Mary's Going with Guts!

Track my progress as I train for my next Team Challenge half marathon for the CCFA

13.1 and DONE!!!

Posted by msdon9 on June 29, 2010

The Team Challenge bus arrived in Boston proper around noon on Saturday the 26th. After my roommate Jen and I checked into our room, I changed into some workout clothes and ran an easy 20 minutes around the shady tree-lined reflecting pool of the Christian Science Church complex. I was anxious to get back to the hotel, shower, and meet up with some college friends who had gone out just one block from my hotel. Once I arrived at The Pour House on Boylston, I promptly ordered my “big lunch,” (a fried chicken breast sandwich complete with french fries, onion rings, and a large draft beer). Deeeelicious!

The Pour House: Jackie, Colleen, me, Jen, Booey (Matt), Cleavey (Chris), Sean, and Adrienne. Old friends & new friends!

My parents and two friends from home joined me at The Pour House, as well as my roomie, Jen. Hanging out with my family and friends really took my mind off of my nerves. The idea of waking up at 3:45am to get ready for the 1/2 marathon completely terrified me. Part of me started to question whether or not I was really ready.

Crohn's and Colitis patients appreciate a little "potty humor"

Flash forward to 6:15pm. After walking through a very LOUD and cheerful welcome line that assembled near the entrance of the official Team Challenge pasta party, I helped myself to a small serving of dinner and dessert from the enormous buffet line. Shortly after finishing my meal, organizing members of the CCFA began giving speeches and honoring top fundraisers with awards. All of that seemed very “typical” to me, but I was struck by one speaker, one Mary Beth Fecteau from the New England chapter of Team Challenge who told a heartbreaking story of how Crohn’s Disease affected her in childhood and adolescence. One thing she said that struck me was simply, “eleven year olds can be very cruel.” I was diagnosed when I was eleven. Don’t I know it. Her speech hit a little close to home and moved me to tears. Somehow, Mary Beth found me on Facebook today, and I’m glad to have her as a new “friend.”

After dinner was over, Team Challenge Long Island assembled in a conference room to go over some last minute details for race day. Each runner received a special “award” for their achievements with the program. Mine was particularly funny, as I was nicknamed Mary “Stand Back” Donnelly. It has to do with a story I told about my achy stomach during the 10k experience, and I’ll tell you that on in person if you really want to hear it.

After the meeting was over, Jen and I headed back to our room to try to put ourselves to sleep. 3:45 would roll around soon enough, and we wanted to get enough sleep as to not have a poor showing on the course. By 4:15am we were dressed and assembled in the lobby for a group photo, followed by a bus trip to the start line. I almost missed the gun, as my friends and I were in line for the Port-a-Potties as everyone else was lining up on the road. But, at the start, me and some of my teammates took off with the 12 minute-mile pacers. Two women I trained with in particular, Jeanine and Christina, and I agreed to stick together for the duration of the race to keep each other motivated. Boy was I grateful for that, because THOSE HILLS WERE TOUGH!

Boston 13.1 Course Elevation Map. We were able to continue running till about the 5.5 mile point, then the "climbing" started on the uphills.

The hill that sucked the most was around the 11 mile mark. But, by then we knew we were almost finished. Once we hit 12 miles, the crowd on the side of the road started to bulk up a little bit. Team Challenge coaches were on the course giving us little bits of encouragement (which was great, because Jeanine, Christina and I were definitely starting to fade). Seeing my friends Jackie and Colleen around the 1/2 mile left point was a real morale booster! Shortly after I saw them, my parents appeared up on the left hand side of the road. Perhaps the most fun was when Christina’s husband and son were waiting for her close to the end of the finish line. There’s video of that moment on my Facebook page, so if we’re friends there, please go take a look at it! If you see it, you’ll see how the three of us decided to cross the finish line. So fun!

So let me break it down for you: training with Team Challenge was no doubt one of the most significant life-changing experiences in my 31 years. It was mentally and physically demanding, stressful (especially planning the fundraising event), exciting, painful, and emotional all at the same time. I pushed my body to the limit more times in 16 weeks than I have ever done before, and while I was benched for a few weeks with an injury – I learned a lot from it, and I was able to get past it.I made some amazing new friends whose stories have put me in my place and inspired me at the same time. Most importantly, I learned that it’s never OK to use having Crohn’s Disease as an excuse for not being able to do something.

Most importantly, the joint efforts of all of Team Challenge raised approximately 1.8 million dollars for medical research for the Boston race alone!

Before I started training, I was barely able to run one lap around a track. When all is said and done, I bet I ran about 11 of those 13.1 miles, if not more. AND, I did it on a very hilly course that ran out of water cups at mile marker 5!! Christina, Jeanine, and I finished the course in 3:00:30 – which definitely isn’t a record-breaker by any means, but we were proud of ourselves for having made it through together. I’m very much looking forward to participating in another race, and I’ll be hitting all of you up for money to send me to California next year to run the Napa to Sonoma 1/2 marathon.

Better yet, do you want to run it with me?

At the finish line with mom and dad, who have been incredibly supportive the whole time!

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