Boston Marathon Finish courtesy of Boston.com
Finally it’s time- Saturday; 4/18: Jean and I take the Boltbus from NY to Boston- ($15.00 a person!) For that price, do we really care that we are the oldest people on the bus? The crowd is plugged in and quiet (the bus has wifi.) The anticipatory marathon chatter begins.
Shiny, happy Boston is marathon mad. Blue Boston Marathon jackets are everywhere, as are passionate runners conversing about their favorite marathons (people love Berlin!), killer Boston Marathon moments and devotion to their chosen sneaker. The Marathon expo is crazy crowded: Think Times Square during the holidays. Everyone seems to be buying more of the unicorn jackets.
Boston; verdant and luminous; replete with jewel-like parks, enticing shops and restaurants and diverse neighborhoods. It is difficult to restrain ourselves from overdoing it pre-marathon.
April 20th/Patriot’s Day: We wait on a vast line to board a public school bus to Hopkinton. The driver takes almost 1 and ¼ hours to get to the Athlete’s Village (wrong turn, but he isn’t talking.) We wonder, just how far away is this place?
Hopkinton/Athlete’s Village: We are suddenly struck with the enormity and grand tradition of the race. 26,000 runners took part in the 113th Boston Marathon. An estimated 10 million dollars was raised for charity.
The Athlete’s Village amenities are standard marathon fare at best: sodden bagels, green bananas, eternal bathroom lines and dull coffee (do only lesser marathons serve Starbucks?) We speak to people (to name just a few) from Berlin, Ireland, Australia, Amsterdam, Brazil, Canada and Louisville, Kentucky (she tried for 25 years to qualify for Boston and qualified this year with less than a second to spare!) The status question: “What wave are you in”? And then, “Where did you qualify?” People were benevolent as we described our lot: charity runners (for the Cystic Fibrosis association.)
The weather, cold at the start, is ideal for running-cool (40’s) and overcast; (those obsessed about) headwinds only occasionally present. Suddenly, it was time to start—–Our running guru’s, Monica and Heidi, warned us about the hills; down as well as up. The first 4 downhill miles (too fast out, novice mistakes!) lead to incredibly sore quads by mile 9, a first for me. I began to perseverate; how soon can I take 2 more Advil’s? Even after hill training, the uphills at miles 17-21, so late in the game, are grueling.
Mile 20.5: A flash of grace; an announcement, “You have just passed Heartbreak Hill, the hills are finished.” I pass the very festive and upbeat Boston College crowd. Time to celebrate with an Advil and Double Latte GU! I communicate with my husband and daughter via the text/sensors—“I’m doing this guys, but it’s so hard!!!”
I am so grateful to the crowds; screaming and passionate—so rare for the slow runner to experience throughout a race. Old friends, Kris and Nell, are at mile 25.5 (so great to see you!) The stately finish line beckons.
I have just run through a nonstop, forget your troubles, come on, and get happy marathon party through lovely New England towns and quintessential Boston neighborhoods. It may take a while before I can get up or bend down without cringing. But the best stories are often born partially of pain, aren’t they?