Saturday, March 31, 2012

I'm back, baby!!!

Small victories are what we need sometimes.......there are those times when it really doesn't take all that much to regain lost confidence.

After dealing with a sketchy right foot over the past few weeks, punctuated by taking 9 whole days off from running, I was looking for a little light at the end of the tunnel.....and with my date with the Boston Marathon looming ever closer in the future, I was really in need of some good news....

And I had a GREAT week running......well, at least so far.  First 2.13, then 3.21, then 4.18, and 6.37 earlier today.  All at reasonable paces.....and with no pain afterwards.

So with little more than 2 weeks to go before the Marathon, I'm getting my confidence back.  While I know that I can make the distance, I'm still not sure how I'll be feeling in the later miles, but I'll find that out on that day.  At least for right now, my worries are gone, and are rapidly being replaced by the overwhelming anticipation of the adventure ahead.  Even though I'm going to continue to train lightly over the next 2 weeks, the taper which started way too early due to injury is now going into effect.  My training schedule for the next 2 weeks calls for 22 miles next week, followed by 10 miles the week after. 

And then comes Monday, April 16th.......Patriot's Day here in Massachusetts.......and at 10:40am, Corral 3 will be set loose on the Boston Marathon course.  Because I was injured, I didn't get to run my final long run on the course with the rest of my team, so when I pass by Boston College that day (around Mile 21 - just after Heartbreak Hill), I'll be heading into the "unknown", as I've never run that final 5+ miles.  In a way, I'm kinda glad I missed out on that, as I think it will make the last part of the marathon that much more special.  Not that the preceeding 21 miles won't be special........when I ran from Ashland to Boston College, I ran past the campus of Wellesley College......and it was silent.  On the day of the marathon, the road by the college will become the legendary Wellesley Scream Tunnel, and I can only imagine the surge of adrenaline all those screaming coeds will provide at the halfway point of the marathon!  For that matter, there were no crowds at all when we were out there on the course, so I can't even imagine the effect it will have on me when I'm trying to scale the Newton Hills.  My previous marathon was run in near-silence, as there really weren't any spectators to speak of....partly due to it being a smaller marathon, but probably mostly due to the horrendous weather that day, so I've never experienced crowds before...

And then there's the thousands of other runners on the course.  The biggest race I've run thus far was a local 5K that had over 3000 runners, and Boston is about 10 times that size!

Anyway, I need to close, as it's bedtime..........but I'm just so thrilled and excited that I'm feeling strong, and not in pain.  Beyond that, the wonderfully supportive comments from all of you mean the world to me.  Many of you know what I'm going through because you've been through it yourself, are going through it currently, or have been through it recently or in the near future, so you know how all consuming it can be to train for a marathon.  I so enjoy reading all of your blogs, and hope you enjoy mine as well!

And with that, I'll bid you all a good night.  I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday and a terrific week ahead.  If you're running, I wish you good weather and pleasant company, and I look forward to sharing the journey with you, my friends....  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2.13.....that's all!

Odd title for tonight's post, isn't it?  Trust me...there's a bit of meaning behind it, so read on, loyal readers!

2.13 is the mileage I ran today........simply 20 minutes on the 'dreadmill after a long day at school.  A nice easy run....COMPLETELY WITHOUT PAIN!!!!!

Let me repeat that last phrase for emphasis:  COMPLETELY WITHOUT PAIN!!!!!

20 days out from the Boston Marathon.......after not running for 9 long days........dealing with a lot of worry and concern about my ability to do my best on Marathon Monday......feeling the nagging doubt seeping in........always hoping I'd be able to get back out a few times before the actual marathon.

On Sunday, my foot was almost completely without pain....only the slightest bit of tension when I pulled the foot up.  Nothing that would keep me from running, but my schedule didn't yet allow it.  Yesterday, I attended the BAA Marathon Clinic at the Boston Common Hotel and Conference Center in the shadow of the John Hancock Tower in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston.  There wasn't really any "new" information being provided, but it's always fun to listen to a true legend like Bill Rodgers speak about his experiences running Boston, as well as receiving advice from the BAA coaches.  As I sat on the subway on my way back to my car, I thought about how I'd be spending the next 3 weeks.  Would I be sitting around, growing more concerned and depressed each day, or would I find myself able to start running a little again, allowing me to maintain the fitness gains I've earned over the last 3 months of preparation?  I knew that my foot was feeling better, but I had no idea how it might respond to an actual test.  I made my plan to give it a shot today, so I packed my running bag to take with me to school in the morning so that it would be waiting for me once my day was over.

I had a union meeting to attend after school, as we had to vote on some healthcare issues (thanks, Massachusetts Legislature, for taking away our collective bargaining rights!) and then I needed to rescue my little guy from the afterschool program at our local YMCA, but before that, I was going to have a date with my old mistress, Dreadmillia!  I was hoping she'd remember all the good times we've shared over the years and not be mad at me for ignoring her these past few I laced up my NB 860's, fired up my iPod, and stepped onto the machine, not knowing what the immediate future had in store.  After a 2-minute walking warm-up, I took a deep breath, programmed her for a 20-minute jaunt, and hit start.....

Each minute, I bumped the speed up .1 mph, so by the time I was 9 minutes in, I was at 6.8 mph (just under 9:00/mile) and then took a 30-second walk break.  Everything was still feeling good, so I ran the final 10 minutes at 6.4 mph.  After finishing the run, I walked another 5 minutes to cool down, and then it was done.

I stepped off the 'mill, and took stock of how I felt...........and the answer was: damn good!    I breathed a huge sigh of relief, as the foot felt fine.  I hadn't pushed too hard, or gone too long, and I was feeling ok.  I could be unable to walk in the morning, but I'm still feeling good now!

So now I'm going to dial the distance back in......with less than 3 weeks to go, I'm basically already in my taper, but considering that I started it a few weeks early, I can definitely still do some nice 5-6 mile runs over the next few days.  I'm definitely hopeful that I can get out this weekend for a moderately long run (somewhere between 10-12), but I'm also going to stay mindful of not messing things up this close to the marathon.  Slow and easy.....that's going to be my mantra for the next 20 days.

So I'm back.......or at least I hope I am.  Time will tell, but that 2.13 means as much to me today as 26.2 will mean to me on April 16th!!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Light at the end of the tunnel.....

First, the warning.....this might be a bit of a long post.  Nothing that new from me in that regard, particularly when it's been a week since my last post.....meaning I've probably got a lot to say.  So grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and I hope you'll enjoy my latest installment!

As you already know, I don't deal well with being on the shelf........and this past week after running the Half of Quincy (btw, I LOVE the picture...probably one of the better pics of me after 11 miles!) has been difficult for me to deal with.  Mentally, I could wrap my brain around the fact that I needed to take a little time off to allow my sketchy tendon issue to resolve itself, but it was the emotional side of things that gave me fits.  The frustration of getting this close to my date with the Boston Marathon and not really being able to run was much more powerful and hit me harder than I could have imagined.  My mood was not at all improved by having to deal with probably the greatest week of springtime weather we've ever had here in Boston....I'm not sure how many records were set for high temps, but it was in the 70's and 80's every day here last week.  While it's at the high end for running a marathon, it's probably my most favorite temperature range for all of my shorter (week-day) runs, so as each perfect day unfolded without me out there to enjoy it, my funk deepened.......

But on Friday afternoon, things started to look up...........when I opened up my mailbox to find this waiting for me: the BAA had already sent out an email alerting us to the fact that we should be expecting this in the mail soon.  But it's one thing to read about it.....and quite another thing to have it actually jump out of your mailbox, give you a big hug and a kiss and tell you "here I me up and just TRY NOT TO GET EXCITED!!!!!".

So even though I still hadn't run since Sunday, I was reminded once again of the adventure that's waiting for me in 3 short weeks.  And if I wasn't already excited enough, as I tore into the packet, I came across this which, I must admit, caused me to pause to regroup my emotions.....

I already knew what my number was going to be, as that information has been available on the BAA website for a few days already, but actually seeing the pickup card......well, again, it's all about this dream actually coming into focus and the dawning realization that I'm actually going to be running the Boston Marathon on April I've said before, every day, it just keeps getting "realer and realer" (I know.....forgive my bad English, but I'm a Social Studies teacher!  LOL).

It didn't make my tendon feel any better, but it sure put my mind into a much better place.

Yesterday was a bit of a tough day, as my teammates were out on the course, putting in their last long run, going from Framingham into Boston (20-21 miles), and I wasn't joining them.  Since I started running in 2008, this was the longest I'd gone without running without being sick, so I remained hopeful that the rest would eventually start to take hold.  I still could feel some twinges in my right foot and as long as it felt different from my left foot, I wasn't going to try it, so this wasn't going to be a running day.  Instead, we drove into Boston to visit the New Balance Factory Outlet Store in Brighton, as they were having a 30% off sale (with the provision that you bring in gently-used athletic shoes to donate).  As we've got LOTS of athletic shoes here at Fine Manor, that wasn't going to be a problem.  The donation allowed me to pick up a new pair of 860's (my everyday training shoe) for $35 and a SWEET pair of 890's (super light.....can't wait to run a 5k in them!) for $50.  From there, it was off to visit my parents for lunch (from the Cheesecake Factory....yum yum!) and then back home, as Ben had a sleepover to get to.  That meant it was the ever-rare and ultra-valuable Date Night for Barb and I, and we were going to make the most of it!

Dinner was casual, at the British Beer Company, and then off to see "The Hunger Games" at the local googol-plex........REALLY enjoyed the movie (in spite of having read the book), but mostly just really enjoyed the company of my lovely wife without interruption.  Don't get my wrong....I love my son more than life itself, but every now and then, it's nice to be able to remember what it's like to be with the other person responsible for that life, and to be able to reconnect with the love of my life without hearing "MOMMY" every 5 seconds.....

When I woke up this morning, I reflexively flexed my ankles and knees, getting those first cracks out of the way......when I noticed that manipulating my right ankle didn't produce any unusual (but over the last 2 weeks, all too usual!) twinges.  I worked it through a complete range of motion....left...right.....up....down.....round and around.......and it felt fine!

Needless to say, it was better than Zoloft....or whatever mood-elevator you like!  I had no plans to run today, so I didn't......and my schedule this week will make it difficult to get out on the road until Tuesday at the earliest, but that's ok.  I don't think another day or two now is going to make much of a difference, but I know that I'm going to be able to try again soon.  The way I was looking at it, as long as I could get out ONCE before the Marathon, I'd be ok.  Now it looks like I might be able to do more than that, but I'm definitely not going to push it......again, my sole focus has been April 16th and that's not about to change any time soon.  It just sets my mind at ease that while the issue may not be completely gone, it's at least starting to subside!

Tomorrow evening, I'm heading into Boston to attend the BAA's Marathon's a Q&A session with experts about everything Marathon-related.  Even though I've already run a marathon, this is the BIG ONE, so I'm still very much in "sponge mode", just soaking up any and all information I can.

To all of you who've been so supportive of me throughout this whole process (particularly this past week!), I can't thank you enough.  Even though we haven't met, I still consider you friends and feel lucky to know all of you.  You're the best!!!

So I hope to have good things to report this week........and I wish all of you a terrific week ahead!

Monday, March 19, 2012

On the shelf for a while (a little long..)?

So here's the deal.......for those of you out there in 'Netville.........when you've had to deal with a running-related injury, how did you know how long to sit it out to help things heal.  I'm not talking about your everyday run-of-the-mill soreness, but the kind of hurt that will make you stop running and start walking home?

I ran 18 miles on the Boston Marathon course last Saturday, and by Sunday morning, there was soreness in the anterior tibial ligament (see, I looked it up!) of my right foot.  I didn't try to run on it until Tuesday, but after little more than a mile, I felt the need to shut it down.  I didn't want to take the chance of making things worse, so I figured I'd play it safe. 

So I didn't run on it at all until yesterday's half marathon (The Half of Quincy - Quincy, MA).  My time goals for the day?   Well, in my most delerious fantasies, I was actually considering RACING this half, and shooting for a new PR (2:01).  Had I been perfectly whole, I probably would've gone for it and seen just how hard I could go for 13.1.......but it was pretty clear all week that it wasn't going to be happening. Considering how my focus in training has been keeping things "under control", I then tried to think about just what would be a reasonable time goal given that I had no idea if I'd even be able to finish the race. I then settled on a range between 2:10 and 2:15, figuring that adding roughly a minute per mile from my previous PR would be reasonable.

It's amazing to look at the difference between 2:01 and 2:15.....when I look at the results from this half marathon, that's the difference between finishing 853rd and finishing 1183rd out of 1426 finishers. Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm slow as molasses on my best day, but anytime I pin a number to my running shirt, I'm going to try to do my best. Even though I know I'm always going to finish in the bottom half, I still want to be at the UPPER end of that bottom half. In this particular half marathon, the dividing line (time-wise) was 1:56.34, so if I hadn't been hurt, would I have acheived my goal? It was a gorgeous day to run, so I truly believe that a sub-2 hour half-marathon was within my grasp......thankfully, there will be other days.

The temps at the 9am start were in the mid-40's, so I was wearing lightweight gloves......and a long-sleeve jersey under my favorite red Asics jersey, along with blue Adidas shorts. I love my Adidas shorts...mostly because they're super comfortable and they have a handy little zippered pocket in back. I had stuffed 2 GU packets in there, along with the key to my Honda, but shortly after starting to run, it became obvious that leaving all that in my back pocket would pull my shorts down. While I'm not a modest person, I don't believe in running naked, so clearly I needed to come up with a solution....QUICKLY! I reached back, took out the GU and put one inside each glove, leaving the car key in the back pocket. I certainly won't be wearing the blue shorts for the marathon! In my previous marathon, I wore my black Adidas shorts which, while comfortable, fit tighter overall and will allow me to cram 4 or 5 GU's in the little pocket, although I might try to either pin them to my shorts or find some other solution.

Anyhow, I started off fairly conservatively, running the first 4 miles in about 39 minutes (9:24, 9:30, 10:06, 9:52), when I first started feeling some little twinges out of the foot....nothing major, but just a little "uh oh". I then backed off my pace, just trying to relax and enjoy the beautiful day. The temps had warmed up dramatically, and the breezes felt nice on the skin. There were also long stretches along the beach, affording the runners nice views of Boston. Of course, by backing off my pace, I started to give back time in miles 5-8 (10:26, 10:08, 10:35, 10:21) by walking more than I had intended. In addition, the course was hillier than I had imagined (or had been led to believe by the course description on the website!).

Around mile 8, I started to feel some pain coming from my already-enflamed tendon. At that point, I tried to relax (DON'T PANIC - right, Mike?) and kept moving forward. My goal was to run as much as possible and bring the thing home as best I could, but I needed to be careful that I didn't alter my stride to try to alleviate the pain. It wasn't that bad, more like twinges...but I knew that it was going to probably cause me difficulty after I finished.....and I was determined to finish! So onwards I splits for miles 9-12 (10:41, 10:41, 11:00, 10:52) were indicative of how I was feeling....and how much I was walking. My final split (10:17) reflected my desire to hit the line, stop my Garmin, collect my medal, and get home to my family.

So I finished.....2:13.03

All things considered, I'm totally happy with my "performance". As I sit here staring at my still slightly swollen lower right leg, I cannot complain. I take a great amount of pride in the fact that I finished what I started and managed to do it in a way that didn't end up with me in a wheelchair. With 4 weeks (OMG....4 weeks!!!!) left until the Boston Marathon, I know I'm going to be able to make the distance, but I want to be able to run strong and finish well. My only real concern right now is how much time off to take before trying to run again. While I was scheduled to run 20 miles this weekend, that's DEFINITELY not going to happen. I might be starting my taper a bit earlier than originally intended, but I probably should run a few times between now and the Marathon. I'm thinking I'm going to wait until the weekend to run my tendon an opportunity to heal a bit.

To make matters worse, the weather here in New England has been RIDICULOUS....temps every day in the 70's. While I'd definitely wish for cooler temps on Marathon Monday, the temps are perfect for my training. Living here in New England for so long, I know how crazy our spring weather can be, so the fact that we've had virtually no snow to speak of this winter, it could be snowing on April 16th, so I'm not taking anything for granted. It's just damned frustrating not being able to run when the weather is so conducive......but I'm just afraid to really do damage.

So I'm officially "on the shelf"......the complicating factor is that I'm a classroom teacher, which requires me to be on my feet all day every day. Rest, ice (when I can), elevation, ibuprofen.....they're all good, but it's next to impossible for me to partake of any of that when I'm with my students. I know....I know.....once again, Bill goes "Boo Hoo". I'm just going to keep doing the best I can to get ready for my appointment with Boston in 4 weeks.

BTW, I'm runner #22243, Wave 3, Corral 5.......wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 we go again?

First off, thanks for all the great comments regarding my weekend long-run on the Boston Marathon course.  I'm glad you all enjoyed reading about was so hard to try to capture how much fun I had and how difficult it was, but I did the best I could.

That said, I now find myself back on the disabled list.........while my cold has for the most part cleared up, my right ankle is now hurting.  After finishing the run on Saturday, I was sore, but it wasn't anything or anywhere specific, but rather an overall fatigue and general soreness.  I took ibuprofen and got a great night's sleep and woke up Sunday morning with a sore right ankle.....centered between the outside ankle and that big tendon directly opposite from the achilles tendon (ok, so I really don't know much about anatomy, so maybe one of you will let me know what that tendon is called?).  I had no plan to run on Sunday, but I did go to the gym and walked on the treadmill for 20 minutes and did 30 minutes on the stationary bike....figured some active rest would help with the recovery process.  I came ho me, dug out the old icepack and strapped it on.

A little backstory on my right ankle.........6 years ago, I stepped in a nasty little (and previously unseen!) hole in my front lawn on my way to the car and SEVERELY sprained my right ankle.  While the x-rays didn't show a break, I should've insisted on an MRI which might have pointed out some tendon/ligament damage, but the hospital I went to didn't do it.  At the time, I was WELL in excess of 300 pounds and decidedly NOT a runner.  Needless to say, the ankle took a long time to heal, and I always wondered if there was still something not quite right with it.

So now it's Monday....and I have to go back to work, which means I'm going to be on my feet for at least 6-7 hours before I can get some ice on it.  I found my old ankle wrap, strapped it on, and headed off to school, hopeful that the compression would help.  Monday was scheduled as a rest day, so running wasn't even an option, which was a good thing, as the ankle was still a little tender.  More ice, more ibuprofen, and more sleep left me hopeful.  Strapped up, headed off to work and hoped for the best.  When I came home, it was time to lace 'em up and see what it was going to be.

And it wasn't good.........I was hopeful that I could go out for an easy 5, but almost right away, the ankle was complaining.  I was going easy and just enjoying being out on another one of our crazy 70 degree days, and while I definitely could have made the distance, I knew that I would actually end up aggravating things more and potentially causing bigger problems down the road, so I shut it down and walked the final 3/4 of a mile home.  I was dejected, scared, nervous, frightened, and sad..........not feeling good about anything..........because I've been here before.

When I was training through the summer for the 2009 Bay State Marathon, I barely knew what I was doing.  I ran all of my training runs too fast, and ended up tweaking my left achilles tendon with more than a month to go before the race, forcing me to taper WAY too early, and I ended up running the marathon injured.  I vowed at the time that if I ever ran another marathon, I'd try to do everything I could to avoid injuring myself again.

So here I am......pouring my frustrations and insecurities into my blog.....with American Idol on the TV to cause me to cringe every time one of the talentless contestants overreaches with their song choices and consistently end up under the proper pitch again and again............getting ready to put the ice back on, then pop some more ibuprofen and then head off to bed, hopeful for some magic to happen overnight.  I'm not sure if I'm even going to try running tomorrow, or I might put it off until Friday to give it all another day........with my sole focus being getting to the starting line in Hopkinton on April 16th in one piece, I hate the feeling that I can't trust my body.  There are times when I feel a kinship with thoroughbred race horses.  Those huge, powerful and magnificent animals can be betrayed by the tiniest bones in their legs........and I'm a big, sturdy, powerful man who can't trust his lower legs.

I'm going to just have to take things day to day and not try to push it at all.........and for someone who enjoys the training almost as much as the race, taking it easy is just not in my nature. 

Hope to see you all out there on the road.......SOON!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Long Run was GREAT!

Prior to yesterday's long run on the Boston Marathon course, I was nervous.  Not so much for the distance, but my confidence was shaky.  We all know that running is a physical activity, but I think we've all experienced the mental side as well.  What is it about marathon training that seems to bring that side out more than usual?  Is it the focus on the long run on the weekend?  The gradual buildup of mileage week after week?  The numbers you put on your calendar that you stare at all week?  During the week, I enjoy the clarity and peace that comes to me as I run.....after spending my day teaching 85-115 hormonally-crazed and occasionally indifferent 13-14 year olds, the quiet time of running allows me to recharge my depleted mental batteries.  I truly believe that time helps me to be a better person, a better friend, a better father, and a better husband, as it also dramatically elevates my overall mood.

The long run on the weekend is different.

It's long enough that once my mind clears, I begin to focus on things like my breathing pattern and footfalls......for a while, it becomes almost meditative (is that even a word?), as I enter a zen-like state of relaxation.  I'm not sure if it qualifies as a "runner's high", but it certainly seems like a good place to be.  Eventually, if the distance is long enough, thoughts of the physical effort start to creep in, as I gradually become aware of the various parts and places that are starting to let my brain know that I'm extending myself beyond the "norm".  At that point, doubt also starts to creep in....."can I make the distance?"....."should I just stop at that Dunkin' Donuts, get a large iced coffee and just call it a day?" goal is to push those thoughts off as long as possible.....and it also involves strategic route planning so as to reduce the temptation of Dunkin' Donuts (for those of you not familiar with New England, DD isn't quite on EVERY corner, but you're never more than a mile away from one....EVER!).

Yesterday morning, my charity team was running from Ashland to Boston College......about 18 miles, including the Newton Hills. The day dawned cold (about 28) and overcast.  Considering that I'm still getting over a nasty cold, I wasn't too keen on going for a 3-hour run in the cold, but I was able to breathe without too much trouble, so I figured I'd get out and give it a try.   We met at the Dunkin' Donuts on Rt. 135 in Ashland.  There were only 6 of us, and very quickly, the group fractured....2 runners were VERY fast, and quickly disappeared up the road, not to be seen again.  Another 2 runners were in the middle.....and then came the "caboose"......myself.   Actually, I wasn't alone back there, as there another runner on her first team run who was back there with me.  Mind you, I don't mind being the slowest, and for this particular run, I had planned to go slow.  Knowing the distance and the severity of the hills at the end, I was shooting for an average somewhere between 10 and 11 minutes per mile, which I felt would be reasonable.  Again, my primary goal in training for the Boston Marathon is to get to the starting line in Hopkinton on April 16th uninjured, so I've totally dialed back the "speed" (for me, "speed" is a VERY relative term!) of my training runs.

Ashland became Framingham.......and Framingham became Natick.........and around the 10 mile mark for the run, Natick became Wellesley......and there's a nice little hill leading into Wellesley College.  I really started to feel it on that hill.......while the Boston Marathon course is well-known for its net-downhill profile, part of that comes from the ridiculously steep downhill in the very first mile.  The remainder of the course has its share of rolling hills, nothing too steep or long, but there are a few.  Anyway, it was fun running past Wellesley College, imagining all the screaming girls that will be lining the road on Marathon Monday.

I kept trudging along.....banging out 10 and 11 minute miles......taking short walk breaks every mile or so.......sticking to my fueling strategy (a GU every 4 miles or so......on this day, at miles 2, 6, 10, and 14)........and as Wellesley became Newton, we went though Newton Lower Falls and it dawned on me what was coming next......the infamous overpass at rt. 128.  On Marathon day, the traffic will be diverted, but yesterday we had to dodge cars trying to get on the highway and others trying to get off the highway, which was difficult considering how slowly I was moving after 13+ miles, but I managed.  The overpass itself isn't that long, but it's pretty steep, so I just kept moving.......our charity had a water stop set up nearby at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital, so I took on some Gatorade, tore open my last GU, and geared up for the hills just ahead.

Soon, I was passing the Woodland T-stop.....then the fire station became visible, signalling the turn onto Commonwealth Avenue and the beginning of the Newton Hills.  Knowing that I had roughly 3 miles of climbing ahead, I did my best to relax, slowed my pace a bit, and really began to focus on just staying within myself.  All along the route, we'd seen hundreds of other runners out training (many on the other side of the road running outbound, some of them inbound with us), but once you get on the Newton Hills, you're all in it together, so there's many shouts of encouragement and grunts of acknowledgement.   I was passed by dozens of other runners (something I'm far too used to!), but I wasn't worried about that......I was going to do these hills at my pace, even when that involved walking.  In fact, there was a LOT of walking....fact is, I was tired....dead tired......and the Newton Hills are HARD.  They're not particularly steep.......but they're long. 

And just like that, it was over.  Our final water stop was in I waited for the last team runner to arrive, I reflected on the run I'd just finished.

 I felt tired and sore, but I'd gotten it done.  This was the longest run I'd completed in nearly 3 years, the longest since my marathon in October, 2009.  All my doubts prior to the run were erased, and my confidence was restored.  I know I'm going to be able to run Boston next month......OMG, I'm running the Boston Marathon!!!

So the run was 17.66 miles.....3:08.....10:40/mile.  Right on the average I had planned for.......altogether a beautiful day!   Now on to the remaining few weeks of training!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A minor crisis of confidence...

Ok, so I've been sick.......and really unable to run like I'd like to.  I'm trying to train for the Boston Marathon and with less than 6 weeks left, every day I'm missing feels that much bigger.  And I lost 2 long runs because of vacation travel.....then another one last weekend because I simply couldn't go....

So now I'm looking at doing 19 on the course this coming Saturday morning....and I'm worried about my ability to go out and do it and not either quit halfway through...or end up broken somewhere on the side of the road.

And then I start to think about how much I have trained so smartly I've done it to avoid injury......and knowing that my cold/sinus infection/laryngitits is starting to go away and I'll start to truly feel more like myself soon.........and I start to feel better about the whole thing.

I had a bunch of students come to see me for help after school much as I love the daily grind of being a classroom teacher, it's when I get to work with students either one-on-one or in a small group without distractions that's my favorite time of all.  That's when I feel most useful and can truly help them better access the curriculum and begin to master the topic.  These girls had lots of questions and we worked together to find the solutions.  So when I left school, I was feeling really good.  I'd had a good teaching day, the sun was shining, and it was wonderfully warm (around 55 degrees) and I was going to run outside.

I got home, laced 'em up and headed out.......I have a favorite 5-mile loop and my goal was to go easy and run 10's.  When I returned, hit the driveway and shut off the Garmin, I'd run 5.09 miles @ 9:59.....right on target. 

So while I'm still having my doubts about the whole thing, I'm going to keep doing what I've always done.....and that's to continue to put one foot in front of the other and repeat.  If I need to slow down, I'll slow down.  If I need to walk, I'll walk.  I know I can do it.....I know I can finish.......and that knowledge is what I'll draw on every time that insecurity creeps up on me again.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A bad week finished....with hope for the near future....

So I've been sick all week........the cold I brought home from vacation morphed into an ugly little sinus infection........and just found myself unable to run until today.  It absolutely killed me to be sitting it out every day, but when you can't really breathe freely, you're not going to be able to run.  Or maybe it's just me.......but I know that if I can't hold my breath for a few seconds without a coughing spasm rapidly ensuing, then there's no way I'm going to be able to put forth a real running effort.  So I waited......and waited.....

And waited........

And got more and more nervous and depressed in the process.

My appointment with the Boston Marathon is set in stone.......April 16th is not getting further away, but rather it gets closer and looms larger every day.  So every day I'm not training is another day lost.  The last time I trained for a marathon, I injured my achilles tendon and had to drastically reduce my training with several weeks remaining.  This time, I've been very fortunate to get this far through my training without any injuries.....but now I've effectively lost 1 week to vacation (although I was able to "train" on the boat") and another week to sickness.

So today, I was feeling better......but my throat was still really irritated.  As the temps were in the mid-30's, just walking around outside was difficult, so I decided to head off to the gym to get some work done in a more "controlled" environment.  Yeah.....that's right.......

The Dreadmill........

And one hour later, 6.27 miles further down the road, I'd finished my work.......and was still breathing.

So the bad week was over and the new week was ready to get week's long run is going to be 19.....the Melanoma Foundation team is going to be on the Marathon course, so I'll be able to get another crack at the Newton Hills.........can't wait!!!!

The pity party is's time to get back to serious training!