Tag: Running

Marathon Monday

The third Monday in April is Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts and Maine. The holiday commemorates the April 19, 1775  battle of Lexington and Concord.  Since its inception in 1897, the Boston Marathon has always been held on Patriots’ Day, but it wasn’t until 1969 that Patriots’ Day was moved from April 19th, the actual day of the battle, to the third Monday in April. Now the holiday is now more commonly known as Marathon Monday.

I didn’t grow up amongst runners yet I knew about the Boston Marathon from a young age. I am a Massachusetts native after all. In college I had the opportunity to work setting up barriers along some of the roads towards the end of the marathon. My friend’s aunt and uncle own the company that organizes the finish line and many other components of the race.  I spent race day at the finish line. Despite being the furthest thing from a runner at that time, I found the experience quite incredible. However, at no time during that day did I even once contemplate crossing that or any other marathon finish line. It would be another 11 years or so before I was bit by the running bug and then another 4 years before I would run my first marathon at Disney.

I have never run the Boston Marathon. Since 1970, entrance into Boston has required runners to meet a qualifying time also known as a BQ. For some simply achieving the BQ is a feat in and of itself, and does not necessarily guarantee entry into the race.

Boston Marathon Qualifying Standards
Age Men Women
18–34 3hrs 5min 3 hrs 35min
35–39 3hrs 10min 3 hrs 40min
40–44 3hrs 15min 3 hrs 45min
45–49 3hrs 25min 3 hrs 55min
50–54 3hrs 30min 4 hrs 0min
55–59 3hrs 40min 4 hrs 10min
60–64 3hrs 55min 4 hrs 25min
65–69 4hrs 10min 4 hrs 40min
70–74 4hrs 25min 4 hrs 55min
75–79 4hrs 40min 5 hrs 10min
80+ 4hrs 55min 5 hrs 25min

There are two other points of entry for interested non-qualified runners. The Boston Marathon charity program allows entry to approximately 6,000 runners who have raised a minimum of $5,000. A small percentage of runners are invited to run by sponsors, running clubs, media, or other promoters.

The Boston Marathon inspires me as a runner and a human being. To witness the determination and strength of the varied runners on the course is as notable in the elites as it is in each and every participant in the race. To see the power in the arms of the wheelchair athletes as they literally blow by you is awe inspiring. To watch the determination and resolve of the mobility impaired runners including blind runners and runners with prosthetic limbs reminds me that my challenges are not insurmountable if they can overcome theirs.

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Staff Sgt. Jose Luis Sanchez lost a limb in Afghanistan, runs the Boston Marathon carrying the American flag the entire way

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For me the marathon itself has become the antithesis of the word can’t. I was a self-described non-runner for much of my life. I would proudly declare “I can’t run” as though saying it somehow exempted me from doing it. I said I can’t in relation to many things in my life for a long time. When I am running a marathon and my body starts to say it can’t go any further something else takes over and keeps it going. A long distance run is much more of a mental challenge than a physical challenge. When you shift your thinking it’s amazing what you can tolerate and overcome. Somewhere in the last 10 years I stopped saying I can’t.

I will run Boston one day. Qualifying would be a momentous achievement for me. Right now I am running an average pace far slower than what I would need to qualify in my age bracket, however, running has certainly taught me that I am capable of going far beyond my comfort zone so I am not ruling out a BQ in my lifetime. I will at least shoot for the moon and if I don’t reach it by a certain age then I will do the next best thing and raise money for a very deserving charity.

For now I am honored to cheer for all of the Boston Marathon runners. If their name is written somewhere on them I shout it. I clap and holler. Many bring tears to my eyes. Each one of those runners has a story of how they got to the starting line. Oh how I would love to know them all. This year Carlos and I went with my friend and her daughter. She is originally from Framingham and knew exactly where to go. We set up a few hundred feet before the 10K marker. It was a great spot. We saw each wave from the wheelchairs to the mobility impaired and on to the elite groups, but perhaps the most exciting waves are those that come after the elites, the everyday runners, like myself who dared to dream big. What it must feel like to realize such a dream. I soak it all up as I try to find answers in their faces and expressions. I will be there one day too!

 

It is a sea of runners for nearly two hours.

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They are still full of pep as they near mile 6.2 although this year the temperature was quickly rising towards 80 degrees and some looked affected by the heat already.

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We watched until the fourth and final wave began to thin out. Then we headed home feeling nothing but inspired.

Big Sur Marathon Training

I am 5 weeks away from running my 8th marathon. Despite a very unpredictable New England winter, I have really enjoyed this training.  At the onset of training I determined my goals for this marathon as have done for each marathon. This was a bit different because I have no time goal. Big Sur is an experience from all that I have read about it. Runners make their way from Big Sur to Carmel along scenic Highway 1. Everything I have read about it from blog posts to articles imparts the same advice…look around, take in the scenery, and enjoy the experience. That is exactly what I plan to do. Of course I will run and do my best, but I will stop to take a few photos as well. I got into the race through a marathon for first timers so this is likely a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and I want to remember it well.

Like most of my marathons this will be a family vacation as well. We will be spending our first weekend in Monterey for the marathon and then we will spend a week in San Francisco. It’s a first for all of us.  We are definitely open to recommendations?

My training began back in January. After the Manchester City Marathon in November, I continued running regularly and maintained a longish run each week of 8-10 miles. The winter was mild up to that point and I wanted to take advantage of the decent weather to run as much outdoors as possible. After the New Year I began increasing mileage almost immediately with a 12 mile long run. Big Sur is a very hilly course so there has been some hill work on shorter midweek runs. Although I am not focused on a particular pace for this marathon some speed work has been incorporated into my training. I love the variation of runs throughout the week because it keeps it interesting.

I have been working with a running coach for the last 4 marathons. I feel silly even saying that because I am not a professional athlete, but honestly working with a coach has been such an incredible experience for me. For the first three marathons I trained myself loosely following Hal Higdon’s plans. I think I did quite well for someone who never engaged in sports prior to taking up running. Working with a coach after my Achilles injury was important. I was nervous and anxious about becoming injured again. I was also slower and heavier causing frustration with myself and running. It was helpful to have someone guiding me through those ups and downs as I came back from the injury and began marathon training again. I had always trained by miles and the first thing my coach did was plan my runs by time. This lifted the pace pressure right off of my mind. The next big change she made was starting my training plans on Monday rather than Sunday. Seems insignificant doesn’t it? Well it made a significant difference in how I was able to plan my week because suddenly it allowed me the flexibility to do my long run on either Saturday or Sunday for that training week.

Having a coach also allows me to push myself out of my comfort zone. I love reporting back that I was able to hit the prescribed paces in a speed workout or that I accomplished a challenging hill repeat workout. It’s also great to have someone help me figure out why something might not be working. I learn so much about my own abilities as a runner and I am picking up skills that will help me coach others too.

Tomorrow morning I will set out for what will likely be my longest long run at 22 miles. I ran 20 last week. My long runs have (knock on wood) been going really well and I have been incredibly lucky with the weather. The 17 miler was a bit insane. We had snow a few days before and the roads in some places were still in bad conditions. I ran from my house to my mom’s house three towns away. The route is a rather busy one which I thought might work to my advantage because I assumed the roads would be clear. The roads were a mess, no shoulders to run in and sidewalks were untouched for the most part.  I had to stop at train tracks while a train passed. It was a disaster. I felt as though people driving by were annoyed by me running and I was annoyed by the splashes of wet slush flying up at me every now and then.

Overall I’ve enjoyed unseasonably “warm” winter weather. There have been some spring-like days recently. There has been a great deal of sunshine and some beautiful scenery. I have trained in freezing temperatures, extremely windy conditions, and rain. I have only done a handful of my runs indoors on the treadmill. Hopefully the next few weeks of training are just as awesome because the taper weeks will be here very soon.

I tried to capture some of the scenery from this training. These were all posted previously on Instagram. Each one brings back a memory of the run.

Happy spring! Nice peaceful run on this gorgeous day. #bigsurmarathontraining2017
Scenes from my favorite running spot . The weather  was almost 60 degrees. I loved the contrast of the warmer air against the snowy scenery.
20 miles, hills, snow, ice, darkness, clouds, quiet, a little bit of sun ☀️ #winterrunning #bigsurmarathontraining2017
Sights from my 20 miler on 3/19/17. I ran two towns away up and over “the mountain” as it is referred to around here. That is Mt. Tom in the bottom left. Although I did not run the actual mountain, the road to the town below is quite long and steep. 
Today is one of my favorite races, the Holyoke St. Patrick's 10K. Good luck 🍀 to 1000s of runners! As always the luck of the Irish is with them as the sun peeks out of the clouds. It couldn't be more perfect running weather. I'm just finishing up an easy run before tomorrow's 20 miler. #bigsurmarathontraining2017 #winterrunning
A short 6 miler on the day of my favorite 10K. I decided not to run it this year in order to focus on marathon training, but I really missed it. I’ll be back next year!
So much for an early spring #bigsurmarathontraining2017 #winterrunning
Another nice day for an outdoor run.
The run that almost wasn't today. Many excuses-cold, snow, no school for Carlos, a ton of paperwork but the sun came out, the grandmother came over, and I hit the road. There's just something about running over bridges I love. #winterrunning #bigsurmarathontraining2017 #noexcuses
I love running over bridges.
It's hard to believe that after a day like today snow is on its way tomorrow. It was really windy but temps were in the 50s. Thankfully today was long run day. #workfromhomeperks #bigsurmarathontraining2017 #winterrunning
A lovely run along the bike trail turned into a powerful workout.
Morning run sun #marathontraining #winterrunning
An early morning run near Carlos’ school after dropping him off

Happy #internationalwomensday  I honored myself by going for a lovely lunchtime run on what was supposed to be a rainy day. Instead it was all blue skies, sun, and a tinge of spring. #bigsurmarathontraining2017 #winterrunning
Barely a cloud in the sky
When there is no path ahead create your own. I swore I wouldn't do another spring marathon and struggle through winter training, but here I am back at it. #bigsurmarathon here I come. This is a bucket list race and an opportunity I couldn't pass up. #winterrunning
On Instagram I wrote: When there is no path ahead create your own. I swore I wouldn’t do another spring marathon and struggle through winter training, but here I am back at it.
Why is the wind never at my back?!! #winterrunning #bigsurmarathon
It was super windy out on this day and I swear no matter which way I turned at the reservoir I had the wind in my face!

Looks cold but feels like spring. Taking the path less traveled on my way to #bigsurmarathon #winterrunning
I didn’t feel much like running on this day. I forced myself out the door at lunchtime. The run was horrible, but there is always a lesson in the run.

Long run day #bigsurmarathon #winterrunning
Taken during a fueling stop on one of my early long runs. That is the Connecticut River going by.

Time to get to bed. I have a very early wake up call before I hit the road. After watching the big rain cloud with 60-90% chance of rain on tomorrow’s weather forecast, it now show only a 20% chance of rain and a sun peeking out from behind the cloud. I will take it!

Marathon Training – Weeks 7-9 Phase 3, Marathon Focus

Week 7

Monday, 9/21/15

  • 35-50 minute run followed by 15-20 minutes of yoga

I ran 4.45 miles in 45:12 (avg pace 10:09 min/mile). I did not accomplish my goal of fitting in some yoga. I figure if I keep putting out there to myself one day I will get back into the routine. It was easier when I could attend classes. I can’t do that anymore. There are a million resources online that I can access anytime I want to and they are mostly free yet I can’t seem to get into the habit.

Tuesday, 9/22/15

  • 30 minutes of yoga/stretching

I did some yoga and stretching on my own. I suck at it! I should have accessed an online class, but instead fumbled through some sun salutations, half pigeon, tree, etc. It really feels great to stretch out my body. I curse myself for not doing it because I always feel better afterwards.

Wednesday, 9/23/15

  • Hard run: 15 min warm up, Yass 800s, 10×800 meters, 15 min cool down.

I knew I would need time to do this workout so I had to put it off. Instead I ran 4.62 miles in 45:01 (avg pace 9:44min/mile). Later while the boys were in swimming, Kate and I ran 2.81 miles and at least another untimed mile.

Thursday, 9/24/15

  • 35-50 minute run followed by 15-20 minutes of yoga

I took the day off. I saw two patients in the morning. Then I picked Carlos up at school around 12:30. I told him he was getting out early for a dentist appointment. Really I was surprising him with an afternoon at the Big E with my friend and her two boys. Before I explain the Big E let me just say that I have never done anything like this with Carlos and Carlos has missed only a few days of school in 2 years of preschool and 3 years of elementary school.

The Big E, otherwise known as the Eastern States Exposition, is a fair held every September in West Springfield, MA dedicated to the New England states. It has all the typical fair activities like games, rides, popcorn, animals and every possible fried food you can imagine. The Big E also features a circus, parades, concerts and the state buildings where you can sample some of the foods and items native Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island.

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IMG_0040-0 We had a fun afternoon and walked tons. Carlos had soccer practice in the evening and I had to finish my paperwork from my morning visits so I did not run or do yoga.

Friday, 9/25/15

  • 45-60 minute recovery run

I know I should not have saved this run to late in the week and close to my long run, but in retrospect I’m so glad I did because it was a really great run for me. I ended up doing the Yasso workout from Wednesday.

I looked up the Yasso 800 workout and wanted to make this more of a true Yasso workout. My plan was to warm up and then run 10x800meters with 800 meter recovery in between. I was hoping all 10 intervals would average out to just under 4 minutes 30 seconds thus predicting a sub 4:30 marathon. I went to my happy place, Ashley Reservoir, for this run. It was a positively gorgeous day out. I smiled and ran. My legs were feeling good. I was running those intervals with authority!!

Somewhere around the 7th or 8th interval I came across a woman I had run by earlier and she was now bent over trying to stretch out her calf. I stopped to make sure she was ok. She was hurt. We talked for a while and eventually she decided to rest a little more before heading back to her car. She encouraged me to continue on. I did, but lost track of how many Yasso’s I had done. I ended up doing 11 total. I ran 13.60 miles in 2:16:01 (avg pace 9:59 min/mile). I did a longer than planned cool down with Kate and Colleen.

Check out these Yasso’s!!

1- 4:10
2- 4:14
3- 4:07
4- 4:11
5- 4:11
6- 4:08
7- 4:14
8- 4:07
9- 4:13
10- 4:10
11- 4:09
What makes me so proud of this run and those times is how far I’ve come since Vermont and really since the Achilles injury. Prior to the injury any and all speed work I had done was on a treadmill. This training has taught me how to move my legs faster on solid ground. It’s motivating to see the progress I’ve made.

Saturday, 9/26/15

  • Cross training

I took the day off. I had a Parent’s Association meeting at Carlos’ school in the morning. Then I had to clean the house before my sister and her husband arrived for a visit. Carlos had a soccer game at 2:30. We went to have lunch at a local farm and then apple picking after. It was a long fun day. 

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Sunday, 9/27/15

  • Long run: 14 miler with miles 3-12 at marathon pace

I left at the crack of dawn. It was so dark out! I must say I am not going to miss these ridiculously early morning runs. I ran 14.06 miles in 2:20:01 (avg pace 9:57 min/mile). I could not have been happier with this run. I achieved my pace goal and felt really strong during the run.

Total running miles = 39.54

Week 8

Taper Time!!

The plan for this week:

  • Long run: 10-12 miles with last 3 fast finish
  • Hard run: 1 mile warmup, 3 miles at half pace, 1 mile cool down, 8 by 30 second striders during the run
  • Fillers: 2-3 runs of 30-45 minutes followed by 15-20 minutes of yoga (I keep trying to work it in!)

Monday, 9/28

I know I ran while Carlos was at swimming, but I can’t find it anywhere. I remember it clearly. I had picked up Carlos’ friend and took them to swimming. I ran around the pond at Mount Holyoke and then up past the horse farm. I ran through the neighborhood where my friend Michelle used to live and then back down through the college. I probably ran for about 40-45 minutes.  I also did a 10 minute hip opener online yoga class.

Tuesday, 9/29

I took the day off. I was really busy at work, spent the afternoon at the park with Kate and the kids, we had a quick dinner and then the boys had karate.

Orlando and I celebrated our 14 year wedding anniversary. I’ve mentioned before that we are not like most people when it comes to special days. Orlando is from a different culture and I have always been accepting of the differences. We both prefer experiences, trips or a really nice dinner over a gift. We have plans to go out to dinner the night of the marathon because Carlos will be at my sister’s. We also just booked our trip to Mozambique for the holidays! Orlando and I couldn’t be more different, but I would not want to be on this ride with anyone else.

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Our Mozambican wedding!

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Wednesday, 9/30

I ran 4.08 miles in 41:01 (avg pace 10:03 min/mile) and later while the boys were at swimming Kate and I ran 3.38 miles in 49:25. I did some yoga before bed.

Thursday, 10/1

Can you believe it’s October already!! I did this week’s hard run. I ran 5.01 miles in 45:05 (avg pace 9:00 min/mile) + a warm up mile that didn’t register time on map my run so I reset and started it over. Holy smokes!

Running through the beautiful fall colors certainly didn’t hurt. A few pics from my run near Carlos’ school and through Hampshire College.

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I did not run. Work is crazy right now. With Mozambique on the horizon, a trip to California this month, and a heavy case load at work I have to stay on top of things. I took the day off. I did some sun salutations and stretching.

Saturday, 10/3

I took another day off. I honestly can’t even remember why. It was cold and rainy. My friend came over with her three kids. We went for about a mile walk around the pond at the college.

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Goof!
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Goofier!

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Later Carlos and I went grocery shopping and then we went to my aunt’s for dinner to celebrate my uncle’s birthday.

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A face full of cake!

Sunday, 10/4

Last long run!! I ran 12.36 miles in 2:00:12 (avg pace 9:43 min/mile). Last three mile splits were supposed to be a fast finish. I think I accomplished that!

Mile 10 – 9:50

Mile 11 – 9:14

Mile 12 – 9:20

I was so darn pleased with this effort. The entire run was great. I didn’t have to leave at the crack of dawn which was nice. It was actually starting to get light when I set out. I ran a rather boring route just to stay close to home, but I was filled with so much excitement thinking about the marathon that I didn’t care about seeing the same drab scenery I’ve seen so many times during this training.

I am incredibly proud of this marathon training. I worked it around my husband’s fluctuating work schedule and Carlos’ busy life. I was out the door by 4:30AM many mornings. I ran late at night if I needed. I surpassed my expectations beyond what I thought was possible at the beginning of this training. Coming off of my slowest marathon in Vermont, I was motivated, but I had no idea I could come this far and feel this great going into Hartford.

Week 9

And here it is…last week of training before the Hartford Marathon.

The plan for this week:

  • Last hard effort: 2 mile warm up, 2 miles at marathon pace, 1 mile cool down
  • Fillers: 2-3 runs of 25-35 minutes with 15-20 minutes yoga after

Monday, 10/5

3.29 miles in 31:33 (avg pace 9:35 min/mile) + yoga

Tuesday, 10/6

I worked Monday night at the hospital. I had to see two patients in the morning for my other job. I had a mountain of computer work to finish up from the three patients I had seen the day before. I also had to go back to the hospital for a diabetes in-service. The rest of the day is a blur, but I know I was exhausted when I finally settled down in bed. Needless to say I did not run, though I am pretty sure I did some yoga before bed.

Wednesday, 10/7

Last hard effort run – I ran 5.06 miles in 49:08 (avg pace 9:42 min/mile). OK I definitely missed the point of this and all but one of my splits was more like half marathon pace. I think I was just feeling really excited. The weather was gorgeous too.

Thursday, 10/8

Lunch time run 3.04 miles in 30:09 (avg pac 9:54 min/mile). My legs felt a little heavy and my breathing was a bit labored which is really odd for me. It was much warmer than it seemed when I first when out. Unlike the day before I felt a little off kilter, but it’s going to be ok.

Friday, 10/9

I went for a short 30 minute 3.04 mile shake out run after dropping Carlos off at school. I ran along the bike trail in Hadley. The sky was gray, but the leaves popped out in all their autumn beauty.

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I was pensive about the race, but I smiled the whole way. It am as ready as I’ll ever be and whatever will be will be tomorrow. The weather is looking perfect.

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I’m getting ready for a mini road trip to Hartford with Kate. She’s running the half. We are spending the night there so we don’t have to worry about traffic and parking tomorrow morning. OK I’ll stop here before I get all mushy and sentimental. I’ll save that for after the race.

Have a wonderful long weekend!! If you are dying to know how I did find me on twitter (@amazinginmotion) or instagram (aimee828). I will most likely post something on both.

Hartford Marathon Training – Week 5 – Phase 2

My training is broken up into blocks. Phase 2 is a 5 week block. Phase 2 of training is also preparation for the Bridge of Flowers 10K on August 8th. This phase went by very quickly.

  • Monday, 8/3 – Warm up 10 minutes, long hill repeats: find a 3-5 minute climb, run up 4-5 times, jog back down (the side street Chapel Hill Drive is a good on for this)

I chose to sleep a little longer rather than get up early to run because we got home much later than expected from Pennsylvania. Therefore I had to sneak this run in just before picking Carlos up from camp. It was blazing hot, about 92 degrees, and extremely humid. I did the warmup and then headed over to Chapel Hill Drive. Holy hell that hill was ridiculous. I ran it 5 times. On my last trip up a friend drove by and told me to pop over for a glass of ice water. I stopped and chatted for a bit. I didn’t bother to shut off Map My Run so my pause is reflected in my overall time. I ran 5.04 miles in 54:08 (avg pace 10:45 min/mile).

  • Tuesday, 8/4 – 45 to 60 minute Easy Run

I ran 4.80 miles in 50:25 (avg pace 10:29 min/mile). This was a horrible run. I felt sluggish and weighed down. My legs were heavy. I just wasn’t feeling great on this run.

  • Wednesday, 8/5 – Warm up 10 minutes, 8-10 by 1:30 minute hard running/30 seconds easy running. Get the legs moving and work on a rolling hill course to prep for the ups and downs of the first couple of miles of Bridge of Flowers.

I ran 5.30 miles in 50:11 (avg pace 9:27 min/mile). Now this was a great run. I felt so much. What a difference a day makes! Later in the evening I did a leisurely jog with my friend while our boys were at their cross country practice. We did 2.22 miles in 34:31.

  • Thursday, 8/6 – Cross train or Yoga

I took the day off. I was insanely busy with multiple work issues. I also worked the night before at the hospital. That always throws me off kilter. It’s much different working a night shift and coming home to work all day than when I used to only work nights. I actually miss doing nights full time.

  • Friday, 8/7 – 30 to 40 minute Easy Run

After being up for almost 2 days before finally going to bed Thursday night, the last thing I wanted to do was get up at 4:30 in the morning so I didn’t. My friend brought Carlos and her son to camp in the morning so I went for a quick run as soon as they left. I ran 3.2 miles in 30:21 (avg pace 9:19 min/mile). This run was quite a surprise. I wasn’t planning on moving that quickly, but apparently my legs were.

  • Saturday, 8/8 – Bridge of Flowers 10K

This is my favorite race and favorite weekend of the summer. Prior to last summer when I was out of commission with the Achilles injury, I had run this race for 4 consecutive years.

Bridge of Flowers 2010 – no blog post as I hadn’t started the blog yet. Time – 1:07:36 (10:52 pace)

Bridge of Flowers 2011 – Time – 1:04:16 (10:21 pace)

Bridge of Flowers 2012 – Time – 1:01:53 (9:58 pace)

Bridge of Flowers 2013 – Time – 56:01 (9:01 pace) **Currently my 10K PR

The weekend of Bridge of Flowers it has become tradition for my close friend and former UMass Amherst college roommate, Colleen to come for a visit. She has been one of my biggest supporters since I embarked on this running journey. She is a two time Boston Marathoner and avid runner and hiker. She has been unable to run until recently due to knee issues, but she is beginning to build up her mileage and hopes to join me for BOF 10K next year. The beautiful photos below from Shelburne Falls, MA are compliments of Colleen.

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Orlando and I both ran the race while Colleen and Carlos spectated. Initially Orlando was planning to pace me to a sub-1 hour finish. I wasn’t shooting for a PR, but I was really hopeful that I could finish the race in under an hour despite the mega hill at mile 2. Orlando took off and I lost sight of him at mile 1! I could tell he was itching to move at his own pace  and honestly it was ok. I knew from the moment the race started I had to run this race myself, my way.

I know this course and I was well prepared for the race. The weather was ideal, sunny in the 70s and blessedly not humid. I started out at a steady pace, but I knew I had to go a little faster in the first two miles because I would lose time on the hill. Crittendon Hill is impossible for most to run because it’s so steep. The hill comes after mile 2 and it climbs sharply until just before mile 3. I power walked up the hill as fast as I possibly could and as I neared the mile 3 marker my time was a little over 31 minutes. If I was going to finish in under an hour I knew I had to attack the downhill. Fortunately the downhill is not as sharp as the uphill. It’s a shaded dirt road and it is a steady decline that levels a bit here and there which is not too hard on the knees so I let myself fly!

Heading into the last mile I was on target for a sub-1 hour finish as long as I didn’t ease up on my pace. Thankfully the back half of this race is mostly flat with just a few rolling hills. The spectators are awesome at the end of the Bridge of Flowers 10K and that got my engines revved up. Running over the iron bridge to the finish line never gets old. My eyes welled up as I saw the 59:30 on the time clock. I picked up the pace determined to sneak in under an hour.

Official time: 58:51!!! (avg pace 9:29 min/mile)

Orlando ran an incredible race especially considering he hasn’t run in months. He finished in 50:59. I am really proud of him, but admittedly a little jealous that he can just jump into a fairly challenging course and run it in a very respectable time with absolutely no training. Some things in life are simply unfair!!!

Looking all happy before BOF 10K!
My favorite race spectator
Handsome guys!
  • Sunday 8/9 – 150 minutes long run

I  was still riding the high of my race the day before. I got up very early and hit the road for my long run. Despite the energy my legs were tired. I ran 14.52 miles in 2:31:40 (avg pace 10:26 min/mile)

Later in the morning Colleen, Carlos and I went for a great hike up Mt. Holyoke. The Summit House was open and they were offering a tour just as we reached the summit. It was so interesting. We learned that it used to operate as a hotel and was once the 2nd most popular tourist attraction in North America behind Niagra Falls. It was a spectacular day and the views were stunning.

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Overall it was a great training week. Total mileage for the week = 41.28

Hartford Marathon Training Week 1

I really appreciate the comments about my last post. I think getting all that off my chest helped me feel a little relief. I also had a great phone conversation with my boss on Friday. While this may not be my dream job she helped me understand how to make it work for me and my life. She encouraged me to call her anytime I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Despite the stress I was feeling, I had a great first week of marathon training.

A note on the paces: Goal paces for now (you can go by feel here and just notice how you match up to the paces suggested)!

Recover runs: 10:00-11:00 pace

Easy runs: 9:45-10:30 pace

Steady state runs: 9:15-9:45 pace (just do moderate effort up Skinner Mountain)

Stride workouts: 25 seconds at 8:30 pace building to 7:30 pace

  • Monday, 6/8 – 45 to 60 minute Recovery Run or cross train

I ran 6.02 miles in 1:01:43 for an average pace of 10:15 min/mile. I also did a short lunchtime run with my friend. We ran 2.04 mile at an average pace of 15:07 min/mile.

  • Tuesday, 6/9 – 60 to 75 minute Pace Booster Run: Run 20 or 30 minutes at Steady State Pace in the middle of the run (Up skinner mountain for example)

It was a very hot and humid run. I ran 6.41 miles in 1:15:09 at an average pace of 11:44 min/mile. I did a warm up 2 miles or so before running up Skinner Mountain. I wandered around for a few minutes at the top and then ran down and continued on for a mile and a half cool down. Later in the evening while our boys were in Karate, Kate and I ran 1.86 miles at an average pace of 14:48 min/mile.

  • Wednesday, 6/10 – Off or Yoga

I really wanted to do a nice 30-45 minutes of yoga, but a late start to a busy day made for a late night. I managed a few sun salutations and that’s about it.

  • Thursday, 6/11 – 40 to 50 minute Easy Run

I ran 4.56 miles in 46.51 min at an average pace of 10:17 min/mile. 

  • Friday, 6/12 – 50 to 70 minute Easy Run with Stride Workout: 12 to times 25 seconds starting at 5K and progressing down to Mile race effort with 1 minute recovery jog between

6.36 mile run in 1:3:35. Average pace means nothing here because I was interrupted by 2 phone calls before I started running the strides. I also forgot my Garmin to keep track of my pace during the strides. I loved doing the stride work though. I am determined to train treadmill free so this was my first attempt at any kind of speed work off the treadmill. It was actually kind of fun. 

  • Saturday, 6/13 – 45 to 60 minute Recovery Run or cross train

I worked Friday into Saturday and then held a yard sale most of the day. NEVER AGAIN! I made $40 and ended up donating most of it to the Goodwill. What the Goodwill wouldn’t take I left on the front yard and all but two things were taken. It was a ton of work, but the best part is that my basement is almost all cleared out.

Afterwards my friend and I then took the kids strawberry picking. Needless to say I was in bed by 7! No run, no workout unless you call lifting bins and furniture and then doing squats to pick strawberries. I’m calling it a cross training day!

  • Sunday, 6/14 – Lake Wyola Road Race

Some things just don’t work out the way you plan. At the last minute I had no one to watch Carlos during the Lake Wyola Road Race (totally my mistake), but I was minutes away from picking up my three friends who were also running. So Carlos and I became spectators. We actually went on a short hike across from the starting area and then chilled at the finish line cheering for everyone coming through. I’m never disappointed by time spent with Carlos. He was such a good sport about the day. The girls did an awesome job running Wyola. It is a challenging race. It’s a 4.8 mile race around the lake. There is a short flat start that quickly turns into 3 miles of uphill before finally heading down gentle rolling downhills. It’s one of my favorite races. I’m not sure my friends are quite so enamored with the race, but they did it! I last ran Lake Wyola in 2013 and hope to return next year.

I set out for a run later in the evening when Orlando came home from working. I got a bit lost in my thoughts and 10.05 miles later I returned home. I ran 10.05 miles in 1:43:57 at an average pace of 10:20 min/mile.

I opted for a Monday through Sunday plan. I think it’s easier to start my training week on a Monday which allows me the flexibility to do my long run on either Saturday or Sunday. I’m enjoying running a lot right now. I’m eating in a way that makes me feel good. I’m still working on getting back into the groove of an early morning routine. I’m not really as focused on my pace as it might seem, though I am making an effort to build it up again. I’m very curious to see how I improve over the course of the training. Overall I was very pleased with the running I did this week.

Monday

I just felt like popping in here to write about random thoughts and things that are happening.

  • Carlos will finish second grade on Wednesday. It’s been an exceptional year for him. He’s really blossomed at Montessori school.
  • I jumped out of bed when my alarm went off at 4am today because phase 1 of marathon training began this morning. I have struggled for the last few months to get up early. Not today! I’m super excited and motivated for the Hartford Marathon. I’ve got a huge goal and I’m ready to work.
  • This morning’s workout called for a 45 to 60 minute Recovery Run at a 10-11 minute/mile pace. I did 60 minutes at 10:15 min/mile pace. I ran along the river for some of it and it was so peaceful. The air had a tinge of humidity in it, but there was a cool refreshing breeze blowing. I couldn’t help but smile.
  • I am running the Lake Wyola 4.8mile race on Sunday with a few friends. This is one of my favorite summer races. Huge mile long hill in the beginning, but a really lovely rolling descent on the back half of the course.
  • Still loving my Hokas
  • I’m having a yard sale on Saturday. This has been a long time coming. Carlos is 8 and a half. I’m pretty sure I’m not having anymore children so I think it’s time to say adios to the baby clothes! I get all sentimental looking at them though.
  • Carlos and I walked to the library after school. We haven’t done that in a while. I love walking and talking with him. We took out Lois Lowry’s “The Giver.” Neither of us have read so we are going to read it together before bed each night.
  • You know what else we do before he goes to bed…we each write a thought or two for each day in our Happiness Project journals. You can write in these journals for 5 years. It will be interesting to see how are thoughts and gratitude changes over the years.
  • I went to a conference last week and they showed this documentary called Alive Inside. As I walked into the auditorium they were handing out tissues. It’s definitely a tear jerker, but so incredibly touching. I your life has ever been touched by Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia this film is so important. It chronicles the very simple idea of music as a healing force for those who seem unreachable. Why do we keep dismissing such profound treatments?

  • Carlos and I found my high school yearbook when we were cleaning out the basement. Holy hair! I graduated from high school in 1991 so I grew up during the age of Aqua Net. What the hell were we all thinking? I remember getting up at like 5 in the morning to get my hair to exponential heights. You couldn’t pay me to take part in that trend again if it were ever to resurface.
  • My friend, Kate, and I are going to create a summer bucket list of things to do with our kids. We are keeping it local.
  • Carlos and I have been hiking again. On Saturday we climbed Peaked Mountain in Monson, MA. It was not an overly strenuous hike. The trails were nicely groomed and the views were spectacular. There is a little mailbox at the top with a log for climbers to sign.

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  • I almost forget today was crazy hair and pajama day at Carlos’ school. Car would give anything for a mohawk except he wants one that sticks up all spiky in the middle. Unfortunately that will never happen! So we sprayed his hair blue. He didn’t wear pajamas because he sleeps in boxers…all year round!

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  • I just realized my husband is totally MIA in this post. Orlando is blessedly very busy working after his long winter lay off. I am genuinely jealous of his layoff. Each year I try to convince him to embrace the inevitable time off. He is a mason. New England winters have been the worst lately. We always plan for the layoff so once I get over the initial burden of unemployment taking their slow sweet time to send the first check it’s all good. Once the weather improves he’s back in action full force and we don’t see much of him until things start winding down again in the fall.

Hope you’re day was a great one!!

Post Marathon High

After the marathon I enjoyed spending time with my friends and family. First lunch with my family an BFF Amelia and her adorable family. Then I took a much needed long hot shower. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at the Farmhouse Tap and Grill. The energy in Burlington was electric. And yes I wore my medal the entire night!!

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On our way home from Burlington we stopped in the tiny state capital of Montpelier. We wandered around so I could stretch my achy legs! I really love Vermont and these two handsome guys.

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The Vermont City Marathon seemed to have the complete opposite effect that Montreal had on me. I have been on the post marathon high since I finished and it’s been two weeks. Maybe it’s the psychological effect of having another tangible goal in the near future. Since I registered for the New England Double I am automatically registered for the Hartford Marathon in October. Just knowing I have that race to run has made me incredibly excited about training. I usually take a few days off of running after a marathon in exchange for nice walks, not this time. I couldn’t wait to go for a run.

Part of that enthusiasm was due to my new running shoes. My sister had purchased a pair of Hoka One One running shoes while I was running the marathon. She suffers from neuromas in both feet. These are essentially caused by thick skin that grows over a nerve in the ball of the foot typically between the 3rd and 4th toe. They are very painful and she is almost always uncomfortable no matter what shoes she wears so she keeps a sharp eye out for comfortable footwear. She was raving about her new Hokas and offered to buy me a pair as a congratulatory gift . I really wasn’t in the mood to try on shoes, but she convinced me and after taking a little spin in the purple Hokas I was sold. My sister’s husband bought a pair as well.

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Team Hoka One One

I feel like I’m bouncing on air when I run and my toes don’t hurt anymore something I had come to believe was normal.

I have been running, made a return to strength training and I am hiking whenever I can. I have enjoyed a few trail runs too. I love them. They are so refreshing and tranquil. Moving more translates into eating better too. I’m not perfect, but the last couple of years have proved to me that I don’t have to be perfect to continue to achieve goals and overcome obstacles. I just have to keep trying and doing my best.

I emailed the following to my health coach and I think it sums up perfectly how I’m feeling and where I’m heading:

Vermont City lit a match under me. I have placed way too much emphasis on the outside of my body. I am never going to be a super model. I’m going to continue to age and my body will inevitably change through that process. After reading about the 92 year old woman who finished the San Diego Marathon I came to the conclusion that I would much rather still be running marathons when I’m 92 than be thin. I enjoy being active and in the middle of a race I could care less what I look like. However, I really would like to see what my body is capable of doing, how far I can push it and what else I can accomplish. 

 

The Vermont City Marathon – Part 1

I really wanted to get this race post up by Monday, but life happened and the blog post didn’t happen. So I’ll jump right into it. Last weekend was amazing!

Last Friday I took the entire day off to accompany Carlos’ class on a field trip to the Heifer International Farm in Rutland, MA. What an awesome experience! The upper elementary class has been selling soup each month to raise money to donate to Heifer International.

We got home around 3:45, I finished packing and we were on the road to Vermont by 4:15. Last year when we were talking about making the return to the Vermont City Marathon, I knew I wanted to spend the entire long weekend in Burlington. I didn’t want to rush through the weekend. We took our time on the way up stopping in Montpelier for dinner.

On Saturday morning we strolled through the farmer’s market in Burlington, tasting the samples including a little wine (sips just sips) and then enjoyed coffee on Church Street. I dropped Carlos and Orlando at the hotel so they could go swimming while I explored the expo…ALONE! I really wanted to soak it up and take my time wandering through the tables and exhibits. I’m so glad I did.

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Vermont City Marathon Expo

 

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My swag bag

 

My sister and her husband arrived in the afternoon and we all met up for a stroll along the waterfront. At dinnertime Orlando and I left to attend the pre-race pasta dinner. I have always opted out of these dinners in the past, but honestly all I want to eat the night before a marathon is a simple plate of pasta. We trek around trying to find just that and this took all the guess work out it while benefitting a great cause. The proceeds for this event went to the Ronald McDonald House in Burlington. I also had the opportunity to hear Olympic bronze medalist, marathoner, Deena Kastor speak. She told a very interesting and witty story of how she became a professional runner.  Her journey is inspiring. I left the dinner feeling motivated and really excited about the marathon. Deena would be running the relay the next day with girls from a local high school track team.

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I slept horribly because I was worried my alarm wouldn’t go off. Typical pre-race fear. I was up at 5AM to engage in all my pre-race rituals. Carlos came down to the hotel breakfast area with me around 6. There were other runners down there and a very high strung spectator who was stressing me out. She kept telling her family to hurry all the while sitting down at the table eating her own breakfast. Her voice became very shrill at one point as she scolded the children and presumably the runner in her family for the 15th time. I told Carlos I had to get back up to the room because she started making me nervous about getting to the race one time.

Carlos begrudgingly posed for a pre-race photo. Remember how smiley he used to be in these photos?

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I woke up an equally grumpy husband. Actually Carlos is truly a morning person, just not a take a photo of me first thing in the morning person. Orlando is definitely not a morning person so I let him sleep as long as possible and at 6:45 I told him it was time to go. The race was to start at 8:03 and I knew there would be a bit of traffic getting me close to the starting line.

They dropped me off about a half mile from the start and as I followed the mass of people down towards the starting area I was invigorated by the collective energy and excitement along the way. Oh how I have missed this feeling!!

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I wandered around soaking up the positive vibes. I took in the gorgeous view of Lake Champlain. The air was tinged with a light chill, but there was a hint of humidity signaling imminent heat that was to come later in the day.

Soon enough I found myself lining up somewhere between the 4:45 and 4:30 pacers. My internal voice kept telling me to avoid the pacers and just enjoy the race, what will be will be, but the hopeful side of me really just wanted to beat the elusive time of Oprah’s one and only marathon. It was a serious long shot though and by long shot I mean miracle.

During the national anthem I got goosebumps and tears welled up in my eyes. Geez what is it about these marathons for me?! I’ve been so lost since I crossed the finish line in Montreal in September 2013, but as the gun sounded I knew I was right back where I was meant to be and this was only the beginning.

The first 4 miles flew by. Then we found ourselves on the out and back portion of the course along a relatively flat highway. I thought it would be boring, but since you were able to see everyone ahead of you as they looped around it was fun cheering them on. The miles ticked away surprisingly quickly and before I knew it I was heading back into the city toward mile 9. I knew I would see my family very soon.

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Orlando, Carlos, my sister and her husband were waiting for me just before I turned onto Church Street. I was so excited to see them. They had a Vega gel and a Perfect Fuel waiting for me. I stopped for a minute and then kept on going right down through the enthusiastic spectators along Church Street. This was without a doubt the best spot along the course.

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Once we left Church Street there was a bit of a lull in spectators. We wound through some nice neighborhoods and eventually reached the halfway point. I knew I ran a strong first half, not fast, but consistent. I felt terrific and I went with it.

However, shortly after the halfway point we entered onto a bike trail. It was narrow and suddenly I felt like I was in the midst of a herd of cattle on the verge of being trampled. I was stumbling to hold my pace and became claustrophobic. I had nowhere to go so I tried to just hold steady. Prior to this I was ahead of the 4:30 pacer and I thought maybe, just maybe I could hold onto it, but as we inched along this congested trail the 4:30 pacer passed me. I didn’t care. I just wanted off the trail. The scenery to my left was stunning and I tried really hard to focus on the lake instead of the 20 people at my heels.

The tightness of the trail and the heat started to get to me. I felt a bit nauseous. I longed to catch a glimpse of the road again, but all I could see were the runners at less than an arm’s length in front of me. I needed to take a gel or eat some pretzels, but the thought of what I had in my spy belt made me even more nauseous. I just wanted to drink. The water bottle in my hand was warm and uninviting. My insides were crawling and screaming “MOVE! Get out of my way people and get me the hell off this trail.”

Racing Thoughts

I worked Sunday night at the hospital and then went for a run at the reservoir right after. It felt like old times. I ran a little over 6 miles which gave me plenty of time to think. I’ve been slowly putting the marathon in perspective mentally. Initially it was easy to conjure up all the negative aspects leading up to Vermont City:

  • my training was unorganized
  • I trained during a brutal winter
  • the Achilles injury has slowed me down
  • the sinus surgery disrupted an already disjointed training right at the crucial 20 and 22 mile long run weeks
  • the miserable 22 mile run!
  • new job, new schedule

Running, in my opinion, is much more mental than it is physical. For many years I’ve lived parallel to the philosophy of positive thinking and its power to create change. I’m open to the idea and I embrace it for short periods of time, but for so long I’ve found it easier to let the negativity in my mind control my thoughts…thoughts about myself, others and situations. However, I keep coming in contact with this idea of using the power of positive thinking to really control and direct life in a more purposeful manner. I’m moving closer and closer to that as I learn more about altering my thoughts. On Sunday evening I followed a link that Kris Carr posted on Facebook. Kris Carr has a fascinating story of healing herself while living with an incurable disease. The link led me to Louise Hay’s new movie, You Can Heal Your Life. It may seem a little out there to some and I get that, but I needed to see it and hear the message at that moment.

I am currently reading this interesting book called The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. These three passages stopped me in my tracks on Sunday. I have read them a number of times.

“Maybe a coach encouraged you or a parent pushed you or in a moment of inspiration you motivated yourself. But you dug a little deeper, increased your dedication, and somehow accomplished the impossible—all because you changed the way you thought. Hardwired in our brains and bodies is a potential greater than we realize, and all we have to do to unlock it is believe. ” (p64)

YES! I have done many things I didn’t think I was capable of and I love that feeling. I love proving myself wrong. I am no stranger to going outside of my comfort zone. I have dug deeper, dedicated myself to the “impossible” and conquered it.

“With the growth mindset, however, potential is unlimited. You can always get better. For this kind of person, the goal is not so much to be the best in the world but to be better than you were yesterday. Regardless of natural talent or the lack thereof, every person has the ability to improve themselves.” (p64)

I know this is true, but I often don’t give myself enough credit. Yet lately I am beginning to feel the tug of my life clock ticking. I want to do big things. I want more. I want to shoot for the stars and see just how far I can go.

“it’s more important to try than to rest on your natural ability. Why? Because you’re capable of more than you realize, and in trying, you learn something new as you push past possibility. As a result, you grow, learning that most skills are not inborn, but learned. Practiced. At least, they can be, if you’re willing to adopt the growth mindset and dedicate yourself to the practice that follows.” (64)

It’s really about learning to love the process and accepting growth and change along the way. This winter I bought skis and a ski pass. Carlos and I hit the slopes a number of times and I royally suck at skiing down anything but the beginner hill. I can’t even get off the chair lift without falling. I really don’t care. I love being out there. Next year I will get a little better. I might take a lesson or two. I definitely don’t plan on giving up on skiing.

Skis

Carlos has been helping to compile my marathon playlist and he popped one of our old faves on in the car on Monday morning, Let’s Go, Calvin Harris and Pitbull. These lyrics jumped out at me that morning even though I’ve heard them so many times before,

It’s all about where you’re going
No matter where you’ve been

So basic, so simple, but so true. Move forward. Stop looking backwards.

After my run on Sunday morning, my encounter with a little inspiration, and some soul searching this is how I really feel about running the marathon next weekend:

  • I’m so excited to run this course. I’ve heard really positive feedback about the race.
  • The finish line is right on gorgeous Lake Champlain.
  • The weather looks beautiful for next weekend.
  • This hasn’t been my best training, but so what? Seriously, so what! I could walk a marathon if I had to so no matter what happens on the day of the race I know these legs can go the distance.
  • Being aware of what didn’t work this training cycle will be really helpful when I begin training for the Hartford Marathon.
  • I worked as hard as I could, did as much as I could and I am going to be proud of that on race day.

I am going to run this marathon and I will finish. I’m going into it as the runner I am today, not the runner I was on September 28, 2013 when I finished Montreal. From here on out Vermont City will be my new baseline marathon. I have goals in my head, big goals and Vermont City is my jumping off point. My goal next Sunday is to run the best race I can and finish it smiling and uninjured. Those other goals, well I’m going keep those to myself for right now!!

What a difference a week makes

I gave it another go yesterday. I successfully ran 20 miles. The weather was beautiful yesterday. I left around 5:40AM and by the time I finished it was actually quite warm. I ended up stopping at McDonald’s again, but this time it was around mile 16 for some ice water. It was a good run…uneventful and steady. It was exactly the kind of long run I was hoping and praying for. Most of the scenery was an eye sore, but I did take a spin through my favorite running trail.

Ashley Reservoir
Ashley Reservoir

 

My happy running place
My happy running place

My plan for this week is to run when I can, yoga at home 3 mornings this week, strength training once and lots of stretching and foam rolling. Carlos makes his First Communion on Saturday so I will try to get out early for a run. Sunday is Mother’s Day and there is a local half marathon that I’ve run before and I’m contemplating running again. I’m playing it by ear. Either way Sunday will be my last double digit run before the marathon.

Today Carlos and I took part in the 10th Anniversary Walk of Champions which benefits the Integrated Cancer Services at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital. We walked with a few of my co-workers. The event took place at the Quabbin Reservoir which is a beautiful natural gem about 25 minutes from my house. It was another beautiful day and lots of people came out to support the cause.

The Quabbin
The Quabbin

The rest of the day has been rather mundane. Carlos is hanging out with my mom. Orlando is working. I went grocery shopping, cleaned the refrigerator, chopped some vegetables for the week, paid bills and continued working on patient paperwork left over from Friday. I’m planning to go for a short run tonight with a friend.