Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tales of a marathon n00b.

Winter Storm Q. My savior! It would totally get me out of running 26.2 grueling, terrible, painful miles. Since my last long run I have been dreading the Hyannis marathon. My runs invariably went like this, 16 -17 miles of cruising fun followed closely by 3-4 miles of pain suffering and double digit paces. Ugh!

Like this. But colder.

But now I was saved! An epic blizzaster, on race weekend! Only I could be so lucky! My mood took a turn for the better! No longer was I stressing out. I was laid back and carefree! All the while my Exclusive Dating Partner got rather ornery. She needed to BQ for 2014 so that she could run this years Boston foot loose and fancy free, and having her BQ race canceled by a blizzard was not in her plans. She became rather difficult to live with, especially given my state of euphoria.

Sara checking the weather, except more flames.

However, as soon as I had written off the pain and suffering, things took a turn for the worse! (dun dun dun) Things went from immanent cancellation, to probable cancellation, all the way to "Its going to be windy and raining, but fuck you guys, we're running anyway."  

Oh Shit.

I just really needed to work in this picture. In other news, I'm old. Carry on.

Next thing I know, we are on our way down to Scituate with *ALL* of the things packed. Because who the eff knows what to pack for 27-46 degrees and rain/snow/wind/death. I sure don't. So, I packed everything. I could have run in 95 degrees and sunny or 4 degrees and snow. 

On the trip down I tried to put on my game face. All these terrible long runs had put me in a terrible state of mind and I knew that if I wanted to do something other then suffer, I needed to get some kind of positive mind set going, because if I went in feeling as shitty as I had been, it was all over before it even started. So, I spent about 1/2 of the 3 hour drive down telling myself how awesome I was, and not believing it for even a second.

Yeah, pretty much. (Thanks Coach)

At some point I had decided that it was my lack of proper nutrition that was my limiting factor. So, starting Saturday morning, I ate the shit out of *EVERYTHING*! Huge breakfast of pancakes and veggie sausages. Big lunch of filled pasta of some sort, even though I was not even remotely hungry. Dinner at The OG (Olive Garden for those not so cool kids.) I ate until I literally had to unbutton my pants.

Eff you nutrition.

I slept a bit the night before the race. But not a ton. I had not decided what I was wearing or if I was going to bail at the 1/2 way point, and if I did what sort injury I could possibly fake that was impossible to completely validate. So making those plans kept me occupied during the night. Then before I knew it, it was time to wake up. Race Morning. 

I continued my nutrition plan. Eat all the food. Everything bagel, cream cheese and coffee. Times two. My entire training I had eaten gels of one type or another at 35-40 minutes, invariably skipping one or two for various reason. This time there was no fucking around. 8 gels. One every 30 minutes. Period. I decided to bring my fuel belt, equipped with slightly diluted Infinit. 4 little bottles. One every hour, just to be sure. I also promised myself that I would not miss a water stop. Drink and eat everything. If I was going to crash and burn, I was going to rule "not enough nutrition" right the fuck out.

We met up with some friends from the tubes. I only kinda remember what was going on because I was still trying to figure out what I was going to wear. What they had on was of no help to me, sparkly red skirts are not my thing. In the end I decided on shorts, a long sleeve mock turtleneck, and my vest, to go along with my fuel belt. At the last minute Sara convinced me that a pair of light throw away gloves was a good idea as well (Thank the Lord). 

Before I knew it we are out in the cold rain and I am trying to do my dynamic warm up as the tail end of the Star Spangled Banner wafts through the icy air. We headed to our various spots in the crowd, me to get some warmth, Sara and Evan to line up where they should be. And we are off.

Picture this. But more rain, less people and... Well, not like this at all.

First couple of miles were basically running with everyone, dodging puddles and dodging people dodging puddles. Just to complicate things, earlier in the week my Garmin had decided to shit itself, so I was running with a plain old stop watch. For the first time ever. I also had a pace chart in my pocket, that I never looked at. Anyway, the first mile marker I saw was 15 (this being a 2 lap course for the 7 of us doing the full). Not helpful. Then I saw the first water stop. And immediately ignored my nutrition plan. (Who gets water between miles 1 and 2 of a race?!?!?!)  Slightly after the water stop I managed to find mile marker 2, glancing at my watch I notice that I am already 16 seconds behind pace. But I'm cool. Hey, I can make up 16 seconds, even if I don't, over 26 miles that is like 0.5 seconds off pace. Just keep it easy and steady. (I know!! I am shock at how level headed I was as well!)

This would be like one of the small puddles.

Then, I started knocking off miles. I fell as far back as 18 seconds off pace and as close as 10 seconds off pace. Miles seemed to come surprisingly fast, yet awfully slowly. I hit mile six and told myself I was a quarter of the way there. Gels were going down without a problem. Infinit was being consumed. Don't get ahead of yourself I said. There is a *long* way to go. 

I went through the 1/2 way point, 8 seconds off of pace. I had managed to stay on pace, for 13 miles within 8 seconds with just a watch and my gut. Color me shocked.

Bailey, this is for you!

At that point the 2,300 1/2 marathoners peeled off and left the 380ish of us dumb-asses left to do another lap. It would have gotten a bit lonely, if I had not found a running buddy. I use "Running Buddy" very loosely, because I am pretty sure that this particular woman who I was running with thought I was an ass hat. 

Exhibit A:  In the first mile after all the 1/2 marathoners left
                 Eric - Wow, it's awfully empty streets now.
                 Woman - (After removing her head phones that I did not see) Yeah...
                  Woman's eyes- You're an idiot.

But, she was going my pace so she was stuck with me. And after awhile we were the best of friends. In my head at least. For the next 6 miles, we ran. Shoulder to shoulder. Picking people off slowly but steadily. In those 6 miles, I went from 8 seconds off of pace to a full minute ahead of pace. There is a 50% probability, that this was due to the fact that she was trying to get away from me and a 50% chance that we were just running well together. My ego says we were running well, so we will go with that.

Something like that.

At about mile 18, for some strange unexplained reason, I knew I had this race in the bag. I had never run over 21 miles and had died a miserable death at the end of those runs, but I *knew* I had this. It was getting colder by the minute and the rain was coming down harder and harder. It didn't matter. I had this. I believed it. 

At the rest stop just before mile 19 or 20 I lost my running buddy. She stopped to take in some nutrition or just needed a break, I am not sure. I looked back to see if she was coming and then motored on. A small piece of me hoped that she would catch up, her being my new bestie and all, but I was not waiting.

It got tougher from there on out. My hip started to yell, even though it has never done so before. My glute/hamstring/calf/Achilles chain of muscles (especially on my right side) decided to be rather grumpy. I out loud (luckily I was running mostly by myself again) told them to shut their pie holes and keep going.

At mile 23 a bit of doubt set in. Since I was ahead of pace I started calculating  the minimum pace I could run and still make my goal. Not a good sign. I tried to ignore my head, but knew I was slowing down. I was still reeling people in though, and this kept me going. 

I read a cheesy blurb on the internet at some point during training and it decided to pop into my mind at this point, it went something like this:

Two dudes have just finished racing and the slower guy asked the winner how he ran so fast. So the fast guy asked "What do you think about when you are running?" and the slow guy is like "I picture a wolf is chasing me so I run faster." then the fast guy replies "That is what I think about too, except I am the wolf."

And it is supposed to be all profound and stuff and printed on a picture of a sunset with the silhouette of a hot girl running.

Just like this. Except maybe with wolves. Also, her form is terrible.

Anyway, that popped into my head, and I used every ounce of cheesy profoundness to keep me going. Each person ahead of me was my prey and I was going to get them.

Me finishing. 3:56:31
Notice all the people around me? That's right, I ate them.

I know I slowed down. I know I missed my "A" goal ever so slightly. But, I feel like my inner wolf ate well.


  1. I think I blame your wolflike mentality on our amazing karaoke version of some SWEET Duran Duran en route to Mass, heehee. Awesome job and I'm secretly mad at you for being all recovered as I continue to gimp around like a complete lame-o... <3

  2. Haha, I love how red sparkle skirts were not your thing ;) Great job out there in tough conditions!

  3. We are traveling home from dinner out and I read this and then had to read it out loud to my husband. Omg, I love you guys!! I didn't get to comment on Sara's recap--but you both seriously painted a picture perfectly in my head. I felt like I was running along with you. I shared her post with friends back home yesterday that asked me how the race was (before I had a chance to post myself). They all wrote back that they loved her post and that she was a definite badass...as was anyone that finished.

    I hope your bestie stumbles across this post and laughs as much as we did. Epic marathon! Spot on, beautifully written posts.

  4. Love the recap, Eric!!!! You are a rockstar!

  5. Awesome job! And I always think the same thing whenever I see that picture of that girl running (what's the deal with that picture being used everywhere anyway?) she DOES have terrible form!

  6. Wow--you rock! Love how you wrote this up. Getting your mind back into the game after thinking the race would be cancelled had to be tough. Very well done!

  7. That is just great! Congrats! Loved your re-cap, pictures were perfect and it sounds like you did a damn-good job of it despite weather, uncomfortable body parts and whatnot.

    Minor quibble--neither of you are middle-aged, BTW. I just hit 43 and that's barely halfway there, just saying. Keep running, don't want that wolf to catch ya, you know they go after the old & the weak ;-)

    1. I blame Sara for the name of the blog! I am still a 17 year old in my head so I have a ways to go before I hit middle age! Also, boobs... heheheh