After an enjoyable busride from Boston Commons, I arrived in the village at around 7:45 a.m. and took in the sites. It was a chilly morning, but I had chosen an old polar fleece-lined jacket as a throwaway, so I was pretty cosy as I walked around.
To put things in perspective, the field was capped at 25,000 participants but I did see bib numbers in the 27k range so we could assume the field was larger than the publicized cap. This means that there were probably this many people roaming around the athlete’s village today. This is five times the population of my home town of Hudson!
After a banana and a bagel, I wandered around the various demo tents in search of a coffee. I finally found what seemed to be the only coffee line at the far end of the village. It was a huge line-up and nobody was moving so I wandered up to the front to see what was up. The coffee hadn’t arrived yet so I decided I would continue exploring and come back later. Music was playing on the loudspeakers and an MC was keeping the folks entertained and making public service announcements.
Here we are among the second wave starters
We kind of walked for a good 10 minutes and I don’t even remember noticing the start line. I started my Polar and lost the jacket as soon as we started a slow jog. There were all kinds of people lined along the start collecting the throw-away clothing for charity. I know clothes is collected and given to charity in many marathons, but I have never seen people actually collecting the stuff during the race. Definitely well organized.
Wellesley college. Hard to imagine this if you haven’t seen it for yourself…
I caught back up to them at mile 19 and announced to Joel that he had already done 2 of the 4 Newton hills. I snapped a pick of PJ as we trucked up the third one and I completely missed the Johnny Kelley statue…my tourist photo eye was not so keen
Here is PJ looking pretty comfortable ascending one of the hills in Newton.
Heartbreak hill. The last one and not all that bad after all. Heartbreak hill was a bit of a disappointment – I had heard and read so much about it that I imagined this long and steep monstrosity. We easily ascended the slope and I turned around to snap a pic of our achievement noting that it was pretty much downhill from here on in. That’s when I noticed how many people were actually walking up the hill. I guess my hill training paid off…
We had to put the brakes on a bit on some of these downhills. Even after 4 hours, the spectators were still out there. It was a real party with barbecues, beer, sandwiches, popsicles. I certainly felt like stopping to enjoy the hospitality on more than one occasion.
As we entered Brookline, it was PJ’s turn to stop for a pee so Joel and I carried on. Joel had never run this far before but he was strong and confident. We kept a steady pace as we could feel the anticipation of the finish only a few miles away. I was concerned about PJ catching back up to us, though.
At Kenmore square, there were only a couple of miles to go so I told Joel to continue on as I waited to make sure PJ was okay. It seemed like forever before he came along. As I waited on the side of the road, a couple of people asked if I was okay. I said I was waiting for someone, but I did feel a little weird just standing there on the sidelines. I decided to stretch a little and have some water.
Now that I think about it, I should have taken another picture…. Finally there he was, so we picked it up and discussed in how much time we would finish. As people cheered us on on Commonwealth avenue, I could feel and hear another runner huffing to catch up to us and then fading off.
I turned around to see an older man struggling as he asked me in what time we planned to finish. I looked at my watch and told him we could finish in 5 hours flat if we picked up the pace a little. He said that would be great, so I did some quick math and determined our pace for the next mile and a half.
As I picked it up, PJ said to go on ahead, he was fine to finish.
The gentleman couldn’t keep the pace very long and we had to take 10-second walk breaks every couple of minutes. I coaxed him along under the underpass (on Hereford, I think) and then we could hear the roar of the crowd on Boylston. As we turned the corner and saw the finish down the block, I spotted my nephew’s girlfriend, Brittany, who told me Chantal and the girls were across the street. I waved to them and told them I would be coming back for PJ in a few minutes.
The final turn as I wave to my family with my new friend chugging along to finish in 5 hours.
At the finish, I turned around without crossing the line and headed back up Boylston to meet up with PJ. We then crossed the finish line together a few minutes later.
After the race, I realized how much of a toll running so slow, and for so long, this race has taken on my legs and especially my knee. My left knee felt as though it had no strength and I hobbled to the restaurant for a well deserved steak and beer.
Despite this setback, the entire Boston marathon experience has been, bar none, the best marathon I have ever experienced. The organization was spectacular, the sheer magnitude of the event is unimaginable, and the support of the local “fans” for all the runners, is such an inspiration. I can’t wait to do it again. Now that I have experienced it as a “tourist”, next time, I want to see how well I can do on this fabled course. So, until next time, keep on running! ;0)