Sunday, August 18, 2013

Boston Qualifying, I Don't Think So... Oh Well

I am good at teaching class at Leader Dog, I am pretty good at buying a fixer-upper house and fixing up what I can and finding people to do the fixing that I can't do, I am really good at packing up my house to move, I am good at training new dogs... but apparently I am NOT good at doing those things and training for a Boston qualifier. In fact, my training has pretty much sucked. (And my blog writing has COMPLETELY sucked, so bad that I don't know if it will ever recover or not.)

First of all, class. Class ran from July 7 through August 1. My only day off in that whole time span was July 31. Days in class were very long. I lived in the dorm at Leader and had to get up and take care of my own dogs first thing in the morning, then work with my students from 7:15 in the morning till at least 4:30 in the afternoon, then take care of my dogs again and give them some decent exercise since they were spending so much time locked up in the kennel. So it was at least 5:30 by the time I could even think about exercising. (And that was if I wasn't on duty, which I was six nights, which meant that I worked with my students till 8:00 at night.) Even with those long days, though, I did okay in class. No long runs, but I worked out more days then not, and lost almost ten pounds by telling the kitchen crew at Leader not to feed me anything but fruit, vegetables, and egg whites. That diet plus the stress of teaching class and doing all the work necessary to make sure my students were happy and safe with their new guide dogs made it not that hard to lose weight. And losing weight makes me able to run faster. So I figured with one month between the end of class and the marathon, I still had a shot.

But then... the house. This is a really nice house, BUT. It was owned by a cat lady, not updated in probably 30 years, vacant for two years, mouse-infested, and I could go on. I bought it because the mortgage is half what I'm paying for rent and because its backyard literally opens into a nature preserve with a paved exercise path running through it. In other words, a giant backyard that I don't have to mow. It's an awesome house. Mom came out a few days before the end of class to work on the house while I was in class. That was the idea. But closing was delayed over a week. So we couldn't do anything on the house at all. Stress, stress, stress. Then when closing finally happened we had four and a half days to work (which is what I did with my week off after class). Mom worked 12-17 hour days every day, doing nasty stuff like ripping up carpet and sitting in puddles of carpet adhesive remover scraping up adhesive that was older than me. I didn't work as many hours but that was because I had to keep going home and letting the dogs out periodically. I bleached walls and pulled up tack strips (exposing crumbling asbestos tiles, which will probably kill me but hopefully not for a while, till I've had time to enjoy the house and make it worthwhile). I also had to find a floor guy (Home Depot wouldn't touch it because of the asbestos), painters, and electrician, a handyman, duct cleaners, et cetera, all of which required phone calls and appointments, things I hate. It was obvious from Day One that this house was going to suck up all my energy and time if I wanted to move in by the end of the month and that doing all this work would only be possible if I was fueled by junk food. ("If we finish bleaching all the walls, tonight we can eat dinner at Ram's Horn at midnight when we're done.") Without junk food, there is no way I could have done all this work. So I have probably gained back all the weight I lost in class. I'm afraid to look and my scale is packed.

I came back to work this past Monday and got new dogs. In four months these dogs will be well-trained guide dogs, but right now working with them feels like I'm steer wrestling in a rodeo. What's stronger than a 14-month-old Lab who weighs 80 pounds and was used to living with a family but is now living in the kennels and getting about 10% of the exercise he's used to getting? Nothing! I finish work every day profoundly tired from working with these dogs and barely able to find the energy to walk my own dogs, let alone go home and work on the house some more, let alone work out.

Since the Ann Arbor Marathon in early June, I've done ONE long run. And that one was only 18 miles. And it wasn't Boston qualifying pace. It was close, but not that close. My shorter runs, anything under half-marathon distance, have all been where they should be pace-wise, but I am ready to collapse when I finish them and know I won't be able to keep that pace for a whole marathon. Maybe I should be more upset about this -- I really would have loved to do Boston with WOG people next year -- but I'm not really that upset at all. The way I think about qualifying for Boston -- for me, anyway -- is that for me to do it, I have to be at a point in my life where I am able to prioritize Boston training over everything else. I just plain am not at that point right now. Nothing is more important than teaching class and giving my students all of my energy, time, and focus, and now that class is over, well, I have to be out of this house and into that house by the end of the month, and I don't have enough money to pay someone to do all that for me, so.... if I don't do it, no one will. I can't just put those things on hold to get my mileage done. So I am just going to look forward to seeing people in New Jersey when I go to the marathon, having a nice run, hanging out with Joan before and after the race, and getting another state done. I guess it's not impossible that I could qualify, but I think it's highly unlikely and even if I did, it would be by the skin of my teeth, which wouldn't even be enough to get me in most likely.

Oh well. I can still go to Boston next year and be a spectator while my awesome fast friends from Tucson run it!