Friday, April 13, 2012

Looking back and looking ahead

Well, its finally here.... Marathon weekend! This has been such an incredible journey, and to be honest, a journey I never thought I could ever be a part of. I always thought training for a marathon was out of my reach, but i challenged (and surprised) myself and got through the 4.5 months of training. i remember receiving my packet of training back in October, and was very overwhelmed with the training ahead. I took it week by week, and rarely looked ahead so I would focus on the week at hand. Training went relatively smooth, all things considered. I had the best winter to train, with little to no snow and above average temperatures. Granted, I still ran in 30 degree weather for 4 months, but at least it wasn't 15 degrees! I had your normal "runner aches" (knee, IT band, hip, calf etc), but luckily no sidelining injuries. Even though things went smooth, it was tough, don't get me wrong. Waking up at 6am on a cold winter day to run for 2+ hours wasn't always the best feeling. Leaving a bar early on a Friday night (after sipping water) with your friends because you have to run 20 miles the next day.. not fun. Being someone who loves heels, and not being able to wear them often... awful. However, this all proved my commitment to the marathon and showed that I can be a very disciplined person! Here is a glimpse of a typical week of marathon training (for me) looked like:

Monday: Run 5-7 miles
Tuesday: 1 hour spin
Wednesday: 1 hour swim, strength training (Legs)
Thursday: Run 5-9 miles
Friday: 45 mins Arc trainer, Strength training (upper body)
Saturday: Long run (anywhere from 9-20 miles, depending on the training week)
Sunday: Rest
(Also, teaching yoga 5 days a week and an average of 3 times a day)

I really liked this schedule, and my body adapted well to it. I enjoyed only running 3x a week and cross training 3 days because it is less impact on your body. For someone like me who is running their first marathon with a goal to finish, I found this training to be perfect.

Two and a half weeks ago, I ran my last long run, which was 20 miles. I met up with the Dana-Farber team at BC and we ran the course. It was awesome! There were thousands of runners completing their last long run and it was so encouraging having so many people run alongside you. I even ran past Tedy Bruschi and his wife, who are training for their first marathon! In addition to the runners, there were so many people watching us train. They had tents, horns, cowbells, name it, they had it! I couldn't believe the amount of people watching us train, it literally gave me the chills hearing them cheer for us. If that gave me the chills, I can only imagine how I will feel on Monday. After the 20 miles were over, I felt really good! Later that night, Pat and I met up with John and Susan Hayes (Jeff Hayes' parents) and it was the perfect way to celebrate my last run. We had the chance to catch up on life, and also to talk about Jeff. I let them know how even though he is not physically around, he has inspired me so much through training. When I first met them, they let me borrow DVD's of Jeff that showed him playing hockey, receiving awards at school, attending the prom, etc. Whenever I was feeling nervous about my long runs, I would watch one of the DVD's the night before the run and that was the push I needed to get through. It always put things into perspective for me and reminds me of why I am running.

So... here I am now. The Friday of marathon weekend. So many thoughts are going through my mind, but the one that is at the forefront is...yup, you've guessed it... THE WEATHER FORECAST. Not looking so good for us runners. Not good at all. They have been changing the forecast all week, but it looks like they have pinned it down to a record breaking 85 degrees and sunny. Seriously, New England?! I had a plan to finish around 4 hours and 30 mins, give or take, but now I just want to finish standing up. The reality of the matter is my body is not used to running in this kind of heat. I have been training in weather anywhere from 25 degrees to 60 degrees, NOT 85 degrees. When it is hot, your body works extra hard to keep you cool while working extra hard to get you through a marathon. What I have come to realize is that just because my goal of 4:30 is out the window, finishing the marathon slower than that is still a win. If I finish even an hour past my original goal time given the crazy weather conditions, it is equivalent to finishing in 4:30 with ideal conditions (Hope that makes sense... its hard to explain). I am taking it slow and steady, and I want to take in all that the Boston Marathon has to offer. I can't change the forecast, but I can be prepared for it, mentally and physically.

Today, Pat and I are heading into Boston to pick up my number! We are going to spend some time at the expo, then head over to meet up with Dana-Farber and drop off all my paperwork and get some last minute encouragement! Our last stop.. Maggiano's for some carbo-loading fun. Looking forward to this weekend (Dana-Farber pasta dinner on Sunday!) and looking forward to Monday. I have worked WAY too hard to let the hot weather get in my way! My new mantra... slow and steady!

Happy Running!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Going the distance

Before I started training for Boston, the idea of running over 13 miles seemed daunting and something that my body may just not be able to do. I always felt that the challenge of a half marathon was enough and up until a few weeks ago, I have never ran more than 13.1 miles. On February 19th, I ran the 'Half at the Hamptons' in Hampton, New Hampshire. It was a weird feeling going into this race because usually I have spent weeks training for the ultimate goal of finishing the half, knowing that after the race is time for my body to rest and recoup and long runs were no longer part of my weekly routine. Not this time. This half marathon was merely a training run and I treated it that way. I paced myself the entire race, and even though it was one of the slower ones I have ran, I felt really good at the end of it, which gave me the confidence going into next week's 15-miler. 

In the past few weeks, my runs have been testing me. I ran 15-miles on a Saturday in February when we had sustained winds of 35-45 mph and gusts of wind up to 60mph. Awesome.... When I came home, our patio furniture was turned upside down on our deck, and I was just happy that wasn't me in the middle of the road somewhere in Cohasset or Hingham. The next week I ran 17-miles at night, which I will never do again. I have never ran at night before and didn't really take into consideration that I wouldn't be able to see the sidewalk in front of me, even on well-lit main roads. I did wear lots of reflective gear so at least cars could see me! To say that run was interesting is an understatement. The following week was a step back week, running 13 miles. Well these 13 miles came the morning after Pat's K9 fundraiser. I wore a dress and stood in 4inch heels for 7 hours... so the next morning my feet were killing me. I also didn't properly hydrate or sleep well, but I got through the 13 miles and vowed to limit my high heel use until after April 16th. Sigh.

Today I made my way back into Wellesley for a group run with Dana-Farber. I really love these runs and wish I could have made more during training, but they are just really far away. We ran 18 miles along the marathon route and it was amazing how many runners were out today along the route! It was such an awesome feeling running with people who are all working towards the same goal as you. I got about 3 high-fives from random runners running in the opposite direction, saw kids sitting in their yards yelling "good job" and heard endless encouragement from my teammates and volunteers along the run. Today was also the day where I really started testing my food/water/gatorade/gu intake to see how I felt. I have heard a million times to never try anything new on race day, so I am using the training runs to test different things out so I know exactly what works for me the day of the race. I felt really good at the end of today's run and I am now looking ahead to next week's final long run... 20 miles from Boston College with the team! 

29 days until marathon monday :)

Happy running!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


When I decided to run the Boston Marathon, I expected the training process to be long, strenuous, and physically demanding. What I did not fully expect was the emotional ride this journey would take me on as well.

Dana-Farber is such an amazing charity to run for. They host group runs, informational meetings, dinners, and have 24/7 access to our training coach and other teammates online. They also offer something called the "In-Memory Program". This program allows a Dana-Farber runner to run in memory of a child who was treated at Dana-Farber, but sadly lost their battle to cancer. The runner and the child's family meet and connect throughout the training months, all the way up to marathon Monday. This program seemed very unique to me, and it was something I was interested in being a part of, so I applied back in November with hopes I would be accepted and matched with a family.

In January, I received an email saying I was accepted to the program, and was matched up with the Hayes Family from Sandwich, Ma, in memory of their son, Jeff. When I read this email, I was excited and nervous all at once. The email didn't say anything specific about Jeff. I didn't know which form of cancer he had, or even how old he was when he passed away. I then emailed Jeff's mom, Susan, and introduced myself and asked her to share anything she wanted to about Jeff. She responded and included some great pictures of Jeff, and we made arrangements to meet at the upcoming dinner for the In-Memory program participants in February at Maggianos in Boston. I really didn't know what to expect from this program, and was very anxious to meet Jeff's parents and learn about him.

A few weeks passed and it was finally time to meet the Hayes Family. Pat and I walked into Maggianos and I saw Susan (I recognized her from a picture on her email signature!). She gave me a huge hug and said "thank you" and handed me a stack of DVD's for me to watch that are all of Jeff. I then met her husband, John, who also gave me a big hug, and right then and there, I felt a connection to them I can't explain but I knew this was the start of something very special. We sat down and began talking right away, all while served an amazing dinner at Maggianos. We had so much to talk about and they were so easy to talk to, which made it even better! They told me all about Jeff. I can't do their stories justice but here is a background on Jeff: Jeff lost his two year battle with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in 2007 at the age of 17. Jeff was an outstanding baseball and hockey player, and wore #12 on the ice. He never complained about his treatments or wanted people to feel bad for him. He was an inspiration to his teammates, coaches, teachers, and pretty much everyone in their community. The Boston Bruins were a big part of his life during treatments. Players would visit him at Dana-Farber, give him tickets to games, skate with him when he was able to, and even bought him a Playstation 3 when they were impossible to get. Jeff has left such an impact on so many people and he lives on through the memories and stories that are told.

At dinner, Susan, John, and I made arrangements for me to come to the "1st Annual Jeff Hayes Memorial Hockey Tournament" in Bourne, Ma, which was on Feb 20th. I was honored to be invited to this event and was excited to be able to see the place where Jeff skated and spent a lot of his time. The hockey rink was full of people, all there in memory of Jeff. I was able to meet Jeff's cousin, Julie, who ran the 2011 Boston Marathon in memory of Jeff. We got to chat about training, the race, and everything else that comes with the marathon. At this point in the tournament, they planned a beautiful opening ceremony on center ice of which they invited me to be a part of. They announced me as Jeff's runner in the 2012 Boston Marathon and called me on the ice. I was presented with flowers and was able to stand next to his parents and Julie.

 So many emotions shot through me at that moment, but I was so honored to be there running for such an amazing, inspiring boy. The ceremony ended with a slideshow of Jeff, showcasing some of his greatest memories and pictures of how people honored his life after he passed. (You can read more about the hockey tournament, and Jeff here.) Leaving the rink that night gave me all of the motivation in the world to get to the finish line. In addition to my grandmother, I will be running the marathon for Jeff. Both of these people didn't deserve the fate they were given, yet never complained or felt bad for themselves. They are both such an inspiration to me and to so many others.

This marathon is so much more than just running. I have had the chance to tell my grandmother's story to so many people, and have had the chance to relive the memories I made with her as a child. I have also had the chance to meet the Hayes family, who have been through so much, yet are always smiling and always happy and willing to tell a story about Jeff. I am so grateful to have found Dana-Farber and have been accepted to the marathon team. When looking back at this experience, I won't remember how tired I was during a run, or how I skipped a day of cross training. Its the memories I am making with the people I am meeting, the stories I am hearing, and the funds I am raising to find a cure for cancer.

Happy running!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ziplining, Surfing, and Peanut M&M's

Well..... back to reality.

Pat and I had a fantastic trip to Costa Rica and we both agreed it was our favorite trip to date. There was so much to do there, the weather was beautiful, the people were nice, and the food was delicious. However, in the back of my mind, I was a little nervous about how I was going to keep up with training that week. We had a full week of activities ahead, so I figured as long as I was doing something active, I would be ok!

We stayed in Tamarindo, which is on the Pacific side of the country and it is a very popular spot for surfing. I was so excited to learn how to surf, and took a lesson on our first day there. It was myself and 2 guys from Canada in the lesson and we had a blast. I actually got up on my first try, which I didn't expect to do! The lesson was 2 hours long so by the end of it, I rode a bunch of waves and was so tired, and my legs were pretty banged up from some good falls. We rented boards a few more times that week and now I can't wait to surf up here once the summer comes!

Later in the week, we went on a snorkel cruise and had a blast. It included an open bar, food, and 5 hours on a beautiful catamaran, so in a nutshell, it was perfect! We didn't see much in the water when we were snorkeling, but at least the swim was refreshing and a nice break from the sun. On the way back, the sun was just setting and it was breathtaking. Pat and I sat at the back of the boat and just watched it set as we made our way back to shore.

On our last full day there, we had a day full of activities planned. We drove 45 mins on unpaved roads to a ranch where all of our excursions were based out of. We started the morning off with a 2+ hour horseback ride up a mountain. It was a nice and relaxing ride.... until the horses had to make their way up a steep, narrow, winding trail to the top. The horses do this everyday so they are used to it, but we don't do this everyday and were a little freaked out, only because the horses were slipping on the gravel beneath their hooves. However, the view from the top of the mountain was worth every heart attack I had on the way up. It looked like the mountains just went on forever and ever. The way down was just as steady as the way up (not so much!) but we made it down safe and sound.

Our next activity was an ATV tour. It was just Pat, myself, and our guide barreling through trails, water, hills and dirt. LOTS OF DIRT. We saw lots of monkeys, and actually ate fruit right from a tree as a little snack. We took a break to enjoy the view and to document how dirty we were....

Our last activity for the day was the one I was most terrified about and that was ziplining. I am petrified of heights. I don't even like looking out the windows of tall buildings. I don't do rollercoasters. So what do I do? I sign up for a zipline tour. On the tour, it was just Pat and I and our guides. We took a bumpy 15 minute truck ride to the very top of the mountain, where we got suited up (aka waist harness and helmet) and were informed of safety instructions (aka don't let go).  When I realized I didn't understand anything he said because of the language barrier and I also realized I was REALLY going to have to do this, I freaked out! If Pat wasn't there, I would have asked for a ride back down the mountain and bought the man a drink for wasting his time. However, Pat talked me off a ledge (no pun attended) and I did it. The first line was scary because I didn't know what to expect. I closed my eyes for the first 10 seconds, then mustered the courage to open one and was amazed by the view. There were 11 lines in total and each one got a little easier to do because I was getting used to it. I won't lie, I was so happy when it was over, but I am very happy I did it!

I did manage to make it to two yoga classes while I was down there. With all of the different sports and activities we were doing that week, yoga felt amazing. The teacher spoke mostly Spanish but translated a lot for myself and a few other english speaking students. It was a really beautiful studio and the teacher was excellent. As well as making it to yoga, I was able run twice, even though it was on the "dreadmill". I don't like running on treadmills for longer than 30 mins but I didn't have a choice. I wasn't too comfortable running by myself in an area I didn't know too well, plus it was 90 degrees and sunny everyday, which I am not used to! I was happy I got a couple runs in because it made me feel a little better about all of the drinks and food we consumed that week! But thats what vacations are for, right?

So, now we are back to reality, which also means I am half way through marathon training! I drove out to Wellesley yesterday for the Dana-Farber group run, which they have every weekend at different locations. This was the first one I have been able to make and I was anxious heading in to it because I didn''t know what to expect, it was snowing/raining and I didn't really know anyone. I walked into the gym and there were 70 runners signed up, all on the Dana-Farber team! Everyone was so energetic and positive, even at 7:45am on a Saturday. I talked to some other first time marathoners and we all shared our training progress, setbacks, and worries. Once 8:30 hit, we were off and running! I ran with a guy from Hopkinton for the first 6 or so miles. He has run 19 marathons and was giving me a lot of helpful advice from what to eat, to where my family should watch the marathon along the route, to how to fundraise. Along the training route, Dana-Farber volunteers set up aide stations every 2-3 miles full of water, gatorade, pretzels, peanut m&m's (YES, peanut m&m's!) and other goodies to make you smile. The volunteers were amazing and cheering us on and I felt like I was running in a race instead of a training run.

I ended up running 12 miles along the Boston Marathon course, and it included 2 of the 4 infamous "Newton Hills". Because of my mileage, I didn't get to run up heartbreak hill but I got more than my fair share of hills in yesterday. The best part of my day (besides the peanut m&m's) was coming home after running outside in the snowy weather for 2 hours and Pat surprising me with an early Valentines day gift... a gift card to the spa! It was a very generous gift so I can get a few massages between now and the marathon. Perfection!

Anyways, busy week coming up that I will surely be blogging about.... Dana-Farber In-Memory dinner (so much to share about that topic), and the Hampton Beach Half Marathon next Sunday! Have a great week !

Happy running!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hello winter!

Well, I guess we had to get snow sometime....

I just got in from an 8.5 mile run and felt pretty good. I was mentally thrown off though because I planned to run earlier in the day after my yoga class (I am def a morning runner), but then was told I started new yoga classes today for Hingham High School (which was awesome!). So, I packed a bag full of warm winter running gear, threw on my sneakers and off I went. My mind was playing games with me, and I kept thinking I was going to have an awful run after teaching 3 classes in a row. And there was snow on the sidewalks... yuck.

I taught my regular 10am yoga class, and then began my high school class for the Hingham Crew Team. Out of 30 kids, only 2 had taken a yoga class before and they were ready to learn! They caught on really quick, and even though there were some groans coming from the class during some of the leg and hip stretches, they really liked it! I was really impressed by how seriously they took the class and a few of them asked me to write down everything we did so they could do it again during the week. I have to hand it to their coach.... what a great idea to get his team of 30 teenagers (boys and girls) to get involved with yoga at such a young age.  I am so excited to be teaching this group for the next few months!

So after yoga, I went out for my run around 3:00. I started at Sandy Beach in Cohasset and did a loop of the town, finishing my run down Jerusalem Road which is my favorite stretch to run. It was my first time running with snow on the sidewalks, and half of my run was on the street with bare pavement, which quite frankly scared the crap out of me. I was paying so much attention to oncoming traffic that I forgot about how cold it was! Around mile 5, my iPod died. It took incredible mental strength to get through the last 3.5 miles because I HAVE to run with music. It keeps me going when I no longer wanna go, but thank God it lasted as long as it did. During the time that I didn't have music, I remembered that my iPod had a full battery when I started my run so I figured it died from being cold. After all, my Cliff Bar was rock solid, so I guess my iPod could have just been "cold" too. However, its still not working. I have no idea what happened to it, and as a yoga and spin instructor who teaches 16 classes a week, my iPod is my life and I use it multiple times a day! I guess a trip to Apple is in my near future....

I came home, took a hot, hot shower, and made a juice. Pat and I bought a juicer this week and have been having a blast trying different recipes. I almost like it as much as the foam roller I purchased this week too (My IT band has never hated/loved me so much.)

Here is one of our favorite recipes so far....
- 1/4 of a Pineapple
- 1 mango (cored)
- 2 cups of orange juice
- A head of romaine lettuce

Juice it all together, and this makes enough for 2 juices! YUM!

Have a great weekend everyone! Stay warm!

Happy running,

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How it all began...

One of the most common questions I get from people is, "have you always loved running?" My answer from them is short and simple; "NO!" To me, running was considered torture. If I was late to practice, I had to run. If we didn't win a game, I had to run. If we played bad, I had to run. See a pattern here? Basically, running was punishment and the thought of running for fun made me laugh. Who runs for fun?! Well... now I do. Its amazing how as humans, if we can change our thoughts about something, we can change our actions.

Looking back, my love for running kind of happened by mistake. A little under 4 years ago, I was in a job I didn't love, a routine that was working against me, and I was not taking care of myself. I wasn't eating right, sleeping enough, or working out on a regular basis.... or even at all. I felt like crap. Plain and simple. I needed to lose weight and get healthy before I let this lifestyle get the best of me. One night, on the couch nonetheless, I decided I needed to do something to get my butt moving and get myself into shape. So what did I do? I signed up for a triathlon. I have never participated in a triathlon. Heck, I had never even ran a 5k in my entire life! So what was I doing signing up for a triathlon where you have to swim, bike, and run?! After I read the 'no refunds/cancellation policy', I started googling training programs and began training the next morning.

I woke up, dug out my workout clothes, laced up and headed down the street to a field to do sprint work. I was supposed to run one length of the field as fast as I could and walk back at a steady pace, and repeat 10 times. I lined up, looked at my watch, and began running. I maybe lasted 20 seconds before I had to stop, and I wasn't even sprinting. 'Ok, don't get down on yourself. That was just a warm-up', I thought to myself. I tried it again. Same thing. I was winded. I was out of shape. I couldn't run. If there is one thing about me that has never changed, it is that I am not a quitter. With that said, I finished the workout and had a nice dose of reality served to me. I have a long. way. to. go.

I continued training, and felt better each week. I began running longer without stopping. I began biking and running in the same workout. I was losing weight, eating healthier, and was a much happier person with this new lifestyle. For the first time in a while, I had a goal and I was going to achieve it no matter what it took.

The day of the triathlon came. It was in Nantucket, so Pat and I stayed at a Bed and Breakfast for the weekend and my parents took the ferry over the morning of the tri. I was so nervous for the race, and didn't want to look like an idiot if I couldn't finish. Even in training, I never did the entire triathlon distance, so there was a lot of unknown territory ahead. I talked to other participants, and they assured me this would be one the best experiences of my life. They were right. I finished the tri, and I finished strong. I felt great! Crossing the finish line at that race was a moment I will never forget. It showed me I can do whatever I put my mind to, and also that I am the only person who can make changes to my life. I left my old lifestyle behind and developed a new love for health and fitness, and never looked back.

After the triathlon, I signed up for 2 more. I was hooked. However, when I wasn't training for them, I found myself running anyway. I began incorporating my run into my daily schedule. It was just as important as eating or sleeping. I would get upset if I had to miss a run, and even wake up an hour earlier just to squeeze it into a busy workday. At the grocery store, I found myself picking up the latest "Runners World" over the latest "Vogue". After 6 months of steady running, I came to a scary realization. I am a runner.

As I finished up my first (real) week of marathon training last week, I felt great. Even though I ran in the rain, and ran in a small burst of snow flurries for about 15 mins on Monday, I was feeling good! I was able to cross train in the gym on my non-running days (cybex arc trainer, spinning, strength training) and taught a lot of yoga which helped stretch my body out. I began my first round of fundraising messages for Dana-Farber ( ) so it is safe to say, I am on my way!

So looking back, it is obvious running didn't come easy to me. It was always a challenge, and still is, but the difference between then and now is that I have since overcome that mental barrier that was holding me back. Whenever I am having a day where I am not running well and start to get discouraged, I always think back to my first day of running on that field 4 years ago and smile :)

Stay warm , and happy running!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

22.2 to go....

Finishing up my 4 mile run yesterday, I thought to myself: I don't think I have ever ran outside in the month of December. Sure, I have logged miles on the treadmill at the gym in December, but outside... never. I am a total baby when it comes to winter. I hate being cold, I hate snow, I hate getting my shoes wet from puddles and slush, and I hate wearing layers. However, this year, winter outdoor running and I will become best friends (and enemies on some days, I am sure). I have embarked on maybe the biggest challenge of my life, and that is running the Boston Marathon in April! I never thought I would run a marathon, and I especially never thought I would run Boston because you have to train during the winter. I am so excited and nervous all at the same time, but I am super pumped because I am running for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. It was a long shot getting onto the team because of the thousands of applications they receive, but I figured I would apply anyway and if it was meant to be, it would happen. In my application, I wrote about my grandmother who battled colon cancer for years and passed away when she was 74. She lived with my family and I, and we had a very close relationship, so I shared my personal experience about watching her battle cancer and the toll it took on her and our family. I wanted to be part of a team that had a goal to not only finish the marathon, but to put and end to cancer. The biggest sign to me about running the marathon was that this year, the Boston marathon is on April 16th, which is my grandmother's birthday. If there was any year to run, this was it. After applying to the team in September, I heard back in October and was accepted!!!

So now the fun begins :) Training has officially started and I have already had one meeting with the team at Dana Farber. To say I am inspired is an understatement. I had the chance to talk to patients and survivors (some of whom are even running the marathon!), and felt such a mix of emotions leaving the facility. I was excited, nervous, happy, and sad all at once. I listened to stories about loved ones who passed away, heard stories of survivors, talked about my grandmother, and realized we were all doing this for the same reason: to put an end to cancer. I know it is not going to be easy to run a marathon, and I am fully anticipating the challenge ahead. However, I am ready to begin and excited to share my journey with all of you! I will be posting my workouts, runs, nutritional info, fundraising updates, and anything else that comes to mind during the next 4 months of training. Looking ahead at all of the training I have coming up, I have to remember, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". Or in my case, "A journey of 26.2 miles begins with a single step". :)

Take a peek at my fundraising website:

Happy running,