Marathon Training with Gus.

Since the weather outside is back to being frightful, I had no choice but to push my long run to the afternoon when I have the ability to run on a treadmill.  Thus, the morning was spent playing with Augustus.  Despite the fact that his legs are only a quarter of the size of mine, I sometimes have trouble keeping up with him and this morning was one of those times (this certainly doesn’t bode well for Marathon Monday).

After spending half of an hour thoroughly tormenting Kiley (our loving but overly energetic dog), he decided to begin running laps around the kitchen island.  I can only assume Gus was attempting to assist in my training for the marathon and had heard something about the benefits of speed work-outs for distance runners.  With certainty, I can say that he did at least 40 laps of the island before requesting a banana.  Although doing sprints is part of my marathon training plan, running in circles for 30 minutes is not.  So, I grabbed the camera and took a couple pictures of the madness.


Becoming a marathoner…

Long before someone buys an Adidas “Boston Marathon Qualifier” running jacket and slaps a “26.2” bumper sticker on their car, they run a couple marathons.  What most non-runners don’t know, is that it takes a lot more than running a couple days a week to call yourself a “marathoner” and it takes even more work to call yourself a “Boston Marathon Qualifier.”

On Marathon Monday, there will undoubtedly be a bunch of “non-marathoners” trying to run the 26.2 miles with the goal of simply finishing or possibly even beating Oprah’s time.  However, well over half of the 25,000 Boston Marathon runners will be running with the goal of achieving a very specific time.  This has become especially important for many runners this year as the Boston Marathon registration process has changed and qualifying times for 2012 have essentially decreased by 20 minutes!  To provide an example, if I was hoping to qualify for the 2012 Boston Marathon and ensure myself a spot, I would need to run the marathon in under 3 hours 20 minutes.  That works out to 26.2 consecutive 7.6 minute miles.  If Donny was hoping to qualify (which of course he isn’t as he would rather gouge his eyes out than run for the sake of running), he would need to run each of the 26.2 miles in under 6.4 minutes.  Now for all of you who think that the demands are high because we’re still young, all I have to say is, “au contraire, mon frere!”  A 69 year old man would have to finish each mile in less than 8.9 minutes.  In case you haven’t been following my training progress, I’m not even there yet!

So the question is:

How does someone train for a marathon?  

Needless to say, it all depends on where you’re starting from.  Here’s what the overview looks like for a beginner or non-runner:

  • Exercise 6 days a week: 1 long run, 3 shorter runs, and 2 days of cross-training
  • Slowly increase the distance over time, SLOWLY!  Stress fractures are NOT your friends!   
    • Start out with 3 mile walk runs during the week and 6-7 mile long runs.
    • Max out at 8 mile interval/hill runs during the week and 22 mile long runs.
  • Although you may think that simply running will get you ready for a marathon, you actually want to build interval training and hill work-outs into your 3 shorter runs.
    • Benefits of interval training and hill workouts:
      • More effective utilization of fats and carbs
      • Increased buffering capacity of muscles (their ability to neutralize acids) thus delaying fatigue due to lactic acid accumulation
      • Increased “stride frequency” (the amount of times your leg turns over)
      • Increased “stride length” and better running form because faster running brings the leg higher off the ground
      • Eventually, increased speed during longer runs  
  • Taper your runs pre-marathon.
In contrast, here’s a glimpse into the life of a true marathoner.  In case you’re wondering, they are doing a 31 mile run with intervals and, YES, they’re resting pace is a 6 min/mile pace!

A couple shots of the miracle baby.

While spending time with Augustus this past weekend, I realized that I had not taken any shots of him in quite some time.  Thus, I brought out the camera.  As he is now a walking, talking, and very curious little boy, it proved to be a little more challenging than in the past.  However, we were able to get a couple before the camera went back in the drawer.  Enjoy!



Woooooah, we’re half way theeerrre…

That’s right… I’m whipping out a little Bon Jovi!  Why? Because we have officially reached the half-way point, thanks to the amazing generosity of the Chatterbox Drive-In and my MIL and FIL! 

To revert back to my Boston Marathon analogy from a couple posts ago, we have now fully passed through the town of Natick.  If you are familiar with the Boston area and/or the marathon course, you know that we have also run by Wellesley College; one of the original Seven Sisters Colleges that is the Alma Mater for women such as Madeline Albright, Hillary Clinton, Diane Sawyer, and Nora Ephron.

Here’s a visual, compliments of Google Maps…

Also, don’t forget to check out the quick video clip that Gus and I shot to promote this amazing cause.  It certainly wasn’t easy to shoot with a cranky toddler but Gus insisted on being in the video. Enjoy!


Prayers for Charlotte and then some…

Everyone on the marathon team brings a unique story.  By now, most of you know my story, but there are so many more worth sharing.  Today I’d like to share the story of Greg Kelly or rather, that of his daughter, Charlotte.  

Charlotte Rose Kelly was an otherwise healthy 2½ year old girl until June 16, 2009 when she was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer. Her initial treatment included chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, two stem cell transplants and antibody therapy. Charlotte has relapsed. She has since endured more radiation and is being treated with chemotherapy at Children’s Hospital Boston and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

There is no known cure for relapsed neuroblastoma. Neuroblastoma is regarded as an orphan disease, one that does not attract funding. As such, it is left largely to the families of neuroblastoma patients to raise the necessary funds to further research to find a cure. Neuroblastoma occurs primarily in infants and young children, rarely affecting anyone older than ten years old. There are 650 new cases in the United States annually, and approximately 30% of children survive with standard, frontline therapy.

With your help, we can offer Charlotte our prayers and find a cure.  The donations made to the Barr Program through the marathon challenge have already begun to make a difference in the lives of children with this disease.  With Barr support in 2007, Rani George, MD, PhD, discovered that a significant number of neuroblastoma tumors contain a mutation in the gene ALK.  Several successful drugs already exist to treat other types of cancer that demonstrate these same ALK mutations, and Dr. George and her team have initiated clinical trials that could result in new treatments that will improve survival for children with neuroblastoma. 

For information about Charlotte, please visit her site.


The Chatterbox Jug – Part II

You may recall when I first introduced you to the Chatterbox Jug just a couple posts ago.  At the time, I shared rumors that the jug may have collected over $500!  I was totally blown away by this overwhelming response.  “These people don’t even know me!”  Well, you can imagine my surprise today when I visited my fundraising page and saw that the patrons of the Chatterbox Drive-In have donated not $500 but $800!  

This amazing contribution from the Chatterbox customers demonstrates that the generosity of the people around us cannot be underestimated.  In addition, I believe this continues to show how cancer affects us all.

I would also like to give a shout out to all of the amazing friends and family who have donated over the past two weeks.  Sashti, Steph “SnugLife” Lawee, Allison, Kate, Erik, Jai, Nina, Todd & Kerri, and Em & Damon, you are all rockstars!

After spending the entire weekend with Gus, I will leave you with a Dr. Seuss quote…

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”

Thank you for caring a whole awful lot!

One of the many centerpieces at the Chatterbox


Watch out, Oprah!

For those of you who don’t know, I began my Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge with the primary goal of raising $15,000 for cancer-research.  I actually never put much thought into the fact that I’d actually have to travel 26.2 miles on foot.  This is definitely a good thing because it is scary for someone who isn’t a runner.  In fact, prior to the start of my training, I had been almost sedentary for 1.5 years.  

I was scared to exercise too much when I was pregnant with Augustus because I considered the pregnancy a gift that may never come again.  My intense chemotherapy and radiation should have made me infertile, and I certainly didn’t want to ruin my pregnancy just to get a run in.  Around 32 weeks, I had to go on complete bed-rest which meant I was staying horizontal until Gus made his debut.  Around 7 weeks post-pregnancy, I went out for my first run in months and felt good.  Unfortunately, the very next day, we were in a car accident that managed to again ruin any chance of me running.  My entire hip area was so bad that I could barely get in and out of bed for a couple weeks.

Fast-forward to September 2010, when I got the crazy idea that I could run a marathon.  The day before I submitted my application to join the program, I figured I would test my athletic ability.  “I’m sure I still have it,” I reasoned with myself.  My body did not feel the same way and decided that my run was over after 1.1 miles.  However, with a little hard work and some great advice from Jack Fultz, I have been able to really step it up.  

So you may be wondering, “what’s the story with Oprah?” Well, like I said, I had no real running goals for this marathon except to finish before the sag-wagon came through.  That remained my goal until two weeks ago when I went for a group run.  One of the amazing ladies I was running with was sharing a story about how Oprah ran a marathon in 4:30 (4:29:15, to be exact).  At that point, I had no choice but to change my goal.  How could I let Oprah beat me?!? Thus, I have set my sites on beating Oprah’s time.  To break it down, that means I will have to run 26 consecutive 10.27 minute miles.  Challenging?  Yes!  Impossible? No!  Today I ran 6 consecutive 9.7 minute miles.  Game on, Oprah!  


Teaching a Toddler to Ski – Now that’s my idea of cross-training!

This weekend, the entire Hall family took a trip to Stratton Mountain located in Southern Vermont.  As Marathon Monday is approaching, I knew that I could not let the weekend slip by without doing any training.  However, I was unable to find the motivation to run on icy roads while sleet was in the forecast.  My solution: teach Gus to ski.  Now I should clarify that when I say “teach Gus to ski,” I actually only intended to let him get some fresh air while introducing him to the sport (i.e. “Look Gus, skiers!”).  Apparently, Augustus had something completely different in mind.  We spent the entire time with him actually trying to ski down the bunny hill.  Luckily, he occasionally allowed me to have 30 second breaks on the Magic Carpet (a much better alternative to a T-bar for you old-timers).  Despite the crazy looks and inquiries about Gussy’s age from our fellow mountain-goers, he truly loved skiing.  Bad news for the grandmothers and great-grandmothers, by the end, Augustus started getting upset if we weren’t going fast enough.  Watch out Bode, here comes Gus!

Getting suited up!

The Magic Carpet – my new favorite invention.

Riding the back seat, hoping to pick up a little speed.

Again, again!
Next run, we’re taking the Gondola!

The Chatterbox Jug

For those of you lucky enough to have eaten at the Chatterbox Drive-In, one of Travelocity’s “Top 10 Things to do in New Jersey,” you know that they reliably provide outstanding food and service.  Although their hamburgers and milkshakes are undeniably delicious, the diverse menu offers stellar lobster rolls and an amazing Sante Fe Veggie Wrap (hungry yet?).  Apart from the fun atmosphere and great grub, the business also operates in a way that we don’t often see in today’s competitive world.  They regularly assist local not-for-profit organizations and provide free meals to active soldiers.

Well, you may have guessed where I’m going with this… the generosity of the Chatterbox strikes again!  Just one month ago, a jug went up at the Chatterbox to collect money for cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Insitute.  A picture of Augustus (my miracle baby) and yours truly was attached to the jug.  In addition, a short blurb sharing my cancer story and information about DFCI was included.  Needless to say, I was so grateful that they volunteered to do this and hoped that some loose change would be collected.  However, I grossly underestimated Gus’s cuteness factor and how easily his smile would lure unsuspecting lunch-goers into donating.  In all seriousness, I was blown away by the overwhelming response.  Although we don’t have a current grand total as there are still 69 days until Marathon Monday, you can see in the photos below that the generous patrons of the Chatterbox are donating much more than loose change.  Rumor has it that there may already be over $500!

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Chatterbox Drive-In and their munificent patrons.  It is so reassuring to know that there truly is an army of people fighting this horrible disease.  Thank you for all of your support!

***If you are interested in collecting donations for cancer research at your work place or any other establishment, please let me know and I will gladly send you a small package with everything you need.***