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!


AdoptionAssociates said...

Go Verna, I know you can do it!
How very exciting to have already accomplished so much. Sounds like one must train one's psyche as well as one's body!
go for it!
deb o

M DiMeo said...

If there was ever anyone who could set their mind to something and accomplish is YOU! I'm so proud of you for taking on this task and can't wait to see you cross the finish line! You go girl!!