|Trying to finish strong while fighting off horrible cramping in my hamstrings. PHOTO BY JAIME GREEN|
As the final seconds were counted down in choral fashion before the starting horn sounded, I soaked in the final moments of stationary living before I put my body through roughly three hours of different levels of agony.
Mile one went fast (as expected) and then, even though I watered the parking lot prior to starting, I had to veer behind a car to piss some more during mile two (I blame it on the excitement). I finished the second of the 26.2 miles in 7:07, but then ran mile three in 6:30. I thought to myself, "Too fast! Slow it down a bit." The next two miles (four and five) were completed in 6:40 and 6:33. So much for slowing down. But I felt good and didn't feel as though I was going to hard as I kept reminding myself that there were many miles to come.
Now would be a good time to say that I had a fantastic support crew. My mom and uncle were there from the beginning to the end, and my dad surfaced at mile 20. These three made it so much better, and I can't emphasize how much their support meant. (Pictured below with my mom and dad after the race, top, and with my uncle.)
I felt good through the first 15 miles (I never really hit "the wall"), but a bad side cramp reared its head around mile 16 and I thought I might have to stop to fight it away. Luckily, a GU (I'm partial to "Espresso Love") and a well placed aid station with water bottles was enough to rid myself of the cramp.
Upon reaching mile 20 my run was almost an isolated one. It was just myself and another guy that had ran by me for much of the race. I took one last GU around mile 23 (I took three throughout the race: mile 9, 16, and 23) and focused on a strong finish. With less than two miles to go my hamstrings began to cramp. And then the cramping worsened. And then the cramping almost forced me to stop because I couldn't bend my legs back. All I could think about was, "I've come 25 miles, please just let me finish this thing running!" My gate transformed out of desperation to keep moving to a straight legged movement (like when Forrest Gump runs with his leg braces on before breaking free, only I went from free to braced!)
One last left turn and one last straightaway (the last .2 miles) was all that stood between me and the finish line. The running gods showed just enough mercy on me to allow me Gump myself to the finish line. The cramps then took over and I was unable to move for a few seconds, but I didn't care then because I had accomplished my goal. I crossed the finish line in two hours, 58 minutes, and two seconds. I qualified for the Boston Marathon. Overall, I came in 10th place and first in my age group (19-24).
So now what? I plan on getting up and running four miles very lightly and gingerly in the morning to flush out the lactic acid and get my blood moving. After tomorrow I plan on taking two full weeks off of running to recover, and getting back on the bike and in the pool in about a week. The 2013 Boston Marathon registration was conducted in September so I won't be able to register until the 2014 race. I don't have any races planned for the near future, although I do have some in mind. The main thing right now is to let my body recover. It has taken a beating over the last five to six months. I have ran everyday since May 21st. Tomorrow will be 148 days of running in a row. I didn't give myself enough recovery time after last years marathon and I was injured until Valentine's Day this year.
The journey to qualifying for the worlds most famous marathon has come to end, but the real journey is only beginning.
All of the hard work, early mornings, many miles, and everything else that went into this race was worth it and I'd do it again. In fact, I will.
Until next time...