Tuesday, November 26, 2013

20 weeks until the Boston marathon!

Wow, that makes it sound so close.  Only 20 weeks.  Only 6 weeks until Dopey!  That's even closer.  AND I only have two more weeks of work until I'm on vacation for the rest of the year!!!! I really, really need a break. At this point I am excited to get Dopey over with so that I can focus on Boston.  My training is going well.  I've been doing short fast runs along the Charles during the week, then my back to back long runs on the weekends.  Plus Pole and Aerial Silks.  This past weekend I did 10 miles on Saturday and then on Sunday I was supposed to run 16 miles. 

I had signed up for a half marathon in Nashua for Sunday and figured I could get to the start early and do a little 'warm up' out and back to add some miles for the day.  Well, Mother Nature had other plans.  She made it pretty miserable.  It was 22 degrees with a wind chill making it feel like 3 degrees.  I figured running a half marathon in those conditions was torture enough and I didn't really need the extra miles.  I felt really great for the first few miles and then I slowed a little and definitely felt it.  My legs just felt heavy and the wind cut through me.  My water bottles were frozen.  Pretty sure my muscles were frozen too.

I just looked at my splits according to my Garmin and I was ridiculously even paced for the most part.
Mile 1 - 9:50
Mile 2 - 9:38
Mile 3 - 9:55
Mile 4 - 9:48
Mile 5 - 10:07
Mile 6 - 10:44
Mile 7 - 10:29
Mile 8 - 10:34
Mile 9 - 10:30
Mile 10 - 10:40
Mile 11 - 10:35
Mile 12 - 10:32
Mile 13 - 10:38

So despite being frozen and tired I still ran really strong.  My average pace was 10:16 for the whole race. Although it was mostly really close to 10:30s, those first few fast miles bring the average down.  I'll take it.

Last week I did another awesome activity to add to my jar and check off my 'to-do' list.  I went to the Paint N Sip wine tasting/painting class up the street from me.  I've walked past the place a million times and looked at the calendar and thought about signing up and wanted to do it for a long time.  I finally signed up.  I was supposed to go with a friend who ended up bailing at the last minute for personal reasons.  Still had an amazing time and met some new friends there. Here is a look at the progress through the course of the class starting with a picture of what we were trying to paint.

The blank canvas 
 The paints we used
Step 1: Paint the sky 
Step 2: Paint the grass  
Step 3: Add the shadowy area in the foreground 
Step 4: Add trees along the horizon and a little fence, and a house 
 Step 5: Fence in the front and then sign it!
Here I am with the two lovely ladies that were sitting with me.  Allison and Janis.  We had a wonderful time and I am sure I will see them again sometime.

I spoke with the owner afterwards and asked about hosting a fundraising event and she agreed.  We will be painting the Boston Skyline on February 4th with $15 of every registration going towards my fundraising for Dana Farber.  I will also do some door prizes and raffles at the event.  It should be a really fun event.  I'm really excited.  At the rate I am going I should definitely hit my goal to raise $10,000.  I may even hit $8K before the end of the year.  I will be mailing out my holiday cards soon and doing another opportunity drawing for a cheesecake.  I'm almost at $6K now if I count pending company matches.  THANK YOU SO MUCH everyone that has donated already!!! If you haven't, what are you waiting for????  It IS Thanks-GIVING afterall.......just saying.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Keeping busy, really really busy

Last week I went to see the big guy, Santa, yeah he's already at the mall taking requests for his list.  It's a little difficult to read in the photo (it came out better when printed), but the sign we are holding says:
"ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS A CURE FOR CANCER.  YOU CAN HELP.  DONATE TODAY! www.runDFMC.org/2014/ALICIAL 100% of the money raise supports innovative cancer research. Running Boston Strong in 2014" I'm planning to use it for my holiday card to send out to people.  I hope that I get my Christmas wish and all the other little kids in line get theirs too. 

So far I am doing really great as far as fundraising goes.  HUGE THANK YOU to everyone that has donated already.  I am already halfway to my goal to raise $10,000!  That puts me in Wellesley, just past the 'scream tunnel' of girls at the college and leaving the downtown area heading down Rt. 16 towards Newton about to cross over I-95.  This part of the course usually goes by fast for me because I know my friends and family are waiting just past mile 17 at the Fire Station and the base of the Newton Hills.  I hope that it goes by fast on my fundraising map too and everyone reading this helps me get to Newton and over the hills.  Every little bit helps, just like the marathon, one step at a time or one dollar at a time, together we are all a little closer to the ultimate finish line - a world without cancer.
Training for Dopey continues too.  Last week was a recovery week.  I dropped my mileage after a few weeks of building back up to longer distances.  I'm actually really glad it was a recovery week too because I went back to pole fitness after almost 2 months away from it AND added aerial silks into the mix for fun.  Holy crap it was like the first time all over again and I was ridiculously sore after.  And aerial silks is friggin hard!!!!!  Those Cirque du Soliel people are badass!  I thought pole was really difficult until I tried silks.  It's like pole only the pole moves and it's stretchy.

I skipped my mid-week runs to rest because everything hurt after back to back classes Monday and Tuesday.  When the weekend arrived I was still sore, but ready to run.  Saturday I did 8 miles in Ayer with my friend Kim.  I really miss our 5@5 runs in Lowell sometimes.  I think it's been a really long time since the whole gang of Lowell Ladies ran together.  Maybe as long as 2yrs.  I like getting a chance to catch up and chat over a few miles with friends, just wish we could do it more frequently like we used to, but everyone is busy and some moved out of Lowell.  It's definitely getting colder out too.  I had to go buy more long tights last week and layered up for Saturday morning's run.  By the time we finished it was warming up but when we started it was in the low 40s and felt like 30s.

After the run I went to Trader Joes and bought a ton of food I didn't really need.  Shopping 'RUNgry' is bad.  I had plans later in the day to go to late lunch with Milady and then we went to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.  It was so funny.  I hadn't seen Milady since Berlin so it was really great to catch up with her too.  And I was able to return her medal to her.  When they ran out of medals and she saw how upset I was she gave it to me.  I got my medal in the mail a few weeks later from one of the volunteers at the finish.  I sent a Boston Strong t-shirt back to her with a thnak you card. 

Sunday I had to do 14 miles.  I really procrastinated.  I slept in until 7:00 which is really late for me.  Then I sat around sipping tea for most of the morning.  There was a Law and Order marathon on TNT, it sucked me in.  I finally got dressed and motivated around 10am and when I went to put my Garmin on it was dead.  I put it back on the charger for half an hour til it got about 70% charged then headed out.  It was warmer and pretty decent out.  Kind of perfect actually.  I felt really good.  Averaged 10:30s and negative split it.  My last two miles were the fastest.  I spent the rest of the weekend doing laundry and makign some veggie soup and continued the Law and Order marathon.

Back to pole and aerial silks again this week. Monday night I did Pole and it was easier than last week but still intense.  I climbed to the top of the 14 foot pole 3 times!  I was so excited.  I made the instructor take a picture.  I was dripping sweat by the end of class.  My friend Lisa had come with me this time and she was spent too.  It's really hard, I told her.  We grabbed a glass of wine and some small apps after.  Silks last night was ridiculous!  Holy crap.  We did more of the basic stuff we did the week before and then some really crazy stuff.  It was so fun!!!  I did a side climb, then with the silks behind me, arms over my head and legs straddled below, I let go and did a front flip out of the silks.  It's called a drop and it was terrifying but so awesome!  I can't wait to go back. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Seriously Dopey...

So, this weekend things got real.  I did my first back to back to back training runs in preparation for the Dopey Challenge.  It was also my first really long run since Berlin.  I've done a half marathon and a few 10s and 14s, but this weekend was my first 16 miler since August.  I sort of feel like the 16-20 milers are the real meat of marathon training and anything under that is just a base or foundation.  Crazy, even a little Dopey, when I think about that.  I still can't beleive I run that much for FUN.  Anyway, this weekend I did 5 miles Friday, 10 miles Saturday, and 16 Sunday.  I should also mention I did a 2 hour hike Saturday immediately after the 10 mile run, thinking it would be a nice active recovery, but in hindsight it probably made my 16 miler a little more painful than it needed to be.

Overall, for 3 days and 31 miles, it felt really good and I ran strong.  Friday was really really windy along the Charles River.  I think Accuweather said something like 35mph gusts.  I ran just over 5 miles averaging 10:00minute miles.  Saturday morning I did 10.5 miles averaging 10:40s.  Sunday I did 16 miles averaging 11:00s.  Both the 10 and 16 mile loop are pretty hilly.  The 10 less so than the 16.  The climbs really killed me.  I need to start training for the stair climb and doing more hills or something because I feel amazing and super fast on flats and downhills but still get totally spent on inclines.  That will really suck in February when I want to go up 41 floors as fast as I can - TWICE (or more).

With training ramping up and going great I am happy to report that my fundraising is right in step with me.
Thank you so much to everyone that has already donated.  It means SO much to me.  As of right now, I have raised $2650 ($2045 online + $605 offline).  That puts me just passing the 10K mark on the course and entering Framingham.  It's kind of a long flat and boring section of the course so I'd like to get to Natick and then on to the scream tunnel of Wellesley as soon as possible so if you haven't donated yet, help me get there and go to my fundraising page today to donate.  www.rundfmc.org/2014/alicial
You can also mail checks made out to "DFMC" to me directly at 406 East Merrimack St. Lowell, MA 01852    

Lots of fun things planned and going on over the next few weeks including taking an aerial silks class tonight and doing a paint n' sip wine tasting/painting class next week.  I think I can stir up some more trouble and cross off a few other items on my list before the year is over....maybe even sliding down a pole in a fire station....Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Seeing things differently

This past weekend I was supposed to do the Freedom Trail Run with my friend Denise Saturday morning in Boston.  We were both really looking forward to it and excited to see some of the historic sites in the city that are all too easy to take for granted since we live here.  Then the Red Sox had to go and win the World Series in typical Red Sox fashion, going from worst to first and winning at home bringing the most amazing positive energy and joy to the Fenway Faithful and the entire city of Boston in a year when we needed it most.  And of course they had to have Duck boat parade and it had to be on the day when we had planned to go into Boston for a little sight seeing.  At first we didn't let this ruin our plans because the parade wasn't going to start until 10am and our run would be done by then.  Then we saw the road closures and parking bans and started to worry. 

Saturday morning I got up and got dressed and watched the news.  The forecast was perfect for running and for a parade.  No one cared about our silly run though.  It was Duck boat parade day in Boston.  The reporters in Copley Square were already surrounded by Red Sox fans at 5am!  They showed the commuter trains packed full and I started to wonder how crazy the crowds would be.  I got an email and then a text from Denise.  We were both feeling really anxious about attempting to fight the crowds to do a run that we could do any other weekend.  Was it really worth it?  Plus, the thought did cross both of our minds, when they predicted millions of people flooding the streets of the city and special significance and respect to be paid at the finish line of the marathon - that's a lot of people and another potential target for an attack.  While it is an incredible thing and the energy and emotion of the entire city coming together to celebrate is awesome, it is also anxiety inducing and even a little unsettling to think about approaching that street in a large crowd.

I know we will both need to do it in April 2014, but we were not ready yet and decided to save the run for another day.  I did my shorter long training run (8 miles) for the weekend and finished before the parade even left Fenway.  I watched some of the coverage on TV as I ate breakfast and got dressed.  It was a great day for Boston.  The interviews and the boats stopping on Boylston to pay tribute to the victims of the bombings and then the crowd spontaneously singing "God Bless America" together was overwhelming to see on TV I can only imagine how it must have been in person.  Just seeing the images of the Marathon Sports staff getting choked up as the players put the trophy and a special '617 BOSTON STRONG' jersey on the finish line gave me chills.

Anyway, I finished out the weekend of training with a 14 mile run on Sunday.  The weather was not nearly as nice as Saturday.  It was sort of snow/sleeting for most of the run.  Now quite cold enough for the white fluffy stuff, but not quite warm enough for rain.  Just right to be annoying and uncomfortable.  I ran a really solid and consistant pace for the whole run.  I even negative split it.  Which is pretty impressive considering the second half of the run is mostly uphill.  Here's the elevation profile:
Those hills between mile 7 and 11 are Tewksbury's version of the Newton Hills and they will get me ready for Boston over the next 6 months.  I repeat these hills in the last miles of all my long runs.  It pretty perfectly mimics the last few miles of the Boston Marathon.  I actually think the last mile of the climb in Tewksbury is a lot worse than Heartbreak hill.  It's longer and steeper and it just never ends.  I get a nice downhill for a mile before I have to climb again for the last 2 miles.  It's gradual and levels out at some points but it is still climbing all the way back to my house.

So, that's one aspect of my training.  Another part that I think will become increasingly important with THIS race in particular and this year more than ever is the mental training.  I usually practice visualizing the course and especially a strong finish and the feeling of glory as I make those last two turns onto Hereford and then Boylston.  The crowds and the other runners fade away and it's just me and the finish line and the amazing high that comes with crossing the most prestigious finish line in the World.  That vision has changed forever now and it is blurred by horror and unknown and smoke and fear.  I wasn't there, but I heard it and I saw the look on people's faces as they came from there.  I know next year it will be the safest street in the entire world, but I still struggle to see myself running down it.
I have been re-reading the book "26 Miles to Boston" to prepare.  It is a great book written from multiple perspectives and it paints the perfect picture of the marathon mile by mile.  From history, runners, spectators, and the race organizers in each of the 8 towns the course passes through.  Last week, when I ran the Ashland Half marathon I was just getting to the chapters in Ashland.  Last night before I fell asleep I progressed to Natick and closed the book at Wellesley.  There was a section of the book that really struck me and has a completely different meaning to me now.  The author quotes a poem talking about how spiritual running can be.  The poem, 'Forgive me when I whine' is nice and I probably skimmed over it in previous readings of the book, but this time it brought me to tears:

Today upon a bus I saw a lovely maiden with golden hair;
I envied her, she seemed so happy and , Oh, I wished I was so fair
When, suddenly, she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle;
She had one foot and wore a crutch, but as she passed a smile.

Oh, Go forgive me when I whine;
I have two feet, the world is mine...

With feet to take me where I'd go,
With eyes to see the sunset's glow,
With ears to hear what I should know,
I'm blessed indeed, the world is mine
Oh, God forgive me when I whine!

The next few months will be challenging.  Training for the marathon through the harsh New England winter, fundraising during a really tough economy in a newish job for a smaller company that does not have a matching gift program, and mentally preparing to run across the finish line a year after bombs exploded and stopped time in the city of Boston.  I accept the challenge and look forward to conquering it, but it will be tough.  Tonight is my first DFMC team meeting.  I can't wait to meet some of the other team members and reconnect with former teammates.  My fundraising is off to a great start - $1625 only about two weeks into it.  Help me keep going and visit my personal fundraising page to make a donation: www.rundfmc.org/2014/alicial