Click Below for Race Splits
2008 Boston Marathon
Visualize. You know over the years, I have talked about visualizing success a lot in EBJ with respect to bowhunting. Expecting success, working tirelessly to perform in crunch time, giving nothing less than your very best is the #1 way bowhunters achieve their dreams. Anything is possibleâ€¦dreams can become reality to the goal orientated hunter. This fact is proven time and time again in the rugged mountains of the west each and every Fall.
This past Monday, I put the visualization theory to task, not on the hunt, but on the run. Many of you know the common thread that runners and hunters share. To be successful in each discipline requires many of the same attributesâ€¦commitment, dedication and above all, hard damn work. Endurance events like marathons or ultra marathons ratchet this commitment up another level. Much like backcountry bowhunting. Let me explain. To run a 10k, you can prepare by running a few miles a day, three days a week. It is really not that tough. To run a marathon, you should be running 5 or 6 days a week, 7 â€“ 10 miles a day on average, with long runs occasionally over 20 miles. There is nothing easy about that, which is the draw. Easy seldom makes memories. Similarly backcountry bowhunting is not something you do successfully on a whim. Many have tried and many have failed. But, to those who have ramped up what they expect of themselves in the mountains, geared their training to maximize every ounce of their ability and ultimately find success, well, it is a powerful experience to say the least. To some, life changing. All I have to do is look in the mirror to see an example of what I am referring to. You see, I was the 10k guy.
Until a few years ago a 10k was the furthest Iâ€™d ever run. Then, I consciously made the decision to have my off-season training match my hunting in terms of intensity. I expect a lot of myself in the backcountry and I figured the best way to prepare for the difficult challenge of mountain bowhunting would be to put myself through hell training during the spring and summer. â€œCry in training, laugh in battle,â€ pretty much sums up my newly defined approach to excel in the sport that is my passionâ€¦.bowhunting. Back to my pointâ€¦.
The night before the Boston Marathon I was out to dinner with a couple friends from Under Armour --- Anne Bonney and Shawn Oshea and of course we were talking about the race, and our goals, over a couple big plates of carbs. Incidentally, I love the night before a race because as most endurance racers know it is time to carb load and beings that I love eating and I love carbs this is a special time for me. While loading I said, â€œYou know, here is what I want to doâ€¦I want to find Lance Armstrong, try to hang with him as long as I can, hopefully 10 miles or so, get a few pictures of us running together to pass down as heirlooms, and if all goes well, find an extra gear at the end of the race to maybe squeak over the line just ahead of him.â€ I think Anne and Shawn busted up laughing. If they didnâ€™t they should have. I probably laughed too. I mean Lance? Come on. He is an Icon, an endurance racing legend and while he is fairly new to marathons, he is an Olympic medal winner, 7-time Tour de France champion, the greatest endurance athlete of all-time, and really coming into his own running. At his last marathon, New York, he ran faster (2 hours 46 minutes) than I ever have for 26.2 miles. His goal for Boston was in the 2:40s. Probably too lofty for me at this stage of my training for the year, coming off of show season and lots of travel makes it difficult to get in the miles. Plus, I am just a backcountry bowhunter from Oregon, four years Lanceâ€™s senior. The numbers werenâ€™t really adding up for my dream to come true, but this didnâ€™t stop me. I was at my visualizing best and you know, the mind is a powerful tool.
Race morning dawned bright and early. Dwight Schuh and I, who were sharing a room (yup, another too cool to believe experience for this western bowhunterâ€¦Dwight has been one of my bowhunting heroes forever) got up had some pre-race oatmeal and threw on the running gear, me rocking Mossy Oak Under Armour, ready to hit the streets of Boston. Actually, I should clarify. We shared a bed! When checking in the hotel, I asked the desk clerk, â€œSo, what is there two queen beds in our room?â€ â€œNope, one king,â€ he replied, eyeing me and Dwight. Nice. Apparently, the hotel we stayed at had one bed in every room, so changing rooms wasnâ€™t an option and there were no roll-aways available. Let me just say, sleeping was cozy.
At the start I could see Lance way up ahead, on the line with the elite runners. There were thousands of people in between he and I so I would have some work to do to find him if I could catch up. But I was feeling goodâ€¦more confident than normal. A few miles into the race I had Lance Armstrong, the Lance Armstrong in my sights. I couldnâ€™t believe it. I caught up to his group and settled in at their pace. It was actually a little slower than I would normally start, but then again, I always start too fast, blow up and find myself scratching, clawing and hurting like hell just to finish. I am not a smart marathoner. Lanceâ€™s pacers where dialing him right in on a steady pace. I figured, unlike me, they likely had a solid strategy. At about mile 14 we started to get into some hills. Lanceâ€™s pacers were gone from what I could tell, but he was still hammering away. He actually picked it up pretty good. Looking back now I see that he ran his second half almost 3 minutes faster than his first half, which is amazing given all the hills that dominate the last 13.1 miles of the Boston course. He is a monster going up the hills and I found myself not able to keep pace. I was hurting bad and really beating myself up. I couldnâ€™t believe, here I was with the chance to run with Lance Armstrong and I was going to let him pull away, leaving me back with the masses of runners. Faceless strangers to meâ€¦ I made the decision to go down in flames if I was going to. I picked it up and started running as hard as I could to try and close the gap. My legs didnâ€™t have much snap,Â they felt heavy, but by God I was slowly catching up. Finally, I was back on his heels just in time for the toughest hills on the course. He would power up the hills, leaving me a little, then we would top out and I would catch back up as it seemed like I could run the downhills easier than he could. At about mile 19 we climbed a fairly substantial grade and Lance said, â€œWas that Heartbreak?â€ I said no, Heartbreak is still a couple miles out. Mile 21. He said, â€œThen what the hell was that?â€ I didnâ€™t know, but it hurt.
We stayed together, or close, exchanging a few short comments back and forth along the way as we clicked off the miles. Running was easier now. I definitely had my second wind. I read a break down on-line someone did, no idea who, regarding mine and Lanceâ€™s second half of Boston. Very interesting stuff.
The fans were loud. Amazingly loud. Almost deafening. They would see him coming and go crazy. He has got to be one of the most recognizable faces in the world these days, which had people in a frenzy. At the water stations, each volunteer would excitedly try to be the one to hand Lance a cup of water. I must have heard fans that lined the course yell, â€œLance!â€ 10,000 times as we ran through the city. For me, it was surreal. Lance has not only been a inspiration to millions all over the world, but to me as well. I am so grateful to have had the chance to run beside a legend. A man who overcame so much, stared death in the face and battled back to be the very best. It is an experience I will never forget. For the last few miles there was a motorcycle with a cameraman on the back, filming every one of Lanceâ€™s steps. Fans were reaching out. I imaged it probably reminded him of the Tour deâ€™ France. That is what it reminded me of from the footage Iâ€™ve seen on TV. Here is a video account of the race from a TV station back in Boston.
At about 3 minutes and 21 seconds of the footage Lance points to me, as crazy as it sounds, it was sort of likeÂ we formed a psuedo-bond while running the marathon. I pointed back, then headed over and shook his hand, telling him it was an honor to run with him. In regard the bond I mentioned, we were out of our comfort zone, and maybe he used me weaving through the runners as motivation in some respects? Maybe not? I tried to share some positive comments with him as we closed in. I obviously used his presence to help me. It seems like during those long, tough races where I am challenging my body, bonds can be formed in an amazingly short amount of time. Much like on a backcountry hunt I guess? I can tell you, my closest friends are guys who I have shared a campfire with in the mountains. Faced adversity together, shared the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory together. It is in such a setting that you really learn who a person really is. No faking it in the mountains on a long hunt. Same goes for a marathon. In many ways it reminds me of a line from Shakespeareâ€™s Henry V, "He who shed his blood with me, shall be my brother."
In the end, as we headed down the home stretch, I dug deep and pulled away a little. Amazingly, I ended up coming in a few seconds ahead of Lance. It was a beautiful day in Boston. After Dwight came acrossed the line we sat in the street, talked of the race and took some photos. I felt very content and incidentally, olâ€™ Dwight did awesome. Still canâ€™t believe he is 62! He is a machine. Dwight used a little visualization of his own. After pounding out 25 tough miles, he knocked out a 8 minute 25 second final mile to break fours hours in his first Boston Marathon! Congrats my friend. That is impressive. Dwight told me at that stage, every single step was a painful effort, but he still gutted it out and logged a pretty dang fast mile.
I then had to hustle off to the airport to get back to the family. I was excited to talk with those at home about the race. After checking in at the airport, I dug my phone out, checked emails, listen to voicemails and was overwhelmed. I couldnâ€™t believe how many people saw the footage of me and Lance running together. Versus covered the race and after the elite men and women were done, the main story was Lance, so the camera was locked on him, and me by default. The most welcomed of all the voicemails was from my wife, Tracey. Thick with emotion she said, â€œCam, I am watching you on TV right now and I canâ€™t believe it. You are running stride for stride with Lance and I just want to tell you how good you look, how strong you are running and how proud I am of you. I have tears welling up in my eyes watching you because I know how hard you have worked to do what you are doing right now. Call me.â€ That was the sweetest, most heartfelt message I have ever received. I stood there in the airport, among the bustle,Â abosrbing every single word she said, shaking my head thinking what a lucky manÂ I am. Thank you Tracey. Later, she told me Truett, my youngest son, just sat on the couch and watched me on TV, running on the other side of the United StatesÂ alonside Lance,Â with a big smile on his beaming face, not saying a word.
Keep working hard guys. And know, ANYTHING is possible if you BELIEVE!