Thursday, September 28, 2017

A little extra hospitality for military on race day

We’re always looking for ways to provide extra perks and benefits to race participants.  With Bank of America’s commitment to those who serve in the military, it was a natural fit to create a race day military hospitality venue with their support.  Freedom Point, presented by Bank of America, is a pre-race and post-race space to provide a little extra TLC to all active duty military, Reserve, National Guard and veterans and their families (military I.D. must be shown at entrance).

This year, two special employees will be representing Bank of America at the Eversource Hartford Marathon and the Charity 5K - Jason Arndt served six years in the Marine Reserves, and Ashley Lorenz spent 11 years in active duty in the Navy, ending her service this past winter. 

Connecticut is Ashley’s new home after being stationed overseas, she is excited to participate on race day as a way to learn more about the community. She’s appreciated the support of her colleagues (and is a little surprised that her dog hasn’t been a better training partner!).  She’ll be running the 5K with ambitions to take on the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon next year.

For Jason, the 26.2 marathon challenge will be his first.  Learn more from him below about his experiences training – both mental and physical.  

Please join us in thanking them and those who do or have served our country.

Jason Arndt

One of the toughest parts of this kind of feat is maintaining the long term vision and discipline - it takes months of conditioning to get your body prepared. Having this opportunity with Bank of America provides an additional layer of motivation and accountability, so that I know I need to maintain focus and not slack off.

I’ve always enjoyed things that are physically and mentally challenging. That was one of the reasons I chose to join the Marine Corps, I felt that was going to be the biggest challenge. When setting this kind of goal, it is extremely self-rewarding to overcome the challenges involved and I like that kind of self accomplishment.

It probably sounds cliché, but I really believe anything you put your mind to, you can accomplish, especially when it comes to endurance. Every challenge you face, every goal you set and overcome, builds mental toughness and prepares you for future challenges. Life isn’t always easy, being able to face adversity and overcome those challenges is a contributing factor to success. One of the things I draw upon when training for the Eversource Hartford Marathon is previous races or feats that I’ve accomplished - when your body wants to quit but you have to keep pushing through. Those experiences have prepared me for this race and the training that I’m doing.

Training has been a challenge in and of itself. Trying to find time to go for a 2 or 3 hour run when you have work and kids is not easy. I have been following a training schedule, and for the first time this past weekend I felt like I was finally getting stronger. I had to run 19 miles, and it wasn’t until about mile 16 that I finally started to feel the aches and pains. With only a few weeks left until the Marathon, that is certainly encouraging and hopefully puts me in position to hit my goal of 4 hours!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Join the League of Injured Runners

The new League of Injured Runners allows you to support and encourage each other through various stages of injury recovery – something we almost all experience at some point.  Nobody wants to need the group, but we hope it will help you stay motivated and engaged when you do. And, when you’re back out there post-injury, you can encourage others through their struggle.

With the support and expertise of the Connecticut Sports Medicine Institute at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, we will bring you a video series of tips on injury prevention, signs and symptoms of common issues and recovery strategies.  The doctors will be available to provide general guidance and address questions through the League of Injured Runners Facebook group.  We’ll also provide those who JOIN the League with email updates on special events and opportunities and share stories from the community.

Community – that’s the most important part of this initiative.  Special thanks to Team HMF member Jeanne Corey and HMF Volunteer Ambassador Jackie Owens for their help in this effort and in rallying the community around each other.  You’ll see each of them at events and hear from them on the Facebook group.  Today, meet Jeanne and hear her story.  Next week, we’ll introduce you to Jackie and her story and we encourage you all to share with us and with each other – sign up to join the League and then talk with us on Facebook too!

When I had my first running injury, I was a new runner and signed up for every race I could find.  Back then, I didn’t own a Garmin, running sneakers or any fancy gear - I used to wear my lucky big hoop earrings during races and carb load the night before my 5Ks. LOL

I started having some pain in my hip when running, did my research, learned some stretches and diagnosed myself with a pulled hip flexor.  I read articles and advice to “run through the pain” so I kept running.  The pain got worse to the point where I started limping all of the time and it would wake me up at night.  I finally went to the doctor, got an MRI and eventually the bad news - a stress fracture.  

I made my list of questions for my 1st doctor visit.  
1.    When can I run again?
2.    What kind of exercise can I still do? (if the answer to 1 was not what I wanted)
3.    How long will this take to get better?

It’s funny, I can still remember that feeling of disbelief and some of the crazy thoughts I had:  “Maybe I can still run using my crutches”…“I wonder how many calories I can actually burn power walking with my crutches”.  

I was also haunted by horrible negative thoughts.  I felt isolated.  I remember crying when I received the automated text alerts about my friend running the Hartford marathon.  I think the worst was seeing runners on the road - I hated them!  I was in such a bad place.  I missed running.  It was like losing my best friend.   

A good friend sent me an article from Runner’s World - “How to cope with the 5 Stages of Injury Grief”, I recommend it and was so grateful to read something that made me realize I wasn’t going crazy!

I had a hip stress fracture and was not allowed to put any weight on my leg whatsoever. I was lucky enough to have a friend introduce me to “Pool running” (if you’re not familiar with this concept watch the video).  I tried it the first time and my legs were like rubber after - what a great workout!  It was probably the first time that I started to feel mentally good again. 

Finally, months went by and I was given the okay to run again!  I asked my doctor if I would be able to train for the Hartford half marathon that was in 8 days.  He just shook his head and said I’d only be able to walk/run the 5K, so I signed up and ran it – without stopping.  

I was given a very strict recovery plan but started up with my own over-aggressive routine again (not following doctor’s orders – bad idea!).  I began running, teaching classes and less than a year later had my second stress fracture.  

I wish at that time in my life I was involved with HMF to know that I could still be involved with the running community even though I wasn’t able to run.  I also wish that I had a support system that would listen to my craziness or even discourage me from doing too much too soon when I got the “okay” to run again.  

I’ve learned a great deal since then.  There is a lot that a new runner can do to avoid injuries; foam rolling, getting fitted for sneakers, warming up, not increasing miles too fast, and the most important – listening to your body.  If something hurts it’s time to slow down.  Not running for a couple of weeks sometimes can make the difference. The bottom line is we are runners, therefore we will get hurt one time or another.  The thing to remember is you’re not alone! 

Jeanne Corey
-Team HMF

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Marathon training: stories from the community

We see so many runners cross the finish line at the Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon, and we appreciate when we can get to know them a little more.  What made you start running?  How do you get through the toughest of your training days? Why is Hartford a goal race?  

We’re happy to bring you more of these stories over the next six weeks as we lead up to race day.  And below, please meet Devin Obedzinski, an employee at United Bank.  We appreciate United Bank’s continued support of the Eversource Hartford Marathon and are thrilled to have their employees run and volunteer with us on October 14.

Devin is taking on his first marathon in Hartford and he knows it’s all about the mental preparedness.  How can you relate to his story?

I have played organized sports since I was a kid, and I joined the Rockville High School track team my Freshman year. I had wanted to try long distance running, but Coach Dave Smith (I still call him Coach), wanted me to try out sprints, specifically hurdles.  I took to it pretty well and never ran more than 400 meters in high school. 
Devin and his training buddy Matt after 17 mile long run

I started running 5Ks after college as well as the Manchester Road Race to keep up my competitive drive and keep myself in shape.  In 2015 I ran my first Spartan Race and my first half marathon, the Hartford Half Marathon, finishing in 2:08:24.
Jokingly, I told a friend that I’d run the Eversource Hartford Marathon with him, and then he replied that he was serious. He asked if I would train with him.  I started logging miles with my training buddy back in April, because we knew that inevitably there would be distractions, vacations, injuries, etc.  

Running a full marathon is as much of a mental accomplishment as it is physical.  There’s not much I can do to make running for 4+ hours interesting, so it takes me a lot of mental toughness to fight through the boredom, the urges to quit, and the internal questions of why the heck did I do this to myself!  But those hurdles are what I see as challenges to overcome and add another accomplishment to my resume. 

I’m surprised by how much my body can change from day to day sometimes.  I can go out and run 10 miles and feel great afterwards, feeling like I could run another 10.  Then next week I’ll feel like dying after my first mile and wonder how I lost so much progress.  

Diet and sleep have been crucial, and I definitely feel the impact if I slack on my non-running training schedule.  Energy drinks are my guilty pleasure and one of my very few vices.  I’ve been much better at cutting them out of my diet.  About a month before any big races, I eat a much stricter diet, cutting out all 99% of all alcoholic drinks (maybe one a week) and focusing on eating the right foods.  

People usually ask me to see a therapist when I tell them I’m planning on running 26.2 miles.  Some don’t understand the 24 hour commitment to success and will try to pressure me into having a drink or eating fast food, but I keep the overall goal in mind when I stick to my plan. And, I still go to my old coach, Dave Smith - he helps keep me centered!

Check back for updates on Devin’s progress in the next few weeks!