Thursday, April 19, 2012

06:03:42 - Melting in the Marathon

There is no way to accurately convey just how freaking hot it was on Monday but I'll give it a shot.    The day started for me at around 6:30 AM because that was about the time that I finally said to myself  "Well I'm not going to sleep anymore so I might as well get up"  I felt pretty good when I got up and I put on my awesome shirt that my wife Kristen battles over every year. (believe me when I tell you, every year she has the worst time with the shirt and every year it comes out looking awesome)

Awesome. Just Awesome.
 ...and if that weren't enough...

This is what she made for Max

I had the pleasure of riding in with two "real" runners and two of the nicest people on the earth.

This is me, Katie O'Connel and Jonathan Steeves
This is about as close to them as I will get all day
 Everybody was psyched, even though the weather was shaping up to be everything they warned us about, and we headed off to Hopkinton.

Where I saw this dude.

Hopkinton was everything it always is. It was crowded and hot but everyone seemed to be ready for the challenge. I am happy to report that my normal bathroom break did not happen on the side of the road just shortly after the start but in a port-a-potty in this vast city of dreams.

Behold the Glory of my Kingdom of Poop

The race started off great and I quickly settled into a rhythm. I was very careful not to start out too fast (a mistake I have made before and would have been deadly this year) and my calf was feeling pretty good…for about the first 2 ½ miles when I started to feel it. I thought “holy crap…I have a loooooong way to go and I can already feel this?!? Not good.” But as it turns out my calf (thanks to my newly purchased calf sleeve) was the least of my problems on Monday.

Hopkinton turned into Ashland and Ashland turned into Framingham and Framingham turned into Natick and the sun continued to get hotter and hotter. The crowds were amazing. Because of the nice weather they came out by the thousands. There were very few spots early on where the street wasn’t lined with wildly cheering spectators, as always, offering a variety of drinks, snacks and, on this day, a hose to cool you off. The best sign I saw was one that offered “Twizzlers, Vaseline and hugs”. I thought “what else do you need in life”.

The best part of running the Boston Marathon, for me, is the crowds. They are more supportive than you can imagine and they are and endless source of distraction and entertainment. In east Natick I made a spectacular reception of a pass from a teenager while holding my water bottle and a wash cloth that I was using to wipe my face. The energy I used to make that once in a lifetime catch probably added 45 minutes to my finishing time but it was a remarkable catch that was commented on and cheered by everyone that saw it. So…you know...totally worth it!

While we are talking about Natick I can’t fail to mention this is my favorite part of the run. This is where my family always is, cheering wildly. This year, my amazing wife Kristen, as she does every time I run the marathon, got my family and our neighbors, the Molinaro’s out to Natick where I was greeted with frozen towels, a frozen gel thing to wear around my neck, a healthy slathering of sunscreen and pictures. Take a look at this video and tell me that this isn’t a pit stop that even NASCAR would be proud of.

After that I went through the spray tent at the Natick fire station and headed off on my way. Natick turned into Wellesley and the girls at Wellesley College didn’t disappoint. They were as loud as they always are and they always provide a nice pick-me-up heading into the halfway point. While headed through downtown Wellesley I was surprised by a gentleman that came from the sidelines and started to run next to me. As it turns out it was the music teacher in the Millis school system, Mark Femino. He ran next to me for about ¾ of a mile keeping me company. It was an unexpected and pleasant surprise that was a highlight of this years run.

Not long after Mr. Femino and I parted ways I began running next to a gentleman named John who I found out was a school teacher in Boston and we kept each other company / motivated each other for most of the rest of race. As Wellesley became Newton I was pleasantly surprised that my body, particularly my legs, was doing pretty good. Usually by the time I reach the hills in Newton every step is an exercise in torture. My feet hurt. My legs hurt. My back hurts. Pretty much everything from the neck down hurts. But this year everything was ok. My legs and feet were tired but I wasn’t in agony. The only thing that was starting to give me trouble was the muscle just above and on the inside of my knees. They were beginning to spasm. This was a problem that I had the last time I ran but this year it started much later in the race and it wasn’t nearly as bad.

So here we are…cresting Heartbreak Hill and heading down the hill into Brookline and the heat has really taken its toll on me. Even though throughout the day you couldn’t go ½ mile without someone spraying you with a hose or offering you ice or offering you water, it was too hot and I had been out there for too long. My body really was starting to break down. I could only run for ½ - ¾ of a mile at a time before I had to stop and walk due to my spasming leg muscles or my hamstrings, which were now starting to give me trouble, or just from sheer exhaustion. Everything began to take on that hazy summertime feeling when it’s so hot that everyone is operating in slow motion. Even the spectators were starting to thin out and the ones that were there looked almost as hot and tired as the runners did.

As Brookline quickly became Boston, I now was sure that I would finish. Yeah I felt like crap but I only had a couple of miles to go and I knew that Max and the rest of my family were waiting for me on Boylston Street. When I saw the turn for Hereford Street I called my wife and told her I would be there shortly. As I rounded the corner from Hereford to Boylston Street I was out of gas. The finish line looked impossibly far away but I kept going. I have never walked across the finish line and I wasn’t about to do that this year. I got about half way there and I saw Max running out to meet me with a huge smile on his face and that gave me just enough strength to bring it home.   Here is how it looked from the sidelines.

After telling Max to slow down a little we made it across the finish line. It took me just over 6 hours. I want to feel like that is a horrible time but I think I am more proud of that, my worst time, than of my best.

Well that is my marathon tale for this year. Thanks to everyone that supported me along the way. Thanks to everyone that donated. You all rock and you inspired me to finish what I started. I can’t tell you how much inspiration you’ve given me over the last couple of months and I can’t thank you enough,

Thanks go out to my wife Kristen who has almost as difficult day on marathon Monday as I do. She drags a whole slew of people from Hopkinton to Natick to Boston and back again and it always touches my heart that she does it. This year was especially heroic because she wasn’t feeling 100 % and…MY GOD IT WAS HOT. Thanks Kristen…I’m glad I’m on your team.

Til Next time…

1 comment:

  1. Great job well done, Congratulations ! Awesome performances you had, I love those pics. Looking forward for more updates, thanks for sharing !