Monday, March 30, 2009

racing in the rain

A few months ago I signed up for the Eastern States 20 mile race on March 29th as it is 5 weeks before my marathon and my training schedule called for a 20 mile run that day. I ran the race in 2007 and volunteered at the race for 2 or 3 years before that. It’s a BEAUTIFUL route, mostly along the ocean. It starts in Kittery, Maine and ends in Salisbury, MA so you are able to say that you ran through 3 states during the course of the race!

The weather prediction for the race was not good (rain, rain, and more rain) but I always say it could be like that on marathon day so I might as well get used to it. Well, when my alarm went off early Sunday morning (race day), I came VERY close to bagging it. I figured why drive all the way up to Maine to run in the pouring cold windy rain when I could just run 20 miles here? However, knowing I’d probably not get out of bed until late afternoon if I stayed home, I got myself out of bed.

It’s a point to point race, so they bus you to the start and then from the finish they bus you to the post-race party where your car is. I don’t like dealing with the bus (for a lot of reasons, which I won’t mention since they are boring), so my friend Christina agreed to meet me at the finish area, where I parked my car. She then drove me to the start. The whole way there, I was questioning whether or not I really wanted to run the race. As the raindrops became more and more heavy, I was wondering why I would be so crazy as to do this. When I showed up at the starting area, I discovered that hundreds of other runners were just as crazy as me (though I discovered later about 300 people who had pre-registered did not show up).

I’d say it rained for about 95% of the race; sometimes the rain was heavy and sometimes it was not. But it always seemed to be there. It was also a bit cold. And VERY windy. For the most part, the wind was at my back, but in certain sections the wind drove the rain straight into my face; and since it was cold, I felt like my face was going to fall off or freeze. I just kept moving, knowing that I needed to get to the finish line to get to my dry car. I had to force myself to stop for water or GU or electrolyte pills, as stopping meant I would get cold, and it would prevent me from moving forward to where my car was.

Now keep in mind that I was still sick with a sinus infection, and had been all week. Needless to say, I had snot on my face for most of the race. J Sorry to gross you out, but these are the things that happen on long runs when the weather conditions are as they were and you are sick with a stuffy head! But I didn’t care. I just wanted to get to that finish line. In fact, a friend of mine was directing traffic at mile 18 and he tried to stop me to tell me I had snot on my face and even tried to wipe it off. I repelled him as it would only delay me from the finish.

My goal was to finish the race. And I did. My secret goal was to finish in under 4 hours. And I did. My super-secret goal was to finish in 3:40. But I did not. I was 6 minutes slower. Given the weather and my sickness, I was thrilled just to finish. I headed straight for the car, turned up the heat, and drove to Christina’s house for a shower. My clothes were not just wet; they were saturated! It was as if I had gone swimming in my clothes. No exaggeration! A warm shower never felt so good!

I missed the post-race party as I did not want to drive there. I just wanted to shower and change into warm clothes. I didn’t care, though. I ran a 20 mile race in crazy weather! Enough said.

Friday, March 27, 2009

am I cursed?

Just when the calf/foot injury started to feel tolerable, a sinus infection reared its ugly ahead. Symptoms emerged on Monday afternoon, and by Monday night were in full force. Tuesday morning I woke up very early, as I could not sleep due to an irritated throat from post-nasal drip (sorry if you're grossed out). I debated whether or not I should go to work. I remembered that I only had one meeting that day and it wasn't mandatory. I decided to stay home. I was able to sleep for most of the morning but I couldn't sleep at all in the afternoon. That's because I was waiting for an email back from my doctor which I was hoping would say "I've called a prescription in" and because I was scheduled to have a date on Tuesday night and I was waiting for him to call back to figure out what to do (and if I should even venture out). The doctor's message never came, but the date did call at 6:15 for a 7:00 date. I basically told him that I shouldn't go out but if he did in fact want to see me in my sick state, that I could motivate to take a shower if he wanted to drive all the way out to where I live (about a half an hour) and have dinner. I figured taking a shower and getting fresh air might help. I'm not sure that it did, but it was nice to re-join the land of the living for a short while.

Wednesday morning I was still not well so I slept in, then called my doctor's office. They were of no help so I went to the new Minute Clinic at CVS. Heather Beane, R.N. graciously and thoroughly helped me. By Wednesday afternoon, I was on amoxicillin, Sudafed, the Neti Pot, and Afrin spray. The hard part was that I had no energy to run. In fact, I took Tuesday off from running; and Monday is always a day off so I had 2 days off in a row. This is tough for any runner, but for one training for a marathon, and with a 20 mile race in 5 days, it was bad.

I had plans to run 5 miles with my friend Sue on Wednesday, so I kept the commitment. Heather (R.N.) told me that I should be fine to run. Other than having little energy, the sinus infection didn't really bother me during the run (other than that I had to blow my nose more often!). Thursday I was able to run 8 miles and Friday I did a VERY slow 5 miles. Tomorrow it's another 5 mile run and then the 20 mile race is on Sunday.

At this point I am just hoping to finish the race. If I can do that after being sick with a sinus infection all week, I will be happy. Even if I come in last!

Monday, March 23, 2009

desperate times

Yesterday was the first time I brought money with me on my run (and I’ve been running since 2002!). Little did I know at the time how important this decision was. I’m not quite sure why I did tuck a 20 dollar bill in my pouch; perhaps I was reminded of my friend Sue who stuck money in her Fuel Belt the day we ran 17 miles together. Interestingly, though, I didn’t pack any money during my 18 mile run last weekend. Perhaps I had a feeling of things to come.

The route I took was 6.5 miles east on the Boston Marathon route from Natick to Wellesley, with a turn-around at the 6.5 mile mark to get back to where I started. The whole way east I had a tail wind, which was quite lovely in many ways. One of those ways is that I didn’t get cold. I’d say it was in the upper 40s, maybe even 50 degrees. I wore shorts, a short sleeved shirt, and a long sleeved shirt over that. I was quite comfortable. The sun was also shining brightly.

Well, guess what happened? I turned around at the 6.5 mile mark and was faced with a terrible head wind. And the clouds had emerged so the nice warm sun was gone. What did this mean? I was COLD!! I think this may have only been the 2nd time ever during a run that I actually got cold (usually the opposite happens to me). I knew that running in these conditions for 6.5 miles was going to be very tough. And as tough as I’d like to think I am, I didn’t want to get myself sick (not this close to marathon day)!

I remembered I had the 20 dollars in my pouch. The turnaround point was near a great store in Wellesley called Thunder Sports. I remembered that they have a “Clearance” rack that has GREAT deals on athletic clothing. So I went into the store, sweaty and smelly as can be, and bought a pink Champion sweatshirt for 20 dollars. Luckily there was no tax! I asked the cashier to take the tags off, I put the sweatshirt on, and off I went. Warm but not overheated. I can’t imagine how cold I would have been without it. You must know that I was desperate if I actually wore COTTON to run in! I never wear cotton, as it absorbs sweat and doesn’t wick it away. But I figured for the purpose of the day, it would be fine. And it was. Now I have a nice new sweatshirt for those cold nights. J

I think I’ll carry money with me on every run from now on…

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I've been running marathons since 2003 and only once during that time did I have to abandon training due to an injury: in 2005 when I was doing an 18 mile training run for the NJ Marathon my knee gave out at mile 10 and I could not run for quite some time (months!). Guess what? I'm training for the NJ Marathon again and I got injured again! Am I not meant to run this marathon??!! I am hoping this time the outcome will be different.

What happened was this...I ran 18 miles on Sunday with no problems. On Monday I ran 5 miles and at around mile 4 I started to experience pain in the arch of my right foot. By the time the 5 miles was up, I was experiencing serious pain and was happy I was done. I emailed my running club and posted on Facebook to seek suggestions regarding what might be wrong and what I should do. I was flooded with responses and was so grateful to everyone who took the time to write. The most popular suggestion was that I had plantar fasciitis. That night (Tuesday) I followed up on everyone's suggestions and spent much of the night treating myself. Wednesday night my massage therapist squeezed me in. She concluded that my calves were really tight as was the bottom of my foot, but that it had probably not yet progressed to plantar fasciitis! She feels with proper treatment I can continue training. Woo hoo!

I decided to take a few days off from running while I am treating myself. I feel like I've gained 10 pounds! I haven't run since Monday. I wish I had time for a 3 mile run on Friday but I don't think I do. However, I am going to attempt a 3-5 mile run on Saturday and see how things go. If they go well, I'm going to attempt 13 miles on Sunday. Cross your fingers...

The NJ Marathon is 6.5 weeks away. I've come way too far in training to let an injury get in the way! We'll see...

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Many non-runners ask me if I ever get the "runner's high" that everyone seems to hear about. I can't say I quite know what that means, but I *can* say that I often get on "auto pilot." For me, "auto-pilot" means my brain is kind of mushy because I am putting all of my mental energy into the run and only the run; this typically happens only during really long runs. For example, during the Boston Marathon in 2008 some of my students were on the side of the road in Wellesley and were bare-chested (with the letters of my name on each of their chests). I stopped to say hello to them and to get my GU energy gel from Philip, but I DID NOT NOTICE THAT THEY WERE BARE-CHESTED!!! I know this sounds crazy, but it's a perfect example of what I mean by "auto-pilot." All of my mental energy is dedicated to the run so I become oblivious to details that are not related to the run. It was not until I saw pictures of the students a couple of days later that I realized they were bare-chested!! On occasion, this concerns me as I worry that I might not see a car or something safety-related like that. But so far so good.

By the way, I ran 18 miles today, definitely had that auto-pilot feeling, and ended the run covered in salt. It was very sunny so I sweated quite a bit. And when out running for several hours, that sweat has nowhere to go but to dry on me. :)

Friday, March 13, 2009


Fridays are usually my days off from running and I must admit that I love having a day off!!!!!! I love getting in my pajamas early and resting/reading/relaxing/watching TV. It's so nice to not have a run to think about for once. Back to the roads tomorrow, though. Tomorrow is an 8 miler and Sunday is 18 miles!!! At least the weather will be decent. I might be able to run in shorts! I'm trying to figure out a new and creative 8 mile run tomorrow. I may actually drive somewhere to run so I can find a brand new route.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I learned something on my run today. It's something I have said many times before but I really *felt* it and *lived* it today (if that make sense): The most important part about running is how you FEEL....and if you feel good it does not matter what your stopwatch says. In fact, if you feel good, throw the watch out the window (or on the ground). I felt GREAT for the first 7 miles...and was loving almost every minute of the run. The last mile was a struggle as I bonked and my muscles shook....but for those first 7 miles I felt like I really got why running can be so great. And I didn't give a crap about my time!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

slow day

Today I was scheduled for a 5 mile run and I had to run at lunchtime. Today is my nephew’s birthday so I am going to his house right after work to celebrate. I baked two batches of brownies last night; we’ll probably have dinner and then brownies with ice cream. I got him two small gifts: a baseball and a baseball trivia game. His basketball season just ended and baseball is beginning so I thought they were appropriate gifts.

Anyway, back to my run. I decided to head out a different way from normal; I originally planned to go out 2.5 miles and then back the same route. But while out on this adventurous run, I discovered the route had lots of hills! And I don’t like hills. J So I decided an “out and back” approach would not be good because I didn’t want to deal with so many tough hills. If my marathon was a hilly course I might have pushed through (though probably not) but the marathon I am training for is flat. (Now I know you runners out there would tell me that hill training is “good for me” even if the marathon is flat. I don’t think I will ever CHOOSE to run hills even though I’m sure that is true.) So I just kind of ran around and hoped that the route would bring me back to my starting point at around the 5 mile mark. It did.

The tough part was how slow I was. Now, I always say I’m a “slower runner” to begin with but today was even worse. In fact, my pace was even slower than the pace I had during my 17 mile run on Sunday!!! The only thing I can attribute it to is that I am still recovering from the 17 mile run and my muscles are just not fully recovered. I was definitely feeling it in my muscles Sunday night and yesterday. We’ll see how things go during the 8 mile run I have scheduled for Wednesday. I will be able to run after work but it’s supposed to be pouring rain and in the mid 40s. I’ll take that over an 80 degree day any time!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

a new running experience

Today I experienced something new: I completed a long run with someone else! I had never wanted to do a long run with anyone else because I'm kind of on the slow side (especially on long runs) and I like to be able to slow down and stop when I want to, and I didn't want to put anyone else through that. But a friend of mine from one of my running clubs knew all of that and wanted to run with me anyway! What a sweetheart. We ended up running 17 miles which were mostly on the Boston Marathon route and we saw many other runners out there today. The weather was beautiful! In the low 50s, sunny, but with a bit too much wind. I wore shorts and a long sleeved shirt as well as my Red Sox hat! :) Somehow during the second half of the run I stopped my Garmin watch so I didn't get our exact pace but I had a good idea of what we ran because I checked our pace at the halfway point. And since we did an out and back, I know we did at least 17 miles. Woo hoo!

So what was it like completing a long run with someone else? Pretty good! My friend is just a bit faster than me on long runs so I didn't feel like I was really slowing her down. Plus, she was only scheduled for 15, so I tried to convince her that a slow 17 was like a faster 15. :) And she stops on occasion to fix her shoe and/or stretch, so I was able to run ahead a few times knowing that she would catch back up with me fairly quickly. I enjoyed listening to everything that she had to say, which helped to pass the time....but I couldn't talk much myself. I need all of my strength and energy for my running and find that I just can't spare much energy for talking! I felt badly about that but she is so laid-back I am sure she didn't care.

I think the best part was when we made our final stop for fluids, less than a mile to the "finish." I told my friend that we were turning right on Hereford and that Boylston St. was up ahead. (For those of you who don't know, those are the final two turns before the Boston Marathon finish line). It was fun to think about our approach to the finish line, and to celebrate once we "crossed" it. (Really, we just ran past by condo and declared oursleves finished.)

My friend left to go home and shower/rest. I quickly showered and went out for a Big Mac, something I only allow myself after a very long run. I think I might trying to do a long run with her or someone else in the future. It was better than I expected....much better!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Half Marathon Co-Curricular

This semester I am facilitating a co-curricular entitled "13.1 and Done: Half Marathon Training." I work at a college where faculty and staff can share their hobbies through the co-curricular program; these "classes" appear on a student's academic transcript but they don't get academic credit for them. There are about 17 students in this co-curricular, most of whom have never run a half marathon before. We meet weekly on Thursdays for about 30-40 minutes to talk about training, share tips, discuss road conditions (snow/ice), and generally talk about running. I provided the students with a training schedule from Hal Higdon's web site, and most of them have been following it fairly closely. Some are in the novice program, some in the intermediate program, and some advanced. Today we had a meeting and realized that we are just over one month from our goal race: Sunday, April 5th. I am getting really excited for the students!!! They even designed a shirt for all of us to wear that has our names on the back of it. It will be a wonderful day to see them accomplish their goal.

I must admit I spent at least the first five minutes of today's meeting complaining about my broken Garmin watch. This is the second Garmin watch that has broken on me, and I have now spent a total of almost 400 dollars on watches that have broken. That is a TON of money for me!!! (for most people!) I am hoping REI will understand and give me a new one or at least return this one to Garmin to fix. I don't want to buy a new one as I don't have the money and also because of the principle of it. Yet I have become SO reliant on this tool; the most important thing it does is track my distance and pace. I never have to plot out a run ahead of time to figure out the distance because my Gamin always does (did) it for me. And it's helpful to know my pace to see where I'm at. We'll see what happens!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Quick Update

So today's plan to squeeze in a run didn't go quite as planned. I had a meeting with a student at 4:00 and actually showed up to the meeting in my running clothes, as I really needed to get out on the run to get the 4 miles in and shower in time for the dinner. The meeting with the student ran late, and I had a really hard time ending the meeting due to the sensitive nature of it. So I only had time for 3 miles. The problem was that my year-old Garmin watch that measures my distance during my runs conked out, so I had to guess at the mileage. I actually have 2 Garmins, and both have conked out!!!! I'm heading to REI very soon to return the one I bought there last year and hopefully get a replacement! It should last for more than it has for sure!!

So tomorrow's run I will have to plot out ahead of time so that I know I have run 8 miles, since obviously I can't use my Garmin.

Technology is great when it works, right??

Squeezing in Training

So I have had a busy week and it will continue to be busy until the weekend. What I hate is trying to fit my training into a busy schedule. Yesterday I had a 4 miler on my schedule; obviously to us marathon runners this is a VERY short run and shouldn't take very long (for me I plan for 45 minutes so that I can account for getting stopped at lights, slowing down if I need to, etc.) My nephew Shane had a basketball game in Milton, MA at 6:30. I get out of work at 5:00. It takes about 40 minutes to get to Milton from work in rush hour traffic. And I need to shower after I run because I am always soaked in sweat. You do the math! It doesn't add up. So what I did was leave work about 15 minutes early (4:45), go on the run, and then take a VERY quick shower (luckily my office building has a shower). I didn't even have much time to dry my hair but I made an effort because it was around 20 degrees outside!! The traffic was bad and I got to the game about 10 minutes late. Better late than never!

Today's dilemma is that I have an 8 mile run to complete and I have a dinner at 6:00 for work (meeting at 5:45). So the "easy" thing to do would be to do the 8 miles tomorrow and do Thursday's run today (4 miles). will still require me to leave work early and take a shower before the dinner. AND...I don't have time for an 8 mile run on Thursday because Shane has another basketball game at 6:30. (This is likely the last game of the season). So you see my dilemma!

I know that many of you smart people reading will ask why I don't just get up early and run before work? Then you might remember that I cannot get up early for almost anything. Getting up early to run is just not an option for me. Running at lunchtime would be an option except that FOUR out of the five days of the work week I have a meeting at lunch time for work! This is why I don't feel so bad leaving early to run on some days...because I don't really get a "proper" lunch break. I think what I will do on Thursday is take an extra long late lunch and do the 8 miles then. Then I can stay at work a little late and still get to the game in time.

Not all weeks are this crazy...I'll be glad when this one is over!!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

My First Post!

Hello! Thank you for reading. Why did I decide to create a blog called "Running Marathons for Life (?)"? Well, I set a goal of running a marathon in each of the 50 states, and am finding myself in a bit of a training rut. So I thought blogging about my training might help to motivate me. Knowing I have to blog will help get my butt out on the roads and get the miles in. Plus, I'm hoping some people will actually read this and maybe provide some tips and/or encouragement.

So where do things stand right now? Well, I just decided to pursue this goal in the fall, right after the Clarence DeMar Marathon in Keene, NH. At this point I have run 7 marathons in 5 states; only 45 states to go! There is a 50 States Marathon Club that I can join after I run a marathon in 10 states, which I am hoping to do by the end of 2010. Many members of this club run multiple marathons each month (some run 2 each weekend!!!) but my goal will be 2 to 3 marathons per year. I am hoping to finish before I'm 60. :)

Why am I doing this? Well, I like to challenge myself. I didn't run my first step ever until early 2002, and about a year and a half later I completed my first marathon. I was toying with the idea of pursuing this goal after talking to a few members of the 50 States Marathon Club at the Clarence DeMar Marathon. It seems like such a fun and supportive group. Then my friend Kathy told me that her late husband Bill had talked about joining the club right before he passed away (both Kathy and Bill are good friends of mine from Maine; Bill tragically died at a half marathon in Hampton, NH on 2/10/08 and I unfortunately was a witness at around the mile 6.5 mark; more on this some other time). Hearing what Kathy said was all I needed to motivate me to make a decision about pursuing the goal. Bill's spirit will be with me as I pursue the marathons, and I can pay tribute to him.

Happy reading and running! OH, and by the way, the reason I added a question mark to the title of the blog is that this is an unknown journey that could lead to unexpected twists and turns.