I’m writing this from the increasingly-familiar cocoon of post-travel detritus. Partially-unpacked bags test the patience of my couch; dirty laundry slumps dolefully in a corner; unsorted mail spreads across my kitchen countertop like seashells after the tide.
Oh, and the lingering presence that clearly indicates precisely what kind of travel I’ve just done: soreness that renders my walk somewhat comical, and my efforts to descend stairs downright embarrassing.
Yep, it’s marathon recovery time, alright!
I remember last weekend as not just one blur, but a series of them. Friday morning was a sleepy blur of good-byes, hugs, I love you’s, and shuffling onto the plane. The next 19 hours in Virginia were a blur that went by way too fast, but I did seize an opportunity to walk barefoot on my parents’ lawn. I don’t think Albuquerque has grass that lush even on its golf courses. Saturday was a blur of East Coast highways, big cities, small towns, pretty rivers, and, so help me, the finest rest areas in the USA.
And then: BOSTON. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency downtown, and for its treatment of runners and support crews, I would recommend the place to anyone and everyone. Not to mention its stellar location.
We met up with my brother Chris, got settled in, and rustled up some food in the Faneuil Hall neighborhood. It teemed with runners, families of runners, street performers, and I’m sure plenty of locals who thought the whole lot of us were crazy.
On Sunday, we went to Easter Mass, had brunch, then launched ourselves at Circus Maximus, a.k.a. the Boston Marathon Expo. Talk about a blur! After maybe an hour (give or take the purchase of three shirts and the sighting of Kara Goucher’s profile) my senses were maxed out and I was ready to go.
Then back to the hotel room where, mercifully, the blurring stopped. A moment of relaxation. An early, delicious Italian dinner in the North End, followed by a visit to a pastry shop down the street [Mike's Pastry Shop. Go there.]. And more relaxing at the hotel.
Monday morning. The race was probably the biggest blur of all. Considering my training, I concluded that while it wasn’t realistically a PR day, I should be able to cover the 26.2 in less than 3:30:00. Standing in my starting corral, I set my brain to “steady.” And proceeded to hold true to that…sort of. You know how, in some marathons, you just float through the first half, while in other marathons you have to concentrate during the whole stinkin’ thing? This marathon was the latter for me.
I coaxed my legs along and tried to absorb every drop of energy that I could from the spectacular cheering crowds. And they were spectacular. Vivid points in that blur? The girls at Wellesley. The lady who handed me a much-needed Vaseline stick. Every water stop in the last five miles. Hearing my parents shouting encouragement at the corner of Commonwealth and Hereford. Finally, the race clock, still reading “3:29:……” as I heaved my exhausted self those last few meters.
Official time: 3:29:27.
I returned to Albuquerque on Tuesday evening. Now it’s a tradition, with Robin Hood and I and some friends of ours, to meet at a local bar for a bite and a drink every Tuesday night. Thus, after Robin Hood picked me up at the airport, we stopped at my place to drop off luggage, then headed to the bar. As we pulled into the parking lot, he said, “So, we were thinking that since we weren’t able to cheer for you at the marathon itself…” and then I looked down at the other end of the lot and saw a small crowd gathered, holding a blue and yellow paper finish line across the road, ringing cowbells like mad and hollering their lungs out. Robin Hood produced a portable speaker, and into the air burst the theme from “Chariots of Fire.”
I was dumbfounded.
Did I break a cardinal rule and run the day after a marathon?
You bet I did!