so it’s true. i actually ran the 114th boston marathon last monday. (i keep repeating this for my own benefit, since i still can’t really believe that this actually happened.) four and a half months of training and blogging and prepping and brussel sprouts finally came to fruition. and it was absolutely amazing, just as i knew it would be.
over the course of my many lintzy on the loose posts, i have noticed something very important about myself: i am absolutely incapable of any semblance of brevity. so, in an attempt to preserve my dear readers’ sanity, i have decided to split my mammoth marathon account into three separate postings. today’s post will cover the delicious frenzy and anxiety of the days leading up to monday, april 19, 2010.
picture it: sicily, 1922. (just kidding! i haven’t been training for THAT long!) let me try again. picture it: arlington, the week leading up to the marathon.
over the final week of preparations, our running program slowed to a crawl, and i had a lot of time to think. and think. and thinkthinkthinkandTHINK. i was a stressball basketcase. i was incapable of sleeping past 5:30 a.m., and would wake up at least three times a night with phantom leg pains and fear that i was catching cold. (the multiple wake-ups may also have stemmed from the two gallons of water I was forcing myself to drink during the day.) i gulped airborne and alka seltzer cold. i paced the house. i drove my husband insane.
in an attempt to take my mind off my demons, the bp and i did what i do best: watched a lot of television. one of the best things that we tuned in to was the wonderful film, “without limits,” which is the GOOD prefontaine movie starring billy crudup (no tim riggins, but still completely dreamy). anyhoo, the movie profiles steve prefontaine, a completely amazing and completely insane american runner in the early 1970s. here he is:
i mean, this quote basically says it all. and what struck me most as i watched pre run his 13-minute three-milers, was that i was also slowly going insane. maybe not pre-level insane (i could never grow such a sweet moustache), but still, a special sort of crazy that is almost embarrassing to chronicle.
but, as always, chronicle it i will.
during the last week of training, my runs were tiny: three miles, four miles, and five miles. what should have been cake, though, actually turned out to be some of the most mentally harrowing miles i’ve ever undertaken. every twinge, every ache, every ANYTHING had me convinced that i was catastrophically injured and wouldn’t be able to survive my big race. i think that this is completely normal. what wasn’t normal, however, was the fact that i convinced myself that the universe was against me.
it started out simply enough. one night, i was racing to catch the train to make it to yoga on time. racing down the subway in my chaco flipflops, i not-so-acrobatically tried to jump down three steps. my big toe harshly slammed against the ground, and when i looked down (yes, i did catch the train), i saw that it was bleeding and the top of the nail was ripped. WHAT. WHAT. WHAT. this was about a week and a half before my big day, and my head basically exploded. luckily, it turned out that the injury was merely to the tippy top of my toenail, which i was able to cut off that very night (the toenail, not the toe), but after that, i was well aware that the forces of the universe were conspiring to injure me before monday, april 19.
a few days later, the bp and i were cutting through the cemetary that backs up to our neighborhood while we went for a short walk. walking through the cemetary is eerie enough, and my guard was already up. but then. i saw her. a small pudgy child on a pink bicycle with training wheels, zooming straight toward me! immediately, i darted behind a headstone.
“um, laura?” the baby panda questioned, as the tiny nightmare glided past him, unaware of the reaction she’d provoked.
“SHE WAS COMING TO GET ME!” i hissed as i reluctantly emerged from my hiding spot.
for the rest of our walk, i kept my eyes peeled for the pink huffy, and more than once, it crept up behind me, while the jaws theme song played inside of my head. the panda looked at me incredulously as my eyes furtively darted about, trying to stay out of striking distance of my new six-year-old nemesis.
as the days passed, i became convinced that i was going to scald my foot with boiling water when making a cup of tea. i would quietly whimper to myself whenever i was in this situation, which was often, because i make a cup of tea every night before bed and whenever i am bored. while attempting to reach a cup on a high shelf at work, i narrowly avoided a falling salt shaker. i ran out of the copy room/kitchen, bellowing, as if my toes come into contact with a saber toothed tiger. then i banged my knee repeatedly on a sharp table at the liberry, resulting in a tiny dime-sized bruise that i spent hours massaging, flexing, and generally flipping my wig over.
by the friday prior to the marathon, i was practicing something akin to lamaze breathing. i had taken that day off of work, and planned to spend it in the simmons college liberry, working on a GIGANTIC paper for my chillen’s literature class. and that is mostly what i did. that is, until nandi and i became famous.
at about 10:30 that morning, i received an email from a cub reporter for the arlington town section of the boston globe, pointing me to an article that he had written about my dear friend nandi and me. here it is, in case for some bizarre reason, i have not already bombarded you with it:
many many thanks and kudos bars to mr. david jordan, who listened to nandi’s and my idea for this article, and pitched it to his many friends in the biz. david jordan, you are a miracle man!
for the next hour or so, i was literally blowing up! cell phone calls, texts, emails, facebooks GALORE! FAME! FORTUNE! CONGRATULATORY EMAILS FROM PANDAS AND MY MOMMY! it was amazing. amazing! amazing until i looked down at the clock and realized how little work i was getting done, and then looked around and realized that all of the students around me were giving me the stink eye for all of the noise that i was making.
luckily, the rest of the day passed without too much incident, and i even managed to get some work done on my paper. that night, i collapsed upon the couch, exhausted from my fame, and knowing that i had a big weekend ahead.
on saturday, i woke up early for my very last training run: two miles with wonderful nandi. we both wore scarves and dark glasses while we ran through the streets of arlington, in order to dissuade the (imaginary) paparazzi who hounded us. it was a chilly, slightly drizzly morning, and we relished the two miles, and marveled at how far we’d come. we, two self-proclaimed plodders, were on the brink of the (sorry, mom) M-EFFING BOSTON MARATHON. here, one week later, i still get chills and a lump in my throat.
after the run, i quickly showered and mentally prepped myself for one of the largest hurdles that i had to surmount before race day: changing my insulin pump and inserting my glucose sensor. changing my pump, honestly, is no big deal—it’s a multi-step process that caused me a lot of stress and anxiety when I first got my pump four years ago, but a well-trained monkey could probably master this task within a few months. but then again, whenever i get overconfident about my pump, something tragic happens, like a blood geyser (sometimes, when I insert my pump, i nick a blood vessel, and blood squirts everywhere. the bp likens it to a murder scene.) or a faulty piece of tubing that leaks insulin. so i try to stay on my toes. however, that day, everything went as smoothly as it could. hurdle one, cleared!
what was really freaking me out was the second hurdle: inserting my blood glucose sensor. i’ve only had my sensor since december, and putting it in is much more painful and difficult and gross than putting in my pump. with the pump, i only get a blood geyser 3% of the time, but with the blood glucose sensor, i get a geyser at least 50% of the time. plus, my hands get real sweaty when i put it in because i am real nervous.
in anticipation of the marathon, i had refrained from wearing my sensor for a few weeks, so that i could allow various puncture wounds on my tummy to heal up, and by saturday, my stomach looked the spiffiest it had in months. so, wiping my palms on my fleecey pants, i hesitantly began the multi-step process. and it went PERFECTLY! only a tiny cursory dot of blood and very little pain! i think that the impassioned prayers that I sent to the bvm on this matter must have worked. i was thrilled! hurdle two, cleared!
that afternoon, nandi and i joined teammates kelly, jess, laurelin, and todd to hit up the marathon expo to pick up our numbers… it was as overwhelming as i had anticipated. and a little bit awkward, because, out of superstition, i refused to try on or touch any marathon-related paraphernalia. luckily, i was able to buy a 110% kick@$$ tee shirt that had the marathon map printed down one sleeve without having to touch it or try it on. (thanks, mr. salesman!) the expo was basically a hot mess, crawling with thousands of bouncy runners, who descended upon the vendors’ free samples like famished cub scouts on a weenie roast. after nandi (queen o’ th’ hills) selected her amazing heartbreak hill tee shirt, we found our friends and SKEDADDLED.
at about noon on sunday, my family arrived. my mom, my dad, my uncle joetails, and my adorable baby sister all made the trek to come see me for the special day. i spent most of the day (aside from the one hour that i spent packing and repacking my marathon bag and arranging and rearranging my running clothes) reclining on the couch, while my dad watched a professional ladies bowling match, the red sox/rays game, some golf tournament featuring a man in a mint green shirt, quantum of solace, the bourne identity, and not without my daughter (a lifetime original movie).
dinner was marvelous, of course. the panda prepared my pre-race meal of mark bittman’s roasted brussel sprouts, with a side of sunnyside up eggs and nutritionist-recommended sourdough bread. obvi, this is nothing like the carbohydrate-laden fare that other runners may eat before a big race. but since i am diabetic, i have a really difficult time with pasta, which is sad, because its my favorite food. in a nutshell, pasta is a really slowly digested carb, so usually when i eat it, my insulin gets absorbed more quickly than the pasta does, and my blood sugar plummets. later, when the pasta actually is absorbed, the insulin is long gone, and then my blood sugar skyrockets. i have tried a lot of different approaches, but nothing seems to work yet. so my nutritionist recommended that i try something more easily conquerable before the big race. and since the bp and i have been on a vegetarian kick for the past several months, this seemed to fit the bill.
also, for those of you who vom at the thought of this meal, do not fret. my mom (an amazing chef and even more amazing lady) also made a giant lasagna for the rest of our dinner guests, and no one was put into the uncomfortable position of having to eat those odd and tiny cabbages with a side of friendly-looking eggs.
at about 9:00 p.m. i collapsed on my bed, full of fear and doubt. was i ready for this? could i do this? how would i feel when it was done? what was I going to do next? what did it even matter? as if these thoughts set off some sensor in my mother’s brain, she immediately came upstairs to find me. she spent the next hour rubbing my back and talking me off the ledge. she told me how proud she was of me, and that i could do it, and what’s more, that what i was doing was a freaking big deal. then, as if the occurrence of free mommy backrubs set off a sensor in her brain, my sister came to find us. for another half hour, we all sat together, while mommy rubbed both of our backs.
at about 11:00, after setting my alarm clock, and the panda’s alarm clock, and the panda’s cell phone alarm clock, i went to bed and fell asleep immediately. about 30 minutes later, i bounced up like a piece of toast. OH MY GOD. I WAS RUNNING 26.2 MILES. i laid there, eyes wide open and glowing, for at least an hour.
finally, sleep came.
to be continued (obvi)