Raising the Bar: Boston Marathon Edition

by: amy frankenthaler

HB All-Star Erica Mellone out for a training run in Kenmore with her dog

HB All-Star Erica Mellone out for a training run in Kenmore with her dog

With the Boston Marathon on Monday, we thought it would be a fantastic idea to shine a spotlight on one of our many regular riders that just completed a charity ride to fundraise for the Boston Marathon! Introducing Erica Mellone! Erica is a passionate rider at our Fenway location and a real inspiration to us. I had the privilege of speaking to her about her training experience and how the Handle Bar helped her reach her goal! Join me below for a look into Erica’s marathon training. She really is #handlebarstrong #bostonstrong.

What inspired you to run the Boston Marathon?

I ran XC in high school and college, and always had the goal of running a marathon. My Grandfather and I used to watch the Boston Marathon on tv together, and once I moved to Boston, I always went to see it.  Boston became my dream to run.  The whole city comes together to show the world what a great place Boston is, and we do it with a marathon!

Tell me a little bit about the charity you are running for. How did your charity ride go?

I’m running for the Alzheimer’s Association – I’ve been on their RunTriRide team for four years now.  The mission at the Alzheimer’s Association is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

The best part about the charity ride was that I was able to tell and show many friends The Handle Bar.  It was really cool to see Sarah C get so excited about my charity ride.  One thing I’ve always noticed about HB instructors and staff is how enthusiastic everyone is about our success with spinning and fitness.

How did you incorporate HB cycling into your training? How has the HandleBar helped you with your Marathon training journey?

Do you want to know how you can train for a marathon with three feet of snow on the ground without getting sick or falling on ice?  You substitute 1-2 training runs a week with long (or double) spin classes.  There was once day I was supposed to run 15 miles and it was snowing hard.  So I did three miles on the treadmill (torture!) and sprinted to the Handlebar for back to back classes to get a similar cardio affect.

Time on the bike helped me build up my cardio endurance without the impact on my knees.  And every time the weather was bad or the roads were slippery, I had a place to go get a great cardio workout without getting injured.f

What are some favorite songs on your running playlist right now? Any song planned for Heartbreak Hill?

I have a lot of techno music on my playlist, and a few guilty pleasures.  It’s good to have a good beat to listen to, but also be able to listen to the crowds and everyone that encourages you along.  Classes with Cara reminded me that JT has some good running music!

What kept you running this winter with the record breaking snowfall? How did you stay inspired and stay on goal?

I’ve run marathons before, so I know that this isn’t something you can cram for.  You have to build up endurance for months or you will get seriously hurt or not finished.  So  I know that you have to keep training.  I’m lucky that I have a dog who expects a short run everyday and is ready to go as soon as the sun is up.  It’s the longer runs that are hard to do when it is cold – that’s when the support of friends checking in or recent donations are what push you along.  I ran in 2013 and 2014, so there is a lot to reflect on that becomes motivation to get out the door.

What it was like for you to run the 2013 marathon? It must have been and still be emotional for you. How close were you to the finish line?

Fortunately I was not close to the finish line. I started in the last corral of the last wave, which going into the marathon I was bummed about, but it means that when the bombs went off I had just gotten to the top of heartbreak hill, and was stopped shortly after.  It was pretty emotional, in many different ways, and things of course remind me of it, but what I chose to remember and focus on is the incredible amount of support that came after the marathon, and as I started training for 2014 – often when I wasn’t expecting it.  Someone tried to terrorize us, and while failing, let us see how incredibly strong and unified as a city we actually were.

As a city on April 15th, 2013, our lives changed forever. As the people of Boston thrive, so will the Handle Bar community…we have each other! As we go into the weekend before the Boston Marathon, take this time to reflect, but also celebrate how strong we are.

Are you running the marathon on Monday? How has spinning helped you with your training journey? We want to hear from you! Tweet us your story! Tweet or Instagram us @The_Handle_Bar a picture of you embodying #hbstrong #bostonstrong. We as a city are strong. Boston Strong.

Honoring the past and preparing for the present: The 118th Boston Marathon

ERINOur very own Handle Bar instructor, Erin McDonald will run this year’s Boston Marathon with a full heart and fierce dedication. We reflect on the past and look forward to Monday, interviewing Erin on her efforts and thoughts during this momentous time.

Every third Monday in April, Patriot’s Day is observed. But to true Bostonians, it’s Marathon Monday! A day to gather along the Boston Marathon course to cheer on the thousands of participants as they complete their 26.2-mile journey from Hopkinton to Copley Square. As always, thousands of onlookers and participants indulged in the Marathon Monday experience on April 15, 2013. Then tragedy struck. Two bombs were detonated near the finish line of the marathon causing shock, horror and complete disbelief. Individuals frantically searched for safety amidst the chaos, while everyone wondered why and how this could happen.

It has been one year since the ghastly attacks that occurred at the 117th Annual Boston Marathon finish line that shook the City of Boston. When we speak of the horrific events that took place, “Boston Strong” is instinctively the phrase uttered, showing the strength and resilience the city possesses. Immediately after the tragedy, Boston came together to provide support to all those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings and emphasize the heart the city truly has.

One year later, the city is prepared for the 118th Boston Marathon, which will take place on Monday, April 21, 2014. Residents of Boston and visitors to the city are eager to participate, volunteer and cheer at the Boston Marathon conveying the message we all know so well “Boston Strong”. Our very own instructor at The Handle Bar, Erin, will be participating in the marathon on April 21st. This will be Erin’s fourth time running in the marathon and it will be a year like no other. Erin expresses her reactions to the events that occurred last year, why she wanted to run this year, and her feelings about the 118th Boston Marathon.

Q: Where were you last year when you first heard about the bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line? What were your reactions?

I was walking towards the finish line after leaving a Red Sox Game. I heard a bunch of sirens and could see swarms of police, EMT’s and fire fighters racing towards the finish line. As I walked, I could see people running towards me, crying. I stopped a man and asked what was going on and he told me that there had been some explosions and to not walk down there, it was gruesome. My stomach dropped to my toes and all I could think about were the friends I had that were running and also those who were watching as spectators in the area. I immediately tried to call my mother but my cell phone was not working. I ended up having to walk back towards Fenway Park where I could see so many people with distressed looks on their faces. Thousands of runners had been brought to a halt and pure panic had set in. I proceeded to walk towards the Mass Ave Bridge towards MIT, eventually stopping in at a bar in Cambridge where several televisions had the news on. As I watched in horror I started to cry and felt a tremendous amount of fear and vulnerability.

Q: Why did you want to participate in this year’s Boston Marathon?

After I finished the 2012 Boston Marathon in the extreme heat, I vowed to never run that race again. That lasted exactly one year! After the events that occurred on April 15, 2013 I didn’t give it a second thought. I knew I had to run this marathon at least one more time for the victims, survivors and the city I love so much.

Q: How do you feel the running community reacted to the tragedy that occurred this past year?

I have always felt that the running community was a unique group, but even more so now. The camaraderie and support has been unbelievable. The running community in Boston is a special group that has an endless amount of compassion.

Q: The Boston Athletic Association made the decision to allow for 9,000 more runners in this year’s marathon, making the 2014 race the largest it has ever been. The total field size is 36,000 runners, which is an enormous jump from the amount of participants in years past. Do you feel that it is a good idea to invite more runners to participate in this year’s marathon compared to past years?

I do feel it’s a good idea to invite more runners to participate in this year’s marathon. After seeing so many runners come so close to finishing and suddenly being brought to a halt was devastating. They deserve the opportunity to finish what they started one year ago. And for the added charities, what better way to remember the victims and survivors and to show that Boston will never be defeated. We are stronger and more united than ever!

Q: What is the first thing you think of when you hear “Boston Strong”?

A city that has become more united and resilient. The sense of community that has come out of such a tragedy is amazing and will only grow stronger. As David Ortiz said it best last year “This is our F’N City”. #BOSTONSTRONG

Q: What are you most looking forward to for this year’s marathon?

I am so excited to see how this city celebrates the camaraderie, strength and spirit. I am excited to meet new runners from all over the world and most importantly cross that finish line.

 Boston responded to the tragedy with great courage, strength, and passion. The city will come together for the 2014 Boston Marathon not just to run and support those participating, but to honor the first responders, the survivors and most importantly, remember the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Boston makes it clear that they will not give in to tragedy. When we look around the city, “Boston Strong” is everywhere. But it’s not just a slogan; it is the city’s identity. One year later, Boston is only stronger.

All the victims of this tragedy will never be forgotten and forever will be honored.

Putting a Positive “Spin” on Marathon Training

Running a marathon has been a goal of mine ever since I can remember. Year after year, I would set my mind on this 26.2 mile venture and then quickly talk myself out of it for one reason or another. I’m talking serious stuff like, if I ran the marathon I would miss the Sox game on Patriots day or pumpkin beer and late night tater-tots sound much more appealing than weekend long runs. Then, April 15, 2013 happened. Being a born and bred Boston native, I felt like I needed to do something to help those affected by the Boston Marathon attacks. Running a marathon and raising money for the One Fund seemed like a perfect way to show how Boston Strong I was. Before I could talk myself out of it, which let’s face it- I thought I inevitably would, several colleagues jumped on board with me and together we formed a team and registered for the Philadelphia Marathon in November. I had motivation, I had a team, I had paid the $135 registration fee- what could stop me? 
That is a completely rhetorical question, because the truth of the matter is that any number of things were bound to stop me. The particular hurdle I faced next was a hip injury that I incurred when training. I could barely walk, forget run, without severe pain. I was pretty sure my marathon aspirations would again be sidelined. How could I continue to train? What I didn’t know was that answer was right in front of me every time I donned my Handle Bar tank top and went to work in Southie.
After sharing my injury news with a friend, he directed me to an article that discussed how cardiovascular performance on the bike can translate to cardiovascular performance when running. In addition, cycling is a low impact sport, which would protect my hip. Even being as spin-obsessed as I am, I hadn’t thought of this. I became diligent about taking 3 classes per week at THB. The music, lights and energy that are HB staples, would help me put the injury aside, let the music and beat guide me through the ride, and visualize myself completing my first marathon.  
After my three week hiatus from running, my PT encouraged me to get back at it. To say I was anxious that my three weeks without running would inevitably crush my chances of completing this training program would be a huge understatement. Moreover, unlike my previous “attempts” at 26.2, this time everyone in my life knew I had set out on this journey, I would have to face all of them. I laced up my sneakers, put on a new running top that I splurged for at LuluLemon for “motivational purposes”, and hit the pavement with my favorite HB playlist pushing me along. My first day out I was able to complete 6 miles at my goal pace! I was shocked about how amazing I felt. My cardiovascular endurance hadn’t wavered at all. You would never know I hadn’t run for three weeks, I was able to pick up right where I left off. In all the years I spent running, I never had such a comeback after my training ceased.
I have always loved indoor cycling and it has always been part of my fitness routine. The roll it now plays in my training has only fueled my passion for this intense workout. As I delve further into marathon training, I have replaced one of my weekly runs with a class at THB. Spending time on the bike riding to the beat has allowed me to increase my endurance, pick up my cadence, cross train, and continue training for my first 26.2 mile run!
By Susan Haley