Thursday, April 22, 2010

5:33:20 - A Tale of Two Marathons - Part 1

The 114th running of the Boston Marathon is in the books and I am proud to say that I finished it.  I am not happy to report, though, that I did not meet my goal of finishing in under 5 hours.  I wish I could say that the weather was to blame for my time or that there were some other factor beyond my control that contributed to a slower pace than I wanted, but the fact is that I have no one to blame but mysef.  The weather was fine.  It was a little warm when the sun was out and a little cool when the clouds took over but over all it was good running weather.  No, the problem was me (cuz let's face it, running is not exactly a team sport).  My lack of training in the two months leading up to the marathon are what did me in.  For me, this year was a tale of two marathons.  The first half and the second half.

The day started out good.  The weather was sunny but cool when my cousin Scotty arrived at my house for the trip into Hopkinton.  He was as excited as a kid on Christmas.  You see, Scotty grew up in Natick AND he is a real runner, so running in The Boston Marathon was beyond exciting for him.  We took a couple of pictures on our deck and I want you to notice the difference in outfits between he and I.

Aren't you digging Scotty's short shorts
...and I'm dressed for running the Iditarod

We were pumped and ready!  Kristen dropped us off as close to the starting line as we could get but that still means that we had to walk for a mile and a half or so to get to athletes villiage.  Once there we took in the sights and drank in the palpable excitement that hangs all over that area.

We also did the goofy things that everyone does.

Then it was time to head to the starting line.  Where we would wait in a sea of runners for the 10:30 start of wave 2.

I know the picture quality sucks but this is a shot looking down Rt 135 toward the starting line.

10:30 came and we took off like a shot...oh we didn't we walked, slowly, toward the starting line for about 10 minutes.  THEN, we were off like a shot. I am proud to say that I beat Scotty to the starting line.  However that would be the last that I saw of him as he got into his stride and quickly pulled away from me as I searched frantically for a quiet spot on the side of the road to pee.  By the way, you really haven't lived until you have peed off the side of the road while you hear cheering from spectators and the din of several thousand runners going past you.  Very surreal.

After, my obligitory early race bathroom break I settled into my stride.  I felt pretty good and as the miles ticked away I noticed that I was averaging about a ten and a half minute mile which was faster than the 11 1/2 minute mile pace that I needed to reach my 5 hour goal.  Everything was feeling good and I was having a great time with the spectators.  There are not many times in your life (unless you are lucky enough to be a professional athlete) when you can hear a group of strangers chant your name but that is exactly what happens about a dozen or more times during the race.  The high fives, the shouts of ecouragement and updates of the score of the Red Sox game are all part of the great experience that is the Boston Marathon.  It really is fun.

What is also fun is seeing people you know along the route and especially seeing your family who have fought road closures and crowds to see you for about 10 seconds.  My family is always in Natick center and it always makes me smile to see them as I head throught the intersection of Rt 135 and Rt 27.

Heading toward the family

I don't know what's going on with my face here

I gotta go.  I have a race to run

Shortly after I left my family a man sitting on the side of the road called out my name and when I looked up at him this rather stout, older gentleman said to me "Scott!...You look great but could you pick up the pace a little?"  I smiled and looked back at him and asked if he would be willing to show me what my pace should be.  He laughed and gestured toward his prodigious belly and said "What...are you kidding?  Look at me. "  Like I said, I was having fun.

One of the things that I look forward to most during the marathon is what they call "The Scream Tunnel".  This, of course, refers to the girls of Wellsely College that turn out in huge numbers to cheer on the runners.  You hear them long before you can see them and there is a certain amount of anticipation that the runners get as they approach the tunnel.  When you get there the sound is deafening.  A solid mile of high fives and signs offering kisses to any runner that would like one.  I can't tell who has more fun the girls or the runners.

Unfortunately, for me, this was about where things started to come apart and I will delve into the second half of the race in part 2 of this post.

Til then...

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