Subtitle: “A Big Serving of Humble Pie”
I thought Boston was famous for Boston Creme pie?
Somehow I ended up with a plate of humble pie.
The day started well enough. I was down at Boston Common for the loading of the school buses to Hopkinton by 6:45 AM for the 10 o’clock race. I know I could have been there as early as 6:00 and as late as 7:30. But I’m a “medium” kinda guy so I chose a medium kinda time.
At 6:45, the lines were so long I thought I would never get on the bus before the race even started. They moved ‘em quickly though. By 7:30, our bus was off.
Now, I’m no genius (see previous post and references to airport meal) but a 25 mile ride to Hopkinton should take, what, about 45 minutes with a few delays, etc?
How about an hour and 45 minutes?
At 9:15, I finally escaped the bus. I escaped the Ziploc bag of piss that was rolling around the back of the bus like some sort of demented water balloon. (Some poor fellow just couldn’t hold it.) I had planned to relax a bit at the start and get into character. I do this whole channeling Clarence DeMar thing that’s really neat to see (but not for the kids…or the faint at heart…or people who love animals). Instead, it was off…out the bus door…through the Athlete’s Village….over to baggage claim…on the slow march to the starting corrals….arriving at…9:45. Whew, just made it.
But I have to tinkle.
I spy a couple hidden porta-johns behind a store outside of corral 5.
At 9:56, I’m back in my corral. It’s a nice overcast 55 degree day. Beautiful race weather. One minute to start and the HEAVENS OPENED. The sun comes shining through! Normally, I love the sun. In this case, I was hoping the sun would go away.
I didn’t hear a starting gun. Just some guy shouting “Go, Go, Go!” through a bullhorn.
So, I started running (thats what I do when people shout ‘Go!’ at me through a bullhorn - just my policy). So did everyone else so I was pretty sure we started.
For me, the plan was to exercise restraint on the early down hills and save some energy for the up hills in the second half. I did that. My miles early on were pretty consistently around 7:20 exactly as planned. I didn’t feel rushed. Things are going pretty good. Look at me – weeeeeeeeee – I’m running the Boston Marathon. What a glorious day!
Wellesley and the infamous Scream Tunnel/Kissing Zone came. I took a look at the selection but took a pass. Nothing compares to Mrs. Nitmos (Hi, hon, how are you today?)
My pre-race plan was to hit the half at 1:36:30. I look at my official splits and it is 1:36:29. Bingo!
I figure I can glide in with a nice sub 1:45 second half and call it a day.
I can feel the Newton hills looming now though. Beardsley is lurking. If I was carrying a cup of water, it would be rippling from his footsteps off in the distance. Wait. I was carrying a cup of water but it was rippling due to my footsteps. Or so I thought.
Just past the water stop at mile 15, I made a decision to stop and walk for 30 seconds or so and take in plenty of fluids for the charge up the hills. I didn’t need to stop. I wanted to be strong for this next 5 mile section. After mile 16, I took another quick walking break.
Something happened during these walking breaks.
My momentum was totally destroyed. My right knee felt a twinge…my legs felt like lead weights (where did I hear this before?).
Just kidding about the twinge part (read that in the comments from somebody). My legs felt extremely tight though. I was having a real hard time getting them back into a running motion. Like someone had wrapped my legs in gauze from hip to shin. I checked. There was no gauze. I figured this was some sort of Beardsley brain enchantment. I wouldn’t fall for it.
And then the dreaded calve cramps returned. Followed by the hamstring cramps. And their golfing buddy, Mr. Groin Cramp.
For the third consecutive marathon!!!!!
Well, press on, we must. So, up the hills I go. Heartbreak Hill is a long annoying slog but, for my money (or calves, in this case), the hill at mile 18 right before Heartbreak is much worse. It’s shorter but steeper and takes all of your energy to crest it.
I’m still running more than walking here. I’ve pulled off a couple of times for some Biofreeze which worked so well at the Disney Marathon. Except, they don’t have Biofreeze in Boston. They have something called “sport spray” which does not work at all. So, be prepared.
By the time I reached the end of Heartbreak Hill, Beardsley had had his way with me. The spectators were calling me Beardsley’s “prag”. What does that mean?
It’s all downhill from here right?
Five miles to go. Again, the calves and hammys are cramped. I can run but not quickly. As soon as I pick up any speed they knot right back up again. I feel like a broken record in every one of these race reports. I can't stand having to put together another report with the same basic story. I should just copy the Chicago/Disney ones into here. But, hey, I’m just reporting on what happened. And you have nowhere better to be.
At this point, I'm crawling around deep inside my head oblivious to what is going on around me. What is going on here? Is it a mental block? Physical? Both? Is it that guy there's fault? Vanilla's fault? Did someone poison my water? Do my kids not love me enough? Should I stop flipping off other drivers? Is this because I put mixed nuts into the bag but punch the code for the cheaper regular peanuts at the grocery store to save a few bucks?
I'm seeking redemption...searching for my white whale.
The last 5 miles went by in a fog of spectator screams, pit stops for more crappy sports spray (which does not work, did I mention this?) and a big heaping helping of humble pie. With each step I dutifully ate and simply said:
Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.
Only I was using a far worse swear word. Since it was multi-syllabled, I could use it across both the right and left foot falls. Shit is really just a one foot word.
I remember some college dude around mile 24.5 or so running along next to me trying to encourage me to keep going. He kept with me for about a ¼ mile. I smiled and waved when what I really wanted to do was punch him in the throat, wear his sunglasses and drink his beer. And drive his cool convertible if he had one of those.
Taking the left on Boylston St. with a mere 4 blocks to the finish was certainly one of the highlights of my (non-family related) life so far. Despite the humble pie crumbs ringed around my mouth, seeing that giant FINISH sign in the distance was a joy to behold. I wanted to run out those last 4 blocks. And beat 4 hours, if possible. I’m down to small victories by now, folks. So, I picked a pace that was above a saunter but not quite a shuffle to make sure the cramps would stay away until I finished. I ambled on in (for those scoring at home: saunter < amble < shuffle).
I finished 39 minutes off of what I thought I could do that day.
That's not enough sarcasm.
I finished a mere 39 minutes off of what I thought I could do that day.
There. That's better. That's fairly dripping with sarcasm.
I’m bummed that I missed Mrs. Nitmos (and apparently a bunch of people she was standing with) at the Boylston St. corner screaming my name. That would have been cool but I was in full on marathon stupor by that time and missed their cheers. I got my medal and met up with the wife after the race. I was unusually emotional. I’m usually a pretty reserved guy (see previous description as being “medium”) but there is something pretty powerful about finishing that race no matter what the circumstances. I kept things in check though. I didn’t want to look wimpy to everyone. I’m Beardsley’s prag after all. (I have got to get a dictionary to see what that means).
More PhotoShop magic!
Beardsley may have gotten me this time. In fact, he’s apparently been casting this muscle cramping spell on me since I qualified last May.
I’ll be back to tango again.
Next time, hold the dessert.
Next the Final 08BM RR post: Introspection, race photos, and more lame Moby Dick references.