Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cheers to Twenty Six...Point Two

I'm 26 today! My father-in-law pointed out last night that in my 26th year I will be running 26.2 miles. Furthermore, on April 21st I will be just past 26.2 years old. You're probably sitting there and saying "no kidding, we know you're running a marathon." However, this is a numerical symbol that I hadn't thought of before. There is another symbolic number associated with this year's race: 118. This year is the 118th running of the Boston Marathon. In Judaism 18 or "Chai" is considered good luck and is translated into "alive" or "living." Lets hope that these two numbers bring me luck and success throughout my training and in April.

Onto the important stuff: Yesterday I ran 9 miles along the beautiful Shining Sea Bike Path on Cape Cod. This weekend's long run was redemption from last weekend, where I struggled to get through 8. I'm not saying 9 miles was a breeze, but I definitely felt more confident and comfortable. I also need to give a shout-out to Skratch Labs for fueling my run. I am slowly but surely learning to eat and fuel properly so that my miles go smoothly...or at least as smooth as they can. People told me that marathon training was life changing and I'm realizing what they mean. I can only imagine what the next several months will bring, but each week when I push my body farther I feel energized and grateful for my ability to run.

If you haven't already, please consider making a donation to support my fundraising efforts, which will benefit Spaulding Rehab Hospital. I am running the Boston Marathon for those who can't and would love for your support. Donations can be made here.

Cheers to 26, a healthy and life-changing year!

 (9 Mile Training Run December 28th)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Rough Week

This week was the first negative week of training. There is no doubt that there will be harder ones ahead, but heres what happened:

Tuesday brought 7+ inches of snow, which required me to hop aboard a torture contraption that is more commonly known as the treadmill. I hate that machine, but I suppose I will need to get used to it if the first few weeks of December are any indication of whats to come this winter.

Thursday was also a new adventure for me, as I had to run through snow/slush/ice. Fortunately, Dan purchased running Yak Tracks for me as a gift, so I decided to strap them on, rather than climbing aboard the treadmill again. Yak Tracks are definitely not something I would enjoy running in all the time, but they certainly helped to prevent a slip and fall on the slushy, icy ground below. My route was more of an obstacle course than an enjoyable mid-week short run. The sidewalks were only partially clear and many intersections came with the surprising snowbank that I needed to climb over.

This weekend's long run had two great surprises: 50 degrees AND a new Garmin Forerunner 220 watch from my lovely husband! I figured that all three runs this week couldn't be horrible, but boy was I wrong. I had beautiful weather and 8 miles ahead of me, but the miles ticked by slowly. My body felt heavy, tired and my mind was clouded with negative thoughts as I sloshed through slushy puddles. Somehow I managed to get through all 8 miles.

As I reflect on Saturday, I think of the saying "running is mental." I ran the 8 miles that I needed to. It wasn't pretty, but its miles logged in the book. I wanted to stop and walk several times along my route, but knew that I couldn't. I'm training for a marathon, after-all. There is no playing catch-up now. We are 18 weeks away from the 118th Boston Marathon.

So, lets tie this week's training back to the reason I'm running: The patients at Spaulding don't have the option to give up. They can't say "well, I'll try it again next week." They keep going...and so will I. With that said, please consider supporting my fundraising efforts to benefit Spaulding Rehab Hospital. Your generosity truly makes a difference! Click here to make your contribution.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Frozen Beans

This morning's temperature was 12 degrees when I hit the streets. I was layered, hydrated and mentally prepared for this weekend's long run: 8 miles. My run included a bit of a detour when I took a wrong turn, which resulted in an 8.5 mile route, but thats OK because I felt GREAT! Don't tell my "Coaches" Suzanne Adams and Pamela Robichaud though! They keep lecturing me on "not pushing it."

Coach Adams suggested that I start using "nutrition" during my training runs, especially since they are getting longer. "Nutrition" will become necessary to survive out there in the double digit miles, which are coming quickly. Per her recommendation, I purchased Sports Beans, made by one of my favorite candy makers: Jelly Belly. You're probably thinking that jelly beans don't exactly sound like a nutritional "food," but these beans are magic (and filled with lots of vitamins and carbs.) 8 Miles was a breeze and I'm crediting the beans! Running also just got 100 times better since I get to eat candy!

So, the run went well, but by the time I got into the house I couldn't feel my tush. No, really, it was red...and I mean RED and totally numb. So numb that when I sat down I was unsure if I had actually made contact with the chair. Running in those frigid temps is no joke (my beans even froze!) I think I need to get warmer pants, so any recommendations that people have are greatly appreciated.

This past week also brought my firm commitment to run the marathon. I have signed on as a member of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital's Race for Rehab Boston Marathon Team and will be raising funds for the hospital. Spaulding and the Race for Rehab team hold a special place in my heart. I have worked for the hospital for 4 years and have been involved with the team since I started. I am truly looking forward to being on the other side of the team this year and actually running the race. I hope that everyone who reads my blog will consider making a donation to my fundraising efforts. Donations can be made online by clicking here or by checks made payable to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and sent to: Amanda Ravens, Development Office, 1575 Cambridge Street, Cambridge MA, 02138.

Tonight I will be enjoying a tall glass of wine and watching the snow fall. Glad I got my run in early today. I hope everyone stays warm and safe out there.

Until next week....

Friday, December 13, 2013

Boston Bound

Ladies and gentlemen, I have officially accepted my invitational entry into the Boston Marathon!

I want to put my invitation into perspective for those of you unfamiliar with just how amazing this opportunity is. Next year's marathon field has been increased to 36000, 9000 more than last year. 23081 numbers have gone to qualified runners or those who have completed 10+ consecutive Boston Marathons. So, how hard is it to qualify? Well, a female between the ages of 18-34 would need to complete a marathon in 3 hours and 35 minutes or less. Thats fast! 5625 numbers were offered to starters from last year who made it past the half-marathon mark, but were unable to finish due to bombings. 500+ were issued to each person physically injured by the bombs. That leaves roughly 6500 numbers, which go to the towns the marathon route runs through, charities in/around Boston and sponsors/supporters of the B.A.A and the Boston Marathon.

I now realize that receiving this "golden ticket" is a blessing in disguise. A once in a lifetime opportunity. The final step in healing. So, heres to 26.2 miles or pure torture and--for those who know me--excessive bitching!

I will be running as part of Spaulding's Race for Rehab team. Please consider supporting my mission to run for those who can't. A donation of any amount is greatly appreciated.

Checks made payable to:
Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
(put my name in the memo line)

Mail to: 
Attention: Amanda Ravens
Development Office
1575 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Donate Online:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Am I All In For Boston?

On November 20th, The Boston Athletic Association announced that they would be issuing a limited number of additional entries for the 2014 Boston Marathon for those who were "personally and profoundly impacted by the events of April 15, 2013." Those who were interested needed to submit an application and explain in 250 words or less the reason they wanted to run. I'm not sure what made me do it, but I applied...

I wrote, re-wrote and started from scratch several times while trying to explain how I had been affected by the bombings. How was I supposed to cram every emotion that I felt that day (and still do today) in 250 words or less? Somehow I did it. I hit submit and thought to myself: "at least there will be no 'what-ifs' left on the table. If I'm denied, so be it. If I am accepted, lord help me!"

On Wednesday, December 4th at exactly 12:19PM, I waited for the elevator at work with a colleague. At that same moment, I received an e-mail from the B.A.A. that I couldn't believe. I had a number for the 2014 Boston Marathon! So many emotions ran through my body in that moment. What had I done? Am I actually going to run a marathon? THE Marathon.

Runners say if there is a race run, its Boston. I have this once in a lifetime opportunity to run the oldest organized marathon. To run for those who can't. To give a big middle finger to the jerks who tried to break us, all of us! There are so many reasons I should run, but there is one thing holding me back: fear.

Can I do it? Can my body actually carry me 26.2 miles? I ran 7 miles this morning and there were times that I thought my body would quit on me. People say that running is 90% mental. I believe it. Although I was tired, my mind went to the reason I was running. Those thoughts are what got me through.

So, am I going to do it? To be honest, I'm not 100% sure. I am leaning toward YES, but I am so, so, so scared. I have until January 30th to decide, but I continue to think about what a beautiful thing it would be to cross that finish line on Boylston Street. How amazing would it feel to conquer my fear. What a wonderful thing to do in honor of and in memory of those who were injured or lost their lives.

Am I going to run? What do you think?

The E-Mail that could very well change everything...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Sunshine State of Mind

This year for Thanksgiving and Chanukah, affectionately coined "Thanksgivvukah," my family took a trip to Florida to celebrate with my grandparents. Our flight got in around 11AM on Thanksgiving and after going to lunch (at a Jewish deli, of course) I decided to lace up my shoes and go for a 4 mile pre-feast run. I had previously planned to run upon our arrival, as it called for one in my training schedule, but as I finished my lunch, I found myself thinking about the person I am becoming. Maybe I am, in fact, turning into a runner. I mean, who runs on the day that the average American consumes more than 4,500 calories? Apparently I do!

As I hit the road running in a beautiful Floridian gated community, I quickly learned that running in 75 degree heat is a lot harder than the 35-45 degrees that I have become accustomed to. Not only was I sweating like a hooker in church, but I had trouble getting into the groove necessary for me to actually enjoy my run. I found myself down and the miles lagging, somehow I found the strength to finish.

Fast forward two days, when I hit the road again, but this time for a 6 mile jaunt with a spa massage booked and waiting for me at the end. As I cruised through the neighborhood I felt great! I knew I had a steady pace going and kept thinking about how good that massage would feel on my legs after I finished. As my MapMyRun app alerted me to my final destination: 6 Miles, I was shocked at what I saw on my iPhone screen. My average pace was 10:02! Yes, 10:02!

In my last post I said that pace didn't matter, and it doesn' least not for this half-marathon-training-beginner. However, I am slowly learning that running is a personal race. A race against yourself. A race that you always want to do better than you did the previous time. I don't care about someone else's pace, all I care about is that I continue to improve. No doubt, I will have those hard days when I just can't get in the groove and want to give up, but there will also be great days. Training has made me feel better. I sleep better. I am even beginning to enjoy running. I used to find 4 miles a daunting task, but now those 4 miles are becoming my "short runs." Maybe there is hope for me. Maybe, just maybe, I will actually become a runner.

We enjoyed a run-free weekend at Disney World

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Running Revelation

I laced up my bright colored Asics around 8AM this morning and hit the road running. My husband, Dan, even decided to join me today. He went for a run with me a few weeks ago, but hasn't run since. I was anxious to see if he could actually keep up on our longer, 5+ mile run. I was also secretly hoping that he would need to stop. He is one of those guys that can eat anything, stay the same weight, never work out and still have the same chiseled body. Don't you hate people like that? At least you don't have to live with him!

As we started to head down the street, I immediately thought of what I would write about for this post. I could discuss my favorite running apps, the amazing feel of my Lululemon pullover and NorthFace running tights or even my favorite pump up songs. However, I have decided to go in a different direction for this post:

Today my first mile was a 9:48 pace. For most that probably doesn't seem to be anything special, but when I started running last April I was running 11:30s. I'm averaging 10:15-10:30s now, so when my MapMyRun app told me I was cruising I pulled back a bit, afraid that I'd blow all my steam on mile 1. After all, I needed to show my husband that I've been training and can easily conquer 5+ miles.

Around mile 2.5 I needed to switch my Songza station and caught a glimpse of my running partner's struggles. It sounded a bit like a moaning cat. I smiled and thought to myself: "Yes! Its harder than it looks, isn't it?!" Running takes hard work and dedication, at least for it to be somewhat enjoyable, and the proof was now in the pout across my husband's face.

Upon completion of every run, I immediately look at my pace and review my route. Today's run ended the same, but had a bit of a different feel. I had a revelation: running shouldn't be about pace, where you place or even how you compare to your peers. For most its not even a competition. You need to run for a purpose. It may be a race with others, but its really just a race with yourself. You wont be first, and you most likely wont be last. With that, I apologize, my dear husband, for wishing you to fall, twist your ankle, or have to give up. I'm glad you stayed with me for the whole 5.6 miles!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I'm Not a Runner: The Beginning

Let me start by saying: I'm not a runner.

On April 15, 2013 my life changed forever. I'm not going to sit here and recount the horrific events of that day or say that I had it worse or not as bad as the next person. All you need to know is that my colleagues, friends, husband and I were at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel when the second bomb went off directly across the street.

A few days after the bombing I went for a run to claim my car, which had been held under the Mandarin as part of the extensive investigation. At the time I was living in Boston and could have easily taken a cab, the T or even hitched a ride with a friend. I'm not sure what made me decide to strap on my shoes and run the 2+ miles to the hotel, but something deep inside made me do it. As I started to run I found myself tired, out of breath and disappointed in how out of shape I was, after all, I'm not a runner. However, I just kept running. I ran past the Science Museum, The Liberty Hotel, Massachusetts General Hospital, down Charles Street, through Boston Common, past Newbury Street and started to head down Boylston Street, which at the time was still mostly closed. I found myself stopped at what was the makeshift memorial and edge of the bombing crime scene. As I walked slowly to the memorial I silently pushed my way through the crowd of strangers until I couldn't go any farther. I immediately knelt down and cried. I suddenly realized why I had been running: For those who no longer could.

Many of you know that I work in a Rehab hospital. I see the results of tragedy every day. Whether it is a stroke that no one saw coming or a tragic car accident that has left a young person with a brain injury. Until April 15th I saw the patients after whatever that "thing" was that made them come to us. After April 15th I realized that I would share an experience with many of our patients. The hospital was soon filled with those who were physically harmed by the selfish and evil acts of two sick individuals.

Part of my job is to ensure that our patients have a positive experience while they are within our walls. I remember going to my Vice President and telling him that I was uncomfortable and afraid to visit some of the survivors. I quickly realized that it wasn't fear, it was guilt. I felt guilty that I was on Boylston Street that day, too, but I was lucky. I didn't lose a limb. I didn't have shrapnel lodged in my body. I didn't lose my life or a family members life. My VP, being the compassionate person that he is, told me that he would visit with the survivors until I was ready and would even accompany me when I felt comfortable.

A few weeks later I gained enough courage and strength to visit with one of the survivors. With my VP and a fellow colleague in tow, I entered the room of a middle-aged woman surrounded by her family and friends. Upon my entry she immediately said "My name is Susan (name changed for confidentiality) come give me a hug." I walked over and embraced a complete stranger that I felt I had known forever. She pulled me closer and whispered in my ear: "Hug everyone. You never know when your life or the life of those you love can be taken or changed." With those few words I decided that I needed to do something. Not only for those affected by the tragic events on April 15th, but for those who encounter life altering injuries.

I have signed up for the Hyannis Half Marathon on Sunday, February 23, 2014. This blog will follow my journey to 13.1!

I'm not a runner, but I'm running for those who can't.

(The makeshift memorial at the end of Boylston Street.)