Saturday, April 21, 2007

Beantown Success!

Well it was a huge victory. I can now say that I ran one of the most prestigious foot races in the world and also ran it in good form. Check another one off the list of "must do's" Not only can I say that I ran the Boston Marathon, but I can also say that I ran the Boston Marathon during a Nor'easter. Probably one of the most harsh racing conditions I was faced with.
What exactly is a "Nor'easter"? Well here is what Wiki has to say about a Nor'easter:

A nor'easter is a macro-scale storm whose winds come from the northeast, especially in the coastal areas of the Northeastern United States and Atlantic Canada. More specifically, it describes a low pressure area whose center of rotation is just off the coast and whose leading winds in the left forward quadrant rotate onto land from the northeast. The precipitation pattern is similar to other extratropical storms. They also can cause coastal flooding, coastal erosion and gale force winds.

Yup, that's right! What a beautiful day for a run. (enter sarcasm) My lack of excitement for the start of this years race may have been due to the numerous weather advisory alerts sent to me from the Boston Athletic Organization stating conditions for race day as "temps in the mid 40's with wind gusts up to 65mph and possible heavy rains." But as they have always said "The race will go on!" I had a hard time sleeping the night before the race as the wind howled and rain poured but I was there, ready to face it in good spirits. Many runners decided to forfeit the race all together due to the conditions. But not I.

so here is my experience in short...
* Got up at 5 am to get to downtown Boston in order to be put on a school bus and shuttled to the start in Hopkinton 26.2 miles away.
* Entered the muddy and wet "Athletes Village" which is no more than a school field where port-a-johns and white tents housed waiting runners.
* Waited in the pouring rain seeking shelter in one of the food tents for 3 hrs before walking a mile to the start in the rain
* Met lots of runners..made some brief friendships.
* Walked to the start in my homeless attire with plastic bags tied over my shoes and a garbage bag over me (did I mention that I described this whole "corralling of runners" as equivalent to cattle in a slaughterhouse)
* Waited for the gun...didn't hear it..but just started to move with the flow
* Zipped through crowds...rain...cheers
* Felt great most of the way but made a b-line for a visible porta-potty at mile 8.
* In and Out and on the road...
* In came the winds and at one point lifted me up while in stride and dropped me a foot to the left
* Slapped the cheering hands at Wellesly College
* Powered Up Heartbreak Hill and didn't even notice it (overrated)
* Saw the Citgo sign and knew I was almost home..reaching it with only one mile left
*Picked up speed through the cheering crowds to finish a strong 3hr37min marathon.

My best race time yet....
As Coach Donely would put it "we'll take it" :)

What you ask did I win? Lack of movement in lower limbs, pain and swelling in calf and quad muscles, enormous blisters...and the feeling of accomplishment.

I ran this race for myself, my family and the fight against malaria. Thanks to all who donated to the cause, raising almost $1,000 to purchase 185 bed nets for children and families in sub-Saharan Africa.

I am truly grateful for your support.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

nothing makes sense when your head is spinning

SO as many of you have noticed...I've been absent from my post. Get used to it. As of now I really don't have much to say since I am not there yet. My head has been spinning out of control trying to prepare for two years abroad as well as move out of an apt , train for the Boston Marathon which is in 12 days, figure out who can take care of my "special needs" kitty (trying to "keep him in the family") and still maintain my composure at a busy job as a product designer. Not to mention making sure I don't ignore Wil, my wonderfully supportive boyfriend. (Who will be joining the Peace Corps in West Africa as well....where? of now that info has not been released)

That's how I like it. My life doesn't resemble a fine dining experience with small portions so intricately arranged on a small plate while elevator music plays in the background. I guess you can say it's more like a super buffet with endless choices and big portions...tack on the environment of a Chuckie Cheese. Craziness keeps me motivated so I guess it may be just as well that some think I am crazy for leaving the wonderful world of America. The option of having anything at your fingertips, 15 different varieties of triscuits, endless options for entertainment, and the luxury of a nice hot shower and flushable toilet.

Ohh yes Enter Togo....(not the sandwich shop)

A few facts about Togo, West Africa...
*slightly smaller that West Virginia...mostly savanna..with lush forest near the coast.

*the temp stays constant through the year at 80-90 (feels like 110)...with rainy season starting once I step off the plane (June)

*largely indigenous country that practices Voodoo (animist religions) ..then Christianity...some Muslim

*French Speaking with three other local languages (of which I will have to communicate in all since very little to no English is spoken (I'll be practicing hand gestures, or maybe flash cards with photos)

*Rice and Beans is the staple...but they are a producer of cocoa and coffee....of which I will probably not see since it is worth more to them to export

*I will be able to have my own clothes made by the local tailor for cheap....just by having them look at a picture...I love it!

*I will likely live in a urban area or large village of5,000...with a Togolese family who will adopt me as one of their own... but won't let me do chores because I am a guest

*I cannot swim off the coast because there are strong riptides.

*I will be hallucinating on a daily basis from malarial drugs.

*There are no safari trips in Togo because most of the animals have been driven out by human development....even the elephants have escaped the park in the north and headed for Ghana.

*I will at times be jammed15-20 deep in a Bush Taxi driving down a jagged dirt road where no one will be wearing deodorant and it is an extreme faux pas to pass gas

*Pray for me.