Saturday, April 17, 2010

Only 2 More Days!

You can feel it in the air. Boston has gone crazy with marathon madness. Signs are all over the city, people are wearing their official Boston Marathon jackets, and the streets are populated with out-of-towners who have come to run the Marathon. Thousands of people gathered at the Hynes Convention Center today for the Boston Marathon expo to pick up their bib numbers and check out the hundreds of running, nutrition, and athletic vendors. I was amazed by how many people and organizations are involved in putting on this event. I got free samples of sports bars, GU packets, and running information. I even bought a shirt that says "I love Heartbreak Hill...Boston Marathon 2010". I think it would be more accurate to if it said I survived heartbreak hill, but I won't be able to claim that right until Monday.

I got through the 20 twenty mile run last month and have since been tapering off. I was in a lot of pain by the end of it, so I have been stretching and icing my IT bands more often. The pain is now in both legs, but I won't let that stop me from finishing on Monday.

I have now completed my $1000 fundraising goal for childhood obesity research at Tufts. Thank you for all who were able to donate! Even if you couldn't donate money, I appreciate the support and well wishes! I have said before, running a marathon is as much of a mental challenge as it is a physical challenge. Our coach sent us this quote today which resonated well with how I have felt through my training. It is from the sister of a Harvard runner.

"You pretended the snooze button didn't exist. You dragged your butt out of bed while others slept. While others ate their pancakes. You had a feast of protein, glucose and electrolytes. You double-knotted. You left the porch light on and locked the door behind you. You ran. 5Ks, 10Ks, 26.2 miles. Some days more, some days less. You rewarded a long run with a short run. And a short run with a long run. Rain tried to slow you. Sun tried to microwave you. Snow made
you feel like a warrior. You cramped. You bonked. You paid no mind to comfort. On weekends. On holidays. You made excuses to keep going. Questioned yourself. Played mind games. Put your heart before your knees. Listened to your breathing. Sweat sunscreen into your eyes. Worked on your farmer's tan. You went through barriers. You decided to be a man about it. You decided to be a woman about it. Finished what you started. Proved what you were made of.
Just kept putting mile after mile on your internal odometer. YOU RAN."

I have done the early mornings, ran through the snow, rain, and slush of winter, pushed through the pain from my IT bands, and am ready to take this thing on. So much has built up to this day and I am thrilled for Monday to arrive. I will leave my house at 5 am to catch the bus at Tufts by 6:15. The bus will take us into Boston where over 28,000 runners we will get on the B.A.A. buses to head out to the start of the marathon in Hopkinton.

Thank you for reading this through my ups and downs over the last few months. If you would like to track my progress on Monday, you can text the following to receive updates.

Text RUNNER to 31901

Then text 26803 once they text you back.

You can do this now and receive updates on my status during the marathon. They will send you a text when I complete the 10K, half, 30K, and the finish. We wear a tracker on our shoe laces so our friends and family can receive this information.

Tomorrow, we have a pasta dinner at Tufts to stock up on carbs and energy to help us through the marathon. It's unfortunate that carbo-loading isn't an essential part of pageant preparation. Can you imagine, being told to load up on carbs the night before in order to look better in your swimsuit? That would be too much fun.

The pictures above are from the 20 mile run last month. I will hopefully have lots of fun pictures to share after Monday! Two more days...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Final Pre-Marathon Run

Since my last incident with my IT Band, I have sought advice from two athletic trainers. Basically, I was told that if I wanted to complete the marathon in April, I needed to stop running and let my injury recover. I had a bit of a panic attack at first, but I came to realize that I would have to do what I was told (for the most part) if I wanted to be able to run. The second trainer I saw told me I should even stop working out completely which then caused a major panic attack on my part. I am a bit OCD when it comes to planning working out into my schedule every day, so this was devastating news. My IT Band issue was much worse than I thought. Compromising a bit, I have continued cross-training with the elliptical, weight training, and other low-impact cardio machines, but have only done a few shorter runs.

I had to miss the last two Sunday runs which was really difficult. I still got up at 5 am last week to do a shorter run in Brookline, but I really miss running with the team. Tomorrow is the last long team run on the marathon course before we have to taper off. I am so excited to get to take part in this and hope my IT Band has somewhat healed from the therapy. I am very nervous it will give out on me again, but am trying to stay positive. I have iced it, taken medication, and done the stretches recommended, but I will not know how it will feel until I run tomorrow. We are doing 20 miles starting at Boston College, then running out to Wellesley near where the marathon begins, and then back to BC. I have not run this part of the course yet, so it will be helpful to familiarize myself with it.

After six months of training, I am entirely invested in this goal. I just received my bib number in the mail and there are signs hanging all around Boston rallying excitement for the marathon. On April 19th, I am determined to complete those 26.2 miles whether I am sprinting across the finish line or hobbling over it in pain. I can only hope for the first, but tomorrow will give me a better idea of how my injury has healed with the time I have taken off. On a positive note, the weather will be around 50 degrees with no chance of rain. I'm looking forward to the beautiful day and have a mint chocolate GU gel pack to go with it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Reality check from the IT Band

This quote I found in a runner's world article pretty much sums up my personality with the way I feel:

"Dr. Pagliano describes most runners with ITB pain as "Type A's." "They run high mileage," he says. "They're not willing to back off, and they are willing to run through pain."

Yesterday, I thought I could run through the pain until my knee blew out around mile 11 and I faceplanted in the street. Yeah... I tried to do a walk-run sort of movement after that because I didn't want to stop. Every few steps it would trip me up again until I saw the coach not far ahead of me. He either saw me fall or just realized I was in alot of pain and told me to get in the car and ice my knee. Of course I'm stubborn and started crying and tried to convince him to let me keep running. I didn't win that one. He had me ice it for 15 minutes and drove me up the road a few miles so I wouldn't have as far to run. He was so encouraging, but I was just completely frustrated with myself and this reoccuring condition.

We were running the last leg of the Boston Marathon course equipped with lime green vest so we would stand out on the road. We started downtown by Copley, ran through where I live in Brookline, and then up past Newton. At nine miles there was a turn-around point where we headed back to Copley. At the turn-around I was in alot of pain. When we stopped for gaterade it didn't feel as bad and I convinced myself to keep up with my running partners and finish. As soon as we started running again I knew I would have to keep my mind of something...anything else. I fell behind, soon realizing I was going to have to run slow to prevent my leg from bending very much.

The IT Band is the Illiotibia Band that is a ligament that runs down the outside of the hip to the shin. My pain comes from the outside of the knee where the band becomes narrow and causes rubbing to occur between the band and the bone. This causes inflammation which I'm trying to control with IB Profen and ice. At about mile 11 it went from being an annoying child tapping me on the knee with a hammer, to an annoying child just being outright mean and whacking me with the hammer causing me to fall.

Don had me ice my knee and drove me into Brookline so I would have only three more miles to run to finish...this made my run only 14 miles instead of the 18 mile run I was hoping to do. It was painful to finish, but the ice helped immensely. I could feel the pain, but it was nowhere near what it was before. I finished back at Copley where over a hundred runners from Tufts and the John Hancock running team were finishing up what were for many, their longest runs yet. I was too disappointed to join in the excitement, but I was happy for our team members who had done so well. The team members I usually run with, completed 17 and 18 mile runs.

Since yesterday, I've realized that I need to take more preventative actions to keep this thing in check. More ice, medicine, stretching, and weekly therapy appointments. Last week, I had my first one where they performed was called the Graston tecnique. They warmed the IT Band and put some kind of solution on my leg. Then, they took what looked like the back of a knife and graded at my leg which is supposed to loosen the IT Band. It is very awkward and uncomfortable feeling but I think it helped.

The trainers that work with us are wonderful and even the coach came to my appointment to support me. They are used to runner's injuries and have great advice and knowledge to share. I refused to let this keep me from finishing, so I am going to do everything I can to get it under control.

This blog really has been therapeutic in helping me organize my thoughts and stay positive through my training. Thank you for reading this and keeping up with my journey. I am not used to being so far from home when I go through a challenge of this nature, and I really appreciate all the support. We are 41 days out from April 19th. I have a semi-long run next week and my longest on the 28th (18-20 miles). From there, I will taper off and rest until Marathon day. Next week I am going to try to run at a slower pace and see if that helps the pain. My competitive nature and runner's high always want to kick and make me run faster. I'm going to try to remember, however, that I'm not going for time. I just want to finish the marathon successfully and without any injuries.

It was truly a gorgeous day and we actually had to shed layers on the course! You can tell which picture was taken toward the end..I have a rather painstaking look on my face. But we are fortunate to have such a great coach who helps us document our runs by taking pictures and provides us with so much support and encouragement. A huge thank you to Don Megerle:)

This picture really doesn't need a caption...but it was taken downtown in Back Bay about a half mile to the finish.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day Run

Well, I was up at 5 am again yesterday to head out to Tufts. I'm getting pretty good at catching the T and then taking the bus out to Medford. I didn't get lost for once, and made it out there by 7:15. At 8 am, runners gathered outside the Cousen gymnasium to begin our long run. The course was 11 miles and then there was an additional 3 mile route we could add on to make 14 miles. This would be the most I had ran yet, and I was determined to complete those 14 miles. I was surprised to find that every three miles the coach had parked his car and had water, gaterade, bananas, jellybeans, or whatever else runners might need along the route. I had never run this hill that started around mile 4, but it was honestly bigger than the one from the Stew Road Race last week. It went straight up at a steep incline, and then a gradual incline for a a good mile or least you can always look forward to running down the hill. I stopped for a quick cup of gaterade after that one.

I didn't know the course, and at one point I saw no one in front of me. I came to a fork in the road and looked behind me to motion to the a girl which way I should head. I followed her instructions and headed down a hill. A few minutes later she caught up with me and said that she had pointed in the wrong direction. She was also new to the course. So we trucked back up the hill together..I guess at that point you can only laugh it off. My body wasn't hurting yet and I soon learned we had only three miles left of the 11 mile route. I talked to this girl as we ran and it went pretty quickly. She is an undergrad at Tufts and this was also her first marathon. Because of her shin splints, she decided not to run the extra three miles after we completed the 11. Fortunately, there was a girl ahead of me with a GPS in her watch so we would know how much more we needed to hit 14 miles.

I got new Mizuno gloves this past week which are supposed to send heat to your hands...ha this is a far cry from the truth. My hands were so frozen I couldn't even put my iPod ears back in when they fell out. This caused further complications when my shoe came untied. When I stopped to tie my shoe, I couldn't do it, so just kept running to keep up with the two other girls. Then, I realized this probably wasn't the best idea and I really should tie my shoe. I told them to go ahead and I would catch up. Well, what should have been a simply hand movement took a good couple of minutes. It was so frustrating! Loop, swoop, should be this difficult! By the time I got it, I lost site of the other two girls. I didn't know where I was, but I knew the general direction I needed to go to get back. I also knew we had only one mile left when I stopped. I ran around a neighborhood for a while, until I saw someone walking their dog who pointed me in the right direction of Tufts. Eventually, I made it back to the main road that led to the gym. I am really good at getting lost EVERY time I come here. It would have been okay, but when I got frustrated and wasn't sure where I was, I slacked on my form and the outside of my knee was in a lot of pain. I should have stopped running, but I was determined to complete the 14 miles. Eventually, I saw the gym and made it back to our starting point where the coach was there with other runners. On a positive note he had heart shaped candy and gave me bananas to take home so they wouldn't go to waste. I was extremely happy to have completed my goal...but in a lot of pain. I iced my knee yesterday and today, but it is going to take a good couple days to recover from this one. I am still walking pretty stiff-legged.

I wanted to run more this weekend because I will not be running in the long run next week. Next Sunday, I am competing in a Miss Massachusetts local, Miss Boston. Some of my family and friends are coming in town for the show..including my mom and grandmother! My roommates and a few of my friends from Boston are also coming to watch. While I didn't anticipate competing this year, I soon realized that I missed performing, could use the scholarship money, and loved the MAO too much to take a year off. I auditioned in January with a five minute interview and my talent and was one of the 19 contestants chosen to compete. Because of limited time and space, I think they felt that 19 contestants would be easier to work with than the original 28. Now, I just need to catch up on my school work and recover my knee from yesterday so I will be ready to go by this weekend...heels and all.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Gaterade Jellybeans and Race Day Adrenaline

The race on Sunday went really well! The combination of gaterade jellybeans and all the people cheering for us along the route made me much more energized than I expected. I ended up running with a young woman who kept about the same pace as me. We motivated each other and once we hit mile 9, we practically sprinted the last half mile. We both liked to run with music so it worked out well. I know that's not standard for races, but I need my country music and Glee songs! One of my favorite songs to run with is "Mountains" by Lonestar. The lyrics go:
There are times in life when you gotta crawl.. Lose your grip, trip and fall. When you can't lean on noone else..That's when you find yourself. I've been around and I've noticed that-walking is easy when the road is flat. Them danged 'ole hiils will get you every time. Yeah, the good Lord gave us mountains, so we could learn how to climb.

It's a great country song and very motivating! Ironically, we were told there would be a "memorable" hill half way through. They really weren't kidding...there were about three hills
that made up one giant hill. The lyrics to this song are great anyway, but had even more meaning while I was running up that giant hill. The race was fun though and I got to meet more people on the Tufts' team. I thought the race would be 11 miles, so I was surprised to learn it was only 9.5. Plus, my running partner gave me a gaterade jellybean every two miles which gave me even more energy. I barely noticed the pain from my plantar fasciitis and I felt good after the race. It was about 20-25 degrees during the run, so at least it was not freezing outside!

Each Sunday I will do one long run, leading up to a 20 mile run on March 7th. I am sore today from sprinting the last part of the race, but overall, feel motivated and excited for the marathon. Now, I just need to stay healthy and not injure myself...and buy some gaterade jellybeans of my own... They are a great incentive while running!

Our President's Marathon Challenge coach, Don Megerle, is absolutely amazing! He is so motivating and takes pictures during every run. Some pictures from the race are below. The first picture was taken as my running partner and I were just about to cross the finish line.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Myofascial Rollling, Tennis Balls, and Ibuprophen

So I am finally starting to get my pain under control. I am not one for pain medications, but I guess that will be changing for now. I was told to take Ibuprophen three times a day which is alot for anyone..especially when I usually avoid the taking pain medication altogether. I am running a 15K tomorrow which is about 11 miles. With the problems I have been having lately, this will be a good amount. I have to be at Tufts at 8 am which means I have to leave by house a little after 6. I was told there was a big hill on mile six..can't wait for that one.

This the Great Stew Chase 15K road race which is the third oldest 15K in the country. I figure this will be good for me to run with the Tufts' team and experience a new route. I have been rolling on noodles for my IT band which causes pain on the outside of my knee. I had no idea how painful rolling would be. To an outsider it looks easy, but oh my goodness! I must have a million knots in my hips. I just started rolling a few days ago and it is still very painful. It is supposed to get easier the more you do it, so hopefully that happens soon. I have to position myself almost in a side plank to roll on my hip. I was told to hold myself on the areas that are most painful and do small sections at a time. Rolling is also great for hamstrings, gluts, back pain, or really any area that gets tight. I am also going to start standing and rolling my feet on tennis balls to alleviate the pain in my heels. My mom shipped me a package with new soles for my running shoes and plantar fasciitis gels which have helped immensely..I forgot how much these little things really make a difference!

So today, I'm not going to run to rest up for tomorrow. I think I'll use this extra time to do some much-need laundry..not a bad idea.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Greatest Challenge Yet

Pain. That is what is going through my body right now. When I signed up for the 114th Boston Marathon with the Tufts President's Marathon Challenge team I had no idea what this would entail. I knew I would be training to run 26.2 miles, but I didn't realize the implications that it would have on my physical and mental well-being. I have always been a good runner and never questioned the limitations of my body. Training for a marathon seemed liked any other challenge I might take on... I train hard, I have a few breakdowns along the way, but eventually I meet my goal. I didn't take into account that marathon training requires nutrition and water regiments, proper stretching and recovery, and running in a different way than I ever have in the past.

I finally hit a wall last week. I had been running every day pushing myself to accomplish my training schedule and not taking time to treat my injuries, let my body recover, drink enough water, or even eat enough carbohydrates to really be able to reach my mileage goal. Now I'm having constant bouts with my knee and plantar fasciitis. It is amazing how a new pain or injury seems to develop every time I run. While running through the pain is certainly a possibility, I also realize that certain injuries will only get worse and could eventually prevent me from running altogether. So last week I traveled for an hour and a half by train and by bus to get to a workshop on injury treatment and prevention. Luckily, it was well worth the trip and I feel much more prepared for the road to come.

While physically I feel more prepared, I still need to journal my thoughts and stay positive. Writing is almost like free therapy for dealing with the challenges I am facing and keeping me on track. While I don't have time to blog every day, my goal is to blog once a week about my progress. I refuse to let negative thoughts creep into my mind any longer. I CAN DO THIS. I know it won't be easy and I am only half-way to my goal...BUT I know I can run 26.2 miles. My feet and knees sometimes disagree with me, but I am in the best physical condition I have ever been in and I refuse to give up.

To ensure that I am running what I need to run and sticking to my training plan, I am holding myself accountable through this blog. I have never been a person that lets someone tell me I can't do something so there is not reason I should start being negative now. On April 19th I will run in the Boston Marathon from the starting line in Hopkington, MA to the finish line in downtown Boston. I am 75 days and 138,336 feet away from reaching my goal. I can and will meet this challenge.

Since I am running as part of the Tufts University team (I am a Emerson-Tufts grad student in the Health Communication program), I must raise $1000 to support nutrition, medical, and fitness programs at Tufts. Tufts is a leader in research on healthy aging, childhood obesity, and in its work to eliminate famine. My personal page is below. Until next time...