Sunday, April 28, 2013

Change of Scenery

It is hard to believe that I have made it to my LAST rotation of PA school!! I'm already one week in, so just THREE more weeks until graduation! Wow. Time sure does fly.

For this last rotation, I was given the amazing opportunity to travel to Cleveland, OH to spend a few weeks at the Cleveland Clinic. Cardiology is my strongest interest, so the chance to complete a clerkship at a facility which has been named the country's number one cardiac center for the past 15+ years is absolutely unbelievable! I have already learned so much in just one week and everyone has been so nice and so welcoming. I am also so SO thankful to my wonderful hosts for opening their hearts and their home to me for a few weeks!

The Cleveland Clinic, Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute

Of course, being in a new area for a few weeks means new places to see and explore by way of running ("man-tracking" as Nic and I have jokingly termed it). I have already realized that I did not pack appropriately for the weather. With nothing but running shorts and only two long-sleeved shirts, it made for a pretty chilly run my first time out this week. It had been raining and spitting snow (!!) all day, but the sun decided to peek out in the late afternoon so I was able to get out for a few easy miles to explore Shaker Heights, OH.

This is an absolutely beautiful area and the homes are amazing! Wikipedia tells me that 70% of the city is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Spring is just starting to arrive, so it looks like very soon everything should be in full bloom. I'm looking forward to more "man-tracking" and by the end of 4 weeks, I should know Shaker Heights like the back of my hand! Gotta get those miles in! T-minus 2 months until Eastern Divide 50k!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

2013 Blue Ridge Marathon

I am still riding such a high after the Blue Ridge Marathon this past weekend! I could not have asked for a better day or a better race. It may not have been my fastest marathon ever, but it was definitely my best marathon to date. Months and months of training, planning and preparation came down to one day, and this time around, things finally fell into place!

My strategy for this race going in was to “run it like an Ultra”. By that I meant, run conservatively, walk if I needed to, take fluids at every aid station and try to get in calories every chance I could. If I could keep gas in the tank and energy in the legs, I knew I could run a good race.

Mile by mile, the race slowly chipped away. Short, quick, soft steps carried me to the tops of Roanoke Mountain and Mill Mountain. “One foot in front of the other” was my mantra for this race. I was passed by the masses as I lightly tip-toed down the descents, but easily overtook most of them once again back on level surface. As learned in years past, keeping the legs strong meant not throwing the race away on the downhill sections. It’s tempting to let gravity take over and fly down those mountains, but that hard pounding on your legs is what finally catches up with you in the last few miles.

13.1 miles ticked by just past the Roanoke Star and we took another long descent back into the valley. At this point, the “hardest” parts of the race are now behind you, but with still 11 miles to go in the city, better hope you still have something left! My legs were feeling great, so I plowed along to Peakwood. Here it was, at mile 17.5…the last climb. Time to see what you’re made of! I asked for a little more climbing power, and amazingly, my heart and legs gave it to me. Peakwood…up, over, DONE!! I was ecstatic heading into the last 10k of the race, still feeling strong.

This was when I started looking at my watch and calculating a finish time. If I could keep the same pace, I would easily break 5 hours. My time in 2012 was a 5:40, so a sub-5 hr would be incredible! At mile 23, I caught up with a girl who I’d been playing leap-frog with the entire race. We exchanged a few words of encouragement and she mentioned that we might actually break 4:45. I looked down at my watch, 4:12 with 3.2mi to go…(at the end of a marathon, mind you) it might be close. I texted Hugh and told him I’d be finishing in about 30 minutes.

A few minutes and several more glances at my Garmin later, I did a little physical assessment and number crunching. I was feeling absolutely amazing for having just run 23+ miles. My feet were a little sore, but otherwise I felt fine physically. “The wall” was nowhere in sight. I had been hydrating and fueling the entire race, and must have been doing something right. Mentally, I was raring to go, so I took off. Granted, “took off” meant dropping from a 10-min pace to a high 8-something pace. Not rocket speed in any sense, but I felt like I was flying! And even after all those miles behind me, my little legs just kept gettin’ it! I darted past one guy at mile 24 who yelled “you’ve been holding back!” My response, “I learned my lesson last year!”

It’s hard to describe that feeling I had as made the last few turns towards the finish. I was within half a mile of finishing the “Toughest Road Marathon” and still running strong. My training and race strategy had been spot on. I was about to conquer a race that had foiled me two years in a row. The finish line came into view and I found another gear. 4:39:24 was my official chip time! Unbelieveable!

Hugh was upset that he missed me finish. My ETA text of 30 minutes had actually only been 22 minutes. I caught up with him at the music tent and saw the tail end of Greg Bates’ show ( THIS is Greg Bates!). We spent the afternoon hanging out at the Down by Downtown Festival before having to hit the road and say goodbye to Roanoke.

The whole race weekend had been fantastic! I doubt Hugh had as great a time as I did, but he’s always a trooper for tagging along to my races! Next stop: Eastern Divide 50k Ultramarathon in June!!!!

Hugh and I with Greg Bates!

Another marathon on the books!

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I’ve spent the past few days trying to wrap my head around and make sense of the events that unfolded this past Monday at the Boston Marathon. As many others have realized, there is no way to make sense of it. Three people killed and almost 200 injured…there is no sense to be found in such an act.

But a marathon of all things? Why target a marathon? There is no political agenda here. There is no religious tension, no gender discrimination, no care to sexual orientation. Just people…of all ages, backgrounds, races, colors, religions, beliefs…just running.

Here’s what you might not realize about runners…we are resilient. We don’t let obstacles stand in our way. We run for causes and support non-profits and race to bring honor and meaning to people and events in our lives. This won’t stop us, it only adds fuel to the fire. Think this is going to stop the Boston Marathon? No way.

Continue to hold in the light those who were harmed or affected by this tragic event. Lives changed. Lives never forgotten. A country (and world) in mourning once again.

Monday, April 8, 2013


Less than 2 weeks to go until the 2013 Blue Ridge Marathon!

At this point in marathon training, the hard work is essentially complete. The last two weeks are spent in rest and recovery with a significant reduction in total weekly mileage. Sounds luxurious, but the taper can actually be the hardest two weeks you will experience. You start doubting your preparation, you get spooked by that "heavy" feeling in your legs, and you try to squeeze in last minute workouts that only set you up for injury.

I've been in this spot a few times before, and it doesn't seem to get any easier. I'd be lying if I said I'm not nervous. I feel more prepared physically for this race than I have ever felt for my previous marathons. I started this journey on Nov 5, 2012 and I am proud of the work and dedication I have put in these past 22 weeks. I have run through the rain, ice, snow, freezing cold and stinging wind (and am only NOW being rewarded with some decent weather!). I've also kept training through my Psych, Peds, Ambulatory Care, OB-GYN, and CT surgery rotations. I have sacrificed study time for running time. I have given up some of the precious free moments that I actually get to see my husband so I can get the day's workout in. 24 total weeks of preparation will come down to 26.2 miles. Now it's just a waiting game.

Blue Ridge, I'm ready...bring it.