An ablation on the horizon?

ablationI recently took a meeting with an EP (electrophysiologist) at my hospital’s cardiology unit so I could specifically start probing about the possibility of undergoing an ablation. This procedure is somewhat minimally invasive with long, flexible tubes (catheters) are inserted through a vein in your groin and threaded to your heart to correct structural problems in your heart that cause an arrhythmia.

I’m being proactive. Even though I’m currently in normal sinus rhythm I’m anticipating an eventual relapse back into atrial fibrillation sometime before the end of the year. Therefore, rather than undergo a fifth cardioversion, I’m seriously considering having the ablation performed.

The EP agreed with my thinking, and gave me a green light to schedule the procedure once I was ready.

Now it’s a waiting game.

It’s Back! The October Sunday Challenge 2015

Unquestionably one of my running highlights from 2014 was when I ran four (4) half marathons during the month of October as a way to spark awareness for early detection of atrial fibrillation.

October Challenge 2015

I called it the “October Sunday Challenge” because all four half marathons happened to fall on Sundays. And it was a blast. The four races I chose each had their own unique charm (see recap article here), and as soon as it ended I found myself immediately telling everyone “I’m doing it again next year.”

So this October I’ll once again set out to race in four half marathons. I’ll be doing the same four events as last year:

Smuttynose Rockfest – October 4
BAA Half Marathon – October 11
Baystate Half Marathon – October 18
White Mountain Milers Half Marathon – October 25

More information to come over the next few months. I think as a new twist this year I’m going to encourage friends/family/colleagues to get involved by running one (1) half marathon in October. It’ll be a challenge to recruit runners, and I’ll try not to get too “preachy,” but if I can get a handful to participate, then perhaps this can grow in future years.

Osc Collages

PRODUCT REVIEW: Track your heart rate with SMS Audio’s BioSport Earbuds

I don’t really plug new products, but I recently came into contact with a new product that I have found to be a personal gamechanger when it comes to measuring heart rate while I’m running.

BioSport_Gallery-Images_BlueA6_1024x1024The SMS BioSport Earbuds not only provides quality audio, but also have a built-in sensor which measures your heart beat in your ear. This means no longer having to wear that tight strap around your chest (which in all fairness, I don’t mind, but given the option, prefer to not to).

I was introduced to this product somewhat by accident at the Sports & Fitness Expo back in late April. SMS Audio was exhibiting along with Runkeeper, and after bumping into Erin from Runkeeper, she mentioned they were teaming up with a new form of headphone technology which measured heart rate.

I immediately said “show me!”

I tested the product right there on a treadmill at the booth. The BioSport marketing team did a brief interview with me and let me take the earphones home.  I have now used them many times, and each time my satisfaction grows even more.

Four main reasons:
1) Easy to wear – The rubberized earbuds that go into your ear have just enough traction where I know they won’t slide out regardless of how much I may sweat during a run.
2) Accuracy – The heart rate monitor is very accurate. I’m still amazed at how the technology allows it to read heart rate via the ear lobe.
3) Integration with Runkeeper – the headphones pair very easily with Runkeeper, my must-have running app. At the end of each run when I view reports I’m now able to see how my heart rate fared during the run. This is a crucial feature because of my atrial fibrillation; it is essential that I know heart rate at all times during my runs.
4) Audio quality is excellent (if you do a basic online search for “SMS Audio” you’ll quickly find that they are a market leader in the audio product space).

The earphones retail for $149 (Disclaimer: I did not have to pay for mine), but if you’re serious about measuring your heart rate without having to mess with those annoying chest straps, then this product is worth the money.

A May Setback

There’s a feeling I get when I first wake up from a cardioversion procedure and stare up at the heart monitor to see my heart beating normally. I can’t explain it, but it’s awesome. It definitely makes me appreciate “normal” that much more.

This is my first post in over a month. It’s been a tough month of May. On Friday morning, May 15th I fell back into atrial fibrillation. Not shocking. After all this is the fourth time it’s happened in the last 2 years, but it’s incredibly disheartening (pardon the pun). I thought this time around would be different given that I’m now also taking heart regulating medication.

ParklandNonetheless, I sat down with my cardiology team and we quickly decided that I should be cardioverted again so I can be put back into normal sinus rhythm. Therefore, on Wednesday morning, May 27th I reported back to the New England Heart Institute at Parkland Center for Cardiology to receive my fourth cardioversion. The procedure went well with no complications.

So, I’m back to normal, for now. I will begin to slowly train again in hopes of competing in the BAA 10K on June 21st.

RACE RECAP: Redemption at the BAA 5K

For months now I’ve been using the same joke over and over again about how I’m “running Boston” again this year on marathon weekend, but in fact the punchline is rooted in the fact that I’m not running the Boston Marathon, but instead BAA 5K on the Saturday before the big day.

So I made my way into Boston this morning for my first official 5K in a long time.

5k2This morning’s race couldn’t have had better weather. I’d say low 60’s with plenty of sun. I had run the BAA 10K before, but never the 5K as I’ve always ran the Boston Marathon in previous years. I was mildly surprised (and pleased) by how similar the 5K was to the 10K. They had the same starting areas, same tent structures, same event management…

I traditionally don’t do a lot of 5K races. Just never have. So therefore I didn’t feel I had a good handle on my race strategy since I don’t have a ton of familiarity with this shorter distance.

Once the gun went off, I was a little confused on how to run the first mile. I wanted to be quick, but I didn’t want to be too fast. I turned the first mile in 7:35 which in hindsight was probably too fast for me. I noticed it well into mile 2 when I felt slightly fatigued from over-exertion and briefly out of breath. I managed to settle down and finished mile 2 in 7:33.

5kAt this point there was only a mile left, and it was only fitting that the final mile took runners down Boylston Street through the marathon finish line. I enjoyed it – it was nostalgic to turn right on Hereford and left onto Boylston one more time.

I finished in 23:58 (7:43 pace) which I’m absolutely thrilled about. Not only is it a PR for the 5K distance, but it has given me renewed confidence. For the last few months, I didn’t think I could ever finish a race with a sub-8 pace again.

Up next? Not sure. I’m already signed up for the BAA 10K on June 21st, but I’m evaluating some other races in the interim. Possibly another half, or maybe just another 5K.  Stay tuned…

expo2

RACE RECAP: The Eastern States Run for the Border Half Marathon

Today I ran in the Eastern States Run for the Border Half Marathon. This race starts in Rye, NH and concludes in Salisbury, MA.  I’ve always run the 20 mile version in the past, but now that I’m not running Boston I thought I’d sign up for their half marathon.

half

Today marks my first race since my last half marathon in late October 2014. I had actually tried to enter some other races earlier this winter (Hyannis Half, Black Cat 10 Miler) but both were canceled due to the excessive snow.

Also noteworthy since my last race is the fact that I’ve clearly slowed down by 30-40 seconds per mile. A number of reasons for this, some of which are linked to my health and new medication, but fact of the matter is that I’ve done very little running this winter.

With that said, I knew coming into today’s race that I would need to “reinvent” how I run these races if I was to finish with a decent time.

Therefore, today my strategy was to hold back for the first several miles of the race. I usually always say this when I plan my run, but today I meant it. I would cling to runners I knew were running slower and make it a point to stay behind them. I was really diligent about sticking to this plan. And it paid off today.

There’s no better feeling than being 9 miles into a 13.1 mile race, and feeling fresh. That’s how I felt today. I didn’t hit any walls. I even ran through some water stops, which, by rule, I usually take it upon myself to walk through.

I finished in 1:55:39.  Though not a PR, I wasn’t expecting one. Nor was I expecting to even come close to one. I had actually planned on finishing somewhere north of 2:05 for no other reason than I have been much slower recently and I was looking to today as more of a tuneup.

It was solid – all my splits were within the mid 8’s (except for the final two which were low 9’s). I can’t do splits in the 7’s anymore, so I’ll need to learn to do most of my miles in the 8’s. That’s how I’ll need to get it done from now on if I’m going to keep racing.

Up next is the Great Bay Half Marathon on April 12th.

A Conversation with Actor-Comedian Kevin Nealon

Kevin NealonI recently had the pleasure of participating in a private webcast interview with actor-comedian Kevin Nealon as part of an arrangement made possible by Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Kevin was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation 15 years ago while vacationing in Mexico. After working out on the beach his heart started beating rapidly. He was later diagnosed with AFib.

He immediately made some lifestyle changes, which included taking a blood thinner called warfarin to help prevent blood clots. Several years later he underwent an ablation and is now living an active, rewarding life without medication.

Kevin is now busy spreading the word about AFib basically to anybody who will listen. When I asked him about how he shares his story to his contemporaries in show business, he mentioned that he often finds himself teaching others how to take their own pulse and self-monitor their heart rate. Like myself, he admits to “lecturing” others about the importance of early detection (“I enjoy talking about AFib” he remarked). In fact, thanks to Kevin’s story, his father learned he had AFib after Kevin was diagnosed.

During this past February’s American Heart Month and March’s Blood Clot Awareness Month, Nealon teamed up with Janssen Pharmaceuticals and golfer Arnold Palmer to share his story, raise awareness, and to make to a difference in the lives of the millions of people suffering from heart disease.

Below is a clip Kevin filmed with Arnold Palmer promoting the new campaign for Drive4Clots.com and the partnership with Mended Hearts.

*Kevin Nealon is a paid spokesperson for Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

The Sneaker Salesman Dilemma

I don’t consider myself a snobby runner by any means. Quite the contrary actually. I fashion myself as a casual, slow, 40+ runner who is simply grateful just to be healthy enough to run, especially given my heart issues during the last year. Sure, sometimes I forget to wave to that runner on the other side of the street, but I wouldn’t say that classifies me as snobby.

But, yesterday I found myself on the offensive when I went for my annual trip to the sporting goods store to buy a new pair of running shoes.

IMG_5721Like most, I typically prefer to buy my footwear at a specialty running store where a well-trained running expert can recommend with amazing accuracy the type of sneaker I should wear. Unfortunately, yesterday I went to a big box retailer (who’s name I’ll leave secret, but let’s just say it’s one of the big ones). I had a gift certificate to this store, so I thought I’d give them a try.

Once I arrived I made my way over to the ASICS section and sorted through the selection of Gel-Kayano and GT-2000’s. When the sales associate noticed my intensity and guessed that I’m was destined to be a paying customer, he came over and asked if I “had any questions.”

And that’s when all hell broke loose.

“Yes,” I tell him. “Can you tell me the weight differential between the Gel-Kayano and the GT-2000?”

He’s perplexed. But honest. His name tag says “Rick.”

“Uh, I’m not really sure” he says. “Nobody really asks that stuff.”

I continue, pretending not to hear his response. “I know the Gel-Kayano is 10.4 ounces, but if you could find out for me the weight of the GT-2000 I’d appreciate it.”

Rick nods, and tells me he’ll go “in the back” to see if it’s listed in some of the vendor literature. He comes back 10 minutes later (after I’ve tried both of them on) and informs me the GT-2000 is 11 ounces.

“Do you have any other questions” he asks as more of a formality rather than a heart-felt question. He’s hoping I wrap things up at this point..

“Tell me about ASIC’s fluid ride?” I ask. I pretty much know the answer already, but it was a small test, and quite frankly I’m being a bit of a jerk at this point.  Rick labors through a somewhat satisfactory answer, though unimpressive.

My snobby ways continue when I ask Rick to give me a few minutes alone so I can make my decision. After dramatically dismissing him, I spend close to 20 minutes trying on both pairs. I eventually opt to go with the ASICS GT-2000 2, size 11.5.

Interestingly, when I was cashing out at the register, the cashier asks “Did Rick help you find what you needed today?”  I acquiesced, nodding my head with indifference. Apparently Rick is going to get some sort of commission or credit for “selling” these to me. The irony.

The lesson learned here is simple. Selecting your footwear is an important decision, so treat it like one and go to a retailer where they know their stuff. You’ll be glad you did.

Bring on the goose bumps… movie trailer is out for “Boston”

It’s finally out. The trailer has just been released for “Boston,” the feature-length film about the Boston Marathon due out in 2016.

This film is directed by Jon Dunham, the man who brought us “Spirit of the Marathon” and “Spirit of the Marathon II.”

I remember seeing the camera crews all throughout the race last year, and if this trailer is any indication, there’s no doubt this movie will perfectly capture the essence of the 118 Boston Marathon.

For more information on “Boston,” visit bostonmarathonfilm.com.

I’m Running Boston! (Well, not really…)

Abaa-distance-medley-logosfter last year’s Boston Marathon, I had decided that it would be my last time running the historic 26.2 mile route from Hopkinton to Boston.

With that said, I never thought I’d be saying this… but I’m running Boston again this April!

Well, not really.

Actually, truth of the matter is that I am in fact running Boston this April, but this time it will be the B.A.A. 5K on Saturday, April 18th.

Earlier today I received an email that my entry has been confirmed for the B.A.A. Distance Medley. This special program provides entry into three B.A.A. races: the B.A.A. 5K (April 18), the B.A.A. 10K (June 21st), and the B.A.A. Half Marathon (October 10th).

It won’t be the same as previous years, but it’s still on the same weekend, set against the backdrop of the Boston Marathon.

Gives me a good excuse to head into Boston and lace them up one more time. And without the black toe nails!

RECAP VIDEO: #MyAFibStorySummit in Chicago

You may remember me writing about my recent experience at the #MyAFibStorySummit in Chicago this past November. It was a great event and I learned a ton about living with AFib from other social media advocates who share similar circumstances as I do.

The producers of the event, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, created this highlight video from the event, which I’m pleased to post below.

*Disclosure: Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., paid for my travel expenses for the summit. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

 

Connecting with AFib Influencers in Chicago

IMG_5389Recently, I was privileged to attend to the #MyAfibStorySummit on November 15th in Chicago. This digital influencer event, produced by Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc.*, featured a collection of AFib bloggers and well known thought-leaders. The timing of this event was set against the backdrop of The American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions also occurring that same weekend in Chicago.

At the summitt, we all participated in a roundtable exchange to discuss the needs of the AFib community. This session was moderated by Dr. JoAnne Foody, Director of the Cardiovascular Wellness Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. As we went around the room, we all contributed our ideas and thoughts to ways we can further grow and impact the online charge when it comes to atrial fibrillation. I made sure to address my specific area of advocacy: emphasis on early detection and for those who are newly diagnosed.

IMG_5376It was an eye-opening event. It really was. I had never really “hung out” with others who had been touched by AFib. I came to quickly understand and appreciate everyone’s own individuality when it came to AFib. For each of the panelists, AFib presented itself in a different way. Some experienced severe daily pain, others minor flutters, and some were even in normal sinus rhythm for more than 10 years.  I shared with the panelists my coincidental tale of how I had just bounced back into atrial fibrillation the day before [Read more here].

The next day, I made sure to stop by the Scientific Session hall to visit the booths and find out about the next wave of technology in the cardiovascular space. It was a massive event – a who’s who in heart health, science and research.

The weekend was both informational and inspirational. My biggest takeaway is that we all can come together to form a support chain for those who are in the dark about AFib. The people I met in Chicago are a testament to that notion.

*Disclosure: Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., paid for my travel expenses for the summit. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

IMG_5374

When AFib Bites Back (Again)

afibagain

On the morning of November 14, while driving to work, I placed two fingers on my carotid artery to take my morning pulse. It was something I had trained myself to do every day since being diagnosed with AFib, and before long it becomes second nature.

But on this morning it felt different. Three normal beats followed by a rapid fourth. At first I dismissed it. Maybe it was just the vibration of my car causing a misread. I decided to wait until I arrived at the office.

When I got to the office, I tested again. Same result.

I chose  to remain calm. I instinctively called my cardiologist’s office and convinced them to see me later that afternoon to perform an EKG.

Unfortunately the EKG confirmed what I was fearing.

I was back in atrial fibrillation… again.

Usually when one is diagnosed with AFib, there’s a sense of sadness that sets in, a “dark cloud” if you will. But this time around I’m hopeful. This is my third time going through this, and I know there’s options ahead. I had enjoyed 5 1/2 months of normal sinus rhythm, and it truly was a great run (pun intended).

In December, I’ll meet with my medical team to see what the best next step(s) should be. Either way, I’m optimistic I’ll be back running on the road soon.

AFib and Me: One Year Later

Today’s the day. It was exactly one year ago – a day that changed everything.

[Insert flashback effect here].

When tafib2he cardiologist walked into the room, it didn’t take long for him to diagnose. A quick glance at the heart rate monitor confirmed what I had been fearing for weeks.

“Yep. That’s AFib alright.”

I was shocked. It was a punch to the gut. I really didn’t know much about Atrial Fibrillation, but one thing I did know is that AFib is practically a death sentence to a marathon runner like myself who was aspiring to run the Boston Marathon.

After all, here it was, November 8th, 2013, and “Boston” was just six months away. And afib one yearnot just any Boston. This one was going to be the holy grail of all marathons. 2014 was going to be special, especially for me for a number of reasons. It was going to be my 10th and final marathon, and it was going to be very emotional for me given the tragic events from the previous year (I was stopped at the 25.8 mile mark).

And now I’m not going to be a part of it. All because of a condition where my heart decided to beat rapidly and abnormally. Shit.

And just then is when I heard the words that would change everything….
“but, Tracy… if you’re up to it, there is this one procedure I can do that might possibly take care of this…”

Ding!

It was like a scene out of a sports movie. Ahh, the prospect of hope.

rr2My cardiologist then pitched me on the concept of an electro cardioversion, a procedure where the heart is literally reset to normal rhythm. It doesn’t always work, and even when it does, it’s not guaranteed to “stick.”  I underwent the cardioversion a few weeks later, and my heart was reset to normal rhythm. The anesthesiologist said that when he put me under, I had a noticeable smile on my face. And it’s obvious why.

So it’s been one year. And a lot has happened in that short time. Throughout it all, I basically earned my PhD in AFib and heart disease (or so it seems). It was a very active year — with five different medications, two cardioversions (I relapsed in late April), countless EKG’s, four half marathons, two 10K’s, an 8 miler, a triathlon relay, and one very special Boston Marathon finish.

Andheart2… as a side benefit, I fulfilled the long time goal of fully quitting caffeine. I haven’t drank one Diet Coke since that day I was diagnosed (and trust me, I used to drink A LOT).

Proudly, and surprisingly, I “PR’d” in every race except one. I chalk this up to the fact that my heart was now operating much more efficiently, plus I was taking better care of myself.

As I reflect, there’s many takeaways. But my biggest one is the following:
If you are one who enjoys an active lifestyle, AFib doesn’t mean the end. Oddly, in my case, it actually was just the beginning.

761569-1235-0015s

Looking Back – October Sunday Challenge Highs and Lows

It’s now been almost a week since the conclusion of my October Sunday Challenge, and as is the case with most things I do, I tend to come to grips with the right words only after having thought about it for awhile.

Osc Collages

The October Sunday Challenge was an idea I conjured up primarily as a way to stay motivated (and fit) throughout the Summer and early Fall. The idea of running four consecutive half marathons is not one that is altogether that difficult,  but for someone like me it was crazy enough and demanding enough to keep me focused.

And, in the end.. it was fun… it was challenging… and it was memorable.

One thing I immediately learned is that there’s a certain inner peace you get when you know you’ll be racing every weekend. I compare it to being a football player – if you lose one week, you can improve and try again the following week.

I guess the worst part about the four week challenge is the fact that it’s now over. I miss the early Sunday morning wake up calls. I miss waiting in line at the porta-potties in 40 degree weather. I miss loading up in the post race food tent. And I certainly miss the 5 minutes of euphoria and jubilation immediately following the crossing of the finish line.

Here are some quick superlatives fromthe October Sunday Challenge:

Most scenic race: They were all very breathtaking, each for different reasons, but it’s hard not to mention the Smuttynose Half Marathon as the most scenic. Perfect weather along Hampton Beach made for a picturesque race.

Most organized race: They were all very well run, but I give the nod to the B.A.A. Half Marathon. Anytime DMSE is involved in organizing a race you know it’s going to be first class.

Most challenging: Unquestionably the B.A.A. Half Marathon. With two hairpin turnarounds and several annoying rolling hills, this race always gives me problems.

Easiest race: I would say the Smuttynose Half Marathon. Except for one small incline, this race is pretty much dead flat. The Baystate Half Marathon is also fairly level, but there are a fair number of hills and inclines. Not as easy as Smuttynose.

Now that’s over, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. All four races were great in their own way, and if I had to choose four races for next year’s October Sunday Challenge, I’d pick the same four.

RACE RECAP: White Mountain Milers Half Marathon

Today was the fourth and final leg of the October Sunday Challenge. Today’s race was the White Mountain Milers Half Marathon up in the Mt. Washington Valley in northern New Hampshire.

I have never run this race before, but I wanted to give it a try since I spend quite a bit of time up in North Conway. It’s a smaller race, between 400-500 runners, which I actually liked as a change of pace (pun intended).

IMG_1755

The first 3 miles traveled through North Conway’s main street (Rt. 16) before making its way into the rural portion of Conway. I started out pretty steady, hovering around an 8:10 pace. I stayed consistent between miles 5-11 as the race route continued down a single road.

After turning right back onto Rt. 16, the race concluded back where it started at Schouler Park. The finish line was unique in that the last tenth of a mile is on grass which I thought was pretty cool. I finished in 1:55:20. Not a PR, but I wasn’t expecting one given the elevation and the fact that this was my first time running in this event. I placed 10th in my age group, which for me is an improvement.

IMG_1771

The finish line area was pretty subdued and laid back. My two daughters participated in the youth dash race and both received medals.

I give this race a thumb’s up and definitely recommend it. I will certainly add this to my race calendar next year.

IMG_1789

 

The PR Streak Continues – A Windy Day at the Baystate Half Marathon

Family PictureThis week, the October Sunday Challenge took me to Lowell, MA for the Baystate Half Marathon. I had run in this race twice before. It’s well run with a large volunteer base and great post-race setup.

The weather couldn’t have been better, or at least I thought. Once the race went off, there was an annoying head wind that was very noticeable. And because the half marathon was a double loop, it meant that the runners would face this wind twice.

I hit a wall early on, around mile 2 or 3, but kept plugging away. I finished in just over 1:55, by far a new course PR for me. By way of comparison, last year I finished in 2:12, so this was a marked improvement year to year.

baystate comp

And though I significantly improved my time from last year, I still feel like I didn’t run a “complete” race. I’ll get another crack at it next week when I travel up to North Conway, NH for the White Mountain Milers Half Marathon, the fourth and final leg of the October Sunday Challenge.

IMG_1645

Another Race, Another PR – My Day at the B.A.A. Half Marathon

Today was the 2nd leg of the October Sunday Challenge as my travels took me down to the prestigious B.A.A. Half Marathon in Boston.

I had last run this race back in 2012 (my time that year was 2 hrs 7 min). My memories from that date were good, but not great as I remembered being humbled by the course’s rolling hills and hairpin turns.

FullSizeRender

Today, two years later, my goal was just to finish around the 2 hour mark. I ran with 2 co-workers, and the weather couldn’t have been any better.

The race started out pretty easy, with most of the first 2 miles being all down hill. I started hitting a wall around mile 7. I turned the first 7 miles averaging just over 8 minute miles, but I labored a bit on the back side.

I was able to rebound strong, and pretty much sprinted the last mile to finish in 1:52:27, a new BAA Half Marathon PR for me.  Yes, it was a struggle, but I feel like I was able to finally answer for the mediocre performance back in 2012.

BAA RK

The October Sunday Challenge continues next Sunday as we travel to the Baystate Half Marathon in Lowell, MA.

Half Crazy! A memorable day at the Smuttynose Half Marathon

Today I kicked off the October Sunday Challenge, a series of four half marathons I intend on running over the next four weeks. Today’s race was the Smuttynose Rockfest, a half marathon in Hampton, NH.

Though it wasn’t the easiest day out there (I’ve been not running as much recently due to a bad case of Plantar Fasciitis in my left foot), I was still able to piece together a pretty good race, finishing in 1 hr 53 minutes, a new half marathon PR (previous was 2 hrs 2 min).

beer

A couple of observations about this race:

Very scenic. The race begins and ends right along the beach area… and when the sun is out, it rivals any other finish line setup I’ve seen.

Attendance. For a half marathon, there was an extraordinary turnout. There must have been thousands of people along the route. It was incredible. Especially the finish line which was 4-5 people deep for the last quarter mile.

Post Event Party. Apparently this race is well-known for it’s after party, and I was quickly able to see why. A band, beer stand, lobster roll tent, refreshments… it was all there.

This race is a must-run if you live in the New England area. I highly recommend it.

Next week, the October Sunday Challenge takes us to the BAA Half Marathon in Boston.

Convenient MD Urgent Care 10K

Today I ran a 10k right here in my hometown – the Convenient MD Urgent Care 10K on the Windham Rail Trail.

I felt pretty good about my performance. I started out blazing fast, turning the front 5k in just over 23 minutes (7:33 avg pace). I slowed a bit on the back side, finishing the race in 50:44, good enough for 14th in my age group and 73rd overall.

Next week starts the first leg of the October Sunday Challenge, a series of four half marathons throughout the month of October. Next week’s first race will be the Smuttynose Rockfest in Hampton Beach, NH.

Windham 10k

Another Podium – Third Place at the DWF Triathlon

This past Sunday I participated in the DWF Triathlon Relay in Brockton, MA. This relay event features three legs – 15 mile bike, 2.1 mile kayak, and a 4 mile run.  For the fourth consecutive year, my responsibility was the running portion of the event.

Though the calendar says it was late September, the temperature was more like mid-summer, hovering in the mid 80’s. Made it a bit tough out there.

I grinded out the 4 mile run, finishing in just over 32 minutes, or an 8:18 per mile pace, about 10 seconds faster per mile than last year. Our team came in third in our division, finishing in just over 2 hours and 1 minute.  We had won this event each of the last three years, so we were a bit bummed that we didn’t take the top spot this year. The silver lining, however, was that we improved our overall team time by about 3 minutes.

IMG_1190

Less than One Month until #RUNtober

Counting down the days until the October Sunday Challenge. The first race is now less than 30 days away.

Here are the four races I’ve picked – one for each Sunday in October.

Smuttynose Hampton Half Marathon, October 5th
BAA Half Marathon, October 12th
Baystate Half Marathon, October 19th
White Mountain Milers Half Marathon, October 26th

I am running in a new role – as a health care advocate, hoping to spread the word about the importance of getting an annual physical exam. Early detection is crucial. Trust me, I’m know.

start3

Special Announcement: Get Ready for the Sunday October Challenge

This October I’ll be running a different New England half marathon every Sunday during the month. I’m calling this the October Sunday Challenge.

I’ll be running the following four October races: Smuttynose Rockfest, B.A.A. Half Marathon, Baystate Half Marathon, and the White Mountain Milers Half.

October Challenge whiteI’m not doing this to fundraise, but to instead create awareness. I’m hoping any awareness I can create will shine a light on the fact that everyone must get their annual physical exam. You see, too many people are choosing to blow off their annual exam for a number of lame reasons: laziness, procrastination, fear, or even indifference. And as a person who found out first hand the importance of early detection, I can’t stress enough the importance of making that annual trip to the doctor.

I’ll share more on this over the next few weeks, but in the meantime, join me in passing the word along to everyone, “get a physical!”

So where’s your asterisk now?

Last last year I wrote this post (“A Subtle, Unintended Motivation. Thank You”) expressing my conflicted feelings at the time about the finishers’ certificates for the 2013 Boston Marathon.

You see, those who weren’t able to finish the race because of the marathon bombings (like myself) received a certificate with the carefully chose wording stating I “participated in” the Boston Marathon along with a computer-calculated finish time. Though this wording was very diplomatic and polite, it left a hollow feeling inside both for myself and fellow 5700 non-finishers.

Needless to say, I used this as an opportunity to create a chip on my shoulder the size of Heartbreak Hill. Though I can’t blame the BAA as they were put in an awkward position on this issue. But nonetheless it stayed in the back of my mind as I plugged away at my training for Boston 2014.

Well, it’s now almost a year later, and our 2014 finishers’ certificates just arrived in the mail. And safe to say, this time the phrasing leaves no doubt…

certificate2014

Marked Improvement at the Stowe 8 Miler

Today I ran the Stowe 8 Miler. This is my second year running this race which leads through the rural sections of Stowe, Vermont. Last year I was clearly not prepared to run this race, which makes sense considering I stumbled upon it while vacationing in Vermont.

This  year, however, I was ready. And though I wouldn’t call this one of my best efforts, I was very pleased with the results. My official time was 1:10:30 (compared to last year’s 1:23:40).

photo

The runners make their way to the start.

finish

Thumbs Up at the finish

finish2

Post-race rest with Lila and Emerson

An Awesome Day at the BAA 10K

I’m a little behind in posting this. The BAA 10K was this past Sunday at Boston Common, and once again Team Five was well represented with 10 runners.

The cooler weather paid off as they were giving out PR’s like they were tootsie rolls. I had a very good run, starting out the first two miles in the mid 7’s, and finishing the last four miles right around an 8 minute pace. My final time was 49:34, blowing away my time from last year of 57:58.

TeamFive

Introducing the 2014 WCVB Running Club

Today the 2014 class of the WCVB Running Club was unveiled…

5 Ways to Guarantee Your Best Finish Line Photo Ever

I recently wrote an article for Runkeeper’s “Beyond the Miles” about a very important matter that affects all of us – taking a good finish line photo.

In my article below, I take readers through a 5 point plan to guarantee successful photos in your next race.

rk article

Hot ‘n Hilly at The Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon

Today I ran my first significant race since the Boston Marathon when I participated in inaugural Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon in Chestnut Hill, MA.  This race is presented by Runner’s World magazine. Plus, the fact that the race is managed by DMSE was also a major selling point.

It was hot out there, reaching into the 80’s. And, it was hilly, which should not be a newsflash when the name of the race itself is based on one of the most challenging hills in all of running.

IMG_9139My official finish time was 2:01:16, which I’m very satisfied with, especially having “strategically” walked various hills on the course (I wanted to go easy back today, plus walking at times helped keep my heart rate at a modest level).

IMG_9154All told, I thought it was a great race… and well-managed. If this race comes back again next year, I would definitely participate again.

It’s National Running Day

Today is National Running Day, so no better time for a selfie.