Raaacccceeeeeee Daaaaaayyyyyy!!!!! Boston Merrython 2010

21 06 2010

(Journal 10 … yes 10 … 9 was lunch with my cousin Robin, but she didn’t forward along the photos, so I’m skipping.  I have a lot of catching up to do on this blog, so I’ll try to do a photo album later)

I know I promised I would type in directly what is in these journals, but I’m freaking tired and my brain is pretty fuzzy. It was a LONG day!  Never know what is going to happen, hu?

Race Day is always early.  You get up. Body Glide all over. Have breakfast. Get dressed, and then get to the start line.  We had a little extra complication – Mike’s huge air cart that had to get down the stairs with associated air tanks, refiller thingie, and in the van.  When Mike is out the door, he’s out the door.  I may seem laid back, but I’m a bit more uptight until I get to the staging area.  I have nearly missed a couple of races because of rides, and I just don’t need the stress. In this case, we were the first lot picked up, then we grabbed more of the team, and then we had to drive WAY out of town for the start.  I really had no clue where we were going or how it worked.  The “control freak” in me just rolled with it. 

I was supposed to meet the Pit Crew team at dinner, but I already wrote about what happened.  It was good that I spent time with James and by myself to get my thoughts together. I started to realize the enormity of the thing as I was on the train back “home” because I was in Boston. I was wearing a jacket that Mike had given me and my black Boston cap from Steve.  I was really there and when we got going in the morning, it was happening.  I just knew that Mike was going to need maneuvering room in the morning, so I figured I’d have things where I wanted them to be and kind of operate on auto pilot.  I was wearing the Fast-Twitches that I was considering as training replacements for my race shoes because I can’t afford to rip through Brooks T-6’s through training.  Mike was in his Mizuno Musha 2’s and I picked up a pair at the expo, but unlike the Brooks T-6, I didn’t feel comfortable trying a completely new shoe and manufacturer when I would be out there for over 7 hours.  I did forget to Body Glide the bottom of my feet.

We got picked up and then taken to the start line! Wait! The start line???  Ok – this makes sense now, of course, but I thought we would be someplace close to where my running buddies were going to to be.  Boy was I ever wrong!  We were literally at the start line because we had to be cued up and started so early.  There were folks with booths and balloons.  Port-a-potties were nice and clean. It was peaceful. I was starting to feel like I was ready for a race but it was bloody cold!  I was wearing several layers and concerned that I’d be too warm, but whatever. I could always peel off. Steve was concerned he’d freeze and Mike is usually pretty good temperature wise. Since Steve is a bit smaller than I am, I figured I could toss Steve anything I had if he needed it.

The boys were interviewed by the Boston Globe guy.  Steve has stuff on his website about this.  I know they go back and forth about the public recognition, but I think it is insanely important.  They are two guys with really crappy illnesses, but they are also athletes who are going to keep trying.  If it wasn’t for these two, I  would probably keep ignoring my asthma.  I mentioned it once to Mike and said “Well, I don’t have insurance right now, so I can’t afford inhalers.” I just glared at me and tossed me one of his.  Since that day, he reminds me to not be a dork, but he also knows that it is my decision.

Strangely, I was interviewed also.  I laughed at it because I have so much family living in Boston.  If it was printed it would be one of those things for my “nieces” and “nephews” there.  Mike is right, I talk too fast.  I did, however, explain what racewalking was, and what was so special about my guys.  Never give up … unless it is medically necessary!  Of course, I didn’t mention I’d probably spent too much time in the med tents after the majority of my races over the past year.  This wasn’t my race, the Boston Marathon belongs to my boys!

We toodled into the gym and I met some of the most amazing athletes I’d only heard of through Steve. The gym was our primary staging area.  It was great when there was no-one in there because I could start getting Mike to warm up his legs.  He knows his limitations, but he woke up tighter than usual.  Well, not a whole lot you can do but give it a shot.  Mike is a wonderful guy but extremely driven.  He is not going to quit if he doesn’t have to.  He’s finished races with empty air tanks, on his last legs, and even with his tank disconnected (I was there for that one!).  He doesn’t want to stop, but I could only hope that although he’s driven to finish, he’ll be smart. I can only push so hard.  It has to be his decision.  I know how hard that decision is to make, and I lucked out at Disney to have met Melissa and played through the rest of the race with her.  I was smart enough to get a DNF in Huntington Beach, but it’s played with my head ever since. 

While we were there, we met the folks from Team Hoyt, and  folks who were needing a little time to get staged.  We also were able to get the “back bibs” for all Team Wheezy guides.  I was concerned about being whacked from behind because I’d already decided I was going to camp out behind Mike on the edges of his cart.  Those tires are bike sized and the cart is pretty fragile. 

Kevin is a lot like Steve – you can’t “tell” what is “wrong” with him.  Kelly is my favorite kangaroo and an amazing runner. These guys have huge hearts and nothing is going to get in their way.  The pink tab on their bibs put them into the VIP section, but I didn’t know that until the end.

I got to meet a hand-crank wheelie who was going through her first merrython.  She was a real dear and afraid/excited like everyone on their first.  I sat there and told her that everyone is like that, and if they say they’re not afraid/excited … they’re fibbing!  I found out she finished and dang that made me feel fantastic.

I have always been curious about how wheelchair athletes push the wheels around.  Like everyone, I thought they grabbed the edge rim.  I ended up getting a lesson on how they propel themselves by a gent who came in second to his South African countryman. I will write more about this when I can find pictures of the gloves because it is fascinating.  He let me try on his glove and they “box” around the platter of the rim with a solid hocky puck like thing.  This isn’t making a lick of sense, but I now understand the thud sound I would hear when they went by.

Soon, it was time to go.  We were going to the start line.  It is quite a procedure.  The Guys had chips on but, of course, I didn’t. They all had to walk across the mats to make sure their chips were working. We didn’t get the National Anthem and I had no clue where the “crowd” was.  I just knew that I was standing among some amazing athletes.  I was most fascinated by a gentleman who was racing by propelling himself in his wheelchair backward.  When we finished, we didn’t know if he had finished.  I know I’ll find this guy somehow and I’m thinking I might have some pages just on these amazing athletes.

I don’t know if I ever explained what a guide does, but here goes:

As a guide, I couldn’t be further than 2 feet from my guys. There’s some latitude for potty breaks or when stuff happens, but it is so that I truly am “guiding” them.  I’m not allowed to lead them or in any way assist them other than letting them know I had a whip in my backpack and I wasn’t afraid of using it! I don’t get a medal. I don’t have a number. The race doesn’t “count officially” toward my race total, but I get to help two amazing buds.  What I did kind of “forget” was that I was going to be out there for 7 freaking hours … maybe not at my regular rate of speed – whatever that is – but on my feet for that whole time.  Also, I would be being me. What that means, being “on duty” worrying about my boys because I know BOTH my guys are stoic first ask questions later.  Try again boys! Bossy Ms. Lizzy is on the course!  On top of this, Steve had asked me to Twitter and Facebook through the race. I could only go for 1/2 the race before my phone died because I didn’t turn off all my pushes.  Oopse.  But I’m getting ahead of myself!

There was magic in the gym then we went outside and freaking froze. After Disney, I knew that I wasn’t going to freeze in a race.  Standing at the start line, I looked around and saw some amazing athletes while fully getting part of what Steve has to deal with when he races: he doesn’t look sick.  A couple of the athletes (I’ll probably end up friends with them by the time I finally type this into the computer … but I promised to type my journal and then go back and deal with pulling this together properly), were like Steve – they weren’t in a wheel chair, severely limping, bouncing like a kangaroo on metal “legs” like Kelly, or toting an air cart attached by a harness like Mike does.  Steve looks perfect! He bops along and looks perfect, unless you have written notes via the Patient System at UCSF hoping to God that he makes it through another visit to “prison”.

I wondered if the “impaired” start was being televised.  I knew that Chris was taking my “nephews” to his Mom’s in Connecticut, and it would be cool if they could see their “Auntie Dizzy” in the big race with her friends.  Ok – they’re my second cousins, but whatever!

When we started, we got hit by a gust of wind.  It’s a downhill to start and that’s always nice to get a head start.  We had two bike guys who were a part of the race and turned out to be grand fun.  Bossy miss me had my boys and I was bound and determined to have them not be stupid, but have a good time.  Steve’s priority was to get some film.  I think he’d already decided this was going to be his last Marathon.  It takes a lot out of him.  26.2 miles is hard on anyone, but when you can probably fit his whole lung capacity in the palm of one – maybe two on a good day – hand, I would love to see him out there in 1/2s … and maybe cheering me on! I can honestly say that I feel blessed having these two very different guys as angels in my world.

Like in a 5k where there is a small group, we spread out on the road.  Mike said he wanted to use the “alone time” on the course to get as much done as fast as possible.  The problem was, Mike wasn’t feeling right.  He knew he hadn’t trained well and he also simply, well, didn’t feel right.  On race day, there are butterflies, but this was something different.  I know Mike pretty well, and I could see it.  I know that I’d not trained well. Ok, get real, at all! I was depending on the fact that I know the distance and I would be walking a great deal slower than usual.  It still is time in sneakers.

I love this photo of Steve just taking off down the road.  Last year, Steve ended up in the hospital at the end of the race.  He said he’d make a decision at mile 21 if he could finish.  Mike knew how important my doing the Boston was, and I think he was pushing to get my ass over the line because he is that kind of a friend.  From my standpoint, 2010 is my year to learn to take care of myself and give back.  Melissa and I had an awesome time at the Disney Marathon because we took the pressure off.  Steve is an amazingly driven competitor and *POUF* off he went down the road!!

Mike and I had a nice start. He was not loosening up and bothered by it.  I was having a little tightness in my chest.  I’d taken the inhaler hit, but I think it was more nerves.  I have always been bothered by not feeling exactly “safe” on a lot of race courses with respect to medical.  When I’m by myself, I am pretty easy to deal with but the boys … We got to know Chris and Steve – our bike guys and settled in for a long walk.  I was pacing us off my Garmin.

We got passed by everyone and it was great to cheer the folks I’d met earlier in the morning on.  There’s a kinship that I just find hard to explain.  I am an “able bodied” person by look, but it has been a very long road back from the car accident.  I wondered if I’d been exposed to folks like this 20 years ago if I’d gone through that long, depressing, self-destructive time.  I don’t know and I won’t go back. Moving to Colorado changed me in a really fantastic way.  I was irritated when I got hit by an elite male who flew around the bike guys and slammed me in the shoulder pushing me into Mike’s hub.  Look a*# – we were over as far as we could go and still be on the road.  I’d never hoped someone had a lousy race, but I knew I was getting a terrific bruise and I hoped race karma would get him.  According to running friends and the news media, he got seriously dropped. PSYCH!

What was kind of cool was seeing the Elite water stops.  I have only seen them on televised coverage.  We went through and it was really cool.  This is a good time to say how amazing the water stops were. After 114 years, you would expect this race to have things right, but they really do! It isn’t lip service.  Sure it’s a running race, but they do have a lot of slow folks.  The towns all come out and cheer folks.  I bopped around and played with the crowd, got hugs, and had snacks.  I’m not kidding: Newman’s O’s, Fig Newmans, Fresh Brownies from “little old ladies”, lemonade, pretzels, red liquorice and then there are the Guys of Boston College … 🙂  Since I wasn’t “racing” hard, I was bound and determined to enjoy myself.  It appears I ended up doing nearly 30 miles going back and forth!

Speaking of my speed demon friends, we got hello’s from members of the Rocky Mountain Road Runners who were in the race.  From what they told me, I was easy to spot as was Mike’s cart. Mike really perked up, especially when The Eagle passed because they knew one another.  Scott K. not only said “HI LIZZY” but turned around and said “Hi Mike! Way to go!!!!” That meant a lot, especially because Scott flew along and ended up qualifying for next years’ Boston!

Back to the race:

Our first Air Stop was at mile 7.5. The power of Cell-Phones had us in contact until mine went dead. Mike had to swap out 2 air tanks. I know a little about his air doing some training with him over time, but I just stayed out of the way.  Steve took a hit off his nebulizer.  I stretched.  What was really  interesting was seeing just what it takes to keep these guys out there. We didn’t get a pit-test for Mike, but they really did well. Wheelman Tom (black shirt) really stepped up.  Brett was awesome also, but Tom knew my coffee addiction and fortunately we like coffee the same way because while he worked on the cart, I babysat his now cold coffee:

Not more than five minutes after we did a “GO TEEEAAAMMM WHEEEZZZYYYYY!!!” Mike was having a real problem.  “Girlfriend – is there something on my cart? It’s pulling.” Not good! Not more than a few miles in, when we were passed by the elite men, I was pushed by one of them into the left wheel hub of the cart.  I’d prefer the guy hit me rather than hit Mike.  It was when I was still trying to pull the guys over to the side listening to the “course martial” who wanted us on the edge of the road as the Hand-Crank Wheelchairs, Elite Wheelchairs, and Ellite “able bodied” runners came through.  The boys got irritated with me as they had paid good money for their entry, but I figured I would give no reason for anyone to complain about my guys.  I could feel the growing bruise on the outside of my right knee from hitting the hub — yes my right knee – the one I’d been spending time in med tents because of! Oh well. BUT Mike wasn’t concerned about that.  His cart was pulling so he pulled over.

Runners everywhere and I noticed that there was what looked like a Power-Gel wrapper attached to the tire.  It would have been fine if it was attached by the gooey race fuel inside, but it was attached by an open safety pin.  Many folks pin their gu’s to their shorts or singlets so they can pull them off easily.  Many don’t think about the pin if it falls off. Mike didn’t think he had to patch the tire and I had the bike guys help me with his tire as it is their neck of the universe. I didn’t like this omen.  Mike wasn’t feeling right and now this.  Steve was pushing to go faster. I really wanted another cup of coffee! As we edged back into traffic, I noticed all the barefoot runners out there and thought about how I’ve dropped gu wrappers and made a mental note to be more careful.

This, however, didn’t bode well. I was watching Mike fade and become frustrated with himself. He would perk up every time someone went by and said “Way to go, Sir!” When we were around mile 10, he said “Girlfriend, I don’t think I can make it.” I know Mike pretty well and it killed him to say this. The problem is once that thought gets in your brain in a race, it is hell to get out.  I’ve done enough races in this state to know that unless you can really pull everything together, you’re not going to get out of that negative headspace easily.  At least when it happens to me, it is because of something that is easily correctable. For Mike, it is a lot more serous as there are many more things to go seriously wrong.  I had it in my head that I wanted to get him to the 14.2 air stop. I wanted him to get at least half way. Nothing I could do would keep him from beating himself up and getting frustrated, but he also knew I would not be happy if he continued and hurt himself. 

I also got the distinct impression he was feeling bad if I didn’t get to finish my “dream” race because both boys couldn’t finish.  Seriously! The only way I could get across the Boston Marathon finish line was with one or both of my boys. If they have to pull out, so do I.

The more I watched Mike, the more concerned I became.  His shoulders were slumping, he was heavy on his feet. I kept just plugging him on a little here and there.  He’s such a good pal.  I didn’t want him to know that I could feel that I’d ripped a blister under my left toe line. Unpleasant, but I’d dealt with worse!

I couldn’t be more proud of Mike when he passed over the timing pads. Ker-thud. Ker-thud. A half marathon is a huge thing when you are having problems. Mike’s done fulls and he’d done the full Boston in 2009. I just wanted him to be able to race another day.  The mantra for the day was NO MED TENTS for the THREE of us!! No dying either – had to add that since they both are “chronically ill.”

Around the corner and to the library and there was Tall Pete! Wheee!! Our pit crew!  Mike was checking his tires. Steve was being the caterpillar blowing nebulizer smoke.  Tom was out of coffee.  I was really concerned.  I didn’t think Mike had much more in him. It’s not worth it to keep going when you’re going to not be able to get on the plane and go home.  Mike had perked up, but he was still not right.  It is up to him to keep going or not. It is a decision we all have to make for ourselves, but if he started slowing down too much, I know his frustration was going to take over.  And that would be ugly.

The next hill was right past our pit-crew site, and Mike pulled over saying “I’m done, Girlfriend.” I know how hard it was for him to say this and I couldn’t be more proud! Steve and biker Chris were sent ahead and I stayed with Mike to make sure he was ok. I sent John to fly on his bike backward to the team so that the wouldn’t take off without Mike. It was good timing because they could take his cart et al. It was then that I realized my phone was dead.

I RAN – yes RAN – to catch up with Chris and Steve. They literally flew down the downhill! I nearly gave myself an asthma attack.  I laughed that I could truly check this off my “bucket list” because I did always want to run in the Boston Marathon, and I just did!  I thought it would be rather ironic if I had an asthma attack carrying stuff for and being the guide of the first two severely lung challenged to ever complete the Boston Marathon! 

Steve started telling me about how magical the last mile was. “Lizzy, there is nothing like that last bit. The crowd, you’re there, the finish line …” then, in the next breath, he would say “Now, I’m going to make a decision if I’m going to complete when we get to the mile 21 pit-stop.” TRY AGAIN GAUDET!!!!  I really did say that! I teased him that after all his filling my head with all the images of finishing, he was going to finish! Of course, he knew I would stop if he said “Lizzy – that’s it. I’m done.”

There are a lot of things that one has to take into consideration when your friends have conditions they don’t want to talk about.  As one who hides tons of stuff, I can appreciate this.  Steve doesn’t want to be treated differently, but he is also an activist.  He’s had his nasty brittle asthma since, I think, day one. He’s had to deal with this his whole life.  The funny thing is we’re both “retired” audio engineers.  Some of my favorite albums have his signature on them. He is still a licensed respiratory therapist. Ironic, hu? Not really. I think he understands better. He’s the only person I know understands when I said I was having chest pains and difficulty breathing due to a tightening that felt like I was being sat on by an elephant while being laced into a corset which would have been too small for Scarlett O’Hara!

My biggest concern was keeping him hydrated. He’d told me before that he can’t eat or drink a great deal because of pressure on what is left of his lungs. When Twin was getting “Gatorade cocktails” for me when I wasn’t doing well, it was great because I could take what I wanted and just keep moving.  I did the same thing for Steve. I guided him behind the folks who were at the water tables which gave me a little room to be able to make a cocktail for him and keep him safe. Yeah, he’s probably going to kill me for that, but it was really fun to play Mama Hen to him because he’s such a great competitor. Like Mike, I know they don’t need coddling but a friend they can truly trust.

For someone who has limited access to air, Steve is chatty. It’s a VERY good thing because he’s hilarious and interesting. He kept me going. I think we kept each other going by people watching, checking in on each others’ condition, and having fun. I remember when we got to some hills, Steve said “Ok, Lizzie, I can’t talk anymore. You can talk to me, but I can’t talk until we’re through this.” “No stress, Steve.” I had no clue where we were, but didn’t take any offence. I was looking around and then heard something. Chatty Gaudet was talking with John! “STEVE do I have to tape your mouth shut??!” We laughed. 

We kept motoring on and he said “One more.” Ok. He knows the route. We did the one and I said “Hey Steve – when is the famous Heartbreak Hill?” Um … we had just finished it.   OH! Oopse!  Missed it! 

We kept on motoring and I could see Steve starting to flag. I was concerned, but I knew Steve would let me know what was going on with him. John had ridden ahead for Newman’s Own Pretzel Chunks I had in my gig bag at stop 21 and we’d gotten other things that I’d forgotten to get along the way. Ok – I didnt’ have a coffee while racing, but I did get really yummy brownies from an adorable little old lady! Steve kept telling me about the end of the race and had stopped saying he was stopping at mile 21.

The photo of us with Chris on my left I remember the conversation. Remember that Steve has this nasty lung condition. I never did find out exactly what I should do if he starts having an attack. I have read his blog and he’s told me things about how he has to be revived, but I know Steve downplays a lot of things. The conversation went something like this:

Lizzy: “So, Steve, I forgot to ask. Um if you start having an attack, what am I supposed to do?”
Steve: “Get me to a hospital.”
Lizzy: “Um can I revive you?”
Steve: “Nope.”
Lizzy: “Okey. You know what then?”
Steve: “No what.”
Lizzy: “Keep breathing!”

Mile 21 came and went. Mike was there, scowling, upset with himself, crabby, but there and that meant the world to me. Steve was tired, but wanted to keep going. He took a nebulizer hit, we did a hand punch “GO TEAM WHEEZY” and we were off. Steve, John (bike), Chris (bike), and I had a great time really.  We were a little pack teasing one another and getting to know each other.  We cheered on the people around us and had a great time. I was tired. My foot hurt like nuts.  I think it was around mile 21 that I decided that the Fast-Twitches would ONLY be used in a situation where I needed a shoe with a tread. I wondered if my foot would ever be the same. I was tired and my legs heavy, but Steve kept me going. When we noticed Steve flagging and a nice size crowd, John would shout “HERE COMES STEVE! STEVE! STEVE! STEVE!!” We would start chanting, Steve would pick up the pace and I’d have to keep up! It was the shot in the arm that Mike would get from folks cheering him on.

The thing about Steve is that he doesn’t want fuss.  Mike is the same way. I love my guys because they have their own personalities and so much respect and appreciation for each other. For some silly reason, they let me play in their sandbox.

Next thing I knew, we were really motoring in that least 5k. Steve finally pulled his headphones out of his shirt.  I don’t think he ever put on his tunes. I’m glad he never asked me to sing, or he would have ended up in a hospital with bleeding ears! I was so proud of the fact that he was keeping me in his loop, we were finishing, and having fun.

Then there was a moment for Lizzy.  I am a Native San Franciscan. I love the S.F. Giants because that was my team. My New Hampshire based Grandfather told me his baseball team was the Boston Red Stockings. I loved my grandfather, so when he asked me to be a be a Red Stockings fan, what the heck. I made a side comment where I thought it would be cool if we could take a severe right hand turn and go to Fenway. All the boys said “Lizzy – Look over there …” and there it was! Fenway! Wow! Whoo Hoo!!!

Back to business. I’m ready to get Steve across the line and sit down! My foot was sticky. I knew there was going to be a mess. I was having an amazing time, but I was still on duty.  I was constantly thinking about Mike and hoping he wasn’t beating himself up too bad and I was really wanting a sandwich and maybe an entire carton of alfalfa sprouts.  I knew where the Elephant and Castle was, and fish and chips sounded pretty yum. I was done with Gatorade and Shock Blocks. My skirt kept slipping down the skinnies I had on. I usually wear a race belt and I was wearing a backpack.  On a positive note, the Nathan water backpack was perfect.

What had happened in 2009 was that Steve did finish, but was in a great deal of distress. He crossed the finish line, was picked up by the medical team and transported directly to the hospital (Prison) where he was “incarcerated” doing his level best not to end up pushing daisies. The things we do for medals! Speaking of that, Steve had to push to get his very hard earned medal. Since we’d passed mile 21, there was no stopping Team Wheezy! I looked at Steve and said “Steve, promise me something.” He was a little hoarse, which is a scary sign to me, and said “What?” “Um … don’t die. Ok?” Big, bright, trademark Gaudet smile “Sure, Lizzy!” and a little cough.  We had to finish and we had to finish … NOW!

There was a group of folks walking 6 abreast.  It was irritating because they were dressed in bright red and we were coming in to the home stretch.  All Steve wanted was video of the ending and I’d shot video with his camera, of course sideways because I’ve gotten so used to being able to just flip things around. Oopse! Steve really didn’t want his video being the backsides of this group, so I said “Hey – can you follow?” He nodded and we blew them away!

When you’re coming in to the end, the Guides are able to go across the line with their “charges,” but  our Bike Spotters – Chris and John would leave us there. I tossed John, or was it Chris, my bottle and we were almost done. Steve was not only going to finish, but finish bypassing the medical tent … I think. He’d better! I’d kill him! Hahahaahaa!!!

Steve has the video on his www.breathinstephen.com site and I blew out his microphone, but whatever! He told me I could put the video lower, but I thought it would be fun to have it roughly Steve’s height.  We saw a guy that we’d seen before. It was like finishing around friends. We did finish. Seven hours and change. Faster than Steve did last year. Healthier than Steve did last year. Even better was right after we crossed the line we weren’t greeted by the Medical Staff, but by Big Tall Pete and a healthy Mike McB with Steve’s Nebulizer! Yeah! Makes it all worthwhile. That and coming in before the line of red shorts!

 The truly funny thing was Steve asking “so where do we go from here?” I laughed. Of course he didn’t know because last year he’d turned left and was taken out horizontal. We were on our way to get Steve’s medal and a mylar blanket when we got told we were to turn right. Hu? I wasn’t paying close attention. My mind was starting to wander.  I was finally “off duty” and I realized I was done. PFEW! I noticed that we weren’t the last two across the line even though we started an hour earlier and there was an awful lot of “stuff” for the folks who were still out on the course. Steve and I wondered what had happened to some of the folks we’d started with. Fortunately for me, Mike and Pete kept an eye on me because I was a little lost.  We were off to the VIP tent.  Okey dokey!

Not all that and a bag of chips, but we did run in to Kevin and his crew.

I was beat. A friend of mine laughed that this was a lot of work for no medal.  But I got a medal … that isn’t medal.  My Guide bib means more to me than anything.  I called Mom who wanted to make sure everyone was safe and we got one last photo of Team Wheezy Competitors. 

Just as I was saying goodbye to our bikers, Pete said “Hey Dizzy Lizzy…” I wasn’t altogether there and he said “Lizzy you did it!” “I wha??” “You did it! You completed the Boston Marathon!!!” I looked at Chris who I was just about to give a hug to and said “Oh my gosh! Did I?” He just laughed and I cried on his shoulder! 

Wow – I did it too! Between Mike and Steve, I did something I wanted to do since I was 13 years old. I was told girls like me didn’t do the Boston Marathon. Well, I’m here to say that girls like me do  do the Boston Marathon and I did it My Way!

Nothing’s going to be the same again …

7 05 2010

(Journal 7)  One of the things said about finishing something like The Boston Marathon is that you’re never reall the same afterward.  I remember finishing my first Marathon and talking with Eriq (“Is this Auntie Marathonner?!”) and then Mom (“Now that you’ve done it, you’re not doing it again, are you?”)  I wasn’t the same.  I was a bit different.  I walked a freaking marathon.  I did it. On my own. 

This is quite different to me.  I am here to help my friends and just be there for them.  They both know this is a huge dream of mine, but it means more to be there with friends I really care about.  I’m thinking that is the story of 2010.  It started with meeting my Key West buddy Melissa and getting her through her race, then having Twin help me through the Shamamrock 1/2 only to turn around and help out Hartley.  When I transcribe this into the blog, I’ll have to see if I’ve actually written about those experiences.  I’ve got to catch up at some point. 

Unlike what that snotty woman thought, I’m out there for the duration.  I know it will be in excess of 7 hours.  Not sure by how much, but I know the Boys have to be finished in no more than 7:45.  The cut off for everyone is 6:45, but we start an hour earlier. 

I am not going to wait to have fun out there.  We’re going to see everything – the wheelchair elites, the handcranks, the able-bodied elites, then the pack.  I wonder if we’ll see any of my buds from the Rocky Mountain Road Runners.  They know I’m out there.  They also know why I’m there.  I would love to be strong enough to qualify, but maybe in a couple of years.  I’m OK with that.

I missed the Team Dinner because I had to go back and pick up my glasses after having lunch with my cousin Robin and her friends stranded in America from England.  (I will post photos when she posts them).  The Lenscrafters was literally across from the finish line.  I got crappy directions from the attendant in the subway.  For the first time, I was really peeved.  I didn’t want to miss the dinner, but I know that Mike Mc is very punctual.  I was concerned that I wouldn’t have the energy stores if I just ate what I brought, but I was going to have to make it work.  I’ve lived on Pure Fit bars before, but not as complete fueling for a very long marathon. 

I came up for air and there was the finish line.  I wondered just how different I was going to be just being in this race, and if two or all three of us finished, just how was that going to change me?  This is the first time I’ll have “coached” a race.   I’m so hyper competitive that I’ve shied away from coaching, but I do it anyway in nearly every race I am in!   Maybe this is kind of a door-opener.  Choose races to help people through and choose races to slam out race. 

When I was leaving Denver, I realized that this Boston Marathon means more to me than I thought.  I’m not in it as a competitor per se, but as a friend.  It is the fulfillment of a 33 year old dream.  As I’ve written before, it is a dream that I’m doing with friends because I can’t do everything alone.  It takes a team to really make it work.  Everything is different now.  I have some messes to clear up, but I can write on my resume that I coached two amazing athletes through the Boston Marathon. 

When I helped Hartley in Virginia Beach, I knew I was doing the right thing.  I was there for whatever he needed and he was going to get across the line under as much of his own power as possible.  I know when Twin and Steve helped me across the line, I had gone as far as I could and although I couldn’t stand, my feet were still moving.  Tomorrow, I’m going to be there for my guys.  The three of us are the front side of Team Wheezy.  I want them to be smart and stop if they have to, but until they do, this protective dragon is going to do everything to keep them happy and motoring forward.

Nothing is going to be the same after this!  And I’m psyched about it!

I’ve got to find the Wonderland line and get back home. 

Sunday – Packet Day!

7 05 2010

(Journal 6)  There is something  just indecent about going to an expo on a rainy Sunday!  I know I do the Bolder Boulder on a Monday and isn’t the Virginia Beach race then too? I digress!

Steve flew in at some indecent hour of the morning.  We were texting while he was bored on BART and in the San Francisco Airport waiting for his over-nighter flight.  I would get a message and relay it to Mike. 

Mike is a night owl.  He drinks coffee until he goes to sleep. Fortunately we both like to gaze at the television.  With the exception of medical shows and inane yelling at one another, I am usually open to anything on TV. Ok – no porn … you have to pay for that anyway! Ha!  Tonight was poker.  My cousin Chris was in one of those television poker things and he does something to do with betting now.  I was just tired enough not to be able to figure out why people were doing what they were doing, but whatever!

I had to make sure when I was walking around in the morning to not trip over Mike’s air thingie.  That would just be a bad thing.  His machine is surprisingly quiet.  It sounds like an air conditioner.  This is going to be good.  I got up early and shot the photo pointing where Steve was probably at that moment.  I did toodle down to their nice lobby in my favorite Thumper sleep pants for the morning paper.  She couldn’t find it.  Sigh.

Since Mike knew where we were going, I just took to toodling about.  We both wanted to make sure Steve got “home” safely and if his room wasn’t ready, he was going to be bullied into staying in our room until his was ready.  He’s preloading himself with steroids and I know he hates the stuff.  I hate the idea of two of my favorite people keeping the pharmaceutical industry going, but these guys are pretty special and they’re not done living … so send in the meds!

Have I written how much I love my plug-in water kettle and French Press? By the end of the weekend, I’ll probably have Mike hooked too! 

Drizzly, yucky, gross!  Steve gave me a wonderful race hat – the black Boston Marathon cap! Normally I don’t wear race specific hats.  I have my finisher’s cap for the Shamrock 1/2 and when they tried to give me one for the full, I wouldn’t accept it!  I also am a bit superstitious about wearing/purchasing finisher gear before I finish the race.  Call me silly, but I’ve only done it one time – my first Goofy – and I damn near killed myself to finish it!

My cousin Robin, some friends of hers stranded in the US because they can’t get home to England due to the Icelandic volcano spewing ash into the sky, Mike and I are probably going to have lunch wherever it is that Robin lives.  It is an open invitation for Mike since he had kind of a lousy flight and has to mind his air.  He’s also got to get the cart ready.  He knows I won’t take offence.  Steve is invited also, but he’s on bed-rest.

Just as we were leaving, I noticed the removable nose pad for my new race glasses was missing.  The tiny screw fell out!  We had to find a Lenscrafter’s near the expo.  Here’s to modern technology.  Steve found one when he was using the wi-fi and texted it to me.  Rock on!  Turns out the Lenscrafters was just a smidge past the expo by the finish line.  Unfortuantely, it was closed when we first got there.  Expo first then!

Not to sound too jaded, but an expo is an expo.  Mike isn’t one for crowds, the weather is misting, and he has his air in a small cart with pretty lousy wheels.  He’s a tall guy and I would think they would make wheelies that work better.  Maybe they think “sick” people aren’t that ambulatory!
We had to take a shuttle to the subway then switch lines then walk.  Not terrible.  Predictably, the subway was jam packed with people not exactly sure where they were going, but we were a herd. Talked with Mom while walking.  She initially thought we were racing.  A Monday race messes with her too. 
Last time I was in Boston, I was here for a touristy day with my Dad when I was about 15.  We were going to New Hampshire to visit his parents then back down to New York to visit with Aunt Nina, Chris, James, & Lorenzo. I find it ironic that I am there as a guide for two lung challenged athletes because I was competing in four sports and had double pneumonia at the time.  Kind of interesting to note that I’d given up on my dream of doing the Boston Marathon by that time!
First things first.  Mike had to get us checked in.  He went directly to the Disabled Athletes section.  I lagged behind a bit absorbing.  I’m not sure how real it all felt.  I didn’t have to figure out where to line up for my number, remember paperwork or anything.  I was just following.  I saw this sign at the top of a pillar.  Mike didn’t know it was there until I showed him the photo.  

I promise to do my best to get my guys finished happy and healthy … and not destroy myself in the process!

It was a bit of a zoo.  Mike is easy to find with his heavy jacket and toting air.  His being tall doesn’t hurt either!  He picked up front bibs for us and I grabbed pins.  We then went over to pick up “goody” bags.  The nice thing about the number of athletes that couldn’t make it from Europe is that there wasn’t a problem for Mike to pick up bags for myself, and the Air Crew: Pete, Brett, & Tom.  Completely unexpected and the shirt is a very nice tech shirt.  I nearly cried!
We pulled over to the side to lighten up the bags a bit. There’s a ton of advertising in them and when you’re carrying not only your own but the bags of 4 teammates (we had Steve’s too) weight management is a good idea.  I brought my black shoulder bag so I popped Mike’s and Steve’s race numbers and packets in there for safekeeping. 
The expo was in two rooms.  It is hard for Mike to negotiate that little wonky oxygen bag/tank thing and people really don’t pay close attention to where they’re going.  I would have to say there are about the same number of booths as Disney, but far less walking space between them.  I wasn’t all that impressed until we got into the second room.  I was on a mission: My Garmin 305 has been acting up and Mike wanted me to try out the Mizuno’s he’s been wearing – the Musha.  I figured if I could try the three pairs of Mizuno’s they have for racing flats, it would be a good trip.  It is hard to get my size in Denver – 10.5 –> 11 men’s.
I dropped my watch off with the Garmin folks and we went to the Mizuno booth.  I fell IN LOVE with 3.8 ounce Wave Universe 3’s. They would be a one use shoe with how heavy I am on them, but geee whiz bang!  If I was sponsored and they handed them to me … They didn’t have the 7.5 oz Wave Ronins in my size.  Sigh.  I did try the comparatively heavier (7.8 oz) Wave Mushas and I liked them.  I also found I’m a 10.5 not 11!  I’m looking for a pair of training shoes because I’m walking right through my Brooks T-6’s.  My 6.1 oz cuties are wonderful, but I want to race in them … until I can get an unlimited supply of Wave Universes (giggle).  The only concern I have about the Mizunos is airflow.  That’s for another blog post.
Mike and I had to drop off my glasses, so it was a potty stop.  We were strange on time.  He had a lot of things to get done.  When I went in to the ladies’ my cousin Robin called the minute I finally got a stall! 
We got out of the expo and Mike needed a coffee and I needed glasses repair.  The frustrating thing was I’m so used to being spoiled rotten by Nansi C. at Park Meadows Mall Lenscrafters that I was surprised when they said their tech wasn’t in and I’d have to leave my specs.  Oh my … day before the race and I’d risked it by not bringing my back up pair (I can see Nansi doing a happy dance here!).
Mike wasn’t going to hang around.  All good, but he had things to get done.  I know the feeling.  We went our separate ways.  I went up to Coolidge Corner by T-Train and he went up to Team Wheezy HQ in the other direction.  My train was chock full of Red Sox fans since there was a game that day.  Wheee!!!
I’ll write more about my adventure with my cousin Robin when she posts her photos!


7 05 2010

(Journal 4)
As I got off the flight, my friend the Flight Attendant said “Good Luck and you’ll get your guys across the line! There’s a Dunkin’ Donut’s right as you’re leaving the airport!” She rocks!
I can’t believe I’m freaking here for this race.  Looking around, seeing folks in their race jackets from last year.  Some are kind of haughty but I might be too if I had qualified.  What are the qualifying times?  As of right now, I don’t think I would even qualify as an 80-year-old!  I don’t want to do more fundraisers than I absolutely have to.  They are pretty hard on me.
Forget all this – I AM IN BOSTON/LOGAN AIRPORT!  I can wear my Red Sox jacket I’ve had for 25 years with my

Varsity Letter (with the track shoe) on it without any problems.  Ok, I might have some because my cousin Valerie is a massive Yankee’s fan, but the Red Stockings team cheering is for my grandfather Robinson Shepard and there is no denying that.

This doesn’t feel like a “normal” race for me.  I didn’t get any of the “pre-race” stuff to check in with or anything.  Mike is handling everything.  I’ve also not really trained.  I’ll be moving slower and the pressure I put on myself during the race will be, uh, different.  I have the responsibility for my extremely independent guys.  I can be a bossy bitch when I want to be, but I am truly protective.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t have people being protective in a good way for me through my various injuries and illnesses.  I hadn’t learned to trust in a way which would be accepted by most.  In order to be trusted, you have to trust.  Mike has been an amazing big brother and Steve just rocks.  You can take all those guys who can run/walk insanely fast if they’ve got attitudes.  Race directors might like the faster folks, but there are folks like us who are the heart of races because we keep plugging along.  I know both guys are behind me whenever the third part of Team Wheezy is out there truly racing for herself. 
I don’t remember if I brought an inhaler! Can you believe it?! I had a slight anxiety attack on the plane, but it is just nerves I’m sure.  I’ll go thrashing through my bags when I get to the hotel.
Yes, bags, plural.  I brought my snack bag and a clothing bag.  Mike is just going to have to handle that I travel with my own coffee pot and snacks.  Not sure how much I’ll go through, but I can’t afford any spendy trips. I’m hoping dinners with the cousins aren’t too expensive because I’m sunk if they are!
We’ve got two team dinners and I’ve got enough snacks for everything else.  I should be fine.  I’m writing this while enjoying my large Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and Boston Cream Donut.  I’ve got the print-out Steve sent of how to get to the hotel.  I have no clue what to expect, but there is no going back now.
18-34 3hrs 10min 3hrs 40min
35-39 3hrs 15min 3hrs 45min
40-44 3hrs 20min 3hrs 50min
45-49 3hrs 30min 4hrs 00min
50-54 3hrs 35min 4hrs 05min
55-59 3hrs 45min 4hrs 15min
60-64 4hrs 00min 4hrs 30min
65-69 4hrs 15min 4hrs 45min
70-74 4hrs 30min 5hrs 00min
75-79 4hrs 45min 5hrs 15min
80 and over 5hrs 00min 5hrs 30min

A Dream Coming True … kinda …

3 02 2010

Some of you know I used to run.  It was a long time ago.  My dream, like many runners, was to ‘do’ the Boston Marathon.  Last year, my two lung challenged buddies proved that they could conquer the race by being the first two severely lung-challenged (Brittle Asthma &  CoPD) to complete the feat.

I was waiting for my class to start last night, when I got an e-mail on my phone from Mike McB.  “Lizzy, whatcha doing in April…”  I didn’t have anything planned.  I’ve got a 1/2 in May and the Bolder Boulder.

He is offering to bring me along to Boston as his Guide … Awesome Guide as he says … but just a simple “Guide” according to the Boston Athletic Association …

But now that this is happening … yo’ McB … let’s get Walkin’!!!!!

Love Lizzy

Sun is out – taking it easy … and the Boston Merrython

19 04 2009

Yeah – the sun shocked the heck out of me this morning. I didn’t get to sleep until around 3 a.m. – reading – so it was really strange. It’s a sloppy mess here. Ok – those who are probalby far more dedicated than I are able to go out in this, but I took it easy. Coming down the stairs at a friend’s last night, I felt a nasty twinge behind my knee … Sometimes I liked it better when I was hell-bent-for-leather, but that’s not going to keep me around for a while, eh what?

Mike Mc and Steve G. are two pals who are out there proving they are not letting their lungs keep them down. Steve’s had brittle asthma, I think, for his life. He’s probably broken more ground than most just because of his drive. I’ve not had the privledge to meet him personally (YET) but if you happen to see a guy carrying more inhailers than the law allows … that’s probably Steve! Mike Mc knows that he “did it to himself” and is making every moment count … being an amazing friend/brother/uncle to freaks like me and, more importantly, grandpa. He got the clearance from his doc (who will be there, I think) to race and then went through so much red-tape that I thought he was going to be mummified! Determination and “waddya mean I can’t use my cart I’ve used in huge events … it’s where I carry my air!!”

Yeah, Mike totes his air. He knows that even with the wonkiness which is my leg, I would have been out there carrying his back-up backpack of air if they told him he had to go that route. That’s what this guy means to me. I’d probably have pockets stuffed with stuff for Steve too … and now that my running friend Happy is winged (he had to have surgery on his arm after a bike accident last month) … I’d probably do the race in a nurse’s uniform!

Another friend of mine who is blind is doing the event. It is a huge endeavor, but for other “mobility impaired” athletes, there are rules: http://www.bostonmarathon.com/BostonMarathon/Disabilities.asp but for air issues, groundbreaking time! I know that people have “garden variety” asthma … myself included … and carry inhalers (which my doc would be a lot happier if I would) because when I was working the chutes at the Bolder Boulder, people were taking puffs or carrying them as they crossed the line. Steve’s asthma is FAR from “garden variety”. I recall something about his not having everything he needed for the Portland Marathon a couple of years ago and scrambling.

I am very serious, however, about Mike’s air buggy. The jalopy is toted by him and, yeah, it sticks out but he’s pretty freaking amazing maneuvering it. I will admit he did run over my foot once but it was either we were turning around because I’d taken us down a wrong road or I got too close … either way it wasn’t the cart’s fault. People, however, have to pay attention. (I’m fingering my soap box about wearing headphones in a race and crawling in to the music to the obscuring of everyone around … but I’ll just leave it in the corner.)

Mike’s been great with me and my frustration with getting healthy vs. racing my sneakers off. I’m looking forward to figuring out places where we can both walk … ok – my distance covered will probably be more simply because of our speed difference, but that’s cool.

As long as Denver keeps drying out, I’m waking up early to just log easy miles. I’m looking forward to it. I don’t use the areas right nearby for a lot of reasons; most of which make no sense to anyone but me. I like being away and having the time to myself. I must admit, however, that I’m looking forward to crazy weather being over so I can set a schedule to do my workouts.

Off to take care of another pile of things … even though it doesn’t feel like I’m moving forward … like the problem I’ve had with my slow speeds walking as opposed to when I used to run … every step counts … just sometimes takes a while to realize it.

Cheers – Lizzy

Soaking Sopping 4.5 miles

17 04 2009

Well … I’d have to say that was kind of stupid … not exactly along the lines of doing the Goofy injured, but damn close!

As I think I babbled yesterday, I was irritated because I’d missed 2 track work-outs, but sometimes life is just that way. Today, I was unsure if I was going to get any mileage in and I really needed to clear my head out and just walk.

It was raining and yukky, but there was about an hour and a half where it wasn’t terrible. I put on shoes with a decent amount of tread and walked, slipped, slid, “racewalked” and wobbled through an hour. It didn’t feel terrific and I probably hurt more after simply because it was unstable, but I did get my head cleared out a smidge!

Off my balcony. 3:30 p.m.

Off my balcony. 3:30 p.m.

 I really needed the head clear out after the last few days.  I guess I’m clearing out a lot of things in order to handle CA for the weekend and motor forward. Something just tells me that I’m ready to off-load and I learned a few really good things. My evening yesterday had me re-parcing some things that had happened a couple of years ago and they really made sense. I think they could have truly been handled better because I didn’t really learn what I needed to. I have no real clue as to what the others learned, but that’s none of my concern. It’s like the Universe took a different direction … and this time it worked. I am closing the door and walking to the next phase … a little wiser than before … and a heck of a lot more wary. It’ll settle out at some point, I’m sure.

So, I started going through the piles of piles of PILES. I’ve still got *hours* to do, but I think I also needed the reconnect time with a couple of friends … and they let me care about them, which was really nice after what I was parcing through. New phases …

Then it started to pour. It had been fat, wet snowflakes but they changed over to rain. Either way, I’m kind of spiked with my car as it’s not really good to drive in either weather. Snow, of course, is worse because it sticks on the back window and I don’t have a defrost anymore. More reasons to get my life sorted.

I toddled out with my phone (I *need* to get a digital camera someday) to the pond just off the left corner of the balcony. I’ve not had many folks over here, but there’s this huge beautiful pine tree right in front and I oversee the mountains … yeah … there are things that keep me in my cat-bird apartment in Denver … The above photo is the cherry (?) or plum (?) tree on the left and pine tree on the right. The leasing company actually started the “fountains” in the ponds which was their annual mistake. Maybe trying to get the crayfish awake or something.

I did some things and crawled into the bath to warm up. The lights were flickering and I could hear a snowplow scraping about in the parking lot. “Loads of good that’ll do.” I commented to Bailey (who was curled up like a little deer on my bed … she only does that when I’m not in it. Only time she was really “cuddly” was when she slicked her leg apart and was on pain killers. I think she needed to know I wasn’t going anywhere … never!)

Same spot off the balcony ... 7 p.m.

Same spot off the balcony ... 7 p.m.

In a towel, I took another look off the balcony at 7:00 p.m. Mountain time. I was amazed! The pine tree was loaded with heavy snow. Bailey, who does like snow, has had no interest in going out in it. Too wet! I’m wondering how much lnger this is going on! As I say, I’m not going to be stupid about my health, so if it’s not right, I’ll do a little walk, but nothing that will cause the potential of problems! I’m also out of baby aspirin, which has been working for the pain!

I’m thinking about Patti and Happy K, Mike Mc and Steve who are all getting ready to do the Boston Marathon. I think Patti K. is the only healthy one of the group!! Happy did something to his arm and is barely out of a sling after surgery. Steve and Mike Mc have their lungs that just are just no fun at all: Steve with brittle asthma and Mike with CoPD. They’re staring early with the other “Disabled” Athletes. I don’t know when Kerry Kuck (blind) is starting. Wow – it’s a big field … and I’m here snowbound trying to spend a year learning how to keep myself from going insane and the positive aspects of properly training.

So … Take it easy from the land of completely confused weather!