Friday, April 23, 2010

3 Things Thursday: Recovery Edition

Yes...I realize its Friday...but I worked a 13 hour shift yesterday [my post-marathon legs LOVED that, let me tell you] and didn't have time to da, 3 things Thurs/Friday!

1 - The legs!  Physically, the day after the race I literally couldn't do ANYTHING - oh my god. My boyfriend was laughing at me and singing "domo arigato mr roboto" every time I attempted to get up off the couch [which was rare haha]. Ironically, my hamstrings which gave me so much trouble during the race weren't really that sore, but my quads? Let's just say I was feeling those downhills - ow ow ow!  The outside of my left foot was also really sore, and I think I realized why after looking at my race pictures - apparently I land REALLY far to the outside of my left foot!  There's one picture where it seriously looks like I'm going to roll my ankle when I land, my foot is so far sideways.  I remember having the same pain after New Bedford but I've never felt it in workouts...wonder if it's just a race thing?  Speaking of the pictures, I really want to order the CD so I can post them up here, because they are pretty ridiculous, and definitely tell the story of my race well.  But we'll see if I feel like shelling out the $85 for that haha.  Wednesday I went for a swim because I was having post-race mopey syndrome and needed to workout in some form to get over it, but my quads definitely weren't ready to run.  Felt good to swim again and since I'm tossing around the possibility of an Olympic triathlon this summer, was glad to see that I still feel strong in the water.  Today finally I am MUCH improved - definitely still some lingering stiffness and achiness, but nothing too severe.  I am thinking about a 2 mile shakeout later just to kind of get things moving again, but we shall see!

2 - The schwag.  I got my Boston Celebration jacket yesterday, along with a new pair of Asics armwarmers, which I sadly had to toss somewhere in Framingham during the race. RIP, Asics #1s.  Luckily, they were only $8, and with the jacket being on sale after the race, I felt a little less guilty about my purchases :).  Umm yeah...I don't think I'm ever going to take this jacket off again. EVER.  I think I said at some point that I thought the celebration jacket was a little too over the top, but I lied.  The further out I get from the actual pain of the race the more I want to SHOUT to the mountaintops that I ran Boston. Sooo the jacket is fantastic.

3 - The mind. As you all mayyy or may not have been able to tell, I was feeling a little disappointed about my race on Monday.  That feeling is dissolving faster and faster as the days go by.  The more I think about it, the more I am completely amazed with how fast I DID finish given the circumstances! It would have been easy to just dial it in and walk/jog to the finish - but I am a racer, and I raced that race to the end - if 3:46 was the best I had on that day, well at least I know that's ALL I had. So I am much more okay with my race now.  I also have a lot more respect for that tricky bitch of a Boston course - I've heard it's almost impossible to run it right the first time and whoooo boy do I know now that's true.  I certainly made some tactical errors on my part - ahem, going out too fast EVEN THOUGH I'd been warned time and time again that that was a bad idea.  But what are you going to do?  I learned from it, and that's just one more marathon under my belt to take into the next one.  I am immensely proud of my training and of my race and nothing can change that.

As you can see, recovery is going pretty well...much as I am enjoying a little time off though, I'm raring to get back on the roads!  Hope it stays cooler a little longer so I can keep rocking my Boston jacket. :)

Also....a final random side story.  So I was on the train last night absentmindedly paging through one of the magazines that came in the Boston race packet - it was clearly an international magazine because it had ads for all these races all over the world - Europe, the Middle East, Australia...whatever.  It was kind of amusing browsing the ads and all of a sudden I stumbled across an ad for...THE HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN MARATHON...obviously in his hometown [where he lived in a little yellow house] of Odense, Denmark [which is on the island of Funen].  How do I know these random HCA facts? Well, my sophomore year of college I needed a literature credit.  Since I was already taking a full load of pre-med insanity, I tried to find an easy one.  The result? Literature In Translation 275 - The Tales Of Hans Christian Andersen.  The class was made even better by the fact that I took it with 7 of my friends, and that our professor was a complete nut who spoke in a faux-Danish accent and spent the first 2 weeks of class telling us about the glory that was Hans's life [we saw a map of Denmark + picture of the little yellow house about 300 times over that period]. Oh, and one of my friends joined the class a month late and still managed 100% on the first exam. It was hilarious and probably the most memorable class of my college needless to say I am pretty sure the Hans Christian Andersen Marathon has just been added to my running "to-do" list of life. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Day That Will Live In Infamy: Boston Marathon 2010

First off, I just have to thank everyone for the AMAZING support and comments.  The online running community is so. freaking. cool! It really means a lot to have a whole bunch of people picking you back up when a race knocks you down, so thank you all again.

So I'm feeling a little mopey today.  I honestly think I would be a little sad even if I had run a good time/PR - I mean, 4 months of training and it's OVER. Of course, it doesn't hurt that my mind is just one big loop of "what could have gone wrong, what happened?" Obviously, it just wasn't my day out there. Running is always, to some extent, a crapshoot.  You can train and train, have the most perfect training you can imagine, but if you wake up on race day and for some reason or another your legs just aren't in it, there's nothing you can do about it. It happens to the elites - and they drop out. Well for me that isn't ever an option (much as I would have liked it to be at several points during the race haha)  Unfortunately, the experience of "having a bad day" is completely exacerbated in a marathon's LONG...and if you are feeling bad early, it's going to be a long, slow death march to the finish. But that's also what makes the marathon so special.  Sometimes its just going to suck, but you get through it, you learn from it, and if you're crazy like me, you start thinking about the next one within hours after finishing haha.

So on to the nitty gritty details. Nothing that happened race morning indicated that I was going to have anything other than a good day.  My legs felt solid, I had slept reasonably well, and all I had to do was walk out the door and hop on the T - fabulous!  I had my usual banana & peanut butter toast, and grabbed another banana and some Gu Chomps for later. I got to Boston Common around 6:15, and immediately encountered the insanity that was 26,000 runners trying to get on buses. Somehow I found my way to a short-ish line and started talking with a girl around my age named Kristen, who would become my athlete's village buddy. The bus ride was like...infinity.  By infinity I mean an hour, but sitting on the bus thinking about how you have to RUN the whole damn way back? Umm...yeah.

The athletes village was pretty cool.  It was weird having to just kind of chill out for so long before the start, but people watching was pretty entertaining [people who brought inflatable pool toys to lay on = genius!] and there was plenty of free Gatorade and Powerbars to go around. I waited in an INSANELY long/slow moving porta potty line and ended up being extremely glad that I brought my own toilet paper haha...if cross country meets have taught me anything, it's that there's NEVER enough toilet paper when you need it!  Time flew pretty fast and soon enough it was time for the second wave to leave the village.  It was actually kind of chilly at that point, so I reluctantly dropped my gear bag at the bus and we began the walk to the start.

The atmosphere walking the .7 mile to the start line was absolutely electric.  Looking back, that was probably one of my favorite parts of the whole day.  Just an endless sea of runners, everyone bouncing with the nervous energy of standing at the start line of a marathon....gloves and sweatshirts flying to the side of the road everywhere, already people out on their lawns wishing good was really cool.  I made my way to the 16000s corral and soon enough - "5 minutes to the start!" Holy crap. I was quite calm, and a little scared - probably my first indication of things to come, since fear isn't really a great emotion to have on the starting line.   I figured I would be fine once I started running, and soon enough...we were walking, then shuffling, then crossing the fabled start line...26.2 miles of hell had just begun.

The first mile was a pain in the ass. There were just SO MANY PEOPLE and it was just impossible to find any sort of groove.  I kept having to weave around or getting stuck behind groups and it was just annoying having to expend that much energy to find my place in the pack.  I went through the first mile in 8:04 and I figured - ok, that's about right - but it hadn't felt as easy as it should have.  I chalked it up to dealing with the crowds and continued on.

Whoever says that the first half of the course is all downhill is a liar, liar, pants on fire.  There are PLENTY of little rollers to keep you on your toes.  My next 2 miles were 7:43 and 7:51, and go ahead and say it - yes, I probably went out too fast. Hindsight IS 20-20 after all.  At this point though, I was still feeling OK - not fantastic, and like I probably should relax and slow down, but no major issues with the pace yet.  I was still smiling, high fiving kids, and enjoying the shout-outs I got to the "Don't Stop Believin" on the back of my shirt.    I also noticed I was hearing a lot of "Go Wisconsin!" cheers coming from up ahead somewhere....I looked up and saw a Wisconsin team singlet bobbing a few meters in front of me!  I pulled up alongside the girl and we actually had a brief conversation - turns out, she used to run for the team but now does marathons instead, and she actually knows one of my friends from the track club - such a small world of runners!  I pulled ahead, but don't worry, I would see her again before the race was over...mile 4 with that conversation was 7:49.  Again, go ahead and yell.  I think honestly my thought process at this point was one of knowing that things probably were going to go bad pretty shortly, and that if I could hang with this pace now, I might as well buy myself some time for the horrors to come.

Miles 5 and 6 I remember I thought I slowed down, but really they were 8:04 and 8:06.  I was already not feeling great and pretty much knew that 3:30 was out of the question, but I thought holding 8:05-8:10 pace was a solid goal now. I was still having some fun at this point - the crowds were just out of this world, and the whole thing was honestly kind of surreal.  I wasn't feeling bad really, but something was just off - no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't find that pace where you can just lock in, settle down, and let it ride until the later stages of the race.  I couldn't relax and find a groove - and that had me worried. I took a Gu at the 10K which gave me a little bit of a boost, then grabbed some water which I somehow managed to shoot up my nose...that was special haha.  Mile 7 was an 8:05, and that was the last reasonable split I was going to see for the day.  I noticed that my hamstrings were starting to seize up a bit and overall I just was having dead legs - NOT a good feeling to experience 8 miles into a 26.2 mile race.  I tried to slow up the pace a little bit to see if it helped - miles 8 and 9 were 8:16 and 8:13.  Alas, no relief.  The hamstring cramps were only getting worse and just in general - nothing was feeling right.  I had hoped at the start that maybe I just needed awhile to get into the groove, but there was no groove to be found. Suddenly it was looking like it was going to be a very, very long day.

So then, without even trying, I slowed down alarmingly.  When I saw an 8:28 for mile 10 I was not pleased, and the 8:34 that followed had me pretty much freaking out.  It was way, way, WAY too early for me to feel this way! Like, I had to paste on a game face going under the camera at I think the 15K mark...that's bad news bears right there.  I should have been feeling smooth and easy at that point...and the reality was not even close.  So...things were not good, and I was worried.  Then I had 2 miles in Wellesley where I thought for a minute that maybe it was going to come back.  8:10 and 8:09, the cramps mysteriously dissolved, and I was able to ENJOY the miles at Wellesley College..which was a wonderful thing.  My favorite moment of the race for sure.  I grinned the whole time, high fived everyone, laughed at the signs (I won't tell your wife! hah), and actually felt hopeful for the first time in awhile.  Maybe it had just taken me this long to loosen up - maybe things were going to be okay after all...

Orrrr maybe they were not. I came through the half in 1:46 and that was all well and good - I thought to myself hey, even if you slow down a bit from here, you'll still be solid, and yay, now you're on the course that you've run before! Familiar territory, yay!  Mile 14 was 8:13, which I was fine with...and then the wheels really fell off.  All of a sudden, the hamstring cramps were back with a VENGEANCE.  I mean honestly I can't even describe the feeling.  I was immediately struck with just complete terror - the terrain in Wellesley is still pretty forgiving so feeling like this with the big hills still to come? Noooooot good. Around this time, the Wisconsin girl came back up on me and passed me, looking just peachy keen. Damn. Mile 15 I walked through a water stop because I was starting to feel dehydrated and I knew that would only add to my issues if I didn't get some fluids in me - 8:43 for that mile.  Mile 16 was the HUGE downhill which I enjoyed primarily because it took some of the agony off my hamstrings and so I was actually able to maintain a normal pace for awhile - 8:24, and actually feeling OK again at that point.  The crowds were still amazing and I was trying to take the time to enjoy the signs (After 800 miles of training, what's 26.2 more?) and high five some kids, anything to give myself a boost.  But the cramps would. not. stop. I had to walk again through another water stop and so saw my first 9+ mile of the day at 9:15 for mile 17.  And then we came up on the hills...and my stomach absolutely decided to reject everything I had done all morning.  I have NEVER in my life had to stop and use a porta potty during a race, but honestly at this point it was either that or become one of those people with poop running down their legs that you cringe at when you see pictures of them on the internet. [TMI, I know] The fact that I ran a 9:37 with a restroom stop AND the first of the big Newton Hills astounds me - but wow, that was frustrating.

From that point on, it was pretty much a struggle to survive.  My legs were gone beyond the point of repair, my hamstrings scrunched into tiny, death-like balls of pain.  I honestly hardly even remember the Newton Hills.  I was in such an abyss of pain that it was like I was surrounded with a haze, the stabbing in my hamstrings overriding every other stimulus. The irony is that I remember feeling like the hills wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't been for the cramps.  Mile 19 was 8:52 - I bore down a little bit and made myself get through it, but unfortunately that was the last sub-9 mile I would see.  I walked through a water stop right before Heartbreak since again, I was feeling dehydration coming back on top of all of my other problems.  Started running again and was INSTANTLY hit with the most debilitating side cramp I have ever experienced.  Oh my God.  I tried squeezing it, I tried stretching it, I tried to run through it, there was just no way.  I am pretty sure I may have shouted a couple obscenities as it pulled me up to a walk.  This was NOT how this was supposed to be happening!  Why was everything going so. incredibly. wrong?

The cramp subsided a bit but thanks to the extensive walk break it caused mile 20 was an abysmal 9:56.  I had pretty much resigned myself to a run as much as possible/walk when you have to situation at this point and honestly I think I wound up with a better time this way than I would have if I had just tried to continue running.  The pain in my hamstrings was so intense, I can't remember feeling anything vaguely close to that in my life.  From what I can remember outside my bubble of suffering, Boston College was AWESOME.  Loud, drunk college kids make quite a fantastic cheering section, and since it was a downhill I was actually capable of running for awhile, so I tried to soak it in.  I remember one surreal moment when the green line train slowed down so the people on it could watch the runners, so even at my pathetic speed I was beating the train. Mile 21 was a 9:48, walked through a water stop.  God, 5 miles to go.  Every step was a struggle as I made the turn into Cleveland Circle.  The crowds were crazy and it was incredible, and I only wished that I could actually ENJOY this moment instead of being stuck in this God-awful state I was in.  I saw the BF with my amazing dinosaur sign, amazingly I was actually running as I went past him, and the only gesture I could think of to sum up my current state was slapping my hand across my face haha.  I think in sign language that loosely translates to "DISASTER!"  Mile 22 was a 9:30, 23 a 9:39.  I seriously can't believe that my splits were even staying that reasonable considering I actually stopped at the side of the road to stretch out my hamstrings at mile 23, and there was plenty of walking going on during those miles - my effing hamstrings were just spasming and now everything else was starting to go to, in the standard breakdown that is mile 23 of a marathon.

But now there were 3 miles to go, and the crowds were getting more intense, and I was going to be damned if I wasn't going to run as much as was physically possible for this last stretch of the race.  And I tried to just soak it in and find something, anything, to cherish and savor and keep me going.  Then I saw someone handing out icy pops.  THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER TASTED! My body had long since given up on accepting "running" food, Gatorade was making me nauseous and the last Gu I took tasted like sticky death. So this magical, cold, sugary pop was like salvation.  Run, run, run, walk.  Just keep moving forward.  Then suddenly I saw a Wisconsin singlet up ahead.  Seeing this girl again not only brought out the competitor in me, at long last, but it also made me realize - I am not the only one in this situation.  I came up on her and said hi and that I was dying - she responded that she was pretty much the same.  I passed her and that became my carrot on the string for the rest of the race -just stay ahead of Wisconsin girl.

Mile 24 was 9:16, I was forcing myself to run more because come on, come ON, we are almost there. Beacon Street just seemed like it was never going to end.  I was caught in this bizarre spiral where when I would walk, a lot of people would pass me...but I would start running and pass them back.  I knew a PR was gone, that even re-qualifying was gone...all I could do was salvage the end of this race the best I could and try my best to enjoy the moment.  2 miles to go.  The bridge over the highway nearly brought me to tears.  I just had nothing left, anywhere.  Somehow, despite walking up that hill, I found a 9:01 for mile 25.  One. God-forsaken. mile. to go.  And I was not going to walk.  I just would not.  It was the most painful mile I have EVER experienced.  My face was twisted into a grimace, my hamstrings absolutely felt like they were being stabbed with steak knives, and the rest of my legs weren't far behind.  But goddamnit, I was going to run that final stretch.  And I did.  People around me were pumping up the crowds, all I could do was bear down and focus and hope that my legs just didn't suddenly stop under me.  The last stretch down Boylston seemed infinitely long, the finish line like a mirage on the horizon that didn't seem to be getting closer.  But I ran, I ran, I ran, and finally, with an attempt at a smile that I'm sure more closely resembles a grimace and a fist haphazardly thrown in the air, I crossed the finish line. 3:46:48. Done.

And then everything that wasn't already cramped up did.  My lower back.  My stomach.  My calves. My hip flexors.  Everything - spazzing out, complete disaster. In a weird moment of running serendipity, I looked over and saw a guy in brown Vibrams with Luau on his was Matt from DailyMile!  Somehow, despite the fact that he started 11 corrals back from me and the odds of it are ridiculously low, we ended up crossing the finish line at the same time - crazy!  I attempted to talk but eventually just wandered away I think haha.  The chute was just neverending.  Much as I really wanted my space blanket and my medal and my lunchbox of goodies and my Gatorade, mostly I just wanted - NEEDED - to sit down, or do anything to relieve the nuclear war currently being raged in my hamstrings. Eventually I reached the end - got my bag - and started slowly hobbling to the train station. I knew I should eat something, but I also felt like I was going to puke at any given moment - fantastic stuff I know.

After splatting onto my bed for awhile when I got home, I realized I was hungry.  It was weird eating dinner and drinking beer down on Beacon Street where just hours before thousands of people had been running.  The aid stations were gone, the porta potties were being trucked out, a few drunken stragglers playing beer pong were all that was left of the marathon crowds.  And really, it was a little sad.  That letdown after something really big has happened - it's always kind of hard.  A good race tempers it a little bit but it's always still there, somehow.

So that was my Boston Marathon.  I'll probably do some analysis on here in the days to come but this is getting long and Lost is on soon. :) I think, given the circumstances, I have no idea how I even finished in the time I did.  With how bad I felt for such a large percentage of the race, and how much walking I did, the fact that I never cracked 10 minute miles absolutely amazes me.  I can't chalk the race up as a total loss because of that.  But it is hard - mostly frustrating - to KNOW that I was in shape to run 3:30-3:35 based on my training and tune up races...and have this be the result.  There's a quote that "the marathon will humble you" and it's true, especially when you're talking the Boston course.  You never know what will happen on any given day and as I said that's part of what gives the marathon it's mystique.  I am a little bummed that I didn't manage to requalify for next year...yeah...remember when I said this would be my last marathon for awhile? Somehow, despite the fact that that was the most painful experience I've ever put myself through, I have pretty much already decided to train for Baystate again in the fall, ideally to requalify to run Boston again in the spring.  Yes....the marathon has seduced me with its wiles...and looking back on the race achieving the time I did under the circumstances makes me wonder....damn, what could I have done on a GOOD day?  But this is the truth: there will be good days, and there will be bad days.  Yesterday definitely fell under the bad category.  But no one can take my incredible training, the two PRs I gained on the way, or the fact that I'm a Boston Marathon finisher away from me.  And I have no doubt in my mind that I'll be back for more.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Boston Short Recap: Not Even Close

Pretty much had to throw any hopes of a PR and/or 3:30 out the window just wasn't my day today.   Hot damn, it could have been a lot better. But based on the questionable legs starting at mile 5, MAJOR hamstring cramps starting at mile 8, stomach cramps followed by a necessary [but sad] porta potty stop at 18, with continuation of the worst leg cramps I've experienced in my LIFE, I'm impressed I made it in this time.  Full race report to come [if I can actually remember enough outside my abyss of pain to actually write one].  For now all I have to say is this: I DID manage to beat a girl who used to run on the REAL track team for my alma mater [which in my mind is pretty cool], and since I'm a huge masochist, I'm already thinking about Baystate [since I didn't re-qualify, and all I want in life is to suffer massively on the Boston course again and again and again]

Today may not have been my day, but I know what I did in training...and I know what kind of marathon time I've got inside of me.  It's a testament to how much I love this race that less than 2 hours after the most painful, awful, WORST, race of my life, I'm thinking about doing another....

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tik Tok: Boston Marathon Style

This song came on during my last GMP run last night...since it's been one of my training anthems for some reason this cycle, I was inspired to change some of the lyrics to make it more fitting...I'm actually pretty impressed with what I came up with haha. Enjoy!  And yes, I hope to wake up marathon morning feeling like P. Diddy... :)

Wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy
Put my Mizunos on, out the door, I'm gonna hit this city (Let's go)
Before I leave, brush my teeth, Gatorade in my pack
Cause when I leave Boston I've got to run the whole way back

I'm talkin' tech socks on my toes, toes
Skimpy spandex clothes, clothes
Athlete Alert texts on my friends phones, phones

School buses, listening to my favorite tracks
Eating power bars for snacks
The lines for the Porta Potties are staaaacked...

Don't stop, make it pop
Gonna blow my sneakers up this time
I'm gonna fight, til I see that finish line
Tik tok, on the clock, but the race don't stop, no

Oh oh oh oh....oh oh oh oh

Those BC students, they've got plenty of beer
Got my chip in my shoelaces, all the runners are here
And the corrals are lining up, cause we hear they got swagger
Don't wanna hit the curb with that Newton Hills stagger

I'm talkin' everybody goin' fast, fast
Hopin' that they can last, last
Where's the next girl I can pass, pass

Now, now we're goin' twenty six point two
I think I need another Gu....
Think I need another Gu-Gu
Think I need another....

Don't stop, make it pop
Gonna blow my sneakers up this time
I'm gonna fight, til I see that finish line
Tik tok, on the clock, but the race don't stop no

Oh oh oh oh....oh oh oh oh

Boston, you build me up
You break me down
My heart it pounds, yeah you've got me

Up Heartbreak Hill
You've got me now
Got that screaming crowd sound
Yeah you've got me

Ohh, you build me up
You break me down
My heart it pounds, yeah you've got me

We're at the top, put your hands up
Put your hands up...

Now the race don't start til mile 21...

Don't stop, make it pop
Gonna blow my sneakers up this time
I'm gonna fight, til I see that finish line
Tik tok, on the clock but the race don't stop no

Oh oh oh oh....oh oh oh oh

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The rock candy's melted, only diamonds now remain

[Apologies in advance for the extreme ramblings of this is taper, after all....]

For some reason I've had this lyric running through my mind all throughout this taper week.  15 weeks of hard work, aching muscles, tears of joy and frustration, freezing wind, pouring rain, heartache, maybe heartbreak, and finding the point where you thought you just couldn't go on, then going on - to get to the starting line of a marathon, you've fought through these obstacles and the things that once held you back have melted away and you have been forged into something new, something strong, powerful, beautiful. Only diamonds now remain.

The nerves and the excitement have sprung up on me at random and utterly mundane times - walking from the bus stop to work listening to "Living on a Prayer", doing the dishes after dinner - and times that make complete sense - picking out Gu for the race at Marathon Sports, seeing the trappings of the finish line beginning to be constructed on Boylston Street.  I am running the Boston Marathon. The number 16180 [my number!] floats around in my does marathoning in general [I had a crazy dream last night involving being in a start corral by myself at 4 am and having a guy I had a crush on long ago come and give me a pep talk...bizarre.] I haven't been writing here a lot which is surprising because damn, I've sure been thinking about this marathon a lot.  But every time I sit down to write something, I lose the words and the only thought that comes back is I am running the Boston Marathon....and I just don't think typing that out a million times would make for a very interesting blog post.

It's hard for me to explain or even quite figure out for myself why doing this race and doing it well means so much to me.  When I first qualified I wasn't even planning on running, and before a few years ago I doubt I knew that the Boston Marathon existed, let alone that you had to qualify to run it.  I am running it alone, without the motivation and support and push to perform that running with a team has given me throughout my entire running career up until this point.  In a way, I think that's just it - this is the first race that I've ever trained for, and will be running, completely alone. No teammates, no friends - just me versus the road, my mind and heart versus my legs and the weather and the Newton hills.  Getting through this training cycle alone has given me a strength that I'm not sure I would have found otherwise. As I once told my dad when he asked me if I ever went to church anymore, there's plenty of time on a 23 mile run to contemplate religion - and not only religion but me - who I am, what makes me do what I do - I have learned so much about myself.  And I've learned enough to know that I can and I will run an amazing race on Monday - and when I do, I really won't be alone.  My teammates, family, friends, and even rivals, who all, in some way, have been important in allowing me to get to a place where I actually AM capable of something like this - there will be a part of all of them with me as I run from Hopkinton to Boylston.

There is another reason I have come to realize too, and it's probably going to sound silly, but hey, it's the truth.  By blogging standards I think I'm on the young end at 22, and I have a whole lifetime of training and racing ahead of me.  But since I just graduated from college I've kind of seen the past year as an "end of an era" - the era in which I've gone from a 100 meter hurdler to a marathoner - crazy, right?  As my events have changed I've changed as a person as well, but there are things in my high school past that have never quite escaped me - namely, my constant fear [which was sometimes made reality] of not being 'good enough'.  I could tell stories about this from all over the map of my high school hobbies - getting cut from the top tier of dances in my competitive dance program, not getting the best and most prestigious scholarships, blah blah blah.  But running-wise, what it all comes back to is this: my senior year of high school, the only thing I wanted in the world was to make it to state in the 100 meter hurdles.  I trained my ass off, joined cross country to work on my endurance, ran some fantastic times, made the state honor roll, won the indoor conference championship....and then tripped out of the blocks at sectionals, costing myself precious tenths of a second and missing qualifying by 2 places.  I. was. devastated.  I felt like I let down my team, my coach, myself...It seems so silly in retrospect that I honestly can't remember being more depressed about anything in my life than not qualifying for a big high school track meet.  But the sting of that defeat, combined with the fact that once I started running distance I found that I'd maybe been doing the wrong event all along - has given me this unconscious motivation to be better than okay at running - I want to be great. I want to make it.

And I think in the end, that's why I am so beyond pumped about running Boston.  Because Boston means I made it. Boston means I am not average, Boston means I never settled, Boston means I refused to give up, Boston means I am stronger, better, more than I ever believed I could be.  And Boston is only the beginning.

Only diamonds now remain...4 days. BRING IT, BOSTON!

Monday, April 05, 2010

It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes, and leap

So here we are - 2 weeks until time flies when you're training for a marathon!  Weeks and months of endless miles, speedwork, long runs in every bizarre weather condition imaginable [freezing cold? check. monsoon? check. 70 and blazing sun? check.] - the hard work is all behind me and now it's just the one huge question burning in my mind: can I do this?

I feel like most runners probably experience the doubt that seems to appear in the days and weeks leading up to a big race.  I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I trained harder and better for this race than I've ever trained for any other in my life.  But during taper all of the random insecurities creep in...will I be able to execute on race day? Did I REALLY train as well as I thought I did? And of course, the big one: can I REALLY PR by almost 10 minutes on a much harder course than Baystate?

I guess I'll just put it out there: I want to go sub-3:30 in 2 weeks.  Actually writing that out is terrifying to me - I think I often have goals in my head but I never put them out there because I'm worried that they'll seem overly lofty or ridiculous, and actually having a number on paper to chase makes me put infinitely more pressure on myself to achieve it [and thus, much greater disappointment if I don't]  But here are the things I know: both my 10K and HM performances during this cycle predict a 3:27 marathon according to the McMillan calculator, and the training I've done has put me in the best possible position to achieve that time.  It seems so simple.  I don't think at all that this is a crazy or random goal - I think with the way my training has been going I would be selling myself short if I "only" was shooting for a PR or say a 3:35 [and obviously, I wouldn't be unhappy about either of those...that's just not the A goal]

Why does it scare me so much to go for this time? I think it's the whole high risk/high reward situation - like, it's entirely possible [and frightening] that I could go out on pace for 3:30 and then have disaster strike in the Newton Hills and come shuffling into the finish - I don't want that. But at the same time, there's no way in hell I want to finish and feel like I could have run faster.  I am fairly confident that this is going to be my last marathon for awhile [though I will admit, I am slightly addicted to the training and living in Boston makes it quite tempting to want to do this again year after year, masochist that I am...] and it's the freaking Boston marathon. At this point, I think I have to take the risk, see what happens, and regardless of what DOES happen, look back on it with no regrets and know I left it all out on the course.  I think my problem is I'm still not used to thinking of myself as a decent-good runner and setting a goal that's maybe slightly out of my comfort zone scares the crap out of me.  I am trying to come to terms with the fact that if I really want to go for it and run a fast time, there are probably going to be points in the race that are going to hurt.  A lot. But I need to trust in my training and KNOW that I've put in the work to run this time and make it happen on the course.

Hmm well needless to say I'm getting quite nervous and excited for the race.  I'm really happy that I forced myself to do a bunch of long runs out on the course - seriously, I know every bend and up and down of those damn Newton Hills.  My last "long" run on Sunday was 17 on the course and it went pretty well.  The heat definitely got to me - hello, 70 degrees, where did you come from? And would you kindly go away until AFTER the marathon? I was doing pretty well until the way back, just after cresting Heartbreak, and I was looking ahead to crossing the street, when BAM, I stepped in a pothole and rolled my ankle bad.  Totally lost all of my momentum after that - and my foot is still bugging me a little bit, though not enough to really be worrisome, just another thing to freak out about during taper, obviously.  After that, my hamstrings and glutes decided they wanted to join in the painful fun and cramp up like it was their job in life - SO awful! I kept trying to slow down since I knew I was being an idiot as usual and running closer to GMP pace than long run pace...but nothing really helped the little balls of pain that my hamstrings had turned into - it was AWFUL.  Definitely a result of the heat/dehydration - if it's anything that even resembles warm on April 19, I am going to have to work my butt off to stay hydrated, because hot weather + me = disaster waiting to happen.  All in all the fact that I got through it at around GMP while really not having a good day at all was heartening [although it was nothing compared to the excitement of my crazy-ass 23 miler the week before...good lord.]

It's funny because I was just looking back at my entries from before Baystate and there's one from 2 weeks out that is REALLY similar to this one - basically contemplating strategy and what kind of time I thought I could run...except with the goal pace being 20 seconds different haha. It's weird being back again so soon to pre-marathon taper madness...literally, this damn race is on my mind every minute of the day. 2 nights ago literally the last thing I thought about before falling asleep was what 3 flavors of Gu I wanted to buy for the race [I think I've decided on Chocolate Outrage, Mint Chocolate, and Tri-Berry]. I'm geeking out over what pair of shorts I want to wear. Aaah and now I'm getting myself all fired up, and I need to actually get some sleep before work in the morning, so I think I should just stop while I can still form coherent sentences haha.