Sunday, June 16, 2013

Boston Marathon 2013

Better late than never on this post.  It's been two months since the marathon and bombing and I thought I should very briefly write about my experience if only for my own memories.

I arrived in Boston Saturday night and because of flight delays was unable to make it to packet pick-up before the required 6 pm time.  I was only ten minutes late but this meant I would have to drive round trip from Portland on Sunday because I was staying with my aunt.  What a terrible ordeal that was and the traffic was horrible.  I know that the Boston Marathon is a logistical nightmare trying to accomodate 37,000 runners but I really think the packet pick up should have more flexible hours.  The crowds and the impersonal nature of huge marathons is the main reason that I have stayed away from them for most of my fourteen years of running.  So why run Boston this year?

Well, I had first qualified for Boston in 2001 at the inaugural Oklahoma City Marathon and had promised myself I would go if I qualified but just never got around to it.  It was more important to qualify than it was to actually attend and the expense of going just didn't seem worth it (at least $800) when I could run the local Hogeye Marathon or Ouachita Trail 50 for next to nothing.  This year my friends Matt Aguero and Josh Snyder were also going and so I thought I should go ahead and see what this Boston thing is all about.
My Lobster! - I thought it was like a turkey and we passed it around but it was all MINE!
After driving an additional five or six hours on Sunday to get my packet, I spent a most pleasant evening with my Aunt Rosemary Fecteau and family.  They treated me like royalty and I got to taste my first lobster.  And if you are going to taste your first lobster, then it better be a Maine lobster because it was awesome.  The visit with my cousins and family made the trip worth while.
Photo: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TOMMY. You are an amazing young man, super Dad, husband, teacher, marathon runner and citizen activist. With love from Aunt Rosemary. I know this is subjective and you are the Subject!

The Unbirthday party
The Lobster Feast!

Monday morning I had to get up at 3:00 am to drive two hours to downtown Boston and park and be in line for the buses by 6:00 am.  This whole thing annoyed me because I am use to only a few steps from the start line at small trail runs.  Once I saw how efficiently they moved the masses of people, I came to appreciate what little trouble it was for me to be there at 6:00.  The whole operation ran really smoothly.  The number of school buses was amazing.  
My Aunt Rosemary and I - It had been far too long!
They bused us out to the Athlete's Village and we mill around waiting for the 10:00 a.m. start.  It really was a perfectly organized race (beside the packet pick up) especially when you consider that they have to plan for a point to point course.  I was bib number 967.  I was excited by that because my 2:48 qualifying time meant that if 966 people fell ill, had a flat tire or could not make it to the start, I had a good chance of winning.  The 967 was a good number though because that put me in wave 1, coral A right behind the elites.  It was exciting seeing them introduced and then watching the women take off a few minutes early.

As we got under way, I was hoping for my usual 6:10 to 6:15 pace for the first half.  My first mile was 6:20 but it was a little crowded.  My second mile, things worked themselves out and I dropped to a 6:02 but it was downhill and I felt like I could really fly on this course.  But then mile three, I slowed to a 6:12, and then a 6:25 and it only got worse from there.  My sciatic was killing me and I just could not run at all.  I spent the next 23 miles being passed by runners and that is a terrible feeling and not one I am used to.  So I just sucked it up and decided that I would do my best to appreciate the moment and enjoy running the streets of Boston.  If it weren't for the sciatic pain, it was a very great experience and I would love to run this course on a good day.  I definitely think it is a PR course for me.

The people cheering was amazing.  Ironically, I ran my slowest time in 14 years at 3:24 but still enjoyed crossing the finish line to thousands of fans.  

Happy to have finished but a little disgusted with my time, I now had to find my rental car and get to the airport to catch a flight.  I thought about hanging around and finding my friends and having a beer with them and I may have if I had felt better about my race but decided to get to the airport instead so as not to risk losing my flight.

So I found my car rather quickly and drove to the rental car place and on to the airport.  While standing in line to go through security at the airport, my phone began to buzz often but I was in the process of emptying my change and taking off my shoes so I did not check it.  After going through security, I walked toward my gate and noticed people staring at the televisions at a bar and that is when I saw the bombing for the first time as the scroller at the bottom of the screen informed viewers of the events as they were unfolding.  

I remembered my phone buzzing and checked it and sure enough, my wife had been frantically calling me.  Of course I called her back to reassure her that I was okay.  The next couple of hours before my flight was spent calling and facebooking friends and family assuring them that everything was okay.  I sipped a beer as I watched in shock with the rest of the patrons at the bar the events on the tv screen.  It was certainly a surreal experience.

When I got off the plane in Tulsa a reporter was waiting to interview me and for the next week others were calling.  I was angry, sad, relieved and a bit shocked for a few days as the events of that week unfolded.  It certainly put a bad performance at a marathon in perspective.
It also made me want to go back next year so that in my small little way, I could help to defy the terrorists.  When they make us stop being able to live our lives to the fullest through their fear, then they when.  Unfortunately, it will probably just be too expensive but you can bet that the Boston marathon will be back next year.  "Boston Strong" for sure and I will be cheering them on if I'm not there with them.  It is a great city and perhaps the best marathon in the world.

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