Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Knee Update - Martha

Remember that fullness I was having in my knee the day after that ridiculous 20-mile trek? I actually took a moment later on Sunday to look at my knee (what a doctor I am) and noticed it was definitely swollen on the lateral side. I was so bummed! I pushed my finger into the puffiness and it didn't hurt – at least I had that going for me. So then, I spent the next few minutes rationalizing why my knee should be swollen. I did run 20 miles after all…and I did a lot of jumping on and off snow banks to avoid the cars...and I did run a faster pace than I usually do (always blame the husband). So, I took several Motrin and slipped into my doctor-in-denial world. On Monday, my knee was still swollen but less so. I decided to confess to Coach Bob when he caught me in the hallway at work to ask me how the run went on Saturday. I asked him when he thought I should try running on it again and he suggested I take a few days off. “Like my son's coach tells him, I'm going to tell you - you're day to day,” he says.

So, this morning I looked at my knee, trying to decide if it would betray me again. The swelling was basically gone and the sun was out. I am just back in the house from a test run of four miles on dry roads. It feels ok but I guess only time will tell. I'm usually not a “day to day” kind of thinker, but I guess I need to learn how to be one if I'm going to get through this.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Missing Martha - Heidi

Today was my first day back from vacation and I'm feeling behind in all aspects of life. My office greeted me with an overflowing inbox and a big stack of charts on the floor. I got a lot of paperwork done in the midst of seeing a busy day of patients, but left the office with a towering stack of charts to dictate. Thank goodness, I'm on call tomorrow and will hopefully leave a clean desk by the time I leave the Hospital on Wednesday morning. Despite doing multiple loads of laundry once we got home on Sunday night, there is a mound of whites to fold on my bed. Given its location, that will have to be dealt with before I can crawl in to sleep tonight. I “trained” all but two days of my vacation but did lighter work outs to accommodate the family schedule and the absence of a long-distance running partner! I came home to read Martha’s blog about her arduous 20-mile run. Two women in our running group did a 20-mile run around Martha's Vineyard last Saturday. I had been feeling good about my six to nine mile runs over vacation, but now I'm feeling mostly - behind!

Before anyone feels sorry for my current state, let me tell you that I spent this last week in Los Angeles and San Diego. My husband had business meetings to attend, so my son and I accompanied him over the school vacation week. According to a father in a line at Sea World, it was about as cold as it gets in Southern California last week, but we're talking 50's and 60's without snow and ice on the ground. In Santa Monica, I had the “strand” to run along while I was still on east coast time and my family was snoozing in their comfy hotel beds. This is a 22-mile stretch of path along the Pacific Ocean where people run, rollerblade and bike. In San Diego there was a similar path along Mission Bay that was at least three miles in each direction. I took advantage of both venues, but I would take battling the New England snow and ice for more than ten miles any day with Martha at my side over a sunny stretch of concrete with only my ipod to entertain me for a shorter distance.

I did get in a little cross training, which included my first ever rollerblading. Thank goodness I didn't fall and break anything. I would think that my heart rate soaring during my two rides on Space Mountain in Disney Land would count for something (or at least standing in line for more than an hour to get on the ride).

Well, it is nice to be back on the beautiful and less-congested east coast. Given the snow today, I did a 50-minute run at the Hospital fitness center. I'm looking forward to my track workout with The Suburban Striders on Wednesday. I'm hoping Martha's knees will be feeling ok so I can enjoy another long run with someone to talk to this weekend.

Monday, February 26, 2007

It's Getting Harder! - Martha

So yesterday (February 24), I was slated, according to my downloaded marathon schedule, to run 20 miles. Another milestone! Unfortunately, my teammate Heidi was out of town, which allowed me to wonder if I should go it alone or revamp my schedule. After discussing the pros and cons with one of my colleagues at work (let's just call him Coach Bob), I decided to stay true to my inflexible self and run the 20. We figured two 20-mile runs a week apart would not kill me. That remains to be seen.

So of course yesterday dawned bright and sunny. I had decided to do two loops of 10 miles each, first running toward the finish line and then returning back to run a loop to Wellesley College. My husband Ken decided he would join me to run the second half and see what all the hoopla was about. Let me just reiterate how hard running this alone would be for me. I started out ok enough, but realized I had forgotten my ice “cleats” after I took about two steps. Because going back to the house would throw the timing off for all of the rest of the Saturday household goings-on, I decided to just watch where I was going. I soon discovered how maddening it was to keep one eye out for the cars (since half of the sidewalks are still caked with ice) and one eye down at my feet. And I am convinced we have drivers out there who thrill in seeing how many runners they can get to hop up on snow banks to avoid being creamed. I’m memorizing your plates!

I had purchased a small timer that was supposed to go off every 30 minutes to remind me to drink, but then realized I had no place to put it. So I stuck it in my glove and then realized that the pressure of putting my hand into the glove kept deactivating it. Back to the drawing board for that problem... By the time I got to the base of Boston College (a mere five miles), I was bored and freezing. I took off my gloves to drink and could barely pull the bottle off my belt because my fingers felt like frozen sausages. I turned back and immediately was hit by what seemed to be 50 mile an hour winds coming from the West. How could this be? I thought westerly winds were supposed to be balmy?! My only consolation was knowing “spitters” (those disgusting people who feel the need to blow volumes of fluid out of their mouths while running in close proximity to you) would pay a price today! Even more amazing to me as I headed back was passing people dressed in shorts and no gloves! How is that possible?!

I decided I hated running and would never leave the house again without checking the entire weekend forecast. My husband caught the brunt of my ire against the world as I met up with him for the second half. He suggested I call it a day, which always makes me do the opposite. So we headed west and I was pleased to see that several cars from various organizations had parked along the way, offering cheers, food and drink. Of coarse Ken stopped at every spot and I think believes this race is just one long tailgater! I felt like the horse who couldn't wait to be able to turn around and race back to the barn. My feet went numb around mile 14 and I felt like I had icicles hanging out of my nose (I probably did). At mile 19, one of my knees instantly started throbbing. My body was screaming at me to stop but I guess I couldn't hear it over the wind. I felt the seams of my UnderArmor burning into my legs (at least it was some warmth) and I can honestly say I don't think I could have gone to mile 21.

So today my knee feels “full” and my Achilles tendon aches. My only exercise today was going to the store and buying a box of frosted leprechaun cookies. I hope they work their magic by next Saturday.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Murphy's Law of Three - Martha

So being a great believer in Murphy's Laws, I couldn't help but offer my own contribution to the list today. I have noticed that whenever I am running on the street and two cars approach from opposite directions, INVARIABLY, we will all be lined up directly next to each other no matter how fast or slow any of the three of us are going. Doesn't this defy some law of physics?! And, without fail as well, it is always on the narrowest part of the road. Thanks to our icy snowstorm last week, Heidi and I were forced to take to the streets, literally, for our weekend run. As if training for this thing isn't already hard enough, we realized that we had been totally spoiled running on our dry December and January streets.

Then came our big Valentine Nor'easter reality check!! Needham being Needham offered totally obstructed sidewalks filled with either mounds of ice blocks from the plows or smooth sheets of sneaky black ice. I felt badly for those who do not or cannot drive and must rely on smooth walkways to get them to work or stores. At least I could have chosen to stay in bed. But we picked our steps gingerly and wisely and thankfully survived another long run intact. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a midweek thaw and the thought of March just around the corner. And to think I thought the rain in the fall was a reason not to run!

Move over Curt Schilling - Heidi

Being a Red Sox fan, I thought my son would think it was really cool that I had not one but two bloody socks after my 18-mile run with Martha on February 11. He thought it was gross but did ask to see the holes in my feet! It's amazing what an extra millimeter of toenail can do - no matter how short they seem. I now plan to trim my nails the morning of the Marathon. One learns from their mistakes. I was running well in a 5K two years ago when my shoe came untied in the midst of the downhill finish forcing me to slow to keep it on my foot. On April 16, I will double knot the laces of the shoes encasing my really short toenails.

Some of you were concerned that Martha and I ran on Wednesday in the snowstorm. The blog entries are posted a few days after I submit them so we actually ran the Sunday before the storm. Martha waited for me to end my 24 hours of being in the Hospital and then my family drove the two of us out to the starting line of the Marathon in Hopkinton. We drove the race course and kept driving and driving. When we finally got there, I think my son was worried about how far from home we were – so he offered to give me a hug. He probably thought he would never see me again!

Sunday was beautiful and the roads were bare and dry so everything turned out ok. As usual, our steady stream of conversation made the passing miles blur. One thing that helped keep Martha going was her plan to try her first Gu when we got into Wellesley. We slowed to a walk for our Gatorade and nourishment break. I had brought along a Gu as well, having tried it for the first time in the Boston Half Marathon. I had to lean against the wall of a store in Wellesley and laugh as Martha grimaced, puckered and gagged as she had her first swallow. Her descriptions about the consistency were not kind so having already discussed bloody socks, I will leave that to your imagination.

Even though the overall race course from Hopkinton goes downhill, we encountered rolling hills along the route. Once we got to where Route 16 crosses Route 128, we ran up Walnut Street to complete our run. I can now begin to imagine how the Heartbreak Hills will feel after completing more than half the Marathon!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Not a "GU" Girl - Martha

So one more fear of the unknown down... I finally visited the town of Hopkinton this weekend! Heidi's husband and son were kind enough to roll out of their beds on Sunday morning and drive us out to the starting area. Since we were on schedule to do an 18-mile run, we figured this would be a great chance to see Hopkinton, which is “conveniently” located about that distance from Heidi's house. After we passed the train station in Framingham (which already seemed about three days worth of running away from my house), I started to worry that I had bitten off a little more than I could chew…or run. The businesses began to separate and the houses were becoming sparse. The restaurants of Wellesley and Newton gave way to hot dog stands and scattered diners. I had no phone and no money. Dumb. Heidi's husband gave her twenty bucks as we crawled out of the car, so we had comfort knowing we could always call a cab if need be!

But then, as had been the case every time we started to run before, we began heading back east and talking about how great it was going to be once this run was behind us. Heidi joked that we were like the critters you trap in your yard and then drive out into the country to dump off, only to find them back in your yard making little messes the next day. I was focused on how this run was going to be long enough that I would need my “power booster food” to get me through. I decided I would “treat” myself at Mile 13 and eat my “GU”. My apologies in advance to any of you out there who work for the company that makes this stuff, but as I tore open the pretty Tri-Berry packaging, out oozed this pale green slime. I guess it was aptly named. It actually looked like it came out of a bird in the sky, if you know what I mean. I decided if I didn't eat it, I would probably be hospitalized for caloric deprivation, but maybe that would have been more pleasant in retrospect. Frankly, I think the package would have tasted better. So I guess it's back to the drawing board for me for how to eat during this thing. Heidi suggested I try Fig Newtons next time. Sounds decadent!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Life is Good - Heidi

I can't remember what the subject of conversation was at the dinner table one night this week, but my 11-year-old son, Christopher, turned around to flash the “Life is Good” logo on the back of his shirt. I think that sums up my feelings as I read the blog comments and hear the words of encouragement around the Hospital. I felt a little panicked when the word was spread at Newton-Wellesley about Martha and me running the Marathon. I couldn't help but feel that now that the word was out about our undertaking, there was more pressure to succeed. It is a good kind of pressure, however, and such a great feeling to have so many warm wishes and words of support.

My first comment was from my lovely running teammate Stephanie from the Suburban Striders. I did my first 10-mile run ever with Stephanie this fall before the Boston Half Marathon. When we completed that run, I felt a sense that it might really be possible to complete a full marathon. The Friday before the race, she left a goodie bag at my house with tissues and “goo” and other race necessities. Stephanie is one of about forty awesome women who make up this running club that I am now fortunate to be a member of. It is an incredibly supportive group. We meet once a week for a track workout where our phenomenal coach Cathy helps us fulfill our potential (when she can keep us from chatting). Members of the group share information about upcoming races, training and also meet for long runs at other times of the week. You can check out the website at

Before I had even let them know about the blog, my high-tech savvy in-laws discovered it and sent words of encouragement. Elise, a friend from college posted a note but even better let my best friend from seventh and eighth grade know about the site so that I got back in touch with her by email. I have two cousins in California that are like sisters to me and loved hearing from both of them this week. I work with a great group of people at Newton-Wellesley OB/GYN. My nurse Mary (who I could not live without) was talking to a family member about the Marathon who has run Boston. He sent in words of wisdom about not over-training (which is a recurrent theme from those in the know) and his own copy of Runner's World Magazine. Thank you Paul!

In summary, I feel lucky to have so many supportive people behind us. Thank you to everyone who has said something, sent in a blog comment or personal email. Thank you to my husband and son who are going to drive the two of us to Hopkinton tomorrow morning so that we can run back to Wellesley. The Marathon is just nine weeks away and we're going to need all of your collective strength to make it the full 26.2 miles.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Pass the Bread - Martha

Nine weeks to go and we are now entering running times that should include a meal or two given how long they will take us to finish! A lot of people have asked me how my eating habits have changed with all this training and I can happily say that has been one of the more positive aspects of training.

Several weeks ago I was having a lot of trouble with stomach cramps that would start up about an hour or two after finishing my 8, 9 and 10-mile runs. Another blog site had suggested the concept of “bowel ischemia” from lack of adequate hydration during runs causing this phenomenon. Being a doctor, I had previously dismissed this concept as possibly affecting me. Wrong again! So I tried to drink a bottle before runs, but that just made me feel like I was carrying a water balloon in my stomach. Heidi suggested a belt that holds small bottles of Gatorade instead. I have since been using these and it has helped tremendously. I also have found great happiness in “carbo-loading” the night before my long weekend runs without the guilt I usually have. And now I never turn down dessert. I think I will have a very hard time adjusting back to my regular paltry meals once this whole thing is done. Perhaps this will be my incentive to keep doing marathons!

This weekend we have our longest run to date of 18 miles and I have packed something called “GU” to take along with me. It's no double cheeseburger but hopefully it will allow me to finish. I have read enough “Marathon for Dummies” books that all say the same thing: practice eating different things on the long runs. This slays me because I figure I only have three or four long practice runs in me before my body falls apart. Hopefully I will pick the right “menu” on one of these runs so I don't have to wing it on Marathon Monday.

Stay tuned and pass the bread please!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Reality Check - Heidi

This past week has been a bit of a reality check that the Marathon is just around the corner. The business of life and the bitterness of the weather is making the escalating mileage a bit of a challenge. My Saturday morning started with transferring a high-risk patient into Boston at 6:00 am while finishing up twenty-four hours of call. My plan was to run with Martha once my call was over but when I got home from Newton-Wellesley I realized the sidewalks and roads were sheets of ice. We postponed to about 9:30 am in hopes that the bright sun would melt our paths, but still found the roads slick and crunchy. Martha had told me about a product she had purchased to attach to her shoe with little spikes to prevent slipping on the ice. We started our run from my house and Martha was kind enough to let me make a quick stop in the early part of our run at Marathon Sports in Wellesley to buy a pair of running crampons for myself. I was glad we made the stop as the sidewalks were not in the best shape, but both of us felt pretty secure with our shoe devices. We’ve done the “hills” twice so decided to try the other direction of the Marathon route so headed out to Natick Center. We finished our 13-mile run close to noon and parted ways.

I had a little time to relax over lunch with my husband and then fueled by endorphins from the run and mid-day coffee, switched gears to entertain at our house later that night. Our neighborhood has a “progressive dinner” every winter and our assignment was to host 21 people for appetizers before walking down the street to someone else’s home for soup and salad with a different group of people. It’s a wonderful way to get to know your neighbors. We had a great night but decided to head home after dinner and skip the dessert house to get some sleep as I had another day of call ahead of me and my husband was still recovering from being on the West Coast last week. Needless to say, I slept like a rock until the alarm awoke me from a deep sleep this morning. Thank goodness today is a “rest” day on the training schedule!