Monday, April 7, 2014

The Home Stretch

I absolutely cannot believe how quickly this has all gone by and how insanely busy the last few months have been.  Training has continued to have its ups and downs and was not how I expected it to go but in the end I'm feeling well prepared, excited for my big fundraising event this weekend, and looking forward to Marathon Monday!

First, the fun part, ROCK AGAINST CANCER BENEFIT this Saturday 7PM-MIDNIGHT at the Arlington Knights of Columbus, 15 Winslow St, Arlington Center.  All the planning and hard work, with the help of my wonderful friends and family, is paying off and I have a great line up of bands, awesome raffle prizes, and some amazing food.  I am looking forward to enjoying a great night and raising more money for DanaFarber, getting that much closer to reaching my fundraising goal.

On the training front, in February I ran my worst half marathon ever.  I broke the cardinal rule "never try anything new before a race" and instead of GU brand energy gel I tried Clif brand gel instead.  I've tried different gels before and never had an issue but this time it didn't sit well with me and by mile two my stomach was in pain.  I tried to run through it but it persisted and I must have been stiffening up because by mile 8 my hip started hurting.  The stomach pain went away by mile 10 but I was running on fumes, not wanting to ingest another energy gel, and my leg pain was spreading until I was reduced to a walk/run to get through to the finish.  When I did finally cross that line I was both immensely relieved and completely panicked.  How on earth was I supposed to do twice that distance in just 8 weeks?!

As the week went on, my muscles loosened up and my short runs went great.  The following Saturday I ran 16 miles on my group run with Dana-Farber and was over-the-moon excited about it.  My hip had started tightening up around mile 10 but a few stretching breaks and I was good to go.  I was so relieved and feeling good going into the following weekend's long run.  That run started off well and I was aiming for 18 miles.  The hip pain started creeping back in around mile 9.  I figured it would be the same as before but the stretching just wasn't helping.  I tried to push through but the pain got to where I wanted to cry and had to stop just before mile 15 and cut out the last 3 miles.  The next morning when I woke up, not only was my hip sore, but my foot was throbbing and my ankle felt weak and I was worried.

A few emails with my coach led me to physical therapy where it was determined I had injured my plantar fascia, it band, and lower back, all apparently common running overuse injuries and surprisingly nothing that would prevent me from running the marathon.  I was skeptical but diligently went to pt, 2+ hours at a time, 3x a week with elliptical workouts in between.  It was hard to tell if things were improving and I was getting really worried about being ready in time for the marathon.  March 29th was scheduled to be the longest run of the training season at 20-22 miles and I wanted more than anything to be able to get out there with the group, even if I couldn't quite do the distance.  At pt that week my amazing physical therapist Jake, of Kennedy Brother's Physical Therapy, told me I would be good to go, giving me a few tips to protect my injuries from excessive impact.

I was so skeptical starting out on the run that Saturday.  I was hoping to make it 20 miles but would have been ok with a solid 18.  As the miles ticked by I was feeling good and decided to go for the full 20.  I use the Map My Run app to track my mileage and it's usually pretty accurate.  When it told me I had completed 10 miles I was looking around for the turn around point.  I asked teammates heading back who said it was just a little bit away.  A water stop came up and I asked the volunteer if it was the 10 mile turn around point.  He told me they were .3 miles away from the turn around so I kept going on, and on, and on...  As it turns out, that water stop was the 10 mile turn around and I accidentally continued on until the 11 mile turn.  Realizing I was now committed to 22 miles I started to worry and doubt myself but was still feeling good so just kept going.  Around 16 I started thinking this is where I'm supposed to be hurting, I've never run this far, I can't make it.  Looking at the remaining distance as a whole seemed daunting so I just kept telling myself, one more mile, you can quit at the next water stop if you need to.  A few miles later, a weird daze came over me, I stopped thinking and just kept putting one foot after the other.  The Newton hills started and I just kept going, mile 19, 20, 21, and then came Heartbreak. I crested the top, my stopping point of Boston College in sight, and realized I had made it.  Just over 22 miles, and I was still going.  I no longer feared the marathon, I knew not only could I do it but I just might be able to enjoy it, and that was the best feeling in the world.

Since my last post, I have run 23hours, 51minutes and 22sec for a total of 110.10 miles.

My fundraising efforts have so far raised $3,870 which is 42.88% of my goal!  To support me and Dana-Farber, visit my fundraising page to make a donation or join us at the Rock Against Cancer Benefit!

Thank you!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A long overdue update

The training season is flying by and there have been a lot of ups and downs.  I was off to a strong start and then we had our first round of the polar vortex cold.  I ran multiple days in the single digits with negative wind chills and ended up getting myself sick.  I've been battling this cycle on and off with the snow, ice, or sub zero temperatures all affecting the training schedule. This past weekend our Dana-Farber group run had to be revised as the original course had too much snow and was unsafe for us to take.  Instead we did hill repeats on Comm Ave from Boston College down to the Newton firehouse and back.  It was challenging and I had the "pleasure" of running heartbreak hill twice with temperatures in the teens, avoiding patches of snow and ice.

So much of this distance running is a mental game.  Yes your body gets tired but your mindset is what really helps to push you through or can defeat you.  There have been quite a few times out there I've doubted myself, wondered if I can really do this, and questioned my sanity for being out there!  But every time I start one of those thoughts, I'm reminded of how far I have come.  I think about why I'm doing this, not just for myself but for such a good cause.  I think about all the people who are behind me, supporting me, encouraging me.  I look around at all my wonderful Dana-Farber team members and think of all the people who are counting on us to do this, to fund their research and help find newer, better cancer treatments until we find the cure.  There is something incredibly powerful in all this and that is what I think about on those frigid mornings amongst all my fellow runners.

My family has had good news as well.  Valerie's treatment through Dana-Farber is going very well.  In October she went in for her follow up CT scan and it showed her tumors had shrunk 30-40% already, in less than 6 months!  Her December check in was just blood work but those showed her liver function at almost normal levels and the tumor markers in her blood are half of what they were in October.  We are all so thankful that her treatment is working so well and so quickly.  Her next check up will be the week before the marathon and we are looking forward to seeing even more improvement.

The fundraising I am doing goes directly to Dana-Farber's Barr Research Program.  Here is just one example of what this research has accomplished in the fight against cancer:

Breast Cancer: Discovering New Treatments - Explaining how drugs like Tamoxifen have improved breast cancer survival rates by 33% in significant numbers of women, leading to the possible discovery of additional treatments with even better outcomes for breast cancer patients.

Myles Brown, MD, used Barr funding in 2002-‘03 to discover the way estrogen works in normal tissues and breast cancers, resulting in the first genome-wide map of all genes that estrogen controls. This has enabled scientists for the first time to understand why certain drugs have been so effective in treating breast cancer, including the 33% improvement in survival for women whose breast cancers respond to estrogen. Dr. Brown’s work is now expected to lead to new drugs and treatments for cancers that target critical pathways in breast cancer. His team has used this information to discover new ways to treat breast cancers that don’t respond to Tamoxifen. 

Since my last post, I have run 16hours, 37minutes and 33sec for a total of 82.36 miles.

My fundraising efforts have so far raised $2,745 which is 30.42% of my goal.  To support me and Dana-Farber, visit my fundraising page to make a donation.

Thank you!