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Boston Bound: Meet Lisa Grafton

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On May 31st, 2015 I received an email from a blog reader interested in my coaching services. I had just completed the RRCA run coaching certification program (read about it: here and here) and I was an eager young coach ready to share my passion with as many runners as possible. Then I received an email from a Miss Lisa Grafton and I immediately became scared sh*tless. It’s one thing to train yourself for a marathon. It’s an entirely different matter when a complete stranger puts their marathon dreams in your hands for the next 4-5 months. You better be darn sure that you can get them to marathon on race day!

In all honesty back in May of 2015 I was about seventy percent sure that I could confidently get an athlete to marathon day… ok that’s low balling- let’s go with seventy five percent. Because I was so green in the coaching field when Lisa approached me for coaching I was brutally honest with her about my newness. Since she had been following the blog she knew of my coaching knowledge- or lack thereof – already. But she knew me- my passion for running, my training philosophy, my experiences working at the running store and my know-how of learning to run after my daughter was born- she knew it all and she was willing to take the risk. There are times in our life when we just need someone to give us a chance at our dream and Lisa gave me that chance. She was willing to risk her marathon dreams of a BQ on me- and for this I will be forever grateful. <3

Since May 31st 2015 Lisa and I have sent 887 emails to each other- that’s more than 2 emails a day. She has seen me through being a stay at home mom, to working at the running store, a divorce, escapades in dating, love, loss and life. I have coached her through 2 marathons (Baystate 2015 and 2016) and countless races at every distance. I have stood at the finish line to catch her in my arms – sometimes as she flies into the finish with a PR (SSYMCA Frozen 5k with a 22:52, 7:22 pace) and sometimes with tears in her eyes as she tries to shake off the pain from a TOUGH race (oh Run to the Rock Half Marathon 2016 why do you have to always be balls hot out with evil evil rolling hills??).

 

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Lisa (far left in pink hat) nailed her 5k PR at the 2016 SSYMCA Frozen 5k!!

 

On March 10th 2017 I finished the Black Cat 10 miler in a feels like of -8 degrees, glanced at my watch and knew that Lisa wouldn’t be too far behind me. So I turned around and I ran to her. I found her trudging through the 30+ mph winds in the final mile of the course and told her to tuck in behind me. I told her, “Don’t think. Just follow my feet. Four laps around the track left… WE GOT THIS…three laps… never stop running… two laps… the finish line is just around the corner… ONE lap. GO GO GO.” In May 2015 Lisa took a chance on me and I’ll always do my absolute best to be there for her. Why? Because sometimes in life you need someone to believe in you enough so that you can begin to believe in yourself and your own strength. I’m starting to realize that Lisa and I do that for each other <3 

 

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Meet Lisa:

Bradford, MA,  47 yrs,  Bib # 21165

Here is her Boston story…

 

For the first time in my life I will not be standing on the sidewalks spectating the Boston Marathon – this year, I will be on the course, running. I’ve been running since 2008 – countless 5ks and half marathons, 6 marathons.   Back in 2008, I was not working, my kids were in 1st grade and preschool and for the first time, I found myself with a few hours to myself.  I had a new gym membership and found myself walking on a treadmill quickly becoming bored.  Curiosity led me to increasing the speed on the machine and I was soon breaking into a light jog and the best part was that I wasn’t losing a lung in the process.  Each day I returned fascinated by this challenge of pushing myself farther and faster.  I was hooked.  Once I had graduated into racing the half marathon distance, I knew I would run a marathon but that my heart would tell me when that time would be.  

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Each year, I would watch the Boston Marathon and be so inspired by the countless numbers of “regular” runners making that 26.2 trek from Hopkinton.   There were some years that I would join my father in his annual pilgrimage from Haverhill, MA to downtown Boston to spectate the marathon.  During those times together, he would turn to me and say “someday” meaning “someday” he would be watching me out there running the course.  Yeah, Dad, maybe someday.  When the bombings happened in 2013, I was devastated for so many different reasons, but it was then that I knew I was ready to run my first marathon.   I was now a full-time working mother with a husband who worked second shift.  This meant that my training runs were always run early in the pre-dawn hours before I needed to get the kids and myself ready for school and work. After I finished my second marathon only 5 minutes slower than my Boston Qualifying time (3:55) I knew I had a qualifying run in me. 

 

A couple of failed attempts later and I found Kass.  Actually I think I was meant to find her.  It was 5 days after I had run my 4th marathon and blew up on the race course.  I was very discouraged.  I had been following Kass’s blog – loving her honesty,humor and ability to connect with me through her words – and she had just  announced her plans to pursue a running coach certification.  I contacted Kass asking if she’d coach me to hit my goal to qualify for Boston.    Kass introduced me to heart rate training, track workouts, and strength work.   I began to run faster than ever and felt strong when I ran.   I never once missed a workout – I logged every mile Kass put in front of me, every crazy core exercise, all the strength.  There would not be any regrets.  I did not want to risk falling short of my goal. The day of my goal race arrived and for 26.2 miles I maintained a pace I would never even dream about before working with Kass.  Mile after mile, it all clicked.  The weather, my fueling, my legs.  I crossed the finish line 11 minutes faster than the time I needed to qualify.  11 minutes!  There was no denying that I was going to run the 2017 Boston Marathon.  I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time.    That day is now here.  Kass has continued to coach me (she’s the best) and I’ve had a successful training cycle -with the exception of the flu arriving to visit me last week.  When I think of all that Boston is and visualize myself as a part of this momentous day, I become overwhelmed with emotion.  I’m excited to share this day with so many and to give my Dad  his “someday” 

xoxo,

Lisa (Bib #21165)

 

 

Two years ago Lisa was a complete stranger who lived in a town about 45 min north of Boston. Today she’s not only my athlete but my close friend whose daily emails about her runs wield the power to make inappropriate jokes that makes me spit out my coffee at work in-between bouts of snarky laughter. Muhahhahaha!! On Monday Lisa will tackle her FIRST Boston. I can’t even begin to express how amazing this journey has been and how sweet the victory of running the Boston Marathon will taste. GO GET YOUR BOSTON LADY!! YOU DESERVE IT!! I love you!

Never stop running,

Kass

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Boston Bound: Meet Miss Laurie.

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It coming!!!!

It’s race week runners! I met with 24 clients this week, talked to a few potential new athletes and have one athlete racing the Newport Half Marathon and 3 athletes racing Boston. It’s Thursday night and my head is full of feelings from the day job. My belly wants all the carbs. My heart just wants to fast forward to Monday. Ahhh beautiful taper psychosis is in full effect but not just for me… for my athletes too! My inbox is FULL with back and forth threads from my Boston bound athletes pertaining to getting buses to the start, pacing, fueling and hydration plans (it’s going to be a warm one!). I love all of my athletes to pieces, but yes, sometimes I do feel like preparing marathoner’s for Boston is like trying to soothe a pair of triples to sleep in the same room. You soothe one to sleep and the other starts chirping! Haha we runners are so neurotic and I love it! Talking running is what I dooooooo! 🙂  I LOVE MY CHICKADEES!!!  <3.

This training cycle I had the honor of training three athletes for Monday’s Boston Marathon. You, my readers, have an insight into my running story but I wanted to give you the opportunity of hearing some of the other amazing stories that are out there. I have asked each of my Boston runners to write a short post about their Boston story, why they run and what they hope to accomplish on race day. I’ll be posting their stories in the next few days along with their name and bib # so you can follow them along on race day.

 

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Laurie S. (left)

Meet Laurie.

Laurie is a long-time blog reader who approached me last November via a FB message. She expressed interest in getting a coach (I’m listening...), things didn’t go well for her in her last Boston (because we weren’t training together, duh!!). Then she dropped the bomb: she is running for the mobility division, ran over 5 hours at her last Boston while limping to the finish and getting through training and the marathon injury-free is her number one priority (Whoa whoa whoa Miss. Lippy- tv time out. Whaaaat?!?). Number two? KICK ASS, TAKE NAMES AND PR (done and done). The combination of priority number one and number two gave me heart palpitations.

 

I talk a lot about coaching athletes to bend without breaking but this time I was TRULY worried that I might break Laurie. I’ll be honest- part of me was extremely apprehensive about taking Laurie on as an athlete. She was placing her marathon dreams and physical safety in my hands and I respect that as a huge responsibility.

 

One Friday afternoon in early November Laurie and I had a long conference call as I drove my bum down to CT to meet my guy. I drove and we chatted while I made my way from Boston to the CT border. Funny how when you start talking running you can talk to a complete stranger for hours :). While our back and forth emails helped me get to know Laurie I needed to hear her voice. Her voice was steady, her passion was powerful and she was determined one way or another to take revenge on the Boston Marathon course this year. During that phone call I became entranced with story and I wanted to be the one to safely coach her to her marathon dreams. So we brainstormed on how to ride the fine line of keeping her running safely, while also breaking down the walls of what she thought she was capable of. Holy wow! The results have been astounding!! Here is her story…

 

Laurie writes:

What running this Boston Marathon Means to me:

 

My story? What is my story?!? Hmmm. Well, I was born with a severe clubfoot, and my parents were told I would never walk. I have had too many surgeries to count and grew up mostly in a wheelchair. My parents drove me to be like everyone else, and would not allow me to feel sorry for myself. They signed me up for whatever the other kids were doing. I would drag my leg, I would be in pain – but I never gave up.

 

Five years ago I started pushing children who had disabilities through road races. I pushed my girlfriend’s child during a race that went from New York to Canada and by doing that I qualified for the Boston Marathon Mobility Division.

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Laurie and her son at the 2015 Boston Marathon

 

At one point in my life I was told that I would never walk and yet I have now run the Boston Marathon twice. Monday’s race will be my third and final Boston marathon. This time around running Boston means something entirely different. At mile 6 last year, I ruptured a disk in my back, fell to the ground in pain and I lost feeling in my leg and foot. The medical team came to my aid and tried to pull me off the course. I immediately looked to my son (who was my mobility division marathon guide at the time) and said

 

“In life you can choose to give up or keep going; let’s finish this.

 

I have never experienced so much pain in my life as during that marathon. Out of sheer will and determination four and half hours from that moment we crossed the finish line. Due to that injury, I still have yet to regain feeling in my thigh and cannot feel my foot hit the ground on my bad leg. In fact I had to relearn how to run without these feelings and unfortunately even more weakness in my already bad leg.

 

This leads me to my REVENGE TOUR! I am doing Boston ONE MORE TIME! This time I knew it would be the hardest thing I have ever done, mentally and physically. But I am determined to show my children that you can do anything in life you put your mind to, as well as the children born with my disability that they too can accomplish anything with no boundaries.

 

Kass has pushed me beyond my comfort zone and has helped me become comfortable being uncomfortable. She has shown me that I am capable of more then I ever thought possible and I am slowly believing it one step at a time. I have improved in such a short time, I was running 10:50 minute miles when I started training in December , my last long training run I did 20 miles with an average of 9:37 even with only running with one leg and the other leg just comes along for the ride. I will hit the starting line on Monday with my son by my side and I will take down Boston one mile at a time.

 

Boston HERE I COME! 

Laurie (bib #25171).

 

 

Isn’t she amazing?? Laurie, thank you for letting me coach you during your self-proclaimed Revenge Tour. No matter what happens on Monday it has been an absolute honor coaching you this training cycle- together we’ve seen you run your fastest mile, break your half marathon PR by over 10 minutes and safely push harder than you ever imagined for your body. Thank you for trusting me to coach you!! So. Much. Love. – Kass

 

FOLLOW LAURIE on Monday: bib #25171.

Never stop running,

Kass

 

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We are Boston Strong.

 

 

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How am I preparing for Boston? Let’s talk carbo-loading, relaxing and training runs.

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Run. Relax. Repeat. In Duxbury beach this weekend.

This is it! The final push! I am 7 days out from RUNNING THE BOSTON MARATHON!!!! The big training weeks are long gone, my mileage is dwindling and my doc says I have taper psychosis on the brain. How am I preparing for race day?  Aside from removing the nailpolish off of my fingers nail by nail in anticipation of race day I spent the weekend focusing on nailing down my pre-race fueling plan, getting HEALTHY again (yes, I was sick :(), nailing all of my final workouts (and no, 2 and 3 don’t go well together), and lastly- having some fun!!

 

 

Unfortunately my little Lillian got sick last week with a fever/cough so naturally I was infected with the same symptoms for the latter part of last week (let’s all take one huge ginormous sigh).  Behold the beauty of being a marathon mama. Lillian woke up last Monday morning with a fever of 102.6 and I scrambled to come up with a plan for the day.  What about my client appointments? WHAT ABOUT MY RUN??? Sick kiddos are stressful! Miraculously Lillian’s dad and I were able to come up with an arrangement that worked for both of us and most importantly for Lillian with a side bonus of me getting in my run! Phew!

Everything worked out perfectly until I came down with a similar lower grade fever/cough combo on last Thursday. I was supposed to run an 8 mile tempo run on Thursday- I didn’t (I ran 4 easy on the tread and then put myself out of my own misery). I planned on completing 5 easy miles on Friday- I didn’t and –GASP- I TOOK THE DAY OFF!!! Even though my fever didn’t spike as high as Lillian’s I felt run-down by the end of the week.

Feeling a little bit better on Saturday morning I attempted my final longer run of the training cycle (14 miles with 2 x 3 miles at goal marathon pace). Just one mile in I felt it tin my bones that attempting to run that intense workout was going to be a bad idea. My body was achy. My lungs felt tired (? is that a thing? I’m making it a thing.) My feet were slapping the pavement with no pep in their step whatsoever. Begrudgingly I bailed on the planned workout and just ran easy… or what should have felt easy, but really didn’t (8:30’s give/take). Altering a workout mid-run is not a decision I take lightly, however this run needed to be altered into a “run as you feel” run. Yes, it would have been nice to nail the splits on my final workout and have another boost of confidence, but my body was still recovering from the cold and emotionally I just needed to be outside and run. I have been working hard this training cycle, this I know. The work has been done. The hay is in the barn. So on Saturday I did something I rarely do: I changed the workout on the fly and just let my body run whatever pace it needed to.

I followed Chris around parts of Hingham, Norwell, Scituate and Cohasset feeling like crud …. and then we approached what looked like a river flowing through our path in Wompatuck state park. I stopped, paused my garmin and screamed, “What are we going to do???? We’re 9 miles out but we can’t go this way!!” I proceeded to watch my insane boyfriend slow down to a walk and walk his way through the small river that came up to his knees. Naturally, I followed while screaming out in pain from the FREEZING COLD WATER!! The man may be crazy but I’m crazy about him! Once we made it to the other side of the mini-river we took our squishy water logged shoes for the remaining 5 miles and ended up laughing most of the way back. What a run!

 

What were my goals again??

 

Goals

1. Stay healthy not really, but I’m DEFINITELY on the mend now 🙂

2. Nail splits not quite, but I still have 2 more mini “workout” sessions this week

3. Nail down pre-race carboloading

4. Have some fun!!

 

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Spending Saturday night with my guy in Bertucci’s in Kenmore Square = one happy marathoner

 

Since my first two goals didn’t quite pan out… I spent the rest of the weekend focusing on nailing down my pre-race dinner options at having some fun!! I took Chris out to Bertucci’s in Kenmore Square for his birthday dinner!! There we explored the many options that they have available that are ideal for a pre-marathon meal.

 

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From left to right: Chicken, Broccoli and Rigatoni, Shrimp Scampi and Four Cheese Ravioli

 

We noshed on lunch portions of Rigatoni, Broccoli and Chicken in a white wine garlic sauce, Sauteed Shrimp Scampi in a lemon wine sauce and Four Cheese Ravioli. Chris and I are big on pre-marathon carbo-loading so checking out Bertuccis’ pre-marathon meal options was a must!! Honestly? The Shrimp Scampi blew me away with its flavor and small hint of spice so much so that I wouldn’t share with Chris :). Oh well, he had two other dishes to call his own. I tend to stay away from meals involving a lot of cream and fat the night before the marathon so these options were perfect as they were high in carbs with a side of protein.  The dinner was absolutely delicious from start to finish as we were welcomed by warm rolls with dipping oil, pasta dishes perfect for our future in marathon carbo-loading and excellent service by manager Rob Miller throughout the evening. We also found out that Bertuccis is paying homage to its Boston roots by taking 26.2% off of all dine-in-dinners the night before the marathon- time for #allthecarbs !! Thank you to Bertucci’s for hosting us this evening!

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The Bertucci’s in Kenmore Square is located directly on the Boston Marathon route- right about mile 25. Go in on Marathon Monday and tell him hello and that Kass wants more peanut butter pie! Muhahahaha! ALL THE PIE!

 

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Remember that time we went to a concert, stood for 4 hours, DIDN’T DRINK, stayed out until midnight and then woke up the next day in SO MUCH PAIN we felt hungover? Ahh memories.

 

 

After dinner Chris and I walked over to the House of Blue to watch Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness in concert. Now I’m not much of a concert person. Correction: I’m not much of a “Leaves the house after 7 pm” person so going to a concert is BIG for me. The crowd. The noise. The not-sitting. Yea. Not me. BUUUUUT What is me is bopping around signing to good music- so thankfully we were able to make this adventure worth while. My ties with Andrew McMahon are super random (in that my grandpa was super close with Andrew’s wife’s grandpa… I told you it was random), so basically Andrew’s wife and I are family friends. Every time his band comes to town I try to get my bum off my couch to come see him play some kick-ass tunes. And guess what? Now his stuff is on the radio!!! You might know these tunes of his: Cecilia and the Satellite and Fire Escape.  Not only was it great to see Kelly, Andrew and Cecilia again this tour but it was AWESOME to get out of the apartment and do something completely different and non-running related!! Believe it or not- everything in my life doesn’t revolve around running… just 99.9%.  I guess I just did my one non-running thing for the year. Guess I’ll just have to start training for Chicago immediately after Boston :).

 

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Andrew crowd surfing in a big rubber duck, naturally.

 

On Sunday morning (cough cough, 11:30 am) Chris and I decided burn off Saturday’s food fest at Bertucci’s with a run in Duxbury! Neither of us have ever been to Duxbury before so we went to explore the beak, soak up the sun and test out our legs for the big day.  After three groggy miles my legs decided to show up for the first time all week and I FINALLY hit my ideal zone 1/goal marathon pace splits (between 7:45-7:50) with some ease. PHEW!! Sunday’s workout was intended to be a very comfortable 6 miles. Even though I wanted to go longer I held back because…. IT’S TAPER TIME!! I keep reminding myself: You’ve done the work. You’ve put in the miles. NOW just go and HAVE FUN!!

 

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Powder point road/ wooden bridge to Duxbury beach.

 

We are one week out from BOSTON and I’m getting chills!!

IT’S ALMOST TIME TO MARATHON!!

xoxo

Never stop running,

Kass

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