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Monday, October 4, 2010
Rise and shine, Cyndi Lou.
Time to wake up.
You have a little run to do.
I'm reminded of the Seinfeld episode entitled "The Hot Tub". Elaine is having a marathon runner named Jean-Paul stay at her apartment. He is in town to run the NYC marathon. He had stayed there once before and missed a race, so Jerry is panic stricken that it'll happen again. He takes him to a motel room, but offends the wake-up guy, so they go back to Jerry's apartment. Kramer, his neighbor across the hall, ends up having issues with his hot tub and causes a power outage which makes Jean-Paul late for his race.
I have set three alarms on my cell phone, four minutes apart and am in a room with two other pre-registered runners.
Ain't no WAY I'm missing this race. I couldn't oversleep if I TRIED.
Once we were all awake, Ted and I went down for a pre-race breakfast. The hotel had a complimentary continental breakfast, which was very convenient. We had pre-marathon friendly food that did not include eggs, bacon, sausage or "make your own belgian waffle" (although, I was SO going to try that Monday morning before we went home). Once we were all dressed, nourished and race ready, we headed out to catch our shuttle to the start.
They had been going back and forth about the weather forecast all week long. At one point, they anticipated temperatures to be in the 80's. Great for spectators. Not so much for racers. Mother Nature did her best to fake us out, but ended up with a compromise: overcast skies and a temperature of 61 degrees. It's about ten degrees warmer than optimal marathon weather, but beggars can't be choosers. We'll take it.
I have to say, lining up for the start of the marathon, I was pretty calm. I was with my friends, which probably served as a wonderful distraction from the task at hand. As we were making our way to the line, we were all talking about the goal of the race. We all had times we wanted to come in by (me, 3:45 or better), but the universal one was voiced ever so eloquently by my buddy, John:
To finish and remain continent while doing so.
Works for me.
After much preparation, the moment had finally come. All the work was over. It was time to reap the reward of weeks and weeks of training and affirming. If training for a marathon can be likened to pregnancy, then the carrying out of the 26.2 mile journey might as well be the birthing process.
Let the contractions commence.
We were off and running. Not only did Ted agree to be my pacer, but he was also my pack mule. He had all of my gu packets in his possession. The only thing I had to be responsible for carrying was my desire to qualify for Boston.
Oh yeah, and those handy cups of water they give you every mile or so.
Remember my blog post "Champions Train Alone"? That was the first time I really PRACTICED drinking out of those disposable paper cups that you get at races WHILE I continued to run. Thank you, Sheryl. Having done it in training, I knew I could do it while I ran.
I didn't have to walk and drink. Once.
Oh, don't misunderstand me, here. There were a few occasions that I thought about walking. But, it wasn't because I couldn't hydrate in motion. It was just the mind and body doing the dance.
I am running sub 3:45 marathons with ease.
I am running sub 3:45 marathons with ease.
I am running sub 3:45...marathons...with...EASE, dammit!!!
Ted was great. Of course he was faster than I was, so this run wasn't the be all/end all super duper physical challenge for him, but he knew that going in. And, because of that, he was able to stay focused on me and what I needed. Whenever I voiced my concern about the pace being too fast, he said, "you're doing just fine. Everything is okay." Even if I didn't always feel that, he knew it and could keep reminding me when I had forgotten. And, when I became a little too obsessed with checking the GPS watch, he let me know that as well.
So, there was some back and forth. I had moments of happiness. I had moments of anxiety. I had moments of confusion (try doing math at mile 20 to see how your pace per mile is and what you have to do in order to make it to the finish on time). I even had a moment of out and out PANIC on the bike path, which was actually the home stretch. Ted had been staying 10-15 feet ahead of me most of the race. And I was okay with it. Until....
Right around mile 22 or so.
At that point, I paused my iPod and yelled, "TED!!!!"
He turns and jogs back to me. I pleaded, "can you PLEASE slow down and just RUN with me????"
Instantly, he reverted to his reassuring mode, "We're doing great. We have plenty of time. We can afford to take this mile easy."
And so it went. Mile 22 led to miles 23, 24 and 25.
Only 1.2 miles to go.
Soon we would be exiting the bike path and heading towards the glorious finish line. We hit mile 26 and Ted says, "let's sprint to the finish line". At this point, I'm sure I violently objected to his annoying idea with whatever energy I had left. But, I didn't stop running.
We ran out of real estate. We crossed the finish line. As we ran through, I looked at the clock time:
And for the first time since 8 a.m., I slowed to a walk.
My job was over. Ted hugged me and said, "you did it! You qualified for Boston!!!" I hugged him back and was relieved. My primary emotion was relief. I wasn't ecstatically happy. I wasn't overcome with tears. I was just...relieved. And I was satisfied. I had talked about this and visualized this. I had already affirmed that I was running sub 3:45 marathons with ease. And I let it go.
After realizing that it was over and we got what we came here for, I made a beeline over to a table that had -- shudder -- cans of...SODA!!! Yes, my finicky fitness friends...SODA!!! The real stuff with the high fructose corn syrup and caramel color and phosphoric ACID....ah, bliss!!!!! I haven't been a soda drinker in a very long time, but there is something about sucking it down after having run for over 3.5 hours. All that time, the only thing to cross my lips was water, gu and gatorade. I was SO ready to taste something else.
Ted and I stayed close to the finish line waiting for our buddy, John. We had passed him on the bike path. He was having some discomfort, but he was moving and we knew he'd make it. He ended up coming in about 7 or 8 minutes after I did. When I saw him, I hugged him. He hugs me back and says, "please tell me you got this mother f**ker." I told him that yes, I had indeed "gotten that mother f**ker". He was very happy. We all were, really.
We went off in search of more soda, more water and post-run carbs. The best part about that marathon, aside from qualifying (of course), was the fact that it was in Vermont.
And you wanna know what else is in Vermont???
Ben and Jerry's.
They were well represented at the Keybank Vermont City Marathon and we took full advantage. Eventually, I was reunited with my new friends that I had met at dinner the night before. We all shared in the joy of each other's accomplishments and recounted the most vivid moments of our experience out on the course.
And then, just when you thought it couldn't get any better, we all realized...
Sniff, sniff. It was so...beautiful.
We stood inside enjoying the complimentary beverage that all registered runners were entitled to. As we sipped, we could still see some runners coming around to the finish...and these folks had full sun at this point. It didn't make an appearance for us in the race, but around 12:30, it had come out in full force.
And that concludes my search for the ever elusive BQ. It never really was elusive; I just had to figure that out. And I did. It took about two years, but who cares? It was coming. I just had to believe it would.
Here is the official coolrunning.com result of my marathon:
630 24/219 F3539 1:24:48 1:51:29 2:51:00 3:43:30 8:32 3:44:10 Cynthia Springford 38 F 2707 Plaistow NH
I was #630 overall, 24 out of 219 in my division (F3539), my 10 mile split was 1:24:48, 1/2 marathon split 1:51:29, 20 mile split 2:51 and my net time which, is the OFFICIAL time, was 3:43:30.
And here I was just hoping for a 3:45:58.
Expect the unexpected. Expect success always. Revel in the accomplishment. Don't chase your dreams for the sake of obtaining something. Move in the direction of your dreams because every step along the way feels good. Because desire is life force. That's what it's all about. That is why we are here.
And here, for my stat lovers, is the official Garmin Forerunner 205 data:
5/30/2010 8:03:41 AM
3:44:03 (didn't turn my watch off right away)
Lap 01 -- 8:48 (Max Speed 8.0 mph)
Lap 02 -- 7:57 (Max Speed 9.9 mph)
Lap 03 -- 8:17 (Max Speed 10.2 mph)
Lap 04 -- 8:11 (Max Speed 9.2 mph)
Lap 05 -- 8:24 (Max Speed 7.9 mph)
Lap 06 -- 8:28 (Max Speed 8.6 mph)
Lap 07 -- 8:20 (Max Speed 8.7 mph)
Lap 08 -- 8:32 (Max speed 8.0 mph)
Lap 09 -- 8:34 (Max Speed 8.1 mph)
Lap 10 -- 8:16 (Max Speed 8.8 mph)
Lap 11 -- 8:35 (Max Speed 8.3 mph)
Lap 12 -- 8:33 (Max Speed 8.4 mph)
Lap 13 -- 8:23 (Max Speed 9.4 mph)
Lap 14 -- 8:23 (Max Speed 10.1 mph)
Lap 15 -- 8:36 (Max Speed 8.9 mph)
Lap 16 -- 8:56 (Max Speed 8.6 mph)
Lap 17 -- 8:33 (Max Speed 8.3 mph)
Lap 18 -- 8:29 (Max Speed 8.1 mph)
Lap 19 -- 8:38 (Max Speed 8.0 mph)
Lap 20 -- 8:29 (Max Speed 9.2 mph)
Lap 21 -- 8:24 (Max Speed 8.4 mph)
Lap 22 -- 8:25 (Max Speed 9.2 mph)
Lap 23 -- 8:52 (Max Speed 8.0 mph)
Lap 24 -- 8:26 (Max Speed 8.3 mph)
Lap 25 -- 8:10 (Max Speed 8.6 mph)
Lap 26 -- 8:16 (Max Speed 8.4 mph)
Lap 27 -- 3:58 (Avg Pace 8:34/mi, Max Speed 8.8 mph)
And now, we celebrate. We enjoy this one for a while. We SAVOR it. And then, it's on to the next.
(in pre-race pic from l-r: Meghan, Bethann, John, Ted, Cyndi Lou and Christina.)