Saluting my running Hero, Noel Wells!
The following post is dedicated to one of my closest friends, Noel Wells, AKA SuperNoel! She qualified for the Boston Marathon in a BLAZING time of 3:35:41 in the Twin Cities Marathon. I’ve been broadcasting it to family and friends like a proud mother, now it’s time to tell the blogging running world of her amazing feat. Below is a picture of Noel and myself in Boston over the 4th of July 2008. I’m now eagerly anticipating her return to Boston in April, this time to run the Boston Marathon on April 19th 2010.
To give you some background, Noel and I met in college. We were on the swim team together and were always friends, but really bonded and became closer over senior year. I’m not sure why, but we did, and we had a great time training and racing together. Noel has always been a fiercely dedicated person, whether it was school work, swimming, running or a guy she was interested in; she threw her whole heart and soul into something until she saw the results she desired. That’s probably why we’re such good friends and get along so well-we’re like two peas in a pod of intensity. When we both graduated from college we hung up our swim suits and turned to running. I knew both of us wouldn’t do anything half assed, but would really focus on our challenges and labor through hours of training. We talked about it all, the training plans, the blisters, early mornings and even awkward bathroom breaks.
Our first marathons both proved successful. I finished NYC in 4:16, a time I was happy with and Noel was one of the first people I texted with the news. In January, Noel then ran the Disney marathon at a breakneck pace. As she ran, I sat in bed on a cold and snowy Sunday morning in Boston watching her splits on my lap top as if I were watching the peak of action in a suspense flick. Her projected time kept getting faster, and faster, something that I surely thought must be a technological error. But no, she really was negative splitting A MARATHON. I sat in bed and rooted for her and texted her as soon as she finished in 4:03:15, quite the achievement for someone who set her sights on a 4:30 goal time! Post marathon, we chatted about how we both had so much gas left in the tank at the end of each of our races, what we would change etc. It was official, we had both biten by the Marathon bug, there was no turning back.
Fast forward to this spring, we both signed up for fall races: I signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon on October 25th 2009 in Washington D.C. and she signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota on October 4th. We both decided to try the same training program, in hopes to improve our times. I set my sights high, with a reach goal of possibly qualifying for Boston, but being careful to stay self aware that shaving nearly 36 minutes off my time was not an easy task. Instead, I decided to focus on either breaking four hours, or getting as close as possible.
Noel, however, narrowed in on the goal to qualify for Boston and kept her eyes on the prize for the entire 4 months of training. Living in Florida, she would sometimes wake up at 4:30am in order to get a run in before the hot summer humidity and sweltering heat enveloped her neighborhood. On top of battling possible heat stroke on a daily basis, she dealt with a pulled hamstring, Plantar Fasciitis, stomach issues, ankle pain as well as general soreness from running an excessive amount of mileage week after week. I had my battles as well, general soreness, stomach pains during long runs, chest and breathing issues etc. Yet, we took it all in stride and prevailed-that’s what marathoners do, right?
Fast forward to the most crucial part of training, the last 6 weeks, and Noel was ripping things up! She was emailing me telling that she was running at a 8:20 or quicker pace and felt great! I, on the other hand, was beginning the grow bored with training and skipped a 20 mile run in favor of relaxing on the beach in Nantucket (I am not proud of this, but I do not regret it.) I stuck loosely to my plan, but I wasn’t as fiercely focused as I once was. I was drifting away from my roots of intensity, and constantly thought ” I just want my life back!”
Then, Sunday October 4th rolled around. It was the morning of my LAST 20 mile training run–it was cloudy and overcast. I wasn’t terribly psyched about it, but hey–it had to be done! At the same time that I was running, Noel was racing against the clock in Minneapolis in her quest to qualify for Boston. I thought of her often throughout the race channeling her intensity and dedication into my 20 mile run all over the city of Boston. When I finished I was exhausted, but the elation from being done with my last 20 miler took over and canceled out the pain.
Then, I checked my phone. My in Box read: New Message from Noel Wells. I eagerly clicked on it and it simply said “I’m coming to Boston!” A wave of excitement and pride came over me, I screamed to everyone in my apartment, “Noel qualified for BOSTON!!” I quickly logged online and checked her time, 3:35:41–AMAZING. I couldn’t stop talking about her amazing accomplishment, and it was with good reason. Qualifying for Boston is something that runners obsess over, many for their entire lives. Sadly, many of those never succeed in this goal. Now, my friend accomplished elusive achievement in her second marathon…ever.
I knew she could accomplish this, but now looking at the hard fact that she had done it was mind blowing. 3:35–THAT IS FREAKING FAST!
My pride and excitement for my friend never wore off, and I’d like to thank her for rejuvenating my intensity for accomplishing my own goals in the Marine Corps Marathon this Sunday. I now feel centered and focused on the race, my old lazy “I just want my life back” self is gone. I’m in it for the long haul, a PR no matter what it takes! I’m not trying to qualify for Boston, but instead just record a personal best, which I KNOW I can accomplish. Super Noel–thanks for everything, I will be channeling your amazing performance at Twin Cities this Sunday!
Oh, and I already have your reservation booked at my apt for Patriot’s Day Weekend. 🙂