Wednesday, April 17, 2013


While I've been a little tardy w/ "Running Free" of late I couldn't allow the horror of Mondays Boston Marathon bombings to go w/out comment.
First and foremost my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this barbaric act of cowardice and also the family,friends and loved ones of the victims,even though it's eight years since my last Boston marathon and also eight years since my last marathon period I still have friends in the marathon community to the best of my knowledge everyone I know is ok but having watched the moment both bombs went off over and over since Monday I can't shake the thought of the innocent bystanders caught in the impact and some how I doubt I ever will.
The runner in me feels terrible for the runners who were unable to finish the marathon,ok I get that when human lives are at risk at the end of the day the Boston marathon is just a race however I of all people understand what it is to not only run a marathon {14 in 20 years between 85 and 05} but also run the Boston marathon{three times 91,02,05},there's that great Emil Zatopek quote "if you want to run something run the 100 meters,if you want to experience something run a marathon". which always sums up what it's like to run 26.2 miles......if it was easy everyone would run one!

I remember watching the first London marathon in 81 and thinking "I wouldn't mind some of that" at that point in time I hadn't run further than 6 miles but later that  year I ran my first ever 10 mile and 12 runs....they nearly killed me so maybe it wasn't the worst thing in the world my 82 London marathon application was rejected...this however didn't stop me from having a typical teen aged angst "I quit" meltdown but w/in a year I was back running again.
By 84 I'd gotten serious about running a marathon if London was going to keep rejecting my application as it had again for the 84 marathon I'd run somewhere else first and hope that would help my application,I became fluent in 10 milers which although they rendered me almost incapable of anything for a day afterwards were essential if I had any hopes of eventually running 26 miles.
In August of 84 I ran my first ever 10 mile race and then in September my first ever half marathon I believed I was closing in on "the big one" only to have things grind to a halt at the end of October when my father died unexpectedly.

A year later after finally knuckling down in training I ran my first ever Marathon in Harrow Middlesex just outside of London and surprised myself by breaking the three hour barrier w/ a 2.55.11. finish and six months later I finally got to run the London marathon although I hadn't trained as hard for London as I had in Harrow
By 87 I'd now moved to Philadelphia and suddenly the prospect of the "big three" New York,Chicago and of course the grandaddy of them all Boston was very real.
Sadly in the 87 Philly marathon I "bonked" as badly as one can in a marathon,suffering dehydration it was a testimony to my bull headedness that I even finished,back then you had to post a qualifying time to make it into Boston and my time was 3.00 to this day I still recall hitting the 24 mile marker on W.River Drive and seeing the digital clock turn from 2.59.59. to 3.00.00. I turned to the runner alongside me who I didn't know and shrugged "there goes Boston" I offered meekly

It would be another three years b4 I ran another marathon,New York 1990,of course me being me I had to do things the hard way,not only had I given up on my application but I was now working third shift.....
Six weeks prior to the marathon on the eve of the old Philadelphia Distance Run I got official notice I'd been accepted into the NYC marathon, now I had to up my mileage from 13 miles to 20 miles and do it in the middle of the afternoon!
There were several afternoon I would wake up at 3pm and head out to the Art Museum Loop  and just grit my teeth to get my 14,16,18 mile runs in and then take a nap in the evening b4 heading to work at 10.30pm....hardly text book marathon training 101 but then again most of my early marathon training was me making it up as I went along.
Somehow it all paid off w/  a BQ {Boston Qualifier} of 3.10 I produced a 3.06.2. the first words out of my mouth crossing the finish line in Central Park were"Boston here I come!!!"

Having finally made it to "the promised land" I was determined to leave no stone unturned in my preparation for Boston,having heard all about Heartbreak Hill I made sure to incorporate hills in my long runs and would tackle the Belmont Plateau as winter wore off and spring began,in running as in life there are no guarantees so if this was to be my only crack at Boston{it turned out to be the first of three}I needed to be sure I made the most of it.
The hill work on Belmont Plateau paid off in spades they say "ignorance is bliss" so as I made my way up a hill I turned and asked the runner next to me if Heartbreak Hill was anywhere around here,in a rather pained voice he informed me "this is Heartbreak Hill"...."really" I thought to myself as I left him in my wake I expected something more akin to the North face of the Eiger but like said ignorance is bliss.

A few miles later running along Commonwealth Ave I looked up to see the John Hancock tower which I knew was at the finish line,I remember looking over to my right and the runner next to me had also seen it,we smiled and nodded the finish line was close by.
I can still recall making a right hand turn off Commonwealth Ave onto Hereford Street and then a left onto Boylston St where your only 385 yards from the finish,I still recall the crowds cheering madly for all of us as we neared the finish line it was a magical moment made even more poignant by setting a then pr of 2.54.3. which still ranks as my 4th fastest marathon of all time.

Those are the memories of Boylston St I cherish,not what I saw on my tv on Monday at 2.50pm,I don't know if there's another Boston marathon in me muchless another marathon but somewhere deep in my subconscious lies the thought that maybe after the horror of Monday I need to create a new Boylston St memory.....

No comments: