Sunday, April 28, 2013


I am sure you can already figure out what this post will be about but it is necessary and long overdue, so please stick with me here...

Ted, Alex, Evan, and Me
First and foremost, thank you to my family, Ted, Alexander and Evangeline (aka "Evan"). They remained true when I wanted to run away, when I went nuts, when I was tired and cranky, and when I was over the top insane. They supported me at my races and spent many Sunday mornings without me. There were days when Ted would massage my feet and calves and my kids would walk on my back when I was in pain. After every run, they would ask, "How was your run?" They were usually excited for the next long distance and would congratulate me when I reached every goal I set for myself. Marathon training is hard, but patiently waiting for someone's time and attention is more difficult, and they did it week after week. Your continuous love and support have gone unnoticed and mean so much to me. I love you. To my extended put up with a lot of um, witchiness. I know I was absent from a lot of family gatherings and some of you didn't like that. I am sorry, but we're family. You'll get over it. But really, thank you for understanding and being supportive.

This journey came about because I continued to step out of my comfort zone and had a lot of help and support. Last year I attended my first AMTA National Conference. From that, I met so many people within the association and supporters of the massage industry. I had no idea how much my life would change because of it.

Scott, Me, Drew, David
Thank you to my Raleigh running crew: David Otto (NV), Scott Lesieur (WA), and Drew Pickens (AK). 05:00 A.M. runs in an unknown city is so much more fun with company than without. They said they were applying for the Boston Marathon bibs....What happened?! You boys are in trouble. Can't wait to run with you guys again in Fort Worth! Thank you David for forcing me to run my fastest 1 mile ever. See, on our first run, I only had 45 minutes of sleep the night before (thanks to a delayed flight out of Newark) and David INSISTED we still run at 5 A.M. But not just that, he took off and expected me to keep up with him. Okay, okay....truth be told, he told me I should just sleep but you've figured out by now that I am stubborn. I was up so I ran. But David showed me what I am capable of if I push hard enough, or chase after someone.
David, Molly Barker, Me

Thank you Molly Barker, founder of Girls on the Run. She was the keynote speaker at the convention. I had not paid much attention when I registered and was pleasantly surprised to see her there. One of the best 5k races I had run up until that point was a Girls on the Run event. It was inspiring to see so many young girls support one another in a race. You words touched my sole and helped me to dream of bigger things in running. Your passion to help young girls made me want to inspire others to reach their full potential as well. I am so grateful that David and I got to meet you. And I started thinking that the universe puts people in front of your face for a reason and it's our job to figure out why.

Thank you Paul Slomski of the Massage Therapy Foundation. I met him at the convention and he insisted I take an application and fill it out. I said okay but really never thought I would be selected. Anytime he checked in on me, I blamed him for every ache and pain that I endured during my training. Thank you for willingly taking the blame, your encouraging words, and constant support. One day soon, I am going to try this Cross Fit thing you keep talking about. If I can run a marathon, I can do anything! Along with Paul, I want to thank the Massage Therapy Foundation and the selection committee. I am so happy you were able to get the charity bibs (Mary White and Cliff Korn). Not only is this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the little people like myself, but the exposure it brings to the MTF and massage community is HUGE! On behalf of massage therapists everywhere...THANK YOU. I wish I knew the people on the selection committee that put me here. I want to hug you all. You have no idea how much life has changed for me because of this experience. All of it has been a blessing. I just started on an upward spiral before that phone call and now I feel like a "bad@ss" because you challenged me.

Thank you to the American Massage Therapy Association, a community of compassionate people striving for similar goals. I received many messages of support from individual members and state chapters. Special thank you to the Massachusetts, Oregon, and New Jersey Chapters for your donations to this cause. AMTA-OR, I can't believe you did a fundraiser. You ROCK! I am going to have to make my way out there one day. AMTA-MA - marathon host state; what a beautiful place. I am so sorry you have this tragedy to deal with, but the people in and around Boston really showed their heart and compassion. Be proud and be strong. To the AMTA-NJ Chapter; you are my family. We are a chapter that has gone
through a lot of challenges in the last several years. We learn and grow stronger everyday. I love the respect and comradery we have for one another. I have an insane amount of energy and am always bouncing around (or dancing) during our meetings, and yet you never stifle it. Thank you for the love, the interest, the support, and the patience you give me. They have shown a LOT of patience, especially in the last few months when my brain shut down and I kept forgetting my duties within the chapter. JERSEY STRONG!

Top: Debby, Lisa
Bottom: Gary, Stella, Me, Holly
Thank you to my business partners at Hillsborough Massage Therapy LLC: Gary, Stella, Debby, Lisa, and Holly.  This also includes my past partners, Penny and Portia. They know crazy Kathy as much as my family because they ARE family. We have been together for nine years now. Penny was always a mentor to me professionally and personally. She once told me, "Everyone has a story to tell if you let them." I talk ALL OF THE TIME, so letting others tell me their stories took a lot of practice. I am so glad I am getting better at it because I am discovering that everyone has a fascinating life and stories to share. And every story has a lesson in there somewhere. But more than the lesson, is the connection we develop from one person to another. Gary, aka "Old Man" has been like a father figure to me. I used to hate that when we were in massage school and when we first went into business together. It drove me NUTS! However, I grew to love it. He's got a lot of valuable knowledge in that brain of his and he cares about all of us ladies. Gary has coached me through training and given me so much valuable advice about running. The team has also been very supportive and EXTREMELY patient while I chased after my unicorn. I have neglected my office duties and they picked up the slack. I'm getting my head back on and PROMISE I will have that office organized again guys.  (Which means you won't be able to find anything.) And thank you for the massages.  You guys know your stuff!

Thank you to each and every one of you who donated to this great cause. This includes family, friends  colleagues, clients, state chapters, and random strangers. Fundraising while training and working and raising a family and volunteering is NOT easy and you came through for me to get me to my goal. Your contribution ultimately improves my profession as it funds scientific research, grants, education, and community service within the massage industry. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thank you to the Somerset Runner's Group, the Endomondo community, the BURN community, my burpee challenge group, Running Resolution Group, Christine Eremita, Victoria Arvizu, Ange Yeaple, and Powerhouse Gym-Hillsborough. These groups and individuals issued me some kind of challenge that forced me to push beyond my limits.  I am stronger because of you. Thank you so much. Thank you to my friends/FB stalkers. I had no idea I had so many followers for the marathon. I went read everyone's messages and posts on my page that day. It's amazing to see how many sleuths there are tracking my progress and calculating pace time to determine where I would have been. I am impressed and thankful that you all care so much.

Thank you to the MTF Running Team, Tom Heidenberger and Les Sweeny. I wish we had more time together, but it was nice to get to know you even a little bit, as well as your family. We shared in quite the adventure together, one that will never be forgotten. In addition, thank you to our honorary member, Ryan Hoyme for being there with us and documenting the experience (the good and frightening). I hate the camera, but you made it easier.

Thank you to the Boston Athletic Association and John Hancock for providing the MTF these three bibs. This is an exciting event and we are thrilled to be a part of it. Thank you to the people of Massachusetts and the spectators for your sportsmanship and compassion.

I am sure I left many people out, and I am so sorry. It is not done intentionally. I have had so much help with this journey and met so many wonderful people. Thank you all for being a part of my life and helping me to reach my goals. I feel so blessed to have these gifts.

Some people have asked if I will continue to blog. I haven't decided yet. Some days I think yes, and others I am not sure. Next up is the Marine Corps Marathon in October with the worlds best REAL superheros. I can't believe I am hooked on marathons. I blame the Massage Therapy Foundation people for this new addiction. LOL. (Yes, I just LOL'd in a blog.) My piece of advice: Do what makes you happy. Find something you are passionate about, and use it to inspire others. The rewards are worth it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Chasing Unicorns

When disaster strikes, nothing in the world matters more than the lives of the people you know and care about. Even complete strangers you have never met take precedence over what should be a major celebration in one’s life. I was 100 yards away from the 40 k check in (mile 25) when one police officer told me that I would need to turn right at the intersection. Up ahead I saw a bottle neck of runners wrapping themselves in space blankets. The only rational thought I had for this is that those individuals were too tired to finish, or they were injured and had to walk the rest of the way. I had no idea what was going on. Things were getting odd the last couple of miles, but I had never run a marathon before. Maybe things like this happened? I had no idea. So I ran around the people, passed the barricade, and turned right, up the hill as instructed. During my turn, another officer shouted to me that the marathon was over, it was shut down. I glanced at my watch and thought, how is that possible? I should have at least another hour. Am I that dazed and confused? Was I so focused on my leg cramps that I lost track of time? And then I heard him say “There were explosions at the finish lines at the bleachers!” I stopped. Turned around and walked back to him. “I am sorry, what did you say?” He said it again; but not to me, he addressed the crowd of runners that was turning into a mass of stunned and confused people. They were asking, “What happened? Where do we go? How is this possible?” “Head that way to Boston Commons, the marathon is over. That’s all I know,” he said.  I walked back around the barricade and took one of the blankets they were handing out and headed up the hill. My legs were screaming, and I was struggling to walk, but it took second fiddle to the pit that was growing in my stomach. The finish line? The stands? Explosions? My family! My team! Their family! My friends! Oh my God!

And then I heard my husband scream my name. I turned around still dazed and confused. He was walking up the hill with my children in tow. To me he looked angry, and I could not understand why. He told me there were explosions and we had to get the kids out of Boston. He said they were there but the crowds were too big and being that he does not like large crowds and the kids could not see, he walked back down the course to find a better spot to see me. My son, Alex, was quiet but observant, listening to every word. My daughter, Evan, kept asking me to hold her. We walked across an intersection, clueless about where to go and what to do. Ted kept saying we need to find a way back to our hotel in Newton. I told him I could not think, and that I need food and something to drink, and that I was freezing. He pulled out my Boston Marathon jacket that he bought for my celebration. I told him, “I can’t wear that, I didn't finish.” He said, “You would have and you’re freezing, now put it on.” Then he handed me a doughnut that he bought for the kids. I sat my daughter down on the curb and tried to stretch out the cramps in my legs when I saw the people next to us were wearing VIP passes. I grilled them with questions about the stands, what happened, how they got out, is everyone all right, and where were they told to go.” I tried to call and text people I knew at the finish line but the phones were not working and my phone was dying. We crossed the street to Best Buy and asked to charge our phones. Ted was getting a lot of messages from family and friends concerned for us. I asked him to post on my Facebook wall that we are okay, and as soon as my phone was working again, I did the same. We stood there in Best Buy reading news feeds and watching any news we could find on our phones. A young woman entertained my children so they wouldn't be afraid. I hope she knows how much I appreciated it. Word via Facebook was that everyone I knew checked in that they were okay. The moment they announced that outbound trains were running again, we walked to Fenway and jumped on one of the trains.

That night I tried to write my blog, but I just couldn't. I wanted to say something, especially since it had been a few weeks since my last post. I previously had an idea in my head on what it would be about but now it seemed so trivial and pointless. I promised a friend the day before the marathon that I would post something that night, but I was tired. The week leading up to the marathon was tough. I was busy with school visits, work, and preparing for our AMTA-NJ State Convention. It was our first and we had a lot of work to do. I did not rest, hydrate, and eat well despite the urging of family and friends. I knew it would bite me in the butt, but I was counting on all the training I had done to get me through 26.2 miles. Yes, I know better, but when you’re busy, you’re busy! (All you moms out there know what I am talking about.) Feel free to call me stubborn. I already know that I am. Sunday morning we left New Jersey later than intended, which of course put us behind schedule. We completely missed the expo and were late meeting the Massage Therapy Foundation Team. But we made it and I was nervous, excited, and starving. We made our way to the finish line for some photos and then proceeded to dinner. Dinner group consisted of Tom Heidenberger of Bon Vital and his wife lovely wife Elizabeth, Paul Slomski of Massage Therapy Foundation, Mary White, AMTA-MA Chapter President and Coordinator of the John Hancock Sports Massage Team, Mary’s husband Chris Dixon, Ryan Hoyme the Massage Nerd, Cliff Korn, Board of Trustee for the Massage Therapy Foundation and a member of the John Hancock Sports Massage Team, and my family. It was nice to relax, get to know everyone, and learn how these three bibs came about. I tried to get some rest that night, but I was anxious. I think I may have accumulated a total of three, maybe four hours of sleep.  

At four thirty, I jumped up and got ready. I woke my husband and children at 5 A.M. so they could drop me off at the “T” for a ride into Boston. On the train I chatted with a man about the marathon. This is his second consecutive Boston, and probably his 13th marathon. He asked how I could be running Boston as my first marathon and then he asked about the Massage Therapy Foundation and massage in general. He’s never had a massage before and promised to find the post massage tent after the race.  At Back Bay (the busing area) I looked around for Les, but could not find him. I knew I should have demanded his number yesterday. I jumped on one of the lines figuring by the time Tom got there I would be close and he could join in; however, Tom was still at his hotel. The man said 7 A.M. and he slept in! Actually I don’t know what he was doing but he was running late. Eventually, I jumped out of the line all together and waited on the gazebo and watched the beauty of intricate line formations. Organized, happy chaos is how I would describe it. I took a few pictures for several couples and groups, one of which was a team from Sweden. Finally, Tom called to say he was there but since we couldn't find each other in the sea of people we decided to just meet at Athlete’s Village.

On the bus line I met a blind woman and her guide. If a blind marathon runner does not impress you, how about one that runs ultra-marathons? Yes, she does! Then I chatted with a born and raised Bostonian. (She said "wicked" and she had the accent! LOVED IT!) She has run Boston several times before. This time she is running for charity, “Technology for Autism.” She had a lot of great advice, as did everyone I spoke to. On the bus I sat next to a woman who told me that this would be her 8th Boston Marathon. She still gets nervous before every marathon even though she has done so many. She sustained a knee injury last year and her recovery consisted of exercise and a lot of swimming. She said every year she says it will be her last marathon, but like giving birth, you forget how painful it was and just remember the joy of it. Nice analogy and probably true. Today, she runs with her friends who were sitting in the seat in front of us. Five minutes into the bus ride the emergency alarms sounded. Nothing we did could stop it. It did not seem to bother most of us (probably because we were in our own little world) but it drove our bus driver crazy. She stopped twice and tried to turn it off to no avail.

Tom and I waiting at Athlete's Village
Finally, we arrive at Athlete’s Village. It’s situated on the grounds of a high school. Volunteers were directing buses and people. Fans were holding up signs for their friends. Marines were standing on top of the school buildings. “Is that normal?” I asked. The woman I sat with said, “It’s a lot less than there have been in the past.” There were large white tents and rows and rows of port-a-potties. It made for interesting sights and smells. I felt bad for the volunteers standing downwind of that. I found Tom standing by the fire trucks. We looked for Les, but unless he was wearing a banana suit, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. So we found a place to sit, had breakfast and took pictures.

The group of people to my right was part of a running club. They reminded each other that this is just another training run. The two women to my left are work buddies. The old man in front of me was people watching too and we nodded to each other. There was a woman napping, people stretching, people eating, people jogging in place, people applying sunscreen. There were so many people! The one common vibe I picked up was that everyone there loved to run and each one of them seemed happy to be there. Just before our corral was called, I met a man whose leg was amputated years ago. It was replaced with a blade. I have never seen one in person and was mesmerized. He told me that things only hold you down if you allow them to and then he jumped into one of the port-a-potties. 

Tom and I handed our bags over to the buses to be carried back to the finish line and we followed the herd of people because we had no idea where we were going. Along the way we spotted the pre-race massage therapists. Of course I had to hi-five them. I have never met them, but I run for massage therapists everywhere. Those are my people and I have to say hello. I am sure we startled them and they probably thought we were crazy, but we ARE about to run 26.2 miles, so yes. Yes we are. Unless we were on a hill, I couldn't see a thing. Sometimes being short has its disadvantages and this was one of those moments. I held my camera over my head and just started snapping pictures. Then Tom spotted our corral and I followed him.  
Start Line is up there SOMEWHERE but I can't see. 

We just kept walking forward. It was quite loud from all the cheering. I did not hear a horn, a gun blast, or the word “GO.” It was a bunch of people walking and then running.  Okay, so I guess we are off.  Oh look, there’s the start line and there it goes. The combination of the downhill and the waves of people flying pass makes me want to speed up too, but thankfully Tom held me back so I would stay at my planned pace of 10 to 12 minutes. There were so many excited fans and fun signs. I must have looked like one of those bobble, swivel head dolls with my head turning in every direction to see everything. You know when you take a child to a toy store and they want to see and touch everything? That was me. “Look! And there! I like THAT sign! Ooooh, LOOK!” Tom’s too nice to smack me, but anyone else probably would have.

Les - looking good
I incorrectly assumed things would thin out by the 5k mark, but no. It was still crowded. At some point Tom pulled off the course for a quick pit stop and I kept going. Then all of the sudden I see a Massage Therapy Foundation team shirt. Les! I sprint around people to catch up to him. I must have been running alongside of him for close to two minutes, smiling at him before he realized I was there. The man is intense! He said hello, asked how I was doing then ran away from me. Really Les?! You have 20 plus miles to kick my butt, do you have to start now? I snapped a picture of him running away. He looked like he was doing well, so I continued to enjoy my surroundings. I read the signs. I gave high fives to as many little kids as I could, as well as those of the college kids with shirts that read, “I drink when you high five.” There were people on roof tops and hanging out of trees and windows. This is going to be an entertaining day.

Dale, Caroline, Me
All of a sudden, someone grabs my left elbow. I thought Tom caught up but when I turn around, it’s Dale. Dale is a member of the Somerset Running Group which I recently joined. We have run together a couple of times to train for Boston. She insisted I run by her house on the aptly named “Longhill Road.” Can I say thank goodness that road exists?! It prepared me for what was to come eventually. I was so excited to see a friendly face. I took a picture of us as we were running, because I am silly like that. We chatted for a while and then separated. Just after the 10k check in, I saw another woman I recognized standing on the sidewalk waiting with a camera. Caroline, another Somerset Runner. I ran toward her to give her a hug and realized she didn’t recognize me immediately. YES! I’ll jump on her to give her a crazy surprise, but as I got closer she figured it out. Dale was right behind me so we stopped for pictures with Caroline before jumping back onto the course. We smiled for the cameras overhead and then separated again. A little kid handed me an ice pop and I took it.  Why not? It is part of the experience and it seemed to make his day, which in turn makes me happy. Then just up ahead…

‘Twas around mile 7, on the tiniest bump
Waving at runners, and doing a fist pump
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
He had to be sweating, but Hey! No soot!
His eyes, how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
I stopped for a picture and said, “Hello there, St. Nick!”
He handed me a business card and said, “Send me that pic!”
                                                     With a wink and a nod and a pat on the back, 
                                                     I took off like the wind to pick up my slack….

I usually don’t like to stop for a rest room break until about mile 18, but just before Wellesley College I noticed a row of port-a-potties with no lines. Six minutes later I was back out wondering if I would see Tom, or if he passed me in that time. And that’s when I spotted the young, vibrant ladies with some great signs.  Kiss me I’m from XXX. (I nearly kissed the Jersey girl for representation, but took pictures instead.) Some others signs were “I won’t tell your wife if you don’t.” “Kiss me, I am jobless.” “Baby, make my day.” There were a lot and those ladies were LOUD! I think the old man I was following stopped to kiss every one of them. Oh college days…how I sometimes miss you.
A Banana Les Bunch

At some point along the route as I was observing my surroundings I saw a bunch of bananas on the left side of the road. Les' family! I politely cut across and snapped a picture of them crew. They are so cute and hard to miss. Such great spirit. I wanted to ask how far ahead Les was, but then I thought, would it matter at all anyway? I'm having fun! 

At mile 15 I got a cramp in my left quad; my left vastus medialis to be exact. That has never happened before and it was weird.  No, it HURT! I pulled off to the side walk and tried to put pressure on it.  When that did not work, I focused on contracting my hamstrings and ta-da! It went away. Sort of. It was enough to keep on running. I put music on to distract me. But guess what? It was stuck on repeat. Not repeat playlist or album. Repeat single song. I could not get it to stop so I threw on my new Fall Out Boy power song and let it play over, and over, and over again. I think eventually I stopped listening to it and took the ear buds out. This kind of thing happens to me ALL OF THE TIME! Oh well. 

At mile 18 or 19 the right quad started to cramp. Oh hell. I tried to ignore it but then the right hamstring began to cramp too. How is it possible that the quads and hamstrings could cramp at the same time? I made my way to the side of the road to stretch but the moment I stopped running every part of my lower body went into a spasm: both quads, both hamstrings, both calves, both shins, and the right foot. Oh my God! What is happening to me?! This has never happened in training. There was a Marine nearby watching me. I tried to shake it off and run again but everything seized up and I began beating on my thighs with my fists. The Marine walked over to me and said he was taking me to the medical tent. I yelled, “NO! Don’t touch me! I WILL finish this marathon on my own!” He smiled and said, “But you look like hell, Ma'am” Did he just call me "Ma'am?!" An old man passed me and handed me a bag of ice. “This usually helps me when that happens” he says and disappears. I rubbed the bag of ice up and down my legs and stumbled off.  Normally resting would be ideal, but for some odd reason running made it feel better. Maybe the ice was just
distracting enough. Maybe beating up my thighs worked. Whatever it was, I ran and proceeded to hit every medical tent along the way asking for salt. (I was out of the pretzels I brought as a snack.) None of the tents had salt, but one had bouillon. “It’s warm” the man said but I chugged the cup he handed me, said thanks and headed up a hill. I started to see spots and felt that something was terribly wrong so I walked. But the moment I did, the legs started cramping again, so I alternated between walking and running. Then there was Tom. He ran up and said hello. I tried to run with him but everything hurt. I figured I would catch up to him at some point, once I got through this bout of pain. He seemed to be doing fine and I managed to snap a picture of him running away. Except at that moment, he decided to walk and I couldn't catch up.

Eventually I started running again. I had no idea what mile I was on or that I was on a hill I really had no idea of my surroundings other than there were a lot of people screaming, a lot of people walking, and there were drums somewhere to my left. Next thing I know I could see a slope in front of people and the spectators on my right were waving signs in my face that said “Top of the Hill!” A girl came up and hugged me and handed me an orange and yelled, “You conquered heartbreak hill!” Completely clueless, I said, “That was it?!” and then my feet took off. Something in my head told my feet to go and I flew down the hill. Or at least that’s what it felt like considering the pace I was traveling at….which I had no idea what that was by the way. I could see that the spectators were stretching their hands out for high-fives and since I was close I slapped hands. The crowd seemed to get louder and I could feel their energy. YES! I can feed off this. I felt like I was getting my second wind finally and rounded a corner onto Beacon Street when a gang of college boys jumped the barricade to rush their frat brother running to the right of me. I tried to get around them but was knocked over. One of the guys picked me up and apologized but I just waved and keep running. I know I am close and yet still so far away. I pictured the elite runners and all the runners before me looking like graceful unicorns crossing the finish line. I pictured me chasing after them to that finish line. Screw the pain; I am going to be a unicorn too!

I started noticing strange things over the next couple of miles. I kept looking at my watch and calculating my finish time. If I wasn't in pain, I might make it right at 5 hours, but at this point I am thinking 5:15 and I am fine with that. I stopped at the next medical tent and picked up some pretzels for the rest of my run. A wall of Marines ran by and I thought they were the ones I saw earlier. Man, they really want to get this over with, but didn't they already pass me a long time ago? On the sidewalk to my right, three Marines approached a man and asked to search his bag and he panicked. A caravan of vehicles blared down the course and all the runners moved to the side but kept on running. Some of the Marines were telling the pedestrians to get off the street and move back. Then a fire truck sped by. This can’t be normal, something is not right, but I could not figure out what. My phone started chiming with multiple notification sounds and it rang but I couldn't answer it. People want to talk to me now?! Don’t they know I am running here? I struggled to put two and two together. A girl in front of me was on her phone while running then started crying and screaming about her parents. I looked around and other runners were on their cell phone while running. Who does that? Still my brain was not connecting the dots. And then I came upon the barricades I mentioned earlier and forgot all about the marathon.

It always amazes me when people can be so heartless. It’s my nature to look for the good in people. I generally believe most people are good at heart but can sometimes make mistakes. It is human nature, after all. It is difficult for me to imagine why one individual would purposefully, willfully, want to harm another. Maybe that makes me a bit naive but most of the time I look for the positive side of things and the good in people. It is how I am wired. So much has happened in my 36 years of life that I stopped looking for the “why” because many times there isn't a logical reason. Honestly, I do not care why this happened. What I care about are the people at the finish line: the runners, the spectators, the volunteers, the first responders, my friends and their families, and my family. I care about the people along the course. The people I slapped hands with and took drinks from. We came together to celebrate life and accomplishments and that day was bruised. I have heard people say that north-easterners are rude and always in a rush. Sure, there are a few people like that, but I find them everywhere, not just secluded to the northeast. On that Monday, I saw excitement. I saw sportsmanship. I saw compassion. Not one person along the course heckled. They cheered. They celebrated. They offered food and drink and encouragement and first aid. They ran alongside complete strangers. And when we were lost and confused, they offered sweatshirts, blankets, food, and water. One girl I met at my hotel told me how three women asked if she was okay. Two of the women took her into Whole Foods and bought her food while the third woman went to retrieve her car. They drove her, a complete stranger with no identification and no money from Boston to Newton. People in the hotel asked if I was okay and if I needed anything. Runners I met who crossed the finish line felt bad that I trained and never got to cross the finish line. People were so nice, caring, and compassionate; just as I always imagine people to be. 

When I was a child I learned that unicorns were mystical creatures that symbolized purity, strength, and grace, with the power to heal. All this time I equated the Boston Marathoners as unicorns, because well, that’s their logo. And when you think about the elite athletes, they are strong mystical creatures. But they are not the only ones. Every compassionate person willing to help out another, regardless if he or she is in need, is a unicorn. They are all around us every day. 

When I got home local reporters called to get my story. And they asked the same question: “Would you go back?” Of course I will! Despite the terrible end, it was an amazing experience. My heart goes out to those whose lives were cut short and the lives shattered. It is my hope that one day the pain will subside and their hearts will heal. It’s a day I will never forget and when I run, I will forever have Boston and all that it entails in my mind.

Since this was so lengthy, my next post will include my many thank you’s. So stay tuned for at least one more.....

PS: My family got to have breakfast with Tom and Elizabeth the next morning. Elizabeth was kind enough to pick up my bag the night before. It was nice to see that they were okay and give them a big fat hug. As for the rest of the Massage Therapy Foundation team and supporters, I'm going to give each one of them a big fat hug too when I see them again.  
L to R: Ted, Alexm Me, Evan, Tom, Elizabeth

You can still donate to Massage Therapy Foundation's "Running for Research" if you'd like: Thank you. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

BC 1 is NOT Enough


Earlier, I spent TWO hours trying to register for the MCM.  I know I haven't even run my first marathon yet, but I have a love/hate relationship with all of this Boston Marathon training. I keep wondering what is going to become of me when Boston is done. Maybe I will actually have a life. Maybe I just won't know what to do with myself. Who knows. So much has happened in just a few months. There has been a lot of excitement. I really do enjoy the training, despite a few days here and there when I wonder why I am doing this at all. I think I have officially gone a little bit crazy. But let me just say, the MCM was my husband's idea. So you can all just yell at him.

I literally went nuts today. Last year the marathon sold out in about two and a half hours. I sat myself down with something to drink and a snack. I used the restroom before noon and I was ready. I did not think it would be too hard to register, but as it turned out the MCM website crashed from all the people trying to register. Too many loading and reloading problems, and then people were being dropped from registration. (That part I read on facebook.) I pretty patient the first half hour and then I was getting antsy. One friend said that only one of his friends registered so far but no one else could get in. Okay, so it's not just me. That's good...kind of. I should be able to get in in the next thirty minutes or so, no biggie. But as the minutes ticked by and I kept hitting "refresh" I could feel the anxiety rising from my toes to my knees, to my hips, then torso, hands, then I went nuts. I WANT TO RUN THIS MARATHON! But why? It's not like I have run even one yet. I know it would be a nice "gift" for my father-in-law. The MCM was his first marathon and he loves to share that story. (Bonding moment). I know why I want it so bad....because I CAN'T GET IN TO REGISTER! I am one of those people that get all fired up when someone says I can't do or have something. So you can imagine how hyper I was sitting here at my keyboard trying to register. Three times I finally got to the registration page. I was so excited each time, just to have one tell me the registration is "on hold" and therefore, I cannot actually register, and then the other two times I was booted. COME ON! It is cruel to tease like that. I was ready to drown myself in chocolate. At about two hours, I was about to call it quits and do something more constructive with my time. I tried a few more times and on the last try REGISTRATION came up again, but not like the last three times, it actually had my information already completed. (Thank goodness I have registered with this site previously.) I punched in my credit card info and hit complete and then the most beautiful words appeared before my eyes: "Congratulations, You are in!" Remember the happy dance I did back on November 28, when Paul from the MTF called to say I am running Boston on the MTF Team? You bet I did it again! Because one dance is not enough, and neither is one marathon.

But before I get there, it's all about Boston. On Sunday I ran 23 miles. I was only supposed to do 22, but my GPS tracker turned off when I put it in my pocket and did not record my first mile. I wanted it recorded so I ran one extra mile. Probably a stupid thing, but sometimes, I do stupid things. It was a decent run, and even with an 8 minute restroom/refuel stop, I was able to hit my targeted time of 4:35. Ideally, that should get me to 26.2 in about 5 hours, or 5:10, but I am giving myself to 5:30 to account for those hills. Recovery was decent. Yes I was sore, but not like I have been. I did have to take a nap, but that's perfectly acceptable. I am ready for Boston. I can't wait. I have my welcome packet. I read EVERYTHING they sent. I am working on spectator plans for the family. Let's ROCK this marathon for massage therapists everywhere.  GO TEAM MTF!

Please help me with my fundgraising goals:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ahhhhh Massage!

Ashiatsu is a type of bodywork where the massage therapist (MT) uses his or her feet to apply pressure to the body of the individual getting a massage. The word “ashi” in Japanese means pressure and “atsu” means foot. This massage can be performed over loose clothing or on bare skin. The MT holds onto bars overhead to assist in balance and allow him or her to use more or less pressure as necessary for the massage. Why am I telling you about Ashiatsu? Because I just had a 90 minute session with my business partner, Lisa Diemer and I am in heaven!

This is supposed to be my toughest week of training. I am supposed to have a recovery run, a speed drill, a tempo run, followed by 22 miles on Sunday. On top of that, there’s cross training to do. I went a wee bit crazy with the cross training on Monday because I had the time and was feeling good. Let me tell you how I was certainly feeling those 100 squats, 100 jump lunges, 100 dead lifts, 154 burpees, 100 sit ups, 200 oblique crunches. Two thoughts swirled through my mind all day: “Kathy, you’re stupid.” And “I need a 4 hour massage.” I posted that last comment on Facebook and Lisa suggested an Ashi massage, so we booked it for this morning.

You would think that massage therapists get massages all of the time. We should. We know other MTs, so it’s not hard to find one. We can pay for the massage, or we can do an exchange. It really should not be too hard to get one. However, most MTs I know are givers. We are always taking care of others and putting ourselves last. We know we should take better care of ourselves, yet we just don’t when it comes to massages. I have been getting massages here and there when something really aches. I put myself down in the appointment book or entice a fellow MT (not from our practice) to do an exchange. However, many of those massages have been spot specific. That’s not to say they are not good. Trust me, each one has been excellent and extremely helpful to my training and mental state. I am fortunate to be surrounded by amazing LMTs who are talented and knowledgeable.

Lisa’s massage today was FABULOUS! I know that it’s a form of deep tissue and it feels good, but I am embarrassed to say that I never thought of it as part of a sport training program. Lisa knew where I was sore and kept that in mind as she began. I tried to shake all thoughts and assumptions from my brain as she began with my back. During the first 20 minutes, all I could think of was, “damn, that’s a lot of pressure. I don’t think I could give that much with just my hands. I need to take an Ashi class, this is AMAZING! Wait, we don’t have room for more ceiling bars. But this feels so good. Yup, that spot is bad….” My brain just would not shut off and then she hit my glutes. YOWZER! I know they have taking a beating from all this training, but I never thought they were THAT bad. She wasn’t using that much pressure and I wanted to cry. I started thinking of all training I have had in myofacial release, neuromuscular therapy, and sports. I began analyzing what I needed to do and have done, but then I realized that I am getting a massage at that very moment and I need to shut off the brain and enjoy, so I focused my attention to breathing. 

Lisa continued to work her magic. (She’s well trained, so it’s not really magic, but it feels like it.) She pinned and stretched, pressed and lengthened muscles all with her feet. I can’t go into details of the session really because the oxytocin was flowing and I was doing my best not to drool on the table. Everything about this massage reminded me of why I chose to become a massage therapist over a decade ago. Sometimes we need those reminders. When she was done I did not want to get up. I felt like I was floating somewhere far and peaceful. At last I rolled off the massage table. I needed to get up and move because I had a client coming in. Part of me was expecting to still feel stiff and sore, but to my delight I felt whole again….and ready to run these 22 miles on Sunday. So thank you Lisa!

My recommendation EVERYONE: if you have never had a massage, get one. If you’re experienced in massage, find someone trained in Ashiatsu. If you’re not sure about having someone’s feet on you, find another modality to try. That goes for you athletes too. Just because it does not have a medical, therapeutic, or sports type of name to it does not mean it is not for you. Step out of your comfort zone and open your mind. I know it’s hard sometimes, but it’s usually worth it. 

26 Days until Boston! Please help me with my fundraiser: Massage Therapy Foundation's "Running for Research"  THANK YOU! - Kathy from Jersey

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Disclaimer: Today’s blog is full of TMI – Too much information. It’s about some of the things runners do not discuss with just anyone. Some of you may find it crude and unladylike. Some may be offended by it. If you are one of those individuals, please avoid this post. If you e-mail me and tell me how disgusted you are by it, I am just going to respond with “you were warned and you could have stopped reading any time.”

Last week, a friend asked me to run a half-marathon with her in the future. She suggested that we limit our bathroom breaks or better yet, try not to take one at all. I told her I usually do not have to take one until about mile 18-20. She was surprised, but I told her that’s what I have gotten used to. Of course now that I said that, I needed to empty my bladder by mile 14 on last Sunday’s 18 mile run. Why did I not have to go when I was running through Lambertville or New Hope where there were plenty of places to duck into? No big deal, I’m on the tow path, there should be somewhere I can go. Except, on the PA side the canal is lined with giant beautiful homes with ceiling to floor windows overlooking the Delaware River. I imagine dropping my running tights just to hear some 5 year old boy scream, “Moooooooooommmmmy! There’s a woman peeing in the canaaaaaaaaaaal!” I envy how men can just whip it out and go nearly anywhere without exposing everything they have. I look to the left at the river. It’s a steep drop down to the water, so there’s nowhere to go there either. I mean, I COULD just hang off one of the thinner tree trunks jutting out, but then I picture losing my grip and falling to my death with an exposed bottom; or worse, a fishing boat down below with some old man looking up and getting a view of my undercarriage. So I keep running. 

The problem with having a full bladder when running is that emptying it is all you think about. You’re no longer focused on your run or enjoying the beauty around you. All you think about is where you’re going to go. Every thick tree, brick wall, or giant rock has potential. The tow path goes beneath a few streets, so there are bridges to run under. PERFECT! But on the other side of EVERY bridge there is someone running or biking towards it. So I keep on running. Eventually, I jump off the path and find a convenient store. Of course this one does not have a public restroom. For a moment I imagine lifting my leg at the back corner of the building to mark my territory, but I don’t. I continue on back to the park where I started, I know there are restrooms there. The toilets are disgusting and require “the hover.” Do you know how difficult it is to execute the hover after running 18 miles? My legs are shaky and because I held the urine in for too long, it trickles out s-l-o-w-l-y. (Men don’t seem to experience this slow trickle problem. Good for them.) Each second feels like a 10 minutes and my legs feel like they are about to give out. I picture myself falling into this dirty toilet and think, maybe I should have just squatted when I first needed to. Then I picture the newspaper headlines, “NJ Woman Exposes Self to Toddler” and think no, this is the better option. This is just strength training for the thighs. I can do it, I can do it, I can do it.

That leads me to restroom activity number two. I once read about a marathon woman who was racing to the finish line. She either wanted to PR or she was trying to place in the top three. When she crossed the finish line, there were streaks of brown running down her leg. I have nothing terrible to say about that because I would be mortified and would not want anyone else talking about my “accident.” But I will say I am terrified of that happening to me, which is why I always carry tissues with me so that I can stop and do what I must. I have read a lot about this in several publications. When I first began to run, it seemed that I had to go within the first two miles. I eat better now and am more in tune with my intestines, so thankfully, it has not been too much of a problem since. I have run all the way home and just make it in time to the restroom; but there have been moments when I am holding in gas because I am not sure what is going to happen. I ask friends what they do. One friend replied with, “My daughter always asks if I pooped in the woods today.” Okay, woods it is! But you know what? I live in New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the U.S. According to Wikipedia, we have 1,189 inhabitants per square mile based on the 2011 Census. I usually run through neighborhoods. Do you think I am going to defile someone’s nice green lawn? And I can’t imagine anyone one letting a sweaty stranger in to USE their nice clean bathroom. Would you? The trails I run on are through parks, which are always filled with families or bikers. I could push my way through the woods but with my luck I will drop my pants and there will be some hunter hidden up in the tree with a bird’s eye view of my crack. This may be okay or some, but I am not about showing my goods to just anyone! (I know some of my readers are going to say otherwise, but giving birth and breastfeeding don’t count. Plus, I know you guys enough and don’t care what you have seen! Get over it. ) Thank goodness they are finally building restrooms along the trail.

Then there’s today’s “problem” that occurs every 28 days or so for women. The Universe likes to have a good laugh at my expense. For some unknown reason, Aunt Flo decided to pay me a visit one week earlier last month. I thought, on no, is this going to affect the marathon? Please say its not so. Sure enough, she followed suit this month, which means she will be running Boston with me. (She’s like a jealous woman who needs to steal everyone’s glory. I think she needs to work on that.) It’s not like I haven’t run with this before. However, I have never run long distances during the first two days of it. It’s not a complaint. It’s part of being a woman. It’s just slightly annoying, like the Facebook “Poke” feature. Okay, so maybe the universe is just trying to prepare me. Fine, I’ll work with it. I know everything happens for a reason. Apparently, running Boston as my first marathon is not enough of a challenge for me.

I need to have a conversation with Playtex. Their “Sport” Tampon box has a silhouette of woman running on the front of the box. I am thinking that green silhouette with the flowing hair must not run anything more than a 10k. I was only out there for two and a half hours, which is not a lot of time. Can I just say that I am so glad I was wearing my back tights and underwear? Do I even have to mention underwear? Yes, because one of my friends says she does not wear them on her runs. At first I thought, WHY NOT?! But then I thought maybe it’s a good thing. Nice and airy. After today, HELL NO! If you ever see me running, I will be wearing underwear under those shorts or tights. Anyway, I need to find a better product or I am going to have to plan on TWO pit stops. TWO! I have no problems with one. But TWO?! I am in the LAST wave, LAST corral. The last wave starts at 10:40 A.M. Which means the last corral will head out around 11 A.M. We have to be done by 4:45 P.M. to get a finishers medal. That’s 5 hours and 45 minutes to finish. I am sure I can do it in that time with one stop. I am not so sure I can do it with two stops. If I don’t get a finisher’s medal, then someone better be at that finish line with pie or I am going to be one upset woman. Mmmmmmm, pie………..

I am sorry if I grossed you out in anyway, but these are just a few problems people don’t really talk about when you’re new to running. It’s kind of like when someone gets pregnant and people tell the new mom about how wonderful it's going to be. They tell you the big things to expect being pregnant or while in labor, but they never actually mention the gritty things that occur throughout or while in labor that would mortify most people if they knew. All you mommy’s know what I am talking about. I don’t want to discourage anyone from running because I love it and I think most people would as well. Just be prepared for running long distances people (and labor if you're pregnant). BE PREPARED!

Thanks for sticking this one out. Please support my cause: Massage Therapy Foundation “Running for Research” on  29 days until Boston and I am so close but not quite there yet on my goal of raising $5,000.  Every dollar counts and is appreciated.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Running Historic Trails

Friday, I did sprint drills under cloudy skies and a variety of snow. Getting an early start prevented me from getting the worse of the fluffy stuff, but I still looked like a snowman at the end. I enjoyed creating fresh tracks in the snow and watch them disappear within two half-mile laps. Sunday started out at 30 degrees. Within the three and half hours it took for me to run 18 miles, the temperature rose to the mid 50’s.

The plan was to run somewhere new, so I decided to head over to Washington Crossing, NJ side and run nine miles up and back along the Delaware River. The first three miles were difficult as my right calf started to burn. The ankle was struggling. I alternated between a walk/jog between during miles two and three until it felt better.  I couldn’t tell if there was something seriously wrong with my legs or if my joints were working more than usual because the tow path was muddy and slippery. When I got to Lambertville, I decided I would cross the bridge into New Hope and then head back to Washington’s Crossing on the PA side instead of the “out and back” I planned. I did not know if there would be anywhere to stop and refuel, along the way, but I figured if I got desperate, I could knock on a few doors and beg for water. 

There was a nice energy in New Hope as I said “Good Morning” to everyone I passed and they greeted me in return. Then I found the tow path on the PA side and took it. I got a little bit lost at one point, but to my pleasant surprise I found the Soldiers Graves. I am terrible with American History, but I knew this is the area where George Washington camped out with his soldiers and I was nearing where he crossed the Delaware.  I paused a few moments to pay my respects to the 23 graves. There were 22 unnamed graves and one belonging to Captain James Moore.  These men died of illness and exposure to the cold weather before the Battle of Trenton began. It was quiet and peaceful in this beautiful tribute to the fallen soldiers. I continued on with my run, wondering when and where I would hop off the tow path so that I could head back to New Jersey. 

By the time I crossed over the bridge, I could see that Washington State Park (PA & NJ) was hopping. There was a reenactment of some sort, maple sugaring (I don’t know what that means), artists classes, and the usual slew of weekend athletes out taking advantage of the beautiful weather.  Thank goodness I started early!  

5 WEEKS UNTIL BOSTON!-) Please support my cause of "Running for Research" on for the Massage Therapy Foundation:  Thank you!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Juggling a Life

How to Juggle...I have no idea how to do it, but I would love to know. Today I am exhausted and worn out. The lower half of my body hurts. I can’t walk properly. I am tired. My mind is not in a good place. It’s one of those days where I just want to find the highest cliff and jump off.  I feel completely incompetent as a wife, mother, business partner, friend, sibling, daughter, and volunteer. I want to crawl in a hole and sleep for days and avoid everyone and all responsibility. But I know these thoughts and feelings are just temporary. They shall soon pass and I will be back to my usual happy, hyperactive self. It’s just that today I am not feeling it. I am tired of trying. I am tired of doing what is right. I am tired of seeing the brighter side of every situation, the silver lining, the greener grass, or whatever you would like to call it.  That being said, I have trained myself so well on pointing out the positives that I can provide you with some nicer news. 

On Sunday, I finally ran my first official half marathon race. The E Murray Half Marathon, held in Lincroft, NJ. I have run just over 850 miles since January 1st, 2012. More than 300 of those miles have been training for Boston. It may be a little bit backwards to be training for a marathon when I haven’t done a half race yet, but if have met me, you know that I don’t always follow conventional ways. (Feel free to analyze that however you want.) Gary suggested that I do it to see how I am doing with training and to get used to a large crowd. He and a few members of the running club were signed up for it, so I said sure. I got there really early because I did not preregister. That probably was not the best idea because as I stood there waiting for my friends to arrive, REAL runners were walking past me. These are people on college and state track teams gliding pass me in their swanky track team jackets. It’s nice to show team solidarity and be proud, but that is intimidating to newbies like myself. I tried to ignore them but they were like tigers in a cage pacing back and forth in front of me, waiting to bite my hand off if I reached out to touch. Okay, so they were just warming up, but that is what my head saw. So I ran to my car and to text friends to distract me. (Thanks everyone for your pep talks.) Gary finally texts me that they are in the gymnasium bleachers so I head to meet up with them and it helped A LOT!

It was pretty cold out and we were all jumping around trying to get warm. Ali, Joanne, Sue, Big Mike, and his friend were there. They were pretty relaxed and talking about what pace they would most likely run at and then we were off. I am pretty sure someone (Gary) told me this was a flat course. Maybe he didn’t, but I had it in my head that this would be easy. It was FULL of hills. Not too bad, but I was not really expecting it. I knew I was running at a slightly faster pace than I had been training, but it was okay. I felt pretty good despite the pain in my left calf. I blame the adrenaline and the NYC Marathon runner in front of me. I kept pace with him for a good 10 miles. Then there was the 77 year old man. He and I were neck and neck for at least 5 miles. He was a sweet man who started running 25 years ago. He told me to just enjoy the sights and sounds of the race….and then he kicked it into high gear, leaving me to eat his dust. Impressive Old Man, IMPRESSIVE! One day I will be able to do that. So at the end of it all, my official race time was 2:13:36. According to Endomondo (my GPS tracker) my 13.1 time was 2:11:41.Race time is what counts, but I take note of that 2:11:41 because that means I PR'd my half-marathon distance by more than 3 minutes.  Yeah me!

Funny Quote on another blog.
This was a bare bones race and we didn't get medals for finishing. It would have been nice to hang my first half-marathon medal on the wall; however, I got something better than a medal. Hard core Ali who never thought I could run called me a “runner.” That’s a badge of honor to newbies. When we start running, we never think of ourselves as a runner. Well, I don’t and neither do some others I have spoken to. We shuffle, move our feet and TRY to look like we are runners. I read some articles that say you’re a “runner” when you complete your first race. Another article said if you’re out there consistently, you’re a runner. So I could say, I have done both and; therefore, I am a runner, but when I see tigers pacing back and forth in front of me, my mind tells me that I am not. When I tell people that I am running Boston on a charity bib and they give me the “Oh, you’re one of those” comments, my mind says, “you’re not yet a runner.” But the fact is, I AM a runner. I get out there every week and push myself to do things I have never done before. I am out there before the sun comes up, when it rains, snows, sleets, hails. I love it when I am running. I feel good even when I am in pain. I may not be fast, but I am doing it. And I am running Boston for the Massage Therapy Foundation, which supports MY profession, which allows me to support my clients and community; which includes those individuals who don’t think I am a “real runner.” And, as I said before, Hard Core Ali called me a RUNNER.  You just can’t beat that label.

Sue, ME, Gary, Hard Core Ali, Joanne
Thank you to my friends at the Somerset Runner’s Group for supporting me and keeping me calm at my first half-marathon race.  You guys ROCK! 

Please support my fundraising efforts for the Massage Therapy Foundation:  Thank you!