Sunday, June 27, 2010

13.1 Boston - race day recap!

Can we just say amazing? I think we can.

Yesterday afternoon I checked into the hotel and met up with all the fantastic members of Team Challenge New England (what what!) for a quick meeting before heading off to the inspirational pasta party. Man alive did that dinner get me psyched. Not only with all the pep talk, screaming, and cheering (and Team New England dominating, no big deal), but everything we've worked toward all season long was summed up in Mary Beth's inspirational speech. It was so moving it brought tears to my eyes. Maybe it was being able to totally relate to her or maybe it was my emotions going haywire because of the prednisone, but everything she talked about really hit home with me. Each and everyone of us suffering from Crohn's or colitis can tell you the date their life changed when they were diagnosed, list all the medications they're on, give details of their flare-ups, and so on. And sure enough we've all had our private embarrassing moments. Either way, everyone running or walking has either been there or has known someone who's been there. We're all in this together, and together we'll find a cure.

That night I wrote down all the names of everyone that donated. It was humbling to see everyone that contributed. Friends, family, everyone. Now get ready for some numbers. Together we raised $2,294 for the CCFA to go toward research for Crohn's and colitis! Team Challenge New England raised around $380,000! And, as a whole, Team Challenge on a national level raised over $1,800,000! That's right, $1,800,000! Incredible!

Thanks to all my supporters! You guys are the best!

I was so pumped and ready to go that I couldn't fall asleep. I think I finally passed out around 1:00am, which is pretty late considering not only would I be running 13.1 miles in the morning but we were all waking up at 4:00am to get ready. Regardless, 3 hours of sleep was all I needed. I had a solid night's sleep two nights before (which is actually more important), so I wasn't worried. When I woke up I got dressed, threw on my orange Team Challenge shirt, pounded a few slices of bread to the face, and was out the door ready to go. We got to the race course where music was blasting and thousands of racers were getting ready. It finally started going through my head that this was it. In less than an hour I'd be running 13.1 miles, which would be the farthest I've ever run before. But luckily I had Team Challenge teammates with me to be there every step of the way!

We lined up at the start according to pace, and I thought I'd shoot for the front of the 8-minute mile pack. I could do that, why not? I've been feeling good, pounding calcium supplements to combat the side effects of the prednisone, so I decided to go for it. I lined up with my Team Challenge New England buddies Nate and Chris. I knew from all the training runs that they were fast, but whatever I figured I could keep up.

Then there was the countdown from 10.

10, 9,... Oh God what did I get myself into?... 8, 7, 6,... 13.1 miles? Seriously? And it's hilly... 5, 4,... You know what? I got this. Piece of cake... 3, 2, 1, GO!

We took off, all 2,679 of us, to tackle the hilly 13.1 miles of the Inaugural 13.1 Boston in the Blue Hills. First thoughts: "This is awesome!" I was pumped, running alongside my Team Challenge family and getting started on everything we for which we trained. The next thing I know we're passing the 1-mile mark and I was right on my target pace of 8:00. Perfect. I knew I could hold that pace. My breathing was good and steady, and my body was feeling solid. The 2-mile mark came and went. I thought to myself, already? Really? And faster than an 8-minute pace? Sure I'll take that, especially before the hills really kick in!

We then came to the first of two out-and-back sections of the race, and it was awesome to see Eric completely destroying the course as he passed by me in the other direction. It was also awesome to be running back and seeing all the orange of the hundreds of members of Team Challenge! Also seeing my brother running in general was pretty entertaining. I was alternating water and Gatorade at each of the water tables, as the sugar kept me going and the water kept me hydrated. Up the hill to mile 5 and we were treated to one of the best views of the Boston skyline the Blue Hills have to offer. Down the hill we went for mile 6, turned around to come back up the hill to mile 7. Mile 7, just over halfway. I was stunned. 7 miles down, I was feeling great, and I was roughly 3:00 ahead of my 8-minute pace. I pounded a GU to the face, and the burst of sugar gave me a much-welcomed second wind before the caffeine kicked in. Miles 7 through 10 were all a nice downhill, but there was a catch. At mile 10 we'd start a serious climb over 1.5 miles.

13.1 Boston course elevation map. Yeah, check out that hill right around mile 10. Ridiculous.

It was exhausting to say the least, and I knew I just had to keep running and power through it. I reflected on how I've been through so much pain and agony with my Crohn's, and that this was nothing in comparison. This thought alone motivated me through that long uphill stretch. When I reached the top I felt like a champ! Only a little over 1-mile left! I couldn't believe it! I was really doing it! Soon I'd be crossing that finish line in my first half-marathon!

Coming down the end of the course was crazy. There were tons of people cheering, and I was smiling. Yes, smiling after 13.1 miles, after the hills, after everything. I crossed that finishing line with what I had left in the tank, and I was sure to throw up my hands in celebration. I was so happy! I mean unbelievably happy! I'd later find out that my time was 1:40:29, which turns out to be a 7:41 pace! The runner's high I felt was amazing. I've been through so much this past year alone, and to be able to prove to myself that I could complete a half-marathon meant everything to me.

My first half-marathon in the bag! 1:40:29 baby!

It was great to cheer on all the rest of my Team Challenge teammates and see how pumped they were to be crossing that finish line! Together we raised an incredible sum of money for the CCFA. Today, we either beat Crohn's or colitis for ourselves or for someone we know. Today, we're all champions. Go Team Challenge!

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to all of my supporters for everything! You're the best! Thanks especially to my Mom and Dad who continue to support me in everything I do, and thanks to my brother and Meredith for coming out and running!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

1 final day!

This is it. My bag is packed. I've got my racing bib, shoes, gear, food, everything. It's all ready to go and so am I! I can't believe the race is tomorrow morning. I'm looking forward to the early morning wake-up call, the craziness in the morning, the pre-race jitters, and the starting gun. 13.1 awesome miles await, and I can't wait to bring them down.

Team Challenge New England!

I went on my short 3-mile run today and got in a good stretch. That's it. The next time I run will be tomorrow morning, and it's going to be my first half marathon. I'm so excited I don't have words for it. This whole experience has been amazing. From signing up, getting started with fundraising, seeing everyone pitch in, training, meeting absolutely inspiring people, being injured, learning more about my Crohn's, sticking with it, and getting to the starting line ready to go. It's crazy. It really is. The past few months have flown by, and spending that time with Team Challenge has been awesome.

6:13 tomorrow morning the gun will sound and I'll be off along with all my Team Challenge teammates. I can't think of a better way to spend my Sunday.

If you're in the area and want to come out and watch that'd be awesome! It's going to be an absolute blast! Check out the 13.1 Boston website here for all the race day information, including directions, parking information, and all that good stuff.

Thanks again for all of your support, and together we'll conquer Crohn's and colitis!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bib #289 - It's game time

So I ran downtown after leaving work a little on the early side today to pick up my bib number and race shirt. I'll be running as #289 on Sunday, and I seriously can't wait!

It's really starting to hit me that this is going to be my first half-marathon. 13.1 hilly miles of running. The tough part is that I'm pretty competitive at heart, but I still need to watch myself and make sure I don't incur any injuries. The only thing worrying me is being on prednisone, which has caused me problems in the past. But I've been taking calcium supplements twice a day, everyday since I started the prednisone and I feel awesome. I can honestly say that I'm just happy to be running with such an inspiring group of people for the CCFA. That in itself is enough for me. I don't feel the need to hit a target time or anything like that. (I'll leave that for my next half-marathon.) As some of my good buddies would say, the score is fun to fun.

Tomorrow morning I'll head out for a short little 2 or 3-mile run just to loosen everything up and get in a good stretch. Then I'll pack up my things for the night with Team Challenge at the hotel downtown and be on my way! Don't worry Mom, I'll be sure to take lots of pictures!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Getting ready - 3 days left!

Alright so it's official. There's only 3 days until the half-marathon! I'm excited, a little nervous, and definitely ready. You only get one "first" race of any kind, and I'm absolutely pumped that my first half-marathon is going to with Team Challenge to benefit the CCFA. I honestly can't think of a better combination.

It's been a long journey, but it's been completely worthwhile. Meeting everyone on Team Challenge New England has been both comforting and inspiring. On one hand there's a lot of people who can relate to living with Crohn's and colitis, and there's also people who are living with the disease who are just flat out inspiring. While I'm going out there on Sunday to run the race to prove to myself that I can still do everything I want to do despite my Crohn's, I'm also running for everyone else living with the disease that can't do it. I can already feel there's probably going to be a wave of emotion that will come over me after crossing the finish line, but to me that'll just be a definitive sign that all of this hard work and getting through training despite relapsing has been worth it.

I can't thank everyone enough for their support throughout this whole process. When you give to the CCFA you are literally helping to fund the best research in the field, and personally I can't be grateful enough. Thank you.

I'll be posting daily updates from here on out and will definitely be letting you know how it goes on Sunday!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Last team training! - 6 days left!

So Saturday was our last team training before the race. We all met up in Southie at Carson Beach for a short 6-mile run. It's amazing how a 6-mile run has become a short run, when before it was one of our longer runs. I'm feeling good, and feeling ready to tackle the hilly 13.1 miles next Sunday!

We also got our official Team Challenge race day singlets today! As a little last-minute fundraising, anyone who donates $10 or more will earn a spot for their name on my shirt! After all, without awesome donors like you we wouldn't have been able to have raised over $380,000 as part of Team Challenge New England! Yup, over $380,0000! And of course if you've already made a donation over $10 you've already earned your spot!

Make your donation today! Every donation helps bring us closer to finding a cure for Crohn's and colitis!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

So close!

Yup, so it's been a while since I last posted on here. About a month actually. My apologies. Work got a little busy and then I got my third flare-up this year. But I'm finally feeling better, and I've finally remembered to write something in here!

It's crazy that the half-marathon is just a little over a week away! I can't even begin to describe how excited I am. This weekend at our group training we're getting our race singlets, so it's official! I'll be running all 13.1 miles come June 27! I'm a little worried, only because the prednisone that I've been on for what seems like the better half of this year has seriously weakened my bones. So much so that I actually notice it after a long run. But regardless, I'm going to run the half-marathon to prove to myself that yes, I can do whatever I set my mind to do despite my Crohn's or any drugs that I'm on.

As for fundraising, so far with all of your help we've raised $1,864 to fight Crohn's and colitis! That's outstanding! Together we've already made a huge step forward in taking Crohn's and colitis down. I honestly can't thank all of my donors enough, especially as this cause is so obviously close to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!