The Road to the Finish Line: Running the Boston Marathon

88 Acres celebrates those in our community doing incredible things using the power of seeds. 

The Boston Marathon holds a special place in our hearts as our hometown race, and one that Rob and Nicole, our co-founders, have both run a handful of times. Every runner deserves a round of applause for the hard work they put in to training and finishing the race (especially with the rain this year), but we're exceptionally proud of the runners who were #PoweredBySeeds. 

Meet Patrick O'Brien. Patrick reached out to us in mid-winter as he was gearing up for a long season of training for his first marathon race. Living with Type-1 Diabetes, Patrick's food choices are crucial for this endeavor, and we were honored that he chose us to help support his goal to finish Boston (with a pretty quick pace, we might add!). 

Patrick O'Brien, Type-1 Diabetic, running the Boston Marathon.

Why did you decide to run the Boston Marathon this year?
    I had never been an endurance athlete or a runner prior to my move to Boston last August. I played Division I soccer and the only way I would run more than a mile was if I was chasing a ball. However, as soon as I settled down in Boston I was engulfed in the city's running spirit. I was fortunate enough to be offered an opportunity to compete in the Boston Marathon this year as a sponsored type-1 diabetic athlete by the Abbott Nutrition company. Since I was in Boston, I couldn’t turn down this awesome and once in a lifetime opportunity to run in the covenanted Boston Marathon. It was my first, but definitely not my last marathon.
    As a dietetic intern in Boston interested in sports nutrition, and pending assistant dietitian in the NBA. What is your sports nutrition philosophy?

      My sports nutrition philosophy is to make nutrition as simple and easy as possible for athletes. I’ve found that reducing the complexity associated with proper nutrition can simplify an athlete's life (which is typically strenuous/complex enough!). I aim to offer a food first approach that educates each athlete on how the appropriate nutrients can be an ally, and aide their performance as well as overall health and well-being. There is never a finish line with nutrition, and always room for improvements. I’m constantly in search of ways to enhance the lives of each athlete with an individualized approach. It’s important to understand that there is no one-size fits all approach and that each athlete, team, and sport has unique needs, even at the professional level where differences between athletes are often marginal. 

      Patrick O'Brien fuels up with 88 Acres seed bars to train for long-distance runs.

      How does Type 1 Diabetes affect training for and running a marathon?

        Type-1 Diabetes (T1D) brings an additional layer of complexity to an already difficult process (marathon training). I can never just roll out of bed, throw on my shoes, and take off on a 16-mile tempo run. Instead, I have to carefully plan and prepare ahead of time to ensure I’m ready for these training runs. It starts with nutrition and making sure I have carbohydrates handy in the event of low-blood glucose during a run. When my blood glucose gets low, the last thing I feel like doing is running! Running, specifically distance runs, with T1D has always been a struggle. It’s a constant battle with my insulin pump (Do I suspend it? Do I do a temporary basal?), eating (Do I take insulin for my meal? Do I dose for my snacks during runs?), and checking my blood glucose. Preparation starts well in advance with my meals, snacks, and appropriate dosing with my insulin medication. Fortunately, technological advances have made previously stressful tasks (readily checking my glucose during runs) more simple and easy.

        How did 88 Acres help in fueling your training?

          The 88 Acres products were an awesome, tasty, and beneficial addition to my marathon preparation. One of the most important aspects of marathon training is nutrition and making sure to eat enough to fuel your mind and body for the runs. I love all of the ingredients that go into each bar. I’d snack on an 88 Acres Bar at least once a day because they provide all the nutrients I needed. More specifically, I would typically consume a bar after my runs to help replenish and repair my body with the necessary carbohydrates and protein! 

          What has been your favorite part of the training season and how’d the Marathon go?

            My favorite part of the training season was pushing myself both physically and mentally each week. I believe that you don’t truly know yourself until you challenge yourself and that’s exactly what the training season did. I had a ton of support throughout my training process, which further motivated me as I entered Marathon Monday in Boston.

            As I reflect back on my training, I’m thankful that I was in Boston for my training because it enabled me to acclimate to the always fluctuating New England weather and temperatures. The weather for marathon Monday this year was nothing short of unfavorable! Adversity is preparation for greatness and the wind, cold, and rain brought plenty of adversity. I tailored my original goal-time of 3:05 to accommodate these variables and finished the Boston Marathon in a time that I was more than happy with considering it was my first marathon. I’m definitely engulfed in the running spirit and there will plenty more marathons in my future (can’t wait to further utilize the 88 Acres snacks for training).

            What is your favorite 88 Acres product and pairing?

              I love all of the flavors, but my favorites would have to be the Oats & Cinnamon and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, depending on my daily cravings. I readily included oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon and frozen fruit into my daily breakfast routine. However, on the days I was pushed for time and in a hurry, I would grab one of the Oats & Cinnamon bars as I headed out the door. The bars were great because it’s vital to never miss a meal (especially breakfast) when one is training for a marathon! The 88 Acres bars were my favorite snack bar to munch on during the day, especially when I was extremely busy with my internship and training runs! I’m also a big fan of the 88 Acres Pumpkin Seed Butter. It served as a delicious dip for fruits & veggies and as a topping for rice cakes & whole grain English muffins, which were a staple in my daily food regime.

              Patrick O'Brien has Type-1 Diabetes, but that didn't stop him from finishing a marathon.

              Patrick O’Brien is a future Registered Dietitian (RD) from Williamsburg, Va. Prior to Boston, he played collegiate soccer at the College of William and Mary and Virginia Tech. Patrick graduated from Virginia Tech with his BS degree in Human Nutrition and thesis-based MS degree in Clinical Physiology and Metabolism. His thesis evaluated the effects of an active halftime rewarm-up, with carbohydrate supplementation, on player's blood glucose and second half performance during collegiate soccer matches. Patrick just finished his dietetic internship at Simmons College in Boston, MA and plans to sit for his RD exam this June prior to his move to Milwaukee in August. Patrick landed a year-long position, as an Assistant Sports Dietitian, in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks.