Why I Ran The Boston Marathon on No Training

I could have trained. I should have trained. But as we all know, sometimes things do not go according to plan. I knew that if I turned to the online running community for tips on running Boston while logging less than 20 mile/month would be met with anything but support.My running buddies who became my friends over the years never doubted and even made the trek to Boston for Marathon Monday. We were all committed to getting my body over that finish line.

The last year of my life have been utter chaos. Still I made a promise to my mother that I was going to run the race that I set my eyes on in early 2013. There was no way, sans a natural disaster, that I would miss running Boston. Who knows if I was going to BQ on another marathon in the near future. The 16-20 weeks leading up to the race I told myself that I would get out and run. Eight weeks out I officially joined a gym with the intention of logging many a mile on the treadmill. In reality I went to Zumba or cardio classes twice a week and log a mile or two after. My body and my brain were on totally different wavelengths.

I had decided that this was going to be the race that I truly ran for fun. Considering the fact that I had run a marathon seven months before I knew I was still capable of completing the distance. Shoot, I ran 81 miles in a 24 hour race on a whim.

In order to finish looking like a human and not a zombie my plan was to ride the coast the downhills with as little effort as possible and focus on my form and foot turnover on the uphills. My base goal was to get to the half marathon mark without walking and then walk the Newton Hills as needed. The expo was superb and the other runners that I met that day were a friendly reminder that we all run for a reason. A race wouldn’t be a good race if I hadn’t drunk my two god luck beers the night before the race. The race dinner offered Samuel Adam’s 26.2 tap, just my luck.

Boston 2015

I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it!

On race day the weather wasn’t great. It was just under 40 degrees with wind gusts of over 20mph. By the 5k mark the rain was another ‘perk’. Once I arrived at bag check I realized that I had left my Body Glide at home. I hadn’t planned for rain so a friend let me borrow her jacket to run in. This morning was off to an amazing start, but I still didn’t doubt that this would be a great day. After bag check things calmed down and I planned out my final race strategy.

The race went off without any further surprises. The downhills early in the race were helpful. I coasted through the 5k and 10k marks in good time. The crowds were great, it seemed that no one packed up shop and left due to the weather. Somewhere between the 10k and 21.1k mark I met my first running mate, a guy from the Czech Republic. Around the same time I saw a pizza shop and someone walking out with a few boxes of piping hot pizza. This is also the same time that I started craving pizza! Approaching the Wellesley crowd was something special. Those ladies (and gentlemen) must go to class without voices for the rest of the week. I partook in no kissing myself, but for those that are looking for a unique moment this is the place.

I slurped down my first two gels and ate a few oranges leading up to the halfway point, but my body wanted something else. I continued to push forward, head first into the wind and rain. As I made it to the first of the Newton Hills I slowed my pace and power walked my way up. My running mate for the next 7.5 miles spoke to me then. He said something along the lines of, “You look like you have the right idea.” At that point we began talking and motivating each other to make it to the next stoplight, tree or mile marker. He had a surgery a few months earlier and couldn’t train, but felt that he still had to complete the race.

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 3.30.11 PMWe ran, talked, ate Pringles and Swedish Fish. At mile 19 I saw a few friends and became a little more energized. A few miles later we saw his cheer crew. Eventually I knew my legs need a slightly longer break, a couple of minutes in a lovely porto would work. For the first time in a race 50k or under I did something different. I stopped running completely and went to the loo. I wished my mate a strong finished and proceeded to compose myself and shed a bit of liquid.

The last couple miles were tiring, I was walking anything that felt like an incline. The hill leading up to the Citgo sign was a walking hill for me. At this point I was saving as much steam as I could for the final 1.2 miles. The crowds continued to cheer and motivate runners. I had a few fun and friendly quick conversations with spectators.

Once I made it onto Hereford Street I started to pick up the pace. There was no more walking now, I was only a few minutes from keeping my word on one of the biggest promises that I have ever made. Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 3.22.52 PMAs I left onto Boylston Street and saw the finish lines in the distance I started to get emotional. I wished my mother was able to watch the race, see me finish it, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I unzipped my jacket in hopes that the photographers would snap a good photo of my crossing with my tribute shirt to my mother. All race photographers have a goal of catching you mid-moment, I had just finished opening the jacket when they snapped a photo with my arms flailing. Than all of a sudden it was over, years of planning to get here and after a few fun hours of running it was over. It didn’t feel like I had run completed another marathon, well physically it felt like I had run one, painfully smart.

Treating this race like an ultramarathon was my personal key to success. Shoot, I even dressed like I was running an ultra – so many colors, so many brands. I listened very intently to my body, paid attention to my foot turnover and ran my own race. Staying true to my word was another reason why I didn’t let any minor pain deter me from finishing. The Boston Marathon was my slowest marathon, but it is the race that I am most proud of. Thank you Boston for allowing me to run this great race and thank you mom for being my greatest supporter and motivation.

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Missing: 11.5 Months!!

Almost a year ago today I was counting down the days until I boarded a flight to Honduras for a spur of the moment style trip. SO much has changed since then. I have crawled in the proverbial hole and am just starting to peak out.

About a week after I returned from my trip I decided to send my mother a photo from my trip that I hadn’t thought about until that moment. Since then I have played back a number of scenarios: What if I had called her 30 minutes earlier, What if I had not sent that photo, What could I have done that would have changed the course of what was to come. A few moments after I sent her the photo I received a response, but it wasn’t from her. My mother was being rushed to the hospital. I froze in front of my computer at work. It was still the middle of the day and I was over 1,000 miles away from her. What in the literal hell was going on and why was this happening?

I tried to calm myself especially seeing as though I was just as paralyzed as she was. It took me a few hours to figure everything out, book a flight, rent a car and finally let my boss know that I had an emergency. I tried my best to remain composed as I commuted home. I barely knew what was going on.

Over time more came to light and she slowly started to recover, but I felt as though I was stuck in very slow moving quick sand. There was hope, a branch jutting out just far enough for me to reach, but when I reached out I could only graze the tree branch with the tips of my fingers.

On her birthday, just two months after her accident she was laughing and telling stories from the rehab facility that she was in. Just about two weeks after her birthday I watched all that work disappear. Doctors had said that she was ready for another surgery, a surgery that they said should take place six months after her initial accident was now considered ‘safe’ after just two months. I guess we should have taken that with a grain of salt. I am glad that I was there to record her last words, we talked about her mother and my father. I hadn’t thought about it at the time, but my mother lost her mother around the same age.

While I still talk to her everyday I can no longer hold her hand and kiss her forehead the way that she did for me so many times throughout my life. I have tried to come out of the hole I’ve found so much comfort in, but it has been very hard.  This is my first step in making it official, all while carrying my mother with me. Next week I will stand with 30,000 other runners and take on the Boston Marathon course with her tucked in my belt. I had hoped that she could watch the race on tv and cheer for all of the other runners, but unfortunately this will never happen.

Now to keep a smile on my face and do everything possible to make sure I honor her and make her proud of me.

Let’s Boston Qualify, 3:35 Marathon

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One More Run

Most marathoners have heard of the Boston Marathon. Not only is it the oldest annual marathon, it’s one of the toughest to qualify for. Although I would love to run the Boston Marathon, I’d be happy just to get a qualifying time. Since a qualifying time does not guarantee entrance I know that it will likely take closer to a 3:20 finish for me to score a coveted bib for the 2014 race.

I know there are other folks like me, novice runners looking for a challenge, and I that’s why I’ve decided to dedicate a blog to my running related ramblings. I’m also the type of runner that doesn’t have infinite spending money to allocate to gear and entry fees. For instance I lucked out on a pair of Asics GT-2170‘s during a Jack Rabbit holiday sale, $37! I also registered for the Honolulu Marathon during their…

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A Day In Beantown

Firstly, I love Mass. I would consider it as one of the few places I would consider retiring. I’m not saying that because I’m from there but because it’s a city filled with so much history and culture, not to mention its home to the Patriots, Red Sox, and Celtics!

Its been a while since I’ve visited Boston so I was excited to line it up as my second destination. The timing was also great in that I was going to my first ball game at Fenway Park! I mean its Fenway, a ball park which has stood the test of time. Granted there have been upgrades to the park twice since it was built but it hasn’t been torn down and reconstructed like other ball parks. I also decided to have my first go at couchsurfing in the states. I’ve hosted people and I have surfed in Asia but I have never formally surfed in the U.S. This was going to be a great, although short, trip.

After arriving and meeting up with my host I decided to be extroverted, although still during Ramadan, and meet up with other AYCJ’ers at the Oyster Union Bar. After lunch we walked along the Freedom trail, look for a red brick and/or painted path around parts of historic Boston. Some stops on the train were interesting while others were not so much. More chatting and fun washad up until we made it to Fenway, scored free entry for one person in our party that didn’t have aticket. The highlight of the game was getting to sit a bit past 1st base, three rows from the field! A perk when you consider the fact that I had a $18 bleacher ticket. My second afternoon was more about getting a bit more acquainted with the city. I stopped by the Cheers bar, a few parks, and the Granary cemetery in the time I had left.

One of the things I truly enjoy about Boston is that its residents are truly hometown fan. I like to state that there are TWO Boston bars in NYC but there are NO NYC bars in Boston. When I spoke to a Boston cop at Fenway he mentioned that for many years you had to be from Boston to be a Boston cop. Bostonians and their transplants love their city and it shows. I hope to check out a Patriots game one day at Foxborough but for now I’m content with having made it to Fenway and the Garden.