Applied Behavior Science for Health and Happiness
Boston Marathon Training: 11 Weeks Down, 7 to Go!
Boston Marathon Training: 11 Weeks Down, 7 to Go!

Boston Marathon Training: 11 Weeks Down, 7 to Go!

Boston Marathon TrainingTime flies! As of today, Monday March 2, there are fewer than 50 days left until the Boston Marathon–48 to be exact. That may seem like a long time, but before it’s done, I’ll have logged a couple of 20 mile runs, even more 15-19 mile ones, and a ton of shorter workouts. All of this on top of working full-time, traveling frequently for work, and maintaining my volunteer work and social life. It’s a lot, and I feel race day looming.

However, the support I’ve received from so many people has truly made the challenge easier. It’s very hard to skip a run knowing so many people have sent the message that they believe in you. I want to live up to that support. And I want to do whatever I can to help the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Barr Program’s mission, and my getting out of bed early every Saturday is something. If you missed it earlier in the week, here’s a video I made with Dana-Farber describing why I run:

You can donate to support my run at any time at my personal RunDFMC page.

Cross-Training

It was a good week for cross-training! I kicked things off with yoga on Tuesday (which I chased with a treadmill run at the gym, see below). I would like to discuss the olfactory difficulties I had in that class here but in the interest of being both family-friendly and kind to the person in question, I’ll just say: Please wash your yoga clothes between wearings, even the mesh ones that don’t cover your nipples.

I've really got to take more photos when I cross-train so I don't have to resort to terrible jokes.
I’ve really got to take more photos when I cross-train so I don’t have to resort to terrible jokes.

I went to Flywheel on Wednesday. Jennifer Lawrence did not, sadly, join me, even though she was spotted at Flywheel the previous weekend. It’s too bad because I would love to add “beat Katniss Everdeen at spin class” to my accomplishments, right next to “beat Kimmy Gibbler in a half marathon” (true story).

Finally, I went to Burn Fitness before work on Friday to get my glutes handed to me by Jonathan. So I did a little of everything last week.

Midweek Runs

Cool hat, man. Near the BU Bridge.
Cool hat, man. Near the BU Bridge.

I’ve been mish-mashing two training plans together (Hal Higdon Novice 2 and the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge Intermediate plan). Higdon recommended this week include three runs at five, eight, and five miles, versus DFMC recommending two 8-10 mile runs. I’ve tended to go more with the Higdon plan during the week since shorter runs are easier to fit into my schedule.

It was such a pretty day on the river!
It was such a pretty day on the river!

So, I got in 5 outdoor miles on Monday. Despite the tons of snow on the ground, it was sunny and clear, and a really pleasant day to be outside! I kept to areas of the river path I knew were pretty clear to make sure the run was peril-free.

I hate you, treadmill.
I hate you, treadmill.

Tuesday I met my nemesis the treadmill for another 5 miles after yoga class. I figured out that a lot of what I hate on the treadmill is the monotony. A few times I changed the speed to sprint for a quarter mile and then get back to a slower pace; these changes helped the time pass. I think when I do future treadmill runs I’ll try to make them speed workouts so they’re less boring.

On Thursday I had a nice open spot on my schedule for an 8 mile run. I mapped out a new route for it because I know parts of my normal 8 mile loop would be snowy or wet. My plan was to do a loop on the river going past Harvard Square before returning home. I made it to the turnaround point on my route, crossed the Eliot Bridge, and discovered that section of the path hadn’t been plowed since, oh, three storms ago. I contemplated climbing through the snow but decided it was too deep to tackle in sneakers, so I turned around and backtracked until I could cross the river. Because of the curve of the river, this made my run longer and I ended up logging just over 9 miles.

The dreaded snow-made dead end!
The dreaded snow-made dead end!

The other thing about this run was that the ground on the path was pretty lousy for the whole run. When the snow softened earlier in the week, it took on footprints and tire tracks that then re-froze to make hard peaks and valleys on the ground. Although my feet could grip, I felt like I was using my core a lot during this run. And yet somehow, I still don’t have six-pack abs.

For some reason, though, this was a really good run. I finished feeling great with a smile on my face.

Long run

As usual with the gigantic snow piles and icy sidewalks, this week’s long run was in and out of Boston College along the carriage roads of Commonwealth Ave. We’re all a little sick of running up and down Heartbreak Hill, but as our coach Jack Fultz said in our pre-run meeting, “The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle.”

One day, I will wake up on a Saturday and the temperature will have more degrees than miles I need to run. One day.
One day, I will wake up on a Saturday and the temperature will have more degrees than miles I need to run. One day.

My goal was 14 miles. This is a step-back week, which most marathon training plans include. Typically you do a few weeks of increased mileage, then a week with slightly reduced mileage for recovery. I tried my damndest to make the mileage without repeating Heartbreak Hill, but I just could not, so it was two times up-and-down for me. I ended up logging 14.53 miles.

Saturday was apparently National Superhero Day, so many runners were sporting fun costumes for my people-watching pleasure. There were lots of Batmans, Wonder Women, and Spider(wo)men. I also learned that some people interpret the concept of “superhero” very loosely. I’m looking at you, the two separate people dressed as giant bananas.

Of course our awesome volunteers played up the superhero theme and wore costumes themselves. Here I am with Sandra Dubuc, who is there every week honoring her son Matty (in the big photo behind us). She always brings photos of Matty to remind us of the patients who will benefit from the funds we raise. You can read Matty’s story on the Caring Bridge page Sandy made for him and where she still keeps Matty’s memory alive for others.

At the water stop at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill with our superhero volunteers!
At the water stop at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill with our superhero volunteers!

At around the 5 mile mark, I was thrilled to see local Boston performing arts celebrity Keytar Bear jamming for the runners. It’s always a pleasant surprise to encounter Keytar Bear at a T stop or just out in the wild, and seeing him on the race course was no exception.

In which I learn that asking a stranger who clearly has no idea who Keytar Bear is to take a picture of me with Keytar Bear results in a picture of me with the bear head on the truck behind Keytar Bear.
In which I learn that asking a stranger who clearly has no idea who Keytar Bear is to take a picture of me with Keytar Bear results in a picture of me with the bear head on the truck behind Keytar Bear.

And as usual, Heartbreak Hill Running Company‘s Heartbreak Bill was out posing for photos with marathon trainees:

Me and Heartbreak Bill, dressed as Bat Bill in honor of National Superhero Day.
Me and Heartbreak Bill, dressed as Bat Bill in honor of National Superhero Day.

Getting out there for these long runs has been hard, especially in this weather, but as you can see, between DFMC and the general Boston running community there is so much support and camaraderie to make the time fly.

As I work through another week of training, I’d sure appreciate your support! I’m getting very close to my fundraising goal but am not quite there yet. You can help by making a donation here. Thank you!

In next week’s edition: The first 20 mile long run of Boston Marathon 2015 training!