My first Boston
This was a hard report to write. It is a story of a day that turned into two separate events. The thrill of running Boston and the horror that would follow. My times are not listed here, because there were only two things that mattered. One, I finish, and two, I have fun. Well actually three; that we remained safe.
The story of what would be Boston started after the ten mile challenge (a course PR btw…). I started developing planter’s fasciitis in my left foot. I managed to run most of the Greenway marathon and strangely my foot healed two weeks later. But then, my right foot started acting up. And this one hit hard. It’s three weeks before Boston and now I can’t run. I could barely walk. So now my training plan changes. I do everything possible to heal, stay in shape, and find a way to cross that finish line. If I had to crawl, I was determined to make to the finish. Hey, its F’n Boston…
The doctor confirmed that it was PF. He said no jumping, very little running ,and lots of PT. I had been doing Crossfit three days a week. By jumping I figured I need to put down the jump rope and skip the box jumps. (Side note: Friday I returned to CF and did box jumps. I land softy on the box and stepped down, to not aggravate the foot. Later that day I had immense pain. Lesson learned: It’s not the landing that aggravates my foot but the push off. Time to put CF on the back burner…)
So for three weeks I spent three days a week in the pool doing deep water running. Done properly, this can be one hell of a workout. I iced, stretched, iced, massaged, and wore a night splint. Did I say ice? Two weeks ago we ran the IG half marathon course. My foot was not happy but I made it through. So the Thursday before we left for Boston I thought I would try orthotics and run 7 miles. Big mistake. That set me back .Apparently support is not my friend. Conclusion-no orthotics on race day.
We arrived late Saturday. I am a big believer in Kinesio tape, so I taped my foot in preparation for two days of walking, and oh, a little running. We made it to the convention center just in time to pick up our race packets, grab the last medium jacket, and make it to St Cecilia’s for mass. It was too crowded to walk through the expo so we decided to wait until Sunday. We stayed at Candlewood suites in Braintree. It was a really nice hotel in a decent area. The only thing that I didn’t like was the 50 minute ride on the T to get downtown. But on race day, that turned out to be the best place to be.
Sunday morning we arrived in the city for Jan’s 5K. Donnie and I talked and decided to meet up, as Sari was running as well. Somehow I misunderstood and we never met up. I watched Jan as she was having a blast running down Commonwealth Avenue. Jan ran a decent race but more importantly had fun. This week end is not about racing and negative splits, but enjoying the experience. After all, I believe that Boston is the reward for all the hard work.
Walking towards the convention center we passed the old South Boston Church on Boylston Street. As we were reading some of the history, one of the pastors started talking about Ben Franklin and when the church was built. I love old European style churches so I was intrigued to go inside. He told us there was a short service to bless the runners. OK, I’m in. It is a United Church of Christ. Not what were used to, but it was a very moving service. A great way to start the day.
We left the hotel in Braintree just before 5:00. We took the T from Quincy Adams. While we were waiting we met a nice couple from Alabama. Mark Richie and his girlfriend Michelle. Mark and I ended up hanging out until we got into our corrals. Which by the way is a LONG time… Jan and Michelle hung out as well and traveled to mile 16 to meet us. It was nice meeting new friends. Mark is in the next age group up. The best way to describe him is to reference a beer commercial during last year’s football games. It’s the one where everyone at the bar (up North) greets each other by saying “Hi-Ya-doin”. And in walks in a gentlemen from down south and proceeds to carry on a conversation about everything and nothing non-stop. That was Mark. Nice guy though. He said he’s actually a cyclist and not much of a runner. OK, he made it here so, really?
I lined up in corral 3 or the second wave. I met some really nice volunteers there. Mark was in corral 9 so we wished each other luck and made one last pit stop. I wasn’t this excited (and nervous) about a marathon since my first one in 2008. I knew the first mile would be downhill and I paid close attention to my pace. Once everything thinned out it was party time. And mile 2(ish) was it. As we entered Ashland, there was a biker bar on our left. The place was packet. Everyone was grilling and drinking beer and cheering like we were rock stars. Now I see what the thrill of this race is. And that almost never ended. I must say that Wesley College was my favorite spot. Girls screaming, holding signs that said kiss me I know CPR, and just cheering us like crazy. There were two girls wearing halter tops holding a sign that said “of you run fast we’ll drop our signs. Well, maybe next year…
The rest of the run until mile 16 was just one non-stop celebration. I felt like there was a home coming parade for the world champions, and we were it. I never saw so many enthusiastic spectators. I found Jan, quite easily, at mile 16.9? It was good to finally see her. I felt good and didn’t stick around long. I started getting in my “I think I can race” mode.
My original goal was 4:10. But something started to push me. Maybe it was my ego, maybe it was my guardian angel. All I know is something made me run faster that last 10 miles. Thank goodness for that. (I finished 13 minutes a head of the explosions.)
Here’s the second part of this journey. I can’t imagine what people on 9-11 went through. Maybe if I’d run slower I would have had a better idea. But then it would have been Jan in the middle of that and that thought stuck with me for several hours. At the end of the race I made my way through the corral as quickly as I could. I wanted to get my stuff from the bus. The wind had picked up and I was getting cold. All I wanted was to meet Jan, get on back the hotel and get ready for the party at House of Blues. As disappointed as I was that George K could make the trip and run with me, I was happy to take his party ticket. (But that was not to be.) I met Jan somewhere off Boylston, around the corner. Within a minute I heard what sounded like a cannon fire. OK, its Patriots day, it's the Boston marathon. Maybe? Then a few seconds later we heard (and felt) another bang. It had a metallic ring to it. Since the T was below us, I assumed there an explosion in the subway. So we started to walk away. I never stuck my head around the corner to see the finish line. We saw Donnie, Sari, and Caroline (who had a phenomenal race btw) . We left and continued to seek a ride out. We found the Orange line entrance and thought we might find a connection to the Red Line to get us to Quincy. As we looked at the map, I felt like we should turn around. We went back outside and heard from the Transit police that there were two explosions at the finish line. I knew the T was going to be shut down and we needed to walk somewhere to figure out what was going on. We walked into the Park Place hotel. There we saw the terror on the TV monitors.
At this point cell service came to an end. We could not hail a cab or find a phone to call one. We got a map and started walking away. We made it to the Boston Commons, walked into a Subway, and started calling cabs. As we waited (and waited), a city worked approached us. We talked a bit. Then I heard on her radio that the Redline from South Station was re-opened outbound. So we walked some more. All the way to South Station, got on and headed out.
Three hours after my race ended we were back in a safe place. There we watched the news and answered emails and texts. After this there really isn’t much to say. We found a bar, then on Tuesday, a church. The ride home consisted of several hours of listening to the news and praying for the capture of those bastards.
I was so happy that my foot held out and I was able to have a decent finish. I am also very grateful for not being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And lastly, my prayers go out to those injured and the survivors of the four where were not so fortunate. I will go back. Hopefully I’ll have enough left in me after IMMT to re-qualify. The experience was amazing and the people of Boston were fantastic.