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.


Running and living said...

I am with you, the cooler the temps the better. I have my best races in the winter. Sorry Boston did not go as planned. But, there is always next year! Plus, I bet you can go sub 3 before then:)

Ironman By Thirty said...

It sure is tough when Mother Nature throws a curve ball like that. Still, you had a great race even if you didn't hit your goal time.

How did you end up liking the Kinvara after 26 miles? It took me a good 2 or 3 weeks of building my mileage up in them before I was ready to go the distance with them.

Jessie said...

Great recap! I Love my kinvaras, but have been wondering if I was going to marathon train in them or the mirage. They are essentially the same shoe.. Ones just got a little more arch support. Sorry about the sun... I will find myself retreating to my home town in the U.P this summer while marathon training... Hopefully Chicago will be nice to me this year! Well, sorry about the 12 min but you have great perspective and you have a lot to be proud of..... Glad the vaca part of the trip was awesome... AND the kiss photo was epic! LOVE IT! You too are so cute!

Jen said...

Great race recap. I hate when the sun shoes up too. But I would KILL for a 3:14.... just say'in.

Sun Runner said...

All morning I did
the work I love.

I'm so pleased that you enjoyed yourself despite falling a wee bit short of the big goal. Because that's why we do this, in the end---we do the work we love, and we love the work we do (even when it doesn't always love us back).

I was keeping track of your progress online and with the Redhead. It wasn't quite the same as being there, but it was enough. :)

Kandi said...

Sounds like you have great perspective! Great race. I'm glad you listened to your body and didn't push it when your heart was racing and you felt overheated. I know that feeling all too well and it sucks.

Nitmos said...

That's a solid race on a tough course! Congrats, again. Now, welcome back to rain and 40 degrees. Perfect training weather.

Morgan said...

I am so proud of you and although it wasn't everything you hoped it would be, you still made the most of it. I know you have it within you to go even faster and can't wait to be there when you do.

Love always,

Your #1 Supporter

Caroline said...

Nice recap and congrats on being of the Boston runners that is something to be proud of.
I also prefer cooler temp. I do very bad in the heat, very very bad and I live in Southern that is not good for me!!!

Run Jess Run said...

I totally would have jumped up and down like a giggling schoolgirl if I saw Desi. The phrases "You're awesome" and "I totally ran the same race as you" would have also slipped out of my mouth.

Linda said...

The sun bites. But sounds like you did a great job, and had wonderful support too!

Steel Springs said...

Congratulations on your Boston finish and an excellent time! I'm sorry that the weather messed with you. Sunburn weather is definitely not ideal for a marathon. Overall, though, it sounds like you had a great experience.

Ulyana said...

Hello! I'm new to your blog! Congrats on doing Boston and on finishing it well! I'm with others - you did a great job, that's an excellent time!!! Congrats!

Paul said...

Spike. Well done man on another Boston finish. As for the weather - bummer! But hey, as far as I can see you had as great a race as the conditions allowed. More importantly you seem to have the right mental approach to dealing with this. The great thing about lofty goals is they keep us striving for better. Maybe next year you'll see the clock with the "2" in the hours! Cheers, PB

B.o.B. said...

Great recap Spike. You did great and although you didn't reach your goal time, I'm happy to see you are happy with the race.

Joanne said...

Great job. You had a good run. I only felt the heat in a couple of spots so it didn't get to me. It was my first Boston and it was a blast!
Hope I can be as happy with my next one as you are. :)

Adam said...

Way to go on the race. You said it - if you can run a bad race and still get that kind of time then you know that you are certainly in shape.

I heard of a lot of people that had trouble with the heat even though it wasn't that "hot". I think you're right, the sun was killer.