Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Boston - part III (THE race)

The start was pretty uneventful – Shawn came back to my corral, and we started with a girl wearing a Grinnell shirt – I swear I am to be haunted by that stupid school forever…  We staunchly refused to run until we hit the starting line, so Shawn and I power walked up the hill to the start, discussing our pacing strategy (he wanted negative splits, I wanted something in the 8:20-8:40 range… these were likely to be mutually exclusive goals).   And then we were off!

The first several miles of the race were pretty uneventful: my pacing strategy won out, but we were running pretty comfortably and I was enjoying the sights of all the little MA towns.  One very sad note, though, is I ended up ditching my pink lost and found shirt about 2 miles in.  I thought about tying it around my waist, but determined that would be really annoying for 24 miles, and reasoned that it was a found shirt anyway, so this would just be a continuation of the circle of life.  That being said, I miss that shirt.  A lot.  It was a great shirt.

Around mile 7 we saw Shawn’s family for the first time.  Shawn was so excited, he literally shoved me out of the way to go high-five them.  Yes, that’s right – I’m putting that out there in public.  Luckily, I wasn’t injured and was able to also nab a few high fives in the process.  I also high-fived about 800 little kids over the course of the race because a) it was kinda fun, and b) it distracted me from the fact that the course has approximately no turns.  Shawn distracted himself by running wildly back and forth across the road looking for soft surfaces to run on (“Do you think it’s okay to run behind all the spectators if there’s a worn path in the grass?” “Um. Maybe? ..but it seems kinda weird”)

Around mile 9 some guy stepped up to the curb and yelled “Who wants a Fig Newton?”  I realized at that moment that I ABSOLUTELY wanted a Fig Newton.  In fact, there was nothing I wanted more than a Fig Newton.  …except maybe for that licorice that kid is handing out over there…  So I grabbed both and trotted along with my Fig Newton and my licorice, wishing there was a race photographer to document how seriously I was taking this endeavor.

Somewhere in the 11-ish range, we came upon Leigh Ann, who was recovering from an injury earlier in the spring.  We picked her up and headed toward the shrieking up ahead.  What they say is true: it is absolutely the most amazing noise, and you will probably never hear something like it again.  Running through the aisle formed by girls holding signs saying “Kiss me, I’m xxxx”, was truly awesome.  We ran along high-fiving the girls as upper-middle-aged men dodged in to grab kisses and then back out looking immensely pleased with themselves.  It occurred to me at that point, that based on qualifying times, we were running mostly with upper-middle-aged men and young women, which was an interesting combination as we faced this section of the race.  Suddenly, I spotted a girl holding a sign saying “Kiss me, I’m from Boulder, CO!”  “That’s my girl!” I thought, so I dodged over, planted a kiss on her cheek, and dodged back out feeling immensely pleased with myself.

The stretch between Wellesley and Newton was pretty uneventful.  Leigh Ann dropped back and I think we got to turn somewhere (or maybe the road just bent?), but otherwise, we mostly just chugged along, making our way to the hills.  In all honesty, the hills really aren’t that big, but as noted many times before, they do come at a time that just makes them kind of a pain in the ass.  Also, I really feel like the first hill was worse than the famed Heartbreak hill, but maybe that’s just me, and maybe it’s because I wasn’t expecting that first one.  …and maybe it’s because I stopped to refill my water bottle in the middle and sent Shawn ahead, so I was a) a little bit rested, and b) probably a little bit of a slacker.  Regardless, I made it through the hills without incident, though I did walk the water bottle aid station not so much because I was tired, but more because I was sick of running with the exact same stride in the exact same direction.  Walking was a nice change of pace (HA!  Get it???   pace???).  The back side of Heartbreak was amusing, as apparently nobody told half the pack that the finish was not at mile 22.  People literally went sprinting by me down the hill.   I suppose its possible that they had all saved up for a 5-mile kick, but the carnage I saw walking/sitting/stretching by the side of the road miles 23-26 leads me to believe this was not the case.  I hit mile 23 and thought “Gosh – if you had run here as fast as you did at Des Moines, you would be almost done.”  Stupid slacking.  Though, to be fair, I don’t know that I was really in the same shape as I had been in October – like I said previously, the mileage was there, but the speed was lacking.

So I motored into Boston, noting the guy in the singlet who was already on the train BACK OUT OF TOWN, and consoling myself by noting that he had probably been in the first wave, which had a 20 minute head start on me (yeah – THAT’S the reason…).

The finish was uneventful – I caught the girl I had decided in Newton shouldn’t beat me, so that was good, and I cruised in 5 min under my arbitrarily set goal time of 4 hrs, so I felt reasonably good about the affair.  Then clusterf*ck #2.

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