Monthly Archives: April 2010

pre.

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:

click here if you like ice cream

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)

lintzy, unleashed.

so i guess it really happened!  lengthy lengthy post (hopefully with some spectator comments) to come.

many thanks to everyone: those i saw (most AMAZING cheering section ever!  with lobster balloons– we have named him layfayette (nee wally)), those i didn’t see (i wasn’t wearing my specs!), those i ran with (kelly– start to finish, i could NOT have made it without you), my team (especially my nandi), and everyone who followed me, texted me, emailed me.  it brings tears to my eyes.

in short, this was one of the most amazing days of my life.  grandma howard, this was for you.

thank you for being a friend.

when we were little, i hated when my mom would leave us with a babysitter for the evening. HATED.  i loved her too much, and i missed her too much, and why would she want to leave such adorable babies like helen and me?  (except maybe for the time helen stuffed a hotdog in our new couch, or the time that i cut all of barbie’s and the cabbage patch kids’ hair off, and then unsuccessfully tried to lie about it.  those might have been times when you wanted some space.)

but sometimes she had to go, and so, on those times, she called our next door neighbor, the all-powerful jenny, to keep an eye on us.  and if you know helen and me as adults, you won’t have such a hard time believing that we were generally pretty docile charges.  i don’t recall any madcap hilarity or hijinx while jenny was at the helm of 34 marlborough road.  in fact, mainly, i recall watching a lot of television.  i guess that this isn’t really THAT remarkable, because i have always, as you know, watched a lot of television.  but there was one show that i always remember watching (and loving).  and it’s a pretty perfect one to showcase here on the eve of the 114th boston marathon®.  it is, of course, this show:

because tomorrow is going to be a great day.  but in the midst of all this greatness, i don’t want to forget the most important thing of all, which is to say thank you.

thank you, baby panda, for putting up with me more than anyone else for the past four months.  thanks for doing all the grocery shopping, cooking, and thinking, so i could focus on this.  thank you for picking me up and dropping me off, all with a little panda smile, and no complaints.  thank you for cooking me brussel sprouts and eggs and worrying about my blood sugar and whether or not i should run with a raincoat.  oh, and always suggesting that i drink my water.  you’ll get embarrassed if i say anything else mushy, so i’ll stop.  i am very lucky to have you in my life.

thank you, mom and dad, for calling me every day and listening to me yammer on and on.  mom, thanks for teaching me that nice girls finish first (and don’t swear ever).  and dad, thanks for teaching me to make the play, then cry.  thanks for being proud of me.

thank you, helen katherine, for being the best sister and friend and cheerleader i could have.  i don’t know what i did to deserve such love, but LADY, you are the light of my life.

thank you, nandi.  teammate forever, and friend forever.  thanks for being weird with me.

thank you, kelly s.  you are an incredible runner, and an incredible new friend.  thanks for being as competitive as i am.  and i will crush you when we play dr. mario.

thanks to lisa and jess and all the rest of team boston partners.  i have been on many a team throughout the years, but this team is simply the best.

thanks, all you roots, taillies, and lintzes!  i am so lucky to have so many loving families.  and a special thanks to sarah lintz.  honestly, i am not sure if i would have even started this crazy trek without you cheering me on every step of the way.

thanks to all of my friends who have called, asked, and listened.  thanks for understanding that this has made me a little bit crazy and a lot busy, and still being my friend.

thanks to everyone who donated to this quest.  your support means the world to me, and i’ll remember this for the rest of my life.  (not in a scary mafia way, in an inspired and loving way.)

and many many thanks to anyone who has read this blog.  i have loved writing it, and this lintzy is not going to stop being so loose (hmm, that doesn’t sound very good) anytime soon.  the marathon may be over tomorrow (hopefully), but i don’t plan on quitting this blog project anytime soon.

and now it’s time to go.  my number is pinned on my shirt.  my fanny pack is full.  i am ready.

right on hereford, left on boylston.  omg.  it’s here.

being my best self.

people have been asking me lots of questions lately.

interested person: how do you feel?

laura: like i’m going to vom.

[awkward pause]

laura: LIKE I’M GOING TO VOM FROM HAPPINESS AND EXCITEMENT, THAT IS!

and it’s true.  as marathon monday creeps ever closer, i do indeed feel like i am going to vom from happiness and excitement.  it’s a lot like a wedding, i think: you spend MONTHS of your life fixating on this one day, and then suddenly, that day is near, and you’re anxious and excited and nervous nervous nervous.  and, in my case, also ready to vomit.

but the good news is that i didn’t vom on my wedding day, and so deductive reasoning makes me believe that maybe i won’t vom on marathon monday, either.  (please please please bvm don’t let me vom.)

i am feeling pretty ready physically.  this weekend, i ran the final 9 miles of the marathon course with my running group, and conquered heartbreak for the third time.  (with no tears at all!)   it’s clear that all of the tapering has done its job– we were pawing at the ground like anxious ponies, waiting to be let loose, and we were FLYING during those nine miles!  i am feeling pretty injury-free (please please please bvm, let me remain injury-free!), except for the stupid time i was racing down the subway stairs last week in my flipflops, and stubbed my big toe, causing my toe to bleed and my head to implode.  (luckily, it was a minor wound and i am completely fine.)  so i feel GREAT physically.

but mentally, i am a wreck.  i’ve had nightmares aplenty: a few days ago, i dreamed that was running to the starting line, which was in the subway, for some reason. i was late, and then these big white garage doors shut, and i couldn’t get into the marathon. so i started to cry. then, my friend the worm appeared and gave me cheerios, and suddenly everything was better.  i have also had rollercoaster emotions and tears at home and work, and i think that my anxiety is rubbing off on the bp.  he’s even had his own marathon nightmares!  (poor panda bear dreamed that i forced him to sleep in a pup tent in our (non-existent) backyard the night before the marathon because he’d been tossing and turning all night.  i am, apparently, an evil banshee in the panda’s dreams.)

like many people in my life, the baby panda has been just glorious during my moodiness.  he has carefully shopped for the foods that i will need to eat this week to make sure that my stomach doesn’t get upset, and, well, it’s clear that he’s concerned about my sleep.  my parents are prepping for their big trip up to boston to watch the race, and my mom has been designing special “lintzy on the loose” tee shirts and acquiring cowbells for the big day.  my little sister is skipping her first day of law school EVER in order to cheer me on.   and many others have been giving me a lot of interesting advice and pep talks, which i have been eating up just as ravenously as the peanut butter sandwiches that my nutritionist has recommended.  i feel really lucky.

one of my best pieces of inspiration so far has come from a lady that they call the velvet hammer.  the vh and i have worked together for almost three years, but for a long time, i was pretty intimidated by her because i had heard through the grapevine that she had done an ironman.  yes, an ironman!  just thinking about the scope of that race makes my head explode.  according to wikipedia, which i had to use because my head is literally all psssssf as soon as i think about it, “an ironman triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a marathon run, raced in that order and without a break.”

um, what.  i have been busting my booty for over four months, and i haven’t even prepped for even HALF of that.  and yet, here is this lady, who walks around like it’s no big deal that she is basically superhuman.

i am sure you can see why i was intimidated.

but, over time, i realized that the velvet hammer is just delightful, and despite her uber-ferocious nickname, she is really the personification of a cadbury creme egg with its internal sugary goodness.  throughout my marathon training, she’s been an incredible resource: prepping me for the mental strains of a long workout, telling me that i am not insane, and reenacting scenes from “the devil wears prada” with uncanny mastery.  but last week, the velvet hammer went above and beyond, and gave me her ironman scrapbook and journal to peruse.  this was basically the coolest thing i have ever seen– pages and pages of amazing athleticism.  i felt like i was handling a gutenberg bible or something.

one picture was especially striking– it was a pic of the vh, after completing the whole ironman, head thrown back in laughter.  as soon as she saw me looking at it, she explained that this picture was her favorite in all the world, because in it, she was her best self.

um, what.  (again.)  i had no idea what the eff that meant, which the vh must have intuited, because she went on to explain that, at that moment when the photograph was taken, she was everything that she had ever wanted to be: a joyful, confident, triumphant athlete.

hmmm.

at that moment, i asked myself an important question: why do i run?  or even more importantly, why am i running the boston marathon?  why have i forsaken a social life for the past four months, and why have i become fodder for my husband’s nightmares?  i know why i started running– to have better blood sugars. however, i have learned that running, especially marathon running, is not always a recipe for diabetes success.  so why do i run?

as i sat there, mulling these questions and coming up with doodly-squat for an answer, my telephone rang.  and suddenly, within about four seconds, i knew three things:

1. i know exactly why i run.

2. i am, to quote my sister, a bobo for not having realized this immediately.

3. the velvet hammer is a genius.

as my phone started blowing up, i sat for a second and listened to my ringtone.  it is this:

yes, that’s right.  the friday night lights theme song.  for those of you who are not quite the television junkie that i am, i will explain.  friday night lights is a super dramatic, feel-good, emotionally-charged portrayal of the dillon panthers, a high school football team in dillon, texas.  in the baby panda’s words, friday night lights is a ladies’ show in men’s clothing– i am guessing mainly because of all the gratuitous shirtless scenes of tim riggins (sigh).

anyhoo, i love this show.  many many episodes have brought me to tears, and i often picture myself as running’s matt saracen, the overlooked backup quarterback who, if given the chance, will seize greatness and lead my team to STATE.  and then i started thinking some more.  suddenly, this “best self” idea started to make a lot more sense.

in one week, i will have the opportunity to do something absolutely amazing.  something i have been dreaming about since that day in april 2002 when i volunteered at the finish line for the first time.  a dream that i thought had been derailed after the diabetes shocker of 2005.  and as i make that magical right on hereford, and left on boylston, i will be the laura lintz that i have been working to be for the first thirty years of my life: a hard worker who has put in the time, and triumphed against the odds.

this next week is going to be an an anxious one for me.  i still have seven days (170 hours) until this race actually starts.  but i am going to try my best to embody my best self during this time, and approach the day with clarity and happiness.  and i think i’ll watch this clip about 1,000 times between now and then, because coach taylor says it best.

clear eyes, full hearts, CAN’T LOSE.

book recommendation:

the glory of their times, by lawrence ritter

i found this book in the gates, ny public library the summer after seventh grade, and have read it every single summer since then. an amazing portrayal young america and the sport at its core, and as inspirational as a velveteen hammer.

final announcement:

to follow me on race day (4.19.10, aka next monday), please go to this website:

http://registration.baa.org/2010/cf/RegAthleteAlert/pg_AthleteAlert.cfm?mode=preentry&snap=99834866&

you can sign up for text alerts, or follow my progress online.  to do so, you’ll need my bib number, which is the low-low number of 23012.