As you can tell from my title, I didn't actually run Boston this year but Dave did! Wow...what an experience. I have been to Boston quite often being from the East coast originally and I've spent considerable time in the city itself, albeit most of it was a bit blurry to several New Years Eve's and having fun at bars with my cousins and friends, so this visit was somewhat of a different experience.
My first clue that this was different was the absolutely gi-normous expo for this race. They had an entirely separate room for you to just TRY ON t-shirts. Then, once you selected your size you could go get one from the t-shirt people. Very cool and prevents you from working your ass off so hard to get to Boston and then you end up with some awful cotton t-shirt or one made too skinny or absolutely huge. Brilliant idea that t-shirt try on!
The expo was huge--as in several rooms huge! Not to mention the fact that we fell prey to the addidas sponsorship area and his parents were as proud as parents could be and outfitted Dave quite nicely with some new Boston '08 items.
Though, we were careful not to fall prey in the Nike section where some shirts actually read:
"Boston '08...I qualified."
We wrapped up at the Expo and ate lunch on Newbury Street..YUM. Then, we made a huge mistake we walked from Newbury Street through Boston Common, Fanueil Hall and all the way back to our hotel near the Boston waterfront. Gulp. We walked probably about 6 miles total for the day, not exactly great for anyone's legs including Dave's...but the weather was gorgeous! We met up with my new blog buddy, Meredith and her husband ....also Dave for dinner in the North End---super tasty dinner and they were awesome!
On Sunday, my parents arrived and while we waited for them we drove up to Gloucester, MA and had some lunch and just hung out......Sunday night we grabbed dinner again in the North End with my cousin and his wife---caught up on family antics and enjoyed some red wine and hit a bakery afterwards for Dave to purchase an ENTIRE loaf of bread since we couldn't find a bagel for the race the next morning. Oh yeah, I managed to get in a few tasty cookies. YUM.
The morning of: I was so nervous Dave would run into issues the morning of, since our hotel was reasonably far out. He got up at 5:30----which in hindsight he said was so early but he had a lot of time to chill before the race. He caught the T and made it to his bus no problem.....and I was chatting on the phone with him at 8:00 a.m. (the start for him was 10:00-he was in the first wave).....he was relaxed, excited and ready to roll.
We talked about him just enjoying it. He had worked so hard to get there and we were all going to be out there cheering him on, so I was just hoping he wasn't going to get caught up in his "finishing" time and all that crazy stuff.
I met my parents and Dave's parents in the lobby and we began our own marathon of "finding Dave." In the same weekend they had a Red Sox game (the same day), the Bruin's playoffs and a Celtics game I think? Anyway, the T was PACKED. We spent over an hour underground, waiting to get to mile 24 where we would eventually see Dave. We met up with my cousin John and Laura again and parked ourselves outside of Staples at Mile 24 and waited.
I had text messages coming in left and right from family members.....my sister dawn said Dave ran with Lance Armstrong for the first 20k! What we didn't know was just how challenging this course was. Dave said he knew at the half marathon mark that he was going to struggle a bit. He knew the course was unexpectedly challenging, but he hadn't really trained on hills. With his schedule at the hospital, he'd get in his runs, but he didn't have time to really vary the terrain. Lessons for next time: RUN HILLS.
See, the first fourteen miles are downhill, so it's deceiving, and the "Hills" aren't really hills, but they're rolling enough, you're either up or your down a hill in the Boston marathon, so your legs are totally trashed during the race. I have to say I haven't ever seen so many people walk. The course definitely takes its toll on people---even in great weather!
Lance Armstrong passed us--looking in pain and substantially bigger than his skinny vascular-looking cycling days. He was surrounded by actual runners though--not a pace group. Way to go Lance for training on your own =0.
Dave saw us at mile 24 and someone said, he doesn't look happy...and I knew from the look on his face, he wasn't unhappy, he was hurting. He raised his arms up to wave, and tried to smile, but I knew he was hurting!
The finish line was a zoo! About 21,000 people ran Boston and all their own sherpa's were there to provide support and assistance....finding Dave was like finding Waldo! However, we found him and made an immediate beeline to PF Changs =0.
I asked him immediately, "how do you feel," he responded, "i'm hurting, but it was awesome, i'm so glad I did this, it was great, Mer, you wouldn't believe the cheering.." He finished in 3:14---and was really happy with that considering he hadn't trained exactly great with the hills deal. I have to say, I was impressed, I was wondering if he would be preoccupied with "getting faster," and he wasn't. He was truly excited to have just run the race.
It was awesome---we both tend to focus so much on going faster etc...and I remember my coach telling me that some pro's drop out of races if they're not going fast enough...and I think if you reach that point, you've lost sight of some goals. Each race is different, I can't compare one half ironman to the next, because the courses are different and/or my responsibilities or training at the time may have varied. What's important to me, is that I learn *something* in every race. Even in Ironman, sure, I was thrilled with my time----but I look back and I say "well, I could have finished that 2nd loop in the swim faster," or "next time i'm going totally liquid on my nutrition, no shot bloks." It's ALWAYS something--which keeps you motivated, but if you're always obsessed with time, I think you get burned out quickly, not to mention the enormous pressure that adds.
There was something special about being amongst all those fast people. I know it's hard to qualify for Boston---it takes work. Especially if you're not someone who is a born runner or someone who has run for a long time, you can appreciate the ability it takes to qualify. So--I found myself wondering if I could work on getting fast enough to qualify and I'd like to think that someday, maybe I would...though training for Ironman doesn't exactly seem conducive to trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, so i'll have to take things one step at a time!
Congrats to all of you who have raced Boston past and present.....it's truly remarkable!