Monday, April 23, 2012

Well, That Happened

It's taken me a week to get around to try and wrap this up.  A week because I wasn't really sure what I wanted to say. A week in which a new abbreviation has entered into my running vocabulary.  A week in which I've been more tired than after any race I've ever done, including Ironman Canada. So, now I suppose it's time to come to terms with a day that will live on in running history books. After training so hard for so long, it came down to the day, and the day was a bear.
   Let me just say that running in 89 degree heat in April is tough, it's damn tough, especially if you come from the Pacific Northwest where the highest recorded temp in the past 6 months was close to 60 and that was a one time affair. It's not like we weren't warned because we were.  The Boston Athletic Association was practically begging people not to run. I
 think know there are people who wish they would have listened to that advice.  There were over 2,000 people treated for heat exhaustion and dehydration and I passed by a dozen or so people being wheeled off the course on stretchers with IV bags dangling.

My day started out well enough, I got a reasonable night's sleep, made it to the Boston Commons in time to catch the bus to Hopkington. I was the last one on the bus which I took as a good sign. I had read the article in the Bellingham Herald before leaving the apartment, but was pleasantly surprised to see on the bus ride, while checking my email, that two donations were made because of the article already. I had ridden on the same bus as Ray Leone, from Blaine, and talked with him a bit before heading to the church where the Dana-Farber people were set up only a block from the starting line.  It was nice to be in the shade relaxing and rolling out muscles with the stick. I lubed up every place I could find, made it to the starting line on time this year and started with thousands of other runners in mid 70 degree weather that just kept getting hotter and hotter as we ran.
    It took about a mile and a half for it to open up enough to get some running room. It was hot from the start but not too bad. At least it didn't seem so at first. My body had a hard time adjusting all day. I was thirsty and knew that I needed to drink and ended up hitting every station and then adding on with bystanders. On the other hand, I felt bloated, like the water wasn't going anywhere. The only time I felt halfway normal was either being hosed off or when I got ice. I stuck to my perpetuem and water but the perpetuem that I expected to last the whole race was disappearing at an alarming rate.
    By mile 6 or so I could tell it was going to be a long day.  I still felt good, but it was so hot.  You could just feel it sapping everything out.  Going in, I knew I wouldn't be able to run the race I had trained for so it was a matter of compromising as I went.  By mile 6 a 8:45 pace seemed reasonable and sustainable but it slowly started inching its way upward.  The girls of Wellesley were as loud as ever and were there before I remembered them from last year.
Diane and my sister, Cindi, were waiting for me at the halfway point with drinks and I was still feeling good by the time I saw them, but it was so damn hot.

By 14.5 miles, I took my first walking break through an aid station.  It was to be the first of many.  I started walking on any hills and then through most of the aid stations.  I started running all of the hills of Newton but ended up walking on all of them.  I did a lot of walking over the last 10 miles. It was very humbling but I was in a lot of company.  How embarrassing to be walking during the Boston Marathon. Every time I walked I was embarrassed, but it was what it was. Man that was hard.
The spectators and volunteers were absolutely fantastic all day. The people who brought out ice, the people with orange slices, the people with their garden hoses, and their spray bottles, and soaker guns.
Just like last year, the most enthusiastic cheering was at Boston College where they had a lot of time to drink a LOT of beer.  One girl was chasing me calling my name.  I walked by, she called my name, and then the next thing I know 20 yards down the road she was running by me telling me to get going. When I did she ran with me for a hundred yards or so calling my name.
Pretty funny.
    Highlight of the day - taking an orange slice from the first of 5 or 6 girls aged 8-10 along the road and then making an orange smile for the last two girls.  I thought I would surprise them and get a laugh. The last laugh was on me though after they calmly raised their soaker guns and hosed me down.
The orange smile was a hit wherever I did it.
The Dana Farber singlet was huge because there were so many many people cheering me on.  It seemed like over 100 thanked me.  Thanked ME.
It didn't get any easier but the miles kept rolling on by.  The Citgo sign was a welcome sign even though I knew it was still a mile and a half away.  I was determined not to walk during the last mile so I took a good long walk at the aid station by the Citgo sign and then ramped it up.  Knowing it was the last mile made it easier but the spectators really pulled us in. There were so many people walking the last part I think I reeled in a hundred or more, but it didn't matter at that point. I told myself as the mile started that this one was for John H and it passed by in a happy blur. 

       It was the end of a long process of training and fundraising coming to a successful conclusion and I was happy about it. As I walked the several blocks down to collect my bag it was one happy feeling. 
 When I retrieved my phone there were already quite a few congratulatory texts from friends. I guess news travels fast.  The Dana Farber recovery zone was quite a deal. There were changing rooms and some kind of wet/dry towels to wipe off with.  There were about 50 massage tables set up. I got a massage with two different people at the same time. That's a first. There was great chicken soup and a sandwich spread with great potato salad and lots of cookies and brownies and such. Plenty of other runners to sit and talk with and share stories of the heat.
     All in all quite an experience. A race for the ages. One made much more special by the circumstances- the fundraising, the heat, the setting, the newspaper article. Interesting to involve so many people in the endeavor. Until yesterday I didn't know what a PW was.  Runners always talk about their PR's. (Personal Records)  Come to find out that a PW is a Personal Worst and many people had them on April 16, 2012 including me.  This was 10 minutes slower than my first marathon and over a half hour slower than last year's Boston experience.  The good news is that I was able to finish and I managed to stay out of the medical tent; anything less would have been hard to take given the circumstances so I'll take it and move on.

     A huge thank you to all who have contributed to this cause.  You have inspired me with your generosity and your caring. It was quite an experience for me to have been part of something so much bigger than myself.  I will never forget it and take many great life lessons away.

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