I wasn’t writing about running as part of my newsletter 2 years ago.
But I was having fun trying out different marathons all over the Northeast:
New York City (of course), the Hamptons, Philadelphia, Yonkers (don’t ask), Adirondacks, Minneapolis even!
As luck would have it, for my 13th marathon, I chose to train and run the 2013 Boston Marathon,
held on April 15th of that year.
I thought I would share a few
thoughts about it now that two years have passed, and I wanted to share some thank you’s and encourage you to run the race.
It’s an absolutely terrific marathon that I want to run again, if only to be able to
celebrate the finish
Thinking about 2013
Early 2013 – Given that my newsletter generally goes out on the 15th of
every month, we completed
April’s in advance of the race.
Amtrak wifi helped me
add the final touches, working on my laptop.
I even ran into a friend’s parents on the train to Boston.
Given that I lived there from 1996-2002, I was really excited to see friends, meet their new babies, catch a Red Sox game, see the massive Expo, do a little pre-Marathon run in the city, and just soak it all in.
Marathon Morning, the schlep to the race start was just as ridiculous as getting to Staten Island for the NYC Marathon – I took a van from the hotel to a bus, which shuttled us to the start.
The anticipation was running high.
I think the excitement is probably the biggest downside to a BIG MARATHON – a lot of energy is expended before the race begins!
As I made friends with other runners in Hopkinton (where the races starts), who were also
and all waiting for the 12 noon race starting time, the scheduled newsletter went out.
Of course, I didn’t give a second thought to sharing my running plans with 2000 people – thanking so many of you who helped me raise well over what I needed made a lot of sense.
I didn’t know that men would detonate two bombs, where lives were lost and hundreds injured.
Three close friends managed to complete the race in advance of the bombing, and we quickly took a train back to New York.
Only when the train pulled out of the station at 5:30 that afternoon did I even think we would get home that night.
I still wonder why they allowed trains to leave Boston that afternoon.
Once we left Back Bay, we settled in to share Champagne we had brought for an entirely different purpose.
used it more to calm our nerves.
Amtrak also serves Dogfish Head beer, which is about 9% alcohol.
As information trickled out from Boston to New York, we needed every drop.
But between website updates and gossipy chatter all over the train, the outpouring of care and support via text, phone, and email was simply overwhelming.
Hundred of facebook posts, calls from friends, and people confirming that we were all okay.
Everyone realized that we had been a part of something serious, horrible, and tragic.
Add to this that I had heard both bombs detonate, had seen the smoke, and had finished the marathon barely five minutes before everything went haywire.
My thoughts were still swirling around.
When the first explosion happened, a Boom that was somewhat muted by the throng of people walking together, having just finished, I looked over my right shoulder and saw smoke moving from right to left.
I thought that a restaurant kitchen had caught fire and said to myself, “Gee, that’s bad luck.”
Only when the second explosion happened did I think, “Well, we’re under attack.
I have to get the hell out of here.”
Police running in the opposite direction, toward the noise, confirmed my concerns.
Things remained a blur for hours, too much information really to
put together at that point.
I finally got home that evening around 9:30, and essentially collapsed, feeling incredible relief to be home.
I realized that only because Boston holds its race on Monday did my wife and children not come to watch the finish – they would have been at the finish line watching that day.
I’m reminded of the sadness, anger and relief I felt for days.
We all watched events
unfold, and now that the trial is nearly done, two years later, I want to see how I can help you think of the marathon in a happier light again.
Here are a few things to think about, if you’re considering running the marathon:
(1) You don’t have to be fast
You do have to be super fast to qualify
for the race, but
you don’t have to be super fast to run it.
There are many, many charities that have spots.
If you’re not able to run a 3:30 marathon (women) or 3:15 (my age group), then raise some money!
I have found over the years that my best races often are when I have a real purpose other than having fun.
(2) Best Gear Ever
The Boston Marathon has the best marathon gear.
They offer jackets in awesome colors – I’m not sure why they manage to make it so much
better than other marathons.
Come on, New York.
Step it up!
(3) Amazing Fans
You are running the oldest marathon in the United States.
People have been watching and cheering during this race their entire lives.
The New York City Marathon is not even 50 years old (check out the documentary on Netflix
– it’s amazing).
I vividly remember watching from a party along the marathon course in Brookline what felt like a million years ago in the late 90’s.
The time of the race helps, in that college students can roll out of bed at the crack of 11am and watch the whole race.
It is an EVENT, in the same way that Boston fans LIVE for the Red Sox –
there’s a qualitative difference between the fans of the Boston Marathon and the NYC marathon – there are fewer fans than here, but
it’s something else.
The MetroWest fans usually take the day off (it’s a holiday in Boston) and people are cheering the entire way!
The race is mostly a straight 26 miles from Hopkinton to Boston.
If it’s a sunny day, you will get a sunburn on your right arm and shoulder.
For the first half of the race, the downhill is intoxicating.
You feel like you can fly!
A few rolling hills, but the first 10 miles are down, down, down.
You get a hill around mile 11, but as you hit Wellesley, you get the 1-2 punch – time to coast downhill, and about 20,000 screaming college students.
I saw runners stopping at the “Kiss Me” signs to follow directions.
You get the point.
And so, when you start the set of hills at mile 16, culminating in “Heartbreak Hill” at mile 21, you may realize, too late, that you fell into the trap of overconfidence.
I know that I did!
I like to tell people that I ran a really great 21 mile race, after which I had to walk/run the end.
For the love of God, please take it easy on the first half of the race!
Leave some gas in the tank!
If you do pace yourself well, the last five miles are quite a celebration.
And my hope is to start training for Boston 2016 in October, with an eye on properly celebrating at the finish line.
Here’s some more info for you.
Have a great month of running!