Boston Or Bust!!!

Sorry it’s taken me several days to create this post, but I think I am just finally starting to settle down after the race and my thoughts are coming back around.

As many of you know, I run for Team Hoyt VB and have been for going on two years now.  Several months back, after a discussion with Dick Hoyt himself,  I was selected to be on the Team Hoyt Foundation charity team and was to be part of a 30 person group who would be running the Boston marathon with Dick and Rick Hoyt. Clearly, I was ecstatic and stoked to be selected as part of this team. Running the Boston is a dream for any serious runner…but to run Boston WITH The Hoyts is like playing one on one with Michael Jordan in his driveway. The Hoyts are legends at Boston and this year will be their 30th official Boston marathon start.

Now, everything seems great, I am on the team and all systems are a go!! Well, that was not completely the case as it turns out. Sometime in November or so, I get a call from the director of Team Hoyt saying that David McGillvary (the Boston Marathon director) wanted me and Tim (my rider athlete) to run a 3:10 or better before we were officially accepted to run the marathon. There was going to be no charity for Tim and I and if we wanted to run Boston, we had to qualify just as everyone else has to. This was perfectly fine with me and I did not forsee any issues with meeting this qualifying standard.

Now, fast forward to Janurary 18th 2012. After a tough track workout, I wake up the next day to find myself hobbling around on a very painful achilles tendon. The first thought was “OH SHIT, NOT NOW!!” I was devastated! Essentially, we had set our sites to qualify at Shamrock (March 18th). So, I tried to stay positive and thought that a couple of days off would do the trick…Well, it didn’t do the trick and I spent the next several days attempting to run, but never getting more than a mile before the pain became unbearable. What to do? I decided that in order to maintain fitness, I would rollerblade and bike like hell. So, I started putting in 100 mile weeks on the bike and 40-60 miles roller blading. I then spent the next 6 weeks doing some extensive rehab and physical therapy. For the first time, I received Graston treatments. Which, if you have not heard of, they are the most painful thing I have ever had to endure. It is basically a Physcial Therapist taking these funky looking, stainless steel tools and vigoursly grinding away all the scar tissue and “nodules” that have built up around the injured area…IT IS PURE HELL!! But, if it would get me to the starting line of Sharmock, I would grit my teeth and bare it, no matter how painful it might be.

So, after 8 weeks of intensive PT, 2-3 days running per week and a max mileage week of 24 miles, I was standing on the line, awaiting to get underway for 26.2 miles of unforgiving impact. How would my achilles hold up? I had no clue and was just hoping that it wouldn’t be a problem. I did a couple of easy runs the week of the marathon and even an easy 6 miles caused pain and stiffness..How the hell could I go for 26.2? I figured there were only two possible scenarios…One, my achilles would hurt, but I would finish the race (hopefully at 3:10 or below), or my achilles would get so bad, it would cause me to pull out somewhere on the course and forfeit my “must have” Boston qualifying time. Needless to say, I was a mental wreck. I didn’t care so much about myself or what I would have to put myself through..But, I cared immensely for Tim, his parents, Team Hoyt and all those who have donated to Team Tim over the past few months. I just COULDN’T let them down.

With all of this on my mind, the horn sounded and the race started! I took off down Atlantic and was easily clicking of 6:50 miles (much faster than my 3:10 pace). I needed to bank all the time I could early, because I knew that the wind was at my back for the first several miles and also, I didn’t know how bad the achilles would get…so if I was to have to slow my pace, I wanted as much time in the bank as possible. The first several miles went smooth, I was hitting between 6:48 and 6:53 for each split. Up to this point, no achilles issues (thank God).

As we come out of Camp Pendelton and onto General Booth, I start feeling some wind on my face, which likely meant it would be really bad on the boardwalk. Coming off the Rudee Inlet bridge, I can now feel the wind and know that I will have to slow my pace on the boardwalk, or else my legs would be toast. As I approach 10.5 and hit the boardwalk, the wind come up and punched Tim and I right in our faces. We instantly went from 6:50, to 7:30 pace! As much as the wind sucked, I kept telling myself to just get through it with as little damage as possible and then make up the time once you are aided by cover from the trees on Shore Drive.

I don’t remember much from miles 16-22, which is pretty much just all of Shore Drive and Ft. Story. This part of the course sucks (for me at least). There is minimal crowd support, and not much to distract your mind. But, just as I was coming off the base and making a left back onto Shore Drive, the crowd went crazy for Tim and I…this was the boost we needed to get us to the finish line, 4 miles away. Once on Shore, we started picking up the pace again. It was then, that for the first time I realized, barring a disaster, we just needed to maintain pace and we would have our BQ. For the next couple miles, we just cruised along, passing runners who were “hitting the wall”. As we got to mile 25, I realized that marathons always measure a good amount longer than the 26.2, especially if you haven’t been running the tangents (which with a race chair, I normally can’t do so well). I knew we had one more good mile left and that we was going for broke just in case we needed those precious few seconds. So, with all the crowd support lined up screaming at the top of their lungs for Tim and I, we decided to make one last hard effort down the boardwalk, running the last mile in 6:17 and finishing in 3:09:29!! The course, via my Garmin, measured out at 26.41. Thank God we decided to make that last mile a good one, otherwise, we wouldn’t have made it.

Looking back, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect marathon. Coincidentally, this race was my marathon PR, pushing or solo. But, for the first time, my nutrition was on point and I had no issues with hydration or electrolyte imbalances.

Looking at it now, several days removed from the race, I think it has finally hit me that I will be going to run the Boston Marathon for the first time ever. I will not only be running down a dream of my own, but I will also be a part of Tim Brown’s dream and his family’s fight to give him a normal life, with all of the same opportunities that an abled-body runner would have. If any of you might think that Tim was not aware of what was going on, well, you are DEAD WRONG!! During the marathon and during all the rough patches, Tim would raise his head upright and give out a loud scream! That was his way of telling me “You can do this Dennis, we got this”! He was connected and engaged with the race the entire time..he may not have been able to speak his feelings or thoughts, but I could sense them and it’s what kept us pushing on.

I would like to thank so many people for making this all possible. All of my HRR team and training partners for pushing me through the cold winter months, all of my Team Hoyt family, my friends, family and local running community for your constant support and belief in us. I would like to thank Dick Hoyt, Kathy Boyer, Uta Pippig and the entire Team Hoyt Boston charity team for all the encouragement, phone calls and endless support. Big thanks to Final Kick Sports for getting our race chair tweeked and set up for speed!! Also a HUGE thanks for all those who donated to Team Tim Is Going to Boston!

I would also like to give a shout out to all of you who raced Shamrock weekend…you all did amazing and should be proud of yourselves!! Last but not least, a big shout out to my training partner and friend, Thomas Hicks! As most of you who know Thomas, he has an unwavering drive and is the uncontested champ of overcoming adversity. Thomas was dealing with some issues of his own at Shamrock and despite those challenges, he still ran an impressive marathon himself. His drive, motivating attitude and persaverance helped many of us find that “little extra” in our own races. For that Thomas, I thank you!

So, three weeks and counting till Boston!! Stay tuned for post Boston recap!

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