"It's a little self indulgent..." - My mom
"After I read a sentence, I get mad at myself for caring what you're doing." -Karl Dusen

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The University of...Austin, in Austin, Massachusetts

I've had a lot of harebrained schemes. Boston was one. I thought things were tied up rather nicely when Jake Marren said I could go along with him and Ella. I thought it strange that he'd plan on driving to and from a marathon several states away, but I ignored that when I heard his travel schedule would meet mine exactly.
It became apparent later that driving was not much of an option. I had not driven a manual since 1998, and Ella did not like driving near people. Both factors excluded driving back to DC as a viable option, because Jake would have just finished a grueling race. It worked for Melissa and me after Marine Corps, but Pittsburgh and Washington is a big difference from Washington and Boston.

The Trip Up
When Jake told me he was going to fly, I was relieved that he had come to his senses. Obviously I would have to find a way there, I was glad he made the good decision to reduce the toll on his body. As it turned out, it would be crucial for him. Instead of doing the trip in stages, I decided to take a straight shot on a Greyhound. Big mistake. Last year, Brandon G and I drove to Boston from Pittsburgh with Sara Roberts, leaving around midnight so we would have most of the daytime to spend in the city. I figured I would be more likely to sleep on a 10-hour bus ride, but that was before I figured in that I would be one of the last people on the bus at 1:15 am, squeezed into the last seat on the bus. The corpulence of the passenger behind me prevented me from reclining my seat, but luckily with the aid of Benedryl I was able to become loopy enough to pass out for a bit a few hours into the trip, then wake up at 5:30 as we were pulling into the NY/NJ Port Authority Bus Terminal. I stepped into a world I hardly understood and greatly feared. First off, I had no idea where in the world the bus station actually was. I saw signs for the exit, but they told me to climb several levels. Was I deep underground? I explored for a while until I decided that was a bad idea, and hid in a corner until it was time to board the bus to Boston. By then the sun was up and sleeping wasn't happening, in spite of the cold medicine. I arrived in Boston at 11 and proceeded to carry my too-heavy bag around the marathon expo to get my 5k packet and see Jess Etchen at the Brooks booth. I then took the orange line out to Sullivan Square to find the hotel where I was staying with Brandon G for the evening. A few blocks into industrial Somerville on Broadway, I realized I was now in a bad neighborhood. After using some rudimentary Spanish, I managed to get more detailed directions to the hotel, and upon arrival promptly crashed for a 2.5 hour nap. I woke at did a 4.5 mile run to loosen up, and it felt really good. Having taken the previous day off helped a bit, but I was surprised I was not more exhausted, thanks to my lack of sleep. After dinner and a short walk, I worked on falling asleep on the pile of springs the La Quinta Inn called a cot.

B.A.A. 5k
I did not wake up to the weather or sensations I was hoping to find. It was cold and drizzling at 5:45 am and I finally felt the exhaustion I was missing the day before. Thank goodness I was only running 5k. I figured I could gut it out. The warmup wasn't terrible- finding a bathroom and the bag check was, though. Upon reaching the starting line, I noticed nobody was doing strides. The BAA course marshals were telling runners not to pass in front of the start. Effing ridiculous. Eventually a critical mass decided that was unacceptable and we did a few. After a miserable rendition of God Bless America, I wanted to lie down and die. That would have to wait. The gun went off and I instantly was in 40th place. Having run the last three races with my intentions focused on running no faster than 5:20, it was a shock. My legs were already heavy from the start, but I decided since the race wouldn't last that long, I might as well hurt. After about a minute or so, I started to move up, but it was ultimately too much too fast. I approached the mile, after about 700 meters of climbing at 5:05. I figured my goal of 15:20, given the way I was feeling, was likely out, but 15:30 might still be reasonable if I had broken out of the intertia I felt at the start. Plus, I had the downhill to help me. I clearly didn't take advantage of it enough, because I was getting thrashed on the way down. I lost track of how many people passed me, but it was not encouraging. Then, I cross two miles with a 5:16 split, leaving my only hopes for a fast race to a sub 16. I don't remember too much, except trying to maneuver all the turns that I didn't remember from the course map. I mowed down a few people in the last stretch of the third mile in 5:17, but by then all hopes of a sub 16 were also dashed. I tried my best to hold on with a 33 second finish and immediately started figuring out what went wrong. The bus ride, the lack of fast-start preparation, and a general bad attitude torpedoed my effort. I skipped the afternoon run and instead hung out with the Richmond gang that ran- Watson, Hannay, Sherry, her dad and their gang.

I stayed with Shara Siegel right on the course, at mile 23.75. I got up at nine to do a run on the course before the races started, but I succumbed to temptation to watch an episode of Seinfeld before I left. I ran 5.75 miles out to miles 18 and back, speeding up on the way back, but was forced onto the sidewalk by the police with two miles to go. Bummer. I still kept my pace down, but there was a lot of dodging and leading out of the way to avoid pedestrians, chairs and food vendors. Afterward, I cleaned up and had a bit to eat and went back down to watch the leaders and eventually everyone else come through. I really don't know how to make this interesting, so I will just list the people I managed to see. Greg Costello came along, looking a little worn out. Jared Markowitz. I nearly missed Seann Mulcahy, because I forgot how slight he was. Jeff Watson. JARRIN and Chris Bain, looking tough despite intervening illnesses in their training. Matt Hannay, dutifully accompanying his wife Sherry to a PR and her first marathon under 3:00. Mark Hunkele. Matt Ernst, who hammed it up and also PRed. Mark Courtney. Shannon O'Neill.
I missed Joe Vella, Matias, Nick End, Tim Schuler, Craig Gaites, Dave and Laura O'Hara, Moira Davenport. Sarah Taylor and Bizarro Bridget, and Joe Sikora. A number of people I hoped to see ended up not running- Larry and Brian Quinn, Paul McCaffery, Liz Kennon.
I am really getting tired of writing this entry, because it reminds me of how tired I was at the end of all of this.
So that's it.

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