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.