Friday, April 18, 2014

Boston Marathoner Spotlight...Rich Houston

I first met Rich when we moved down to the Cape and I started teaching at a high school there.  Rich is a history teacher at the high school and the kind of teacher who not only loves what he teaches, he gets his students to love it too!  He gets excited about the things he is passionate about and you can't help but get excited right along with him!
I had not been teaching there long when Rich invited me to come run with his running group sometime.  He used to joke that I could come but he may slow me down since he is an old man.  I quickly learned Rich's REAL running truths and while he may have slowed from his 2 hour marathon days...slow he is not!!  Rich inspires others with everything he does....just let him tell you himself!


Tell us about you.  How did you get into running?
I starting racing back in junior high school in the late 1960s. I competed in track at St. John's HS in Shrewsbury and at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester. I've been running with local clubs for the last 36 years. Initially I belonged to the Great Boston Track Club, then the Central Mass Striders, and for the last 20 years the Cape Cod AC.
 
        How many times have you run the marathon?
I've been an official Boston entrant 28 times. If I make it this year, it will be 26 official finishes. I also ran it twice unofficially with my wife. On two occasions, I qualified but was injured and unable to run on race day. This year will make 19 in a row. 
 
If you could play a highlight reel of your running career, what would you include?
I set the St. John's school record for the mile: 4:18.8 in 1974 (5th in the Mass All-State Meet). I ran 4:08.9 in finishing 6th in the New England Intercollegiate Championship mile in 1977. I ran Boston in 2:30:34 in 1979.
 
Where were you when the bombs went off?  What event of the day sticks out for you most?
I was waiting for my baggage at the bus between Clarendon and Berkeley Streets on Boylston. I had finished about 25 minutes before the first bomb went off. We did not realize the "boom" was a bomb until the sirens and emergency personnel began to arrive. I was quite worried about family members and friends who were spread throughout the area. When the phones went out it took a while to meet up with my wife. We were unable to access the parking garage where our car was located for quite a while until security finished its assessment.
 
How has your training been this year?  What have been your biggest struggles/victories?
I have a great CCAC (Cape Cod Athletic Club) running gang that meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We did our long runs from Brooks Park in Harwich on Saturday morning. The biggest challenge is trying to stay healthy and not overdoing it. I tried to get several weeks of 50 miles or more; my longest run was 20 2-3 weeks before race day.
 
What does running Boston 2014 mean to you?
I looking forward to being part of the big event that shows just how STRONG Boston and the running community really are. I hoping to keep my streak going and get requalified for next year.
 
Rich I'll be back at my post at mile 7 where you saw me last year!!  Maybe one day I will be able to hang with your fast legs!!!  Best of luck!!!!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Boston Marathoner Spotlight...Dani Holmes-Kirk

I have been reading Dani's blog Weight off my Shoulders for many years but I have had the pleasure to be a fellow ZOOMA Ambassador with her last year and this.
When you first meet Dani you realize not only is she an amazing and driven lady but she is real...she is honest about her struggles and honest about successes...and boy does she have a lot of them!  Dani has drive that can move mountains and it seems like every time she lines up for a race she is primed and ready to crush it!!  And crush it she does!!!  Let's let Dani tell you in her own words!

1. Tell us about you. How did you get started running?

I am a complicated lady. Nope not really. Just trying to set a scene. Really I'm a girl that was unhealthy and overweight for quite awhile and decided to take charge of my life. On November 2, 2009 I walked into my first Weight Watchers meeting and in January 2012 I hit my goal weight - losing 64 lbs in the process and gaining so much more. In total I have shed 80 lbs from my highest weight (or the one I last saw before destroying my scale). 

I NEVER thought I would be a runner. I always HATED running. But, I wanted to lose weight and all of my friends that ran looked to be thin and in shape. So in January 2005, I started with 1/2 a mile on the treadmill and each week I added another 1/4 mile. By that March I ran my first 5k, February 2006 my first half marathon and September 2006 my first full marathon. 

Then I stopped. I was injured and done with running. I stopped for about 4 years.

In January 2011, I had back surgery for a herniated disc. My wife started running while I was laid up and I wanted to get out there with her. Hello competitive side. So in June 2011, I gave running another try and have been hooked ever since. 

2. If you could play a highlight tape of your running career, what would you include?


Every since run I've ever done. I am not even trying to be sarcastic. Every chance I am given to run I now cherish. After running the Boston Marathon in 2013. the ability and gift to run cannot be taken for granted. So every time I lace up those sneakers is a highlight.

Now there are definitely some memories that are more exciting to others. 

*Finishing my first marathon 3rd to last in 5:59:27
*Having a BLAST during the Dopey Challenge in Disney in January 2014 (4 costumes, 4 races, 4 days, 48.6 miles)
*Going from my first 5k (38:21) to my current PR of 21:59
*Finishing the Savannah Marathon sub 4 hours and taking 2 hours off my finish time --- from 5:59:27 to 3:58:49
*Completing back-to-back half marathons in September 2013
Sporting some serious Disney bling!
3. Where were you when the bombs went off? What event of the day sticks out for you most?

I was just on the other side of the Finish Line. I had crossed the Finish Line about a minute before the explosions. How my emotions varied are best described here: http://www.weightoffmyshoulders.com/2013/04/the-aftermath-of-marathon-monday/

The race itself is something that I could not replicate. It has such energy and liveliness. But if you are asking in terms of what happened then I would say feeling so lost after the race. I was separated from my mom and my wife & dad had been closer to the bombs. I wandered around the streets trying to use the phones of nurses or anyone in the area to try and contact/find my family. As I wandered on Boylston St and Newbury St I ran into my friend Robin (@robinbn) somehow. She finished 20 min before me but was in the area. She, her husband and friend Steph sat with me on a stoop on Arlington St until we got a hold of my family. Thankfully Robin's phone was working as mine had been dead.
Elated after finding her family!
 4. How has your training been this year? What have been your biggest struggles/victories?
 
The training season was very unique. Biggest reason being that I had signed up for the Disney Dopey Challenge before committing to running Boston in 2014. So in January I had the 48.6 mile challenge (5k, 10k, Half, Full) in the middle of my normal training plan. That paired with a foot injury that really took control of my fall training led to altering my plan.

I definitely spent more time on the bike as a result and actually think that has really helped my ability to tackle hills stronger this year.

 5. What does running Boston 2014 mean to you?

Running Boston in 2014 is for closure, celebration, my family, my friends, the city of Boston, the people injured/killed during the explosions and so much more. But the #1 reason is always for me. I run every race with a purpose to prove something to myself. Coming from the 235 lb girl who wanted nothing to do with running to a 80-lb loser and 4-time marathoner (soon to be 5), every race proves another hurdle and trophy for my collection. 

If there is anything I know about Dani it is that there is nothing that can stand in the way of this girl reaching her goals!!!  I'll be looking for you at mile 7...Go Dani Go!!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Boston Marathoner Spotlight...Megan Sabatinelli

 I met Megan at a race in 2011 when a sweet voice said at the starting line, "Are you Fancy Nancy?"  She was a reader of my blog and recognized me.  Through comments here and there I convinced Megan to join the running group I was a part of and from there she just took off!!!  She has worked so hard and has become an amazing runner...and a person I am proud to call friend!!  There are many things about Megan that inspire me as a runner but one of the biggest things is how she has worked through many walls to make her training happen.  She has done long runs on Friday nights after work in not so great areas of town knowing that that was the only time she would have to get it in...faced the roller coaster of the local service road with other fabulous ladies to make sure she got in her hill workouts...all with a smile on her face!  The fateful HOT AS HADES Boston marathon was her first time running Boston and the heat did not sway her...but let me let her tell her in her own words!!

Tell us something about you?
 I'm in my late thirties. I am a wife and mother of two boys ( 13 and 10).    I'm a teachers assistant  in a elementary school. I started running in 2005, I needed to lose weight after having 2 kids and my husband being deployed for 4 months with the military. I started by just doing a couple of miles a week and then got talked into doing a road race. That's when the addiction began. I loved racing and trying to beat my previous times.

What would be included in your running highlight reel?
Some of the highlights of my running career have been of course my first race. It really started me wanting to run more and faster. The other big race was my first half marathon. I never thought I could run that distance so it was a huge accomplishment to do it. I also think that running the half marathon helped to give me the confidence to try and tackle full marathons. One of my favorite races is Myrtle Beach half/full marathon. Myrtle Beach currently holds my marathon PR and I've run the half twice. Boston will always have my heart. It's of course the best marathon.

Where were you when the bombs went off?
I was probably about 2 miles back when the bombs went off but was stopped at 25.5. I was very luckily because my husband was waiting for me in Kenmore Square and someone behind him said the was a explosion at the finish so my husband jumped the fence and ran with me till we were stopped. One of the things I remember is my husband saying the rest of the world knows mores about what's going on than we do. That really stuck out because we had no information about what was happening. We were walking around the city hearing bits and pieces about what was happening. I also felt horrible for my parents and kids because we couldn't get a hold of them and I knew they would be frantic worrying about us. The rest of the day was surreal, seeing the police cars and rescues flying through the streets.
Taken by her husband in Kenmore Square before she knew what had happened
How has your training been this year?
Training this year has been hard. The weather has been the biggest hurdle. We have run in snow, sleet, ice, rain, freezing temps, and very little sun. I feel like if I could survive this winter I can tackle anything on race day, except hot temps :-).
What does running Boston 2014 mean to you?
Running Boston this year is about finishing business, about coming back stronger and taking the marathon back. It's about remembering those who lost their lives and those who were injured.  It's about celebrating the amazing, courageous acts of love and kindness that came out of that day. I'm excited  to run but also worry about the emotional aspect of the day. I think this will be the Boston yet.

One of my strongest memories from the days following the bombing last year was a run we did on Cape.  It was one of the first times most of the marathon runners were together again and it was organized as a run of unity.
I remember seeing Megan and wanting to cry...happy to hug her and know she was ok!  She was there to run with her son.  Megan I'll be cheering my loudest at mile 7....I know you're going to do amazing!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Boston Marathoner Spotlight...Stu Weiner

My first Boston Marathoner I want to introduce you to is Stu.  Stu is the baby brother of my BRF Jill...sorry Stu!...and 2014 will be his 3rd time running Boston.  I first met Stu in 2011 when we went for a New Year's run on the Cape Cod Canal.

He met us there and I thought to myself...boy do fast runners run their family?!  He had just started getting serious about running and the bug certainly bit him hard.  We ran again in April when we tackled the first Jamestown Bridge 10k and that is when the weather issue started following Stu wherever he raced!
It was freezing and super windy that day and I have to say that most races he did after that one had some sort of weather twist!  I even said at one point that if Stu was running then I was planning for foul weather!!! In true form that would follow for any races we did together, he took off and I spent the rest of the race chasing him!

Stu started his Boston trilogy in 2012 for....you guessed it...one of the hottest Boston Marathons on record!!!  Temps soared well above 90 degrees and Stu, who never backs down from a challenge, was game!!  He finished...all be just slightly dehydrated...and started his tradition of running for Team Eye and Ear!
Stu is the type of person who loves to have a great time, help out whenever he can, and laugh the loudest...but when it's time to run it is time to get to work!  It shows in his times that are being cut more and more almost each time he lines up for a race! Stu is passionate about running but even more than that he is passionate about his family.  I think if I asked Stu what his greatest accomplishment was he would say his family!
His beautiful wife and girls post 5k
These smiling faces were who was waiting for Stu along with his sister Jill and a family friend at the finish line on April 15, 2013.

Mile 22
They were actually standing on Boylston between the two blasts.  His sister jumped the barricade and ran along the route until she found Stu at mile 25.5 where he and thousands of runners were stopped.  It was a heart wrenching time to be separated from his wife and children but to know they were safe was top priority.  After far too much time apart and a trek over the Mass Ave bridge, he was able to hug his wife and girls again!
This year Stu is ready to settle the family business in Boston this year and finish what he started in 2013!  He's ramped up his training this year by adding in hill repeats and track workouts in order to face the biggest Boston Marathon in history not only to finish but crush it!  Stu will be running again in his Team Eye and Ear singlet...from Hopkinton to Boylston he will be smiling the whole way...and having an extra special embrace from his family at the finish!  We're cheering for you Stu...and we know you are going to have your best Boston yet!!! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Motivation

Have you ever watched a race...a marathon?  The sheer will on the runners faces to finish the race before them is amazing and inspiring!  This quote became even more true after last year's Boston Marathon.  People put aside all their differences...needs...wants and reached out to those around them.  Help pour in from every corner of the world!  This week, the week before Boston 2014, I am featuring 4 runners from last year's marathon.  Each one has a different story to tell about that day and about what running again means to them!  These people have inspired and motivated me...and I hope they do the same for you! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dear Boston

Monday we were in Boston for our daughter's pre-op appointment at Children's.  As luck would have it the appointment lasted all of 10 minutes so when we were done we decided to stay in the city for a bit.  When hubby asked me what I wanted to do, I knew right away where I wanted to go...

The mayor had just opened the "Dear Boston" exhibit at the Boston Public Library.  It is a collection of the things that were at the Copley Memorial that grew after the marathon. I was not expecting it but the moment I walked in it caught my breath...and I fought back the emotions the entire time I was there.  If it weren't for Aubrey being there...and making sure she didn't touch anything...I may have sat and took it all in...let myself feel the impact of what had happened that day...the impact of the outpouring of support for those who were lost and injured that day...the lasting impact on those I love who were running and there...the rise up of a community not willing to give in.  I will leave you with pictures that I took but please know that these simply scratch the surface of what this memorial really is...you need to be there to truly experience it....to feel the emotion...it is open until May if you can get there.



Here is a clip from the local news about the exhibit. (As an aside...The mayor's accent couldn't be more pure Boston...I love it!)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Let's Talk Training

3 weeks away from the Newport 10 miler and I'm feeling ready for this!  Two more weeks of work and then I get to take a week easier before starting up again!  It may sound crazy but I'm really liking this tired feeling I'm getting by the end of the week...like I've put in a full week's work!  I was also very happy this week breaking out the jogger!  We run to pick up the baby from the babysitter and home for a quick 2 miler.  Boy did I forget how hard pushing that is!!!  Plus they're bigger now!! Here's how this week played out!

Monday: I wanted to run 8 miles to hit 100 for the #FFMarchMiles but alas that was wishful thinking.  I hit 4 miles and was happy with the 96 miles for March! 
Tuesday:  Started the morning with kettlebells and finished the day with 4.5 miles on the mill.
Wednesday: 6 miles on the schedule...and tiredness took over...2 miles with the girls and 3 miles on the mill
Thursday: Met up with my friend to do kettlebells and 6.2 miles
Friday: 1.8 miles in my daughter came downstairs to meet me.  Finished the day with 2 miles with the girls (boy am I happy to have jogger weather back!
Saturday: 10 miles early in the day before we headed to visit my family
Sunday: Rest...even though I really wanted to squeeze in a run after church I took a nap instead!
How was your week?