Since reading “Ultra Marathon Man” by Dean Karnazes, I have thought about running an ultra marathon. (For non running folks, anything longer than a marathon (26.2 miles) is considered an “ultra”) Most ultras are run on trails and trail running is not my strong suit.
I am deathly afraid of bugs and I have never been camping in my life before. So of course it was a great idea to enter the world of trail running with a 10 mile race and then a 21 mile race. I never knew how to ease into anything. =) The 21 mile race turned into a 22+ mile race because I got lost of the trail. I was out there for about 7 hours!
Last year, my friend Joslynn, ran her first 50 miler at Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival and I was re-inspired by her story. I always thought you had to run longer than a marathon when in training for an ultra, but Joslynn only ran marathons to train for her ultra. Once she shared that with me, I thought “I can do it too!”
We talked about running the Transrockies race, but due to scheduling and financial reasons, we decided not to sign up for it this year. Maybe next year! Joslynn and I signed up to run the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler in Bear Mountain, NY.
For my training, I ran 2 marathons (Hong Kong and Boston) and followed an advanced marathon training plan. Running back to back long runs is the foundation of ultra training. Running on tired legs on the second day trains your body to be able to endure the late miles of an ultra. My schedule has not allowed for back to back long runs until this weekend!
I ran 90 minutes on Saturday and 50 minutes on Sunday. It was as long as my legs could tolerate after a 90+ degree marathon. I ran today with my new Nathan hydration pack that my friend, Patrick gave me! It has lots of pockets so I will have to think carefully about what I want to carry with me for 50 miles besides water!
I stopped by REI today to look for items that I might need for my 50 mile adventure. I know that I will need more than just water, Gatorade, GU, and shot blocks to get me through 50 miles. I have two weeks to try electrolyte tablets and so I bought some NUUN tablets and a packet of Vitalyte.
So I mixed up two water bottles with each of the electrolytes and tasted both of them. The winning electrolyte is……NEITHER! They both tasted terrible. Maybe I’ll just stick with salt packets. I am not a huge fan of flavored water so I knew there was a slim chance of me liking the mixture.
For the next two weeks, I will be learning everything about the race and packing my bags! It is going to be epic.
Dana Farber Marathon Challenge Pasta Party: It was a night of inspiration to prepare 500+ runners for the toughest Boston Marathon ever. It was great to share the event with friends and family so that they could learn more about DFMC and experience what it feels like to be part of this amazing team. It was a strong reminder of our ultimate finish line: “a world without cancer.”
My Pre-Race Mindset: I ignored the weather forecast and recommendations to run slower than expected. I had trained too hard to back down from my goal. I trained more consistently this year than I ever have for Boston. I even added track workouts and more hill work to my training. I knew that I had a good chance of running a PR and I went into the race confident in my physical ability.
The DFMC Pre-Race Refuge: I had a blast pre-race helping teammates prepare for the race. I tried to find all of my training buddies throughout the season and wish them luck before I had to leave for the Wave 2 start. I hope my confidence rubbed off on some of them and calmed some of their nerves. It was going to be 100% mental out on the course.
Here are some pictures from that morning:
The Early Miles: I started out running 8:20’s and let everyone pass me on the steep downhill. I was comfortable and had my frozen bottle of Gatorade to keep me hydrated for 5.5 miles. I was so glad to have my own fluids because I was able to bypass the first few water stops, which were so chaotic.
Through the Half at 1:50: I was comfortable with my pace even though I knew it was 4 minutes off my goal. I tried to keep my body temperature below 300 degrees by pouring water on my head throughout the race and taking advantage of all the sprinklers/hoses on the course.
Meeting up with My Pacer: For the last two years, my Run Club buddy, Jan, has paced me for the last 9-10 miles to 3:38:10 and 3:38:20 finishes and he was ready to do it again this year. I was hoping that he would help pace me to a 3:35 this year, but I knew before I met up with him that it was not going to happen. I was excited to see him, but knew that it was going to be brutal for the next few miles.
The Hills: Seeing my friends (Patrick, Nilesh, Glen, & Adam) on that first hill after the Fire House was a huge boost. My family was at the bottom of the first hill so I knew I had to make it there running.
My Weak Point: By Mile 19, I was so tired and my hip flexors were so tight that it was hard to lift my legs. So many people were walking around me and I wanted to walk too. So I told my running buddy, Jan, that I was going to walk for a bit. He was in shock, but did not stop me. I walked a few steps and immediately knew that I was an idiot for making that decision. Walking hurt so much more than running so I went back to my shuffling! Jan was happy to have me moving again.
Trying to Have Fun: After finally accepting that my time goal was not going to happen, I tried to have fun and hugged any friends/family along the course. It was funny to see their reaction as they got soaked from my sweaty hug! I got a little bit of energy with every splash of cold water and smiled to Jan every time we got a little closer to the finish.
The Longest Finish Line Ever: We made it to Boylston Street! I dug deep and pumped my arms for a sprint to the finish. It was the best finish I have ever had in Boston. I could barely stand up straight after I stopped running. Jan was nice enough to hold me up so I did not fall over.
Post Marathon Thoughts: I knew I gave it everything. Coaches will tell me that I should have started out slower, but it was only going to get hotter so there was a slim chance of me running negative splits. Everyone had a different game plan for the race and my game plan was not very common. I was being stubborn and I was not going to change my mind. I wanted to try and see if I could hold my pace, but in the end, the heat was stronger than my legs. I have no regrets.
I raised over $4,000 for cancer research, met many new friends, and had a blast being on the team. Jan and her team at DFMC did an amazing job supporting the team throughout the training season.
Fundraising Update! Thank you to those who have already donated to my run! It means a lot to me!! I am very close to my goal of $5,000!! There is still time to donate! Help make it happen!
Friday was a day of inspiration and I wanted to share the inspiration with my fellow runners. It was also a day of fun photo ops so enjoy!!
The New Balance store had its grand opening in Copley so I stopped by to check it out.
Niketown had the winning wheelchair from the first wheelchair race at the Boston Marathon on display. Bob Hall was the first wheelchair champion at Boston in 1975 with a time of 2:58. Since then, Bob has devoted his life to wheelchair racing and re-designing the wheelchair. Bob’s best marathon time was 1:47.
This year is the 40th anniversary of women running the marathon. I was excited to meet Katherine Switzer, the first registered runner at the Boston Marathon in 1967 before women were allowed to participate in the race. She has inspired many women runners and a photo op resulted in Katherine selling me a copy of her book!
I ended the day with Saucony’s “An Evening of Running Inspiration with an All-Star Panel” at the Cyclorama. It was one of the best pre-race events that I have ever attended!! The panel included Luis Escobar (ultra runner), Mark Herzlich (2012 Super Bowl Champion), Karen Smyers (triathlete), and Bill Rodgers (4 time Boston and NYC Marathon Champion).
Saucony’s “Find Your Strong” campaign is about sharing what inspires you and keeps you going. The panel talked about their experiences and how they found their “strong”. Where do you get your “strong” from??
Luis Escobar talked about Micah True, who passed away last month, and what running meant to Micah. Micah always told others to “Run smooth and run free.” His passion for running and for the Tarahumara tribe in the Copper Canyons inspired many ultra runners.
Mark Herlizch talked about his battle with cancer and how he found his “strong” to come back to football. Mark was determined to beat cancer and return to the football field. He did not accept defeat and he had a great support system that helped get him through chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.
Karen Smyers was awesome and the most inspiring of the night. During her career, she had multiple accidents ( eg. broken glass slicing into her hamstring, being hit by an 18 wheeler while on a bike ride) that could have ended her career, but she found her “strong” and went back to triathlons after every injury.
She talked about her 3 P’s: Perseverance, Passion, and Positive Attitude. You need to have those 3 P’s to do well in any sport and I think we will all need them on Monday!!
Karen also said that racing was 50% mental and 50% nutrition. The physical component is not important! I have always gone by 90% mental and 10% physical so maybe I should focus more on my nutrition…..
Besides surviving all those accidents, Karen is also a thyroid cancer survivor and mother of two. I met with her after the talk and shared my sister’s story with her. Karen was amazing!
Bill Rodgers is awesome. He is the goofiest elite runner I know and his statement “I am still a crazed runner!!” supports my description of him. Every time I hear him talk, he makes me smile and makes me excited for my next run.
I left the event feeling pumped for Marathon Monday and feeling inspired to run my best on Monday. Despite the hot weather warnings from the BAA, I do not plan to run any slower than planned. I will race smart, but I want to finish the race feeling that I gave it my all.
Tomorrow is another day of inspiration. I will be spectating the BAA 5K and then attending the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge Pasta Party, which always makes me cry. Here are photos of my “In Honor” Cards that will be displayed at the dinner. After the Saucony event, I will also be running in honor of Karen Smyers, Mark Herzlich, and Bill Rodgers, who are all cancer survivors.
Fundraising Update! Thank you to those who have already donated to my run! It means a lot to me!! I am very close to my goal of $5,000!! Help make it happen!
It’s the last week of training and I think my body knows that it is taper time because my legs do not want to run! They are feeling a bit heavier than usual and I am taking it as a sign to rest and to foam roll more.
My schedule is always very jam packed and I sacrifice sleep in order to do everything that I want to do. The week before the marathon, I usually try to lighten up my schedule so that I can sleep at a normal hour. So far, this is what my schedule looks like for the week…..
5:45AM – 6:45 AM: Back on My Feet Run
8 AM – 5PM: Work
5:30PM – whenever: Back on My Feet Team Leader Dinner
8 AM – 5PM: Work
6 PM – 7:30PM: City Sports Run Club
8 PM – whenever: Monthly OT Dinner
5:45AM – 6:45 AM: Back on My Feet Run
8 AM – 5PM: Work
5:30 PM – 6:30: Back on My Feet Monthly Meeting
8 AM – 5PM: Work
6:15 PM: Pre-Marathon Massage!
5:45AM – 6:45 AM: Back on My Feet Run
2 PM – whenever: Boston Marathon Expo!!
6:30 PM: Dinner with my mom and family!
Yes, this is considered “light” in my schedule! Not having to travel this week is also a plus! I was in New York City from Thursday to Saturday this past week and I am happy to be back in my own bed in Boston! I usually do not travel back to NYC in the months of March and April because of Boston Marathon training, but because of my job situation, I went back to NYC twice (once for a job fair and once for an interview)! All this travel on top of my busy schedule has caused neck spasms and sleep deprivation.
Sleep is much needed this week and I cannot wait for race day!
Tip on Sleep for Marathon Virgins: Try to get a good night’s sleep 2 days before the marathon because you will be too excited/nervous to sleep well the night before the marathon.
Tip on Sleep for Veteran Marathoners: Don’t book your schedule like I do the week before a marathon! =)
Fundraising Update! Thank you to those who have already donated to my run! It means a lot to me!! I am close to my goal of $5,000!! Help make it happen!
Sorry for the late blog post. I have been so busy since my weekend long run that I have not had much time to sleep or write! I ran an uneventful 16 miles this past Saturday as the start to my taper. While many will say that 16 miles is not considered tapering, it was on my training plan and I stuck to it! You can bring it up with our Coach, Jack Fultz (1976 Boston Marathon champion). =)
Since I do not have anything witty or inspiring to write about my long run, I thought I would share something about work with everyone. Besides, there are too many running stories in my blog anyway. It’s about time I balanced things out!
One of my favorite things about work is when old patients come back to visit. It is proof that I did a good job working with them and it reminds me every time that I can make a difference in someone’s life. This week, I had two patients visit my unit. Here are their stories (names have been changed to protect their identities)……
Ms. L: Ms. L had a stroke in the language centers of her brain, which caused her to have difficulties with her speech and comprehension. Ms. L was also slightly weaker on the right side of her body and her safety and judgment were also impaired. During her stay on my unit, we worked on strengthening the right side of her body, safety during her morning routine, and communicating basic needs.
Ms. L eventually went home to live with her parents under 24 hour supervision because of safety concerns. If there was an emergency, Ms. L would not be able to call for help effectively. Ms. L was physically stronger when she left my unit and her speech had improved, but it still needed a lot of work.
Speech and cognition usually take the longest to recover after a stroke. Ms. L returned on Monday for her outpatient speech therapy appointment and I was so excited to see her. I asked her how she was doing and she was able to respond “I am fine. Home is fine.”
While I know that Ms. L has a long road ahead of her, I know that she is in a good environment at her parents’ house to recover.
Mr. B: Mr. B was riding a mini bike and was hit head on by another vehicle. He flew off his bike and broke his neck from landing on pavement. A surgery fused his broken neck bones together, but his spinal cord suffered irreversible damage to the C5 area. Mr. B had minimal movement & sensation in his arms and no sensation from his chest down. He had lost control of his bladder and bowels.
Being an occupational therapist for a patient with a spinal cord injury is not a glamorous job at all. Patients see physical therapists and think “I want to walk again” and all they want is more physical therapy. Mr. B’s short term goal was to be able to push a manual wheelchair with his arms and his long term goal was to be able to walk again.
We worked tirelessly on strengthening his arms, but he was limited by shoulder pain and other medical issues that were related to his spinal cord injury. One of my goals for Mr. B was for him to be able to feed himself and to be able to brush his teeth with a special splint on his hand. These small tasks seem so unimportant to an able bodied person, but after a spinal cord injury, these small tasks are the most difficult.
Another goal was to be able to take a shower in a specialized shower chair without passing out from low blood pressure. I spent many hours in the shower room with Mr. B problem solving how he could better use his arms to wash his body and making sure that he did not pass out. Mr. B never passed out and he was able to wash about 60% of his body when he left my unit. 60% is pretty good considering he did not have full use of his arms.
Mr. B spent over 10 weeks on my unit and he met all of his goals except for walking. He also has a long road of therapy ahead of him and I cannot predict if he will ever be able to walk again, but I can say that he will continue to get stronger and I hope that he has more use of his arms the next time he visits.
My work means a lot to me because of the progress that patients make daily. I accepted the position at Boston Medical Center to learn about spinal cord injury rehab and I grew to love it. Mr. B will probably be our last patient with spinal cord injury on the unit because we are closing and there will not be any doctors to provide outpatient care if we had another patient come in.
Today also marks my two year anniversary at Boston Medical Center. I usually celebrate my anniversaries by bringing in sweets to work, but this year it is a bittersweet celebration. Knowing that there will not be a third anniversary makes me very sad.
My senior therapist is a great mentor and I have not learned everything from her yet! This job has given me many good memories and given me a new skill set for my practice. As my days at Boston Medical Center come to a close, I will write more about my experiences to share with everyone. I know I will never forget them, but when I start to lose my memory, it might be nice to have it written down somewhere! =)
April is Occupational Therapy Month, so if you know any OT’s out there, please give them a pat on the back or buy them a donut (well, that’s what I want right now! =) )