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Thursday, October 28, 2010

On your mark...get set...TYPE!

Hate to run and run, New Jersey, but...

Our flight home was departing Atlantic City at 4:08 p.m.  Basically, we had a couple of hours post-race to get ourselves, and our stuff together.  We were leaving the glitz, glamor and cigarette smoke behind.  All of us had to be at work bright and early Monday morning.  Not only that, but Ted and I had to be ready to rock and roll with the old credit card because registration for the 2011 Boston Marathon opened on Monday at 9 a.m. sharp.  Speaking of Boston...

On to Logan International!

We arrived at the airport in plenty of time to go through security without much incident (Ted's iPod was not returned to his bag, as it turns out, so he had to file a claim) and have a pre-flight beverage.  Michael, Ted and I opted to have a celebratory shot of Jim Beam in addition to our beer.

Because friends, that's how we roll.

Of course they totally threw me under the bus, because when the drinks arrived, we clinked our shot glasses and commenced to kick it back.  Well, I did.  I drained my glass and set it down, only to see Namby and Pamby still sipping theirs, like it was a steaming cup of Earl Grey.


The plane ride home was pretty uneventful, which is always preferable, particularly when you're talking about air travel.  As luck (?) would have it, I had an ENTIRE row of seats all to myself.  How cool is that?  Hooray for meeeeee!  I leaned back and closed my eyes thinking maybe, just maybe, I could fall asleep.

Epic fail.

What can I say?  I'm a dreamer.  I just happen to do all of my dreaming while I'm awake.

Once we arrived at our destination and claimed our luggage, we piled into Michelle and Dan's Expedition for the ride home.  Ted only lives a few short miles from Logan, so dropping him off on our way north made sense.  We hugged, said goodbye, and reiterated how glad we were to have shared this experience together.  Barely six hours removed from completing this one, we were already plotting the next adventure:  BOSTON.

The next day, I sat patiently by the computer waiting for registration to open.  Last year, they sold out in six short weeks.  Word on the street was, it was going to fill up in record time.  Better to be safe than sorry.

So, I waited.

Finally the time came.  9:00 a.m.  EST.  I clicked on the link and started filling in my information.  After completing all of the required fields, I hit the SUBMIT button.  However, instead of seeing a screen with a "Congratulations", "Registration Complete" or even a flipping confirmation #, I was brought to the same screen I had just completed.

Except it was totally blank.

Which means I had to fill it in ALL OVER AGAIN.

Okay, I said to myself, maybe I just hit a wrong button or something.  I'll try it again.

Strike two.

Confused, yet undeterred, I completed the form again a third, fourth and fifth time.  And all I saw was that same blank screen.  This went on for a good 30 minutes.  And I type over 80 wpm.

I was starting to feel like Bill Murray in the movie "Groundhog Day".

So, at this point, I did what any smart, sensible person would do:  I loudly aired my displeasure on facebook. Turns out, I got my answer pretty quick since lots of folks I knew were attempting to do the same thing I was.  Apparently, there was some technical glitch going on and what happened to me was not an isolated incident.  Thankfully, I got a different link from one of my friends who had succeeded in registering.  At this point, I was willing to try anything, so I pasted it into my browser and filled in that @#*&%$ form again.  I took a deep breath and hit submit.

For the first time that day, I saw the screen I was expecting to see.  I was greeted with these words:

Thank you for submitting an entry to the 115th B.A.A. Boston Marathon.  Your submission ID# is...


Ted hadn't had any luck up until that point registering either, so I quickly sent him the link I used in the hopes he would have the same result I did.  Thankfully, he got in on the first try.

Whew.  That was a close one.

To quote a friend of mine, "registering for that race was almost as hard as running it."  Boy, they weren't kidding.

Later on that day, I was visiting with my brother and sister-in-law.  They had their television tuned to the local news.  All of a sudden, I heard the following announcement:  Registration for the Boston Marathon, which opened this morning at 9 a.m., has officially closed as of 5:03 p.m.

I couldn't believe my ears.  I mean, I had a feeling the race was going to sell out in record time, but in one day???  Really???  This was unprecedented.  I breathed a sigh of relief that Ted and I had resolved to "camp out" in line, metaphorically speaking.  It turns out we made the right choice.

I had another feeling, though.

That there were other runners who didn't make that choice.  Lots of runners.

Lots of angry runners.

I was right on both counts.  The next day, the Boston Marathon's facebook page was flooded with people loudly expressing their displeasure at the registration process.  Remember, for the first hour or two, there was this whacked out, gremlin-like computer glitch that prevented a lot of folks from successfully registering.  I know I was getting fed up with my inability to close the deal, so I had no problem imagining other frustrated folks wanting to punch a hole through their computer monitor.  I'm sure some of them made the decision to "try again later".  Unfortunately, for some of them, "later" turned into "too late".

It was getting pretty ugly.

However, I wasn't quite prepared for just how ugly, or personal, it was about to get.

In the words of the late Bette Davis, "Fasten your seatbelts—it's gonna be a bumpy night!"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Meet me tonight in Atlantic City, Part Two

"And each time I feel like this inside,
There's one thing I wanna know:
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?"

Anyone that knows me, even a LITTLE bit, knows how much I love Elvis Costello (aka Declan McManus).  I love him so much that I have the above mentioned song as a ringtone.  On my cell phone.  Which also doubles as my alarm clock.

I have issues.

If you have to be woken up at o'dark hundred, it might as well be to something that tickles your fancy.  Or, in this case, eardrums.

That is what roused me from my inadequate slumber at 5:30 on marathon morning.  Not that I was really asleep anyway; but I was pretty comfortable laying there all the same.  

I sat up in bed and looked around.  Both of my roommates were still sound asleep (or they were doing a really good job of faking it).  I got myself up, dressed and fed before either one of them stirred.  Part of me thought about banging around the room, making some noise in the hopes that I could wipe the contented, peaceful looks off of their faces but, truly, I was too tired to be spiteful.  

Hard to believe, I know.

Besides, I knew Ted would be up soon.  He was chomping at the bit to race.  Me?  It was all I could do just to chomp on my bagel.  It's no secret that I was a little ambivalent going into this marathon.  My training didn't go exactly as I had planned.  I just didn't feel ready.  However, no one seemed the least bit concerned about my ability to perform.  Not my Coach.  Not my husband.  Certainly not Ted.

But I was concerned.  And truly, my opinion was the only one that mattered.  What I mean is, people can tell you how wonderful and fit you are until they are blue in the face.  It's no substitute for believing in YOURSELF.  I had taken such care in mentally preparing myself for Vermont City and the proof was in the pudding:  I ran a PR.  However, there IS something to be said about physical confidence breeding mental confidence.  When I trained for Vermont, I was at the top of my game, physically and emotionally.  That wasn't the case this time around, at least in my estimation.

As I went through the mental gymnastics, the guys woke up.  After seeing and talking with me for a few seconds,  they could tell I wasn't in the best frame of mind (I don't hide my feelings very well).  I said to both of them, "I don't want to DO this."  Ted and Michael did their best to reassure me, which I appreciated, but they couldn't make me feel better about my preparation, or lack thereof.  That was my job.  Maybe I couldn't replicate my positive mental outlook from Vermont that red hot minute, but there was something I COULD do.

I could make peace with what is.  

In other words, I am where I am.  Good, bad, or indifferent, I trained for a 26.2 mile race.  Maybe it didn't exactly go the way I thought it should have, or the way I wanted it to, but the work was done.  And, not to sound cocky, but I wasn't exactly a newbie runner anymore.  Covering the marathon distance itself was no longer "the unknown".  It was just a question of how fast.  The only way I could really see what I was capable of was to start.  I just had to show up.  

And let the chips fall where they may.

Once the guys were ready, we left the hotel room and headed to the start.  It was a chilly, but clear morning.  The sky was bright and blue.  You could feel a certain electricity in the air, which I always notice on the day of a big race.  I am sure I wasn't the only one in the crowd questioning themselves.  I took comfort in the fact that I was surrounded by other runners who were going on that 26.2 mile journey with me.  And I had Ted until the start, which made me feel calmer.  He told me to keep repeating to myself this simple phrase:  I am here.  


All we have is now.  This moment.  Nothing else matters.  

Okay, Ted.  I am here.

Michael wished us both well and went off to find Michelle and Dan.  After Ted and I hugged and exchanged good wishes, the gun went off and we started running.  We headed down the boardwalk on a beautiful fall day.  

At this point, let me say that if you're expecting a detailed, mile by mile, play by play breakdown of this marathon, you are going to be very disappointed.  My powers of observation and attention to detail are just not that sharp.  But, I'll do my best to outline the finer points.  

And now, back to our story.

After a few minutes, I found myself running with these two older gentlemen who were conversing with each other.  By the sounds of it, they were probably going to run the time I was hoping for, so I decided to stay with them for a while.  Eventually, the three of us started chatting, which made the first couple of miles go by fairly quickly.  One of them shot off ahead, hoping to run a faster time.  The other one stayed behind, so I introduced myself.  He told me his name was Gene and he was running this race as a training run for the Philadelphia Marathon, which was next month.  We talked off and on for the next couple of miles.  After exiting the boardwalk, he decided to try and pick up the pace for a little while, so I wished him well and turned on the iPod.  

The wind really started picking up around Mile 6.  At this point, Gene and I had reconnected and we both remarked how we weren't expecting a headwind like this today.  The wind had been pretty intense the past couple of days in Atlantic City, but all of the forecasts were calling for a much calmer day.

So much for forecasts.

As I ran through Mile 7, we were assaulted by a gust of wind so powerful, it blew my lucky visor completely off of my head.  Thankfully, some nice runner saw it fly off and chased it down for me.  Shortly after that, we got back on the boardwalk and started running in the opposite direction.  Right around Mile 9, I saw Michelle on the sidelines spectating.  She flashed a huge smile and snapped a picture of me.  I was very happy to see her.  At this point, I was also very happy to notice that the wind seemed to be calmer.  

That is, until we got off the boardwalk again.

From Mile 13 to about Mile 18 or 19, it just kept gusting and gusting.  I allowed it to wear me down.  My only solace during this time was seeing Ted run by a couple of times, due to the out and back portion of this section of the course.  It was nice to see a friendly face.  Plus, he could see for himself that I didn't bail.  I don't think he expected me to quit, but at least he could see with his own two eyes that I was still running.

Right around mile 21 or so, I made the decision to allow myself walk breaks, but ONLY at water stops.  I had gotten pretty good at drinking out of those paper cups on the run, so I didn't NEED to walk and drink.  However, I had to make some kind of bargain with myself in order to keep going.  I had abandoned my quest for a PR at this point, but wanted to finish this race as strong as I could.  Each water stop I hit from that point on to the finish, I consumed a cup of water and a cup of gatorade.  Once I finished the second cup of fluid, I resumed running.  I kept the promise to myself and continued to run until the next stop came into view.

After re-hydrating at mile 25, I knew it was only a matter of time.  I had a mere 1.2 miles left to travel.  I stopped looking at my GPS watch a while ago.  Hitting "my splits" wasn't the priority, here.  It wasn't about keeping a certain pace anymore.  Instead, it was just about putting one foot in front of the other over and over and over again.

And I did just that.  Right to the finish line.  

Shortly after I crossed, I found Michael and Ted.  I was also reunited with my new friend, Gene, who had come in about four minutes before me.  I had seen him go by between mile 20 and 21, but I didn't have it in me to chase him down.  We all congratulated each other on finishing the marathon and commiserated over the unexpected wind.  It affected all of us, even Ted.  He had hoped to run a 3:10, but ended up turning in a 3:12:xx, which, don't misunderstand, is STILL a stellar time.  But, even he didn't get what he wanted out of that race, and he was feeling much more excited and confident than I was going in.  Gene guessed he came in around 3:44 or so.  I think we all expected a little more from ourselves but, yet, we were pleased with the accomplishment of finishing another one.

We made our way to the food and drink area.  As luck would have it, they already had preliminary race results posted.  Once the crowd thinned out, we went over to have a look.  My new pal, Gene, ran a spectacular 3:43:55.  Not bad for a "training run", eh?  Did I MENTION that he is 62 years young???  Pretty awesome.  Ted was 30th overall and had a chip time of 3:12:21.  Equally awesome.  I scrolled down until I found my name.  


Okay, so it wasn't a PR.  It wasn't the 3:40 that I arbitrarily decided to train for when I got the notion to do this race.  But, it was my third fastest time out of six completed marathons.  Based on the unexpected windy conditions, lack of sleep and my state of well-being going into this race, it might as well have been.  I have always said that I learn something every time I race.  This time was no exception:

** A sub 3:50 is very attainable for me now, even when I walk at a few water stops.
** I can average an 8:45 pace at a marathon.
** I was able to smile and thank the volunteers and spectators when I saw them, tired or not.
** I'm already qualified for Boston because of the 3:43:30 I ran in Vermont this past May.  I didn't "NEED" this.
** I'll be 40 (gasp) in 2012 and am age grouping up.  If I decide to run Boston again, 3:48:56 qualifies me.++

I trained.  I started.  I persevered.  I finished.

Sometimes, that's all you have in you.  Oh sure, it's human nature to play Monday morning quarterback and go through the "woulda coulda's", but the fact of the matter is, you can't go back.  But, you can take what you learned and carry it into the next training cycle.  You can use it to make you better, stronger, faster and smarter.

Which is exactly what I'm going to do.

But, until then...

I am here.

GPS Data for Atlantic City Marathon:

10/17/2010 8:03:56 AM

Total Distance
26.34 mi

Total Time

Avg Pace

Avg Speed
6.9 mph

Max Speed
11.9 mph

Total Ascent
3335 ft

Total Descent
3350 ft

Lap 01 -- 8:42
Lap 02 -- 8:35
Lap 03 -- 8:37
Lap 04 -- 8:32
Lap 05 -- 8:29
Lap 06 -- 8:44
Lap 07 -- 8:32
Lap 08 -- 8:40
Lap 09 -- 8:29
Lap 10 -- 8:28
Lap 11 -- 8:32
Lap 12 -- 8:33
Lap 13 -- 8:35 ** this is where the wind really began to present itself as a challenge ** 
Lap 14 -- 8:37 
Lap 15 -- 8:44 
Lap 16 -- 8:37 
Lap 17 -- 8:38 
Lap 18 -- 8:37 
Lap 19 -- 8:50 
Lap 20 -- 8:38 ** this is where I decided to stop at walk ONLY when getting water/gatorade at water stops ** 
Lap 21 -- 9:23 
Lap 22 -- 8:43 
Lap 23 -- 9:09 
Lap 24 -- 8:48 
Lap 25 -- 9:18 
Lap 26 -- 8:32 
Lap 27 -- 0.35 mi in 2:42 (7:46/mi)

++ That last point MIGHT be up for debate if the BAA (Boston Athletic Association) opts to tighten up the qualifying times after the 2011 race, which they very well may do after registration opened and closed in eight short hours.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Meet me tonight in Atlantic City, Part One

Atlantic City, NJ.  The chosen site of my 2010 fall marathon.

This will be my sixth attempt in covering the 26.2 distance.  Well, seven if you count that start in Hartford...

I say let's not.  And since this is my blog, I get to do whatever I want.  Na na, Na na, NAAA NAAAA.

My dear friend and excellent Vermont pacer, Ted, decided to get in on the fun as well.  He registered for this marathon too.  This time, though, he was running for he should.  His marathon PR was 3:19 and he was looking to shatter it on this relatively flat course.  Not only would I have company getting to the line, but I had company on the trip!  My husband and our friends, Michelle and Dan, decided a weekend in Atlantic City might be fun.  Of course, the running held no interest for them whatsoever, but the slot machines and boardwalk did.  So, we booked our airfare and a hotel near the start/finish area.  All the plans were in place.  I just had to show up.

Oh, and run.  That's a very important detail.

We flew out of Boston on 10/15.  Ted wouldn't be flying in until Saturday morning, so it was just the four of us.  From the time you take off until the time you land, it's a whopping 70 minutes.  Not too shabby, eh?  Spirit Air had ridiculously cheap fares, so we nixed the car and took to flying the friendly skies.  Of course, it was AFTER the fact we realized that you had to pay for checked AND carry-on bags that didn't fit under the seat in front of you.  Not so friendly, as it turns out.  All in all, it was still short  money and was much more time efficient than driving.

We landed in AC on schedule, got our luggage and took a taxi to Bally's Hotel.  After waiting in a very long line to check in, we made our way to our respective hotel rooms and plotted where to have dinner.  We decided to go here:

I opted to have my carb heavy meal on Friday night, as opposed to the night before.  In the book "Marathoning Start to Finish" by Patti and Warren Finke, the authors recommend "a carbohydrate load for three days before the event accompanied by a period of reduced exercise.  The first day of loading is the most important.  That would be the day for the traditional pasta dinner."  So, technically, I was still 24 hours late.  "The plan is to taper off bulk and switch to more simple carbs as the days progress.  The last major meal should be 12-15 hours before the race and should not include too much bulk.  If you carb load effectively, you'll notice a 2-5 lb. weight gain over this time.  As carbs are stored, water is also stored in the muscle leading to the weight gain."

Good thing the scale and I broke up long ago or else I might find this a tad bothersome.

I had the spaghetti and meatballs, which was frickin' awesome.  Say what you want about New Jersey, but they have good food.  After a nightcap, we said goodbye to our friends and retired for the evening.  Traveling, not to mention standing in line for an exorbitant period of time, can make one weary, so it was off to la la land.
I had a 25-30 minute run with 5-6 10 second strides to do the next morning and wanted it as close to 8 a.m. as possible, since that would be the time we'd be racing on Sunday.

After a fitful sleep session (I don't get R.E.M. easily in hotels), I got up and dressed for a run.  However, I knew this wasn't going to fly without my two favorite c's:  caffeine and carbs.  We met Michelle and Dan at the coffee/doughnut place in the hotel for a quick snack and beverage.  Feeling somewhat energized, I waded through the smell of cigarette smoke and desperation via the casino to get to the boardwalk for my run.  My pit crew opted to sightsee while I ran.  To my surprise, I found running on the planks quite enjoyable.  It sort of eradicated part of the unknown for Sunday's race, which was less than 24 hours away.  As it normally does, the run just made me feel better, inside and out.  I was ready for breakfast and a shower, in that order.

For the rest of the morning, we wandered about the boardwalk, indulging in some hardcore people watching. I was with two of the best watchers in the business, after all.  Michelle and Dan have made an art form of this.  They will fixate on a person or persons and, within mere minutes, have a clever backstory crafted as to who they are, where they come from and whether they're married, gay or straight.  It's quite amazing.  So, I enjoyed watching them weave tales of all the passersby they chose to single out.

We decided to have lunch in the Pickle Deli (hellooooo?  New Jersey??) while we waited for Ted to arrive.  He was arriving in AC, early afternoon.  In addition, my cousin, his wife, and their two little ones were making the trip from North Jersey to hang out with us while we were in the Garden State.  My inner Jew applauded as I noticed they had Matzoh Ball Soup on the menu.  Lechayim!!!  And it was yummy.  Early in our lunch, I received a message that Ted had arrived.  He was already in the hotel, so I told him to come and have lunch with us.  (I think his inner Jew applauded too when he saw the soup).  We decided to head off to packet pickup on the 6th floor together, after lunch, leaving the three non-runners to scope out more sights.  No need to subject them to any of that annoying runner stuff.

The packet pickup area had two incredibly long lines.  And about four people working the registration table.  D'oh.  This was going to take a while.  Thankfully, we had cell phones and a nice woman behind us with a cute baby, which always serves as a welcome distraction.  Eventually, we found ourselves at the front of the line.  I was bib #519 and Ted was #507 which, we couldn't figure out, because we could have SWORN I registered first (the little things that boggle a runner's brain).  There was no "EXPO" to speak of; only an adjacent booth where race shirts were being distributed.  It would have been nice to have one, but we were probably better off, since we had other people to consider.  They were such good sports to make the trip with us in the first place.  I didn't want to get so caught up in the running aspect of the trip that I neglected to spend time with my friends and family who weren't toeing the line Sunday morning.

What can I say?  I'm a humanitarian.

Ted and I dropped our race paraphernalia off in the hotel room and made our way back through the aforementioned cigarette smoke and desperation to the boardwalk.  We reconnected with our posse and started to plot dinner.  There was a complimentary pre-race dinner in the hotel for registered runners.  Guests were also welcome provided you make a donation.  It was a nice thought, but I figured a more neutral location would satisfy the masses.

Besides, they had long lines too.

We ended up making a reservation at The Reserve for seven adults and two children.

Alright, they get a plug as well:

Michelle and Dan waved the white flag and bowed out shortly before dinner, claiming they were still full from lunch.  So, down two, we headed up to the restaurant.  This place was nice....very nice...but probably not the most practical place we could have chosen.  For one thing, it was pretty fancy.  For another, they had NO kids menu.  You can imagine the challenge that my cousin and his wife had in ordering food appropriate for a three year old.  The trials and tribulations of parenthood, I suppose.

Ted had a challenging time selecting what to order.  The more he runs, the less he eats, the finicky bugger (J/K Ted...I know you're reading this).  I was not quite sure what the best dietary course of action would be either.  I just knew it wouldn't be pasta.  Finally, I decided on salmon with asparagus and baby potatoes.  There were some carbs, but nothing too bulky.  I enjoyed a glass of red wine with dinner.  Ted opted to stick with water.  My Vermont party animal had turned into a monk in less than five months, dammit.  In all seriousness,  I was okay with him abstaining.  We all have to prepare as we see fit.

I'm just having a little fun at his expense (he can take it).  

I did exercise some self-control, however, and passed on the second glass that was offered.  I REALLY didn't feel like running 26.2 miles with a blinding hangover.  And, I figured one would be enough.  It might even help me sleep.  Now THAT would be nice.

After dinner, we all parted company.  Ted opted to go back to the boardwalk in the hopes of finding out where the race started/ended.  Michael and I said our goodbyes to my cousin and his crew.  We stopped at the Blue Martini for a nightcap.  Well, my nightcap was club soda...although I did sneak a few sips of his Absolut Martini (shhhh, don't tell anyone).  There was a woman next to me at the bar that was splitting her time between dancing and drinking.  Judging by her condition, I would say that she spent a lot more time doing the latter than the former.  All of a sudden, she leans into us and starts talking to me.  It was like trying to understand Ozzy Osbourne without subtitles.  I had NO idea what she was saying.  She was LOADED.  Pie eyed.  Blitzed.  Polluted.

Needless to say, that gave us an excuse to pay the bill and call it a night.  We caught up with Ted back in the hotel room.  When we booked this trip, I made sure to get a room with two beds in it so he wouldn't have to sleep on the floor again.

I'm a humanitarian, remember?

We chatted for a few moments and then declared lights out.  I put my head down on the pillow, closed my eyes and waited for sleep to come.

And waited.  And waited.  And waited.

Sleep wasn't coming.

I tried deep breathing, positive affirmations and counting sheep.  Nothing.  Wide freaking awake.

I looked at the clock.  12:06 a.m.

Wide awake.  But, so tired.  And so fried.

Hearing the peaceful, sleepy breathing of my two roommates didn't exactly help either.

I got out of bed, walked over to the bathroom and sobbed.  I was channeling my Arizona trip all over again with the sleep deprivation and the crankiness.  This time, I didn't have to wear a pretty dress and hold a bouquet of flowers, however.

I had to run a MARATHON.

Not sleeping the night before a big race isn't a big deal.  It's much more important that you get good sleep two nights before.


Once I ran out of tears, I shuffled my way back to bed, hoping that the energy I expended sniffling and weeping would finally transport me to lala land.  There was nothing else I could do.  There was nothing else TO do.

8 a.m. was coming whether I liked it or not.

And when it did, I had to be race ready.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's a dry heat, part three

"Goin' to the chapel and we're...gonna get ma-a-arried..."

As the matron of honor, I have certain responsibilities, some of which I couldn't really fulfill.  For example, I wasn't really involved with the planning of the ceremony since I live on the other side of the country.  I also wasn't about to "throw a bachelorette party" for my 67 year old mother.  Can you imagine taking her and her social security eligible friends to see male strippers???  I  mean, really.

But, there was something I could do:  make sure my mother didn't step on her dress on the way to the church.  This proved to be no small task.  Mom was acclimating to her crazy dress and shoes too and isn't the most graceful creature on the planet to boot.  Getting her in the car and to the chapel was fairly uneventful, thank God.  My brother drove her car and she rode shotgun.  I stretched out in the back seat, counting the minutes to when I could change back into normal clothes.   

Since my brother and I couldn't fly to Arizona any earlier than we had, the happy couple decided to have an abbreviated "rehearsal" before all the guests were to arrive for the ceremony.  Most folks taking the plunge for the first time usually have the rehearsal dinner 1-2 days before the wedding, so I'm no stranger to this tradition.  However, this was the third time for both of them down the aisle.  Shouldn't you just kind of KNOW how to do it by now?  

Do you take him to be your lawfully wedded husband?  Do you take her to be your lawfully wedding wife??

Kiss kiss.  You're married.

I'm half-kidding here but, remember, I eloped, so I didn't deal with any of this stuff.  Moreover, I didn't understand the need for the fancy wedding.  I reminded myself for the millionth time that I didn't NEED to understand it.  It wasn't about me.  This was her day.  All I had to do was carry out her wishes by being present and involved in the festivities.

Once we arrived, I greeted my "stepfather to be", Glen, who I had only met once before.  He and my mother took a trip out our way over Memorial Day weekend.  I was introduced to his eldest son, Chuck, who was also his best man.  They both seemed nice enough, but, of course, I barely knew Glen, let alone his offspring.  Technically, these people were going to be "my new family" at the end of the day.  So, you put the game face on and do the best that you can, even if it's a little awkward.

It's not about's not about's not about me...

We made our way out of the heat and inside the church, which I was told was air conditioned.  It seemed a little on the warm side to me, but I figured they must have just turned it on.  Maybe it takes a while to cool down.  Mom introduced bro and me to the photographers, who were a male/female team.  The photo lady smiled, took my hand and said, "so you are Eileen's daughter?  The matron of honor?"  I acknowledged that yes, I was.  Then, she asked, "does your mother have a bustle and, if so, do you know how to fix it?"

I looked at her blankly for a moment and replied, "I don't know what a bustle is, so I'm guessing no."

She half-chuckled and assured me that she would help me out.

First the hair appointment and now the bustle.  This left me wondering what other "surprises" were lurking.  I was starting to feel SO not prepared for this.  Right about this time, I decided to appreciate the tradition of the "rehearsal".  Maybe Mom and Glen didn't need the walk through, but it was becoming pretty clear that I did.  

The pastor arrived shortly after we did, so it was time to practice.  As we were milling about, I noticed Glen near the podium with a microphone.  He was warming up to sing.  He was going to sing to my mother.  And he was going to serenade her with "Lady" by Kenny Rogers.  In the middle of the ceremony.  Obviously, he was crazy about her to engage in such a public display of devotion.

Or maybe he was just crazy, period.

We practiced our entrances into the church.  Glen and Chuck were standing next to the pastor.  I had a bouquet of flowers to hold and walked down the aisle before my mother and brother.  They followed shortly afterwards.  She made her way up to the podium and handed me her bouquet.  My stepsister, Jen, (the daughter of Mom's second husband, just in case you're a bit confused) instructed me to bend down and "shake out your mother's train" so it looked pretty all splayed out.

Take flowers.  Shake out train.  Roger that.

Once we were satisfied that we knew our parts, we headed into a room off the hallway to wait for our musical cue.  It was right around this time that I noticed my shoes kept slipping off my heels.  I had worn these  at my brother-in-law's wedding less than one year ago and thought they fit fine.  I knew my feet couldn't have shrunk.  Maybe they always fit this way, but I never had to "walk down an aisle" with them on.  They sort of made this "clop clop...clop clop" sound.  So, I made a mental note to sort of "heel/toe" my way down the aisle without looking too dorky.  Who knew this was going to be so complicated???

The guests had filed in.  It was 4 o'clock.  Time to get married.

The music started and photo lady came to fetch me.  I hid behind the door and waited for her signal.  She gave it and I made my way down:  clop/clop-heel/toe...clop/clop-heel/toe.  I couldn't wait to get there.  I had to hold myself back from taking off my shoes and just running there.  But, I made it.  I took my place to the left of the pastor and waited for Mom and bro to make their grand entrance.

As they walked down the aisle, I noticed that it really hadn't gotten much cooler.  In fact, I think it was getting warmer.  I'm sure standing under the lights didn't help much.  I tried to distract myself from the beads of perspiration I could feel forming on the back of my neck.  Once they made it to the front row, the pastor asked, "who gives this woman to be married?"  My brother says, "I do" and promptly sits down.  His work was done.


Mom made her way up the three steps and handed me her bouquet.  She stood to face her groom as I bent down to shake out the train, per Jen's instructions, who happened to be sitting in the front row.  I must not have done it right, because she got up out of her chair to do it herself.  I contemplated feeling insulted for a moment and then realized it just wasn't worth the effort.  Obviously, I had no idea what I was doing and Jen really meant well.  She just wanted to help.

The pastor began the ceremony with his little marriage monologue.  He talked about them both as individuals and a couple.  I stood there as he spoke, fiddling with both of the bouquets, doing my best to smile.  Did I mention it was getting warmer?

The time came for Glen to sing to his beloved.  He turned to face the congregation.  I thought it odd that he was looking at them instead of my mother, but then I realized why:  the lyrics to the song he was going to sing were being projected on the wall of the sound booth, karaoke style.

Here, let me share the words with you, so you can sing along:

Lady, I'm your knight in shining armor and I love you
You have made me what I am and I am yours
My love, there's so many ways I want to say I love you
Let me hold you in my arms forever more

You have gone and made me such a fool
I'm so lost in your love
And oh, we belong together
Won't you believe in my song?

Lady, for so many years I thought I'd never find you
You have come into my life and made me whole
Forever let me wake to see you each and every morning
Let me hear you whisper softly in my ear

In my eyes I see no one else but you
There's no other love like our love
And yes, oh yes, I'll always want you near me
I've waited for you for so long

Lady, your love's the only love I need
And beside me is where I want you to be
'Cause, my love, there's somethin' I want you to know
You're the love of my life, you're my lady!

Ahhhhhh.  This was going to be interesting.

He gets about one third of his way through the song when all of a sudden, the music stopped.  It just...stopped.  So, Glen...stopped.  He looks up at the guy in the sound booth quizzically, wondering what the problem is.  Mr. Mixmaster was able to get the music back on but, by this time, Glen was a little off with his timing.  I only know this because I grew up in a house with Kenny Rogers loving parents and I had heard this song more times than I care to remember.  He started right back where he thought he left off but, unfortunately, it wasn't where the music left off.

I was right.  It was interesting.

God Bless him, the man just kept on going.  Apparently he didn't care if he was singing "In my eyes I see no one else but you" to the musical part of "I've waited for you for so long".  As I watched him stumble his way through the song, I made a concerted effort NOT to look at my brother, who I could barely see out of my peripheral vision.  I knew that if I made eye contact with him, I was going to utterly and completely lose it.  By this time, the beads of perspiration that were forming on the back of my neck began to stream down my spine.  I could feel it.  Nervously, I bit my lip, and kept flipping the bouquets in my hands, trying to wiggle so the sweat didn't go through my dress.  Just when I thought I couldn't get any more uncomfortable, I began to feel a cramp in my foot.  Of course.  This caused me to shift my weight from one foot to other in the hopes of working it out.

It went something like this:  flip, flip...wiggle, wiggle...shift, shift.

Flip, flip...wiggle, wiggle...shift, shift.

"You're the love of my life...."

Translation:  the song is almost over.

Finally, he puts the microphone down.  The pastor resumes his spiel, they exchange vows and rings.  They kiss and, voila, they're married.  Eventually, we all filed out of the church and took our spots in the entryway so we could greet everyone.  As we were walking, I overheard my mother say to her new husband, "you sort of got a little turned around with that song, there."  Gee, I had hardly noticed.  

Chuck made his way over to where I was and said, "apparently, I'm supposed to be standing next to you."  I kind of laughed, realizing that he was just as lost as I was.  We commiserated over how bleeping warm it was in the church.  I started to relax a little more once I heard how he was virtually sweating bullets too.  We smiled and shook hands with all of the people that came, thanking them for being here, so nice to meet you, blah, blah, blah.  After everyone left, we made our way back in the sauna for photos.  More smiling, more posing, more standing under those lights.  After the pics, Chuck and I witnessed the signing of the marriage license and then it was official:  the wedding was over.

We wrapped up our Arizona weekend with the reception and brunch the next morning with our new "family" and then it was time to head home.  We said our goodbyes to the newly wedded couple and made our way to the airport.  May they live happily ever after.  Because, I gotta tell you, I can't imagine doing this again.

As they say in baseball:  three strikes, you're out!

The End.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's a dry heat, part two

I woke up, later during that "tomorrow", not feeling much different than I did when I went to bed.  It felt like someone twisted my head off and kicked it down the street.  But, I knew myself well enough by now to know what I needed.

Food.  Oh, and something caffeinated on the side would be ever so nice.

If I couldn't be back in my own bed, then I might as well raid my mother's refrigerator.

I stumbled out of the guest room and said good morning to my family, all of whom were already up.  I can only imagine how I must have looked because practically the first words out of my brother's mouth were, "Cyn, let me make you some eggs.  You need to eat something."

Be still my heart.

While he fired up the stove, I begged my mother to show me where she kept the coffee.  I figured that could only help my head to feel somewhat normal again.  My nephews had a huge bowl of fruit salad in front of them, so I weaseled my way in between and proceeded to stuff my face.  Pretty soon, I had a big mug of coffee and a plate of eggs and toast to contend with.

This day was starting to shape up nicely.

My mother presented my brother and me with gifts for participating in the ceremony:  a watch for him and a necklace for me which "should match your dress beautifully", she commented.  I interpreted that to mean she wanted me to wear it during the wedding.  Duly noted, Mom.

As I ate, I chatted with my stepsister, Jen, and my mother.  Well, truthfully, they did most of the chatting.  That suited me just fine since I didn't have much to say between bites of breakfast and sips of coffee.  I have become a morning person by necessity due to my work schedule (I start at 6 a.m. 3-4 days a week).  But, just because I'm up at o'dark hundred doesn't mean that I want to talk to anyone right away.  You gotta work up to these things.

All of a sudden, my mother checks the time and says, "Well, we better get ready."

It was 10 a.m.

The "rehearsal" was at 3 p.m. and the ceremony was an hour later.

Color me confused.

I say, "for what?"

She replies, "we're getting our hair done at 11."

Either my mother had a mouse in her pocket, or she was talking to Jen and me.

She was, in fact, talking to us.  This was news to Cyndi Lou.  

Maybe she wanted to surprise us.  Or, maybe, she just plain forgot to mention it.  In any event, we've never had stellar communication.  But, since she was going to be saying "I Do" in a mere six hours, I decided to cut her some slack.  Pre-wedding jitters is enough to make anyone a bit loopy.

I got myself showered and ready to get beautified.  We arrived at the salon and I met my stylist, whose name escapes me.  She takes one look at my thick, naturally curly hair and decides that it needs to be blown out straight for the wedding.  This isn't the first time a hairdresser has wanted to give me this particular look, so I decided to just roll with it.  As I was in the chair getting transformed, I shot a sideways glance over to my mom, who was receiving the finishing touches on her do.  It was at this time that I noticed the tiara.

Yup.  Tiara.  She was going all Princess Di on us.

After we left the salon, we stopped to have lunch before heading back to the house.  Mom took us to her friendly, neighborhood Chili's where she was received like the royalty she was dressing as.  This was one of her hang outs.  Everyone seemed to know her, particularly our server, who ended up paying the tab as a wedding gift.  Apparently, there IS such a thing as a free lunch.

We got back to the house with just enough time to get ourselves and my mother dressed and ready.  Getting ourselves ready was a breeze.  Mom was going to take a little more time.  Jen and I did our best to get her all buttoned, zippered and buckled.  This dress should have come with instructions, but we did a pretty good job nonetheless.  You can imagine how grateful I was to have Jen there helping with all of this.  She had a fancy schmancy dress at her own wedding, so she had a little experience with this stuff.

Me?  The "matron of honor"?

I eloped.

Plus, I got my dress at the mall for under $100.

My brother and I do not seem to share my mother's sense of the ornate.  I suspect neither one of us were really looking forward to dressing up.  But, bro cleans up pretty well.  He was all decked out in black pants, black jacket, white shirt and red tie. He looked really good.

By now, you may be wondering what the matron of honor had on.

I was wearing a red/cranberry sleeveless dress with black nylons and black shoes.  Why I decided to wear nylons for a wedding in Arizona, I do not know.  I don't like wearing them EVER, never mind in 90+ degree temps.  My friend, Sarah, couldn't believe that I had them on either.  She thought I was nuts.  I was inclined to agree with her.  But, I couldn't exactly change my mind now.

It was time to go to the church.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

You can't make this stuff up

Got in my car yesterday, started her up, and noticed this particular number on my odometer.

Talk about a Kodak moment, eh???

Bring on October 17th.

Friday, October 8, 2010

It's a dry heat, part one

How about you and I hop in the not-so-way back machine for a little rambling and ranting?

Let me tell you about my trip to Arizona for mom's wedding.

But first, a little background.

My mother announced her engagement to Bachelor #3 shortly after I ran the Philadelphia Marathon last November.  She and her new beau started dating sometime in September.  While that may seem like a very short courtship, bear in mind that she is 67 years old.  Not exactly one foot in, mind you, but the timetable gets a little different when you're a senior citizen.  In fact, when she told me about her engagement, she assured me that "they weren't going to rush into anything" and the wedding "wouldn't be for at least a year".  Not only were my brother and I invited to the festivities, we had PARTS.  I was the matron of honor and he was giving her away.

Whatever makes you happy, Mom.

Turns out, I inherited my not so MIT like math skills from my mother.  They set a wedding date of 8/14/10.  Last time I checked, that was only nine months.  If I didn't know better, I would think she was "a woman in trouble".  Of course, I did know better.  But, who am I to quibble?

Whatever makes you happy, Mom.

Bro and I had mixed feelings about going to Arizona.  Mind you, it wasn't that we approved or disapproved of her decision to marry again.  First of all, this was her third wedding, so we didn't quite understand the need for all the "pomp and circumstance".  Secondly, she didn't exactly live down the street.  Airline tickets were running $350-400 per person/round trip.  Finally, and perhaps the most important reason of all, WHO WANTS TO GO TO ARIZONA IN AUGUST???  Seriously.  I mean, I know she lives there year round, but that's her choice.  However, she carried us in her womb for nine months and sacrificed many times over for our health and well-being through the years.  Is taking a trip across the country too much to ask?

Whatever makes you happy, Mom.

After procrastinating for a respectable period of time, we decided to book our trip.  We would be departing Manchester Airport on Friday, 8/13 at 4:03 p.m. and leaving Arizona on Sunday, 8/15 at 2:06 p.m.  Our significant others weren't going to be accompanying us to the blessed event, so it would just be the two of us.  I happen to really like my brother as well as love him, so the opportunity to spend time together sort of took the sting out of our crazy weekend of travel.

The morning of the 13th, I squeezed in an 18 mile run, thinking it'd be next to impossible to take the time to run while I was there.  We figured out that we'd only PHYSICALLY be in the state of Arizona 39 hours, and that included two sleeps plus the wedding.  It was going to be one of THOSE weekends.

After my run, I got myself together, met my brother, and headed to the airport.  We flew to Newark on schedule and scoped out a place to have dinner.  We found this place called Ruby's Diner and had cheeseburgers, fries and chocolate shakes (don't you judge us).  It's very challenging to stay on a good meal schedule when you are traveling, particularly since the airline wants no part in feeding you unless you pay them a small fortune.  So, we did our best to "load up" while the getting was good.

Finally, the time came to board the plane to Phoenix.  The plane was completely full.  I had a window seat and my brother was in the middle.  For the next 4-5 hours, I attempted to read, listen to music, and possibly sleep.  Let me just say that I don't recommend running 18 miles and then sitting on an airplane for an extended period of time.  My legs were a little perturbed.  It was practically an impossibility to get comfortable wedged between the window and my sibling.  But, hey, we were all in the same boat (plane), weren't we?  Time to put the big girl pants on and stop whining.

By the time we landed in Arizona, it was almost 11 p.m.  It also happened to be 104 degrees.  104.  At 11 p.m.  However, to my body, it was REALLY 2 a.m., which is about 5 hours past my bedtime.  After waiting for all the folks in front of us to remove their luggage from the overhead compartment, we made our way off the plane.  I checked a small suitcase, so it was off to baggage claim.  My stepsister, Jen, was coming from San Diego to attend the festivities and offered to pick us up at the airport on the way to my mother's house.  Once we got my bag, we stepped outside to wait for Jen.

Holy HAND GRENADE Batman.  It was like someone immediately jumped in front of you and shoved a hair dryer in your face.  It was bleeping hot.  Now, I know what you're thinking:  but it's Arizona.  It's the desert.  At least it's a dry heat.

Well, for the record, my oven is a dry heat too, but I'm not about to stick my head in it.  Sorry, but I'm not buying it.  104 is 104.  Period.

The good thing is, we only had to bake in it for a few minutes.  Jen pulled up, hugged us and helped us get our bags in the car.  Once we found our way out of the airport (see? Other people get lost too), we were off to Payson, AZ.

Did I happen to mention that my mother lives about 90 miles outside of Phoenix?  Well, she does.  There isn't a whole lot between Phoenix and Payson, except for cactus and coyotes.  Basically, you get on I-87 and keep going.  I put my head back and closed my eyes, hoping to doze off, but I happened to be sharing the backseat with my two young nephews who were a little too punchy for their own good.  At least if I make it LOOK like I'm sleeping, I thought, no one will try to talk to me.

This is what happens to me when I'm deprived of food and sleep.  I'm pretty miserable to be around.

We pulled in to my mother's driveway at 12:30 a.m.  I had now been awake for almost 24 hours and hadn't eaten since Newark.  Just the mere act of talking reduced me to tears.  It was just too much effort.  I was so ready to just curl up in a ball. I mumbled a barely intelligible greeting to my mother who was just a little TOO happy at this late hour, and begged to be shown to my room.  My head was pounding.  I didn't know whether I needed sleep more than food, but chose the former.  Maybe things would look a little brighter once I got some rest.

After all, tomorrow was the big day.  Oh snap, it was already tomorrow...


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Is It Ever Gonna Be Enough?

Have you heard that song "Gold Guns Girls" by Metric?  Well, in case you haven't, I've copied a youtube link for your enjoyment.

So, why am I sharing this with you?

Well, first of all, it's a GREAT song (I've done many a 400 meter repeat to this upbeat tune).  But, second of all, it's for this one line in the song that gets repeated multiple times:

Is it ever gonna be enough?

Have you ever asked yourself that question?

I would be soon asking myself.

After qualifying for Boston at the Vermont City Marathon, I called my Coach.  As I'm sure you can imagine both he and I were very happy with the outcome.  I was about three hours removed from crossing the finish line when I heard this come out of my mouth:

"So, I figured I could sign up for the Mohawk Hudson Marathon in October and see if I can get my time down even more.  Then, I could be seeded higher at Boston and move up in the pack!"

My Coach didn't encourage or discourage this.  He gently suggested that, yes, we run a fall marathon, do Boston and then, perhaps, take the rest of 2011 off from marathoning and work on the short stuff.  He congratulated me once again on the marathon and told me to keep him posted on my recovery.

I bounced back pretty well from the marathon; in fact it was the least amount of soreness I've ever had post-race.  Perhaps it was the consistent training this time around?  Or maybe it was that I kept moving and didn't sit still for too long?  In any event, it was easy to put another 26.2'er on the calendar since I seemed primed and ready to go.

About six weeks after Vermont, I went to register online for Mohawk Hudson and, to my surprise, it was FULL!!!  An October race was already sold out in July.  What IS this world coming to???  I really wanted to run this one because I had heard it was a flat and fast course with an elevation drop of over 300 ft.  If that doesn't scream PR, well, then, I don't know what does.

(PR = Personal Record.  Educating the non-running public one blog post at a time...)

Thankfully, I had already chosen a backup race, just in case:  The Atlantic City Marathon on October 17th.  This one made sense because it was a doable distance to travel.  Plus, I was born in the great state of New Jersey.  In a way, it would be like going home again.  And, my Jersey cousins could come.

I told my Coach the news about Mohawk as well as my plan B.  We agreed to design our training for this race and had a plan in place (hey, that rhymes).  I started to train.

As my training got underway, lots of life events happened, particularly in the month of August.  First of all, I took a certified running coach course through the RRCA (Road Runners Club of America), which took up an entire weekend.  Secondly, I had to hop on a germy plane with my brother to Arizona for my mother's third wedding.  (That in and of itself deserves it's own blog post which, perhaps, I'll post at a later date.)  Then, there was the Red Sox game at Fenway.  And...and...and...

All of a sudden, I didn't feel so well.

Between life in general, my social activities/obligations and, oh yeah, training for a MARATHON, my body screamed, "oh no she didn't!".  I was grounded with walking pneumonia.

Turns out I'm a very healthy "sick" person as I never ran a fever and was still running through all this stuff.  Once we had a clear idea as to what was going on, Coach said not to run for at least three days.  My only job during this time was to rest, medicate and let my body heal.

A funny thing happened during this time.  I didn't panic.  Here I was, in the middle of a marathon training cycle, with pneumonia, not running, and it was okay somehow.  I had slowly regained my perspective.  It was then that I first asked myself that question:

Is It Ever Gonna Be Enough???

I had set my sights on qualifying for Boston well over two years ago.  This was a dream I had been chasing for quite a while.  The dream manifested into my "now" reality, which is what I'd been wanting.  I thought that if I could just get this, then I'd be happy.  Was I?  Well, yes, I was.  But, instead of "milking it", I immediately made plans to achieve another goal.  I wondered if I was really enjoying the process or whether all of this goal setting was becoming a means to an end.  When you set a goal, your life tends to move towards that.  You become focused on what it is you want to go after, and life does too.  In effect, you sort of get tunnel vision.

As I've said before, it's impossible to go through life without new desires being born within you and, of course, it's our natural inclination to expand.  But, like most things, there is a happy medium.  Somewhere between my exaltation of qualifying and lying on the couch watching reruns of the original "Hawaii Five-O" series, I realized I went off my beam a little bit.  And that's okay.  That's awareness.  

It was then that I decided that this moment was enough.  It had to be.  Maybe I'd shatter my marathon PR on October 17th.  Maybe it'll be the most fun that I've ever had running a race.  Who knows?  All I know is I don't have to do it TODAY.

One day at a time.  That's enough.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Vermont, naturally

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.

Of course.

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...

THERE...IS...A...Beer Tent.

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 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

Total Distance
26.46 mi

Total Time
3:44:03 (didn't turn my watch off right away)

Avg Pace

Avg Speed
7.1 mph

Max Speed
10.2 mph

Total Ascent
3093 ft

Total Descent
4138 ft

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.)