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Boston Marathon - RunMarathon

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Boston, Massachusetts
United States
Boston Athletic Association
55F / 13C
Total Time = 3h 34m 3s
Overall Rank = 7114/10638
Age Group = M40-44
Age Group Rank = 1321/1691
  • 3h 34m 3s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 08m 10s  min/mile

I think others have said it but I will say it again. I feel terrible for the victims of the bombing and their families, and I can't imagine what they are all going through at this time. I have not stopped thinking about that since last Monday afternoon. At the same time, I am so grateful that myself and all of my running group friends made it through unharmed. I also feel strongly that if we don't do the same things that we always do after a race - like writing race reports to share stories of potty breaks, aches and pains and Natick Girls (not a typo - read on...), laugh a little and celebrate achievement - then the bastards who did this won. I'm not going to let that happen.

Get yourself a cup of coffee. I am currently between personal editors, so this might take a bit.

I flew up on Saturday morning on a flight from BWI to Providence. As I was waiting to exit the plane, I noticed that a guy behind me was wearing a Reston Triathlon warm-up jacket. I didn't recognize him, but I did introduce myself. We were talking for a very long time as we walked to the bag check and quickly figured out we knew pretty much the same group of people, and wondered how we hadn't met before. Vowing to both be at the traditional 4pm Sunday Reston Runners photo at the finish line, he took the train and I headed to the car rental counter.

I was mentally unprepared for the crowds at the Expo. That place needed to be about two times as big to accomodate that many people. However, it still did have the air of hallowed ground with so many elite runners there. I walked around for a bit after picking up my bib and shirt, watched the course preview movie (which was very well done), then texted my friends to figure out where they were (they went right to the expo from the airport), and eventually found them holed up in the far corner, with luggage still in tow. A few of them planned to go to the Brooks display to find Desi Avila (who bears a striking resemblance to one woman in my group), so I decided to join them. We met her and got a picture, but she seemed kind of like she didn't want to be there. I guess that means that she's a regular person and not some fame-mad egomaniac. She was very accomodating of our wanting to take pictures with 4 different phones.
Shortly after that we went to lunch at a nearby Cheesecake Factory. We had an awesome lunch with lots of laughs and stories. Everyone really enjoyed themselves except for our waiter - who served no alcoholic drinks to us tee-totaling runner types, and had to figure out separate checks for a party of eight. Poor guy...

I said goodbye to my friends after lunch and headed over to my cousin Tim's place in Roxbury, where I would be staying. It was great to see him and his wife Victoria again (its been a couple of years), and shortly after that we drove to the sound studio where he works, which is a mere 6 blocks from the finish line. We parked there and met his sister and her husband (who live in a nearby suburb) for dinner at a restaurant on Newbury St. We had a really great time catching and sharing laughs.
Went to bed early that night and slept straight through until 7am, a rarity for me. I left at about 8 or so to meet up my friends in Natick for a shake-out run. On the way I stopped at Peet's coffee in Wellesley (my favorite), and then headed over to Sandy's house which is just a short drive away in Natick. We ran down to the nearby and picturesque Wellesley College campus. There is a super nice track there, and we had to restrain one of our more enthusiastic runners from doing a few 800's on it.
After that I headed over to my wife's cousin's house in Wellesley, which is a mere .3 miles from Central Ave. and the race course. They were having a birthday party for their 4 year old daughter, and I offered to help them out with hosting duties in exchange for letting me use their shower. I stayed at the party a long time - until about 3pm - and perhaps spent too much time on my feet standing and chatting. But it was a lot of fun regardless. They said they would try to take all three of their daughters (including their 2mo old youngest) down to cheer me on at the half-way point the next day.
From there I drove back into town to meet up with the Reston Runners for the 4pm picture at the finish line. Then it was off to the pasta dinner at City Hall - which, if you've never seen it, is a huge, hulking building which is a case study in Brutalist architecture (that is, a complete eyesore in my opinion). The dinner was actually pretty cool - they had tables set up on the first three open floors of the building, and the pasta was very tasty. I also had one (yes, singular...) glass of Sam Adams 26.2 brew. After that I went back to my cousin's place and was lucky enough to be able to watch the finale of the Masters tournament (if it hadn't gone into a playoff round I would have missed it). After that - to bed by 8:30 or so to rest up for the big day.

On race day my cousin drove me down to Boston Common to catch the buses. It took probably 45 minutes before I actually borded a bus, and while on the way I chatted with my neighbor – another first timer and triathlete - about the race. Arrived in Hopkinton around 8:30 and made my way to the port-o-potties first (as everyone did!) then walked around a bit. I was beginning to think I wouldn't be able to find my friends in the crowded and huge athlete's villiage, but then I just happen to walk right up to them. We all checked in our bags and headed down to the start line. All of them had mentioned to me that the place to hang out before the race was somewhere called "Hawaii House". Our de facto leader is a Navy guy and had spent a number of years in Hawaii before moving to Northern Virginia, and I believe the connection to this place came from people he knew. The only issue was that I had no idea where this place was or what exactly it was. Just before the main drag (where all the corralls were), our group split up - some of us heading to the gigantic port-o-pottie land and others opting for relief at this mysterious Hawaii House. After taking care of business, I headed to the start corrals alone, looking around for a college buddy who lives in Hopkinton and said he would be there (never saw him...) Just after finding corral 8 I ran into one of my friends who, it turned out, had a valuable piece of information - the house # for Hawaii House. We found it rather easily (it was literally next to the 5th corrall) and headed around the house to the back door as my friend had heard we were supposed to do. It felt a bit strange to be sneaking around the back of some random person's house, but - sure enough - when we got to the back door we saw a sign saying "Aloha" and saw one of the other runners from our group in the window stretching and keeping warm. We went inside and it appeared to be some kind of office building, as there were printers and other office equipment all over the place. However, on this day there were also literally dozens of cheerfully optimistic runners all stretching, chatting about their strategy for the day, etc. It was a pretty cool scene I have to say, and it was great to wait inside for a bit where it was warm. I didn't stay long, though, because it was nearing 10am. I headed outside and a few steps later I was in my start corrall, joining 10,000 of my closes friends in the first wave.

Just after settling into the crowd, the other runner from my group who was also assigned to my corrall found me and we chatted for a bit. The gun went off, and it took us 5min 20 sec to cross the start line, and very soon after my friend left me in the dust as she was shooting for a faster time goal than I was.
My goal for the race was 3:25 (my qualifying time for next year when I age up), which is 10 min off my PR. I figured that if the first half was mostly downhill, I could crank out some 7:30-ish miles without taxing myself too much, enjoy the experience, still have something left for the Newton Hills and come in under my goal time.

That plan worked well for the first 9 miles (7:30, 7:26, 7:31, 7:26, 7:34, 7:30, 7:30, 7:34, 7:39). This part of the race was really something special for me. Each town, and often in between the towns, there were huge and often rowdy crowds of fans cheering everyone on. I was enjoying each scene as it came along. Kids. Drunks. Loud music. Bands. This race had it all. Just past Framingham I started to notice that my left foot was bothering me. I thought that I might have tied my laces too tight and it was affecting my circulation. As I was coming into Natick it was bothing me enough that I thought I would quickly stop and re-tie them. I found short wall in front of someone's yard and did just that. It was quick, and it did give me some relief for a while.

This stretch in Natick was familiar to me, as I had gone on a long run there the previous summer when staying with my wife's cousin in Wellesley. After exiting the Natick town center, I started to think about approaching the Wellesley Scream Tunnel. However, there was another group of young ladies I encountered just before Wellesley who, apparently, were determined to upstage the Wellesley Girls.

On the left side of the road near a small shopping center just past Natick, there was a group of very attractive young ladies who were particularly loud and rowdy. They seemed to be crowding their way into the road a bit, and as I approached, two of them in particular stood out. They were both wearing - shall I say - snug and intentionally provactive lower body wear. One was facing the runners and the other was looking back over her shoulder with her backside conspiciously protruding into the road. The one facing the street was pointing to her friend saying "Get yah free energy raaaht heaaaah. This is better than Kim Kardashian! Free energy raaaht heaaah!" I totally lost it at that point, laughing out loud for probably another half mile.

Shortly after that, I started to hear the Wellesley Scream Tunnel from a distance. My left foot was bothering me quite a lot, but as I approached I forgot all about it. Despite their erstwhile competition up the road, the Wellesley Girls did not dissapoint. What an amazing scene! All the girls were screaming and cheering everyone on, and almost all of them had a sign. "Kiss me I'm a Chemist" "Kiss me I'm Single" "I won't tell your wife" "Kiss me I'm F-ing Crazy" I was high-fiving the whole time and, yes, I did avail myself with a kiss. On the cheek people... (well, two actually ;)
As I came down into downtown Wellesley my foot was really acting up, and I contemplated stopping again, but it was too crowded at this point, and I also needed to look for my wife's cousin, his wife and their girls. I did see them just after the half-way point and said hello. It was great to see a familiar face, because at this point I was looking for distractions (not a good place to be at the half-way point the thought occured to me). Despite pretty much nailing my goal for the first half (1:40:30), I started to slow down a bit due to the discomfort in my left foot. (7:47, 7:47, 8:03, 7:51). Heading out of Wellesley the pain had gotten to the point where I wanted to try again to re-tie my shoe. I did so using a fire hydrant, but got no relief despite losing 30 or so seconds, which made me mad (8:17 for that mile).

The downhill between Wellesley and Newton was steeper than I expected it to be, but I was not able to really take advantage of it because of my foot. When I came to the first Newton hill (up over rt 128 and beyond), I definitely slowed down a bit, but curiously my foot pain wasn't that bad. It was the downhills that apparently had been killing me. Next up, another downhill to the Newton Fire Station, turn right and head up the second hill. Just after the fire station, I came up upon a tall dude with a baseball cap on backwards and very long hair. I immediately thought "Is that Michael Wardian?" As I ran past him I said his name and he confirmed, I introduced myself, feeling a bit star-struck (he is a well-known local marathon Rock Star who has won many, many races). He was apparently pacing someone and also working for Marathon Foto taking pictures during the race. Pretty cool.
That hill again gave me some relief from foot pain, but it all returned on the way back down. It was around the 20 mile mark that I saw my running friend who started with me, and she was apparently stuggling. I stuck with her briefly, offering some salt stick pills which she declined. She waved me on and I kept on going. The third Newton hill wasn't much, and pretty soon I knew Hearbreak Hill was near. I made my way up without too much of a problem, again relishing the relief from the foot pain. I kept looking for my cousin Tim and his wife Victoria, as they had promised to come there to cheer me on. 50 yards away from the top I saw them. I really appreciated them showing up - it definitely helped me get over the crest. (7:56, 8:18 - first Newton hill, 8:23, 8:44 - second Newton hill, 8:32, 8:56 - Heartbreak Hill).

Once I started going down the other side of Heartbreak, my foot pain started to get close to unbearable. I stopped to walk for 10 seconds, but it didn't do much good. Neither did my last attempt to re-tie my shoe, a 45+ second waste of time. Ugh. At this point the race stopped being fun and started to suck a bit. Since there seemed to be nothing I could to relieve the pain, I just decided to grind it out and get it done as quickly as I could. There was no way I could take advantage of the downhill into Brookline, however - just too painful. I simply ran at a pace that kept the pain in the barely tolerable range. It stunk because I knew I had more energy, and I wasn't fully able to appreciate the crowds. (8:51 - third time re-tying shoes, 10 sec walk break, 9:02, 8:55)
With two miles to go I was in tunnel vision mode. My pace was slow but pretty steady, and I was very relieved when I came up to the Mass Ave underpass, as I knew Hereford St was not far beyond there. Made my way under and back up, then took that right hand turn on Hereford. For the first time in probably 4 miles I started to take in the scene. So many people! It was like being the center of attention in my own victory parade. When I turned left onto Boylston, I put my arms up in the air - wanting to relish the moment despite knowing that I was no where near my goal time. Who cares I thought - this is my first Boston Marathon - that's accomplishment enough! The finish line seemed to be very, very far away, however. I looked down at my watched and saw a number I hadn't seen in an hour an a half - 7:30. Apparently the crowd's energy was helping me along. I ran a slightly faster pace until crossing the finish line, but I was not able to sprint due to the foot pain. Didn't matter though. I was very happy and relieved that it was all over. (9:00, 8:57, last .2 - 7:59)

After finishing, I felt very woozy - more so than I expected. I got my medal, water, bag of food (the potato chips were AWESOME! I wanted 4 more bags...) and heat blanket and very, very slowly made my way down Boylston, being sure not to make any sudden movements that would lead to cramping. After picking up my stuff and changing my shirt, I texted my cousin. He was at his work nearby and had wanted to avoid the crowds, so he stayed there, waiting for word from me, and said he could come meet me wherever I was. I told him to stay put and I’d come meet him after meeting up with the Morningstars (my running group). We had all agreed to meet up in the family meeting area under the "HI" sign (Hawaii connection apparently, don't know how that happened...). The really fast guys were already there. Three of them came in sub-3 hours, and one only a few minutes behind them (I guess the downhills hadn't gotten to them...) Shortly after that my start-line buddy showed up. She had made it through but it had been a bad race for her. Also, the training partner I had run with the most (because we have similar paces) came in, and when she said her time I heartily congratulated her for beating me by 3 minutes. BIIIG smile on her face when I told her ...

Everyone, especially the fast guys, were getting pretty cold at that point, so we decided to head to split up and head to our next destination, which for me was my cousin's work on nearby Columbus St. I was walking down there - about 6 blocks away from the finish line - when I heard a loud and metallic-sounding noise. I thought it was a big truck going over a metal plate in the road or a garbage truck picking up a dumpster and emptying it. I heard another one shortly after that and didn't think much of it. I was standing outside Tim's work waiting to be buzzed in when I started to hear all of the sirens and see ambulances and fire trucks whizzing by. At that point, I hadn't put two and two together, so I didn't really know what was going on. I met my cousin and was looking at the video he took of me running up Heartbreak Hill when someone came into his office and sad that there were two explosions at the finish line. We went out to the TV they had in their lobby and it was only then that I started to realize what had happened. I was immediately worried about Marcy, as she was the only one of the Morningstars I had not seen after the finish.

Tim and I headed back to his place in Roxbury so that I could clean up and we could both chill out. I looked at my phone and it was lit up with missed calls, texts, voice mails and emails. I spent probably 2 hours replying to them all, simultaneously glued to the TV watching what was going on. The horror of what had happened slowly started to sink in, as did my realization that my first Boston Marathon would forever be remembered for something other than the wonderful experience I had had with my friends and extended family.

Now that a week has gone by, I have decided that the perfect way to avenge “those bastards" is to go back next year. I am planning to do just that. I was wondering what would keep me motivated to train hard after running Boston, and now I think I have my answer.
Post race

Last updated: 2013-05-01 12:00 AM
03:34:03 | 26.2 miles | 08m 10s  min/mile
Age Group: 1321/1691
Overall: 7114/10638
Performance: Average
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

2013-05-01 7:44 AM

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Fairfax, VA
Subject: Boston Marathon

2013-05-02 11:53 AM
in reply to: #4722021

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Jupiter, FL
Subject: RE: Boston Marathon
Congrats on your first Boston. My wife finished just after you at 3:37 and my son and I were 1 block west of the second explosion, having been delayed getting on a train from Newton. After the first explosion everything seemed to freeze in time and then the second explosion caused  chaos that was something I'll remember for a lifetime. I was not sure where my wife was, but I knew she had crossed the finish at 2:27 local time. My son and I raced towards the finish line against the flow of people and finally got in touch with her via cellphone. Finally able to meet up in the family meeting area my heart rate began to slow down. We totally agree with your feeling that the way to beat "those bastards" is to race again next year. Hope to see you there!
2013-05-02 3:33 PM
in reply to: #4722021

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Williamston, Michigan
Subject: RE: Boston Marathon
Well done.  Hope your foot is OK and glad you and your family are safe
2013-05-02 3:36 PM
in reply to: #4722021

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Subject: RE: Boston Marathon

Glad you are your family are safe and I am especially happy that you will be seeking revenge by running again next year. Love it!

Great race, very tough course!

2013-05-02 4:51 PM
in reply to: #4722021

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Bellingham, WA
Subject: RE: Boston Marathon
Thanks for the great race report.  You've offered a perspective and descriptions of the experience that I've never really heard.  Congratulations on your race.
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