Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Bangle Chronicles - Episode 12: L.A. Brings the Heat

After New York I had a good base and was able to train really well for a few months. My mileage and paces were almost identical to 3 years prior when I got my BQ in LA, so I was optimistic that I could take a shot at beating that. One major difference. In 2012, it was 48-52 degrees - the coldest LA marathon ever. Perfect conditions. In 2015 it was 70-85 - the hottest year ever. Plus I've had a few tweaks that made my last 4 weeks of training less than optimal.

So I gave up my hopes for a sub 3:30 BQ, and decided to just run comfortably and safely and see how long I could hold out. Collect my 12th medal, enjoy the atmosphere, and wait until next year, when my BQ time goes up by ten minutes.

(Of course, comfortable for me IS marathon pace...)

The day started in Santa Monica, where the bus loading was much slower than usual, and we didn't get to the start until 6:15 (for a 6:55 start). Just enough time to pee in the trees next to the parking lot, and make a mad dash around the whole 25,000 runner field to get to the corral entrance. But it worked out OK, and I met up with some acquaintances in the corral and had 10 minutes to chill.

before group
You can see it was still dark. But it was getting lighter as the race got underway. They blared "I Love LA" like usual and I got choked up again. Big marathons are fun.

I just jogged with the crowd out of the stadium and into the big downhills of the first two miles. I remarked to my neighbor that "this marathoning stuff is easy! No sun...downhill..." That would all change.

I felt good and stayed relaxed through downtown and over the hills in miles 5 and 6.

8:33, 7:40, 7:35, 7:41, 8:11, 8:09. Hit 6 miles very close to 48 minutes. Right on plan. I found myself with the 3:30 pace group and ran with them for a while. I knew two of the group, so we chatted a little. Then we hit the flat and downhill section and I planned to make up some time. I started pulling ahead of the group on a downhill. I wouldn't see them again until mile 21. When it was a much smaller group.

7:40, 7:41, 7:52, 7:33, 7:29, 7:37  Banking minutes...

DW was positioned at mile 10 on Hollywood Blvd, and got to see me when I was still feeling good.


Here I am at mile 11, still able to fly.

It was warm, but there was a consistent light cloud cover, so the sun never baked down on us. Much. But the heat was taking its toll. I was drinking at every mile. Usually both Gatorade and water. Then I would throw some water over my head every time. I was happy for the clouds. Seemed like it wouldn't quite be the DEFCON 5 disaster we were fearing.

Miles 13-15 were 7:54, 7:58 and 7:39 with a big downhill. So I had almost three minutes in the bank. However, my quads were starting to hurt already in mile 14. Way too early. And after a steep downhill in 15, I really could feel the fatigue kicking in. I knew the last ten were going to be a struggle.

So, with no time goal, I tried to ease off more, and started walking through a few water stations. I drank as much Gatorade as possible. Ate bananas and oranges from random strangers. 4 GUs. But my body was not getting what it needed. My tummy rebelled for a while, but one long release of "air pressure" helped that go away.

16-18: 8:09, 8:35, 8:27

Here I am still feeling OK on Rodeo Drive in mile 17.

I really felt like walking more now, but I kept it going for a while. Someone handed me a cold wet towel which was great to put around my neck and on my face. I carried that for a mile or so. Saw DW again at mile 18, and pulled over to get a picture. Because, why not?

Then I kept going, but stopped to walk a block later, once I figured she wasn't looking.

The rest of the race was damage control. My body was running out of fuel in the heat. I thought about what it would take to break 4. My run periods were getting shorter and shorter. I wasn't pushing my body too hard to save a few minutes. I was just trying to get to the finish without too much pain. But I was still smiling. Sometimes.

I ran into quite a few people I knew on the course, since I know so many locals now from my 3 running groups. One jogged with me for a while in mile 25. One guy was with the hash house harriers handing out beer at mile 20. Yes, I had some beer. Someone handed me a baggie filled with ice. I carried that for a few miles, placing it all over my body for cooling. Support was great.

The last few miles my calves started to cramp. By the end it got so bad I couldn't run more than 15 seconds before they would start quivering. But once they relaxed, I tried to run. I was doing my best. I never gave up and walked it in like 1993 and 2001. I still wanted to break 4:00. I had to stop and walk less than 20 yards from the finish, but then ran it in once the cramp let up.

Here are some pain shots. Apparently I stick my tongue under my lip when I'm hurting.



The splits tell the tale. The graph even better.
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But I was enjoying the loud cheering crowd in the last mile. Happy to finish marathon #12.


Once I could stop moving, it was amazing how soon I felt better. Sure I was exhausted and the muscles hurt, but the pressure to keep moving was off. And they gave me a medal! I still got choked up. It never gets old. Life is good.

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Next: ????

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Bangle Chronicles - Episode 11: Breezing Through New York (2014)

After Boston, what is left for a runner? Well, plenty! I spent the next two years knocking off bucket list items:
Ran my first ultra - 50K in Portland!
Joined a trail running group, the Santa Monica Mountain Goats.
Climbed to the top of a mountain - Mt. Baldy
Got into coaching, helping PegLeg go from a newbie to a 3:46 marathoner
Crewed at the Western States 100
Ran the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim
Did my first big relay at Hood to Coast
and I got to run in the biggest marathon in history, with over 50,000 others at NYC.

Here is my race report:

New York, New York, it's a wonderful town. And I got to run across all 5 boroughs with over 50,000 like-minded maniacs. This race was everything it is hyped up to be. Despite cold, windy conditions that apparently cut the crowds down quite a bit, it seemed like a big crowd to me, and I loved it!

The dear wife and I hit the expo on Saturday, and it was crowded! But everything was still smooth and fast.

We ran into Katherine Switzer, and she was very nice. She's a hugger. Buy a book, get a hug.
I managed to meet up with most of the Loopster contingent there. MJ and I posed for the paparazzi.

And we grabbed Cheeky Runner out of the pacer station for a jumping pic. Because when you meet her, you have to get a jumping pic, right? Our camera failed, but maybe someone out there has a better one?

It was nice to see some familiar faces. KeepRunningGirl came down even though she wasn't racing, probably to absorb some Loopster mojo for her 50-miler. And 50Stater (Omar) popped in to get his state count to 20 (I believe). He is doing 3 marathons in 5 weeks I think!

Then we met up with Fenwick Razzleberry, Christine.Eliz and Jen.M.Yee (all new meets for me)! It was great to meet them, and of course they were exactly like I expected them to be (osom). We braved the cold and rain and headed downtown for a tasty lunch. We talked about the weather and what to wear and race strategy - the usual. And probably a bunch of other cool stuff that I forgot about. And the obligatory photo op.


Race day!

I was staying in New Jersey at my brother's house, and he dropped me off at the start, which amazingly was very simple! The site does not encourage it, saying you have to take the assigned buses or ferry, but I would have had to be at the bus before 6AM. Instead we drove right up on side streets after 7:30 and I got out a block away from where the buses were unloading. Piece of cake! It was low 40's and VERY windy so I was bundled up in throw away sweats, gloves, hat and a garbage bag.

I found my way in through security, where we had to take off our watch for the metal detectors. It was smooth and everyone was in good spirits. Still lots of time to kill before my 10:05 start. Seemed like 1/3 of the runners were international types. It was cool to see the flags and uniforms and hear all the languages. Everyone was excited to be there! I got some free coffee and bagels and a banana and relaxed for a while. But first, let me take a selfie.


The other Loopsters were nowhere to be found, due to later start times, so I just chilled. Or tried not to. Eventually we moved into a corral and started stripping down as we walked onto the bridge. Nervous chatter and lots of smiles. The bridge is a unique and cool start to the race. And the ridiculously gusty winds made it quite the adventure! I was near the front of wave two, so once we got going, I had plenty of space and enjoyed the parade! People were holding up their phones and filming the start or taking pics as they ran. It was fun! Kind of like this:

Bridge start
The wind on the bridge was insane. Gusts would literally move me over by a foot or two, or knock my foot into my other leg. A few hats got blown off. I was trotting and laughing and smiling. The view of Manhattan was incredible. Most people were too serious, but I was having fun, even put my arms out like an airplane for a while. Just enjoying the moment and trying to go slow on the uphill first mile. Check out the whitecaps. This is about how busy it was where I was running.


Race strategy: My goal was sub 3:40 (8:20 pace). I wanted to try and start slow to delay the inevitable bonking, since my training was less than perfect. I averaged 35 miles/week for the last two months, so I didn't really have the endurance for 26.2. But I was close. I figured I would just run easy as long as I could, have fun, and hope I didn't fade too bad. Of course my "easy" long runs usually turn out to be about 8:00 pace because I have a hard time backing off....

I don't have all my splits because after the race my Garmin decided to delete them all. But I was watching during the race, so I'll give my best memory of them. Plus I have the 5K splits from the website.

We crested the hill on the bridge before mile 1, and I was just over 9:00 pace. Yay! Good job! Then mile two was coming down the bridge, and it was steep! And the wind was more behind us then blowing at us, so mile 2 was 7:40. Oops! I was trying to relax and go slow! Promise!

By now the sun was out and the 45 degrees felt pretty nice. I ditched my hat, extra shirt and gloves by early in mile 3 and was down to shorts and a tee, plus calf sleeves. I was very comfortable and was surprised by all the clothes people continued to wear for the whole race. Temp was perfect. I never got hot or sweated much, but wasn't cold either.

Brooklyn was awesome. People lined every road and cheered. A lot. They really made it fun and easy to enjoy the run instead of thinking about silly things like fatigue and pain. As I tired, all I had to do was acknowledge people with a smile or nod, or stick my hand out for high fives, and I would get instant bursts of adrenaline. I probably slapped hands with over 100 people. It always picked me up.

I hit 5K in 25:15 or 8:07 pace, which meant I was now running sub-8. I would try to relax and ease off, but 7:55 felt pretty easy. The next 3 5K splits to 20K were at 7:55, 7:49 and 7:55 pace. Just cruising. I hit the half in 1:44:10 or 7:57 pace. Awesome. There's a camera guy! Woooo!


The winds were occasionally gusty, but not too bad. I did tuck in behind runners frequently to draft, but never for too long because I didn't want to be creepy. I looked for KeepRunningGirl near her home in Brooklyn but there were just too many people. The sights and the bands and the people made it very fun, even when the fatigue started to set in. By mile 10 I was already feeling tired in the legs. It took some will to keep up the pace. There were a few little hills to get over, and the ups would make me feel like I was fading, but then the downs always replenished my mojo, and my pace would return to about 8:00.


The Queensboro bridge at mile 16 wasn't as steep as I feared. I just took it down a notch and powered on up. Getting tired. but still moving along. The views of Manhattan were great again. And then we got to go down and I looked forward to 1st Avenue and Manhattan.

But the crowds there were almost silent! I tried to wave them up to a frenzy, to little effect. It was the only disappointing part of the race, since I had heard it was so loud there. But it did pick up later. Ritz told me later that the crowds were MUCH quieter and smaller than normal. Still pretty great though.

20-25K were 8:13 pace but that included two bridges and ended at the top of Queensboro bridge. 25K-30K was 7:58 pace. Still got it at 18.6 miles!

It was windier in Manhattan, as the tall buildings made for wind tunnels. I was definitely very tired and my legs felt heavy, but I just kept plugging. My Garmin got messed up on the bridge so I was checking my real time at the mile markers as I was within seconds of 8:00 pace. 2:08 at 16, 2:16 at 17, 2:24 at 18, 2:32 at 19. Then another bridge into the Bronx. It wasn't much, but I was fading. Hit 20 in 2:40:20. 8:01 pace.

This was virtually a repeat of my Boston splits, where I was sub 8 through 18, hit 20 at 2:40, and then fell apart to finish at 3:45. But I felt a lot better today. I hadn't walked at all and didn't really want to yet. And I had kind of promised Ritz I wouldn't walk in Central park, so there was that. But I was slowing. Mile 21 was about 8:35 and mile 22 was close to 9. I did walk through one water stop there to get one last good drink of gatorade. I had fueled pretty well today. Good breakfast, 3 GUs, lots of gatorade. Seemed to be working. 30-35K was 8:38 pace.

We got to 5th Avenue and it was a mile long hill before getting into Central Park. And the hoped-for tailwind now that we were going South seemed to have turned around. Worst winds of the race. One gust at an intersection was like 50mph crazy! At this point I wasn't looking at my pace. I was just committed to keeping running, and not walking. And that helped me pass a lot of people. I slowed, but I was still moving OK and felt like I was going to do this. And I knew my family was in the Park waiting for me.


DW made me a sign. And my parents drove up from North Carolina for the race. For 30 seconds of seeing me trot by. Crazy.
I FINALLY crested that long 5th avenue hill and got into the pleasant Central park curving road and some downhill. I was past mile 24 now. I knew I was going to beat my goal and get a good time. I just needed to hang on and get it done. Because I was really fricking tired! Still, no real blisters, no cramps, no chafing. Just very sore muscles. Then I saw the family and swung over for some high fives. I didn't want to stop for even a hug, because I was worried about cramping or losing the little momentum I had, so I kept on plugging.

Then there was only about 1.5 miles to go, and I just had to keep on swimming. One step at a time. I didn't feel good. I didn't look good. But I was happy.

35 to 40K was 8:54 pace, and the last 2K were 9:29 pace. Yes, I was fading fast. I actually started to get blurry vision in the last mile, and foggy brain, and tingles in my back. I thought maybe I would be that guy who collapses at the finish line. So I slowed down more to be safe and just shuffled to the finish, where it all got better. I had seen these finish roads often on TV over the years, and now it was me turning that corner, me climbing that little hill, and me throwing my arms up at the finish!


Still flying!

3:36:02, 8:15 pace. Considering the hills, the winds, and my minimal training, that was an A+ result for me! I was ecstatic. May be the most fun I've ever had in a marathon. Placed 5,655 out of over 50,000!

I survived the long walk to the poncho and met up with my family. We walked to a friend's penthouse not far away, where I was able to shower and relax. My legs were not bad for post-marathon! I ended up walking over a mile that night and felt fine. After a bit, DW and I met up with the NYC Dashing Whippets party. Because I was not coming to New York without seeing Ms. Ritz!

Had a great burger and a beer, and ran into this Loopster.


And Ms Ritz hung with us for a while and shared her race story. Always so much fun to be with her. And I got to meet her husband too. Bonus!
 All in all, a wonderful weekend! Thank you Big Apple! Hope I can do it again sometime!

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 Next: Episode 12: L.A. Brings the Heat (2015)

The Bangle Chronicles - Episode 10: Boston! (2013)

So. Finally. After 37 years of running, I was going to run Boston. After Twin Cities I had knee and ankle problems and didn't run much for 3 months. I was able to get back in gear by January, but I didn't have enough time to get into top marathon shape. But good enough to run it and enjoy my victory lap.

This is a little long. I broke it into 3 posts originally, but will put them all together here.

Act 1: Meeting and hanging out with Loopsters

Act 2: The race

Act 3: After the race

ACT 1:
So, on Friday, DW and I took off over the Pacific, banged a left u-turn, and made for the Atlantic. Five hours later we were landing in Boston to start the dream-come-true trip (for me anyway. DW said this weekend was all about me and subjugated any desires of her own. Love that lady.) The flight was full of runners, which, as you know, are pretty easy to spot. Boston jackets helped.

We were a little late, and took a cab directly to the first loop meetup, at a bar right next to our houseboat. We dragged our bags to the back and found a table of internet celebrities!

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Ken and MTF (Maranda), Whitey102 (Mike), Chris and TOSuperstar, Joe and Lauren, QuickRunna24 (Nicole), Bookerman (Scott), and me. It was nice to meet some new people, including our Boston area hosts, Lauren and Scott. Sampled the local Sam Adams draft a few times and called it a night.

We stayed at a rental houseboat with TO and his dear wife Chris. It rocked a little that first night since a storm had just passed through, but it was perfectly fine and a great option for us.

Saturday we slept late and then took the T (subway) to the expo. I felt like a kid at Christmas picking up my bib and shirt, and then buying my Boston Marathon jacket. Very proud and excited and soaking in the awesomeness. Unlike other expos (like LA), every runner there was a serious fast runner, and it definitely lent a different vibe. Like we were all special.

The booth area was very crowded and was basically like other expos, although bigger and better. My favorite part was a little theater area where we watched the course video which was interspersed with interviews. It was a great summary of the course, the history, the momentousness of the race. And even my DW (who knows very little running history) was getting excited about it. I was fighting back tears often during the video (and all weekend, who am I kidding). Soon I would be running through these famous landmarks.

After the expo we walked the 3 blocks down Boylston to the finish line which was closed to traffic and everyone was taking pictures. We also had some random loop meetups. JJ (26.2) found me in the expo, and I met up with Mr. Andante who happened to be in town. We also ran into Dean on the street.

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Sat on the finish line, and said "See you later".
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and it is not a loopfest until Bangle kisses somebody...
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Pre-race BP for luck?
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Saturday night, Tom and I and our wives walked the North End which has over 100 Italian restaurants. And they were all full with wait lists! Runners were everywhere. Yet somehow we found a nice one and got a table with no wait. Had to sit outside which was a little cool, but it was great food, and really fun.
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We also were told to get some cannolis at Mike's bakery, but there was a line down the street! So we put that off until it was less crazy. Instead we walked back to Faneuil Hall and met up with JJ and Whitey, and a certain speedy Pittsburgher that I had been looking forward to meeting.
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Yes, that is Lady Capulet herself. She and her DH were a pleasure to meet. One more amazing loopster - it seemed each one had their own story of how they got to Boston. Of course, having read all of their blogs earlier, I not only felt like I knew them, but I could appreciate what it meant for each of them to be here in Boston.
One or two more drinks and we called it a night.

Sunday we headed back into the North End and saw Paul Revere's house and picked up some cannolis.
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Then Corcorama arrived in town and moved in to the boat with us. I had met Erin in Philly, but it was great to see her again and hang out with a like-minded cynic. And then we walked over to do the Boston Duck Tour. More Loop Meets as we met Chicago Phil and BlairBear. I remember rooting for Phil and advising him as he trained for and got his BQ just in time to get into this race, so it was great to meet him. Then we enjoyed a very funny (and educational) tour of Boston by land and sea. Bonus - I got to meet the famous Juju. She lived up to her reputation as adorable.


From there we walked straight back to Faneuil Hall for the Loop Carbo-load dinner at Bertucci's. More loopmeets, food, drinks, photos and fun. We spent over 2 hours there and had time to move around and talk with everybody. We also had a surprise special guest as Senior Runner and DW arrived! SR made a little toast to all the runners, and we all felt like someone sprinkled holy water on us or something.
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Bonnie777 and her new baby!

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Whitey and Chicago Phil

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JJ and SR

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TO and Quick Runna

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Me and SR
Me and QR
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Maranda and her soon to be husband Ken
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Me, Corc and JJ
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QR, her DH and Brother Elias

Eventually we wrapped it up and some of us went to a little pub for one more round.
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Me and the Monk! Great to meet you, Elias!

Sunday night came and it was lights out at 9:15, but I had my usual pre-race insomnia and tossed and turned until after 12. Probably slept about 4 hours total and was up before 5. Race day! Here we are inside the boat as dawn arrived. Time to head over to the T and run the Boston Marathon!!!!
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Tom, Erin and I got up plenty early, and left plenty early, worried about crowds, but everything was smooth, The subway wasn't full and we got to the bus loading area early. We saw huge lines, but it appeared that there were much simpler ways to get in line. So we just slipped on in and got on the next bus. We weren't cutting! People just didn't know any better.

So we were feeling good and settled in for the over an hour bus ride to Hopkinton. We all brought our phones and were getting FB updates on who was arriving and who was behind us. Some people chatted on the bus. Others were focused and silent. When we got there we found a short potty line and knocked that off. And then it was down to the massive tent. It was a lot of people, but not overwhelming. We found loopster Bonnie, and settled in to camp Loopville. A few FB posts later, and about ten of us ended up hanging out there. It was great fun to share the pre-race excitement with a bunch of awesome loopsters. Took my mind off being nervous I think. I also happened to spot OntheBusRunning so he joined the group. So glad I got to meet him and share a little of his amazing day.
I ate a second whole bagel, and drank gatorade. One more trip to the potty lines of about 20 minutes, and then it was time to go! Most of us were in Wave 2, so we did the 3/4 mile walk to the start line together. Every step was more exciting. We're checking our bags!!! There's the corner!! Let's all pee again!!! OK, time to get in corrals!!! OMG!!! It's the Boston Freaking Marathon!!!!!!

As we walked up the side of the corrals, loopsters peeled off with last wishes and hugs. Corral 8 - see ya Tom! Corral 5 - good luck JJ! Corral 4 - Lady Cap and I head in, but first wish the best to MTF, Quick Runna and Corc. And get a photo.
OK - about 3 minutes to go. I feel relaxed, but excited. I try to warm up a little with hops and running in place. I don't have a real goal for this race. I just want to run it, soak it in, and finish running down Boylston. OK, sub 4. My plan was to just run my usual long run pace. I expected it would be just under 8, so I would try to hold it as long as I could, hopefully get to 20 at sub 8 pace. The rest of the way, I expected a big bonk, but did not care.

Off we go! All corrals just go with one start, and it took about 2 minutes to get to the start line. By then we were running, and cheering and high-fiving. It was crowded, but most of us were the same pace, so it was comfortable. I felt good. About mile 1 I passed MTF, and said a quick hello. That would be the only loopster I saw on the course all day. First mile was a nice downhill, not too steep, followed by a little rise that was just enough hill to get my breathing going. I was still in warmup mode, and it was a little wake-up call. Mile one: 8:06 Perfect.

From there I was in a groove and just cruised. The fans were great. I must have slapped hands with 500 people altogether, mostly little kids. I was smiling and making eye contact with fans, which got me more attention.I was soaking it in. Weather was perfect. Pace felt good. I ran the tangents as much as I could in the crowd, which helps keep me focused.

Miles 2-7: 7:48, 7:46, 7:34, 7:51, 7:39, 7:36

A little too fast. But it was downhill, and I was trying to hold back. I wasn't working hard. I tried to find Loopster Lauren at mile 6 or 10K, but it was very crowded and I had no luck. But that kept me occupied for a mile. A FAST mile. By this point, my left calf which bothered me last week, was feeling tight. I wore my calf sleeves, and I think it helped. It got tight, but never cramped. Still, by mile 8 I was already feeling tired, like I knew that I couldn't keep this up forever. I was trying to ease back, but the 7:45 miles just kept coming.

Miles 8-12: 7:45, 7:38, 7:37, 7:48

I started checking my time at the actual mile marks (since G was adding a few tenths), and kept track of how much time I was "banking" under 8 minute pace. For a while I thought about holding on to a BQ, but my gut told me that I did not feel nearly as good as LA, and it was just a matter of time before I gave that time back. And there were those famous hills ahead...

By mile 12 I was already thinking "just hold on until...". First it was the half marathon mark. Then it was mile 15 because there was a big downhill after that. Then it was 30K. I knew that a lot of people were tracking my splits, so I wanted to put up a good mark at all those spots.

Mile 13 was Wellesley, of which I had heard so much about the wall of sound and the girls offering kisses. I was definitely looking forward to it. However the noise, while loud, was not as deafening as I anticipated. I've heard louder places many times. The girls were great though. There must have been several hundred signs saying why I should kiss them. I was enjoying it thoroughly, and pulled over twice to lay a sweaty wet one on some lucky coed. That was fun.

13 and 14 were 7:45, 7:44, and I hit halfway in 1:42:08 (nearly 3 minutes banked).

15 I finally felt my energy levels dropping, yet the pace held at 7:56, and mile 16 was 7:50 with the help of a big downhill. Then the first of 4 Newton hills.

I slipped into a shorter stride, and plugged on up without working too hard. Soon I was over and thinking that wasn't so bad. But I was getting tired. My feet hurt, a lot, and my legs hurt. It was just kind of overall pain starting to whisper to me to stop and take a break. I set the voice aside for now. Soon I happened upon a runner from California and we ran together a little. She was suffering like me. I had happened upon her during LA, and now here we were again at Boston. I really hardly knew her before (she coaches CC at my kids high school) but after today we were friends. I went ahead, but we hooked up again at mile 25 and after the race.

17 and 18 were 8:19 and 8:31, both had a pretty good hill. 19 had no hill and I managed 8:19 again. And at 19.3 I hit the third hill and finally gave myself permission to walk a little. But the walking really didn't feel much better than running, so I kept going up and over and got to 20 with an 8:56. 2:39:40 at 20 - still 20 seconds under 8 minute pace. I called it a victory and felt pretty good about my race. Surviving the last 10K would take care of itself. I would get my sub-4. Seriously, I was happy and content in the midst of big-time pain with over an hour to go. I stopped and walked right after the 20 mile mark.

But it still had to be done.

Mile 21 was heartbreak hill. It was a nice little hill. I ran some of it, walked a little, and crested knowing that the rest couldn't be too hard... Mile 21 was 10:12

I kept plugging. I knew Loopster Scott would be at 22.3 so I looked forward to a friendly face. By now I was trotting at about 9 minute pace, and walking a little every half mile or so. I would walk enough so I actually did feel better, and then started up again. I managed to see Scott and said Hi and had an orange and smiled and kept on going.

Boston College was louder than Wellesley,and especially loud because some guy in Captain America gear passed me then so they were going crazy. That was fun. I was hurting, but with the walk breaks it wasn't too bad, and I was still smiling and enjoying it. The fans were great, and I think they liked me because I was one of the only smiling runners!

Soon I saw the Citgo sign, and it didn't seem too much longer. Miles 22-26 were 9:36, 10:23, 10:14, 11:30, 11:14. The last two miles I could only run about two blocks without a break. But at least I wasn't cramping. I could still run.

At mile 25 I was surprised to see my DW and Mrs TO! I thought they were further back and I had missed them. So I pulled over for a hug, but she wouldn't put down the camera.

And then I shuffled on.


She also got these photos: MTF
Brother Elias



Turning on to Hereford I saw my local friend again. She was gallowalking as well, but we vowed to run it in. However she had to walk a little more so I lost her.

Then it was one last left turn on to Boylston and I could see the finish. This was it! Dream come true! The crowd was loud. I was soaking it in, smiling, got choked up a bit. I managed to run it in at a respectable 9:25 pace for the last .44 miles, probably faster at the end. And of course I had to give it one of these...

Yes!!!  3:45:28

And here you can see my walk breaks:

garmin boston

And then the pain, the cold wind, and big crowds made the next few minutes pretty brutal, but I eventually made it to my bag and got some clothes on, after figuring out how to bend my legs and get to the ground without dying. I found QuickRunna24 at the bag bus, so we got to share a moment, and eventually we hobbled over to the group meeting area where I found Corc and Whitey.

It was about 2:45.

ACT 3:

So I was sitting on the curb at the L in the family meeting area. Hanging with a few loopsters and waiting for more to show. Also waiting for my wife to meet us here. It was crowded and the wind made it darn chilly. If you went past the finish line to the next street, turned right and went two blocks, that's where we were.

Suddenly we hear a loud boom, which seemed out of place. "What the hell was that?" was the general reaction. My first thought was it was some kind of cannon celebration, although that made no sense at that time. Then the second boom. Quizzical looks. Speculation started. A gas leak? In the sewers? A transformer blown? No one knew. It took maybe 5-10 minutes before someone said bomb. Soon, someone was definite; Yes, there were two bombs near the finish line. Some people are hurt.

We still sat there, or stood. Waiting for friends and family. Some came by. We texted a lot, but many didn't go through due to the cell volume. Gradually we heard that there was blood and limbs, and it was bad. We heard a lot of sirens. We were kind of in shock - not knowing what to do. Thankfully we didn't see anything, no smoke, no panicked activity. It was relatively mellow with lots of people standing around trying to get info. Occasionally people would arrive and hug each other. Eventually we realized no one else was coming to the L, and we needed to get out of there.

Erin and I both needed to get back to the boat so we started walking. We knew the subway was closed, but we also knew it was only about a mile and a half or so to walk back, so we started walking. We weren't sure where to go exactly, but we had a general idea, and found a map that got us on track. Of course we were both hurting and moving slow, with every step off of a curb avoided. But with all the stuff going down, we didn't feel like complaining about sore muscles.

The sirens kept coming and going. We walked along Boston Commons and I was trying to get TO on the phone, when suddenly, there he was next to us! A lucky break! And then the three of us walked on back to the boat. But we had no key, as it was with Toms DW, so instead we stopped in at the next door bar that we had inhabited on Friday, and collapsed into a table in the back. There we would refuel, drink beer, and saw our first TV, where we first saw the images that you are all familiar with.
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TO was closest to the finish, having finished only a minute or two before the bomb. So we got to hear his account. Otherwise we reacted basically the same as anyone else; What? Why? This is insane. Grief for the victims and their families. Deep sadness and depression. We shared our race details, but it was the opposite of a post-race party. They stole our celebration from us.

Eventually DW and Mrs TO arrived at the bar. They ended up walking over 5 miles to get there. Long hugs. More beer. The loop party was canceled, but at least we had each other. We ended up spending the rest of the night on the boat, reading internet updates since we had no TV.

I'm not going to editorialize about the killers or what this means to the marathon or anything. Plenty of others can do that. I'll just say that I'm not letting them ruin my Boston. I have my memories of the first three days, and I'm keeping them in a separate place from the ones after 2:50.

The next day we said goodbyes and headed to the airport. But first we managed a victorious Boston BP pic, and treated it as a giant F.U. to the bombers.

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Next: Episode 11 - New York (2014)