Friday, April 21, 2017

Boston, When heartbreak hit before Heartbreak Hill.

Accidents happen every day. I accidentally missed my turn, or I accidentally spilled my coffee.  However running accidents are quite different. One does not accidentally run a marathon any more often then someone accidentally runs a lifetime best. Those are not accidents but accomplishments. I also have yet to hear of someone who accidentally lost 25lbs. If you or I want to accomplish something worth being proud of it is going to take time, dedication, hard work, and patience.  

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is no accident either. I am very fortunate to have over a decade of competitive running under my belt that helped me to easily hit the time and do so without being injured. The stress of wondering if I am in or running multiple races to hit the time I was able to forgo. God had a different plan for me. My road to qualify was quite easy with a 2:36 qualifying time but the road from Hopkinton to Boston for me was quite the opposite.
There were no accidents in my preparation for the 121st Boston Marathon. I knew when it was, how many weeks I had to prepare, and was able to even look over past training plans I have used for other runners to help me prepare. My friends who have ran Boston and other marathons also helped me in my planning so that I could have a smooth training cycle and what I hoped would be a fast and exciting Boston Marathon. This would be my first marathon that I spent adequate time training and putting in the long runs over 20 miles and had some of the highest volume weeks that I had ever ran. I was set up for what on paper should have been a low 2:30's marathon.  

Arriving in Boston with my mom and brother for support I was filled with excitement. The Boston Marathon is one of the largest marathons in the world and famous for the crowds who line the 26.2 miles. On ever street corner I saw the familiar faces of runners who were obviously in town for the same reason as I. 32,000+ athletes do not accidentally sign show up for this race it is an event that is on bucket lists for countless runners. While in town I managed to see the Boston Red Sox win, went to the most exciting race expo I have ever seen, and saw countless historic buildings that make Boston the city that it is. The Boston Marathon is a point to point race and with that comes a long bus ride to the start line. I could write for pages on all that goes into those hours that lead up to the marathon but for your sake I will skip ahead.  

At the start I was able to find a familiar face in my friend Stephen who had helped me so much in preparation. Although the temperature was already 25 degrees higher than forecasted, I was quite relaxed as I began the journey back to Boston. The course starts out down hill with unbelievable crowds on both sides making you feel like you are standing next to Taylor Swift in a parade. They cheered and cheered and I reminded myself to be patient, dont accidentally throw down a 5 flat mile right off the bat. It felt like a recovery run as I went through the first 10K in 35 minutes. I would take a water to drink and grab 2-3 more cups to douse myself with to help keep cool. Despite my efforts the lack of shade and burning hot blacktop was taking its toll. I felt like I was in a sauna as the slight tail wind did nothing for cooling and the sweat was dripping off my face. As I reached the Wellesley tunnel I still felt strong with my legs but was suffocating with the heat. My time had remained well under 6minute pace and I knew that this was a pace I could sustain. Sixteen miles in and I still felt strong yet had a nauseous feeling creeping in. It wasnt much longer and I knew I had to vomit. Throwing up my gels and what water I hadnt sweated out I knew I was in trouble. Telling myself to relax and ease off the pace a little I lasted another mile or so and was throwing up again. Now I knew the tank was empty and I had no chance of holding water down. A volunteer handed me a bottle of water which helped because I could continually drink without being in an aid station but I was becoming dizzy and dazed. Now at 20 miles in my friend Nick ran by with encouragement but despite wanting to go faster I knew it was now a race to survive and not for time. I felt like I was crying but no tears came down my face as trudged through the hills. This was not the Boston I had expected but I reminded myself to be strong and thought of all of the people who were watching my updates online. I wanted to be done so I could tell my family I was ok. Finally I made the last turn onto Boylston St. and could see the finish. The energy was amazing yet I couldn't care less. All I wanted to do was finish and finish I did. Crossing the line I crumbled to the ground and was grabbed by medics who hauled me to the medical building. Dozing in and out of contagiousness I had flashbacks to my heat stroke almost four years ago in Boulder Community Hospital. They warned me that I would always struggle with the heat in the future and they weren't lying. The medics took my temperature in a way I did not enjoy and informed me I had a temperature of over 100 degrees. With ice packed around me an IV in my arm I slowly returned to normal. After a long time there I met my mom and brother and hugged and cried as I was heartbroken. This was not how it was supposed to go, this was not the Boston Marathon I had dreamed of. Back in the hotel I could not believe the number of messages, texts, and calls I received from friends giving kind words and encouragement. I was reminded that I finished the Boston Marathon on a brutally hot day. My time despite being nearly 30minutes slower than my qualifier I had still managed to requalify for next year. There are so many things to be thankful for and although I will not return next year I would be I will have another date with Heartbreak Hill and next time I will not be heartbroken when I get there. Thank you to all my amazing family and friends and for all the kind words. Accidentally or not I learned a lot about being Boston Strong and how blessed I truly am.

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