Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Weekend Run in DC/Sore Left Knee – Heidi

I had one of those beautiful runs of a lifetime this weekend in Washington, DC. Another one that comes to mind is running along Lake Michigan in Chicago last fall. At any rate, my family flew into DC on Friday morning for the weekend. My left knee has been intermittently sore since my previous 20-mile run so I didn't run on Friday but enjoyed lots of walking from our hotel to many of the sites along the mall.

I had a 13-mile run on my “schedule” for Saturday. My husband was on west coast time due to a business trip and my almost 13-year-old son has started to enjoy sleeping in, so they were still sound asleep when I snuck out of our hotel room at about 7:30 on Saturday morning. Rain had been forecast but the day was bright and clear although windy. I headed down toward the Washington Monument and then ran toward the Lincoln Memorial. I knew from a Runner's World article this month that there was a way to head over a bridge and get to a running trail in a park but I hadn't taken time to study a map. There were lots of other runners out so I followed two men ahead of me that seemed to know where they were going.

I headed over a bridge and kept following their lead and then got tears in my eyes when I realized they had led me to the edge of Arlington Cemetery. I followed them along a path outside the cemetery wall and then saw a road sign pointing to the Iwo Jima Memorial so took a breather and walked up the hill to view this stunning monument. It was such a beautiful spring day with trees and flowers in early bloom that it was a bit emotional to feel so alive and contemplating those that are no longer with us. Once I had left the Iwo Jima Memorial, I started running back along the path toward the bridge I had crossed and headed back into the mall area. I ran again until I reached the Korean War Memorial, which is another moving work and again walked to view it. Next I headed back up the mall toward the Smithsonian buildings, running toward the Capitol. The path in the center of the mall is firm packed dirt with loose rock and after a few blocks of this I decided it wasn't the best surface for my knee so switched to the firm sidewalks. Capitol Hill is most definitely a hill and that climb slowed me down a bit but I ran behind the Capitol to the front of the Supreme Court and then back down the hill to return to the Smithsonian admiring the new spring flowers and the beautiful design of the Native American Museum.

At that point I'd had a phenomenal tour of the area and was hungry, thirsty, wondering if my family was awake and starting to have more and more left knee discomfort. By the time I had made it back to my hotel, I had "only" run 10.6 miles but didn't have it in me to do my full 13. I rationalized that I'd get a lot more miles in while walking the rest of the day (which I did). It was certainly a run I'll never forget and hope to have the opportunity to repeat in the future.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Checking Off My Long Runs! – Verna

Well, I am way behind on my blog entries… since the first one I submitted was only an introduction. The last 12 weeks, since I began my marathon training in earnest, have been extremely challenging. An April race… I somehow had visions of training in beautiful spring weather. What was I thinking? A slip on the ice in my driveway injured my back and I wasn’t able to run for about three weeks during December. So my training began slowly indoors on the treadmill. Did you know that the treadmill was originally invented as a torture for prison inmates? Heck, by now I almost enjoy the treadmills at Shipley where I can watch VH1 and listen to the top 20 music videos! On January 28 when the NWH Marathon Team gathered at Allen-Riddle, Carl Faust of Physical Therapy found out that I had been holding on during my runs on the treadmill. It gave Carl and a few others quite a laugh. Carl advised me to use my arms like I would during the race. He also told me that I should run with at least a 2.0 percent incline otherwise I would damage my hamstrings when I got out on the road. I am proud to report that I have completed a 10-mile on the treadmill with a variable incline and without holding on!

My first outside long run did not happen until February 2. I ran from my house in Needham to the top of Heartbreak Hill and home again for 10 miles. It felt so great to complete that distance outside! I cannot describe the excitement I felt on that day. During this run I drank twenty ounces of water! This is disconcerting to me because it was February, cold and only 10 miles. What will I have to drink to 26 miles comfortably in much warmer temperatures?

You may realize that there are a series of four hills in Newton, beginning at the bridge over 128. These hills are not so steep as they are long and their location in the race beginning at about mile 16 is daunting to say the least. At the base of Heartbreak Hill is the “Young at Heart” statue featuring Johnny A. Kelley as a young man joining raised hands with an older version of himself. He started 61 Boston Marathons dating back to 1928 and lived to be the ripe age of 97! The statue was dedicated to Johnny in 1993 because the infamous hill was named Heartbreak after Johnny claimed it was at this point that he lost the race in 1936. Johnny served as Grand Marshall from 1995 until his death in 2004.

For my next long run I repeated Heartbreak Hill beginning at the Hospital with Marshall Falk who is also on the NWH team. Marshall is a seasoned athlete having played soccer in high school and college and still currently plays. Running is a new sport for Marshall, but compared to me he is not a beginner. I know I slowed him down but he helped me pick up my pace and gave me some great tips. On the down hills, Marshall taught me to throw my heels up and back and let the hill take me. I found this to be a great relief on my calf muscles after high mileage. He also reminded me to lift my knees high on the up hill to keep my stride long. Marshall has signed up for several shorter races as part of his training for Boston and he told me about the gifts like running gloves he has collected along the way. Marshall has even entered a 20-mile race on March 30! He said I could join him if I liked…I think not.

I am following a beginner’s running program and although I hope to be running a 20 miler on that weekend, my program advises to only “race” that distance once at the peak of your training. My goal for this race is simply to finish uninjured and preferably not embarrassingly slow. The race director Dave McGillivray starts the marathon after most of the runners have finished to make sure he is the last to cross the finish line. Let’s hope I don’t see him!

Fifteen and a half miles from home to Cleveland Circle and back is my longest run to date. I have Bob Page to thank for getting me out there that Saturday morning. I was very discouraged on Friday at work because I had planned to do my long run on Saturday and rain was in the weather forecast. The day before and after a long run is a day of rest. So I was wasting a glorious Friday and probably wouldn’t be able to run on Saturday! Bob used to be a runner himself and reminded me how pleasant running in a light rain could be. So I went along with my planned run and set out early Saturday. I was home before the torrential rains began! This run is the run that gave me the confidence that I might actually be able to complete this marathon as I felt I could run farther but after three hours and forty-five minutes I had run out of time. I need to get a whole lot faster if I don’t want to be running all day!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Weeks Away from the Marathon – Heidi

I realized while on call tonight that I am late in writing a blog this week. Having just delivered a healthy boy, I thought I'd take a break from my office paperwork to compose an entry. I had to turn around and look at the calendar behind my desk to see that the Marathon is five weeks away. That knowledge is both scary and exciting. I'm ready to not give the bulk of a weekend day up to a long run but I don't feel like it's time to be lining up with thousands of others in Hopkinton on Patriot's Day.

I successfully ran another 20 miles this weekend and am scheduled to do (only!) one more 20-mile run in two weeks. I didn't want to miss my son’s basketball game this weekend and the weather reports weren't great so I wasn't sure when I was going to run. All of my potential running partners were busy or doing the New Bedford half marathon so I also didn't have a partner lined up. While driving to the basketball game Saturday, a lot of the other marathoners-in-training were braving the wet snow along Route 16 in Wellesley. Fortunately for me, the precipitation stopped after the game so I decided to get my 20 miler over with when I got home. The thought of 20 miles with nothing but my iPod for company was daunting, so my husband agreed to run four with me – every little bit counts! He's also thinking he might run the last few miles at the end of the Marathon to help me keep going so he's feeling he needs to get into shape for that. We did a 4.4-mile loop in our neighborhood and then I stopped by our house to get my fuel belt and iPod for the next 15.6. I've never run more than 13 miles on my own, but it wasn't so bad. Fortunately, my husband had downloaded some new music onto my iPod and the weather was relatively mild. I actually felt strong and fast for the next 10 miles or so. My sad moment during the run was realizing I had left my “snacks” back at home on the kitchen counter so I had only Gatorade to enjoy and to break up the miles. My knees started feeling the distance for the last stretch, especially the left one, but I don't think that's too unusual given the distance. Once I was home, it was a huge relief NOT to have that 20 miler hanging over me for the rest of the weekend.

My knees were still a bit sore when I ran again Sunday morning with my neighbor and again Monday evening while my son was at tennis. Although I'm away from home and on-call tonight, today is a day of rest in terms of running! I'm supposed to do a 13-mile run this coming weekend and then one last 20-mile run the following weekend. I'm definitely looking forward to the taper process at the end of the training program!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Tough Week – John

I am sick again and now on antibiotics. I just spoke to my friends Paul and Jimmy to let them know that I would not be running the New Bedford Half Marathon. I also just informed the president of my running club to take me off the list since the club pays for entry to this race. Now in addition, my son just fell down and hurt his legs so my wife took him to the ER.

I sit here with the company of my faithful companion. I reflect on the fact that “Marathoning” is a very selfish activity. I reflect on how I appreciate my family’s tolerance of both my morbid obesity and my self-indulgence for almost seven years. Maybe I can make Boston this year. I look at the poster in my home office, “Impossible is Nothing”. I need that level of positive thinking right now.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New Long-Run Companion - Heidi

I’m more than halfway through this year’s marathon training, and the question I still get with the greatest frequency is whether or not Martha is running this year. For those of you who are new to this blog, Martha is my co-worker and now dear friend and we trained for Boston last year and finished hand in hand. She also kept me going with hilarious stories on all of our long runs. This year, I’m doing a lot of my training on my own but am trying to find company for the long runs to maintain my sanity. Because my schedule and family demands are a bit crazy, I usually work something out last minute or hope that the music on my iPod shuffle will keep me going if I am solo.

This Sunday I had a new running companion for 15 miles up and down the Newton hills. Goldie, who works in the Psychiatry Department at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, also received a Boston number through the Hospital lottery this year. She had posted a blog response wondering if we could run together. We planned via email to meet at the Hospital and it sounded as though we’d be well matched in terms of mileage goals and pace.

I think the first words out of my mouth when we met in front of the Surgical Center were, “you’re young!” I don’t consider myself old at age 44, but finding that your running companion is twenty years younger than you does make you feel a bit antique. Although now I’m feeling pleased that I could keep up with someone twenty years younger!

I think the beauty of the sport of running is that it brings people together and the atmosphere at a road race is always fun and social but healthy. Despite our age difference, Goldie and I had plenty to talk about in our two and a half hours or so of battling the hills and the frigid wind on Sunday morning. It was great to meet someone new and share running and life experiences. It was inspiring to hear that Goldie is fitting her marathon training into an already packed schedule of a full-time job, an organic chemistry course and a serious relationship. I really enjoyed the run and getting to know another member of the Newton-Wellesley Hospital team.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Becoming a Marathoner – Dwight

My name is Dwight Heiman, age 46, and I have been your typical weekend warrior type of runner. Two, three or four times a week at best with runs of three, four or five miles with a “long run” of six miles once or twice a year when I was feeling ambitious (usually after watching the Boston Marathon at mile 19 - our family’s regular spot). Actually running the 26 miles has always seemed out of reach - I get tired driving a car 26 miles.

Now, with six weeks to go, I am up to 16 miles and think about Patriot’s Day at least once every waking hour - this is going to happen and I am beyond excited! I went for a physical and my doctor told me that my knees were too healthy, but luckily he had a cure. “Pick a Monday in April,” he said, “and gather 30,000 close friends who have good knees too, and then run five times farther than you ever have, and voila! You're a marathoner!”

I picked a running program with Carl Faust's assistance designed to keep me on my feet for 26 miles and it has been working great. My route takes me on RT 16 and Commonwealth Ave. on a Sunday morning and it is starting to be crowded with runners. The elite athletes are something to behold! I feel like a Volkswagon Beetle at Daytona watching them. They are greyhounds and move up Cardiac like I run downhill with a tailwind, only faster. They don't even stop at intersections for traffic - the lead runner waves the cars to a stop and they gladly let the group through - only in Boston. I enjoy reading the other entries in this blog, especially nutrition tips and how to carry enough water for long runs without hiding bottles in bushes ahead of time.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Away in North Carolina – John

I did not submit a blog entry earlier because I got sent on a last-minute business trip to North Carolina. Last week started off okay, but ended rough. The week went downhill on Thursday. I was out running with Molly and experienced some gastrointestinal distress and barely made it back home. After this unpleasant experience, I did not feel well for the rest of the week. I took a long run on Sunday of about 12 miles, but I still did not feel well and had to do some walking breaks. My wife told me I should not have taken the long run and she was right. I am feeling better now.

Tonight, I am meeting up with a fellow who I met a few years back as we were both presenters at the same conference as well as collaborated on a few issues at work. His home office is here in North Carolina. Wes is a triathlete and we are going to take a run together. When I saw him yesterday, he looked like he trimmed down a bit and he told me he is training for a half-ironman distance. I’ve done a couple of triathlons in the past. The multi-sport aspect was kind of fun, but I really prefer running.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Survived 20 miles! – Heidi

I take making it through 20 miles up and back the heartbreak hills (and then up and back one more time to make 20 miles) was a major blow for freedom in terms of my mental state about April 21. Everything has been more of a challenge this year and that has definitely made me have a nagging feeling of worry about being prepared for the actual event. I was so surprised and excited to get another number from the Hospital this year. My first training runs were fueled by feeling so lucky to participate in this event again. Then the reality of juggling training with work and family set in and I had lost some of my positive outlook.

I got a good pep talk from one of my patients this week when she was in the office to see me. I'm obviously supposed to be the one helping my patients but I constantly learn from and am inspired by the people I meet at work. This particular woman has trained for 11 marathons and completed nine and is training for Boston as well. Her words of wisdom definitely gave me a boost.

I had been worried about fitting a 20-mile run into my week, which was already unusually busy with call on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. However, having missed more than a week of training, I felt like I had to somehow get a long run accomplished. When I left the Hospital Saturday morning it was snowing heavily and the roads weren't very clear. I had emailed my friend Carol about possibly running together and we had tentatively planned that she'd try to run 10 with me. We spoke and decided to re-evaluate the weather and the roads later in the morning. Around 11:00 am we met and drove to Comm. Ave. as we figured the carriage path would be the safest surface given the snow. It was raining lightly when we started up the hills (we began a little bit up the street from the fire station). Another solo runner on the course commented on the fact that we were certainly having lousy weather for training this year. But once we started the rain stopped and it was great to catch up with Carol. We ran 5.25 miles up and then returned to our cars for a total of a little over 10. I was feeling a little weary after the 10 but when Carol asked me what I was going to do I knew I had to try to get the rest of the mileage in. By dumb luck I had an extra pair of shoes, socks and gloves in my car as I was really wet and cold from the slushy conditions. We'd also had about 10 cars spray us at Centre Street when they drove by.

I said goodbye to Carol, got into my warm/dry stuff and headed back up the hills to repeat what we had just done. About 14 miles into the run, I had a burst of euphoria due to the fact that I felt that I'd be able to finish the 20 miles. Knowing I felt like I could do 20 gave me the confidence that I'd be able to be ready for the Marathon. By mile 15 I had lost the euphoria and energy and had emptied my pockets of stale clif shot blocks and energy beans to keep me going. Fortunately, the end of my run had more downhills than uphills. I was absolutely thrilled to see my car and be able to stop. I got home and took a nap after a long hot shower and high-protein lunch, which felt divine. Mentally it was a huge step to get that run accomplished!