Boston Marathon: BB (Part 1:A)

Some people like to classify runners into two categories: professionals (or the elites, as we like to call all the freakishly fast people whether they get paid for it or not) and recreational runners (where the majority of us fall). I, however, think there is a better way to categorize runners: people who run, crazy runners, and crazy people who run. (If you run only when your life depends on it, best of luck to you but we aren't talking about you here.) Don't get me wrong, you can find yourself treading the fine lines between these categories, but if you run at all, you are sure to fit in there somewhere.

In case you weren't sure, I fall into that third category. I wasn't 100% certain until this marathon but now.....well....(Stop shaking your head as if you already knew this....) You see, the average person who runs doesn't do a whole lot of marathons, but when they do, they really look forward to the pre-race taper. They enjoy the taper experience as if they were sitting on the beach with a cold drink in one hand, the soothing ocean breeze in their face and the tranquil tide whispering sweet nothings in their ears. It's as if everything they have done until this point is completely satisfied by simply tapering. Race? What race?

The crazy runners do far more racing and set bigger running goals. They often think about running, plan much of their lives around training and when they get to the end of their training cycle, they frequently suffer what is known as Taper Madness. They become irritable and a little very jumpy. They are not typically fun to be around during this period but most often they are able to channel that energy into other things, get through it okay and then forget about it entirely when going into the next training cycle. (Kind of like how women often forget the pain of labor and delivery....kind of.)

Then there are those of us who are complete nut jobs. Those of us who are just plain crazy (running or not) get anxious about the taper before it even begins. The very idea of Taper Madness begins to haunt us as we look ahead in our training schedule and see the miles winding down in the near future. We recall the jitters of the preceding tapers, conjure up feelings of desperation, swear off running races ever again and oh, the nightmares! And the taper is still a month away!

Enter Boston.

Kurt and I had decided to leave our kids behind and make it a relaxing get-away weekend. (Yeah, yeah, hindsight is 20/20, I would laugh, too.) Anyway, we were scheduled to fly out on the Thursday before the race. Early that week, Liam came down with a cold and cough which is when I graciously welcomed back my dear friend Anxiety Ann and began to drown myself in EmergenC, the vitamin C supplement drink that supposedly helps ward off illness. The box says to take one pack a day, but determined to make it through Marathon Monday healthy, I was drinking four. Looking back, I am surprised I didn't pull out a disposable respirator or surgical mask as well....(note to self....)

By Thursday, a snowstorm came pummeling through Minnesota: my chest began to tighten and I began to draw inward, unable to control the spiraling thoughts, doubts and fear in which I was frantically swimming. Not even a glass of wine AFTER BREAKFAST eased my discomfort. The combination of leaving all my kids, flying out in a snowstorm, a race looming before me, an unresolved injury that forced me to start my taper a week early (heaven forbid!) and having overdosed on vitamin C was nearly disastrous. By the time we got to Boston, got our rental car and made it to the hotel, 40 minutes outside the city, I wanted nothing more than to hide in a closet until it was all over.

Thus began our "get-away" weekend. Now, before I forget to mention it, Kurt was trying desperately to make this a great weekend. He upgraded us to first class where we could stretch our legs and enjoy a nice hot meal and superb in-air service. I must admit, a girl could get used to that pretty easily! For a brief two hours, I was able to settle down, breath easy and maintain some sanity.

But, once we arrived at the hotel (did I mention it was 40 minutes outside of the city?! Oh. But did I mention my panic about the fact that it was 40 minutes outside the city?) the real insanity began. I went into my personal version of radio silence. No really, I was very quiet....you know, for me. I began to dig deep, trying to produce positive self-talk and when I tried deep breathing to calm my nerves I noticed the left side of my chest was burning....like, on fire burning, like, HOLY BUCKETS, I'M FRICKIN' HAVING A CARDIAC EPISODE OR A PULMONARY EMBOLISM OR BOTH burning. Hello Anxiety's twin sisters, Loopy Lilah and Batty Babs. Thank you for joining the party!

I did my best to quiet the voices inside screaming at me that I was going to die if I tried to run this marathon and I ignored the party in my head while we visited the Expo on Friday, picked up my cool race gear, purchased a few things (like a hat and jacket) to ensure that my ego would force me to the starting line and then made our way BACK OUT TO THE LOONY BOONIES!

By that night, with Kurt sound asleep, I looked up the local hospital, certain that I was running to my death if I did not get my heart and lungs checked out. The burning was now on both lung tips (I am sure that is a technical medical term, like, sirloin tips or wing tips.....) but somehow it was reassuring that it was not isolated to my left side anymore. And that is how I convinced myself to put my neurosis on hold and go to sleep.

After spending a slow day Saturday visiting our new favorite diner (Harry's), drinking coffee at the Red Barn Coffee Roasters, lounging around reading and then eating a fairly huge dinner at a nice steakhouse, I recalled that my physician father was in NYC visiting my sister and her new baby. (Originally, we had planned to go see them that Saturday but after spending 40 MINUTES IN THE CAR TO GET TO THE HOTEL my legs ached and we decided it was too much before a marathon to drive 4 hours to NYC and 4 hours back in one day.) So, I opted to get ahold of him and see what he had to say about my impending doom.

The text conversation late that night and into the wee hours of Sunday morning went something like this:

Me: Dad I think I'm dying, should I go to the hospital before running this marathon?
Dad (after asking many doctor-ish questions): You are an idiot anxious hypochondriac who took too much Vitamin C and has disrupted the lining of your esophagus. Go to sleep.
Me: Ok, but if you're wrong, I want you to know I'll be looking down on you saying, "I told you so!" from the other side!

Ok, well, that is the shortened version of the hour long conversation where he talked me down off the ledge of my panic attack. Call me crazy (like 100%+) but I'm beginning to wonder here if this marathon thing is worth it!

(This ends Part 1 (a) of the Marathon experience [BB]......sooooo, I lied when I said I had to break it into two parts, more like three, or more......)

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