Meet 45 year old Paul Bolychevtsev from Burlington, VT. Periodically Paul shows his smiling face in the RunVermont office to share his excitment about his training runs or his half marathon runs …. Yay Paul!
I have been clean and sober for almost 8 years. For most of my life I have struggled with a variety of addictions. I have an addictive personality with almost everything in my life. These days if I find that I have less than 2 half gallons of ice cream in my freezer, I get edgy. Okay so ice cream for me isn’t necessarily a harmful addiction. But one of the worst I’ve ever encountered is cigarettes. For most of my life I have smoked roughly 2 packs per day. I have often struggled to quit.
On March 27, 2011 I succeeded. I knew will power alone would help me stay quit for only so long. Ultimately I would have to find a vice, preferably a healthy one. On May 10, 2011 I began running. I recall how back then 3 miles was my short run, and 6 miles my long. In October of 2011 I ran the GMAA Half Marathon as 2 of my friends ran the full. It was the first time I had ever seen a full marathon live. I found myself inspired by the marathon runners, from the first to cross the finish line to the last.
I decided I wanted to do something to inspire others. I wanted to run a marathon, and I wanted to qualify for Boston. I wanted to be able to tell others experiencing self doubt with something in their lives that anything at all is possible if you work hard enough at it. I wanted to be able to say, “Hey I quit smoking, started running and a year later qualified for the Boston Marathon. Believe me, you can do this!”
I began training for my first marathon, KBVCM 2012. I trained hard and long. Slowly but surely the miles increased more and more. I was extremely lucky that as we all know, the winter was extremely mild. By New Years Day 2012, I had already logged two 17 milers, a 19 miler and a 20 miler. I progressed rather quickly. By marathon day I had logged in 3 more long runs, ranging between 21-23 miles.
I put in the work, logged in the miles and sought input from others. Other than gaining an unexpected friend and trainer, one of the most valuable parts of my training was the Thursday 6:00PM group runs sponsored by Ski Rack. Also after 6 isolating long runs, I finally wised up for my last one and dragged my butt out of bed and joined the Sunday 8:00AM GMAA group run. I had friends and family supporting me both on and off the course. I was ready!
My qualifying time for Boston is 3:25:00, a 7:50 pace. The horn sounded and I was off. It was the first time I ever succeeded in not starting a race too fast. It helped that I started with the 3:30 pace group. I didn’t stay with them very long. I was feeling too good. Everything was going perfectly, from my breathing to my pace. By the time I reached Oakledge Park, I was dead on. I couldn’t believe how perfectly the stars were aligned.
Around mile 14 going down the bike path, I started feeling cramps in my calves. They very quickly got worse. Sometimes I was able to stretch them out and continue running. Other times just lifting my legs to stretch caused me excruciating pain. I had not consumed nearly enough electrolytes, and had a severe sodium depletion. By around miles 18-20, I was so exhausted I could no longer run upright. I ran like a zombie trying to catch its last meal. Alas Boston 2013 was not in the cards for me.
I remember the medics periodically during the last several miles down the north end of the bike path. Occasionally they would voice their concerns to me. I had to refuse their assistance. I couldn’t stop! I worked hard for this for 8 long months. I just had to cross the finish line. As I approached the final bend by the waterfront, pride took over and I found myself once again running upright. My planned sprint across the finish line ended up being a quick hobble. But at 3:52:35 I crossed and immediately collapsed from exhaustion.
If you find yourself wanting or needing inspiration, the best thing I can tell you is look with admiration at the folks of RunVermont as well as the countless volunteers and medical personnel who gave of themselves so freely. Stop by Ski Rack any Thursday at 6:00PM or the GMAA group run on Sundays at 8:00AM, and I promise you you’ll find at least one other runner to inspire you. And if you’re lucky, you may inspire one of them in the process.
I have to admit I have once again acquired an addiction. See you at KBVCM 2013!!!
Paul L. Bolychevtsev