Was It Hot Out There Or Was It Me?

It’s the first Saturday without a training run. I’m writing this from Austin – where, for the record, it is 1,700 miles further south and STILL 15 degrees cooler than it was on Monday. Over the past week my sunburn has faded, my quads have recovered, and my meals have stopped being mistaken for footage from a Discovery Channel documentary on Predators of the Sahara. The enormous gratitude that kept me going for 26.2 sweltering miles, however, hasn’t faded a bit.

Monday was brutal. We were ready for freak blizzards, not 88 degree heatwaves. Starting last Friday, race officials sent out a series of increasingly alarming emails advising anyone without a Kenyan birth certificate to defer to next year. My mom spent most of Sunday night quizzing me on the signs of heatstroke.

But despite all that, the mood at the start Monday morning was surprisingly festive. One of the many benefits of being a TEAM runner is that so much of why we run has nothing to do with time. If something happens to slow us down or even stop us, that doesn’t do a thing to change the miles we’ve already run, the friends we’ve made, the money we’ve raised, or the lives we are honoring. I, for one, was really looking forward to throwing qualifying to the winds and seeing instead how many unwitting spectators I could hug.

Surprisingly festive!

26 miles is a lot (“Yeah, no kidding” – Everyone), so I won’t drag you through EVERY mile. But I do want to give you a sense of what it was like, so you understand that it’s only because of you that this miserable heat bath of a day was actually my favorite marathon yet.

Mile 1 – I was overheating just walking to the start, so I set my goal pace at 10 minute miles. And run an 8:45 instead. Sarad’s going to kill me.

Mile 2 – 8:45 again, and it felt EASY. Shoot, am I going to have to try to go fast after all?

Mile 3 – HA. NOPE. Back to Plan A: Operation Gross Hugs.

Mile 4 – Are those chills the first signs of heatstroke that Mom warned me about? Or is that just the first time I see another purple singlet? I scream Paul Joyce’s name loud enough to startle spectators.

Mile 10 – I dart across 8 lanes of runner traffic when I see Ed and Resa Scherr, TNT volunteers and American Heroes. They gave me sponges and a frozen water bottle from their cooler of magic and my core body temperature immediately dropped 10 degrees. I seriously don’t think I would have made it to the finish if it weren’t for them.

Mile 11 – Are those chills heatstroke, or is it the row of Army guys walking the course in uniform and a full pack refusing the water bottle I offered…and instead giving ME ice? (Straight down the bra, thank you soldier).

Mile 13 – Mo’s blond ponytail bops up beside me and just like that, I have my running buddy for the rest of the race.

Mile 15 – Are those chills heatstroke, or my first glimpse of the crowd of TNT supporters at the Community Center? I pause to let Coach Kelly admire my visor/sponge combo, and Operation Gross Hugs claims its first two victims. John and Laurie, I’m sorry (I’m not sorry).

Mile 20 – I’m still running up every hill but my walks are getting longer and more frequent. Luckily, TNT has a station at the bottom of Heartbreak ready with ice, water and an assist up the hill from Dan. Who patiently stands by as I take down hug victims 4-7.

Mile 22 – There is a LOT of puking going on here. I scuttle by and then slow to a leisurely stroll. If I’m not qualifying, I’m sure as hell not throwing up.

Mile 25 – Mo and I have been pacing each other since Cleveland Circle, walking when we need to and catching up when one of us darts off course for hugs or ice. My legs are pretty beat. But at Mile 25, I think of the names on my singlet and and decide to try running it in. I see Dave Tierney in his customary spot on Hereford and go full telenovela on him: “DAVE I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU THIS ICE IS LIKE ANGEL WINGS BRUSHING MY TEMPLES.”

And then, for the first time ever, I actually enjoy running down Boylston.

Thank you. Thank you for letting me be a part of this team, for giving me reasons to run that go beyond my own personal ones, and for turning this potentially miserable experience into a 4 hour and 8 minute long celebration instead. Because of you, our team has raised ONE MILLION DOLLARS. We did it! I’ll be running a marathon in May to try to qualify but no matter what, I’ll be coming back to Team in Training. After all, I’ve had the title for next year’s first fundraising email set since 2009.

Was my nearly mile-by-mile recap not NEARLY enough Boston 2012 action for you? Check these out:

TEAMmate and Herald reporter Chris: http://bostonherald.com/sports/other_sports/marathon/view/20220417i_finished_the_2012_boston_marathon

Runner’s World reporter Amby Burfoot: http://footloose.runnersworld.com/2012/04/congratulations-2012-boston-finishers-you-ran-brilliant.html

Pictures!

Love and a fistful of ice in the bra,

Cait

Spongehead Marathonpants, at your service

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