I have returned from the Boston Marathon! I had a good time (both in the duration of my race and the trip in general). Two of my friends, however had a spectacular story. The three of us sat down to write it last night. We've discussed sending it to Runner's World. Let me know what you think!
PR = Party Race
A true story of Ms Mileage and Hillene (in the voice of Ms Mileage) authored by the RabidRunner.
You’d think with 24 weeks of preparation, 1500 miles, umpteen hours of intervals, hills and tempo training, I’d be ready to PR at the BM.
Okay don’t get ahead of yourself. The BM is not a trip to the bathroom, it is a reference to the mother of all foot races: The Boston Marathon. In order to run the Boston Marathon, you must 1) qualify, 2) find transportation and lodging, and 3) show up ready.
First: I qualified at the St George Marathon with a PR (as in Personal Record) of 3:08. Check. Second: I bought a plane ticket with friends and landed a sweet deal at a hotel near the finish. Check. Third: I had trained well. Or had I?
One week before race day while on vacation, I went out for a final 8 mile mid-effort run. After six miles, it felt like the oxygen was gone. I began to wheeze, feel light-headed and ended up in the ER. They told me I had severe anemia and shouldn’t attempt a marathon.
So let’s do the math. How many hours did I spend preparing for this? How much money had I spent on massages, energy gel, shoes, supplements, and dashing outfits? What did I spend on plane tickets and hotel accommodations? You want to tell me to throw all of that away for a measly bout of anemia? Sorry.
After returning home from vacation, I phoned a doctor who is also a close family friend. He had several options available that might allow me to run the marathon. One of these options was a blood transfusion. Risky yes. But come on this is the BM! Earlier that week I was informed that my red blood cell count was as low as someone who had four consecutive C-sections. Naturally with a red blood cell count that low, a transfusion isn’t so far out there. Besides, think of how well I’ll perform after blood doping! With the help of my family, we decided on a blood transfusion the next day - Thursday (BM minus 4 and counting).
The transfusion was supposed to take 8 hours. I arrived at the hospital with the latest Runner’s World, three weeks of People and the supplies for a full pedicure. Eight hours is a long time to sit there with many a stranger’s blood being pumped through your veins! But to my surprise, the doc marched in and declared that the cheeseburgers, prime rib, top sirloin, and raw roast beef had miraculously increased my red blood cell count. My cholesterol was up - but at least I had more oxygen carrying Oompa Loompas to facilitate in the upcoming race. The doc ordered an iron infusion in lieu of a blood transfusion. And Yipee! It only takes two hours.
Let’s fast forward to race day (and skip the flight – especially the guy with the stinky feet in front and whiner to my left; the oh-so-fun Olympic Trials; the twelve miles we walked around Boston; and the anxiety-induced insomnia the night before). I was scared to death. What pace do I run?! Will I be able to keep up my friends?! Who am I kidding?! AM I GOING TO FINISH?!
The race starts and I run. But after a difficult first 10k, I knew I was in trouble and had a long way to go. I wanted to stop but didn’t dare show my vulnerability to a crowd of thousands and ducked into a porta-john to have a good cry. Crap!
After shedding a few tears, I was able to regroup and continue. At mile 9, I phoned my husband who told me to be safe and call it a day. At mile 10 the family doc called and said “find the nearest medical tent”. My eyes looked up and behold a medical tent complete with angels and harps and clouds appeared.
I stumbled into the tent hyperventilating and defeated. Between the medical personnel in the tent and the family doc, they decided to hook me up with a hit of oxygen and a bag of fluid – IV style. I was heartbroken, vanquished, and done. I cannot finish. Especially by myself.
That’s when my phone rang.
Imagine if you will the person on the other end. Her name is Hillene. She is a great training partner and friend who had entered the BM to party. Hillene had a phone, camera, more make-up than Cleopatra, and a spiked, ribbon-encased pony tail on top of her head. She was calling herself “Pebbles” (as in Bam-Bam, Fred, Wilma - you get the picture).
“Huuuulllooo?” It was me, not too happy.
“MS. MILEAGE! WHERE ARE YOU!?” amidst hysterical giggling.
“Medical tent mile 10. Where are you?”
“I don’t know. Let me check.” Hillene asks others (in her best Pebbles voice), “Hey guys. Where are we?” Then answers with, “Mile 11. I’m coming to get you.”
And come to get me she did. We were both a little hesitant at first, but Hillene ran upstream a whole mile, threw open the curtain of the tent and yelled “Let’s Party!” After a quick squeeze of the IV bag and a photo with the personnel we were off.
I finished the BM in what would become my best race ever. We stopped to take a couple of pulls on a road side rowing machine, we threw M&Ms and grapes to gaping mouths in the crowd, and we high-fived until our arms were sore. We made phone calls, we took a giant bite out of a stranger’s sandwich, we laughed ‘til our bellies cramped, and we stopped to walk when needed. The best part? We took photos of it all - each with a smile so large no one would know the pain.
With the help of Hillene, I finished a marathon that 16 miles earlier seemed impossible. I started this training season with the hope of a PR but left with a friend for life. And as for Hillene? She says the 28 miles on her GPS were well worth it. Let's face it, who wants to party alone?