Thursday, April 18, 2013

Boston Marathon 2013

Laura with stroller on the way to the expo.
The Boston Marathon has always been about celebration for me. It is a 26.2 mile long party with 25,000 of your friends and another 750,000 friends-for-a-day lining the course. It is an achievement to get to Boston so it is a celebration of hard work and a day to enjoy the crowds. Other than last year, I always ran the whole thing with someone else and at a slower pace than my qualifying time. That is not to say that it isn't painful at the end. One thing I have learned over the years is that a marathon always comes down to pushing through the pain and tired legs at the end, no matter what pace I have run it at.

This year I was excited to be running it with my niece, Laura. I had run the 2011 Harrisburg Marathon with her and she had qualified there with a 3:28. This was her first Boston Marathon. She had just had her first child at the end of December so she had less than four months to get back in marathon shape, which is pretty incredible. We were staying in my Uncle's apartment in Jamaica Plain (JP) so we met there on Saturday evening around 8pm. She, of course, had husband Randy, daughter Eliana, and a ton of baby stuff with her.

Future Boston runner.
She'll grow into the shirt.
Sunday morning I went downtown to watch the mile races that the Boston Athletic Association always holds. After the races, Laura, Randy and Eliana met me and we went to the expo to get our race bags. We didn't stay long because it is crowded and the stroller didn't fit in so well amongst all the people. We caught the "T" back to JP and ate lunch at the City Feed & Supply, a nice grocery deli that sells natural foods. I really enjoy the area around my Uncle's apartment. There are a bunch of nice cafes, little grocery stores and good places to walk. We ate supper at Bertucci's and a big plate of spaghetti and bread made me happy.

Laura and I discussed having Randy drive us out to Hopkinton so we could avoid getting up so early to catch the marathon buses to the start. I kind of thought Laura should get the whole Boston Marathon experience, which includes waiting in bus lines and the long ride to Hopkinton, and I felt bad about having Randy and the baby drive us all the way out there and wait in traffic to get back. We decided to leave the apartment at 6:30am, take the T into Boston Common and get the buses. This was later than what I normally leave, which concerned me a little. I knew Laura has a different concept of time than what I do so I decided to just go with Laura time.

Great Uncle Jeff (I don't feel that old)
tickling some piggies.
We got off the subway at Chinatown and came across huge lines for the buses. The half an hour earlier that I normally arrive apparently makes a huge difference. We were walking through the common trying to decide what line to get in when we heard our name called out. There were good friends of ours, who I was hoping to run into at some point, Sonya Weber-Peters and Dwight Yoder and families. We chatted with them and this helped to pass the time as the line slowly got shorter.

We eventually got to the buses and got to Hopkinton. The Athlete's Village was jam-packed and the port-a-potty lines were huge but we had to take care of business. After finally getting through those lines, we didn't have to wait long at all before we had to leave and start the walk down to the starting line. As we were heading out, we ran in to my friend and co-worker Sarah Farrant and her virtual friend in their matching running skirts. We quickly said "hi" but we were running late and I knew it would be close to the start of the second wave when we got there. We got into our corral and within two minutes we were underway. I usually eat a bagel and banana at the Athlete's Village before the start but I hadn't had time to do it this time so I was a little worried about not having enough to eat. The Boston start time of 10:00/10:20/10:40am is always a difficult one to handle, nutritionally.

6:15am race morning.
It was a great morning to run and we settled into an 8:20ish pace. At mile 5 I saw guys holding out pizza so I ran over and got a piece. It was kind of gross but I felt better to have something in my stomach since 6am. The crowds all along the route were the normal great crowds of Boston. There is nothing else like it that I have experienced. The walls of sound at Wellesley and Boston College are incredible. I get so much energy from the people, especially the little kids holding out their hands to slap the runners "five."

I started to feel Laura's pace slow before we got to Newton (mile 15ish). I asked her if she was feeling okay and she said "what difference does it make?" Her legs were feeling sore but otherwise was okay (did I mention she just had baby at the end of December). I was feeling good; there wouldn't be any bonking today. After cresting Hearbreak Hill we just had the last 5 miles of what is my least favorite part of the route. Here our pace slowed more. This part of the course contains some downhill and flat sections, with a little uphill mixed in, but it just seems so long and difficult, probably because of where it is in the race. We eventually turned onto Boylston where more loud cheering greeted us and hit the finish in 3:47, an excellent effort for being less than 4 months post-pregnancy (Laura, not me).

After getting our food and bags, we headed for the subway for the trip back to JP. It was then that the day turned tragic. We heard a loud BOOM, followed shortly by another one. My first thought was "that  doesn't sound good" but there wasn't anything that we could see and Laura was struggling a bit to walk to we continued to the subway and got on it. A lady on the subway was talking on her cell phone and said something bad had happened downtown. When we got back we turned on the news and watched the bombing story unfold.

Originally we were going to stay over Monday night but we eventually decided to pack up and leave that night. Officials were encouraging people to leave town and they basically shut off downtown, including the T. It is unimaginable to me that someone would plant bombs amongst random people and set them off. I'm not going to go into a political rant because we don't know yet who did it and why. For now, suffice it to say that there are some cowardly people in the world that really don't deserve to be part of the human race. I am sure the marathon will live on and will continue to fill up. It is impossible to stop the kind of nonsense that occurred Monday but that won't stop the celebration of life and health that is the marathon.

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