Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Only 6 weeks left in 2014.....

...how did that happen? This year flew by. I was putting together photos for my holiday cards recently and had a hard time deciding which ones to use because I have done so many amazing things this year it's hard to believe.
At the beginning of the year I realized it was the year of the Horse and I was born in 1978, so I kind of knew it would be MY year. It has been a little crazy and full of ups and downs and a total roller coaster of emotions but overall I'd say mostly awesome or amazing with a few hiccups along the way.

The biggest hiccup was getting laid off from my job in the summer. Totally shady deal that happened over a few weeks where company #1 (which would have had to pay a minimum of 26 weeks of severance to employees) sold my division to company #2 (a much smaller company with no products or R&D or plan for the future that was obvious) for pocket change in our industry resulting in a reduction in force (RIF) and only 8 weeks of severance because we were "terminated" from company #1 and had to sign about a hundred documents saying we understood that. So, from what I can tell it was a real estate deal where some execs from company #2 bought the lease of a useful space and then emptied it and company #1 got rid of a division that was not making any money without having to do the dirty work of layoffs themselves.
Bright side of all this, I had the best summer ever! Sure I spent a lot of time worrying about money and searching for a new job and applying and interviewing and going to the lame @ss career center dealing with idiots, BUT I also hiked some of the most amazing areas in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and went up to Portland Maine and spent time with my family and spent a few days relaxing on Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, NH with friends. It was like a long vacation, I just wish looking back that I had traveled MORE. I'd like to say I wish a ate and drank less, but I really really enjoyed every lobster roll and glass of wine I consumed so I don't regret it. I mean, it's all fun and games until your jeans don't fit anymore, but I am confident that I can get back to my ideal weight now that I have a routine again.

Six months ago I was miserable at work and completely demotivated and it was impacting my running and life in general. Now, I am beyond excited for what the future holds for me. I am in a great place mentally and I have a new job that I am totally psyched about. I have a few races coming up (Dopey Challenge 2015 in just 50 days) and hopefully some fun holiday parties to go to (or host) to hang out with all the amazing friends that got me through the rough patches of the year. Seriously, I probably haven't said it enough, I try to say it and express it in as many ways as possible, but I'll say it again: I AM GRATEFUL for all of my friends and family and all the time we get to spend together. THANK YOU!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be

It's been a LONG time since my last update. I've been really busy working on my "To-do" list. I'll try to give the short version of the last few months and sum it up nicely. In the end of May my company was bought/sold and as a result I was laid off in mid-June. I had already begun searching for a new job for a bunch of different reasons and had some leads so it was not that upsetting to be let go. Plus, it gave me some free time to have fun and aggressively search for a new adventure.

First week of freedom I checked off a few items on my list right away -
1. Donated 15" of my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths
2. Went Shark Cage Diving
3. Went on a Duck Boat Tour

Since then, I kept busy through the summer continuing to search for the right opportunity and training for my fall marathon(s). All the time while running I kept finding dimes. I looked up the significance of it and it is suppose to mean angels are watching over you. When I say I found dimes I don't mean in my pocket or at home, I spotted them every where I went and not few and far between, almost every time I left the house I would find a dime in my path. Although not having a job was stressful, I trusted in my journey and knowing I had angels watching over me I was ok with whatever obstacles I encountered.

Summer turned to fall and I checked a few more items off the list - hiked the tallest waterfall in NH and a few other amazing trails, went zip lining, did the Wineglass marathon (and a few other shorter races), got a new job that I am more than thrilled about, went to the Salem Witch museum, got a psychic reading, joined a CSA, and just this past weekend I completed my 18th marathon - the NYC Marathon. Oh and I found A LOT of coins on that course:

Neither of my most recent marathons was as fast as I'd like them to be, but I made sure to appreciate the journey and take in the amazing accomplishment of covering 26.2 miles again no matter how long it took me. My race mantra in NYC was actually "I'm exactly where I want to be/where I'm supposed to be". As 2014 speeds to an end and 2015 quickly approaches, I will start training for the Dopey Challenge and maybe even check off a few more items. Whatever happens, I could not be happier. Things have worked out very well and as I said to myself all summer, good things happen to good people. And so my journey continues.....

Monday, June 2, 2014

Time flies....how did it get to be June already?

Can't believe it's already been over a month since I ran Boston.  It has been a crazy 6 weeks or so.  Lots of stuff going on, dramatic changes at work stressing me out, worrying about the near and not so near future state of my job and how these changes will impact my career path in general. The stress of it all is weighing very heavy on me and sucking my motivation.  I took a little break after Boston and have been really struggling to get back into a routine of running.  I am so mentally exhausted that I don't WANT to run and that is a feeling I haven't felt in ages.  I continue to register for races hoping that it will help me stay motivated.  Something needs to change.

I signed up for the Dopey Challenge again the day after Boston.  Then a few weeks later I ran the Ragnar Cape Cod relay (originally the Reach the Beach relay, then merged with Ragnar).  It was a lot of fun, we ran from Hull to Provincetown and I have never been to P-town so that was cool.  Two weeks after that was my birthday and I ran 3 races in 3 places on the same day (10K in Newton, 5K in Norwell, and 4K in Walpole). That was really fun. The running wasn't tough, the logistics of getting from one race to the next was tricky.

Memorial day weekend I ran the Run to Remember half marathon, this past weekend I ran the Twin Lobster 1 mile + half marathon races, and next weekend I am running the Runner's world half festival hat trick (5K + 10K + half marathon).  Other than running I have a lot of other fun stuff planned for the summer too.  I am going cage diving with sharks in a few weeks, and then zip lining and rock climbing and I got another skydiving deal on groupon.  I am trying to cram a lot of crazy stuff in so I have things to look forward to and distract me from the stress at work.

Oh and I just realized there's only about 18 weeks until my next marathon! So, I guess I have to start training.  whoops.  I should probably make a plan and start running.

HUGE NEWS wrapping up Boston 2014 - I have raised over $16,000 for Dana Farber Cancer Institute running my 16th marathon.  It means so much to me I cannot thank all of the people that donated and supported me along the way enough.  You can still donate through the summer so if you just never got around to it, it's not too late....maybe I can hit $17,000 before my 17th marathon.  www.rundfmc.org/2014/alicial

Monday, April 28, 2014

Taking back Boylston!

It was hot and super sunny, but it was still so amazing I don't really have the words to describe it.  My sunburn still hurts a week later but my smile hasn't faded yet.  It still doesn't seem real, more like a dream that happened and I woke up and went to work and life went on, but for one day, for five hours (plus six hours waiting to start), I was part of the greatest day ever.

The whole weekend was really fun.  Friday I sat at work counting the hours and minutes until I could leave and go to the Expo, finally I couldn't take it anymore and I left around 2:30.  It took me alomst 45 minutes to drive the mile and a half from Cambridge to parking in Boston for the Hynes Convention center.  I met my friend Collette at the Marriott Copley Place to check in with Dana Farber first.  Then we went to the Expo to get our bib numbers.  It was so crowded already.  We walked around and bought a few things, but then we left to go get food and drinks with a few other people at Forum across the street.  It was getting late and I was running the 5K in the morning so we wrapped it up and called it a day.

Saturday morning was a beautiful day to run.  It was cool and crisp, only about 40 degrees out, but partly sunny and no wind.  I lined up in the Boston Common with 10,000 other runners and completed the BAA 5K in a little over 30 minutes.  I just wanted to take it really easy and enjoy the run, no point pushing it since I had a more important race to think about in 2 days.  Afterwards I went to the expo again with my friend Patty this time.  I found a nice hooded sweatshirt I hadn't seen the day before and then drove Patty back to Dracut before going home to shower and get some lunch.  I met my friend Kim and her kids at my favorite local eatery, Life Alive and brought them some cheering supplies for Monday.

Sunday I relaxed all morning and then got ready for the Dana Farber Pasta Party.  Around 2:00 my friends Ann and Jack (aka my Massachusetts parents that now live in New Hampshire), picked me up and we drove to the Marriot for the pasta party.  As usual, it was an emotional and inspirational program with speakers and patient partners and in memory of partners and a few team mates and our coach Jack Fultz.  It was really nice and by 7:30 I was home and in bed with my alarm set for 2:35am.

Marathon Monday finally arrived and the morning was filled with excitement and energy.  I got dressed and drove into Boston to meet my team and take buses to Hopkinton.  Once in Hopkinton we waited and waited and waited.  We took some photos and waited some more.  Around 10:30 we made our way to the start corrals.  Slowly but surely we moved closer and closer to realizing the dream of running the 118th Boston Marathon. 

The first few miles are usually a blur, but this time was different.  There were a lot more specators than the 2 times I have run before.  If there was a space on the side of the road it was filled with people cheering.  And not just families on their front lawns like before, huge crowds of people crammed in shoulder to shoulder.  I even mentioned to a girl I was running with that I had never seen crowds like this and it was not normal that early on the course.

I kept a good even pace for the first half, right on where I wanted to be to finish in around 4:30-4:45.  Then it got hot.  And I had forgotten my salt pills at home thinking it was not going to be so warm out that I would need them.  I had them on the counter and ready to pack, then only realized I didn't have them when I was half way to Boston and it was too late to turn back.  I didn't think it was a big deal until Wellesley.  That's when I started to feel like running was harder and my legs were heavier.  I wanted to go fast but my body said NO.

I started dumping water on myself at every water stop, but it only made me soaking wet, not cooled off.  I made it to Newton and stopped at the mile 17 cheer station to hug Ann and Jack and then turned onto Comm Ave for the hills.  My race plan was to go out slow and steady then attack the hills.  I was able to power up the first hill and recover on the falt, but I could feel the effect on my heart and lungs.  It was too much, it was too hot.  My heartrate wouldn't recover and I was overheating so I decided to try and take it easy on the hills hoping to get a second wind on Beacon Street.

That didn't happen.  Beacon Street was as usual, long and grueling.  I walked a little and then shuffled and tried to run and got exhausted and walked some more.  Then I saw Collette and we were nearing the 24 miles marker.  I said come on, we can do this lets go.  I picked up the pace a little (not much, I mean from a 14 minute mile to maybe and 11 minute mile).  I decided it was only 2 miles, I could do it.  Collette hung in for a little bit and then I lost track of her.  I heard someone screaming my last name and I looked over and it was my friend Charles.  I went over to give him a hug and he said, how are you feeling you look great.  I said, "Oh my god, it's so hot, I feel like I'm dying".  He cheered me on and ran behind the spectators along the sidewalk for as long as he could yelling you got this, you can do it, go Alicia.  It was exactly what I needed.

Mile 25, I stopped again for hugs and high fives, then kept on moving.  My friend Patty was planning to be where I was last year so as I got closer to Mass Ave, I scanned the crowd and didn't see her.  It was so much more packed than last year.  I couldn't even see the sidewalk.  It was all people.  I ran under the overpass and out the other side and then I heard someone yelling my name.  It was Patty, she was on the other side.  I smiled and teared up a little knowing what came next.....right on Hereford, left on Boylston.

My mom was with a bunch of my friends on Boylston somewhere.  They told me they would try to be near Forum restaurant, but because that was the site of the second bomb blast last year I wasn't sure they would find a spot.  I knew they would at least be on that side of the street so I started looking.  Then as I approached Forum I found them.  A whole row of blue and yellow "Boston Strong" shirts.  I stopped and hugged them all.  I was so happy to see them and so overwhelmed.  I pointed to my arm, where I had Collette draw a heart and write "MOM" and said "Ok I gotta go finish this".

Boylston was alive and well.  It was electric and joyous and exactly as it should be on such a great day in the city of Boston.  I thought I would be emotional and I thought I would cry as I crossed the finish line but I didn't.  I think I was partly delirious and a little cranky from dehydration.  I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible.  I didn't care about getting the food or gatorade or even water.  I kind of wanted a wheelchair, but I knew there were and might be people later that needed them more than me.  I eventually found a DFMC volunteer to guide me back to the hotel and to the recovery zone. 

I DID IT!  I ran the Boston Marathon again.  It wasn't pretty and it wasn't as fast as I wanted to finish in, but it was amazing.  I still can't believe it.  It really does feel like a dream.  I mean I have the medal and the photos to prove that it really happened and I really did run it, but it goes by so fast and then it's over and everyone moves on.  I kind of think that is what is needed as part of the healing process.  It was a big build up and a lot of emotion and a lot of expectations and excitement and now it's done.  Life goes on.  And the city can keep moving forward and runners can keep running and the survivors can stop being hounded for interviews and appearances and everyone can hopefully go back to living life to the fullest, the way it should be.  Bad things happen, but good people triumph and come out of tragedy STRONGER.

For example, so far I have raised ~$16,000 for innovative cancer research and as of the Sunday before the marathon, the Dana Farber Team as a whole had raised over $6 million!!!!  The marathon is over but the race to find a cure is not, I can still accept donations for several months.  Please send me a congrats "gift" and donate today: www.rundfmc.org/2014/alicial 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pep talk for me and friends running next week

Focus on positive things, avoid the media coverage. Think of Boston and Boylston before 2013 and how awesome it is and how amazing it is going to be. Triumph over the tragedy. That is going to be my mantra. Try not to let the fear and anger take over. Stay in a positive place. Get excited like you would have before any other race. Do not give even a moments thought to the events of last year, focus on THIS YEAR and focus on having a great race. Visualize it going exactly to plan. Hold back in the early miles feeling great, weather is good, wind at our backs, legs loosening up and settling in, get to Newton and attack the hills, make heartbreak your bitch, break it, then pull back a little and let the quads take a breather until Beacon st. Keep your head down, give a few high fives to drunken college kids, keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, get to Kenmore, one mile to go, you got this, listen to the crowds cheering for you, listen to the city of Boston rallying around you, turn onto Hereford, get up that last hill, turn onto Boylston and look straight ahead, there it is and you will OWN IT, nothing will stop you, just a quarter of a mile to the greatest glory and the highest high you have ever felt, cross the line and then feel free to lose your shit and crumble to your knees in a sobbing mess, but not before you get the most amazing and AWESOME finish line photo EVER!!!!!!!!!

You can do this!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

12 days to go....

To say I am getting excited would be a little bit of an understatement.  But I am also getting nervous.  Last week I came down with a nasty head cold.  Still plenty of time to get better and I'm tapering so I'm supposed to rest.  But the congestion in my head is lingering and making me worry.  Just the normal taper madness stuff I'm used to dealing with.  I was sick a lot closer to Berlin and that worked out well....hahaha not really, but for a lot of other reasons.  I am confident that I can kick this and be completely ready to run on April 21st.

I am officially over $15,000 in my fundraising and not stopping.  I'm going to try to hit $20,000.  I think it's possible if some people give me a congrats gift or a good luck gift closer to the marathon.  I mean it is getting pretty close, if you haven't donated yet.....just saying.....whatcha waiting for?  Here's the link again: www.rundfmc.org/2014/alicial and a friendly reminder that 100% of the money raised is used to fund important cancer research that saves lives. 

I kind of want to plan one last event after the marathon to celebrate, but I need to find a venue and figure out exactly what I want to do.  It's my 16th marathon and my birthday is shortly after so a friend suggested a sweet sixteen party.  That would be really fun and I'd love to do it at a public venue so that all of my donors could came if they want to.  I could do more raffle items and maybe a 50/50 drawing.  Not really sure.  My main focus right now is just on resting and getting healthy for the race and mentally preparing.

That is definitely going to be tough.  I mean I knew it would be the toughest part of THIS marathon above any other, but I still don't really know what to expect.  There are a lot of events happening to remember the anniversary of the bombings and the manhunt after.  There is a ton of media coverage.  Last night there was a special on one of the local channels and not even a minute into the program they played the clip of the bombs going off and I got chills again and started crying.  I am trying to focus on the race and running strong, but everything everywhere is a constant reminder of last year.  I want to move forward but keep getting pulled back.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tapering for Boston...AGAIN :)

19 days to go, and time is FLYING by. Normally the taper is long and boring but I have been super busy.  Last week I went to the Sam Adams brewery for the release of their 26.2 brew fundraising event for the marathon bombing victims.  It was also the day Boston had a 9 alarm fire that killed two firefighters so as soon as they heard, a portion of the proceeds was donated to the fire department.  I got a growler of beer, a beautifully designed bottle opener with little details probably only a boston runner would recognize, and a pint glass.  Then when I got home from the event my welcome packet and runner passport was in the mail.  Pretty awesome day.OHHH!!!!! and while I was standing there drinking my beer sample I got this email:
Over the weekend I had the longest training run with the team and my mom came down from Maine to help volunteer at one of the water stops.  Friday night I baked a million cookies for everyone to enjoy after the run.  Not sure exactly how many cookies there were but I made 4 batches - oatmeal awesomeness, chocolate and toffee, chocolate with peanut butter chips, and regular chocolate chip.  I'm glad I made so many too because after running 20-22 miles the team devoured them. 

The run was really great.  We started at BC and ran to Natick and back.  The course was electrified with excitement and energy from all the runners out training.  There were tents and cheering stations set up a lot like marathon Monday and the weather was near perfect. 45-50 degrees, partly cloudy, BUT there was a brutal headwinds both ways.  On the way out and on the way back.  No fair Mother Nature, but I'll take it if it means race day will be nice.  At the water stop my mom was volunteering at it was sort of a special day in memory of a very special boy that passed away from cancer.  The entire family was there and they had a poster sized photo of him.  I got a whole group of the runners that run for him together with his mom and brothers and we took a selfie.  I posted it to Ellen's facebook page and it already has nearly 100 likes.
Monday night was the last team meeting before the race and they talked about race day logistics.  It's definitely going to be a LONG day and a very different race.  Security is going to be tight and the whole course will have barricades where they have never been before.  I'm nervous about it and a little bummed that it might take away from the atmosphere of the crowds and the closeness of the communities that support the marathon.  Either way I plan to do my best and run my heart out.

So far I have raised about $15,000 for Dana Farber and I'm not stopping.  I raised my goal to $20,000.  You can help.....go to my page and make a difference.... let's reach the ultimate finish line -  a world without cancer - together!  www.rundfmc.org/2014/alicial

Monday, March 24, 2014

Seriously?!?! Ugh. Moving on....less than a month to go...

After a mentally exhausting, life sucking, working 14-16 hour days, canceling my pole fitness classes, missing my friend's birthday party, missing a painting and wine tasting night out with a friend, not running because I was working late two weeks - I was sucker punched in the gut with an extremely disappointing and demotivating rushed performance review/push the button meeting.  Followed by email after email of all the other people that got promoted and each one felt like a kick while I was down.  I went home Friday night, after not eating all day because I had no appetite and felt physically ill by the slap in the face "you're awesome, but you got an average rating", and had a beer and another and another.  It didn't make me feel any better.

On the brightside, I offered to personally match donations made to my fundraising all last week and by the end of the day Friday I had ~$400 in donations posted to my page.  With my match and my company's match for my donation my total will be very very close to $15,000!!!!  I will be increasing my goal again if I get to 15K.  I also baked cookies for the Dana Farber team run the next morning.  I made 3 different kinds of cookies - oatmeal awesomeness, chocolate toffee, and chocolate peanut butter chip.  I worry that the back of the pack runners might miss out so I keep baking more and more each week.  This week was perfect.  We had more than enough to go around.  Knowing how much everyone really looks forward to them and enjoys them makes me feel good baking them. 

Saturday morning I did an 18 mile training run with the DFMC team on the marathon course.  We started in Newton Center and ran down the hills into Wellesley and back.  It wasn't pretty but I got it done.  I think the lack of food from the day before plus the beers dehydrated me and caused a serious case of lead legs.  I got really gased on the last 3 miles and just had nothing left in the tank, but I pushed through it and finished.  That mental toughness and determination will help me on Marathon Monday and I learned my lesson, beers and no food the day before is a bad idea and doesn't count as "carb loading".

I am hitting the reset button this week and hoping to get back into a routine of mid-week runs.  This weekend will be the last really long run before the taper begins and I want it to be a good one.  I know I can physically do the marathon, I should be pretty close to my goal time based on how most of my training runs have gone.  I need to now focus on stocking the barn with positive mental training bails of hay.  Over the next 4 weeks, I need to do whatever it takes to stay positive and avoid a lot of the media coverage and avoid re-living last year.  It's a new year and not only will I be Boston Strong, but I really want to run Boston STRONGER than ever.      

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bib # 26311 - Wave 3 - Corral 9

About one month to go until the Boston Marathon!!!!  It is a very exciting and interesting time. We are getting more and more information from the B.A.A. about changes to the marathon security procedures this year and training runs are increasing in mileage to the longest of the long runs, 18-22 miles depending on training plans. Lots of fun emails from Adidas tempting us to buy all of the official marathon gear before the race weekend. Mother Nature is not letting go of this never-ending winter and spring seems like it will never arrive, but we have been lucky to get a few nice days in here and there for running.

I have been trying to do at least one mid-week run that takes me past the spot on Commonwealth Ave where I was watching last year when time stopped and all of the runners were robbed of the finish line glory and helpless in front of me. I run up Hereford and turn left onto Boylston. It brings a rush of emotions and I struggle to just breathe. My eyes well up with tears, but I focus and keep moving forward. I AM OK. I WILL BE OK. I CAN DO THIS! The street looks like any other busy area of downtown Boston lately, people passing by and going about their business. I make my way down Boylston one intersection at a time trying to imagine the feeling and the energy of race day. Looking around and listening, but also tuning it all out and running in my own little world. I complete the run and wrap back around to Commonwealth Ave and return to Cambridge across the Mass Ave Bridge over the “179” painted on the ground for Sean Collier by MIT students. It’s a good run and it takes me one step closer to being mentally prepared for Marathon Monday.
My fundraising is still going great, many thanks to all of my friends and family for the continued support. I recently passed the $13.1K milestone which calculates out to $500 per mile of the marathon. It puts me well past my original goal to raise $10,000 and I could just stop now, but cancer doesn’t quit and I don’t plan to either. I will continue to ask anyone that will listen to me for a donation. I will ask random strangers. I will continue to bug all of my friends unless you tell me and be clear that you are not interested or you cannot give for one reason or another, I will not stop asking. I will not give up. HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed so far! Mile dedications are going fast! 20 out of the 26 miles of the marathon are taken. There’s still time to get a mile for someone you love. Donations of $100 or more earn this honor.

As a reminder, a full 100% of funds raised by DFMC go to benefit the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Cancer Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, widely recognized as one of the largest and most successful programs of its kind. At a recent group training run it was announced that the team has already raised over $3 million dollars together so far.

Bib numbers and wave/corral placement were posted to the BAA website, I am wicked psyched I got wave 3 so I start at 11:00 and not 11:25.  The earlier the better.  It's already tough getting to Hopkinton so early then waiting to run.  I am getting excited and nervous.  I know I will be ready and I know there are a lot of people cheering for me.  Only two more weeks til taper.  Then race day will be here before I know it.  I've been doing my long runs on the marathon course for the past 3-4 weeks with the DFMC team and I think that is helping me mentally prepare and remember how amazing this race is.  I NEED to remember it that way.  I know I can't forget last year and I can't remove those memories from my brain, but I can focus on the memories I had before last year and the energy and excitement of the greatest marathon in the world. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

FOCUS! Keeping my eye on the prize.....

This neverending winter has me in a wicked funk.  Lacking motivation.  Whenever I DO get a little motivation it starts to snow again as if Mother Nature deliberately challenges me and says, "Oh you wanted to go for a run, guess again, it's practically white out conditions out there and who knows if there's ice under the coating of flakes that are falling."  I start to get a little momentum going in a positive direction and fight my way out of this black hole and something knocks me back down.  I just can't seem to get unstuck lately.

Last weekend, I went to another DFMC team group run, feeling great and ready to bang out 16 miles with a few new friends.  I brought cookies again and reminded everyone try to run fast enough to get one and leave a few for the slower people if they could.  The run started out pretty nice, a small group of people roughly the same pace and distance planned.  We ran from the Boston Sports Club in Waltham.  It was sort of a weird route of an out and back with a few additional, optional out and back fingers that broke off from the main out and back.  Not my favorite, but it got the job done.

Waltham is a lot hillier than I thought it would be.  It was a very cold and windy morning, but the sun was out so it wasn't too bad.  The group I was with decided to do the last "finger" first so we wouldn't have to worry about it towards the end of the run.  We broke off after a short break at the first water stop and headed out for one mile 3-4 of us and a few other pairs slightly faster or slower.  One of the women I was running with started talking about the recent court decision to pursue the death penalty for the bombing suspect.  Something about the conversation instantly flipped a switch in my brain from my happy running place to an angry, negative, painful, bad place.  I stopped talking in hopes that the woman would get the hint and drop the topic, but she continued.  So, I picked up my pace and split from the group.  I needed to get out of that place.

I ended up getting sort of lost because I wasn't familiar with the route.  I missed a turn that everyone else took.  It was ok, because I needed to hit the reset button on the run and try to find my happy place again.  I struggled.  I made it to the next water stop and the group I was with originally caught up to me and asked where I had gone.  I explained I went straight when they turned, we got to the same intersection somehow, so it worked out ok.  Then I told them rather than stopping for water I was going to keep moving to avoid getting cold, I also wanted to avoid talking.  So, I continued on my own and settled into a nice pace inbetween two other women running ahead of me and an older man and his friend running behind me.  On the out and back fingers I would pass the group I started with and wave. 

Doing the math in my head I tried to figure out the best combination of fingers and routes to get in my planned 16 miles for the day and after passing the second water stop again, I stopped and asked them how to get the rest of my miles in.  I figured I would end up doing more than 16 but felt ok and kind of needed the extra 'me time'.  When I turned back onto the main route I remembered that we did the last finger first and instead of having 5 miles left I only had 3 miles and I was going to get exactly 16 miles done.  It was literally and metaphorically the turning point in the run for me.  I smiled a huge smile and just about did a cartwheel in the street because I was ready to be done.  It was PERFECT!  I finished the run and although I didn't get a cookie, it was ok because finishing the run strong and feeling a lot better was more important.

I went straight home because I had a wine tasting/photo exhibit to go to.  When I got home the sweater I wanted to wear was laying flat to dry in my basement so I went to get it.  Thank GOD I did because there was a lot of water in my basement and a dripping sound coming from my boiler.  UGH.  Knocked back down.  My boiler is only 2 years old and nothing should be breaking on it.  BUT there was a constant flow of water coming out of the pressure gauge on it.  F*CK IT.  I put a bucket under it and went to the wine tasting.  Best case scenario it was a fluke and it would be done dripping when I got home.  Worst case, the bucket would be full and I would call a plumber.  
Well, I got home and the bucket was overflowing, BUT I bought a very nice photo from my friend Andrea and displayed it in my livingroom while I texted a bunch of friends for Plumber recomendations.
Called a plumber and because it was now late Saturday night, he told me just to turn the water off to the heating system and he would come the following day to fix it.  No problem.  $120 later, the gauge was replaced and the heat was back on.

Monday I had a dentist appointment after work and I'm one of those weird people that LOVES going to the dentist.  I love getting my teeth cleaned.  I love the people that work in the office.  I love my dentist.  I love getting a new toothbrush and a bunch of free floss.  I really look forward to it.  I got there 10 minutes early I was so excited.  Checked in and sat in the waiting area.....and waited.....and waited......and waited.  30 minutes went by.  Other patients went in and out before anyone even came to talk to me.  So I got up and asked if I was there on the right day.  They said yes, then one of the receptionists that is a runner and I talk to every time I'm there came out and told me they were running late and hadn't forgotten about me.  
Finally, my name is called, BUT it's not my normal hygenist.  It's some other chick.  She didn't even tell me her name and just walked me to the chair and said she would be speedy and get me in and out.  I don't like speedy, I like getting my teeth cleaned thoroughly.  Then she proceeds to tell me she was going to use some weird water pick thing instead of the traditional instruments to clean my teeth.  Not a fan.  She finished in like 15 minutes.  Didn't do the X-rays that I was due for and didn't give me a new toothbrush or free floss.  My dentist came in to check things and chat for a bit about the marathon because she is a runner and has run it before and also donated to my fundraising.  We talked about how different this year will be and how difficult the mental training is going to be.

So, after about 10 minutes talking to my dentist about how I have been trying to run Boylston once a week to mentally prepare for the marathon and how the security rules have changed as a result of the events that occured last year.  The new girl says to me, "that all went right over my head and I have no idea what you guys were talking about, there was some sort of bomb at a race you did???"  SERIOUSLY!?!?!?! Where the heck has she been?  She must live under a rock.  I was shocked and stunned and couldn't get out of there fast enough.  So, again positive situation I was looking forward to instantly turned to crap and knocked me back down into the funk I can't get out of.

Tuesday was a better day.  I ran Comm. Ave to Hereford to Boylston after work and then went to Pole Class and learned a new combination of dips and spins that was really fun.  I got a few new bruises and a little bit of floor burn, but I felt a lot better afterwards.  I went home and ate dinner then went right to bed.  Yesterday, my plan was to run a little longer after work.  It was going to be really cold again, but I brought the right layers so it was cool.  Then I got dressed and ready to go and looked out the window and it was f*ckin snowing AGAIN!  I walked to my car and just about slipped and fell so decided to skip the run and go home.  Heard on the radio on the way home that the President was in town and afternoon traffic was going to be a nightmare so it was probably a great decision.  Who knows how long it would have taken me to get home if I went for a run.  Anyway, I got home and had some dinner, then fell asleep on my couch at like 6:00.  I didn't sleep well, had nightmares all night long and tossed and turned.  I am REALLY REALLY hoping that today is a better day.
After all, I have a marathon to run in 45 days.  I can do this.  I NEED to snap out of this funk and focus on the goal.  Focus on all the good stuff and stop letting the bad stuff drag me down.  My fundraising is going great!  My training runs are going as planned.  I have had a lot of fun with friends at various events over the past few weekends.  I get my performance review and BONUS for work soon.  AND Spring is coming.  It has to.  That's just how nature works.  Life will be renewed in just a few weeks.  The sun will be out more and temperatures will start to rise a little each week.  Things WILL get better.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What doesn't freeze me solid makes me a stronger runner.....

Ok, Really???? REALLY???? Can we be done with winter now PLEASE??????  Enough is enough.  Single digit runs and snowbanks taller than me are getting really old.  I laughed in the face of Mother Nature for the first storm of the season and refused to believe winter had arrived, now I'm not laughing anymore, the joke is on me.  Very funny, ok, Polar Vortex, you can go back to Canada now and warmer (but not too warm) less snowy, yucky, grey, cloudy doom and gloom days would be nice.

I guess I sort of lucked out last weekend for the first DFMC group run I have been able to attend.  It rained all Friday and I baked cookies when I got home to bring to the run.  Saturday REALLY early I drove to Wellesley to run along the Marathon Course with the team.  It wasn't raining anymore and it wasn't snowing, but it WAS really cold and a little windy and the runoff from the day before had frozen into a sheet of ice on the Newton Hills which made it extra challenging to run and not faceplant on the asphalt or break a hip.  It was a recovery week for me so I was "only" running 14 miles.  It ended up perfect because that took me just over the top of heartbreak hill and back.  
After the run I went to Trader Joes (big mistake).  I should know better than to go to Trader Joes after a run, but I do it A LOT.  I spent about $100 on snacks I don't need.  I went home, showered and took a nap.  After I woke up, I texted a few friends and made plans to go out in downtown Lowell for Winterfest.  It was also National Margarita Day so we got a margarita at the first bar (and the next one too).  Then we met up with some other friends to go to the beer tent, not before stopping by the Lowell Fire Dept for some fun photos with a friend that works there.  I hope he didn't get in trouble.  After several hours at the beer tent we finished off the night with one (maybe two) more margarita(s).  It is so nice to have my Saturday nights and social life back, but I really over did it.  I'm lucky I can walk home from downtown.

Surprise surprise Sunday morning I woke up with a pounding headache and wonky stomach.  Oh and I had a 3 mile race to run at 1:00pm.  My goal for the race went from running a solid time to not puking the whole time.  The first mile was a little rough, but more because it was crowded than because of my hangover.  I picked up the pace after it thinned out a little and managed to finish in just under 30 minutes.  Still felt wonky afterwards and couldn't wait to go home and crash on my couch but first we all decided to get lunch.  Maybe food would make me feel better......not really, but it was a fun day and then I took a nap.  I think I could easily end every blog entry with that phrase..."and then I took a nap".  I love naps.

Big exciting news this week......I got my DFMC singlet in the mail along with a matching sparkle skirt I ordered to go with it.  Also, got a sort of scary email from the B.A.A. about new rules for this year.  No bags allowed AT ALL.  So no bringing warm clothes to the start and then putting them safely in a bag to collect at the finish.  NO BANDITS allowed on the course, so it looks like trying to get someone to run me into the finish is out of the question.  I will have to find some good throw away clothes and then somehow figure out how to get some warm dry clothes to the finish area too.  All totally understandable and great that they let everyone know so far in advance that we can prepare, but definitely throws a wrench in the works of normal pre-race routine.

BTWs, today is my mom's 66th birthday!  Trying to get as many donations of any dollar amount "In Honor" of her today as possible.  Please go to my page and make a donation and make it "IN HONOR" of "Cheryl Leeman".  

Happy Birthday MOM!!!!!  www.rundfmc.org/2014/alicial

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Stooopid snow

 Last weekend I had 16 miles on my schedule and Mother Nature had another blizzard on her schedule.  Well......screw you b*tch......I'm running anyway.  I got up early and got started to try and be done before it got really hazardous out.  My 16 mile loop has a few sections of narrow sort of busy roads, about 4 miles in total, then the rest is on quiet back roads.  It is full of never-ending hills.  The first 3 miles are the same for all my long runs with one mile being all uphill.  Then I get 3 miles of rolling downhills before I have to climb again.  From mile 6 to 11, the hills just keep coming.  I get a little recovery and some flats from 11 to 14 then I go up again right to the end of the run. 

I started out sort of slugish and not feelin it.  I was grumpy and pissed off at the world and the calendar with it's stupid fake holiday and hearts and flowers everywhere.  After the first 4 miles I settled in and relaxed.  I found my happy place.  Just me and my running shoes and the road.  MY LOVE.  I didn't worry about pace or work or bills that need to be paid or errands I need to do or the garbage disposal in my kitchen that still needs to be replaced or the slow leak in the tire on my car or my fundraising or my lack of plans for the rest of the weekend.  I just put one foot in front of the other and let my mind just go to one mile at a time, one step at a time, one breathe, one heart beat......ahhhhhh......inner peace.  So simple, so so hard to find sometimes.

I finished my run, 16.5 miles and I felt so much better.  I negative split it and actually ran one of my least favorite hills really strong and faster than I expected (I usually end up walking up that last little bit of it because it is so long and steep).  It left me feeling really good, tired, but satisfied and optomistic and really positive compared to how I started the run.  I actually thought about giving up a few times in the first mile.  Glad I pushed through it.

My fundraising is officially over $10,000!  I'm not stopping.  I'm begging friends and family and former donors to please reach out to the next degree of separation and ask their friends and family for donations.  Assuming about 100 people have donated to me so far, if only half of them asked just 2 more people to donate say for example $25 that would add up to $2500 and put me close to teh $13,100 mark or $500 per mile of the marathon.  If you are reading this and you have already donated, please share my link with a friend and encourage them to donate too.  If you haven't donated yet, WTF? Come on, what are you waiting for? :)

Yesterday I had a DFMC team meeting in the evening to talk about going back to Boylston.  I really wanted to go for a run before the meeting.  Mother Nature decided to try and prevent me from getting out there, but I was prepared.  I brought my YakTrax.
It was supposed to be raining, but it was more like slushing.  It wasn't quite snow and it wasn't rain.  The sidewalks were still covered with snow from the last storm the day before that dumped another foot at home and I think at least another 3 inches in the city.  And with the slush falling from the sky it was extremely slick and soggy.  I decided to do another 'practice run' to prepare myself for April.  I have had enough of Mother Nature ruining my running plans and I just don't care anymore.  I will get wet.  I will be cold.  The snow banks might be taller than me.  I will be forced to wear my YakTrax to avoid slipping on ice.  BUT I WILL NOT STOP.  I have a marathon to run!  I got soaked, but it was worth it.  I ran Hereford and Boylston and I got one step closer to OK.

The team meeting was perfect.  I had to swing by REI and get some dry clothes to wear first, but then I got there and met a few fellow runners and said hi to some familiar faces at the DFMC office.  The meeting went til about 9pm and was exactly the inspiration and reminder I needed to refocus and remember what it is I love so much about running and marathons specifically.  It may be an individual effort but it is absolutely a community event.  My feet will do the work, but the spirit of all of Boston will carry me across that finish line in Boston and I will once again feel the high and the glory that comes with finishing the best marathon in the world.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I just felt like running.....

Went for my run last night and it turned into an epic Forrest Gump like adventure.  I started out not really feeling great.  Legs were heavy and for several reasons (work stress, life stress, random overwhelming emotions about Boston) my heart was heavy too.  I really wanted to just give up in the first mile and turn around and go to my car and drive home, but I kept going.  I ran to the Charles River.  I went along the Memorial Drive side to Western Ave then crossed.  This is where I usually make a loop and run the Storrow side to finish just about 6 miles.  Not last night, last night I just kept running along Western Ave.  I was toying with the idea of going to the finish and running Boylston to maybe see everything is ok and keep going and see that I can do this and I will be ok too.  I was thinking Western Ave would eventually cross either Comm Ave. or Beacon and I could run back towards Boston to the finish line if I felt ok about it. Well, it didn't go anywhere near either of those roads, it was a sort of sketchy area very industrial with a few dive bars scattered on the sides of the road like litter.  I passed a few gas stations and thought about asking for directions, but I didn't want anyone to know I was lost.  I ended up in Newton near the Mass Pike. Almost all the way to where I get acupuncture and almost in Watertown.  Totally lost, but no going back now, I looked around and I could see the Pru and I just started running towards it.  No clue where I was, but I was already 4 miles in and had to get back somehow.  I ran thru Newton, Brighton maybe or is it Brookline, I have no idea.  Got to Kenmore Square eventually and was at almost 8 miles.  I still sort of wanted to run the last mile of the marathon and near the finish but that would have added another 2 miles out and back.  Just knowing that I wanted to go there, but wasn't really ready at that moment was ok.  I was cold, tired, thirsty and hungry so I just crossed the Mass ave bridge and called it a day.  Still need to run that last mile a few times to get ok with it. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

It's STILL cold and it's going to snow AGAIN

This weather pattern is really really getting old and making it difficult to get motivated to go out and run.  Plus the snow makes the roads more and more dangerous to run in.  I'm not wishing for the heat and humidity of July, but just 10 weeks to go until the Boston Marathon and I would like to not slip and fall or get hit by a plow truck while training.  All things considered my training is going pretty good.  I took a break last week because I had a lot going on and just didn't feel like running.  I was mentally exhausted and had no energy. 

Saturday I got back out there and did a 14 mile run through Andover and Tewksbury.  It started out awesome.  I felt great, my pace was solid, and I even found a penny on the ground (someone once told me finding money is a sign of angels watching over you and I absolutely believe it).  I got about half way and then I really had to pee.  I had two giant cups of tea to warm up before I left the house and they hit my bladder all at once.  No place to go and snow so deep that wandering into the woods was not an option.  I continued on despite a slower pace.  Imagine trying to run with your legs crossed and doing the pee pee dance all at once.  OMG.  It was rough.  I did the math in my head, miles to the nearest Mobil station.  Walked a little, ran a little, walked a little more.  FINALLY, got to the Mobil station and took care of business then light as a feather and feeling much better I practically sprinted home.  14.25 miles DONE.

Sunday I went cross country skiing with some friends for the first time.  We went to Great Brook Farm in Carlisle, MA.  They have all kinds of trails and rentals.  We all had an amazing time.  There were a few wipe outs here and there.  We tried the "most difficult" trail which was narrow and had a ton of ups and downs.  I took a bunch of pictures and then just before we left I suggested a funny picture of a staged 'yard sale' (slang for an epic wipe out that tosses all your equipment in every direction).  We climbed up onto a huge snow bank and set it up and as we were snapping the photo someone else took a picture too.  It was the Lowell Sun. 
The Photographer asked for all of our names and I told her only if she added a plug about me running the Boston Marathon for Dana Farber.  Which she did.  I hope people see it and I get a few donations.  Either way it was a great day and the photo is hilarious.

My fundraising is going great.  A few checks that I mailed in were added to my total yesterday and pushed me over the $8K mark!  That makes me a Dana Farber Pacesetter.  I mailed a few more checks Monday and yesterday and with those I will be closing in on my $10K goal.  I couldn't be more excited and grateful to everyone that has supported me and made donations.  It's so awesome and so amazing!  I hope I can keep going and raise even more money for the important research that Dana Farber does.  I still have a few ideas and might do another cheesecake drawing.  I'm currently encouraging friends and family that have donated to ask 5 of their friends to donate.  If just 5 people ask 5 friends to give $20, that will add up to another $500 for DFMC.  So, spread the word, share my page, forward my link, tell anyone and everyone that will listen to you.  Every dollar counts!  www.rundfmc.org/2014/alicial

Thursday, February 6, 2014

WOW! I need a nap

Holy cow the last few days have been so busy I feel like two weeks have gone by in 5 days.  At the end of last week I scrambled to sell the last of my Superbowl Squares for my Dana Farber fundraising just before the weekend, collecting money and chasing people down, begging everyone to buy another square.  I got them filled and the numbers picked and copies distributed, but geez, I don't think I will do that ever again.  It was a lot of work and way too much stress. 

Thank God Friday afternoon I had an acupuncture appointment and plans for dinner afterwards to catch up with my friend Denise and see her now 2 month old baby.  Acupuncture was amazing as usual (although I already feel like I need to go back just for stress relief and a little relaxation).  Dinner was cut short because I got stuck in traffic and got there late and poor baby wasn't cooperating and letting me and Denise socialize, I'm sure we will somehow get him back for this when he is older.  Oh you want to go to the movies with your friends do you......sounds great we will come too.  hahahaha

Saturday was the Stair Climb in Boston for American Lung Association, one of my favorite events all year.  I signed up to climb 3 times this year and had a small team of friends and coworkers climbing with me.  My first start time was at 8:12 then my second and third times were spread out a little after that.  I didn't train and I'm still a little heavier than I would like to be, so I had pretty low expectations going into it.  I just wanted to be consistent between climbs.  Mission Accomplished!  My times were amazing, nothing fast enough to place or anything, but all right around 10 minutes.

After I was done with all my climbs we got brunch at the bar and hung out for a little bit.  I wanted to see some of the firefighters climbing and then stick around to see if my hometown boys from Portland Fire could reclaim the title, but all my friends bailed and I didn't want to just sit at the bar by myself.  I ended up going home and it was a good thing because I fell asleep on my couch and slept for 3 hours.  Guess I needed some rest.

Sunday I had my long run to do before trying to fight crowds at the grocery store on Superbowl Sunday and I needed to do a ton of laundry.  I finished my 12.7 mile run and felt AWESOME!!!!  I was sort of expecting to be tired and sore from the stair climb, but I felt great and ran probably the fastest average pace on a long run in a long time.  When I was done it was still sort of early and there were no crowds at the grocery store yet.  I was able to get in and out and even caught up with a good friend living in Seattle and called my mom too.  It was a SUPER productive morning.  By the time I got home it wasn't even noon yet and I still had all day before the big game started and I had to keep track of who won squares.  I wish I could say I did something crazy with all my spare time, but I didn't.  I took another nap.

Back to work on Monday, paid the winners for the superbowl squares and began making a mental to-do list for my next Fundraiser - the painting party Tuesday night.  I had to go home, bake a cheesecake, clean my house a little, blow up the aerobed for my mom and put sheets and blankets on it, organize all the raffle items and make sure I had labels and cups and all the supplies I needed.  And I think once the cheesecake was out of the oven, I might have taken another nap, but technically it was night time so really I just went to sleep early.

Tuesday, I rushed through work and got home to wait for my mom and head over to the bar to set up for the painting party and get some food.  Mom got lost coming down and went past the exit she needed to take delaying her arrival by about 30-45 minutes, but it worked out fine, we got to the bar right on time and got a parking space right in front.  Set up all the raffle items and finally got to sit down and relax before the night got going.  Dinner and a beer and chatting with some friends that came early for dinner, then it was time to host the event.

It was a little crazy trying to say hi to everyone and thank them for coming and sell raffle tickets and make sure mom wasn't just all by herself, but once everyone arrived and we started the painting part things settled down a bit.  I spoke briefly and thanked everyone for coming, mentioned that it was World Cancer Day and looking around the room the crowd was mostly female, a scary statistic is that one in every three women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, but with the money raised for Dana Farber they are doing amazing research that increases the survival rate of those women so it was great for all of them to come out and support such an important cause.

We painted the "Impressions of Boston" and I raffled off a lot of really great things - chocolate cheesecake, a handmade throw blanket, gift certificates to area restaurants, a gift certificate for acupuncture, bottles of wine, a running book, a chocolate fondue kit, a gift certificate for two to another paint night, and a few other things.  Everyone had an amazing time and all the paintings look great.  At the end of the night I raised about $700 for cancer research.  HUGE THANK YOU to Tutto Bene for hosting and helping organize the event. (http://www.tuttobenecellars.com/) If you are in Lowell, you MUST go to their shop and check it out, they have a great selection of wines and cheeses and fine foods.

Yesterday I took the day off from work because we got a big snow storm and I didn't want my mom driving home in a blizzard.  It was nice, we just chilled on the couch all day and then shoveled out our cars when the snow slowed down in the afternoon, watched a movie and some TV, had a late lunch and yup, you guessed it - another nap.  Today, I was going to try and do the Thursday night Newton Hills run, but I'm so tired, didn't sleep well last night, and I've been going non-stop for days, so I think I'm just going to go home and ........ oh yeah, not hard to guess at this point....... NAP. 

I have a 14 mile long run planned this weekend, followed by possibly going cross country skiing, and I want to feel good for it so taking it easy for a few more days to get my body back to fully rested mentally and physically is not a bad idea. 

At the end of the week, with checks in the mail and everything all tallied up, my fundraising total should be just over $9000!!!!  Almost time to revise my goal.  I had put $10,000 originally, but secretly in my mind if things went well my goal was to be a DFMC Pacesetter and hit $13.1K so.......as soon as everything is updated I will be bumping my goal up.  Thank you to everyone that has contributed so far, and if you haven't there is still plenty of time to donate and any amount is acceptable.  A dollar per mile perhaps? $26.20.  Or give just $5, the cost of a cup of coffee, then ask 5 friends to do the same.  TOGETHER we can all make a difference and the DFMC team could raise over $5 million for innovative cancer research this year.  Please help and donate today: www.rundfmc.org/2014/alicial