Dinner at the Hyatt RegencyMy choice of hotels was the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge. It was a beautiful room with a great view of the Boston skyline as you look across the Charles River.
Packet PickupSaturday morning I awoke and set out on my last workout. 10 more minutes and 4 strides at MP. We really just need the legs to get through a range of motion and show a little turn-over. This was a strange run. I made it from the hotel to Mass Ave. across to Boston and reverse without seeing a single rower nor runner.
After returning to the hotel, I showered and set out for breakfast. I cannot visit Boston without stopping at the South Street Diner for at least one meal. The great thing about diners is that the one meal can always be breakfast. Granted it was breakfast time, but I always get breakfast there. It was scrumptious. After breakfast I had to get to the convention center to pick up my number. The real reason for the expo is to sell the crap out of stuff. I picked up my number, took a lap and left without spending a dime. As I stated on facebook, that is unless you count the $2000 in entry fees, airfare and lodging. As I exited, I was pleasantly surprised by Bash and his wife. It made me smile.
Now I had to find some Beet Juice, my new magic bullet and since it comes in big bottles I couldn't get it on the plane. I decided to try a GNC in Cambridge. The GPS showed me where it was, but did not mention it was in a mall. No biggie the mall opens in 3 minutes, so I can wait. And wait I do; while the mall opened at 11:00, the GNC store opened at noon; crap sandwich!!!!
When the store finally opened I was saddened to discover they don't carry Beet Juice.
Next up, I have to get to Durgin Park to meet up with bhearn, a runner from my imaginary running club, the Swamp (www.runningahead.com). After lunch I continued my pursuit of Beet Juice and there was a Vitamin Shoppe right near there. Vitamin Shoppe carries Beet Juice near my house so this should be good. The good man at the store says no sale, but the store in Harvard Square might have it.
Finally, Some Beet JuiceI hop on the red line to Harvard Square and find the store. Viola, they have one bottle of Beet Juice left. I snatch it up and start back for the hotel. Hmm, this is another mile and a half walk, the mileage on my feet is adding up much more than it should be. One the route back I stopped at a convenience store and got some oatmeal, my marathon breakfast, and a couple bottles of water for the mornings bus rides. Something is not right, my stomach is not happy and let's just say I had that not so fresh feeling. Hmmmm. That night I stayed at the hotel for a pasta buffet then head upstairs to bed. I did not sleep well this night.
Marathon MondayI woke before the alarm again and I can tell something is not right, but I have not quite pinpointed the issue. I open the beet juice to get my marathon day boost. It's brown!!! Fek, broken seal; all that walking and for naught. Ok, let's do oatmeal. Uh oh. One bite in and I can tell this isn't staying down. No biggie, all I have to do is race 26.2 miles on no calaries, what could possibly go wrong? The hotel has a courtesy bus to Tremont street where the buses load for Hopkinton. Some of you not in the know, may be unaware that the Boston Marathon starts in Hopkinton and meanders through small towns on the way back to Boston where it's right on Hereford; left on Boylston. I next board a bus headed to the start line. I sat next to a young lady who I chatted with for 45 minutes and we never got one another's names. This is not strange, we're runners, names mean little, what you've run and want to run is all we really care about. Next stop Hopkinton, Athlete's Village. They put all 27,000 runners on the property of the connected high school and middle school. You sit outside with some tents, a couple hundred portapotties and 27,000 of you closest friends. My training Partner Tammy texts me her location and I meet up with here to wait out the 90 minutes to start.
New Town RememberedThe Boston organizers, this year, decided to pay tribute to the 26 lives lost in the New Town massacre. They dedicated the 26th mile mark and had a moment of silence in the village. What foreshadowing.
It's Go TimeThe start line is little over a half mile from the village; Tammy and I head down. We find our chute, well my chute, she'd dropped back from chute one to run with me. Once in the chute I look for a couple more of my imaginary friends, the massholes. They run for the Greater Lowell running club. I find their spiritual leader BadDawg, and we chat a bit then I head back to find Tammy, she says, let's go start with the massholes, so we head back to BadDawg. There's more banter, the Anthem and giddy up GO!!!
The race starts and Tammy and I set off, this is going to be the shortest race report ever. We hit our time for the first mile, we're within 3 seconds at mile 2. Couple more quick miles and woohoo, we're gonna own this thing. Then comes mile 5. I concluded this mile by depositing my dinner and the bite of breakfast on the side of the road. This can't be good. By mile 6 or 7 I am in walk/run mode. This is going to be a long day. By mile 10 I feel like I am in the way of other runners and that continuing is just going to do harm. This marathon is over for me.
I'm OKMost people would imagine this to be a tragic event. I too am not proud to DNF, but I really knew that only bad things could happen from here on in. My big concern now, is those monitoring my progress. The marathon keeps tabs on you and reports progress to those who may be tracking you. It took me 2 hours to get back to the start line after dropping out and my phone had already blown up with people wondering where I was. I quickly posted to Facebook, to let everyone know I was OK. I DNF'd and it was probably a good thing.
Post Race PartyMy imaginary running club decided we'd meet at Jose McIntyre's downtown. Since my day was over and I'd let people know my status, I headed to Jose's. En route, I kept getting perplexing texts:
"Are you OK? There were bombs at the finish."
What? did I read that right?
Now It Gets RealFolks, the rest of this blog is my recollection of what happened on and after 2:50 pm in Boston on Monday, April 15th. The Boston Marathon is run on Patriots Day. A day commemorating the start of the revolution and in essence the birth of a nation. This is a special day in Massachusetts. They have an early start baseball game as well.
The texts were correct, at 2:50pm, two bombs had been detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The finish is a highly accessible area where friends and fans wait for those they care about to finish the marathon and snap that memorable photo. I was stuck walking the sidewalks of the city trying to figure out what happened, craving more information. When I got to the bar, bhearn and Nemo ME were already there and they flagged me down. The mood in the bar was surreal. The bar area was more blue collar than white and I didn't detect that they fully realized or had the same concern for what had just taken place. I am merely conveying my opinion, and as a member of the running community, I may have been more sensitive to the situation, but I fully feel this was a world event not a running event. The three of us there were trying to make sense of this. These two guys just ran races that were better than expected, and yet there was no joy. The sense of accomplishment was stolen and I assume that was a common feeling at the end of the day for most runners.
We were about 1.5 miles from the finish, but a world removed. While we were at the bar, we kept hearing troubling news. Much of the news turned out to be false, but it was tragic. This was a very fluid story in the first few hours. Additional bombs found, the JFK library set afire as an additional attack, hotels on lock down, bombs being intentionally detonated. We all had friends in that area, staying at those hotels. We were scrambling to communicate by whatever means necessary to make sure our friends and family were OK, and that our friends and family knew we were OK. Who do we know that's a 4 hour marathoner? Have they reported in yet? And all the while still trying to really understand or comprehend what is happening? After about an hour we felt that we had accounted for everyone in our running clubs both imaginary and real and their families and that everyone knew we were OK. This was supposed to be such a great marathon, the weather was near optimal; the stories at the end of this day should have been epic. Did you hear how fast so-n-so went? so-n-so set a PR. Not the horror than unfolded. My stomach was still upset from what caused me to withdraw earlier that day. Regardless I, nor anyone at the bar was really in a mood to celebrate.
|xhistopher, bhearn, wannaberunner, Nemo ME and me|
Just road the train with woman who finished between the two explosions she was almost catatonic. She was on the train with her young son and husband. You new they understood how grateful they should be that they are together at this point.
When I got back to the hotel, I just turned on the TV and consumed the stream of information. It was a bad idea, but it's something I do to cope, I want to know more. I know some of it will be conjecture, wrong, unintentionally misdirecting, but I want to hear it all. I probably drifted off to bed by midnight.
What Did I Notice From The Coverage
The response was quick decisive and effective. Police, volunteers, first responders, runners and spectators all rushed in to give aide. I heard an interview coming home from the airport tonight. It was a doctor who was 25 yds from the finish when the blasts occurred and he thought, I'm going to be first on scene. By the time he'd covered the 25 yds, there was a crowd of other Samaritans already there. I firmly believe that the immediacy of the response saved lives and limbs. The reality is that lives and limbs were lost, but some were saved. It made me proud to be a runner, a weekend Bostonian and a human.
Then Came the Sunrise
This morning when I awoke, as my imaginary friend mikeymike said, I did what runners do, I ran. I again took to the Charles. This was a far different experience than Sunday morning. I heard birds. There were rowers rowing on the Charles, there were runners running and cyclists cycling. There were students with backpacks heading to coffee houses. I saw a group of out of town officers congregated in a parking lot where the lechmere line crosses the Charles, there were guardsmen and officers from several jurisdictions there. I'd brought a $20 bill with me today, because I was gonna get a cup of coffee when I was done running. Seeing these people who came to stand guard I chose to by all the coffee $20 could by and bring them back for the forces. All I could think to say to them was good job and catch them. The streets were packed with vehicles; they were the people who work in the city and they showed up to work. I admired the ethic. They chose not to let this senseless act stop them from doing what they do. I don't think they were ignorant of the fact; I really think it was just a city saying, "we will move forward." It was a cheerful morning to me. The terror did not take root. The most eloquent words I heard to this effect so far are from my non-imaginary friend Brian:
The faith, hope and joy of that finish line in Boston and every other place we celebrate will never be taken by those cowardly pawns who mistakenly believe that their hate exceeds our love.
I walked along Newbury Street today, it parallels Boylston. There was a pronounced police presence; not intrusive, just a presence that said you're safe now.
I'm sure that this will take more time to be fully absorbed and processed, but those are the events as I recall them.
While I don't have a qualifying time for Boston, having DNF'd I may take a charity bib next year or just run the Sunday 5K, but I will be in Boston in 2014. You, whomever you are did not strike fear in me. You, whomever you are lit a fire under most of my friend to make sure they too are in Boston in 2014.
For another more eloquent account of the activities, here's my hillbilly philosopher's blog: The Logic of Long Distance