Saturday, April 20, 2013

Officially Unofficial

I have officially, unofficially completed half-marathon #7 - The 3rd Annual Carmel Half Marathon as part of the Carmel Marathon Weekend. This makes me a "Certified Streaker" because I've completed this event, starting in 2011 with the  8k and then 2012 with the half, the last 3 years. Knowing that my hope is someday to publish all of these blog entries into a published journal for The Kiddos I will only state that prior to this the closest I ever came to streaking was on a summer night on the shores of Lake Champlain in Vermont and that wasn't nearly as physically demanding as covering a distance of 13.1 miles purely under my own power. This, however, has been infinitely more rewarding. 

So why officially unofficial? Because after I entered the starting corral, and only a few minutes before the start of the race, I had an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. I realized that I had forgotten to attach my timing chip to my sneaks and knew exactly where it was resting on the kitchen table at home. In all honesty, I'm the kind of person who can put my phone and keys down when I walk in the door and 5 minutes later not be able to find them so the fact that I haven't done this sooner is kind of remarkable to me. 

This race was never about time - it was about participating in an event that I love with members of my running family and pounding out frustration and heartache in the ground - so the fact that I don't have an official race time doesn't phase me in the least. I am worried that not having an official finish will negate any further streaking I might be a part of - I've been really proud to have participated in the inaugural event in 2011 and hope that in 10 years no matter where I may be that I'll be here for this event. So I'm hoping that the race organizers will be able to accept photos from The Other Half, Garmin and/or Runmeter data, and if needed a friend that can attest to the fact that I passed her going in the opposite direction (the course loops back on itself) and somehow make a note in their records that I did indeed run. It was what it was, though, and knowing there was nothing I could do but try and contact the race organizers after I stood at the start and said a few silent prayers, took comfort in the red and white "B" adorning a hat that I've had for more than 10 years and waited.

It was cold this morning and after being teased with temperatures that felt like late spring, walking out into 32 degrees was a bit of a rude shock. Temperatures, by the way, which were colder than the Monumental Half Marathon I ran the first weekend in November last year. Adding to the chill was a stiff breeze. No, wind is probably more accurate. If the wind was to your back it wasn't much of a problem but as soon as you turned into it or if you were in the shade it felt like it cut to the bone. Despite this it was a beautiful morning to run. As the start was signaled and we made our way up hill to the start line (yes, you read that correctly - you run uphill to the start) the sun was cresting over the trees and the sky was illuminated a rich hue of gold. I pressed play on my shuffle, let my Garmin add to the chorus of GPS beeps and chirps, and began my journey toward the finish. 

I updated my playlist last night. As I ran I wanted to remember Boston and all of the HAPPY memories I have. As much as The Boston Marathon is included in those, the best ones have been at Fenway Park - home to the Boston Red Sox. Most people, Red Sox fan or not, are now familiar with Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" (which is sung in the middle of the 8th inning) but there's also "Tessie" by The Dropkick Murphy's and "Dirty Water" by The Standells. It seemed only fitting, despite the fact that I've got my own feelings (barf) about the song, "Sweet Caroline" was up first. 

"Where it began, I can't begin to knowin..." is how the song starts out. I reflected back to the first time I had seen the Boston Marathon and then, fast forwarding, to the first time I really felt like I had become a true runner and not just a wanna-be-imposter. 

"And when I hurt, hurtin' runs off my shoulders. How can I hurt when I'm with you?" My legs started to protest as they warmed up andI ran through my usual internal monologue of cuss-words and f-bombs as they did but the hurt in my heart was greater. I thought how fitting it was that those words came at a time I wanted to release my hurt and leave it behind. 

I cycled through those three songs, with "Your Going Down" from Sick Puppies added in for good measure and as I settled into a comfortable pace my heart started to feel at ease and I was able to remember why it is I so very much love to run. I missed The Munchkin but there were points in time, when the sun was shining directly behind me, I was fortunate enough to run with my shadow again. She led the way reminding me to dig down when my legs started to fatigue and gave me a pep-talk when cold chilled my fingers numb. Along the route people who recognized the "B" on my hat would say, "Way to go, Boston!" or "You're almost there, Boston! Keep it up!" THAT, warmed my heart and made me smile. The miles passed by one after another - some more more challenging than others - but all remarkable and a testament to the collective determination and strength of those of us who run or walk. 

As I crested the hill to the final yards toward the finish, with perfect timing "Dirty Water" began to play. 

I'm gonna tell you a story
I'm gonna tell you about my town
I'm gonna tell you a big bad story, baby
Aww, it's all about my town

Yeah, down by the river
Down by the banks of the river Charles 

That's where you'll find me

Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you're my home.

The Other Half was at the finish to greet me - I saw him taking photos and tried to smile (but I think I look pretty geeky). I crossed the finish, collected my finishers medal and then my Streaker medal (bling x 2?!?! BONUS!!!) and then made my way through the chute. Here's to Certified Streaking, my 7th Officially Unofficial half marathon, uniting with the running community, and honoring - in my own way - the city that I love. Oh, Boston... You're MY home.

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