I'm not sure where to begin to describe my Boston Marathon experience. After all the hard work to finally get there after numerous failed qualification attempts, all I can say is that it was everything I had hoped it would be, and will be an experience I'll always look back on with fond memories.
My actual finish time was right around the slowest of any marathon I've ever run, but none of that really mattered as in my mind this was a reward run, topping off years of running enjoyment with a grand celebration run! I heard Boston described by someone as a "26.2 mile victory lap", and this is exactly the attitude I had going into the race.
We flew into to Boston on a red-eye flight arriving Sunday morning at 5am. At the time I booked the flight it seemed like a good idea to save a few bucks flying the red-eye, but after an absolutely miserable night trying unsuccessfully to sleep on the plane I'm thinking I probably woudn't do it again. If not for a sympathetic hotel employee who let us check into to our room early (8am rather than 3pm) for an early nap, I'm not sure how we would have made it through the day. I am glad though that we actually made it to Boston as I heard numerous flights later on Sunday were cancelled or delayed for hours.
After a 2 or 3 hour "nap" at the hotel we took the subway downtown and picked up my race packet. At this point the weather wasn't too bad but got worse around evening time. We went to church at a nearby ward where Roman Takasaki's (Sp. Fork runner and also our family doctor) brother attends. Looked like there were quite a few other marathon visitors as the meeting was packed.
My pre-race eating/drinking was not so good on Sunday with all the chaos and issues with weather. We ended up Sunday evening eating at a quite bizarre "concept/theme" restaraunt (Dick's Last Resort) where the "concept" was that they treat you really shabby. Sticky floors and angry waiters accentuate the theme. We almost left shortly after entering until we figured out the "concept" (note to aspiring restaraunteers...this is NOT a good "concept" for a restaraunt). Actually the food was pretty good BUT I ate too much for a night before a race meal. But I was starved as I hadn't really had any lunch. I think this large meal was to blame for the gastro-intestinal troubles I had late in the race.
Woke up around 5:45 Monday not sure what to expect about the weather. Looking out the window it did not look promising. After quick breakfast at the hotel I loaded on the gear in a way never before. Seemed like the plastic bags around the feet and ankles were a bit much but I was grateful later when we arrived at the Athletes Village (or was that Athlete's "Swamp"??). Caught the subway down to the bus load area and met up with Kerry. Had a nice ride to the start, then slogged around waiting for a port-a-potty and then finally met up with Paul. After somewhat chaotic pre-race scurrying, what with trying to figure out what to wear, where to put our clothes bags, etc. We made to somewhere near the starting line (albeit not the corral we were looking for) and started the race.
Luckilly the weather conditions ended up being not too bad for the majority of the race and most runners ended up shedding a layer or 2. My wife had decorated up my shirt with my name and where I was from and so I was excited the weather was warm enough I was actually able to shed my rain jacket so the crowd could actually see my wife's fine art-work.
I had never in my life experienced the thrill of thousands of 'fans' cheering me and encouraging me, so having them be able to actually do this by name was quite the amazing phenomenon and ego-stroking experience for me. I must say it's pretty hard to take a walk break or potty break or show any signs of tirednees when you have people all around you shouting your name and encouraging you to do your best. It was also fun to chat with few other Utah runners who could see that I was from Utah.
We went out the 1st half of the race doing around 9 minute miles which is what we had talked about doing and also felt like a comfortable pace. Around mile 5 to 10 the rain and wind picked up again and I had to put my jacket back on for a few miles and had to go without the cheering-by-name upliftment for a while. After this I warmed up sufficiently I was able to go without the jacket for the rest of the race.
I think the potty break we all 3 needed around mile 11 got us out of our rhythm a bit as we had to wait a bit for the potties. I think we could hear the girls from Wellesley college a 1/2 mile or more before we even got to them just before mile 13. First I thought it was the wind or something but soon it was obvious that we were just hearing the high-pitched cheering of a few thousand college girls. I thought the run thru Wellesley was amazing and a real booster and I was a bit bummed out when it ended. I was able to resist the temptation of all of the "Kiss Me" signs along the way but did sneek a quick hug from one spectator and found another spectator to take a picture of the event.
Kerry and to some degree Paul had been fighting some injuries and/or blistering and it seemed to become a factor a bit after we left Wellesley. Finally at around mile 15/16, and with much reluctance on my part, Kerry and Paul put on the pressure and talked me into going ahead without them.
As I went ahead alone I was immediately given a huge boost by the next group of spectators who where especially vigorous in cheering me on. I don't know if anything quite compares to a group of what appeared to be long-time Red Sox fans giving me a personalized cheer from the heart as I ran past (thanks again to my wife for the name artwork on my shirt).
With all this new adrenaline and enthusiasm burst, I got a wild idea and figured if I could hold an 8 min/mile pace the rest of the way I could break 4 hours. This worked for 2 or 3 miles but shortly before mile 20 I think my dinner the night before caught up with me and I started having some serious stomach problems. I was happy and excited to see my wife Kim around mile 20 and got a bit of a boost, but the impending feeling that I was going to "explode" due to the gastro-intestinal problems had me running "nervous". I tell you it's tough to put on a happy face in front of screaming crowds calling your name when you feel like at any moment you might have to do something extremely unsightly in front of everyone.
Luckily at mile 21 or so I found a porta-potty, where I 'camped' for probably a good 5 to 10 minutes (note: potties aren't in very good condition by mile 21), but feeling enourmously relieved and happy to have "exploded" in the john and NOT on the streets.
After this my spirits were boosted enormously, however my legs were not happy about the long stop in the john and I stiff-legged it to the finish for the not-so-braggable just-under 4:15 finish. I believe this time is very close to the time for my very first and slowest marathon back in 1993, however slow time notwithstanding I had one of the greatest running experiences ever and will remember the race fondly for years to come. I was also thrilled and inspired to hear that Kerry and Paul were able to overcame a whole range of obstacles and gut it out to the finish in around 5 hours. Thanks guys for the inspiration, both during this race and also over the years.
Kim and I spent most of the week after the marathon in NYC, where although I didn't run a single step, I think my Kim had me cover close to another 26 miles walking all over Manhattan. Actually my legs felt pretty good, albeit a bit tight. I'll be interested to see how the run goes today (4/23).
Thanks to Kim, Paul, Kerry, Terry and all the countless other runners, family and friends who helped me get to this point. I now look forward to many more years of happy running and hopefully even a few more Bostons. Life is GOOD !!!!