I am back from Boston and the excitement is still making me wake up two hours earlier than usual. I have heard so many times about the Boston experience and unless you go yourself is hard to really know what this all means.
Nadia and I arrived Friday night in Boston, I was feeling very sick so when she picked me up it was hard to tell why we where friends, she looked hot in her heels and tight jeans and I showed up in a turtleneck and trail runners. I was the Yan in her Ying." Great" i thought " We look like Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell. We argued all the way, I kept defending my position on how I was not racing Boston since this was a speed training run for me for my upcoming 100k. Nadia has been in Boston before so she knew how high profile it will be; I panicked. before I wanted to go under the radar use Boston to make me faster and stronger. My phone never stopped ringing from people calling me telling me there where going to be checking me up. I was wishing hard I had done mile repeats or Fartleks but it was too late. When we arrive in Boston my luggage didn’t make it, it was only Friday so I didn’t panic much, plenty of time to get my race stuff before Monday.
On Saturday we made it to the expo to pick up our race packages and to check the sponsor’s booths. Here I realize the magnitude of Boston marathon, to a runner Boston is what The Oscar's are to actors. I was still feeling a lot under the weather, but the excitements around me keep me going. We picked up out package and Nadia explained to me the meaning of first and second wave. She got a blue bib number first wave and I got a red bib number, the fastest runners where on the first wave and the slowest runners where on the second wave. I stopped to say hi to David Willey the editor in chief of Runners World Magazine, I was chatting loudly with him when I notice an unusually quiet and very blushing Nadia, I had found her Achilles heel.
Nadia and I had somehow transformed into giggling teenage girls, I love my kids and she does too but spending the day picking up race packages, posing with cute editors and grabbing lunch in a side walk coffee was hardly a tough day compare with how we usually spend our days.
By now my speech resemble more a dolphin call because I was talking in such a high pitch. We skipped going out and instead went back to the brownstone we had rented for the week to eat in and talked some more until the wee hours of the morning.
And the Oscar goes to….
Sunday I woke up early to make watch the women’s Olympic trials, Nadia was not so sure, standing for a couple of hours is not what she usually wants to do before a big race. Standing there watching in awe the best female runners in the US only got me more excited to be there in Boston, Just before the final lap out of the crowd comes Scott Dunlap, if by now I was taking like a dolphin, my voice got a high as matting whales when I introduced myself to Scott, I was now resembling a Wesley girl except a lot older, all I remember saying when he agreed to pose for a picture was that I was disappointed on not having any make up on, Scott just told me to Photoshop myself later, after listening to him I realize that his wife had only asked him “ does this pants make my butt look big? “ once. He asked what where our expectations for the race, and I told him that Nadia had convince me to try for a 3:20 since that was the time she was going for, until now I was still undecided but when Scott asked that question I try to impress him , looking back I should have gone for a lot better time, he would never know, plus even if he did found out I said I was "planning" I didn't say that I was actually going to do that time. Later I thought why didn't I say” I want to win this thing” Scott told us he was going to stay way back and party with a bunch of friends.I told Scott I wish I was with him and his friends way back parting but I realized that I had not earned my right to party yet, I wanted to do OK so when I contacted everybody for pledges for the Death Race people knew I was taking it seriously, also I wanted to do well for the CNIB. I told myself one day I was going to be back and party.
Magdalena Lewy Boulet led the race until 23.5 miles before Deena Kastor caught up to her in Cambridge to place first in 2:29:35, Magdalena Lewy Boulet and Blake Russell will be joining Deena in Beijing. Joan Benoit Samuelson set a record for women over 50 at 2:49:08. After the trials I went shopping for stuff for the race, my suitcase never made it past Calgary. I was now extremely nervous to be wearing brand new shoes to a marathon. I joined my kids shortly for dinner they where having a lot of fun with my ex husband, they had been too busy to see me until now with museums, tours and Science Centers to attend. We all went for a walk, my usually too cool to hug mom kids where now fighting to hold my hand while we walked. I was now crashing badly and was in desperate need to go to bed early, all the late nights and being sick was catching up.
I got back to the brownstone, Nadia was getting her race stuff together, she is a pro at races, so I had decide to do and eat everything she eat. She laughed and called me single white female referring to the 90’s movie where Bridget Fonda’s roommate becomes her stalker. One more time we talked about the plan, I was getting very nervous, I didn’t want to disappoint her but I still doubted I could do it. Coming to Boston my dream goal was 3:30 but realistically I was aiming for 3:39 and expecting a worse that my qualifying time after talking to everybody. My luggage arrive at 10:30 that night with only enough time for me to pull my runners out before I felt fast asleep in bed.
Monday morning Nadia and I got up at 5:45am, I wanted to go to the bus loading park with her, not knowing the city well, I didn’t want to take chances and miss my bus. When we got there, it seemed that all 25,000 people where standing in line waiting for the bus. The wait was long and the bus ride was even longer, after driving for what it seem hours I couldn’t help but think ” we need to run all the way back?”
We got there just in time for Nadia to go to the start line for the first wave start, we kissed hugged and said our good lucks. I still had a half hour, so I decided to use the port-a-potties one more time. Here in line I got the chance to talk to other runners, I had a wonderful chance to meet a lady who was celebrating her 55th birthday that day, other runner was celebrating her engagement, the beauty of being in the second wave was that people are usually just glad to be here, no expectations, most just managed to make it to Boston so in a sense they where there to celebrate. The second wave also hosted the charity runners,these runners where experincing high anxiety since they didn't want to dissapoint the people tht pledge them. I was glad this was not a race I was asking for pledges, I decided not to do it because is to early on the season, I still have 4 more races, and I wanted to finish strong and healthy.
And the Oscar goes to….
There I was standing in the number 16 corral, wearing a plastic garbage bag to keep me warm we started at 10:30, I had trouble keeping the pace that Nadia had set for me because of all the people that where in front of me. We made it though a few hills and there was where I could see the sea of people in front. I was able to make it though what it seemed thousands of people and finally I set on my pace group. I was trying to keep pace with my watch while watching the mile markings but I got confuse with the mile and kilometers, I couldn’t figure out why I some times seemed to go just the right pace and other I seem to go blistering fast. Especially since there was so much happening around me to keep a close eye on the markers. What I decided to do instead were use people around me as pacers, I quickly found people that where running at a pace that I found comfortably fast and tagged along. This was a lot easier to do and I could take my surroundings and quickly glance on my “pacer to see is I was lagging behind or going to fast” I also played the- if you are wearing animal print tights you should be behind me- game
I checked my times on the 5K 10K half marathon and found out I was right on target, I was happy because I found it manageable to run that pace while zigzagging to high five kids along the way, or eat oranges, brownies, candy or anything I was being offered. We run past a biker pub that was playing “I am running from hell” and it made me smile hard, I also heard the Rocky theme song, and there where so many live entertainment along the way to mention. I found a pleasure of running past the timers along the way and mentally said hi to people I knew where following me online, unfortunately for me after the third mat I run out of people to thank, so I saterted to say hi to all the people that had made fun of me in high school,unknown to me there where a lot more people, following my progress, like my friend Kelly who send me a message later to congratulate me and it made me feel so humbled by it.
I found it easy to run at Boston, not because the course is easy but because of how much is happening around you, the signs, the people cheering you on at this moment I felt what they refer as the runners high. I saw my kids at mile 17 right after the Wesley girls, I know that they are famous for being boy crazy but I high five and hug a few that called me strong and sexy runah. It was sure nice seeing my kids, I got close enough for Karl to see me but was afraid to stop with them and not wanting to keep going.
Around that time is when my legs started to feel heavy and I got a sharp pain in my left knee. I slowed enough to take salt tablets and ibuprofen, the runner’s high was wearing fast and I still had 9 miles to go. I was still feeling good enough to keep running but slowed down enough to a more manageable pace, I tough of Nadia, I didn’t want to disappoint her, I though of Bella, on how she had been in a lot of pain but managed to make it home. I picked up the pace a bit after the knee pain when away around mile 20, my legs where a bit heavy, they still didn’t what to cooperate
It seemed that here is where a lot of people where falling apart, I saw things I didn’t what to see and all I could think was “that might be me at my 100 miler”.
I felt great when I realized that I had caught up to the blue numbers, they had left a full 30 minutes ahead of me and I was still feeling fine. I started to estimate my time. I knew I couldn’t possible finish at 3:20 but 3:30 was a possibility, I picked up the pace once more and made a run for it. Nadia always talks about digging deep and I have never fully understand what it means, what if I feel I am digging deep but I am just a wimp? All of a sudden everything bothered me, my Nike band pacer, the half a gel left in my back pocket, I couldn’t take enough off. The last 6 miles where the hardest for sure, I run 6 miles twice a day, so I kept telling myself that, physically I was feeling great, mentally I wanted to slowdown. Once I reached the last 2 miles I knew this was it, making it to 3:30 was all going to come down to these, I once more picked up my pace and I had 17 minutes to make it there for 3:30, by now I started to know what digging deep really mean. I was still scanning around watching the crowd but now I couldn’t do both, I got dizzy from looking side to side, I decided to look ahead and not move my head at all.
I couldn’t see the finish line even though the last marker said one mile to go, It was not until I turned around a sharp corner that I finally saw the finish line, I was shocked that I was actually going to finish sub 3:30, I “ sprinted” to the finish line, people looking at me certainly didn’t think I was sprinting it look more like a steady jog. I crossed the finish time at 3:28:40, good enough for a 6288 place, there where 25,000+ runners, out running that many people didn't really crossed my mind yet until Nadia’s husband called her with the news, Nadia finish time was 3:26:58, she fought her way to 5800 place.
I tried making my way to the buses to pick up my stuff, ahead of me looked like a battlefield, people where laying on the floor everywhere, being carried by stretchers, wheelchairs and saw more people getting sick, my legs where tired but by the time I saw my kids 20 minutes later my legs where OK. I have been training hard to recuperate quickly, besides ultra’s I am also interested in doing races such as RAW where runners are required to run for 50K a day for 6 days. Is hard to explain what you what Boston meant to me, I am very new to running and I am not sure if I am training right. Watching everybody around me limping and me being able to squat down to untie my shoes to change into flip flops made me truly believe that I am making progress towards my first 100 miler that is really what I am after. I know that long distance races are about endurance but speed also matters, the sooner I get thought the course the better I am off, The Canadian Death Race thought me that, being tired and out in the elements is not the best combination.
I joined my kids and my ex-husband at the Four Seasons Hotel for a bite to eat, Nadia was having a harder time making her way though the finish line, she had trouble finding north or south. There at the Fours season I saw Scott Dunlap again with a group of very beautiful females, he was busy typing on his Blackberry, Blogging? Nadia notice a pretty blond in the group “ isn’t that Kristin Armstrong? I was trying really hard not to stare, I didn’t want to turn into Scott’s stalker, that and the fact that I was still not wearing any make up.
Before leaving the Four Season"s I tapped him an his shoulder, one thing that amazed me about Scott is that he is extremely classy, I knew he was busy, and with friends yet he still took the time to ask about my race. There in that group where two people that I admire a lot, Scott’s life is extraordinary and he makes it look simple, Kristin has simple life and makes it look extraordinary. I can tell why they are such great friends. Kristen and Scott both went to write amazing blogs later about their experience in Boston , Kristin’s interview with her wasband Lance as she calls him is hilarious. Later that night I joined my kids for supper and a walk though Quincy's Market.
And the Oscar goes to….
The next day I woke up feeling great, I was only unconfortable because I sunburned. " I am on a witness protection program, I am really not Mexican" I told her since she didn't burn but I did. We went shopping to the Nike store where we run in to Askale Tafa Magarsa who placed fifth the day before, she was tiny and sweet, a few minutes later Jelena Prokopcuka came in to the store later, I recognized her but she resembled more a rocker than an athlete, I have heard she is beautiful but not until you see her you realize how beautiful she truly is, she is tall and lean, looking at her you could tell that she was going to be famous no matter what.
By now Nadia was fading and went home, I toured around for a bit before I went for a quick 50 minute run by the river. In our last night Nadia and I went for a fantastic dinner at Piattini’s and then for beers at a bar to watch game 7 of the Flames against the Sharks. The flames lost that night but Nadia and I had won. We found a deeper respect and admiration for each other. We secretly planned on not returning home, both of us loving the easiness and carefree feeling of the last 5 days. “ let’s pretend we lose our memory and we don’t know that we have families and responsibilities waiting us back home” I said and it make us laughed hard “ I can totally blame my stretch marks to yo-yo dieting” I added before sending Nadia in to a total laughing attack.
But you must wake up sooner or later when we got home we where both on cloud nine, her phone didn’t stop ringing after the race, here I understood why it matters so much to her, she is surrounded by family and friends that encourage each other. Me? My phone rung twice, once from work and the other was from the roofing guy fixing my leaky roof. But that didn’t matter, my reasons to be here had just left the day before on plane, I was also anxious to email the CNIB and telling them the great news, I was now ready to send the request for pledges, I felt I had earned a bit the right to ask my friends and family for pledges. I have no doubt I will finish Blackfoot Ultra, and the Death Race, The Lost souls 100 mile race still intimidate me, so I am thinking about adding an other race to the mix as a training run.
And the Oscar goes to....
And the Oscar didn’t go to me, but it didn’t matter, my 3:28 was like being nominated for the Oscar in the best lighting category, you know those awards where most people watching use as bathroom or snack breaks. My foot steps walked behind the foot steps of great legends that day, my kids watch me do something that I never though it was possible a few years ago. I told my kids that they too one day will run their own Boston, maybe not the actual marathon but something just as inspiring, that the best thing they could take from seeing me run Boston is that dreams are possible if you are willing to work hard at it. The truth is when you are chasing a dream it hardly feels like hard work.