It All Start in Hopkinton!

 

Our coffee grinder went off at 4:45 this morning…it was time to get up and practice my race morning nutrition a few hours before my last 20 miles run before the Marathon.  I had a cup of coffee, a bagel with almond butter which is what I am planning to have for breakfast on Marathon day, I visualized the course on Google map and around 6:30 AM my wonderful husband Dustin drove me to Hopkinton to run the Boston Marathon course all the way to the bottom of Heartbreak Hill.  Well, I wasn’t the only one that had that idea!  After all with 3 weeks away form the race this should be the last 20 miler and it is definitely very helpful to have an idea of the course and get mentally and physically prepared.

Driving there was a little painful though, Dustin followed the course backwards and those 21 miles seemed to be going a really far distance and through various towns- Boston,Brookline, Newton,Wellesley, Framingham, Ashland , and finally Hopkinton.  It  took us about an hour to get to Hopkinton, I have to admit I was pretty nervous.
Once there I was surprise to see so much animation that early in the morning.  There was a tent with water and snacks that the BAA set up for runners and a very friendly man with the orange Boston jacket on approached me asking me with what group I was running? I said my own group! He went on warning me to be careful as there were no sidewalks on the first part of the route and the traffic was flowing pretty good.  A police man was directing the traffic for runners and helped me cross the street, also warning me to be aware of traffic.  Tons of marathoners were there to prep themselves, the camaraderie was so palpable and invigorating!  All the things I was worried about (like getting lost) disappeared I was feeling great, energized and really happy I was actually doing this!

Boston Marathon Corse Map

The route started downhill, and my understanding before today was that it was downhill for many miles.  But for the first several miles, it was definitely rolling hills. I crossed the Ashland town line pretty quickly, then it was Framingham and sidewalks appeared!  I passed into Natick running all the way on luxuriously sidewalks.  And soon came to Natick Center, which is about mile 11 of the marathon and I was feeling pretty good!  Along the all way there were several volunteers with water, food, gel and Gatorade that they were also applauding and celebrating the runners!  It felt so much like a race, what an incredible supportive community I live in I was thinking to myself !


I then came to Wellesley where a loud crew of girls in two bright red and orange toaster cars were holding motivational signs and with the music pumping were cheering on the runners.  I gave them a thumb up when I finally noticed a girl waving big, she was  moving her arms side to side, I looked closely and I recognize Marisa from the Lululemon store in Natick!  With her I clicked right away from the first time I walked into the store to buy my very first pair of shorts for my second Half Marathon.  Since then every time I went to Lululemon it was just great to connect with Marisa with who I have so many things in common.  Marisa is also a runner and she will be running a Marathon in May with the objective to qualify for Boston!  Go Marisa!  I got so emotional when I saw her, my heart started to beat faster, tears came to my eyes.  It was such an unexpected surprise that made me jumped ahead of time and there I was imagining seeing my family and friends on Marathon day…I was a train rack and started to slow down!  Sometimes, I get so mad with myself for being so intense and passionate but then it wouldn’t be me.  So, I kept running while Marisa was still shouting out my name.  I kept going, I went down the big hill, crossing into Newton, over Route 128, past Newton-Wellesley Hospital at mile 17 of the marathon route.


I continued on until I reached the Newton fire station where I took a right onto Rte 30 and started the Newton Hills.  I was really familiar with this part of the course as I did most of my long runs practicing on it.  However, it was a little different this time as I had 17 miles on my legs.  I was happily surprised that even though I was tired I was still going at a pretty decent pace.  I finally reached the top of the Hearthbreak Hill and on my way down I started to look for Dustin and our puppy Luna.  Here they were at the bottom of the hill at the 21.5 mile mark.  My plan was to run 22 miles, but when Luna saw me she got very excited and she started to whine/cry;  my husband was looking at me with his handsome smile printed on his face. I couldn’t resist I stopped and hugged them and celebrated with them!  I was really  ecstatic with the run, the company and community out there running, definitely changed the run for me.  It made it amazing!  At the end, I was so grateful for having such a wonderful and supportive husband and the energy of all those people along the way, and this is what makes Boston a truly great running town!

Dustin & Luna

Spaying our Luna

Our beautiful girl

On March 17th, our 6 Month old puppy Luna got spayed/neutered.  Spaying and neutering, prevent animals from being able to reproduce. Females undergo spay surgery (ovariohysterectomy), which involves the removal of her ovaries and uterus.

Dustin and I dropped her off  at the Arlington Animal Clinic at 8:30 AM in the morning and went to pick her up at 5 PM.  When they took her out to us she was wearing the E-Collar, space collar, cone, or whatever you want to call it, she looked very disoriented.  The poor thing was not used to walk with that big thing on and when we walked outside to go to the car she got stuck in the ground with the cone while she was trying to sniff around.  It was the most pathetic cute thing I’ve ever seen!  When we got home, Dustin lift her out of the car by wrapping his arms around Luna’s chest and we started to walk towards our apartment, well she would refuse to walk with that cone on, we practically had to force her to walk into the house!  I couldn’t believe how different she was acting, I felt so bad for her.  You could tell that she was uncomfortable as a result of the incision and all drugged up due to the after-effects of anesthesia.

The veterinary told us to have her wear the cone until we would go back and have the stitches removed, which was in about  two weeks.  The cone is to stop her from getting to the incision and licking the stitches causing infection.  Some dogs are so obsessed with the incision that  they even pull out the stitches and at that point you have to take them to emergency vet.  We definitely did not want that to happen to our little “Puplet” , that’s a nickname we gave Luna together with “Monster’!

When we were able to finally get her into the house we decided to take the space collar off to make her feel more comfortable, there was no reason for her to keep it on at this point since we were supervising her.  Our Luna could care less about  her stitches, she went straight to her comfy bed we fluffed ahead of time for her and basically slept till bed time.  That night, and few others after that, we had Luna sleep with us, we wanted her to be able to sleep without having the cone in the way and having her in bed with us was a way so we could keep an eye on her.  Besides, I have to admit I really wanted her to be close to us and feel our love, I wouldn’t want to sleep by myself after a major surgery like that!  Needless to say that the first night Dustin and I did not sleep much, we kept checking on her to make sure she wouldn’t go for the stitches.  As I said though Luna was really good, she did not once lick her stitches and she was back to normal pretty quickly!

The vet said we could take her out for short walks on a leash but shouldn’t have her running or jumping around for 10 days.  I think that was the toughest part since Luna is a very active and energetic pup  and she wanted to run, jump and play right away, it amazed me how she was acting as if nothing happened very quickly!  The funniest part of all this was when we were trying to have her go into her crate with the cone on the days we had to go to work.  She would not move, she would put the feet down and I could hear her thinking:” No way you are leaving me her, all alone, in my crate with this thing on!”  Usually, we just need to make noise in her cookie box that she runs to her crate, this time not even having her lick the treat worked!  She is a trooper and recovered really well and after the stitches were out, she finally could run around with her best buddy Penny!

No way you are leaving me here with this thing on!

No way you are leaving me here with this thing on!

She loves the Sun like her mama

She is our sweet girl

 

Spaying or neutering your pet is a very important decision for pet owners, it is the responsible thing to do!  If you are an animal lover who value your pets, it is important to understand the impact of this decision.  Think about it……

  • Every day there are 70,000 puppies and kittens born with only 10,000 human births to coincide.
  • There just aren’t enough homes for all of these animals.
  • There are between six and seven million animals euthanized in shelters for lack of available homes.
  • That is 135,000 per week, or 20,000 every 24 hours for each of the 365 days a year.
  • Animal overpopulation has reached a crisis point in this country.

Also, spaying your dog it reduces the risk of breast cancer and prevents various reproductive tract disorders.

We love our Luna she is a sweet and loving girl and we can’t imagine our life without her!

Runnography

I love photography and I love running.  One day Dustin and I were talking and running while taking photos came up.  I think that running and photography are both arts in their own form, so wouldn’t be fun to capture the beautiful things and people I see and meet on a run.  We thought I should combine the two passions I have and create something new and fun….we called this new activity RUNNOGRAPHY!

We took into consideration that taking pictures while running is not the ideal thing to do because of the constant movement of the body and the chance that the photos would be blurry is pretty high.  However, Dustin pointed out that that was the interesting part of it and I would have the opportunity to capture movement.  He said that I could be happily surprised with the outcome, and it’s worth the try even if only one out of ten photos came out good.  Obviously, from a runner’s point of view, when I run I want to be as light as possible and I realize that bringing a camera is like adding more weight when running.  That’s why I decided to experiment runnography this morning that I had schedule a short and easy 6 mile run.  I left home around 6 AM with my small digital camera on me.  It was still dark out but by the time I was in Harvard and went running along the Charles River,  the sun started to rise.  My first ‘runnography’ session went better than I expected, the photos came out not so bad, I had a lot of fun and 6 miles were over before I knew it!

On Mass Ave in Porter Square

Speeding cars

My Garmin Forerunner 110

 

The Charles River

Looking down

 

I am thinking to even start my own ‘Runnography’ club!

And the countdown begins!

30 Days til Marathon Monday

One Month Until the 115th Boston Marathon!

It’s March 18th, which means the Boston Marathon is only 4 weeks away from today!  This is the dream that’s been floating around in my mind and heart for so many weeks, months and “mamma mia” I can’t believe I’m a month away from actually  running the 115th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 18th…..my heart just skipped a beat writing this sentence!  I am getting very excited!

It’s just crazy after all this time, the Boston Marathon is really finally approaching.  I still have a lot of work to do in training, but knowing that it’s getting closer is definitely pumping me up for the final training push.

To provide a better pre-race and starting experience for the runners, the Boston Athletic Association announced  that a third wave will be used at the start of this year’s event.  Each wave will include approximately 9,000 runners.

The start times (approx. number in parentheses):
9 a.m.: mobility impaired (6)
9:17 a.m.: wheelchair division (30)
9:22 a.m.: handcycles (24)
9:32 a.m.: elite women (50)
10 a.m.: elite men and wave 1 (color-coded red)
10:20 a.m.: wave 2 (white)
10:40 a.m.: wave 3 (blue)

I will be starting with Wave 2 at 10: 20 AM wearing a white bib and my lucky number is 12344…pretty easy to remember ah!

My Bib Number 12344

Banner Day

Okay, you know it’s officially Boston Marathon season when the official banners are hung. Today , four-time champion Bill Rodgers put up the first 2011 banner that will adorn the Boston streets through Marathon Monday. With the help of principal sponsor John Hancock Financial Services, the banner program has become an annual reminder to Bostonians that Spring is in the air, and the Boston Marathon is around the corner.

Bill Rodgers helping putting up the banners

I still have no confirmed race day attire (starting to stress about that), but I definitely need new running shoes, so I’ll have to make a very serious trip to the the Running Room this weekend so I will have the time to wear them at least a couple of weeks before race day.  And this is true for clothing as well.  Race day is not the time for new shoes, new clothing, or even new food or drinks, anything else you haven’t done on several training runs.  Stick with a routine that works for you or the result may be blisters or chafing. As Patti Finke says ” NO NEW IS GOOD NEW”.

However, you can experiment on your long runs.  Your many long runs during the build up to the marathon are the perfect opportunity to try something new and different.  Things you should experiment before Marathon day:

Accessories

  1. Shoes. You need to determine which shoe works best for you. Regardless of which shoe you wear, you should make certain the shoe feels completely comfortable on your long runs. And that it still has plenty of cushioning and support for the marathon. If that’s not the case you shoul buy a new pair of the exact same model at least two weeks before the race.
  2. Socks. Determine which type of socks—thin, thick, double layers, CoolMax—works best for you, it’ s the most comfortable and that there is not a blister problem.
  3. Clothing. Depending on the weather, experiment with the various clothes combinations you might wear to determine how much to wear. Any article of clothing should be worn several times before you wear it in a marathon. Never wear anything in the marathon that you buy at the marathon expo the day before.
  4. Skin lubrication. If you have chafed on prior long runs, try using a lubricant such as Body Glide or Vaseline to see if it helps in any problem areas.

Nutrition

  1. Pre-race nutrition. The night before your long run is the time to try different carbohydrate-rich dishes and see which works the best the next day.  Also, few hours before your long run you should eat some carbohydrate-rich foods and easily digestible foods like a banana, bagel with almond butter or cereal. This will help you determined exactly what to eat  the night before and the morning of the marathon.
  2. Hydration. You should make absolutely certain you are properly hydrated before you even start.  Begin hydrating the day before and drink about eight ounces of water the morning prior to your long run.  Also, drink lots of fluids while running.  I usually try to have a sip of water every  three to four mile.
  3. Energy gel supplements. Experimenting with different energy gels and be sure to chase these supplements down with water to avoid stomach cramps and insure absorption.  If you are like me and your stomach can’t tolerate energy gels try out with pretzels(good also to replenish the salt you are loosing sweating), gummy bears or a bar.
  4. Caffeine. I personally  have a cup of coffee before every run and I’ve never have any issues tolerating a cup before prior long runs or races.  However, if you are not used to it do not try it on Marathon day.

Marathon pace strategy

There are many different pacing strategies, including negative splits, positive splits, even pacing, even effort, front running, strong start/middle float, middle push/strong finish and surging.  Whatever you decide to utilize it should be practiced several times during long runs.

Here is a great article about pacing strategies from Runner’s World.

You should plan in advance your race pace and splits.  I have few favorites, The McMillan Running Calculator, Runner’s Web, Coolrunning.

Let’s get to practice now! Good luck!

Happy Birthday Dustin!

March 7, 1982 was the day my best friend and husband was born, what a great day! Happy 29th birthday Amore mio.(“My love” in Italian).

Bday Card from me

I have the most wonderful person who has chosen to spend his life with me as my soulmate. Dustin is kind, sweet, intelligent, loving, caring, compassionate about everything he does, extremely handsome and a wonderful protector and partner in life.  There will never be enough words to describe my love for him.  He makes me laugh like no one else can, he picks me up when i am down, he supports every single one of my dreams, he teases me, he spoils me, he is everything I could have ever asked for in a husband and some. He is perfect for me!  He is the love of my life and the one I can’t live without.

Therefore, like most wives/girlfriends, birthdays of our better-halves are considered very very special.  I take it seriously making extra efforts to make it really special. And, this time I decided to double it and have two celebrations; a fun one involving close friends and family, and a romantic one with just the two of us!

The Celebrations.…

I knew he loves to get together with friends and family and have some plain fun!  So I started to think of  the things that he likes to do. This what I came up with:

  • Relax with friends and family
  • Candlepin Bowling
  • Beer
  • Pizza

And guess what? I found the perfect place that combine all of that!
The Flatbread Company Saccos At Bowl Haven” in Davis Square (Somerville).  The new Flatbread Company in Somerville,MA  just opened last summer and took the space formerly occupied by Sacco’s Bowl Haven. Flatbread Company retained most of the lanes from Bowl Haven, though the pool room is gone, replaced by an attractive dining area that has a wood-fired oven along the far wall. The refreshing result is an all-in-one pizzeria, bar, and candlepin bowling alley.

Highlights:

  • Beer – Great draught list and even greater prices.  With good micro brews such as Clown Shoes IPA coming in under $5!
  • Bar – The long bar stretching the length of a bowling lane is unique and cool.
  • Pizza –  With all natural and locally sourced ingredients and you have the ability to pick and choose what you want!
  • Ambience – The atmosphere is perfect, casual but cozy.
  • Bowling – 10 lanes of candlepin bowling.

It was a success! Everyone had such a great time, especially Dustin who won the all thing…as always! After that, we all went to our apartment to have an incredible Double-decker vegan chocolate cake with mint cream filling, topped it off with fresh raspberry that our friend Amanda, who is the best Vegan baker around, made especially for him!  We did this on Sunday, the day before his birthday.

On Monday night, on his actual birthday, I took him to a nice romantic dinner at the The Capital Grill.  In the last few months, every time we drove by the restaurant he would just drool and say that if it wasn’t so expensive he would go whenever he had a meat craving….you know man and their meat!   So, I surprised him and made a reservation just for the two of us and had a fabulous night!

BDay Card from our puppy Luna=)

Buon Compleanno amore!

My One Year Runniversary!

 

My destiny with running started on March 2, 2010 when I ran my first mile of training for the Great Bay Half Marathon and back then I had no idea what it would turn into.  Here I am today just  few weeks away  from my second Marathon….I would have never imagined that before running for one full year I would be training for the Boston Marathon.
What made me start running? I simply needed a change in my life, something new and challenging.  Also, I was bored with my workout routine and needed a new challenge.  I’ve had in mind that some day I’d run a marathon, so there I was signing up to run my first Half Marathon in only 6 weeks to test my endurance.  After crossing the finish line, I remember Steph, my husband’s friend from College who also run that race and she is an incredible runner, telling me that I would be now addicted to running and racing but even though I had a great sense of accomplishment I was exhausted! My legs were hurting, I could barely walk and the only thing I could think of was not running at this level of exhaustion again!  Needless to say my  Steph was absolutely correct! I totally fall in love with running and became a very dedicated runner.  I have learned so much about running and about myself this year and I cannot imagine what I would be doing now without it.  Running has become such a huge part of my life now and has introduced me to the most amazing people like Steph who have encouraged me, advised me, and pushed me!


Highlights from my first running year:

Miles Run: 1650 Miles
Race Events Joined: 9 ~ Official Races. Two 5Ks,  one 4-miler, one 10K, 4 Half Marathons and 1 Marathon.
Running Shoes Used: 3  ~ I found that the Ascics G-2150 are the best fit for me, just bought the 4th one!
First Race: Great Bay Half Marathon, April 11, 2010. Time: 1:44:38
Fastest Half Marathon: Seacoast Half Marathon, November 14, 2010 Time: 1:36:39 Pace 7:23
Fastest 5K: Luv2Run 5 K Race, April 18, 2010 Time 21:51 Pace 7:03
Favorite Race: The 5K Jingle Run last December because I had to do it with my husband Dustin.  Running is definitely one of his least favorite physical activity, still he committed to run with me dressed up just because he knew how important that was to me.
Awards: 2. Third Overall Women in the Luv2Run 5 K Race, 2nd Place in my age group in the Maine Marathon