Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Boston Marathon Report: A Tribute

It was Monday, the day of the 2010 Boston Marathon. I was stoked. I had my running shorts on and a comfy t-shirt, but I wasn't in a starting corral in Boston. I was sitting on my bed with pages of powerpoint slides spread out around me covering narcotics, endocrine drugs and antibiotics. I had a 50 question exam later that day that would take about one hour that I knew would in some ways be more painful than 26.2 miles of running.

Thanks to a classmate from Boston he hooked me up with a free website that would be broadcasting the race live on the internet. I should have known at that moment studying was going to be impossible. I pulled up the BIB numbers of some of the SERC members on another screen and began clicking back and forth between the pros and my pals. I was especially interested in BIB numbers 3896 and 11414.

Amazing things happen all the time they just don't always get noticed, but I knew from the last couple months I could at least track it on-line. I remember how incredibly bad I had wanted to BQ someday and how much heart and effort I had put into my training in 2008, so much in fact when I crossed that damn line I was screaming and crying. It had not come as easy for me as it had for some of my friends and it might be the best I would ever get, but dammit I had done it. I felt some of those same jitters and emotions come back to me as I thought about my friends and the goals they were striving for today.

I was vocalizing my "come ons" and "you can do this" and "keep your ass moving" and "holy sh*ts!! they are doing so awesome!!" at my computer screen for a good 3 hours. I was tracking a few other friends and it looked like everybody was having a great first half and I was "wooting" for them, like it was ALL my doing. Of course, a half marathon doesn't mean jack in a marathon, especially this paritcular marathon in which it seems the second half is notorious for unraveling runners on their way to a PR.

As I watched the elite men run down and pass elite women who had slowed, I was just in awe at how graceful a sub-5:00 mile looked. It was effortless. It was flawless. It was beautiful and although I knew my friends weren't running those times, I hoped that's how they were feeling. "Be a Kenyan," I thought. I had a huge smirk on my face when the Robert Cheruiyot crossed the line in 2:05:52 to set the new course record. What a crock of bull that people have referred to this course as too easy because of the negative downhill. I have yet to hear a friend come home after racing the course and not have taken one helluva beating!! I was a little bummed to see Ryan and Meb finish out of the top 3, but happy to see two Americans run so well (4th and 5th overall).

The women's race broke open somewhere around 16, when Erkesso opened up a about a 2-minute gap on the women. I thought it was going to be a repeat of Tomescu-Dita at the Olympics in '08, but with about four or so miles to go Pushkareva closed that gap significantly! So much in fact, I thought she was gonna take the lead, but Erkesso as many of you know held on and not so gracefully as she started her breakaway managed to flail to the finish (probably still looks better than my form) and win by 4 measely seconds. I didn't really care who won, but I always like excitement and crazy comeback moments. One of the commentators mentioned how these women were running with everything they had, that they were "scraping the bottom of their souls for that finish line." I thought "come on guys, scrape YOUR souls!!!"

Getting back to the many locals I was following, I saw many were somewhere nearing or passed the 30k marker. They were in the hills!!!! I was so antsy, I was refreshing my computer every 10 minutes knowing it took them longer than that to run to the next 5k, but unable to help myself. I remember reading how 3896 always trashes, thrashes or destroys her quads in a race like this and I was hoping they were holding for her. She once pointed out that we were what she called "quad runners" as mine hurt something fierce after Philly and I could only gingerly descend stairs sideways for the seven days after my marathon. Runner 11414, started out at a slower pace than her average projected time and all I could think was "inhuman." She was doing that thing you see on ESPN in the highlights, where non-professional athlete are shown doing amazing things. A few of my friends really fell off the pace and were on their way to finishing about a thirty minutes behind their PR's. It seemed they had started out with a race effort, but maybe pulled the plug and decided today was not their day and to just enjoy it. Others were right around their average marathon time give or take five minutes, but runner 3896's splits came back indicating she was in for the fight all the way to the line, for better or for worse. Her 30k split showed she was holding steady. 

I couldn't take it!!  I was so eager to see the next splits.  I tried to discern the difference between aminoglycosides, cephalosporins, penacillin... oh, who cares!!!  I couldn't believe the college of nursing scheduled a pharmacology exam on Boston Marathon Monday!  It was a holiday.  Classes should have been canceled, well at least for runners!!  Although not an official religion, I have heard people say that before and I am definitely a patron ;)  I was too busy worshipping to study...hehehe.

Finally, the chuck wagon had arrived and the dinner bell was ringing!!!  I don't know why I wanted this sooooo bad for my friends, maybe it was because I had focused more on running and hanging with them this past winter than in the past and the talks or blogs about their running goals had infected me. I really wanted them to accomplish their goals.  Maybe, that's why I felt I had to post an entry about their day.

My first friend finished around 2:49.  Then a few more before the three hour marker.  The clocked ticked and tocked closer to the 3:00 marker and I could see my friend was a tad on the plus side of her goal.  I was literally bouncing on the bed.  Normally, my heart would have dropped in my stomach as I know most of my friends, once they fall off the pace, they don't get it back, but this one, this girl, this hardworking motherf*cker has a hammer like no other and I impatiently willed her to "get it back" to "put her hammer down" like she does so often and close her race like a "rockstar!!"  I had followed her blogging and chatted with her on and off all winter and probably wanted this almost as bad as she did.  I knew she had a sub-3 hour marathon in her.  I would've bet my life on it, but as she neared the markers the predicted time moved just a hair farther in the wrong direction, until finally it flashed her finish time.  I wasn't devastated by her time, but I was disappointed.  I was disappointed because I know she is a sub-3 marathoner (just not on paper yet E).  Don't get me wrong I am sooo proud of her, but I was a little shocked because I KNOW she can do it and I was anticipating throwing my arms in the air and screaming "YES!! YES!! YES!!" at my computer.  The way I feel just reasserts my belief she really is THAT fast.  I hear runners and triathletes say I am gonna do this and do that all the time, but they are full of shit and I pay them no attention.  She on the other hand is a do'er.  She does what she says she will.  My heart went out to her because she had undeniably worked her ass off training, redefining the term dedicated runner.  I flashed back to my Cleveland Marathon when I had "missed" by 9+ minutes, but PR'd by and hour.  It had been bittersweet.  I got a PR, but I missed my goal.  She had PR'd for the course by ten minutes and run her second best marathon so far.  She had run a time I couldn't even fathom.  I was sad.  I knew my friend had fought tooth and nail to bring it home, never giving up.  I know there were many people thinking of her and willing her fast feet that day, but it just wasn't to be on April 19, 2010.  I am so proud of her though and I am already excited for her next marathon when she will go sub-3.  I know it!  I would bet on it!!!!!!!!!!!

Runner 11414 was still out there though and steady as a rock, through the hills.  She was right around her teammates projected time.  This masters (over 40) team was blowing the field away all posting projected 3:20-something times.  My mom always likes to point out that she is 21 years older than me and that's why she can't run as fast as me.  Thanks to runner 11414 who is 60 and 2244 who is 54 and AD who is 50, I can call "bullshit" on her...hehehe.  Turns out they were the 4th team overall and 11414 ran a 3:20!!!  A 3:20.  So many people spend their lives thinking they can't run a marthon,  those who do hope to break the 4-hour barrier, and the very few special anomalies like 11414, they go 3:20!!!  If I was the B.A.A.  I might ask for an offical birth certificate from this woman, the driver's license could be a fake!!!!!  Just kidding :)

Another amazing friend managed an unthinkable comeback from blood clots in his lungs last fall.  He pulled off a 3:05.  A freakin' 3:05!!  What the hell are my friends eating???? 

Congratulations to all my running buddies.  Wow!!  Amazing and Inspiring you certainly are. 

"Those who can truly be accounted brave are those who best know the meaning of what is sweet in life & what is terrible, & then go out undeterred, to meet what is to come...."



DaisyDuc said...

Loved it! You are truly such a wonderfully supportive person to our little running/ tri community even when no one else is watching which makes it even more special!

Julia said...

You are so fun; I was trying to watch updates at work and it was driving me nuts.

We had some great showing from NEO. Can't wait until you run it!

E-Speed said...

Just read this a second time and once again was brought to tears. You are such a wonderful friend and I am so glad to have you. Not sure what I have done to deserve all the love and support I have received, but I sure appreciate it! Here's hoping we both start tearing down personal barriers this year and breaking through!

duchossois said...

Reading your blog was almost a exciting as running it. I am at work,having lunch at my desk, and my soup got cold because I couldn't stop reading.
Thanks for all of your encouragement and support. I always feel better after talking to you. Always.

Babs said...

What a wonderful tribute to your friends who ran Boston 2010!! You are a true friend, who sees all the challenges 'we' runners face, and we felt your positive vibes out there on the course. Hope you did well on your test! See you soon..