Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Endurance - Laura

Charles River Running store in Norwood offered a free supported 20 mile run this past Saturday. About a dozen runners were there at 8:00 am ready to run. Two of the runners were ultra-marathoners who were planning on running another 20 miles on Sunday as well! I pair up with Melissa - she is half my age, a great athlete, but has never run this far before. She was able to run the first 12 miles with me and really made those miles fly by! Many thanks to Jim who supported us through the run with water and Gatorade and made sure we stayed on course and finished. I finish the 20 miles knowing that I can run another six miles but it will be all that I have left.

I have often tried to equate the endurance required of long distance running with the endurance required to undergo cancer treatment and have come up with this comparison (which only approximates my experience but will be different for every cancer survivor):

Running one marathon every week for a year (without training) = completion of one round of cancer treatment to get back to baseline. The parallels are: it is impossible to complete without supporters offering assistance along the way at regular intervals, it looks insurmountable at the start, and requires a complete fixated focus on reaching the finish line. Still, all things being equal…I’d rather run a years’ worth of marathons.

Every contributor to the NWH Vernon Cancer Center is like a water station on the Boston Marathon route. The vast majority of those runners would not be able to physically complete the 26 miles without you. Those undergoing cancer treatment here will find the energy to run another mile in their journey with your help.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Snowing on April 15? - Kellie

The past two weeks since the 20 miler I've been busy with things not related to running. My best friend in the world decided to get married right in the middle of my marathon training. It was actually timed perfectly being the weekend after my 20 miler. I needed to recover a bit and I was too busy with my maid of honor duties to go for a long run that weekend. I got a pedicure and had to plead with the lady not to buff the bottoms of my feet off. She didn't seem to understand my wanting to keep my dead skin and calluses in place. I've been blister free so far with my hardened feet. Maybe I'll get them all buffed post marathon. The wedding was beautiful. It was sunny, over 50 degrees, actually it would have been a great day for a run! I'm really not complaining, I had a great day of not running. All this training may have helped me to catch the bouquet. Yes I caught the bouquet and you know what that means... it means I have a bouquet.

Since the wedding I've been back at it. I haven't experienced any runner's highs lately. Some days I've had to push myself against every last fiber of my being to run. I really hope spring comes soon and that I can get out of this slump. I keep hitting the Wellesley Hills in hopes that come marathon day, I won't drop dead right there on Comm. Ave. I envision myself walking parts of this section. I'd love to say I can run the whole thing without walking at all but I haven't been able to do it yet and I've been starting from the Hospital, not from Hopkinton. On Saturday I get to run the first 21 miles of the route with a group, water stations and bus ride back to Hopkinton. I owe a big thank you to fellow teammate Pam for reaching out and helping me get into this run. That's the big challenge between now and April 15. I'll find out how the hills feel after 16+ miles. After that, it's time to taper and hope that I've done enough to prepare.

I wonder if it will be snowing on April 15? I wouldn't be surprised if it did.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Back in the Saddle - Vanessa

My ankle and I have been working through our issues. We’ve had a lot of sleepless nights, some long talks and a few good cries. I’m happy to report that we have made it through the wilderness! This Monday we hit the pavement and ran 19.5 glorious miles in the sunshine. Just in time to avoid the snow! There is, however, one major issue that keeps creeping up… HUNGER. My appetite just. won’t. quit.

I’d like to report that I’ve been fueling with pounds of pizza and pints of ice cream because it sounds like fun, but I’m a Dietitian and I know better. I’ve made the mistake of over-eating in the past and ended up gaining weight while training for races. Not this time, stomach! There are a few key strategies I’ve found to win the mental battle over a huge post-run appetite:

1) Eat before you run. Even if I’m tempted to wake up and hit the road first thing in the morning, I make sure to set the alarm an hour early to give myself time to chow down and digest. A small bowl of oatmeal with berries and a bit of peanut butter swirled in usually does the trick.

2) Refuel as you run. I’ve tried Gu packets, sports beans, snickers bars and crackers. Thankfully my tummy isn’t too sensitive and they all seem to work just fine. Anything is better than nothing, especially if you want to avoid hitting a wall at mile 17.

3) Put something in your belly when you get home. Whether it is a sports drink, chocolate milk or a snack. EAT. Most runners I know don’t feel like eating right when they finish, but you just have to do it.

Based on experience, if I follow these steps I can curb the monster appetite that comes from burning hundreds of calories and make some healthy choices along the way. Once I’m ready for an actual meal, I find it’s easier to choose something reasonable and stick to one burrito instead of 87 burritos. So far, my fueling plan is working out well… but that doesn’t mean I’m not already dreaming of a beautifully gluttonous post-run meal on Marathon Monday! Even a Dietitian has to live a little, right?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

So Much Snow – Laura

With only five more weeks to go, I finally buy a new pair of running shoes. All this running has made my feet bigger and wider - resulting in the need for a wider running shoe. The new ones feel perfect!

Who knew it could snow so much in March? This is a blessing because it prevents one from running too much, which is a common mistake.

This weekend I finish an 18-mile run: the beginning three miles on a treadmill, 12 miles outdoors and the last three miles on the treadmill. I can determine the exact pace that causes the least amount of discomfort by testing out different rates on the treadmill. The optimal pace is slower than I prefer to run, but results in no injuries; the only soreness I have the following day is from snow shoveling!

The message I receive is: Physical endurance is the ability to test one’s patience, slow down the pace and push through those frequent moments when one’s mind says, “I’d really rather be stopping and eating now.”

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Enjoying the Journey – Ivan

Just 38 days to go. Am I ready? I hope that I will be! Work and being a family man have taken over this year and training has not been easy. I must say that seeing so many runners on the road in these hard conditions has been a great inspiration. My teammates are working hard as well, in hopes of having a great time or simply finishing! For me, this year is all about completing the marathon in a safe way. I will enjoy my journey.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ready to Embrace It – Kellie

My longest training race (my longest race ever) was this past weekend, The Black Cat 20 miler in Salem, MA. I don't know if I can ever make myself run 20 miles on my own, without aide stations, a finish line, a medal and a race T-shirt? Luckily there are many available races for people like me who need races to train for other races. I haven't gone more than 10 miles since the 16 miler over a month before for many reasons including: snow, cancelled races, laziness and uncontrollable intestines. There were many options for this race. People had a choice of running 10 miles, 20 miles or running it as a relay with two to four people. The race was an out and back from an elementary school in Salem to Marblehead beach and back for 10 miles, repeat it for 20 miles. I had a bit of anxiety over seeing the finish line at my halfway point. I was unsure if I'd be able to resist the temptation to stop at 10 miles.

My race buddy came out of hibernation and joined me for the first 10 miles. We were a little late arriving so I dropped her off to get the bibs while I parked and took the trolley over. I needed a bathroom and when I got there the line was out the door. We were both in line but at different bathrooms. The race was to start at 8:00 am and it was 7:59 am when she pulled me out of line and brought me to a bathroom with no line. I wasn't all that fast either because races are like laxatives for me. Major anxiety before the race. My hope was to finish in under four hours without crapping my pants. Already I was worried I would crap my pants just trying not to miss the race.

We ran outside and luckily they hadn't started yet. We made it. I've been running solo since I started training for this. I haven't been able to persuade anyone to run with me in the winter. I would have had friends for the half marathon a week ago but it was cancelled due to snow that never came. It was nice to have my run buddy back. I also realized I'm not a good run buddy. I don't like to talk at all when I run. I think I've been alone on the run so much that I can't get out of my zone. Luckily Bunny (my run buddy) found someone to talk to who would talk back and who was running the same pace. I was right in front of them listening, or I thought I was until I realized I hadn't heard Bunny's voice for a while. When I looked back I realized it was someone else's conversation I was listening to. At this point I hit the turn-around and the porta pottys. Thankfully I got to finish what I started before the race. With my intestines relieved, I came out and caught up with Bunny and her friend. Since I was in a zone and didn't want her to have to wait forever for me to finish, I moved up ahead. One thing I wasn't crazy about in this race was that the roads weren't blocked off and I felt like I was dodging traffic as the field got slimmer. They did have cops at all intersections so runners never had to stop and wait for traffic. They also had plenty of aide stations with enthusiastic college students to cheer us on. I hit the 10 mile mark and felt pretty good. I had no desire to stop and quit.

The second 10 miles were much more scarce with runners. There were times I felt like I was on a solo run and not in a race as I would run by smokers or shoppers going in and out of businesses. I resisted the urge to stop and smoke and shop and instead I secretly latched onto another runner. He was the perfect pacer for me. Luckily he had headphones on and couldn't hear my heavy breathing as I tailgated him. I made it to the 15 mile turn-around again and again I had to stop at the porta potty. I had to give up my pacer. This really made me sad and I considered taking the risk of crapping my pants so I could continue on without having to think about pace. I couldn't take that chance. It made me think of Tom Hanks in Cast Away when he had to give up Wilson or risk drowning. I have yet to make it through a long race without having to crap. Three times since I got to Salem!! Four so far if you count when I was trying to leave the house, the same reason I was late to begin with. Well I made it out of the porta potty and only had five miles to go. I started to feel a bit miserable and cranky. I was getting annoyed with other runners who weren't running at the pace I wanted them to. Nobody seemed to measure up to my long lost pacer. He was irreplaceable. I tried following one woman and I was annoyed she just wasn't right and I had to pass her and try to find a better replacement pacer. Then a nice woman ran up beside me and started chatting with me. I was nice and chatted back but I secretly wanted to lose her and get in my zone. I moved up ahead. Somewhere after mile 17 I started walking. Then another runner said "no you can't stop I've been following you!" That was the nicest thing anyone could have said to me at that moment. I always thought I was too erratic to be some body's pacer. I apologized for walking but I had to. I was in agony. This was familiar territory as I had this same agony by mile 10 in my last race. I've made progress and wasn't hobbling like an arthritic 100 year old until mile 17! I soon discovered walking was more painful than running and I told myself I'd start up again at mile 18 and run through to the finish. I started getting a bit depressed because it seemed like this mile was taking forever and I still hadn't hit mile 18. I forced myself to start running again. It was painful but less painful than walking. Then happiness set in. I saw mile 19! Somehow I missed the 18 mile marker. The enthusiastic college student/volunteers cheered me to the finish. I officially finished in three hours and 34 minutes. I could have shaved off at least another five minutes if I didn't have to make those two pit stops. I've even read articles on this subject. I've tried about everything but no matter what, my intestines demand I stop for them. If I need one during the marathon, I hope the lines aren't outrageous.

That race was perfect for me. I was sore for the rest of the day but one 800 mg ibuprofen cured me. I haven't had any pain since and that was two days ago. I think I'll just keep doing what I've been doing. My only real obstacle left is to find a way to get one 20+ mile run in before the tapering starts. I'm no longer afraid of the marathon, I'm nearly ready to embrace it and enjoy the opportunity I've been given.