Heartbreak Hill Round Four

Today I ran 12.23 miles on Heartbreak Hill with my DFMC teammates for the fourth weekend in a row! We will be masters of this hill by the time the marathon comes around since we will be so use to running on it. It is the hardest part of the marathon course and it is when you least expect it.

Boston Marathon – Heartbreak Hill:

Heartbreak Hill is an ascent of only 0.4-mile (between the 20 and 21-mile marks, near Boston College).

It is the last of the Newton Hills which begin at the 16-mile mark and challenge contestants with late (if modest) climbs after the course’s general downhill trend to that point. Heartbreak Hill itself rises only 88 feet vertically (from an elevation of 148 feet to 236 feet.)

It was on this hill that, in 1936, defending champion John A. “Johnny” Kelley overtook Ellison ‘Tarzan’ Brown giving him a consolatory pat on the shoulder as he passed. This gesture renewed the competitive drive in Brown, who rallied, pulled ahead of Kelley, and went on to win—thereby, it was said, breaking Kelley’s heart … and earned the name, HEARTBREAK HILL!

2015 Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge Singlet


Today was the day I was waiting for, for a long time…singlet reveal day! The singlet has the same Boston Skyline as last year but different colors and the colors are more vibrant than last year. I cannot wait to run for this team and show my Boston Strong pride again! I am already looking for a pair of shorts, a sports bra, and a t-shirt to wear underneath to match the singlet. I am pumped! 51 days to go! 11001712_792253847476515_3709710311963608694_o


Below is the 2014 DFMC singlet.10991707_378054499041609_4472242625815638263_o



Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for my family, friends, and my health. Without these I do not know where I would be. I am also greatful for the opportunity to be on the DFMC team. I have made friends who I consider family and without this team I do not know where I would be. Today I went to the gym for an hour on the elliptical since I am still in Syracuse, NY. I am looking forward to seeing my teammates at the group run on Saturday. I put in 10.4 and 5.2 miles in NY on the elliptical at the gym so it leaves me with at least 11 miles to do on Saturday to meet the minimum of 26 miles for the week.

Today’s question relates to outdoor sun safety. What are some essential sun safety types for the winter time?

Winter sports enthusiasts are at increased risk for overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The combination of higher altitude and UV rays reflected by the snow puts skiers and snowboarders at an increased risk of sun damage, and ultimately skin cancer. More than 90 percent of all skin cancers are associated with sun exposure.

It’s easy to associate winter with frostbite and windburn, but most people are unaware that UV rays can be every bit as damaging on the slopes as on the beach. With the winter sports season ahead of us, it’s more important than ever to take proper precautions on the slopes.

Higher altitude means increased risk of sun-induced skin damage, since UV radiation exposure increases 4 to 5 percent with every 1,000 feet above sea level. At an altitude of 9,000 to 10,000 feet, UV radiation may be 35 to 45 percent more intense than at sea level. In addition, snow reflects up to 80 percent of the UV light from the sun, meaning that you are often hit by the same rays twice. This only increases the risk for damage.

Both snow and strong wind can wear away sunscreen and reduce its effectiveness, so you have to take extra precautions. To protect your skin from the bitter cold, heavy winds and winter sun, follow these important sun protection tips:

  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 or higher whenever you spend extended time outdoors. Apply 30 minutes before hitting the slopes. Be aware that the sun’s reflection off the snow is strong even on cloudy days. (Up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays can penetrate clouds.)
  • Apply sunscreen liberally and evenly to all exposed skin – most skiers and snowboarders do not use enough. You should apply at least a teaspoon to the face.
  • Use a moisturizing sunscreen with ingredients like lanolin or glycerin. Winter conditions can be particularly harsh on the skin.
  • Be sure to cover often-missed spots: the lips, ears, around the eyes, and on the neck, the underside of chin, scalp and hands.
  • Reapply every two hours, and immediately after heavy sweating.
  • Always wear a lip balm with an SPF 15 or higher – lips are very sensitive.
  • Carry a travel-sized sunscreen and lip balm with you on the slopes. Reapply on the chairlift, especially after a long, snow-blown run.
  • Cover your head – it will protect your scalp and help keep you warm.
  • Wear items like ski masks, which will leave very little skin exposed to the wind and sun.
  • Sunglasses or goggles that offer 99 percent or greater UV protection and have wraparound or large frames will protect your eyes, eyelids and the sensitive skin around your eyes, which are common sites for skin cancers and sun-induced aging. The sun’s glare can make you squint, so it’s important to wear sunglasses or goggles to clearly see the terrain. Plus, it will increase your enjoyment and may even improve your performance while skiing!
  • If possible, ski early in the morning and later on in the day, before 10 AM and after 4 PM. This decreases the amount of time spent outdoors in the most intense sunlight and helps you avoid long lines.
  • If you are on the slopes for most of the day, take a few breaks indoors to reapply sunscreen.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

Enjoy the winter season, but be sure to take care of your skin to avoid the damage the cold season can cause.

Weight Wednesday

Today I went to the gym, and did 2 hours on the elliptical instead of the arc trainer since I am in Syracuse, NY since my husband is presenting at Upstate Medical University. This weekend I will be running on Saturday on Heartbreak Hill again with the DFMC team since the sidewalks in Wellesley are icy and they are hard to run/walk on.

Today’s question relates to patients with cancer and the cold winter temperature. What are some challenges for people with cancer in the winter time?

Hypothermia: Side effects of treatment such as dehydration, fatigue and anemia can make you more sensitive to the cold and more susceptible to hypothermia. Hypothermia is a condition in which your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, dangerously lowering your temperature.
Some kinds of chemotherapy, such as oxaliplatin, can also cause extreme sensitivity to the cold and lead to breathing problems as well as hypothermia.
Frostbite: At the other end of the spectrum, sometimes chemotherapy can make you less sensitive to the cold. It can cause a condition called peripheral neuropathy that decreases sensation in your hands and feet. Peripheral neuropathy can make it difficult to feel how cold it is, and it can put you at risk for frostbite, an injury caused by the freezing of the skin and underlying tissue.
Falls: Neuropathy can also make you unsteady on your feet, even when there’s no snow or ice. And while falls can be dangerous for anyone, people who have a condition called thrombocytopenia should be especially careful. Patients with blood cancers such as leukemia or lymphoma are at particular risk for this condition, in which there is a lower than normal amount of platelets in the blood. Platelets help blood clot, and having too few of them can lead to bruising or serious bleeding with an injury.
Some tips to help keep you safe this winter:
  • Dress in warm layers. Wrap a scarf around your nose and mouth before you head out into the cold to avoid any breathing problems.
  • Wear a hat that covers your ears, and put on heavy gloves or mittens to protect your fingers.
  • Wear shoes or boots with good treads.
  • Make sure walkways are cleared of snow and ice.
  • If you can’t avoid walking in the snow, walk like a penguin. Take flat-footed, short steps or shuffle for stability. Keep your arms at your sides (not in your pockets) to maintain your balance.
  • Ask for—and accept—help with shoveling snow or running errands so you can avoid going out in inclement weather.

Longest Run this Marathon Season

Today I ran 20 miles on Heartbreak Hill. It was -14 degrees when I started running at 7:30 AM but by the time I finished which was around 1 PM it was 33 degrees. I used multiple layers of shirts and gloves plus heat warmers to get me through the run. I feel amazing and I feel like I am in the best shape of my life. I am so thankful for being on this team. Here are some photos from today’s run:


Tonight’s DFMC Team Meeting

Tonight’s DFMC meeting provided the team with some insight on nutrition and mental training. A nutritionist and a sports psychologist spoke about these issues. The nutritionist told us to eat whole grains, drink water, have vegetables, and eat protein in a daily meal. Also, she told us to have carbohydrates before our runs for fuel and have protein after our runs for recovery.  Lastly, for before the marathon she told us to eat carbohydrates 5-7 days before the marathon, carbo load 3-4 days before the marathon, and have water the day before the marathon to hydrate. On the course, she told us to listen to our bodies and drink and eat whenever possible. After the race, she told us to drink liquids then eat food.

The sports psychologist when he spoke it really hit home. He talked about overcoming adversity and to not give up on our training. I have had a lot of physical challenges in my life and doctors told me when I was younger I would not be able to walk or even talk and I have overcome these challenges. I am lucky to be where I am today to have this opportunity to run with this amazing team.

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Training Tuesday and the Gift of Snow

Tonight I went to the gym after work and did 10.4 miles on the arc trainer. I would have gone to the gym this morning but the commuter rail trains were delayed over an hour or cancelled and my husband Adam ended up driving me to the green line to get into work so I decided to get my mileage in after work.

In the Boston area, we have received over three feet of snow. A lot of people are either tired of seeing it and others find it calming especially if you have never lived in the Northeast and this is the first time you are seeing snow.

However, for one little boy snow is a gift.
Fighting a rare form of skin cancer, unable to romp and play in sunlight, Reef Carneson, 6, experienced a true, boyhood delight Monday morning for the first time. He saw snow.

Watch this video it will put a smile to your face like it did mine: http://m.wlwt.com/news/boy-receiving-cancer-treatment-sees-snow-for-first-time/31302930

Heartbreak Hill on Valentine’s Day

Today I ran in Chestnut Hill on Heartbreak Hill. The DFMC ran from Boston College to the Newton Fire Station and back and forth. I ran 14.30 miles with some of my DFMC friends and this was the coldest run I have ever done. It was -4 degrees outside and my hands were frozen. Below, are pictures from today’s run.

It is valentine’s day so the picture of me and the gorilla is in honor of the holiday. The gorilla’s name is Bill because his store called the Heartbreak Hill Running Company is located at the top of Heartbreak Hill and he is the mascot and the other picture is me kissing my husband Adam who volunteered today!



First Evening Run This Season

Yesterday morning my train that I usually go on to head to the gym before work was cancelled because of issues with the MBTA and the massive amounts of snow. Instead, I went to the gym after work and put in 10.4 miles on the arc trainer. I will put in more miles on Saturday (13 miles or more).

Today’s question is related to staying healthy during the winter season. How do cancer patients stay healthy during the cold winter months?

As the cold weather approaches, concerns about cold and flu season increase along with people’s thermostats. About 30 percent of people in the United States come down with the flu every season, and 200,000 of them are hospitalized because of serious complications such as pneumonia. If you have cancer, you are at risk for the same cold weather problems as other people, but your chances of getting sick are greater because cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy radiation therapy, can weaken your immune system, making it harder for your body to fight infections properly.

Here are a few ways to safeguard your health in cold temperatures.

Studies have found that influenza and cold viruses, as well as stomach flu (gastroenteritis), survive better in cold weather, so the best defense is a good offense: take measures to avoid getting these viruses.

Flu Shot

Cancer patients undergoing treatment and cancer survivors receive an annual influenza vaccine. Talk to your doctor about whether you should get the influenza vaccine.

There are two types of flu vaccines: a needle and a nasal spray. The nasal spray is made from a weakened form of the virus and should not be given to cancer patients.

Cancer patients undergoing treatment and cancer survivors receive an annual flu shot. The needle (“flu shot”) is made from a killed virus, so it cannot make you sick. However, it takes about two weeks for your immune system to develop the antibodies that protect you against the flu. Sometimes when people get a flu shot, they already have been exposed to the flu, but don’t know it yet because they don’t have any telltale symptoms. They get the shot and begin getting flu symptoms in a few days, leading them to think the shot made them sick. However, this is just a coincidence. Because of the way it’s made, the flu shot cannot make you sick.

After you get the flu shot, your arm will probably be a little sore from the injection and you might get a slight fever and feel tired, but that’s just your body building antibodies.

The cold and flu season runs from about October to May in the United States. Therefore, the best time to receive the flu shot is in October or November, but the CDC says that the shot is still good even if you get it later in the season. In the past, people have gotten extra flu shots that protect against various strains of the disease, as seen in recent years with the vaccine against a novel virus called H1N1 (swine flu). Because the normal flu shot does not protect against H1N1, a second shot is required to protect yourself against this strain of the virus.

Your family, friends, and caregivers, including children, should also get the influenza vaccine if you see them frequently, so that they can’t give you the flu.

Unfortunately, the flu shot only protects you from influenza and not the hundreds of viruses that cause colds and stomach flu.

Practice Good Hygiene

A good way to avoid all viruses–influenza, colds, and stomach viruses alike – is to wash your hands frequently. Use soap and warm water and scrub your hands for 15 to 20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” or the alphabet song). Rinse them well and dry them with a paper towel.

Wash your hands after going to the bathroom, touching someone—including after shaking hands—and before you eat. You should also wash your hands before you treat any wound or infected area on your body.

If you don’t have access to soap and water, use a hand sanitizer, but make sure that it contains 60 percent alcohol.

Other easy ways to keep from spreading germs are to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough into your arm instead of your hands. Also avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

If you think you have the flu, see your doctor immediately. Your doctor can prescribe antiviral drugs that shorten flu sickness by a few days, but to be effective, you must begin them within 48 hours of showing symptoms. You should then stay home until you feel better, not only to avoid making your illness worse, but also to avoid spreading the germs.

Take Precautions

Postpone visits with friends and family who are sick until they feel better. Keep a stock of over-the-counter medicines, hand sanitizer, and tissues on hand in case you get sick. Be sure to consult your physician for a list of over-the-counter medications that will not interfere with your treatment.

Besides washing your hands to avoid gastroenteritis, practice good food safety if you are getting or have recently finished cancer treatment. Be extra careful when handling, preparing, and storing food, and wash the counter or surface where you prepare your food with hot soapy water or antibacterial cleanser.

During the winter, it is important to stay hydrated, so remember to drink lots of water and other non-caffeinated beverages like juice.

Avoid Extreme Cold Temperatures

Some medications, conditions, and side effects caused by cancer treatment, such as dehydration, can interfere with your body’s temperature, and people who are less active can have reduced blood flow. In addition, cancer treatments can affect your nerves, making you less sensitive to extreme temperatures. These put you at risk for hypothermia and frost bite.

Hypothermia is abnormally low body temperature. When you are exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can produce heat. Low body temperature can affect your brain, making it difficult to think and move well. Symptoms in adults are shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, and slurred speech.

Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with poor blood circulation and those who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures. Signs of frostbite are a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, and numbness.

You can avoid hypothermia and frost bite by spending less time outside when the temperatures are near freezing or if there are high winds or rain. If you do go outside, dress in layers and always wear gloves or mittens and a scarf. Always wear a hat that covers your ears, especially if cancer treatment has caused hair loss. The areas most prone to frost bite are the fingers, toes, and ears.

Sweating is a side effect of some cancer treatments. If you sweat a lot, change your wet clothes and bed sheets often to stay warm and dry. And remember to drink plenty of non-caffeinated fluids.

Radiation therapy and some chemotherapy also affect your bones, so you may be at higher risk of breaking a bone if you fall on the ice. To stay strong, bones need vitamin D and calcium. Sunshine is one of the best sources of vitamin D, and you only need to spend about 10 to 15 minutes outside to get the recommended amount of vitamin D. You can also eat foods that are fortified with vitamin D. Talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin supplement if you don’t think you are getting enough vitamin D.

Take Care of Your Skin

Cancer treatments may make your skin dry, itchy, and cracked, which is worse in the winter because the humidity level drops. Use a moisturizer frequently and if your lips are also dry and cracked, apply lip balm. Use gentle soaps and laundry detergents and avoid long, hot baths and showers. Consider using a humidifier.

Much of what you need to do to protect your health is common sense, but the key is to make these strategies part of your regimen during the winter.

Group Run in Chestnut Hill/Workout for a Cause

Yesterday, I ran in Chestnut Hill on Heartbreak Hill. The DFMC ran from Boston College to the Newton Fire Station and back and forth. I ran 16 miles with one of my DFMC friends and this is the longest I have run this marathon season. It was great feeling being able to run outside and the weather was cold but it was great running weather. Below, are pictures from yesterday’s run.

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March 7, 2015, I am having a fundraiser at GymIt called workout for a cause.
This event is open to the public and is located at:
GymIt – 920 Commonwealth Avenue, Brookline MA, 02446

GymIt is hosting three FREE workout sessions to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Each person who signs up has a free will option to donate to the fundraiser and 100% of the proceeds will go to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

The classes are:

9:00 AM TRX

10:00 AM Bootcamp

11:00 AM TRX

Please sign up at the front desk and bring your friends, co-workers, and family members! It will be a fun time!

GymIt validates parking for people who park in the garage which is located at 131 Dummer Street, Brookline, MA.

Bring your parking voucher to the front desk to have it validated. Parking costs $1 an hour for up to three hours. (Cash only)

Otherwise there is street parking with meters.