14 April 2012

So Much For That One...

It was a lovely day in Boston today, a delightful day for a walk across the city, across the Seaport district, through Common and the Public Garden, and out Boylston Street to the finish line.
It might have been a tad warm for a marathon, but it would have been quite manageable. Unfortunately, the marathon wasn’t today. Today was just the annual trek to the expo, and a fine time it was, this year gaining mug shots with none other than the leader of the US Olympic Marathon team, Meb Keflezighi, and the namesake of my favorite track workout, Bart Yasso.

Since this year’s event was summarily evicted from the Hynes Convention Center and had to make do with the low-rent digs on the waterfront, it was a two mile stroll to take Darling Daughter the Younger over for her desired re-exploration of milepost twenty-six-point-two. But hey, what’s two miles on a lovely day? Remember that lovely day? It’s springtime in New England, when we often have lovely days. Often, but not always.

We always talk about how anything can happen on race day, and no matter how well prepared and trained you are, you just might wake up on the wrong side of the athletic performance bed, or you could spring an injury mid-race, or a North Korean rocket might fall out of the sky and interrupt your focus, or, yes, the weather might stink. And we always talk about how the very nature of the marathon, which limits the annual number of do-overs for most mortal souls, means that if any or all of these things happen, it’ll be a while before you get another shot. Yet somehow these things don’t seem to happen. Oh sure, I’ve had marginal days, but by and large, when marathon day rolls around, the ducks line up, and we put in a respectable day at the races.

Till now.

Mother Nature, she is a mean one, and not just overtly, but in subtle ways. Don’t just stick it to the man, stick it, pull it out, and stick it again. Make it hurt doubly, playing not just on the absolute pain, but the mind game as well. Gee, doc, putting that needle in really hurt. Why are you taking it out and putting it in again?

We can’t resist a car crash, and we can’t resist checking that ten-day forecast as soon as it pops up on the weather web sites. We know that at ten days out, it’s as good as a roll of the dice, but we do it anyway. Besides, I am convinced that since it is simply a roll of the dice, it’s good to see it early and see it look bad, because you know it’s going to change.

And so on the April seventh, Marathon Monday came into view, and they reported a forecast high of sixty-two. Not bad, though fifties would be nicer. Hey, it’s ten days out, it’ll change. And within hours, they added showers to the mix and bumped it up a degree, and then another degree the next day. Ah, so we’ll have chafing and sore pointy bits in the mix. No worries, it’ll change.

A day later, on the ninth, the unthinkable came. The marathon equivalent of hearing that the dam has broken upstream and disaster is coming. Low sixties became, er, excuse me? Eighty-one degrees. Um, er, uh, say what? In one day, Mr. Weatherman, you went up sixteen degrees, from a little warm to Minor League Hell? Now I know why that radical group in the sixties called themselves the Weathermen. Panic in the streets. Emails flying. Whaddarwegonnadooo? That’s easy, sit tight. It’ll change. Though at this point, we’re thinking, not so sure…

Silly us. We should know better. Only two days later, now on the eleventh, back to sixty-five. So perhaps there was a glitch in the modeling software. Perhaps that eighty-one-degree-scare wasn’t real. Of course it wasn’t real. And there are no monsters under your bed or in your closet either. Now get a drink of water, go back to bed, and get some rest.

Not so fast. Before the day was out we were back to seventy. And just for sport they threw in thunderstorms. Of all the things I’ve contemplated happening in a marathon, getting hit by lightning hasn’t usually been on the docket. We just don’t do that in the usual New England marathon seasons of April or late October. Then again, nobody thought they’d get stuck at a railroad crossing at Buffalo 2010, either…

Mommy Nature wasn’t done. Two days later, now on the thirteenth, she traded the excitement of watching the photographers on the crane trucks getting fried by million-volt bolts with a return not only to Minor League, but indeed Major League Hell. Mid-eighties. Yes, doc, I really liked the pain the first time you stuck it too me, but it was nice that you pulled it out, except that now you’ve stuck it in again, even harder.

And so this is where we stand. Having endured the emotional and meteorological roller-coaster to get here, the target is eighty-nine degrees on Monday. But hey, only eighty-five by the time I hope to get to Boylston Street, downright chilly. Race officials have re-instituted the ability to defer your entry, a nicety they’d pulled in the recent New World Order of registration. And they’ve gone much further than that, issuing a statement that anyone not truly fit for this effort (code language for charity runners), and even perhaps those who are (code language for all of use sacrificial lambs) should consider not running the race. Hey, what if they held a marathon and nobody came? The streets would run with the blood of a million dumped-out Gatorade cups. What a sticky situation…

My Greater Boston buds are exchanging laments. Many of them, like me, really felt like the stars were lined up for a good one. My training, my racing, pretty much everything was pointing to a possible breakthrough. We’re all now focused on survival. Ratcheting it back – way back – to assure we don’t end up on the casualty list. It’ll be an entirely different kind of adventure. No personal bests. No sense in any sort of heroics. But at least we won’t be shivering at the athlete’s village beforehand!

It kills me to think we’re throwing in the towel before the gun has fired, and I hope we’re all wrong on this one, but human physiology and common sense must prevail, and we must live to race another day.

So much for that one.

1 comment:

  1. A time of 03:05:07 and you placed 38 in your division...! Sounds pretty good even with it being warm, though it was nowhere near that high this morning here in Virginia.


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