I've been monitoring the 10-day forecast religiously since April began roaring like a hot furnace last week, hoping, nee praying, that the heat would break in New England. So far so good as we're looking at temps in the mid-50s next week. I had the good fortune (read with sarcasm) to take part in the Chicago Marathon meltdown in 2007, and one experience like that is enough thank you very much.
Embracing "peak week," I set off at a nice trot to get the tightness out of my legs that lingered from Saturday's last 18-miler, and to warmup the IT band that I hate to even mention has been a touch stiff the last few days.
When it came time for the fartlek portion (10x1 min at slightly faster than 5K pace with a one minute rest), whatever lingering fog remained disappeared and I slid into a nice flow -- a far cry from yesterday's easy six and an even more pleasant surprise considering how unacclimatized I am to the heat.
And as the fatigue crept in some toward the end, I thought back to the neat little package that arrived in the mail last week: The Welcome to Boston Marathon Package. I remembered back to the day I signed up for the race and the day my formal acceptance came in both inbox and mailbox. There was talk of this package that would arrive in April, essentially talking about what you need to know to pick up race packets, getting to Hopkinton, post-race festivities, etc.
Not so much a big deal, but in my head it began to take on mythic proportions, not quite as much as having the jacket (how could it possibly?) but close. I don't know why I attached so much meaning to it so I began to unpack that as one can do with 5 miles of time on their hands, and it's certainly better than thinking about sweltering in the unseasonable warmth (a record setting winter...why not a record setting spring?).
What I came up with as I flew through the woods was that this was yet another confirmation that Boston was actually going to happen, that I'd qualified and gotten there. Plus, the Web site, letters, and e-mails forecasted an April delivery, and at the time, April seemed so far away. The leaves were still on the trees, my training program hadn't even started, and 16 weeks seemed like an eternity...that's an entire winter, all those holidays, annual trips at work, a friend completing 16 weeks to her first marathon, and nearly the whole of the NHL regular season (Go Caps!).
But last week, it arrived and with it, the month of April. The countdown on my whiteboard at work started with a 1, which meant the race was getting dangerously close. My parents visited from Florida last week and were here when this magical package arrived and shared in my excitement. I read the booklet cover to cover taking in every direction, every tidbit. I revised some nutrition strategies (no more carrying a cold english muffin with me to Hopkinton since apparently they serve bagels there) and simply let myself get wrapped up in the excitement of the event.
Really, there wasn't much too it but information, and the all important postcard to bring so you can pick up your packet. But, like I said, it somehow made it real again...like running the tune up race three weeks ago and blending all the workouts. Like Quentin Cassidy said, "Oh, so they're actually going to have us run this thing."
Before I knew it, I had reached my tenth rep and began the slow 2 mile trot back home. That's when the heat began to hit me. My throat felt coated in pollen despite attempts to wash it down with a couple shots of warm gatorade.
I reached the steps of our townhouse, unlaced my shoes, and sat back to let my feet breathe and the sweat trickle down my face. A neighbor came out and we chatted about idle things, namely grilling, the heat, and how we'll probably be reminiscing fondly about the snow and cold soon.
And I chuckled to myself unlocking the door, recalling the scene in Seinfeld when Jerry and Elaine visit his parents in Florida. Elaine walks out of the bedroom, looking like she's just run a marathon herself, and says, "The heat, my God the heat." But the air conditioning inside was cool, and I thought a certain jacket would be perfect to throw on to stay comfortable.