doing hill training? This morning as warmer air replaced the polar vortex that had descended upon New England, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. There were few remnants of our recent winter storms. Tom and I headed out to do a 5 mile run from our house to twice around the Chestnut Hill reservoir and back home. As we ran down Eliot Street toward Cleveland Road I remembered the first time our personal trainer, Janine Hightower told me I was going to do hill training. I had barely begun to run outdoors. She said you may as well start now because you have Heartbreak Hill to contend with on Marathon Monday.
Oh how I struggled up that hill the first time. I thought my heart was going to come out of my chest. She told me that we were going to incorporate hill training into our training schedule. I thought she was crazy and I was thinking about firing her.
But she was right. Hill training prepared me for Heartbreak Hill. I remember the first time Domenick D'Amico, our coach from Spaulding Rehab sent us on a training run that incorporated Heartbreak Hill.
January 24, 2009
When we arrived, Domenick was there along with some other runners. Team McManus was a wee bit nervous not knowing what to expect or what was going to happen today. Ruth Anne had forgotten her hat in our haste to leave the house, but fortunately there was no shortage of hats at Marathon Sports. Domenick said we could pay when we got back to the store. He was deep in thought about what route we should run today, "Have you run outdoors? Have you done hills" and with a yes answer to both those questions he sent us down Beacon Street to Newton Wellesley Hospital, over to Wellesly, up Concord Rd, over to Route 30 via the Marriott, down Route 30 through Heartbreak Hill, through BC to go around the Reservoir and then back to Marathon Sports for a total of 17.5 miles.
I won't lie here - it was not easy! We did not know where we were going at times; we had to watch out for black ice and negotiate our way through snow and slush at times along the route; there was a stiff headwind and temperatures were dropping throughout the afternoon; Ruth Anne is recovering from a head cold; at times Tom would set a pace that I couldn't keep up with and I vacillated between sheer exhilaration and dealing with demons from polio days. BUT we did it!!!! 4 hours and 45 minutes after we left Marathon Sports, we returned to a jubilant staff. Alison, the store manager, just back from her own vacation, hugged me so tightly and wanted to make sure we were all okay. I remember her on the Marathon Sports 5 Miler, giving me a high five and also checking in to make sure that I was doing okay. Her love, faith and beautiful Spirit is such a blessing to Team McManus....So this polio and post polio survivor ran Heartbreak Hill - all of it and I felt God's Presence so palpable with each step I took - and no matter whether we were running or walking, we did a 17.5 mile run today including Heartbreak Hill. I also felt Johnny Kelley's spirit blessing us and felt angels were just moving us along the route. We never got lost and whenever we needed a landmark - there it was. God bless Domenick for planning out this route which included a pit stop at the Marriott and we refilled our water bottles.
In 3 weeks, we will be doing a 16 mile long run and to be honest, I was terrified - until today. When I felt that little knot of fear, I would pray about it and the answer to my prayer came today when God told me to go to Marathon Sports and just do it!
God smiled with sunshine and the wind at our backs when we got to Heartbreak Hill and She told me you are going to run the Marathon and finish the course - you deserve all the joy and triumph and courage and celebration that saying Yes to me is bringing you. And you are going to touch so many people's hearts and lives with this journey - you are blessed and you are going to bless the lives of others.
And on April 20, 2009, 7 hours and 45 minutes after taking our start in Hopkinton with the mobility impaired runners, I crossed the finish line of the 113th Boston Marathon. No matter how many times I run on Heartbreak Hill, no matter how many times I do hill training, I always remember the first time.
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.