Thursday, September 18, 2014

Getting Ready for the Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women

Aquatics Therapy at Spaulding Rehab was cancelled this week. I did solo aquatics therapy at the Boston University FitRec Center on Tuesday. As an alum, I can use the facilities for a nominal fee for a day pass. I used the equipment available to me to create both a restorative work out after Saturday's race which is our typical Tuesday class and also worked on core strength and balance which we work on in Wednesday's class.

I was planning on doing my 6.2 miles on Saturday but when I woke up yesterday it was a glorious Fall day and decided it would be a perfect opportunity to get out there and do my last 6.2 miles before running Tufts. I created a very challenging course with lots of hills and different terrains to navigate. I paced myself and practiced the fueling and hydration plan for race day. I visualized the course and how I will feel on race day coming into the finish chute. I sprinted for the last 3/10 of a mile. I cried as I imagined Tom along with members of the Merrimack Valley Striders being at the finish to cheer me on. I imagined my Nike+ reading 1:35 and the exhilaration of a PR from 2010. I have one more 5K race on 9/28 and will train at a 5K distance from now until race day giving myself several rest days before race day.

I am so lucky to be in Boston where I can train for a race as wonderful as the Tufts 10K. It makes it easy for me to stick to my training plan knowing the kind of day I will have on October 13th. I wrote an essay that I sent to Tufts "Why I Run" to inspire others:

"And I'm going to run the Boston Marathon for Spaulding Rehab," I told my personal trainer in February of 2008, even though I had never run a day in my life. After intensive outpatient rehab at Spaulding and 6 months of personal training, I had just come out of a short leg brace still wearing black tie shoes to support my leg brace after the diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease in December of 2006. I no longer needed a wheelchair to travel longer distances. She sent me to Marathon Sports for my first pair of running shoes ever and we began training for Boston 2009. "You'll be running the Tufts 10K in October," she told me. A 10K? Me? Well yeah if I was going to run 26.2 miles, I'd better participate in a 10K race and Tufts was the perfect race for me. In 2009, after running Boston, I was told I should not run again but standing at the finish line of the 2009 Tufts 10K cheering on my friends as they crossed the finish line I heard the announcer say, "And don't let anyone ever tell you you can't or shouldn't do something." After more outpatient physical therapy, I returned to the roads and ran the Tufts 10K in 2010 partnering with a friend of mine who had never run more than 5 miles in her life. After my nephew's suicide in March of 2011, I was not doing well mind, body or Spirit but in the wake of 4/15/13 and being across the street from The Forum in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel with my 2009 Race for Rehab teammates, I knew I had to return to running and the running community.

I wasn't ready for the Tufts 10K 2013 but vowed that I would run Tufts this year. I'm training and getting ready mind, body and Spirit to be a part of one of the greatest days for women runners. I would love to PR from my 2010 time of 1:36. I've been training on the course, doing hills, speed work, cross training and visualizing myself crossing that finish line. Because of the all inclusive atmosphere of Tufts, it doesn't matter in what time I finish. I know that you treat every woman crossing that finish line as a champion. Living with a neuromuscular condition, I never know what I can do on any given day. I know that I am creating conditions so that I will have a wonderful race day. It will be a personal best no matter what the time on the clock may say. I am running the race alone but will be surrounded by thousands of amazing women carried by the energy on the course and the spectators. I love the out and back course on Memorial Drive where, rather than feeling like a back of the pack runner, everyone cheers on everyone else!

Tufts is the first 10K I ever ran at the age of 54 years old. It will be the first 10K I run as a 60 year old. The process of training for Tufts keeps me healthy and in top form. I am hoping that it will now be a part of my racing schedule every year because Tufts is more than a race - it's an event - and an opportunity to start strong and finish stronger.

The Tufts 10K creates a level playing field for every woman runner. Every woman out there has a story of one kind of another of overcoming and thriving in the face of life's challenges. The water stops remain until every woman has passed. On Comm Ave there are men waiters in tuxedos who hold the water cups on cardboard as though they had them on a tray. The finish line stays open for over 2 hours.

I'm going to enjoy this time of shorter distances, speed work, and getting ready mind, body and Spirit for October 13th. This is a huge milestone for me! In September of 2011, I thought and felt that I was not going to be able to ever run again but that was only a blip on the radar screen of my healing odyssey. On October 13th I'll be running a 10K race - 6.2 miles just as I predicted in that first poem I wrote in February of 2007, "Running the Race".

Running the Race
Early summer 1959 my kindergarten year
Everyone around me filled with nervous fear
Despite the Salk vaccine hope polio would disappear
The polio virus crept right up and knocked me in the rear.

Dancing all around the gym feeling free just like a bird
I dropped to the ground just like a stone
and no one said a word.
The pain it was so searing-the diagnosis even worse

"It's polio" the doctor said...he was abrupt and terse.
Called one of the 'lucky ones' I had a 'mild case'
But with the other athletes I could never keep their pace.
Miss Holly physical therapist,
curly hair and a warm, broad smile
It tempered the pain of being apart - to walk I'd take awhile.

I always wore those 'special' shoes
the kids they poked and teased
With no support and much abuse
with childhood I wasn't pleased.
But put nose to the grindstone and learned all that I could
I couldn't kick a ball but my grades were always good.

Years went by and no more thought to polio did I give
I accepted the limp and everything else
and decided my life I would live.
But symptoms of weakness and muscle pain did grow
I kept a stoic face hoping no one else would know.

Life no longer was my own I struggled through each day
Suffered in silence, isolated from friends-
trying to keep depression at bay.
And with the grace of glorious God my world it opened wide
I discovered there was a Post Polio team
and they were on my side.

Using wheelchair to travel, set limits on what I could do,
Resulted in joy to realize I could live life anew.
Celebrated my body- creaks, groans and need for a brace
While in my mind I focused on winning a 10K race.
Sought out paths for healing and my spirit flew free
For the first time in life, I could truly be me.

The chains are gone and possibilities abound
I'm a tree with my roots planted firmly in ground.
I'm now off the sidelines, no need to sit and whine
So much gratitude fills my heart and love and beauty shine.
After all these years I can join the loving human race
I exceed all expectations and now I set the pace.

The first 7 years of my healing odyssey are chronicled in Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility available on Amazon. I donate 50% of royalty payments to The One Fund Boston to help survivors and their families who were affected by the tragic events of 4/15/13.

I'm working on my 2nd book, "Journey Well," due out later this year:

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