Friday, October 23, 2009

Does this mean I've moved on?

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. When I was 20 years old and an undergrad, I basically ran not at all. I ran a little for rugby and occasionally just to stay in some semblance of shape but that was about it. This pattern continued until I was 30 years old, out of shape, working tons of hours, traveling for business and my wife and I were expecting our 2nd child. Basically until I was so busy I couldn't imagine fitting one more priority into the pattern. That's when I finally decided to make the personal decision to be a runner. Now, almost a decade later, I run 3,000 miles a year while being the sole breadwinner for a family of 6, shuttling my kids all over, wiping noses and asses, taking care of a 100 year old house, helping with homework, organizing community activities and working probably 50 hours a week on a slow week.

Somehow having no free time makes me treasure my running time all the more and makes me crave something that's just for me that I'm in control of. Running is my decompression chamber.

I sometimes wish I'd gotten semi-serious about running when I was 20 years old and tried to find my true potential. I wasn't totally without talent. I wonder what I could have done, if I could have been a real animal.

But most of the time I'm just glad I'm running now and that's good enough.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Baystate '09

I need to post something just to close the book on Baystate and move on. This was a strange race for me.

On the one hand there was a lot working against me. I spent the week leading up to the race at my company's worldwide sales conference in Nashville from Saturday through Thursday--in meetings all day, drinking at night, not sleeping, not eating right and running almost not at all. My flight home on Thursday night was weather delayed, I missed my connection in Philadelphia and wound up I renting a car then driving through the night to get home early Friday. I went into the weekend on fumes and then sometime Saturday realized--oh yeah--I have a marathon to run so I'd better go pickup my race packet in Lowell. The whole week was a lesson in how not to prepare for a marathon, really.

Still despite all of that the ominous weather forecast, when I picked up Mark Hudson on Sunday morning I felt like I had a good race in me.

It all went okay at first. It was cold and windy but not really raining yet at the start. I wasn't exactly feeling lots of pop in my legs but I felt okay--I was rolling off low 6:20's with ease. I had run 2:49 on this course last year and felt like I had better overall fitness and that sub 2:48 was not out of the question. The early pace was right about on that target. Really through halfway I was running 2:47 pace. Then around 14 miles I started to really notice the cold a lot--the rain had picked up quite a bit, I'd been wet for a while by that point and the whole thing just started sucking.

Around the 2 hour mark I could tell I was slowing--my legs were just so cold and achy, as if I was standing in the ocean in Maine. My feet were cramping and it was frustrating because I just couldn't turn my legs over. I went through 30k in under 2 hours but I knew it was going to be a total grind from there. My condition just got worse and worse from there and by the last couple of miles I was just grinding out painful 7:30's on legs that felt like blocks of ice.

Finally, mercifully, I finished in 2:53:25, way back in 49th place. I started shivering uncontrollably within a minute of finishing with my legs and feet cramping badly. I got my cloths, changed in one of the bathrooms of the ballpark then shuffled over to Beerworks to meet Hudson and his wife and friends. Several people in the street offered me help so I must have looked like death. When I got to Beerworks it took a while before I stopped shivering but the beer and pizza went down really nicely. By the time I left Beerworks, the cold, wind-driven rain was mixing with big, wet snowflakes.

I am disappointed and I know I'm a bit of a prick for being so. It's my second fastest marathon ever and two or three years ago I would have killed to be at the point where I could run 2:53 on a bad day. But we put so much into these stupid marathons that it's tough when you don't do what you know you're capable of. I don't know why the brutal weather seemed to affect me more than some people (although less than some others.) Maybe the cumulative fatigue of the week caught up to me.

Anyway, it's in the books and I move on. Runners run. It was great to see a lot of the usual suspects of a New England Grand-Prix race and there were some inspired performances out there--Hudson ran 2:31:40 in that shit for 4th place and yet another marathon PR (the kid is an animal), Brendan Newbold tore the race apart and looks like he's just scratching the surface, and the CMS guys had a great race to take the team title.