Mile 20 Party – #Hudsonstrong!

Marathons are not about one individual crossing the finish line. It is about months of dedication to training, a supportive family, and the spirit of an entire city coming together. There is nothing more important to Marissa and me than our family, and we couldn’t have asked for a better cheering section than these folks waiting for us at Mile 20. My mom has been a nurse at Mass General Hospital for as long as I can remember, and she was the first person to suggest that we join the MGH Marathon Team when our thoughts turned to running this year.

Mile 20 Party!

Mile 20 Party!

As I approached the Mile 20 MGH party at Dr. Weinstein’s house in Newtown, I first spotted my mom and then saw my Ellie on top of KJ’s shoulders. I was PUMPED to see them, and I still felt pretty good!

My conversation with Ellie went like this:
Ellie: We’ve been looking for you!!
Me: I know! I’ve been coming as fast as I could!
Ellie: Are you done?
Me: I wish.
Ellie: Well, I’m tired.

HA! Ellie, I was tired too but you picked me up and kept me going for the last 26.2. Emily was a little confused why I ran up to them and then ran away after a few minutes, and she didn’t really want to give me a hug, but I am pretty sure that’s because she wanted me to KEEP RUNNING! Ellie had some sweet unicorn face-paint action going on, my dad was wearing his Guy Fieri hat, and everyone was rocking their Run For MGH shirts. I really think Marissa and I had the easier job on Monday. Trying to navigate Boston on Marathon Monday, taking the T, and walking for miles is NO easy feat with a stroller and two little ones. So proud of E&e for being so good and watching their first Boston Marathon like champs!

Big shout out to the best fans of the day! You are our everything!

Go Team MGH!

Go Team MGH!

Marathon Monday, from Mer

It has taken me longer that I hoped to actually get the time to sit down and type out my experience from Monday. I am just going to take it slowly, and try to put into words what 4.21.14 meant to me.

Alarms rang at 4:20AM, but I had been up for 10 minutes. Roo and I drove into Boston from Beverly, with one quick stop at Dunks, to meet our team bus. We had booked a room at The Liberty, but we weren’t sure they were going to be able to check us in so early, given that this was the busiest weekend in Boston. Turns out we arrived JUST in time to get the LAST room, which was way easier logistically-speaking than leaving our bags with the bellhop. Also, just our luck…the only room left to give us was on the original jail side of the hotel, which means we had beautiful exposed brick overlooking Alibi. Score! Things were already looking up!

We boarded our team bus at MGH (next door to The Liberty) and it finally started to sink in. We were going to run the Boston Marathon. The bus ride out was long. How long can 26.2 miles be!? It was slightly delayed due to a last-minute security change, but we were at our MGH Team Tent in Hopkinton by 7:30am. All of that to just hurry up and wait! We had an amazing DJ who kept us pumped up, and we had lots of stuff to eat and drink. I didn’t know that my friend from college Anna and her sister were also on the MGH team, so we had lots to catch up on in the tent. Great job, Lebowski sisters!!

Around 11:00am, we started the short walk to the starting line, discarding outer layers as we walked. It was HOT. Hotter than the weather prediction. From here on out, thoughts and memories get sort of blurry, but I will never forget…

– The crowd at the starting line. We hadn’t run a single mile yet, but there were SPECTATORS and they were CHEERING. If that didn’t get you pumped to run 26.2, nothing will.
– The TV camera panning the crowd at the start. I THREW my arms up and expended a ton of energy but I didn’t care. Look, Ma! I’m on TV!
– Starting to run. We immediately run into one of Roo’s friend’s from Danvers and score a quick hug before she dodged the crowd.
– For all those moms out there who are germ freaks, you will love this. There was a mom on the side of the road, holding her 3-4 month old daughter, stretching out her daughter’s hand to high five runners. THAT is BOSTONSTRONG!
– Margaret (PLUS ONE) passing me with a baby on board. You go, girl.
– Running behind a guy who had written on his shirt “Running On A Heart Transplant”. So inspiring!
– Sign that said “The only marathons I do are on NetFlix”
– There were HUGE banners every time you crossed into a new town, and I loved the WELCOME TO NATICK signs, and the band and crowd at TJs bar
– On the same note, every time you crossed into a new town, the crowd’s would yell “WELCOME TO ___”. I would shout back “THANKS FOR HAVING ME ___” [Side note: may have expended waaay too much energy yelling at ppl]
– The wall of screaming Wellesley girls was amazing. They all held signs that said “KISS ME, I’M A REDHEAD!” or “KISS ME, I’M A HISTORY MAJOR” or “KISS ME, TO MAKE HER JEALOUS!” or better yet “KISS ME TO MAKE MY HUSBAND JEALOUS!” I was LOVING them.
– I still felt like I was floating on air at the half-way point. No pain. Just pure smiles. Roo and I got some pretty sweet pics crossing the half-way point, still running together.
Mile 18: I saw Blair and Nicole and stopped to chat. Such a boost for me to get me through to MILE 20!
– Seeing my family at mile 20! Ellie said “are you done yet?” SORRY SISTA!
– Running (ok, walking) up Heartbreak Hill. Hey, everyone needs a little rest during 26.2, especially when its SO DAMN STEEP!
– Cresting Heartbreak Hill and telling two little girls that I was going to start running now. They cheered for me!
Boston College! Seeing Heather, and getting a big hug, and screaming to all the college kids “I MARRIED AN EAGLE!” They went nuts.
– The downhill through Cleveland Circle past Mary Ann’s was WAY rougher on my legs that I expected. I took little baby steps but cruised that corner high fiving lots of spectators.
– Miles 22-23 were sort of rough. Chewed ice. Ate popsicle.
– Grabbing from a guy a Bud Light at Mile 24 and LOVING it (and I HATE cheap beer). It was so ice cold.
– Probably buzzed off of Bud Light, but Mile 24 and 25 were sort of a blur. I saw Rachel H and Jorge, and finally saw that elusive Citgo sign pointing me home.
Kenmore Square was THUNDERING, and I think that spectators were literally scaling the barricades to get high fives.
– I saw the Mass Ave tunnel. I went through the tunnel. I walked up the little incline…then RAN.
RAN RIGHT ON HEREFORD. RAN LEFT ON BOYLSTON.
SCREAMING.
FIST PUMPING.
HOLLERING.
HOOTING.
I was in my own zone where nothing hurt, and everything felt amazing. I could run that last 1/2 mile over and over for the rest of my life and never get tired of it. I choked up when I saw the finish line, and fought back tears when I passed the fire house, McGreeveys, and The Forum. I crossed the line. I crossed it for all of those who couldn’t that day, and I crossed it for the whole city of Boston. I crossed it for all the kids in the MGH pediatric cancer center, and I crossed it for all of my generous friends and family who donated to this cause. I crossed for everyone along the route that day, and for all of the amazing volunteers.

We finished!

Sisters. Finishers.

Sisters. Finishers.

Trip Down Memory Lane

Marathon Weekend is HERE!

I took a little trip down memory lane today. Starting with this email:

IN

IN

Then we ran. A lot.

Sisters

Sisters

COMM AVE... We are comin' for ya!

COMM AVE… We are comin’ for ya!

nyc half official pic

nyc half official pic

Team HudsonStrong

Team HudsonStrong

We also lifted heavy things.

Mer lookin' strong

Mer lookin’ strong

Me getting ready for a set of 8!

Me getting ready for a set of 8!

Rack It

Rack It

Hanging Around

Hanging Around

And even rowed.

Representing CrossFit516

Representing CrossFit516

But it all lead us here to this.

Marathon Weekend.

Marathon Weekend.

Thankful Tuesday: We Hit Our Goal!!!

Message from CrowdRise! We did it!

Message from CrowdRise! We did it!

First off- THANK YOU to all of our friends and family who donated to our MGH Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Marathon team!  When we first set out on this journey, we knew that we had more to do than just run; we were raising money to help MGH’s youngest cancer patients get the best treatment possible, so that one day they have the chance to run Boston just like us. We are so honored to represent this cause and with the help of all of you we were able to successfully reach and SURPASS our goal. To date, Meredith and I have raised over $11,500 for the pediatric cancer center at Massachusetts General Hospital.  THANK YOU!

We are less than two weeks away from the big day!  I feel surprisingly calm about the actual running part… I am however, nervous about the weather and hoping for a perfect running day!  I am also nervous about the entire day going by so quickly that I do not take the time to stop and appreciate what we are actually doing.  I need to make sure that 1) I do not spend the entire 26.2 looking for Tedy Bruschi:

 

Tedy Bruschi- Boston Marathon 2014

Tedy Bruschi- Boston Marathon 2014

 

 

and 2) that we take the time to enjoy our run and appreciate that we have the opportunity to run the 2014 Boston Marathon.

It is the final countdown…

Can’t wait to see you out there!

#run4MGH

 

 

 

Last “Long” Run – 2 Weeks of Training Left.

I never thought I’d be thinking of a 9 mile run as an “easy” one, but here we are, five months of marathon training behind us, and the last “long” run before Boston. I headed out to do 10 miles, but my Nike app failed me halfway through. It was actually very liberating to pace myself by how I felt, not worry about what how far or how long I went, just focus on feeling strong. I did a lot of good hills (and visualized Heartbreak), so when I got home after the run and mapped it out, I was totally fine with coming in under the 10 mile mark.

9 lovely miles

9 lovely miles

Running feels different to me after five months of training. I feel lighter on my feet, like I could run 20 miles on any given Saturday. My head is clear, and my breathing is much quieter. I don’t look at the top of hills when I am running, but just ahead of me and focus on moving my feet quickly, and lean into the hill. I finally run just because I love it, and that’s the best feeling in the world.

As we move into April, the press coverage of the Boston Marathon is plentiful. I pick up Runner’s World magazine every once in a while, and the May issue is a tear-jerker. I also really loved this Dan Shaughnessy article in the Globe. Boston is ready for April 21. And so are we.

Next stop, Hopkinton.

Next stop, Hopkinton.

Welcome to Tapertown! – 20 Mile Run Re-cap

The day started early with a 6am wake up and a 7:00am departure from Beverly. Our whole team was meet at Dr. Howard Weinstein‘s house in Newton to run our LAST long run of the season before Marathon Monday. When we arrived at his house, it was packed with other MGH team members. Perhaps the BEST part of the whole morning was meeting the fabulous Kelly Sarno, my IG bestie. It was like we were long lost friends! We picked up our SWEET MGH team tee-shirts, too. This isn’t what we’ll be running 26.2 in, but our whole fan club will be sporting them at the Mile 20 Party. We munched on some last minute fuel, and boarded the buses for the drive out to the marathon starting line in Hopkinton. Once we were boarded and moving, there was no turning back. Our only option was to JUST RUN the 20 miles back to Howard’s house.

Ready at the starting line

Ready at the starting line

When we arrived in Hopkinton, there were so many runners. I recognized all the Team in Training shirts right away (gotta love that PURPLE), and most people had crowded around the “start” line. I really didn’t know this was such a well organized training run. I thought it was just going to be our group!  I have seriously run real races that had less spectators than this run. The Boston Marathon is a celebration of the entire city, and the volunteers, and people along the route were SO proud to be out helping the marathoners-to-be. We high-fived kids in their front yards in Ashland. We were pumped up by a front-stoop DJ at Mile 10. Shops along the route in Wellesley left out buckets of water and Gatorade so that we could grab them if we needed them. Every single fire station offered a pit stop, complete with music, bathrooms, and candy. And after a week of tragedy, they were still out there, putting a smile on our faces, and offering encouragement. Boston Police held up traffic at every intersection for the runners so that we could cross safely. It was all so overwhelmingly generous.

Signs were placed the entire 20 mile route for our safety

Signs were placed the entire 20 mile route for our safety

Miles 1-3: We were off in Hopkinton We starting our run with Kelly, MJ and Jess and I think you could probably hear us before you could see us coming. Chatting, laughing and stopping for a few key photo ops made the first few miles fly by. At the first mile marker, there was a tree of running sneakers in honor of Meg Menzies who was struck and killed by a drunk driver while out on a morning run in Virginia, #megsmiles.

Tree for #megsmiles

Tree for #megsmiles

Miles 3-5: We hit Ashland at a pretty good clip. Marissa and I separated from the group and plugged in to our music.

Miles 5-9: Framingham. We passed our MGH team pit stop at Mile 5, but didn’t stop for too long. We had 15 more miles to run! We stopped briefly at the TNT table around mile 8 to grab some water.

Mile 10: HALFWAY! As we closed in on Natick Town Common, we saw the best sign of the day: 10 MILES TIL TAPERTOWN! That fired me up! MGH had a table set up, and we stopped for a second to stretch and grab some snacks. I have to say, Swedish Fish never tasted so good.

Miles 11-12: The road got residential, and we had to switch sides of the street as we climbed up a hill to reach Wellesley College.

Mile 13: The small town of Wellesley rolled out the red carpet for marathon runners. Stores had buckets of water and Gatorade sitting out for us, and fans were cheering us along with cow-bells. I had to keep reminding myself that this was just a training run. I pictured us crossing this point on Marathon Monday, and we could say that we were halfway to home!

Mile 14-16: Heading down Washington St in Wellesley, we knew we were getting close to the turn onto Comm Ave. A father/daughter combo was handing out lemonade and water from their driveway, and we happily took them up on it. Pretty much as this point, we were taking food and drinks from every stranger we met.

Mile 17-20: At Mile 17, runners turn right onto Comm Ave, which is a crucial part of the race. The crowds (if they aren’t already dense) get thicker as the route turns towards Boston. The Newton Fire Station was amazing. The guys had a whole spread of goodies, water and refreshments and even opened up their bathrooms to a bunch of weary runners. The last few miles were definitely the toughest. We took some short walking breaks to stretch our legs out, and switch up our cadence. At mile 19 we met a woman who was shuffling along with a TNT shirt on, so we started chatting. She beat cervical cancer THREE TIMES and is running her first marathon. Meeting her and chatting passed the time, and before we knew it (or, in what felt like an eternity) we finally hit the Heartbreak Hill Running Company at Mile 20. We did it!!

Tapertown, here we are! We have some light runs the next few weeks, but we’re ready for the Big Show. 21 days…

Team HudsonStrong

Team HudsonStrong

18 Miles- Donezo

*Meredith has reached her fundraising goal of $5,000 but I am still working towards my goal! Please consider donating to my Boston Marathon fundraiser by clicking HERE! Thank you to all who have already donated! We really appreciate your support!*

On Saturday I woke up at 7am and set out for my longest run yet… 18 miles.  I had no idea what to expect because I would be running the whole thing by myself and had nobody to push me or talk to me along the way.  I made sure to make a good spotify play list for this one…

Miles 1-3: I felt really good.  It was not too cold and I felt like I dressed perfectly.  Two long sleeves, a vest and our standard pashmina.  I started out my usual 7 mile loop towards Wenham.

3-6 : I still felt pretty good and was heading through Wenham when I took a left instead of my usual right and ran into Hamilton until I hit a gas station so I could grab a Gatorade and eat my GU chomps!  This took probably 2 minutes but I stopped my timer and made sure to eat and drink enough that I had the energy to start up again.

Hamilton

Hamilton!

 

6-10:  These miles were slow and I felt overwhelmed that I was only getting to the halfway point.  I was still running through Wenham and I stopped to stretch out my hamstrings and drink a little more Gatorade.  I decided to run back into Danvers.

10-14:  I headed back into Danvers and started to feel a little better.  Ditched the Gatorade and started to feel like I was getting close to the end!

14-18: I was definitely tired at this point and headed back to Beverly.  I was going at probably 10:30 mile pace.  I was really bored and my play list had looped through a few times but I also was proud I had gone so far.

 

Trail!

18 miles done

I finished after 3 hours and 20 minutes of running.  It was a nice slow run and I hope that it will feel a little easier when I am running with Mer and have the energy of the other marathoners around me!

Last long run this weekend- 2o miles! Then Mer and I are headed to Portland, ME to see Darius Rucker! Happy Belated Birthdays to us!!

 

5 Week Countdown – Weekly Training Plan

Monday – REST & recover from NYC Half

TuesdayCrossFit Endurance workout: 4x400s (uphill, recover on descent): I ended up doing this workout with my whole 6am WOD, and took about 2-3 minutes rest each 400. Legs still felt really heavy from Sunday’s race.

Love my Milky Way WUCs

Love my Milky Way WUCs

WednesdayCrossFit516

Thursday – CrossFit Endurance workout: 4 min on, 3 min off, 2 min on, 30 sec off, 1 min on,3 min off, 2 min on, 30 sec off, 4 min on.

Friday – REST.

Saturday – Birthday WOD! CrossFit Endurance workout: 4 x 5K with 5 mins rest, then my favorite Long Island Vineyards!

Sunday – 30 min run/30 min yoga

A Pair of Gloves: The NYC Half-Marathon

When my alarm went off at 5AM, I was already awake. I didn’t get the best night’s sleep. In fact, I am pretty sure I was up every. single. hour.  It was time for the NYC Half-Marathon. Today was my second time running the streets of NYC. I ran in the inagural NYC Half Marathon presented by Nike waaaay back in 2006 while I was training for the Chicago Marathon. It was pretty much a lifetime ago. Before KJ. Before E&e. Before CrossFit. Before I really loved running. My time was 2:07.42. I was 23. I was 6 months out of chemo and cancer.  It was a lifetime ago.

At 6AM, my dad drove me to meet my friends at the Forest Hills subway station. Not sure how many 30 year olds still have their dads drive them around, but for me, it is pretty much the norm. He drove, and I chugged water, and we chatted mostly about my girls, and how funny they are. He knew I had a big goal that morning; sub-2 hours. He dropped me off at the Dunkin Donuts in Forest Hills, and my dad said “Have a great race. I know you’ll do great.” And I knew he meant it. I was ready.

The CrossFit516 Crew (Astrid, Ed and I) hopped on the subway and got to the starting line in Central Park at just about 7:30AM. The walkways were PACKED, and the air had a nice chill to it.By nice, I mean absolutely frigid.  I had throw-away sweatpants and an old Yale sweatshirt, but I was really dying for a pair of gloves. I started obsessively searching the ground for any discarded gloves (yes, I was willingly going to wear a stranger’s gloves), but I wasn’t having much luck. Gloves are probably one of the last things that people discard, especially when it is 30 degrees. The crowds were getting thicker, we were getting closer to the starting line, and I was fussing with my sweatshirt, my phone, my Nike+ app, and my headphones when I finally spotted them; gloves. Little fleece diamonds in the rough. I literally jumped for joy to get them, and the last thing I heard before I plugged in and started running was Ed telling me “those gloves are a sign!” Yup. A sign of great things.

Miles 1-3 were a total blur of awesomeness. Astrid and I were cruising and I literally felt like I was running on air. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that great for the first few miles of a run. They are usually my worse miles! The top of the park was sort of chaotic, with some zigging and zagging in a really crowded area. I think it was my least favorite part of the race. Miles 3-5 were the nice rolling hills of Harlem, and I charged up each hill like I meant BUSINESS. I really still felt like my legs just took over my whole body. Taking two days off from any running or CrossFit was definitely the right move.

official pic

official pic

We headed out of Central Park and down through Time’s Square, and I couldn’t help but smile (and tear up a little). I knew I would see my mom and my sister around mile 7, and I was getting sooooo close. If you ever get the chance to stand in the middle of 7th Avenue with no cars, no cabs, literally nothing around you; do it. I tried to remember to look UP as some of the best views are of the tallest buildings in NYC.

nyc half official pic

nyc half official pic

I turned right onto 42nd Street I spotted my mom and Marissa on the right side. I high-fived, and Marissa snapped some pics. What I wanted to say was, “HI! My pace is fast! I am doing it! I am going to break 2!” However, I am pretty sure I  just whooped, and high-fived and went on my way. Any seconds lost were going to be added on to the end, and I had a PR to make! Seeing my mom and my sister made me run MUCH faster down 42nd Street.

The wind heading towards the West Side Highway was fierce. I don’t have my exact splits, but I think my slowest miles might have been 8 and 9.  We were rewarded though, because miles 10-12 put the wind at our back, and I found my groove again on the nice, flat terrain of the West Side Highway. I had no idea as we passed mile 12 that we were going through a DARK TUNNEL for mile 13, but that was sort of awesome. We came out of the tunnel, ran 900 more meters up the FDR and crossed that finish line on South Street. I still didn’t know my exact time, though I knew I was coming in under 2. When I crossed, I was finally able to check my phone, and I saw that the NYC Half app had already posted my time.

1:54.43. A PR by 13 minutes. 

Those black fleece gloves? I am keeping them forever.

Twas the night before the NYC Half…

It’s finally here! I have been looking forward to this race all training season, and I’m all prepped for tomorrow morning. I just took a Sharpie to my race shirt given to me at the Expo and wrote a big MEREDITH on the front, and SHIPPING UP TO BOSTON – 6 WEEKS on the back.

Here is the plan: Alarm goes off at 5am. Eat half a bagel with almond butter, half a banana and have a cup of coffee at home. Start drinking water.

Wearing: lululemon run ispire crops, Under Armor long-sleeve, NYC Half race shirt (with my name on it, and my number pinned to it), my favorite lululemon socks, Mizuno Wave Inspires, and my new lucky hat from my dad.

ready, go.

ready, go.

I’m going to bring my phone, headphones, Gu Chomps, the other half of the banana, and a water to the start line with me, along with an old sweatshirt and sweatpants to wear on top so I don’t get totally frozen standing in the corrals.

Leave the house at 6:00am, and meet my  CrossFit516 friends Astrid and Ed at the Forest Hills subway stop. Astrid has promised to run the first couple miles with me to help me pace it out, but I expect her to TAKE OFF once we leave the park and go on her merry way of her FIRST HALF-MARATHON!  We should get to Central Park by 7:00am and we’ll be racing by 7:45am.

Tonight I am going to make sure I eat a good meal, lots of protein, and good carbs. Also, restricting to ONE glass of wine. Tomorrow post-race (and hopefully with a new PR, fingers crossed) I’ll be celebrating with some bubbly!

I am so pumped to run NYC tomorrow, that I hope I’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep tonight. If you are in NYC, and anywhere along the race route, be sure to come out and cheer! I’d love to see you!

Happy trails & swift feet tomorrow everyone!