22 Mile Fun-Run – An abridged story of Saturday’s DFMC long-run

Sporting my new Boston Marathon 2011
DFMC Team Jacket.

We had a great pre-run meeting at Boston College but with all of the charity organization runners and time-qualifiers converging on the marathon course, Jan made sure to keep it short.

With the temperature at 25 degrees for the beginning of our run and wind gusts up to 33 mph, it was not the warmest day to embark on a 22 mile run.  On the way out towards Natick, the headwind was brutal but we took comfort in knowing that there would be a very helpful tailwind on our return trip.  You allegedly feel about 15-20 degrees warmer while running this kind of distance, so that helped a little (I think).  Unfortunately, I could not say the same for our water station volunteers.  What troopers!  Fortunately, the sun came out about 1 1/2 hours into the run and made a huge difference – the feeling returned to our fingers and we could stop opening the Gu packets with our teeth.

Thinking warm thoughts.

Amazing water station volunteers finally getting
some sun action.

I again used Jeff Galloway’s Run/Walk strategy while keeping an eye on my heart with a heart rate monitor.  The toughest hurdles for me to overcome while exercising are the lasting effects of chemo and radiation on my heart and lungs.  Although the side effects from my treatment are minimal compared to that of other bone marrow transplantees, a decreased pulmonary diffusion capacity and LVEF can work together to make exercise a little frustrating.  Thus, I’ve started using my heart rate monitor again to help me gauge how my body is holding up.  Last weekend’s run was a little discouraging as I averaged about 180 bpm over 3.5 hours with a max of 195 bpm.  To translate – I was exhausted.   Going into yesterday’s run, I was determined to run the course as if it were Marathon Monday and strictly adhere to Jack’s advice – “If you feel like you’re running too slowly for the first 10 miles, you’re right on pace.”  As you would expect from someone who won the Boston Marathon, he was right.  My heart rate didn’t even climb to 170 bpm until we hit mile 16 – as you can tell by my willingness to smile for photos…  

Enjoying a water station.
Don’t be fooled into thinking the Run/Walk strategy makes you slower, though.  I finished all 22 miles with an average mile time of about 10:30, which was faster than last week, and ran successful negative splits.  Even more amazingly, I was able to crank out a respectable run with two pulled hamis.  Until I get my mile times under 8 minutes, you’d better believe I’ll be rocking the Run/Walk strategy.
Wondering why this run earned the title of “fun-run”?  Here are the main reasons:
1.) The countless cheering groups and water stations along the route.  We’re talking pom-poms, megaphones, yelling women on the side of the road who have pulled over their car and decorated it in window paint and streamers, a line of high-fiving five year olds, and of course, college girls wearing their underwear on top of spandex dancing to Taio Cruz on the roofs of their SUVs.  
2.) Throwing the low-sodium diet out the window and munching on 4 bouillon cubes over a 4 hour period. 
3.) Fresh baked cookies at mile 20!
4.) The insane amount of girl scouts attacking you with plastic leis at mile 21 and screaming even more than the college girls!
5.) The guilt-free consumption of chocolate milk that follows a 2500 calorie-burning workout.
6.) Most importantly, that amazing feeling we got when random people on the road stopped and said “thank you” because we’re running for Dana-Farber! 
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