Sunday, April 29, 2012 what?

To those of you who ran Eugene, Music City, or any of the other marathons on the schedule this weekend, my hat is off to are all ROCKSTARS.  And those of you who ran half-marathons, my hat is off to you as well, for that is also quite a challenging distance to race.  In fact, here's my salute to any of you who got out there this weekend and raced!

But this post is about something I can only describe as malaise.......I currently follow LOTS of blogs (love to read about everything all of my runner friends are up to!) and for those of us who ran Boston nearly 2 weeks ago, as well as many others who've run other marathons, there seems to be a fairly common sentiment, and it's what I've been struggling with ever since......

Now that I've run __________ , now what????

It's not that I need a training plan/calendar to follow, but considering that it was my focal point for nearly half a year, it's been a rough transition to not have any plan.  I knew this would be difficult, but I'm really having a hard time with it.  My plan was to take a week off from running after Boston, making sure to walk every day to keep the legs moving, but no running.  While my feet still look pretty nasty, my legs are doing pretty well, although my ankles are a little dodgy.  If I take my time building my mileage back up, things should be ok..........but as of now, it seems like my heart really isn't in it.

The week following Boston was our April vacation week, so I was able to recover and rest in relative peace, but last week was back to school......and the first week coming after vacation week is always VERY difficult.  The students never transition very well, so the pressure is on to get things moving without little help from them.  Many of them were glad to see me back and wanted to hear about my Boston experience, as they were actually following me online, as were many of my faculty colleagues. 

So now, what am I to do?  I do have another marathon scheduled (Hartford - 10/13) but my training schedule won't begin until in the meantime, May is on the doorstep.  The malaise will fade, and will be replaced by my determination to prepare myself for the next challenge, and thankfully the days grow longer, the temperatures get more favorable, and my teaching responsibilities for this school year will end in a few weeks, affording me the wonderful opportunity to train when and where I want. 

The light at the end of the tunnel draws closer, but it's still kinda dark and funky in here.  The only person who can change that is me, and I know what I need to do...........and that's get out there and RUN!  :>)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Boston Marathon Recap....a VERY LONG run!

First, a warning.......this is my longest post ever.......but after all, this wasn't just any marathon, this is Boston we're talking about, and it deserves a proper I hope you'll enjoy my recollections of a truly amazing day!

Now that I've had a little while to rest and recover and start to digest all the data, I think I can finally try to provide a recap of what was truly the culmination of not only 5+ months of training, but the completion of a crazy dream that came to me nearly 25 years ago when I was an overweight pack-a-day smoker, so it's truly been a long journey.  For some reason that I still don't quite understand, sometime in the late 1980's while living in Southern California, I had a dream one night which ended with me running down Boylston Street in Boston, finishing the Boston Marathon.  Having grown up in Massachusetts, I knew of the marathon, but never saw it in person or watched it on TV.....and by the time the dream hit, I'd been living in California for nearly 10 years.  I'd never been a runner, so how or why I had this dream is a complete mystery, but something about it stuck with me.  Perhaps it was the implausability of it......perhaps the impossibility of it........perhaps the absurdity of it......I don't know, but I carried that memory with me ever since, never believing it would ever come true....until yesterday!

Our Marathon day started early yesterday......this is school vacation week here in Massachusetts, so our alarm clocks should be off, but mine went off at 4:45AM........not that I was sleeping anyway.  My thoughts had been consumed with the task before me later that day........braving the Boston Marathon course on what was likely to be a day that would set high temperature records for the Boston area.  The Boston Marathon is hard enough on a good day, but with temps likely to reach the mid to upper 80's, it was going to be that much harder.  Once up, it was time for my pregame meal of iced coffee and a bowl of oatmeal.  Then it was time to suit up......

Fired up.....ready to go!

A quick, traffic-less drive into Boston and we found our team bus parked just down from the State House.  We loaded up and left for Hopkinton at 6:45, the whole team excited and chatting about what the day would bring.  One of the benefits of being with a charity team is that we didn't have to wait with the masses assembled on Boston Common waiting to board the hundreds of yellow school busses, but we were able to ride in comfort, style and luxury to our destination.  Not to mention the convenience of an on-board bathroom (!!!) and air-conditioning!  I was alternating between Gatorade and water, trying to keep my tank full.

Soon enough, we pulled up to the Hopkinton Middle School and disembarked, joining thousands of other runners already gathered at the Athlete's Village.  What a crazy scene that was!  Runners of all shapes and sizes, with many different nations represented.  After walking for a bit, we found a spot near one of the large tents, tried to stake out some shady spots and took a seat to wait out the 2+ hours until our wave would be called to the start.  After laying on some sunscreen, I tried to control my anxiety and think about how hard I'd worked to get where I was.....I still was having trouble believing I was about to run the Boston Marathon!  Almost immediately, I got in line to use the port-a-potty, knowing there would be several trips before the race would begin.  After the second trip, a party of French runners had sat down in the tiny little open area next to my spot, making it impossible for me to spread out or lay down.  I had no choice but to sit in a sunny area, but it wasn't so bad, as it was nearly time to go.

At 10:10, our corral group was called to the start area.  I think my heart practically jumped out of my chest, but I calmed myself down.  Another application of sunscreen, a quick gear check (handheld bottle, hat, sponge, shoes tied and double-knotted), and I began the slow march to the start.  After dropping off my sweatshirt in one of the clothing donation bags and handing my gear bag to the appropriate volunteer at the appropriate bus (all based on your bib number, I believe each school bus held bags for 500 runners), I then hit the port-a-potty one final time, then joined the throng for one of the longest walks of my life.  It probably wasn't that long, but I believe the start line is somewhere between 1/2 and 1 mile from the middle school, and in the rising heat, it took forever....but finally, I found my way into Corral 5.  With little fanfare, and not much notice, it was apparent we were starting to move forward.  Glancing over to my right, I saw former New England Patriot great Tedy Bruschi, who was running his first marathon.  Before I could send a nod or a high-five his way, my attention was drawn by the fact that I was about to cross the start line........and after starting my trusty Garmin, away we went.....

To go through the recap, I think I'll go through each 5K segment (5K splits courtesy of the BAA, mile splits from my Garmin), and try to describe any particular here goes.

Start - 5K (Hopkinton - Ashland) 32:52 (9:43, 10:14, 11:35)
By the time we started at 10:40, the temperature in Hopkinton was already hovering near 80 and considering how long we'd been out in the sun already, everyone was already sweaty.  The first mile features a steep downhill as you pull away from Hopkinton and head towards Ashland, so my plan was to start conservatively with the intention of saving whatever I could for the back half of the course, when I'd need everything I could get.  That mile went by in a flash, and I felt strong, but really aware of the heat.  The crowds were a bit sparse (as this is a residential area), but enthusiastic.  As I headed into miles 2 and 3, I started to implement my fueling plan.....for the first 10k, I'd run to each water stop, walk through the stop, refill my handheld with Gatorade, sip some Gatorade, pour water over my head, take a sip of water, and then head to the next water stop.  Take a gel (I was using both GU and PowerBar Gel) every 4 miles (at miles 2, 6, 10, 14, 18, and 22).  I knew VERY quickly that my hope for a "good" time on this day just wasn't going to happen, so I shifted to more of a "survival mode" plan, which in light of what I saw later in the day, was a good plan for me!  Having the little sponge stuck through the ponytail hole in the back of my hat was GREAT, allowing me to keep the back of my neck cool.

5K - 10K (Ashland - Framingham)  37:14 (12:15, 11:36, 11:27)
The heat kept increasing, but so did the crowds, as we started to transition to a more commercial area.  I can't say enough about the people who come out to watch the Marathon.  They're amazing....the little kids with their hands out for high-fives, the people who provided ice and water....truly a gift!  This portion of the course is where things finally start to flatten out a bit and my splits started to reflect it.

10K - 15K (Framingham - Natick)  37:35 (11:27, 12:12, 12:11)
Still relatively flat here, with big crowds cheering.  The temps were also continuing to rise, up near 85.  This was also the first time I started entertaining the thoughts of quitting.......Anytime I run a race longer than a 10K, there always seems to be a point at which I start to wonder why I'm bothering to put myself through it.  I have yet to quit a race, but the thoughts always seem to pop into my wasn't like I was in pain (yet) or truly suffering, but apart from the crowd cheering us on, I can't say that I was having fun.  If the temps had been more seasonable, I think it would have been a COMPLETELY different experience, but this was a hot HOT day (would eventually set a record for the date)....a great BEACH DAY, but not particularly good for MARATHONING!  By this point, I had also shifted my walk breaks to a much-more-frequent 4/1 ratio (run 4 min/walk 1 min)...again, all in the interest of getting through a tough day.  I kept looking for and hoping for some shade in this stretch but there was none to be found, so it was a bake-fest.  Thankfully, my sunscreen was holding up.  One of my students was supposed to be in Natick Center, so I was looking forward to seeing him.

15K - 20K (Natick - Wellesley) 40:17 (12:07, 12:22, 13:24)
This portion of the course starts to gently climb as you head out of Natick towards the Scream Tunnel at Wellesley College, an experience I was REALLY looking forward to!  As we ran through Natick Center, I looked in vain for my student but couldn't find him anywhere.  All I can hope is that he saw me go by.....with all the people out on the course, unless you know EXACTLY ahead of time where to find someone, it's a bit of a needle-in-a-haystack when you're talking about a crowd in excess of 500,000!  Thanks to the Natick Fire Department for setting up a "misting tent" where you could run through and get completely misted....what a relief (however brief) from the heat!  By now you might have noticed that the mile splits don't quite match up with the 5K splits....those extra .1 miles are starting to add up now, and nowhere was that more apparent than the effect the Girls of Wellesley had on my time.  The hill leading up to the college was tough, but I could hear the girls screaming up ahead, and it started to pull me along......when suddenly I was in it.  The girls were only on the right side of the road, but they were packed in next to each other for about a half mile.....a true wall of sound!  Holding signs saying "Kiss me, I love sweaty runners", "Kiss me, it's my birthday", "Kiss me, I'm from Vermont", and my favorite "Kiss me, I like girls".......their spirit and enthusiasm for this tradition was infectious and injected some much needed levity and adrenaline....I didn't kiss any of them, but did slap hands with lots of them and thanked them for coming out.  It really was wonderful.

20K - 25K (Wellesley) 39:16 (12:03, 12:28, 13:05)
Another relatively flat portion of the course, running through the lovely center of the town of Wellesley.  After the Scream Tunnel, the crowds seemed less numerous, but I think it's just that they weren't as enthusiastic as the girls.  During this part, I started to make a point of thanking all the volunteers for all of their hard work.  Having volunteered for the 2009 Marathon, I know how much work goes into a successful water stop, so now that I was on the other side, I wanted them to know how much it meant.  As we passed through the halfway point (2:35:58), I knew it was only a matter of time before I would see my family at the Melanoma Foundation family cheering zone at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital near mile 16.  By this point, the water stops were starting to get a bit slippery, what with all the crushed cups and liquid....still feeling good, but the heat....oh, the heat!  UGH!!!!

25K - 30K (Wellesley - Newton) 44:13 (12:01, 16:00, 13:34)
A steep downhill busted the quads, leading to the last part of Wellesley.  At that point, the road starts to tilt up again as you head towards Newton.  The crowds were still enthusiastic, but they began to thin out just where they were needed you climb the highway overpass over Rt. 128.  It's a short climb, but surprisingly steep, but I knew that my family was just ahead.....ok, time for some pictures!

the view towards Newton....wall-to-wall suffering!
Once over the bridge, there were people spraying the runners with their hoses....this wasn't the first place this happened, but I didn't bring my phone with me so I didn't get any pictures.....

so good!!!

Mile 17 encompassed stopping to see my family at the Melanoma Foundation family cheering I came down off the hill, I scanned to the right side of the road and spotted the blue balloons and the sign.....and then I saw my wife and son.  Picture time.....

more cowbell, Ben!

proud boy!
16+ miles in.....feeling good!
good and thirsty, that is!
proud Dad!
A kiss before leaving......from my biggest fan!

and I was off again, heading away from my family and towards the Newton Hills.  Having trained on them several times, I knew what was ahead of me, but those training runs took place in colder conditions, now we knew that the current temperature in Newton was 88 degrees, so this was going to be more painful than ever.  By this point, I also started to notice an increasing amount of wreckage on the side of the road......runners who had overextended themselves and were now paying the price.  I was walking more than I would have normally and WAY more than I had wanted to, but I was listening to my body.....running when I could, and walking when I couldn't.  It was just that kind of a day.  Right around the 17 mile mark, you make a sharp right turn onto Commonwealth Avenue at the Auburndale Fire Station and begin to climb the Newton Hills.  The road was lined on both sides by people....locals on their front lawns, cooking out, handing out ice to runners, offering encouragement to all.  I was, at this point, looking forward to seeing friends out on the course, as I knew a dear Facebook friend (Peter, that's you!) and several teaching colleagues would be somewhere in this stretch.  I cannot tell you how much it means to see familiar faces when you're's enough motivation to keep you going.

30K - 35K (Newton - Brookline) 42:00 (13:28, 13:28, 14:07)
Probably the most storied portion of the course, encompassing Heartbreak Hill, Boston College and the "Haunted Mile".  By this point, I was definitely starting to hurt, particularly in the feet.  I think all the water that had been sprayed/poured on me had gotten into my shoes and lead to some was annoying, but there was nothing I could do about it now.  All I could do was put one foot in front of the other and keep trying to run a bit up the hills.  I was hoping to find Peter somewhere between the Fire Station and the Newton City Hall, but I couldn't see him.  I wasn't sure where Stephanie Kraft and Nancy Sheckner were situated, but my Sharon Middle School colleagues shouted out my name somewhere around mile 18 and I motored on over for a sweaty hug and high-five.....I didn't have my name written on my shirt (note for next's GREAT to hear your name shouted out, so put it somewhere where someone can see it!) so I was blown away that someone could recognize me at a distance.  So good to get that support from my colleagues!  At the Mile 19 (New York Life) water stop, I was looking for Brian Scarborough, husband of Lisa (the science teacher on my team at the middle school) and when I saw a big, pumped up dude, I pointed and shouted out "I know you!"  Brian was so enthusiastic with a fist-bump and a "looking good"....wish that had been the truth, but it's all good on Heartbreak Hill!  Some of the signs people had were wonderful, one of my favorites being "the reason your feet hurt so much is because you're kicking so much ass!".....really made me smile.  Finally, we were over the top and started down towards Boston College....and the noise started to build.  Now I don't want to hold anything against the Wellesley girls, but the BC kids were amazing!  Now maybe it's that it was a co-ed crowd....or maybe they'd been baking (and probably drinking!) in the sun all day, but they were LOUD and CRAZY!  I think it also had to do with where BC sits on the course....around mile 21, when you're totally hitting the wall.  Their screaming got me going (as you can see from the difference between my splits for miles 21 and 22!) and all I needed to do to get them going was shout out "BC Eagles ROCK!" and they'd go nuts.....priceless.   Also priceless was a sign I saw just before BC...."Don't Pants Your Poop".  One of my favorite Youtube videos is called "Marathon Thoughts" from a group called Improv Asylum which details the different things you think during particular parts of a mile 17 (I think), it's "Don't poop your pants", followed later at mile 22 ("Don't Pants Your Poop").  When I saw the sign, I got the girl's attention and shouted out "Here it comes, Second Wind" (Mile 10 in the video) and she started laughing.....maybe it was my hand motions, too.

35K - 40K (Newton - Brookline - Boston) 41:33 (11:55, 12:49, 14:07)
Descending off Heartbreak Hill into Coolidge Corner, turning left onto Beacon Street for the long, straight run into Boston, this part nearly killed me.  After all the encouragement from the BC kids, now you realize you still have 5+ miles left to go.  You know you're going to finish, but it's still so far the rate I was going, roughly another hour....ugh!  The pain is getting greater, and even with the crowd cheering LOUD, it was so hard to keep going, even though it was all downhill the rest of the way....well, NET downhill, so there were still some hills left to conquer.  This was also the part of the course that I hadn't trained on, but having lived here for the past 20 years, I know this area pretty well.  The crowd really kicked it into overdrive here....I mean, we were the tail end of the marathon, and they knew we were suffering, so they really picked us up!  I also had some wonderful surprises during this stretch.  I was running through Brookline when I suddenly heard a male voice shouting out my name....looked to my right and saw my friend Alex Kuen and his wife Meaghen.  I used to sing with Alex in a chorus in Providence, RI and had NO idea he was going to be in Boston for the Marathon.  Meaghen took this picture of us.......

Alex giving me the wanting to be done already!
A quick hug and I was on my way again....grinning from ear to ear.......when I heard my name AGAIN, this time a female voice shouting out.  It was Dyan Lally, a former colleague of Barb and one of my biggest and most enthusiastic supporters.  Dyan's run several marathons, including Boston, so she knows how I was feeling, but even she was surprised at how good I in the picture she took:

pretty fresh after 23 miles!

A quick hug from Dyan, then she shoved me back on the course and shouted out "FINISH IT!" and off I went......smiling even more......when I looked up ahead and saw the famous Citgo sign in Kenmore Square.  I felt myself starting to cry, because I knew that signified that the end was literally within sight.  I pulled myself together, but realized that with little more than 3 miles left to go, I was going to finish this marathon.  I was looking for another teacher friend from school, but couldn't find her in the crowd....hopefully she saw me.

The last 2+ miles (Boston - 12:51, 13:17, 11:25)
The end in sight, over the last 5 miles, I had to play mental games to keep going.  I'd run for .15 or .2 miles, then walk for .05 or .1, then repeat, over and over...just to get through.  I wish I could say that I was finishing strong, but I was just doing what I had to do to get to the finish line in one piece.  The overpass over the Mass Pike near Fenway was brutal, but I ran over it....ok, I shuffled, but it FELT like I was running!  Cruised through Kenmore Square as the crowd began to build again, the down through the little tunnel and there it was up ahead.....the right turn onto Hereford Street, signalling the 2nd to last turn of the Boston Marathon.  I couldn't believe it, but the journey was nearing it's completion.  I was about to realize the dream I'd had 25 years previous and I was mere minutes away from finishing the marathon.  Even though it hurt like hell, my determination took over and I started running....took the turn on Hereford and couldn't believe my eyes.  This short street was lined on both sides by people, 2 or 3 deep in spots.  After all these hours, they were still out there to cheer for I made my way up Mt. Hereford, I remembered all of you who were so supportive of me over the past few months....everyone who donated to my fundraising.....everyone who encouraged me with words and deeds.....and did my best to keep a hold of my emotions.  One thing I'll never forget is that the Boston cops who were there for crowd control were also cheering for us, clapping like they knew us.....that really got to me.  As I came to the top of Hereford and started to make the left onto Boylson Street, I could see the finish line off in the distance.....and that's when I totally lost it........I'd been dreaming of this moment for so long, and now I was making it happen!  Little did I know that my wife and son had made their way up near the corner but I didn't see or hear them.....I think I was a little lost in the moment.  As I started running down Boylston towards the line, the crowd noise was overwhelming...and now I know what it must feel like to be a rock star, because they were cheering for me.

a most welcome sight....and a bittersweet one as well

When I pumped my fists in the air to salute them, they responded with a roar......the tears streaming down my cheeks weren't only for the dream coming true, it was also my realization of all I'd been through to have this moment.......and then I crossed the line, stopped my Garmin, and it was done.

I'd finished the Boston Marathon.....I'd actually done it......

I got my space blanket, my bottle of water, Gatorade, and then my medal......I then limped a block away to the baggage bus and retrieved my bag from the morning, and then followed all the signs to the family meeting area......kept hoping I'd run into Barb and Ben somewhere before then, but they were waiting for me where we'd originally agreed to meet.  To say it was an emotional reunion would be an understatement......I was crying, she was crying.....thankfully, Ben wasn't crying!  Once everyone calmed down, Barb got a picture I never thought I'd be in.......

that's right, baby....check out my MEDAL!!!!!
So the final numbers are interesting.......on this most brutal day, producing the slowest winning time in nearly 20 years, 96% of all those who started the Boston Marathon finished.  One of them, most proudly, was yours truly.

26,656 were entered
22,480 started
21,554 finished (I was finisher #19691, so I actually beat 1,863 people....not that I'm counting)

And that, as they say, is that........mission accomplished.  Now the recovery begins........when people have been asking me how I'm feeling, at this point all I can say is that my pride of accomplishment is outweighing the pain of the effort.  My ankles are a bit swollen and I have a nasty blister on my left big toe where it rubs against the toe next to it, but other than that, I'm doing ok.  My quads are a bit sore, but I'm able to go both up and down stairs ok (I'm not sprinting, but I'm not forced to go down them backwards either).  I think it's fortunate that this is a vacation week, so I've got days to recover without having to be a teacher and I'm going to bask in the glow of this achievement.  Now that I've got 2 marathons under my belt, both of which were run in highly unusual and unseasonable weather events (October 2009 - Nor'easter with heavy rain, cold temps and snow, April 2012 - record heat), I'm already looking forward to running the ING Hartford Marathon in October, with the hope that the weather might actually cooperate and I'll be able to try for a legitimate PR......stay tuned, because my blog will go on..........but this journey has been shared with all of you and for all of your encouragement and support, my heartiest thanks.  I'm so glad to have "met" all of you and look forward to sharing my accomplishments with you and sharing in all of yours as well.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Boston was EPIC!!!!

Finally back home after running the 116th Boston Marathon.................5:32:21

I did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm going to kick back with my girl here......enjoy a little well-earned pizza.......and I'll do my best to try to summarize a peak life experience here tomorrow.

I ran the Boston Marathon

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's almost time to run!

So I guess it's going to be a hot day in Boston tomorrow........and the BAA is issuing advisories and warnings mostly targeting "novice" and "non-qualified" runners.........on top of the previous deferment option being offered for 2013.

And every time they post to Facebook, the hate comes pouring runners are "taking spots from qualified runners"......"what right do they have to run?  All they did was pay money to a charity", and I always thought that running was welcoming to all?

I know I'll never post a qualifying time for Boston, but I've trained hard for this race, on top of fulfilling a daunting fundraising challenge, for which I'd be personally liable if it wasn't met.  The BAA has a lot of traditions, and allowing "non-qualified" runners to run in the footsteps of champions is part of it.  I've earned my spot.....just in a different way than others.  Still, I would NEVER look down on ANYONE who wants to take on the challenge of a marathon, regardless of their "speed"......yeesh, just another reminder that this world is full of judgmental assholes.....

Ok, now that I'm done with my rant, I can now get to a brief recap of the Expo....

What a scene!  The Seaport World Trade Center was wall-to-wall running......every major company was represented, as well as numerous other companies in the business of seperating runners from their money.  There were booths for other marathons, and my two favorite booths were from the Pork producers and the Beef producers.....not quite sure why they were there, but it definitely added to the ambiance.  Of course, for me, this was a bit of a business trip, so there was the matter of picking up this:

But of course, that made the following photo ops required:


Do I look proud?  I am......very proud to be able to take part in this storied event.......very proud to be raising money for a terrific charity.......very proud to have the love and support of my family and friends.

So after buying a coolmax hat to wear tomorrow.....and a few cool t-shirts to commemorate the event, we headed back home, tired but exhilarated.   Not so tired as to not be able to run tomorrow, but tired nonetheless.

Actually had a great night's sleep last night....only got up twice (what can I say?  Hydrating does that to a guy....or maybe getting older has something to do with it too? LOL), and we had our team brunch at an Italian restaurant.  It was so nice to see everyone who made it there....even meeting a few team members for the first time.  In spite of the predictions for the weather tomorrow, everyone expressed their resolve.....we've trained for it....sweated for it.......and plan to run it as smart as possible.  Everyone agrees that time goals are completely out the window, and with the BAA extending the finish time an additional hour, I can probably walk the entire course in less than 7 hours.  Before we left, we gathered for a team photo.......I love these people!

So here I am........8:05pm.....Sunday night........finishing my blog post the night before I run the Boston Marathon.........and I'm full of emotions.  I've been dreaming of running this race for a very long time.....long before I was a runner.......long before I decided to change my life and make the changes I needed to make to regain my health.  Tomorrow morning, I'll take my place at the starting line in Hopkinton and begin my journey towards the completion of my dream.  All that's really left now is to lay out my outfit for tomorrow, figure out what I want to have in the bag that I'll have waiting at the finish line, take a quick shower and then off to bed.

We'll be leaving the house early tomorrow morning.  Barb is driving me into Boston so I can meet up with my team to board our luxury coach bus (no yellow school buses for Team Running For Cover!) at the Boston Common for the trip out to the Athlete's Village in Hopkinton.  

All the doubt is spite of the deferment option, I can't take that route.  I've trained for this, I've prepared for this, I've sacrificed for this.  If I didn't give it my best shot, I don't know how I'd live with myself.  I'll never know how I'd do if I didn't show up tomorrow......I can totally understand how and why people would choose to wait until 2013 to run, as tomorrow is probably going to be more difficult than any of us can imagine, but I know myself and know that I'm going to stay safe.  I'd rather have a DNF than a I'm going to stay hydrated and do what I do best.....GO SLOW!!!!  LOL

You've all been so amazingly supportive and encouraging to me, and my Blogger friends, I'm going to do my best to do you proud tomorrow.  As I climb Mt. Hereford and take that sweeping left turn onto Boylston Street, I'll be saluting all of you........something I read today really stuck with me, and it's what I'll leave you with tonight.  I think it really speaks to all of us, regardless of whatever we're training for, but I think it's particularly poignant whenver the going gets particularly tough:

" The sense of accomplishment will be considerable and every runner will have bragging rights forever.  Time is completely irrelevant tomorrow.  Yet the inevitable question will be, what was your time.  The best answer to that question was the time of my life!!!"

I wish you all smooth roads and tailwinds........and I look forward to having a great story to tell you all tomorrow night!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Expo time.....OMG!!!

This abstract exercise I've been blogging about for the past 6 know, that Boston Marathon thing.......well, it's starting to transition from surreal/unreal to very, very real.  I'm sitting here waiting for Barb (the decidedly better half of Team Fine) to return from Ben's baseball practice.  He'll be going off to a friend's house, and we'll be heading into Boston to partake of the festivities of the Boston Marathon expo.

I'll get to pick up my number and my goodie bag.  I'm also looking to pick up a running hat, as the weather predicted for Monday.......well, don't get me started.  As if the marathon itself isn't hard enough....

I'll blog about the Expo later.........can't wait!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Marathon training....complete!

Short post today.......

Hit the 'mill on my way home from school today to get in the last run on my Boston training schedule..... training is finished!   Now I've got to run the damn thing.......

Every time I think about Monday, I start to get emotional.......and I haven't even gone to the Expo to pick up my number yet.  I'm not sure why I'm so emotional about this one.  Perhaps it's because it's been more than 2 years since I last ran a marathon.......perhaps it's because I'm that much older and all that I've been through over the past 5+ months leading up to this day......maybe it was the entire fundraising effort....maybe it's just because it's BOSTON!  Any way you want to look at this, it's kind of a big deal. 

Been checking the weather reports since yesterday........the earliest report had the temps going up above 80......scared me half to death...........latest report is putting it in the mid-60's.......still a bit higher than I'd like, but definitely NOT in the DANGER ZONE!  At least it won't be a Nor'easter like the last time I ran a marathon!

That's all for now........hope you're all doing well.  I'm hoping to have lots of pics from the Expo on Saturday and my team brunch on Sunday, so check back to see what's up!

Oh yeah, and for those who want to see my sorry splits on Monday, the BAA website will allow you to track me.....I'm runner #22243....Wave 3, Corral 5 (starting at 10:40am Eastern Time).

Sunday, April 8, 2012

When is 31% equal to 100%?????

I'll tell you when......when you finish your last long run prior to the Boston Marathon....that's when!

It still seems like yesterday when I got the email from the Melanoma Foundation of New England inviting me to join their team (thanks, Trish!!), but it was back on October 26th of last year......more than 5 months ago.  What still lies ahead for me on my quest has been near the front of my mind ever since that day, and through all the long days of training, the carrot was out there before me, still out of reach.

Only now, my real training is done......and all that's really left is to toe the line in Hopkinton next Monday morning, and not stop running until I hit the line in Boston.

Today's run was a good one.....a route I know well here in Franklin.  Incorporating several good hills, it requires an honest effort, and I gave it one today.  It was a grey, somewhat chilly day (only around 50 degrees) with gusty winds, so I knew I'd enjoy some tailwinds to make up for the inevitable headwinds!  I intended to run conservatively, but to go a bit when I felt like going.  I think the splits bear it out:

Mile 1 : 9:36
Mile 2:  9:05
Mile 3:  9:32
Mile 4:  9:33
Mile 5: 10:30 (big hill...LOL)
Mile 6:  9:21
Mile 7:  9:42
Mile 8:  8:58
Mile 9:  8:52 (ok, it was only .13 miles, but still....)

So it was 8.13 miles....1:17:24.....9:31/mile

31% of the marathon.....and the end of the training schedule.  A few short easy runs, a few days off, and then it's time for the 116th Boston Marathon.

So like my buddy Michael, I've been thinking about my goals for next Monday, and being a teacher, I can't help but think of them in terms of grades.  So just like Michael, I'll work my way down through them from "F" to "A".

F: one biggest worry through the entire training process was that an injury or illness would keep me from reaching the starting line in one piece.  When my right foot/ankle was giving me fits, I was honestly a bit worried, but a period of rest and a bit of a premature taper nipped that in the bud.  No, I'm not going to fail.........

D:  Barely a passing grade............I think the only way I can achieve that would be to finish Boston, but ending up injured and/or slowly.  No matter how I finish, as soon as that medal is around my neck and that flimsy little shiny blanket is draped around my shoulders, nothing else will really matter.  Sure, I'd like to put up a respectable time, but after all the training and all that I've gone through over the last 5+ months, the finish is the thing.  Anything beyond that will be gravy.

C:  Average..........ok, so now we're talking time.  My previous marathon experience was fairly ugly day weather-wise......I ran hurt, and finished in 4:58.  So I guess an average finish would be around that time.  Given that the Boston course is a hard one, it might actually be a realistic goal....even though I know I'm capable of running faster, if I can finish in a time close to my previous time, I'd be able to walk away happy!

B:  Very Good........this would be a solid PR.  I think I'm capable of bringing it in around 4:22.  For those of you who don't like doing math, that's 10:00/mile.  I'd like to believe that on a good day, I could bang out nearly endless 10's.....and if I'm going to have a good day, why not have it happen on the same day as the Boston Marathon?  :>)

A:  Excellent.....the ultimate achievement.........and while I'd like to shoot for a time goal, that's not what I think my real goal is or should be.  In all likelihood, I'm not going to ever run Boston again.  I'm never going to be fast enough to qualify on time.  With the help of many generous donors, I was able to achieve my fundraising goal, but I'm not sure I could do it again next year.  Then there's the actual expense associated with running Boston ( ain't cheap!)......sure, it's one of the World Majors and truly one of the world's greatest sporting events, but I ain't made of money.  No, this is probably going to be a one-time thing, so my goal is to take it all in and enjoy it.  From the start in Hopkinton, crossing the train tracks in Framingham, running through the Tunnel of Love at Wellesley College, crossing 128, turning right at the fire station and staring the climb up the Newton hills, then cruising past Boston College.....the "Haunted Mile"........finally seeing the Citgo sign....running past Fenway Park....and finally right on Hereford and left on Boylston......seeing the finish line......and then let the celebration begin!  No, my real goal is going to be to enjoy the experience and make some great, lifelong memories.

I can't wait to go to the Expo on Saturday.......gotta go pick up my number and probably buy a whole bunch of stuff I didn't even know I needed.  Then our team is having a family brunch on Sunday.....and then I'll have to try to sleep Sunday night.  Of course, first I have to get through this week......oh, it's going to seem so long, but I also know that before I know it, it'll be time to go..........26.2 miles.

Thanks for reading........hope you all had a wonderful Easter or Passover, or for some of you, both!  I wish you all a great week ahead, with nothing but sunshine and tailwinds!