Monday, April 28, 2008

Race Day Details – Verna

Race day was amazing, magical and over too quickly. This is being stated by someone who ran 26.2 miles in 6:08:15. It was definitely due to the near optimal weather for the day, the encouraging spectators and the evidence of teamwork as so many people worked together to setup, run and clean up each and every mile in a celebration of physical endurance and determination. I ran within myself and was hyper focused on my running to be sure to at least make it to Newton-Wellesley without looking totally spent and like I should call it a day. I listened to an iPod with music that my teenage girls composed for my husband to work out to. I was afraid to run without the music as I find it really keeps me moving.

I surprised myself in having plenty of energy and endurance right to the very end. I started eating GU fifteen minutes before the start and about every half hour there after. At NWH, my husband gave me a half of a tuna rollup and it was just in time as my stomach was beginning to feel queasy from emptiness. This was at 2:20 pm. I had been running for approximately four hours. Shortly after the Hospital Gel packets were handed out compliments of the Marathon. I found they go down much easier than the GU. I also accepted only a few orange slices on the route, as I hadn’t tested them out on any of my training runs. I carried twenty ounces of water in my belt to monitor the amount I drank. I was concerned about the possibility of developing hyponatremia (low sodium which can be life threatening) from over hydrating, as slow runners who don't sweat a lot are prime candidates. I took a cup of water from the last person at every water stop on the left side of the road. I would walk, drink two to three mouthfuls, lift my running cap and pour the rest on my head.

On race day morning, I awoke at 5:00 am and ate a bowl of oatmeal and raisins, a glass of orange juice, a banana and two glasses of water. I arrived at the Athlete's Village in Hopkinton with the Newton-Wellesley Medical crew, physical therapists and Gayle Olson at about 6:30 am. There were three enormous tents for the runners to hang out in while we waited for the 10:00 am start. The NWH team would start at 10:30 am as we were in the Wave 2 start with red numbered bibs. While passing the time I ate two bagels, two more bananas, two bottles of water and a cup of coffee. I had read that the two biggest mistakes runners make in a marathon is not eating enough and not drinking enough. I sure wasn't going to have that problem! By the way, I gained 14 lbs. training for this marathon! We will say that it is all muscle. I've heard it is not uncommon, especially for a slow runner. I am very fit even though I am heavier. Dwight and I blew up our air mattresses and got off our feet. We looked like pros!

It was so inspiring to be around so many people – many who have made a life out of traveling from one marathon to another. I even met a woman from Virginia named Verna. She came up to me as I had “VERNA” on my back in bold white tape. She said, “Hi, I have something to show you” and rolled up the pant leg of her sweats to reveal “VERNA” spelled vertically on her thigh. Turns out there were four “Vernas” running that day! The Marathon website is amazing! You can search for runners by name or by town or bib number or who knows what else. Suffice to say it is very versatile. My coworkers tracked me on the route and were right there with me for every mile.

When it was time for our numbers to line up at our corral we met up with Marshall Falk, the only other runner from NWH team that I saw that day. The three of us started together and were planning on 12-minute miles until we knew how we were feeling. Both Dwight and Marshall were running injured. I just wanted to make it to the end. No need for speed. The corrals seem to be close to a mile from the start. Boston is the oldest continuously running marathon in the world and the BAA and the towns have the running of it down to a science. I couldn't help but wonder how do the bandits get into the race. I have since read the book 26 Miles to Boston by Michael Connelly. It has all the answers. Heidi Angle recommended the book to all of us at our Pasta Dinner. It is a great read for anyone enamored with the Boston Marathon.

When the gun fired for the 10:30 am start I hit my watch and then realized it would be about 15 minutes before I crossed the actual starting line so I reset and began again when I hit the mat. The course starts on a hill and as far as you can see is a wall of humanity before you. It was so cool to be at this vantage point, the inside looking out. The route is lined with trees and my first shock was the number of men in the woods relieving themselves! We just left about a million porta-pottys in the Athlete's Village! Marshall soon got ahead of me and looked back. I waved him on, I didn't want to slow him down and pushing myself could mean I wouldn't finish so it was best that we each follow our own plan. I lost Dwight about the same time. He spent the next mile looking for me but I was also at a slower pace than Dwight. It turns out that I ran 11-minute miles for the first six miles. That was very fast for me since during the six 10K races that I have run, my pace has been 10-minute miles. I consider 10-minute miles the very fastest I can run. Longer distances are usually run at a slower pace. I thought I was probably running faster than I should have but I felt good and many many people were running faster than I. Truth be told when I put my name in the lottery to win this number, my running had been slacking off. I was finding it harder and harder to get to the gym in the morning and I was logging under six miles a week. I really didn't expect to win a coveted number as I know how difficult it is to get one and thought surely my chance at winning would be slim. FYI – at my age I would have to run another marathon in under four hours and five minutes to earn the right to run Boston with an official number. The only other way to get a number is to become part of a charity like Children's Hospital or in our case NWH provided the number, as they are the official medical provider of the race. So this Marathon has done so much for me...not the least of which is to revitalize my running passion. I'll have to finish this entry another night, as I must get to sleep. Till then …

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