Ok, so onto this race. Way back when my foot was in a happier place, I carefully selected the race that would be my 2010 Boston Qualifier. This coming year I get an extra 5 minutes because I am now on the “downside of my 30s” and when Boston is held next year, I will be (sob) 35. And every 5 years you get an extra 5 to 10 minutes. The good news is that my average marathon pace is in the low 3:50s but I need 3:45. So I picked this little race because a) I wanted a new state (Wisconsin), b) I didn’t want to chance Erie being 90 degrees again and c) it was ranked as a flat and low attended race. Just my cup of tea. So I bought the entry, bought my flight and hotel and then bought myself a sweet, major injury.
Now I know a good deal when I see one and this gem came at a mere 300$ TOTAL. I had already amassed well over that in rehab and MRI costs so who am I to turn down a bargain when I’m mostly out of the cast and can hobble about, right? I decided, much to chagrin of my physical therapist, that I would do this race. After all, IT’S GOOD MONEY AND IN THIS ECONOMY…!! She shook her head and moaned. With that, I felt I was granted carte blanche access to the 26.2 ahead of me. She didn’t say I couldn’t do it. She merely said I shouldn’t.
Don’t get me wrong. I flew out scared shitless. I had no idea what to expect. As usual, I also gave myself 6 hours and 50 minutes from the start of the race to the moment my plane flight home commenced. You can see the potential problem here, yes..? Anyway, I arrived and hit my hotel first to settle in before heading to the expo. The hotel and the surrounding area were pretty bland however, I found this little gem just across the street:
Before calling it an early night, I made sure to document the awesomeness that is the runner’s schwag bag from this race:
This was a point-to-point meaning you want to park at the end so you don’t have to make your way back to the start to get your vehicle. So while I drove to the finish I made damn sure to be careful with the foot on the brake pedal. HA. 26 miles of pounding and all I could think about was “don’t push too hard when braking!” From there, we were bused to the start and I found myself lined up rather early in the queue. This race is fun – there’s a full, half and relay for it. Next to me is some small creature in the form of a 8 year old boy. He’s got a chip on his shoe and a number pinned to his shirt. I am floored – I say “hello – um, what are YOU running??” thinking that I’m packing my shit up and leaving if this kid is doing the full. He tells me in a squeaky, matter-of-fact voice that he will be doing the first leg of the relay. I ask how long his longest training run has been and he says “4.5 miles” in a way that sounds as if he’s permanently attached to a helium tank. I am in love. Not with him, mind you, but with the fact that this small child is everything I wish every little fat munchkin in America would be. Devoted, determined and destined to grow up as a marathoner or at the very least, trying to be one on an early Sunday morning. God bless him.
Boom, we’re off. It’s pretty uneventful – and why not? It’s flat as a pancake, ugly and generally just, well, like a bunch of people running. At mile 3 I have to stop for almost 3 minutes to adjust my homegrown “double” ankle brace because my foot is swelling and turning purple (note: do not layer ankle braces) I thought two together would work well. Around mile 12 I stop and chit chat with an aid-station person because she’s very nice and smiley and askes about my brace, which is now partly around my hand since I removed one. Mile 18 my ankle gets achey but I forge on. Mile 23 my foot is screaming but not in the “bad area” It’s on the outside and I’m afraid I’m potentially injuring something else now so I walk a while. Suddenly, it dawns on me. I am on target to get my BQ time. How did this happen? I stopped for minutes at a time, I’d been walking and now somehow, I was pretty close to exactly what I needed. Yet my foot HURT. And this was the first race of the season. I could push it but for what? An injury to an injury? For some race that I didn’t like back in April that was over-priced and over-hyped and one which I would have other chances to qualify for? No, it was not going to be today. And I was ok with that. Sometimes things just change, in a matter of seconds or minutes and today I changed my goal with one swift decision. It was now to just finish well, and be happy that I had made it that far.
I finished in 3:49, my second best time ever. In looking back I lost those minutes adjusting an ankle brace, talking to a nice person and hobbling along for a bit. Then again, in those minutes that ticked by, I was allowed to remember why I run these in the first place. Not to win. Not to place. Not to even show. But just to run. So that day, I was born to run. Mostly.