Saturday, April 20, 2013

Boston Marathon 2013 - My Story

Holy crap!  Where do I start?  I'll start with an apology.  An apology to the people that support me, to the people who have donated money to my marathon run and to myself.  This year has been different.  I have been lazy and apathetic when it come to anything that had to do with this year's Boston Marathon campaign.  I did not fund raise anywhere near as much as I should have.  I did not post to this blog with updates on how my training was going or with thanks to the people who had donated.   I also did not train as hard or as often as I should have.  Oh, I had every excuse in the book, the weather was bad this winter, I was sick for a couple of weeks, I had to travel for work, I had rehearsals twice a week, blah, blah, blah.  At the end of the day I just wasn't into it this year.  I had times when I felt motivated and I thought OK, Now I am going to get rolling.  Those feeling would last for a day or two and then I would fall back into apathy.  For that I apologize to everyone.  You deserve better and so does Max.

Then came marathon day.  In the days leading up to the marathon I didn't feel the same buildup of excitement that I have in the past.  Normally I am really into it to the point of obsession.  I am constantly monitoring my water intake to make sure that I am staying properly hydrated, I will have a plan for how often and how far I am going to run in the two weeks leading up to marathon Monday.  I will obsessively monitor the weather and spend far too many hours thinking about what I am going to wear.  This year, however, there was none of that.  I woke on Monday morning with only a small amount of nervous excitement.  I really felt like I was going through the motions.  Kristen drove me to Hopkinton around 8:30 AM.  This year I was walking to athlete's village alone.  I did not have Katie O'Connell to keep me company on the trip to the starting line this year as she decided not to run.  So everything was different this year.  As I reached the starting area I felt like my lack of training was going to turn this into a very ugly day for me.  Little did I know how the day would end.

I started off the race OK.  I took my normal pee break at about the 1/2 mile point and I continued through Hopkinton into Ashland.  I ran into a guy that I met, and ran with, last year.  We traded pleasantries and this year, we went our separate ways.  I had a lot of other racers wish me good luck and comment on how handsome my son Max is.  (My wife did another fantastic job on my shirt this year.  It featured a great picture of Max on the back)  As I made my way from Hopkinton to Ashland and then to Framingham I still felt pretty good.  I was trying to remember all of the great things that were said to me and all the great things that I saw on the trip as these are the memories that make this day special.  One moment I always remember is coming into the center of Natick where my family is waiting for me.  They cheer so loud and are so great that it always gives me a lift and, thankfully, this year that was no different.  After the traditional pictures in Natick I headed off towards Wellesley.   After a brief lift from the girls at Wellesley College I found my self thinking the worst possible thought I have so far to go and I don't know how I am going to make it.  There really was a time that I thought I might not be able to make it.  I had half of the race to go and I was sooo tired.  But I kept going and thankfully I seemed to get a second wind.  As I made my way past Newton-Wellesley Hospital I felt OK.  Not great but better than I did in downtown Wellesley. 

I made the turn onto route 30 and I knew the hills were in front of me.  I had my IPod on (this is the first marathon that I have ever used my IPod) and it helped keep my mind occupied.  As I was about halfway through the stretch between the firehouse and the top of Heartbreak Hill I started to notice something.  Police motorcycles were starting up the hill with unusual frequency.  You always see an ambulance or a police vehicle go up the street but there was something different going on this year.  There were motorcycles, state police cruisers, Suffolk county sheriff department vans and various other emergency vehicles heading up the street, not at the normal cautious pace that I was used to seeing, but at high rate of speed with sirens blaring.  I knew something was up but I never could have guessed what was unfolding in front of me.

As I approached the top of Heartbreak Hill I noticed that there were course officials and medical tent workers ushering the runners off the road.  The runners, exhausted from the 20+ miles they had already run, looked confused but were otherwise very cooperative.  When I reached the top I was told that the race had been temporarily stopped and I needed to get off the road.  When I asked why I was simply told "there is an emergency at the finish line".  I had not been there on the side of the road for more than 5 or 10 minutes when my phone rang.  It was my wife telling me that there had been 2 explosions at the finish line and that they were on the train heading away from Boston.  Everyone was safe including my two nephews Jeremy and Sam who were going to meet with my family on Boyalston Street to watch me cross the finish line.  My family would have arrived in Boston earlier but through a series of karmic events they were delayed getting on to the train and therefore never made off the train.  They were turned around at the Fenway T-Stop.  (The sobering part of all of this is that my family, had they made it into Boston would have been standing within 50 or so yards of where the 2nd bomb went off.)

I was still on the side of the road waiting for news on what would be done with us.  The people in charge at the location I was at were great.  They kept us informed and calm.  My wife would call me periodically trying to find a way to get to me to pick me up.  Unfortunately, the roads in Newton were mostly closed.  She, with our neighbor and close friend Luigi driving, made their way as far as the fire station at the corner of route 16 and route 30.  The next time she called I told her to just go home as I had no idea how long it would take to get us to somewhere where I could be picked up.  I had finally got here to agree to that when they announced that they would take us by bus to the Newton City Hall.  That was a location that my family could get to.

I climbed out of the van at city hall in Newton and scanned the immediate area for my family.  After a few moments I saw my wife, at first slowly making her way towards me.  I started to walk slowly in her direction and then as I saw the agonizing mixture of happiness, relief and barely contained tears on her face we moved faster towards each other and we ended in a hug that will forever be the moment that I will remember most about this marathon.  The feeling of relief was indescribable.  We held each other and cried.  I asked if everyone was OK and she nodded.  More relief.  We broke apart and headed towards the car where I was met by more hugs and tears of relief by my three boys, Max, Anthony and Noah.  I was also given a huge hug by one of my "daughters" Julia, who said to me "don't ever do this again.  I was really scared."

I was texted and voice mailed and facebooked by so many people.  I never realized just how many people cared about me and my family until this happened.

So that was it.  My race ended about 5 1/2 miles short but more importantly I was able to go home and have dinner with my family.  Some people weren't so lucky.  I was contacted by a reporter for the Metrowest Daily News who wanted to know my reactions to Monday's events.  When he asked if I would ever consider running in the Boston Marathon again I immediately said absolutely and my family will be at the finish line cheering me on!!!  I refuse to let this be the last marathon I run!  Those bastards stole from me one of my favorite moments.  It is the moment my I am coming down Boyalston Street and I see my boy running out to meet me and then we run, hand in hand, across the finish line of the greatest marathon in the world.  I will be back as will most of the runners.  When I started running in this marathon I didn't know what to expect and now that I have seen it I never want to let it go.

I let this year slip past me and I learned that that is unacceptable!  Life is too short and too fragile.  Next year will be the best year ever!  I will run it faster and I will raise more money for NF Inc. NE than I ever have! 

And I will see all of you there because that is who we are!!

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