Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ever been so close you could touch it?

Two goals stood together in a status of utmost importance. The first sat firmly on the shoulders of my driven and determined wife, Amy. Approaching her 11th marathon she has managed to reel in a dream of qualifying for the big daddy of them all - The Boston Marathon. The Cellcom marathon in Green Bay, Wisconsin was where all her chips were placed, she was "all in" and I was day dreaming from time to time about seeing the Twins play the Redsocks in Boston. Oh, and day dreaming about Amy running the marathon, of course. The long and short of it was this, we were going to Boston next year and this was going to be a weekend of celebration with family in Title Town.

The second goal was not nearly as important, but nevertheless it was a goal. I would get my revenge on the Green Bay Stump Farm course that cancelled on me the previous weekend. My plan involved at least 5 hours of single track riding in order to really put 'Big Mama' through her paces before next weekend's 12 hours of Northern Kettles.

Moving through these goals backwards I'll start with what shaped up to be an excellent day of riding. Through some type of logistical dream come true I managed to coordinate a ride with a stand up individual and exceptional rider named Ben Welnak. Ben resides near Littleton, Co, but has inlaws in Green Bay. Initially, I shot out an email to fellow racer and buddy Justin Lund about a possible meet in Green Bay. He responded with a "no", but knew a guy (Jesse Shoemaker) who might meet me. A couple of email exchanges with Jesse left me looking for some guy named "Ben" in the Stump Farm course around 10:00 a.m. on May 15th. Obviously there was very little chance I'd meet Ben so I figured a solo ride would be fine. Well, while I was stopped snapping some photos for this very post I heard a voice simply state, "are you Tim?". My response was just as simple, "are you Ben?". One hand shake later and we were ripping! I started by leading through the lap and the stumps - thus the name. The smooth, super flowy single track allowed me to test the 'Big Mama' in all ways. Feeling hooked up and good about my relationship with her I began to open up the pace. Ben seemed glued to my wheel even when I pushed into the red zone. "Hmmm, this guy can ride", I thought as I began to clip trees with my shoulders as I pushed outside my envelop of control. Unable to shake him from my wheel I began to realize this could end up being a punishing ride. Once familar with the lap Ben took the lead and began to showcase his skills in the twisty single track. He handled his 69'er like a man with experience and the horse power to back it up. I was digging deep on occasion in order to pull gaps back together. This was what I needed, 3 hours of race pace big ring riding in single track. I was happy and the ringing in my ears was letting me know that I was visiting a place I've been before - the pain cave. 30 miles later

and several great stories being told we said "thanks" and rode off our seperate ways, Ben to his car, me back for more laps. I left satisfied after 51 miles of trail and 5 hours of riding. Time to pull the plug I headed for the parking lot.

The next morning came very early as Amy pulled together last minute preps for her day. I was in full on support crew mode as I was eager to repay the favor. My instructions were clear and I knew what lie ahead...Boston....Boston... I liked seeing Amy focused on her goal and content with her training. I knew how hard she'd worked. She had that look in her eye that said, "OUTA MY WAY, I'M DOIN' THIS!!" It was cool.

Stay with the pace group, that was the plan. She'd met these experienced individuals (the day before at the expo) who've committed to giving something back to their sport by running miles that were capable of landing on the exact second mile after mile in order to offer pace to those looking for their best times or in Amy's case, a qualifying time. My job was simple, be at mile 8 for a bottle exchange, be at 16 for the same thing, then finally 22 for a check in and possible 'do whatever Amy wants at that point'. Mile 8 was a success and Amy looked fine, it was only 8 miles, she does that sleep walking. Mile 16 put a smile on my face as she came by with a jump in her step and yelled, "We're goin' to Boston baby!!" (Marathon, Twins/Redsox??...cool) I was pumped! She looked like she had just run around the block. I rode to mile 22 and waited. I whipped out my new high tech itouch and found that I was in the beloved WiFi area - I had updates from the course emailed to me. As of mile 20 Amy Fullerton was dialed to go to Boston is basically what it said. Still pumped I waited at the 22 mile marker. Soon enough I saw the pace setter coming with a cluster of runners around her. They past, Amy didn't. Whooooaaaa, wait a sec., what's going on here? Where is she, is she so far ahead of the pace group that I missed her? No, that couldn't be, something must have happened. I waited and the minutes seemed like hours as they ticked past. Then, out in the distance I saw her coming. She looked like something had been taken from her, she was hurting. I still held hope as the pace group was not that far ahead, it may be possible to close the gap. She passed and said "I'm going to P.R., but we're NOT going to Boston." In a pathetic futile attempt at support I yelled, "you can catch them, they're right around the corner." But, I knew that when the switch gets turned off, it's off. I've been there and I know that the mind wants to turn the light back on, but when it's been turned off, the sun really is down, it won't be coming back up for some time. My heart sank for her as I saw the disappointment on her face. There was nothing that could be done. I rode for the finish line and left her to her demons, she'd face them alone, the way it must be.

She turned the corner for the finishing chute and again I yelled some words of encouragment and snapped an ill timed picture resulting in Amy heading toward the Cellcom arch with no head. I was proud and disappointed like her and I knew she'd be taking it hard. Yes, there were tears and she was sad, but it wasn't 3 minutes before I heard her talking about the next marathon and how she'd play things differently, how she'd get it done next time. I was shocked as I really felt if there was a way she could have made it to the start line to do it all over right then and there she would have.

Remember, they're not goals if they're easy to get.

Good job Amy, we're all so proud of you!!
Also, congratulations to Gina Fullerton (Amy's sister) for kicking serious butt in the half!!


C-Hog said...

I don't even know you... and I have a lump in my throat after reading Tim's story. Congratulations on your effort. You are going to succeed in this goal. Just not today. Best wishes.

Jim Cummins

Charly Tri said...

I have seen Becky go through the EXACT same scenario. I know it sucks, but we all live to fight another day. It is weird as their(Becky and Amy) PR's are within a minute or two of each other. I think they need to square off against each other. We can start a wive's running race at some of the Wems races. Just as long as they wrap it up in time to do hand offs :)

Charlie Farrow said...

Wow....great read!!! Methinks a marathon is way harder than biking...Bravo

Kid Riemer said...


Sorry to hear about your disappointment, but put it behind you. It just wasn't your day...but someday (maybe next year) it will be.
Nice work out there.

Danielle Musto said...

Amy- I don't know you but I do know what it's like to be disappointed after a race. Some of my worst races have ended up being the best ones because they push me to train that much harder. You will totally qualify for the Boston marathon.
BTW...I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to run a marathon distance. I can barely get through a Lemans start without feeling like I am going to pass out!!!

Amy said...

Thank you everyone for all of the kind, supportive comments--they definitely took the sting out of my disappointment! I made a poor nutritional decision that will be fixed in time for round 2 at Grandma's Marathon on June 19th! Keep your fingers crossed for me and again, thank you!

Ben Welnak said...

Ha! Thanks for the good words!

grady said...

Amy, real sorry to hear about the near miss in Green Bay. Ah, Grandma's is next - and that means cool temps and a fast, flat course! The perfect race awaits!