Four times - I have run this event. Four time - I have promised myself the next will be better. Four times - the event has beaten me.
The day started with a 1 hour rainy wait in line for the buses with Megha and Emily's brother. Megha's umbrella kept on flipping upside down. People's shoes were getting drenched despite the plastic bags covering them. Runners were either pissed or giddy over the weather. I was excited. I couldn't wait for the race to start. I was digging the rain and wind and really pumped about racing in such challenging conditions. I had tossed aside the idea of hitting a particular time and adopted a mindset of "do or die" - similar to Emily's self-proclaimed approach.
We were herded like cattle onto the buses, sat in rain-soaked clothes for the 45 minute bus ride, peed, changed our shoes, and toed the line. The rain subsided for the start of the race. Megha and I started together but quickly separated as she began weaving through groups of people - I lost her after the first few miles.
My original plan was to try to run a 2:52-2:55. Due to the weather, I changed that idea to simply running as hard as I could for as long as I could until I died. I do that sometimes. I rarely have good races on those occasions but the trade off is that I can put myself in a position to run really well if I'm having the race of my life. I race enough that I can play around with racing tactics without mentally stressing out. So, that is what I did on Monday. Unfortunately, that race wasn't the race of my life - it was simply yet another example of what happens when Laura goes out too fast. Here are my rough splits:
6:54 (half marathon: 1:26ish)
8:15 (bathroom break)
916 (1.2 miles)
3:05:06 (on my watch)
So, very easy to see how stupidly I ran the race. At mile 9, I almost stopped. I started feeling an incredible pain in my left leg (still there) and began to hobble a bit. I pulled myself together when I passed a few people I knew. Then, a few miles later, I began to feel sorry for myself again. This time, I had a stomachache. Thankfully, Chris Smith saved me by coming up alongside me and running next to me for a bit - taking my mind off my tummy. After that, running up Heartbreak, I was VERY tempted to veer off and stop at my good buddy's house (Andre). The only thing that stopped me from doing so was the solid line of drunk BCers barricading his street. Well, that and the solid hand on my back at one point. I turned to look and saw Lynn powering past me. Despite her heavy breathing and exhausted legs, she managed to encourage and empower me. She pulled me through the next few miles until I saw the comforting GBTC bright red banner and swarm of teammates at mile 24. I depended on their cheers to carry me to the finish line. I crossed the line next to a very energetic, acrobatic runner who spent the last mile or two performing gymnastics tricks to the crowd. I was so grateful for his entertainment - it kept my mind off the incredible amount of pain I was experiencing.
It is so funny to retell the experience. As I'm typing, I'm thinking to myself 'this sounds awful. It sounds like I had the worst experience ever.' But, that isn't the case at all. Even though it was the hardest race I've ever run, even though I didn't feel very well from the beginning, even though I think I'd be in less pain right now if I had my legs amputated, even though I ran 10 minutes slower that I thought I could run, I still LOVED racing the distance. There is really nothing like the feeling of pushing one's body to such an extreme for so long. I'm a miler at heart - through and through - and I really think that no pain can compare to the last 400 meters of a mile race, but the pain only lasts for a minute or so. In the marathon, runners have to endure this feeling for hours. It is beautiful. It is a fantastic feeling. Not only that, the amount of self-control and confidence that it takes to run a solid marathon is astounding. Obviously, I haven't figured that out yet - but I will.
After the race, I spent a few minutes trying to answer a journalist's questions through blue lips and chattering teeth before Brad picked me up. Once I got home, I was welcomed by some GBTCers who had spent the whole day cheering on their teammates and hanging around our place to meet us runners after the race. I showered, chatted a bit, and enjoyed some fish n' chips with a nice beer and the company of some of my closest friends in the world - my teammates.
The take-home messages today: 1) Laura needs to learn how to pace. 2) running is fun. 3) my friends are the best people in the world. 4) Boston is hard.
I'll beat it on the fifth try.