I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends…

When Noel departed Boston putting a successful 2010 Boston Marathon in the books, something donned on me. The running community in Boston and beyond is awesome, and I think everyone out there needs to know that. So, for this post I’ve decided to do a little shout out to my running buddies. Thank you for inspiring me to train, compete and finish races, even when I’m feeling at my worst. Without you guys, I never would have signed up for a marathon, let alone THREE (with many more to come)

Thank You to my Favorite Running Buddies, you guys are the best:

Kate

Kate & Me before the Marine Corps Marathon 2009

I first met Kate in the kitchenette at work waiting in line for the spring water filter. Naturally, we had gigantic nalgene bottles, so we usually had a few minutes to kill while they filled with water. We started with small talk, and then instantly found out that we both LOVED to work out, particularly running. We are lucky enough that our office supplies showers and towels, so we started venturing out on lunch time runs together.

Kate is a very powerful runner with great form and stride, she always pushes me to run faster and make me a better runner. As good of a runner she is, she’s also the most humble person I know, she is constantly always telling me how much better I am than x,y,z than her (which is completely untrue!) Aside from physically pushing me to become a better runner, Kate is also a great listener. Part of why I love distance running is the camaraderie between training partners, and Kate is no exception.  My favorite example of her unwaivering friendship and team work is in the Marine Corps Marathon in October 2009. I was struggling big time near a hill at mile 8, and I decided that I should try to run off and walk in order to get Kate to stay on the pace she needed to break four hours. Everything was going to plan when she RAN BACK to find me. After screaming at her and telling her to move on, I finally gave up and ran with her for a bit. When it was clear that I wasn’t going to make a recovery I forced her to move ahead and carry on without me. I will never forget her act of selflessness!

On top of this, she listens to all of my good and bad news and always has a supportive or encouraging comment to back it up. Whenever I return from a run with her I feel challenged and pushed, but also refreshed to know that I have such a good friend, on and off the pavement.

Michele

Michele and me at the NYC Marathon expo 2008

My first memory of meeting Michele was over New Years Eve, and we instantly bonded over our love of running. I was impressed that she had run two marathons, and she firmly planted a bug in my ear to try to get into the NYC marathon the following year. Any normal person listening to her stories of training and racing would run for the hills, but not me! As a fellow glutton for punishment, I successfully secured a number in the 2008 NYC marathon running for one of my favorite charities, the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Over the next few months leading up to the November 2nd race, Michele and I traded emails and thoughts regarding training, gear and race preparation. Even from a distance, she was able to prepare me for the trials and tribulations of the marathon, and reassure me that she would be there right along side me.

Just 10 months later, both of us found ourselves ready to embark on the New York Marathon, holy crap! Michele let my boyfriend and I stay with her, and they instantly made us feel at home by hosting a pre race pasta dinner. Her mother drove us to the start of NYC in Staten Island, which sure beats a crowded marathon school bus shuttle from the New York Public Library. I enjoyed Michele’s company while waiting for the race to begin, and her words of marathon wisdom for this newbie. At 11am we were finally off! The race was great, there was an amazing crowd, fantastic water/Gatorade stops and challenging bridges to climb. Fast forward to mile 22, and I lost Michele, I’m not 100% sure what happened, I think the crowds were thick before central park and I suddenly had a burst of energy, but I looked back and she was nowhere to be seen. I finished with a time of 4:16 and Michele finished shortly thereafter. Afterwards we were both exhausted, but instantly started plotting our next marathon. Thank you Michele for encouraging me to embark on this new frontier!

Liz

Awkward Extended Arm/Elevator Picture Pre Lunch time Run

Liz is another running buddy from my office, and she’s great! I met Liz two years ago, but finally started running together just a year ago. She was training for the 2009 NYC marathon, and I was training for the Marine Corps Marathon, so it was a perfect training match. I love running with Liz because of her enthusiasm and dedication to the sport. She’s always looking for ways to push herself to the next level, and unfortunately this same ambition is to blame for her achilles tendonitis which eventually kept her running NYC. Yet, even an injury wasn’t enough to sideline her! This coming Sunday she will set out to complete her first official full, the Providence Marathon. I am so proud of Liz for not only overcoming an injury, but having the strength and resilience to stick with running in order to fulfill her goal: kicking butt and taking names over 26.2 miles. Liz, good luck to you and kick butt! You’ve put in the work, now just let your body do what it knows best, RUN!

Noel

Noel & Me after the 2010 Boston Marathon

I have written multiple posts over Noel’s running, so I will keep this short! Noel and I met in college on the swim team, and once we both graduated we turned to running. Though she lives in Florida and I live in Boston, we are able to share our running experiences, times, and enthusiasm over email. I loved tracking her Boston Marathon training and knowing that one of my closest friends would be running the country’s longest running, and most prestigious marathon. Her love of running has helped motivate and inspire me through ruts in my own training, and her experience has helped me figure out my own marathon training plan. Though Noel is MUCH faster than I am, this fall we will both run the Chicago marathon together. We might not be running the marathon alongside each other, but I’m looking forward to her positive influence and motivation over the race weekend. After losing her grandfather to cancer recently, Noel made the decision to run Chicago for the American Cancer Society, be sure to check her fundraising page!

Rob

Rob & Me before the Camp Harborview Harborthon 5k

Celebrating after a successful first marathon & $5,500 raised for LAF, NYC 2008

Lastly, but certainly not least is my boyfriend, and favorite running partner, Rob (or more popularly referred to as “Foxy”.) Prior to dating, Foxy and I met and became close friends through our mutual friend Greg and were instantly very close. His fun, easy going attitude and great friendship eventually lead to dating after a year and a half of friendship and after over two years we’re still going strong. When I was training for my first marathon (NYC 2008) he was there for me through thick and thin, which he admitted, took a toll on him as a supporter. Since he knows how important running and fitness is to my life, he has taken to running a few shorter distances with me, and eventually even embarked on running several 5k’s. When he first set out on the pavement he struggled through 1-2 mile runs, and now runs a 3.5 mile loop with ease! He is also looking to increase the challenge by perhaps running a 4 or 5 mile race. I’m so lucky for his participation in the sport, because I love going on runs together and our comitment to a healthy lifestyle. He firmly states that he will never run a marathon, but he has found the value and rewards of running for himself, all the while still supporting me and my quest for the finish line in endurance races. Thank you for everything Foxy! 🙂

Saluting my running Hero, Noel Wells!

The following post is dedicated to one of my closest friends, Noel Wells, AKA SuperNoel! She qualified for the Boston Marathon in a BLAZING time of 3:35:41 in the Twin Cities Marathon. I’ve been broadcasting it to family and friends like a proud mother, now it’s time to tell the blogging running world of her amazing feat. Below is a picture of Noel and myself in Boston over the 4th of July 2008. I’m now eagerly anticipating her return to Boston in April, this time to run the Boston Marathon on April 19th 2010.
Kim and Noel

To give you some background, Noel and I met in college. We were on the swim team together and were always friends, but really bonded and became closer over senior year. I’m not sure why, but we did, and we had a great time training and racing together. Noel has always been a fiercely dedicated person, whether it was school work, swimming, running or a guy she was interested in; she threw her whole heart and soul into something until she saw the results she desired. That’s probably why we’re such good friends and get along so well-we’re like two peas in a pod of intensity. When we both graduated from college we hung up our swim suits and turned to running. I knew both of us wouldn’t do anything half assed, but would really focus on our challenges and labor through hours of training. We talked about it all, the training plans, the blisters, early mornings and even awkward bathroom breaks.

Our first marathons both proved successful. I finished NYC in 4:16, a time I was happy with and Noel was one of the first people I texted with the news. In January, Noel then ran the Disney marathon at a breakneck pace. As she ran, I sat in bed on a cold and snowy Sunday morning in Boston watching her splits on my lap top as if I were watching the peak of action in a suspense flick. Her projected time kept getting faster, and faster, something that I surely thought must be a technological error. But no, she really was negative splitting A MARATHON. I sat in bed and rooted for her and texted her as soon as she finished in 4:03:15, quite the achievement for someone who set her sights on a 4:30 goal time! Post marathon, we chatted about how we both had so much gas left in the tank at the end of each of our races, what we would change etc. It was official, we had both biten by the Marathon bug, there was no turning back.

Fast forward to this spring, we both signed up for fall races: I signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon on October 25th 2009 in Washington D.C. and she signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota on October 4th. We both decided to try the same training program, in hopes to improve our times. I set my sights high, with a reach goal of possibly qualifying for Boston, but being careful to stay self aware that shaving nearly 36 minutes off my time was not an easy task. Instead, I decided to focus on either breaking four hours, or getting as close as possible.

Noel, however, narrowed in on the goal to qualify for Boston and kept her eyes on the prize for the entire 4 months of training. Living in Florida, she would sometimes wake up at 4:30am in order to get a run in before the hot summer humidity and sweltering heat enveloped her neighborhood. On top of battling possible heat stroke on a daily basis, she dealt with a pulled hamstring, Plantar Fasciitis, stomach issues, ankle pain as well as general soreness from running an excessive amount of mileage week after week. I had my battles as well, general soreness, stomach pains during long runs, chest and breathing issues etc. Yet, we took it all in stride and prevailed-that’s what marathoners do, right?

Fast forward to the most crucial part of training, the last 6 weeks, and Noel was ripping things up! She was emailing me telling that she was running at a 8:20 or quicker pace and felt great! I, on the other hand, was beginning the grow bored with training and skipped a 20 mile run in favor of relaxing on the beach in Nantucket (I am not proud of this, but I do not regret it.) I stuck loosely to my plan, but I wasn’t as fiercely focused as I once was. I was drifting away from my roots of intensity, and constantly thought ” I just want my life back!”

Then, Sunday October 4th rolled around. It was the morning of my LAST 20 mile training run–it was cloudy and overcast. I wasn’t terribly psyched about it, but hey–it had to be done! At the same time that I was running, Noel was racing against the clock in Minneapolis in her quest to qualify for Boston. I thought of her often throughout the race channeling her intensity and dedication into my 20 mile run all over the city of Boston. When I finished I was exhausted, but the elation from being done with my last 20 miler took over and canceled out the pain.

Then, I checked my phone. My in Box read: New Message from Noel Wells. I eagerly clicked on it and it simply said “I’m coming to Boston!” A wave of excitement and pride came over me, I screamed to everyone in my apartment, “Noel qualified for BOSTON!!” I quickly logged online and checked her time, 3:35:41–AMAZING. I couldn’t stop talking about her amazing accomplishment, and it was with good reason. Qualifying for Boston is something that runners obsess over, many for their entire lives. Sadly, many of those never succeed in this goal. Now, my friend accomplished elusive achievement in her second marathon…ever.

AMAZING.

I knew she could accomplish this, but now looking at the hard fact that she had done it was mind blowing. 3:35–THAT IS FREAKING FAST!

My pride and excitement for my friend never wore off, and I’d like to thank her for rejuvenating my intensity for accomplishing my own goals in the Marine Corps Marathon this Sunday. I now feel centered and focused on the race, my old lazy “I just want my life back” self is gone. I’m in it for the long haul, a PR no matter what it takes! I’m not trying to qualify for Boston, but instead just record a personal best, which I KNOW I can accomplish. Super Noel–thanks for everything, I will be channeling your amazing performance at Twin Cities this Sunday!

Oh, and I already have your reservation booked at my apt for Patriot’s Day Weekend. 🙂

Ultra Marathon Man

… running, to me, remained the purist form of athletic expression.  It was the simplest, least encumbered sport there was, and the definitive measurement of raw stamina-Dean Karnazes
images1

If you are looking for motivation to starting to training for a road race, triathlon, bike race, whatever-all you have to do is google the name Dean Karnazes. I first found out about Dean in December of 2006, I was in good old Wooster, Ohio visiting my alma mater for a swim team reunion centered around the school’s annual swimming invitational. Anyone that is familiar with the sport of swimming knows that with the action packed races, there is an excessive amount of downtime. So in-between sessions we had a lot of time to catch up and talk about our big and important young professional lives. As we were all chatting, I noticed my friend Courtney was glued to a book, which seemed a little odd. So I nudged her and said, “what’s so great about that book that you can’t talk with us?” She showed me the cover and said, “This guy is absolutely crazy! He was just a regular middle class American guy and then one day he decided to start running ultra marathons.” Being an excessively competitive person, I was intrigued. As she told me more about Dean, the more I couldn’t wait until the moment she finished the book so I, myself, could read about this super-human man. Luckily, Courtney finished shortly after she delivered me the brief overview and I was able to dive into the wonders of this “all night runner” in no time.

In his book Dean retells his adventures in the Western States Endurance 100, The Badwater Ultra marathon, the first ever south pole marathon, and many other crazy adventures. As he retells each experience in sometimes too much detail, he constantly reiterates the power of the human mind to overcome even the toughest obstacles. Whether it be running through 120 degree temperatures in death valley or getting off the couch for a simple work out, Dean is able to relate his experiences to the common man without sounding like preacher. I personally (the workout-aholic) found Dean’s book addicting and I never wanted it to end, so for the adrenaline junky, this book will reignite a fire within you. Non-athletes, this book will reaffirm the fact that runners are indeed a strange and unique breed. Decide for yourselves!

I recommend you check it out for yourself: 

Next review up: 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance!