Thursday, April 21, 2011

Otherwise: All Things Go

I got out of bed

on two string legs.

It might have been


This Boston couldn’t have been any more different for me than last year’s Boston. The preparation for this Boston was significantly better than last year (see 3 runs last April compared to three runs the week of the marathon). I can honestly say I’m in better shape than I’ve even been for any of my previous marathons. My training was ambitious, and my goal was equally lofty (for me).

And yet, this year’s Boston is so similar to last year’s in one very important way: Weather. Last year the weather in Boston for the days leading up to the race were cloudy and rainy and in the 40s. Then race day came and so did temps in the 60s. Now, I know some people think sunny and high 50s going into the mid 60s is perfect racing weather—but it all depends on what side of the Mason-Dixon line you live on. For me, that kind of weather spells overheating and cramps.

This year the weather before the race was cloudy and rainy and windy and 40s or mid 50s. And again, on race day the weather was sunny and going into the 60s. I will admit I was disappointed to see this, but I wasn’t going to allow that to prevent me from trying to run my race. As a runner, you try to control so many things; but you can never control the weather (and if you can, than you and I need to have a little chat!). You train for months. You wake up on race day and you take what is given. Regardless, you give your best.

Last year on the bus ride out to Hopkinton I was nervous, anxious, and uneasy. This year I made a special playlist of awesome pre-race songs to get me into the zone. Also, because this is the kind of thing I do, I decided to run the marathon in a pair of Saucony Kinvara’s. They are significantly lighter than my Asics 2150s and, seeing how I am a midfoot striker, I wouldn’t have a problem moving to a more minimalist shoe. If you don’t recall me talking about these new shoes it is because I bought them 8 days before the marathon. I had about 15 miles on those kicks before I laced them up for 26.2. Needless to say, the Redhead strongly opposed this decision, which is why I didn’t tell her I was going to race in them.

This year, several amazing things happened. First, by chance, I got to meet the guy who was on his 45th consecutive Boston Marathon—the longest active streak of any runner. He was extremely nice and very relaxed for the race. I guess 45 will give you some level of comfort. I also saw Ryan Hall doing sprint outs before I went into my coral.

At the starting line the excitement was unbelievable. Thousands of runners were there to go rock it. I was ready. And so was the angry sun. It is sometimes hard to explain to non-runners why running under a blazing sun is so difficult, even if the temps are mild. So, typically, I just show them the sunburn I received while running under the hot sun. I got burned again this year despite wearing a shirt and hat. The Redhead likewise got burned from spectating. My body was just not prepared or adapted to running in the 60s. Every long run (and all runs but one) were in 40 degrees or below. Most were below 30.

I trained to run at 10am. I did each long run at 10am. I was not trying to avoid the sun and noon heat. Only, here in Michigan, it just never hit spring. In fact, it snowed where we live on Monday.

But, back to the starting line, I took the first mile slow, a 7:15. Then I just relaxed and never looked at my watch again until the half. A 1:30ish half. Right on pace. But at mile 10, well before the maniac screams of Wellesley, I knew my body was working hard to keep my effort. At every water station I took one water to dump on my head, then another to drink as much of as possible. I easily consumed over 60ozs of water on the course. I was hydrated and, for the first marathon ever, didn’t suffer calf cramps. My only regret is not wrapping my body in Arctic-Ease.

Soon I was making the 90 degree turn that signals the start of the Newton Hills. I ran those true, but my pace was slowing. Still, I ran every step up those hills. Sadly, by mile 22, I felt like my heart was going to explode out of my chest. I was overheating. I hit a water station and walked through. I did this a few more times over the last five miles. No matter what I tried, I just couldn’t get my body to cool down sufficiently enough to resume my desired pace. On a day where so many had amazing and record breaking times, this weather was too much for my pasty self.

But, I was still having a wonderful time. I never felt angry or frustrated. I knew I would be rounding onto Boylston soon and I would be giving the Redhead a huge kiss. After frantically looking for her on my ‘runner left’ (outside of Trader Joes) I told her how much I love her and I motored home for a 3:14:xx.

This is a good time. Although it is about 12 minutes slower than what I wanted. I do feel a bit like I had a bad race. Unlike Grand Rapids, there is almost no shade on the Boston Marathon course, so I couldn’t forestall the effects of the angry race day sun. I had a bad race but I still managed to run a good time. This only goes to show how prepared for this race I was.

So, another Boston; another ‘perfect’ race day. Another marathon race day where the sun shows up and cooks me like a lobster—and equally unwilling. This is the marathon. This is the reality of life. There is only so much you can control. But you can always control your outlook and attitude. I loved this Boston. I gave everything I had to try and reach my goal. I’m proud, even if I didn’t accomplish a specific time. There is no loss of joy because I was 12 minutes slower that I wanted. There are only wonderful memories of another trip with the Redhead. A game at Fenway in the freezing cold. Going to the Fine Arts Museum for the very first time—again. Walking in the rain to get cupcakes in Beacon Hill after date night. And, of course, a sexy kiss somewhere after mile 26—which was probably an additional six to seven minutes added to my time.

Lastly, back home in the D I walked over to the conveyer belt to grab the jumbo suitcase the Redhead and I shared during our trip. Alone, as all other passengers had already grabbed their belongings and departed, I noticed a Hansons/Brooks bag circling. Moments later Desiree and her husband walked up to grab their belongings. I told her how amazing she did and how proud everyone was of her. She then asked how my race was (I was sporting the marathon jacket). We talked for a few more minutes and then she was off. Sadly, I didn’t ask her if she got any of the free water they had at the finish line.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Nothing To Do But To Do It

Meet the lazy Nothing-Doings,

All they do is stand around,

When it’s time for doing nothing,

Nothing-Doings can be found,

When it’s time for doing something,

You won’t find a single one,

Guess what Nothing-Doings! Our date is for later next week. For I have a few more days of doing things before I do the big something.

Goals: I want to average a sub 7:00/M average; although I would be happy if I managed to run a sub 3:05. Regardless, I will run with heart and joy.

The time is now to lock in and do something. There is always time for doing nothing later on…

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Thanks everyone for the positive vibes. I'll post again before the race and give my goals...likely tomorrow. Also, thanks Sun Runner for continuing the poem...I was beginning to think nobody would notice the National Poetry Month theme I have going.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical... Less than one week. Hummm. Every run last week was a fail. My tempo run was nowhere near close to my goal. Worse, my final long run was a disaster—a 9M run at marathon pace. The week before I did 13.4 miles at MP -4 seconds per mile and felt amazing. This week I was never into my run even though I was ahead of pace at mile 4 and even at mile 5. For some reason I was never emotionally involved in the run. At mile seven I should have been able to pick up the pace and get even. Instead I had my slowest mile. I ended the run at MP +3 per mile, or about 30 seconds behind my goal. Phfffffttttt. And here is the point. If you take any long run for granted, the odds you will be able to rally out of a poor run are slim. Which is strange, because there are several levels of emotional involvement to a run. Most times my emotional state is focused and with a slight edge. Sometimes I just find myself going through the motions. I'd like to tell you that I've never stepped to a starting line without being fully engaged emotionally; but I have. I try not to, but sometimes it happens. Even at big races. Does this leave me worried? Honestly. Not really. In less than a week I'll do everything I can to be emotionally fired up. So, when the jets fly over and the gun sounds, I'll be ready to stomp on the throat that is the Boston Marathon.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Green Wheelbarrow

so much depends

how you decide to look at life. I for one have decided that being a State Farm Insurance representative has to be the worst job ever. Seriously. I used to believe SF employees were like all other insurance employees and worked a regular 9 to 5. Wrong. Apparently, SF has been bestowed with Genie like powers which it passes along to its authorized agents; thereby allowing its agents to grant wild whims for idiotic customers.

Seems you can make your automobile mishap into an 'anything I ever wanted or desired' fantasy. Want a sexier significant other and Bob Parker to relax in your new hot tub while LeBron James plays a tiny violin? Your SF agent can make it happen. Get fired from a job-- just go crash your can and you can magically have your SF agent appear and command them to eliminate your boss while also delivering the girl from apartment 4F into your arms. Yep, that isn't at all slightly frighting.

Worse. Can you even imagine the stress you would constantly live under if you were a SF agent? It is 2am and you are sound asleep; but somewhere a client gets into an accident. Poof, you are whooshed out of bed to...what Seems SF expects its employees to work around the clock. Seriously, I would be afraid to go to the bathroom; heaven forbid you are taking your time on a solid number two when *POOF* you are whooshed away. And there you are, god knows where, scrambling to get your pants up. Then you are expected to smile and begin assessing the damage.

Away on a family vacation; better hope every single one of your customers knows it. Otherwise you could be whisked away from your family and the beach only to find yourself in a crappy car being attacked by rabid buffalo. As an employment attorney, I strongly suggest you read the fine print before you become a SF agent.

Yep, taper has me a little on edge...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Running by Woods on a Windy Evening

but miles to go before I sleep
but miles to go before I sleep

My training program schedules a 13M run two weeks before the real race. It is supposed to be a marathon pace run; basically a tune-up race. I love to find a half and make this a dress rehearsal. So, the Redhead and I headed down past woods that are lovely, dark, and deep; to participate in the Martian Invasion of Races. Below we are at the expo with a new friend.

At the expo, we met up with several other wonderful bloggers. I always love meeting other bloggers and getting all nerdy about running with them! Sadly, soon we were off for some dinner and then to the hotel. (I'll let the Redhead talk more about the blogger meet-ups while I try to focus on my race report).

On the morning of the race, I had to carry a few things for the Super Spectator. Yep, everything but a purse. The pre-race hours flew by as several fellow bloggers who were getting ready to run either the full, the 10K, or the half like me came over to say 'Hello.'

The weather was perfect, sunny and mid 30s. As usual, I was running a bit behind and I had to sneak into the throng of runners seconds before the start. BANG! I was off, running easy and doing everything I could to stay on pace. And I was on, staying within 5 seconds of my pace for each of the first six miles. But mile six was +5, and I made the major mistake of trying to pick up lost time in one mile. Causing mile 7 to be -15 seconds. I should have slowed down. I told myself to slow down. I didn't slow down. I went -12 for mile 8. Crap.

Worse, I began noticing my Garmin was sounding off early, way early for miles 7 and 8. Strange I thought, I was dead on for the first six. Humm... But I had to focus on trying to slow down. F--A--I--L. I went -5 for mile 9, -5 for mile 10, -5 for mile 11, +2 (better) for mile 12, and -7 for mile 13. This may not seem like a lot. But when you add them with much-too-fast miles 7 and 8, I was about 40 seconds fast for my race goal.

Now to pick back up on that Garmin discrepancy. As I got to mile 12 I was sure the mile markers were off by .3M. So, at 13.1M I hit the lap button to get an accurate 'half' time. Then finished the 'free mileage' they were so kind enough to secretly give us runners. When I was done, I asked other runners if they found the course was long, and they all said yes. (To be fair, very quickly after the race the race directors responded on their Facebook page by acknowledging the course was long and that times for the 13.1 will be based on your average pace.)

Despite being further than I expected, it was still a great race and I was pleased with the result.

Afterward, fellow bloggers joined to discuss running and to eat. While there I was able to meet several additional wonderful bloggers and I harassed Bill until he finally could take no more and left. Sorry Bill, you rock and I annoy people I like. Just ask the Redhead.

Finally, a special 'Thank You!' to the Redhead! She was an amazing fan and spectator even though we all know it was killing her to not be out there running with us. Don't worry, when you get better I'll watch you run as often as I can. I'll cheer for you even if you are doing a 4M training run on a treadmill.