Monday, April 23, 2007


Martha and Heidi crossing the Boston Marathon Finish Line! Mission accomplished!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Final Chapter - Martha

I have just finished my “victory lap”, albeit some 40 hours after I officially crossed the finish line. I've been reading all the final chapters in these marathon-training books that I have amassed over the past few months and they all say to relax and bask. Well, I am not a "basker" so I decided to write my own finish. Even though it killed to walk down the stairs this morning (I used both rails), it just seemed like proper closure to strap on my still slightly damp shoes and take a slow cool-down run along my training route. I'll probably regret this in a few hours, but right now I feel good.

Regarding the finish, the last .2 miles was without a doubt the most fun stretch of running I've ever had in my life. There was a guy in front of us whom I recognized from this winter running down the streets of Needham and Newton. He looks like Jack LaLane (maybe he is?!) and runs bare-chested in shorts in zero-degree weather. He had a huge smile on his face and was shaking all the stretched out hands people were offering us and I thought to myself this could be his last marathon given his age. And then I thought, hey, this is probably MY last marathon too! Making that turn from Hereford onto Boylston Street and seeing the blue and yellow Boston Marathon banner strung up at the library will forever be engrained in my head. Heidi and I beamed at each other and I remember looking around at everyone screaming and cheering and I think I started yelling too! Now I know how Doug Flutie felt when he saw that ball caught.

We stepped on that final mat together and the next few minutes were a blur. It seemed surreal that our journey was done, even though all we had talked about for the previous 26 miles was how great it was going to be to be done. Someone handed us bananas and foil and we headed down the exit ramp to turn in our shoe chip and receive our medals. To paraphrase a recent Lucinda Williams song, I wouldn't trade that dime store medal for anything. (Audrey, remember this when you clean out my house and move me into the nursing home!)

And for all of you out there who decide to do this for the first time, take it from me – don't order the fried clams when you're done! After I found my family, all I wanted to do was change clothes and sit down somewhere warm. My always-hungry son suggested Legal Seafood and for a while it sounded like a great idea. It was on our way to the car after all. Let's just say I brought the clams home untouched in a doggie bag. And they're still in the frig. And to think I used to love them...

In closing, I'd just like to thank the folks at Newton-Wellesley for number 21294, to all the ladies in my running club for cheering me on, to Heidi without whom I honestly wouldn't have run this thing and most of all to my family, who supported me through all the weekend disruptions, the complaining and the smelly ride home. And if anyone wants my training books, you're welcome to them! Amputees, octogenarians and blind people passed us on Monday... Everyone should try this…once!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

We Did It! - Heidi

I'm heading out of Logan for a quick April vacation with my son and husband, but wanted to let everyone know I'm alive and well and thrilled to have completed the Boston Marathon. I'm actually walking this morning and went down one flight of stairs without going backwards. What really helped on the course was all of the fans. You definitely have low energy points, so to see people you know on the route gives you that much needed infusion of strength and desire to finish. It wasn't a fun day to be a spectator (but I'm so thankful that for fans and runners it wasn't any worse). The roads were consistently lined with people. The crazier and louder the cheers, the better. We really needed the screams of the Wellesley women at the halfway point and were even more in need of the wild cheers of the BC students getting closer to the end. Martha and I finished hand-in-hand, arms raised victoriously. We were both so happy to have done it and also to be done. I couldn't have logged all those training or marathon miles without her.

Race Day - Martha

It's finally here! Race day! And one more thing I'm packing with me are my ski goggles! After all, if the rain continues to blow horizontally at 50 mph, as it is currently doing as I'm downing my last cup of coffee, it looks like I'll be strapping them on. I sure hope the cups of Gatorade don't blow away...then again, I'll probably be aspirating gallons of rainwater any way. I wonder if that increases my chances of hyponatremia? Well, I'm off to go “body glide” up for the last time... I’M NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN! Good luck to everyone out there today, especially the crowd! We're going to need all the help we can get on this one!

Friday, April 13, 2007

I Can Do This – Martha

Ok, so I have accepted the fact that there is going to be a Nor'easter arriving for the Marathon. In some ways, given my tendency to gravitate toward the glass is half empty side of life, I am not surprised. This training almost seemed too easy – up until now, of course. Now I get it. Assuming there is not another World War (the reason it got canceled the last time in 1918) this race is going to happen. And I am just going to have to suck it up.

I just went outside to empty my trash and I thought I was going to blow away. And to think this is only the “precursor” storm! Have I mentioned how much I HATE RAIN! AND WIND! And RAIN AND WIND TOGETHER! These are the reasons I always go inside and exercise during the winter. But I was the nut who signed up for this and this was obviously in the fine print I didn't read. So come Monday, I am slathering on the Vaseline, packing the extra socks and off I go. I'm scared about how bad it might be but I'm not alone (I'm not, right, Heidi? Heidi? Thank God for company). And let me just say, right now I understand if no one comes out to cheer us on (well, besides the inebriated). I probably wouldn't either. That's okay. I probably won't be looking up anyway thanks to the gale-force winds. But in my mind, I'm going to picture it being sunny with tons of people waving and cheering... and my Dad looking down... and my mom watching it on TV... and I'll tell my family how great it was to see them at the finish line. Just a few hours of pain...I can do this!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It Is What It Is! – Heidi

I almost had to laugh driving home from work today as it was completely pouring with snow flakes and big balls of ice mixed in with the heavy rain. Lots of people recommend meditation and imagery as part of marathon training, so I sat in my car imagining what it will feel to run in this on Monday (for 26.2 miles, no less!). The whole scene was even more comical as I had just picked up my very handsome running shorts and singlet provided by the Hospital (but wind pants and jacket too).

I admit that I was not in this state of resignation yesterday. I had been up all night delivering beautiful babies and had a day off, packed with errands and appointments. It was casually mentioned by two people (neither of whom knew I was running on Monday) that the weather forecast was so bad there was talk of canceling the Marathon. I came home and sent a panicked email to Martha with the title “AAAArrgh!!!!”

There is some good news in the midst of the current weather crisis (trying to use the power of positive thinking that my mother taught me). #1 I learned that Martha and I can ride on the bus filled with Hospital volunteers on Monday morning and then use the bus for shelter as we wait. We have to meet at the Hospital at 0600, but I doubt I’ll be able to sleep in anyways and then I’ll finally get to meet all the other runners from Newton-Wellesley. #2 I don’t have to worry about heat stroke. Well, at least I can think of two good things.

I want to use the end of this last pre-Marathon blog to thank everyone who has been so encouraging and wish all fellow Boston Marathon runners good luck. Yesterday at the Suburban Striders practice, I arrived late and had to leave quickly to get to another appointment. I felt badly that I didn’t get to stay and wish everyone else in the group well, especially after all of the encouragement that I have received. Each Marathon runner from SSRC was assigned an “angel.” Sharon, my angel, arrived with jellybeans, tissues, wipes, etc. all neatly packaged in small Ziploc bags. If the weather stays like this, all of the angels should watch us from the comfort of their TV chairs. We know you’re cheering for us even if we don’t see you under a pink umbrella! Thank you to everyone at Newton-Wellesley, both staff and patients, who has given us encouragement (or teased us about our life-size cut outs). Jane, an OR “angel” left a well-thought-out gift on my desk. I hope to be worthy of the 26.2 sticker and will use the foot massage ball both before and after! Thank you to my husband who will feed me well this weekend and hopefully pick me up in one piece at the finish line. One of my running buddies, Carol, was featured in the Globe in the food section this week so maybe he’ll try her recipe! A big birthday hug to my son, who will turn twelve this weekend, and thank you for delaying your sleepover party until after the Marathon so I won’t lose another night’s sleep this week.

The Needham Times - April 11, 2007

They're famous! Read more about Martha and Heidi's journey in the April 11th edition of The Needham Times.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Packing My Shovel - Martha

That which doesn't kill me makes me stronger…that which doesn't kill me makes me stronger…that which doesn't kill me makes me stronger. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I just stepped out of the shower after my last run with my running club cheering squad before the big day. We were all talking about how to dress for “perhaps” driving rain and what do I hear on WBZ news now? THEY MAY POSTPONE THE RACE! Has this ever happened?! Apparently, up-to-date forecasts are now talking about the possibility of a foot of snow coming in here Monday morning! And to think, I was worried about it being too hot. So now, in addition to all my other junk I have to remember to bring, I have to add a small snow shovel to the list. I say, “Bring it on!” Bye for now… I have to go dig those crampons out of the trash.

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Taper – Heidi

Martha and I attended the last Suburban Striders track practice indoors at Babson College today and were asked where our blogs for the week were. It seems as though our writing abilities are slowing with our mileage totals. We’re both alive and well but ran in the back of the pack today and kept a conversational pace throughout the workout. While we’re both stiff and achy, we managed our 10-mile run of the weekend without too much trouble. It seemed like old times when a car roared by on a small road, nearly forcing us into the brush. When we got back to Martha’s house, it was bittersweet to realize that we’d completed our last long run (other than the big one on April 16).

My body is definitely ready for this “cool down” period. I got great advice about my calf soreness from Cathy, the Suburban Striders’ coach and from Gayle Olson, who manages the Shipley Fitness Center at the Hospital. Gayle has also been kind enough to twice manipulate/rub/pull my feet and legs. Her hands are magic and the tight areas are so much better. A new annoyance has been olive-size lumps on the tops of my feet, which according to my Internet surfing must be ganglions. While they are bigger and somewhat tender after a run, they shrink by the end of the day. As Martha said in her last blog, these small setbacks are so trivial when one considers the insanity of life in many parts of the world and one looks around at neighbors/family/patients who are battling a whole range of medical and family issues. I take strength from those that I see facing adversity with bravery and a positive outlook.

I am honored that the two of us have provided a bit of inspiration to others in their exercise endeavors. Who would have thought our little blog would get to MaryAnn, who I presume is in Hawaii. MaryAnn, I lived at Fort Shafter, Oahu for two years during which time I attended Punahou. I haven’t been back since, but would love to return and snorkel all around the Hawaiian Islands. Good luck with the Kona ½!

The Chronic Dilemma: Nothing to Wear! – Martha

In exactly 12 days my crooked little feet will be passing over the starting line in Hopkinton. Sadly, they will not be wearing Manolos. I wonder if that's ever been done by the way?! One of my most frequently asked questions as things start to wind down (or up) is if I know what I'm going to wear yet. I'm assuming one reason people are asking is so they can identify me in order to provide amenities such as chocolate or fresh Band-Aids (or CPR). A spritz of perfume might be a nice touch now that I'm thinking about it. As I gaze out the window right now, I'm watching huge snowflakes starting to dust the crocuses and I can honestly answer I haven't the foggiest idea what to put on that day.

And for me to say this is huge. People who know me know I have a passion for clothes. They are one of my reasons for getting out of bed in the morning (the top being needing the job to pay for them). But I really don't know how to dress for a day that could start out freezing and be sweltering by the time we hit Heartbreak Hill. And it's not like I can pack a suitcase just in case the weather “surprises” me. Although I did think about the nice models they have with the easy-to-roll wheels. By the time I somehow figure out where to attach my cranberry shot bloks (in lieu of lunch), extra shoestrings and tissues, I hardly think there will be space on me to stash a pashmina in case it gets chilly in town. Oh, and I have to save room for the extra contact lens and mirror in case my lens goes flying out or, worse yet, rolls toward the back of my brain and needs to be manipulated back into place. Thank God Heidi’s a doctor! I've thought about the layering concept and just starting the race looking like an astronaut, but I am too vain for that. And too cheap. It would kill me to just ditch clothes along the way. And I've also been told just to wear the same clothes that I've been running in (laundered first of course) and not to change anything. But I've been training in 20 and 30-degree weather! God forbid it's over 40 that day…what are the odds? I guess this conundrum is one of the reasons that makes running this so much of a challenge and so full of surprises, right up to race day.

One thing I've got going for me is that I am a fast shopper when I want to be. I suppose I can always dress for hot weather and pack a credit card... that won't take up too much space. I'm thinking a quick dash into the Wellesley Gap may be all I need to get rejuvenated. God knows it's worked for me before!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

My Role Models – Martha

Recently I had the absolute pleasure of taking care of a patient who was in for a procedure. She had the face and body of a 70 year old and I was completely blown away when she told me she was going to be 91 next month! (Her beauty secret is Oil of Olay, by the way). During the course of our conversation, she told me she had taken her 17-year-old car in for its yearly inspection and was very worried about getting a rejection sticker. The inspector suggested to her she should warm it up a bit first. (Shouldn't he have just handed her a sticker on the house for God's sake?). Anyway, she finished the story by telling me she said a billion prayers, headed onto Route 128 and (her quote), “gunned it for 10 miles, wheeled around back and passed with flying colors.” She was so thrilled she gave the guy a buck for the suggestion! I just love some of these patients!

This got me thinking about what motivates me to keep up with this silly idea of torturing myself doing this race (considering my birthday didn't kill me). I have to honestly say it's people like my little patient yesterday who fight the daily battles of life's chores and bad breaks with humor and class. I think of what my patient goes through on a daily basis (lives by herself, comes into the Hospital alone, volunteers in her town to keep in touch with people) and my efforts in living life pale in comparison to hers. I have a wonderful colleague who is currently undergoing chemo and has had to take a leave of absence. He is handling his illness with dignity and a quiet strength that I know I'd never have. My youngest daughter, Mary, saw a little boy on the front page of the Globe today crying over his cousin's casket and I told her he had died in the war… there are so many stories out there of brave people running their own private marathons – they make my race look easy. I salute and admire them all!

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Thrill of Victory/The Agony of De Calf - Heidi

We did it. Martha and I completed our last long run on Saturday. She had already run one 20-mile run, but this was my first and only. Up until now when asked how my training has been going, I have honestly been able to say positive things. Well, most of the run yesterday hurt like #$%&. This time Martha’s husband got the honor/chore of dropping the two of us off on Ash Street in Hopkinton. The morning was beautiful – sunny but cool. Martha had all sorts of great stories from her vacation and birthday celebration to distract me from the scheduled distance. But before we’d gone more than a few miles, I stopped for a few minutes to rub and stretch my right calf, which felt like it had a knot in it. Other than our fluid/food pauses, neither of us has ever had to “pull over.” Well, nothing made it significantly better and 20 miles served to tighten it further as opposed to loosen it up. There were two tables in Wellesley serving Gatorade and pretzels for runners training for Boston so we had a good excuse to stop briefly at those and refuel. Thank you Dana Farber/Team in Training for letting us crash your station. We both let out a cheer of relief when we hit the intersection of Temple Street on Commonwealth Avenue in Newton and got to turn around to go back to Wellesley. I’ve never been so happy to see my house. My legs and thighs felt like barrels by the time I got home. I actually took an ice bath, which was more like several quick dips. People who know me well know that I love fires, comforters and fleece so to get in a tub with ice floating in it was a truly desperate act. In retrospect, I think I only have myself to blame for my calf. Thursday evening was beautiful so I decided to run for 45 to 50 minutes up and down the hills of Comm. Ave. I’d had a vigorous track work out the day before with the Suburban Striders. I had a busy Friday at the Hospital with deliveries and surgeries. Now that I’m 24 hours out from the 20 miler, I feel pretty good with the exception of that one spot on my right calf. Granted, I smell like menthol from the China Gel I’ve been rubbing into it and I’ve taken more Motrin in the last 24 hours than I have in the last month. Having received my packet of information from the BAA on Friday, however, I’m determined to carry on. Quoting one of my patients this week, I’m hoping that the Marathon “will be a celebration of our training.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Just a Number, Right? - Martha

So my question for all you bloggers out there is this: why must I enter my age every time I climb on that stupid treadmill at the gym? Shouldn't I be getting some kind of nice reward for hauling myself on instead of an instant reminder staring back at me from the screen of HOW OLD I AM?! Like maybe a little piece of chocolate should drop out at the end of the workout! Thanks to our surprise Nor’easter last Friday, I found myself at the gym for the first time in ages trying to make up for lost time outdoors. And my annoyance at always having to put in my age is especially poignant this week because in less than 72 hours, I will no longer be able to enter a digit beginning with a 4! I know this may sound trivial in the big scheme of things, but I am really sensitive to turning 50. Maybe it was the AARP envelope that arrived yesterday. Maybe it was the story in Newsweek today that said EVEN if you start exercising at the age of 50, SOME positive effect on maintaining cognitive functions could be found. Is 50 the end of the line for trying to keep my brain intact?

So I'm going to do something really defiant the next time I go to the gym. I'm not going to enter my age. That will show them! I hope it makes smoke pour out the bottom of the treadmill. Actually, I hope that doesn't happen because then they'll just raise my membership fee. But seriously, we're on a need-to-know basis and unless joules are calculated differently than when I was in school, I really think the machine doesn't need to know.

Instead, I'm going to focus on running my race. After all, striving for this goal instead of filling out my AARP card was the reason I wanted to run the marathon this year in the first place. This week I was browsing in a college bookstore while taking my daughter to visit colleges and I found some great thoughts on the shelves. Being a refrigerator magnet junkie, I can never have enough of those short but powerful statements staring back at me. I will leave you with the two I purchased yesterday in “honor” of this special week of mine:

young. old.
just words.
(george burns)
How old would you be
if you didn't know
how old you are ?

Hmmmmmmmmm, perhaps I’ll try surfing for 60?!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Road Rage - Heidi

It really has been a great winter to train for Boston. But after the temperature was up to 74 on Wednesday, it seemed a bit cruel to have to deal with ice and snow again this weekend. Martha and I strapped on our crampons again (little metal spikes to give us traction) and headed onto the road a little after 9:00 am Sunday morning. We typically run on Saturday, but nature wasn’t in favor of that plan. I must confess it felt heavenly to sleep in until 8:30 am Saturday morning – haven’t done that in a million years. I got some cross training done in the form of shoveling ice, snow and slush at our home and then rode an exercise bike for forty minutes later that day.

Sunday morning dawned bright and crisp and we had another beautiful run. We chose 9ish in hopes that some of the overnight ice would have melted and that the traffic would still be light. We picked back roads in Needham and Dover to minimize the traffic we’d run into. We stuck to the far left side of the road in bright clothing and ran toward traffic so that we’d be safe and visible. This plan worked for 99.9 percent of our ten-mile course. Most cars gave us a wide berth or the two of us would slow to a single-file walk. We were doing all of this to be safe given the fact that we were sharing the roads with cars (as we had no sidewalks or other places to call our own). I was therefore shocked and horrified when a driver in a white van/SUV lay into his horn while passing us. This person had two lanes all to himself as no other cars were anywhere in sight but obviously felt that we were in the road just to annoy him. (Martha, you can see that I still haven’t gotten over this!) While driving back from Martha’s house after we completed our run, I made sure to give as much room as possible to the runners and bikers that I saw. Thank you to all the drivers who do the same!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Restorative Powers of Food and a Nap - Heidi

Despite the loss of an hour with daylight savings time and an 18.5-mile run on Saturday, I woke up feeling well and full of energy on Sunday. The bright sun and 50-degree temperature certainly helps. Saturday was my longest run yet. Martha and I ran with a small group that we know through our running club, The Suburban Striders. Carol navigated our group through the streets of Wellesley, Dover, Sherborn and Natick. It was a beautiful morning and a gorgeous route that took us by Farm Pond and Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary. It was great to be on the back roads as many sidewalks are still coated in thick sheets of ice. The roads closer to Wellesley were tough as it grew later and we were competing for space with ice, slush and oncoming cars. At this point in our training, it would be tragic to get injured by slipping or falling on a slick spot, which almost happened to Carol. Her skidding shoes made a horrible scratching sound as she slid upright on a benign appearing patch of black ice-covered asphalt at about 11:00 am. Once she came to a halt, we all decided to walk the rest of that street and make it a drink/snack break to avoid any further danger.

In terms of fuel on the run, I have developed a liking for Gatorade, which has never appealed to me in the past. I went to Running Strong: A Runner’s Summit last month at the Hospital and one of the speakers showed slides promoting the use of this type of drink as opposed to water for long-distance runs. Given Martha’s strong dislike for Gu, I brought along two new things to try. One was a jellybean for runners and the other was a fruit block or chew. I don’t know whether there is data to support either of these, but it was great to have a little sweet snack in the midst of 18-plus miles and they were both easy to fit in a pocket and neither made Martha grimace. Diane in our group had brought along Gu, but somehow it exploded and dripped all down the front of her jacket and tights. Thank goodness for her, there were a few not too muddy puddles in the road to use for clean up. I think I’ll be sticking with the more solid snacks!

About two hours after my run, it was all I could do to keep my eyes open and I took the second of my “training naps.” A few hours later, my husband and I went out to dinner with our neighbors while our boys were at a teen center event. I had no difficulty polishing the plates of the three courses I had and everything tasted especially delicious! It was great to catch up with my neighbor Susan, who has been my primary running partner for the last five or more years. While we haven’t done much running together the past two months, I would never have been able to begin this training program if it hadn’t been for the “base” of runs with her these past years.

A quick thank you for the blog comments from Nancy and Rose. A belated thank you to Dot (a friend from college) for her comment a few weeks ago and my cousin Kathy (from California) for her concern about things other than Gatorade freezing on these winter runs!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Getting Past the "What Ifs" - Martha

Five weeks to go and I find myself wondering WHY THIS #@%* ICE ISN'T MELTING?! I am still battling the cars on Route 16 (I always lose) and I am hoping to get in at least ONE long run where I don't have to worry about twisting my ankle sliding on a patch of black ice. At least I think I have figured out a few things – like how much to drink (a lot) and what (Gatorade Lemonade), what to do about my queasy stomach after a run (Pepto Bismol), where to put anti-chafing cream (everywhere) and how much padding to put over my crooked toes (as much as I can cram in my shoes).

But, there are many unknowns that won't be known until shortly before, or on, race day that may greatly impact whether I can do this or not. And that idea humbles me… that for all this training and preparation things could still get messed up. Like the weather – what if it's 90 degrees that day? My training has been in frigid cold. Will I keel over if it's hot? Or, what if a flu bug sneaks into my house a few days before the race? What if my spinach gets tainted with salmonella again?

But then that's life, isn't it? You could (and some people do) go crazy thinking about all the “what ifs” life may throw at you. I choose not to go down that path right now. I think it could really snowball into something very self-defeating. So, for now I'm just going to be thankful my knee is still holding (although it makes a little crackle sound when I use the stairs) and I can still pig out on dessert without seeing it appear on me later. Maybe running in place in a steaming shower and arming myself with Purell and Tamiflu would be wise ways to prepare, but I'll think about those some other day.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

I Don't Want to Run Today - Heidi

Today was the first day of my training program that I REALLY didn't want to run. My calendar said that I needed to run for an hour, which shouldn't seem like much after some of these three-hour weekend runs. I got out of work with just enough time to fit in the run before getting my son to his saxophone lesson. The devil in my brain started coming up with all sorts of great ideas as to why I shouldn't run such as: it's too cold and windy; it's snowing; there's still ice and snow on the roads and sidewalks; work was hard; I need to go to the grocery store; my body is probably due for a little extra break. It would have been easy to give in to this train of thinking, but then I started to think about all the encouragement I've been getting from people at the Hospital and friends and family. I knew that I just needed to get my orthotic-filled running shoes on and hit the road. It wasn't my favorite run ever but it was not nearly as bad as I was anticipating it would be. The highlight was having a pedestrian, who must have been in his eighties, waving me ahead while saying “ladies before gentlemen” on an ice-narrowed piece of sidewalk. I told myself that if he was walking to and from the grocery store I couldn't complain about my “recreational” run. He certainly looked fit and I hope to be so healthy as to walk to and from the supermarket when I'm his age.

It is a little freaky to flip the page of the calendar and see April 16 staring me in the face. I continue to get lots of great advice from other runners as the date draws near. Carol and Stephanie from the Suburban Striders were quick to tell me that I should absolutely NOT cut my toenails the day before the Marathon. They are both marathon veterans and said that this could lead to far worse than bloody socks. Apparently, the toe bed is extra sensitive after a trimming and I could put myself more at risk for loss of a toenail if I stick with the plan I had blogged about. They thought a trimming the week before would be more advisable. Sharon from the club (who I think has run eight or more marathons) filled me in on what goodies she pins to her shirt the day of the race such as hand wipes, tissue and table salt. Mary, who is the founder of the Suburban Striders, sent a group email advising Sole Sisters as an inspirational read. I just ordered a copy from Amazon. For now, I will pass on Carol's recommendation of an ice bath but maybe I will even try that as I still have 18, 10 and 20-mile runs planned in the upcoming weekends.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Back in the Shoes Again - Martha

It was with some trepidation and self doubt that I found myself driving over to Heidi's house yesterday for our weekly Saturday run. Since my knee had “behaved” for two, four-mile runs on Wednesday and Thursday, I decided it was time to test it further. I brought along my cell phone in case I had to bail on Heidi and we decided to try a 14-mile run for me and 16 for her. Fortunately, it was a day totally opposite weather-wise from the previous week. I would venture to say that at one point while running I could have sworn it was June if not for the occasional pile of dirty snow on the sidewalk. And, as has been the case throughout this training, I am happy to say that running was once again fun! I have to believe that having Heidi as a partner played a huge role in me having a successful run yesterday.

I was sitting on the couch this afternoon going over Newton's First Law of Motion with my daughter (no, I'm not that geeky; it was for school!) and it reminded me of my run. In case you forgot (not that that could even be conceivable), the law states that an object at rest (i.e., me) will stay at rest unless acted upon by a force (Heidi). I think if Heidi had not asked me to run, I would still be sitting on the couch babying my knee. Not to say that rest isn't always appropriate therapy, but there comes a time when an outside force is sometimes what is required to get back on track. I think one of the things I find so interesting about preparing for this (or any big challenge for that matter) is how valuable and supportive it is to be going through it with another person. For the most part I tend to approach most challenges in a private manner and have never been a big fan of committees or group thinking to get the work done. However, running with Heidi has revealed to me how helpful it can be to share the burden. So hat's off to Heidi and I'm happy to say I'm off to the store to buy more callous protectors!

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!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The World at 4:45 AM! - Martha

Only 10 weeks to go…so now that I am deep into this marathon training schedule of mine, I have been made to realize there are two careers you couldn't pay me enough to do. One is being a paperboy. Honestly, how do these kids do it? Now that I've had to get up at 4:45 (yes, AM) to get my morning coffee in AND a run before leaving for work, I realize there are people out there who do this every day in all kinds of weather and not for fun! You can be sure I will tip my paper guy next year at Christmas. And because it's pitch dark at 5:00 am for another good hour, I have to wear a cap with an LED light on it so I can find the road. This brings me to the next occupation I can cross off my list: coal miner. Not that it was ever high on my list to begin with. But how these guys narrow their lives to a small circle of light 10 feet in front of them, not knowing where their feet are landing, I do not know. It actually makes me kind of dizzy, but I try not to think about it. Without the light, I'd be forced to wait for a car to come by and shine its lights on things (hopefully on me first).

I tried running after work, but my legs felt like lead, the cars (of which there seem to be a million at 5:00 pm) wouldn't stop and I was too tired to cook when I finally dragged myself home. Not good for family relationships. So it's the paper guys and me. But the good news is, I'm up to a 15-mile run – an all-time high for me! It definitely makes all the difference having a running buddy on these long runs. When Heidi was away a few weeks ago, I ran 13 miles alone and it seemed like two marathons. There are only so many conversations you can have by yourself. When I run with her, it seems like we run out of miles before our topics of conversation are done. I can't imagine how boring this would be to do alone. Misery really does love company!

Not Exactly Mexico - Heidi

This morning was a harsh contrast to my run last weekend. My husband, son and I had attended a wedding in Mexico last weekend so my run there was along the Pacific Ocean wearing shorts and a sleeveless top with pelicans diving into the water next to me. Today, it was about six degrees when Martha and I started out for another run up Commonwealth Avenue. This time we started from my house to add at least another mile each way to make our total close to 14 miles. We were bundled in hats, gloves and multiple layers so the temperature turned out to be quite manageable. When we were past the halfway point, we walked for a minute or two while we drank and it impressed me that the Gatorade in my fuel belt had frozen to a slushy consistency. Today’s run has been my longest distance to date and it felt manageable. It is amazing what the body can adjust to. I did take a short nap in the afternoon, however, which I hardly ever do. One of my running friends had recommended taking a nap in the midst of training so I didn’t feel too guilty!

Heartbreak Hill - Heidi

Today was the first training run that I was actually a little nervous about. Martha and I decided to run Commonwealth Avenue, which includes the “heartbreak hills.” Martha was hoping to run about twelve miles. I used a great online tool to map out our route. It’s a website called I had heard about it from our Suburban Striders Running Club and Martha’s sister had mailed her a clipping about it from Better Homes and Gardens, I think. It uses maps from Google Earth and when you double click on points along your running route it gives a tally of your mileage. It’s great to have someone to do long runs with as Martha and I chatted up and down the hills and barely noticed their presence. My legs and knees were feeling stiff at the end of the run, but overall the run was easier than I had anticipated and helped give me confidence in terms of our ability to face the hills during the marathon in April.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Why I Run - Martha

I was on my “short maintenance” (!!!) run of five miles today and was thinking of what I could tell you about how I got into running. Back in the good old days of just being a medical student, with no family/house/job/commitments, it was easy to stay active doing things like racquetball, tennis, skiing, long walks in the woods, etc. It was no big deal to take three or four hours to go off with my friends and have some fun. But then graduation came, I got married to a medical school classmate and we moved from Michigan to the big city of Boston! All of a sudden I had a “real” job for the first time in my life, a husband who was putting in 120-hour work weeks as a surgical intern and absolutely no one I knew to hang out with! Being from the Midwest, I did not find it as easy to make new friends here and thus I had a lot of time on my hands to discover this town on my own. We lived in the Back Bay and I started running along the Charles to take in all of the beautiful scenery...and then I discovered how fun it was to run along all the little brick streets in the Back Bay and around the park. I could fit in a short run after work and still not be too tired to read at night.

Then I finished my residency training and we moved out to the “burbs” (Newton) and before I knew it I had three kids, two dogs and a nanny. Suddenly, it was all I could do to get myself to and from work, make dinner and take care of the kids. Running with two kids in a stroller and a dog on a leash didn't cut it for me. I remember watching the marathoners back then thinking how much fun it must be to be able to just run like that for hours without answering a page or changing a diaper. Someday I told myself...maybe I could do that.

The years just seemed to roll by.. We moved further out (way out in the boonies of Needham now), I came to my senses and found a part-time job at Newton-Wellesley, my oldest went off to college this year and suddenly I found myself with an hour or two of time to myself! My sister happens to be a patient of Heidi’s and she tipped Heidi off one day that I, too, like to run and had occasionally entered the Big Bear Run, which is the one (and pretty much only) local run held in Needham every year. Heidi and I started sharing info about other local races we would hear about and gradually the conversation headed toward how great we both thought “running Boston” might be some day.

Well, I'm turning 50 in a couple of months and thought how great it would be to keep my mind off that thought and have it focused on something more encouraging and positive than how I need to get my bunions fixed before I get too old to walk on them. The more we talked about it the more real it sounded. I decided it would be a great present for my family to give me for my birthday: the support and time needed for me to train for the marathon. They have been great and they don't have to wrap a thing!

So that's my side of things. I'm now bogged down in training schedules and frequent trips to CVS for new bunion pads and Motrin. But I'm really thinking this is going to happen. I even have my 86-year-old mother who lives in a nursing home in Michigan telling me she's going to watch me win on TV in April. That's motivation enough for me to finish!

Our First Training Run - Heidi

Martha and I went for our first training run together on January 6 although my actual “training program” began at the end of November. I'm running more days and more miles than at any other time in my life despite the fact that I started running in the late 70s. When I was in ninth and tenth grade, my Dad was stationed at the Fort Shafter army base in Oahu. We lived on Palm Circle, which was lined by beautiful royal palm trees. I'm sure one lap was less than a mile but it initially seemed impossible to jog around even once. Today Martha and I ran nine miles and other than some tight muscles at the end, the distance seemed manageable.

When I first started running, I think most people referred to it as jogging and it was just starting to be popular as a sport. I remember my parents giving me a James Fixx calendar and I think his Complete Book of Running was one of few available on the subject. Now, there are lots of books and magazines to turn to for help and inspiration. I bought Marathoning for Mortals by John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield this summer. I used their training plan to prepare for the Boston Half Marathon in October. I had a great race that day so am sticking with the same source for April.

It definitely helps to have a set plan to follow. It somehow seems easier to get a five-mile run accomplished or a thirty minute cross training session if the calendar is “telling you to do it” than if you figure out the workout at whim day by day. I wouldn't have been so organized if my detail-oriented/engineer husband hadn't pushed me to do it. He's been incredibly supportive. My end of the bargain is to have a plan so that I can train wisely to minimize the chance of injury.