Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Running Through History, Part 2

I arrived home from our Williamsburg adventure on Monday, and Friday morning boarded a plane to my next adventure, Boston. Lauren invited me up for Memorial Day weekend and proposed running the Run to Remember, a race put on by the Boston Police Runner’s Club to honor those who have died in the line of duty. This is one of only a couple of half marathons that run through downtown Boston, and knowing the cause, there was no way I could turn down the opportunity. And, given my back of the pack pace, this was a race I didn’t need to qualify to run.

I was very anxious though, as Katie (who sadly was still feeling under the weather) discovered in the weeks before that there was a time limit on this race and she couldn’t get a straight answer from the race officials as to exactly what it was, and if there were going to be any sweeping points on the course after those doing the 5 miler split off at mile 2. It seemed the time limit was about 2:45. I did two races under this is March, so it was possible. Lauren told me it was a great PR course, so I felt bolstered that this was a challenge I could do and tried to put my nerves aside.

I arrived Friday morning and spent time with Lauren at her home and wandering the town of Plymouth. It had been about 20 years since I had been to the waterfront there before, and it was just as I remembered. Saturday we headed into Boston to pick up our packets and she took me on good portion of the Freedom Walk. How cool! I definitely need to plan a trip up there just to take all of it in. We also passed through Boston Common and Boston Garden and she helped me on my quest to find the Life is Good flagship store on Newbury Street. We spent a lot more time on our feet than I would have liked, but sightseeing in a new city was just too much fun!

We headed home to relax for awhile, enjoyed some pasta, and settled in for the early morning. Morning came and Lauren and I, along with her sister, Jill, headed into the city. We were able to park near Lauren’s hubby’s building and use the flush toilets there. Score! Before we knew it, it was time to line up at the start. We said our good byes, agreed on a meeting point after, and I made my way to the back of the pack. It was a HUMID morning and my nerves were very high.

I crossed the starting line and off I went. When I start a race I generally try and run a bit of the start until it seems safe for me to start doing intervals without getting run over. (This is NOT the way interval running is supposed to be done.) It quickly became apparent that this was a FAST race. Unlike any other races I’ve done, no one around me was doing intervals or speed walking. Around mile 1 I finally had an opening to jump up onto a curb and take a walk break. This was not good, but I still felt pretty good and knew I had to keep pushing since I had to be where the course split off by a certain point. My walk break was over and I jumped back into the throng of runners. About a half mile in I was able to take another walk break. Finally at mile 2 we reached the course split and I was doing more than fine on time and it had finally cleared out enough that I could do my 2:1’s.

The damage was done though. Running my ass off the first couple of miles and in that humidity did me in. I saw Lauren and Jill on the out and back about mile 6. I was still chugging along a bit at that point, but by mile 8 or so I’d given up to just walking the whole thing. I was miserable and mad at myself. This was not how this was supposed to go down. Then, about mile 11.5, once the course had made it’s way back into downtown from the river, it happened. A police car came behind me and the rest of the back of the pack and announced that we had to move to the sidewalks because they were going to open the street. I started having a near panic attack. I vaguely recognized where I was, but had no idea where I was supposed to go, and didn’t have my cell phone on me in case I ran into trouble and needed to get a hold of Lauren. The other back runners and I got to an intersection and I yelled at a cop across the street to find out where we were supposed to go. I was near tears. But, it also got me moving. I was determined to stay ahead of the street openings for the last couple of miles. I kept going and going, trying to run smartly and keep myself calm, a slightly tall order. I was so over this though and ready to be done. Finally I got to the bridge back to the race area and knew the end was close. Thank God.

As I came down the final stretch I looked for Lauren and Jill and gave them two big thumbs down. My final time was 2:52:45, generally one of my decent times, but I was so disappointed in and even angry myself though for not coming close to my 2:45 goal and for having my worst ever race that I couldn’t appreciate that I had made it through. Mentally, I don’t think I was ever in it. As days and weeks passed though, I have started to feel better about it, but still not great. Boston is a wonderful town, but clearly one you need to be fast to run.