Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Half-Marathon’

I guess I need to do my part in recruiting some of you…

Below is a letter  I wrote yesterday reflecting on the events of the past week.  The letter is to the Boston 13.1 Team Up with Autism Speaks Team.  If you are so moved, please consider either joining us on September 15th or passing this along.

Thanks,
Luau

***

Dear Team,

The events of a week ago brought to our idyllic world certain realities no person should ever have to face.  As a runner, a marathon runner, I felt like this attack was a personal one – as if the bomber had come into my house; into my safe space.  Yes, Boston is my home, but the road, the race course, is where I find my peace.

What the two men did not realize is that the group of people they chose to attack was one that does not easily shy away from adversity.  Whether it is the half-marathon or marathon distance, every distance runner has had to face obstacles and has ultimately overcome fear.

I witnessed firsthand last year at Boston 13.1 the emotion on so many faces as Team Up member after Team Up member approached and crossed the finish line – so many runners who had just months earlier never believed they could cover the distance in less than 3 1/2 hours.  The tears of joy, the sense of triumph, the feeling of accomplishment were evident on every runner’s face.

This year, in light of last week’s events and with the continuing unfolding of events over the weekend, will feel different.  How can it not?  Here’s the thing – it’s just one more obstacle for us to overcome; and together, we will.

Your strength, your courage will carry you through to the finish and you will once again raise your arms in triumph.

But a race is not just about the runners.  When you toe the line at Suffolk Downs this September, you will be doing so not just for yourself and not just for the people in your life affected by autism.  It is true that Team Up with Autism Speaks is about fund raising for what we believe to be a wonderful cause, but you putting your foot at the starting line in September will also be a nod to all of the other people involved not only with Boston 13.1, but every race including the Boston Marathon itself.  A footrace is about the runners, but it is also about the organizers, the volunteers, the security, and maybe most importantly, those that come out to cheer us on.

It is the spectators that take the experience of an endurance event to a whole new level, and it will be no different at Boston 13.1.

Come September you will not only be running for you, you will be running for everyone.

So here is my challenge to you – run Boston 13.1 this September for you and those in your life affected by autism, but to help show your appreciation for those that come to cheer on runners, not just at Boston 13.1 or the Boston Marathon, but at all races, go out an recruit one friend to join you this Fall as we show not just Boston, but the world just how strong endurance athletes are.

Whether you consider yourself an endurance athlete or not, I have news for you – if you are running Boston 13.1 this September, YOU are an endurance athlete.


The events of the past week shook all of us.  I will readily admit I was rattled to my very core; but I very quickly realized one thing – we WILL persevere; as those affected directly by autism, whether as autistic individuals ourselves or as parents, siblings, relatives, friends, teachers or specialists, we are all endurance athletes so to speak – perseverance is what we are, perseverance is what we do.

I look forward to seeing you in September,
Luau – Boston 13.1 Team Captain

Starting next week, Lara (Team Up Organizer Extraordinaire) will begin featuring the story of us, the runners of Team Up with Autism Speaks Boston 13.1.  If you are so moved, please consider telling your story – who you are, why you run.

***
Team Up with Autism Speaks - Boston 13.1 2012 - where's Luau?

Team Up with Autism Speaks – Boston 13.1 2012 – where’s Luau?

***
Ready to register with our team? Click here
As a part of your commitment to join our Boston 13.1 Marathon team, you will be required to raise a minimum of $500 to support Autism Speaks2013 Team Up! with Autism Speaks benefits include:
  • Guaranteed Race Entry
  • Team Up! with Autism Speaks Runners Tank or Long Sleeve Shirt, and an Autism Speaks hat or visor
  • Private Team Celebration Dinner on September 14, 2013, at Logan Airport Hilton Hotel.
  • Online fundraising page
  • Team Up! Facebook Page
  • Virtual Coaching by a certified running coach Fundraising Tips and Opportunities
  • Dedicated Autism Speaks staff to answer questions you have and assist
  • Race Day Cheering Section- TBA
  • Post Race Team Tent
  • Team Handbook – In a PDF format and downloadable for reference at any time
  • AND if you are local, team runs with me starting in a couple of weeks!
Advertisements

Read Full Post »

photo(13)

for the back ground on who The Blue Afro is, please read https://runluaurun.com/2012/09/17/boston-13-1-2012/ or just click on the picture

It’s still 6 months away, but the Blue Afro is thinking about September.  Where will you be this coming September 15th?  The Blue Afro and I hope that you will be here in Boston, with us, with one of those cool Autism Speaks singlets on, sharing 13.1 scenic miles along the shore through some classic Boston-area neighborhoods.

That’s right, Boston 13.1 is on September 15th this year and once again Autism Speaks is the sponsored charity of the race.

I (not the Blue Afro) have been running every day in 2013, in part for #AutismStreaks, in part to train for the TARC 100 and Vermont 50, but also to make sure that I am in shape and ready to go in September to once again help lead a team of amazing runners.

Last year Autism Speaks fielded 250 runners and raised over $186,000.00!  This year we are hoping to top that by recruiting 500 runners and raise at least $250,000.  All that needs to be done is that every one of you who ran last year grab a friend, a relative, a stranger off the street and convince them that THEY TOO can run (or walk) 13.1 miles!

You may wonder why I am once again leading the charge for Boston 13.1.  There is of course the obvious reason of running for a better, ever improving future for my little Brooke, but there is a less obvious answer as well.  Last year, as one of the team leaders, I had the privilege of leading weekly training runs every weekend throughout the summer.  Throughout the course of those runs I got to meet and get to know some pretty incredible people, many of whom I still interact with on at least a weekly basis, if not more often.  These runners were all running for different reason – some were parents or relatives of autistic children, some were educators, some were family friends of someone affected by autism, others were researchers – they all came from different backgrounds, they all came with different perspectives, but they all came with the objective of making the world a better place for their autistic children, siblings, friends, co-workers, students.

Group shot of some of last summers regulars after a preview of the course.

Group shot of some of last summers regulars after a preview of the course.

Once again this year, I will be leading weekly “long runs” on the weekends leading up to Boston 13.1, probably starting sometime in late April/early May, and I cannot wait to share the pavement on a weekly basis with some friends, both old and new.

Just like last year, I am not asking for your money – my close friends will be getting the donation letter shortly – no, once again, I am asking you to donate yourself, your body, your time.

I want you to:

  • help me raise autism awareness;
  • help me fund programs that help newly diagnosed children and adults and their families;
  • help me drive the research that could open the doorway to a better understanding of just what autism is;
  • help me make sure that autistic adults live in a world that embraces their differences and understands that everyone can be a productive, integral part of society.

Will you running 13.1 miles in September make that much of a difference?  It may not seem so at first glance – I mean, how far can the $500 raised really go, right?  You would be surprised.  You can fund 1 minute of research for as little as 10¢.  If we hit our goal of $250,000, multiply that 1 minute by 2.5 million dimes!  That’s a lot of minutes!!!  Every rain storm is made up of droplets and we have all seen what kind of effect the cumulative power of rain drops can be.

So I hope you will join me and my Blue Afro this September (and if you’re local, come join us every weekend – distances and pace will be individually based so don’t worry about how fast or how strong you are!).

Here are the details (pretty much the same as last year):

2013 Team Up! with Autism Speaks benefits include, but are not limited to:

* Guaranteed Race Entry

* Team Up! with Autism Speaks Runners Tank or Long Sleeve Shirt and an Autism Speaks hat/visor

* Private Team Celebration Dinner for you and a guest on September 14th. Location TBD – where you’ll be subjected to a motivational speech by yours truly AND we’ll get to break some bread together!

* Customized online fundraising page

* Team Up! Facebook Page

* Virtual Coaching by a certified running coach

* Fundraising Tips and Opportunities

* Dedicated Autism Speaks staff to answer questions you have and assist

* Race Day Cheering Section

* Team Handbook – In a PDF form and downloadable for reference at any time.

**Team Up! with Autism Speaks does not cover travel expenses to and from Massachusetts for the race. We strongly recommend the usage of the race’s official travel partners for making all reservations.

Autism Speaks will have a block of rooms available for booking at a local hotel shortly.

Here’s the link to the registration page: http://events.autismspeaks.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1055963

And one last note – it DOESN’T MATTER if you are not a runner!  Boston 13.1 is walker-friendly.  I won’t lie to you and say it’s a leisure walk in the park; it is a faster-paced 16:00/mile walk, but I guarantee that if you start walking regularly today (or when Spring hits your neck of the woods), then YOU will be able to cover 13.1 miles in less than 3:30.  So saying, “but Luau, I’m not a runner,” is not a valid excuse!

Join me.

Join the Blue Afro.

Come out and have some fun.  If you are from out of town, you’re going to get to see Boston at the best time of year and if you are local, well, you’re gonna be here anyway!  I hope to see you out there.  There were 500 slots – the Blue Afro just took one of them.

See you in September.

She is why I run...who will you run/walk for?

She is why I run…who will you run/walk for?

You can find the Blue Afro on Twitter at: the Blue Afro

Read Full Post »

Holy cow!  Where to start?  I’m not even sure where the beginning really is on this one.  Is it months ago when I met with the folks from Team Up With Autism Speaks?  Is the when I began leading a training group every Sunday morning 10 weeks ago?  Is it last Saturday night when I got up in front of 220 Team Up Runners at the pre-race dinner for a pep talk?  The whole thing is just a little overwhelming, so maybe I’ll start in the middle.

***

I could feel the pain coming on.

You know, that little wet, burning feeling.  I don’t know where it happens for you, but blisters almost always start either just above my heel or near the front of my arch.  I had committed the cardinal sin in road racing – wearing footwear for the first time in an endurance event.  Last Wednesday or Thursday I had completely grossed myself out with my old Bikila’s.  They smelled so freaking bad and that was AFTER I had sent them through the washing machine…TWICE!  It was time for new ones, and considering that I would be pacing my dear friend Jersey during the race, I didn’t want  her to have to deal with my smelly shoes.  So, I went and bought a new pair; and then they sat for 4 days.

Yeah, I know, brilliant!

And so it was just a couple of miles in that I started to feel it coming on.  I tried to ignore it.  I tried to focus on my Garmin.  My friends Doug (from Really Not A Runner – even though he is) and Sassy had joined Jersey and I and my primary goal was to get Jersey to the finish line at just under 2:00.  We were clipping along at 9:00/mile pace, which translates to about a 1:58 half.

Sassy, Jersey and me early on, pacing smoothly around 9:00 per mile.

Me and Doug, who was in a showdown with Jersey – winner take all.

But the burning was growing.

I kept pushing it to the periphery.  I had a job to do: get Jersey to the finish in under 2:00 and then shuttle in the rest of the Team Up with Autism Speaks Runners.  We were having a fabulous time cheering other runners on.  I kept checking in with the Team Up runners we would pass, letting them know I would see them at the end.  We caught up with Paula from Perspicacity.  She had decided months ago that her first half-marathon was going to be Boston 13.1 with our Team.  We exchanged a quick hug and continued on.  I knew I would see her at the end.

Sharing some pavement with Paula from Tallahassee.  You can also see Superwoman Rebecca from Orlando just to the left of Paula’s ear.

As we made the turn onto the beach just after mile 3, I realized that I had two choices – either leave the footwear on and end the day with some monstrous blisters or take the footwear off.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  The farthest I had run in my attempt to rid myself of plantar fasciitis was 5 miles, and although the barefoot running had cured my PF, it wasn’t easy on the skin of my feet.  After trying to suck it up for another quarter mile, I threw caution to the wind and off came the shoes.

Surprisingly, it felt really good!  The pavement along Revere Beach is nice and smooth and the 9:00 pace meant I wasn’t pounding my feet either – a perfect combination for running with proper form!

We continued along our merry way, cheering runners we passed, all the while keeping our pace around 9:00.  Around mile 4 I saw Jess coming the other direction.  She was walking the half.  I jumped through the park that was between us and gave her a big hug, telling her I would be back.  I ran back to my charge and we continued on.  This barefoot thing was working out great.

Since we had started near the back of the pack, even at miles 5 and 6 we were passing other runners.  I would give a word of encouragement to every Team Up runner we would pass.  Through the turn arounds I got to see the runners I had trained over the past 10 weeks.  Every single one of them looked great.  All of them were smiling.

Between mile 8 and mile 9, Jersey began to fade.  Her spirit was there, but on this day her legs began to rebel.  Any experienced runner will tell you that there are days you have it and there are days you don’t.  Sometimes we can battle through the pain; others, the pain is just too much.  Sassy was on a mission to hit sub-2:00 as well, and we told her to go.  She would finish in 1:58.

Jersey and I took a little walk break.  It wasn’t her lungs, it was her legs.  We had banked enough time that we still had a shot at sub-2:00.  The next 3 miles would be a mix of run/walking.  She was determined.  I kept an eye on the Garmin.  Approaching mile 10 I said we needed to make a decision of whether to go for it or let it go.  Jersey is from, well, Jersey and she wasn’t gonna go down without a fight.  We needed to pick up the pace, which we did, but ultimately her legs said no.

I changed gears on her.  Sub-2:00 wasn’t in the cards this day, BUT her previous best was a high 2:04.  I knew we had an excellent shot of beating that.  I started doing the math.  If we could walk/run the next 2 miles at a certain pace, she was gonna come in around 2:04.

We hit mile 11.  I shortened the the distances we walked.  Even as we walked I kept my legs in a running motion, trying to pull her along.  As we got to mile 12, I said to her, “you can do anything for one mile.”  She was hurting but determined.  She kept pushing.

With a half mile to go, I shouted at her, “no more Mr. Nice Guy, let’s go!!!  How pissed are you gonna be if you miss this PR because you walked!  LET’S GO!!!”

She kept going…the clock was ticking…tic, tic, tic.  The finish line came into view.

Push, push, push.  The clock said 2:05:something but I knew we had at least a minute because we started so far back.

Tic, tic, tic.

We made the turn into the chute.  Jersey has broken into a dead run.  I tried to avoid the broken glass and pebbles that littered the ground.  On last turn in the chute, I yelled, “go get that medal! save me some beer!!!”.

Jersey’s PR was 2:04:47.  She would cross the finish line in 2:04:44.  A PR by 3 seconds.  Any runner will tell you, a PR is a PR is a PR!

I turned back to start part two of my job that day, shuttling the rest of the Team Up runners to the finish.  It was poetic that the first three runners I paced in were Roberta, Jana and Mark, followed closely by Kara, four runners who attended just about every single one of my Sunday training runs.  I was so proud of them!

What fun it was pacing people in!

Still blue afro-ed, still barefoot.

The absolutely amazing thing was just about every Team Up runner had a smile on their face.  Even after covering 13.1 miles, most for the very first time in their lives, there was a huge smile.  There was one woman who was crying, BUT it was because she knew she was A) doing something she had never thought she could do and B) knew her son was waiting at the finish line for her.  I told her that it was okay to be crying.  I started to well up as she turned the final corner for home.

The pebbles and gravel in the chute finally got to my feet, so I slipped my Bikila’s back on as slippers and continued to pace runners in.

Still blue afro-ed, but no longer barefoot with Dave from dailymile

After 5 miles of shuttling, I got a text from Jess.  She was fading.

I caught up to her at around mile 11-ish – Garmin said I ran low 7’s coming for her.  She told me she had never been so happy to see a blue afro.  I gave her a hug, told her she was doing great and we walked.  We were soon joined by her cousin John (who unexpectedly ran a PR!!!) and his girlfriend, then by our buddy Doug, then by Jersey and our friend Judith.  Over the last mile we were escorted by EMS and some State Police.

Jess crossed the finish line and then I finally did the same.  I was (and am) so proud of her.

The final numbers?  Almost 22 miles, 16 of which were run barefoot, 3:40:55 and a whole lot of love.

Next stop: New York City.

Read Full Post »

Boston 13.1 is a little over 5 weeks away.  Team Up with Autism Speaks has 270 runners/walkers running/walking themselves into race day shape.  Are you one of them?  If so, I applaud you.  Thank you for taking your time and energy and devoting it to something that is so close to my heart.

But if the answer is no?  Well, why the heck not???

If one of the reasons is that you aren’t in shape and can’t handle 13.1 miles, I am begging you to reconsider.

13.1 miles is a daunting distance.  Calling it a half-marathon makes it sound even scarier, but I want to tell you something.

Finishing 13.1 miles has more to do with what’s between your ears than what’s in your muscles.  You may think that you are physically unable to cover 13.1 miles, but I will tell you that in most cases you are wrong.  And remember, this is a running and WALKING half-marathon.  They welcome and accommodate walkers!

If you can walk and are in mildly good health, YOU can cover 13.1 miles.  The marathon?  That’s a different story.  26.2 miles will physically take you to empty before the finish line if you are not careful, but at half that distance, it’s more about overcoming the mental hurdle of that word – half-marathon.

For almost all of us, the point of the race is not to finish first.  There are only a handful of people who can truly claim that goal.  No, the point of the race for you and me is to have the best time we can and finish – it doesn’t matter if you get there by running or walking or some combination of the two.

The best time – that can mean many things to many people and does not necessarily mean “clock time”.  The best time I ever had during a marathon was at last year’s New York City Marathon.  I finished in my worst time ever, just over 4 hours, but I had the BEST time ever as you can see —>HERE<—.

Do you have the mental strength?  I know you have the physical ability; and I’m pretty sure you have the mental fortitude.

***

Whether you are a novice runner, an avid marathoner, or a power couch potato – I want you.  I need you.  My daughter Brooke needs you.  My family needs you.  The entire Autism Community needs you.  You can read my pitch to you from back in March —>HERE<—.

2012 Team Up! with Autism Speaks benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Race Entry (which means you don’t need to worry about the $65 – $100 entry fee)
  • Team Up! with Autism Speaks Runners Tank or Long Sleeve, and an Autism Speaks dri-fit hat
  • Pre-Race private team dinner for you and a guest, location TBA
  • Customized fundraising page
  • Team Up! Facebook Page
  • Virtual Coaching by a certified running Coach Chris Fales
  • Fundraising Tips and Opportunities
  • Dedicated Autism Speaks staff
  • Race Day Cheering Section at Mile TBA
  • Race Day Team Up! Tent for pre and post race usage
  • Team Handbook- In a PDF form and downloadable for reference at anytime.

You get all those things, plus (if you’re local) Sunday training runs with me, and double-plus I’m bringing Jess from Diary of a Mom along to the Team Dinner (she’s the real attraction and is gonna be walking the 13.1)!

***

September 16th is a little over 5 weeks away.  Even if you can’t train regularly between now and then, you CAN sign up to walk the distance and support a wonderful organization – an organization that is making an effort to approach this autism thing from so many different angles, both scientifically and socially.  Are they perfect?  No way.  Do they have faults?  Sure.  But who among us, both as individuals and as organizations can claim perfection?  No one.  Autism Speaks is working hard to make the world a better place for autistic people young and old.

***

So now we’re left with the fund raising issue.

$500.

Though small compared to some charity race entries, $500 is still a lot of money.  The good news is that you still have 37 days left to do it.  That’s less than $95 a week, less than $14 a day.  Raising the funds may be challenging, but with a little creativity (did you see my blue hair for New York? Money raiser!!!), it can be done with room to spare.

So please, PLEASE consider joining the team.  We need 130 more runners to fill the 400 slots we promised.  If you can’t do it, you might know someone who might know a guy whose brother has a girlfriend whose uncle has a co-worker whose son’s best friend has a sister that is trying to figure out how she could run a half-marathon in Boston in September while raising money for Autism Speaks – please pass this post along.  The more people that see this, the more likely we will find runners who want to join us but just didn’t know it yet.

If you are from out of town, Boston is beautiful in the Fall and you can use the race as a springboard to doing a little touring of New England.  Football season will be just starting – you could run/walk the race in the morning and then watch the Pats destroy the Cardinals in the afternoon at Gillette or you could come into town earlier in the week and catch a Red Sox-Yankees game at Fenway – shoot!  I’ll come out and have a drink with you beforehand!  Any way you slice it, the trip would be fun and for a good cause.

I hope to see you on the 15th at the team dinner and then on the 16th on the course.  I’ll be bringing my camera along so who knows, maybe you’ll end up here on the blog or on the Run Luau Run Youtube Channel!

Join the Team —>– HERE –<—.

Because I’m pretty sure, with the right support, Brooke and those like her can walk on water…join the team today!

Read Full Post »

Tomorrow is April 1st.  It is the first day of Autism Awareness Month.

On Monday, World Autism Awareness Day, hundreds of landmarks and millions of homes, including our own, will be lit up blue.

I hope you will consider lighting it up blue with the rest of us.

Tomorrow will also be exactly 24 weeks before the Boston 13.1 Half Marathon.  I wrote about it a while back (I Want You) when Autism Speaks announced that it was teaming up with 13.1 to be the official charity of the Boston race.  Many of you signed up and we already have over 10% of the slots designated for Team Up with Autism Speaks filled.

***

If you are sitting on the couch reading this, thinking, I could never do a half-marathon, I want you to stop to reconsider.

Even if you have never run.

Even if you rarely walk.

This is something you can do.

And by signing up with Team Up with Autism Speaks, you are not only taking on the challenge of completing a half marathon (a tremendous personal feat in and of itself), you are taking a pro-active role in making the world a better, more compassionate place for my Brooke and those like her.

As we get closer to the date of the race, I will make another push for the more hard-core runners to join my cause, but today, the day before Autism Awareness Month starts; today, the day my Brooke turns 9 years old (HAPPY BIRTHDAY BROOKE!!!); today, I want to talk to those of you who have been looking for a reason to get off the couch, out from behind the desk, out of the sedentary life-style; especially if you are are the parent of, sibling of, child of, relative of or person with autism – this is a way to get active AND make a difference not only for yourself but for others as well.

***

Some of you may know the story of how I got into running a little over 3 years ago.  To be clear, I really disliked running, especially any distance over a couple of miles.  Over the years I had tried running on, but it never lasted more than a couple of weeks.  Three and a half years ago, Jess announced that she was going to run a half marathon…on the Cape…in the middle of February.

I thought she was nuts – she had never really run before.  I wasn’t going to let her run a half-marathon in the bitter, winter wind of the Cape alone, so I told her I would run with her.  As I began training, I remember thinking this really sucks.  Long story short, a couple of weeks later something just clicked – I had found the joy in running.

Meanwhile, Jess never did manage to get her training going.  I think a part of her problem was that she really had no guidance as to what to do.  I had no idea what I was doing so I was no help either (I didn’t discover the online running community until mid-summer).  She made an initial effort, but with no plan, the grand idea of running a half simply faded away.

***

Fast-Forward to about a month ago.  When Jess heard that Boston 13.1 would be open to walkers who could maintain a 16:00 per mile pace, a dream was reborn.

This time however, she had a few things working in her favor:

  • she wasn’t going to be running a half, instead tackling the distance as a walker
  • she would be training during the warmer month, so she wouldn’t have to brave the bitter cold
  • she knew a somewhat experienced runner to help put together a program for her that would ease her into the distance.

And so she started her program 2 weeks ago.  I put together a 26 week walking program that would slowly build up over 6 months to get her to the starting line with confidence and to the finish line without pain.  I drew upon several established programs for walkers and runners including C25K (Couch to 5K) and a modified Hal Higdon program.  The program can be used to walk or run a half-marathon.

***

I have further modified the program and compressed it to 24 weeks, meaning if you start tomorrow; if you get off the sofa and out of the house tomorrow, you could find yourself walking/jogging/running a half-marathon in September.  As big of a feat as it may seem (and is), it’s not as hard as you may think!

So I would like to encourage you to join me and Jess on September 16th at Suffolk Downs for the Boston 13.1 Half Marathon as part of the Team Up with Autism Speaks Team.  If you are an avid runner, you don’t need the motivation to get out there, but if you’ve been looking for a way to get active and make a difference, this is your chance.

Don’t think about it, because you’ll talk yourself out of it. Just do it. Click —>HERE<— to join the team and then click on the link below to get the 24 Week Walking Training Plan.

YOUR 24 Week Half Marathon Training Plan

You can do this!

 

AND if you are a Boston local, starting at the end of June, I will be organizing group runs/walks on the weekends leading up to the event along the scenic Boston Marathon course.  It will be a run/walk at your own pace kind of a thing, but we will start and finish together.  I hope you will join us.

Read Full Post »

I remember way back in high school when I would get up in the mornings before a big test – I’d be a little nervous, wondering if I had studied what I had needed to, wondering if I’d remember anything…

…that’s how I felt two Sundays ago when I woke up before the Quincy Half Marathon.  Several weeks ago I made the transition from the Pfitz Marathon Training Program to the FIRST Marathon Training Program.  I’ve been fairly determined to make sure that I followed the new program as closely as I could.  The very concept of running less to run faster struck me as counter-intuitive, but I needed to do something to get me out of what had turned into an 8 month funk.

3 days a week – that is all I was allowed to run; complimented by 2 days of cross-training – it seemed insufficient, but I was determined to give the program a chance.  Really, what choice did I have?  What I had been doing before was no longer working.

On Super Bowl Sunday I ran the Super Sunday 5-Miler in Boston and finished with a 34:56.  My goal had been to comfortably cruise to a sub-35 minute finish, but in fact, I struggled to make it, pretty much leaving everything I had on the course.  That 34:56 translated into a 3:25:30 marathon according to McMillan’s Running Calculator.  A couple of weeks later I started the FIRST program.  Quincy was going to be my first real test of how much progress I was truly making.

***

Upon arriving, I looked for my buddy JB.  You may recall JB as one of the foursome I ran with at Vermont or the buddy who ran the Super Sunday 5 with me.  Our plan was to run about 7:15 miles throughout, with the hopes of scoring about a 1:35:00 for the race.  It would be a 2 minute PR for him, and would be an incremental improvement on my cardio-health from Super Sunday.  Although a 1:35 half-marathon only translates to a 3:20 marathon (5 minutes long of my goal), I figured that it would be a step in the right direction, especially for only 3 weeks on the program.

JB & I pre-race.

We made our way to the starting area and stood silently for the National Anthem – and then it was time to go, literally!  Not more than a second after the anthem was done, the starting horn blared.

We were off.

Fortunately for JB and I, we hadn’t moved too far to the front.  We were forced to start a little slowly.  After a quarter mile of jockeying for position, we turned up the pace and hit the first mile marker right on target at 7:15.

Perfect!

Without really realizing it, we slowly began to pick up the pace.  It was still a bit crowded, but the two of us maneuvered our way through.  Mile 2 arrived in a quick 7:07…maybe I was a little too enthusiastic?

We slowed it down just a touch for the next three miles, averaging about a 7:10 pace.  Somewhere around mile 5 we saw the leader coming the other way…he must have had a good 30 seconds on the guy behind him.  At this point, JB and I hit our first hill.  My philosophy on hills has been to attack them, lean into them and don’t let them slow you down too much.  For this first hill, that plan worked perfectly. I leaned in, JB followed and we passed over a dozen runners before cresting and allowing gravity to feed our recovery.

Once we flattened out, we hit the 6-mile marker (7:06) and we were able to see the rest of the field heading for the hill.  At this point, my legs started to feel a little heavy.  JB asked me how I was doing.  I feel like I’m fading, I said, but only 6 miles in, I knew that it had to be more mental than physical.  We continued to press the pace a little.  I knew we had some time in the bank to hit 1:35, but I also kept reminding myself that this race was a test of how I was progressing.  If I let up too early or left too much out on the course, there would really be no way for me to know just where I was with respect to where I want to be for Sugarloaf.  I needed to know if the FIRST program was increasing my cardio-fitness or if I was stagnating.

We covered the next three mile at 7:06 pace.  With just over 4 miles left to go, I started doing math in my head.  I realized that I could slow down significantly and still hit my goal – but what would that tell me?  I knew I had to keep pressing.

Unfortunately, that pressing came just as we hit a final group of hills – despite continuing to pass runners on a regular basis, we slowed into the 7:20’s.

starting to fade a little at mile 11

With 2.1 miles to go, JB started to pull away.  He looked back at me as if to say, come on dude! but the hills had taken their toll on me.  I shouted at him to just go.  He was well within range of not just beating his PR, but shattering it.  I pressed as hard as I could – I was determined to come in under 1:35 no matter what.  Mile 12 went by in a surprising 7:15.

1.1 miles to go.  It was leave it all on the course time.  I knew I was less than 7:30 away from the finish.  I also knew that I could suffer for that long too.  My legs felt heavy and my breathing was labored, but with each tick of the clock, I knew I was that much closer to being done.

As I made my way back into downtown Quincy, I could see JB in the distance.  With about 800 meters to go, he was looking great and I had run out of real estate to catch him.  I focused on finishing strong.  Coming out of the final turn, I realized it was literally downhill to the finish and let it all hang out.  Gravity pulled me along at a pace I hadn’t run all race.

With less than 100 yards to go, Racemenu Chief Alain stepped out of the crowd with words of encouragement and a high five.  I could see JB waiting at the finish.

Sprinting to the finish

I barreled through the finish, and without slowing down grabbed a bottle water being held out…I couldn’t brake…staring at a table that was closing in fast, I panicked slightly.  Fortunately a random runner stepped in to grab me and slow me down.  It was enough for me to get my footing and stop.

I looked at the clock.

1:32:forty-something.

Huh?

I wasn’t convinced that I had run that fast.  I hugged JB, asking him his time.

1:31:59 – a nearly 7 minute PR for him.  When the official times went up, mine was a 1:32:31.  I had missed a PR by a mere 8 seconds.  In most situations, I would have been mildly disappointed in missing a PR, but considering that just 4 weeks beforehand I wouldn’t have even considered the possibility of PR-ing, and that I had come into the day with an expectation of finishing in the 1:35 range, I was thrilled.

The FIRST program was working.  My legs and lungs were getting stronger.

The very next day, I officially signed up for Sugarloaf.  To be honest, I had been putting off registering because I was full of doubt as to whether I could even potentially run a sub-3:15 in May.  Quincy convinced me that I was on the right track.  My 1:32:31 translates into a 3:15:07 marathon.  Just a touch on the wrong side of the clock, but a vast improvement from where I was on SuperBowl Sunday.

This Sunday I will face my next test of fitness when I was a local 5K.  The goal is to hit 19:54 – which translates into a 3:14 marathon.  If I hit 20:00, that still translates into a 3:15.

***

I still may ultimately fail at Sugarloaf come May, but I finally truly believe that I have a 3:15 or better in these legs – and that is a wonderful feeling.

Read Full Post »

Last Saturday I had the honor of attending the Boston Autism Speaks Walk Awards Dinner. It was an evening filled with inspiration and hope. While there I spent some time talking with Erica Giunta, head of the Massachusetts chapter of Autism Speaks. She was excited to tell me that Autism Speaks and the 13.1 Marathon Series had teamed up to make Autism Speaks the official charity of 13.1 Boston. For the September 16th event, Autism Speaks has pledged to field 400 half-marathoners. Each of those runners will commit to raising at least $500, meaning that we will raise at least $200,000 for research, advocacy and awareness programs.

This is where you come in.

I am NOT asking you to donate.

I am NOT asking you for money.

I want YOU!

YOU!!!

I want you to come cover 13.1 miles with me, where we will start at historical Suffolk Down race track and “dash through East Boston, Revere, and Winthrop, take in a stunning view of Downtown, and smell the salt air of the great Atlantic Ocean! The Boston 13.1 Marathon is (also) WALKER FRIENDLY. The course will remain open for 3 hours and 30 minutes (16 minute/mile pace).”

We are all touched by autism – whether it is ourselves, a family member, a neighbor or friend. If you haven’t been touched by autism, chances are you will – and soon.

I was inspired in listening to Autism Speaks President Mark Roithmayr Saturday night speak of a generation of children who are growing up with the understanding that kids like my little Brooke are “just one of the guys,”; of high school basketball and football players who were coming up to him simply to ask, “what can we do for so-and-so”; of college kids who were packing auditoriums to hear him speak on a Thursday night (I don’t know about your experience, but my Thursday nights in college were generally spent in the fraternity basement).

There is a generation of kids who are growing up with awareness, knowledge, compassion.

“Just one of the guys.”

It made me realize that there were in fact, many girls at Brooke’s school that really do just look at her as one of the girls. Yes, they know she’s different, but they just don’t care. They like her and she likes them. In fact, this morning at drop off, a girl that was in her class LAST year came up to her to give her a pink teddy bear for Valentine’s Day. Brooke hasn’t had a play day with this girl since last summer, yet this young lady thinks enough of Brooke that she felt compelled to give her a Valentine’s Day present.

This kind of awareness, this kind of comfort would, in part, not be possible were it not for the awareness efforts of organizations like Autism Speaks. In turn, organizations like Autism Speaks would not be successful were it not for the incredible efforts of you. Yes, YOU.

***

Whether you are an experienced marathoner, an avid walker or just a getting off of the couch, I would like to invite you to join the Team Up! with Autism Speaks Team. They make fund raising easy.

2012 Team Up! with Autism Speaks benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Race Entry (which means you don’t need to worry about the $65 – $100 entry fee)
  • Team Up! with Autism Speaks Runners Tank or Long Sleeve, and an Autism Speaks dri-fit hat
  • Pre-Race private team dinner for you and a guest, location TBA
  • Customized fundraising page
  • Team Up! Facebook Page
  • Virtual Coaching by a certified running Coach Chris Fales
  • Fundraising Tips and Opportunities
  • Dedicated Autism Speaks staff
  • Race Day Cheering Section at Mile TBA
  • Race Day Team Up! Tent for pre and post race usage
  • Team Handbook- In a PDF form and downloadable for reference at anytime.

I will add one more “benefit” if you are a Boston local. If you will be running your first half-marathon at 13.1 Boston, or just need some inspiration to get out there, I will organize weekly weekend long runs in the weeks leading up to the event. 7 months is a long ways away; plenty of time to get yourself ready for what is sure to be a fun-filled, inspiring day.

If you are an out-of-towner, what better excuse to get yourself up here for a visit? You’ll get to see New England in the early Fall, you’ll get a great run in, you’ll raise funds for a worthy cause, and best of all, you’ll get to have dinner with me the night before the race…okay, well, maybe that last one is not such a great excuse. Regardless, whether you decide to dine with me or not, I want you here.

You love to or want to run/walk.

You want to help.

On September 16th you can do both.

Join me by registering join the Team Up! with Autism Speaks Team—>>>HERE<<<—.

Experienced runner, novice runner, walker or couch potato – I. Want. You!

If you cannot join me but would still like to help, please consider donating here --->>> http://events.autismspeaks.org/boston13.1marathon/runluaurun

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: