Wednesday, April 30, 2014
It is hard to believe that the Boston Marathon was over a week ago. Monday of last week, I was standing nervously in Wave 3, Corral 9 awaiting an 11 am race start. I had just hugged my Dad and Regan for the last time before I set out to finish what I had started in 2013. Security was definitely increased for spectators, but it did not impose upon the excitement and enthusiasm that I felt in Hopkinton.
Songs have always played a key role in my running experience. I am always fine tuning my playlist—adding long forgotten 80s tunes, the newest pop song, or a recommended song that is off the beaten track. When I was stopped last year at Mile 25.8, the song “I Will Wait,” by Mumford and Sons was blasting in my ears. That song became very significant over the course of my training. I would often replay that song over and over again during long runs, envisioning myself crossing the finish line that was nabbed from so many of us in 2013. I shared in an earlier blog post about the song, “Praise You,” by Fat Boy Slim. This song has been on my playlist for years and has always felt like a musical high-five from my Mom.
My music is played on an iPod shuffle. It is small, it holds all of the songs that I need, and I like how the songs shuffle at random. It keeps it interesting. As my Wave slowly approached the Start line, I turned on my music and got into my zone. I train alone, so running with so many people, although exhilarating, is very distracting. I turn my music up to tune out the noise and find my rhythm. The song playing was background noise as I my walking turned to a fast walk to a jog. With the Start line just feet in front of me, I thought, “This is it. I am ready. Go time.” Song changes. Random Shuffle: “I Will Wait,” by Mumford and Sons.
The weather was beautiful, not a cloud in the sky. Mother Nature hand-delivered the community of Boston the most perfect day for redemption! From Hopkinton to Ashland to Framingham to Natick to Wellesley to Brookline to Boston, spectators lined the race course donning t-shirts and hats and waving signs reminding us runners what is means to be Boston Strong.
I am not an elite runner. I don’t train on the marathon course. I pound the pavements around my neighborhood, watching my GPS watch calculate my mileage and monitor my pace. I eat a generally healthy diet. I don’t drink alcohol. I drink a lot of water and make sure that I stay hydrated. No matter how hard I try, I have not cracked the code of this race. In 2008, I had my best time of 4:28:10. 2010 was more difficult (4:53:52), 2012 was the “hot year,” so my time wasn’t what I had hoped (5:12:48). 2013 was a great run, but I was only able to get a Projected Finish time (4:51:58).
My number 1 goal of this year’s race was to cross the finish line, but I did have a time goal in the back of my head. My only strategy was not to run too fast out of the gate. The DFMC coach Jack Fultz says, “If you think you are running too slow, you are probably running too fast.” I kept this in mind as I cruised through the first 17 miles of the race. Mile 18 was a transitional mile up the Newton Hills. I struggled between miles 19 and 23. It was warm and my thirst could not be quenched. My energy was zapped. I walked off and on. Hugs from Regan and Dad as well as inspirational messages from the crowd kept me moving.
Throughout the run, I would glance up at the beautiful blue sky and think about my mom and Jonathan Smyth. It is easy to lose focus due to excitement and fatigue. This race is in memory of Mom, Jonathan, and those that have fought cancer as hard as they could. As I approached the 23rd Mile Marker, I looked up and begged for their help. Song changes. Random Shuffle: “Praise You,” by Fat Boy Slim. You can’t make this stuff up.
Late in the afternoon, I passed by mile 25.8 and turned the corner from Commonwealth Avenue to Hereford Street. Up ahead, I saw Regan and Dad, my fearless and committed cheering duo, at the corner of Hereford and Boylston Street. They were not within arms reach as I made the turn to the final stretch, but we all waved our arms with excitement. Moments later, I crossed the finish line with a time of 5:06:26 placing 27,772nd overall.
I am often asked if I am happy with my time. To be honest, not really. But this year it doesn’t matter. I was 6 years younger and 1 child less when I ran my first Boston. I may never be able to replicate that 4:28:10 time. This year’s Boston was about completion. Closure. Celebration. My 2014 fundraising total has surpassed $10K thanks to all of you--my goal of $15K is within reach! My overall DFMC fundraising total is currently $59,563.60. For this, I am incredibly proud.
I am suffering from a case of PMB—post marathon blues. I am home from Boston and my siblings. Dad has returned to Texas. I am back to work. Life without training picks up where it left off in December. Someone suggested that running the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia this weekend would cure my PMB. You know what, I am good for now. I will continue to play and replay last week’s experience through my mind. Until next time.