the baby panda is my biggest supporter. he sticks with me even when i act crazy. he makes me lovely dinners. he is my chauffeur. basically, he’s the light of my life. however, we are kind of like oil and water, taste-wise. everything he likes, i hate, and vice versa. which means that he hates to read. correction: he does not hate to read. but he doesn’t love it, either.
over the years (we’ve known each other since we were eight. just kidding, we haven’t. it just feels that way. we have *actually* known each other since i was 21, and he was a very old and decrepit 22.) i have tried to show him the error of his ways. “look!” i would yodel, loudly, “look! you should read the amazing adventures of kavalier and clay! you will love this book to DEATH! golems! comics! world war II-era drama!” his response was the classic panda ennui. “meh,” he’d say, “i don’t like fiction.”
but as we have aged (gracefully, i’d say, since we both have babyfaces), i have become better at tricking him. now, i’ll ply him with non-fiction books that i have carefully selected according to his tastes. he loved julia child’s my life in france, and he became our fantasy baseball league’s miniature billy beane after i forced him to read michael lewis’ moneyball. but my biggest victory ever sort of came out of nowhere. in fact, it was a book that i had never read, or even considered reading. the only reason why the bp ended up reading it was because it was one of the three books on tape that the simmons college library owns, and i like to check those out for the panda, who drives millions of miles to work each and every day.
and that book, my friends, is the beatles, by bob spitz.
i picked it up on a whim one day, and gave it to the bp that night, not particularly caring whether or not he’d actually listen to it. but lo and behold, he DEVOURED it. in fact, this book triggered one of the biggest panda phases that i have ever seen. (the panda has many phases: woodworking, motorcycling, street luging, etc, etc.) he downloaded the complete beatles discography onto his ipod. he quoted random beatles facts to me, day and night. he, the baby panda, was actually enthusiastic about something!
and, over the course of a few seven-hour drives back to our hometown of rochester, ny, we listened to basically all of the beatles songs ever made. and then i realized something. even though i had claimed that i never liked them, I TOTALLY LIKE THE BEATLES. and then i realized something else. beatles songs apply to just about anything in life. (as my cousin johnson pointed out, this is most likely because they have written 45,000 songs.) in fact, the beatles have provided me with the perfect soundtrack for one of the very finest days of my life.
and that day, of course, is the day that i ran the 114th boston marathon®.
part one: good morning
i last left my humble readers with the vision of me, the night before my marathon, tossing and turning, and finally, sleeping. but not for long! at 5:15 a.m., my alarm (as well as the panda’s alarm and the panda’s celly) were set to blare. however, my eyes popped open like tiny toast pieces at 5:00 a.m.
“why on EARTH,” i wondered to myself, “am i up at this HOUR?” and then, before i could even blink, i just started thinking, “marathonmarathonmarathonmarathon” to the tune of the beatles’ “good morning.” i crept downstairs as stealthily as i could (read: not stealthily at ALL) because my family was everywhere! little helen on the couch, uncle joetails on an air mattress in the dining room, my parents in our extra room upstairs. i quickly showered (why shower before running 26.2 miles? i really can’t say. i just like to feel clean.) and then donned my running suit, over which i placed several layers of fleece, because the race wouldn’t begin for me until 10:30 a.m., and i had heard that the athlete’s village was cold and damp. (YES! i was going to a place called the athlete’s village! ME! this is what i have WAITED FOR MY WHOLE LIFE!)
then i ate some eggs.
please note, eggs have no carbohydrates. and i did not want to eat any carbohydrates that morning, because eating carbs means that i have to take insulin. and i did not want to take any insulin that morning, because i did not want to risk having enough insulin in my body to make my blood sugar go low during the race. this all sounds reasonable and intelligent, yes? well, that is because i thought about this ad infinitum for days and days, and had planned for everything to make perfect sense.
however, on the day of the race, i got nervous and completely disregarded all of my thoughtful preparation. this is something that happens to me a lot. i think and think and think and then make a totally FLIPPANT decision based on anxiety and emotion and absolutely none of the hours of aforementioned thought. so, for marathon day, i had my pre-meditated eggs. but i also had a piece of toast!
“lintzy,” you’re probably thinking, “why did you just spend two paragraphs building up to the truly lame confession that you ate a piece of toast before running 26.2 miles?”
well, dear readers, that’s one of those diabetes realities. every mouthful, every EVERYTHING counts. and a piece of toast, well, that REALLY counts. especially when you then decide to pair it with no insulin. o, the repercussions! (more on these later. specifically, on mile 13 of 26.2.)
before i left, i bid my family farewell. that means that i gave my sleeping dad and sleeping sister kisses on the tops of their heads, and promised my alert and awake mom that when i saw her at mile 24 later that day, i would be as joyful as i was at that moment in time. then i asked my also alert and awake uncle joetails for any advice. he is a marathon veteran, and ran boston two years ago.
“just keep running,” he said, somewhat cryptically. (he is somewhat cryptic at times, so this was not surprising.) “no matter what happens, just keep running.”
and so, armed with this advice, the panda and i departed to pick up my friends nandi and kelly and drive us down to the boston common, where hundreds of yellow school buses were waiting to drive us to [cue inspirational music] HOPKINTON, MASSACHUSETTS… THE STARTING LINE OF THE BOSTON MARATHON!
part two: seeing yellow
the baby panda dropped us off on tremont street, right next to a snaking line of yellow buses. we tumbled out of the car as quickly as we could, because there was not much space to come to a stop, and also because the police were everywhere! it was before 7:00 a.m., but the boston common was plastered with thousands upon thousands of men and women in exercise garb, all waiting to board the transport to hopkinton.
it was chilly, and we were very lucky that our teammate lisa had offered her apartment as a meeting spot. she resides directly across the street from the common, so it was pretty ideal. together we banded, our motley crew of runners: some in pajama suits, some in fleece suits, and some in shorts (KELLY– YOU MUST HAVE BEEN FREEZING YOUR TINY TOES RIGHT OFF). so once we were all together (me, nandi, kelly, jess, laurelin, todd, lisa, and meghan), we set off. walk walk walk. walk walk walk. we walked all the way to the corner of the common by emerson college, but we still couldn’t see the end of the snaking line of runners. walk walk walk. walk walk walk. we continued walking until we were almost near the ice skating rink, but still no end to the line. walk walk walk. after about ten total minutes, we finally found the line’s end.
and that’s when it happened.
“oh no!” my friend nandi exclaimed, “you’re breaking out in hives!”
and i was! i had a gigantic hive growing on my face. right near my eye! i hadn’t even realized how nervous i was, but this was proof. whenever i am freaking out (this happens to me a lot at work), i break out in hives on my face.
but just as my hive-ridden face was revealed, a woman in an official-looking jacket came running up to us. “move up the line!” she cried, “come on up!” she waved her arms in an official-looking way. so we followed her. and somehow, we made it to the very front of the line, where our yellow chariot awaited.
this reinforces two excellent life lessons:
1. always listen to strangers in official-looking jackets.
2. cheating does pay dividends!
nandi, laurelin, and lisa boarded what looked like a very full bus. suddenly, the matron (yes, there were bus matrons) bellowed, “that’s it! bus is full!”
my face fell. NO. NO! NO! i would not allow it! nandi and i have been running together for almost three years. together, we have sweated. together, we have toiled. together, we have chaturangaed. together, we have dissected every step of marathon training, and every pain, every twinge, every everything.
there was no WAY in H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS that we were not going to ride to the starting line together.
so what did i do? obviously, i started to whimper. and magically, it worked! the busdriver took one look at my hive-ridden face and said, “oh honey! do you want to ride the bus with your sister?”
i am sort of intrigued as to what made her think that nandi was my sister.
nandi is on the left. i am on the right.
i guess we both wear glasses. and we both have teeth. and eyebrows. these incredible similarities must have caused some confusion. but that is neither here nor there. suddenly, there were extra seats on the bus to hopkinton! five extra seats, in fact, so our whole friendly group could ride together, in a yellow submarine.
i had heard from experienced runners that the bus trip was a long one, so i was ready: i had the latest issue of US weekly, as well as my all-time favorite baby sitters club book, stacey’s emergency. (you may think that i’m kidding, but i am not. i love to read children’s books in times of great stress.) but the bus FLEW down the highway. i tried my best not to think about the fact that i would be running this same distance in just a few short hours. instead, i sat there and stared blankly at the bus seat in front of me, and kelly’s ponytail, which was also in front of me. (although we had all made it on the bus together, the seats were so full already that very few of us actually got the chance to sit together.)
before i knew it, the bus was pulling off the highway!
“silly other experienced runners,” i thought smugly to myself, “we made it here in NO TIME AT ALL!”
and then the bus stopped. literally. i peered around and all i could see was a yellow snaking line stretching into the horizon. we had made it to hopkinton alright, but were nowhere NEAR our true destination of the ATHLETE’S VILLAGE. (i really like the way that looks in CAPS.)
for the next hour or so, we stopped and started, stopped and started. and suddenly, all of the water/coffee/gatorade/electrolytes that these many buses full of runners had been guzzling started to add up. runners started jumping off the buses, and scampering into the woods to do their bidness. and i could understand– after a full bottle of water, i was ready to explode!
finally, the bus turned into a large parking lot. i saw a sign that screamed, WELCOME!
we had made it. we had made it to hopkinton high, aka mecca, aka ATHLETE’S VILLAGE.
to be continued.
(readers, i am sorry for the delay in posting. i wasn’t aware that this narrative would be so lengthy. i promise a much better turnaround time for the next episode in our saga.)