Sunday, November 24, 2013

Why I Love Heartbreak Hill

I've written a lot of blogs about running on Heartbreak Hill.

I incorporated Heartbreak Hill into the poems I wrote on the road to the 2009 Boston Marathon

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.

I stood many years as a spectator atop Heartbreak Hill cheering on Boston Marathon runners. I never dreamed that one day I would be among them. And two years ago, after running the Brookline Symphony Orchestra 5K and I felt myself experiencing another relapse of post polio syndrome symptoms, I thought for sure my running days were over.

It was cold yesterday and windy (not as cold and windy as today I might add). I knew I needed to get in one more training run before Thanksgiving Day's Feaster Five Road Race.

I was planning on an easy flat 3.1 miles somewhere but I knew I needed to get out there and really challenge myself. I needed to open it up and just go!

The Spaulding Race for Rehab 2014 fund raising website is up and many of my friends are running on the team this year in large part because of the Boston Marathon bombings. I was with Greg Gordon, my dear friend and teammate from the 2009 Race for Rehab team as the bombs went off. He is running along with fellow 2009 teammates TK and Suzanne Adams. Suzanne and I first met in 2007, and have been friends ever since. We were with Suzanne when the bombs went off. Michelle Scribner-MacLean who I met at the 2008 pre race pasta dinner and with whom I have stayed in touch through social media is running. Her brother Mark was going to run in 2008 but an injury flared right before the gun went off. When I met Michelle, she was training to run her first half marathon.

As I read their stories on their fund raising pages, in addition to being moved to donate, I was moved to get out there and really get moving.

Thanks to Ellen Gabriel, manager at the Brookline Marathon Sports store, we had our winter gear ready to go.

We decided to run Heartbreak from Center Street to Chestnut Street. There is something magical and mystical about the sun in Winter on Heartbreak Hill. The trees were mostly barren and the sky was a brilliant blue. Despite the cold air, the sun's warmth could still be felt as somehow it is always felt on Heartbreak Hill.

There was an infectious energy on the hills yesterday. It's as though everyone is preparing in one way or another for the 2014 Boston Marathon. There are 148 days to go until April 21st as noted on my friends' fund raising pages. Everyone was greeting each other yesterday. There was a sense of camaraderie and togetherness - an unspoken bond of #bostonstrong. I felt a powerful emotional connection to my beloved coach and trainer, Domenick D'Amico from the 2009 Boston Marathon.

I felt the best I have felt in my body out on a training run and my statistics from Nike+ reflected that. 4.03 miles with an average pace of 14'8". I wasn't pushing myself or my body. I moved in my body, breathing hard and pouring sweat. I looked in the mirror after we finished our run and were back in the warm car. I had a glow about me.

I took a hot epsom salts bath when I got home followed by a hot shower. But despite my best efforts, I experienced muscle spasms in my neck, upper back and shoulders. I was having difficulty with cervical spine mobility. My legs were of course sore but felt wonderful.

But even though I was in a lot of discomfort, I was not worried about what was happening in my body. I know that I am blessed with two remarkably dedicated practitioners who would help me to work out whatever was happening in my body.

I went to bed at 9:00pm and woke up at 8:00am feeling wonderfully refreshed and recharged. (What a difference from waking up in the morning still feeling fatigued and foggy for years as I suffered with the residuals of polio and trauma stuck in my body.)

My body feels strong and healthy. I feel ready for my 2nd race after a two year running hiatus on Thursday. I have so much to be thankful for this year. Among my blessings, I have rekindled my love of Heartbreak Hill and can be a part of an incredible community that continues to heal and be #bostonstrong.

The 2009 Spaulding Race for Rehab Team at the starting line

A sendoff from Domenick as we head out for the last training run before the 2009 Boston Marathon

Two weeks ago posing with the Johnny Kelley statue on Heartbreak Hill

Even though my heart along with the City of Boston and the world was broken on April 15, 2013, there was something powerfully healing about healing my heart during yesterday's Heartbreak Hill training run.

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