Lots of people have been asking me this week if I'm ready for the marathon. They ask how I'm feeling, and I always answer that I'm feeling good, because physically, for the most part, I am (will blog about that later in the week).
Mentally, it's a little more complicated.
To say I'm struggling with my emotions is an understatement. I'm experiencing every emotion imaginable, and I seem to cycle through them almost hourly.
This year's Boston would have been incredibly emotional to begin with, but then I got injured and went through those months of not running and wondering whether I'd even be able to make it to the starting line.
And then the following months, when I did begin logging some miles and allowed myself to consider that I'd be there, but didn't want to get my hopes up, fearing another setback.
So now here I am, just 12 days away, and of course I'm elated. I'm beyond thrilled that I made my comeback, and that I feel completely confident that I will cover those 26.2 miles on April 21.
I'm also so very grateful to everyone who stuck with me through all those months of uncertainty, and who tolerated my whining and complaining, and who never doubted that I'd get to the starting line in Hopkinton.
But as race day gets closer, and I'm truly faced with the reality of being there again, I can't help but feel a lot of sadness, too. I want to be excited and happy and positive - and I am, in so many ways - but those rushes of excitement are always followed by an almost physical feeling of heartache.
I think about how it's tough for me to imagine being back there this year, and then I think about how I was so far removed from the actual events of the day, and my feelings pale in comparison to those who were injured, or who lost a loved one, or who witnessed the horror firsthand. And if they can find their way back to run, or to spectate, or to be at the race in any capacity, then I certainly can, too.
I also think about how sad it made me when my 10-year-old said he was worried about me running again; that he didn't want anything to happen to me. I reassured him that the race would be incredibly safe, and he doesn't seem like he's too terribly anxious about it, but I hate that thoughts like that even have to cross his mind.
There's a memorial at the Boston Public Library, and I'm torn about whether or not I want to go see it. I want to, and I feel drawn to it, but I also know that it will tear my heart to pieces to see it.
But I also think that somehow it might be helpful. I feel like, even after all this time, I still haven't fully processed last year's events. In so many ways, it still kind of feels like it wasn't real. And I know the phrase "finding closure" is so cliche, but maybe that's something the memorial would provide me.
Or maybe the real therapy lies in tracing my footsteps and covering those miles again.
I've been listening to this song and watching this video a lot - sometimes it makes me cry, and other times it makes me smile.
But every time it makes me proud to be running the 118th Boston Marathon. Proud to be one of the 36,000 runners taking back this race. Proud to be representing Boston Strong. Proud to have fought so hard to get here, and to have never given up.
I know that it's not going to be like last year, when I felt strong and healthy and my stride hardly faltered at all - my training just hasn't been sufficient to prepare me to run at that level. But I also know that no matter how tired my legs get, my heart will not fail me.
I may not be fully trained, but I am ready.
I'm ready to cry, I'm ready to run, I'm ready to experience all the emotions the day will undoubtedly bring forth.
And I'm ready to celebrate, because ultimately that place of celebration and joy and happiness is what we're all running towards, and I know we'll get there this year. We have to.
Every marathon training cycle, you wait for one of those great, confidence-boosting long runs. One of the ones where you feel stronger than ever, and your legs seem like they're on autopilot, just pulling you along.
And when you finish, you know - you just know - that you're ready. You're beyond ready to tackle those 26.2 miles on race day, and you'll have moments where you struggle, but you're ready to push through those moments and cross that finish line like the strong, healthy runner that you are.
A few months ago, I wasn't waiting for one of those runs. I was just waiting to run any distance without pain. The idea of having a great 20-mile training run seemed like nothing more than a pipe dream. But yesterday, I made it a reality.
The forecast all week had been calling for 40-degree temps and steady rain on Sunday. That forecast quickly deteriorated to become torrential rain. Downpours. Flash flood warnings started coming in. It became very clear that this was going to be ugly.
For various reasons - none of which now seems nearly compelling enough - we decided to stick with our plan to run Sunday instead of Saturday (when it wasn't going to rain at all). Our plan was to run 10 miles, and then jump into a local 10-mile race to finish up the 20.
My personal plan was to to run easy with my friends beforehand, and then run the race at a slightly faster pace, which I figured would mean somewhere around 8:15 or 8:20.
Amazingly, not a single one of us bailed, and we all met up as planned to carpool up to the race location Sunday morning, driving through enormous puddles that covered the entire road in spots. We geared up, commented several times about how insanely stupid the whole thing was, and set out to get it done. Because we are runners, and that's what we do.
Not even 100 yards into the run, our feet were soaked. Avoiding puddles was almost pointless, as the rain was relentless, and we were going to be drenched no matter what. We ran a few loops around part of the course, and avoided (or so we thought) one section of road that was completely underwater. Unfortunately, when we looped back to make our way back to the race start, we came up against this same section of road, but we didn't have time to backtrack, so were forced to wade through the freezing cold ankle-deep water.
As we completed our ten miles, we reminded ourselves over and over again that we were building character - we were hardcore! - we would always remember this run - and if we could do this, we could do anything!
We had time for 9 miles before the race, and got done just in time to pick up our numbers and put on dry socks and shoes and clothes. We knew they'd be soaked again in minutes, but it was nice to at least start out feeling slightly less soggy.
I had made a playlist for this race - something I haven't done in years. I had a feeling it would be a good thing to do, and I was right. I put in my headphones almost immediately and really enjoyed having some music to listen to, now that I was running alone. In the rain.
It was a small race, but due to the washed-out road (that we had waded through), the course had been changed to an out-and-back, with a turnaround at mile 5, so there was always someone running relatively close by, which was nice.
I took off way too fast and ran the first mile in 7:46. I knew that wasn't going to be sustainable, so I tried to back off a little bit, and a few glances at my Garmin told me I was staying right around an 8:00 pace.
I didn't know if I'd be able to hold that for the full 10 miles, but I was feeling so amazingly good, I thought I'd try to stick with it for as long as I could. I couldn't get over the fact that I had just run ten miles, yet I felt like I hadn't run at all, and was starting out with fresh, rested legs.
There were a couple of turnarounds where I got to see my friends, and also got to see three other friends from the running club, who were the first, second, and third female finishers - so great to see them in the lead!
The course is nothing to rave about. It's run through Quonset Point, which is a decidedly non-scenic industrial area, with some train tracks, some nondescript buildings, and a lot of very flat, open stretches of nothingness. Throw in the gray, gloomy weather, and it was even less inspiring. It was flat and fast, though, and I had my tunes keeping me distracted, so the miles were really flying by.
As we turned around at mile 5, I was still feeling good, but I was glad to be halfway done with this part of the run. I was still staying right around the 8-minute pace, and I knew if I had kept it up this long, I'd be able to finish it off. I also knew it was going to start to feel a lot tougher, though, and I mentally prepared myself for that.
Miles 5 - 7 were ok - I started to get tired, but my legs were still cooperating. At mile 7, I had to start playing a lot of mental games to keep things moving. At mile 8, I came back to my old "just get through this mile" tactic, knowing that once I hit mile 9, I could count on adrenaline to get me to the finish.
As we turned the last corner and headed into the finish, I passed a woman I had been running just behind for most of mile 8 and 9. I was mostly competing with myself at that point - I wanted to finish strong - but yes, I was competing with her, too. And as it turns out, she was in my age group, and that last little push at the end put me in first place for that age group.
I crossed the finish in just over 1:20, and was absolutely elated. Running 10 miles, then taking first place in your age group in a 10-mile race is a guaranteed confidence booster, for sure.
I waited for two of my friends to come in, and then headed out to run one more mile. We had only gotten in 9 beforehand, and there was no way I was going to go through all that and not run a full 20 miles.
The weather during the race was a teeny tiny bit better than it had been during our pre-race miles - showers, rather than downpours - but I was still drenched all over again, and couldn't wait to get into warm, dry clothes.
Since it was a small race, the awards were done pretty quickly, and I scored a nice mug and a keychain for my age-group win. Always nice to get something I'll actually use, instead of a medal or a plaque.
There are so many more stories to tell about this epic run - how we tried to come up with some kind of military-type cadence to sing/chant as we ran. How two of my friends tried to outdo each other by seeing who could remember - and sing - all the lyrics to "Eye of the Tiger" and "Gloria." How there was very randomly a swing on a tree next to a dumpster, in the middle of this absolute nothingness we were running through, and how one of my friends got on for a quick swing (I wanted so badly to take a picture, but the thought of extracting my phone from the plastic bag and armband it was in was too daunting). How we waded through the ankle-deep puddle and almost lost our shoes to the muddy grass. How I came to a point during the race where I almost laughed out loud at the absurdity of it all.
But what I'll remember most is how thankful this run made me to have this group of friends. I was so tempted on Saturday, when it was nearly 50 degrees and blissfully dry, to just go out and do my 20 miles solo. But we had plans, and I knew that even though the weather was going to absolutely suck, I'd rather run with my friends than run alone. And I am 100% certain that I made the right decision.
As I trained for Boston last year, I got all the emails about when everyone was running on the weekends, and I wished I could go and run with them. But I was focused, and I had goals, and I didn't want to sacrifice those goals. And I'm glad I didn't. That's what Boston was about for me last year, and I'm proud of how hard I worked and what I gave up in order to succeed at what I set out to accomplish.
But this year has never been about that. I had thought it would be, but then I got hurt, and I had to shift my way of thinking. I had to shift it a lot, and it wasn't easy at first. I let go of my PR goal. Then I let go of my re-qualifying goal. Then I nearly let go of my 'please let me just run it and finish' goal.
And as I've made my way back and been running regularly again, I've been tempted over and over to try to find a way back to some of those goals.
But every time I thought about going out for my long run alone so that I could try to run a faster pace, I quickly changed my mind and opted to go with the group. I have nothing to prove this year - not to myself, and not to anyone else.
What I have is a need to be there, and to run the course, and to soak it all in, and to reclaim my Boston Marathon experience - and to be a part of the field of 36,000 that is reclaiming it for all of us.
The phrase on this year's banners is "We run together," and that just couldn't be more perfect.
While most of what I've written lately has been either about me and my running or about Gabe, I haven't forgotten about Dante and Carmine, and have been meaning to jot down some things about them, but it keeps getting pushed to the bottom of my endless to-do list.
Unfortunately, we're pretty sure Dante's been feeling like he's at the bottom of that list lately, too. With all of the Gabe issues we're dealing with - the palate expander, the upcoming 10th birthday, the medication - Dante has been feeling a bit left out, and as a result, has been acting up a little (sometimes a lot).
Thankfully we were wise enough to realize this after not too long - the fact that he was completely and totally flying off the handle and screaming and sobbing at the drop of a hat tipped us off - and we have been pretty deliberately giving him some extra attention. Not so much that Gabe and Carmine feel slighted, but enough to make Dante realize that he's just as awesome as ever, and that we're not ignoring him. And since we've made that effort, his freakouts have all but disappeared.
Being the middle child isn't easy, especially when you're sandwiched between an almost-ten-year-old brother who's going through a lot of big transitions all at once and an impossibly vivacious, outgoing, adorable 4-year-old who refuses to be ignored, and will often yell very loudly "I'm waiting to say something here!"
Dante is growing up in his own right, though. He's obsessed with science shows, and all manner of building/cooking/exploring shows. He and I both watched an Ernest Shackleton show that was on PBS last month, and he could binge watch episodes of "How Did They Do That?" I personally love this, as I'm a fan of all those shows, too, and I'd much rather he watch that than Pokemon.
As of right now, he wants to be an architect when he grows up - partially thanks to another show he likes to binge watch, called "Epic Homes." I think he was especially enamored of the log cabin house. Can't say I blame him - it looked pretty cool.
Going back a bit to when the yard was still covered in snow (a sight I hope I don't see again until next year!), he took to snowboarding like a natural, and spent hours going down the tiny hill in our backyard after school. He and Gabe (who also did really well with it) would throw on their gear and slide down over and over again, and one time I heard Dante say to Gabe "Dude, we're shredding some major powder now!"
Because of the snowboards, they were particularly interested in the Winter Olympics, and we recorded and watched a lot of the events. Dante at one point mentioned how he wished we had a halfpipe in the backyard. And Gabe, while watching the figure skating, commented to me that "I bet you and Dad couldn't do that." I didn't take him up on that bet.
February was a long month (and March is proving to be even longer, as spring seems to have forgotten to arrive), but we filled it up with as many fun activities as we could, including a visit from the Theriault cousins, complete with a snowstorm and an outing to see the Lego Movie.
School vacation week was busy, too, with a trip to CT to see Grammy and Grampy and more cousins, and two more trips to CT - one to the Pequot Museum, which we all loved; and one to Mystic Aquarium. So glad that we have so many fun places within close driving distance, and now that we caved and bought a membership to the Aquarium (and already have a membership to the Seaport), I'm sure we'll be spending even more time down that way.
Dante was beyond thrilled that the Titanic exhibit was still up at the Aquarium. He was a major Titanic buff a few years ago, and we went to see the exhibit right after it opened, but I didn't know it was still going to be there, so we all had fun going through and exploring it again.
There were too many snow days this winter, but we managed to survive them, with a mix of sledding, crafts, projects, tortilla snowflakes, and probably more screen time than recommended, but once the nice weather hits, I know the screens are going to be forgotten, so I'm ok with that.
Dante and Carmine are best buds these days, and spend so much time hanging out together. They both have incredible imaginations and love to create elaborate setups in the garage and in the yard - their favorite is to create a "boat," and then have adventures on and around their boat.
This usually involves making an enormous mess and taking out almost every toy they own, which results in me having to stand over them and make sure they put each and every item away, but it's worth it, because it really is the best kind of play, and I love to eavesdrop on them while they're talking - they get along so well, and it makes me so happy.
The three of them play together fairly well, too, but Gabe is definitely in a bit of a different place, and it shows sometimes. He spotted my Athleta catalog on the table one day, and the cover model was wearing a (very modest, athletic) bathing suit, and he turned it over, saying to Dante "We can't look at that - it's too sexy!"
Gabe has been on his medication for two weeks, but neither we or his teacher have seen very much change in his behavior, so we'll be talking to the pediatrician to see if the dosage needs to be adjusted. The good news is that it isn't affecting him negatively in any way, either, so hopefully that will continue to be the case even if the dosage changes.
Carmine, 6 months after he moved to a big-boy bed, finally started getting up all by himself. It was pretty cute the first few mornings, the way he'd come downstairs and peek around the corner, as if he still wasn't quite sure he should be there. We've all adjusted to it now, but I think Gabe and Dante kind of miss going in his room to get him.
So far there have only been two nights that he got out of bed after we put him in for the night, and when we told him to go back to bed, he listened. Fingers crossed that that continues.
A couple more Carmine goodies - if we have to talk to him about something he's doing wrong, or are telling him he can't do something, he puts his hand up and says "I don't want to talk right now." And if I tell him he can't do something, he'll ask Scott - but he'll ask him while I'm still standing right there, and if I try to interrupt to tell him that Daddy is going to say no just like I did, the hand goes up again and I'm told "No, Mommy, don't talk - I'm talking to Daddy right now." The kid has got some nerve, for sure.
In addition to his habit of yelling out "I'm waiting to say something over here," he has another way of trying to get a word in - he'll tell us (with the hand up - always) that "I'm having an answer."
And his last few mispronunciations - which I love, and which I'm going to be sad to see go - are bullZoDer and lawnmoMer and Nuseum. He always gets those ones mixed up, but he can pronounce the word excavator clear as day.
Every day is challenging, and every day is exhausting, but every day they make it worth it.
In marathon training, the 20-miler looms large. Even the past few races I've done, following the Run Less, Run Faster plans that have five 20-milers per training cycle, where going out and running a 20 almost becomes the norm - even then, I still got a little nervous during the week leading up to it, and I still felt incredibly accomplished and badass when I completed it.
So this year, with the amount of time I had to take off, and the incredible uncertainty about whether I'd ever get back up to double digits - never mind 20 miles - it was really looming large, but more as a question mark than a nerve-wracking task to accomplish.
And truthfully - I kind of craved that feeling of utter exhaustion, and that feeling of not wanting to take one. more. step. but pushing through anyway. I missed it, and I spent a long time hoping I'd get to experience it again soon.
Today was the day. After a successful 15-miler two weeks ago, and a great half-marathon last weekend, I was thinking I'd go for 18 this weekend. But then I checked the calendar and realized that if I ran 20 this week, I could drop back down to 15 next week, and squeeze in one more 20 the following week before tapering down. And really - how much of a difference is there between 18 and 20?
Let me stop here and say that I would never ever recommend that someone come back quite this aggressively from an injury layoff. If it wasn't Boston, I wouldn't be doing this. I'd be keeping my long runs in the neighborhood of 13 miles, and would be very happy with that. Without an incredibly important race on the horizon, I'd play it much safer.
But I'm pushing my luck a little bit right now, because it is Boston. And because I was there last year, making it a million times more important for me to be there again this year. So yes, I'm well aware that I'm setting a very poor example - especially given that I'm a coach, and I absolutely know better - but sometimes, you have to follow your heart, and as long as my body cooperates, that's what I'm going to do.
So I decided to try for the 20 today, with the knowledge that I could cut it short if need be.
After doing nearly all of my Boston training solo last year, it's been a real treat to do most of my long runs with my friends this year. Last year was all about paces and tempos and intervals and serious focus - and it paid off, and I'm glad I did it.
But I'm also glad this year is different. This year is about getting in the miles needed to prepare me to cover the distance. Period. I have thrown in a few tempo-ish runs the past couple of weeks, and I was going to try to do some faster miles at the end of today's run, but I re-thought that.
I realized that I've asked an awful lot of my body these past 6 or 7 weeks, and it has thus far responded very favorably, so I think I need to be reasonable about how much further I push it, because if I try to add everything (speed AND distance) back in at once, it just might decide it's had enough and stage a little rebellion, and that's something I cannot afford right now.
So today was a comfortable (mostly) 9:00 overall pace. There were some faster miles in there, and there were some slower miles in there, and there was a lot of wind, and there were much colder temperatures than one would expect at the end of March.
But we got it done.
As race day gets closer and closer, the marathon is in the news so much more. And the one-year anniversary of last year's race is right around the corner. And I'm finding myself tearful almost every time I think about it.
As the date gets closer and I get back to some actual training and it all seems so much more real, the stories and the reminders bring all the emotions flooding back stronger than ever. I suppose that's not surprising at all, but it has been a little tough. I find myself wondering how I'm going to hold it together when I step up to that starting line, and how I'm going to not cry just being back in the city of Boston.
I know having my friends with me will help. It will help remind me that this is, first and foremost, a celebration - of the incredible strength, spirit, and courage of runners and of the city of Boston. I think tears are inevitable, but I think they'll be a mix of both sad and happy tears.
The Boston Marathon will never be quite the same again, but I firmly believe that it will just keep getting better and better - and I can't wait to be one of the runners out there taking our marathon back.
I get goosebumps when I think about that feeling, and about being at that spot again - the finish line in sight - knowing you're about to cross it. And I'm also overcome with such tremendous sadness, thinking about what that spot turned into just a short while after I crossed it.
But at the same time, I'm filled with such a sense of hope. And that hope is what I'm going to try to concentrate on as I run those miles this year. Because that's what keeps us going, and that's what this year is all about.
I love setting goals, and I love a good challenge, and I love having a time to chase when I step up to a starting line.
But sometimes the best thing to do is go into it with no real expectations, and no definite goal in mind.
That's how I went into this morning's race, and it paid off big time!
I set up my Garmin last night so that it would only display my overall time elapsed, and no other information. There were mile markers, so I'd know how much distance I had covered, and I really didn't want to know what pace I was running. I wanted to just go out there and give it my best effort and see where I ended up.
That took a lot of the nervousness out of the equation, and although I did have some pre-race jitters, they were far less pronounced than usual. I wasn't expecting anything incredible, seeing as how my last speed workout was nearly 6 months ago, and I've really only just returned to regular long runs.
I felt I'd be happy to hold a pace right around the low- to mid-8s, which is where I've been for my most of medium distance training runs.
The race starts with a turnaround on a dirt road, so I knew I wasn't going to go flying right off the bat, which was probably a good thing. And during the first mile, I felt fabulous. My legs felt fresh and ready to run, and since I had been absolutely freezing waiting at the start, it was nice to be moving and warming up.
The temperature was in the low 30s, and I had debated wearing capris, but am glad I went with long pants. There were some spots on the course that felt a tad warm, but when the wind kicked in, I was happy to have my legs fully covered - and I never felt too warm. I was also really glad I opted to bring my sunglasses. It was very overcast at the start, but then the sun came out and stayed out, and I would have been very unhappy to not have my shades on.
I was also wearing my brand-new Brooks Adrenaline shoes. I took them out for a short test run yesterday, and my foot felt so much happier in them, I decided to wear them today, even though I wouldn't normally wear a new pair of shoes for a half. Since they're a similar type of shoe (stability), I thought it would be ok, and it was - no problems at all. My foot is a little bit sore, but not nearly as much as it had been feeling, so I think the switch is going to be a good one.
Although I had my Garmin display set to time only, it did still beep and flash my lap pace at each mile marker, but except for a couple of glances, I mostly ignored it. I did look down at mile 2, though, and was kind of shocked to see 7:42! I chalked it up to just going out a little too fast, and figured I'd naturally slow down in the next few miles.
I was feeling really good, though, and didn't consciously back off. I didn't want to put in an all-out race effort, but I did want to push myself, so I focused on settling into a rhythm that felt challenging, but good.
The course is mostly flat, but there are some gentle rolling hills as it winds through some residential neighborhoods in the early miles. There are also a couple of turnarounds, and it was fun to see my friends as I circled back.
I kept chugging away and feeling good through the first half of the race, and glanced down at my Garmin again when it beeped for mile 6, and was thrilled to see 7:59. I was still feeling pretty good, and thought that I could probably stay right around that pace for the second half.
I had taken my Gu right around that mile 6 marker, and I was kind of happy that I had passed a handful of runners through the 4 - 6- mile stretch. Passed several people on one of the few hills on the course, and it made me feel good to know I still have some hill strength in me - that will come in handy in Boston for sure!
Miles 7 and 8 were pretty uneventful, but I did look down at the mile 8 beep, and saw 7:48, and thought to myself - "Hmmmm - can I keep that up for 5 more miles?" And I was kind of surprised that I very confidently thought "yes, I absolutely can."
We wound our way through another little neighborhood, and then back out onto the main roads for the final miles. Just as we got to the mile 9 marker, we ran into a pretty stiff headwind. It didn't last for too long, but long enough to tire me out a little.
The mile 10 marker was a very welcome sight. I didn't know if I had it in me to pick it up a whole lot those last 3 miles, but I wasn't about to throw in the towel, either, so I just kept plugging along - and passed a couple more people here, too.
And now I was getting tired. I just kept telling myself to get through the next mile, and concentrated on relaxing my shoulders and making sure I was running as smooth as possible, and not overstriding (something I have a very bad tendency to do when I get tired).
I was so happy to see mile 11, but now I was really digging deep. It's been so long since I raced, I almost forgot how those final miles feel - to be so completely exhausted, but so completely determined to not give in to it, and to instead push yourself even harder.
So relieved to see mile 12, and I knew I had a little left, so I pushed a bit more and got myself to the last turn on the course.
The final stretch is run on a very uneven grassy field, and I knew that, but I was still cursing it as I ran down toward the finish.
I was so, so happy to cross that line, and even more happy to see 1:42:51 on the clock! Very far off my half-marathon PR, but so much more than I ever thought I could do at this point.
I didn't set any records or win any awards today, but I do feel like I kicked some ass !
My first race in 5 months, after nearly 3 months off due to injury, and with only about 6 weeks of regular running under my belt, and I pulled off a 7:49 pace for 13.1 miles! I was shocked - and thrilled : )
I grabbed a bunch of the fabulous snacks they had in the food tent (great spread, and if you've ever considered a TriMom race, I'd recommend this one in a heartbeat - love the course, love the fleece jacket I got, and love the post-race food), but didn't hang around too long. I was cold and wanted to get home to a hot shower!
I'm still glowing, though. I'm so happy that my legs remember how to run fast. It's been a long, long 5 months, and it's so gratifying to know that all the hard work I put in during those months of not running has paid off. I never would have been able to do this if not for all the cross-training I kept myself busy with this fall and winter.
My splits are kind of all over the place, but I still love looking at them, just because it's been so long since I've seen numbers like this for a run of this distance -
Mostly happy with those last three miles - I can still pick up the pace on very tired legs, and that is a wonderful thing. Actually, right now, I'm feeling like everything is pretty wonderful : )
The final numbers -
7th in my age group
23 of 285 females
89 of 487 overall
The road to Boston continues - with more confidence than ever!
The last time I wrote about Boston, I was feeling pretty certain that I'd be there as a runner, not a spectator - and I was absolutely determined to do everything in my power to remove any lingering doubts.
Now, a few weeks later, those doubts don't stand a chance.
What's happened in those few weeks?
I moved from a 10-mile long run, to a 13-mile long run, to a 15.5-mile long run.
I increased my total weekly mileage to just under 26 - pretty much a 'normal' mileage week for me. (not a normal marathon training week, but I'll take it!)
I threw a few tempo miles into one of my midweek runs, and ran several sub-8-minute miles in a row - something I haven't done since October - and it was really, really fun!
I continued swimming, and I continued lifting weights, and I continued getting on the elliptical, and I took a few more bike trainer classes.
I stretched, and iced, and kept up with my PT exercises, and had a few PT appointments and one acupuncture appointment.
What's also important is what I didn't do - I didn't run as far as I wanted to (yes, 15 miles is a long way, but I'm itching to get in that 20-miler). I didn't try doing any real speedwork. I didn't add in a 4th or 5th run in any of those weeks, even though I've been oh so tempted.
Patience is key for me right now. As much as I want to be ready to tackle those 26.2 miles, I need to be cautious and careful to not overdo it and end up back on the sidelines.
A new issue has helped me to maintain my cautiousness - some pain on the ball of my right foot after my long runs.
I'm not freaked out about it, because it only flares up after the long runs, and it goes away within a day's time. I will see my podiatrist about it, just to get his opinion and diagnosis, but I'm not going to let it stop me from running Boston.
One tactic I'm trying in the meantime is new shoes.
I've been loyal to my Mizuno Alchemys for several years, and it's a little unnerving to try a new type of shoe, but although the Alchemy provides the stability I need, it's far from cushioned, and I think having a little more cushioning will help with this pain on the bottom of my foot, so I'm going to try out a pair of Saucony Omni and a pair of Brooks Adrenaline. Hopefully one or both of those models will make my feet a little happier.
And as another step on the road to Boston, I have a half-marathon this weekend, which I'm really looking forward to. It's been months since I raced, and I'm anxious to get back out there.
I truly have no idea what that's going to mean, in terms of pacing. I've been running relatively well for my shorter midweek runs, and when I run by myself for my long runs, I've been able to comfortably hold a pace between 8:30 and 8:40. I'm truly very curious to see what will happen when I just let myself go. It'll be an interesting experiment.
And after that - onward and upward - hopefully to a 17- or 18-miler the following weekend, and a 20-miler the week after that.
And through it all, I keep my fingers crossed that my shin and my foot and every other joint and muscle and ligament and tendon continues to cooperate.
This morning I finally got a rush of nervousness about Boston - something I had yet to experience this year.
I've felt a lot of things - disappointed, anxious, concerned, sad, sometimes a tiny bit excited - but unlike last year (when I experienced it nearly every day!), I hadn't yet felt that flurry of nervous butterflies that made me pause and take a deep breath.
I loved feeling it this morning. That nervous energy is one of the things I love about racing. It's such an integral part of the journey, and it's instrumental in keeping you motivated and focused, and come race day, it's almost magically transformed into a rush of adrenaline that you can barely contain as you stand in your starting corral.
I've missed those butterflies, and I'm thrilled that they're finally back.
45 days : )
I’ve taken most of the boys’ big milestones mostly in stride. I get melancholy, and a little sad, when they move past one phase of life and onward to the next. I get a little wistful when I pack away a pair of pants they’ve outgrown or a board book that nobody will be reading again.
But for the most part, I get a tremendous amount of joy seeing them grow up, seeing them start to figure out how who they are, and how they’re going to make their mark on the world. It’s exciting to see their personalities develop and grow, and it’s even more exciting to share new things with them at every stage.
And I didn’t really think Gabe’s upcoming birthday would be any different. Sure, he’s at the biggie – double digits! – but even though I knew it was a big deal, I didn’t anticipate that it would hit me in quite the way it is proving to.
It doesn’t help, of course, that on top of the fact that he’s turning TEN in just a few weeks, he also recently embarked on his orthodontic treatment (beginning with the barbaric appliance known as a palate expander), and also started taking his ADHD medication – oh, and as if that weren’t enough, this is also the time at which we needed to officially submit notice that he won’t be attending his beloved elementary school for 5th grade, and will instead be moving on to the local middle school.
That’s an awful lot for anyone to take in all at once, right? He happens to be handling it all with the greatest of ease – me, not so much.
He hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshines – don’t get me wrong. There have been some complaints about the palate expander (for which I cannot blame him one bit – I mean, look at the thing – I’d complain if I had to wear that!), and some concerns voiced about middle school, and some sadness over leaving his current school.
But generally, he’s rolling with the punches and maintaining a surprisingly positive, even-keeled attitude about everything. The resilience of youth, I guess?
I, on the other hand, am an emotional mess. I had tears in my eyes as I filled out the withdrawal form for his current school, and after I did the required turns on his palate expander last night, I had to look away so he couldn’t see my eyes tearing up. I feel like I’m the one going through all this upheaval, instead of it all being on his shoulders.
I think if it was just one, or even two, of these things, I’d be ok. But this confluence of transitions and new experiences is throwing me for a loop – partly because it’s hard to see your child having to go through things that you know are uncomfortable, or stressful, or in any way make their life unpleasant for any period of time.
But mostly because it’s all like a big neon sign in my face, reminding me of how damn fast he’s growing up, and how many more of these types of challenges are headed his way, and how each year that goes by, the challenges are just going to get more challenging.
I can remember when Gabe was in kindergarten, and we talked about how we’d have to make this middle school decision ‘someday,’ and someday seemed so impossibly far away.
Time marches on. We’re on the verge of double digits, and things will continue to get more and more complicated.
But these little boys will continue to grow and thrive and learn and challenge us and surprise us. And even though that process is a little tough to take sometimes, in the end, that’s what it’s all about, and it’s pretty amazing to be a part of.
It's a wonderful thing when you're told by both your physical therapists that you can cut your visits back to once a week, rather than twice a week; and by your acupuncturist that you can cut back to every other week sessions rather than weekly.
It's also a wonderful thing when you can start running with your friends again.
It's even more wonderful when you set out for a solo 10-miler (your first double digit run in 4 months, but scheduling issues meant you couldn't meet up with your friends when they were heading out), and you just happen to run into those friends who are also out for their run, and you're able to run 4 of those 10 miles with them.
But the most wonderful thing of all is when you finish that 10-miler feeling better than ever, and feeling completely confident that you will in fact be able to stand at the starting line in Hopkinton on April 21st, and you will be able to again run the 26.2 miles to Boylston Street.
More wonderful things -
Bike trainer classes that have served very well to kick my butt on a few Saturday mornings this month, and have satisfied my need for a long endurance workout while I've been unable to get out for hours-long training runs.
Running Dante's first 5K with him earlier this month - a day that I know neither of us will soon forget. We made it to the 1.5-mile mark before we had to switch to a run/walk, but he made it the whole way, and per my instructions, when he hit the final turn and headed into the last .1 of the course, he ran for all he was worth.
The best part of the day for me, though, was at mile 2, when he turned to me and said "This is the best day of my life."
I hope we run more races together in the future, but even if we don't, I'm glad we had that one.
And the most wonderful thing is that if someone were to ask me right now if I'm training for Boston, I'd say yes - no qualifiers, no maybe, no hopefully - I am all in!
It's a far cry from a 'real' training plan, and I'm totally making it up as I go along, but hey - I'm a coach, I can do that : )
It's a very fine line I'm walking, and I'm aware of that, and I'm doing my best to balance playing it safe with running enough to prepare my body for the marathon distance. Hopefully it works.
And if a good attitude counts for anything, I'll be all set, because I am positively oozing optimism right now. I keep imagining myself at the start, on the course, and crossing the finish line. I know it's going to be a tough race for me, and I'm going to be woefully undertrained, but I'll be there, and that's what matters.
Just going to keep doing what I'm doing, and keep hoping that more wonderfulness comes my way in the next 9 weeks.
Gabe's 10th birthday is coming up next month, and since he's on the verge of double digits and all the incredibly complex and personal issues that are going to ensue as a result of that, he's not a topic of discussion here all that often anymore.
And every time I write about it, I mention that we've thought about medication and considered medication, and weren't ruling it out entirely, but that we were still not comfortable going that route.
And I know that there are probably people out there who will read this and will shake their heads in disappointment, and who will think we're making a huge mistake. And I might have done the same thing if I was in their shoes 3, or 4, or 5 months ago.
But I can't be concerned with what other people think. I need to focus on what's right for my child, and my family, and at this point, I feel like this is what's right.
I've talked to our counselor, I've talked to his pediatrician, I've talked to other parents whose kids take medication, and I've read endless articles about it.
I can't say that we've exhausted every single non-pharmaceutical option avaialble to us, but we've certainly tried other methods, and some have worked to varying degrees, but we still struggle. And more importantly - Gabe still struggles.
And as he gets ready to make an enormous transition - to middle school - next year, I am scared for him. I'm scared about how he's going to adapt to a much, much larger school, with a lot of kids who he doesn't know, and with more (and more difficult) work to do, as well.
He's my baby, and he'll always be my baby, and I worry about him. I want him to do well, and I want him to make friends, and I want him to enjoy school and not feel frustrated and anxious and worried and alienated.
Making this decision is, as I pointed out in the title, one of the most difficult things I've ever done. I actually think I decided a few weeks ago, but couldn't bring myself to say it out loud. I feel like it's an admission of failure on my part as a parent - like I can't help my kid, so I need to medicate him.
But I'm trying not to think of it that way, and instead think of it as what it really is - us trying to help him be the best Gabe he can be.
We don't know how this will work, or if it will work, or if he won't like the way he feels on the medication - and we're obviously considering it a trial. But if there are no bad side effects, and he feels good taking it, and he feels like it's helping him - then we'll likely stick with it for the foreseeable future.
I try not to judge anyone for their decisions, and I ask people to not judge me for mine. If you have never raised a child with ADHD, and never seen them struggle with work that they are clearly intelligent enough to complete, but just can't focus well enough to do so; if you've never seen your child yell in frustration that "I just can't get my brain to stop!" - then you can't say what you would do in my shoes.
These aren't shoes I ever wanted to wear, and I'm still not entirely sure how this is all going to play out, but we're doing the best we can, and what we feel is right for our family, and when it comes down to it, that has to be enough.
Surftown Half, September 14
Ocean Road 10K, October 5
Newport Half, October 12
Philadelphia Marathon, November 23
2014Blessing of the Fleet 10-Miler, 1:14:11new PR Jamestown Half, 1:39:19, 2-minute course PR Katie DeCubellis 5K, Dante's second 5K, 3rd in his age group Cox Rhode Races Half, 1:44:01, 3rd place age group Boston Marathon, 3:53:36 Quonset Point 10-Miler, 1:20:02 Ocean's Run Half-Marathon, 1:42:51 Super 5K, 39:36, Dante's FIRST 5K!
2013United Healthcare Half Marathon, Newport, 1:37:56, 3rd place age-group award Ocean Road 10K, 44:09, 3rd place age-group award Back on Track 5K, 21:53, 1st place age-group award The Blessing of the Fleet 10-Miler, 1:14:58 Katie DeCubellis 5K, 21:39 2nd place age-group award Cox Rhode Races Half Marathon, 1:40:57
Boston Marathon, 3:30:19 - New PR
Jingle Bell 5K, 20:51 - new PR, 1st place age-group award
Newport Bridge Run, 27:31 - 2nd place age-group award
Zooma Cape Cod Half Marathon, 1:38:07 - 1st place age group award
Shoreline Biathlon, 1:26:35 - 1st female finisher and new PR
Roger Schonning 5K, 21:31 - 2nd place age-group award
United Healthcare Jamestown Half-Marathon, 1:41:26 - 1st place age-group award
Matty Siravo 5K, 21:40 - 1st place age-group award
Jingle Bell 5K On the Beach, 24:18, 1st place age-group award
Hartford Marathon, 3:43:11 (Gansett/Boston qualifier!)
Hazard Castle 7-Miler - 54:01 - PR and 3rd place in age group
Matty Siravo 5K - 22:20 - 1st place age-group award!!!!
YMCA Indoor Tri, 15 min, 600 m; 20 min, 9.7 km; 25 min, 3.35 mi - Top Runner Overall, and 6th of 24 Participants
DVRC 5K (actually 3.8 miles) - 27:55 - Third Female Overall!!!!
Matty Siravo 5K - 24:42 - 2nd Place Age-Group Award!
2009Racing for Two
A Race to Grow 5K - 23:39 - 3rd Place Age-Group Award!
Matty Siravo 5K - 24:11 - 1st Place Age-Group Award!
Chiller Chase 5K - 27:28
Super 5K - 26:58
Shoreline Biathlon, 1:47:56
Jingle Bell 5K on the Beach - 29:05
Shoreline Biathlon, 1:53:52
SNA 5K By the Bay 5K - 26:47
Shoreline Biathlon, 1:37:54