The California International Marathon was just 5 weeks after the Silicon Valley Marathon. It was not a time for training, but more of a time for recovery. I got a sports massage two days after SVM and took it easy for a week. After a week, I began running again seriously but with reduced mileage. For my long runs, I did an 8 miler, then 13 miles, then 15. After that I tapered.
When I hit Sacramento, I was pretty optimistic. I wasn’t going to have the same stomach issues. I had a plan to run with the pace team and run with my new iPod as well. I even had some fun short music files that have the voices of my family cheering me on. I was set.
At the race expo, I hooked up with the 3:50 pace team leader. His name was Bill and not only did he explain how he was going to get us to the finish line on time, he also talked about what it is like to run in the Boston Marathon. I was psyched when I left the expo and looking forward to race day.
By race morning, I was ready to give Boston Qualification another shot. I was in good spirits and wasn’t going to let the little things, like forgetting a spoon for my oatmeal, get to me. I drank the oatmeal. Remembering my stomach issues at the Silicon Valley Marathon, I also didn’t get upset when I realized that I had not brought my way of ensuring that my “business” was taken care of prior to the gun going off. The morning was cold. It was REALLY cold. I decided on my Capri-length leggings and a long-sleeved shirt.
I spend too much time on the bus. By the time I was dropping my sweat bag and heading for the port-o-potties, everyone else was heading for the start. I kept calm, remembering the chip timing.
It was true that I would not be penalized for time from the gun going off to the time I crossed the starting line. It was equally true that the 3:50 pace team was far ahead of me by the time I was crossing the start. I did my best to find them and still not push too hard this early in the race.
After a bit of this “chasing” the unseen pace leader, I gave up hope of finding him. I just ran the race while listening to my new iPod. It was nice to have the music, which I kept to a low volume so that I could still interact with the crowd.
The spectators were few but steady; there wasn’t any part of the course where they were totally absent. I took it all in, waving at the kids, and enjoying the entertaining signs. While I knew that the “Go Mom” sign was not for me, I took it as a message from my own kids. The sign that said, “Don’t Puke” had new meaning for me after my experience with the Silicon Valley Marathon just 5 weeks before. I had high hopes that this race would be a far different experience.
At about the mid-way point, I kept my eyes open for my brother, who lives near there, but to no avail. I was fighting the slow down and losing. While trying not to get discouraged and give up, I heard my husband’s voice. I looked around, thinking that he’d surprised me by coming onto the course rather than just waiting at the finish. Then I heard DD’s voice and the words that followed were all too familiar. It was the recorded words of encouragement that was playing on my iPod. I smiled, even laughed out loud at myself and continued onward.
Around mile 18, I was in desperate need for a port-a-potty. I mean DESPERATE. But there wasn’t one in sight. I slowed down to keep from having an “accident” and cursed my having forgotten to pack the suppository. My BQ was already getting away from me, but this certainly wasn’t helping. I was so relieved to see the large flag marking the 19th mile, but there was no potty in sight. I would have to go another mile. I continued on, sometimes having to walk in order to minimize the damage.
By the time I reached mile 20, I was beyond desperate. My stomach was cramping badly from “holding it” and I just held back the tears. My BQ was lost. As I hovered over the pot, trying not to let my body touch any part of the surrounding area, I couldn’t relax enough to go. There were other runners pounding on the door and while I knew their desperation, they weren’t helping things. 5 minutes later, I was on my way again.
Those last 6.2 miles never felt so long. I tried to come up with a secondary goal of finishing the race in 4 hours, but my head wasn’t satisfied with that goal. I’d lost the fight for Boston AGAIN, and it was disappointing. I ran. I walked. I hit the final stretch towards the finish and heard BoBo yelling my name. I began to cry, but I kept running as I crossed the finish line in tears at 4:04 with plans for another BQ attempt sometime in the future.