Below is the next edition from our Boston Marathon blogger Sarah Moquin. Sarah is running to raise money for the American Liver Foundation. Please donate to her run by clicking here.
The big day is rapidly approaching and I can hardly believe it’s already April. I’ve got my bib # assigned (lucky 21821!) and the last big run, the 21 miler is now behind me. This run was the dress rehearsal, we rode out to Hopkinton and ran the course in to BC. I tried to mimic the prep I will do before race day, same day before meal I plan on eating and same early bed time. I used my foam roller & stick like crazy the week before to prep my muscles, wore the pants & bra I will wear on race day and of course my beloved sneakers. One thing that was still a question mark for me was my exact fueling plan for race day. Running this distance, there is only so much pasta you can consume in the day prior, so fueling during the run is crucial. There are so many different ways to tackle fueling, and trial and error is the only way to really figure it out. I swear have tried just about everything on the market. Blocks and beans and gels oh my!
Through lots of trial and error (many, many errors) I have figured out that during a run, chewing is just not an option for me, even if I stop. That left me with gels. My first experience was with a lemon-lime flavored Gu at mile 8 of a half marathon. Volunteers were passing them out at a water stop and I figured I’d give it a try. I ripped off the top of the package, squirted it into my mouth… and promptly ran to the side of the road to spit it right out! Hot and slimy, it was maybe the most disgusting thing I had ever tasted. It wasn’t until last year’s marathon training when I had ruled out all blocks, chomps and beans as a possibility that I was ready to give it another shot. I tried a few different brands and flavors and ultimately settled on Gu’s chocolate outrage flavor. I’ve gotten used to the consistency, and on a cold day when the packets freeze in my pocket I even enjoy them! I used the 21 miler to finalize my plan of what intervals to take them at and I’m pretty set on every 5 miles or so. 9 miles into that run I was feeling great, my outfit was set, my fueling was going well and I was keeping pace just as I wanted.
About 10 miles in however, my left foot and the plantar fasciitis I’ve been battling since the fall started to remind me that this year I’m not getting off so easy. By the time I hit the Newton fire station at around mile 17 I was struggling bad. My amazing teammate Lisa was running with me and came up with every topic she could think of to distract me from my pain. Unfortunately not even the return of Mad Men was enough to make me forget about the stabbing in my foot. Discouraged, angry and near tears I approached the next water stop grateful for the small break. When I got there I saw that one of the volunteers was Tom, one of the liver patients involved with my Run for Research team. This was a young man whose story has really stuck with me. At about 15 years old, he is, in my opinion way too young to be dealing with this disease. He has a form of Liver Disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis. This disease impacts the liver’s bile ducts which are a key component in a normally functioning liver, and while it can be controlled, the only “cure” is a liver transplant. This is also a disease that has been in my family, which is probably why his story resonates with me so much. Seeing him at that water stop reminded me why I was out there in the first place, and I was ready to finish the run.
I may have been mentally ready, but at mile 19 I saw one of the team coaches, who is also the Dr. I see each week for my foot. Clearly in pain and with 2 miles left she asked me what was more important: finishing a training run or getting to race day as healthy as possible. I fought with myself for a few minutes, and luckily my ego lost the battle and I got in the car with her. It was a really tough decision for me, I didn’t want to “wimp out” especially when I had just seen so many liver patients out cheering the team on, but I know it was the right one. I absolutely love running, and getting to run Boston is a huge honor, but at the end of the day I’m involved with the Run for Research team because I want to bring as much attention to liver disease as possible.
Well, ok that and the race T-shirt. Isn’t that secretly why we all decide to do races?