Boston Marathon Training: The Perfect (Week) 10

Boston Marathon TrainingTen weeks down and only eight to go! This is the part of marathon training where the big day truly seems both close and very far away. It’s amazing how much training I’ve already done, but also how the hardest and longest training runs are still to come. It’s looking like there are multiple 20 mile training runs in my future, which is a scary and exciting change from my last marathon training experience.

This week found me back in my bitterly cold hometown of Boston, fighting nature’s fury in order to get in my training workouts. It wasn’t pretty, but I survived!

Cross-Training

On Tuesday I worked out twice (!), netting some great cross-training. First, I did a Power BURN class at Burn Fitness Studio. A big shout-out to Burn–I don’t think they let the snow shut them down even once this winter. Then, I hit Flywheel for a spin class over my lunch hour. This was my best spin class ever by one point. Yeah!

Ye Olde Flywheel Stats
Ye Olde Flywheel Stats

On Friday night, I went to a gentle yoga with relaxation class. I have to be honest, this is not my favorite type of yoga in terms of the actual experience. I prefer a more active type of class where the focus is on strength and power, and away from meditation and mindfulness. I’m no yogi. But these gentle classes seem to be a good way to stretch out my muscles before a long run without making me tired. So, I did it, and lo, it was done.

Midweek Runs

Me and my snowbank.
Me and my snowbank.

In case you’ve somehow missed it, let me tell you: We have gotten some snow here in Boston. Just a little.

Shoveling and plowing is hit-or-miss depending on where in the city you are, with some of the main drags being in great shape and others, not so much. There are big trucks taking the snow away to Boston’s “snow farms” to make room for things like parking your car and walking on the sidewalk. Even so, we’re a long way from being able to move around the city normally.

StabilIcers--they give you great traction on snow/ice and don't break on hard pavement.
StabilIcers–they give you great traction on snow/ice and don’t break on hard pavement.

On Wednesday, I strapped on my StabilIcers and decided to try an outdoor run. My training plan had me going 8 miles but due to time constraints I decided to try for just 5 and save 8 for Thursday. As I’ve mentioned, the bike path by the Charles River is generally in good shape so I thought I’d check it out.

Getting TO the path was a little hairy, but I was hopeful when I saw it was sort-of plowed. I turned right at the bottom of the access ramp to head toward the BU Bridge. I’d gone about a quarter mile when I rounded a bend and encountered a chest-high wall of snow. Beyond it, as far as I could see, was just more snow.

Doing my civic duty by reporting on river path conditions.
Doing my civic duty by reporting on river path conditions.

All righty then! It was turning around time! I made it down from the Mass Ave Bridge to the Museum of Science and back home for a total of 4.5 miles with a pretty slow pace, for which I do not blame myself as I had to run through much snow and was wearing cleats. I  felt bad about coming a half mile short, so I shoveled for about 10 minutes when I got home to embiggen (new word, you like it) the path at our curb. I figured 4.5 miles + 10 minutes shoveling = about 5 miles in the eyes of the Lord.

Wednesday taught me that an 8 mile run was not going to be easily had outdoors. So, I bit the bullet and did something I really, really, really did not want to do. I bought a LivingSocial deal for a 30 day gym pass in order to hang out with my nemesis, my enemy, my least favorite thing ever, the treadmill.

8 miles split into 2 workouts due to a 60 minute time limit on the treadmills.
8 miles split into 2 workouts due to a 60 minute time limit on the treadmills.

When I trained for the LA Marathon last winter, I made it a point of pride that I never used a treadmill for training. No matter how cold, wet, snowy, or dark it got, I found a way to do every training run outside. This year, the snow is so much deeper and the roads so much more slippery that I simply can’t be that stubborn.

So, on Thursday, I logged 8 miles on a treadmill. It was super boring.

Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge Team Meeting

DFMC fundraising is moving toward the finish line!
DFMC fundraising is moving toward the finish line!

This month’s DFMC meeting focused on training, especially nutrition and psychological (!) readiness.

First, our team running coach and 1976 Boston Marathon winner, Jack Fultz, offered some advice on training and focusing on quality over quantity. Jack also attends all of our weekly long runs, so we have lots of opportunities to get advice and information from him.

The Jimmy Fund auditorium where we hold team meetings is full of reminders of the people touched by Dana-Farber's work.
The Jimmy Fund auditorium where we hold team meetings is full of reminders of the people touched by Dana-Farber’s work.

Next up was nutrition doctor PK Newby, who talked about fueling our bodies before, during, and after the marathon. I learned that carb loading actually starts several days before the marathon, not just the night before. Bring on the pasta!

Finally, Grayson Kimball, a sports psychologist, talked to us about building mental toughness and resilience during our training. Given that I’m also a psychologist, none of this was new to me, but he had some really interesting spins on classic ideas as well as guidance for building an effective mantra.

Long Run With DFMC

Impromptu DFMC group shot at our water stop near the Newton fire house. I'm in the back row in the pink hat.
Impromptu DFMC group shot at our water stop near the Newton fire house. I’m in the back row in the pink hat.

The DFMC team is indefinitely stuck running out of Boston College up and down Heartbreak Hill on the Commonwealth Ave carriage road as long as we still have towering snowbanks. Visibility for drivers is just too poor to run on the other routes we would normally use. It stinks not to have the variety of courses originally planned, but it is a big confidence booster to have so much experience on the toughest, most intimidating part of the marathon course.

When I woke up Saturday morning, the first thing I did was open my weather app in my phone and quietly chant, “come on, 20s, come on, 20s.” Instead I saw this:

#@*!#
#@*!#

Ugh, thanks a lot, Mother Nature. You’re the best. In order to prepare for this lovely weather, I tried something new: TWO PAIRS OF PANTS.

Flashing you my underpants, not to be confused with my underpantspants.
Flashing my underpants, not to be confused with my underpantspants.

I bought new, warmer running pants a few weeks ago, and they do a good job insulating my legs, BUT they also hold on to sweat. This means that by the end of my run my pants are soggy and I feel quite cold. I was hoping that by putting regular running tights on the bottom and the warm pants on top I could mitigate this problem. It kind of worked. I still had soggy pants at the end, but I felt less chilled by it.

In addition to two pairs of pants, I also wore a heavy SmartWool base layer, a North Face polar mid-layer, and my trusty Nike jacket. On my head I had my new Buff for face protection (although I soon realized I have no idea how to successfully use the thing), a headband to protect my ears, and like a proper adult, a stretchy Strawberry Shortcake snow hat from my childhood. I may have also finally cracked the hand warmth code with some new gigantic mittens I bought from my friends at Marathon Sports.

I'm coming for you, Heartbreak Hill!
I’m coming for you, Heartbreak Hill!

To make my goal of 18 miles, I knew I’d have to do the up-and-down Heartbreak Hill thing at least twice. I would need about 2 extra miles beyond that. One option would be a third Heartbreak repeat, but I really wanted to find another way. Please, anything but more running up and down that hill! I mapped out a little neighborhood jaunt at the bottom of Heartbreak but could only do part of it because of the snow, so made up the very last bit of mileage doing loops on the Boston College campus.

Hilltastic!
Hilltastic!

The run itself was ok! My friend Erin ran with me for the first 12 miles or so which helped the time pass quickly. I did the last 6 on my own (including the weird neighborhood and BC loops) and was definitely feeling very, very tired by the end. One highlight: Our volunteers celebrated National Margarita Day for us a day early!

Margarita flavored Shot Blocks as well as quick fuels galore, all served with a Mexican flair.
Margarita flavored Shot Blocks as well as quick fuels galore, all served with a Mexican flair.
Sandy showed true devotion to the holiday by wearing a mustache for the duration.
Sandy showed true devotion to the holiday by wearing a mustache for the duration.

I ended up logging 18.12 miles, meeting my goal for the run. And you know something? Even though the thermometer had some scary news, the whole thing wasn’t so bad.

A second highlight was when we were 6 minutes late returning our Zipcar due to ridiculous snow traffic. The next renter was less than pleased with us, so my friend Aliza taught me that “farbissina” is not just the name for a fictional frau; it’s a Yiddish word meaning sourpuss. Mind blown!

Fundraising Update

My fundraising is going very well–I am 91.5% of the way to my $12,750 goal! Wow! Thank you so much to all of my generous supporters who have given toward the very important cause of finding better ways to detect, treat, and prevent cancer.

Way to go, Eileen!!
Way to go, Eileen!!

I want to give a shout-out to someone else for their work in this area. This week I received a copy of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute 2014 Honor Roll of Donors and was so proud to see my Aunt Eileen listed for her over 100 lifetime platelet donations! I’ve always known she was dedicated to donating platelets whenever she could but hadn’t realized the huge impact she’s made over the years. Isn’t that awesome?

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