Apr 21, 2013

Beantown - 1, Qualifying

Curls and I ran the Boston Marathon a few years ago, then wrote a joint recap to share with our running group at work.  I'll let you B&P readers in on it, nibble on a chapter a day this week until it's polished off.  

Beard:  Curls, how ‘bout we pen a joint marathon write-up?

Curls:  With you? You know I’m embarrassed to be associated with you. Why would someone as sophisticated as me want to be in the same recap as a smelly person from southeastern Iowa?  Didn't you grow up close to the Missouri border? You're a redneck, tractor pulls and all.  Why should I write with someone the likes of you?

Beard:  Burlington's a stone’s throw from Illinois, over an hour away from Missouri, so the emphasis is on southEASTERN Iowa.  And didn't you grow up on the east side of Des Moines? 
I think we run by your old house on the State Fair run in August, yours is the one with Christmas icicle lights lining the entry and the exterior of the house painted with gray primer.  

Curls: <sighing> Fair enough.  Okay, I’ll do it.  But I won’t enjoy it.  If I had a choice
between writing with you and having my toenails peeled, guess which one I’d prefer?

Beard:  Toenails, no doubt.  

Beard:  In January, I ran the Phoenix Marathon to qualify for Boston.  The Boston is for more serious runners, as a swift qualifying time is needed to get in.  Many people spend years attempting to qualify, only to miss the mark (Morgie). And sometimes that mark is missed by minutes or, in a co-worker's case, by two seconds (he's still bitter on that one).

I qualified for Boston in the Des Moines 'thon, but decided to skip Beantown.  Had to re-qualify, since it’s only valid for two years.  Curls ran a smokin’ 3:35 at Chicago to secure her spot in Boston.

Tell me Curls, why was Chicago so special?  Were you even aiming to qualify for Boston in the windy city?

Curls: Truth be told, Boston seemed like a long shot.  My first marathon left me satisfied.  I signed up so I could say that I had run a marathon.  Nothing more.  I had no intentions of doing another.  The following spring, I caught wind that the Chicago Marathon was close to reaching its cap.  It was tempting. I had a choice: sign up again or let it slide by. I almost passed it up, but decided it would be nice to add a second marathon to my running résumé.

When I ran Chicago the second time, I had one goal – simply set a new PR! I didn’t care if I bested my best by 1-min or 1-sec, just that I did. I toed the starting area with doubts (sluggish training runs, recovering from plantar fasciitis (see ***NOTE below) in my right foot which was still touchy, and just a poor attitude about the whole thing altogether), but was honestly going for a 3:45 (although I advertised this to no one beforehand).

***Note: What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Inflammation of the thick, fibrous band of tissue that reaches from the heel to the toes, supporting the muscles of the bottom of the foot. "Plantar" refers to the bottom of the foot; "fascia" is supportive tissue. When the plantar fascia becomes overly stretched, tiny tears can riddle its surface. The band of fascia can ultimately swell and become quite painful.

Once I got moving, things became easy for once. I paced myself through the first half, both steady and comfortable. At the half-way mark, I made what I still declare as the most pivotal decision during that race. I was gonna catch up to the 3:40 pace group (what I needed to hit to qualify for Boston) and stick with them if it killed me, for I could see them not too far ahead. And that I did. Once I caught on to them, I decided that it would be nice to do this race justice by finishing on my own merit (i.e. no help from the pace team). So, I slowly slipped away, knowing fully well that a qualifying time was within striking distance, crossing the finish line in 3:35:36.

Completely unexpected, I quite literally almost burst into tears. For a gal who had only been running for roughly 3.5-years at that time, this was a shocker. I had an involuntary smile plastered on my face for a solid 3-days. Couldn’t help it. I learned a powerful lesson that day about mental will. I fought for that finish and knew it. It felt incredibly good. Beard informed me later on that day that when he pulled up the Chicago Marathon web-site to check out my finish time, he thought he had pulled up the wrong name initially, for the time seemed “off”. Shame on him. <sigh>

Beard: Chicago’s fine performance was a pivotal race for you, it catapulted you from a generic marathon participant to a good runner. You officially joined the ranks of Boston, a race that everybody, even my mom(how long is this marathon?), is familiar with. This is an event that non-running co-workers and friends would get excited about.

By the way, how is it that you fall behind on our slow 9:00 minute per mile, five mile Dike Wednesday training runs, then maintain a solid 8:13 pace for 26.2 in Chicago? I've heard whispers you are sandbagging it on Wednesdays.

Curls: You just HAD to bring up the Dike runs, didn’t you? I’ll be the first to admit that I still have a lot to learn about making the most out of every training run. The first thing you must understand is that my primary motivation behind running is to simply maintain a decent level of fitness, where roughly 99.9% of my training miles are logged solo-style.

Races, marathons included of course, are a great way for me to stay on track and set some stretch goals. I’ll admit that each time I hit a certain goal, there is a burning desire to want to do it again…only better. I suspect that the true running bug is festering inside of me. To address your question, I’ve had my moments on the Dike, but, to be quite blunt, the Dike is NOT a marathon. However, admittedly, I’ve grown tired of seeing butts every Wednesday (a.k.a. Curls brings up the rear of the group runs). It’s no wonder it took me some time to figure out peoples’ names. It was rare that I ever saw a face.

Beard: Let’s go to Boston, time to get this show on the road.

Curls: Okay, okay…calm down.

To be continued...

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