Tag Archives: Endurance

when you can’t sleep, blog.

I got a call from one of my friends back in Lexington who writes for our local paper.  He was hoping I could answer some questions about the Boston Marathon, but I was in the “quiet car” on Amtrak and had to ignore his call.  I emailed him my account of Jay’s and my experience on Monday–writing about it helped.  So now I’m sharing the same with you, with some added reflections.

Jay finished the marathon 2 hours before the blasts. We had already gone back to our apartment to shower and were heading out the door for lunch when one of Jay’s friends called and said, “What’s going on?! There were two explosions at the finish!” Jay immediately called the station, but nothing had hit the wires yet. He started making his way to the scene to find out what was going on. People were flooding toward the Commons and he just started asking questions. “It sounded like a bomb.” “At first I thought maybe it was a cannon or fireworks.” “Lots of blood.” “People missing limbs.” “I can’t find my family.” etc. One of Jay’s journalist friends in Boston called him and said not to get any closer–and to tell the rest of us all to stay indoors. Jay was able to track down his chief meteorologist who had been cheering at mile 25 for his brother. Lee’s brother finished just before the explosions, and finally they were able to find each other–all safe. Jay ended up doing live hits from his iPhone, which is pretty amazing.

Meanwhile I had gone to an apartment of a friend who I knew was finishing around the time of the blast. She wasn’t back yet, but we got word she was ok. Then I went back to our apartment where family friends of ours were also staying. Our phones weren’t working well, so we were texting friends to make sure they were safe until we accounted for everyone. We texted family to let them know we were ok. Social media helped a lot. One of our friend’s husbands was in class at Harvard Law School, so we were very concerned about the news of explosions at JFK Library (later said not to be explosions). The friends at my apartment went back to their place in Cambridge, but I stayed in the apartment waiting for Jay. We were told to stay off the streets as news reported undetonated bombs had been located. This was later found to be untrue. Eventually I got antsy and decided it was safe for a walk. I walked through Boston Commons–it was quiet and peaceful, but police trucks lined Charles. I saw two women on a park bench still in their running clothes. They were stopped before they could finish the race, and now they couldn’t get into their hotel. A local woman asked if there was anything she could do to help them. I started walking to where Jay was working in South End. Ambulances lined Columbus–just waiting. Police and dogs were everywhere. It was eerie to look down Boylston–empty. I found Jay and we tried to grab a bite to eat, but half the places were closed and the other half were starting to run out of food. It was 9:45pm. Jay’s station had sent a satellite truck up by then, so he stayed to field produce the 11, and got home around 11:45. I don’t know how he ran a 2:37:55 marathon and then worked 9 hours. I think he’s just working off adrenaline right now. He’ll be there field producing for the next day or two, depending on how things unfold. I’m on my way home. It’s hard to leave him behind, but today is less scary–more confusing and sad.

As runners, we’re still in shock. The explosions occurred at the same time the average male marathoner finishes. I don’t know if the bomber knew that, but 4:10 is that average finish time. Running is such a positive sport of camaraderie and support. We cheer each other on–even the competition. Runners often run for a cause–for charity or to overcome an obstacle or to honor a loved one. Now we have one more cause to run for.

This was Jay’s 3rd Boston, 6th marathon. All marathons are special, but Boston certainly has a unique feel to it. Even I have inklings of qualifying someday just to experience the awe and the energy of the event. It’s just so unbelievable. We can’t help but be angry, confused and heartbroken.

Three things keep coming to mind:

1. Jay had to surpass many obstacles just to get to the start line this year.  He’s been battling hamstring tendonitis for 6 weeks, which he felt through the entire race.  He’s been unable to sleep for several weeks.  But I kept saying to him, “Monkey, you’re going to be fine.  There’s no way this race could be worse than last year.”  And really, I didn’t see how anything could be harder than his beast of a run at last year’s Boston Marathon in 90-degree heat.  I didn’t fathom the unfathomable.  I can’t believe I said that.

2. I was cheering on Boylston, not far from the second explosion.  I was there with my friends, including a friend’s young son in a stroller.  I just can’t believe we were standing there next to something so lethal, feeling nothing but celebration and elation.  People keep saying, “I’m so glad Jay is such a fast runner.  It’s so good to see you in one piece.”  I hear what they’re saying and I hear the love in it, but I don’t know how to feel about it.

3. When I saw Jay at mile 26, he looked awful.  He did give me a thumbs up to let me know he saw me (a first at Boston–he usually can’t hear/spot me in the crowd despite my loud self)… but he looked like he always does after 26 miles of speed and endurance–like he’s about to fall apart.  So after I screamed his name and waved my cowbell, I bolted to the bag check where I knew I’d find him.  It’s about a 7 minute run as you snake through crowds and loop around the barricades, and I can always feel my phone vibrating with text messages: “Is he ok? Is he pleased?”  But I ignored the texts until I ran to where I knew he’d be.  I just wanted to know he was ok.  I couldn’t help but feel a bit of panic in that 7-minute run to find my husband.  So I cannot imagine the panic and anguish people were feeling just two hours later, running every which direction, trying to locate loved ones.  The feeling is too big for me to bear.

So that’s our story according to me.  I am sure that Jay will have his own version which he will write eloquently about once he has time to decompress (if his work lets him).  It’s been a very hard 36 hours.  And it’s even harder to put into words. 

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learning endurance

I’ve had some interesting runs of late–none of them alike.  I keep meaning to blog about the highs and lows of my training, but I only ever write things in my head.  So–a brief recap of some notable runs:

Sunday Aug 19: I was pumped about running 16 miles at McAlpine with two Charlotte ladies.  One of the women coaches novice runners like myself, the other was a regular running mate from my CLT days. Running flat/wide trails for my longest distance yet was also appealing.  But Sunday morning came, and with it rain, thunder, lightening… both ladies had to bail.  Having never run McAlpine before, I bailed too.  No use in getting lost while running 16 solo.  The rest of the day was beautiful!  And every time I saw a runner, I felt a tinge of failure.  Jay reminded me I was on vacation and could run Monday instead.

Monday, Aug 20: Redemption day!  Met up with my friend Shenna at 5:30am for a 6 mile loop, did that same loop back on my own, and finished up the last 4 miles with my friend Sloan.  It was perfect because a) Shenna gave me the best excuse to get up early, b) it rained so I didn’t feel like a wuss for not running in the rain the day before, c) the in-between miles alone were especially inspiring as I considered the meaning of running along the same roads/sidewalks I used to share with my dear friend Aimee (in whose memory I am training for), d) Sloan helped me with a strong finish–the same girl that convince me to run my first 10k a few years back.

Thursday, Aug 23: Glad to be back at UA for a workout in Central Park.  We were slated for a 4.3 mile tempo, with splits given every 1387.5 meters.  My splits were 6:20, 6:25, 6:15 and 6:22.  This means my pace was pretty consistent… my last split was supposed to be the fastest, but I was trucking it up Cat Hill as fast as I could go.  The odd thing is that the per-mile pace for the workout was 7:20.  Wah?  I’ve never run 7:20’s in a 4-miler or even a 5k.  What the heck.  Part of me was like, wahoo!  Improvement!  But the other part of me was like, uh-oh… I pushed to hard.  Needless to say I was pretty sore the next couple of days.

Sunday, Aug 26: I was hugely relieved that UA scheduled a supported long-run the day I had to do 18.  Runners were supposed to run at “marathon pace” as opposed to “training pace.”  When I explained to Jerry (team coach) that my marathon pace was my training pace, he said, “That’s ok for today, but we need to change it.  The marathon is a race.”  “Not for me, it’s not!” I responded, “My goal is to have fun and finish comfortably.”  “Ok then,” he said hesitatingly.  One of the benefits to my husband coaching me through this race is that we’re on the same page.  Jerry is an awesome coach–he’s perfect for competitive runners like my husband… but not me, not this race!  I went out with the 9-min pace group, and we kept it just under 9’s.  My legs were still a little tired from Thursday’s tempo, but I was feeling good.  We split at mile 16 so everyone could finish their own mileage (16-20) at their own pace.  I knew my last miles were supposed to be the fastest, so I pushed through mile 17, feeling good, and then BAM.  Pain.  My left ankle hurt so badly, I thought maybe I had broken it.  But I was 90% sure it was muscular, so I ran through to 18.5.  The pain never stopped that last 1.5 miles.  Oh no.  Crap.  What’s going on.

Long story short–I rolled my ankle slightly at mile 5, and the gradual swelling from that combined with swelling from a unfortunately placed mosquito bite (smack dab on my tendon) resulted in substantial pain.  I limped through half of Monday until the bite subsided–and all was well!  I was relieved and embarrassed.  Stupid mosquito.

And that brings me up today.  I my legs are aching.  I know I did 18 on Sunday and a tough workout on Tuesday, but I did nothing but ice, rest, compress, soak and elevate on Monday!  And I ran easy on Wednesday and Thursday!  And I’m taking today off!  Most of my friends are suffering from soreness or sudden cramps/strains/pulls… I guess maybe we’re to the point in our training where the idea of “endurance” really comes to life.  It’s not just getting through the long runs, it’s getting through the days, weeks, months of training.  It’s getting through every-day tasks when you’re sore from last night’s workout.  Getting through the mental games you play with yourself over every hint of pain.  Getting through the weeks you feel awesome, and the weeks you feel like a hot mess.  It’s being surprised to find a spring in your step despite your aching muscles.  It’s new territory for me.

Tonight Jay and I will be carb-loading and going to bed early to gear up for an early half-marathon at Rockaway Beach.  Earlier in my training, we had this down as a race.  But with my hamstring injury last month, all my long runs got pushed back a week, making this a recovery week rather than a race week.  It’s still a race, and my goal is to PR.  But Jay reminds me that this is just a step toward the real goal, and not to go all-out.  The same goes for my hubby–tomorrow will be only the 2nd time he’s run 13 miles since April.  It’s a small field, and I know he’ll be tempted to push it.  But the goal is to recover from 4 months of injury, and this is just a step along the way for him.

So much learning, so much to endure, and one heck of a good reason to run through it all.

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