When your day starts out with laughs and ends with puking, you know there must have been a lot of fun in between. That pretty much sums up my Boston Marathon experience.
The 116th running of the fabled 26.2 mile race was one for the record books.
- Record high temperature of 89
- The first time that the race organizers offered deferrals. If runners didn’t want to risk running in the heat, they could defer their entry to next year without having to re-qualify. (Only 427 of 27,000 took them up on the offer.)
- My slowest marathon ever – by more than 30 minutes. On top of that, it was a good 75 minutes off of the goal time I had been training to run since December.
- A new PR (personal record) for the number of girls kissed along the course. Hey, if I’m going to have a slow time, I might as well enjoy it!
- Over $4400 raised to fight cancer with the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation team.
- And of course, the puking. This was the first time I had lost it after a race. A friend of mine joked, “When I told you to ‘leave it all on the course,’ I didn’t mean literally!” NOW he tells me!
Between my super-slow time, the dry-heaving over the last three miles, and the eventual “productive” heaving after the finish line, you might think I was disappointed with this race, but you would be wrong.
When I arrived in Boston on Friday, three days before the marathon, and the forecast kept creeping up throughout the day, it was clear that I wasn’t going to turn in a fast time. I hadn’t run in temps above 70 since October, and this old body doesn’t acclimate quickly to heat. Rather than push hard, suffer, and likely still fall far short of my goal time, I decided well before race day to take it easy and simply enjoy everything that makes up the greatest marathon in the world. As I stood in the start corral Monday morning, the race organizers must have been proud of me, for they announced, “Today is not a day to race. Today is a day to enjoy the experience.”
With that, let me now talk less and show more.
Battle gear. Ready to roll!
My ears are a little puffy, don't you think?
"They'll all fit. They have to!"
Once all the balloons were in the back seat, we still had to find room for Brian!
Runners and committee members enjoyed a great pre-race brunch at Lucky's Lounge.
Some of the awesome DetermiNation volunteers taking care of us before the race.
Some of the ribbons I wore in honor of fellow DetermiNators who are battling cancer.
Cancer survivor Nancy Cook wears her Wonder Woman outfit in marathons - and kicks @$$!
DetermiNation provided a van for us to ride in comfort to a staging area near Hopkinton, where some of us posed for a photo opp. It's the only way to travel!
Tweeting and Facebooking right up till the last minute before hopping on the bus to the start line. A few days later when I was back at work, my boss said on a conference call, "When I saw him tweeting right up till he started, I knew we had the right person in charge of social media."
Let's do this thing!
While heading from Athlete's Village to the start line, snipers made sure you didn't chicken out and turn around.
Standing in the start corral, already beading up with sweat ... and I haven't run a step yet!
The view in the first mile, taken literally on the run. Much of the course is on a 2-lane country road.
Awesome-ness in motion.
Near mile 8, I appreciated this sign.
Look off in the distance to the right and you can see a line of runners snaking around Lake Cochituate.
I've gotta go back for this sometime! (Near mile 9)
At mile 10, this sign was already looking very, very tempting.
The Red Sox always have a home game that's being played while the marathon is taking place. This young lady kept us apprised of the score.
St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Natick, has always been one of my favorite sights along the course. It was built in 1892.
Yeah, no kidding?!
My coach is always urging me to relax during the run. See, Coach, I'm a good listener!
Dick and Rick Hoyt were running their 30th Boston! Dick is 71 and Rick turned 50 in January. Rick has cerebral palsy, but the two have competed in marathons and Ironman triathlons around the world.
The early miles are filled with small, rolling hills, which give these great views of the pack. I love it!
Andrea wasn't the only one excited by this prospect! Sadly, I didn't find the bacon.
At this point of the race, we’re entering the Wellesley College area, also known as the “Scream Tunnel” for the nearly half-mile of sign-waving, screaming coeds from the all-female school. As the next few signs will show, any male runner (and, I suppose several females) could vicariously fulfill nearly every fantasy in this little stretch of road.
"Kiss me, it's my birthday!"
Running makes strange bedfellows. I wonder what her position is on the "Meat Shoot"?
"Kiss me, I'm Korean"
Ahh, muy bueno!
The woman on the left held a sign that said, "Kiss me and I'll kiss her ->" How could I pass that up? I expected this to be a quick peck. I was very wrong!
"Kiss me, I'm a geek." And the geeks shall inherit the earth.
"This one time, at band camp ..."
The tradition of locals helping runners starts early along the Boston course.
When this sign appeared near mile 16, you could almost feel the steely reserve kick up among the pack of runners as they braced for the next five miles of hills.
So? Does it?
Whew! 6.2 to go! Just a little 10K.
This dude was at mile 20. Hey buddy, YOU'RE A BIG, FAT LIAR!!!!
Good friend Sarah met me partway up Heartbreak Hill and ran for a short bit, after striking the classic Coulam pose.
Reaching the top of Heartbreak Hill is somewhat anti-climactic, but still encouraging - it's all downhill from here!
"Uh, Dispatch, we're going to need some backup. We've got a LOT of littering going on down here."
Never, ever, ever give up!
The committee members hand-wrote "thank you" notes to all the runners and gave them with goodie bags.
Cancer survivor Andrew Whittington raised more than $36,000!
Several of the DetermiNators back at our private post-race celebration in the Park Plaza.
I hope you enjoyed this little visual tour. There was so much more that I didn’t capture: runners on stretchers, homeowners spraying us with hoses, runners snaking across the road to chase a little sliver of shade, the “sprinkler tunnels” we could run through for a splash of cold water.
It was a race I’ll never forget, and one I’m glad I had the chance to do.
What was your favorite photo? If you ran, what was your favorite memory of the day?