Friday, February 24, 2012

The Road to Boston(Part 1B-1990)

   I was going to describe my 1st Boston in one word but I decided it would take two: Total Intimidation! I was intimidated from the time I got on the plane at DFW on Sat. till the time I got back off the plane on Tue. The funny thing is the intimidation did not start until I was waiting on the plane but when it started it was there to stay.
   We all headed to DFW that morning and everything was fine. Mary and Jessica had borrowed a van and were taking me there so it was all cool. I was ready because my actual training had gone good. I had run more miles and faster miles. My race times were even better than before White Rock-I was ready(or so I thought). Did I mention that Boston was only my 2nd marathon and more important did I mention that this was only the 2nd time ever I had been on a plane that actually flew. Of course when we got to the airport the plane had mechanical problems and we had a several hour delay. Finally we boarded  and I was off to Boston-Mary couldn't go this time because we were financially challenged at that time and only one of us could go and we decided since I was the one that qualified it would be me!
   Landed in Boston late Sat. nite and made it to my hotel where luckily for me, my brother Steve was waiting for me. He lives in New York and took the train down. It was great!! This year Boston fell on Easter weekend and the only thing close to our hotel that was open to eat was a McDonalds so here I am 2 nites before the biggest race in my life eating a grilled chicken sandwhich at MickeyD's.
   Sunday morning we went to pick up my packet and this is where the intimidation really set in. I mean I thought I was bad-qualified for Boston on my 1st try and ran a 2:52. The problem was everyone I seem to talk to ran faster than I did and there were so many of them. The biggest race I had ever run in had 3200 runners-Lord there were that many on one side of the expo and they had to all be faster than me. Speaking of Expo-it was my 1st(in those days at WR you just picked your # up at Lukes on Oak Lawn or you picked it up race day-no expo). I just wandered around in awe like the small town hick that I was(and still am). Really didn't buy much probably because didn't have much money and truthfully I just wasn;t sure how the whole thing worked.
   That afternoon we finally got into Cheers. It was at full capacity and we had to wait in line for a while. The show was at it's height in popularity and the in place to be on Easter Sunday in Boston. I was able to buy a "Cheers" shirt for Jessica and she still has it. That night I went to the pre-race carbo dinner and was lucky enough to meet Bill Rodgers there for the 1st time. What a great champion! Of course I met more runners who were faster than me(i'm sure there were some there slower than me-I just didn't meet any of them).
   Race morning finally got here. I got up early got ready told Steve I would meet him at the family area under "C"-Duh!I walked to the Boston Common and got on the bus for the 26 mile drive out to Hopkinton to the Athletes Village so I could sit for 3 hrs. waiting on the race to start. Nervous doesn't begin to do justice to how I felt. I just wanted to get started and use some of my nervous energy for something constructive. Finally we started walking for our corrals(which was also my first experience with corrals.) I really was a newbie.
   Now came the easy part: The race started and I finally had some control over what I was doing. My plan was to run the race just like I did at WR and everything would be okay. Well guess what: It didn't happen. It seemed like to me the effort was there but my pace was a little slower. It was basically the 1st I had ever experienced navigating thru crowds of runners,It is hard to remember a lot of the details of this race because it has been 22 yrs. since I ran it and my mind has done its best to forget some of it. I do remember the crowds and how excited and how many people there were along the streets. It was totally unbelievable to me.
   I had a good pace thru 20 miles but it all fell apart after I came out of the Newton Hills(Heartbreak Hill being the last of the 3). One minute I was fine and the next minute going downhill my quads were in excruiating pain-I mean bring on the tears pain. At one time it hurt so bad I wasn't sure I could finish. I did make it across the finish line and I can honestly say that moment dwarfed anything else in sports that I had ever done. The pain, the tiredness, all the struggles the were all worth it when they hung that finishers medal around my neck. I was a Boston Marathon finisher.
    A side note: this was the first time the defending Olympic champion had won Boston. Both Gerlindo Bordin-mens and Rosa Mota-womens olympic champions won there respective races. Also 40 yr. old John Campbell  ran a 2:11:04 to break the masters world record I was 40 also and was only an hour behind him. I ran a 3:11 which was not as fast as I wanted but as good as I was able on this day.
  Steve met me at the family meeting area and we made it back to the hotel where I called Mary and told her all about the race. This was the old days: no chips-no tracking just calling when you got a chance. This is why in all the older pictures everyone is looking at the clock and stopping their watches right on the finish line. The thing I do remember most about this race is getting back to the hotel and taking my shoes off. Couldn't figure out why my socks were so bloody. I took them off and two toenails came with them. Never have worn shoes that might have too many miles on them since this race.
    I apologize for such a long post but believe me I cut out a lot. Next month: Boston 2000.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Uphill Against the Wind Both Ways(or Austin Recap)

   Ok so there wasn't any wind(thank goodness) but it was definitely uphill both ways.That said let me also add that it was a great race. Everything from the weather to the crowds made this a very enjoyable experience plus I had several other bonuses that made this race one I will remember for a while(not just for the hills).
    I could go on and on about the Fri. 5 pm Austin traffic but if you have been there you know what it's like and if you haven't then you should go sometime!!! Needless to say once we got to our hotel which was right downtown we ordered in and I just rested. The next morning I slept in, rested, had a big pre-race breakfast and went to do one of my favorite things ever. EXPOOOOO! Added to this was the fact that I met good friend Manny Samaniego at the expo and we had a great visit.
    Saturday afternoon was here and of course the weather was nasty. It was raining off and on but the forecast still called for sunshine on Sunday. Weather didn't really matter because we met my cousin Jeff Hayes for lunch and just a special family time visit. This made the weekend trip a success no matter how the run turned out on Sunday.
   Now down to the nitty gritty-race morning dawned and just as predicted sunshine and 45 degree weather-perfect.Our hotel was walking distance to the start and finish so I just got ready and headed out. I had studied this course elevation and pretty much had a race plan. I looked for the 3:25 marathon pace group and started out with them.
   My plan was to run with them for the 1st 5k and then starting picking up the pace as much as I could thru the 15k mark. Very simple reasoning: the worst hills were in the 1st miles and the you could make up some time in the middle of the race. Now when I say worst hills I just mean more of them as you will see later. I knew coming back over the bridge at mile 8 I had achance to run a good time if I didn't fall apart. Mary was waiting for me at mile 8.5 and seeing her gave me a big boost(as always) and I felt like I was ready for those last 4 miles.
   I hit the hills around mile 10 and made it thru them okay and still thought I was running good. I wasn't really looking at my watch because sometimes you just know when it's your day. I was okay thru mile 11 and then coming to the top of a hill close to mile 12 I saw it-the hill Jessica told me about. No it wasn't the highest hill on the course(there were several higher)-It was just stinking straight up. You were running downhill toward it so you could watch all the other runners ahead of you struggling to get up this hill-not a good feeling. I would like to say I ran up it strong but I can't-I struggled with it.
    I did make it to the top and then thru several more but then we hit the finishers chute and I knew I had it made, just run to the end. As I made the turn down Congress I heard that "Run Tony Run" that I have been hearing for so many years. It never sounded better!! I finished with an official time of 1:40.28-my best time since I was in my 50's.
     I know my ultimate goal is to run a sub 1:40 half but I can't be upset that I didn't make it this week. I had only hope to run close to what I did in Houston but I was 2 1/2 min. faster on a much tougher course. I am sure I have run races this good before but I just can't remember one right now especially when you consider the course and my age. I have 2 halfs left before Boston and I'm convinced I can get that sub 1:40 at one if not both of them. That's my new goal!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Road to Boston(part 1A)

   Two things come to mind when I realize that Boston is now less than 10 weeks away. 1st is: Do I have enough time to train so this will not be a miserable experience, 2nd is: I can't believe I'm really doing this again-not because it's 26.2 mi. but because I never ever expected to run it again(or any other marathon for that matter). About the time I was thinking about retiring from racing anything further than a 10K, my daughter Jessica took up running with Team in Training. I decide to run her 1st half with her and her determination and courage during that race showed me how much I missed running or racing.
    After that race I decided I could run another marathon and made White Rock Marathon my goal for the next year. White Rock not Boston was my goal because I wasn't sure how my knee would react to that many miles being put on it. I know my Dr. said it would tell me when it was time to stop, I just didn't want it to tell me this when I was 10 mi. from the house. Training went well and outside of a few knee swelling incidents(which frozen peas took care of) I felt like I was ready for the race.
   Race day came and for me I couldn't have asked for a better day. It was cold and I know for 1st time marathoners who were in the back corrals it was probably miserable. I had a good corral and knew I wouldn't be standing around long. Past marathon experience told me that the weather was working in my favor. Standing in the corral I bumped into one of my best fiends from high school so we had a mini-reunion waiting on the start. He asked me what I wanted to run and when I told him 3:45 his comment was "Great because 4 hrs. gets us into Boston." Hank was only running the 1/2 this day but it's a funny thing about marathoners,they always seem to know what it takes for their age group to get them into Boston.
   Showtime was here. I told Mary I loved her-Mary told me to run with big boys-just like we have been doing since my first marathon in 1989. The gun sounded and we were off. My race plan was simple: go out conservative thru the 1st 8 mi. which were up and down, make up time during the middle of the race which is flat and down hill and after 20 get thru the Dolly Parton hills with minimal damage and run to the finish the best I could and hope like hell it was good enough. It was: I ran a 3:41:51 which was over 3 min. faster than what I was shooting for. I guess you could say this was my over 60 pr(you know what I'm talking about-Jessica).
  I'm not sure who but someone asked me after the race if I qualified for Boston and all I could say was "Oh Yea". I still really wasn't thinking about going to Boston but sometimes knowing you qualified is just as important.  I guess every marathon I ever run qualifying for Boston has been on my mind, sometimes it was for the runners I was pacing but for me it was always there. Even if I had no intention of going I always wanted to qualify.
   As far as when I officialy decided I was going, it was April 18, 2011. After following the womens and mens race on the computer I knew I had to go. I was so caught up in the excitement I knew that if I didn't at least send in my entry I would never forgive myself. I wanted to be part of that excitement. As much as I enjoyed(sorta) my other Boston's this is one that I will cherish forever!
     Next week: The Road to Boston (part 1B)-Boston 1990.