So, remember that time I ran the Boston Marathon? It was a while ago, right? Yeah, I’m just now getting around to writing about it.
I think I went through a period of mourning after the marathon ended. I had spent so much energy, so much focus, devotion, fanaticism, insanity, aches, pains, early mornings, late nights, burgers, and miles and miles, and miles preparing for it, that once it was gone I felt, well, a little lost. The structure of my weeks disintegrated, my Saturday mornings started less and less early. Despite continuing to run…it just… wasn’t the same. But! I’m planning on running a fall marathon, and with the summer has come early morning runs with the sunrise and later night runs with the sunset. I’m gearing up again, and it feels good!
The marathon is a memory now. But, even while it was happening, it felt like a memory – something distant yet real. I went to the expo with Ally and Kathleen and had a blast, even found a new running theme: the epic 7 minute long opus by Hot Like Sauce called Pretty Lights (I suggest you take a listen sometime). I even overpaid for a pint marathon pint glass that we all immediately took to the Atlantic Beer Garden and filled with Sam Adams 26.2 brew. Afterwards, we took a free trolley ride to Nike Town and learned a few interesting factoids along the way. Did you know that Newbury Street has subbed in for Paris on several movie sets? Now you do. And wandered around the downtown area for a bit. The next day we all got up early (not so early as I would the next day, but still early) and headed back downtown to catch the BAA 5K, which was great to watch. I enjoy watching people stream passed me. After you turn away, the way your eyes are adjusted makes the landscape still move, sort of fluid – the way I had felt watching the first few Boston Marathons I experienced (see the very first post I ever wrote for details).
My father came up for the marathon. This is the first time he’s been in Boston since before my mom passed away, since my sister moved into her current apartment, and since I moved up here. In other words – not for a long time. We spent the day before the marathon giving my father a driving tour of Boston, showing him the places where we work and hang out, giving him a feel for the city we call home and finally ended up at Legal Seafoods Harborside where we indulged in some oysters. That night, I went over to my sister’s where she made me a tremendous pasta dish. It was delicious, it was wonderful, there were lots of rolls. On the way over, I crossed Beacon Street, not too far from where my family and friends would be standing the next day. It was already unseasonably warm, in the 80s at 7:00PM. All I could think is that stretch of road would look very different the next day. I went to bed around 10ish and amazingly fell right to sleep, which was great because…
My alarm went off at 3:49AM. I woke up and made some coffee to get moving. I geared up and then started to take the long walk down Winchester to the T. Along the way I ran into a teammate from RFR who was getting a ride from Caity, our courageous point person from the ALF. I rode down with them to the Westin and helped unload water and Gatorade long before everyone else showed up. I grabbed bagel(s, plural) and waited for Ally, Kathleen, and Meg to arrive. They did and soon enough we were shuffled along to the waiting busses for the ride to Hopkinton. I felt like I was on a school trip, in the back of the bus, messing around with friends. Eventually we arrived at the high school and funneled in to the Athlete’s Village. The fact is simple: I will never make it to the Olympics. I will Boston Qualify(one of these days) and be back. But, at the time, I took in the crowd and feeling of being part of build up. There was energy, but it was a feeling, not something active. For the most part, you just laid around waiting for your start. The four of us settled under one of the big tents, in the shade. It was already hot and getting hotter. A few days before I had borrowed one of the Ally’s spare GPS watches. I had come to the (heartbreaking) conclusion days prior that I was not going to run near a BQ time. I was still secretly aiming for 3:30 but publicly saying anything below four hours I’d be happy with. So, we waited and waited. Drinking water, preparing. As time drew closer we actually laced up our shoes. Ally and I headed out to find Alain to take a Team RaceMenu photo, which we did. Finally, our bib numbers were called and we all headed out to put our bags in busses that would greet us some 26 miles and a few hours away. I lost my little group during this time. I wounded up with a few other RFR members as we slowly moved toward the start line. Eventually, I wound up by myself – rather, as by yourself as you can be surrounded by tens of thousands of people. We made the right turn that led up to the start. And then, there it was, though we had moved in masses towards the line, people hesitated leading up to it. Maybe taking stock, catching one last breath. And then…
I was off. I stuck to the left hand side of the road filing in line with a group of faster runners darting in and around the crowd. Given the heat, I knew I wanted to steer clear of the first few water stops, which would be chaos, so I had kept a small 8-10 ounce bottle with me at the start. Leading up to the marathon, the concept of dehydration had so gnawed at me that I had drank so much I was now fearing hyponatremia – overhydration. This was all in my head. For the first few miles I drank sparingly and mostly out of nervous habit. The miles ticked by pretty quickly, 7:30’s, 7:45’s. I had been right, the first few water stops were clusters of madness. I ran the first 5K in 24:14, a time that most normal people would be overjoyed with on a normal raceday, let alone the start of a marathon. 10K 48:25, just a little faster. It’s at this point the weather was starting to take it’s toll. It was hot. We were in direct sun. I started a pattern around here that I sustained for the rest of the race. I would get to a water stop, put water in my bottle and douse the rest over my head. I started to actively seek out hoses and cooling stations. Things start to get dream like. Just moving forward, the sound of my own warm breathing. Fist pumping when someone called my name (what can I say? I’m from New Jersey). Knowing that the halfway mark was coming up with the infamous scream tunnel and the Wellesley Girls, I picked up my pace a little as I ran passed them. I had read several marathon guides and recaps that said no experience was complete without kissing one, so I picked out one that had a sign that read “Kiss me, I’m British” that seemed to be getting less traffic than the rest of the girls from new York, New Jersey, and one girl that was very specific saying she was from Canton. Maybe it has to do with New England’s roots, Paul Revere, the Boston Tea Party, who knows, but I decided I couldn’t say no – I didn’t, and neither did she. After that, I was off again, going passed the halfway mark at a still respectable 1:46. I knew the American Liver foundation had a huge cheering section at Newton Wellesley Hospital. My plan was to keep going to there and then take a quick break if I needed to. The hospital is located on one of the more lengthy downhills. Once I got there, I ran passed RFR and kept riding the momentum of the hill. Around 16 miles in, I stopped to go to the bathroom – -a sensation I’d been having for a while. I had been gulping water at every stop and still had my bottle with me. I stopped and tried – I do mean tried – to go. Without going into too much detail it felt like silt and had the color of coffee, what little there was. Dehydrated? Yeah, I think so. Also, too much information still? Probably. I realized for my own health I needed to take it easy. I walked out, refilled my bottle with some friendly spectators and chugged. And then did it again. And then again. I was getting close to the start of the Newton hills, where I had done so many training runs on Thursday nights with Crossroads. I got it in my head that I couldn’t walk these hills, I needed to run them, for my own pride (possibly stupidity). I started running. I kept chugging away. I passed Matt (Luau) Wilson of blog and RaceMenu fame, just kept my head down, kept going. Jordan was with the RaceMenu tent and ran down to squeeze a freezing wet sponge on my head. It was like a shower from heaven. I crested Heartbreak and saw Boston College, and immediately, my quads cramped up. I couldn’t believe I’d become a stereotype and statistic. The Wall: I hit it. I walked down the hill a little, passed the revelry of BC. I was almost there. This was practically my neighborhood. My turf. I couldn’t walk. So, I started running again. It wasn’t pretty, but it was running. My friends had been baking at Cleveland Circle waiting for me, and when I came passed, I stopped briefly to say hello as they showered me in water and screamed my name. Next up was my family about a mile away. The spot we’d always historically watched the marathon was just before Coolidge Corner, close to Summit Ave. I picked up my pace, they didn’t see me at first – but, then our tall (as in 6’7) friend Justin spotted me. I stopped long enough to say a weary hello and chug some watered-down Gatorade, which I’d requested. But I didn’t see my dad. I was a little worried that he’d gone back to my sisters due to the heat. So, I asked, “where’s dad?!” he was seated behind them. I had trained my eyes to only see what was directly in front of me for so many miles that I had missed him completely. Then I started running again. Trying desperately to get to the finish in under four. The walk(more like stroll) I had taken in order to rehydrate had killed my chance of anything near a 3:30. So, under 4 it was. I ran through the throngs at Fenway. What I was never told is that once you’re on Comm Ave you go down under that overpass and then back up – absolutely brutal – before making the turn onto Hereford. On that turn, I lost my trusty water bottle that I’d had since the start of the day. But, I couldn’t mourn that loss all that long –I was almost there. What you also don’t think about when you’re training is just how far the turn onto Boylston to the finish is. I can tell you. An eternity. I ran the span of my lifetime and then someone elses. I ran as close to the crowd as I could to absorb the cheering. And then…I crossed the finish line, extreme left hand side. A spot on the asphalt I will never forget. I joined the stream of people getting bananas, and Gatorade, medals, and those weird metallic blankets you really didn’t need on a 90+ degree day in April. I meandered to the bus, got my gear, and started walking towards the hotel. Then, I heard my name. It was like someone waking me up from a deep sleep very early in the morning. It was my friend Sara who worked nearby. I stopped and hugged her and talked for a bit, she snapped the first picture of me post race. The most direct way to the Westin had been blocked off. A cop told me to go down two streets and then cut over – that that was actually quicker anyway. I said, no way! But, still he wouldn’t let me through. I did make it back. We had rooms with showers reserved and massages waiting. I opted to shower first and went up to a room with a great view of the city. I took a cold, albeit quick, shower and then went down to get a massage, being freshly showered apparently is something massage therapists greatly appreciate. Eventually, I made my way back to my sisters, meeting Ally along the way. By the time I got off at Coolidge Corner, it was near cutoff time. There were still people on course, but there was a street sweeper hovering behind them and a platoon of cars. I tried cheering them on, that they were almost there. But, as a friend put it, I must have seemed like an asshole – the dude freshly showered and massaged wearing a polo shirt and medal telling them they could do it. I didn’t mean it that way. They really were almost there!
We went out to eat at the Publick House as I had so desperately wanted. I had my burger. I had my beers. I was tired and already a lactic sting was burning in my legs. I went home happy and accomplished.
But here’s where then other aspect of the marathon comes in to play. You run, we drink – the motto of many, including myself years before. Some people drink almost as much as we run. Around 11PM I heard screaming outside my apartment and the sound of a girls voice sobbing, I mean SOBBING. I looked out my shades to see a guy that must have been a former football or lacrosse player shirtless and pounding his fist into a wall – he was wasted, screaming at the girl to give him his keys back. All I could think is, “if this guy decides to hit this girl – she’s done”. I must have had some pent up adrenaline still in my system. I rushed out of my apartment and shoved the guy against the wall. Told him to take it easy, that he was drunk and that he needed to go home. He told me to get the fuck away, that this didn’t concern me. The rest of the neighborhood was yelling out there windows for him to go home. By this point I was holding him by his shoulders. His eyes were wild and darting in opposite directions. He was at as at a level of drunk that I knew would feel like a spike through his skull the next day. He kept half trying to charge me, telling me he would kill me while at the same time telling me to go away. I made the mistake of saying that I had just run a marathon and that I wasn’t in the mood to deal with his shit. Big mistake. From there he just called me Marathon Man. Except it sounded more like Merthon Min. I told him I was going to call the police and that he should go home. I let go of his shoulders and he wandered off. I did call the police. Was transferred three times (total wait time of about 5 minutes) and alerted them that there was a violent domestic dispute involving two very intoxicated people. A few minutes later I heard them fighting again. I grabbed my roommate, who is considerably larger than me, and went looking for them. A few minutes later, we saw the girl, still crying, definitely shaken and tried to calm her down along with a few other neighbors that came out. She kept saying it was all her fault, that she just should have given him his keys – of course she shouldn’t have! A few moments later she got up and wandered off. While I don’t know what became of them, I can tell you that around 5 calls were made to the police and no one responded. I did eventually get to sleep.
Like I said, I was in a period of mourning. I ran a little afterwards, even bought new trail running shoes and went to on a few trail runs. But, then I tweaked my knee and was laid up for a few weeks. In May I ran the Reach the Beach Relay, a 200 mile, 24 hour relay of 12 person teams running three legs of varying length with RaceMenu. But, that’s a post for another day. I mean, it took me three months to get this one up.
I have another marathon in my sights. Rather, I have two and need to pick one and commit. Either Smuttynose Rockfest in September or Bay State in October. While I may still not BQ (but, I’m going to try!) I’m curious to find out what I’m capable of running…I’m still running Boston in every way I can.