Wednesday, December 21, 2011

First Group Run

Saturday was the big day, our first team run!

Friday night, I cut myself off after two beers in prep for waking up and being in Lexington by 8 am. The week of non-stop holiday parties had already gotten to me and I was exhausted. I woke up, threw on my clothes and grabbed a granola bar for the car. I never realized how close Lexington was until I plugged it into my gps and found out my arrival time would be 15 minutes later. Found parking right in front of the store and walked in surrounded by amazingly fit athletes. I won't lie, I was pretty intimidated. Luckily, I saw some now familiar faces from the newbie meeting in which calmed my nerves just a bit. They started off with announcements and an overview of the course. You had your option of anything from 5 miles to 10 miles. As I realize that most of the fast guys will run their 10 miles in my 10k pace, I opted for doing a little over a 10k.

I started out on the course with a group keeping pace. They were running at an awesome speed and one that I would like to keep up with. Of course, at mile 1.5 that dreaded granola bar decided it hated me. Lesson learned...always practice nutrition! Good thing this was a fun run and not race day. My pace dropped back significantly and I started to keep pace with this awesome back of the packer. We chatted for a bit and she restored my faith in being a back of the packer. See, I started as one back in '08 doing triathlons barely able to run a mile. And as my blog title says, I am a "real girl" which means I was built more like a linebacker than a speed star. As training for tris progressed, I became a mid-packer which, while not as fun, allowed me to finish strong before they packed up the refreshment stations. So, while I was feeling down about everyone passing me by, this lovely lady made the comment that we were doing much more than those who were on their couch or still in bed. Yes, I was trotting along slow, but I was out there running and soon will be out there doing a marathon. I may not be first, heck we know I'm not Kenyan, but I will finish in my own time. I let me new friend speed along as I scouted for some woods.

Shortly after my break, I approached the 2.5 mile water stop. The parents manning the station were the cutest people I have seen and so cheerful. It reminded me that I am not alone in this race. Between the donors behind me and the people there watching me run each mile, I have a support network. After stopping to chat, I jogged along to the turnaround for a 6.5 mile run. I turned around just as the fast 8 milers were running on by. As I moved along the fast 10 milers started to run by as well. Everyone was so nice and cheered each other along as we passed by others. The final downhill approach brought everyone in sight including the running store. I took a bit of a long path back in order to feed my meter. Low and behold, someone had done that for me which put a smile on my face!

Back in the running store, everyone was chatting away. I ended up making some much needed purchases to get me through the dark winter and went outside to stretch. I got to talking to those still out there and once again was reminded of how supportive everyone is. We were discussing past races and upcoming ones and the challenges we face. No matter how fast you are, there will always be someone ahead of you to try and beat. It was nice to hear that because after doing a lot less than the super fast group, I was starting to doubt myself.

I came home, took a nice hot shower and sat on my couch for the next few hours. As I was flipping through my blackberry, I saw a DFMC email come through with a notification of a donation. A very sizeable donation was made in memory of a dear neighbor whose funeral I had attended 2 days before. As I was sitting there in a pile of a mush, I was reminded that yes, today was not the best of runs for me, but that wasn't why I was running. I am running so one day I won't see the in memory of as a subject line. And with that, my faith in running was restored.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Inspiration from Celebrities

Part of our newbie meeting this past weekend, Jack, our awesome coach got up and spoke. One of the topics he discussed was setting realistic goals for the race. My one and only real goal is to finish the race. Of course, I have a few super secret pipeline dreams. I would like to finish in sub 5:30 with an amazing finish of sub 5 hours. Yes, most runners will finish is around 4, but have you seen the title of this blog? I am not a natural born runner and thus I will not be finish in the 3s!

This morning I jumped on Yahoo to get some of my basic news and saw that Kate Gosselin was trending. Clicking through, I read it was about her finish at Vegas this weekend. As an inspiration, I decided to pull celebrity times to compare to and set some of them as my targets to beat.

Here is my top 10 list:

10. David Lee Roth, 1987 NYC Marathon (6:04:43)
My ultimate goal is to beat this former lead singer of Van Halen. Boston closes the course at 6 hours and gosh darn it, I want my medal and my name in the paper!

9. Freddie Prinze Jr., 2006 LA Marathon (5:50:49)
 I hope that I can beat a former teen star and now WWE celebrity.

      8. Katie Holmes, 2007 NYC Marathon (5:29:58)
Did scientology help her through the 26.2 miles? As a proud Jew, my people are used to wandering. Let’s see if 40 years lost in the dessert can help provide me with speed.

7. Kate Gosselin, 2011 Las Vegas Marathon (4:59:21)
I would like to think I have seen more success than a crazy haircut and selling myself to reality tv, but the reality is I would be more than happy with her time. 

6. Oprah Winfrey, 1994 Marine Corps Marathon (4:29:20)
Oprah, as a former “real” woman yourself, you give everyone the hope that they too can finish a marathon, but why did you have to go do it so fast?


As many know that you can’t compare other courses to that you run yourself, the remaining 5 celebrities are Boston Marathon finishers. 

5. Mario Lopez, 2002 Boston Marathon (5:41:42)
I grew up loving Saved by the Bell. AC Slater, you may have missed the bell of my goal in this marathon, but I still love you. 


  4. Ali Landry, 2002 Boston Marathon (5:41:41)
Did she and AC Slater run the race together? 

3. David James Elliott, 2000 Boston Marathon (4:57:23)
He was brought to fame staring on a show bearing my initials. Maybe some of that breaking 5 hours will wear off on me!

2. Lisa Ling, 2000 Boston Marathon (4:34:18)
We kid around that a group of guys at work are auditioning for her former show The View. I didn’t realize it, but she can really move when off that couch. Was she getting chased by Whoopi?

1. Valerie Bertinelli, 2010 Boston Marathon (5:14)
I kid about all the runners above, but I for sure have a lot of respect for this Hot in Cleveland star. As she ran by us at mile 10, I quickly googled who she was running for and there learned about Dana-Farber. She raised a whopping $17,000 for the charity and finished strong. My new ultimate goal is to finish both the fundraising efforts and the marathon effort as graciously as she did.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Crying on a Saturday Morning

This past Saturday, Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge hosted a first timers meeting for all of us new to the team. The night before, I had the Santa Claus Anonymous Snowball and was dancing until the wee hours of the morning. I won't lie, waking up and getting out of the hotel room door to head over to the meeting was hard and I much would have stayed in bed. That is, until I walked in the door.

For those that have never been to Dana-Farber, first count yourself lucky, but second realize how amazing of a place it is. Every hallway, every elevator, and every room is named after donors that have helped financially to make this place exist. The amount of people treated here plus the medicinal advancements that are spread throughout the country are awe-inspiring. Meandering through the hallways, a few teammates and I found the conference room the meeting was being held in. As we got our nametags, there was a city listed at the bottom. At first I thought they got my work address and home address mixed up as my city was Framingham. Shortly thereafter, I realized they had set up all the towns that the marathon runs through.

For those that know my bike route, I usually go out to Natick or Framingham and ride back home along the course. Seeing the town names I have grown to love and know incredibly well was inspiring. During training runs, I will now picture passing through Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline and finally Boston to the finish. Aptly enough, I walked by the finish from last year on my way to a party Thursday night. All I could do was smile and realize that in a few short months the freshly painted one will be my finish line.

Once assembled in our groups, we had to answer three questions which included the famous why we run question. By now almost everyone knows why I run (and if you don't, read my first entry), but I did not know others. Let me tell you I was choking back tears listening to those talk about losing parents at young ages, losing siblings and watching loved ones go through treatment. As I said starting this thing, cancer does not discriminate and 1 in 3 will be a victim in their lifetime. It was proof as over 50 of us talked about how cancer has affected our lives.

I left the meeting once again inspired to try and fundraise as much as possible to help put an end to this ugly disease.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Turkey Trots Galore

On Thanksgiving day, I ran in the innagural Southbury Turkey Trot in Southbury, CT. If anything, that race had the cutest race shirts I have seen to date. The course started at my college roomie's mom's gym and then went through cow fields and up one hill to the end. While the college roomie's husband's goal was to go hard and fast, mine was to see pacing for a marathon. Many know how hard it is to not get swept up in the crowd and go too fast at the start. I figured this would be a great test to make sure I go slow at the start. I had no Garmin and there were no mile markers, but I finished the race in my solid 12 minute mile (yes, I am slow) pace. As I was rounding the finish, I yelled to my friend's mom that I only had 9 more of those to go. It is beyond scary to think that the marathon is almost 9 5ks! Eeek! In the end, I felt great and knew that I could easily do that course a few more times. Major props goes to college roomie's dad for making an awesome breakfast after the run!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

First Week Back In The Game

At our kickoff meeting last week, the coaches told us to print off the plans that they had posted on the website for us. You can pick between beginner, intermediate and advanced or mix and match from all three. There was also a one month jump start calendar for novice marathoners. As the furthest I have run is 13.1 miles, I figured I should start there. While I'd like to pretend it has been easy this first week back, I'd be full of lies. The aches and pains that were present at the end of last season have started with me this season as well as an additional 5-10 pounds. I am slower than I was and a little bit more sluggish. Like anything, I know this will pass in time for the first real run of the season as it has before. Until then, I will plug along and follow my plan.

On a positive note, the kickstart of training has put me in a homebody mode where I am cooking each night. A very large expensive trip to Russos and my fridge is filled with almost every color of the rainbow. Like most, I can't run after eating garbage, so a change in my diet was required. I forgot how much I enjoy creating new recipes and being healthy. The 5 months of training will only sustain my need for this.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kick Off Meeting

Last night, this marathon journey became real! The kickoff meeting for the DFMC was held on the campus of Dana-Farber.

As October was a wash with running and working out, I was really nervous in the hours leading up to the meeting. I've run 13 miles on numerous occasions, but 26.2 is double that. Could I handle it? Is it too late to drop out?

As I parked my car and started walking over to the meeting, I had to walk by the majority of the buildings. Looking through the big glass windows, I saw a woman about my age pushing herself in a wheelchair. In any different situation, that could be me. Cancer does not discriminate and she and I could very well swap positions. Just seeing that made me put all doubts behind me and upped my desire to want to raise money for this cause.

I walked into the auditorium and glanced around at all the people. As predicted, it was filled with amazing athletes. I felt so out of place as people talked about 8 minute miles and running 6 days a week. My mind channeled back to watching the race last year as my friend Shelley's friend ran for Dana-Farber. She was a solid 12 minute miler and posted how supportive everyone was during the runs. Remembering that made me calm down a bit and stay focused on the meeting. They talked about the 3 groups runs a week and our fundraising goals. Knowing that we will have support network really helped. I now realize I can tackle 26.2 and will focus on the fundraising. I am super excited to try and figure out innovative ways of raising as much money as possible.

After the meeting ended, the team reconvened at Boston Beer Works. I will honestly say, I got the most out of the night there. We all discussed our race history and our fundraising goals. A veteran was beyond supportive and talked about his journey over the last few years from a just about 6 hour runner to a now 4:30 runner. He also talked about his fundraising efforts and creative ideas to go about it. I'm pretty sure he did not realize how much just talking to him helped, but it went beyond anything those 8 minute runners discussed in the actual meeting. It was also great to talk with others and see that they too had done halfs, but not really anything further and that they too were 10-11 minute milers. It felt like the start of tri season years ago, I had found my back of the packers. I left while the party was still going strong confident that I had found a village to reach my goal with.

Friday, November 4, 2011

My acceptance to DFMC and status update

A lot has happened since I posted my first nervous rant on this blog.

September 23rd, while in Buffalo for the weekend, I got the email from Dana-Farber letting me know I was chosen to be on the team. I honestly can say it was just as exciting as opening the college acceptance letters from oh so many years ago. With anything in my life, my status update on Facebook was changed and the outpouring of support was evident. I just hope they all donate to the cause! The following week, I formally accepted my spot on the team by setting up my donation page and paying for the program. I know what most people are saying now, paying for the program? Yep, you read that correct! The awesome thing about DFMC is that 100% of the money fundraised goes straight to the cause. Many other programs take the registration fee and other expenses from the money you raise. While that is ideal for some as it means no money out of their pocket, it just wasn't for me. If I am going to put my blood, sweat, and tears into 26.2 miles and raising $6,500, I want the money donated in my name to really go for the cause. That above other things made me super proud to whip out my credit card and take that large charge on my bill.

As I was out of town when I found out I was running, I hadn't seen my tri teammates in a rather long time. The night after I became part of the team officially, our tri team had the end of the season party. It felt amazing to be able to talk to friends about my upcoming experience and how proud I was to race for the cause. These are the people that watched me struggle to run around the Wellesley track just a few years ago. They watched me start with a 14 minute mile and see that time drop down to my current pace. They watched me start with 5ks and cheered me on at my first half. I am sad that they won't be running along side me for this challenge in my life, but know they will be there on the sidelines yelling and screaming as I run by them on my way to 26.2. Being amongst my people reminded me of how far I've come and how much support I have on this journey.

The tri party kicked off October and the rest of the month became a blur of travel. My mom came to town and we hit up Vermont to watch the leaves change. We also met up with friends of mine who as saying goodbye to my mom told her that next time they would see her would be along the race course. It felt good to know that everyone will be there to cheer me on. All three of my parents, out of town friends, in town friends, coworkers, they will all be there watching me take on a dream of mine!

The day after my mom left town, I was on a plane to England to watch a good friend get married followed by a week in Iceland. The hiking in Iceland reminded me that I had pretty much taken 6 weeks off of working out and my body was hurting. I was looking forward to kicking off my training so I did not feel like that anymore. It was funny that those 6 weeks were the longest I had skipped working out in 5 years. My 24 year old self would have been shocked that this was who I am now. I know I bring it up often, but the change from destructive behavior to one of discipline and self improvement has been one of the most pivotal in my life. I look in awe of the person I have become and am happy to have been allowed the journey.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

2012 Application In

"Scariest thing I've done in a long time: submit my application to Dana-Farber to run Boston in 2012. I hope they like me as much as I like them!"

The quote above was my Facebook status from Tuesday. From the second I hit share, I recieved nothing but an outpouring of support. Those friends telling me how awesome I am, those wishing me luck and those asking me what's there not to like. Yet, despite the positive confirmation that I have found my "village", I have never been this nervous since college application times.

My friends know my story and they love me for it. They have seen the transformation as I reclaim my life with each mile that passes under my feet. They see the dedication that has been formed as I hang the awesome medals on my now full wall hanger. Heck, many of them are sick of seeing me in race shirt after race shirt. Yet how do we translate this on paper to showing people what it would mean to race for their cause.

A one page application is not much real estate to tell a committee how much cancer has touched my life. There is no place to write of the fears you have that one day your OBGYN will retire and you will be left without your security blanket. The doctor that was there for you the day they found abnormal results and insisted on a follow up. The doctor that calls you after every routine test to tell you that you are safe for another six months. Would they even understand that?

Would they understand the holes in your heart left by people taken to soon? How many funerals have been attended in the last ten years all a result from the same disease? Family members, family friends and even now before we hit 40, friends. It is not fair that a disease so common has not had a cure and that so many of us are without loved ones to share special occasions with. Am I selfish to want those people back? How on paper do you express the loss you feel when invitations come for special occasions and you know certain people will be missing from the simcha?

How on paper do you write of the success you have seen with chemo, radiation and removal of masses? Saving every message your grandmother sends you because you know that even in remission, it can still come back. Cheering extra hard for a friend crossing the finish line of a race cancer free. Trying not to focus on the scar on a friend's chest when they talk as to not remind them that cancer left a lasting reminder. Celebrating another friend's 30th birthday as it was the most important day as they have been cancer free for 3 years. These experiences and joys can't be expressed in 3200 characters or less. They become part of you and part of the reason you run when it hurts and when you want to quit. They didn't quit and they faced a much harder battle.

So how do you let a team of unknown people know how much it would mean to you to raise money for their cause? You don't. You submit your application, make your hopes and dreams public and hope that they like you as much as you like them.

Here's to hoping I get the honor to raise funds for Dana-Farber in 2012!