks of training, and 4 hours 59 minutes and 1 second later I can officially join the less than 1% of people who can say they've ever run a marathon!

Monday was hard, but it was absolutely worth it. I still can't believe it's over.

The morning started out early. 4:45am wake up to eat breakfast and head to the buses. The buses headed for Hopkinton right at 6:15am. We got to the starting line, and hung out in an empty lodge... waited, ate, waited, and waited some more. Some people napped, some people read... I walked around a little, took pictures, and let my nervousness take over. The weeks leading up to this day I knew I'd be okay and knew I had it in me. For some reason, just 2 days before the race, my shin started hurting. What a joke - 18 weeks with the right training, precautions, and strength exercises that seemed to ward off any injury and I get a achy shin 2 days beforehand? COME ON! There was nothing I could do but just hope it didn't get worse during the 26.2 mile trek.
After hours of waiting we finally went outside around 10:20am to stretch, and pee. And pee again. (I call it nervous pee energy) Then it was over to the corrals for the start of the 3rd wave. As we crossed the start line Teddy Bruschi was there thanking people who were running for his charity. That was cool.
We were off. The weather couldn't have been any better. Just warm enough, plenty of sun, and the right amount of wind. The sea of people made for a slow first 2 miles then it spread out just a little. I tried to get comfy and prepare myself for the next 5 hours of non-stop running. I could definitely feel pain in my shin and my worst fear was that I'd hear a snap, or look down and bone would be popping out. I'm so dramatic but I feared the worse. The first 10 miles I was distracted by it and just praying nothing like what I just mentioned would happen. Fortunately it didn't take away from my pace and at some point in Framingham or Natick it just kind of went away (thank god!) and I was able to really enjoy the race and hit a good stride. Natick was where the crowds got thicker and people got crazier... lots of speakers in yards playing the "Rocky Theme Song" and one tent was blaring "Shout" and we all participated and threw our hands up. LOL!
1/2 way point was where the first Children's Hospital cheer station was and where my family was. That was exciting to see them. Then I saw my coworkers at mile 16, then my cousins and niece at mile 17. Then I rounded the corner and headed up the hills. Someone told me that if at that point I didn't say "Oh F*&#!" then I was in good shape. Well, I didn't say or think that but this is where it got even harder and the pain set in. If my shin was still hurting I wouldn't have noticed due everything else hurting. The crowds through the hills were great. Random strangers calling out "You've got this!", handing out orange slices, and waving signs like "You eat hills for breakfast!" Thankfully I was also with a pal and her and I pumped each other up the whole time. Here we passed Dick and Rick Hoyt, which was really inspiring.
Mile 21 and the hills were over and then it was BC kids in our faces. They really get into it! "Chafe now, brag later!" one sign said. Haha. At this point it was all new territory to me since 21 miles is the farthest I went in training. It seemed like forever but finally I got to Beacon St and could see the Citgo sign. Beacon St seemed to last forever and at mile 23 I thought to myself "Ok, I'm ready for this to be over." Then I saw some friends with signs and that kept me going. Strangers kept yelling out that we were almost there. My heart started racing, I could feel myself getting shaky. "Please don't pass out with 3 miles to go" I said to myself.
Into Kenmore Square and the crowd got even more insane! Right on Hereford, left onto Boylston and one of the coaches popped out to see how we were. It was great to see him. Then my entire family was ahead and I could see the finish. My sister and cousin popped out and ran the home stretch with me. I cannot even describe Boylston St. Just amazing! The crowd so loud I couldn't hear myself think. Part of me didn't want it to be over... it was just sooo cool!
Crossed the finish line and what a relief. I felt great. Sad and glad it was over, so happy that I did it.

Again in 2012? I haven't ruled it out!

To everyone who donated to Children's Hospital Boston; to all my friends and family; to anyone who gave a kind word or text; to Whitney Downum for running during the week with me; to Frank Knippenberg for being a great teammate; to Katie F. for staying by my side all 26.2 miles; to my physical therapist; to all the spectators cheering; to the people blaring the "Rocky Theme Song"; to my co-workers; to the Wellesley College screaming kissing girls; to the drunk BC kids; to the guy who gave me an orange slice at mile 18; to the person on the hills with the sign "Your dreams are coming true right now!"; to all the volunteers; to the Miles for Miracles coaches and staff; to Lauren Frazee and Dana Graham for running with me the last half mile: Thank You, Thank You, Thank You. Boston Marathon 2011 was truly an amazing experience and I couldn't have done it with out all of you! <3

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Week 17 - Damn, I can cook!

This weeks rule is "nothing new and nothing different." No new shoes, socks, clothes, training exercises, etc. At this point, it would be a bad idea to switch anything up since training is over.

I'm being cautious about everything. I don't walk around barefoot, I'm staying away from anyone who has a cough or sniffle, I'm trying to get to bed on time, I took it easy at a yoga class to avoid injury (ha!), and I'm eating like crazy! Once again I opened my wallet at the grocery store so I can carbo-load all this week. In the peaking phase, you don't want to get hungry so I'm trying to have food with me at all times. Good dinners from scratch every night. I'm making some delicious pastas, rice dish's, breads and more. Everything is coming out great but man is it time consuming!

Speaking of time consuming, my inbox has been swamped with emails from the BAA, Adidas, Runners World magazine, etc. I'm reading all the advice and last minute tips. Eat, hydrate, rest, eat breakfast 2 hours before race, sip on a sport drink as soon as you wake up, etc etc etc. Now, I just want Marathon Monday to get here! I'm ready for this.

This past Saturday was a quick and easy 8 miles. A few 2-3 mile runs this week... 1 unfortunately on the treadmill (never will warm up to that thing), big pasta dinner on Sunday night, in bed by 8pm (I hope) and it's out to Hopkinton at 6:15am on Monday.

So sad that this is going to be over soon. It's been an amazing process and experience and I'll be sure to post one final blog with how it all turns out in just a few days!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Week 16 - The Nerves Kick In...

Now that all of the long runs of my training are over it's supposed to be a smooth taper from here til race day. The coaches say that this can be the most enjoyable time of the training season.  An appropriate taper doesn't just feel good - it's essential to maximizing marathon performance. It gives the body a chance to heal from the stress of the long runs, recharges it prior to the real event, and mentally gives a runner a chance to relax as well. All season I've had a good mind about all of this - super nervous at times, yes, but I never lost sleep.

Until this past week.

Now that the long runs are over I'm anxious, nervous... and feel like I should be running constantly. Of course I've done my research and know that isn't how it works for all the reasons mentioned above. I've stuck to my regular amount of training during the week but something is keeping me up at night. I guess I just can't believe that this thing is here! It's looming over me... and in a big way I don't want it to be over. I've really enjoyed this whole process and once it's over... what am I going to do with myself? (soo dramatic, I know! Haha)

Yesterday's team run was 12 miles but I skipped it due to lack of sleep 3 nights in a row before =(
Instead I took a yoga class and busted out the run this morning by myself. Glad I got it done but missed the team.

Today I also got a massage did some "marathon wardrobe" shopping and got myself a new running shirt and a super cool running bag thing (yes, kind of like a fanny pack, haha).

Feeling better and ready for my last 2 weeks. 15 days to go!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Week 15 - From Hopkinton to BC, 21 miles done!

I was sooo nervous about this past Saturday.
Friday night I got in a good meal and went to bed early. 5:45am wake up call came real fast. Headed to the bus pick up and it was freezing. The ride out to Hopkinton was looong. The guy I sat next to said "There's only one way back" as the bus pulled towards the starting line. I thought to myself, "If this run doesnt go well, I'm so screwed."
I started running and kept thinking about what the coaches had told us. "This is a training run... do not give it your all... save it for the actual marathon." and "Pace yourself... the down hill at the beginning can fool you." The beginning of the course is downhill which is tricky... I wanted to use that to my advantage but that'd only get me in the end. I got out of Hopkinton and into Ashland without a problem. My friend and I got excited everytime we saw the next "Entering the town of" sign. Then into Framingham, Natick, and Wellesley. I passed the spot where Children's first cheer station is going to be and tried picturing everyone there. This was at about mile 14. "7 more to go for today" I said to myself. Things started to feel sore at this point. Came to the end of Route 16 and turned the corner. Entered the town of Newton and approached mile 17 and the last water stop... right before all the hills. "Oh shit" I said to my friend as I sucked down a Gu Gel (an energy gel that gives you caffeine, calories, and carbs so one can keep going - at first I thought they were nasty but I've gotten used to them). 4 miles of hills and we were done. Easier said then done is an obvious understatement. I looked at my time and I wasn't doing too bad... maybe I could do this in 4 hours? Up I went, and up, and up, and up. Other charity teams were out there as well and their stopping points were sooner than mine. Their volunteers and coaches were so great and cheered for us too as well as shouted out advice. "One more mile, keep your shoulders relaxed, keep your stride, you'll be there in no time" one man said. I can't tell you how important words like that are.
At one point I really thought that it would never be over. I told myself "You'll just keep running... the finish will never come... you'll never sleep again... you'll just be running forever." It seriously felt like that. And finally, the finish was approaching... or was it another water stop? Nope, it was the finish... thank god!
Done in 4 hours 5 minutes and 40 seconds! I was incredibly sore and so glad it was over but knew if I absolutely had to go another 5.2 miles, I could!
That night I was tired and sore but wasn't gimping around like I have after some past long runs. Took Sunday as my rest day and thought I'd need Monday too... but today I was actually able to go running. So, this long run did not kick my ass like I thought it would and my recovery time is shorter.
Now I taper off big time until race day... which is in just 3 short weeks.
I'm so excited... I think I'm going to actually pull this thing off!!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Week 14 - The countdown is on; the jacket is so cute!

4 weeks to go. Omg, 4 weeks to go! 28 days to go. 3 more long runs. I'm so excited, but so scared!
Last weeks training was still tough due to working late. I managed to get in one weekday run outside (thank you day light savings time!) Saturday it was an easy 12 miles around the Charles River. Gorgeous day! Sunny, breezy, about 40 degrees. I'm praying it can be like that on Marathon Monday. Afterwards the team went to Marathon Sports and I invested in a new pair of Brooks running shoes. I've heard they're the best. Can't wait to break them in. I also got "the stick"... a toothbrush for muscles. LOL. It (hopefully) will do wonders for sore legs. I checked out the official marathon jackets too and I'm very happy they aren't tacky looking this year. Super excited to (maybe) be able to sport one when I (successfully) finish!

Next week's 21 mile run starts at the actual start line in Hopkinton. After that the runs taper down. Marathon Monday will be here before I know it.

Omg, 4 weeks to go!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Week 13 - It hurts so good

That title is a lie. It hurt like a #@*%&!! Yesterday morning I pushed myself and did 18 miles. That was a mistake. It was my worst long run to date for a lot of reasons.

This past week work has been crazy. I was at the office each night until anywhere between 8pm and midnight. Back in some days at 7:30am. That wasn’t fun. Due to the late nights I didn’t get a single run in or any of my leg exercises (I can see my PT shaking his head). Healthy, hearty meals were impossible to squeeze in too, and I hate to admit it, but sometimes meals didn't happen at all. I knew all of this wasn’t going to add up to a decent long run and I was right. Fortunately I ran with a friend and she and I talked and laughed most of the way. That made the run go by seemingly fast and it was enjoyable until about mile 14 when everything was sore, my toes felt like they were going to fall off, my mood was insanely cranky, I was starving, and it seemed like Comm Ave. on the way back was NEVER going to end! My time was horrendous... about 4 hours. Ug!

On the plus side, the days are getting warmer and longer. Soon work will go back to normal and I'll be able to run in the evenings outside while it's still light out. Next week the long run is only 12 (ha, ONLY 12 - still cracks me up) and then I head over to Marathon Sports for some new sneakers - which will make my poor feet happy! Yay!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Week 12 - It's Complicated

The title of this post may be misleading. What I mean is that one would think running is simple. If you're mobile all you really need are sneakers. Once you start training, it's another story.

When you're running almost 30 miles per week there's a lot to do (and eat). Carbs, carbs, carbs, calories, and protein are most important. Timing of your meals is important too. Don't forget iron, fiber, and anti-oxidants! I'm hungry all the time! The good news is I can eat things high in calories and carbs and recover with things like chocolate milk and french toast. The bad news is I can't get out of a grocery store for much less than $100. Not to mention the gels, goos, etc to eat while running (personally I like York Peppermint Patties to as my "fuel").
There is a certain way to run too. Run like the Kenyans (so my PT says) by swinging your hips in a way that makes you propel forward. Runners also should have a specific breathing cadence, running stride, foot strike, and hold their arms and fingers in a certain way.
Training yourself to drink water and gatorade is important too. However, watch out for hyponatremia (overhydrating and lowering your blood-sodium levels). To the what now?
Replace your sneakers once they have about 450 miles on them (how one keeps good track of that, I do not know). Did I mention how expensive good running sneakers are?
Oh, and keep track of your heart rate through a monitor to know if you're working too hard or taking it too easy. This should be do-able for me since I own a heart rate monitor - but the batteries are dying. Where the heck does one go to get them replaced? Beats me! (Get it?)
Then there is the pain management. Ice baths, ice rubs, massages, and massage sticks (huh?). Don't take too many meds, but when sore take acetaminophen instead of an NSAID... or is it the other way around?
Ay ay ay! There is sooo much to remember and do while training and I've only scratched the surface with everything I've listed!

This past Saturday I did 16 miles in 3 hours and 45 seconds, AND took on Heartbrake Hill (again). I was stoked! The split is 11m17s... which is faster for me! I ran with a new friend and we passed the time talking. SO much better than running alone (or on that stupid thing called a treadmill). I was sore towards the end but not nearly as bad as when I did 17 miles. Plus, I could walk normal the next day! Haha.

6 weeks to go, and the 21 mile run is in 3 (the longest training run before the actual race). Getting excited, nervous, panicked, and more excited!