Thursday, April 19, 2012

Boston Marathon 2012: The Vision the Reality

Episode One: The Prelude

Here is the vision I held in my mind's eye, six months ago or 2 weeks ago, when I thought of my upcoming adventure/family vacation in Boston: My husband, daughter and I will fly to Boston, find our reasonably priced, quiet motel in the suburbs, and enjoy a few days for museuming, visiting with family, and beachcombing prior to the race. The weather will be refreshingly cool and crisp with bluebird skies. Nice and tame and boring, except of course for that little Marathon thing.

Oh, and on that count...Racing at sea level for the first time in decades, I will cruise easily to a master's PR. 

...twas not to be...This is how it really goes...

I teach my last class of the day. My husband and daughter are waiting for me in the parking lot. I feel the first wave of excitement rise up in me. We're on our way! We board our plane. It's on time. Good. We settle into our seats as others continue boarding. The plane is almost full at this point. A girl stops in the aisle next to me. Behind her, her father gestures to a flight attendant. "We need to sit together. I've got a very sick kid here. She's got a terrible fever." Oh joy. I pull my sweatshirt over my mouth and nose, like that's going to do any good. They're seated two rows ahead of us. I turn the air vents on full, and direct them to blow their air away from me. Good luck with that.

The flight is uneventful and we eventually make our way to the rental car shack (It's very apparent that I've managed to rent from the sketchy company) to pick up our bright yellowy-orange Chevy Aveo. This car is a total piece of poo - feeling about as solid as a tin can on wheels. We get on the Mass Pike heading west to Westborough where our motel waits.

Lesson number 1: The Mass Pike only takes cash. We never have cash. I know - stupid - but there you have it. All we can think is: Who the heck still uses little pieces of paper money? Well, they use it in Massachusetts!

Our motel is fine - quiet, functional, clean, nothing exciting - just fine which is just fine with me. Phew. The next morning I get up, having slept better than I have in weeks,  check my email and click on one from the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.): 
"Marathon Monday in New England can offer a variety of weather conditions, and from what we can see, this Monday will be no different.

The forecast for April 16th is calling for higher than normal temperatures on the course..."
Nooooooo! This is NOT what I want to see, and I immediately feel an irritable, testy, sour mood engulf me. Grrrrrr.

The emails from the BAA come fast and furious over the next few days as I try to put my worries aside and enjoy my experience in Boston. We go to the Expo. It's an epic traffic snarl getting to the Seaport World Trade Center - seemingly requiring out-of-towners to navigate the greatest possible number of miles through the circuitous cow paths Bostonians call 'roads'. When I make it to the appropriate table to collect my bib, the nice volunteer looks at me and asks, "Is this your first Boston?". "Yes" I reply. "I'm sorry." she says. We did not have to utter the obvious.

Not exactly looking ecstatic

My husband, daughter, and I then venture out to Nantasket Beach, just south of Boston, out on a peninsula. On the water it is cold and windy. My daughter runs on the beach and in the water, collecting shells and sea glass, and has her first soft serve ice cream cone (Yes, she is a deprived child;). This is a high point of the trip.

Sophia and me walking to the water's edge to return a dead crab to the sea

That night the email from the BAA is even more dire:

Due to warm weather in Monday's forecast, a deferment option has been introduced. 

Due to the unusually warm weather forecast for the Boston area on Monday, the B.A.A. will defer the entry of those official entrants to the 2013 Boston Marathon for participants who decide not to race.
Okay, I think, I don't want this option right now. This is the first time, in the race's 116 year history, that a deferment option has been offered. Super. I get to run it in a precedent setting year. I think about the perfect weather conditions last year - I want to cry. I am so tempted to defer. I do cry...

Friends and family try to comfort me: Just think, you can say you survived Boston will certainly make for a memorable experience...think of the stories you'll have...

But first, I have to survive it. I have to get through it.

I decide that night that I will not defer. I cannot. I will not be able to live with myself if I do. I am resolved to the situation. And, I've already bought the jacket. I just don't want to send back the jacket...

But I'm not at all happy about any of it. For this I trained through injury, a concussion, the flu, and a heinously windy winter! I feel ripped off and doomed.


Sunday: And the emails grow ever more ominous:
Update to Entrants in Tomorrow's Boston MarathonRegistered trademark symbol
Sunday, April 15, 2012 as of 4:30 p.m.

Running any marathon involves risks
  • The weather conditions that we will be seeing on Monday, April 16 will involve even more risk.  It will involve an increased element of risk to all participants due to the heat.  Only the fittest runners should consider participating...
  • Everyone who does choose to participate should strongly consider running significantly more slowly that they normally would plan to run a marathon [one to two minutes per mile slower than your planned for pace].  We have extended the opening of our finish line in support of this recommendation.
  • For the overwhelming majority of those who have entered to participate in the 2012 Boston Marathon, you should adopt the attitude that THIS IS NOT A RACE. It is an experience.
And so the weekend goes. Sunday we have a pleasant and mellow visit with family in Charlestown: Aunt's and uncles and cousins and Grandma and Grandpa. At first I'm feeling irratated at the thought of having to socialize when I'm in such a foul mood. But good food and good company distract me from my obsessive preoccupation with the sufferfest soon to follow.

Lesson #2: Distraction is sometimes a good thing. 

We return to the motel, I eat my pre-race dinner of rice and veggies - lots of salt and water - we watch a movie, always a kid's movie - tonight the selection is "Lilo and Stitch".

I pack my bag, and we turn in. I never sleep much the night before a marathon, but tonight I sleep better than usual. I think I've resolved myself to what is to come, though I'm not happy about it. I'm nervous about what's to come. I'm not acclimated, at all, to hot weather. I've been training though a cold and windy Colorado winter. How will my body respond? Will I cramp up, forced to hobble to the finish, or worse, never make it to that far? I will just have to wait to see how it all unfolds.

Lesson #3: Worrying will not make the weather change for the better. Just deal...

My alarm is set for 7 a.m. I will probably be up before it goes off.

To be continued...


  1. Waiting patiently for part 2. I ran Boston this year as well. It wasn't a pretty picture. :-)

  2. Looking forward to part 2. I would have been panic-stricken at those weather conditions.

    Also, my wife and I quote from "Lilo and Stitch" all the time. :-)

  3. your dad would be so very proud of you, in fact i am sure he is. not only for compleating the boston marathon but for everything you are.

  4. I can't even imagine the blow that was when you saw that e-mail. Eagerly awaiting part 2.

  5. Yes, don't keep us in suspense!

    1. Terzah - You won second prize in the "Chronic Contest"! So I want to send a t-shirt out to you! message me a size and address ;)

    2. Ooh, awesome! How do I message you? Couldn't find an email address. Mine is Write me there and I'll send size/address info.

      Congrats again on finishing Boston!

    3. Never mind--I located your email.

  6. Trying to catch up on work (which is a financial necessity) and stay on top of the blog is as challenging as running a marathon right now. Stupid job! Pesky responsibilities. Why won't someone just pay me to run and write??? ;)

  7. I'm from Colorado, too, & ran Boston both last year & this past Monday! I feel your pain!


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