By Gina Otterbein, Co-Owner, Physical Therapist, and Athlete
It's true what they say - you get hooked on running, and the journey becomes one that you just can't shake. The Boston Marathon was on my bucket list and that experience will be with me forever. People often say running is 90% mental, and I agree. Sure, there's a lot of training, miles, and planning for the big day, but truly my inspiration, energy and mental focus are what propelled me forward, especially when the race got tough - and it got tough.
I didn't start running until 2007. I had an energetic dog that needed to release some energy and morning walks seemed to do the trick. My kids were still young and I didn't have a lot of time so I started to jog at the end of our walks so I could make it home to start my day. From there I gradually began running more and more and by the time I was in my 40's I was pretty serious about the sport.
As my running habits progressed I could see Boston at the end of the tunnel. I qualified for the race at the Bayshore Marathon and finished with a personal record of 3:39. Boston would ultimately become my 4th marathon. My training program leading up to the race was pretty intense, but I loved every bit of it. I always tell others that while the road is long, you still have to listen to your body, rest, and recover, or you will get hurt or sick. There is a limit and if you keep pushing the limit or never have a down period, you'll struggle to progress.
Gina is pictured with a Northern patient, Erika, who also completed the Boston Marathon.
The Big Race - Boston, Here We Come!
The entire Boston experience was jaw dropping for this country girl, and a week that I'll never forget. The race itself is so big, but it's run so smoothly that you could almost forget there were 27,000 other people racing right along with you. The energy was intense all week long and the city was so alive. My first night there I went out for a run and suddenly I was in the middle of a running flash mob involving a guy with a mic, a boom box, and 200+ runners who just rolled along. Now that was cool. The support of the town was amazing too - strangers congratulated me, and people were genuinely excited about the race.
My mantra has always been "Faith Overcomes Fear" so when the race gets tough you need to be able to rely on what you know to get through it - this is exactly what happened at Boston. It was not the run I had hoped for, but nonetheless, was an awesome experience with challenges, lessons learned, inspiration and a lot of Faith.
I'd been in the Dominican Republic about a week before the race and although I didn’t “drink the water”, my body just didn't adjust well to the food and the GI issues stayed with me for a few weeks. I started the race feeling ready mentally, but my body had other plans. I've never experienced trouble like this in a race so it was a new challenge to overcome. I kept the faith, adjusted my goals, learned from the experience and fortunately recovered quickly with no injuries. The hardest part of this entire process was staying focused and positive when bad things happened. But at the end of the day I can say that despite the ups and downs I completed the Boston Marathon, and that's a great feeling.
After the race I was sore for about 3 days, but beyond that I actually feel really good. I took some time to rest and within five days I was running without pain and it felt great. I've been working with one of our physical therapists who specializes in runner rehabilitation and she's been helpful in getting my strength back and working with me on my form and quality of running. I also took advantage of our massage therapist and that's been really helpful, too. We have a great team of therapists that I can go to anytime.
The Fifth Third Riverbank run is this weekend and I'll be running the 25k. Beyond that I'll start focusing my efforts on a few triathlons this summer. I'll definitely do Boston again, I loved it and want to beat my time from this year.
Think You Want to Run?
I didn't start until well into adulthood, so I say it's never too late. I tell people to be realistic and set your goals with enough time to complete them. I gradually picked up my training over 2 years before my first marathon and 3 years before my first triathlon. Sure you can do it faster, but if you want to prevent injury and continue to have fun, take your time. Be able to adjust your goals based on life too. I suggest seeking the support of other runners, attend educational events, and talk to coaches or experts that help you with the bumps, or sign up for one of our a RunFit 5k training programs - learn from as many people as you can.
A Personal Thank You
To my husband John, friends, family, my Northern team, clients, running and exercise classmates, and even the strangers in Boston encouraging me on with “Gina you can do this” just because my name was on my arm! I'm so happy I got to share this with so many incredible people who inspired me. You are the inspiration and energy that got me to the finish and made this journey not just a race.