Tuesday, December 30, 2014

40 for 40. A vision that became a reality...

The sound of an alarm early in the morning is one most of us don't like to hear. I spent the past few months preparing for it. At 3:30 AM on the morning of November 13, 2014 the moment had arrived. It was time. Grab breakfast, take a quick shower, put on my gear, gathered all my belongings and head off to Somerville.

I had first thought of this endeavor 4 1/2 years ago. I realized my 40th birthday fell on a Thursday. The idea suddenly hit me. Run 40 miles on the Casey's 4 mile course, why not? To my knowledge it had never been done before. If there was an opportunity to be a trail blazer, this was it. No turning back.

I arrived around 5:45 AM, feeling relived the weather forecast called for 50 degrees under sunny skies. The time of the season was just right, not being in the dead of winter and summer. Finally the clock struck 6 AM. It was show time!

Laps 1 & 2

                                          Just before the run began, normally when I'm still in bed

The first loop was approximately 1.3 miles. This was to get the distance to come out to 40 even. If I had run 10 full loops, I'd finish somewhere in the 42 mile range. I was great full to have some company as well. Joining me was Tinamarie Sanborn, Bradley Harris, Brian Cullinan, Whitney Downum and Ellen Nason. It was really cool to have a mix of both SRR members and coworkers. By the end of lap 1, I ditched my jacket and pants as it warmed up (enough for me anyway). Lap 2 was actually the first full loop on the Casey's course. I ran at a comfortable pace, maybe a little fast for my liking. I figured it was from getting caught up in the conversations. Although Culla and Bradley dropped off to get ready for work we met up with Sean Miller on Albion St. Before I knew it 5.5 miles were in the book.

Clockwise, Culla, Bradley, Tinamarie, me, Whitney, Ellen
Second lap

Lap 3

I ran with Sean for this one. It was a good opportunity to learn more about the world of ultras. Who better to ask from someone who has run 3 100 milers this year alone! My goal is to run that distance in 2016. I got a better understanding about proper pacing and hydration. Oh and he told me about a 135 mile race in Death Valley he wants to do. You must submit a resume showing you're capable of competing in it to gain entry. If anyone is crazy enough, Sean's the one.

Lap 4

Sean headed off to work, so I ran most of it solo. This was a perfect time to slow my pace down a bit. As I got to Magoun Square, I was greeted by some of my coworkers. They made the trip from Acton into Somerville to cheer me on! To take the time to come and do that, it means a lot! When I got to Pearl St. I met up with Barbara Grandberg to complete the lap.
                                 My awesome coworkers, Shannon, Brian, Samantha (above)
Jackie and Kylie (Below)

Lap 5

Continuing with Barbara, we were having a conversation about training. I remember asking how she fits all those miles each day? Her response, "retirement is great." The cheering section was still present in Magoun Sq, as we stopped briefly to chat. As I was heading down Liberty St, I felt like I tweaked something in my left calf. (Remember that later) I didn't feel concerned it would slow me down and felt confident enough to fight through it. Before I knew it, the lap concluded. At the completion of each lap, I refuel with hydration and food I kept in the back of my car. The fact I was able to park along Dana St, which runs parallel to McGrath Highway was key. No refuel station, no 40 for 40!

Lap 6

Barbara and I made our way over Winter Hill and through the cheer section. Just before Ball Sq. Tina Tobey met up with us. She was with her daughter Madeline, who was having an adventurous day to say the least. :-) Tina celebrated her 40th birthday by running in the New York Marathon the week before. While we were on Lowell St, some workers in a truck spotted me and noticed they'd seen me all over town. I told them I was running 40 for my 40th b-day and they thought it was cool. Then a woman spotted a happy birthday sign on Maddie's stroller and asked who's birthday it was? I said it was mine and she mentioned it was her 50th. Which will be my birthday in 10 years. Making our way down Medford St, I heard someone shout my name. It was Mary Davis, a longtime coworker and a dear friend. She stopped in Somerville between meetings. That's awesome! We chatted briefly and continued on. Lap 6 complete, 22 down, 18 to go.
With Mary Davis, I love her!

Lap 7

The three four of us continued onward. The Magoun crew was still there going strong. I mentioned that I probably killed production at work for a day, but no one seemed to mind. Barbara turned off on Cedar St. I thanked her for running with me since the tail end of lap 4. We continued on and as we were passing Sound Bites, I spotted my mom for the first time. She was having lunch with some friends and planned to watch/cheer from there. It wouldn't be the last time we'd cross paths. At the junction of Broadway and Liberty, Tina and Maddie bid adieu. I had run 24 miles at that point and was feeling good. For the first time since lap 4 I was flying solo. That didn't last long though. On Medford St, I was joined by my coworker Katy Nowoswiat. She'll be running her first marathon on April 20 for The Children's Hospital Team. Incidentally I hit marathon distance not long after she joined in.
24 Miles in with Maddie

Lap 8

I was telling Katy all about Winter Hill and how it made Heartbreak Hill look like a bunny slope. She didn't disagree. I stopped briefly to say hi to my mom at Soundbites and gave an update about the run. I was then joined by my coworkers Annie Hurwitz and Meagan Spencer. As we made our way along Morrison Ave, a car pulled alongside. It was officer Dan McGinty. He was on duty later in the day, but had enough time to run a couple miles. I hit 31 miles at the completion.
Annie & Meagan

 Officer Dan (blue shirt)

31 Miles down and looking laid back

Lap 9

Bex's baby

As soon as lap 8 completed, I was greeted by the welcoming committee of The Fintz, Urvi and Bex. Fintzy brought his daughter Raven, and Bex with her newborn. We waited a little bit for Erin Morin to arrive. In the meantime Dan ran back to his car to get ready for work. Erin joined the party with her son Keagen and it was go time. I was a little concerned the longer wait would cause me to cramp up. Fortunately it wasn't the case, as I tackled Winter Hill with relative ease. Katy dropped off at Magoun Sq, but shortly after Nichole Bukowski joined in. We came into Ball Sq. and Sound Bites and took some photos with my mom. I told everyone that I put my mom through labor 40 years ago, and now she gets to watch me go through labor. Well slightly different. Annie and Meagan departed as we pressed on ahead. On Liberty St, we took a slight detour down Hall Ave. Nichole's new home was being refurbished, and had a port-o-john in the driveway. At that point I ran 33 miles. It was also when my Garmin decided to call it a day. Now I didn't have the luxury of knowing what my pace was. With 7 miles to go, I trusted my instincts and went on feel. I hoped it would make it the distance, but that proved to be wishful thinking. Anyhow, we rejoined the course and finished the lap. 1 more to go!
 Leading the charge through Ball Sq.

 Mom, my biggest supporter for 40 years!

Thanks to Tina for making the signs

Pit stop. Nichole, Erin, Keagen (in stroller), Urvi

Lap 10

Before the final lap. I don't look too tired, eh?

The moment I had been thinking about for some time was finally here. Just one lap and mission accomplished! I said goodbye to Urvi and Erin and was joined by Anthony White. I had a bad feeling my legs were feeling tired. I was right. All I had in me was a fast walk and nothing more. Oh and my left calf? It was shot to shit and cramped up. Fortunately I had Anthony and Nichole to keep my spirits up. I made my way over Winter Hill for the final time. Around the rail road bridge on Broadway, My coach Brett Johnston met me. I told him it was my final lap. He was thrilled how far I've come. I saw my mom outside Sound Bites and told her my left leg was done. Told her not to worry and I'd see her at the finish. Nichole ran over to her new home and I thanked her for running with me. Brett departed on Cedar, and it was Anthony and myself from there to the finish. By the time we got to Pearl St, around where I figured the 4 mile mark on the loop was, I asked Anthony how long we'd been running? He told me 1:07, which was actually faster than I thought I was going. As we came down Pearl, I could see the final turn getting closer. There it was a left on Dana St. and the finish was dead ahead. I picked my pace up slightly as I approached the footbridge, and then it was all she wrote! I did it! I crossed the finish to the delight of my mom, who was there waiting for me. Also there to witness the finish was Urvi, Emma Kosciak, and my moms friends The Boyle's. I set out just after 6AM and finished around 4:50 PM. Just shy of 11 hours altogether, but the actual time I spent running was estimated to be under 10 hours. Not bad at all, considering my previous high was 35.75 in 12 hours two years ago.
Last lap, Anthony, Brett, Nichole. Clearly I was in rough shape.

40 miles done!

Another doozie...at the finish

After I finished I relaxed for a bit. Emma insisted I put warmer clothes on, which I eventually gave in. I said goodbye to mom and thanked her as always for being there for me. I went over to Anthony's to wash up, change and have dinner. We headed over to Casey's just before 7. We drove by the runners making their way to the start for the 7:15 run. I waved to them as we passed by, and some shouted out my name.

We met Urvi at Casey's and hung out until the crew returned. We they did, I was greeted with high fives and happy birthdays. Asked how I was feeling, my slandered response was "like I ran 40 miles!" After enjoying some birthday beers and catching up, it was time for the cake. It was huge! Enough to feed every single member in the club. I was serenaded with happy birthday and blew out the many candles. I briefly thanked everyone for their support. I mentioned that any goal is possible as long as you believe in yourself and believe you can do it. Sadly Jesse Morrow had to miss the days festivities due to a work commitment. He certainly was there in spirit.
The birthday cake and thanking everyone

Prior to 40 for 40, I never had a standout moment in my running career that people always talk about. I don't stand a chance of ever qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I'm not fast enough to earn top 3's in my age group. It's the most frustrating feeling. There's plenty of accomplished runners in SRR, believe me I'd love to be in their shoes for a day. November 13, 2014 was my day. Since then some folks have told me that they may be interested taking the challenge for their 40th, 35th etc. I think that's great and would love to be there if they do indeed. Did I mention that I'm now a Casey's record holder? Yup, right next to the fastest male and female. It took patience and moments of frustration, but the spotlight finally shined on me. Four years in the making.

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