Friday, April 22, 2005

The Big Day (or Not a Kenyan)

It has been three days now since the big day and I have been remiss in filling in those of you that are actually reading this on the culmination of my road to pain.
I am pleased to say that it was not nearly as painful as I expected. This in part was due to my training, which despite all my worrying was apparently adequate, and to the fact that I took the race extremely slow at the start. If I can offer any advice to those of you out there who may be inspired to participate in a marathon, all I can say is don't get caught up in the hype at the beginning and fly like a bat out of hell. Run a slow steady race, at least at the start. It worked for me, and my time reflects it (4 hrs 28 min). It is readily apparent that no Kenyan blood runs in my veins, but I enjoyed the day which is so important.
The day was a scorcher for April in New England (about 70F). Because the roads around Hopkinton (the start) close early, the Brigham Team shuttled out at 7:30 and reached our host's house near the start a little after 8. (Thirty minutes to get out there, and four and a half hours to get back!) We sat and compared training notes for almost four hours, hoping that our individual training was enough. Four hours of sitting and thinking can work one into a bit of a nervous mess.
About an hour before the race it was gear time. Clothes were changed, body parts vaselined (chafing you know), names written on jerseys and body parts, sunscreen applied, parts stretched, shoes tied, feet taped, and gel pinned to shorts. Soon it was time. The carbo loading and hydrating was over and we trooped to our corrals. These are organized by number and the slower you are the higher your number. Mine was 21115, the Kenyan 00001. You get the idea. We all walked about half a mile to our corral and stood and sweated in the sun until the starting gun which we never heard. Finally we started to shuffle and 26 minutes after the gun was fired I crossed the start. No you can't subtract 26 minutes off my time, it was chip timed so my time is accurate.
The first few minutes were an adrenaline high. I could have run a six minute mile. People lined the rural course and kids and adults alike held out their hands for you to high five them. I slapped hands for 26.2 miles! People called your name (helpfully written on shirt and right bicep) and cheered you on. Fortunately I maintained my cool and kept the pace down. The first half was a breeze. I felt strong the whole way and was thrilled to see my bride at the halfway mark to exchange a sweaty hug. The miles flew by. Wellsley college was a highlight because hundreds of screaming girls cheered you on -- I felt like a rock star.
Reality hit past the half-way mark. I saw my wife once more, and now I was more tired. It was hot and I kept hydrating. People were walking now. Past Newton and on to Commonwealth Ave. I knew what was next: the hills. I focused more now, the cheers helpful but less insistent. I needed to look inward. I crested one hill only to realize that another stood in my way. Finally, Heartbreak Hill. By now, more people were walking than running. I am proud to say that I was not one of them. I put my head down and pushed myself up that damn hill. From there it was just a matter of time endurance. I knew I would make it after Heartbreak Hill. Shortly after, I turned into Cleveland Circle, and started up Beacon for the last 4 miles. Drunken college students remained to cheer us all on but the mile markers seemed to be farther apart now. I would like to file a complaint, because I am pretty sure mile marker 25 was at least two miles from mile 24!
At the start I had abandoned my time goal of 4 or 4:20, but as I reached mile 23 I realized that with a little step in the pace I could finish in under 4:30. Did I have it? I dug deep and in the cheering of the crowds spurred myself past walkers and runners alike. I turned into Boston itself and chugged along Boylston and across the finish at 4:28 and I was thrilled.
This was one of the hardest yet most valuable things I have done. It was not the run itself that was so hard. In fact, at the pace I ran I felt pretty good -- at least better than I expected. It was the training, the hours spent out on the road or in the gym when I just wanted to curl on the couch and drink a beer. I think in some ways it is a metaphor for life. Trite but true. The big day or goal is just a culmination of the greater part that goes before. Life is the training, not the race. The race just reminds you of how important the training is.
If anybody is actually reading this, then thanks for listening to my ramblings. I hope I have inspired you to do something you have always wanted.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Taper!

It's been a while since my last post, but don't think that I have been slacking. After the last long run, I officially entered my last three weeks of training which involve "tapering" down the training schedule to recover for next weeks race. Yes, only one week away!
In the spirit of tapering, I ran only short runs of around 6 miles for the last week, no more than every other day. Sounds like a lot, but still less than I was doing. I didn't really do a long run last weekend, but yesterday I ran 12 miles just to remind my body that it is still in training. I have to admit that my knees hurt a lot, so I will be sure to be in pain post marathon. I will keep it simple this week, maybe 2-3 runs of 3-4 miles at most. Then 3-4 days off with tons of carb-loading (can't wait for the pasta) before the marathon begins.
I will update this before and after the marathon. To all of you that have supported me both spiritually and financially, I thank you. This wasn't an easy task, and it's not over yet. If you would like to contribute, please go to: http://www.justgiving.com/pfp/tim_williams. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Kittery Run

This weekend marked the final long training run before Boston. It's only 3 weeks away!!
I did the 20 mile East Coast race from Kittery Maine, through New Hampshire along the coast to Massachusetts. I was pretty please with how it went. I finished in 3 hours and 3 minutes, just short of my goal of 3 minutes or a 9 minute mile. I don't think I will be able to sustain that pace for the marathon, but I am fairly confident of coming in under my goal of 4 hours and 20 minutes. Of course the marathon has a lot more hills, and to be sure, at the end of last weekend's race, I couldn't imagine doing another 6.2 miles. Still more training to go.
Deb ran the 10 mile portion of the race, and did great despite her hamstring pull. Our friends Tonya and Brian also ran the race and trounced me soundly. They too are running the marathon. Wish us all luck, and please, please donate. Many thanks.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Running Hard Now

OK, forgive the Rocky reference. Longest run of training is now officially over! I ran for 3 and a half hours which I reckon to be 21 or 22 miles. I took the commuter rail out to Framinham which is on the marathon route at about mile 6 and ran back through the beautiful towns of Natick and Welsley. Very pretty run at first with soft white snow everywhere. It was a little warm though and the trees were dropping big chunks of snow the whole way. I was starting to take it personal as the clumps would hit all around me, one in front, one in back, and then -pow- right on the old head. I was pretty tired at the end. I was thinking I must be pretty close to getting back when I looked up and saw a road sign that read: Boston 7. I almost laughed out loud. Nothing worse than being exhausted and realizing you've still go 7 to go!
Stay tuned. Thanks for all your support and don't forget to donate.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Please Donate

I haven't posted this in a while, so if you want to donate please go to: http://www.justgiving.com/pfp/tim_williams

Short Run

I had my brother in town this weekend with his new girl. It was great to see him. We do miss our family while we are out in Boston. Anyway, I did reasonable well last week, but ended up taking 3 days off. Sunday I excused myself and got a long run in and I am paying for it again. This was a "short long run" of 12-13 miles. I was pleased with myself because I got my speed up which I need. I managed a 9 minute mile. I know, it doesn't sound like much, but I figure if I can keep that up for 12-13, then a 10 minute mile for the actual marathon is doable. Is that a word? I will be glad to have this over with though. I have my longest run (24) next week and then I start tapering down for the actual marathon, so the worst is almost over.
Thanks to all of you that have donated. I am still short of the mark, so please keep 'em coming!
PS - is anyone actually reading this?

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Feel the Pain

It's been a long time since the last update, but rest assured I am still training. Thursday I did my long run for the week. I am on call this weekend and it is a little risky setting out for a three hour run and worrying about getting paged in the middle. I was also worried about the 6 inches of snow Boston was supposed to get on Thursday night, but I guess that was a needless concern since they had the streets and sidewalks cleared in no time.
You'll be glad to hear the run went well. I went for 3 hours and 15 minutes, which I think was about 20 miles. It did not hurt nearly as badly as the last long run two weeks ago. I was actually functional afterwards. I did manage to get a blister though. Bad socks were the culprit.
I have taken a couple of days off since my knees and left ankle are aching and because of call. I will do a light run today, probably on the treadmill, or cross-train. Monday it is back to it. Next weekend is a short long-run. Yeah I know how that sounds. The following will be my longest of 22 and then I will start ramping down, doing a 20 mile race about 3 weeks before the marathon.
Thanks for the donations that are trickling in. Keep 'em coming.