Friday, April 24, 2009

Becoming a Runner - Cody

The 2009 Boston Marathon has come and gone and I managed to survive it. It was amazing to think that all of the months of training came down to that one day, but it turned out that all of the work paid off. This was not the long suffer-fest that I had envisioned a marathon to be. The first third of the race was a blur. I had a fair amount of adrenaline going and some residual "what have I gotten myself into" feelings, so I spent most of my time making sure I was keeping a slow, steady pace. The middle part of the race was the toughest. I was having a hard time keeping a steady pace, there was a pretty good headwind, and it seemed like the mile markers were getting further and further apart. It was also at this point that I realized I was averaging ~10 minute miles and my dreams of a sub four-hour first marathon would not be coming true. Once I let that go and reorganized my goals to finish without walking and in less than 4.5 hours I started to feel better.

Then, as I neared Newton-Wellesley Hospital, the fun began. As I mentioned in my last post, I knew once I made it here I was home free. As a bonus, this is where I started seeing friends and coworkers who did a great job of cheering me on and even occasionally running a few steps with me. After NWH, I felt strong on the first two hills on Comm Ave, despite some quad cramps. Then about halfway up Heartbreak Hill I saw my good friend Heidi who prevented Heartbreak Hill from breaking me by running a few steps with me. Once I got to the top I knew I was home free and it was just a few more miles and one failed high-five attempt with my father-in-law (who knew it would be so hard to jump after 23 miles), and I was home free. The last mile of the Marathon was the fastest mile I ran, which felt great. Then it wasn't two minutes after crossing the finish line before I saw my wife waiting for me. What an experience.

My final time was 4:21:10, which was a little slower that I would have liked, but respectable for a first marathon. I think I did a poor job pacing myself, mostly due to inexperience with the distance. I really liked the program I used. I completed a marathon in a respectable time and I only averaged 10 miles per week with the majority of these miles done in 800m to one mile increments at maximum tolerable pace. I had longer distances planned, but chose to scale back the mileage even more because of some knee soreness. Also, down the stretch, I didn't do a great job getting in all of my workouts. So I was not confident in how I would handle the later miles or how I should pace myself. So for the race, I averaged just under 10-minute miles, but did my last mile in 8:06 and never felt like I was hitting the wall, so I clearly held back more than I should have. At the start of this I said to myself that I would run this, check it off my list, then stick with 5-10k runs. Now that I know I can do it, I want to go faster. Did I just become a runner?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Experience of a Lifetime – Sue

What a day! I can barely walk down stairs this morning, but the pain and soreness are worth having the chance to run the Boston Marathon!

The weekend was a bit of a blur with having my parents arrive in town, getting to the Expo for number pick up and trying to figure out the details of Marathon morning. One of the biggest stresses of the morning was what to wear. The weather was perfect for running, but with the forecast of strong headwinds, and a high of 48 degrees or so, I was debating on wearing running tights or shorts. I brought my shorts with me and thought I'd see what the majority were wearing when I got to Hopkinton.

After a pasta dinner with my family the night before, I tried to get to bed early, but it ended up being about 10:30 or so. The alarm went off at 5:50 - I got dressed, loaded up on Glide and had my usual pre-run multigrain English muffin with peanut butter and blueberry jam. I limited myself to one cup of coffee vs. my usual two, since I knew that could be an "issue" later. We left the house at 6:30 and had to pick up my friend, Joel who was the one who got injured while we trained, but felt OK enough to give it a go (and finished well under four hours!).

My husband drove us to the start and the killer 2 1/2 to 3 hour wait started, which included long lines for the porta johns. I stopped at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital medical tent to say hello to "my" physical therapist, Carl Faust, who promptly cracked my back as he's done during our sessions! My friend Paul Satwitcz was there as well, who encouraged me to wear the shorts - thanks Dr. Paul, good call!

It was finally time to get into our "corrals" for the start - on the way I finally saw my friend Diana who I had hoped to run with but we got separated by our numbers at the start, so didn't see her again until the finish. When I looked at my watch going over the start pad, it was 10:47 (for a 10:30 start), which was a testament to the large crowd of runners!

It was such a wild experience - the fans were incredible! Some were in costumes, offering food (and beer!) but all very supportive and encouraging. I tried to stay in the moment, meaning I was trying to really enjoy the experience and to take it all in. In Natick, I had a running friend of mine, John hop in to run along with me. He had his camera with him to try and capture some of the moments, especially the girls lined up in Wellesley! My ears were ringing by the time I made it through there. When I checked my watch going over the half-way mark in Wellesley, I was exactly at the two hour mark - 12:47, so I knew I was at the pace I had hoped for - about a nine-minute mile.

Going past the Hospital was exciting mainly since I was now on "home turf" - just down from the Hospital were my friends Jane and Dave who were ready to also run along with me - such great supportive friends! I had a lot of familiar faces cheering me on at the Fire Station, in particular my husband, kids and parents. I stopped to give quick kisses and was on my way up Heartbreak Hill. This is my usual running route, so I tried to focus on that although the hills feel quite different with 17 miles behind them! Once I got to the top, it felt great to put that behind me, and then it was on to Boston College, which was crazy! I made the comment that I couldn't believe the energy they still had for cheering, when my friend Dave reminded me that I still had energy for running! By now my quads were really burning- thankfully Jane had two Advil with her, which I took promptly when she joined me, but I knew at that point I could not stop to walk since I would not be able to run again.

So on we went, through Brookline, and I pointed out to my pals when I caught sight of the Citgo sign. Yeah! I looked at my watch and saw that I was at 2:33, which meant I had only 14 minutes to get through two miles to make the four-hour qualifying time for my age group. I was quite sure I could not kick out a seven-minute pace at that point. I did have enough to move ahead a bit, so my friend Jane dropped back and had the guys run me in. My legs were killing me, in fact the word that comes to mind is "pulp", so I just had to do the best I could. I crossed at 4:03 - just three minutes past qualifying again - but was SO happy to cross the finish line! Once I handed in my chip, and they put the medal around my neck was the moment I got really choked up, and even now get teary writing about it. I got home to many calls and emails congratulating me and can't really describe how awesome it feels to have accomplished running the Boston Marathon! If I never get the chance to do it again, I had the experience of a lifetime and I know memories that will last me a lifetime. Thanks for indulging my recounting of the day - this is one of the ways I can document it and will always be able to go back to this.

Thanks again to Newton-Wellesley for giving me this chance - it never would've happened otherwise. Now, off to work - a bit late, but I'll get there....slowly!

Better Than I Expected – Steve

It was a great day and better than I would have ever expected. Of course I didn't sleep well the night before so you never know how things are going to go. I awoke early and saw that the temperature was only 36 and that really concerned me. What am I going to wear? It was borderline cold and should it be tights and a long sleeve shirt? I opted for a long-sleeve shirt under my race shirt and shorts. The head winds were expected to be maxing out at 20. My wife drove me right into Hopkinton to a friend’s house at 7:30 and I would stay there until it was time to line up for the second wave of runners at 10:30. It was so nice to stay in a warm house with flush toilets. At 10:00, I went to the Athletes’ Village in my old clothes and dropped off my baggage at the bus. I proceeded to warm-up with a run to the corrals for the start at 10:30. The weather was now clear, and the temps were in the mid 40s. I was now excited but not sure how my legs would hold up. Would my ileal psoas cause a problem?

The race started and right away I had tightness in my anterior thigh. Would it get worse? I just focused on keeping my time close to pace time to qualify and hope for the best. The run through Hopkinton, Ashland and Framingham was uneventful and I had many people shouting out my name because it was on my shirt. I couldn't wait until I got to Natick to see my family and especially my daughter. If I had any chance of qualifying it would be because of Linsey. As it was, just having her at my side helped me keep going. She often encouraged me to keep the pace up and "just have a good time".

As we approached the Hospital, I was excited...hopefully there would be a lot of people cheering for me, people I knew. I was a bit disappointed. There were very few familiar faces, but maybe I didn't notice them. I started to get very focused on completing the run. We made the turn at the Fire Station and the real race began. It was brutal but Linsey continued with her encouragement. The last hill just past the 20-mile mark was a real highlight. This is the spot where my mother and father often watched me run the Marathon and today my mother was there along with my wife, son and his girlfriend Rachel. Everyone was cheering me on to make it to the top of the hill. An extra special highlight was seeing both Dr. Rockett seniors on the hill. So I made it to the top and now the second half of the challenge began...could I knock off the time lost on the uphill. I refocused and off I went. I pushed myself as fast I could to try to qualify but alas I would come up just a little short at 3:48:55. After I made my way crossed the finish line I gave my daughter a big hug and thanked her for making it all possible. Linsey made it to a hotel to clean up and I went off to the medical tent to help care for the downtrodden runners that came in after I did. I might see if there is a Marathon in a month’s time that I can try to qualify at so I can run with my daughter, the whole course....Did I really write that I would run another marathon?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Final Prerace Entry – Steve

This has been one of my toughest marathons to prepare for. First I was very excited in the beginning to be chosen to represent Newton-Wellesley Hospital. The training started out hard, difficult with many aches and pains from not running consistently and going the longer distance. I wasn't sure whether I would be able to do the distance again. Even for an experienced marathoner, the distance seems to be longer as we get older. After completing many of my longer runs I started to feel more confident that the distance would be a reality. Once I was able to complete my longest run of 25 miles I was sure that distance was in my pocket, but now I have become greedy. I would like to become a qualified runner again and Monday, I am hoping for a 3:45 time. It is in my reach but I won't be disappointed if I don't make it in that time. I do have one thing helping me in this pursuit. My daughter, Linsey will be running with me from the Hospital to the finish line. This should be enough incentive to make it in time. She will be a very positive force in my final mile of the Marathon. Here's hoping for a good run. Thank you to all that have wished me well in this years Marathon!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Looking Forward to Race Day – Cody

Ahhh taper week. It’s nice to have some scaled down workouts and some extra rest days after several months of regimented training. I definitely need the rest because Sunday morning I woke up feeling like I was starting a chest cold. I did a short run that day that felt much harder than a lot of the longer ones, which didn't make for a big confidence boost. It’s now Thursday and it is getting much better, but I can still feel it when I get my heart rate up. Hopefully that will improve before race day.

I'm really looking forward to the experience of the race day. It’s been a long time since I've run in a really large race. The last one I did was a 10k called the Bolder Boulder in 2003. It’s a 10k in Boulder, CO that draws about 40,000 runners and people line the streets cheering you on. Its amazing how much less tired you feel in an environment like that compared to a run on your own. From what I've seen and heard from other who have fun it, Boston has the same kind of energy along the route and should be a great time.

My strategy for the race is pretty simple. Pace myself, keep on moving and if something starts to hurt......keep moving and worry about that after the race. Once I hit Newton-Wellesley Hospital, I'm on my home turf and I think I can definitely make it to the finish from there no matter what shape I'm in. I live in Cleveland Circle, so I've run Comm. Ave between Newton-Wellesley and my house several times, and I've run Beacon to downtown several more.

In my first post, I said that I was taking a different approach to marathon training with fewer miles on the road and more time in the gym. On Monday I get to complete my personal case study and see how this pans out. For my final post I'll talk a bit about my experience with the race and we can also look at my race time, my average miles ran per week and I'll let you know if I would use this plan again. In the mean time, any guesses about what my average weekly mileage was?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Winding Down – Sue

Now that the Marathon is less than a week away, my focus is on winding down. I ran eight miles yesterday, which helped burn off some extra Easter holiday calories! I think I will have a couple more shorter runs and try to get some rest! I am now thinking about the details of picking up my bib number at the Expo, how I will get to Hopkinton, as well as where I will meet up with my husband and kids during the race, and hopefully at the finish! It looks like it will be an early morning next Monday, since I have to get to the Hopkinton State Park for the shuttle bus to the start. I will be looking to meet up with my best pal, Diana, who qualified last year and who I'm hoping to run with for at least a little while.

My usual obsession with the weather continues, although I imagine I am not the only one watching now! It looks like it may be partly cloudy in the low 50s, which would be good. I certainly hope the rain holds off since I would really hate to run in rain or wind for 26.2 miles! However it goes, I am sure it will be a great, and memorable, experience. And thanks to Newton-Wellesley Hospital for the great Adidas running gear!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Looking Forward to the Race! – Cody

Two weeks until the big day! I'm now getting the question "are you nervous???" with increasing frequency. The answer is… not yet. For now I'm going off of the assumption that I've been using the right plan for my body and that I'll be able to get myself to the end somehow. Right now I'm focusing on trying to stay on track with my training plan. I'm finding it easier and easier to talk myself out of a workout here and there, probably because there is only a short time between now and the race, I don't know how much more fitness I will be developing. I'm looking forward to a lighter week next week to get ready for the race and I'm really looking forward to the race.

On a different note, interesting things have been going on with my sore knee lately. Thankfully it now hasn't really hurt for two consecutive 13-mile runs. Unfortunately it hurts even worse if I pedal a bike for more than two minutes. This is good news for that Marathon, but bad news for the MS Cape Cod Getaway that I've been planning to ride with a team from Newton-Wellesley to benefit Multiple Sclerosis research. It’s a two day, bike ride that is either 75 miles per day or 100 miles on the first day and 75 on the second. I'm planning on doing the longer version. Because of this sore knee, my cross-training options are backward from what I would have liked. It would have been perfect if I could have used the bike to cross train for the Marathon and get some miles in for the MS Getaway, which is ideal because I like riding my bike better than running. Now it looks like I'll be doing the opposite: running to get in shape for the bike ride. I think my best bet is not to worry about the bike ride and focus on running in two weeks, then sort out what I'm going to do about the bike ride later. In one of my previous posts I said that I don't think that I was built for endurance events, but between the Marathon and the ride, by the end of the summer maybe all that will have changed!

Two Weeks! – Sue

I can hardly believe it's now two weeks away! I know it's getting closer, not just because the calendar says it, but because the snow is finally gone, I've seen some spring flowers and the landscapers are out in force! The stretch on Comm. Ave along the route always starts to get spruced up about now, and it has always been a reminder that the Marathon is getting closer.

I did a 12-mile run last Monday in the drizzle, which I should be used to by now, and had my 10-year-old daughter's iPod for company. I found High School Musical, Taylor Swift and Colbie Calliet to be pretty entertaining actually! If there is good music going along the course, which could make all the difference (along with some nice weather of course)!

After a couple runs during the week, I did a 14 miler this Sunday. This is my last of my longer runs. I went out with two of my guy running friends, one of whom is bouncing back from the injury he had on our long run from Hopkinton. He seems to be back on track based on the pace he was keeping. He is a fast runner, but we can usually run together on shorter runs, however yesterday, I tried to keep up and really felt it by the end of the run. My legs started to feel heavy, and it made me realize I have got to pace myself so I avoid "hitting the wall" during the Marathon. I tried to stay hydrated, and even had two GU to help on the energy front.

I was glad to have my PT appointment today with Carl Faust who has been able to work out a significant amount of the "knots" in my hamstring, so I was able to stretch that leg a good deal more than when we started out - yeah! I have to wonder where I would've been without his help at this point since I know I would've just tried to work it out on my own - or would've tried to mask the soreness with Advil frankly (not a good choice, I know).

Cross Training – Steve

Well I was itching for a long run this weekend but knew that it would hurt my overall performance on Marathon day. During this past week I did several short 25-30 minute sprints around my town and this weekend came and I rested on Saturday. I was glad I did because on Sunday it was spectacular. The temps were in the 50s and I was ready for a little cross training. I hadn't been on my road bike since the fall and I was eager to ride. I rode for 26 miles and I felt great. The ileal psoas was still a little sore but better. Hopefully I will be able to get in a short run this week and keep stretching out the hips.