Actually, it’s a big three weeks. First, I completed New Hampshire’s list of 4,000 foot mountains on Saturday. Mts Lincoln and Lafayette were number 47 and 48, all done while carrying a small child most of the way, and there will be a trip report on that later.
The weird part is there was no single reason. No job change, family milestone, or graduation caused it. The kids have been around for a few years now, so it’s not that. This just kind of crept up on me, where I’ve become this person who wakes up at the crack of dawn to go running. And lifting, and whatever else it takes to get rid of the extra 50 lbs I’ve picked up.
But I’m not part of the fitness community or anything like that.
Here we are high up on the Durand Ridge of Mt. Adams in New Hampshire, heading along what they call the Knife Edge (I’ve been on Katahdin’s Knife Edge, and there is no comparison – I’d never take one of my kids on Katahdin’s, while Rye is hiking the Durand Ridge on her own). Except for the hour we spent on that ridge, I cruised to the junction of the Airline and Chemin de Dames trails in a little over two hours, where I let Rye hike (which is kinda the point), then powered up the rest of the way in a half hour after Rye got back in the pack. That’s 65 lbs total on my back, and I didn’t just beat the guidebook time, I crushed it.
So… the 2012 Boston Marathon was epic. I heard that more than 4,000 runners took the BAA up on their offer to defer until next year. These are probably fast runners who wanted to go for PRs (personal records). Smart folks. Another 2,000 or so did require medical help of some kind, and they included elite and expert runners.
The BAA warning before the race was pointed: If you had never run a marathon or had not run in these conditions, they recommended you bag. I realized if I ran in the 88 degree heat, next time that warning wouldn’t mean me!
To many people, that means nothing. It looks like some kind of running stat, like that annoying cousin, the triathlete or something, is always talking about. Normal people talk about Final Fours, Yards per carry, and RBIs. You can stuff your 42 minute 10Ks.
Real runners don’t care much for numbers like that either. They run a 5-minute mile, not a pokey 8. A 42 minute 10K is the mark of a piker.
Well, this piker is pretty darn proud of the number. I turned it in this morning, one week before my first Boston Marathon. I’m in ‘taper’ mode, which means I’m not supposed to be running very much during the 2 to 3 weeks before race day. After 5 months of training at distances of more than 20 miles, the heart, lungs, legs, stomach and mind are ready.
Normally that wouldn’t bother me at all, but this year is a little different. This time I’m supposed to run in it.
It’s 26 miles. 26.2 actually, as any marathoner will probably point out. I’ve run 5 miles. Even 10. But that’s always been my limit. I don’t think it was physical as much as mental. Running 10 miles takes an hour and a half. That could be a movie. Instead, I’ve chosen to spend that time pounding my legs into pavement listening to an iPhone shuffle playlist that is short enough to call up Barry Manilow twice.
I remember exactly when I began running. It was March 2005. The days were getting longer, and it was just a few weeks before we set the clocks forward for Daylight Savings Time. I decided I was sick of being overweight and I needed to expend some nervous energy.
Why was I nervous? For a few months, I had begun to realize our family business, a hair salon, wasn’t going to make it. After a year and a half, revenues were still rising, but not quite enough to cover costs. The writing was on the wall, so I hit the pavement.
My first run went a quarter mile, down to the corner store. I got to the corner and doubled over in exhaustion. Oh my God, I wondered as I bent staring at the sidewalk, was I just going to be unable to run? Were some people naturally athletic while others, myself included, just naturally… not?