Monday, April 29, 2013

My *After*

I ran my twelfth Boston Marathon two weeks ago today. I'm still recovering, but not in a way I could ever have imagined. I've run it enough times to have my post race routine figured out. Normally, I cross the finish line physically and mentally exhausted, paying the price for my lack of training (again) and promising myself that next year will be different. With what little energy remains, I attempt to hold my head high, proud of my latest accomplishment. I have just completed the marathon... Not just any marathon either: THE Boston Marathon

I wander around in the finish area for hours absorbing all the energy, relishing in the pride, the confidence, the triumph of all those around me. I lived for this day, for this moment! I’m in no rush to let it end. It would be another year before I'd get to do it again. My legs feel like dead weights and it hurts to walk (if you could even call my movement walking). I know I was going to be hurting the next few days, much more than I am now. I also know that the more I walk it off, the less the lactic acid will be a problem in the coming days. Or maybe that ias just my excuse to live in that moment a little longer

I usually even end up with a medal (although I am not supposed to get one as a bandit).  My PR is 3:23:32 by my clock, still shy of qualifying unfortunately.  The first few years I ran, my pleas of 'I'm sooo close to a qualifying time' were usually sufficient, especially as official runners were coming over to pat me on the back and thank me for firing up the crowd. A volunteer would hand me a medal and I'd wear it proudly. In 2004 I was official, I actually was supposed to get one then. In recent years, those pleas were met with 'Im sorry' - and understandably so as I am a bandit. What followed though made the medals even more meaningful. On at least one occasion, official runners have handed me *their* medal, saying that I deserved one too.  Moments like this make it all worthwhile

Inevitably at some point, someone stops me for an interview. The full body paint tends to have that effect. From small local and school papers, all the way to AP coverage... I love every minute of it.  I don't even know who most of the folks that interview me are, so I'm sure I'm in plenty of places that I'm not aware of (if you know of any Red Runner appearances let me know)

Then I drag my weary legs to the place I called home (or in recent years the Sheraton, where I always stay). I'd take an excessively long, hot shower and attempt to wash the paint off. With all my aches and pains and the sheer quantity of paint, I'd always end up missing spots on the first few attempts. So I'd make sure I wore a red shirt for the next few days.  I still have little bits of paint until I finally get out for my next run and sweat it all out

My parents, and often other family members, almost always come up from CT to cheer me on (and somehow frequently end up being the ONLY people on Boylston street that don't see me running by painted red). We meet at home or hotel and then we go have dinner. P. F. Changs, Legal Seafood or wherever we end up is great... it would be better though if i still had the strength to eat. Some years, i barely touch my food. Those of you who know me, know how exhausted that means I am

Tuesday is my recovery day. Since moving south, I always fly back to Miami that next night, enjoying one last day in Boston (although I sleep most of it). Once back in Miami, I take every opportunity to soak my weary legs in the waters of the Atlantic. Those next few weekends especially, I’m at the beach any opportunity I get, relaxing with new and old friends.  This is a nice upgrade from the epsom salt baths the first few years I ran. One thing is certain though: By Tuesday I am already anticipating the next marathon

This year is different. My 'after' was thrown out the window minutes after I finished as two loud explosions shook the finish line, and me. I was right there when everything I love was attacked.  Those two explosions changed my life forever. I haven't cared this year about physical recovery (although this is the first year in a long time I really was physically ready for it). Mentally, emotionally, psychologically... That is how I am struggling to recover now. And that is a totally alien experience. This years recovery isn't nearly as cut and dry as years past. This years recovery is an ongoing process, one that may well take a lifetime. This much I can tell you though:  I WILL be back in Boston next year.  I WILL run Boston next year, and hopefully every year going forward.  And now it means even more

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