Monday, April 15, 2013

When You're Too Slow for Boston...

I really enjoy running and I especially enjoy running long distances, so when my friends in our running group started their training ramp up for Boston, I couldn't resist running the early Saturday morning runs with them.  I wasn't training for anything myself, but when the Friday Facebook post came asking who was in for the 5 a.m. Saturday run, I couldn't help myself.

Michelle, Gail, Liz and Jill (my training partner for Ironman Lake Placid) had qualified for Boston earlier in the year and are experienced members of the Original Carrollwood Running Group (OCRG) and Jill and Michelle are regulars on the Saturday runs.  The OCRG welcomed me into the group when I was training for Lake Placid and I enjoyed being pushed by this group of motivated runners.  OCRG has a reputation for being "fast freaks" and members routinely bring home the hardware at races.  No surprise that there were multiple members who qualified for Boston in 2013.

In between running 5k's with my daughter and a half-marathon in February, I jumped in and ran 18, then 20 and finally 22 miles with Michelle and Jill on Saturday mornings as my schedule would permit.  I've run two marathon races before and this was a similar long-run progression to my previous races, so I got to thinking that I should actually run a marathon and not let this training go to waste.  I decided I would run the Boston Marathon on my treadmill!

More specifically, I decided that I would run the Boston Marathon on my Internet/iFit-enabled treadmill on 4/15/13 at 3 a.m., hours before the actual race started!  I traced the Boston course on a Google-map and saved the workout to the treadmill so it can automatically incline and decline to match the hills and flats of the Boston Marathon course.  Pretty cool that I could actually see the starting line on the street view when I created the workout!  This is as close as I will get to running Boston until I get a lot faster.

With the Epic treadmill loaded with the Boston course, I prepared my "aid station" on Sunday night and stocked it with Cytomax, ice water, Hammer Gel, and Honeystinger chews.  I brought in another fan, I set out my clothes and made sure the iPad and Bluetooth headset was charged and got to bed.  Not as early as I wanted, but I'm afraid the 2:30 a.m. alarm was going to come too soon regardless of what time I actually hit the pillow.
The alarm went off and I was up and eating my pre-race peanut-butter bagel, chocolate Boost and drinking a little water and Cytomax while I moved the aid station supplies into position.
I had a brief moment of panic when I turned on the treadmill and the Boston Marathon workout was not in the queue!  Ahhhhh!  I quickly fired up the iPad and searched for why my workout was not there.  Turns out you need to schedule each workout to appear on a particular day and Boston was scheduled for yesterday!  Bah!  After a little messing around, I re-logged into the treadmill and Boston was there for me to start.  Fifteen minutes later that I wanted to start, but I was now running.  I fired up Netflix and started watching a documentary on Fred Lebow, founder of the New York City Marathon...seemed appropriate enough.
Things were going pretty well and I was feeling good.  The first bit of Boston is downhill and the treadmill whirred and adjusted the incline to -4%.  I'm not sure if it's actually steeper, but that is the maximum decline the treadmill is capable of.  Unfortunately, it is also capable of 15% incline,  but this morning would only see an 8% incline according to Google maps.  Bummer #1, my display should have been alternating between an overhead map and a street view, but it was just stuck on the traditional 400 meter track view.  I covered it with my iPad.
I finished the NYC Marathon documentary an flipped over to a few episodes of Arrested Development and then to a mindless American Pie franchise movie from 2005...not nearly as good as the original, but it kept me entertained.

Aid station stops were a welcome break.  I slowed the treadmill down to a walk and stepped off, grabbed my snacks and refilled my drinks and jumped back on and cranked up the speed.  Everything was working pretty well.

I was now into the Heartbreak Hill section of the race and I was feeling the incline.  I'd run this section on the treadmill before, so I knew what to expect, but that was on fresh legs.  It was a bit more challenging this time through.  It was about this time that I experienced Bummer #2.  I must have touched the treadmill screen and inadvertently locked in the incline.  After about a mile, I noticed something on the screen that wasn't there before, but since I didn't have my glasses on, I couldn't read it.  After I found my glasses, I could see it said "Return to Workout" and I pressed it and the treadmill whirred and leveled out.  Extra hills on the Boston course for me!

The last 3 miles were a mental struggle for me.  I switched to music only and covered the treadmill display so I wasn't constantly being reminded of how slow I was going or how much further I had to run.  My wife came in a snapped a few pictures before and noticed that I nearly lost my balance when I looked off to the side to talk (she decided to hang out at the kitchen table instead...for my safety).  I was feeling the familiar fatigue at the end of a long race and I was getting a little wobbly. I was ready to be done.  I thought about my running group partners who were making their way to the real race start and I kept pushing.

Thankfully Finished!
On the practical side, I also needed to finish so I could get to work so I kept pushing and stayed focused for the last few miles.  I peeked under the towel at the display and I was now within 1 mile.  Run hard, stay focused and watch the little progress bar move around the 400 meter track loop.  One more loop should do it!

I started on the mental math to compute my overall time since the treadmill only displays it in minutes.  I watched the mile counter click to 26.2 and stopped the workout!  4 hours, 7 minutes and 15 seconds.  Thank you to my wife Michelle for snapping the final picture of the morning!

I was happy to be done and excited for my friends who were about to start their racing adventure in Boston.  Each of our runners has a unique story about their day, but they all experienced the elation of running a historic race and I'm so proud of all of them for achieving their Boston goals.  The joy of the day was hijacked by a senseless act of violence and a tragic loss of innocent life and serious injuries that will impact many people for years to come.  I'm afraid running races have changed forever as a result.

My thoughts go out to my running group friends and to all of those impacted by the Boston Marathon bombing.  Run Boston Strong!