Boston Marathon Bound!

On Monday April 18, I will be running my 22nd marathon, my 3rd Boston!  I am absolutely thrilled to have this privilege.  My training is done, I’m tapering, carbo loading and going a little nuts cutting down on my mileage!  But, I will be so happy when Monday is here!

Here are a couple little tips that I have learned over the past few years of marathoning! Enjoy!

  1. MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE- you MUST overuse BodyGlide…everywhere….any place you think there could be friction, under arms (for women all around sports bras where they connect with skin), inner thighs, around waist, on feet- all over, toes, heels.  If you are wearing an arm band or fuel belt at any connections with the skin.  At the waistband.  Just everywhere.  Use half the stick- you will never ever regret it and you will know around mile 20 where you missed!  Any place where fabric meets skin that is snug, yet can move just a little!  The warmer the weather, smaller the clothing choices, greater the need for BodyGlide!
  2. TEST YOUR FUELING CHOICES- do not take Gatorade or Powerade/Gu/ShotBlocks/oranges/candy from strangers- anything that you have not tested again and again- over and over in training.  There are some additives and preservatives in the drinks and gels that act as laxatives on the digestive system and affect many runners.  Have a plan for fueling whether you carry your drinks and energy eats in your belt or you have friends and family meet you with your favorites along the course.
  3. BE VERY CONSERVATIVE EATING YOUR “LAST SUPPER” PRE-MARATHON.  Fuel up in the days leading up to the marathon.  The night before does not mean you have a license to eat anything and everything.  Be a little more conservative- light on the heavies- sauces, fats, too much of anything.  You are better off with a bigger meal 2 nights prior to the marathon.
  4. HAVE YOUR CLOTHES, EXTRA CLOTHES, NUMBER, BELTS, FUEL, SNEAKERS, HATS, SECOND OPTION IN CASE THE WEATHER CHANGE- IT IS NEW ENGLAND, WE CAN GO FROM SNOW TO 80 IN 7 HOURS – EVERYTHING IS LAID OUT AND READY, YOUR WATCH IS CHARGED the night before.  And ready to go.  And tested no extra tags, chafing.  No fancy last minute additions – if you wear a tutu, you have tested it!  I have waited to debut a new watch the day of a marathon… when I couldn’t get a signal – just no, don’t do it!!
  5. KNOW WHERE YOUR FANS/FAMILY WILL BE!  Boston’s second half is (to say it nicely) BRUTAL!  I always position one my family viewing points for Boston right around Newton Wellesley Hospital with an Elmo balloon and some candy for me and I always end up crying my eyes out because I know they will be there, I’ve just finished a physically challenging portion of the race and am getting ready for the most physically and mentally demanding part of the course – this is a place where we have just crossed over a hill that nobody talks about- getting folks over the 128 bridge and to the fire station where they will start the ascent up the Newton Hills.  Some years, I have felt amazing here, smiling- high-fiving. But, I have also been in tears and completely distraught at this point, depending on the year, knowing what I had coming up in front of me.   I have always used a mantra in races where I know I would see friends and family, “Six miles until Chrissy and the kids” and then “Four more miles to Jack and Alex” and then “Ten miles until my dad and Nicole” on and on.  You will be emotional, so very happy to see them and they will keep you going long after the signs and hugs and high fives.  The feeling that I get seeing friends and family along a marathon course is unmatched and I certainly hope that they know this- it inspires me, heals me, pushes me, makes me feel loved and appreciated and gets me through the next group of miles, however long they might be!  I have also run marathons without cheering sections and have relied on those out on the course to help me keep going.  Write your name somewhere on you in BIG LETTERS so folks will yell it out to you on the course.  You have no idea how much this will mean to you until a BU student screams your name on Commonwealth at the exact moment you were going to start walking and feeling bad for yourself!
  6. TRUST YOUR TRAINING.  No need to do 100m repeats the week prior to the marathon.  This is an injury waiting to happen.  No speedwork- this can wait until after the race!  Trust what you have worked through all winter.  And, if you skipped a couple workouts, who cares- our friends that ran in 2015 endured that winter and all of those icy runs/cancelled runs/treadmill delegated 20 milers!  You put in the miles that you could.  Be sure that you are comfortable with your pace!  There are plenty of websites to consult on pace based on your last 20-22 miler or an earlier race.  Try this Mcmillan running pace calculator and be honest with your training and pacing!
  7. BRING TOILET PAPER OR PAPER TOWELS, JUST A FEW to Boston especially if you are in the 4th WAVE.  Just do it.  Trust me.  The toilet paper in the porta-potties will be LONG GONE!  And, DEFINITELY sneak into that last group of potties right before you get into the corrals- I promise you, that last little pee is worth the 25 seconds before getting into the coral!  Otherwise, you will spend your first 5 miles in Hopkinton looking for a wooded area to jump out on- and the guys will totally do this- the gals, we ALL stress!  I’ve suffered, ran onto beaches, into Dunkin’ Donuts, Miami gas stations- JUST TAKE THE LAST PORTA POTTY stop with the paper towel you brought from home- best investment in the next four hours you have EVER made!
  8. ENJOY – Boston is a privilege, a celebration, an honor – give the high fives, the hugs and ENJOY EVERY MINUTE!

If You are a Good Athlete, Pilates will make you BETTER!

When it comes to cross-training, Pilates is the secret weapon to winning.  From professional athletes to weekend warriors, an effective Pilates workout can change your game completely!  You can’t miss the latest press covering professional athletes and their dedication to the amazing workout that Pilates provides for the mind and the body.  Originally called Contrology by its founder, Joseph Pilates described his regimen as, “Pilates is gaining the mastery of your mind over the complete control of your body.”  This is very important for athletes and movers at any stage- from children just learning how to move their ever changing bodies to those that use their bodies to make a living- dancers, performers, athletes and models.

Hunter Pence Credits Pilates with Helping Him Prepare for the Season

How Kris Humphries Uses Pilates to Improve His Game

Men’s Pilates

In competition, whether it be the NBA Finals, a pickup basketball game with your buddies or a 10K road race, our bodies become fatigued as muscles are called upon for aerobic and anaerobic purposes.  Some of these same muscles are being used for support- posture, control, stability, balance and endurance.  When the same muscles are doing both jobs- providing the action as well as the stability, fatigue sets in and sometimes bad habits or poor muscle patterning take over.  This leads to a decrease in overall performance.

In a Pilates session, a student learns how to employ proper muscle patterns.  I once had a 2:30 marathoner exclaim after taking a Mat Pilates class with me- that was the most I have ever sweat and worked while moving so little!  We take away the “little cheats” and encourage the muscles to do their proper jobs.  For instance, we will watch a students patterning in an exercise like the Bridge where in order for the hamstrings to properly fire without overdoing it, the student must ensure that the glutes and the lower rectus abdominus (abs!) are doing their jobs, otherwise, the hamstring will cramp from being asked to stabilize and mobilize the pelvis.  As teachers, we watch the movement for articulation of the spine, proper movement of the pelvis from a natural position through a posterior to lift the pelvis and then landing at the top of the bridge with the hips extended, the glutes supporting, the lower belly working like crazy.  Along the way up and down into the bridge, we look for the control of the obliques to keep the pelvis and the hips from shifting.  Once the student has mastered the patterning, we add in challenges- single legs with gesture legs moving while keeping everything still- stability challenges, balls underneath the feet for more challenge- hands holding circles above chest.  Each of these variations would be sport and athlete specific, taking into account strength discrepancies between sides and patterning needs for each athlete in their chosen sport.

Whatever level you are at, Pilates can help you to move better.  According to my student, runner turned triathlete Melissa Burke,  “Pilates was the single most important activity I could have engaged in to prepare me for open water swimming.  On my road to triathlon, I am increasingly aware that all efficient athleticism starts with a strong core.  No matter what activity I pursue (swimming, biking, running, paddle boarding, who knows what’s next), pilates will be a constant in my life.”

In working with several professional athletes and their coaches, I have developed such a respect for the manner in which these folks treat their own bodies and the bodies that they care for as coaches.  While working on lunge and squat technique with a 10 year veteran professional athlete that had also played Division 1 in college, he was impressed that, in all of the training he had done, nobody had ever explained the importance of stabilizing the hips and caring for the lower back movement patterns when adding rotation into an exercise.  We used Pilates to improve his performance throughout the off-season and I have very much enjoyed watching the incredible season he has had this winter!

Want to move better as an athlete at any level- find yourself a good, well-trained Pilates professional in your area! 

50 Legs Charity – Why it is SO IMPORTANT!

On April 16, 2013, I woke up to the news that my friend Carmen’s sister Celeste had needed both of her legs to be amputated.  Celeste had been at the finish line of the Boston Marathon with her family to watch Carmen finish this amazing endeavor that she had chosen to accomplish to raise money for Dana Farber in honor of her family’s experience with cancer . 

When I read this news, my blood ran cold.  At that moment, I knew what Celeste’s life was going to be like.  I knew that she would be the same amazing sister, mom, wife that she had always been, but she physically would be different.  And, that it would be a lot of work, a battle, a constant challenge.  I will NEVER forget the moment later on in the news reports that I heard Carmen say, “I thought that I had lost everything that I had loved” and to this day, it hurts my heart to know that Carmen felt this way.  I knew from the moment that I heard of the injuries that so many sustained in Boston in 2013 that I could help, that my experience with my mom and with Pilates, I could help these folks!

My mom was a juvenile diabetic, diagnosed at the age of 8 in 1955.  By the time she was in her 50s, her doctors told her, she had the body of an 80 year old.  Our lives were dictated by her disease- early dinner times, sports/activities that we were not allowed to play because of conflicts with a very strict dinner time policy.  We watched daily insulin shots and feared reactions.  She had  her first heart attack at 42, when my sister and I were seniors in high school.  We had stayed at a friend’s house overnight after our homecoming and came home to our family leaving church for the hospital.  We felt guilt for years for not getting to the hospital right away- no cell phones in 1990!  She had a quadruple bypass my sophomore year in college, her first leg amputated my junior year.   We had a bathroom in our home on the first floor with a raised toilet, chairs in the bathtub for the shower.  We had acquaintances that were not nice- that called my mother, “Peg” and asked stupid questions and made fun of our family.   People that were uneducated, ignorant and ridiculous and this sort of behavior would never be accepted today.  Our real friends still remain the way they were 20 + years ago in helping us learn how to live with our mom’s disability.  My mom danced at my wedding with her prosthetic leg in flats.  And, quite frankly, they were ugly- big gross Mary Janes and I know she hated them.  This was a huge disappointment for her and I will never ever forget the day that she gave me all of her high heel shoes- I still have every single pair- I was her only daughter with feet the same size. 

My younger sister’s big circle of friends were much more compassionate, but we had already left for college.  When my mom had her second amputation, I was married and in my very early 20s.  I felt like they were pulling pieces of my mom apart- literally tearing her away.  And, her prosthetics were revolting- a disgrace.  She could barely walk after her second amputation.  Nobody tried to help her.  It was almost accepted that she was in a wheelchair for most of the time.  Her prosthetics were ugly, uncomfortable, humiliating.  I was disgusted at the time with her prosthetists, but had no idea how to help or even where to interject.  I still get upset to the point of vomiting at the sight of her old prosthetics which bound her to a wheelchair instead of assisting her to walk.

So- haha- to why I love 50 Legs?  OMG- because Steve has saved SO many lives.  Has recognized that people shouldn’t have legs that keep them put.  That should demand the latest technology in order to get moving again.  Prosthetics are not cosmetic, they are functional AND immensely so!!! But, some insurance companies beg to differ.  50 Legs provides better prosthetics for folks that may not be able to afford on their own or via insurance.  Prosthetics need to be adjusted EVERY few weeks depending on the time of life a patient is in.  And replaced anywhere from every few months for an adolescent, athlete to every few years for an active adult.  With costs in the tens of thousands, EVERY SINGLE AMPUTEE DESERVES the best leg available.  50 Legs helps with this mission.  Paying it backward for my mom who had horrendous prosthetics that prevented her from walking- I WILL NEVER EVER EVER EVER LET that happen to anyone that I know.

I have had the pleasure of volunteer training many folks  post prothetic fitting that have been helped by 50 Legs including Celeste Corcoran and Jeff Bauman along with several of the other folks affected by the Marathon Bombings along with those amputees who became injured in other accidents. 

I am running the Boston Marathon this year to raise money for 50 Legs, an AMAZING foundation that provides funds for kids and adults in order to afford BETTER prosthetics than their insurance will provide.  Prosthetics that will get them up and going- running, hiking, walking, biking!

PLEASE CHECK OUT MY fundraiser page and I hope to see you at the marathon.  This will be my 22nd Marathon- Like my mom, I don’t give up.