Congratulations to all who ran the Boston Marathon this year. #Bostonstrong
Boston was simply an incredible experience. I was blessed to have family nearby and they treated me like nothing short of royalty the entire weekend and that just added to the event. The entire city was buzzing with positive energy. I knew it was going to be a special weekend when the lady at the Delta counter in Atlanta bent over backwards to help get me up there for the race after some mechanical problems delayed things. The race was getting 24 hours news coverage and the anticipation had been building for a full year. It was going to be something special.
The first hand slaps had put a smile on my face though and it stayed there for 24 miles. Ear to ear my grin stretched seeing the supportive signs, the kids with flags, and the love for this event that brings so many disparate peoples together in a triumphant march against terrorism. The pride in Boston and the marathon in general was seen at every street corner and you just smiled seeing the joy and life in the people of Boston. An entire city and state took back their city in the span of a few hours. Some were not very eloquent (David Ortiz?), but the sentiment was the same: this is our city, our race, and we will not stop living because of some depraved loonies. It was incredible. The crowds were incredible but the race too was amazing. At mile 8 I crested a hill and could see thousands of runners in front of me. Not to sound arrogant, but at basically every race in my life I have started at or near the front. Even at Peachtree I was only a few rows from the front and finished in the top 200 or so. Last time at Boston I was in the first corral as well. This time though I could see 5000 runners in front of me and it was breath-taking. I turned to the guy next to me and said "this is why we run Boston."
Running through Boston now I had some demons to face. In 2008 I walked much of this part of the course. For those of you interested, I had trained harder for that marathon than any other and it did not go well. I had severe stomach cramps that prevented me from eating or drinking and after 20 miles the wheels came off. I went from 20 miles at pace to 6.2m at pace. I walked in a race for the first, second...and eighth times. It was terrible. In 2014 I was flying by runners and spectators. At this part of the marathon you can only do two things to get the attention of spectators: look terrible or look great. I got a ton of cheers in 2008 but even more in 2014. My singlet said "machine" on it, a left over from our 2013 cross country mileage awards, and I was greeted with "come on machine!" and "go machine" for the next 4 miles. By mile 24 my legs were fatiguing but I knew I could make it. The smile was gone but it was soon replaced by determination. The crowds were now 8-10 deep in some places and it was like running in a tunnel of love - noisy, screeching, sometimes a little tipsy love from folks that can't say "car" or "yard" the right way. Right y'all? I turned on to Boylston street and the finish was in sight. All the emotion of 26 miles, plenty of long runs, and months of anticipation combined with the spirited crowds celebration. I was filled with the raw experience and I tried to take it all in until I heard my name. They announced my name as I neared the finish. I had passed a chip reader and of the dozens of people finishing every few seconds they picked mine out to announce. I pumped my skinny arms as I crossed the line. It was a perfect ending.
I was picked up by my father-in-law, road the T back to his car, and finished the night at Harry's Diner on route 9 and then with nearly a quart of butter crunch ice cream and a Boston cream pie donut (Lent ended night for me!).
*Thank you to my sister-in-law for the iPhone photos. And for being a kick-a$$ sister-in-law.