#18: Not a Boston recap
I wasn't even planning on writing a post about Boston. I felt like I had talked/posted/thought about it so much that everyone must be tired of hearing it! I had a few friends actually ask why I had posted something about a green smoothie instead of Boston... If you are unlike them and tired of hearing it, no worries, this isn't a blog post about Boston so you can continue reading :P. I decided not to write about the excitement of arriving in Boston, the shockingly climactic 5 hrs of waiting and busing to get to the start line, or the paralyzing fear that kept me awake at night of having to use the restroom at some point during the race. Instead, I am going to share some things that I took home with me from that race (besides blisters).
1) Everyone who was there had to endure something to make it
The whole time I was training for Boston I had this chip on my shoulder or this "badge of honor", depending on my mood, that I had these very odd/difficult training circumstances. I was working a peculiar schedule in Mobile, AL where I would work 7 days a week, 12 hr days and then have the following 7 days off. Work half the time!? Sounds magical right? Yeah, it was. But not so much for a running schedule. Getting up as early as 3:45am some days to get to work on time, wearing steel toed shoes for 12 hrs, living on Whole Foods prepared foods (I know, I know, first world problems), trying to keep up with an online class, a community project and Landmark course, and a blog I had committed to myself that I would write once a week, and not having what I believe is one of the most effective motivational factors (running community) made these past 4-5 months of training less than smooth sailing.
Besides feeling completely like a zombie most days after leaving work, I had some peculiar health issues that left me feeling completely void of energy or motivation about 3 weeks before the race. I was feeling like my desire to run 7:50/mile was slowly slipping away after I had been training “pretty good” given the circumstances. There was a time when I would look forward to getting out of work and running but the last few weeks before Boston it started to become a chore. S#&%.
While I was running the race around mile 7, I had an "Ah-ha" moment.
Everyone around you had some circumstances to overcome to train for and get to this race, just like you.
These are runners who have full-time jobs that demand a lot of their time and energy, children who do the same, other hobbies, loved ones to maintain relationships with, pre-planned vacations, illnesses and injuries (theirs and those around them), and I am sure that some have endured the passing of someone very special in their lives. And yet we are all made it here despite the long run or two missed, one too many beers that one time, or a less than stellar workout.
It was then that I was able to drop my BORING story about my struggles and realize that my situation is just like everyone else's. Just like Ironman, ultra runner, and marathoner Robert Key says, all of us have or have had struggles that the rest of us cannot fathom. I felt like I was part of a community of people who love to run and make it work even when life seems to be telling you that it shouldn’t.
2) It is rare to experience joy that brings tears to your eyes
What? This got weird real quick. Stick with me.
As the race went on, I couldn’t stop smiling. Despite the fact that my feet felt like there were tenderized meat from mile 5 (eeewwwww), was feeling slightly spacey, like maybe I hadn’t eaten enough, and I wore those damn arm warmers and it was like 65 friggin degrees.
Every mile, there were people cheering loudly, holding up clever signs, breaking out their own personal stashes of oranges, Swedish fish, Vaseline, and untiringly holding them out to anyone who might need them. I saw someone representing Miles for Miracles run over to the sideline to hug a child and watched as the child smiled and laughed like CRAZY! I saw a man running with two prosthetic legs and the looks of admiration and encouragement on the crowds face while they cheered him on. I saw a man run to his wife and give her a kiss before he continued on and she was just beaming looking at him continue and everyone around them smiling and congratulating her. Just truly beautiful stuff.
I also couldn’t stop smiling because I knew that I had 3 people who made a special trip just to see me run; my Mom, Dad, and high school running coach Carmine all took the day off, spent their hard-earned money to get to Boston, and waited since 6:45am enduring what is actually an all-day event. I felt like the luckiest person in the world as I approached mile 16.8 where I knew that they would be, looking in the crowd, hoping that my face wouldn't give away how terrible my feet felt, and hearing “CATIE” in classic Carmine “coach voice”.
When I would think about all of the people in my life, those that were at the race and those that I know were cheering for me from their jobs or wherever they were, is when I would feel the tears starting to come to my eyes and my throat start to constrict. This feeling had to be squashed once it reached that point because I desperately needed that throat opening. But it is just amazing to realize that you have the opportunity to be part of something this cool and that it is possible because everyone in your life supported you by being a friend, running buddy, understanding co-worker, stopped their car at an intersection so you could run past, or held your room key at the front desk while you went out for a run.
It was just one of those races where you really got to feel the love and support that you have in your life because sometimes we just get too caught up and busy to really appreciate that it's always there.
3) It is amazing how we can adapt
With 6 miles to go my body had had enough. My legs were begging me to stop and my feet were like "yeah, listen to your legs dumby!". I attempted to ignore these protests when a blister on the toe neighboring my big toe decided to spill its contents into my sock. I know what you are thinking, that sentence is a literary beauty in its graphic
disgustingness, boldness, and honesty. :)
Anyway, the pain of trying to run on this recently unleashed blister was nothing less than excruciating. But I thought I was in the home stretch, nothing catastrophic can happen when you are so close. WRONG-O! Really on the scale of catastrophes, this would fall somewhere near the bottom. But I thought it was interesting how this pain seemed pretty “race altering” as I was unable to land on my feet without terrible pain, but given a mile or so, I adjusted. My body realized that toe pain wasn’t going to be enough to stop the show, it adjusted so that I could be comfortable.
Kind of like life, right? We think we can see relief, end of a workday, end of a difficult relationship or circumstance, then wack! Something else pops up that makes the end seem nearly impossible to get to. But we do it, right? Every time.
4) Help others. Period.
This also kind of falls under #3. It is easy to recognize our pain, but how about recognizing someone else's? This is sometimes easy to do or not so easy.
At mile 24, I was certain that I could get another BQ by the skin of my teeth if I could just keep this pace up. I would probably just hit it. But then I see a girl, my age or maybe a little older collapsed in the middle of the road with no medics around her. It took me about 1 second to run through the possibility of continuing on, because “someone will come”, or stopping and definitely not hitting that 3:35. I ran over to her and saw that her nose was bleeding and she could barely support herself. Her eyes were rolling into her head and she could not respond to anything I was saying. Another man came and we lifted her up and asked her if she wanted to go to the med tent. She was unable to answer us or support her own body weight. A medic came within the minute and started taking care of her and the entourage slowly started dissipating to finish the race.
Being someone who admittedly can get lost in getting to the destination and lose sight of how important the journey is, I felt like this was just a really bold and outright reminder. This reminded me that it is important not to get so lost in the destination that I do not recognize when people along the way need help.
There you have it folks. It was truly an amazing weekend filled with touring, reunions, good/clean (okay, mostly clean) food, beers, and some serious soreness. Wouldn't of had it any other way.