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!