What an extraordinary event! This is a Boston qualifying race, which makes it a pretty big deal in the NE running world. I absolutely had no idea regarding its size and standing. There were 3500 runners in Portland, ME yesterday, and it was such an incredible honor to be among them!
Every time I return home, I'm reminded how fortunate I am to have such an amazing group of close HS friends! We stayed with Val, who just thought of everything, and was incredibly helpful for me, as well as my dad. She just goes above and beyond for my family, and I. She also is the only friend I have with an ability to make me chill out, when I'm being a high strung nut case. My Dad and I both get wound up and hyper with each-other in high stress situations. Races are stressful for us both, and we often squabble over useless things. This race experience was a land mark experience for us both in that sense. My dad invited his friend to run with us also. This was a fantastic idea, because it gives him someone to talk to, and enjoy the goings on in race. Running takes a lot more mental focus for me than for others. Therefore, I'm not that fun for people to run, as support for me. I love having the company and support, but am easily agitated as I begin to tire. It was great to rub along listening to their critiques of other runners.
We ran the first 3 or 4 miles, at daybreak, which was spectacular seeing the sunrise in early morning light. It was also a drizzly cloud cover, which brought spectacular colors. I wanted to start the run at 6, so I could finish nearer to the time that others did as well. The race officially began at 8, and most of the elite marathoners finished before I did. It was amazing to watch their stride, and marvel at their speed. It's incredible as I gain more awareness and appreciation for how different we all are. When I run, I can barely lift my foot off the ground, unless I'm specifically focusing all of my thought, and mobility on running in that stride. It's also a matter of strength, once hit 11 miles, I feel I need the jogger to keep me upright, like I'd collapse without it. I know I wouldn't, because the jogger would flip if I actually leaned on it for support like that. I know I need to train more for these events, because I hit a wall around 11 miles, and it takes everything I have to get through the last 2.
In this race, as well as the last one I began to favor my right hip, and begin squawking like an old lady about my hip. I finished more strongly than last time, which is a good sign, but again, I concede, I need to train with more long distance runs, especially because I still want to do a full marathon, in the future!
I creaked in to the finish line to an amazing herd of people congregating along the plastic mesh fencing for the last mile or so. I felt extremely weak and tired crossing the time strips, but was immediately reinvigorated by the boundless excitement and joy at the finish line. My Mom was there cheering us on as I ambled over the plastic timers. I genuinely dislike those things, because they make the finish line pretty anti climactic for me, as I feel like I must look so pathetic and slow as I hobble over them lethargically. We made move straight away for the Pizza, and were stopped and congratulated by many including the race director. This was really the first race I've done where there was such a boundless euphoria after finishing. I also know that I was more prepared this time and had the benefit of two amazing supporters throughout the race. I honestly loathe the fact I need the help, but I could not be more grateful for the company I had, thank you Dad and Rich! You're helping me get there, one step at a time, literally!
After an hour or two standing in the rain, we got ourselves together, and decided to meet at Val's for a mini post race party. Some of our other HS friends wanted to visit too. Of course they arrived while I was in the shower. Normally this wouldn't be an issue, but this apartment you step out of the shower into a hallway in full view of the entire apartment. Excellent. Just one of many of life's many awkward moments.
Eventually, I joined everyone for a fantastic lunch of Thai food that totally hit the spot. Great food, great friends and family, great time. It was a whirl wind visit, though I couldn't be been happier to see so many of the people that mean so much to me. The only thing that makes it hard, is realizing how much we've all changed in the last .5 yeasts. I've been so focused on my rehab that I've missed a lot of what each of them have been through in life, and its like I'm floundering back at the starting line, watching my friends do amazing things, advancing their careers and traveling the world, while I'm still looking to them for assistance. It's because I just hit 5 years, and that's a significant chunk of time. I feel as though I'm at a dead end with my TBI program right now, I know I'm not, but I can't help that feels like repeatedly walking into a brick wall, but at least I just ran 13.1 miles! And that is why I run. It gives me a baseline, I know where I've been, and the harder I work at it, the more I improve. When I look at it like that, it makes dealing with my brain injury no little thang!
The most ridiculous part of this extraordinary adventure is that we made the return trip to Vermont last night after the race. We got into Burlington around 10 last night. Heck of a race, though I was bummed to have to turn around leave. Back to reality. Get set, Go !