Friday, December 27, 2013

A Nedlo Family Christmas Run

My dad, John Nedlo, henceforth referred to as J-Ned, had but one meager wish this Christmas: to rewrite, make that rerun, history. You see, J-Ned has undertaken the famed Boston Marathon two times with, shall we say, unsatisfactory results. He unwittingly picked two of the hottest years on record, '03 and '05 (not quite as steamy as '12, but close enough), and as a result ended up semi-coherently Gallowalking his way straight into the medical tent both times. To my knowledge, his finish line photos don't include the celebratory hand-holding of two Fuel Belt-clad Team in Training participants like someone's who shall remain nameless (but rhymes with Schmallen Schrickland) and whose epic and almost literal meltdown is chronicled here, but I'm pretty sure in '05 I spent the better part of two hours frantically darting up and down the crowded Back Bay streets calling everyone on my emergency contact list only to discover J-Ned slumped up against the side of a random building awaiting the sweet, sweet embrace of death.

This is not J-Ned. But it is my favorite Boston finish line photo of all time.

So anyhow, back to Christmas present. J-Ned wanted redemption, or at minimum a pleasant, memorable stroll up and down the Newton hills, through Brookline and down Commonwealth before hanging right on Hereford, left on Boylston. I was happy to oblige, and even snapped some pics along the way seeing as he's long since burned the official race photographs from the aforementioned attempts. And though he's allegedly sworn off marathons, I wouldn't be surprised if J-Ned makes one more trek from Hopkinton before hanging up his shoes for good. Maybe next year Santa will bring him a new, shiny BQ!

J-Ned ready to roll at the Newton fire station, mile 17.2-ish

One John posing with another

Taking a quick break before we tackle the final hill

One to go!
Finished! And potential future father/daughter Christmas card photo

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Down in the Valley

I've attempted to write a long-overdue blog update at several different points during the past few weeks. First, I wanted to post about my final days of training and tapering (otherwise known as "running a little, eating a lot and drinking even more wine") leading up to CIM. After comfortably securing my 2016 Trials qualifier, I planned to summarize my experience and emotions as I've done after my other marathons and significant finishes. Lastly, I'd hoped to regale you with how much I've been enjoying my down time in the days since, sampling an extra dessert here and a fumbled smack of the snooze button there. Trust me, it was going to be riveting. But in the handful of times I've had the opportunity to sit down in front of the computer to address my tens of readers, I've allowed myself instead to get distracted by things like the world's most amazing Wal-Mart "portrait studio" Christmas card photos. (Although, in my defense, can you blame me? This is redneck gold!)

Because, truth be told, I don't really feel up to the mental and emotional challenge of writing about any of that. It's something I've always done with a celebratory spirit, as if chronicling the experience is a reward in itself, something pleasurable to savor. I can't tell you how many times I re-read my own Philly entry last year, if for no other reason than to continually remind myself that I had, in fact, actually done it. (And also to double- and triple-check for typos, seeing as I was about two-thirds tucked into a bottle of wine at first writing.) 

But as I'm typing this, I don't have a whole hell of a lot to celebrate as far as running is concerned. Our entire lives, we're fed platitudes like "You can be anything you want to be!" (says the person who's never seen me dribble a basketball) and "If you work hard and persevere, you'll always achieve your goals!" (Also: "don't do drugs" and "stay in school," a directive that half my high school class seems to have disregarded.) Well, I worked pretty damn hard this time around, and at the moment I don't have much to show for it. To get even more depressingly specific, I have very little in the way of quantifiable, tangible results to show for this entire year of running. I haven't recorded a single PR (except for 8k, but that was summarily filed in the "made up distances that no one cares about" folder) nor can I name any specific race about which I feel particularly proud. Had I spent the entire year taking a pastry class or toilet training my cat (yes, despite the fact that she lacks opposable thumbs, SkyMall tells me this is a thing that is possible) or learning a new language, I would've probably emerged with a greater return on my time investment, mais oui?

Riding the high after Philly, there was simply no conceivably logical chain of events other than me running faster the next time around. I would train just as hard, race just as smart, ideally not have to take a very public bathroom break on the side of the road, and continue my solid progression away from sub-sub-elite and toward the coveted A-standard of 2:37. It sounds naive to say out loud, but I truly didn't think there was any way for this not to happen. And yet, for myriad and varied reasons which don't actually matter to the finishing clock, it simply didn't. I made it through halfway relatively on pace while trying to ignore an increasingly persistent tightness and limited range of motion in my (frozen) left hip and glute. Could I have finished? I'm sure. But anyone who reads this blog knows I've never been interested in a participant ribbon.

So at this juncture, instead of turning up the emo music and dwelling on all the things I didn't accomplish at CIM, allow me to present you with a few notable positive memories of the past few weeks via everyone's favorite blogging device, the photo montage. And rest assured, though behind all the flippant self-deprecating banter my frustration is genuine and I've indulged in a few ugly cries, I'm still as determined as ever. My next step is yet to be decided, but I can only move forward.

Jordan celebrating Thanksgiving in Ohio with mom, brother, sisters, aunts, cousins

Jealous of my hairstyle? I have a very exclusive stylist (pictured to my right)

Post-Black Friday Cincinnati shopping nourishment

My CIM roomie, Brett, reliving her epic finish from 2010

Post-race libations at the ready in the elite hospitality suite

Caitlin and Brett deep in concentration while decorating their water bottles

Thanks to Nuun Hydration for the support and the sweet black ops bottles!

Pre-race early bird special dinner with Caitlin, Jeannette and Brett

About as photogenic as it gets at 4:30 on race morning. Note to self: My Craft reflective headband works and doubles as a neck warmer.

Post-race afterpartay: a bunch of speedy marathon finishers, plus me and Jordan
Want to hear more from people who actually finished the race and qualified for the Trials? Then get up in Caitlin's and Drew's blogs. Until next time, we can all live vicariously through them.