Friday, April 23, 2010

It Was All Worth It! – Maureen

YAY, I did it!!!! I can now say that I ran (and finished!) the Boston Marathon!!! The whole day was amazing and was one of the best experiences ever. It was also one of the toughest things I've ever mentally and physically put myself through but I can honestly say it was all worth it.

I started getting a sore throat the Saturday before the marathon... oh no! There was absolutely no way sickness was going to keep me from running so I did everything I could to prevent it from getting worse. I still wasn't 100% the day of but felt much better. I had trouble getting to bed early enough Sunday night but managed to get in about 7 hours of sleep. Annie and I made arrangements to meet at the bus pickup along the Common at 7:00 am Monday morning. I was glad we decided to take the bus to Hopkinton instead of being dropped off.... it was all part of the experience! I had a lot of nervous excitement running through me so it was nice to have someone else from Newton-Wellesley to talk to on the ride down. We thought we'd have so much time to spare at Athlete's Village but time flew by pretty fast. We hit the porto-potties, ate our bagels, met up with some of the other runners at the Newton-Wellesley tent, I got "GO MOE" written on my arms, we shed our layers of clothing and we were off to the start!

Even though I trained with an iPod, I decided not to run the marathon with one so that I could feed off the crowds (and, of course, I also fed off my packet of jelly bellies!). I decided I wanted to make a concerted effort to notice each mile marker sign, as well as whenever we would enter a new town. I am very familiar with the entire route and I kept thinking how crazy it was that I was actually running it! The first 5 miles or so felt pretty good. I was consciously trying to keep an even, steady pace and not go too fast. I saw family around mile 5 in Ashland with their Go Moe and Newton-Wellesley signs (also where my uncle jumped in to keep me company) and it was exciting to see them. Soon after, I ran past my first college apartment in Framingham (quite a different scene from the Marathon Day parties we used to throw!) and saw friends on the balcony of La Cantina restaurant with more "Go Moe" signs! Around mile 6, my left knee started talking to me so I popped a few Advil and tried to focus on other body parts that were NOT bothering me. "Focus on the glutes" became the mantra I would continuously repeat for the duration of the marathon.

There were parts of the route in Natick and Wellesley that were very quiet because there weren't many spectators, making it easier to notice the aches and pains that were starting to sink in. My pace stayed pretty even though.... I know this because I broke down my splits at each 5K mark after I got my results (and just saw that Sabrina calculated hers as well, love it!). I also know exactly where my pace started to significantly slow... those Newton hills! BUT, before I made it there I was anxiously waiting to run by Newton-Wellesley. I knew my brother and sister-in-law would be there, along with my close friend Kendra (who was waiting to run the last 9.2 miles with me), and familiar faces of the Hospital! I stopped quickly for a few pics and continued running.

I was now on the part of the route that I had actually trained on a few times, which I was happy I did because I liked knowing when to expect with the hills... however I had never run them 18 miles into a run! I didn't think they were so bad during training but I was singing a different tune on Monday. However, it was about this point that I realized I had yet to stop and walk, something I thought for sure I'd have to because of my knee and hip. There is absolutely nothing wrong with walking during a marathon but now that I was only 8 miles away from the finish, I wanted so bad to finish having run the whole thing. My legs felt like lead going up each of the three hills but there was no way I was going to stop running. It was also from this point on that the crowds were extremely helpful in getting me to put one foot in front of the other. One memorable part of the route was at the top of Heartbreak Hill... there was a band playing, signs that read "You made it to the top of Heartbreak!" and people yelling words of encouragement... what a sigh of relief that part was over!

It was somewhere between the top of Heartbreak and the turn onto Beacon Street that Kendra started to play a game with me... it all started when we noticed a girl ahead of us running in a tutu. Kendra yelled out, "Moe! She's running in a tutu!! You're not gonna let a girl in a tutu beat you in a race... are you??" Motivation at its finest. The fire was lit and we breezed past her. Kendra continued to find people for me to pick off one by one, including blue-fanny-pack-guy, the girl wearing head-to-toe black ("Her pace is good... but yours is better!!"), and others. It was a great distraction from my achy joints.

I saw a few more friends at various points on Beacon Street, which helped keep me going, but my hip, knee and pinky toes were starting to give me more and more discomfort with each mile. The last two to three miles took every ounce of mental strength I had to keep going and not stop. My uncle wished me luck with about a mile to go and went ahead of us, and Kendra and I proceeded to run the longest mile I have ever run in my life. Although I was still aware of the crowds, I was no longer high-fiving people and taking it all in... I had to put all my efforts into just crossing the finish line. And I did! 4 hours, 29 minutes, and 29 seconds after starting. Talk about a sense of accomplishment! I was definitely feeling a little loopy once I finished though. I didn't need medical attention and I don't think I was dehydrated, but it took about a half hour before I stopped feeling weird. I knew not to sit down right away so I kept walking, got my medal and some vitamin water, met my friends and family and celebrated! I started craving an ice cold beer (this is when I realized I was myself again) so we all went and grabbed lunch together on Newbury Street. It was a perfect way to end the perfect Marathon Monday!

Although it took me a few days to walk down stairs without looking ridiculous (and whatever virus I started to get prior to Monday has progressively worsened since then), overall I feel great for having run my first marathon. And though it won't be anytime soon, I would absolutely do another one to try and better my time... especially now that I know what I need to do to minimize/eliminate the injuries I had during training. I want to give a HUGE thank you to everyone who encouraged me and wished me well throughout this experience. And of course, thank you to Newton-Wellesley for giving me this opportunity!

Opportunity of a Lifetime – Annie

How long does the runner's high last? I'm not quite sure, but I am definitely still feeling it! My Marathon weekend started off with a trip to the Expo on Saturday morning, where I began to soak in the atmosphere and energy, and got lots of free loot from the many vendors. My favorite item was the beautiful aqua Marathon jacket, which I think I wore for several days straight, only taking it off to actually run the race! As many had told me, the night before the night before the Marathon is the critical time to get lots of rest, so my sister Caitie came in after dinner, we plotted strategy a little, then I headed to bed early. After a good 9 to 10 hours of rest, I started Sunday off with a light jog of about two miles around my neighborhood, to make sure my legs still worked after tapering for a few weeks! A solid breakfast and lots of relaxation were the main items of the day, and logistics were ironed out for the cheering squad. We headed off to the Pre-Race Pasta Dinner at Boston City Hall around 7:00 pm, with me decked out in my jacket, of course, and giddy with excitement. The dinner was great, though a bit overwhelming with many people and so much going on, but the mac and cheese was heavenly and it was fun to be a part of the festivities.

Marathon Day - I was up a little before 6:00 am, outfitted with my snazzy Newton-Wellesley singlet (ANNIE emblazoned across the front with athletic tape). After making sure we had all our gear, Caitie and I headed out to the T and were off to Park Street and the school buses to Hopkinton. I met up with Newton-Wellesley runner Maureen Lydon there, and we rode the bus together, sharing our excitement and getting psyched up. What a beautiful day it was for running! Just perfect - I like that coolness to the air and the sun periodically broken by clouds. We met up with Donna Dunn at the Newton-Wellesley Tent, and soon set off to the starting line. Our bib numbers had us way in the back, and it took a while to cross the starting line, but soon we were shuffling off to begin the race. I liked having the crowded field at the beginning, as it helped keep the pace under control; I was wary of starting off too fast and then burning out too soon! The crowd was amazing throughout the small towns at the beginning, with such pride for the race and their role in it, and palpable support and excitement for all the runners. I was so glad I had my name on my shirt! It felt like everyone knew me, and was pulling for me. Maureen and I ran together for about 5 or 6 miles, then I saw that I was about 4 minutes ahead of my pace (according to the awesome bracelet my sister made for me) and I pulled back a little, feeling strong and wanting to conserve. There was a bar right on the course that was in full-on tailgating mode, and then the scoreboard showing the (dismal) score of the Sox game.

I saw my family and friends first in Framingham, by the train depot - a wide and flat stretch just perfect for cheering! One of my favorite moments came shortly thereafter then the conductor of the commuter rail leaned on the horn for a long time as he drove by, powering the runners on, energizing us. Also in Framingham I was almost lured off the course by the tantalizing aroma of burgers on the grill…dangerous! I felt strong through Wellesley, passing a good amount of people but also trying to keep my pace consistent and not let my excitement speed me up. I was in front of a few men dressed as Elvis for a while, which provided some entertaining comments from the crowd! The "wall of sound" at Wellesley College was fantastic - those girls can really holler! Several of the gentlemen around me took advantage of the kisses being handed out ("Oh boy, now my heart-rate monitor is all out of whack!"). I started to lose a little ground on my pace a little after the half mark, miles 14-15, but the support in Wellesley Center powered me through to Newton-Wellesley, where I was met with friends, family and coworkers, and felt like a rockstar! I stopped to pose for some pics, and it really provided the surge of energy I needed at that point! My sister jumped in with me for a few minutes, holding a "Go Annie! That's my sister!" sign, riling up the crowd for me, which was pretty sweet! On to the Newton Hills - hard, but I had trained on them, so felt comfortable and knew what I was in for. I gritted my teeth as I turned onto Comm Ave, and began to power up. The crowd support ratcheted up a few notches, and the sun came out, and I dug in. I had a moment of delirium as I crested the second hill, and thought it was Heartbreak Hill, only to realize it was just the little hill before - oops! I grabbed a luscious orange slice and some extra high fives and actually passed quite a few people on my way to the top! No walking for me! Again, the crowd support here was just awesome.

On the back side of the hills, I tried to relax and lengthen my stride, using gravity to my advantage, but felt a little tapped out. I knew I had lost the edge on my pace and was now a few minutes behind. The BC kids were cheering like maniacs at that point though, which helped a lot, as did a fellow runner ("Hey Lightning, you can do it! You've got this!" - in reference to the lightning bolts on my shoulders), and then my friend Alicia, who leapt out of the crowd and ran a little with me, egging me on! Just after that, in Cleveland Circle, my sister jumped in with me for the last four miles. The rockstar feeling truly kicked in here. What a feeling to hear so many people screaming your name, so excited for you! It really is a rush. Caitie had water for me and ran alongside, trying to distract me a little from my obvious fatigue. More high fives, though some felt like they would knock me over! We pressed on. I saw my a cappella singing group friends right after Mile 24, who enveloped me in a shrieks and hugs, and sent me back on my way, where I soon saw Co-Fellow Andy Wurtzel cheering his heart out further down Beacon!

Even more rockstar feeling at Kenmore: chants of my name, impromptu songs starring "Annie" (of both "the sun'll come out tomorrow" and totally improvised varieties), fist pumps and high fives, general euphoric waves of support. I was torn with the conflicted feeling of "I want this to last forever" and "I want this to end NOW." I was really tired and the balls of my feet felt like they were directly pushing through the bottoms of my shoes to the pavement. However, I was able to still pass people, which provided a great competitive boost! Turned on to Hereford, then Boylston, then the sweet sight of the finish line. Rockstar-style, I grinned like crazy, waved to the crowd, and kicked it into gear for what we in my family like to call the "Huppert finish," passing more people in the last dozen yards and surged across the finish line!!! "Anne Huppert, from Cambridge!" I did it!

Then mylar blanket, water, medal, banana, potato chips, baggage pickup, dazedly wandering over to the Family Meeting Area to, you guessed it, meet my family. The sun was angling through the buildings so beautifully, making all of us runners look like angels in our silver capes. Pictures, hugs, general excitement and stories! We headed to Legal Seafoods for a jubilant post-race meal, taking our time to digest the day as well as the food, and also having the amazing opportunity to reconnect with old dear family friends who were all in town from Wisconsin for the Marathon! We couldn't have planned it to work out this well - just an amazing, amazing day all around.

I am so grateful to Newton-Wellesley for the opportunity to run - truly the opportunity of a lifetime. Also thankful to my family and friends, and all those energetic and heartfelt supporters who screamed my name from Hopkinton to the Finish - I couldn't have done it without you! My official time - 4:38:15. A full 31 minutes faster than my first Marathon time in Chicago! I'll take it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

We Did It! – Tom and Sylvie

Thank you to everyone for your support, especially yesterday. I've wanted to run the Boston Marathon for most of my adult life but something always held me back. This year, I'm grateful for the opportunity and that I finally committed to it. It's been a rewarding experience, something I'll always remember. I also remembered that I was representing an important cause, the Vernon Cancer Center. For those who contributed to the Center, supporting the Marathon Team, thank you so much.

Tom: 3:54, Sylvie 4:00

We slept fitfully Sunday night, awaking at 5:45. I found a charter bus leaving from Park Plaza at 7:30 so we drove to the Clarendon St. Garage. The bus was worth the price – bathroom and parking at the High School lot so we had minimal wait time outside. Still, the morning was anything but relaxing. We brought a paper but were unable to read. We had nervous conversations with others on the bus (all veteran marathoners so I stayed quiet). I visited the two Newton-Wellesley medical tents at the Village – good for pre-race support. I had first marathon jitters so I never ate the extra banana and bagel I'd brought on the bus. I thought (and the bus facilities seem to confirm) that I was drinking enough before the race. Our corral was 26 (of 27 so we were in the back and it took 15 minutes to reach the starting line.

It's so different from my long training runs, when I could just leave the house rested, relaxed and quickly settle into a pace. There were all kinds of runners/walkers in the back. I thought that after four to five miles, the pack would spread out but that didn't happen until Wellesley, so I was using more energy than I'd hoped. The spectators in the early segment were entertaining – bars and restaurants packed with people celebrating and a guy playing the Jimi Hendrix version of the National Anthem were fun.
My dream was to hit 3:45, which is my Boston Marathon qualifying time. After 10 miles, it was a long shot, and by Wellesley, I decided that sub-4:00 was realistic, especially after suffering side cramps and nausea on the long descent into Newton. I tried to drink enough, but as you'll see later, I failed. I knew there were friends waiting at the Quebrada Bakery in Wellesley but in spite of running on that side and looking I never saw the sign and people – incredibly hard to pick out faces in the crowds.

I passed the Hospital with a plan to be conservative on the hills and save energy for the last four to five miles. Paul Satwicz ran a few paces with me – thanks for the encouragement! Sylvie was right – the hills are not so bad, it's the prolonged descent after the hills that kills your legs. Aerobically, I felt fine (too dry, I now recognize) but my legs were fading. I missed a couple of water stations the last few miles (or were they not there?) and knew I was in trouble. The underpass just before turning onto Commonwealth Ave. was particularly cruel. Runners around me cheered when we turned onto Bolyston and saw the finish – I had to focus on the runner in front to maintain my stride and get home. But I did finish! And I didn't walk even through the water stations. I was so afraid that if I stopped once, the second and third stops would be too tempting.

The most difficult part was the post race chute, waiting for water, blankets, food and medal. I saw stars twice and turned down requests for assistance. No way was I going to the Medical tents. I sat by the luggage buses, waiting for Sylvie, drank and ate and eventually felt better. Amazingly, my jaw was too weak to chew a power bar and my mouth too dry to swallow. Thank goodness for bananas. I clearly did not drink enough during the race, as my post race experience demonstrated. Happily, after liters of Gatorade, water and beer, my kidneys were working by 7:00 pm.

Sylvie was close behind at 4:00, in spite of not running for 10 days with a sore leg. She bested her 2011 Boston qualifying time by 15 minutes and is definitely the marathoner in our family. I learned some lessons from my first experience. Don't know that I'll ever apply them again, as long as temporary insanity doesn't strike. For now, I plan to enjoy the accomplishment and recovery. Thanks to all who have been incredibly supportive during the training and race. I can't possible include all your names without forgetting someone important: Newton-Wellesley Charitable Foundation, Newton-Wellesley Physical Therapy, Shipley Fitness Center and many many colleagues and friends. It's been a wonderful experience; one I'll always remember.

Indescribable – Sabrina

Because I am a geek, I got up this morning and calculated my splits from the BAA site. Here they are:

5k 11:53 pace (dusted by just about everyone, including a hamburger and French fries)
10k 12:06 pace (bathroom stop!)
15k 11:54 pace (and another bathroom stop!)
20k 12:15 pace (kissed a boy at Wellesley College)
Half Marathon 12:15 pace (just fifteen seconds behind goal!)
25k 12:25 pace (walked for 1-2 minutes so I could appear "fresh" at Newton-Wellesley)
30k 12:37 pace (starting up Heartbreak Hill, downshifting)
35k 12:53 pace (what a frakkin' hill! difficult recovery on downhill)
40k 12:58 pace (hurting but keeping the pace)
26.2 13:00 overall marathon pace (I did it!)

My marathon journey began on about January 27 when I found out I had won a number for the Boston Marathon at work. I ran five miles that day on my treadmill at a 10:22 pace. Up till then I had run a total of nine miles in 2010; and had only run a handful of times since ski season started. My "real" running days ended in 2002 when I fractured my spine while carrying firewood down some steps after a frigid January evening run. I just never got back into it after that, but always maintained a level of fitness such that I could go out for a five mile jog comfortably, generally jogging 10 to 20 miles a week as cross training for hiking/skiing/cycling.

I picked a Hal Higdon Intermediate Marathon training plan and stuck to it religiously until I got to week eight, then I really couldn't keep up with the weekly mileage entirely and maxed out at a 42-mile week. I had what turns out was/is a piriformis pull in my left glute, and that inflamed my sciatic nerve. I started feeling the pain around week four to five, when I was kicking out some fast miles on the treadmill -- at that time I was thinking (ha ha) that I could run a 4.5 hour marathon and I was doing sprints on my treadmill in the 9-9.5 minute mile range, and running tempo runs at the 10:00 mile pace. The pain just didn't go away, and at mile 14 of the Eastern States 20, my left leg felt damp and dead and my left foot felt like it was just slapping along. The Boston was now three weeks away. I decided to rest a bit the following week and go see a physical therapist.

I was now in my taper, and was given the green light to run the marathon so long as I rested. My physical therapist told me that I had the physical and mental conditioning to run the marathon even if I didn't run at all until the day. A spinal adjustment put things back into their proper place and I felt immediately better. I gave myself five days more of rest, and then ran two times a week in the two weeks leading up to the marathon. I was very worried that my leg would not hold out. I don't know what was more difficult, running or not running. It was a struggle but the rest did me a lot of good and the Friday before the marathon, my piriformis felt practically healed, with just a small patch of palpable scar tissue under the surface and no pain. I also had a minor pull in my right quad (the result of compensation) and I had a deep tissue massage to work on that and to get me in general all over wellness for the big day.

The big day came and Michael dropped me off at the bus. My friend, Sandy, met me in Hopkinton and got me to the starting line. It was a very fun morning but I tried to contain my excitement and save energy for the marathon. My goal was to run an easy 12:00/mile pace and just stay steady and have a good time. I was able to maintain that overall to the half marathon, despite a few trips to the bathroom! My stomach was pretty nervous for the first ten miles. I could always see the "mob" about two minutes ahead of me! It was amazing to see a completely packed roadway of runners stretching out as far as the eye could see!

The towns seemed to fly past. In Ashland there was a bluegrass band, at the Framingham Harley-Davidson dealer they were cranking the Allman Brothers, Natick was a conservative scene with lots of spectators, the Wellesley College Girls lived up to their reputation and I have never heard such enthusiastic cheering! I could hear them for at least a half mile away! In Wellesley, I saw two Aussies and thought of Terra, it was bittersweet but their smiling Aussie faces really cheered me onward. I took my only walking break at mile 16, up the hill before Newton-Wellesley Hospital, because I wanted to look fresh and strong for Michael and my coworkers. Cresting the hill then coasting down to Newton-Wellesley I saw three of my coworkers jumping up and down with a big sign! I wanted to stop but my legs just wanted to keep their pace, so I thanked them and kept going. I saw Michael where we said we'd meet and he was soooooo happy! He took several pictures, handed me two more Gu packets, a pack of pain patches, and a bite of a hotdog -- at my request he had gotten one from the Newton-Wellesley BBQ and put it in a Ziploc to keep it fresh. I just wanted one bite -- just a salty taste of something other than Gu. I gave him a hug and ran off, passing another NWH employee group calling out my name.

I had planned to walk Heartbreak Hill. I had run it before during training and was concerned it would inflame my piriformis, but I ended up just downshifting to a slower pace and jogging the whole thing!!! What a rush when I crested that bad boy! Coming down Heartbreak Hill and through Brighton to Brookline was the toughest part of the marathon for me. I knew at that time that I would complete the marathon, but I also knew that I would never regain my 12:00 pace that I had held so steadily before the Hill. They say there are two parts to the Boston Marathon, everything up to Heart Break Hill and everything beyond it. Nothing could be further from the truth. The down hills were killer and my ITB attachment area on my left knee felt strained and I felt less stable. At the base of the hill, as we turned the corner and began our run on Beacon St through Brookline, I heard my name and there was my coworker, Nancy S. I was so surprised to see her and it came at the lowest point of my run and I have to say that Nancy was my marathon angel at that point! I gave her a hug and mumbled something pretty incoherent, and I realized I was pretty mentally zonked at that point, and ran on. With about 3.5 miles now to go, I knew I would make it!! It was all about getting there.

The crowds in Boston are amazing. Even when you feel like a loser, there is someone calling out "You can do it!", "We believe in you!", "Look where you are! You are running Boston!", or "You have got this thing!" It’s truly inspiring and the crowds carried me in spirit for so much of the way. And smiling really does make you feel better.
When I saw the Citgo sign at Kenmore, I just can't describe it. I had one mile to go in this famous marathon. I tried calling Michael as I jogged along, but got his voice mail. I turned onto Hereford St and I could hear cheering. I was told this was a tough little hill but I cruised up it, my heart full of pride! I turned the corner onto Boylston Street and I heard a booming yell, "Sabrina!" I turned my head in the direction of the sound and there was Michael, big smile, taking pictures, I ran with my head turned back to him smiling and holding a peace sign, and I have to say it goes on record as one of the greatest moments of my life!

I looked down the last hundred yards and saw the enormous structure of the finish line, of the 114th Boston Marathon. Here I was, with an official number, running down Boylston Street, like so many others have done before me. The feeling was indescribable. I raised my arms into double peace signs and crossed the finish line as the announcer said on the loudspeaker, "Runner 26266, Sabrina La Fave, of Waltham, Massachusetts". Pretty exhilarating!

Someone put a Mylar sheet on me, another person put a finisher's medal on my neck, another handed me water and a bag of snacks, and everyone congratulated me. I was sooo happy. Still am. A big thanks to Newton-Wellesley for giving me this opportunity to run this amazing marathon!

Friday, April 16, 2010

My “First Marathon” Experience – Maureen

Three days to go! I started my training three months ago today and the marathon seemed so far away then but now it's finally almost here. My last run is scheduled for this afternoon, an easy four miles around Castle Island, and I may go for a walk tomorrow. I plan on picking up my bib number this afternoon at the marathon expo and just taking it easy the rest of the weekend… get lots of rest, eat lots of pasta (yay!) and drink lots of water. I know I'll be nervous the morning of but right now I'm just really excited.

My knee and hip are feeling okay, but then again I haven't run since my last long run. My knee was begging for rest after that run so the past two weeks have pretty much consisted of easy cardio, stretching, my physical therapy exercises and mentally psyching myself up for the big day. Since I don't know how my knee will hold up, my initial goals for this marathon have changed quite a bit. I'm no longer focused on finishing within a certain timeframe... I'm basically just looking to enjoying my time on the course, taking in the cheering crowds, and crossing the finish line, at whatever time that may be! There are a few people who've said they'll jump in and run with me at certain points on the course, where I may need some additional encouragement, so I'm looking forward to that as well.

My coworkers and some of the Shipley Fitness Center members surprised me this morning with a “Good Luck Moe” poster that they signed with well wishes, which was AWESOME!!! It really helps to read those words of encouragement and know that so many people are behind you. You only get one "first marathon" experience and so far mine has been pretty sweet. I cannot wait for Monday and wish good luck to everyone else running!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hoping for the Best – Andrew

Well...I have mixed emotions about this coming Monday. I took two weeks off over the last four weeks to let an injury heal. It seems that my taper was more like a drop off. The leg feels good today. I have been icing, stretching and compressing. I ran six miles last Saturday, three miles on Monday and four miles on Tuesday. I will probably do one more short run and then hope for the best. I am still wary of how my leg will hold up during the marathon, but I am very excited to be participating in such a prestigious event. I am thrilled about the challenge of running 26.2 miles and the chance to run alongside so many others. I would like to thank Newton-Wellesley Hospital for this wonderful opportunity. I also thank those who are supporting me in this event. The forecast on Monday is supposed to be great running weather! I am excited to pick up my race packet tomorrow. Good luck to the NWH Marathon Team!

No One Runs Alone – Donna

I have been glued to the weather forecast this week as I'm sure many other runners have. Currently it is forecasting mid 50's and cloudy for race day. This brings a smile to my face as the reality is sinking in at the task at hand for Monday. If you are interested in tracking me my number 26255. On race day you can check out There will be a tracking feature to input my name or bib number to see where I'm at on the course.

I have to give a big THANK YOU to Newton-Wellesley Hospital. Without them running "Boston" would not have been possible. They have given me and the team tremendous support these past couple of months and the staff have been super encouraging. I also must give a big shout out to my husband, Chad. He has been there 100% and has made it possible to get out for the training runs, which hasn't always been easy since when we both work full time and have two rambunctious toddlers. This type of support along with all of my friends and coworkers who donated to make this possible is what will keep me going to the finish. Although it will be my legs running across the finish line, I will have the spirits and words of encouragement from all of you with me. I believe no one ever truly runs alone.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

See You on the Course – Tom

I'm looking forward to next Monday with anticipation and anxiety. I feel as though I've done the necessary training but worry if it was enough. My injury has healed, mostly as a result of cutting back on running. I figure it's better to finish at a reasonable pace than flame out trying to go unrealistically fast. I've been reminded by many friends that I'm not as young as I used to be!

This week, I'm getting plenty of advice: Don't start too fast, drink early and often, don't drink too much, etc. It's fun to hear the different approaches and I really appreciate the support I'm getting. The last week is a real break, with so much less running. I "only" ran 10 miles this past weekend and can see why now. My body aches all over so it will be good to have a week of relative rest before the big day.

Sylvie, however has had a difficult week. She has been unable to run because of knee pain. Rest has not helped so she's getting medical advice. Hopefully, she'll be able to run but it's an unknown for now.

Thanks to everyone at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, especially the Charitable Foundation team, who have made it possible for Sylvie and me to run. The number, access to Physical Therapy, the cool running shirts and complete support throughout the Hospital have made this a great experience for me. If you are at the Hospital, look for me to pass sometime around 1:00 pm. That's assuming I cross the start at 10:30 am and keep to a nine minute/mile pace. I'll be wearing a Marathon blue shirt with "Newton-Wellesley Hospital" across the front. If you really want to find me, my bib # is 26,268 and there's an ATT cell phone alert service on the Marathon website.

Thanks again to all for the terrific support and I'll see many of you on the course.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lucky to Work at Newton-Wellesley – Sabrina

The past two weeks of tapering have been a much needed rest on my body – it made me a bit uneasy to take so much time off after dedicating so much time to running over the past 11 weeks (55 hours and >300 miles, according to my training logger!). Suddenly I felt as though I had so much time on my hands, and I devoted much of my energy to planning our upcoming wedding.

Yesterday I ran my last long run before the marathon, just shy of eight miles, with my dog, Terra. During my training, I've come up with quite a few creative run ideas, and one of them was to run, rather than drive, to the park for our run. Nearly everyday, I take my dog to Cat Rock Park in Weston, where she can run off leash and we run the trails together. The park is just over two miles from my home in Waltham. So, yesterday, I decided it was the day to do that run. Over the past few weeks, Terra has really become a “city dog” as we have done a lot of our runs together along the Charles and the streets of Waltham. But I could tell as we ran along yesterday that she knew where we were headed. When we made the final turn toward the park, her ears perked up and she quickened her pace until she reached the end of her long lead. I unclipped her when we got to the park and we ran our circuit. The longer days and opening leaves of spring soften the glow of the late day sun. I felt like we could run for miles, but I knew I better take it easy. After a few miles on trails, we headed back out on the road and made our way home, Terra running with a stick from the park in her mouth for much of the way. I just love the smiles we get from weary commuters heading home, and I imagine they are thinking “I wish I was doing what they were doing right now!".

This morning, I arrived at work, and something seemed to be up. As I walked down the lab hallways, I noticed many inspirational banners hanging on the walls. Someone ahead whispered, “here she comes!” and ducked out around the corner. I entered the break room, and there was a full table of YUMMY home baked carbs, many of them gluten free (thanks for remembering, guys!). And my supervisor, Diane Mullen, made sure that I stayed and enjoyed a great breakfast. We are so truly lucky to work here at Newton-Wellesley Hospital – I am so touched by the support and encouragement of my coworkers and thank you all once again for your generous donations to the Vernon Cancer Center.

Next week is it! I am really looking forward to the marathon. My goal is to ENJOY it, finish it and hopefully give back to others along the way.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Looking Forward to the Challenge – Annie

It's hard to believe there is just one week left before Marathon Day! I completed the last long run of my training on Saturday out at my parents' place in Petersham - eight miles, about half of it on pine needle-laden trails in the woods, sunny and fragrant and easy on the knees. Speaking of my knees, they are feeling normal and strong after that scare of a few days where crouching down had made them twingey and painful. Good news! I feel great.

Last week I managed to get up early enough to get my midweek runs done before work each day, all on the treadmill at a faster pace than I plan on running in the race. This week, even though I know I can do them faster, I plan on running the bulk of my miles at race pace, which will feel pretty slow when I am only doing three to four miles at a time, but will be sensible and doable for 26.2. I'll throw in a few fast miles, but I want my legs to get used to the feel of race pace, so I won't get going too fast and tire out too soon.

My main goals for this final week of tapering are simple and few: go to bed as early as possible (aiming for eight to nine hours per night), eat lots of good carbs and focus on nutrition, stretch daily and really take it easy. I have 11 miles on the schedule to run before Race Day, and will do that mix of race pace and fast miles that I mentioned before. It feels a little funny to reduce mileage so drastically, but many, many marathoners before me have used this approach and it makes sense - we need this time to let our muscles and bodies replenish and heal before the ultimate stress of the race. The taper is essentially like filling your car up with gas before a big trip! I've got to work out the logistics of the day (make sure I have my favorite Margarita with Salt Shotblocks, figure out exactly what I am going to wear and what I am going to eat for breakfast, coordinate race morning drop off by my sister, etc.) but really, all I've got to do is run 26.2 miles.

I am just so thrilled to have the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon and thank NWH for making it possible. It's going to be so exciting to run past the Hospital! And I can't wait to experience the unprecedented crowd support that I've heard about all along the course, which will be a huge factor in keeping the energy up and legs moving. But in the end, it's really just up to me. I know it will be tough, but I know I am ready and determined and looking forward to the challenge.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Knee Pain – Maureen

I'm going to echo everyone else's sentiments about the weather... you really couldn't beat it this past weekend. I'm not a fan of being all bundled up to run, so throwing on shorts and a t-shirt was very refreshing (although I'm sure I blinded a few drivers with the sun reflecting off my winter white legs).

I went back for a follow-up with Carl in Physical Therapy last Friday because I was having some numbness in the same hip that was giving me trouble during my training runs. Aside from being annoying, it's not bothersome but I wanted to make sure it wasn't anything serious... luckily everything seemed to check out fine.

Since I was still a little wary of my knee, I decided to cut my long run down to 15 miles last Saturday, instead of 20. My uncle joined me again and we ran from Newton-Wellesley to Coolidge Corner and back.... or at least that was the plan. I made it about eight miles before I started feeling a sharp pain in my left knee. We stopped to walk a few times over the next three miles before I finally had to throw in the towel and stop running because it was that painful. Thankfully I had my uncle with me because he ran ahead, got his car and came back to get me. The pain went away by the next day but I'm not going to lie, I was feeling a tad dejected. The next two weeks I am just going to focus on getting in a few easy low mileage runs, continuing my stretching and strengthening, and getting lots of rest. Carl and Amber in Physical Therapy have been super helpful and I've been receiving lots of encouraging words from people, which means a lot to me. Regardless of my injuries, so far this whole experience has been amazing and I am absolutely looking forward to what my first Marathon Monday will be like!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

No Backing Out – Tom

On my first long run, the temperature did not exceed 25 degrees. Sunday, it was 70 by the end of the run. Though it was great to go out in shorts and a t-shirt, I'm not sure that I prefer it. I drank during the run, but sure could have used more fluids. This is New England after all, so this stretch of early spring can't last. On April 10, the 10-day forecast will be available and I'll be online with the 26,000 other runners.

We're tapering, so Sunday was a 14-mile run. I felt pretty good, except for the adjustment to the heat. I'm forcing myself to follow the advice to cut back mileage during the week. The advice says to run only one day this week at "marathon pace". Since I've yet to run a marathon, and I don't wear a watch during the week, I'm not quite sure what it means. Today, I just slowed down and ran a relaxed five miles.

I picked up my running singlet and long-sleeve shirt today. It's really nice – Adidas Marathon gear with “Newton-Wellesley Hospital” on the front. Now that I have the gear and my photo's posted, there's no backing out.

Each year, I go on a golf trip with friends from the Hospital. We plan it in the fall so I committed long before even contemplating the Marathon. We leave tomorrow morning. A month ago, I wasn't enthusiastic about going, worrying that it might throw me off my training so close to the date. How stupid of me – I can't wait to leave. It's a great time and I'll come home refreshed. I warned the group that I'll be up early for a run and that I'll be “smart” with my evening wine allotment. The travel days even enforce more rest and less running, which is a good thing right now.

Enjoy the week. Next week this time, we'll be in final preparation mode, which as far as I can tell, is rest, food and beverage. Now that's my kind of training!

Last Long Run – Donna

I couldn't have asked for better weather. We spent Saturday at the playground and Sunday was filled with family activities. The weather was beautiful and I waited till late in the day on Sunday to get out for a run. After everyone was settled down for the night I started out at 7:30 pm for my last long run before the taper. I didn't do as much as I planned but I did get in eight miles and felt strong.

I've been having some aches in a few of the joints in my toes. I thought it was due to the added mileage but wanted to get it checked out just in case it was the start of a bigger problem. I was able to get an appointment with Carla over in the physical therapy department and she gave me some great advice. Thanks again Carla!

I can't believe the marathon is less than two weeks away. Over the next two weeks I will alternate between three and five mile loops and focus on getting plenty of fluid and rest.

Overcoming Burnout – Sabrina

It took me a few days to re-energize after the 20 miler; and when I got back to running last Wednesday, something just wasn't right. The nagging pain that I felt in my left leg during the race had progressed to a dull ache, and my well being, overall, had gone from generalized all over pain to localized epicenters of agony! I did my best to jog a few times, but only put in about eight miles last week. I felt that my body and my mind needed a rest. I hadn't gone skiing for about six weeks, and the weekend forecast was perfect for spring skiing.

My fiancé and I headed over to Bretton Woods Saturday and skied a six solid hours in shorts and tee shirts under bluebird skies in 86 degrees! We had a blast. It was really great for me to get out and do anything outside but running. I was feeling a bit of training burn out and didn't want to push it. Saturday after skiing, I went for a run/hike with my dog, Terra, along a dirt USFS road in the White Mountains; two miles out on the road, three miles out on a hiking trail, and then back on the road. The snow melt has turned even the smallest streams into turbulent cascades; and I had to take my sneakers off and cross a small stream barefoot. I let the cold water wash over my tired legs and feet. It felt wonderful.

Sunday I also skied, albeit only for the morning. The snow conditions were deteriorating rapidly, so we opted for a cold drink on a sunny deck and spent some time looking for skiers on the snowfields of Mt Washington.

I'm starting a little physical therapy this week to get me back on track (thanks, Carl!). My goal for the next couple of weeks is to get a few nice jogs in and let my body rebuild and my motivation recharge. On a happy note, I'm pleased to learn that I have surpassed the $1000 fundraising goal for the Vernon Cancer Center, and donations are still coming in. Thank you to all who have chosen to support me and the Cancer Center! Your generosity is greatly valued.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tweaky Knees – Annie

The first official week of the taper has come to a close, though it doesn't feel like I got too much of a break! My mileage was reduced this past week from 40 to 30, then this week will be down to 21. I did all of my mid-week runs on the treadmill due to the inclement weather and my overall lower energy. The 20-miler must have impacted my energy level more than I thought. But I still did my two shorter midweek runs at a good, fast pace, with a slower eight-miler in the middle.

I went to the Cape all weekend for a friend's big birthday bash, and while I still got my long run in, it was hard to get the rest I needed and so that will be a priority this week. My sister and I hadn't really planned out the course of our 12-miler, and ended up probably doing about 14 instead, from Buzzards Bay into Bourne and Wareham and along the Cape Cod Canal for a few miles, then back. What gorgeous weather! We neglected the sunscreen though, so I'm sporting a rather vibrant sunburn. When you're out running for a few hours, it's so important to remember sun protection - I've learned my lesson. Somehow I had the energy for a vigorous game of wiffle ball post-run…does that count as cross-training?

My knees have been feeling a bit tweaky for the past day or two, which I hope goes away. I first noticed it when I crouched down to pick something up off the floor and felt a twinge, which I still feel now. Really hoping that simply subsides. My cross-training today will be much more low key, just stretch class and some walking. My runs for the week will be four, six and three miles and I want to be back at full intensity for those.

While I do use headphones/music on my indoor treadmill runs, I never do when I run outside. For me, running is so much a mental thing, that when you block out the whole auditory part and just use music to zone in, it's hard to focus on what you're actually doing, never mind employ mental techniques to get through tough spots. I don't want to feel like I have to rely on something to run - I only want to rely on me. There's the safety factor too; running with headphones is like running with blinders, and you have a constricted sense of other runners and the environment around you. And I know on race day, the crowd support and cheering is going to be a huge part of what gets me to the Finish - no chance I'd ever want to shut that out! As Maureen mentioned, having your name on your shirt is KEY. One of my favorite parts of running Chicago was wearing my Red Sox hat and getting heckled good naturedly by all the Cubs fans lining the course. Runners absolutely feed off the crowd's energy.

Goals for this week: plenty of sleep, keeping an eye on that tweaky knee, staying away from Easter candy remnants and keeping up the intensity in my shorter runs. I'll be heading to my parents' house this weekend for my final long run (8 miles) and some R&R in the final full weekend before race weekend!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Eastern States 20 Mile Race! – Sabrina

Last Saturday I ran the Eastern States 20 Miler! The course runs from Kittery, Maine to Hampton Beach, NH. A friend mentioned it to me a few weeks ago, and I jumped at the opportunity to run my longest run in a supported, race environment.

Conventional marathon wisdom says, as I have read, that one should try to run at least one race prior to their first marathon, to prepare themselves for the experience of racing – logistics, packet pick up, pre-race jitters, and the like.

I was meeting three of my friends, two of which were also racing, although I knew that we'd not run together, as their paces are much faster than mine. The race began, and we embraced and then started off, all smiles. Within seconds the crowd of runners coalesced, and I didn't see them again until the finish line.

I ran my first mile at a ten minute pace, my "pre-marathon training" pace. In the past nine weeks, as I have increased my distance from pre-marathon 0-20 miles per week to nearly 40 miles per week, my pace has slowed to about a 12-minute mile pace on runs longer than 15 miles, but that's OK, I'm doing this to finish and stay injury free.

There was a wicked headwind for much of the course. Runners stretched out along the coastline, and I settled into my pace, always keeping my eye on a fluorescent green jacket worn by a woman running in the distance ahead of me. I stopped at every aid station and thanked the volunteers and stretched. At several points during the race, I spotted a stealth photographer, my friend Adam; an ultra runner who was sidelined from today's race due to an injured Achilles. Whenever I saw Adam, I felt re-energized, sucked it in, improved my form, smiled for the camera.

Somewhere around mile 14, my left leg began hurting. I struggled on and tried not to think about it. At mile 17, I had gained on the fluorescent green jacket, and ran along with the woman, another first time marathoner, and we compared notes and shared encouraging words. She slipped back, and I ran the final mile alone. Soon, I heard my name, and saw my friends and my fiancĂ©, Michael, cheering me on to the finish line. The clock read 4:12:30; about twelve minutes longer than I had hoped, but I did it! It was a great experience for me. As far as my cardiovascular, I think I can run all day. My legs however, have one speed, and it’s a slow one. Its taper time, and I am thrilled! Spring skiing for me this weekend!