“All that blubber over a stupid set of headphones”
Any race can be nerve-wracking, add a goal or a time to beat and let the stress commence. I didn’t make it very well known to my friends or club mates, but this race was going to be my first attempt at qualifying for the Boston Marathon. As luck would have it, my husband was assigned to my pace group, a finishing time of three hours and thirty-three minutes. M2B provided pace groups to lead runners 3 minutes under the qualifying time limits in hope to bolster more qualifying runners. Regardless of qualifying in your assigned gender and age slot prescribed by the B.A.A, each age group is filled up by the fastest runners first. Those that finish a prior marathon in 20 minutes and under register the first Day, 10 minutes and under the 2nd day, and 5 minutes and over the 3rd day. That concludes the first week of registration for Boston. The 2nd week of registration is reserved for those that qualify with a time of 4 minutes and 59 seconds and under. This, for all hopeful qualifiers, is possibly one of the most stressful weeks in our racing career. As the week passes, we constantly check our email and bank account hoping to see a subject of “Boston Marathon” in our inboxes, and the withdrawal of $180. So, to say I was thankful to have my husband alongside me, pacing me and other hopeful entrants would be an understatement. I was thrilled. He knew how much I wanted this day to be successful and I knew he wouldn’t ease up on me when I would hit that brick wall around mile 20.
My father had a last-minute business trip to Oakland, so he called us up the week of and asked if we wouldn’t mind a visit. Of course, we accepted along with a running friend who stayed with us overnight from LA, our 1-bedroom apartment became a full house. I’m always a hot mess leading up to this race, taper week. I should come with a warning sign. Any runner that has attempted any significant race is smiling right now and knows EXACTLY what I’m talking about. First self-doubt sets in “did I train enough, did I do enough? What about that one day I ran 5 miles instead of 6”. Shortly after the phantom pains begin, knee’s, feet, ankles, and doubt creeps back in “oh no! I have a stress fracture, with a broken wrist, and it’s filled with typhus”. Case in point. Stay away from WebMD or you’ll be telling yourself that you have cancer in your big toe, you’re fine. We just roll out some things and the pain eventually goes away.
On race morning, I made sure everyone, Josh, Dad, Curtis and I all ate, had everything we needed, and got to the starting point in enough time for a shakeout run and last chance bathroom. After about a 45-minute drive we arrived in Ojai. As I gathered my belongings, I quickly realized one…. fatal… thing, my headphones were sitting on the kitchen counter. I had taken care of everyone else but forgot to go through the checklist with myself. This was before I had completed many 70.3’s and my Full Ironman, races that don’t allow electronics or music and have gotten through training and the race sans music (singing in my head is a great replacement). Throughout my training I had come to heavily rely on my music to motivate through my miles, my playlist was epic. I LOST IT. The tears flew and panic set in, “how am I to race for almost 4 hours WITH NO MUSIC”. With fear-stricken faces Josh and Curtis remained stoic and just chalked it up to a loss. I on the other hand wasn’t letting it go. THIS, THIS was supposed to be my moment, my race, THE race and now? I half heartily went through my warm-up, getting weird looks from people who saw me crying in the bathroom line. No, it wasn’t fear of the porta potties. In my mind my race was over, and I was about to have to rely on mental solitude and the pace group to get me through this race. Just when I thought all was lost, I heard familiar voice, yelling my name. I located the voice to see my father running up to me with something in his hand. I had all but lost track of him after we got out the car. He had taken it up himself to drive down to a gas station (at 5 in the morning) and found some earbuds for me. My heart dropped, I felt like such a child at that moment. Here I was, stressed out and crying, all that blubbering over a stupid set of headphones. So much it was enough to move my father to drive even farther into an unfamiliar town, in search for some headphones with just minutes before the race started. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment for the rest of my life. I was able to get one more good luck hug from him before the countdown began, music queued up, I was ready.
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