Bahston Runnah

In Boston this weekend. All the weather forecasts said it would be rainy and hot--but I'm training for MY FIRST MARATHON EVER and I love this city, so some bad weather wasn't going to keep me from my run yesterday morning.

I carefully mapped out a route with lots of sights around the city (it took me three tries to get it down right) and was eager to head out. Perhaps a little too eager. I went to bed at 1am on Friday night (er, Saturday morning) and at 530 I sprung awake..even though I didn't plan on waking up until 730. (I hate it when this happens.) So I go in and out of sleep for two hours. Once the alarm goes off at 730 I start the rituals: drinking water, shaking off the grogginess, etc. Oddly enough I wasn't hungry.

By 8am I was outside the hotel (which was right on the finish line for the Marathon) and stretching. In the 3 years I lived here I've never seen the streets so empty as they were yesterday morning. Then again, in college I tended to not do very much at 8am. Anywho, it turned out to be perfect running conditions: high 60s, overcast skies, and relatively low humidity.

So I start running at the corner of the Public Library. Within the first mile I've managed to flare up my shins. Wtf? Usually this doesn't happen unless I've done lots of hill work. Oh wait, I did do lots of hill work on Thursday. So now I feel the pain. Great. So I focus on my hamstrings (pulling up my legs) instead of focusing on my quads (pushing down my legs). I'm not sure if this is proper technique, hell, I not even 100% sure that it's a safe technique, but it is a trick I learned a long time ago when I first started running. I noticed that if I don't make a conscious effort to use my hamstrings, I won't, and then I'll burn through my quads really fast and I'll start getting shin splints. So I focus on the hammies and the shin splits start to go away...

...Only to give way to my favorite running friend: my bowels ("my boys"). They are the bane of my running. If I have one weakness that I just can't shake off it's my damned digestive system. Right around mile 3 my boys decide to wake up and demand some love. At first it's just a subtle wave, something I would have ignored years ago. But I know better: my boys are packing heat and I'm only a 1/3 of the way through. I make pretty good progress along the Esplanade and the Harvard Bridge, but once I'm back on the Cambridge side of the Charles the boys are back--of course in the one stretch that has no bathrooms. So I struggle through the next 2 miles--focusing on my breathing, which always helps. I get stopped by a man looking for the airport (he is way lost, and you do not want to be lost in Boston) and afterward I realize that when I stopped to talk to this man instead of hitting the stop button on my watch, I've hit the lap button. Wonderful.

I pull into the last mile trying to stay on a 9 minute pace, but since I messed up the timing, I have no idea what I'm at. And every time I speed up, the boys get all excited because it means the end is near--so then I have to slow back down.

So I finish on Boylston. Not my best finish, but I did it and I ran the whole way (which is still a concern for me even after 7 years of running). While I'm not excited about the pace I maintained, I am happy that I was able to deal with the shin pain successfully.

P.S. So I was browsing the running section of Barnes and Noble on Thursday and found an interesting tid-bit in Jeff Galloway's training book (one of the many). It seems that for the first Olympics the marathon was 25 miles. But for the London games in 1902 (?) the Queen asked for the race to start at Buckingham place instead of the original starting line. The Games complied and moved the starting line back 1.2 miles without adjusting the finish line. Because of this some runners say "God Save the Queen" at mile 25. Interesting to know.

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