The Longest Training Run!

So this Saturday, yesterday, was the day of the long training run! Above is a pic of our team members who met bright and early at Spaulding before heading out to Natick. 
Backtracking a bit for a minute, this week not only did I get my Race for Rehab singlet but I also got my official runner’s passport! I’m looking forward to the upcoming expo to get my official bib!
It is So crazy that marathon day, a day I have been anticipating for so long now, is approaching so quickly. In true dork-inspired selfie style, clearly I needed to attempt a “ready to run” pic Saturday morning. 
We met at Spaulding at 7 am and head out on some pretty sweet buses (think airline first class style, I seriously have never been in a bus like that before!) soon after. We got a pep talk from our President, David Storto, who is also running and is a member of our team. Dr. Chris Carter, one of our psychologists, also came out to help us get mentally prepared before heading out. 
It was great being on the course with so many other runners. There were tons if booths set up and generous volunteers along the entire way with food and drinks for any runner that needed a refuel. A special shout out to the Spaulding-specific crew who volunteered their time in support! Some of the booths had free stuff and no one told me to bring a bag for swag!  Not that I really would have wanted to carry it all, but hey quality running socks get expensive! Sad to say I didn’t pick up any free things along the way, but it was still inspiring to receive all the cheers. It’s crazy to think the crowds on actual marathon day are going to be, what, like 20 to 30 times larger? Insane! I can’t wait for the adrenaline rush!!
Going the distance you just have to keep yourself entertained, or at least I do.  Around mile 6, I saw Tedy Bruschi up ahead. So I chased after him, taking pics. Then, as if the universe was giving me a sign, he walked and I took my opportunity to sneak in front and snap my photo. 
(The chase)
He actually didn’t have headphones in when we were kind of next to each other so I thought about some amazing opening line to try and actually get a real selfie, or “ussie,” a new term I was recently told about and kind of love. But selfies/ussies I think are really only the correct term when it’s consenting parties and that would have required some sort of verbal exchange.  On my approach, Tedy stuck in some headphones and I think he must have felt my awkwardly excited energy creeping closer. Probably for the best knowing the things that can come out of my mouth sometimes. So my plan B was the non-consenting creeper pic above, but I’ll take it!
Around mile 11 we came to a stop light intersection.  (Quick shout out to the awesome police who patrolled the major intersections to help all of us runners get safely across. I tried to thank each any every one of them because it really was an awesome thing for them to do on this unofficial event day). Anyways, obviously since I was already stopped it was only natural I took a picture with gorilla man. Truth be told, even if the traffic flow had cooperated so I could have kept on, I would have stopped because hi, I’m-running-and-taking-a-selfie-with-a-gorilla moments don’t come along every day. 

I got some practice shooting some pics on this run and I believe I will be trying to do the same at least part of the time on marathon day. If I’m not in contention to win (surprise, I’m not!) I might as well have some fun memories from the day. So if you’re along the course cheering me on don’t be surprised if I veer over for a quick ussie 🙂
Overall, I felt pretty good but I have had some right hip tightness that was pretty intense and unpleasant. I still didn’t need to walk, but I did take about 3 stretch opportunities along the way to try and loosen up. I’m proud to report that after going back to my shoes which I was fit for last summer my heel pain has hugely decreased while running and after. Honestly, that was so much more awful than any of this hip stuff so I am very happy I went back to some sneaks that are clearly better for my body mechanics. I need to remember this and I will never again buy shoes I intend to put huge miles on without getting them actually fit! 
I was hobbling a bit by the end so returning to the hospital to see the following sign was an excellent reward!
Damn! That could have been my “in” when I saw Tedy on the course! “Hey T-dog, I’ll be cooling down in your gym post run! SMILE!!” 
Another amazing reward was the Physical Therapists that donated their weekend time to help stretch us out. Anne really helped me get a deep stretch for my pesky hip and I couldn’t have been more grateful. Well, maybe a little bit more grateful if she was there after all of my runs 😉
So the weather held out, I finished the intended route and also got some team bonding time in! Unfortunately the pre-planned map of our run which calculated out to 21 miles didn’t quite hit that on my GPS watch 😦 That said, this was still a PR and definitely gave me the confidence I can totally do this in 3 weeks time! 

Goal and Gala!

This week I SURPASSED my fundraising goal and I could not be more grateful for the outpouring of support. I’ve said it many times, but truly thank you all again!

I had a nice 12 miles yesterday followed by an evening at the Greater Boston Chapter of the National Spinal Cord Injuy Association’s Gala. It was a very fun evening with coworkers and friends. The GBC is its own entity, however, we have a very close working partnership with them at Spaulding so it was a pleasure to support their cause. I was the happy winner of a tandem sky dive (!!) and trip for 5 to a local farm sanctuary as part of the silent auction. Looks like my post-marathon summer ahead is going to have a couple fun weekends!
Am keeping this post short, and pretty non-run related. But next weekend is the longest run of training and then we head into a few weeks of tapering. I’m sure I’ll have much to write about after running 21 miles on what I’m told is essentially a pre-marathon celebration, of sorts, with thousands out on the course for a similar run distance. Apparently fans and supporters line the course along the way. I can’t wait!!
Here are some pics from last night. 
Sunset view during cocktail hour 
An attempt at capturing the SRH and GBC attendees in one pic
SRH staffers all dressed up! 

A Chilly Hilly Half Marathon Race

Today I ran a half marathon race, the Marathon Park Prep in Ashland, MA. What a tough course! It was basically all hills, but with that considered I’m pretty pleased with my time of about 2:18 (still awaiting official race time). 
I had a couple of reasons for wanting to do a race mid-training for the Boston Marathon. First, running a race was a nice change of pace for the weekend runs. Who doesn’t love to get little kid high fives when they’re running? I like it so much I might hire some to be strategically placed on my upcoming weekend runs. 
Second, I figured doing a race before THE BIG RACE would be a good means of practicing. It served its purpose in that regard and here’s what I learned:
– I need to work a bit on early pacing. Knowing me and how I am, I know going out too fast is going to be an issue I have, even if I’m actively aware and trying not to head out faster than I should. I get easily excited in moments like this and the adrenaline takes over. Today was at least a real life reminder of what this will be like. Can someone/everyone remind me not to get too excited on April 21st and use up all of my energy early on?! 
– It was definitely important I practiced water grabs. I’ve only done a few races, but I never took water during any of those. Since that’s clearly not an option in doing a marathon, and since I don’t intend to carry my own water, practicing grabbing from the volunteers was key. I’m happy to report that I only dropped one cup, kind of inadvertently flinging at my unknowing hydration supporter, and only spilled one cup entirely all over myself. After those mishaps, it was relatively smooth sailing.  I’m not entirely convinced I’ll have it down to a science in a matter of a few weeks, though, so sorry in advance to anyone who hands me water…it may get messy. 
– I need to practice chewing. After many recommendations I have opted to try the Clif Shot Bloks instead of Gu. Overall, much happier with these and I think they’ll be a better option. I have a new bib/fuel belt that worked great and I figured out a way to carry this new stuff that I think is going to be ok for the actual day. The only thing is I aspirated on a piece of Blok around mile 10, inducing coughing and a mild flash of terror about my mortality. Maybe scarier on this race because less people were around. At least on marathon day someone in the continual crowds has got to know the heimlich, right?
– Dear hills, I own you! This was a wonderful thing to feel after today! The course was definitely hilly (elevation map below) but I didn’t need to walk any of them and actually passed many who couldn’t handle the incline. Not gonna lie, that felt pretty awesome!

– I still don’t look good in running pictures. Granted there were only a few photographers out on the course, and I haven’t seen the actual evidence, but I just know. 
*UPDATE 3/17/14: actually not horrrribbbleeee….probably best it was so far away!
-I actually think I could have kept going! What a thing to feel when you’re training for a marathon! I obviously did this 13 miles faster than I will during the marathon, but regardless I got to the end and could actually see myself continuing on. Mentally I’m stoked this was how I felt at the end of this race. This confirms I’m well on my way to completing my first 26.2!