120th Boston Marathon - 4/18/16

Training for the Boston Marathon this year was a bit tough. I had a tight tendon below my left ankle that wouldn’t go away since the last Boston Marathon. I took a break through most of the summer, probably too much. As I started to work on building my mileage up, the pain eventually came back. I tried different brands and styles of shoes. I started biking and I even took an entire month off. Mentally, I felt out of shape and depressed. I started eating poorly again and drinking a few more beers than the usual.

I finally decided this thing wasn’t going to fix itself and I had to do something to work on my fitness. I got an appointment with a doctor and a membership at our small town local gym.  I started with rowing, indoor cycling, and strengthening before the doctor’s appointment. Two weeks down the road, I had my appointment. While I was there, I was thinking, although still hurting, how much better my ankle was feeling. The doctor basically didn’t do anything, but cost me a lot of money in x-rays of my foot. He prescribed a night splint that seemed to help. Otherwise, no running for six weeks, and it was OK to do the gym workouts. Soon, I added the elliptical and started adding some weight to the strengthening exercises. Two more weeks of this, my ankle was looser and Troy and I put together a plan to gradually get me back on the road. Finally, I got to where I spent half the time in the gym on machines. The plan was to get me to finish Boston and hopefully, BQ with a much slower pace. After lots of struggling through the training, I was going to be happy to finish. If I had to walk, I was just going to enjoy it and get some pictures and video.

On Saturday, some 261 Fearless Ambassadors and Kathrine Switzer took to the streets of Boston for a one mile run and coffee at 9 AM. I met some wonderful ladies that morning and some good times talking about the 261 Fearless movement. It’s going to be a busy year. All these wonderful ladies were excited and their enthusiasm inspired me even more.

Troy and I spent the rest of the day enjoying the expo. We picked up Amby Burfoots’ Book on “First Ladies of Running”. I also stood in Kathrine’s line to pick up her book, “Marathon Woman” and have it signed. She scolded me for never reading it. All her inspiring stories I read from magazines and the internet. I was so happy to have a signed copy even though it took me this long to read it. than the race, it was another great Boston Marathon weekend.

The next day we went to listen to a panel of the “First Ladies” from Amby Burfoot’s book, including Kathrine. Listening to the women filled me with so much inspiration from all their stories. These women ran fearlessly most men thought it was impossible. They did have wonderful supporting husbands and some of their husbands were their coaches. Listening to these “first ladies”, our 261 Ambassadors were so inspired it brought tears to our eyes yet again.

On the morning of the race, I went in to Boston with Troy from Braintree. It takes about 50 minutes from Braintree to get to Boston. You could already tell it was going to be a warm day. When we got to Boston Commons I had time to kill so I spent my time eating Dunkin Donuts, facebooking, and drinking coffee for one last carb load and to keep my nerves in check.

Finally, I dropped off my gear bag and got on the bus for the athletic village and the start line. That is the longest drive ever. (Reminder, make sure you pee before you get on the bus.) On the way, I sat next to and talked to a nice lady. I honestly can’t remember anything in particular that we talked about except that it was a pleasant talk. The cool thing about Boston during Marathon Weekend is that everyone is your friend. You can feel comfortable with all these other runners. You share a bond with them instantly because you and the other runner knows exactly what you’ve been through to get to Boston.  It is a mutual understanding that you only can understand if you are a runner.

When I got there I realized that I forgot to fill out the back of my bib and went to the medical tent to take care of that. Then I stood in line twice to go potty. All I can say is that it was already hot. And all I can think of was, “if I’m hot. Troy’s has got to be burning up.”

So, now, finally at the start and in my corral. I really forgot how long that walk was from the Athletic village. Unfortunately, earlier that morning I kind of had some tummy aches and took some pepto-bismol. I was so afraid I would have to deal with diarrhea the whole 26.2 miles. I guess my nerves about the race and my training were getting to me. However, by the start, that seemed to have taken care of itself, but it was just getting too hot for a marathon. The gun went off and here goes a ton of people walking to the start line and getting their watches ready. On the first mile, I stopped at the first water station. I never do this sometimes I don’t even stop at the 2 mile stop. Now, I really knew it was going to be along heated run. Because of the hills in the beginning, I didn’t quite stick with my plan of 8:45 pace. I was running faster. I wasn’t necessarily feeling great, but I think it was the downhills in the beginning teasing me. I ran a lot of my paces faster than an 8:45, many were at 8:30 or better. I just threw the game plant right out the window.

By mile 16, I was done. I could tell with my legs feeling like they were knotting up from calves to quads. The Newton hills were going to do me in. I stubbornily kept running. I was determined that heartbreak hill wasn’t going to break me. And mostly it didn’t. I stopped when I thought that I finally cleared it to stretch out the knots. Only to find out that I had ONE MORE HILL. So, I trudged on to the top of Heartbreak hill.  I continued and stopped a lot but mostly to stretched out the wretched knots. I watched a guy get busted along Cambridge because he didn’t have a bib. Another runner had outed him to a police officer on the course. The officer caught him and pulled him off the course. The individual was very cooperative, but don’t mess with the Boston Marathon or the Boston police. These guys are serious.

I finally go to the Citgo Sign. And way before then I decided that the way things were going that I was not going to get the BQ. So I did what I planned and that was to sit back and enjoy the show if it came down to it. So I got my Citgo Sign picture. When I finally, got to Boylston, I took advantage of getting video of the best fans in the world.

The Boston Marathon brings people together. They shout out to you as if their noise is going to carry you the next mile or the whole distance.  As if they think, all their hollering will physically carry you and give you strength. And well, IT DOES.

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