Saturday, June 26, 2010

Some PRs and Sights Along the Way

Blogging's Hard.
Or..... I'm lazy.
You choose.

Preparing for Boston, recovering from Boston, and daydreaming about returning to Boston have kept me busy. I figured I'd catch up on some of the highlights before and since Boston.

Saturday, April 3. Easter Sun Run 10K
My pre-race race. A beautiful run through Sedgwick County Park. I was happy with a new PR. (Even if 3-5 seconds lost me prize money!!)
I did win my age group with a 42:32, 6th overall.
I was on a team with my parents and friends. The proceeds go to such a great cause. Youth Horizons is out to support children and end fatherlessness. Great morning for a run.

Saturday, May 8, 2010
Wichita River Run 10K

This race was for fun. I was fresh home from Boston and was just signing up to join in on the biggest road race in Kansas. It was a delightful morning. All my fellow Boston runners got a chance to wear their long sleeve race shirts too! As I walked with my Dad to the starting line he asked me, "What are you going to run today?" I hadn't even guessed at a time. I just planned to have fun.
Fun turned into a great run. The gun went off and I felt good. So, I just went with it. I never looked at my Garmin until the last mile. I was on track to make a huge PR.
I finished smiling and so glad that the love of running can provide such great days.
I beat my Sun Run PR. I finished in 41:28, taking 2nd in my age group, 8th overall. Not bad for a "fun run."

PR's are great, but running with my son is better. Judah passed up the Tot Trot for the 2 mile this year. He had never gone that far before. He's my hero. When he finally gets his stubborn mind set, the kid's unstoppable. He shot off like a rabbit and I nearly lost him in the crowd. He slowed and sped up throughout the race. He finished in about 20 minutes. Making me so so proud.

Saturday, June 5, 2010
Storm The Dam Trail 1/2 Marathon

"Why did I sign up for this?" That's the question I kept asking myself all week leading up to this race. I love long runs. I figured, why not go out to the trail race and get my Saturday long run in? When the alarm was buzzing before the sun, I remembered what stinks about racing.
Either way, the self pep talk was given and "fake it 'til ya make it" smiles were slapped on. Me and the family headed out to El Dorado Lake for a morning of running. Even Kenton bibbed up for the 5K portion of the race.

The race was tricky! An immediate "storm" up the dam nearly wiped me out. From there it was mostly grass covered horse trails. The grass was just high enough to hide the ridiculous amount of divots from the horses. It was nearly impossible to get a stride going. Every time I broke into a pace, I'd nearly fall over from stepping in a hole. It was a great place to twist ankles. It was mostly out in the great wide Kansas open.

I held my position among the females for over 10 miles. Around mile 9 I passed a few men, but I spent most of the morning alone. The course got fun around mile 11.5. It became a real trail run. The course ran into the woods. It was completely tree covered on soft dirt. Many tree roots became obstacles and even some downed tree trunks had to be jumped. I was still all alone and didn't see a course marker for several minutes. I started to get worried I had lost the trail. Luckily, an orange ribbon appeared as I rounded the corner and left the woods. I came back out on to pavement and had to round one more grassy corner to be able to head into home.

*Since it was a trail 1/2, I'm claiming PR!*

I finished happier than when I started and was greeted by a familiar friend. RunnuRMark, my longtime interweb challenger, was in the flesh at the finish line. He and I have bantered for months about meeting up to challenge one another. This was our first meeting in person. It wasn't complete without my succession hand shake. The dude whipped my tail!

I finished 4th female overall and 2nd in my age group. 1:48:21. Good enough to get a horseshoe!

After the race I had a blast congregating with my interweb pals. I completely forgot about all the woes and irritations about the race. It was the first time I'd met Mark and the first time I actually met up with Fairweather Runner at a race. We'd met once for a jog at dawn and since, we've missed one another at nearly every local race. So, this was our first daylight meet up!

Rough race, great post-race.
Oh, yeah.... and Kenton finished his 5K too. :)

So, there's some of the highlights from this spring. It's been busy, crazy, but mostly fun.
In keeping with the theme, I thought I'd share some of the other things I've seen "along the way" this season too.
When I started running I'd often come home telling Judah stories about things I saw that day. Sometimes it'd be funny cars, weird houses, or new parks to go visit. But mostly it was animals. Snakes, snails, and even wild turkeys have topped my lists through the years. This year I started taking phone pictures to show him. I thought you all might get a kick of what my runs have run into this spring.

*I had to take Judah back to see this disgusting sight. I was freaked out when I passed it. I was too scared to get closer for a picture!*

*This little PINK guy was very mad at me for stopping. But, I knew Judah would want proof of a pink dog*

*He clammed up when I got close, but he was showing me up this hot summer day!*

*I knew Jude would love the 'teenager' goose-lings. Their momma did not like me that close. She charged me and I screamed as she chased me a bit!*

Other's stop to smell the roses. Well, runners...we're different. Enjoy the run!

Monday, June 07, 2010

My Road To Boston- THE RACE

The gun went off and so did I. There were so many tid bits that I kept telling myself to "remember that, don't forget this." But honestly it was all so surreal and crazy, it kind of just blurred into one. Immediately I was bombarded with runners ditching off to the sides to "make." It was so crazy that I just stared straight ahead as much as I possibly could. I quickly found that I could break a record for the amount of high fives given in one day. I had to resist because a friend had told me how tiring it actually was to give out so many high fives. We were greeted into each town with bigger and drunker cheers. Those Bostonians like their beer and they really like to drink it on Patriots Day as you run through their town.
Live music, fans, and food were never ceasing. I think every family along the route bought oranges in bulk just to offer them to us as we passed their houses. While their were aid stations every two miles or so, I could have gotten food and drink the entire route.
I had no idea where I really was most of the time. I saw some signs or heard fans saying "Welcome to Framingham!" But I had forgotten the order of the towns, so that didn't mean a whole lot.
Physically I was feeling okay. My legs were stiff from waiting around in the cold, but all things considered, I was feeling good. I wasn't all that concerned because I was just supposed to "enjoy" this race.
Before halfway, I had realized that I should have worn something with my name or my state or my college. The supporters were incredible about yelling out for the runners. I kept in step with a girl from Canada for several miles. Every time someone saw her maple leaf, I'd hear "GO CANADA!!!" I ran with another girl from Iowa and every time a spectator saw the Hawkeye on here shirt, again, I'd hear "IOWA!!!!" My favorite was an man wearing his Colombian flag on his singlet. He passed a dense crowd of Latinos who properly pronounced their cheers, "CO-LUMM-BE-AH!!!!"
I had chosen my shirt earlier in the week. I was at a sports store and it was like the shirt spoke out to me, "I'm the one." Because of my choice in clothing, the incredible fans in Boston, decided to call me "Trust." One single word printed across my shirt gave me a new name for 3 hours and 29 minutes. "Let's go Trust!" "Come on Trust!" "TRUST, Trust, you can do it!" On that day, it was good to have a new name. I think I needed to hear that word over and over. It was nearly halfway, and I needed to trust I could do the rest, because my legs were already so tired. I hadn't even hit the real hills yet and I needed to trust I was still going to see that finish line.
Among all the crazy spectators on the side, there were plenty more hanging out windows, perched on balconies, and camped out on their lawns. The closer we got, the louder everyone got.
However, no other area can rival those girls at Wellesley!
The long standing tradition of the scream tunnel and kisses is just purely Boston.

As I got close, I saw a sign that said, "Prepare your ears." They weren't joking! It was so loud that my ears were humming. I chuckled the whole way. Watching sweaty men jump over for their kisses. So many signs to read.
"Kiss Me, I'm a Senior." "Kiss me I'm a Freshman." "Kiss Me I'm From Minnesota." "Kiss Me I'm Jewish" "Kiss Me I'm Half-Asian."

The signs were hilarious. The tunnel lived up to be everything I had ever heard it was. What an incredible boost to my tired body.
I left the ruckus behind and kept looking to the right. I told the family, I'd stay to the right and look for them. Kenton had planned to be at the halfway point, so I started looking more intently. As I was running through the town, I heard my name, my real name being screamed from the left. It was Kenton, Judah, my sister-in-law Tara, and my brother-in-law Scott! It was crazy and I think I cut some people off but I managed to get a quick wave and smile. I hollered out something about staying to the right, but it was all in fun because I only learned later what chaos they had to endure to get a spot to cheer from.
I'm not sure why I didn't take 2 seconds and stop, I guess I was just in the zone. It was so great to see familiar faces.
The weather remained beautiful. The sun shined and the temps were mild. I never even noticed the wind. These were such good things, because I could only deal with a few bad things at that time. My biggest concerns were the fact that I was listening to veteran runners telling others that "the hills" were coming right up, and the blisters that were forming back at mile 5, were really, really starting to hurt!

I never stopped to check on my blisters or get some Vaseline at the medic tents. I considered it, but I assumed stopping would be worse than the blisters.
I kept going and took in those hills that make Boston so famous. None of them were particularly steep, they were just long and and they just kept coming.
At this point the crowd knew what to do. They saw the looks of pain on our faces and dug deep themselves to get us through. Many were very informed about the course and let me know how many more I had to go. There were lots of mama's out there that day. Or at least they treated me like I was their baby. Screaming encouragement and not allowing me to give up.
I was told by the screams and by signs that Heartbreak Hill was coming up. The most famous hill of the entire course was almost behind me.

The route was adorned with huge signs. One for each town and a tag line that represented the traditon of the course. Most of the hills are in Newton. I looked up and read, "Run Newton Better In Pain." I laughed! That was the best line out of all the signs. At least I knew the pain I was in was expected and normal.

As I got closer to that sign, I was startled by a mob screaming my name. My whole family was there. My parents had staked out a spot at the base of Heartbreak Hill many hours prior. They waited and were joined by the rest of my family. I even had friends, Duane and Maria AND their 4 girls, directly across the street. Cheering from both sides was going on.
At the sound of my name I jumped and waved big, so happy to see them. It was so crazy that I never even knew about the friends screaming from the other side. Again, I waved, and smiled and ran on. My family had stood there all morning and all they got was a wave. What was wrong with me!?

I was never fully aware that I was on Heartbreak Hill, or fully aware when I was done. All I knew was that my legs were trashed. I heard a woman tell me that I had 7 more stop lights and the hills were all over. Then another person screamed something about a few blocks. I don't know when I reached it, but I did clearly see signs telling me it was over. I felt relieved for a minute. Then I remembered I had over 5 miles left to run.
The crowds were getting really really rowdy. They knew we were almost done and the alcohol had also had time to really kick in.
Somewhere around mile 23 I walked through my first aid station. I hadn't remembered ever feeling that spent before. My legs were stiff lead poles. I told myself I could walk to the last table. A very boisterous (and drunk) spectator spotted me walking. He started following me alongside the street, screaming all sorts of encouragement. He wasn't going to let me walk. He screamed until I started running again. With the little energy I had, I smiled at him and tried desperately to find a stride again.
I walked one more time at another aid station. But it hurt so bad to start up again, I refused to stop anymore.
The crowd was so thick. So loud. So amazing. So.... Boston.
It was all a haze, even then. I couldn't wrap my brain around the fact that I was finishing the Boston Marathon. I saw the Citgo sign. Signaling that I was at mile 25 and I had one more to go. I still couldn't get it to click. I was so tired. I hurt so bad.

I ran the last turns. I was showered with screams. I turned ON TO BOYLSTON STREET.

I could see the finish. It was still a long ways off, but I knew I was going to get my body across that line.
I was tunneled by the crowd, but I was in another place. A place that only days later was I able to describe.
On our last night in Boston, I broke down in tears to Kenton. I had finally been able to describe the feeling I had as I finished. Of all things, Chris Brown's song, Forever, had unlocked that feeling for me.
I was playing all the memories of my running life through my head. From running my first mile in 2006 with my Dad at my side. To completing new distances with friends running with me or cheering for me. To training for my first marathon with Wendy by me, every single step of the way. I thought of my talks with my Dad about trying to BQ. My conversations with Jamie after I fractured my pelvis. The tears shed to my husband. The sweetest words of faith from my son. The support my mom had given at every single race. Maria telling our whole church goodbye, but specifically reminding me that they'd have a room for me when, not if, I got to Boston. I thought of all times Kenton let me dream out loud. I thought of how he always pushed me to go after my dream, to never let anything stop me. How James mapped out 26.2 miles and used it as a teaching instruction at church. How Stephanie was first to pray when I was scared. How Rachel and Dave laid hands on my injuries. How my sister screamed the loudest when I got my BQ. How my Dad abandoned all formalities and told me everything he felt. How he got worried and came after me in the last few miles of my qualifying race. How Dad jumped in front of me to block the wind in that last mile. How Dad pushed me to run in the first place. How he helped me take a fluke and turn it into a way of life. And so many swarming words of encouragement I'd received from family, from friends, from strangers. How I had truly come so far. I was accomplishing my dream. And how I was doing it by traveling on the legs of my loved ones. I was trudging through those last footfalls on a path they had built for me. I desired so badly to take everyone by the hand and celebrate this moment with them. I had waited for so long for this moment and in my heart, I desired so much to share it.
All things had truly been made possible for me and in that moment, as I crossed the finish line of the 2010 Boston Marathon, I became living proof that, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). I could look my son in the eyes and tell him nothing is impossible.

From the finish line it was chaotic. I was exhausted, but when a nice woman placed my medal around my neck, I cracked. I was completely and totally finished.

I was herded through thousands of people. My family was stuck on the T. I had to have help putting my warm ups back on. I managed to find Kenton and then I got in view of my Dad. I was greeted by a great reception of family and friends, but I passed them up because I had been waiting all day to hug my Dad. Running had become our thing. I believe it was a gift from God to bring us closer. Closer than we'd ever thought possible. Running may have saved us from living this life as strangers. And Boston was the stage for all of our emotions regarding this relationship to be on full display.
I have had such a hard time expressing my feelings about Boston. Finding those perfect words to truly describe what the journey was like. I just couldn't do it. It's been such a long road for me. A strange turn of events turned an unsuspecting girl into a runner and got her to Boston. A mob of friends and family carried my hopes and helped me turn them into a reality. How do you put those experiences into words? I don't think you can.
If I was alone when I finished, I never felt like it. I had loved ones across the nation cheering for me that day and I knew it. I had a family just minutes away on a train. I had thousands of adopted friends screaming for me. But as my sister pointed out, I had my God, my savior, and my friend by my side the whole way. I was so impacted by a father that gives good gifts to his stubburn, selfish child.
How I long for everyone to experience that joy. How I wished I could have taken you all by the hand and shared this journey with you.
Kenton made this video, and he nailed it. My words never came, but this is exactly how I feel about "my" road to Boston.

My Road To Boston from Kenton & Lacy Hansen on Vimeo.

I waited for these images before I could post about this race. These images are the pure, wordless expression of what Boston meant to both of us. Of what running had done for us. Of what we discovered about each other through this journey. Of what God will do with a life, if you let him have his way.

So, when Persia was dust, all cried, "To Acropolis!

Run, Pheidippides, one race more! the meed is thy due!

Athens is saved, thank Pan, go shout!" He flung down his shield

Ran like fire once more: and the space 'twixt the fennel-field

And Athens was stubble again, a field which a fire runs through,

Till in he broke: "Rejoice, we conquer!" Like wine through clay,

Joy in his blood bursting his heart, - the bliss!

-Robert Browning, his 1879 poem Pheidippides.

There are things worth fighting for.

What more can I say?
I will end with a quote from one of my favorite minds.

Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So... get on your way.
Dr. Seuss