Becky Runs Boston

My adventures running in Boston, searching for that runner's chai.


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Another Challenge: The Elimination Diet

We’re more than 30% of the way towards our $3,000 goal for Sweet Paws Rescue. With approximately 80 days between now and the start of my 3 half-marathon challenge, we’re doing great! Check out the Sweet Paws Rescue Facebook to read the amazing stories of the dogs they’re saving. I hope you will consider a gift to support them! Please visit my fundraising page!

Also, for the runners out there, I highly recommend checking out the United Relay of America. Starting in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, runners will be running across the country. They’ll be in almost every state, so there’s a chance they’ll be running near YOU! If you’re in the Boston area, join me for an 8-mile run from Watertown to Boston. Or, you can always make a gift to support my fundraising minimum for Boston Children’s Hospital!

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As anyone who reads this blog knows, I love a good challenge. Whether it’s running the Boston Marathon, running a half marathon every month for a year, or running a mile outside every day in the middle of winter, I can’t get enough. My doctors apparently know this too, and have recommended I challenge myself to an Elimination Diet.

Except Barney has WAY better hair than me.

Here’s the back story – I’ve had thinnish hair most of my life. However, in recent years, it has gotten progressively worse. I’m not talking bald spots, per se. Just an overall thin head of hair that feels pretty unattractive, affectionately called Androgenic Alopecia by my Dermatologist. I’d been ignoring it, chalking it up to genetics, but it recently got to the point that other people were noticing — and telling me. So, I made some Doctor appointments, got some blood tests done, and started taking all the vitamins.

My primary Doctor suggested I make an appointment with the holistic Doctor at the office. After talking about my symptoms, diet, and lifestyle, and some poking/prodding, the holistic Doctor decided that either my digestive system is a little messed up and doesn’t allow me to absorb vitamins efficiently OR I have a food allergy that is messing up my digestive system, which in turn doesn’t allow me to absorb vitamins efficiently. While my vitamin levels are all within the technically normal range, they’re fairly low within the normal range, which is weird since I’ve been consistently taking assorted vitamins for months/years. He even asked if I limit my sodium intake because my levels suggested I do – and I explained that I actually enjoy putting salt on most foods because it helps me retain water/not faint. Go figure.

Yesterday I met with a Nutritionist who gave me the lowdown on what an Elimination Diet Challenge entails. The holistic Doctor had already hinted that it would involve no gluten, no dairy, no eggs, no caffeine. The Nutritionist lengthened that list to the following:

  • No Gluten
  • No Dairy
  • No Yeast
  • No Soy
  • No Eggs
  • No Caffeine
  • No Alcohol
  • No Corn
  • No Tomatoes
  • No Citrus Fruits
  • No Additives/Sugars/Coloring/etc.

Are we having fun yet?

From the official @Whole30® Instagram feed. Julie Andrews is obviously not subscribed to the #Whole30 Daily, or she'd be feeling a LOT more positive about the program. http://daily.whole9life.com:

It’s a long list of NOs, but there are PLENTY of YES foods that I can eat – vegetables, most fruits, meats, beans, and nuts (and nut butters!). While the next month might not be the most fun — it’ll definitely be harder to go out to eat! — I’m not actually that worried. The hardest part will be cutting out caffeine (I’ve already started weaning myself off of it) and the most annoying part is that I already did a Dry January, and now have to cut out alcohol again!

Once I’ve cut everything out for four weeks, I’ll slowly add each thing back in, one by one, to see which – if any – cause a reaction or are accompanied by some kind of symptom. Based on that list of NOs, I’m thinking this is a multi-month process. It’s unclear how the diet will affect my running – I’ll be doing two races during the course of the challenge.

Overall, I’m feeling pretty positive about this whole situation. Let’s be completely honest – this isn’t that big of a deal and I know people who have to deal with much worse things related to their health. This is nothing compared to what they have to go through. Hopefully it helps, and if it doesn’t, I’ll just have to try something else. I plan on giving myself the upcoming weekend to prep, so the fun will start first thing on Monday. I’ll make sure to keep you all posted!

Have you completed an Elimination Diet Challenge at the suggestion of a Doctor? How did it go? Have any tips?


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Race Recap: 2015 Boston Marathon

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This post took days/a week to write as I processed my feelings/emotions about the day. I hoped that as time passed, I’d feel better about my experience, but to be completely honest, I had a bad race. You can do everything right and everything in your power to feel good and do well, but sometimes there are just bad races, and unfortunately, mine happened to be the biggest race of my life. My boss’s boss said it the best: You train six months for 1 day, and there’s no way to know if it’s going to go as you’ve planned.

The week leading up to the Marathon was great. The forecast was looking ok, I got over my cold, and I was feeling pretty good. I was feeling ready. My friends arrived on Friday night, I got good amounts of sleep, ate well, relaxed, and had fun. The weather forecast began to look less great.

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My awesome spectators ❤ Just missing CC and Clara’s photos!

 

Before the Marathon:

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Part of the team at Boylston, waiting to get on the bus to Hopkinton.

I felt incredibly calm Monday morning. Slept pretty decently the night before, felt rested. Got dressed, ate some breakfast, and Eric drove me to Davis Sq where I got the T to Park Street. I found my team and as we chatted while waiting for the buses, my nerves began to wear off and I actually began to get excited. On the bus ride to Hopkinton, I snoozed a little bit (obviously). The Athlete’s Village was amazing – enormous, filled with runners wearing ridiculous throw-away outfits, garbage bags, and ponchos. We even wore baggies over our shoes to keep them dry. I found my team, sat around, took a trip to the Porta-Potty, and continued to feel calm and happy. When they called out Wave 4, we stripped off some layers, donated some of the throwaway clothing, and headed to our corrals. The rain held off until we were headed to the corrals, thank goodness, because sitting in the rain would have been much worse than walking to the start line in it. I knew it was going to be a wet run, so it wasn’t unexpected as we were getting ready to run. We got packed in like sardines, quickly threw off the last of my throwaway gear – a $3 Target sweatshirt and plastic poncho – and then we were running.

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Miles 1-6:

The first few miles were incredible. The rain didn’t bother me, I felt warm enough. My legs felt good. I was running a slow, comfortable pace around 11 minutes. I saw my teammates and let them pass me, knowing that I was staying slow and steady. I let myself take it all in, listen to the crowds, and was having a great time. I knew that my friends Kim and Erin would be around Mile 2, so I kept my eyes peeled for them. When I saw them, I yelled out and gave them hugs (sorry they were such wet hugs!!) and continued on my happy way. We ran through Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham…. I ran past the Framingham Train Depot and the 10K marker.

Miles 7-13.1:

The second quarter or so took me through the rest of Framingham and into Natick. We crossed Speen Street and hit the 15K mark. I still felt decent and excitedly ran under some photographers positioned over the 15K marker (this is the best photo of me from the day… more on this later…). Ran through Natick center and towards Wellesley College. This stretch of the Marathon is renowned for the screaming Wellesley students that can be heard a mile away. These ladies were fierce and had so much energy. They also had some of the best signs listing out reasons why runners should give them kisses (“Kiss Me, I’m graduating!” “Kiss Me, I left the library for this!” “Kiss Me, I’m wet!”… That last one made me giggle for the next half mile). After Wellesley, I ran through the half marathon point… and immediately felt the need to walk. All of a sudden, my legs were so sore and so tired… and I was only half way done.

Miles 13.1-17:

Oh goodness were these miles tough. My next check point after the half marathon was Mile 15 at the Wellesley Community Center. I continued walking on and off, and began to feel a blister forming on the side of my ankle where my sock was rubbing. Luckily, right before I hit the Wellesley Community Center, a bunch of elderly women were passing out sticks with Vaseline on them! I grabbed one, stopped, and slathered it all over my ankles – which kept me blister free the rest of the race. I ran another hundred or so steps to the Wellesley Community Center and tried to stretch my legs out and get them back for the next 10+ miles, but they weren’t having it. After I passed the WCC, I began texting Sarah and Eric to get a sense of where they were – hoping they were close. My wonderful friend Jess had offered to drive them to a couple different spots so they could see me run by – and they were waiting for me just past Mile 17. I did my best to run to them, walking a bit as I crossed the bridge over 95 and ran by Newton Wellesley Hospital. Eventually, I was on the lookout for them and ran slowly so they wouldn’t see me walking. And then there they were. And I was so happy! Until they reminded me I needed to keep running…

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Miles 17-24:

And then I was in the Newton Hills. I’ve never been one who hated running hills. I like the rolling up and down. But after the extreme downhill from Hopkinton, and the overall exhaustion I was feeling, my legs weren’t having it. I began to walk again, until I saw my teammate Cassie. Rather than let her pass me, I decided to try and run with her for as long as possible. She and I had struggled through the Newton Hills during our 20 miler, so I knew we were probably going to be tackling them at a similar pace. After the first hill, and maybe midway through the second one (of 4), I began to walk and let her go on without me. My Coach Andy found me soon after, and we walked/ran together while he tried to diagnose what was going on. I was eating right, I was hydrating right, I started out SLOW, but my body just wasn’t interested in performing. He gave me a pep talk, and sent me on my way to tackle Heartbreak. Regardless of how shitty I was feeling and how much pain I was in, I decided that I was going to run up Heartbreak and not stop. And I did. And that was a great accomplishment. But then my IT Band gave up. And it felt like a spear was jabbing into the side of my knee after running more than a few steps. This was the beginning of the #SoloShuffle, which I continued to do until the finish line.

photo 4 (2)As I headed towards Boston College, I was surrounded by college students again. Again, the energy (the drunken energy?) was fierce. They were screaming my name, cheering me on with all their power, and I couldn’t handle it. I saw my friends again (minus Eric who was racing to the finish line) and all the emotions started to bubble up. As soon as I said goodbye to them, I was crying. My friend Julia sent me a text to give me her location, and as I began to respond to tell her I was nearing her old apartment just past BC, my phone turned off. My hands were so cold and wet that I didn’t want to take my phone out of its plastic baggie, so I just kept running and figured I’d see her. With all the emotional crazy, I think I read her text as Cleveland Circle, when in fact she was at Coolidge Corner (let’s be honest, I get them confused in real life, too), and when I didn’t see her at the first one, I got extra emotional thinking I’d missed her. I continued the #SoloShuffle and combined it with the ugly sobbing (if you want to see some hilarious/unfortunate race photos, please feel free to check mine out).

JuliaHugAnd then I heard someone screaming my name and running towards me in a pink rain jacket – JULIA! This was the most emotional moment – I was at mile 24 or so, in horrendous pain, and an emotional basket case – I don’t know if I was crying because I was in pain, or because I was having a shitty race, or because I had put in all this work for 6 months and was not doing as well as expected – but some of it was definitely thinking about Granny. In the weeks leading up to the Marathon, our coaches reminded us over and over that we needed to remember why we were running and who we were running for. So, I also sobbed thinking about how much I missed Granny and Poppies, and that no amount of training or running would bring them back.

 

Miles 24-26.2:

After a sobbing hug from JKP, I kept up with the #SoloShuffle. I shuffled through Kenmore, through the tunnel, and all of a sudden, I was turning right on Hereford, and left on Boylston. There was no more #SoloShuffle as I headed towards the finish line. Once I was on Boylston, there was only running (albeit, slow running). I saw Eric on my right screaming my name and blowing me kisses – luckily I had the strength to blow him some back. Then I saw him RUNNING down the sidewalk to meet me past the finish line. I think I may have blacked out at the Finish Line because I have no memory of crossing it. Apparently they said my name and that I’m from Somerville.

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Crossing the finish line.

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Post Race:

photo 3 (2)Once I had passed the line, I saw Sarah, other Eric, and Elizabeth. I think they were cheering for me and taking pictures and asking me questions, but all I wanted was to get my medal and my foil blanket. They were so great and didn’t even seem to mind that I had no interest in chatting. Maybe I gave them hugs? All I remember is walking down the Finish chute for blocks before getting my medal and blanket. Eventually, I was able to turn right off of Boylston towards the family meeting area, where Eric was waiting for me. As soon as his arms were around me in a hug, I was sobbing again. When I was done crying for the umpteenth time, we walked (I hobbled) to our Team’s meeting area in the Boston Park Plaza, another few blocks away.

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Monday night ice bath, featuring three 5-lb bags of ice.

The hotel was filled to the brim with happy runners who had showered and changed and were enjoying their congratulatory beers. Once I finished taking a shower and getting into dry, warm clothing, I began to feel like myself again. Sarah and other Eric’s flight got delayed to Tuesday, so we headed back to Somerville where I ate a bowl of delicious fries and an enormous burger topped with onion rings… and a beer.

 

 

Final Thoughts:

After a week of processing, there are a few things I know to be true:

1. I’m glad I did this. I’m glad I applied to be a part of the LLS Team; I’m glad I chose to honor the 5th anniversary of Granny’s death this way; I’m glad I dedicated the last 6 months to training and fundraising almost $10,000 for LLS.

2. I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of 6 months of balancing what felt like a second full-time job; I’m proud of all the early Saturday mornings I spent running outside in the worst Boston winter of recent history; I’m proud of myself for finishing my first marathon.

3. I will run another marathon. In the first few days after the Marathon, I said that not only would I not run Boston again, but that I wouldn’t run any other marathon, ever. A week out, I know that I’m a better athlete and runner than what showed up in Hopkinton last week and I want to prove it to myself by running another marathon in under 5 hours. I still don’t think I will run Boston again. The day is so special and meaningful, and I think I would rather support other runners by volunteering during the day along the route or just by cheering on my former teammates (who already plan on running again next year).

I am so thankful for this experience. I am thankful for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society who do such an amazing job supporting 100+ runners in their training and fundraising. I’m thankful for my two coaches Andy and Sarad who helped me transition from a half-marathon runner to a marathon runner. I’m thankful for my amazing teammates whose stories and mission moments kept me going when the winter felt like it would never end or when I needed a reminder of our mutual goal to end blood cancer. I’m thankful for my most wonderful family and friends who supported me with love and donations, helping me to raise almost $10,000 and keep me sane these past 6 months. I’m thankful for my extra special friends who came and cheered me on during the marathon – or sent me supportive texts and emails in the days prior. And I’m most thankful for my boyfriend Eric – my #1 supporter. After 6 months of my waking him up between 5-5:30 for pre-work runs and talking incessantly about nothing other than the marathon, training, and fundraising, I assumed he’d be ready for me to take a break. Instead, he turned to me a few nights ago and said “You’ll run Boston again, I know it.”

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has raised $978,942 and we’re trying to hit $1 million. If you haven’t yet had a chance to donate, I hope you’ll consider helping us hit this incredible milestone as we fight and cure blood cancer.

#SomedayIsToday #WeRunTogether

 


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Workout Wednesday: Double the Fun

Have you heard that there’s a ridiculous amount of snow in New England? There’s approximately 3 feet of snow on the ground (which, when shoveled and plowed, means piles of snow bigger than me that I could comfortably live in, igloo-style). The Red Line has pretty much given up on life and has had “severe delays” for days. Eric has given up on trying to get to the office and has worked from home the last few days. The snow has been so bad that I got home from work on Tuesday and ‘angry-shoveled’ the driveway for almost an hour and a half, in my work clothing. Great stress relief. Great workout.

However, all this snow means it is *very* hard to run outdoors right now. The only option is really to run in the street. While I have all the gear necessary to do so in the early mornings, it’s also cold. Last year, I kept running outside in the cold all winter long, but there was far less snow. Now that I belong to a gym, I’ve started running… on a treadmill.

Yeah… running in single, or even negative degree, weather is pretty crazy. But afterwards, you feel like a BAMF, so whatever.

I only joined the gym so that I could get affordable private personal trainer sessions (at $25 for a semester-long gym membership, it was a *really* good deal). I figured that I would use the gym ONLY for access to the trainer and the weight room. But then I had an hour to kill before meeting up with my trainer last week, so I decided “Well, it’s single-digit degrees outside… maybe I should use that time to go for a run at the gym.” Mind you, I used to LOVE running on the treadmill and never ran outdoors. But then one day I ran outside and realized what I had been missing. Getting back on the treadmill after more than a year was strange. And boring. Luckily, Harvard’s cardio machines overlook the pool, so I got to (creepily) watch a water aerobics class taking place on the floor below me. I took it easy on the run, and even watched Seinfeld.

Between this first foray onto a treadmill and today, 30+ inches of snow have taken over the Boston area. While considering my training schedule for this week, I decided to do my cross-training bike day on Tuesday, and switch my hill workout for Wednesday. Because of the gross amount of snow and slush, there’s no way to safely do a hill workout in the Somerville area (without a serious fear of tripping and falling in the gross snow and slush), so I woke up at 6am and trudged to the gym.

I’ve got to say, it was SUCH a good idea. I did an awesome hill workout on the treadmill per the instructions of my Team in Training Coach (Begin with a 10 minute warm up, very slow.  Then set the treadmill to 1 degree of elevation and your marathon pace.  Run at this elevation for 2 minutes.  Then increase the elevation to 2 degrees and run for another 2 minutes.  Keep climbing in this manner until you get to 5 degrees and then go back down from there). After I finished the 30 minute hill workout, I decided to run a really quick mile… as fast as I could. So I did. And I ran it in under 8 minutes. Overall, I spent about 45 minutes on the treadmill and didn’t think it was the most horrible thing in the world.

After a quick stretch and shower, I trudged through the snow to get to the office where I worked for a solid three hours before using my lunch break to meet my personal trainer for a quick 30 minute strength session. A second trudge to the gym, a second workout, a second quick stretch and shower, and I was back to work within an hour. Coming in a little early and staying a little late is TOTALLY worth being able to take time out of the middle of the day for some self-care. Double the workout, double the fun. I’d say it was a very successful #WorkoutWednesday.

How do you manage your time when it comes to fitting in fitness? Early bird or night owl? What kind of self-care do you practice during the workday to keep you happy and motivated?


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Trigger Foods, or Why I’m Not Allowed to Bake Anymore

I had an important revelation at Weight Watchers tonight. Or, rather, an important revelation was pushed onto me. I skipped the meeting last week because I had to work late. Even though I knew that I wasn’t going to see any love from the scale tonight, I forced myself because I needed some serious tough love from my WW leader, Maria.

I didn’t feel like participating so I sat in the back. The topic of the day was asking our food if it was worthy of us (aka what questions can you ask yourself before eating something). Recognizing my silence, Maria called me out and asked what questions I ask myself when presented with food choices.

“Really? You’re asking the girl who ate pretty much an entire batch of cookies this weekend?”

And all of a sudden, I was no longer hiding in the back. From a discussion of the original reason why I chose to bake cookies (because I was pre-menstrual, stressed out, avoiding my paper, and craving sugar) to the ways I could have avoided eating the whole batch (knowing that I *could* freeze them, *could* bring them to work, or *could* have purchased a single serving treat is not the same as having any interest in doing those things), Maria eventually said something horrible:

“Becky, maybe you shouldn’t bake.”

I’m sorry, what? I shouldn’t bake?! I love baking! I love baking cookies and pies and muffins and biscuits and… and… I have a bookmarked website for mini eggnog cheesecakes that I’ve been meaning to try!!

I also love eating raw dough (yes, I know it’s got raw eggs but after 28 years of eating raw dough I’ve never been sick, SO THERE). And I have no self control when it comes to sweets. I’ve never had self control when it comes to sweets. If it’s got a sugar base, then servings don’t exist and it’s more than ok to eat EVERYTHING.

“Becky, how many cookies did your boyfriend eat?

“Um… maybe three?”

“And how many did you eat?”

“Um… no comment. Except that there were no more cookies after 24 hours.”

I’m an adult, yet I don’t know how to say no to baked goods. So, even though I almost cried in tonight’s meeting, I think Maria might be right. I think that I might need to retire from baking.

I’ll still bake for special occasions… But only when I’m not taking it home at the end of the night or there are guests to take the leftovers home with them. And it’s not like I’m not allowed to eat baked goods – I’d obviously never give that up – I’m  just not allowed to bake them for myself.

I’m super sad about tonight’s revelation, but in the end, I know that it’s for the best. Sigh. At least I still have my crock pot.

What have you had to give up for your weight loss goals? Or, to keep up with tonight’s main WW topic, what do you ask your food before you choose to eat it?


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Happy Hump Day!

Happy Wednesday! (I will always love this commercial)

Last night I was in a little bit of a funk, but this morning I’m feeling much more positive about things. And here’s why:

1. I have an awesome new job!

2. I signed up for my 3rd class at Harvard Extension School. It’s a class on graduate research and writing methods and the topic is Religion in America. While I would rather take the course on Vampire Literature and Film (I mean, who wouldn’t want to take that?), the graduate research class is the last prerequisite that I need before I can officially apply to the Masters in Liberal Arts program (aka Goal #11)

3. There has been a sighting of downward motion on the scale during my daily morning weigh-in. A fellow blogger at I’mPerfect Life has been dealing with the same weight issue of needing to drop the pounds that have creeped up during all the summer fun and she refers to it as #nipthatshitinthebud. After a super fun time at the Newport Folk Festival this past weekend, I’m on a little bit of a self-imposed dairy and gluten detox, and I’m finally headed back in the right/downward direction.

Setting up myself for success on Monday night with some roasted eggplant and sauteed zoodles (aka zucchini noodles)

Setting up myself for success on Monday night with some roasted eggplant and sauteed zoodles (aka zucchini noodles)

4. I’ve gone to yoga 2 weeks in a row. Namaste.

5. I’ve gone to November Project’s Wednesday stadium workout 3 weeks in a row and today I did my first (real) full tour around the stadium (aka, I did it in the allotted time and didn’t start early). It took 50:57 to complete (I actually used my MapMyFitness app this time and the gps map is crazy!). AND because I did my first full tour, it counted as a pr, which meant I was awarded with a meet and greet with Phoebe the PR Pig. Yes, a mini pig came to our workout this morning. Yes, she was adorable. Yes, we took a selfie.

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This is my face of pure joy upon meeting Phoebe the PR Pig.

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Now that’s what I call a workout.

6. I’m officially part of the November Project tribe aka I got a t-shirt! If only it was work appropriate…

7. It has been beautiful the last few days… borderline feeling like fall. While I’m not ready for summer to be over, I’m loving the cooler weather during my morning runs!

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8. I’m running half marathon #8 on Sunday with my adorable co-worker.

9. I’m seeing my family in 10 days!

10. ERIC AND I ARE GOING TO EUROPE IN 20 DAYS!

There’s a lot to be excited about. A LOT. I’m a #happygirl.