Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blueberry Beer, Getting Lost on the T, and Kara Goucher: The Boston Photo/Video Experience

I swore this year that I was going to lay low and be a bit of a hermit for the Boston weekend beyond the race. That went out the window two steps off the airplane. There truly is not enough time in each day-even laying low and not overscheduling like mad-to see and do everything. This is a little bit, though, of what I got to see and do over the weekend.

I'm going to go back to our friend the Barefoot Running Caveman. I was well-behaved and did not smack caveman bum on the race course, even though the mischevious prankster in me momentarily thought it would be funny. This was good, because if I'd been Captain Inappropriate, I probably couldn't have asked him the burning question everyone had when I was walking next to him in the finish chute, and saw him texting something on a phone. Um....the other men around me clearly had the same question, but weren't going to ask. This was clearly a job for a woman.

"Hey, can I ask you a question?" I said to The Caveman. "Where, um, did you keep that thing (pointing to the phone)?" This loincloth was about the size of a napkin. Seriously. I think it was fashioned out of a brown dish towel. He couldn't have kept the phone under that. The Caveman, who turned out to be a software engineer from California named Glen Raines, turned and showed me his "leaf" arm decoration/armband, and lifted it to show the iPod armband underneath. Brilliant, sir! A regular Renaissance caveman...minimalist runner who still stays connected to civilization.

We chatted for a minute about his barefoot running, and how many of his former chronic running injuries went away when he made the switch from shod to barefoot running. I mentioned that I hadn't "gone all the way," but race in minimalist shoes, started making adaptations to POSE running last fall, and sometimes do barefoot drills at our city's track and on the infield. Turned out to be a very nice guy, that caveman. Watch the following video clip from the finish area, and you will see him walk past at about the :35 mark.

Besides the rest of us regular folk who raced the Boston Marathon, there were the guys and girls who are so fast, they get paid to do what we all love to do. On this day, (and...clearly, these photos were not taken by me-my friend Lynn gave F a VIP pass she had for the finish line stands) some epic races were thrown down by the best elites in our sport. Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya ran what cannot be officially recognized as a world record, but was the fastest recorded marathon time ever at 2:03:02.

American Ryan Hall-whom I've never been a fan of for a variety of reasons (the prosthelytizing...the excuses for bad races that have nothing to do with his strange training and behavior with regard to coaching/lack of coaching) -managed to hang on somewhat to the blistering pace, running a personal best at 2:04:58 and finishing 4th overall. I liked seeing pictures and video later that looked like he had truly pushed himself to the limit and was spent by the time he came in. In the end, I do ultimately root for him to have that big breakthrough and win some major races. Maybe this will be the start of getting there.

The race for the women's title wound up being a nailbiter right to the finish. Before the race, everyone was talking Kara Kara Kara (Goucher) as the great American hope. Desi Davila, a true workhorse athlete with great consistency coming into the race, was kind of the "and also" girl in the mainstream media. Well, the race boiled down to a sprint down Boylston Street between Desi Davila, who briefly took the lead halfway down the stretch, and Caroline Kilel of Kenya, who managed to outkick her by two seconds, collapsing on the ground after the finish after a 2:22:36 finish. I love this shot-kind of sums up the best of running-and maybe also why some of my closest friends, especially women, also happen to be runners. Fight and compete hard on the course, show respect for one another and good sportsmanship off the course.

And I guess that brings us to Kara. Nick, be happy. I'm posting pictures of your special lady friend again. She finished fifth at Boston, which isn't where she wanted to be, but that's still pretty consistent. And, dayum. I never looked like her six months after giving birth. She's come back strong in such a short time since becoming a mom for the first time-no small feat when you're trying to have some balance but maintain your professional livelihood. I remember my own first-time-mom days, and adjusting to the lack of sleep/being on someone else's timetable, and give her huge kudos on this race performance.

Besides the race itself, there was a lot of merrymaking throughout the weekend. After nearly seven hours on airplanes on Saturday, I was actually quite happy to get on the T and head out to Beerworks, a place where a lot of Boston runners have gathered the past several years to socialize in a laid-back fashion two days out from the race. They sell a blueberry beer there that literally has blueberries thrown on top-and I've tried it both years at the thing. This is one of the few pictures I actually wanted to pose friend Richard (also from Colorado...he came over from Denver for the Canyonlands Half) was wearing his Honey Badger Don't Care shirt, and needed to have record of that. I'm not usually big on the internet memes, but the honey badger video just gets funnier to me every time. For the record, I do not make it a habit of double-fisting beers. Someone had gone for a second round, I was nursing my first beer, and drink #2 arrived before I could get through the first one.

After the Beerworks shindig, it was back on the T with Audra, Barb, and Kat, a few of the women with whom I've posted for several years now in the Women's BQ thread group in one of the RWOL training forums. It's pretty remarkable how well you get to know people that way-when we all met last year at Boston it was like everyone had known each other for years. Lots of training talk but plenty of non-running conversation too. I believe we've gone through every possible major life change amongst the group members over the past few years-marriage, divorce, childbirth, death in the family, job loss ( of the ladies in our group defended her PhD dissertation last weekend, and then ran Boston Monday) you name it. Everyone always comes together to support one another during the hard times-which I think is pretty cool. It's also been fun to watch one another race and grow as runners, cheer the great races, and be understanding and empathetic to the ones that just didn't pan out.

Anyway-we took the scenic route home. We wound up at the end of the line...literally. Four intelligent women saying "wait...what just happened?" when the PA came on announcing that we were at the last stop and everyone needed to get off. Eventually we did find our way back and got on the inbound train-I'm not sure how we all missed the fact that we were headed in the wrong direction to begin with, though.

There's much more I could share, but I think there will just be a link to my full album from Boston in a future blog. Besides the Beerworks party, there was a nice Sunday brunch with the BQ ladies, randomly happening upon the BAA Scholastic Mile races (the best high school milers in the greater Boston area competed), and other assorted tomfoolery and hijinks. The three days just flew by, but the most was made of the time.

Now I'm back home, and getting back into the swing of work, daily life, and running. I had my first early morning headlamp run in a month with my most regular of early morning running partners, Laura, this morning. It was fantastic-just a light drizzle, birds chirping, and a little bit of moonlight.

I knew I couldn't run on that ankle for the first few weeks after the injury, but I still missed the quiet of the o-dark-thirty run, and my friend, a lot. She greeted me with the same "I missed you!" when I showed up at our designated meeting spot. It's definitely true that when you're running with someone else, you talk about everything BUT running, and it was high time that we catch up. I always joke that people are more comfortable saying things while running in the dark that they wouldn't say elsewhere, but it's sort of true. Good news, bad news, bouncing ideas and thoughts about major life all comes out then. Running feels less labored in the dark, too. I don't know why. There's just little to no thought about pace, and I sometimes the brisk, relaxed pace comes easily that way. I'd expected that waking up at 4:15 this morning would be tough but I seemed to have "Can't Sleep...too excited!"-itis. Don't know if I'll be able to pull this again for our next early run Wednesday, but it feels good to have that first easy run, 5 miles on the riverfront trail, out of the way. It's all good for today.

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