Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ohhhh We're Half Way There...

I registered for the Hyannis Half Marathon on November 11, 2013 and set the February race as the next goal in my freshman running career. Soon thereafter, I took an enormous leap and decided to run the 118th Boston Marathon. Today I hit the 13.1 mile mark in my training and actually ended up running a little farther. Reaching this milestone wasn't easy. It has taken me months to train my body to go the distance and today's training run was no less of a challenge. It had hills, wind, cold and even a running breakdown.

My husband, Dan, drove me out to Wellesley this morning and after searching for an open coffee shop to make one last trip to the bathroom, I began my 13+ mile trip to Boston. My plan was to meet 4 miles in with my Race for Rehab teammate, Amy, and finish the route together. Somehow we planned our timing perfectly, because just as I passed Newton Wellesley Hospital, I caught a glimpse of my new running partner, who had just arrived at the Woodland T Stop.

Amy and I absolutely crushed the Newton Hills. We improved our pace from last week's 12 mile training run and felt more familiar with the Boston Marathon's notorious hills. I think we probably went a little too fast, because I found myself losing steam as we turned onto Beacon Street and in need of a break. I ended up walking for .1 miles to give my legs a bit of a rest. Amy was amazingly encouraging and gave me the confidence to keep going after I composed myself.

Whenever I have to stop, like I did today, and walk for a minute, I feel a sense of defeat, doubt and disappointment. However, after some thought, I am no longer going to look at those "resting" moments as the 3D's, but rather a time to check back into myself, adjust and recommit to the task at hand. When I reviewed my run this afternoon, which I tract via Garmin, I realized that those walking "breaks" actually helped me pick back up my pace. Even with our running time-out, Amy and I managed to conquer the miles, hills and half of the Boston Marathon course with a 10:35 pace.

Now that I have an unofficial half marathon under my belt, I have my eyes on a "PR" for Hyannis. I want to crush the race AND my fundraising for Spaulding Rehab Hospital. If you haven't already donated, or are feeling extra generous and inclined to make an additional contribution, please visit my personal fundraising page by clicking here.

In closing, I am so incredibly proud and feel a great sense of accomplishment reaching the half-way point of 26.2! I couldn't help but sing the legendary Bon Jovi song "Livin' on a Prayer," especially the "oooh we're half way there...." part as I ran down Boylston street today.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dear Allison....

Dear Allison, or at least I think thats what your friend called you. I saw you on the treadmill tonight. I saw me in you. You were winded. You were struggling. The look on your face was of disgust, exhaustion and defeat. I was that girl once. I struggled, as you did, to run a mile. I saw you looking over at me as I ran and ran and ran, for what to you probably seemed like forever. I used to do that. I would wonder how someone could keep going. You probably thought that I was judging you. I wasn't. I was cheering for you. I wanted you to keep going, to push yourself, to believe in yourself. 

Don't be ashamed, Allison, and don't give up. People will tell you that 'you can do it' but you will feel like you can't. You will cry. You will go home and eat a cookie because even though you went to the gym to work off the other ones you consumed earlier, its the only way you can make yourself feel better. You'll be sore tomorrow. You will have an internal battle of whether or not to go back to the gym. You should go. No, not because you're a bit overweight and not because society tells you that you should weigh 100 pounds. You should go for you. To feel good. To be better. To be the better YOU. I wont tell you that running a mile is easy, because its not. I certainly wont tell you that getting in shape is easy, because it definitely is not. Don't go to the gym because your skinny bitch girlfriend is dragging you. Go for a purpose. Run for a purpose. Set a goal, achieve it and move onto the next one. You can do it, Allison, and you don't have to be 100 pounds. I'm not! I see me in you. Just keep going....

I wish I could share this letter with "Allison," the girl I saw today at the gym. She reminded me of myself. Someone who never thought they could run a mile and definitely not a marathon! I had more people tell me "you can run a marathon, anyone can run a marathon" but there was no purpose behind it. Its not true, not everyone can run a marathon. There are physical and mental barriers that you have to overcome when you train and compete in an endurance race and not everyone can do that. Its hard, really hard! Who knows if I'll actually be able to complete 26.2 miles, but you better believe that I will try. When I ran 11 miles (alone) last weekend I had time to think. To think about where I came from, how this whole thing got started. Training for a marathon has taught me to eat and be better, to push harder, go longer, not to take anything for granted, especially my legs and most importantly to believe in myself. My advice this week is to set a goal. Your goal could be to go to the gym once a week, volunteer for a non-profit or not fight with your mother this week. Set a goal because achieving any goal is the best feeling in the world. I crossed into double digit (consistent) miles last week, that was my next goal and I achieved it. 

Please support my next goal, to raise $4,000 for Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. I am running the Boston Marathon in honor of those who can't. Please consider giving up that one coffee from Starbucks tomorrow and contributing to this amazing organization. Every dollar counts and no donation is too small, or too big! ;-) Donations can be made by clicking here.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Defeat Followed by Redemption

In the event that you missed every person on your Facebook page complaining about the snow and cold, it, a lot and it was flippin' cold! With 14" of that white stuff on the ground I found myself in a bit of a marathon schedule shake-up. I was unable to run my short distance on Thursday due to the storm, so I ran 3 miles on Friday, leaving me with a Saturday rest day and a Sunday long run. Unfortunately, the city of Melrose is pretty horrible at clearing sidewalks, so I was forced to climb aboard the treadmill.

For me, running on a treadmill is so much harder than running outside. The scenery doesn't change, it gets terribly boring and I am forced to keep the same pace, rather than allow my body to adjust naturally. So, there I stood on a treadmill at the Malden YMCA (which by the way is WAY nicer than the Melrose Y) with 10 miles ahead of me. I was hydrated, fueled, and strapped in with my new Amphipod water bottle. I was ready to go...or so I thought. Miles 1-4 were solid, but once I hit 5 and realized I had 5 more to go my mind started to wander. My body grew tired, I realized I had to pee, I got completely bored with my view and to make matters worse, the lady next to me needed to be wearing more deodorant. By the time I got to mile 7 I had to quit. I tried playing the mind games, but I just couldn't continue. Frustrated with myself, I did what I have learned to do when in a running predicament: text Coach Pamela!

Pamela recommended that I hop on the elliptical to finish my miles and end with a 5 minute fast-pace run back on the treadmill. Being the good student that I am, I climbed onto the elliptical, still angry with myself for giving up, and rode it out for 2 miles. Once I hit 2, I quickly jumped off and started back to the treadmill. I was determined to finish my miles...and RUN them! I ran the last 2 miles at an 8:30/9:00 pace. I had something to prove to myself and pushed it until I literally couldn't stand it anymore. Satisfied, I sent Pamela a text and re-read some of her other motivational comments that I quickly glanced over while in my tizzy.

I focussed in on one very important statement that my dear Coach made: "Think about all the people that don't have the option of suffering thru a crappy run on a treadmill..." In that moment I realized why my run had been so terrible. I lost sight of why I was running. I was too busy trying to play the mind games that everyone tells me to play to make the time go by faster. I was focussed on my awesome pace. I was thinking about other things than the task at hand. I've said it before and I'll say it again: running, at least for this marathon rookie, isn't about pace, distance, time, cute running clothes (ok, maybe a little) its about purpose. I needed to bring myself back to the reason I embarked on this journey to begin with. I was too busy being a runner and not being ME: the non-runner who accepted a number to run for those who can't.

You better believe that when I strap on my shoes next week and hit the streets for 11 miles I will be thinking of those who can't. In fact, next week I dedicate my run to Nicholas, a former Spaulding patient, my Coach's brother and someone who 9 years ago today lost his ability to run and complain about those crappy encounters with the treadmill. Next week is for you, Nick. You're a fighter and so am I!