Monday, October 18, 2010

Lost In Boston

This time last year I’d finished happily running myself into the ground to run the Columbus Marathon in flat, mildly scenic, freezing (it was 27 degrees at the start*) Columbus, Ohio. I wasn’t running this particular race just because I’d always dreamed of running a marathon in which miles 18 through 23 involved zigzagging through an office park parking lot (one of the more demoralizing things I’ve encountered in a race). I was running to qualify for Boston, or at least to try to. After slamming face-first into the wall at about mile 19, I managed to scrape myself together for a quick-ish final two miles and barely, barely made it (I had 83 whole seconds to spare). Crossing that finish line was, at that point, the most fun I have ever had at any race. Plus I ate a giant cheeseburger and a dozen wings afterward (marathon days = days I eat meat) so it was a good day.

I registered for Boston that afternoon and started training about a month later. Six months and seven feet of snow later, we piled into the car and drove to Boston. After geeking out at the expo where I spent about half a paycheck on marathon crap, we got to hang with some peeps and some fam for two days until the race. I woke up before the alarm on race day – I am usually the snooze button’s number one fan. Danced around like it was Christmas and my birthday all at the same time. I was so damn excited, jumped around like a bobo at the start line and actually clapped when the gun went off.

The weather was perfect, the crowd was awesome and I smiled so much over the 26.2 miles that my face hurt worse than my legs the next day. My expectations were exceeded. The right turn up a hill, the left onto Boylston Street, then 800 meters to the finish were the best steps I ever ran. I felt like I was the only one running and that the crowd was there just for me. Perfect. Boston was my slowest marathon by 9 minutes but absolutely my best.

Today Boston registration opened. My qualifying time was good again for 2011. I decided not to run it again, then decided I would, then that I wouldn’t, and then that I would. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. After about 15 tries this morning to get the registration form to open (everyone, I am assuming, with the intent to run Boston did the same thing as it was expected to, and did, sell out in 8 hours and 4 minutes --- in 2008 it sold out the day before the race), I typed in my name, address, qualifying time, credit card info, and then when it was time to hit “submit” I totally bailed. And was immediately relieved.

I’ve been training for marathons basically continuously since April of 2009. In that time almost all the racing I've done was on road. I haven’t done an adventure race since August of 2009. My mountain bike is literally collecting dust. I have a new roadbike I got in January that is beautiful and has all of 500 miles on it. Running Boston this year was perfect – what if it wasn’t in 2011? What if it rains? What if I don’t have fun? Do I really want to spend another winter only running on roads and being scared every time I ski that I will get a big booboo and won’t be able to run Boston? Do I really want to volunteer at adventure races and sit on the sidelines at trail runs? I haven’t minded these things for the past 18 months but don’t want to give them up for another 7.

I’ve upped the mileage to between 48 and 52 (this is a lot for me) for the past month to train for the New York marathon in less than three weeks. The runs have been going well and I think I am ready for the start line but I am even more ready to scrape the cobwebs off my mountain bike, shine up the pretty pretty road bike (seriously, it’s freakin beautiful), slap on the skis and get bloody knees on the trail. Just not all at the same time.

*I got to the starting area about 90 minutes early, wrapped in several trash bags, hand warmers stuffed into my sportsbra and running tights and was still freezing. There was nowhere to go. Except the portopotties. I went in and sat and sat and sat for an hour. It was surprisingly, and alarmingly, warm.

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