Thanks for all the twitter/facebook/text/carrier pigeon love (jk on the carrier pigeon) on the interwebz yesterday. I was overwhelmed with excitement and, most likely, the most self-absorbed person at the Picky Bars Ninkasi party. I am sorry I told everyone about my “life unicorn” and how I’m “riding the 4th year med student high” right now. I owe whoever listened to my endorphin babbling a drink. Or five.
Anyways, the big BQ finally happened, after two and half years of trying for it. Over those two and half years, I’ve gone from terrified to believing to crushed to drinking the marathon haterade and swearing them off to finally, like a moth to a flame, back to the marathon, my goal, and, somehow, getting pretty lucky and having my little dream come true.
Yesterday, the stars aligned and I got lucky: 3:34:07, 53 seconds under the Boston qualifying time. And, here’s how it went down.
PART ONE: WHAT WOULD PHIL DUNPHY DO?
Walking to the start, Jocelyn and I starting talking about Modern Family and, of course, Phil Dunphy. Has anyone seen the episode where Luke takes up magic then wants to quit, but Phil tells him, “I’m not letting you give up on your talent, Luke!”? Well, that became the theme of my marathon, at least the first part.
What would Phil Dunphy say when running a marathon?
“This is my moment!”
“Ahh, what a beautiful day!”
“I’m not letting you give up on your talent!”
So, if you were in my head from the start to about mile 10, it was me and my buddy Phil “taking in the moment” and “not giving up on your talent!”
It occurred to me that I really have no talent for running, BUT the little quote was working for me so I went with it.
The first few miles were faster than I planned on starting but I felt great and like I was in a good rhythm. And, what would Phil Dunphy say to me? “This is your moment! Don’t let a Garmin telling you you’re a few seconds per mile ahead of the planned pace ruin your moment! I’m not letting you give up on your talent!”
Yes, again, no talent, but it worked.
It was also from around mile 3-16 I was around this guy who told EVERY volunteer, cheerleader, or policeman we passed, “THANKS FOR BEING YOU!” very loudly. After about the 10th time, it got a little irritating. Ok, very irritating. Phil Dunphy probably would’ve made friends with this dude. I was not making friends with this dude.
PART TWO: BRUCE MILES
Brothstein miles. Bruce miles. RC/RCH miles. Whatever you want to call them, this was where the marathon was actually won for me. (Not actually won, obviously).
Around mile 10, I was starting to get a little “hmm, been running a while here and still have a ways to go here….Phil isn’t all that entertaining anymore…”
And, low and behold, the RC swooped in to save the day.
For those not acquainted with the RC, Steph [Rothstein-Bruce] just finished 15th in the Boston marathon, was 3rd American, and has a 2:29:35 PR in the marathon. Moreover, the tiny (literally) marathon stud has been coaching me for the past 2.5 years (Lord, help her). So, to have her running with me was really special to me.
We talked a bit, I handed her my watch so I wouldn’t look at it, and all that “omg, I’ve already gone so far” self talk went away and changed to “omg, you have a professional marathon running with you, this is awesome, I am basically going to have to retire from the marathon after this because it’s not going to get any cooler than this.”
Around mile 11, Ben, Steph’s husband, jumped in, too. So, I had my own little husband-wife professional running duo running with me. NBD. Just like every other marathon I’ve run, right? To say I was thrilled was an understatement. It was a major instagram moment that sadly I was not able to capture.
Steph jumped out around 14 so it was just me, Ben, and Ben’s stories. Dari mart commericals. Odd habits of Eugenians. Ben’s track workouts. How we could drive 15 hours down the interstate we were passing and be in San Diego. I was very mentally occupied until Ben left at 19 (which, by the way at 17 miles, I told Ben, “I will PAY you to stay with me til 19!”).
I am fairly certain I slowed down during this time, but I wasn’t paying too much attention to the watch. Also, thanks Ben for getting me water. Real white glove service running buddy duties right there.
PART THREE: DREAM SEQUENCE LEGGED EAGLE MILES
After mile 19, things started to get a bit fuzzy. Like my vision had been changed to an instagram filter and I was running through a dream sequence like they have on sitcoms.
To be honest, I didn’t think I had a BQ in me at this point. Mental math isn’t my strong suit, but I thought I was running too slowly for it to happen. But, I sort of didn’t care. I went for it. I didn’t hold back. I was doing the best I could do. I was still running. If it was a 3:38 or 3:41 or 3:34 marathon, I was pretty resigned to the fact that I was doing the best, effort wise, that I had.
Before Ben left, I asked him “when is it ok to go and it really hurts but its ok?” His reply was that around 21 I should try to squeeze down but not so much that I think I’m going to get in trouble a mile later. So, that was what I was thinking of – squeezing out a tube of toothpaste (huh? I don’t know either), but not feeling like I was going to be in trouble in 10 minutes.
Mile 21 is also where you come down a little bridge and my legs felt surprisingly ok. In fact, really good (but, of course, it was a downhill) and at which point I told myself, “You have the legs of an eagle.”
And, then a quarter mile later I realized eagles don’t have great legs. In fact, they’re more like twigs for legs.
But, the eagle with legs was really working for me so I just went with it and realized that this was probably the mile 2x endorphins talking.
PART FOUR: THE OISELLES AND THE FINISH
To say I felt in great company on the course was an understatement. There were about 22 Oiselle team members running as well as a handful of other internet running friends. I used Corey and Holly as my visual for a good while, saw Sarah Chan running in the Oiselle running dress, and saw Monica somewhere around 21-22. Mason from nuun was out on the course giving advice, support, pacing duties, and, of course, nuun.
Best of all, the Oiselle (Kmet, JJ, Lauren, Emily, Abby, Meghan, and everyone else) cheer squad positioned themselves at the start, mile 9, mile 16, and the finish. Talk about support. I felt so loved every time I passed them and it kept my spirits up, for sure. Thanks for the high fives, the chicken hat, the cowbell, and the spirit fingers/jazz hands.
Around mile 25, my watch read 3:23:xx and by some really tough mental math (not) I realized that I actually really might make it under 3:35. I didn’t get too excited though, but tried to just maintain and not fall apart.
It wasn’t too hard to do as coming up Agate to Hayward the Oiselles were out in full force and I might have teared up when passing them. Mason was near the gate at Hayward and him yelling “Go, run, now!” or something like that made me nervous that he knew something I didn’t know (like I was just going to miss a BQ) so I rounded the corner “kicking it in” although, in reality, I was probably not moving very fast.
Anyways, I crossed in 3:34:07, hands over hearts for Boston, and then I teared up because I really couldn’t believe I had actually done it.
I then spent the next 10 minutes hobbling and moaning with Laura (who also PR’ed! BQ’ed! And actually PR’ed in the 10k, half, and marathon all in one race!) as I think we both felt a little bit like death. Worth it, but a bit like death.
As this post is getting far too long, I’ll save you the rest.
I’m not sure if it was the crazy nail colors, the 10 temporary tattoos (including 2 unicorns), the forest fairies, the Brothstein miles, the tube of nuun I drank the day before, the Smooth Caff Picky bar, or just a little bit of luck, but I couldn’t be happier. It was a nice high note to finish medical school running on and I got that “graduation gift” (a BQ) I’ve been telling myself that I would get this spring.
Thanks for all the love. Thanks to all who have helped me over the past two and a half years. Thanks to Oiselle. Thanks to my running buddies, especially Gia and Jocelyn. Thanks to my coach, Steph. And, THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU!
TELL ME: YOUR FAVORITE MARATHON YOU’VE RUN.
Until next time.