Monday, April 16, 2012

Best of Times, Worst of Times

There are those who will call this entry spin. I couldn't possible care less. There are those will be disappointed that I didn't run as hard as I know how at Boston and that I understand and at some level apologize. Today, I ran the Boston Marathon... sort of. It was one of, if not the hottest Boston marathon ever in its 116 year history. People have been trying to convince me long before that to just celebrate this, there were kids to give 5 to, lines of girls waiting to kiss you and the ability to feel like a rock star because half a million people were lining the street. Never having been there, I wasn't sure why that mattered. Even the night before as I sat with some friends, they were suggesting I enjoy it and I had no intention to enjoy it the way they were suggesting. Having collapsed a few days after the last marathon certainly had me nervous, but I'd come from Austin where I'd done a half marathon in the pace time in similarly hot conditions so I went out to give it all.

I arrived in Boston and took Kiana out to the ball park with Team Livestrong where the Red Sox had the second victory of the season. Again, it was awkward to hear that my story inspired them but I would introduce them to Kiana who would steal the show. Sunday we spent the day going to an aquarium and seeing Paul Revere and historical things. She loved the aquarium but my 5 year old does not care too much (yet?) about American History. Then I went back to the hotel and realized the temperature would be ridiculous for the marathon and I sat and thought and called people trying to figure out whether to reevaluate. With almost no exceptions, the runners who had been there were telling me to take it all in and forget about the time, especially with the heat. The non runners were just telling me, no guts no glory. A couple in each group told me to do this one for me. One friend reminded me that I had medical issues and to re-evaluate my priorities. I called a doctor who of course suggested that running a marathon 30 degrees hotter than I ever had was less than intelligent especially since it started at the time I usually finish. I sat with my brother and told him I was planning on leaving it out there and to not let my mom freak out if I collapsed.

I got to the start line and made a few friends who had moderated goals, others who had taken the rare opportunity to defer registration (I considered that for .2 seconds). I started at the pace I was intending to keep and then about mile 4 I saw someone collapse, at mile 4! I kept pace. Then at the 7 mile mark I saw 2 more collapse, one seemed, and this might be my over active imagination appeared to be seizing. And half a mile later my ipod gave out. So I had silence to think and a million thoughts went through my head and about mile 8 (of course) I decided this marathon was going to be the one we enjoyed differently, take that victory lap that no one had talked me into. I wondered before deciding that if that would disappoint the people whose events like Hawtober, Livestrong and the Brain Power 5k I'd helped organize and that was a huge hesitation. I have no idea how they'll take it but I know at least one of them, Livestrong had not highlighted in their promotional video ( my strengths but rather my mishandling of the cancer. We'll see how the other 2 respond. But Boston is phenomenal. I started having a blast and took water bottles and splashed on the people who were splashing me to show them "what it feels like." There were rows of sorority girls lined up to kiss you at one point with great signage and I am not going to tell you how many I kissed (more than you're probably guessing) but without exception, they weren't the most attractive ones by far and I've never received such enthusiasic kisses from anyone who wasn't five (all on the cheek). Around mile 10, I crashed into my little brother, mom and Kiana and, if you're disappointed at the rest of this, please be proud of me for finally doing this and ashamed that I've never done it before, for the first time in a race I stopped and hugged Kiana. I think she thought it was gross.

By the time I got to the half way mark, I was at a 1:40 a pace slower than I've ever done anything both shorter or longer than a marathon. I turned my watch off at that point. There were soldiers on the course carrying gigantic backpacks, I'm guessing to remind us that they carry a lot more of our load than we're aware and most of them were walking and I talked to about a half dozen of them and to their credit, the Boston crowd didn't take much prompting to cheer a lot for them. One soldier in the race would be leaning over and I sat and talked to him for a while and we walked together for about a quarter mile. I didn't walk at all on Heartbreak Hill because a hill can't break something that's already broken plus then I'd have to answer why I walked on HeartBreak Hill. (Speaking of that, because of the heat I had decided to run the entire thing without a shirt and knowing it was a shirt I'd never see again, I threw away my first Austin marathon jersey, the first one I'd done because I had run it on Valentine's Day with someone who would break my heart, hoping that Boston is the conclusion of moving on).

In the end, I was walking for most of the end, chatting with people who were hurting, taking a bet that yelled about how Tom Brady Sucks and the other side of the bet was about how Samuel Adams sucks but I remembered it wrong and yelled about the Red Sox sucking. I got oranges thrown at me. For the first time ever I took a swig of beer on purpose during the course and a bit of vodka on accident.

At about mile 24 I started running hard just to finish strong because I had plenty of legs left but then I wondered, what's the point to that? People who were passing me at the end were encouraging me to run in with them telling me I could do it but I just smiled. Team Livestrong was shortly before the finish and cheered loudly. I was desparately looking around for my family but I would not see them again till shortly after the finish. In the end, my mom, little brother and little girl were there to hug me, the first time my mom has ever seen me run a marathon. She asked if I was okay and the honest to God truth is I feel fine right now because I didn't leave it all out there. Boston's logo this year is All In which when I picked up my Bib I interpreted as gotta leave it out there no matter what the temperature is. Again, you can call this spin, and I am sorry if I disappointed anyone by not leaving it all out there, and there will be other races where I do leave it all out there, I promise but today, I chose to interpret All In about mile 8 as the way you to take it, not leave and unlike the other 4 I've run, I absorbed it and took it All In. I remember more of this marathon than the other 4 combined. And I'm okay with the fact that I put off brain surgery to qualify to do this. Maybe you think that's good; maybe it's disappointing. If there's anything I've learned in the last year it's that the people who matter are the ones who are with you through the good and bad. If you read this, you're probably one of them and the picture above shows the ones that has been there since my birth and the one I hope to delay death for since I've been there since her birth.

If you're curious about my marathon time, it was a little under 4 hours. About 30 minutes worse than any other marathon I've ran. If you're curious about what kind of time I had, I had a great time.


  1. Couldn't be any more proud of you! What an experience and so happy to hear you enjoyed it so much.

  2. You had the most important women in your life right by your side today! I am so happy you made some good memories along the "race course" that is life. Congratulations!

  3. Love it. Glad you wised up and enjoyed it! Bask in your glory and we'll see you back here soon.