Friday, April 29, 2016

The Boston Marathon 2016: Runners Are The Nicest Friends!

It's been 11 days since the Boston Marathon and I am still smiling every time I think about the weekend. If you missed my posts on my experience as a Mom running a marathon or my full race recap - you can read them HERE and HERE.

This is my last post on Boston and it brought me a lot of joy to remember all the wonderful people that I met! I have said this before, but runners really are the nicest people and make wonderful friends. Maybe it's the bond we share of our mutual love of the sport, but I have met such humble, kind, salt of the earth people over the years...




First, I'll start with my dear friend Laura. Laura and I met as seventeen year old college freshman at UC Santa Barbara. We were on the cross country team together (she is an awesome runner!!) and our sophomore year we rented a house with NINE other runners (yes, we had some EPIC parties!). We called it the track house and we had such a blast together! Memories include sharing an entire pizza the night before a cross country meet, bonding over our early morning gorgeous runs in Santa Barbara and then laughing at some crazy joke on our long afternoon runs. When I arrived in Boston, we couldn't wait to see each other and catch up! She is also the rock star who made those awesome race signs for me and drove my family to the half so they could see me in two spots. I am so grateful for her friendship all these years later.


I think we all recall a time that we wouldn't dream of meeting up with someone we met over the internet and now it seems like no big deal. I have met some really great women through blogging, the internet and running....




I met Mar through her running blog, and I love her honest, fun approach about running. It was so wonderful to finally meet in person and she is just as awesome in person as she is on her blog!! :)




I met Fran at the Oiselle shake out run on Sunday morning, the day before the race. Fran reached out to me on my blog via Facebook over a year ago. She was so sweet and we have kept in touch ever since. We ended up running the 3 mile shake out together and had such a blast!! This was Fran's first Boston Marathon also, so we were both taking it all in...






Courtney and I also met for the first time at the Oiselle shake out run on Sunday. It was so fun to meet and hang out with Courtney! Let me say, Courtney is like a celebrity - so many runners were coming up to her, extremely excited to meet her!! She is so kind and genuine and I look forward to seeing her again someday soon.




Sandra and I met last summer at Blog Fest. I recognized Sandra from her running blog and went up and introduced myself. You know when you have that feeling that someone is immediately going to be your friend? Yep, that's how it was and I always look forward to hanging out with her! We spent Saturday afternoon at the expo, checking out the finish line and having a carbo charged lunch together. This is what running is about - meeting awesome friends! 




And we met Sarah from Another Mother Runner at the expo!!

Well, that's a wrap friends. Part three of my Boston experience is complete and now it is time to move on to new adventures.
I would love to tell you all about the amazing race calendar that I have lined up for the rest of the year, but it doesn't exist right now. 

I am running slow, easy runs, enjoying the sunshine and thinking about what's next. 

Stay tuned!

Have a wonderful weekend!!


Anyone racing this weekend?


Tell me something fun about your weekend!


Happiness Is Running Life!

xo,
Natalie





Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Boston Marathon 2016: My Race Recap

In the blink of an eye, the Boston Marathon is a memory and a week has gone by in such a blur. It has really taken me the whole week to process my emotions and coherently pour them out onto the page.
I have learned so much through this journey - working hard for what you want will fuel you and inspire you to your own personal greatness. Even if you fall short, you can still walk away knowing your will and dedication is worth something pretty special. You can use those feelings to propel you onward in a continuing path of never giving up and always striving to reach your goals.

This has been such a long awaited weekend. In fact, I distinctly remember my high school cross country coach telling us how amazing the Boston Marathon was when she ran it and that we MUST run it at some point in our lives. As a young, impressionable teen, I listened to her with awe and wonder - I knew in that moment that this would be an important goal of mine. 




I was never extremely hungry for Boston until after I had my kids. Then it hit me that life was swiftly passing by and I had better make this little dream come true. Pre kids, I had run 5 marathons and achieved a few BQs, but had never taken advantage of going to Boston. There was always something more important going on in my life and I chose life over Boston.
I had done my extreme share (and honor - I loved all of it) of dirty diapers and nursing three babies, now it was time to get to it. 
Go to BOSTON.
As the new year rang in 2014, the hunger could no longer be denied. The rest of the story, you all know (post babies marathon, injury, heartbreak, surgery, struggle, recovery).




Now here I am. Exactly one year post surgery. The training is done, and I feel like I kicked serious butt in this training cycle.
I put in the work and most importantly, I had a blast doing it. In fact, I believe there was only one run (I think it was a 14 miler) toward the end of the cycle, right before the taper that I lost it. I was super tired, I felt a little off and I just wanted to be finished.
I called Jerold (which I never do during a run) and told him I couldn't do it - I felt really crappy and I just wanted it to be over.

Jerold: "Well, you have a choice - you can finish the workout, or you can quit. It's really that simple."

Ugh. Zero sympathy from him. That of course made me mad and I finished the run with a vengence. 


One week before Marathon Monday, my coach sent me the plan. I had been waiting with bated breath for his marathon plan. I knew how hard I worked, how I completed every workout, how meticulous I been in the planning and mental preparation that comes with marathon training. Toward the beginning of the cycle, I shared my goals with Mark, and yet this would be the first time that it was laid out in black in white.

The plan.

I remember dropping my kids at school, going for a short run (taper week) and receiving the email on my phone as I was running errands. I immediately stopped to devour every word.

I believe in you, otherwise I wouldn't give it to you...

3:14-3:17 (even a bit faster if all goes well).

You are are capable, you can do this.

There it was. I knew that I had been training to run 3:15 and even sub 3:15. I felt in my heart that I was ready for that. It had been a long time goal of mine - one that always, always seemed to fall short.
I love running so much, and numbers are such a small part of the equation, but still...

I wanted it and was willing to work hard for it. I felt there was no reason why I couldn't accomplish this goal that seems to be an invisible barrier in running. 


We arrived in Boston on Thursday late afternoon. I planned this so that I would have plenty of time to rest and get sort of used to the three hour time change.


Yes, there were 3 children and a husband right across from me.


The weekend went by in a blur of rest, friends, expo and fun. (Note: I will write another post on the the friends portion of Boston - so fun! So many wonderful friends.)

I felt like I slept well each night, ate my normal foods that weekend, along with some added carbs - have to have a giant pretzel at a Red Sox game! 




Finally, finally the alarm buzzed on Marathon Monday. This was it! I couldn't believe the day had finally arrived.
I got out of bed at 6:15 am and ate my normal pre race meal: two pieces of raisin toast with almond butter, a banana, water and a glass of sports drink (I use Fluid Performance Drink).

My ritual with hydrating for the marathon is to drink well (not excessive) a mix of water and electrolyte drink and then two hours before the race I stop drinking. At that point all you are going to do is run to the bathroom, which I did anyway.




Jerold and I left the hotel and jumped in an Uber to get to the buses that would carry thousands of runners to Hopkinton. The traffic was crazy and we made the decision to get out of the car and walk a block to Boston Common, such a good choice.

It was time to say goodbye to Jerold and I felt a little bit of emotion welling up inside. This was it. I knew a big reason why I was getting onto that bus was because of my husband. He has supported me and been there for me every step of the way, and I can't begin to thank him enough. I feel really blessed that he takes my goals and dreams as seriously as I do. So, we hugged, kissed and hugged again and then he picked me up, twirled me around and said "Go get it."

The bus ride was relaxing + super long (I talked to a nice girl from DC and then took a nap) and I could feel my bladder pleading for release. We arrived at athlete's village and nothing prepared me for what I had heard so many people talking about. A runner's dream - runners everywhere. It was glorious.






I snapped a few pictures, made a bee line for the porta potties and I realized the wonderful insanity of it all. I knew that I would be in line for a very, very long time. Never had I ever had to go to the bathroom so badly. Anyone that spotted me would think I was either going to be violently ill or was just a complete weirdo. It was hard to take everything in clearly, because all I could think about was peeing. Don't think about, try not to think about it. Should I ask someone to let me go ahead. No, that would be rude. Ugh. What do I do. Don't think about it. This is miserable.
Finally I get toward the front of the line and there are 3 guys and a girl ahead of me. At this point, I must look like I am in complete agony, because one guy (thank you!!) asks if I'd like to go ahead. Oh yes, please, thank you, thank you.

Once I peed, all was well.




It was so obvious that the day was going to be hot. Already I was feeling super warm and didn't need my throw away sweats, but left them on till the last minute. I didn't know anyone, so I had time to zone out, talk to myself and do a little bit of dynamic stretching. Very shortly, it was time to walk to our corrals. It was a pretty long walk, but there was so much to take in, all the runners, the homeowners outside of their homes, cheering for us and we could all feel the heat beating down on us. What happened to the cloudy, chilly previous couple of days?




Right before the corrals, there were tons of porta potties and I knew I needed to pee again. Another less agonizing wait, a little more dynamic stretching and a light jog. By the time I went to the bathroom, I had two minutes until the race began.

I hurried and tried to get to my corral # 3 and there just wasn't time - they immediately directed me to corral #5. I hope this isn't a bad thing.

In what seemed like an instant, we were off. I was running the Boston freakin Marathon.
I remember thinking that there would be zero trouble with going out too fast, because there were wall to wall runners everywhere.
Don't panic about the pace.
This is like a snails pace.
Just take it in.

I could tell some runners were thinking the same thing that I was, so we all started running to the left side of the road without weaving and I kept thinking I didn't want to burn up any extra energy.
I recalled how much zip in my step I had at the start of the Oakland half marathon last month. I had felt like a caged tiger ready to pounce. At that moment I felt sort of like a limp dishrag, but quickly threw that thought out of the window. I kept my thoughts centered around what my coach outlined for me: ease into the first few miles. Find your rhythm at mile 4, steady does it and come in the half at 1:37/1:38.


Mile one: 8:05
Seriously, 8:05? Holy moly. I tried not to be thrown for a loop. There were so many people, I couldn't run any faster. Well, I am definitely not in danger of going out too fast. It is mile one. Don't let this throw you off.

I couldn't help but get caught up in the elation of the race - people cheering, runners breathing, feet moving.

Miles 2, 3, 4: 7:49, 7:33, 7:02

Finally, finally mile 4-5 things started to thin out a bit

Miles, 5, 6, 7: 7:24, 7:16, 7:30

I was hot. Don't think about the heat, just keep running. Just make it to the half strong, but with little effort. Jerold, the kids and my dear friend Laura (we ran cross country together in college and she is from Boston) would be there waiting for me.


Miles 8, 9, 10: 7:32, 7:31, 7:37

The 7:30s pace was troublesome. I knew that the heat was present, but I knew I had to keep working. I knew under any other circumstances, I should be running faster than 7:30s in a goal race, but I couldn't dwell on it. Run the mile you are in. keep pushing.

Miles 11, 12, 13: 7:38, 7:21, 7:28

Coach had directed me to run between 7:24 and 7:30 pace until after Heartbeak Hill and then give it everything I had left. I vowed I wouldn't go out too fast, I promised myself I would stick with the plan.

Halfway mark: 1:38 and I got to see my family!!! I was so happy to see them and I felt a renewed sense of energy that I got to the half in 1:38. I blew them a kiss and kept chugging.
The crowds were incredible. Everything I imagined and so much more. 
This is awesome. I love this.

Look at the sweet signs my friend Laura made for me!!! Thank you so much my friend!! 






13.1 down, 13.1 to go!!


Miles 14, 15, 16: 7:27, 7:43, 7:21

It's too soon to be running 7:40 something.

Miles 17, 18, 19: (Newton Hills) 7:38, 8:02, 7:46

I knew that my training runs were so much better than this marathon I was running right now. The heat was intensifying and I knew I had to make it up Heartbreak. I was running along with a girl who was running steps ahead of me and every couple of minutes she would stop and hug someone she knew, grab food and talk. I would run past her and after a couple more minutes, she would pass me again. This kept going for miles. At one point I thought, maybe I would have better luck if I stopped for a while - it's clearly working for her.
I kept going. Hydrating at almost every water stop. I had a GU at mile 7, 14 and I had one GU left.
I grabbed a cold paper towel that people were passing out. Gosh, it's freakin hot.
Why do my legs feel like I'm running in quick sand?

Miles 21, 22, 23: 8:47, 8:03, 8:41

Heartbreak was hard, harder in the heat. I knew I had practiced for this. I have so many heartbreaks near my home that I had run on tired legs. Then why am I running so slow?
After Heartbreak, I grabbed my final GU and was determined to have a new resolve. 
So what you have just run 3 miles well over goal pace. So what that you feel like crap. So what that this isn't the goal race you envisioned.
You will not give up.
Keep pushing.
This sucks. Why can't my legs move faster?

Mile 24, 25: 8:27, 8:27

I can't believe this race is almost over. I am scared to look at my watch. I know I am not going to make my goal time. Not by a freakin long shot.
I'm so hot. I want to finish so badly and yet how can it be over?
Where is the Citgo sign???
The people are incredible. It feels like a 26.2 mile rock concert.
This is incredible...


Not taken during the race :)



Mile 26: 8:25

The left on Hereford and suddenly I am running down Bolyston. I am completely spent. I am hurting. I am happy. I can't sprint. I feel like I'm barely moving. I have nothing left. Is it mental? No, I physically have zero left.
I am sad. I am happy.
I had a friend at the BAA who was so wonderful to get my family grandstand seats (thank you so much Gina!). Where are they?
There they are. Hi guys.
I am finishing. I am okay. Don't worry.


Waiting for Mommy to finish. 


Don't forget to smile and raise your hands.
You did it.
Remember this is for Lesley. She is looking down on you, cheering you on. Finish with pride.




I cross the line and immediately start crying. I can't stop crying. 
A girl who has also finished asked me if I am okay. Do I need medical?
No, I just gave it everything I have.

I can't stop crying.
Crying for the year I have had, crying for the friend I lost (Lesley), crying for the race that I finally got to run, crying for the training that didn't reflect in this race. Crying for coming up short yet again, and yet - why cry? My knee is better than ever - I have the world in front of me. I have two legs.

Stop crying.

Another woman asks if I am okay. We chat. Do I need medical?
No, I am just so happy to be finished.

I call coach. He says how proud he is of me and how everyone had a hard day today.
Really? I thought it was just me.
No, everyone had a slow day. You did so great.
What's my time coach?
3:26
That's a PR he says. No it's not I say (3:23 was previous PR).
A PR from your last marathon and the surgery.
YES.
Thank you coach for everything.

We hang up and my sweet friend Kristin calls. I pick up the phone.
I can't believe you answered the phone! She cries out.
I am so proud of you.
I gave it all that I had, I tell her. It was so, so hard today.
We hang up, and I get the beautiful medal around my neck.

I am at the Boston freaking Marathon.

My legs hurt.
My legs are cramping...

Ohhh, I don't feel well. I am drinking water, but it's not helping. I munch on a banana.

I can't walk. I stop.
The medic comes over.
Are you okay?
My legs hurt, I can't walk.

A wheelchair instantly appears. I don't need a wheelchair.
I need a wheelchair.
The pain is unbearable.

I go to medical. I am freezing. My temp is 94.
Get her warm. They say. Get the heat blower and heat blankets.
I need my family. I don't need to be here. Yet I am freezing and my legs hurt so badly.
They give me chicken broth and electrolytes.
How do you feel?
Awful.
Temp is at 95. Still so cold.
My Mom calls. Mom, I am in the medical tent.
I'll be right there, she says.

No family allowed in the medical tent.
Just relax.
Ahhh, the heat feels so good. My legs are still cramping.

An hour (was it an hour?) passes and I can finally leave.
My Mom and the kids are right there and Jerold is on his way.
I am freezing and just want to get to the hotel.
I look around and try to take it in. This is my first Boston. It's surreal. I can't wait to come back.

I had no desire to go out that night. I mean I really wanted to, but I was tired. I was so happy to be warm in my jammies. Hooray for jammies.
I felt like I should be partying! We need to go out. 
Jerold says, we can do whatever you want. I have a couple of restuarants lined up.
Let me think about it, I say.
No, this bed is pretty awesome.

Mommy, Mommy, we love you and are so proud of you!!

That's all I need. Those words meant everything to me.


I found Josh's sweater on sale at the Gap for $4. SCORE. (it's on backwards).


Text from my Dad - You did it Champ. I am so proud of you.

Thanks Dad.

I slept so well that night, grateful I don't have to get on a plane. Grateful for so many things.

Home on Tuesday evening, with a stop in Harvard Square and a lot of wonderful memories from this trip.

There will always be another marathon, another race. 

This was unique and special. I will never forget it.

Thanks God. Thanks for holding me up out there.

SO many people to thank. These words don't begin to express my gratitude. You are all true friends.

Coach Mark Hadley, Julie Knap, Roger Thomas, Brian McGovern, Kristin and Rob Pelinka, Dr. Banffy (my amazing surgeon), Rob (my amazing PT), everyone at Gail Wehner physical therapy in Santa Monica, Vanessa at Massage Envy, the staff at Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, MT, Laura Hodnett, all of my girlfriends who inspire me with their love and thoughtfulness, everyone at my amazing church, all the friends at my kids' school (who always ask about my training - thanks guys!), my late friend Lesley, her husband Brian and their kids. Gina at the BAA for the amazing seats and kindness. All of my friends I have met through social media - you guys seriously rock. My extended family for their love and support (aunts, uncles, cousins), My Mom (a huge thank you to my Mom for all her help!) and Dad, my 3 super star kids and my husband Jerold.

Hoping I didn't forget anyone...

THANK YOU.

Until next time Boston. Thanks for everything.





Happiness Is Running Life.

xo,
Natalie

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Boston Marathon 2016: A Mother Runner's Perspective

There is so much to write about all things Boston Marathon 2016. I can hardly believe that I am sitting here back at home and it is all over. I have dreamed of this weekend for so long and there is so much to say.
I am working through all my thoughts and emotions about the actual race and I will have my race recap posted soon. Let me say, that the Boston Marathon really is all that it is hyped up to be and SO much more. The city is on fire, the people are so kind and gracious and the runners are incredible. I felt really blessed to be there and I totally look forward to going back.
My kids fell in love with Boston, my Mom can't wait to go back and do more sightseeing and Jerold was able to meet up with an old friend. 

It was a pretty perfect weekend.




For today, I'd like to share with you my experience of traveling to a major marathon on the other side of the country with my kids.
My kids, Jerold and my family are my world and it was AWESOME to have them take this journey with me. They have been there with me through all of this - this time last April I wasn't even walking on both feet and our lives were topsy turvy to say the least. I couldn't even imagine not having them complete the journey and come to Boston with me. My son Josh is lover of all things travel, and he has been counting down the days to board the plane :)





Hello, Boston!



Jerold's face after a 6 hour flight with 3 kids! #priceless


So, roughly six thousand miles round trip and 12 total hours of flight time, a hotel, and a whole lot of fun later - here is what it is like to travel with three kiddos to a major marathon. You all know this, how much this marathon meant to me and I was going into very seriously. I put a lot of sweat, miles and thought into my training and I knew I was going to lay it all out there on Marathon Monday. As I reflected on the whole marathon journey, I realized that this is me - this is Nat. Every marathon I have run (all 7 of them), I go into it with zeal and complete focus. Sure, I live my life and have a lot fun, but there is something about marathon training that makes me dive in head first and I know that is just my personality. I love it. I love the way it makes me feel.





Boston Marathon #1 - completed!




I will say that I couldn't have this made trip with 3 kids without a lot of help from my family. I knew that my focus wasn't to walk all over Boston in the days before the marathon and tire my legs out. My Mom and Jerold really took the reigns and kept the kids busy while I rested. I did join them for the Duck Tour which was so fun and you are sitting the whole time! We also went to our first ever Red Sox game, which was such a special treat.






We aren't on the Pacific Ocean anymore! #cold




At the Curious George store in Harvard Square



Time to go home. Thank you Boston!


Earned it.



If I start talking about the race right now, I won't stop. So, I'll put all my thoughts, emotions and the raw facts in my race recap.  There are also so many more pics to share - I met so many amazing friends this weekend!!

For my runner friends who ran on Monday, a HUGE congrats to you - we did it!! 

To all the friends and family spectating and cheering, every comment and sweet word was appreciated. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.


Happiness Is Running Life.

xo,
Natalie



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Boston Marathon Training Recap: Taper Time + 5 Days Till Race Day!

Well, it is finally race week. 

This has been such an amazing journey and I am super excited to get to Boston and put it all together for my dream race. I have worked really hard during this training cycle, and was fortunate enough to complete every workout: long runs, tempo runs, mile repeats.... if it was on the training plan, I got it done.
I realize that doesn't happen every training cycle, because... life happens. 

So, I am taking my family (Jerold, 3 kids and my Mom!) and we are heading to Boston very soon. I feel so blessed that they will be with me, giving me tons of love and support. My son Josh is beyond excited to fly to Boston. The other night we sat in bed and looked at the map and I showed him exactly where Boston is (he has been through Boston before on our family vacations to Nantucket, but it'll be the kids' first trip to the city) - almost 3,000 miles on the other side of the country. For Josh, going on a trip is like Christmas and his birthday all rolled into one huge present. My kids are so excited to cheer for Mommy on Monday - it's pretty much all we talk about these days. I really hope they remember this trip and remember the moment their Mommy crosses the finish line, and maybe someday they'll want to do the same thing.





I have heard that the crowds are incredible, there are people lining every inch of the course - that in itself is unreal. There are always parts in a marathon, where there is practically no one around. It is you, the road and the other runners around you. It's usually kind of quiet and you have to work hard and focus to get through it, until the next crowd of people or the next band (I love hearing the bands).

I can't wait to experience over 500,000 people lined along the course cheering their hearts out. For all the runners pounding away out there, that will be something really special.

Here is a peek of what my week of training looked like for last week and part of this taper week.


Monday April 4th - 6 easy trail miles with a friend. Such a fun and beautiful run and friends always make it special.

Tuesday April 5th - 5 easy treadmill miles

Wednesday April 6th - DAY OFF. My legs were so tired and it was my 7th straight day of running (63 miles during those 7 days)

Thursday April 7th - 10 miles. 2 miles easy, then 8 miles at 7:19 pace

Friday April 8th - 6 miles easy

Saturday April 9th - 12 miles at 7:45 pace

Sunday April 10th - 6 easy miles

Monday April 11th - 5 easy miles 

Tuesday April 12th - 8 miles total. 3 miles easy, 3 miles at 7:11 pace, 2 miles easy

The rest of the week will be super easy with lots of rest, stretching and hydrating.

Monday April 18th - BOSTON MARATHON!!


Be sure and follow my Instagram for our full on Boston adventures! I'll also post here on the blog with lots of fun happenings. I'll have time to rest and my awesome Mom is planning a total historical tour with my kids!! They are going to have a blast! I'll be with them for a couple of events, but mostly lots of rest for me :)


Do you watch the Boston Marathon on TV? (Last year I got up at 5 am to watch!)

The taper ---> love it, or hate it? (So far I am loving it!!)


Happiness Is Running Life!

xo,
Natalie




Friday, April 8, 2016

Where I am One Year Post Knee Surgery

April 16th marks the one year anniversary of my knee surgery, and the day will be forever etched in my mind. I had so many thoughts in the days going into the surgery: I knew I would be able to run again, but I didn't know HOW my running would feel. Would I still be able to reach the goals that I have always desired? Would I still be able to crank out the quality of running that I know I am capable of, or would I be limited in my ability to run the way I love to run?





I was so scared, and yet I knew that God would provide a way. I had to trust God and trust my (amazing) orthopedic surgeon that the surgery would be successful and that I would be able to do the one thing that I love so much: RUN.





I am so blessed to have so many wonderful, caring friends in my life. When I started this journey, I met with a highly regarded orthopedic surgeon, who suggested a different type of surgery than I ultimately ended up having. The plan was to take stem cells from my hip bone and insert them into my knee. There would be a four month recovery and I would be able to start running again.

I believed in his approach, but thought getting a second (and third) opinion would be wise. It turned out that my dear friend's Dad is a radiologist. He immediately told me to send over my x-rays so he could take a closer look. Following that, he consulted his friend - a highly respected ortho surgeon in New Mexico. I also had another friend, whose husband is an ortho surgeon (but specializes in shoulder and elbow) take a look.
They all advised me not to have the surgery that the original surgeon suggested. They thought the procedure was risky and would ultimately not last - meaning I could run the chance of having another surgery in 10 years, and possibly suffer from arthritis. Crazy, right?

Another wonderful friend stepped in. Her husband knew an amazing ortho surgeon that I should meet with. This doctor works with many professional athletes and we felt confident that he would have the answer that I needed.





It turned out that he was indeed the one. He proposed what seemed like a flawless plan: take a piece of cartilage out of the good part of my knee and insert it into the trouble spot. You see, I had what's called an osteochondral defect in my knee (essentially a pot hole) and that was causing extreme pain when I would begin running. I also had a pretty large piece of torn cartilage in the knee. As a long distance runner, there was no choice - either have the surgery or enjoying only walking for the rest of my life.

One important note: what caused this defect? I was afraid that it was something I had done by training too soon after having my third baby. I didn't know the answer, but many thoughts begin running through my head. I started base training for my 6th marathon when Elle was just over 13 months old and would go on to run a marathon when she was 19 months old. It ended up being an extremely tough race and I would run a 3:32, which I was very disappointed in and thankful for all at the same time.

My doctor told me the defect had been hanging around for years and he didn't have an explanation for what caused the problem.






The surgery seemed like it was successful, but I was still anxious about the end result - running again.
Blessings surrounded me at every turn and my family was amazing. Jerold, my best friend in the whole world, my rock, my love. He has been beyond amazing throughout this entire journey. He never stopped believing in me and he never doubted that I could do whatever I set my mind to. My recovery was hard - I guess as hard as any surgical recovery. I was in a lot of pain the first 7 days after my return home. A lot of pain meds, not putting any weight on my leg and hours upon hours on the CPM machine...




My parents stepped in to help in a major way. Helping us to cook, clean, take care of our very young kids and driving me to physical therapy several times a week. I can't begin to thank them enough for their love and support over the months and months of my recovery.

I was blessed again with the most amazing physical therapist. Rob became more than my therapist - he became my friend and cheerleader. He was always positive, always kind and never stopped believing in me. He also pushed me harder than I ever though I could be pushed. There were so many times where I thought: "I can't do one more single leg jump!!" And he told me matter of factly: "If you want to be ready to race 26.2 miles, you will do another jump.
Gulp.


Rob kicked me out of PT in February. I still miss going :)


Then there is my coach. You've heard (or read) me talk about my coach a lot. I wouldn't be where I am today and running the way I am running without my coach, Mark Hadley.
I first contacted Mark in December, 2014. I e-mailed him to see if he would be interested in working with an injured runner and explained the situation. He was so kind and said he would love to work with me. I immediately (this is 4 months pre surgery) started pool running, working on the stationary bike along with a lot of core exercises. At that point, we didn't know that I would have to have surgery and were hoping that taking 6 weeks off would heal the problem. 
Ultimately, I had surgery, a long summer of recovery and then I started working with Mark again in September 2015. Again I was nervous - how in the world would I be ready to run Boston in April after being sedentary for so long? Would my knee hold up with the type of training I needed to do to achieve my goals? 

Another note: I will talk about my goals for Boston next week after I receive the plan from my coach.

Inch by inch, I followed his plan and week by week I got stronger and stronger. I am so thankful to him for guiding me where I am right now.

10 days from the Boston Marathon and ready to run the race of my life.


The morning of my surgery and I haven't stopped smiling since!


Running makes me so incredibly happy - it truly completes me. It makes me a fun loving wife and a great Mom to my kids. Running makes me smile, it makes me truly happy to frolic though nature and let my thoughts wander. To feel the rush of fresh air through my lungs is truly a gift. 

I know that I will run my hardest on April 18th. There will be times that it will hurt and it will be tough. But there are so many people who are rooting for me and filling my life with their joyful words.

I will not disappoint them.

I have met friends I never thought I would meet through - social media! Who would have thought? I am grateful for them, and for all of you who take a moment to read my blog. 

Thank you.


Lastly, I will run hard for my friend Lesley (she ran Boston in 2014), who I wish with all my heart could be here.





First run after surgery - August 22, 2015



I know this is a long post, so thank you for taking the time to read. 

We all have challenges and obstacles, but we are strong. We are resilient. And we can do anything we put our mind to.

Dream Big!


Happiness Is Running Life.


xo,
Natalie