Thursday, April 19, 2007

Boston, Baby: Wind, Colon, Liver, and Quads be Damned!

I woke up at 4:45 and stumbled out to press the button on our coffee maker. Then mrp got up and we...what did we do...come on...No, nothing to do with food...we...checked the weather! It was warmer than we feared. Good. Shorts it is. We drowsily got dressed and then called a cab. We grabbed our bags and headed down the hotel stairs.

Mrp and I met our friend *F* in the lobby around 6AM on Monday. We looked outside and saw horizontal rain and an empty coffee cup doing its own surfing down the empty street. We got a ride to the T and headed up to Boston Commons. Once there we were able to board a bus within 5 minutes. As we pulled away we saw incredibly long lines for busses at the other end of the park. We didn't have to wait at all. Hmmm?

Anyway, the bus ride was uneventful. *F* talked to a local Bostonian about baseball, while mrp and I zoned out. Our bus driver Ms. Pam was cool and got us to Hopkinton High School with no problems despite the crappy weather. When we debussed we headed right for the gym. Someone warned us it might be full, but we didn't care. When we walked inside, at around 7:10 or so, there was plenty of room. We found a spot and laid around making jokes for a couple of hours.

Finally it was time for wave 1 to head on out. We quickly stripped off most of our warm-ups and then put our garbage bags on our bodies and our shopping bags on our feet. After much fretting all week I decided to wear shorts, a singlet, and a techy long sleeve on top, along with my rain hat and of course green gloves.

On our way to the start mrp decided to join some others to relieve himself behind the gas station. Just as he was finished the cops come in and threaten a bust. heh! He got out in the nick of time! Of course just a couple of blocks down the street were plenty of port-o-potties. They were absolutely disgusting but necessary to visit one last time.

We finally made it to the corrals. Mrp, the Mr. Fancypants that he is, was in 1 and I was way the hell back in 9. I walked with him to the top of the hill just to see what it looked like. By the time we got to the top we both realized our shoes were soaked through despite the bags. Oh well. We said goodbye and back I made my way to the 9th corral.

Once in I made friends with a nice guy with an umbrella. I removed all my plastic coatings and tossed my black gloves and put on the green ones. I relaced my shoes too since they had stretched out a bit.

Before I knew it I thought I heard the national anthem and then we started walking a bit. I figured we started but thought maybe they just moved the corrals up? Then I saw the starting line and figured it out! Off we went!

As you are all well too aware, I went into Boston feeling like I was in great shape. I was setting big PRs in all my shorter races and my long runs and workouts were going really well. I was running heavier mileage (for me, anyway) and recovering quickly. I was ready to run a 3:10, I truly believe. At the same time, I realize stuff happens that you can't control--you know, like Nor'easters. You just have to do your best with what you have. I knew a 3:10 was probably not in the cards, but damn if I wasn't going to try!

I was kind of amazed at how many people there were around me. Really, it was like nothing I had ever experienced. I was worried about going out too fast, but there was no way that was going to happen. There was nowhere to go! I just sucked it up and accepted the 7:55 first mile.

I wanted to pick it up the second mile and there was no way to do it without being one of those jerks zipping along the sides. I'm sorry, but I did it. I managed to get the second mile down to 7:33.

During the third mile a girl passed me, zipping her own way through the crowd. I saw the opportunity and took off after her letting her make our way. The third mile was 7:07. Better!

During my last marathon I remembered every mile. I can't say that's true this time. I know somewhere between miles 4-8 I threw away my long sleeve shirt and a little after that I started to feel stitchy. I am especially prone to them a certain times of the month and they are aggravated by down hills and wind. Great! During the beginning of these stitchy miles I tried to just breathe it out first. That wasn’t going well and I was starting to get worried when all of a sudden I tripped over another runner and almost planted my face in the pavement. WHOA! I felt my left glute stttrrreeeetchhh but I was fine. I started laughing and apologized and the other runner apologized and we laughed about it and on I went. I realized here that if I could ride that out I was fine and that stitch wasn’t going to take me down. I took my first gu at 6 and there were more spectators now. Some of them were the cutest kids and I couldn’t resist laying down some high fives. I think between the trip, the gu, and the little ones I took my mind off the stitch and it helped. Mile 4--7:06, Mile 5--7:19, Mile 6 --7:16, Mile 7—7:12, Mile 8—7:17.

I think the wind was really bad during mile 9 (with the openness near the lake). I just couldn’t completely kick the stitch. By mile 10 it hadn’t totally blown up but it was still there enough that I needed to do something to avoid it really getting bad later in the race. I realized survival was more important at this point than meeting my exact time goal, so I decided this is where I needed to make adjustments. At the same time I knew Wellesley and the half were coming so I decided to focus on just getting there. So, I slowed it down a little and tried to psych myself up for the screams to come! Mile 9—7:15, Mile 10—24, Mile 11—7:32.

By the end of mile 11 I could hear the screams! Woohoo! As I cruised through Wellesley, I think I slapped every girl’s hand there! I Woo’d right back at ‘em and had a great time!! By 15, the stitch was just a memory, but now my stomach decided to join in the fun! I couldn’t win! Mile 12—7:21, Mile 13—7:21, Mile 14—7:19, Mile 15—7:33.

Once we got to the overpass over the highway I think I believed I was more off pace than I was. I thought I was just sucking hard and between the stitch, my stomach, and the gusts, I was started to get down on myself. By the first hill in Newton I thought I was going to die. “I am NEVER running another marathon! WHY AM I DOING THIS?” I thought to myself. I seriously thought about quitting. Then I decided to start checking out the port-o-potties for an empty one. The hills weren’t that bad themselves but I was just feeling so bad. I’ve since heard the wind was tough on the hills. Honestly, I don’t remember. I just remember I was really beating myself up. The funny thing is, other than one tiny little girl who passed me, I was still passing people on the hills—including a guy dressed in a cow costume, thank goodness! And as I look back on my splits up until Newton, I really wasn’t that far off pace—I was doing much better than I thought at the time—oh well. As the top of Heartbreak loomed I started to mend my own heart—wind, colon, liver, and quads be dammed! I decided to keep fighting and I decided to figure out what kind of time I could still make. I figured I could still get a 3:18. Ok, then. GO! Mile 16—7:21, Mile 17—7:47, Mile 18—7:52, Mile 19—7:45, Mile 20—8:03, Mile 21—8:16

My mind wasn’t very sharp the last five miles but I remembered that 7:40 is 3:20 pace. If I aimed for that I’d come in under 3:20 and probably around 3:18. My quads were screaming and the wind was gusting and blowing me around, but I didn’t care. I just kept the legs going. Less surfing, more shuffling. I pushed the pace for mile 22 back down to 7:36. But my stomach was hurting and threatening to embarrass me and then the stitch started to come back. “ All you have to run is 7:40’s now! Just go!” I assured myself. I was able to maintain a 7:40ish pace to mile 25. I never even saw Fenway and I only saw the Citgo sign as I passed it. I was hurting—my legs, my stomach, the stitch. I just needed to be DONE! I got to 40k and I started to pick it—1.2 miles to go baby!! I almost was feeling good and ready to hammer home. But then the unthinkable—around the mile 25 the stitch BLEW UP! Oh my!! I could hardly breathe with just 1200 meters to go!! I stopped dead on Beacon Street. I kid you not. I took a deep breath and then I just started to run again. I could hardly breathe, the wind was blowing me around, I was weaving all over the bumpy road. I turned the corner right and then turned the corner left and the finish seemed so far. I couldn’t look at it or I wouldn’t make it. I just focused on each step. Just one more step and then another step and then another. Just get there. And I did—FINALLY. Mile 22—7:36, Mile 23—7:40, Mile 24—7:41, Mile 25—7:48, Mile 26.2—9:xx.

Official time: 3:18:09. I was at once ecstatic and disappointed. I had such mixed emotions. I was such a jumble of feelings—much of that pain! Heh. My feet hurt like a mother. I couldn’t believe they were making me walk. I found a lady on the side and I begged her to untie my shoes. She did and that helped (THANKS!) Unfortunately, I was now only in a singlet and shorts and the winds were really bad. I was SO COLD. The longer I walked the more I shook. I finally saw mylar and I just gravitated toward until a volunteer grabbed me and threw one over my shoulders. I found water. I kept shuffling and shivering forward. I saw food. I didn’t want any. Forward.

I finally made it to an open area. I needed to meet Mrp in the C’s and I needed my gear. I saw a family waiting area first. “Ok—I’ll find mrp first then,” I thought. But the letters were Z-R or something. UGH. I shuffled on. Finally I asked someone—“W-w-w-w-w-whe—e—e-eerr-rrrr—eeessss….” I could hardly speak I was shivering so much. The volunteer said, “you need your gear, what’s your number.” I told her and she said, “let’s get you a wheelchair.” “O-o-o-ohhh n-n-n-no! I w-w-w-will w-w-w-w-alk!,” I insisted. She laughed and agreed to walk with me. She hugged me the entire way and her warmth really helped. She was so wonderful. (THANKS!) We finally got my bag and I started to change. I was Curt Schilling! I had a nasty bloody blister on my achilles! I am so happy with myself for having the forethought to pack fleece and dry shoes! Warmed back up, enough at least, I made my way to the next block and there was Mrp in all his splendid adoreableness. He ran a 2:49! Woo! Just 1 minute off his goal! Yeah Mrp!

Anyway, I need to go now to start my application for New York!


Joe said...

Great story! Way to go!

> I woke up at 4:45 and
> stumbled out to press
> the button on our
> coffee maker.

I'm just curious, what did you consume besides coffee?

> As we pulled away we saw
> incredibly long lines for
> busses at the other end
> of the park.

Did you think for a moment that perhaps you were on the wrong bus?

> Just as he was finished
> the cops come in and
> threaten a bust.

Really? That's absurd! They should make exceptions for marathoners.

> I figured we started but thought
> maybe they just moved the
> corrals up? Then I saw the
> starting line and figured it out!

Wasn't there a gun shot, cannon blast or other loud noise to signify the start of the race? Or were you too far back to hear it?

> all of a sudden I tripped over
> another runner and almost
> planted my face in the pavement.

Oh my!

> I could hardly breathe with just 1200
> meters to go!! I stopped dead on
> Beacon Street.

Right now I'm picturing one of those dramatic TV scenes that you see late in Olympic marathons.

> Official time: 3:18:09.


> I was at once ecstatic and
> disappointed.

Reaching this point in your post, I personally feel only ecstasy. What a story you have weaved so far. I'll read on some more...

Wow, the finish area sounds like a refugee camp. I get you FELT like a refugee at that point.

Congrats on having the determination to finish such a difficult race. I'm so pumped and inspired for my half marathon now! Thank you, Salty!

GP said...

You ran such an inspired race, and I'm so happy for you I keep writing the same comment over and over again.

I'm beginning to think that the world would be a better place if we found a permanent cure for stitches. They come out of nowhere, they hurt more than they should. And I think the explanations about diaphragms, breathing and ligaments is all a bunch of crap.

Way to deal with yours and show some real determination! I think all of your loyal visitors are going to run some good races on the wings of your great story!

Joe said...

You might enjoy reading this Boston Marathon story by a blogger from my city.

Papa Louie said...

Surviving the finish area was also my quest. Youuu sou-sound-did just li-ike meee after the race. I couldn't even put my warm clothes on I needed my families help. But we made it. Congratulations!

Chelle said...

Wow...that was definitely quite the ordeal. I could feel every bit of effort and agony through your words. How on earth do we keep doing this to ourselves?!

Great effort in tough conditions. One step at a time to that've been so disciplined and smart with your training, I have no doubt that you'll get there.

Jim said...

Wow! I could feel the wind,the rain,the stitch as I was reading. What an amazing effort you and mrp put out. You sure did have your share of adversity to conquer, and that you did. Take a bow Salty - you deserve it.

E-Speed said...

Hopefully you will look back on this and be really proud. It really is a great race story. Boston is a tough course to run well in good conditions, stitches and cramps seem to wait for you in those hills!

You did great. You'll get the 3:10 and next time you will be that much more hungry for it.

DaisyDuc said...

That was a great story and a great fight for the finish. Truly I think you have nothing to be disappointed about! Fantastic job!