Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Trip Up Heartbreak Hill - A Trip Down Memory Lane - "Today, Records Fell"

In training for the Feaster Five on Thanksgiving morning, I have been incorporating hill training since the beginning of the race is a .5 mile steep hill. There is also a smaller hill at the end of the race.

Yesterday morning I told Tom that I wanted to train on Heartbreak Hill. When we Googled the distance from Walnut Street to Lake Street, spanning most of Heartbreak Hill, Google said it would be 2.3 miles each way. Cool!

I set my Nike+ app and off we went.

We often associate triggers with a negative connotation of flashbacks and unpleasant experiences. Only yesterday, being on Heartbreak Hill for the first time since 2009, triggered a flood of wonderful memories:

I noticed the details of the way the stones are inlaid on the carriage road on Commonwealth Avenue. I remembered finding a Helen Keller Quarter from my blog 4/5/2009

As we were heading out along Beacon Street here in Brookline, Mass., I saw a penny. Those of you who have read my blog know that we have had a lot of signs with finding money while we trained. There were a herd of runners behind us and I knew that if I stopped to pick this penny up, I could get trampled and then where would I be after a year of training and being on the threshold of running the Marathon. So I felt God's Presence and ran on. While on Heartbreak Hill, my daughter stopped in her tracks. Buried in the crack in the sidewalk on Heartbreak Hill, my daughter spotted a quarter - not just any quarter but a quarter dedicated to Helen Keller. Her quotes and life story have always been a major source of inspiration to me and Bernie Siegel, MD (who through the years has been a guiding healing light for me) has quoted her so many times in his talks, books and on his forum. During the last two miles of our training run, we found two more pennies - 27 cents! Not 26 but 27 so God is letting us know that we have what we need to go the distance....

Our first run on Heartbreak Hill which was mapped out by our beloved coach for Spaulding Rehab, Domenick D'Amico. And then on Marathon Monday being greeted by a teary eyed Domenick who gave each of us a hug and told us to go get our medal.

We remembered coming home from Puerto Rico in January of '09 and our daughter sitting next to Johnny Kelley's nephew and his wife. She was bemoaning the fact that she had to get up early and do an 18 miler in the cold and snow after having 5 days in the warmth of Puerto Rico. His nephew's wife told us that Johnny would be watching over us every time we trained on Heartbreak Hill and especially on Marathon Monday. He was with us every step of the way. After we met them, my theme became the title of Johnny's autobiography, "Young at Heart"

But something was incredibly different on this Heartbreak Hill run. I felt so different in my body. I had a wonderful stride and I could experience my subtle body energy.

I use Nike+ to track my workouts now to support Marathon Sports and #bostrong.

As the voice of Nike+ began marking the miles, I knew that we were going farther than the 4.6 miles on Google maps. But I had no choice but to finish out the run because we parked our car at Walnut Street and had to do an out and back loop. {Tom thinks that perhaps my Nike+ took into account the elevation while calculating the distance--who knows?). While I felt tired toward the end of the run, I also felt that I still had a lot in the tank which really surprised me. I am going to taper for the Feaster Five and maintain at the 5K distance which we opted for thinking that there is no way I would be able to run 5 miles again but after the race, I am going to begin to slowly and steadily build mileage and see how my body responds.

Here are the results from my workout according to Nike+

5.33 miles
Average pace 14"34"/mile
Total time 1:17:49
Mile 1 13"
Mile 2 27:13
Mile 3 41:47
Mile 4 57:07
Mile 5 1:12:58
Mile 5:33 1:17:49

Nike reminded me that "Today, records fell." Okay it was only my 2nd Nike+ run but indeed records did fall.
I ran the farthest and fastest that I have run in the past 7 months since I began to run again after a 2 year running hiatus. My 5K time was 43:36. My time at the Brookline Symphony Orchestra 5K Fun Run & Walk was 47:50 - a 15:26/mile pace. I wasn't trying to go faster. I was not pushing myself in my body. I was in tune with my body moving from the inside out. There was a sense of unbridled joy being back on Heartbreak Hill, feeling the sun on our faces and a sense of coming home inside of my human form free from the ravages of trauma and paralytic polio.

Tom snapped this photo of me at the Johnny Kelley statue:

Today I am sore and it's a rest and recovery day but overall I feel strong and present in my body after taking a run up Heartbreak Hill and a trip down memory lane. But just like my 2009 run was so much bigger than me -- my healing journey is a message to all who were affected by the events on Marathon Monday -- that we do heal, we do become stronger and love and community is far more powerful than violence.

While I am not running Boston 2014, I am cheering on my friends in person and in social media supporting them with donations if they are running for a charity and feel so blessed to be a part of this amazing community. We are Boston Strong!

Ode to Marathon Training - March 22, 2009 from A Celebration of Life available on Amazon
Blisters, black toes, aches and pains, a change in my routine
Long training runs, the hills, the sprints-running clothes fresh and clean.
Carbo load and plan each meal power gels and gatorade
no matter what the weather no time to be afraid.
Humid - hot or freezing cold snow against the face
wind or sun or raining those running shoes I must lace.
What mile is this how long we been out check heart rate drink H20
meltdowns joys and triumphs only a few more weeks to go.
Heartbreak Hill won't break my heart this year has been the best
found myself and made new friends I feel incredibly blessed.

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