Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Becoming a runner again....

I've decided for a while I wanted to start a running blog but never really wanted to put in the work to start it and wasn't sure I'd keep it going.  I think running the Boston Marathon this past week really gave me that push that I wanted to get all these thoughts and feelings of running into something I can post and so begins my blog.

I don't think I realized how much I missed running, the community, the friends the joy until lining up for the Boston Marathon this year.  You see even as a high school my dream was always to qualify for the most prestigious race, the one you can't just sign up, the Boston Marathon.  Whenever someone told me they ran it I was always amazed and wished one day that could be me.  Post college when I took my 8+ years off from running that dream seemed like it would never happen, and that maybe one day I would just go watch and it would be the same.  Cheering on and being part of the atmosphere of the Boston Marathon, it's the same thing right?  Last week I learned that statement couldn't be further from the truth but I'll get to that in next post.

In 2011 in an effort to lose weight running became my outlet and a couple days a week during the spring I got out my door and started running.  Always watching my watch and looking to run quicker each day, and talking to my friends ad nauseam about running again, I decided to take the next step and sign up for a race.  And the Baltimore 10 miler it was, a race deemed as a not too hard course that goes past a lake!  So I trained and began to gain confidence and thought I might be back to where I was in college, only a little slower, so I seeded myself around 62 minutes and lined up near the front,  around some of the friends and teammates that are now a part of my running family but had no clue who they were at the time and proceeded to run over 70 minutes and feel just terrible.  My wife and a couple of friends though came down and cheered me and made me signs and despite feeling awful, and running terrible I left that day thinking, thanks to them feeling good about running again and racing.  And I was going to keep this up and sign up for another race.

And the next race was to satisfy a goal I made as a young runner, to finish a marathon by 30!  And being 29.5 time was of the essence, so I searched and found a fun marathon in upstate NY that should have nice weather in September(it did not) and a nice easy course.  And set off on my training for a marathon.  I quickly learned that despite being into running again, solo training and motivating oneself was hard, and this training did not go as I had wanted.  30 miles per week with several 0 weeks but as I got closer I remembered the Boston Marathon and thought, no reason to not make qualifying my goal!  So I found my time wrote it on a piece of paper and kept it on my desk 3:09:59!(Thing was I wouldn't find out until race day the time had changed and it was really 3:04:59!)  Once again I traveled up to the race and my wonderful wife brought a friend to cheer me on, signs were made and I was actually going to do it, actually going to run a marathon.  I lined up with the BQ pace group, which I learned on the line was sub 3:05 and was off with them.  Once again lining up with a bunch of friends and teammates that I did not know at the time, and learning just recently from one friend that his entire family beat me that day!  The marathon was going great for 20 miles, I was chatting, pace felt comfortable and I was gonna do it, I was gonna qualify for Boston, just a 10k to go!  And then the wall happened and it happened hard, one sec I was with the pace group 400 meters later they had 20 seconds on me.  I calculated my last 10k around 52 minutes, and I dragged my broken body across the line I was at first disappointed.  But as it always happens in running perspective sets in as tons of friends and family sent texts saying how proud they were of me, my wife and her friend were so excited for me, and even made me a running video.  I was sore but I had finished my marathon but Boston eluded me still.  But I was not going to quit, but I still didn't think the competitive bug would come back.  I was just trying to run Boston that's it.

Post marathon I figured I'd stay motivated but it did not happen, luckily for me 2012 was the Olympics.  And thanks to the heroics of Galen Rupp and watching him do amazing things my motivation was running high.  But in addition I was new to this thing called twitter,  but thanks to it I found a friend who mentioned being a part of a running group in Baltimore.  Running groups were new to me, so questions like are there fees, mandatory meet ups, what is it?!?!  I eventually learned it was a fun group of men and woman looking to push one another to be their best called Falls Road Running.  They met a few times a week to do easy runs, long runs, workouts etc.  And so the next chapter in my rebirth of running was beginning and I wasn't even aware at first. 

Being the social runner I am as any runs were announced I made sure I was apart no matter the drive, and after a few runs I thought hey maybe I am in pretty good shape I can hang with these guys, and then I was invited to TNT!  And quickly learned that if I wanted to be a runner again, it was going to hurt and I was going to have to get back on the track and push myself.  As the summer died down I had already signed up for Wineglass Marathon 2012, and thanks to my new vigor of running I was gonna do it, I was gonna qualify.  My times on workouts and long runs were so much better than the year before, but 3 weeks out I started getting a pain in my hip that wouldn't go away.  I had been ignoring my core and everything but running for far too long and my IT band was not happy.  It ended up to the point where even a 1 mile run aggravated it and I had to pull out of the marathon.  Thanks to this injury tho I finally learned what foam rolling was, and quickly started to rehab myself and come back better than ever.  So 2012 ended with me no closer to my goal but...more motivated than ever.

As 2013 began I was ready to go, and ready to do whatever it took to qualify.  I began attending long runs with the groups fastest runners and getting smoked every time, but kept feeling myself getting stronger.  Signed up for a few races and results were not what I expected but I knew I was getting better.  But as spring was ending I had no marathon signed up and was worried I wouldn't get the motivation to sign up again.  And then the dreaded day in Boston happened, which I remember sitting in my apartment reading the news and first thing poped into my head was to find out how all the friends I had in Boston were doing.  So I scoured facebook, twitter, and text messages to check in on people. The weeks that followed I heard people talk about the events and all I could think about was I want to be back there next year and run this marathon, to show the world how strong runners and the running community is.  A friend and I signed up for a marathon that we projected was the last weekend to qualify for Boston and set out to train for the Lehigh Valley Marathon..... I quickly learned what a terrible idea it was to train through a MD summer for a marathon...  To fit in long runs it meant getting up at 5am and it still being 90+ degrees.  But I suffered through the summer and also through a move into my first house, which definitely did not help my running.  Home ownership = stressful...

 So once again I found myself driving out to another race, with fantastic support from my family and friends as my wife, mom and sis, and in laws all came out to cheer me on.  And I ran and put everything out there knowing once again that any of these runs could be my last but my goal was in reach.  As I finished in 2:55, I was 9 minutes under the qualifying time and was almost sure I'd be in.  Once again the support from family and friends was amazing.  I went home and signed up during my time period 4 days later and when I got the notice that I was accepted into the race I could not have been happier.  I had finally done it, I was going to be running the Boston Marathon in 2014.   But when I looked back it was bigger than that, running had once again entered my life and on a bigger stage than I thought when I started back in 2011.  I was part of a team, I had made tons of running friends who I shared my life with on runs, who I was generally excited for every time I saw their results.  Everyday I was excited to go for a run, to see my friends and chat and see how they were doing.  I was competing again, PR's and racers were becoming a part of my weekend and the sky was my new limit.  In 2010 I moved to Maryland, no family and some work friends was all I had.  But as I look back it was through running that I finally began to feel Maryland was my new home.  Through running I had made friends in this great state that make me know I can spend the rest of my life here.  Running had finally made my move to Maryland feel right, I had solidified myself in a new state and it was thanks to running.

So 2014 began with me having finally felt like a part of something in Maryland, and so began my buildup to what I thought would just be me running in a huge race going after a PR and ended up probably being one of the top 5 moments in all my life that I will never forget... The 2014 Boston Marathon.