Monday, April 25, 2011

Thank You – Todd

I finished and reached my goal! I have so many people to thank. First of all I would like to thank Newton-Wellesley Hospital for giving me an official Marathon entry. Thanks to my family for giving me the time to train. Thanks to the Laboratory staff for all of their encouragement. On the night before the Marathon I stayed at a friend’s house in Marlborough. This allowed me to sleep in and avoid the long bus ride from Boston. (And to eat Oreo cookies as a midnight pre-race energy snack.) The run itself was enjoyable all the way until the first of the Newton hills. Thanks to my friends, family and co-workers that cheered as I passed. My children each had a sign and a GU for me, which was a big boost. The fans throughout the course were amazing. I especially appreciated the kids who were handing out popsicles. Later in the run, when I was miserable, I was encouraged to see any kid with a sign that said “Go Dad.” After the race I went out to dinner and ice cream wearing my Boston Marathon Medal. Thanks JP licks for my congratulatory ice cream sundae! I took a week of vacation at home with my family during which I was able to fully recuperate. Finally, thanks goes to those who work in and support all of the great work that is done at the Vernon Cancer Center at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

My First Race – Jacqui

It is hard to believe that a few days ago I ran 26.2 miles. I am thrilled to have been able to take part in the Boston Marathon. It was really amazing to see firsthand the corrals of 30,000 people preparing to run, the Hopkinton forest bathroom breakers, the Wellesley College screamers, the challenges of Heartbreak Hill, the Boston College drinkers, the Citgo sign hill and of course the FINISH line. It was very uplifting to see my family spread out along the course. They greeted me with signs, cow bells and cheers, which helped to carry me forward. I was surprised to see energetic and supportive spectators continuously along the road throughout the whole race. I was very entertained by the signs and clothing of spectators and runners alike. Very early on in the race – way back in Ashland or Hopkinton – someone had set up a town line sign for Brookline. For most of the run, I paced behind someone in a hot pink tutu. I kept crossing paths with a woman in a leopard dress, and I even saw a pair of people dressed as a “hamburger and fries.” I saw President Lincoln run by me in a full long-sleeve suit and wondered how he would fare in that outfit, seeing that I was struggling while in comfortable running gear.

Despite the numerous warnings to watch the pace early on in the race, I ran 10-minute miles for the first 15K. Although I knew I was running faster than my training (12-minute miles), I was not sure if the fast pace was due to the expected “30 to 90 second faster race day pace” or the much-dreaded “going too fast and will burn out soon” theory. Right around 13 miles I suddenly learned the answer: I was going too fast. I also realized that I was a little dehydrated as I hadn’t increased my water intake to account for the warmer weather. I drank water and Gatorade, ate a few oranges and walked for two to three minutes every mile instead of my usual one-minute walk. I did this over the next few miles and felt much better by mile 17. I am so grateful to those souls that handed out the orange slices that helped to revitalize me. Although I had made a recovery, I wasn’t sure how tenuous it was, so I decided to walk the three big hills. I was disappointed by this concession as I had trained the last 14 weeks running these hills and thought I was ready to take them on, but the last thing I wanted to do was not finish the race.

Then at the top of Heartbreak Hill, my uncle joined me for the last five miles. After the demoralizing hills, it was such a wonderful site to see him with a fresh face eager for the run together. We finished out the race together enjoying the sites and sounds of the Boston Marathon. Although my overall pace ended up being slower than my goal of 12-minute miles, I was able to finish the race strong. Since I have never done any running race before, I am proud to walk away from the Boston Marathon with a finish time of 5:32 – and of course a really cool medal!

Actually, I am walking away from this experience with a whole lot more than that. I exceeded my fundraising goal for the NWH Cancer Center. I learned that my friends, family and co-workers are an incredibly supportive group of people. I learned that one of my great strengths as well as one of my great weaknesses is that I always try to get more out of any given situation. I learned that my dog, Rowen, loves to run. And did I mention that I got a really cool medal?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Success! - Elise

I was going for under five hours and made it! 4:55. I felt good the whole time but definitely slowed down on Heartbreak Hill. I was so impressed with the crowds cheering along the way. There were so many people it felt great. The finish was so awesome and packed with fans. I ended up getting the free massage they offer all runners after the race. I think it really helped with the recovery, that and the beer with my dinner. I just wanted to thank all my friends and family that supported me along the way. I couldn't of finished without you!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Still Sinking In – Jenna

What a day! I finished my first marathon ever, the Boston Marathon 2011, in 4:57. It’s a bit longer than the 4:30 I was hoping to run it in, but I don't mind because I know I gave it my all. Everything went well, until about Mile 21, after the Hills, when everything seemed to slow down.

My running buddy Ture and I, whom I ran with for all our long runs, stayed together from start to finish, helping pep each other up over the last five miles when we were both hurting a bit. I was able to see some of my other friends along the way, many of whom were running for other charities, so that was really neat. The very best part for me was making the turn onto Boylston and seeing all of my family and friends cheering for me as I ran by strong and bolted to the finish line. Even though I was hurting, they all said I ran right by like it was the first mile, which is exactly how I wanted to finish!

I loved the whole finishing experience – crossing the finish line, getting wrapped in my marathon foil and receiving my medal. All of the volunteers were so nice, and greeted me like I was the only runner there that day, with enthusiasm and smiles. The BAA and all the thousands of volunteers do a great job of putting on the race and showing all runners a great time.

I met my fiancé and family at the athlete meeting area, took some pictures and headed back home, only a block from the start line (thank goodness!). From there, we celebrated and barbequed, with me mainly enjoying my new found appreciation for sitting still!

I found it quite amazing that no matter how much I was hurting at the end, all these thoughts vanished as soon as I crossed the finish line! The whole day was very special for both my family and me, and I appreciate all the support from everyone whom I knew and I did not know who cheered for me and NWH along the way.

I am not sure if I will continue to stick with my usual half marathons, or will now be addicted to full marathons, only time will tell. I thank NWH for giving me the opportunity to run and support our organization, everyone who donated and supported me along the way and my family and friends for being understanding when running became one of my top priorities over the past few months.

It's still sinking in that I have achieved this dream of mine (and ran for approximately five hours!!)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ready – Jacqui

The mileage this week was even less than last week. I found it hard mentally to cut back on my regimen after training on longer runs for so long. At first, I began increasing my speed as I had a lot of excess energy, but I quickly learned this is NOT what you are supposed to do during the taper weeks. The next day after running 10 to 11-minute miles (up from my prior 12-minute miles), all of my muscles in my legs tightened up. Ugh... definitely not the time to develop new injuries!

Although I have the energy to go faster and train harder now that I am not running really long distances, the whole idea behind a taper is resting your body and muscles for the big day. I have found that I have to consciously hold myself back during my runs as it just seems too easy. Who is this person?

I am trying to focus more on getting good sleep and stretching regularly. I am really loving the extra time away from running to spend with my family. I have done all of the hard work. Now it is just a matter of time until the big day. I am ready.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Force to be Reckoned With – Jacqui

I made it at last! This is my final entry before the big run. I am both very excited and anxious about the upcoming day. Since I have not been running excessive mileage over the last three weeks, there is a part of me that worries that I can no longer do a really long run. I know the whole taper idea is tried and true by the best of experts, but I am still anxious about the distance. 26.2 miles seems a lot longer to me this week after only running a maximum of eight miles last weekend, compared to three weeks ago when I had just run 20.6miles. It is a good thing the mileage is less this week, as I have been spending a lot of time trying to coordinate my run and my supporters. I picked up my running shirt and some cow bells from Newton-Wellesley today. This weekend I’ll be getting my bib #26135. The Boston Athletic Association offers many options to track runners while on the course. You can sign up for text messages that alert spectators to specific mile markers once crossed and you can monitor progress on-line. The Boston course has a lot of key topographical and emotional landmarks, so runners often have loved ones at pre-specified locations for help with motivation in these areas. Many people have informed me that they plan to come out to see me run. I thought that I would probably have my husband, son and parents watching me on Marathon Monday, but I never dreamed this many people would fight the crowds to see me pass by. I can’t believe how supportive my friends and family have been. I have been getting phone calls, e-mails, snail mails, care packages and donations for the Newton-Wellesley charity all week long. If you are planning on coming out for the run and you happen to see me in the crowd, please yell out your support. I will use every and any help out there. Thank you for joining me on this journey to 26.2 miles. It has been a long and hard 14 weeks, but now I feel like I can cross any bridge that comes in my path. Armed with my realized physical and emotional stamina, and more importantly my amazing support network – I can be a force to be reckoned with.

Run Home! – Jenna

Only one easy two-mile run on Saturday stands between me and the Boston Marathon! I couldn't be more excited. I live in the Back Bay, right near the convention center, and they are already setting up some of the tents and hanging the posters, which is pretty neat. I can't wait to go to the convention to pick up my number and see all the other runners and take it all in. All I have to tell myself on Monday is RUN HOME! My last 20 miler went well, and I am feeling strong. I have no doubt in my mind I can run this and run it well - as long as I fuel at the right points, and not worry too much about the hills. I am excited for mile 17 - to run by the Hospital, as I know I will need a little boost pre-Heartbreak Hill. I wore my NWH jersey top last night for an easy three miles and it wore well, so I know I can wear this on race day without any problem. I will be running with my running buddy Ture, who I have trained most long runs with, and I really hope we both do well and can cross the finish line together! All in all, I am soooo excited, and I can't wait for Monday. Thank you to NWH for giving me the opportunity to run the Marathon, support our organization and raise money to support our brave cancer patients and the services that benefit them here at the Hospital. Thank you to all my family, friends and co-workers who have helped me surpass my fundraising goal! Thank you to all the individuals who have organized this for us, looked after our fundraising and helped us with the blog! You all have done a wonderful job and thank you for your support! Look for me on Monday is my yellow NWH jersey!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Carb Loading! – Elise

Four more days to go! I start carb loading today. Increasing to about 70 percent of my calories during the day being from carbs. My best friend is flying in tomorrow to help me through the big day. We are going to go to the Marathon expo tomorrow afternoon. I have heard it is huge and a lot of fun. We plan to take it pretty easy for the rest of the weekend. Good luck everyone who is racing and thanks to all of the supporters! See you all race day!

Run Like a Rabbit – Todd

This last week has been remarkable for the amount of recognition and encouragement that I have received from my friends and coworkers. Many friends have asked for an estimate of where I will be at their particular viewing posts. I hope I can see them along the route at the Hospital, the Fire Station, scattered up the Newton Hills and in Kenmore Square. Many members of the NWH community have stopped me in the halls and said they would be cheering me on. The NWH Laboratory had a recognition breakfast for the runners from the Laboratory and Sleep Center. It was nice to hear their words of encouragement while we all loaded up on carbohydrates. There was a rabbit theme with chocolate bunnies and a banner that said “Run Like a Rabbit.” I appreciate their suggestion that I might be that quick; however, I will be perfectly happy to finish like the tortoise.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Expert Advice: Almost There!

Just over a week to go! Great job everyone! Hopefully you are all feeling confident and proud of what you have achieved so far! Don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns leading up to the big day. And remember, if you have any issues, we're hosting the Annual Post-Marathon Injury Clinics for registered runners of the BAA Boston Marathon. I think it’s a great idea to have friends and family meet you along the course. Even if it’s only for a mile, it’s uplifting to have someone run with you. Come race day, stick with your routine that you’ve used for your long runs. If you're used to eating two Ego Waffles, coffee and a glass of OJ before your run, then do that. If you run 45 minutes before you have any water, then do that and take it easy on the water stations…they'll be every mile. This is a great week to really be good about stretching, even if you just do some biking, the elliptical or a short jog, start with a warm up and then spend 20 minutes every day doing some good stretching. It'll help you feel limber and ready next Monday. Have fun and enjoy the taper!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tapering for Race Day – Jacqui

Every week up until this point had been additive, I was running longer and longer distances than I had ever run before. Since this is the first week of my taper, every run this week was shorter than last week’s runs. What a difference! The runs were easier and faster than ever before. After such an easy week, I was nervous that I would under estimate the long run of 12 miles on the weekend. The sting of barely making it through week 5’s long run of 13 miles is still very fresh in my memory. But even my long run of 12 miles seemed ridiculously short and fast. I can’t believe it is me talking this way, I must be possessed by running aliens. I once again ran on the Marathon course, parking in the middle and running out and back in both directions – making each leg only three miles. My running mascot, Rowen, joined me again on the first half of the run. Rowen runs as if she was made to do this and her energy is contagious. This week was the first time she did any hills and she kept her pace nice and strong for the whole “fire station hill” in Newton. I will miss her attitude and vigor come race day. I spent most of my long run mentally preparing for race day. I noted what cross streets landmark the start and peaks of the big hills. I also started thinking about where along the course would be good places to see friends and family. I just finished reading “26 miles to Boston” this week. It is a book that talks about the history, topography and challenges of every mile of the Boston Marathon. It was written by a man who ran Boston as a bandit first time marathon runner. The author talks about how uplifting and emotional it was for him to see specific people at designated places along his run. The author’s brother even jumped into the race at mile 21 and finished the last five miles by his side. I spoke with a few marathon runners that I know about this idea, and it seems to be pretty common for a loved one to jump in on your first marathon for some motivational support in the last miles. What an amazing idea! If only I knew someone who could run five miles AND someone who was willing to be around me while I am running longer and harder than ever before in my life…