Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Tale of Two Marathons - Part 2

So here we are...we have just passed the girls at Wellesley College and I feel OK.  Sure my feet and legs are starting to hurt but that's normal...right.  Besides I only have...WHAT!!...I still have 1/2 of the race left.  Ahhhh...crap.  I knew at this point that things were going to get bad...really bad.  I have only run 2 prior marathons so I am not really an expert but I do know my own body and I knew at about the halfway point that things were going to go downhill rather quickly and I still have to make it over the hills of Newton.

As I crossed route 128 in Wellesley my quad muscles were starting to get really sore so, in my infinate wisdom, decided to take a moment and stretch out those muscles.  Well being the picture of physical fitness that I am and given the fact that I had already run 16 or so miles and ALL my muscles were stiff and sore, when I tried to do this I ended up pulling a muscle in my neck that hurt SO bad that I honestly thought that I was going to pass out.  I abandoned the idea of stretching my legs and focused solely on not colapsing in the middle of the street and writhing in pain until the sweet relief of unconciousness overtook me.  I am happy to say that after a few minutes of a shambling zombie-like walk, the cramp in my neck slowly released and I was able to resume my race to glory.  At this point I still had an outside shot of meeting my goal of finishing in under 5 hours. 

Now, the neck cramp happened, as I said, on the bridge over 128 in Wellesley and I had hoped that that would be the worse thing that happened to me for the rest of the race.  However,  as I passed Newton-Wellesley Hospital (only a few hundred yards later) a new problem popped up.  The muscle that is just above and a little toward the inside of my left knee began to spasm.  I got so bad that I had to stop and try to massage it out.  When that didn't really work I began to limp forward and think about what to do next.  I discovered that after a few minutes of walking the cramp worked its way out and I could resume running.  This lasted for maybe a mile or so when  the same muscle began to cramp again but this time it was joined  
by the same muscle on my right leg. ~awesome~

So for the next 10 miles both of my knees would spasm, painfully, on and off.  Along with this delightful annoyance I was also dealing with increasingly painful quad muscles as well as  feet that were starting to hurt as bad as I have ever felt.  The fact that I had to stop so often to try to rub out the cramps essentially ended whatever remote shot I had in finishing in under 5 hours.  Now don't get me wrong, the second half of the race wasn't all bad.  You still run into some great spectators who really push you along and help you get through the tough miles.  After you crest Heartbreak hill at mile 20 the rest of the race is downhill and it takes you through Brighton and it is in this area where you see the bulk of the college kids come out.  Now, when you are running near the back of the pack (as I am) you don't get past the Newton hills until about 4 hours after the start.  By this time the students from some of the countries best colleges and universities are...oh, how should I put it...ah what the hell...they are drunk...very drunk and they are having a good time.  It is one of the things that takes your mind off the pain,  They still shout out encouragement to you but it is not always the most coherent of platitudes.  I'm not judging them, I'm just jealous because they are having a MUCH better time than I am at that point.

So as the last few miles s l o w l y pass by I can't help thinking "are they moving the mile markers further and further apart?"  'cuz it seem like each mile is 6 miles long.  When I hit mile 23 or so I start to have conflicting emotions.  On the one hand I am excited that I am only 3 miles away from the finish but on the other hand I feel like there is nothing that I want to do less than run another step.  It is hard, at this point, to not think about how far you have left to go and for me that is the worst possible thought to have.  To be constantly looking for the next mile marker and not see it fills me with something like despair.

However,  once I cross the Mass Pike and I see the road dip below a bridge, I know that the six greatest words in the english language are coming up.  ***Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston***  I want to tell you, there is nothing sweeter than coming up the hill from under that bridger and seeing the turn for Hereford Street.  It is at this point, two years ago in my first marathon that I actually said to myself "Holy Shit! I just ran the Boston Marathon"  This year it was more of a feeling of surviving the marathon rather than just running it. 

And then comes the turn onto Boylston Street...The finish line looks so close and so far away at the same time.  Of course the first order of business is to find my family who are always waiting for me there and for Max to come running out onto the road to meet me.  This year Max brought out a phone with him and I was able to talk to my mother as I was crossing the finish line.  My favorite moment is when Max and I raise our arms in celebratuion as we cross that bright blue line.  It. is. AWESOME.

Here I am with Max in one hand and my mother on the phone in the other.

 Before I forget, I want to send a shout out to Chris Welch, a fellow runner that was running in his first marathon.  Thanks, Chris, for keeping me company and sharing my misery near the end.  Congratulations on finishing Boston.

So another Boston Marathon is in the books.  I didn't finish first and I didn't finish last.  It was the hardest of the three marathons that I have run but in a way the most rewarding.   This year I saw a lot more examples of how grueling the marathon can be as I watched several people being tended to by medical staff along the course.  I watched a poor young women writhing in pain as searing leg cramps overtook her.  I watched paramedics rushing to a man that had collapsed on the side of the road in Newton.  Boston has beaten better men than me so I am proud that I finshed even though I didn't reach my goal. 

Thanks to everyone who supported me and donated to NF, you are the real heroes.  But most of all thanks to Max who inspires me every day.

Althought the marathon is over for this year that doesn't mean that I am going to stop writing in this blog.  I will continue to run for Max and maybe have some thoughts about some other things too.

Til Next time....

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