If you are checking this recap just to see what my race results were, here you go. The full recap is coming soon.
Below is how I did:
|In Gender||2985/14588 (Male)|
|In Division||2155/4965 (M18-39 Age Group)|
“I ran the Boston Marathon.”
When it comes to accomplishments for a runner, this is one of the most prestigious that you can achieve. It takes a lot of work and a lot of support. I can now proudly make that proclamation and share with you the experience I had for the 2015 Boston Marathon.
My wife and I flew into Boston on Friday, April 17th. We took a cab from the airport to Jen’s high school friend, Sharon’s apartment in Beacon Hill. Her apartment would serve as our home base for the next few days. I could, and probably will, write page after page about things we did and saw in Boston that weekend. In the couple days leading up to the race, we managed to take a Duck Tour, a Beer Tour, a Red Sox Game and a “Sharon Walking Tour” which took all over the city to her favorite eateries and historic spots. I even squeezed in a run with the fine folks from Tracksmith Clothing, and one with Nathan Brown and Tad Kardis who are also SKORA Ambassadors. I got to have dinner with the these two guys along with Brian Fisher who completed the quartet of SKORA Ambassadors in Boston. All of this action paled in comparison to the upcoming race morning. Fortunately, I felt great and was ready to go bright and early Patriots Day morning.
If you stay at a hotel, or in my case, with a friend, in the city of Boston, you have to catch a bus from Boston Common to the start line in Hopkinton. I met Nathan at 6:15 on the corner of Beacon and Charles to make our way across the Common to the line of buses. It was great having a friend there to talk to and take some of the nerves away. There was a bag check at the bus area, but I elected to just bring my water bottle and a spi-belt with my race fuel in it. Nate had met up with another friend, Michael Scott from RunNerdsRock.com, and the three of us boarded a bus to head to Hopkinton.
The bus ride really puts the distance you are about to run into perspective. It took an hour to get there. I had found a seat with a runner who was participating in his first Boston Marathon as well. Not only was it his first Boston, but it was the first time he had been in the US. Stefan flew in from Germany for the race and to see some of the history that city of Boston provides. I enjoyed talking with him and hearing about the races he had run in Europe and his thoughts on the US so far. I can imagine the experience for him, knowing absolutely no one around, could be a bit intimidating. Runners seem to always come together to help each other out, and in a big race like Boston, you are surrounded with 30,000 other people with the same goals and interests as you. On race day you have more friends and support than you can even imagine.
The bus dropped us off at Athletes Village. We still had about two hours until they called for our wave and corrals to line up at the start. Our group of four stuck together and managed to stake a claim to a small area under one of the tents where we put down some of the mylar heat blankets and some cardboard we found to sit on. There were several hundred port-a-potties surrounding the tent. As more and more busses arrived, the lines started to get longer and longer. Then the rain came. Instantly the tent was packed tight with people. Getting out of the tent and back to use the bathroom was quite a challenge. It was like playing twister to find a spot to step without treading on another runner.
Finally they started calling wave one by corral assignment. Our little group started to disperse. Nate was in corral 4 while I was in 6. So I wished him luck as he got his game face on and started his mental prep on the way to the start. When my wave was called, I began the walk to the corrals. It was about a three quarter mile walk. There were so many people that there wasn’t really enough room to jog or warm up much. One last bank of port-a-johns where set up before the start, but I opted to skip it because the lines looked long and I always worry about missing the start. During the walk over, I heard the gun go off for the start of the elite women runners. They go off at 9:23 while the rest of the field started at 10:00. I did manage some lunges and nervous jumping around to get somewhat loose for the race. I kept an eye out for fellow Running Dad Benjay Kempner. We met at the Shamrock Marathon the year before and ran the final 6 miles together, qualifying for Boston with the same time. We had stayed in contact since then and planned on running Boston together since we had the same starting corral. He was nowhere to be seen, though. When the National Anthem was being sung, it sank in that I was about to run the prestigious Boston Marathon.
Then the starting gun went off. It’s a strange feeling to have the starting gun go off and you are stuck just standing there, waiting for the crowd to move. It starts as a walk, then a jog, and finally after two minutes and forty-five seconds, I crossed the starting line at a slower-than-usual pace to embark on the route to Boston. The first few miles are downhill. It is really amazing to see the street ahead of you full of thousands upon thousands of runners. It is a fluid, colorful, organic sea of people. It is also a bit frustrating that you can’t really hit your stride and get to the pace you want. To do that you have to weave in and out of traffic, and I elected to save my energy and wait until the crowd thinned out to make up some of the time lost in the first stage of the race.
In the first few miles, many runners stop along the road and take what little privacy they can get from the trees, to pee. Like me, they must have skipped the last port-a-pot area. I realized I was in the same boat and had to pee as well. I didn’t want to stop and go in the open,so I waited. And waited. I passed quite a few port-a-pots but they all had a steady stream of runners and I didn’t want to wait in line. Seven miles into the race, I managed to spot a port-a-pot from a distance and kept an eye on it to see if it was free. I darted in, took care of business, and only lost about thirty seconds. If I do Boston again, I will not skip that final bank of port-a-pots.
By this point, I had passed through Hopkinton, Ashland and Framingham. The weather was cool but dry and there were a lot of spectators along the route to cheer every runner on. I can’t say enough about the crowd support. I made a point to high five as many kids as I could. I know I lost a little time making my way to the sides to get every kid I could, but it was totally worth it. Passing through the town of Natick, I could start to hear the siren song of screaming college girls in the town of Wellesley, at least a mile away.
Wellesley College marks the halfway point of the race. Hundreds of Wellesely college girls line the right side of the road screaming their heads off and offering free kisses to passing runners. It is an understatement to say these girls are loud. It is known as the “Wellesley Scream Tunnel”. It is nearly deafening and really gets you motivated to pick up the pace, unless of course you stop for a smooch. I skipped the crazy kissers and continued through Wellesley as the rain started to set in. Along with the rain came a steady headwind that gusted up to 20 miles per hour directly in our faces.
Even in the rain and wind, there were kids lined up along the side seeking high fives. This kept me going through the miserable weather. I will say, though, that the cooler temperatures helped me stay more comfortable than if it had been hot and humid. I felt strong through Newton and actually picked up the pace going up the infamous Newton Hills. I kept preparing for hill after hill, expecting Heartbreak Hill to sneak up and steal all of my energy. When I crested a hill and saw a sign that said “You have conquered Heartbreak Hill! It’s all downhill from here!”, I couldn’t believe I had immersed unscathed and feeling good.
The downhills were not as kind to me and I stared to feel my quads and calves start to tighten coming through Brookline. I would start to pick up the pace and feel knots start to form in my muscles and I’d back off a bit. Seeing the CITGO sign told me that the finish line was close and I just needed to hang on for a few more miles. The iconic CITGO sign has been a part of the Boston skyline since 1940, and while it doesn’t sound like a glamorous landmark, it is a beautiful site for runnerscounting down the final miles of the Boston Marathon.
I continued to push through the burning in my legs. Finally my calf decided to totally cramp and lock up at 25.5 miles into the race. At that exact moment a familiar face passed me. It was Benjay! Seeing him gave me a boost of energy and at just the right time. The two of us made the right turn onto Hereford Street, shouting to each other “We’re running the Boston Marathon!” and other nonsense that sounded awesome at the time but was probably pure jibberish. Rounding the corner onto Boyleston Street, I couldn’t help but feel the emotions of the moment come over me. The finish line was in sight and I was going to cross that finish line at the fastest speed I could muster. Everyone tells me you should soak it all in and enjoy the moment. Not me. There are thousands of people cheering me on, I’m going to give my all and shave as many seconds off my time as I can.
Benjay and I crossed the finish line at 3:02. After a sweaty man-hug, the first thing I said was, “That was incredible! Let’s do it again, RIGHT NOW!” I was on cloud nine. I honestly think I could have run quite a few more miles just on the adrenaline from finishing the most famous marathon in the world.
That adrenaline soon waned, as did my body temperature. I collected my finisher medal and had a volunteer help me get bundled up in the heat blankets that they were passing out. The volunteers were incredible. They made sure everyone was tucked into their blankets and best as possible and if medical attention was needed, they were quickly attended to. I found the family pickup area that coordinated with my last name and waited for Jen and Sharon to find me.
Finally they found me and we walked the two excruciatingly cold miles back to Sharon’s apartment in anticipation of a hot shower and dry clothes. That shower after the Boston Marathon was the greatest shower of my life – capping off the greatest race of my life.
I had enough energy remaining later in the day to grab dinner and then have a couple drinks with my friend Nate, who absolutely killed it – 2:46 was his time. How does he do that? Crazy! It must have been our friendly rivalry that pushed hit past his goal. I’ll get him next time.
The whole Boston experience was incredible! I loved everything about the whole weekend. The city, the people, the history, the food, the race. I especially need to thank my wife and family for allowing me the time and support necessary to train for and compete in the marathon; my running coach, Kyle Kranz, for getting me into peak shape for the biggest race of my life; Nate Brown for the friendly competition and encouragement that pushed me to improve every day; my co-workers for having a Boston Marathon Casual Monday to support me; SpecialMade Goods & Services, Inc., Hot Stamp Supply Company, Share The Cheer and Winchester Ciderworks for sponsoring me by donating to The Lucas Fund; Sharon for allowing Jen and I to stay with her and serve as our personal concierge and tour guide for the weekend; and finally everyone who offered support, tips and encouragement throughout the whole process. It really meant a lot to me and will be a memory I cherish for a lifetime.