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boston marathon

Big Long Run

This Saturday was the longest of the long runs before Boston. We had a convoy of cars take us out to Hopkinton for the 21.5 mile run to Boston College.

Big Long Run

We have spent the past twelve weeks building up to this run. Prior to this run, our longest had been 20 miles. 21.5 isn’t a big leap in miles, but we did add in the Hills of Newton including the most famous hill in running, “Heart Break Hill.”

boston marathon, big long runThis was an inter-club run with several Mystic Runners joining us and a few runners whose affiliation I did not know. I also met John Worrall one of my team mates from FamilyAid Boston.

There were thousands of runners on the course and in many towns there were police directing traffic for us. In Newton the actually had the right-hand lane coned off for several miles. I must have said thank you 100 times to all of the police and people who came out to support us.

The Big Long Run is the dress rehearsal for the big show on April 18th. This is where we try out anything new. After this point you probably shouldn’t buy new shoes or a new shirt. Don’t even change the expression on your face! If it worked on Saturday, chances are it will work for you on Marathon Monday.

On Friday I happened to be in Trader Joe’s and found this delectable delight.

danish, pastry We had one of these at my office before last Christmas. Let’s just say that it didn’t last long! This is the best Danish I have ever had. I’m not a big fan of the Danish you often see on a breakfast buffet at a hotel.

This Danish has a soft buttery crust, and just enough crust to hold the frosting, fruit filling and a small amount of pecans. It is to die for!

It was so good that I took this photo when we had the Danish in the office.

I thought I had to order these from Wisconsin. When I saw it at Trader Joe’s I just had to have it. It is loaded with carbs after all.

I had several slices while I got ready for the run. It goes great with coffee! Unfortunately it does not go good with running! While there are plenty of carbs in this delight, there is also a lot of butter. Butter and margarine are both listed along with several forms of sugar.

Butter is not a runners friend. I had to make three pit stops including a Starbucks in Newton. A nice lady in line directed me to the restroom as soon as I stepped inside the door! On Race Day this would be a disaster.

On race day I’ll be sticking to plain bagels without butter. Lesson learned! This pastry is strictly for home use.

Aches and pains and discomfort, oh my!

If you have been following along on my brief journey to Boylston Street, you know that I have been dealing with several physical issues. Injuries are not something you can control, but they are something that you can manage and attempt to heal.

My $500 seat at work almost broke my back. A $2 lumbar support that my colleague Jeff Thomas picked up for me at Micro Center in Cambridge has been a life saver.

I’ve run through many of the aches and pains that runners get. Back pain is different. I don’t exactly know why but it’s not a pain I can push away. Maybe it is fear. I can get a new knee or hip, I sure as hell don’t want spinal surgery.

I’ve had this back support for about three weeks and experienced immediate relief. Within a week my back was 20% better. In two weeks it was 40% better. This Saturday my back didn’t bother me at all until around mile 15!

When it twinged I though, “oh, here we go.” But it just twinged once in a while. No lightning bolts. No thoughts of paraplegia.

As much as my running crew has helped me out with advice and running slow with me, I have to give credit to Jeff for saving my marathon. I don’t think I could fight through the last five or ten miles of the marathon with that pain.

Much gratitude my friend!

My knee spoke up at mile 9.51. Again, I was afraid it would be all down hill from there. Hah! I’ve been icing my knee for the past month like a case of beer. Almost every night I lay on the couch to watch TV with an ice pack under my knee and sometimes one of top.

I’ve been taking fish oil for about two months and started taking turmeric recently. The great thing about these items is that they are all natural. I eat this stuff all the time.

My knee didn’t start to impact my running until around mile 15. By then that pain had to compete for mind share with my flaming quads. Climbing hills is a be-yotch!

The knee pain has been with me for over a year. When I was only running 5Ks and long runs were no more than 7 miles, my knee didn’t bother me. When FamilyAid Boston gave me the opportunity to run Boston, things got real serious real quick. No more half long-runs. It was all in for Boston.

While up-hills will tear your quads, down hills will beat up your knees and hips and every joint connected to the bottoms of your feet. You know the tune!

My right knee never bothers me but those blessed down hills get my left knee every time.

Heading out of Hopkinton I kept the mantra going that Terrance Mahon taught me several years ago – pretend you are running on egg shells coming out of Hopkinton. The idea is to not land like a ton of bricks on your feet. You have to be mindful and think about what you are doing.

Automatic for the Runners

Easter Bunny, big long runSo much of running can become automatic. The focus is on moving forward and getting up the next hill. Late in a race, form goes out the window for many of us. We just want to survive.

Being aware of your running form is important and can make a big difference. Keeping Terrance’s mantra in mind helped me get as far as I did before pains interrupted my perfectly pleasant run.

If you do something often enough it becomes automatic. Over the past year or so with this bum knee, I’ve been more conscious of my foot falls and envisioning egg shells.

Running the day before Easter, this was much easier to do!

When the knee acted up I had a few moments of worry. Would it get worse? I was running at least 5 miles further than my longest run in over a year.

While I paid attention to it and assessed it with each step, eventually I was able to push it out of my consciousness. It just stopped hurting after a while. Will power.

My third problem area has been my right shoulder. Soon after injuring it I ran the Super Sunday 5 Miler and thought I would not be able to finish that race.

I tried light exercise of my shoulders and that turned out to be a bad idea. For the past six weeks or so I haven’t done anything with my shoulders. Not even planks.

Sometimes my right hand tingles and gets numb in spots, but it is getting better. Now I am able to run with zero pain and only occasional tingling.

On the big long run, my shoulder wasn’t a problem.

The Long and Winding Road

big long run, boston marathonFor some reason, when we got to the right-hand turn in Newton to head up the hills I was surprised. I’ve run this course eight or nine times. That turn still gets me every time.

A few minutes after we arrived at Boston College a runner came up to us and asked us which way to Boston? He was serious but we all kind of laughed. He laughed too. We told him to turn left at Cleveland Circle and keep following the runners.

If he didn’t know that the road continued to Boston, he probably didn’t know where the hell Cleveland Circle was either. Still, there were plenty of runners heading to Boylston Street.

It felt so good to be finished. The official distance was 21.5 miles. My Garmin has 20.95 at a moving pace of 9:05. At that pace I could still do a 4 hour marathon.

I have three weeks to taper and be cranky! I’m hoping that my knee will get better during this time and that my back will continue to improve.

One of my goals was to get down to 180 lbs before the marathon. I knew I didn’t have time to train properly, but I knew that loosing a few pounds would help. Even after refueling after the run, I was 180 lbs exactly. Hopefully Easter wont pack all those pounds back on again!

If you have donated to FamilyAid Boston, I thank you. If you would like to contribute to FamilyAid Boston, please see my fundraising page. We are making progress towards our goal and you can help us get there.

Run well my Friends!


Photos courtesy of Paul Locke, Mary Comerford O’Connell. Link to Paul Locke’s Flickr account for more photos., pub-4167727599129474, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0