Tuesday, April 20, 2010

We Did It! – Tom and Sylvie

Thank you to everyone for your support, especially yesterday. I've wanted to run the Boston Marathon for most of my adult life but something always held me back. This year, I'm grateful for the opportunity and that I finally committed to it. It's been a rewarding experience, something I'll always remember. I also remembered that I was representing an important cause, the Vernon Cancer Center. For those who contributed to the Center, supporting the Marathon Team, thank you so much.

Tom: 3:54, Sylvie 4:00

We slept fitfully Sunday night, awaking at 5:45. I found a charter bus leaving from Park Plaza at 7:30 so we drove to the Clarendon St. Garage. The bus was worth the price – bathroom and parking at the High School lot so we had minimal wait time outside. Still, the morning was anything but relaxing. We brought a paper but were unable to read. We had nervous conversations with others on the bus (all veteran marathoners so I stayed quiet). I visited the two Newton-Wellesley medical tents at the Village – good for pre-race support. I had first marathon jitters so I never ate the extra banana and bagel I'd brought on the bus. I thought (and the bus facilities seem to confirm) that I was drinking enough before the race. Our corral was 26 (of 27 so we were in the back and it took 15 minutes to reach the starting line.

It's so different from my long training runs, when I could just leave the house rested, relaxed and quickly settle into a pace. There were all kinds of runners/walkers in the back. I thought that after four to five miles, the pack would spread out but that didn't happen until Wellesley, so I was using more energy than I'd hoped. The spectators in the early segment were entertaining – bars and restaurants packed with people celebrating and a guy playing the Jimi Hendrix version of the National Anthem were fun.
My dream was to hit 3:45, which is my Boston Marathon qualifying time. After 10 miles, it was a long shot, and by Wellesley, I decided that sub-4:00 was realistic, especially after suffering side cramps and nausea on the long descent into Newton. I tried to drink enough, but as you'll see later, I failed. I knew there were friends waiting at the Quebrada Bakery in Wellesley but in spite of running on that side and looking I never saw the sign and people – incredibly hard to pick out faces in the crowds.

I passed the Hospital with a plan to be conservative on the hills and save energy for the last four to five miles. Paul Satwicz ran a few paces with me – thanks for the encouragement! Sylvie was right – the hills are not so bad, it's the prolonged descent after the hills that kills your legs. Aerobically, I felt fine (too dry, I now recognize) but my legs were fading. I missed a couple of water stations the last few miles (or were they not there?) and knew I was in trouble. The underpass just before turning onto Commonwealth Ave. was particularly cruel. Runners around me cheered when we turned onto Bolyston and saw the finish – I had to focus on the runner in front to maintain my stride and get home. But I did finish! And I didn't walk even through the water stations. I was so afraid that if I stopped once, the second and third stops would be too tempting.

The most difficult part was the post race chute, waiting for water, blankets, food and medal. I saw stars twice and turned down requests for assistance. No way was I going to the Medical tents. I sat by the luggage buses, waiting for Sylvie, drank and ate and eventually felt better. Amazingly, my jaw was too weak to chew a power bar and my mouth too dry to swallow. Thank goodness for bananas. I clearly did not drink enough during the race, as my post race experience demonstrated. Happily, after liters of Gatorade, water and beer, my kidneys were working by 7:00 pm.

Sylvie was close behind at 4:00, in spite of not running for 10 days with a sore leg. She bested her 2011 Boston qualifying time by 15 minutes and is definitely the marathoner in our family. I learned some lessons from my first experience. Don't know that I'll ever apply them again, as long as temporary insanity doesn't strike. For now, I plan to enjoy the accomplishment and recovery. Thanks to all who have been incredibly supportive during the training and race. I can't possible include all your names without forgetting someone important: Newton-Wellesley Charitable Foundation, Newton-Wellesley Physical Therapy, Shipley Fitness Center and many many colleagues and friends. It's been a wonderful experience; one I'll always remember.

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