Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The official review of '3 marathons in 8 days' Charlottesville, Boston, Waterloo marathons

for those of you keeping score:

04/18/09 Charlottesville Marathon 4.59.33
04/20/09 Boston Marathon 4.28.29
04/26/09 Waterloo Marathon 4.30.33

but this trip was about much more than finishing times..
ironically, these were the three slowest official marathon finishing times i had ever run, but they were probably among the most three satisfying marathon runs i have ever done..

(pictured is me sporting the Boston Marathon runner's shirt, along with all three finishers medals from my trip!)

wow, what a trip. i decided to take the plunge and book this insane trip back in january, just 4 weeks after i had major genital surgery. i was quite confident that i would heal up nicely and that my strength, speed, endurance, energy, and metabolism levels would not decrease substantially enough to prevent me from doing this challenge in april.

the main purpose of this trip was the Boston Marathon, but then i got thinking that since i was not able to run marathons fast anymore and go after new PB records, i decided i needed different goals to keep me motivated and positive about running (in sept 08, i found myself throwing temper tantrums at the end of marathons due to slower times and really needed to dig deep to rediscover the love of running).

running world magazine and other entities kept hyping up charlottesville marathon as a must run, so i decided to give it a go. having run 2 marathons in 2 days back in sept 08, i figured i could manage 2 in 3 days this year. my health and fitness had substantially declined since then though.. i entered this trip with testosterone levels in the lower quarter of the normal female range, and with estrogen levels in the upper female range.. despite conducting a grueling training regime in january to march, i found myself having gained 25 pounds. i also found myself with sore knees from what was clearly over training and extra strain on the legs due to the extra weight..

i flew into washington dc from newfoundland on apr 16 and met up with some friends in baltimore for dinner. then i drove down to virginia the next day and picked up my kit and walked around the campus of U of virgnina.. the rest of the day was spent relaxing in my hotel.
race day weather seemed perfect, about 9 degrees and no wind or rain. my plan was to run this race extremely slow to ensure that i did not push the knees any harder and to strangely enough, hope to save enough for boston that i could be as fresh as if i hadn't run 42.2k 2 days earlier.
i settled into a nice 4.20.00 pace. the race was going well, and then the hills hit. running thru the virginia countryside was pretty, but very hilly! ..and then the temp began to rise.. and rise... by mile 16, the temp had hit about 22 degrees, and i found myself feeling a slight knot on my calf.
getting used to my new body has been a real learning experience.. i thought i was managing my hydration well, but obviously not well enough. i was dehydrated and close to cramping.. this forced me to slow down substantially for a while.. it took me an hour to run mile 16-20. at this point, i had slowed down to a light jog.. this was actually good for me though.. i saved the legs thru some of the toughest hills on the course.

amazingly, after hitting the 20 mile mark, i felt suitably rehydrated and was able to pick the pace back up to where i was before.. i actually ran in the final 6 miles at a pace slightly faster than any other part of the race.

(pictured is me about 35k into the race)

time goals were never a factor in this run, but it was nice to cross the finish line at 4.59.33 instead of something in the 5.00.00 - 5.05.00 range.. lol

the biggest concern at this point was that i realized that i had aggravated my right ankle. it was quite sore...

anyway, no time for recovery, i went from the finish line straight to my car and made the 3 hour drive back to the washington dc airport and got on a plane to boston.. that was one heck of a long day and you could say i was excited when i was finally checked into my hotel..

boston was everything it was hyped up to be. the day before, i toured around and drove to hopkinton to take some pics and scope out the logistics of parking. i also drove down town and decided that my plan would be to park downtown instead of at the start, on race day, and take the shuttle bus that the BAA recommended we all take.

the health and fitness expo was huge and i spent a couple of hours walking around visting all the booths. i decided to order the My dvd package, i even filmed a brief interview for this dvd. this will essentially be a dvd that includes a highlight package of me running at various checkpoints, as well as highlights of the elite runners...

race day itself started out with a 2.50 am alarm (yikes). i had a little breakfast and then drove downtown and caught the shuttle bus out to hopkinton. there, me and 28000 other runners sat around the athletes village in the cold for a few hours before being called to line up for the start.
my ankle wasn't hurting all that much and i felt really strong. unlike most marathonners, i like to do the first mile a little faster than anticipated race pace as a warm up. this is also a chance for me to gage exactly how strong i feel and to decide what pace i should slow down to..

(pictured is me on my way to the starting coral in Hopkinton)

i came out flying. i was actually running at 3.40.00 pace! i decide to keep up this pace.. being seeded 7500th on the basis of a BQ time of 3.16.59, yet running 3.40.00 pace meant that i was constantly being passed by runners, which was actually fun as i got to see all sorts of intersting people..

by half way, i was still feeling very strong. i had run a 1.53.00, essentially keeping me on pace for a 3.45.59, which would requalify me for next year. i was in shock.. could the unthinkable happen? could i actually run fast enough to requalify for 2010 boston just 48 hours after struggling through the hot hilly virginia terrain?

well, it wasn't to be. around mile 16, i found my ankle and knees starting to act up, and i was forced to slow down.. i was frustrated at first, but then very quickly reminded myself that this race was never about time goals. my initial intent was to simply take in the experience and enjoy the run and try to finish in good health so that i could come back yet again in 6 days to run Waterloo Marathon..

i immediately refocused on enjoying the run. i started paying closer attention to the fans, high fiving all the little kids and egging on the college students to scream louder! although my appearance is getting more feminine as each day passes, it is still obvious to some that i am a male-to-female transsexual.. in some cases, people still just see a male dressing as a woman.. so i am often the centre of attention. i used this to my advantage to fire up the crowd! the boston college students really went crazy as i did jestured to my ear as if i was hard of hearing and then encouraged them to yell louder.. lol tons of fun!

after completing the heartbreak hill, i stopped briefly to do a live interview with CBS, who unfortunatly, did not air the footage.. i indicated that i really enjoyed climbing the hill.. lol seriously, this hill was nothing compared to what i run every day here in newfoundland!
around the 31k mark, i was passed by a friend from ontario who was looking strong out there, although he indicated to me that he felt he had started out a bit fast..

(pictured is me crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon)

shortly after, a fellow newfoundlander recognized me as he passed and said hello to me..
i ended up crossing the finishline in a limp, but managed to feel a very strong sense of pride.. 4.28.29. more than 30 minutes faster than what i had run in virginia. still, my second slowest marathon ever, but once again, the second marathon in a row that i finished feeling a strong sense of accomplishment and the feeling of knowing i had hit my goal...

i went back to my hotel and crashed out for the rest of the day..

(pictured is me with the Boston Marathon finishers medal)

i was up at 3 am once again for an early flight down to florida, where i planned to sit on the beach for 4 days of rest and recovery, and that's exactly what i did.. i went all the way down to Key West, a place i had never been to, but heard good things about. no running at all in florida for me, but the hotel had a pool, so i managed to get in 40 minutes of swimming every day i was there, as well as tons of walking. Key West is known for their diverse community, especially their strong population of gay/lesbian and transgendered people.. it felt great to walk around a town and not feel out of place and to not get stared at everywhere i go.. part of me didn't want to leave.

but i had one more run ahead, so it was a long travel day back to canada on saturday and then a quick turn around to get myself to waterloo early sunday morning..

the travel day on saturday took quite a bit out of me, so i started the waterloo marathon feeling very sluggish.. i set out at a 4 hour marathon pace.. by the 3/4 mark, i was still feeling strong, having run 31.5k in 3.05.00. once again, this is where the ankle became a problem again.. it was much more sore than in either of the two previous races.. my tank was also on empty and i could feel my body literally burning fat and muscle to keep me going.. i limped from 32k-37k and considered slowing down to a walk.. but then amazingly, i got a second wind from somewhere and was able to pick the pace back up a notch for the final 5k. i ran into the finish at 4.30.33. i was extremely puzzled as to how i managed to run strong after slowing down with the ankle..
i was then approached for an interview by the local paper, and i graciously accepted and told my story..
(pictured is me in the final k of the Waterloo Marathon)

then it was back to toronto where i found myself extremely exhausted and practically unable to move for the next 24 hours..

i felt a little better monday and visited with family and friends, including a brief coffee with another fellow running friend who is training for his first Mississauga marathon..

now it's back home and back to the misery that awaits for me.. need to find a new job and a new apartment in the weeks ahead.. i'm also negociating myself into a very risky romantic relationship with someone that i am starting to find myself strongly attracted to, yet someone that comes with a diverse variety of additional challenges and stresses..

anyway, the running will continue, after 14 days of rest, i will be back in Mississauga to commemorate my 2 year anniversary of my very first marathon, the 2007 mississauaga marathon.. this will be my 16th official marathon in the span of 104 weeks.

those runs last week has be already thinking about time goals again.. i think i have caught the boston bug. running it once isn't enough. i want to go back! i want to do whatever it takes to get back there every year.. i want a visit to boston on patriots day to become an annual tradition for me! it will really depend on how the ankle feels, but if i think i am up for it, i will fully intend to run mississauga at 3.45.00 pace. it will be my intent to tag along with the pace bunnys for the entire day..

after mississauga, i will be returning to my original home town of halifax 7 days later to tackle the very hilly bluenose marathon, which will be a treated like a slow long distance run.. making it 5 marathons in 30 days!

after that, it will be 7 hard weeks of cardio endurance workouts that includes some running, but mostly swimming, in attempt to rest the knees and ankle yet push me to try to lose some weight.. it will also help me work on my swimming stroke as i prepare for participation in my first ever swim meet in July.. the world out games in denmark will be up next, where i will be the first person in world history to run a marathon under the banner of a 'transsexual' sex/gender category.. a race which i hope will be my best of the year. one day later, i will be doing a 1500M swim at the world out games under the banner of the same category...

after that, it will be back to more weight loss in hopes of preparing for a late fall marathon either in newfoundand or ontario, depending on where i end up working and living at that point...


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