Saturday, April 21, 2012

Running on Empty(Again)

   I'm not sure how to write this blog so I thought I would just go day by day of our trip to Boston and the race! I will warn you in advance that this will probably be a long post!

Day 1 Fri. Apr. 13: Yes that's right we flew out on Friday the 13th! I was assuming this was a good omen because after spending the night at an airport hotel we made it to DFW in plenty of time and boarded the plane right on schedule. We were in the air and everything was going good until I discovered the vision in my right I was blurry, couldn't see a thing. For those that don't know I had cararact surgery in Nov. and until now no problems. As soon as we got settled in Mary called my optometrist(after letting the kids know we were here safe).  Since I was in no pain Dr. Richardson said it was ok for me to run(actually she said a lot more than that but ultimately left the decision up to me). The problem is fixable so that part is ok.
   The rest of the afternoon, we just walked around Boylston and Newberry St. (You know-right on Newberry, left on Boylston-to the finish).We had pizza at this great sidewalk cafe Sonsies and then walked to the finish line area. Later that evening we taxied over to the Faneuil Hall area to soak up some history and atmosphere. Of course I had to go to the Bill Rodgers Running Center and buy something for me and Jessica-it was the right thing to do!

Day 2 Sat. Apr. 14: 1st thing I did this morning was to go for an easy run. I ran down to Commonwealth Ave. and to the "Citco Sign"-1 mi. from the finish and one mi. from our hotel. That done it was EXPO time! So much merchandise-so little time. Yes I spent way to much and no I didn't need everything I bought but in my mind I needed  it! It was a great expo and I got some great stuff and great stuff for Jessica and the kids. I was there for over two hrs and could have stayed longer. After we left the expo we walked over to where Karhu had a trailer set up and I got to visit with Meagan Nedlo(who I was lucky enough to be able to coach when she was in high school). Meagan ran in the Olympic Marathon trials in Houston and was 49th(awesome). I also met the 1972 Boston Marathon Champion Olavi Suomalainen from Finland.
   Everywhere we went the main topic of conversation was the heat and temps. for the race on Monday. It's all everyone was talking about. I had planned on just putting it out of my mind and only deal with it on race day but that was impossible.
   Saturday afternoon it was time for me to fulfill a dream come true. I was going to Fenway Park to see a baseball game. No I'm not a Red Sox fan(although I don't dislike the team) I'm a baseball junkie who was going to see a 100 yr. old baseball shrine. It was an awesome experience made so partly by the Sox fan sitting next to me. He kept Mary and I entertained almost the entire game. He yelled at the left fielder all game and had the crowd chanting too. As soon as they quit serving his favorite beverage he left after the 8th inning. I did find lots of stuff for me, Jeffrey, Jeff, and Grant. After the game we found another great place to eat(reoccuring theme) along Boylston St. and watched the Sox fans party after the victory from our sidewalk table.

Day 3 Sun. Apr. 15: I started out this day with an easy run from our hotel to the finish line on Boylston and back(1 mi. total). I saw the finish of the BAA 5k and got to see Meagan finishing. Today was a rest day for me so not much was planned. Mary and I rode the trolley tour that morning and the I went back to the hotel while she rode some more and shopped! 
   I spent the rest of the afternoon resting and getting my gear ready for the big day on Mon.As i was laying around watching tv and scanning fb again the heat was on everyones mind. This is when I 1st heard about the defferments being offered by the BAA. If you felt like the heat was going to be too much they would let you defer till next year. You would not get your money back and would have to pay next years entry fee but you had a guaranteed entry in next years race. In my case this was a no go! It wasn't the money but the fact that I had invested 6 mo. of my life planning and training for this race and who knows whar will happen in the next year. I was ready and heat or hills were not going to make me back down(or so I told myself). If you were running the race the BAA was going to do everything in their power for you to make it to the finish line safely(and they did.)
   We had my pre-race meal in the hotel andso I was able to carbo-load relatively stress free and went back to the room for an early lights out. Of course I couldn't go to sleep and when I did I woke up almost every hour( which is fairly routine for me).

Day 4 Mon. April 16:  Race Day has arrived! I got early of course because I was walking to the bus pickup on Boston Common(1 mi.). It was an easy walk down Boylston and as we walked under the finish line banner I had someone take my picture so at least once that day I would be smiling here. I did notice that it was already warm at 6 that morning(not a good sign). It seemed like every runner had the heat on their mind.
   We loaded on the buses to head out to Hopkinton and this was not an easy task with thousands of runners trying to load on school buses that were running 25 at a time back and forth from Boston to Hopkinton. I finally made it to the Athletes Village and then it was time to sit and wait some more. I always like this part of the race because you get to meet runners from all over the world. Today I did not like it as much because I was already sweating(another bad sign). Up to this point everything was going good but things have a way of turning around fast.
   Things started to go south when they started calling the waves and corrals to go to baggage check and check their race bags(mine had ripped and was being held together with duct tape given to me by the hotel). It seems that we had a bottleneck on our wave and corral and it took forever to check my gear. Wave 3 had no bottleneck and now I had to try to weave thru them to get to my corral. I was almost there when I had stomach cramps. Was this just nerves or should I go to porta potties? Did I have time or not-couldn't see time on my garmin(too small on my 205). I decided too take the time for the pit stop(wise choice on my part). Just as I was emerging from the porta potties I heard my wave start(had to be because I heard all the screaming start all over again).
   This was not a problem because I figured I could make it too the start when my corral went out. I was in the last corral and at least 9000 runners were in my wave 2 and were already running-Wrong! It was a struggle to get thru 9000 wave 3 runners and when I did I was told I would have to start in wave 3 corral 2 because I had missed my wave start. I wanted to at least start in corral 1 but the rules state that if you miis your wave you can start in any corral but corral 1(?). It was the rule and I was obeying it until two female runners in wave 2 came up and they told them they could go ahead and start(thus they had to let me start. Instead of waiting 10 min. and starting with wave three I just started running(Big Mistake). Also I had to tighten my shorts up while I was running because 5 pkgs. of E-gel will cause your shorts to sag if you forget to tighten them after after a pit stop. This would have been a good way to make the evening news if my shorts would have fallen to my ankles while I was running.
  Here I was, running the Boston Marathon course all alone!! Why is this important- for at least 3 mi. I was running by myself. The fans lined along the road were cheering for me. Me and no one else-I have to say it was awesome-in all my running I have never experienced anything else like it!. What could be bad about this you say-how about I was running over a minute a mile too fast. I knew better yet I was running stupid-that's right stupid. I had it in my mind that I had to catch the other runners in my corral so I wouldn't finish behind that many of them. It's why we chips-stupid(this is what I should have said).
  By the 1st 5k I was starting to catch some runners and I realized what I had done but even trying to shut it down some I had a feeling I was still going to fast. At the 5 mi. mark I hit the lap button on my watch(because I was running the 1st 5 for Miles for Mavrick). Unfortuately I didn't look and I hit the stop button instead of the lap button. I didn't realize this until i hit the 6 mi. mark so my watch was off by a mile the rest of the way(which didn't matter because I quit looking at it after mi. 16 anyway).
   I was hitting every water stop-a cup of gatorade at the front and a cup of water at the back. At some points you were running on layers of empty cups, not even touching the pavement. I carried my water belt and it was empty by mi. 10 and so was half my flat coke-drank it by mistake. Later in the race I would drink gatorade and grab an extra one and fill my bottle to drink between stops. I also drank water and an extra cup for my head. I was already doing this before we ever got to mi. 10
   At one point I noticed runners veering off the course running thru a misting tent. The BAA had set up canopies that you could run thru that were spraying a fine mist to cool you off. I missed the 1st one but I would not miss another. By the way the temp. race day was 88 in Boston but and this is the part that hurt-along the course it was in the 90-94 range. Record temps everywhere-perfect day for a marathon.
    Wellesley College is near the half-way point and I actually still felt pretty good at this stage espcially since the road was lined with screaming college girls all holding signs for the runners. I was just going to run by when I saw a girl holding a sign that said "Kiss me I'm from Texas". What could I do- so I stopped and di my patriotic duty in the name of Travis, Crockett, and Bowie and kissed her! Then on with the race.
   At 13.1 I was still in good shape I thought-No idea of my time but I felt ok. That didn't last long though. By the time I reached mi. 16 I knew I was in serious trouble. I was going up  a hill and my legs just wouldn't cooperate. I was at the very beginning of the Newton Hills and I was running on an empty tank. I was taking oranges, water and anything the spectators had to offer. I ran thru every misting tent and every garden hose available and I still felt like I was melting. I was toast but I just didn't realize it.
   I made it up 16 and it flattened out but I was dreading 18-21. I reached into my pack for my ibuprofen and all the water I had run thru had turned it into a wet mush so there I was running The Boston Marathon licking wet powdered ibuprofen off my fingers. I bet that looked strange! Not what I wanted right before the tuff part of the Newton Hills.
    As I said I was running on fumes by now so I had to walk up the hilss but every step was agony for my quads and calves. I would walk 2 minutes and attempt to run for 6. I finally made it to the bottom of Heartbreak Hill. I swear that at that moment the top of that hill looked to be 2 mi. long and straight up.I used the same 2 and 6 method(sometimes adding more to the two) and finally made it to the top and as they say it was all downhill from there.
    If I was running on fumes from 16 to 21 what did i have left for the last 5. My feet were on fire and everytime my foot hit the ground the bottom of my feet hurt. Add that with my quads cramping and calves hurting I was in trouble. It was all I could to to put one foot in front of the other again walking and running(using that term loosely). To top it off my knee(bad one) started throbbing and I was having cramps and spasms from my feet to my butt. I was in touble and I knew it.
   How did I get thru those last mi. I just started thinking of all the support I had getting ready for this race. I thought of Mary who was at the finish line waiting on me and proud of me no matter what my time was. My kids who had supported me thru it all, Jessica who was probably on the computer wondering what the hell had ahppened to me and was I ok. All my classmates friends and family who wished me well. All the "You got this", "Good Lucks" and just well wishes I had recieved since I started this journey. It was all going thru my mind(that and the Rolling Stones lyrics "This could be the last time, may be the last time-I don't know"). I made up my mind the I was going to finish no matter the time or pain.
    Not much I can say about the last few mi. simply because I can't remenber much except the crowds and the pain I was feeling. I do remmeber seeing the Citco sign and knowing I had only a mile to go. I remember seeing too many runners to count actually falling out and having to have medical attention in that last mi. I remember hoping I wasn't one of them. Finally the turn on Boylston St. and heading to the finish. Mary actually saw me and yelled for me but I didn't hear her. My mind wasn't functioning as well as it should have been. She had stood out there in the heat for over 5 hrs. waiting on me and she knew now she had to get to the family meeting area. Usually she tells me I was looking good at the finish-not today!
    At this point I just wanted that finish line and to run across it(again I use the term run very loosely). I had made it-no idea what my time was and at that point really didn't care. I must have been a walking zombie because it seemed like every volunteer was asking me if I needed medical help. Somehow I made it to get my medal and bag check. I made it to the family meeting area and still don't remeber how I got there. I had just laid down against a building when Mary found me. I must have been hurting because after she called Jessica I couldn't even talk to her about the race. I just wanted to lay down and not get up for a week.
   Somehow Mary got me back to the hotel. This wonderful person who was feeling bad herself and had waited on me for over 5 hrs. in the sun basically carried me back to the hotel. Once there she forced me to take a cool shower and the recovery procees had begun. After laying on the bed for a while I took a hot shower and started moving around as much as I good. I was wasted and had never felt this bad after a race. We did make it acroos the street to 5 Napkin Burgers(with a name like that it should have been good). I had my usual post race bacon cheeseburger and made it back to the hotel.
     I hurt from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. I'm serious not only was I getting cramps in my feet but if Mary touched the bottom of my feet it hurt. I was shaking and shivering one minute and alternate parts of my body were cramping at different times. I knew I was still dehydrated but I was taking in as much fluid as I could and my recovery drink. It just didn't seem to help.

Days 5 & 6 Apr. 17 & 18: Since this is such a long post I'll run these two days together. Tue. morn I woke up and couldn't move. I hurt plus I was just worn out and wasted. We were supposed to do a lot of sightseeing today but I just didn't think I was up to it. We did ride the trolley and the I had to go to "Cheers" and it. It was one of my favorite shows and I have been here everytime I've been to Boston. Later that evening we went to the Union Oyster House for dinner. the last 2 times I was here there was always a 1 to 2 hr. wait for a table. This time it was only 30 min. so we got in. The food was great!!!
   Thursday we took the subway and then the train to Salem. We were going to do some other stuff but it seems a lot of the tours don't start till May. We had a great time in Salem(Mary got to see "The House Of even Gables" and Nathaniel Hawthorne's home so she was happy(thus I must have been happy). Our final eating place was another one I had to go to-Legal Seafood-again it was great.

Day 7 Apr. 19: Wouldn't even put this day on here except for the fact that we couldn't get all the stuff we bought in our bags to take home. Luckily one the things I bought was a Marathon backpack so I used it for my carryon and checked my carryon. I'm sure we also paid extra for the weight on at least one of our checked bags. I didn't care all I wanted to do at this stage was to get home. Evidently we made it!

I know this is an extra long post even for me but i just wanted to put this Boston experience down on paper. I don't know if it is my last Boston or not. Never say Never! I am not planning on this being my last marathon either. I know it sounds like the race wasn't that much fun but I would do it all over again(only a litle smarter I hope). Heat or Cold I am a runner_it's what I do best(besides being a great Pops). Run Happy!