Travel Day. I ate lots of garbage throughout the road trip, unfortunately. After arriving in Boston, we took a long stroll along the Charles River, ending in the North End where we dined at an Italian place. I broke the rules and eating some dairy, both in the creamy pesto on my gnocchi and, later, in my caramel pecan cannoli from Mike’s Pastry.
We started the day with a short, easy jog along the Charles before breakfast at Flour, where I enjoyed a vegan vanilla cherry muffin. We then took the T out to Boston College, where I shoed the Things around my old campus and we visited the race expo. Lunch was vegan bean and roasted poblano tacos, followed by some very much not vegan ice cream at the White Mountain Creamery, which was, sadly, not as good as I remembered it being from my college days–the silver lining was that I had no problem throwing more than half of it away uneaten. For dinner we found a Thai restaurant on Newbury Street and carved up with tofu yellow curry over rice.
Race Day! I rose early, pounded back 16 ounces of water, and headed over to my sister’s apartment at 5:30 am for cold brew coffee with almond milk and peanut butter on whole grain cranberry nut bread. On the way over to BC, I downed another 16 ounces of water, this time with a NUUN tablet, and then I had an energy gel about 30 minutes before the race started. We hit the streets at 7:30 am, but by then it was already over 70 degrees, very sunny, and miserably humid. My hopes of a new PR didn’t make it past the 4th mile, as I realized that the fairly steep hills I was running down would be the hills I would be running back up in the late miles of the race.
They were a lot more hill than I had bargained for. The area I live and train in is the Coastal Plain of New Jersey. We just don’t have hills like these to run, and I was completely unprepared to do it in the heat. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one. There was a lot of suffering, and even a few people who didn’t make it to the end and wound up in medical tents (and in one case, and ambulance).
I spent the last two miles hating the world. I hated the race organizers for designing the course with these stupid hills at the end, when I was spent. I hated anyone who had trained for the hills and was therefore able to easily pass me as I struggled up them. I hated Heartbreak Hill Running Company for having a guy in a full gorilla suit standing by the course cheerily offering high fives to runners–seriously, who thinks making someone wear a black, furry suit in the hot sun is a good idea, huh? Seeing him made me feel that much hotter! I hated my tracking app for cheerily telling me that I was not going to hit my (admittedly unrealistic in these conditions) PR goal. I hated the official race clocks and distance markers for being different from the mile markers on my tracking app–where did that extra .3 miles come from anyway, huh? I hated Shalane Flanagan and whoever decided it would be fun to have her start last and pass everyone on the course. And, I must admit, that I had some decidedly ungenerous thoughts towards my loving sister for suggesting this race.
This is what I looked like moments before crossing the finish line:
That’s not sweat pouring off me. That’s liquid hate.
Fortunately, it took less than a minute after I crossed the finish line and stopped running for the hate to go away, and for me to feel more generous towards the world. I was disappointed in my time, though I did my best in difficult conditions. My finish time of 2:07:26 is one of my worst to date, but only by a few minutes. I got my medal and relaxed with my family on the grass on my old college quad while downing two bottles of fluids and pounding back a banana and a protein bar, and thus began my recovery.
After a good cool shower back in our wonderfully air-conditioned hotel, we decided to walk the length of Newbury Street to stretch my legs, eventually stopping at the Trident Bookstore and Cafe for brunch. I did not eat vegan for this meal at all. I let myself have the Huevos Rancheros with black beans and avocado, which served up a good load of protein along with some healthy anti-inflammatory fats. Later, I let myself have a salted caramel cupcake from Georgetown Cupcake on the ride home to New Jersey, and then, when we arrived at home, I ate half of a large whole wheat veggie pizza with a little amount of real cheese and washed it down with a Boddington’s.
Tomorrow I can return to my all-vegan plant-heavy diet, but today I let myself feast a little.