Sunday, July 7, 2019

Finish at the 50 Race Report - Part 2 - Pre-Gaming and Post-Race

...the same can be said for running. Since February, I put in all of the training to prepare for the 2019 Harvard Pilgrim Finish at the 50 5K. We trained on Heartbreak Hill. I did speed work around the Reservoir and along the coast in South Boston. I did strength training and cross training and worked with Dr. Lizzie in weekly chiropractic treatment sessions.

But the most important part of my training was the mental preparation leading up to gun time.

As a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma, I needed to repeatedly remind myself that I could trust in my body's tremendous capacity to heal and meet the demands of challenges. As different sensations arose especially in my right knee, I took myself back to how I recovered after a serious knee injury in December of 2014 to go on and run the 2015 Finish at the 50 5K.

I had to sweep aside the caregiver stress and focus on myself giving myself permission to embrace myself as a runner and to experience the joy and celebration that is a part of Finish at the 50.

From "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953":
You may notice my pattern of pre-race panic and the need to email the Race Director to calm my pre-race jitters.

Here is the email exchange between Dave McGillivray and myself beginning on June 29 and concluding after the race:

Mary: Hi Dave…So in setting goals not limits, Friday is my comeback race and I’ve been training for a PR. I’m getting butterflies and just wanted to make sure the course is well marked for those of us who run a 14-15 minute/mile pace. We went out to Gillette yesterday for final mental preparation, and have trained on Heartbreak so I am ready but just need to make sure that there will either be course monitors or signs to direct us. File this under taper madness! Thank you Dave!

Dave: There will be! I’ll probably be running right behind you, too! Good luck! Dave

Mary: That's for the 5K. And I couldn't follow the course map on line. You just made my day Dave - you rock! Thank you -- it's going to be a great day and no rain :)

Dave: Oh, you are doing the 5K…I’m doing the 10K! The 5K goes in the stadium and up and down the ramps!

Mary: I know. It was a little confusing but it will be marked or there will be course monitors right?

Dave: Very confusing on a map because most of it is in the building. It will be marked, etc. I did it last year…no problems!

Mary: THANK YOUUUU! See you Friday. Can't wait ... you are awesome you know that right?

Dave: Don’t tell me, tell my wife and kids!!!

Mary: You can forward the email to them :)

Mary: As you promised it was an amazing day. Congrats on your great finish. (Dave pushed Rick Hoyt in his chair for the 10K). I manifested something far greater than a PR although I was within 27 seconds... It was a magical day. Thank you so much for allaying my fears before the race to clear the way for me to experience every moment of a very special day!

Until our paths cross again I'll be setting goals not limits - as in the Bermuda Half Marathon!

Dave: Congratulations Mary! Told you that you wouldn’t get lost!!!! Ha.

I had emailed Dave before registering for the 2019 race asking if there was a time limit.

I don’t recall us ever imposing a time limit so I think you will be good. I do think a number of folks actually walk it just so they can say they were on the field!!

When I saw the course map that was changed a month or so before the race, I told myself I was not going to email him again. Tom and I tried to decipher the map but it wasn't possible so we decided that we would just trust the course would be marked and we would be fine. We have never gotten lost at a race and now was not going to be the first time!

I kept calming my pre-race jitters in the week before the race reminding myself that taper time would serve me well on race day. Meditation using the soundtrack from Heal Documentary was a twice daily occurrence.

The evening before race day we went out for dinner at Legal Seafood. Char, baked potato and spinach were the perfect pre-game meal. We enjoyed unwinding with an episode of Psych and slept in on race day.

I felt my pre-race jitters kick into high gear but listened to the birds singing. Tom and I did a long morning meditation. We ate a leisurely breakfast in our yard and Tom got to work taping my knees:

We allowed ourselves plenty of time to get to Gillette Stadium and arrived about 20 minutes before bib pick up.

The line had already formed for bib pick up and we chatted with runners while we waited in line trying to distract ourselves from the searing heat:

The person who gave us our bibs had a message for me on the back of my bib:

My pre-race jitters were transformed into joy and excitement.

We enjoyed a healthy, leisurely pre-race lunch at Red Robin, walked around to soak up the pre-race excitement, had our photos taken with our bibs:

and with a Minion:

As we had in 2015, we turned the air conditioner on high in the car and set our meditation timer for 40 minutes. I did a full body scan meditation, listened to my breath and filled myself with positive self-talk and gratitude.

We had a luna bar and more hydration before heading to the start.

I had total trust that we were going to have a great race experience which we did. All of the training and mental preparation as well as setting powerful intentions created a magical and mystical race day experience which is recapped in Part 1 of my Race Report.

I was nauseous, sweaty yet exhilarated and in awe of the entire race experience.

We had 8:00pm dinner reservations at Skipjack's. I had forgotten how phenomenal and electric a post race atmosphere can be --- especially when it coincides with July 4th! Walking around Patriot Place with runners wearing their bling, live music blaring and the anticipation of Fireworks reminded me why I love to run and why I love Finish at the 50!

All of the mental and physical preparation along with managing the pre-race jitters was well worth experiencing those magical moments.

I savored our post-race meal especially sparkling water with lemon and those warm Skipjack rolls although I had to take most of it home.

We couldn't decide what to do before the fireworks display and in those moments of indecision were treated to a "chance" encounter with our race buddies and new running friends!

We changed into dry clothes and as we closed the car doors, heard the first burst of fireworks.

It was a spectacular show!

What a celebration of freedom! I felt my personal celebration of freedom from limited thinking, transforming and transcending limits offered by the medical community and freedom from external circumstances to experience joy, love and well-being!

Let freedom ring!

To be continued....

From my heart to yours
In Health and Wellness,

Be sure to visit my website at

Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link

My books are available on Amazon and "Feel the Heal" and "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" are available in Natick Center Cultural District at Paula Romero Dunbar's Celebration Boutique Paper Fiesta coincidentally located on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon Route. Proceeds from the sale of books for July are being donated to The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation to support Tom's Falmouth Road Race. You can also donate directly by following this link.

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