Anjali's Blog

How to Follow Anjali at the London 2012 Paralympic Games

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Many of you have been asking how you can follow, support, watch. Here is the information you've all been anxiously waiting for! Please share widely. NOTE: Competition schedule has been updated as of 8/23/12.

ANJALI'S SCHEDULE

Please confirm my competition schedule by visiting www.london2012.com/paralympics
As a reminder, my sport is Athletics and my classification is T53. You will need this to be able to interpret the schedule. My tentative schedule is as follows: Sept 2 - 100m final, Sept 6 - 200m final, Sept 7 - 200m medal ceremony (we hope!), Sept 8 - 400m final. Other medal ceremonies not listed are the same day after the event.

FOLLOW ANJALI

I will be updating Twitter (@anjalifp), Facebook (www.facebook.com/anjalifp) and my website when I can (www.anjfp.com).

FOLLOW THE PARALYMPICS

I encourage you to also follow US Paralympics through various social media outlets (Twitter: @usparalympics Facebook: www.facebook.com/usparalympics and the International Paralympic Committee (Twitter: @paralympic Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ParalympicGames). Download the apps: London2012 has a Paralympic portion of their apps that will have up to the minute results, medal counts etc. TeamUSA also has an app where you can learn about the US athletes.

SUPPORT ANJALI

For those of you coming to London -- YAY I'm so happy you will be there! Local coverage will be live on Channel 4 for those events you are not attending.

For those of you not attending, I love receiving good luck messages, notes, texts, emails etc. You can also purchase your very own Team Anjali Apparel through my store: http://teamanjali.logosoftwear.com

WATCH ANJALI

  • There will be live web streaming found at: www.paralympic.org
  • There will be US Paralympic specific videos also put up on: youtube.com/usparalympics
  • There will be coverage on NBC Sports Network (cable channel) consisting of one-hour highlight shows on Sept. 4, 5, 6 and 11 at 7 p.m. EDT.
  • There will be coverage on NBC nationwide consisting of a 90 minute special from 2-3:30pm EDT on Sept. 16.
    All NBC and NBC Sports Network Paralympic highlight shows and specials will re-air on Universal Sports Network and UniversalSports.com

    PLEASE TUNE IN. Keep a window open at work or school or better yet broadcast it to your place of work during lunch time or during the school day as part of a lesson! This is the most coverage of the Games we have ever had, it is a huge improvement. The only way to get more is for people to tune in. Share with everybody you know!

  • Guest Blog from Ian Forber-Pratt

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    I'm excited to post a guest blog from my brother, Ian Forber-Pratt who is doing some amazing work in India. We both were adopted from India, and he sold everything he owned and moved overseas last May. As I am sure you will see from his post, he is living his passion and dream. He is the founder of Foster Care India. Quite simply, his mission is to develop the first ever state/govt supported foster care system WITHIN India. Foster Care India will work with the state when abuse/ neglect is suspected to give the children temporary care. Reunification with the family will always be the primary goal with the safety of the child at the forefront of every decision. The plan is to use Udaiupur as a pilot and then expand throughout all of India. This is social change in action. And here is my brother's recent blog...

    It's not that easy... or is it?

    "A friend of mine walked into my house yesterday and couldn’t believe how warm it was. It took me a moment to realize that his surprise was relational to his experience; it's warm in my home because there are no solid walls where he lives.

    This and many other daily events cause me to think about privilege in society. I’ve realized that although here in India, I see such stark differences in how people are treated on a day-to-day basis, this different treatment happens everywhere, at all times, with unforgivable consistency.

    So the question is, how can a small blog post help to change social stratification? Luckily, I’m 100% sure that it can. I am constantly humbled by this country and the people here. Just like a drop of water adds to a bucket full of water, I feel it’s my duty to share every day stories from India with people who might share the stories with others.

    I’ve seen people without any privilege in society triumph, I’ve seen people abuse power and I’ve seen people with privilege do their part to equal the playing field. A woman I know has a very well respected father in the community. She is also a leader in the community and therefore is often in government offices applying for things and trying to move her own work forward. She does not use her father’s name although the mere mention of him could open every door. She chooses to level society in her own small way. This is the type of change I see as sustainable and effective. For example, in a small conversation she mentioned to me that this is her practice. Now I’m writing it in this blog. Hopefully someone will read this and think more about how they use or don’t use their privilege. And the word will spread.

    As the previous example shows, positive people are abound. However, to me it is sadly clear that the undercurrents of “difference” often dictate actions in society that are far deeper than words can reach. In my every day life, some of my friends often feel weary about spending time with others who are of a lower social stature. Those of a lower social class or caste are left outside when others are drinking chai inside. The people who exclude are not bad people. They are a product of centuries of stratified society. Even those who question the "balance" and act accordingly often feel trapped by the societal pressures of tradition. How to break this cycle? So I talk about unequally, I challenge people's thinking and I often take a stand, but sometimes it doesn’t work. I know that before all these trips to India, as I sat in America looking abroad, the answer was easy: just demand that things are equal. This demand should be in the form of sitting outside with the rickshaw driver or demanding he is let into the court house. But here’s the problem, it’s not that easy. Or is it?

    I wonder what people think about this topic? If you have a moment please respond to this post. My hope is that this post stimulates dialogue. What is your experience with standing up for equality in society? "

    I, too, hope this post stimulates some dialogue. Thanks Ian for doing all that you are doing to make the world a better place!

    The Circles of Life

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    The Circles of Life

    It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, sorry. Life. It gets in the way – and the majority of writing I’ve been doing has been helping me to get one step closer towards that little thing called graduation. So, perhaps we should just keep this between us and not tell those “others” that I’m spending valuable time and words on other things!

    I couldn’t help but write this blog though about the great circle of life. Think about all the times in your life when you take a step back and say, “Gosh, I love how life works!” or “And here we are again, life has just come full circle!” We ought to cherish these moments more, and talk about them. They are truly precious treasures.

    I have been fortunate to have many of these “circle of life” moments in my life. First off, the fact that my childhood hero Jean Driscoll is now one of my dear friends and life mentors. That story is unique in and of itself – what started as me as a child being totally star-struck and enamored by Jean and her accomplishments led to my getting involved in wheelchair sports, setting goals for myself, dressing up as the winner of the Boston Marathon on Halloween, even writing a story in the third grade called, “when I meet Jean Driscoll” and then coming full circle in 2007 when our offices were diagonally across the hallway from one another, and we were colleagues. It then even went one step further when we both discovered our shared passion for international outreach and disability development and we took an eleven day trip with a team to Ghana to teach wheelchair track clinics! Wow – that’s full circle alright!

    Tonight, the first weekend in a loooooong time that I’m actually home, I decided to tackle the project of organizing some files, press clippings and assorted papers that had ended up in a giant pile waiting to be dealt with. During this organization project, I came across this newspaper article from 2001. One section of the article reads:
    “’The volunteer work keeps me busy most of the rest of time I’m not skiing,” she says. The speeches, which have expanded in number and place every year, started when she was in second grade. “I try to get to as many as I can,” she said. “It’s so much fun. I absolutely love it.” While she doesn’t know what she wants to do in college or after, she has her sights set on one goal: the 2006 Paralympics in Italy….The speeches are about sports for the disabled. “I hope to be in the Paralympics,” said the confident Pratt. “I think I’m heading in that way.”.

    Wow. Full circle alright – albeit with some slight alterations in the plan ---i.e., a switch from winter sports to summer sports—I have gone on to compete in the 2008 Paralympic Games and am actively training as a 2012 hopeful. There’s something fascinating though with the determination and plans as a young kid and to be able to take a step back and to see what has become a reality. What were some of your childhood goals or aspirations? How many have come true? How has your life plan altered slightly? Are the underlying values the same as they once were? I’m astounded that my underlying message and my passion for speaking to others and helping other’s recognize their own potential has remained unchanged.

    This is, the great circle of life.

    Can you dream too big??

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    Can you dream too big?

    I guess it’s natural to feel discouraged every time and again. But, the part that I don’t understand is, why do we get discouraged by dreams? We’re supposed to dream, and to dream big, right? So why is it that when you do, and your brain starts operating on hyper-drive going a mile a minute that the next thing you know you’re left just simply feeling discouraged? Is it because one's dreams are simply too big? That seems like an oxymoron, I know, but it poses an interesting question.

    I’ve always been a firm believer of having high expectations and dreams for one’s life. But, why is it that even after all that is already accomplished that you raise the bar thaaaaaat much higher and then work your ass off to get there? It seems silly, and yet I know I’m not the only one who does this.

    For example, I am a world-class athlete, close to being finished with my Ph.D., author of a kids coloring book you can find on Amazon, traveling the world doing what I love to do. And yet, I feel like my message could be even more far-reaching than it is. I feel like there is a lot of untapped potential that is not being used or channeled in the right way. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t, but when I sit here thinking about what the next big thing for me is going to be, I toss around these grandiose, and very do-able (in my mind) ideas, and think to myself, “yeah, that would be cool, but what about…” and then I come up with something even cooler! It’s exciting, yes, but then before you know it I’ve got these crazy ideas that I’ve now rationalized to be 100% do-able and then I go into action-mode of figuring out who I already know and who I should contact to make that uber-grandiose idea a reality.

    I think I have a problem! Ha.

    Some people would be content for life if they were in my shoes, but I’m not content here in the here and now, and I’m not content with what is to come, I keep just thinking bigger and bigger. How do you find that happy medium? Does it even exist? What are your thoughts on this??

    And as a wise friend told me the other day, “yes Anjali…but why don’t you just do what needs to be done to graduate first.” Touché.

    My gut tells me: no. Dreaming big is what it is all about, no matter how big. It is through these big dreams that we continue to have something to strive towards, a reason to live, something to aim for. But, it is interesting to me how easy it is to get lost in the world of dreams...

    Some days...

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    Some days are challenging ones. I got myself two of them back-to-back this week.

    Fear and worry: they are what we make of it. It is easy to tell others that it will all be okay, but even harder to tell that to yourself. I know life is a journey and that which doesn't kill us makes us stronger and all of that, but there are times when life just doesn't seem fair. But the thing with fear and worry is, neither if them breathes or has a heartbeat. They are inanimate and are only fueled by our own thoughts and emotions.

    I'd be lying if I said I go through life with no fear. Sure, I may appear "fearless" and am quite daring in many regards. However, truth be told, I have a lot of deeply rooted fears and have to face some of them tomorrow.

    All athletes and individuals in life go through this-- when their body just seems to fail you. It's frustrating, it sucks, and it is scary; but it's a reality. I'm grateful for those who care and express support, I'm not one who thrives on sympathy, but if you get a change to send some positive vibes my way, or say an extra prayer, send a smile or a hug if you happen to see me, that would be appreciated. Here's to hoping for some answers tomorrow!

    "...do your best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worse; beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. ...God, who makes everything work together will work you into his excellent harmonies." - Excerpt from Philippians sent from a friend earlier today

    Against All Odds

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    Against All Odds

    It’s 5AM and I’m awake thanks to jetlag. So, I thought what a good time to update my blog! A lot has happened, including my breaking the World Record in the 200m! Let’s take a step back, and I’ll fill in some of the gaps.

    A few weeks ago, I was living the Anjali-life and hitting up four states in one weekend, a pretty typical weekend for me during our season. One of the events was the Purple Shoes Challenge out in Newton, MA as part of the Katie Lynch Foundation. It was a super fun event where I got to meet some incredible kids with disabilities and get them excited about track and running! Ironically, I knew many of the kids from my former days working at Camp Arrowhead! Events such as this rejuvenate me and provide a really nice reminder about why I do what I do. I met one young kid named Niko, and boy is he a little spitfire! I let him sit in my racing chair and I’m not kidding you, he had a huge smile ear to ear, the type of smile that just melts your heart. He became my little shadow for most of the event, and I told him I cannot wait for the day that I see him at the Paralympic Games too. It’s in moments like this that I just sort of sit and laugh a bit to myself about how much I’ve really come full circle. I once was that kid. It’s kind of cool if you ask me.

    After this event, I actually changed my flight to stay an extra night home in Massachusetts. I’d been having some back problems and thought it was a good idea to get it checked out, for peace of mind you know? One of the hardest things as an athlete, I believe, is to listen to your body. Especially when you are in the throws of the season, or in a pre-Paralympic/Olympic year as we are, the last thing anybody wants is an injury let alone something serious. The tough-guy mentality sets in, and we’re all guilty of powering through the pain and pushing on simply to defeat all odds. The truth is, there are times when that is heroic, yes, but there are also times when it’s stupid. All the signs were indicating something was wrong—my training had been less than ideal for about a month, I was in pain nearly everyday and noticed that I was avoiding picking things up if I dropped them and counting the number of transfers in my head each morning and then minimizing unnecessary transfers to try and reduce the pain. Since this was clearly hampering my everyday life, it was time to listen to my body and get things checked out. I rationalized that it was best to go back to the ortho doctor at Boston Children’s who did my last major surgery, because if it was serious, I’d want him to be in the loop. I also rationalized that I didn’t have the time to mess around with going to a new doctor and having to build rapport and provide my medical history. When you have had your disability for nearly your entire life, there is no concise medical history. It just doesn’t exist.

    So, I was luckily able to get in with this doctor—we had a few email exchanges and phone conversations and decided it might be a smart idea to get things checked out, so I changed my flight to make it happen. Sure enough, there is significant disc degeneration, severe arthritis and some definite problems in the L4/L5 area as well. All of the news was bad news, but at the same time, it was reassuring that I do actually know my body, and that it wasn’t just a figment of my imagination. The downer though, is the “what to do about it?” question still was left largely unanswered. When I asked about what this will look like in a year, in 5 years, in 10 years, or 25 years—I got the deer-in-headlights look. Not very ideal. The answer was kind of, wait until you’re in so much pain that you can’t function, then maybe we’ll know what to do. How frustrating is that? What happened to being pro-active? I found out that for the most part, nothing I was doing with my training would further injure my back, and that I just needed to use my best judgment knowing now what was going on.

    With all of this going on, I went into a track meet the end of that week not feeling overly confident or anything, and probably still trying to process everything that was going on. Somehow, I managed to run some season best times and even a PR in the 400m! I’m not sure where it came from, but it sure helped my mindset going into Switzerland. Overseas in Switzerland, we had two different track meets.

    The thing about these competitions in Switzerland is, the whole world goes. But it’s truly an athlete’s meet. For you spectators, this might be hard to understand what I mean by this. The entire series is designed with the athletes in mind. There is not a lot of hooplah and extra “stuff” that wears athletes out, you are there to race fast and to just race. For the foreigners, it is a chance to get on some of the fastest tracks in the world alongside the best competition in the world and to just race. And so, the entire world was there --- for my own events, there was representation from the United States, Italy, Russia, Australia, Great Britain and of course Switzerland. The only main country not present was China, in terms of my own competitors. The first meet was split across two days, and it went very well for me. I put up a season best in the 100m, a very fast time for me! I’m finally reaching the point of consistency in my 400m performances. The next day, I had the 200m and 800m. Honestly, I woke up feeling stronger than ever, relaxed and ready to lay it all out there on the track. After my 200m, I had a number in my head of the time I thought I ran, but the best feeling was afer the race, not knowing the outcome, there was not a single thing I would have changed about how I ran that race. Whatever the time result, I was thrilled with my performance. As an athlete at this level, it is rare that you have that race where it all just clicks and feels right and where you don’t have some sort of critical comment about it. But, that was my race—and the time showed it—I earned the World Record in the 200m! I had been chasing the record previously set by the Chinese back in 2008 at the Games, and captured it!! I ran a 29.16 and could not have been happier when I heard the announcement in German that there were two new world records set (one in the race before mine, and then mine).

    Here's a picture from just following my race:

    The rest of the competition also went well for me, and based on the overall performances I’m proud to say that us three American women plus one Aussie were the top finishers across the entire Swiss Series! Given the psychological and physical challenges I had been dealing with going into this meet, I was truly proud of myself for going against all odds and coming out on top. This seems to be a trend in my life…

    And now, I am on a plane once again. Even though I started writing this at 5am while struggling with jetlag, I had to put it down to get settled and organized to head out of town again. Next on the list, US Nationals, where ¾ of the world will be there, haha! It should be another very high level of competition over the next three days—many of the same players will be there! Here we go again, I hope you’ll continue to follow me on this journey, London 2012 will be here before we know it!!

    Chasing My Unicorn

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    Chasing My Unicorn

    Before I start, this blog title was inspired by an afternoon of belly laughs and rehashing memories from three near and dear friends of mine who are affectionately called, my “Pit Crew”. Steph, Erin & Sarah – you are amazing, you make me smile so much, and I could not have been more excited to see you and your beautifully decorated, glittered arts and crafts masterpieces! I love you lots, parking lots!

    Here's a picture of my pit crew and I back at the hotel post-marathon:

    Now, on to the story. Have you ever wondered why symbol for the Boston Athletic Association is a Unicorn? It could be some sort of an Inception-esque reason that the world in which we live in is all really one big fantasy…This would mean that those 26.2 miles were merely a figment of my imagination…

    Hm, maybe not.

    It could be (courtesy of the BAA website) that it was chosen by the BAA back in 1887 because the unicorn represents an ideal: something to pursue, but which can never be caught. In pursuit of the Unicorn, however, athletic competitors can approach excellence (but never fully achieve it). It is this pursuit to push oneself to his or her own limit and to the best of one's ability which is at the core of athletics. And for this reason, as the marathon matured, that the B.A.A. also decided that the Unicorn would be the appropriate symbol for the marathon.

    Or, it could be that for the purposes of this blog post, to me, it encompasses a combination of both. Unicorns, or fantasies bring us back to our childhood, to our dreams, and that innocent carefree way of approaching life. I was that kid who dreamt about the Boston Marathon—who even dressed up on Halloween as the winner of the Boston Marathon. I took the costume very seriously--- I needed to have a laurel wreath to complete the ensemble. Though, I do admit, trick-or-treating from a wheelchair in a neighborhood of split entry homes is challenging enough, and doing it from a racing wheelchair was even more challenging!

    Isn’t it funny though how our dreams take on slightly new characteristics as you go through life? For me, yes, the dream was to win Boston. And while I did not win the race itself, I honestly could not have been happier with the outcome. I, a sprinter, gave it my all and had fun doing it. Sometimes my races are about doing a job, being there to get it done, but this race was different. This race was the culmination of a childhood dream with a challenge I put before myself of whether or not a sprinter could tackle the course with the same gusto and gumption that I carry with me through life.

    And wow, what an experience it was! Finishing fourth, earning a huge PR, qualifying with an IPC A standard for the Marathon, and... dare I admit it? Having fun doing it! I could not be more pleased.

    Here's a picture from race day:

    Almost a month later, I find myself sitting around my apartment thinking a lot about one particular section from Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. First off, if you have not watched the entire thing, I strongly encourage you to. But, I think back to one of the stories Randy told about this experimental project he was testing out with a group of students where they’d have a semester long project to work on basically whatever they wanted. He eloquently describes the day that they came and did a checkpoint presentation and he described the inner struggle he had because had that been the final project he would have given them all A’s, but he also knew that if this is what they had produced at this point, he knew they could do even better. He even went to discuss with his own mentor to figure out at what height the bar should be at. There are always options, to set a height and settle at that, or to raise it juuuuuust a little bit higher.

    I explain all of this because this is something I struggle with; it is the “what’s next” piece. I mean, what do you do when you knock off things from your bucket list and you’ve lived your childhood dreams at age 26? I guess you dream even bigger! But, I, like Randy, struggle with where that target should be. The only thing left on that list from the video from all those years ago is to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated… but I was featured in Runner’s World… dream almost realized.

    The last part of my reflection post-Boston Marathon, is on a personal note of how unbelievably blessed I feel to have supporters from all over the world, along the entire 26.2 mile route—even friends of mine who once lived in the area and have since moved on who were avidly tracking my progress online, to new friends and fans who were also receiving text message updates on my progress. I feel like a broken record with all of these thank yous, but the truth is, I would not and could not be where I am today with out all of that support. And those of you were there “back in the day”, who were there for my very first journey barreling down a mountain in a monoski, or who were there for some sort of crazy camping adventure such as camping through a hurricane, or were there through the wet track meets out in Canton, MA or perhaps accompanied me to an emergency room for a visit or two--- thank you.

    The best answer that I have right now to the “what’s next” question is that I will gradually shift my focus and energy towards preparations for hopefully making it to London in 2012 for the Paralympic Games. Though before I make that complete shift, I will be back to tackle those Newton Hills this weekend as part of the Heartbreak Hill Race and I'll be there speaking as well, check out more here. I plan to continue doing what I love—educating others, sharing my story but athletically it’s time to start gearing up for London, which is in just 475 days! Ticket prices were in fact announced today, so check it out and come cheer me on in London!

    Boston Marathon a 'crowning moment' for Natick Paralympian Anjali Forber-Pratt

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    To read full article, click here.

    Anjali Forber-Pratt, who was raised in Natick, placed fourth among women in the 2011 Boston Marathon's wheelchair division. Forber-Pratt, a champion sprinter and Paralympian, logged a time of 1:53:22 in her first Boston Marathon.

    You've dreamed of racing in the Boston Marathon since you were a little girl. What was it like to finally do it?

    As cliche as it sounds it was a dream come true. I was especially touched by all the supporters with signs and cheers throughout the entire route as well as having Jean Driscoll there as a comeback guest for the BAA. Entering Natick and passing the very spot I once sat at cheering was emotional for sure and honestly miles 8-10 were just one big blur for me with all the home town support!

    Tell me about the race. What was your strategy? Were there any surprises along the way?

    My strategy, as a sprinter, was to go out there and stick to my pace and to have fun. I was hoping to stay in with the other women early on, but recognize that coasting on those hills is not my strong suit! I had my target time and splits in mind and my strategy truly was to give it my all and to feel like I had a great race by the end, which I certainly did! It was a win of sorts for me on a personal level!

    What was the hardest part of the race?

    The hardest part of the race was my own competitive nature! No matter how hard I told myself to stick with my strategy and to simply be concerned with doing my best, my competitive nature and drive to want to win also came out! I am honored to have been among a group of fast women this year and send my hearty congrats to my fellow racers! Honestly I could not be happier though with my time and a fourth place finish in my first Boston. I was actually surprised that the Newton hills weren't that bad as I expected and I think that's a testament to the training program from my coach Adam Bleakney at the University of Illinois and to mother nature's gracious tailwind!

    How do you feel about your finish? Will you race in the Boston Marathon again next year?

    I am wicked excited about my Boston finish! It was a crowning moment in my athletic career for personal reasons even if it didn't translate to a top of the podium. To me, it emulates what I live and breathe for. My own motto is Dream. Drive. Do...and this dream literally came about 20+ years ago and to finally be able to say that I went after it, gave it my all, and came out with a personal best and a 4th place finish in one of the most prestigious races in the world is a success in my book! As for next year, who knows! I certainly won't rule it off the table, but I do know that my focus will be largely on the sprints as I gear up hoping to qualify for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, so it will depend. We'll see!

    What are you working on next?

    Personally, I am devoting time now to the writing of my autobiography to help to motivate others to chase their own dreams and to teach others from the lessons I've learned along the way.

    Athletically, I am gearing up for the track season! My training will shift to prepare me for the sprints. I have two track meets in Switzerland in May and 2011 U.S. Paralympic Track and Field Nationals in Miramar, FL in June as well. I do have a couple of road races too including returning to Boston on May 15th to be a part of the Heartbreak Hill 5k and to speak at the Purple Shoes Challenge held in conjunction.

    Lastly, thank you to everybody from Hopkington to Boston and beyond who supported me in achieving this dream. I sincerely hope you'll continue to follow me on my journey to London through my website: www.anjfp.com and you can follow me on twitter @anjalifp and Facebook too!

    'It’s almost here!' Natick paralympian Anjali Forber-Pratt counts down to her first Boston Marathon

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    To read the full article: http://bo.st/e9ZXVR

    Anjali Forber-Pratt, raised in Natick and now one of the top US wheelchair sprinters, is preparing for her first Boston Marathon on April 18. She has been training in Champaign, Ill.

    When are you heading out to Natick? Will you practice on the actual Boston Marathon route before the race?

    I am headed to Boston on Thursday April 14th. It’s hard to believe it’s finally here! I will be participating in some events in the lead-up to the Boston Marathon with The Hartford as well as with U.S. Paralympics, so I will actually be staying in Boston, and then the rest of my team will arrive on Saturday the 16th.

    Because I’m staying in Boston, I will likely take advantage of the path along the river for training purposes, but do hope to drive the course a couple times before the big day! It’s hard to find a good time to actually practice on portions of the course, given the traffic, so I think I’ll probably have to settle for driving the route.

    What is your training consisting of now? How many miles are you doing a day/week?

    My training has been scaled back a bit, it’s all with the idea of peaking at the right time. My coach, Adam Bleakney, is a professional at this, and so I trust his judgment on this one! I am no longer having two practices a day, and the most mileage I’m doing in a session is about 16, but I’m averaging about 7-10 per day right now.

    Are there particular parts of the Boston route that are difficult? What is your strategy for the race?

    Of course there are difficult parts of the route, it’s the Boston Marathon! Everybody knows Heartbreak Hill is a big one, and I hear there are some good hills just after Heartbreak too. My plan is to celebrate the experience I dreamed about for so long, stay focused on my personal goals and to feel like I had a strong race by the end.

    Are you getting excited? What are your thoughts as the race approaches?

    Yes, I’m certainly getting excited for the event. It’s been on my radar for so long that I truthfully cannot believe it’s finally here! As the race approaches, I am honestly so excited by all of the support and words of encouragement I’ve been getting from all around the world. I’ve said this before, as a sprinter, tackling the Boston Marathon is not an easy feat. I know this, and I could not do it without all of the support and positive energy from folks around the world. For that, I am extremely grateful! To be honest, the biggest thought I have right now is, “are we there yet?” There is a certain level of anxiousness, because I truly feel ready to tackle it, but still have to wait until the 18th… It’s almost here!

    People can cheer on Forber-Pratt during her marathon through this wiki page, and can follow her on Twitter: #anjalidoesboston.

    Here's a picture I drew in 1994 about this dream...

    Hitting the Road at Last

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    Anjali Forber-Pratt, raised in Natick and now one of the top US wheelchair sprinters, is preparing for her first Boston Marathon. She gave this update from Champaign, Ill., where she is in training.

    Now that spring is here, have you been able to hit the road for practice?

    It was finally warm enough this week to be outside every day! There were still a couple of colder mornings, but for the most part it was tolerable. For any of you who have been stuck inside on the treadmill or for you cyclists stuck inside on a roller, you know how exciting it is to be able to breathe the fresh air and to actually go somewhere for all that effort instead of staying in place staring at the same wall!

    It will take me another week to get used to being back outside again, it’s like finding your sea-legs or in this case my road-arms! You do use slightly different muscles when you’re outside versus inside, for example, on the rollers inside I’m not concerned with looking where I’m going, because I’m stationary, so my neck muscles are not used nearly as much inside as they are outside when I have to keep my head up to see where I’m going.

    What's the longest stretch you're racing at one time? How many miles are you putting in a week?

    Saturday was the longest total mileage I’ve completed in a while, 18 miles. My weekly mileage varies, but probably somewhere between 40-60 miles each week right now.

    How are you building up to the marathon?

    Aside from the increase in mileage and preparation for the hills, marathon preparation is also about making sure you are being good to your body. This means that I am making a concentrated effort to sleep well, stay hydrated, eat right and mentally prepare for the task ahead. Especially as a sprinter, there are times when the pure number of miles for my workout can seem daunting.

    My solution: distract yourself and think about something else, and before you know it, you will have reached the mile target you were aiming for. Sometimes I start counting my strokes in my head, or counting cracks in the road to keep my mind focused on something else. If it’s a tempo-paced workout, I find that counting works well for me. If it’s a recovery workout, I find I can let my mind wander even a little bit more to making a grocery list in my head or singing a song in my head, anything to keep your mind at ease instead of panicked about the mileage!

    Do you have any friends who'll be racing, too -- either as runners or in the wheelchair race?

    I know the majority of the wheelchair athletes who will be competing in this year’s Boston Marathon. In fact, four of them are also on my team here at Illinois! Also, having grown up in Natick, I am aware of friends and friends of friends who will be running as well.

    Anything else?

    This week I started a new training cycle. It sort of hit me like night and day between sprint training and marathon training. In fact, I had some identity issues when our coach was saying, for you sprinters this is your workout, for you marathoners, this is your workout. For years I have associated myself wholeheartedly and with gusto in the sprinter group! But, I’m told that I’ll go back to being a sprinter soon, post-Boston. In the meantime, two-a-day practices on some days throughout the week, climbing the stadium ramps to prepare for the Boston hills, increased mileage, decreased social life and increase in naptime!

    People can cheer on Forber-Pratt during her marathon through this wiki page, and can follow her on Twitter: #anjalidoesboston.

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