Running with strep

Actually, this post should be called “NOT running with strep.” Last week, everyone at work started dropping like flies. Namely my boss, who is NEVER sick, but came down with the worst case of strep I can imagine. Sure enough, by the time I left work on Friday, I was feeling quite lousy. I ended up calling my doctor’s urgent care line before bed on Friday and got myself an appointment for the following morning. I don’t mess around.

The doctor said I had all the tell-tale signs of strep, especially given that people around me had it. But the rapid strep test was negative, and you know how they are about unnecessarily prescribing antibiotics these days. He also said the gigantic black bruise on my arm was a hematoma – an unrelated casualty from donating blood. He sent me on my way, which was straight to the gym (it was POURING outside).

I got on the treadmill, already dreading it. I hate running on the treadmill. It’s so boring. But I quickly realized that not only would this be a boring treadmill run -it was going to be a pathetic treadmill run. It wasn’t hot at all on Saturday, but I started sweating profusely. I could barely run. Nothing hurt, but I felt so weak. I ran a 10:30-mile before deciding this wasn’t working. I slowed down to a fast walk, and did another half-mile walking before I tried running again. This time, I could only run a half-mile before needing to stop. I eventually completed 2 miles running, but it took me several walking breaks and about 45 minutes. I stepped off the treadmill totally drenched and feeling like I might pass out.

That was the end of any effort over the weekend. I went home and napped for a good chunk of the afternoon. I spent all day Sunday on the couch, popping ibrupofen every four hours and downing as much water, tea and chicken noodle soup as I could. I couldn’t manage solid foods – it hurt too much. When my alarm went off Monday morning, I knew there was no way. First of all, I hardly slept. As I was emailing my team to let them know I was staying home, I got an email from our admin saying she felt exactly how I did and wouldn’t be coming in either.

I went back to work on Tuesday and now it’s Wednesday and I’m feeling much better, but I’m still not sleeping at night. I know exactly why – I’m not working out. I don’t sleep well on days I don’t exercise. It kinda sucks, because we need days off. But that means rain or shine (it will be raining), tonight I run. Outside, because I can’t force myself back onto a treadmill until it’s colder than 40 or the streets have flooded.


Races I want to run

I’m not calling this a bucket list, because you’ll notice that there isn’t anything mentioned about a Monday race in April 2015 in Boston, but these are some unique and/or B.A.A. races I definitely want to attempt in the next year.

B.A.A. 10K – Sunday, June 22. 6.2 miles, basically the same course as the B.A.A. 5K I ran last weekend, but obviously twice as long so it goes all the way through the BU campus before looping back around. Unfortunately, the route stays mostly along Comm Ave. and doesn’t cross the Marathon finish line on Boylston. Registration opens on Thursday, May 1 and costs $60. Not sure if it’s in my budget this month.

Zooma Cape Cod 10K/Half Marathon – Saturday, September 27. If I can successfully run a 10K this summer, then I see no reason why I shouldn’t attempt a half in late September. Well, first of all, a half marathon is more than twice as long as a 10K, so there’s that. Also, I am really hoping to run a half a few weeks later… I actually heard about this race on Twitter (yes, I now follow runners on Twitter). It’s a women’s only race where you get pampered at the end – yoga, massages, wine, and a sweet t-shirt. Registration is already open, and the 10K is $75 and the half is $105.

B.A.A. Half Marathon – Sunday, October 12. The weekend after my birthday. What better way to celebrate entering your 30s than by running a half marathon? Let’s be honest, I’m already depressed about turning 30 and this would probably be the only thing to get me out of bed that week. But in all seriousness, I could run this race for DFCI again. There’s a $500 fundraising commitment (just like the 5K), plus a $75 B.A.A. registration fee (the 5K was only $25), plus a DFCI team fee (not sure what this will be yet, but the 5K was $50). The course follows the Emerald Necklace park system. It starts and finishes in Jamaica Plain, not too far from the Sam Adams Brewery. Coincidence? I think not. It turns around on Brookline Ave., just past the Longwood Medical Area. It is described as a “rolling” course = hilly. Ugh. But I better get used to hills at some point in my life.

Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC – The 2014 race actually happened this morning. When I saw that all finishers got jewelry box in a particular shade of blue with a white ribbon (Tiffany!), I decided I’m doing this next year. The event supports The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which is great because LLS partners with us on the Blood Cancer Research Partnership. Blood cancers is a huge part of what we do. I just think the idea of women’s only races are so neat. I’m not a feminist by any means, but it wasn’t that long ago that women weren’t even allowed to enter races like the Boston Marathon. Not sure when the 2015 race will be, but the registration for this year’s was $175. Yikes! But again, it’s for LLS. We shall see. Check out all the photos on Twitter from today’s race here.

Anyone want to join me in these?

2014 Boston Marathon, and where I’m at today

This past Monday, April 21, was Patriots’ Day. In eastern Massachusetts, that means it’s a day off from school and work to celebrate the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. But to most of us, it is a holiday known as Marathon Monday.

I have never been in Boston for the marathon. Last year, I was watching the whole thing online from my computer at work. My friend Alison was running. She didn’t get to finish. You all know the story. Alison and her husband ended up being fine, and I didn’t know anyone else who was directly affected. But I was profoundly impacted by the tragedy. This was the city I knew I was going to grow old in, and someone was trying to take that away from me.

One year later, Marathon Monday wasn’t going to be a day off from work for me. In fact, it was quite the opposite. My colleague Cathleen manages the PR for our runners, and she needed me to meet the official B.A.A. documentary crew at Mile 25.

2014-04-21 10.19.19 2014-04-21 10.34.10Mile 25 is where our patients, and family members of patients who have passed away, stand on the Beacon St. bridge to cheer on the runners for the final mile and some change. It is at the top of a moderate hill, and many runners are totally gassed at this point. It also happens to be right outside my office. Here’s the view from my desk:

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I first went outside around 10 a.m. I saw one of the first National Guardmen running in his uniform and boots. This year, they weren’t allowed to run with their rucksacks due to safety concerns, but still – running in those boots has to suck. As he passed by me, I started bawling my eyes out. That’s what I do – I cry.

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Then I introduced our families to the videographer and did work stuff.

An hour or so later, I went back outside again just in time to see Rita Jeptoo pass by on her way to breaking a record and winning the women’s division. I love that she was faster than the Green Line! A little while later, Meb ran by. He won the men’s division. How annoying must it be to have a cameraman on a motorcycle so close?!

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The best part of my day was every time one of the runners saw their “patient partner” in the crowd. They would stop to hug them and take a photo before dashing off to the final stretch. It’s a good thing it was hot and sunny and I was wearing sunglasses – I was crying like a baby.

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l had gotten to work so early that day that I could’ve gone home at 3:30. But I couldn’t tear myself away. By 5 p.m., most of the people left on the course were walking. Some looked miserable and defeated. That made me never want to sign up. Then there were the ones who were still running, albeit slowly. Or who saw the Mile 25 and decided to run for the final 1.2 miles. But then there were the ones who said, “Thank you for staying,” to those of us left still cheering. By this point, my hands were sore from clapping, I had shouted at least 200 strangers’ names to encourage them and remind them they were almost there, and I had high-fived probably 1/3 of them. Some were too dazed to notice, or maybe they were ignoring our cheers. But most of them at least looked in our direction, smiled, waved, or saw our DFCI shirts and thanked us for everything we do. We, of course, thanked them for all they do – especially our runners.

It was a truly magical day. I finally left around 6 p.m., even though I was feeling guilty for the runners who were still on the course who I was abandoning. I don’t care if you were walking or crawling by then – you did 26.2 miles more than me, and 23.1 miles more than I could have done!

I have to admit, I’m really inspired. Last night, I downloaded a 12-month marathon training plan geared toward beginners. I realized I could start at Week 6! I haven’t run since my 5K – trying KT tape instead of my shin sleeves for the first time was a poor choice and one I’ve been paying for all week. It’s not awful, but definitely uncomfortable enough that I know better than to try and run.

Today, I’m feeling strong enough to run but of course it is cold and incredibly windy outside. I can deal with the cold but the wind and the wind chill factor? Not so much. Instead, I’m heading to the gym and doing my first treadmill run in several weeks. I took some advice from actual runners and downloaded a 40-minute podcast (last weekend’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”). I’m going to cover the time clock on the treadmill with a towel or something, and when the podcast is over, I will have run at least 3 miles 🙂

Proof I ran

Here’s proof I ran the BAA 5K on Saturday. I’m not sure why I was looking down – all I remember is looking around at all the spectators – but it’s me! You can see half of Cathleen running in the Dana-Farber singlet on the far left (my right).

5kOf course I hate how big I look, so that’s just extra motivation to keep running.


I did it!

Yesterday was one of the most proud days of my life. I went to bed cranky about having to wake up at 4 a.m. in order to walk Rags, get ready, eat breakfast, and be at Molly’s house in Charlestown by 6:30 so we could grab a cab to the Common, but I woke up in a great mood. I was too nervous to eat much, but I managed to get down egg whites, a cup of coffee and a few glasses of water (bad idea). I also prepared my feet and shins. I applied moleskin to my blisters, then wrapped them in gauze and duct tape. Instead of my shin sleeves, I used KT tape.

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We got to Boston Common at 7 a.m., giving me plenty of time to wait in line for the bathroom at Starbucks (really wish the BAA would set up port-a-potties). Cathleen met us around 7:15 and we walked over to the Common to kill some time, and of course, take a selfie.2014-04-19 07.31.14-2

We agreed to stick together, even if one of us needed to stop. We’ve never run together, so we honestly had no idea who would be fast or slow. My biggest concern was my bladder. I had already peed approximately 11 times since waking up, but I’m a nervous pee-er, so I had to go really bad right before the race.

Around 7:45, we found our places at the starting line. They asked us to line up by anticipated pace. Of course, 10:00 min/mile was the slowest pace, so we bumped ourselves up against the 9:00 min/mile folks to avoid the walkers and strollers. We didn’t actually start moving until the official race clock was somewhere around 5 minutes, and even then, it was basically a fast walk pace until we turned the first corner onto Beacon St.

Immediately I was thinking, “Oh crap, I’m tired,” but I quickly forgot that thought. I also forgot about having to pee. Just before the one-mile marker, we noticed a single port-o-potty on the side of the road. There were maybe 4-5 people in line, and I didn’t even think about it. I’d never catch back up with Molly and Cathleen, and I didn’t have to go as bad anymore. I skipped the water at Mile One, because I didn’t need it.

One of the coolest parts of the race was along Comm Ave (Commonwealth Ave for you non-Bostonians), where the route does a u-turn so you’re running through a tunnel while the people ahead of you are running right toward you but on the other side of the road. Everyone was high-fiving – it was awesome. I admittedly didn’t partake – I’m a huge clutz and was worried about tripping, but it was really motivating. When we looped around and passed the people behind us, I was like, “OK, we’re not last!”

The second mile felt the longest. There was a tiny incline, and the sun was so bright and so warm, and everyone else grabbed water but I knew I didn’t need it. Shortly after passing the two-mile marker, we turned onto Boylston. Actually, we got to do the famed “Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston.” It was overwhelming to see the Marathon finish line up ahead. This is when I broke my promise and pulled ahead. I just got so excited, and there were so many spectators who saw my singlet and were cheering, “Go Dana-Farber!” Had I not been running, I would’ve cried. It was just so emotional. I turned around and couldn’t see Molly or Cathleen at all, so I slowed down to a jog. Just as we made the final turn onto Charles, I “pulled over” and waited for Molly. We couldn’t see Cathleen anywhere so we crossed the finish line, not knowing she was just on the other side of the crowd. The clock read 40:00 something but we started late. I had been tracking our run using my trusty MapMyRun app so I knew we finished sub-35:00.

I2014-04-20 07.29.54 honestly could’ve kept running, and I was a little bummed that I slowed down, but now I know that I. CAN. DO. IT.

We got our medals, t-shirts, and a goody bag of snacks and Powerade, and made our way to brunch. It wasn’t until almost an hour later that I finally remembered how badly I needed to go to the bathroom. Adrenaline is a crazy thing! Endorphins are amazing!

We rewarded ourselves with a round of drinks – mimosa for me. One turned into three, and my French toast was everything I dreamed it would be. We didn’t last as long as I hoped, but I was really eager to get home and take a nap.

Now tha2014-04-19 10.58.58t our sweat had dried and our exhausted faces were recovered, we took our official post-race selfie, totally not meaning to exactly replicate the pre-race pose.

An hour later, I was in my bed, fast asleep. Later Saturday night, the official results were posted online. My official time was 34:28. I’m not proud of that time, but I knew my pace was going to be slow running with nearly 10,000 other people. I’m just so dang proud of myself, and of my friends, for setting a goal and accomplishing it.

3.1 miles and 26.2 miles are not even comparable, but you guys, I’m really motivated. I’m planning to sign up for the BAA 10K, which is in June. I’m taking a few days off from running – switching from the sleeves to KT tape might not have been the best idea, as my shins hate me today. My blisters are also still healing, and I don’t want to end up with a long-term issue there. Also, I reintroduced sugar back into my diet yesterday, so I’m going to enjoy ice cream, gummy bears, and Reese’s peanut butter eggs for a few days, mmmk?

But then I want to get back out there. Those 3.1 miles felt easy yesterday. I know that’s because of the crowd and the fact I got to cross the Boston Marathon finish line and all the adrenaline, but I know I trained well and if I keep it up, I can run a 10K this summer.

By the way, this blog is not going anywhere. I need to make a new header image, but this has become an important part of my training – the mental outlet. I don’t think many people read it, and that’s OK.

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You take the bad with the good

Monday night’s run was the most disappointing I’ve had so far (shocking – it was a Monday). It started off on the wrong foot (no pun intended) from the get-go. I remembered to pack my running gear but forgot it in my car during the workday, and my car is parked a few blocks away. I even took a walk at lunchtime to go get it but I park in one of those old school garages where half the cars are actually lifted up—like when you take it to the mechanic—so they can fit cars underneath. And my car was moved to an upper spot, so I couldn’t get my stuff without a huge hassle. Whatever. 

Fortunately, Horn Pond has a public restroom, so I went in there to change. I actually saw Juls and Buster arriving for a walk, so I walked with them as my warmup. After five minutes, I kicked it into high gear. Let me tell you something about running in 50mph winds. The wind sucks, especially when it’s blowing against you. It’s also a ton of fun to have sand and dirt and even leaves and sticks blowing into your face. Whatever. 

I took a trail that I thought would give me the longer route around the lagoon, but instead it led to nowhere—all the while constantly curving and passing over downed trees and low-hanging branches. I didn’t intend to do a trail run through the wilderness, but I did. And then I had to abruptly stop when the trail led right into the water. I had to turn around. Whatever.

As I found my way back to civilization, I realized my blisters were starting to burn. A lot. I thought it was safe to run in my orthotics again—especially since I had realized that running without them is why my legs have been so sore since Saturday—but I was apparently wrong. I also forgot to wear double socks even thought I packed two pairs. I had to walk a bit because the pain got so bad, and finally I sat down on a bench and took out my orthotics, but that meant running on the surface of my sneakers, without even the cheap insoles that came with them. That was really uncomfortable, but whatever.

By this point, I’m more than halfway and thinking, “I can finish this. I’ll go to my car, put the cheap insoles in, and run till I hit 3 miles.” But the pain from my blisters was so searing that even without the orthotics pushing on them, I could not go on. The wind was literally 50mph and I was miserable, in pain, and in a completely rotten mood. The wind was even making my mouth bone dry, and I simply cannot breathe though my nose with all my sinus issues. So I gave up. I ended up managing to complete 2.5 miles, but I walked more than I care to admit. I limped back to my car, ripped off my shoes, and drove home in socks. Then, I limped into the house, nearing tears, when I saw a giant box on the dining room table. Frank orders stuff online approximately six days a week, so I really didn’t think anything of it. But I saw a hand-addressed card above it, so it must’ve been mine.

And boy was it.

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KD sent me a 5K care package. As you know, she’s an actual runner, so she knows exactly what one needs before and after a race. I think the best part was the card with a sweet, handwritten note inside. Or the Haribo. Either or. I’m pretty excited to be able to have candy and sweets again after 44 days without them! She also included a breakfast bar, a Luna bar, craisins, a clementine, two packets of vitamin C/flavoring to add to my water (today!) and of course, Advil for Saturday afternoon when I can hardly move (either due to the run or the mimosas or both).

I literally sat down on the floor and cried. I was so overwhelmed by her thoughtfulness, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

I have been too busy to post much this week, but I haven’t run since Monday. My blisters are slowly healing and I knew it was more important to take care of them than to continue trying to break the 3-mile mark. I know I’ll be fine tomorrow as long as my feet aren’t bleeding into my socks. I took a sick day on Wednesday and a full day of rest was probably just what my body needed. Now it’s just one more day of work, one night of preparations, and then the big day tomorrow morning. It’s looking like a 45-ish degree run tomorrow morning. Not my favorite, but the sun might actually be out and starting to make it over the tops of the Boston skyline. Fingers crossed!