Cyndi got that Hartford monkey off of her back by completing the 2009 Philadelphia Marathon, AND got a PR to boot (3:47:46, which was 4 minutes and 24 seconds faster than my previous best, but who's counting). Believe me folks, I CELEBRATED this one. I basked in the glory of my accomplishment. I relaxed. I ate a TON. I SLEPT LATE every day for a week.
Hey, it was Thanksgiving break and I was on vacation. Cut me some slack, would ya??
All things must come to and end, and that included my 10 day holiday in the Mid-Atlantic region. It was time to head home. And, it was time to answer the question: so, now what?
Cyndi, wait a minute...you just completed a MARATHON. What do you mean "now what?" You're done. You did it. Right?
Well, not exactly.
A wise person once said you are not ready to run your next marathon until you have forgotten your last one (might have been Frank Shorter, but don't quote me on this one). Well, it didn't take long for me to look ahead to the next one. Now what? Where do we go from here? I mean, I still had my Coach. And, more importantly, I still had that goal to qualify for Boston.
Look, I ran Boston two years in a row for charity which, I must say, was a very fulfilling experience. In that time, I made friends with lots of people in the marathon biz. I know if it was just a matter of wanting to run Boston, I could have snagged a spot on a charity team and gone for a three peat. But, that wasn't it. That wasn't it at all.
I promised myself that the next time I ran the Boston Marathon, it would be as a qualified runner. It would be because I proved to the BAA and the world at large that I, Cynthia Ann Keough Springford, could and DID run a marathon in under 3 hours 45 minutes and 59 seconds (they give you a little cushion...mighty nice of them). Even if I never ran that marathon again...even if I never WANTED to run that marathon again...I wanted to know I COULD. If I wanted to. And I made a promise.
I wouldn't feel right going back on a promise I made to someone else, let alone myself. I would continue. I was going to keep my desire alive. I was going to train for another marathon in the spring. I was going to qualify for that @#$*& marathon.
While I trained for Boston '09, I ran with my girl, Christine, who gets lots of face time in my blog (for good reason...she is quite a character). But, there was another very important person involved in my training as well. His name is John. He is my friend, training partner and, well, just an all around great guy. He is like a brother to me. Now, I happen to already have a brother who, oddly enough, was the one who introduced me to John in the first place! So, Cyndi has two brothers now. The more the merrier.
John had some challenges with his foot as he trained for Boston. His training was affected towards the end. He ran Boston and finished, which was awesome, but it took him longer than he hoped it would. So, I took my chances to see if he'd be interested in throwing his hat back in the 26.2 ring. I mean, this process is time consuming and takes a lot of energy. But, when you go through it with someone else who is working towards the same goal, it just seems extra...special. And John is special, so I figured who better to go down this road with me than him?
At the time, I was trying to decide between two marathons: the NJ Marathon in Long Branch on May 2nd and the Keybank Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, VT on May 30th, which happened to be Memorial Day weekend. I picked NJ because it looked like it'd be a fast and flat course. Plus, those of you who have been reading from the beginning and paying attention know why I picked NJ of all states. Now, Vermont is a different story. I have heard stories from people who have done that race. All I hear is how wonderful it is...how beautiful...how fun and awesome Burlington is...etc., etc., etc. Christine ran Vermont herself back in 2005, I think, and loved it. So, I ran them both by John, to see if either one of them struck a chord. I figured if he decided his heart (and foot) wasn't in it, I could just enter the NJ marathon and have the cousins hang out and watch me run. Either way, I was doing a marathon in the spring.
So, one cold night in December, John came over for a run. As we were going through one of the neighborhoods near my house that we frequently ran through, he told me that he had been thinking about the spring marathon proposition I posed and, in particular, the Vermont City Marathon. Then, he said, "Cyndi, let's get you your 3:45. This is going to be all about you. We're going to get you your BQ." I was floored. He was actually going to train with me and then RUN with me, pacing me...motivating me...encouraging me...supporting me! I was beyond excited! We shook on it and it was done. Vermont was a go.
I told Coach about my choice and he was about as tickled pink as I was! He said he was SO familiar with this venue. It just so happened to be one of his favorite vacationing spots. Not only that, but he has coached many for this particular event and said it was a good choice! Now, I have a training partner, a pacer and a pat on the head from Coach. Everything was falling into place. It was also good because Philly was late in the fall marathon season. Vermont is also late in the spring marathon season. So, I had six months between races...a little bit more. That gave me plenty of time to train, taper and be ready.
So, we started training. One of the training runs we did last year for Boston was the infamous Boston Prep 16 miler in Derry, NH. If I have any local New England runners reading this, perhaps a little chill ran up your spine upon seeing that last line. For those of you that don't know what the Boston Prep 16 miler is, let me educate you.
First of all, they call it "Moderately Challenging".
Hmmmm. I beg to differ.
The largest hill in the race is on Warner Hill Road. The climb starts at about 10.5 miles in and you don't really crest the hill until about 12.2 miles. Once you get to mile 13, it's mostly flat, even slightly downhill if you look at the elevation profile, until you get to the finish. But, the question is: how will you be FEELING by mile 13??? That hill can really beat you up. And to have already run over 10 miles before you even GET there? Not for the faint of heart, trust me.
Secondly, the big factor in this race is the temperature. It always seems to fall on the last Sunday in January. If you want to train for Boston, which is in April, you have to run through the winter. And, if you live in New England, you are bound to have some cold, snowy, icy days. I remember the first year I did this race (2007) it was 17 degrees at the start. 17 degrees!!! I was still new to distance running and wore my fuel belt over my jacket instead of under. Needless to say, my water froze. I learned a valuable lesson that day (use your body heat to keep your water from freezing)!!!
I have always had a love/hate relationship with this race. It's cold...it's hilly...I'm just a big old baby...blah, blah, blah.
But, do I do it every year? Hell, yeah.
So, John and I signed up. We figured we'd see how we feel at the start, run together for a while and then if one of us was feeling good and wanted to pick it up, so be it. Before you know, it, race day was here.
Before the start, we were all hanging out inside the elementary school, staying warm until the last possible moment. My friend, Christine, signed up for this race also, so I got a chance to see and catch up with her, which was nice. She was already registered for 2010 Boston, so she was in full blown marathon training mode. John showed up shortly afterwards with his new friend, Ted. John ran a race back in September and was playing cat and mouse with some guy. John would speed up, then this guy would...then John would...then this guy would. After the race, the "guy" in question came up to John to introduce himself, shake his hand and say thank you for the push. As a result, they both ran the race of their lives. And, they became friends on the spot.
Remember that name, Ted.
It's a very important name.
Because he is going to become a HUGE player in the story.
Which, I'll continue in my next entry. :-)