Saturday, April 11, 2015

Work Trip to Boston Provides an Opportunity For Something Different

The life of a business traveler is oh so glamorous.  Wednesday was nearly 12 hours door-to-door from home to my hotel in Mass, complete with an extra 90 minutes sitting in the plane at SFO while they worked out being re-routed around the midwest weather and then having to add more fuel (shouldn't they just top off anyway?).  It was a rainy hour-long drive on winding back roads from Logan out to the hotel, and the expected restaurants on the way never materialized.  By the time I got there after midnight the only food within miles was a cold steak wrap in the hotel's mini-mart fridge, which I was assured had been made "this morning...or maybe yesterday".  I washed it down with a trio of Sam Adams, only because they didn't have anything stronger.  The time zone change managed to keep me up until 2:00, which was ok as I was finalizing my presentation for my two hour onsite meeting Thursday morning.  I almost fell asleep at that point but something startled me awake, and for some reason I wasn't able to sleep at all after that, finally just getting up at 6:00.  Fun day and night, for sure.  

After my meeting I headed back towards Boston and stopped on the way to get some real food.  I had planned to run on the Boston Marathon course in the afternoon, but I was so tired that I passed on the ahi salad I knew I should order and went instead for a french dip, sweet potato fries, and two vodka sodas that I hoped would facilitate the nap I had planned once I got to the hotel.  But by the time I had navigated Boston traffic and was checked into my room, I decided I needed that run.  My knee has been bothering me for the last month, which has been cutting into my training pretty significantly.  Since I wasn't sure how it would feel after my chiro/PT threw Graston, electro-stim, lasers, different lasers, some pneumatic thumping device and maybe voodoo at it two days prior, I decided to keep it simple and run the mile from the hotel to the finish line and then head up the course until I felt like turning around.  To keep up the Perfect Storm of stress, shitty food, booze, and sleep deprivation, I threw down the complementary warm DoubleTree chocolate chip cookie and headed out into the cold, misty New England afternoon.

As I trudged up Boylston toward the finish line, I got some odd looks.  What, you city people and tourists have never seen a dude running down the sidewalk in dirty Hokas carrying an Ultimate Direction handheld and rocking an irunfar hat?  It's not like I was wearing my calf panties or anything.  I did have a  woman tell me I had nice calves, and that she wished hers were like mine.  I thought it was strange she wanted oversized, hairy calves, but I'll take the compliment as my PT just calls me Popeye or Fred Flinstone while he works on them.  Once I got there I stopped for a few minutes at the finish line and took in the scene.  The bomber had just been found guilty the day before so there were a few news trucks doing live shots from there, and I reflected for a moment about that day two years ago and the stories of friends and strangers that were there.  

Boston Marathon Finish Line on Boylston Street.  #bostonstrong

Then it was time to keep moving. It was inspiring to be running on this historic course, no doubt, and my normal disdain for the pounding of pavement was absent.  I was thinking I'd be happy with 10 miles, but I just kept cruising up Beacon St until I hit Chestnut Hill.  At that point I knew it wasn't too much further to Heartbreak Hill, so I carried on through Boston College and down the hill before turning around.  While the infamous hill didn't seem like much 7 miles into a run, I'm sure it's a bitch after 20 miles of hammering at marathon effort. 

As I headed back toward the finish I actually started thinking that I might want to run a road marathon again some day.  Maybe even really focus on the training and see if I might even get fast enough to qualify for Boston, or what I like to call "The Western States of Marathons".  But those unlikely thoughts were interrupted by the unholy trinity of french dip, sweet potatoes and vodka that had decided they were done with me and wanted to return to hell.  Every runner has had that feeling, a mile from home, of a rumbling from the bowels that has to be audible to cars driving by.  I know some trainers say to focus on "activating the glutes" while running, but I don't think they mean squeezing them together to keep your insides from becoming your outsides.  But I managed to get back to the hotel, up to my top floor room (really?) and avoid having to explain the laundry fee on my expense report.

It was a full day of travel on Friday back to the Bay Area, and Saturday I went out and tested the knee with my first hilly effort in a month.  While it's still not "right", I was able to knock out 16 miles with no pain or discomfort, which was encouraging!
Singletrack in Olompali, Diablo in the distance

As inspiring as knocking out some miles on the Boston Marathon course was, it was even better to be back on the home trails of Mt. Burdell in Novato.    

View from the top of Mt. Burdell

Four weeks from today I'll be lining up at Quicksilver 100K attempting to finish in under 16 hours and qualify for my third straight Western States 100 Lottery.  But this week a quick work trip to Boston provided me with a great experience and continued inspiration and appreciation of the opportunity I have to just keep moving.