I've never written a race report before this, mainly because I'm not the brightest lamp on the street, but also because I'm just a much better listener than a talker. So be warned: boring stuff ahead probably filled with rambling, typos, and grammatical errors. But I need to try anyway.
Thank you to each of the other Boston R.R. writers...I've learned so much that I hope to be able to apply if I'm ever fortunate enough to get back there. Congratulations on such awesome runs!
background blah blah blah
17,534 runners were fortunate enough to finish the Boston Marathon this year. 17.056 finished ahead of me, so you know right off the bat that there was no glory in my run on this day. As a pedestrian, recreational runner, what had started as the joy of a dream come true devolved into what could easily be seen as an epic fail As a human being…well, I’m still just trying to wrap my head around what all this means and why.
Five years and 40lbs ago, I had a notion that maybe I could do a 5k fun run at Disney with my daughter and sister. I was 57, and active, but the only running I had ever done was incidental to other sports. So for those first attempts at couch-5k, I remember trying to run 1 minute/walk 4 and looking at my watch, gassed, to see that only 35 seconds had passed. But I persevered, and gradually built some endurance.
What a great feeling it was when I first completed 1 mile without stopping! I was embarrassed to have people see me running, so I always ran at a trail that was a mile out and back. There was an elderly gentleman whom I would frequently see walking his dog along this same trail, and one day about 5 weeks into training he said to me: “You must be training for the Boston Marathon.” because I would be going back and forth across the same 1 mile stretch. I laughed and said no way…I still couldn’t run 3 miles without stopping and anything beyond that was just unimaginable.
And yet, in that moment a seed was planted. Over the next 4 months, I ran my first 5k, then a 10k, and then a half. And when January came along I ran that 5k at Disney with my sister and daughter (it was a wonderful experience), and the ½ marathon the next day. (painful…said I’d never do it again at mile 11)
I was hooked, and thought, well, maybe I could run a marathon. That’s when I found the R.W. beginners forum to which I also became addicted. I would spend at least an hour every evening reading & learning (lurking?..yep & lurning) Saw many arguments/debates, read every race report and generally tried to grasp every helpful tip or insight that I could gleam. I’m forever grateful to everyone who has posted during the past 4 years. Every single one of you has helped me in some way on my journey. I’ve thought of many of you on training runs, and I thought of some of you during my attempt at Boston.
It had been 18 months since I had run the race of my life in Hartford (3:46:44) to qualify for Boston: 4th in my age group. But here, I was surrounded by many thousands of true athletes (several of whom have written excellent race reports here and are highly esteemed), and it definitely felt like I didn’t belong. At the same time I felt so honored to be able to participate. It truly was a dream unfolding. Meeting Happylily and Toronto at the village made it all the more special, and I had the sense that this is how it’s all meant to be.
Training through the winter had been awful…the flu, poorly timed huge snowstorms that resulted in days spent shoveling snow instead of running long. Weekday runs along cold, dark, & narrow country roads were highly unmotivating. Needless to say, I was in no shape to attempt a B.Q. and I knew it. So I decided to go with plan B, which was to find a comfortable pace and enjoy the run as much as possible. Sub 4 would be nice, but probably not in the cards either. So the plan was: stick to as close to9:09’s as possible until I met my D.D., D.S., &D.W. at the mi.20 marker and once over Heartbreak see if there was anything left to let loose. On the walk to the start, I kept rehearsing “the plan” in my mind. It was awesome…so many kind neighborhood folks offering all sorts of stuff to the runners. The third wave felt like the perfect place to be.
Some inspirational words at the start line before the gun sounded, one more review of
“the plan” and I felt ready. Then: bang, the gun goes off!…& no plan!
mi.1 8:54 unbelievable! A river of runners and spectators
mi.2 8:45 this is too fast for where I need to be...trying to ease on the brakes a bit
mi.4 8:33 still trying to slow down but may have paid for this later on
mi5 8:57 so, I really don’t know crap about pacing but this feels like I’m holding
back and everyone is passing me
mi.7 8:45 the spectators are awesome...lots of kids passing out orange slices
mi.9 8:49 there seem to be groups of National Guard troops every mile,. I thank each for their
mi.10 9:02 this is still feeling easy. Just concentrating on relaxing and breathing but
beginning to think about how much further there is to go…trouble!
mi.11 9:08 i didn't realize I was this tired..oops banish that thought. So the mind games begin
mi.13 8:58 Wellesley…Wow! But now I’m noticing that fatigue is edging toward
mi.14 8:55 hold on, breathe, relax…hold on, breath, relax
mi.15 9:26 uh…oh
mi.16 8:54 Welcome to Newton Lower Falls, the beginning of the hills, and the place in
all my previous marathons that it all gets very, very real. Welcome to the L.T.H. pain cave!
mi.17 9:45 air is coming out of the tires
mi.18 9:56 uh oh…the battle between mind and body is fully engaged now. Just 2
more miles to reach my family. My D.D. has a reload of Nuun & water.
mi.19 9:29 why didn’t I grab that gel @ 17?
mi.20 9:49 the base of Heartbreak and there they are. This is the last feelgood moment
of my marathon! Thank you so much for being there Shi, Lyn,& Kim.
Love you all so much !
mi.21 11:21 wow! My hamstrings and quads are screaming now. The battle rages,
only 5.2 to go…just an everyday easy run around the reservoir. Why are
these miles getting so much longer?
mi.24 10:47 I’m not going to make it…I can feel defeat right on my heels & nothing
is left. Breathe, Breathe, Breathe. This is deeper than I’ve ever been
into the darkness. Little did I know what lies ahead.
mi.26 10:48 .2 into this one, I slammed into “The Wall” for the first time ever. Done! I
had absolutely nothing left. Made my way to the left side of the road and
did something I had never done before: a dead stop in a race. Hunched
over with hands on knees. Just a wasteland of defeat when an amazing
thing happened. A young man came over, put his hand on my back, and
asked: ”are you ok?” When I replied “oh yeah”, he then said: “Don’t
give up. You have your Sox hat on & your Kinvara 3’s. You’ve made
it this far, you are strong, you can do this! You’re so close, don’t give
up!” I nodded, picked my head up and as I shuffled off, I heard him
shout :”Just remember to turn left onto Boylston!” He was joking, and I
smiled. New life.
.43 8:18 The crowd on Boylston was amazing and their energy carried me home to
the finish. Searched for my family along the left side as best I could.
They had a plan to take the T from Newton to catch me at the finish, but
I could not see them.
This picture is about opposite where the first blast occurred. The gal to my right looks how I feel:
And across the finish:
And so I crossed the finish line, continued under the canopy bridge and moved all the way to the left. Walked it off for a bit, back toward the finish and then bent over with hands on knees, trying to recoup my heart rate and senses . A kind medical person asked if I needed a wheelchair. "Not today," I said, "just glad its over!". As I stood up and faced back west to see if my family were nearby the first bomb went off. The blast wave stunned me as it passed through my body and soul. Angry white, yellow/brown smoke billowing & I knew instantly that this was something terrible. Felt a bee sting on my right instep. Took a step toward the middle of the street and looked east down Boylston. The cheering and happiness of the crowd was stone quiet for a moment, and then another explosion, louder and much stronger than the first, it seemed, and was followed quickly by unimaginable sounds. Screaming, cries of pain and anguish. Police shouting to get off the street, keep moving! Chaos...what's next! Where is it coming from?!
The 28th mile…most desperate of my life!
Where is my beautiful daughter! My loving sister, my dear wife! Finally made it to the busses and got my cell phone…no messages. Frantically try a simple text to my daughter: "r u ok"….no reply. Same to my D.W….no reply. Try again…try again. 35 minutes later, I made it to our secondary meeting place outside the hotel. Not there! Maybe in the lobby…not there. Try cell again ..no response. I hit the second wall and capitulate to my worst fear…the people I love the most in all of life may have been among the many I new were badly injured,…or maybe worse. I didn't know that the cell towers had been shut down. As runners, we learn to channel doubt, fear, & pain but at this point I had lost my faith in positive outcomes, and I made my way to the concierge desk to ask how to contact hospitals when my D.S. appeared at that moment. Just a huge release. And again moments later with my daughter and wife. Thank God they had been unable to make it on to the first two trains out of Newton and had decided to get off at the Arlington station. We just held each other and cried together, and held each other closer. Please do the same for those you love. It’s true what they say that it’s a gift and not a given.
Thank you, again, Nevergiveup for all you had done on that day
So I completed the Boston Marathon, but I never really finished...in some ways I left that part of my heart there on Boylston, in front of the Old South Church. I pray , still, for all the victims and their families. I'm sure all of you feel the same.
Thank you for reading, whoever has made it this far
Great job pushing thru to the end and man what a great read. One can only imagine what you went thru that day.........everything around you........trying to get in touch with your family........and finally an emotional reunion. Thanks for putting it all into words and I am glad you and your family are alright.
Hot Chocolate 5K Chicago November 4, 2012 30:17
Penguin in the Park 5K Decatur Illinois March 23,2013 27:08
I am so glad you are ok. So scary to think you were so close to the bombs. I remember all too well the sites snd the sounds of that day. It was chaos inside the tent and out. I went to the memorial today. Its beautiful. Still so sureal. Thanks for sharing your RR. I'm inspired by all of the Boston RR. Keep smiling.
Running is my mental-Ctrl-Alt-Del.
That was the most poignant RR I have ever read. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. You tell the other side of the story, the one that none of us (Shirfan, LTH, Goo, Fuzzy, T.O. and myself) really saw. The one side that must never be forgotten.
Let's thank God indeed for looking after you and your loved ones. I really was worried about you. Thank you for letting me know that you were safe a few days later.
Lastly, I want you to know that I really consider you an athlete, at the same level as the rest of us are. And I am being sincere when I say this. I want you to believe it too. You earned the right to be in Boston because you are a good athlete. Congratulations, Runwell3 and I hope to meet you again one day.
PRs: Boston Marathon, 3:27, April 15th 2013
Cornwall Half-Marathon, 1:35, April 27th 2013
18 marathons, 18 BQs since 2010
Probably the most riveting Boston RR I've read yet.
i saw your time on the clock and thought, "OMG, he was right there within the minute!"
And I still 100% appreciate your true RR. I find it difficult to shut my mouth (err, hands) right now as I know the embers still glow for some but know that I thoroughly appreciate the race you ran, despite the gravity of the situation.
Thank you for sharing.
Unimaginable how it must have been for you, being so close to the bombs. Glad you and your family were OK.
Smaller By The Day
I'll have to try to read this again later. Once I realized when your finish time was, I immediately started to scan for the part where you were reunited with your family. I couldn't help it. I'm glad you found them, and that you and your family weren't caught in the blast. I can't even begin to imagine. Thank you for writing the RR, and when I can pull myself together a bit I'll read it again.
Weight 100 pounds lost
5K 31:02 Sept. 2012 / 23:36 Sept. 2013 (Same Course)
10K 48:59 April 2013
HM 2:03:56 Nov. 2012 / 1:46:50 March 2013
MARATHON 3:57:33 Nov. 2013
Wow! Thank you for sharing such an RR. As to the race, congratulations. You did great. But what caught my attention the most was all those feelings you had after the bombs went off. All the anguish and sadness you had. I am very glad your family was safe and sound.
Like your wife's sign says, if you can dream it, you can do it. And you did it!
"The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."
It's always fucking hot in Miami!
When I saw the finish line clock in your photo my throat tightened. I am very happy you and your family are o.k. although I can't imagine what the not knowing was like for you.
Your RR is incredible. From your journey to Boston to persevering to the finish. It's an important story that needs to be shared. And trust me...you belonged at that start line just like everyone else that was there.
Thank you for writing this for us.
Wow, this one made me cry. Thank you for taking the time to write it. When I got to the end and saw the picture with your clock time, that is when the tears started. What if that young man hadn't stopped his race to encourage you? What if you would have stood at the side of the road just a little bit longer? I am so glad you were able to get past the finish line in time (and that you were able to finish!) and so, so, so glad that your wife, daughter and sister are ok!!!! Thank you for this RR. I am sorry you had a difficult race but you pushed through and that is wonderful. Congratulations, and I am glad you and your family are safe.
PRs: 5K- 28:16 (5/5/13) 10K- 1:00:13 (10/27/13) 4M- 41:43 (9/7/13) 15K- 1:34:25 (8/17/13) 10M- 1:56:30 (4/6/14) HM- 2:20:16 (4/13/14) Full- 5:55:33 (11/1/15)
I started a blog about running :) Check it out if you care to
What a beautifully written RR with chilling, unexpected close call.
Your journey to Boston you fully deserved, race with ups and downs, struggle and final triumph. Nobody said that marathons are easy and you are as much athlete as any other Boston qualifier.
You were the one from us, posting here to be the closest to the point, when euphoria of finishing Boston marathon changed in seconds to horrific, unimaginable, surreal moment nobody could have foreseen.
I'm glad you and your family are OK.
And post more. There is nothing wrong with your writing skills and I'm sure your route to Boston is inspirational for many people reading your RR.
Slow and steady never wins anything.
uʍop ǝpᴉsdn sǝʇᴉɹʍ ʇI
I agree with Goo. That was great. Just great. Amazing, really. Thank you.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I am so glad you and yours are safe.
Thank you for sharing this... What an emotional RR! Glad both you and your family are well..
2XU HM - 29 Mar
What a moving, eloquent, and poignant (Thanks, Happylily ) race report. It brought me to tears, like others. You're an amazing runner, don't doubt your ability. A BQ is a BQ, after all!
Last, I'm so glad your family is ok. What an experience for all of you, one you'll never forget, in both good and bad ways. Thanks for the reminder to cherish our loved ones and to express this often. We never know what lies around the corner.
"It's not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves."
~ Sir Edmund Hillary