W. CAITLIN SMITH

DOULA, PILATES, YOGA, DANCE, ART, TRAIL RUNNING

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Olympic Trials Baby!

(Photo courtesy of Scott Mason)

First off, a fire alarm is not the best way to awaken the morning of a marathon. My first response (and thank goodness I had laid everything out the previous morning) was to throw on my racing gear, pack up my stuff, and get the hell out of the hotel. This was my thinking: a. if there was in fact a fire, I was not going to miss the fucking race and b. there is no way I wanted to be climbing up 11 flights of stairs after a false alarm. So I headed out with my personal belongings and descended the stairwell along with all the other hotel occupants. ‘In the end, it definitely worked out for me. I was able to head towards the Fairmont Hotel (where the elite buses would be arriving/boarding), enjoy a bagel and peanut butter in the lobby, and then mingle a little before heading out towards the start via bus.

At the start area, my nerves and heartbeat were humming with their usual nervous energy, but I just kept reminding myself that all I needed to do was run. As I toed the line, I was excited. After a year I was getting to finally take a shot at the Trials standard. When the gun went off I reminded myself that there was no urgency and to just stay relaxed. I felt good and tried to trust my body versus the various mile splits I had written on my arm. At some point I knew every one of them was going to be four minutes faster than intended, but I still kept glancing at them. Luckily I only had them written for every five miles. I’ve typically been better at listening to my body versus numbers. Anyhow, I latched on to number 37, Kasie Enman, for a while. But after mile 15, I had become one lonesome girl and was out by myself with only the Boston suburbanites and the tarmac for company. I got some blurred vision around this point. Thank goodness for vanilla GU and the cute little kid that I high fived for bringing me back into focus. I just kept on moving one foot in front of the other.

Around mile 21, the elite men caught up with me. The noise of the sirens was a bit irritating and I got distracted. One nice bicyclist encouraged me to run the tangents and not hug the shoulder. He also confirmed that I looked strong (In fact, he found me in the tent afterwards and made a point to congratulate me! People are so great!). Other than the fact that the men made me feel like I was standing still, I found the whole experience kind of neat. Around this point I started to realize that I probably would accomplish my goal from 2010 and qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials.

But, for some reason over the next four miles I worried. What if I cramp up? What if I started too fast? What if I have to walk? What if I keel over? This is when I realized being alone has its faults. I thought of a text I had received from Heather Macfalls the night before the race, which ended by saying “you are so strong and ready.” I just kept saying that to myself. When I hit the sign saying there was a mile left, I knew that this was it. I had done what I set out to do and I was feeling strong and happy! Seeing the finish, hearing the crowd, and crossing that finish in 2:41:37 felt surreal. I was as happy as a jelly bean!

There was something that really struck me in those last ten miles. Even though I was out there running by myself I felt supported by the people I know and don’t know. The crowd carried me. Staying relaxed and trusting myself carried me. All the pre-race wishes I got from my friends and family carried me. You all carried me! I just can’t thank those that high-fived, screamed for #41 (that was me in case you were confused), who eagerly held out water for me, who loved my red shoes (or race cars according to Griffin Brown), and that clapped their hands. I can’t thank those of you that know me enough. It’s my friends and family that believe in me even when I don’t believe in myself. I am just so grateful to have the support and encouragement from you all. So yeah I guess I am getting a little sappy, but it’s true!

So what do you do after a 17+ minute marathon PR? You smile a lot. You get lots of super nice Facebook comments/messages. You can’t really sleep. You wonder how it all went by so fast. You realize you’re capable of anything if you work hard and listen. You hop on a late flight home to give your boyfriend a big hug and eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You sit here writing this blog still in awe. You have slight difficulty descending stairs. And of course, you look forward to the continuation of the journey…. Olympic Trials…. Whoohoooo!

19 comments:

Luis Velasquez said...

I followed you all the way.. I kept telling my coworkers.. I know her.. she is fucking awesome.. and you are.. Congratulations Caitlin.. you rock.

Jack Meyer said...

Caitlin, so very cool that you ran such a great race at Boston yesterday! I wish you all the best at the Olympic Trials,.....and at the Olympics...when you get there! :)
Cheers,
Jack Meyer

Ann said...

Wow! Congrats!! Super excited for you. I have no idea when the Olympic Trials are, but you should add it to your list of races on your home page.

JYC said...

Congrats Caitlin! But make sure the Trials don't make you forgetting the Trails! CU soon

George Ruiz said...

So awesome and so humble. Congrats; I know you will kill it at the trails.

bjs said...

Wonderful!

Gordon said...

Congrats, Caitlin! YOu are a rock star.

Sarah Lavender Smith said...

Great writeup! Haven't heard a simile quite so enjoyable (happy as a jelly bean) in a while :-)
I love the fact you didn't complain about the fire alarm or let it rattle you -- you kept it positive, which set the tone for the whole race. I also loved how you latched onto the mantra "you are so strong and ready"and felt the crowd support carry you. Goes to show how much the mental state matters during a run. You did so well -- Big congratulations!!

Drs. Cynthia and David said...

So happy for you! Way to recover from injury, stronger than ever!

Cynthia

Eugenia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eugenia said...

Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

More great photos of you here. Select Boston Marathon 2011 Gallery.
http://www.scottmasonphoto.com/galleries

Congratulations on a great run!

btb1490 said...

Congratulations on your awesome run in Boston! I saw you in the lobby of the Westin that morning eating your peanut butter bagel, and thought "there's someone who looks like they are in the zone and ready to run well." And that you did!

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Anonymous said...

Caitlin, congratulations on your stellar time - you look great in the photos. So happy for you!
Susan Nuzum

Anonymous said...

Caitlin- I noticed you are sponsored by Saltlick. Do you take any capsules during the marathon, before? I just purchased a bottle of 30 for longer races this summer...just curious. I normally run with table salt in a teeny weeny container and put a pinch on my tongue every 10 miles or so in a race. Thanks! Jen

trailturtle said...

["It’s my friends and family that believe in me even when I don’t believe in myself."]
You should NEVER not believe in yourself. Your journey over the past couple of years proves that. Case closed.

Because you had the mental toughness to get through the injury issue and then be disciplined with training and then have the courage to start and finish this goal race, despite your admitted self-doubts and questions about lingering physical imbalances, I believe that your gift will carry you farther (and faster) than you think.

I thought Boston would be a good course for you. I hope that you felt as good as you looked--you looked comfortable and maintained good form throughout the race...you will do well at the Trials.
Run well and have fun, Ann

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

finally found time to read this. yes, crowd support can be a great thing. but of course it was all you. so glad you've recovered!

wcaitlin said...

Hi Jen! I do take Salt Stick for sure! Before and after Boston I took one. During ultras I take one every hour!