Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Spring of Firsts – Gabe

This is my first blog post, ever, about anything…now I bring this up, because it goes along with my theme for the Boston Marathon.  This is going to be a spring of firsts.  I have never run a marathon before.  I have not trained for a race in the past.  I have never had to purchase running accoutrement in my life. So, when my training started on January 6th, I was ready for some welcomed surprises and challenges.

Since moving to the Boston area in 2006, I have been enamored by how the greater Boston area rallies around one day in April, to welcome spring and the thousands of people who choose to take on the course.  While never being a true runner, since becoming a resident of Massachusetts I have wanted to be a part of the hype.  When the opportunity arose this year, I jumped at the chance.
I am not a runner. I grew up playing hockey. I played through college, and I can’t recall too many of my teammates who really enjoyed running. Getting out on the road or the track was always some sort of punishment, or mandatory conditioning.  After college, of course I’d run here and there to stay in shape, but these were very few and way far between. Three and a half years ago while in PA school I began to do Crossfit.  I like to think of this time in my life where my competitive juices started flowing again. I began training, 4-5 times a week, lifting weights, rowing, gymnastics movements, and for some reason I began to run a bit on the side. This is when my wife and I were living in Beacon Hill, and running along the Charles, or an early morning jaunt along the Harbor Walk made getting out easy. I typically didn’t run more than once or twice a week, more as a way to stretch out the legs from lifting than conditioning itself. I entered a few 5K races with friends, more so for the beers at the end then to race. On a whim, I decided to run a half marathon on Lake Winnipesaukee at one point, which I trained for by running 8 miles the week before to ensure I’d have the legs. My focus was Crossfit, and I always figured that it kept me in shape well enough to get through the challenge of a half marathon, and it did.  It hurt to walk for a week, but I finished. 

As I mentioned, my first training run was on January 6th.  I am on a three day a week plan. Tuesdays are sprint days, Thursdays are tempo days and Saturdays are my long days. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I am still doing Crossfit. The training so far has not had too much of an impact on my daily life. I have moved from doing Crossfit six days a week, and replaced three of the days with running.  Working in the ED, rarely do my days start too early, so frequently I can get my runs in the late morning or even afternoon, except for Saturdays.  We have a baby in the house, so I try to make sure I am not running when there can be valuable time spent with him and my wife. That means Saturdays typically start early for my long runs, 14 miles is my longest programmed run to date.  The weather has thrown a wrench into my running on a few occasions now. I don’t mind running in the snow, but I do feel a bit uneasy with running in blizzard conditions. So I’ve been using the treadmill to put on the miles. 

I have come to enjoy longer runs. They provide me with alone time, allowing me to listen to music, or maybe catch up on some CMEs. I live near the course, so as I trot down Commonwealth Ave I envision race day, friends and family out cheering me on as I take on this challenge. While, I take time to think forward, the quiet of the run often allows me to reflect on my past week.  Patients from work, all the great new things the baby has been up to and recent life events.

Obviously, finishing the marathon is a challenge in itself, but getting there is going to provide plenty of fodder for hiccups along the way.  Some of these cold January days for example, makes it pretty tough to get out of bed, let alone bundle up to spend a few hours trudging along the streets. While, I liked the change of pace, and the repetition of running, the pounding on the pavement, has made for a few days of sore knees and legs. Stock tip folks, invest in Advil before the race. I am sure that come late February, early March, training is going to become tough. Now, it’s new to me, it’s still novel. Shoes are being broken in, and clothes still feel fresh. As the miles build up, and the training becomes more and more tedious, I am sure it will start to feel stale. But when that happens, I will just envision that day in April, when the streets from Hopkinton to Back Bay are packed, and I can be part of one of Boston’s greatest traditions.

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