Monday, April 7, 2008

My 20 Miler – Verna

I chose Thursday, March 20 for my 20 miler as I had the day off from working the weekend. It was a very exciting run because I chose to run from NWH to the finish line and back! It was overcast, the temperature perfect and I was very comfortably dressed in the blue and white NWH training suit each of the Hospital team members were given. I love running on the grass on Com. Ave. and have the Hills in Newton memorized by now. They seem like a friend to me, but when they appear on race day as mile 17 through 21 I'm sure it will be a very different story.

My plan was to eat one packet of GU every hour and supplement it with sports beans and water to see how my energy held up. My marathon strategy is to walk early and often but on this day I was feeling so good I didn't want to walk. So the only walk breaks I took were when I ate GU, which was about every hour. This 20 miler did take me four and a half hours but it was a blissful day! After the Newton Hills, I was faced with cement sidewalks. Thus far in my training I have sought out grass and gravel whenever possible, asphalt as a second choice, avoiding cement at all costs. I contemplated turning back, but I wanted to see the finish line. Brookline was bustling with people, cars and the Trolley. It was fun to run by the window displays of so many shops and I saw a few Zagat-rated restaurants to make note of. By the time I got to what used to be the Eliot Hotel, I stopped to ask which street the Marathon route turned on to get to Boylston. I had remembered that years ago that used to be a Marathon Sports Bar with all kinds of memorabilia decorating its walls. Alas, the lounge is upscale now, but the hostess was able to direct me one street down to Hereford and I was on my way. I felt like a very small character in a fairy tale as the closer I came to the finish the larger the buildings loomed around me.

I was very happy to take a little break at the Boston Public Library. There are clean bathrooms and I filled my empty water bottles. There is a nice coffee/lunch shop in the map room and I took in an exhibit about “Upstanders” – New Englanders who have done extraordinary things for others choosing to “stand up rather than stand by”. I chose to save the lunchroom for another day as I was trying to monitor my fuel for race day.

I was in awe that I had actually just run to Boston and I was still filled with excitement to run back to the Hospital. The excitement started to fade as I began a very grueling uphill run. From Kenmore Square back to Newton was a relentless uphill trek, one and a half hours worth! My mantra became “sure could use a downhill!”. I was facing an awful afternoon head wind to boot. I had some brief relief at BC with a downhill that took all of thirty seconds before I started the backside of Heartbreak. The downhill at Heartbreak was sweet relief!

Through these up hills I had run out of food and I was hungry...stomach growling hungry! GU for the uninitiated is a frosting-like substance for energy. I definitely notice an energy surge when I have one but I simply ran out. One of the tips for runners is learn to eat on the run to be sure to consume enough calories for the run. On average a mile burns 100 calories. Do the math... 2600 calories! I need to find more food to carry. Another tip...don’t eat or drink anything you have not tried out on a run. Thankfully, I had food in my car at the Hospital.

After the run I felt like my knees were three times there size and I had some difficulty bending them. I ate within a half hour of running with the right ratio of carbohydrate to protein. I stretched and gave myself a cool bath after my run to facilitate a quick recovery. My next opportunity for a long run would be three days away. I was a little concerned that it would be too soon but with my work and family obligations it would have to be then or too close to the taper portion of training.


Anonymous said...

Verna, You are unbelievable! I am so impressed and proud to know you. Sounds like there is a lot of head in this run, as well as stamina and training! You go girl! and don't eat too much maztah at the seder the weekend before the run!

debbie said...

What a great blog, Verna!
I'm so in awe of you! What a great description of your training and explorations for the marathon.
My hopes are with you for continued success!
Love, Debbie

Anonymous said...

Hi Verna,
Thanks for sharing your adventure with me. The most I've run is 2 miles and never could get further:)
I'm one of those weird people that keep the marathon on TV during the day...and watch it and have had the fun of serving Gatorade at the marathon in the past, so am enjoying all vicariously through you. Joanne

Anonymous said...

Awesome! It is inspiring reading about your training. I admire your setting your mind to run and finishing what you set out to do.