Monday, April 21, 2008

2008 Boston Marathon

We flew out of the Pittsburgh airport Friday morning and arrived in Boston around 11 o'clock. We got on the T Line to our hotel. My parents booked a place for us at the Marriott Renaissance Waterfront Hotel located on Boston's Inner Harbor, just minutes away from downtown. It just opened in January so I was pretty excited. When we got there I was stunned by how nice it was.

Our hotel

After checking in, we decided to go to the expo to pick up our race packet and bib. At the expo, Jamie and I met Dick Hoyt from Team Hoyt. For those not familiar with their story, you can read about it here. It truly is an inspiration and it was a pleasure to meet him in person. We also met Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to ever enter and run the Boston Marathon.

Dick Hoyt

Kathrine Switzer

After walking around the expo for awhile getting free stuff, we got something to eat at a restaurant across from the Hynes Convention Center on Boylston St. Later that night, my dad and I went to the Red Sox/Rangers game while my mom and sister Jamie went to Revere Beach to meet a friend that Jamie graduated college with.

The game was awesome! Fenway has so much history and even though the stadium holds about 35,000, it seems like it's much smaller. Our seats were the first row out in the center field bleachers right in front of the Red Sox bullpen. I got the feeling any seat in the stadium was a good seat. I wore my Cleveland Indians shirt to the game and was surprised (and relieved) that I only got a couple comments about it.

On Saturday, Jamie and I went for an easy run around downtown Boston. We got lost a little bit and ended up with about 6 miles. Later that day, we actually went back to the expo and walked around for a blistering 3 hours. We were going to leave earlier, but as soon as we were about to, they announced that someone famous was signing autographs. I was glad we went back today because we ended up meeting Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter, Dick Beardsley and Steve Jones. The expo really had a great atmosphere to it.

Bill Rodgers

Frank Shorter

Dick Beardsley

Later that night, my family and I went out to eat with John Davis and his wife in the North End (Little Italy). John had been hit by a car running awhile back so he couldn't run the marathon, but it was great to see he was doing well after a long recovery. It was nice of them to come up and watch the race and cheer us on!

Out to eat with John Davis and his wife

On Sunday, we watched the Womens Olympic Marathon Trials. Deena Kastor won the race with a time of 2:29:35 and the great Joan Benoit-Samuelson, at the age of 50, ran a record time of 2:49:08.

Deena Kastor (on the left)

Joan Benoit-Samuelson

After watching the Trials, my parents and I took a ride out to Revere Beach so I could see it. We then went Quincy Market and relaxed for awhile. Later that night, my family and I went to the marathon pasta dinner. The atmosphere there was awesome too as well as the food. We met this guy named Greg who had a very inspiring story. He had a stroke at the age of 3 and has been recovering ever since. He was running the Boston Marathon as an inspiration to people who had similar problems.

Revere Beach (first public beach)

Jamie and Me at the pasta dinner

Finally (if you're still reading), it was Sunday night - the night before the race!! I was pretty nervous. We got to bed early because we had to get up early to catch the bus to the start line in Hopkinton. I had trouble sleeping with all the excitement.

In the morning, we took the T to Boston Common and waited for the bus. On the bus, I sat next to a lady from Nova Scotia and had a nice talk. We got to Athlete's Village a couple hours before the race and just hung around. Jamie and I both did not bring a dropbag. Instead we wore some old clothes and planned on giving it to charity. We were really cold since we made the mistake of wearing shorts, but were lucky to have some garbage bags to use as a sleeping bag and keep warm. They had bagels, powerbars, bananas and drinks at the village for the athletes.

Waiting for the bus

What seemed like an eternity at athletes village came to an end. Jamie and I ran down to the start line (less than a mile away) and went to the 13th corral. My number was 5017 meaning I was in the 5th corral, but I wanted to run it with my sister so I moved back. I was amazed by the sea of people flowing down the street. As we walked to our corral, someone yelled out our names. It was Greg! He smiled and gave us a thumbs up. Soon some fighter jets flew over, the national anthem was sung and off we went!!

It took about 10 minutes to get to the start line and even when we got to it we were still shuffling for a bit. All along the way, the crowds cheering were great. Almost anywhere, you could find someone handing out something including orange slices, water, sponges, face wipes, licorice, M&Ms, jelly beans, Dunkin' Donuts, name it. One highlight for sure was Wellesley College at mile 12. The girls screamed really loud and I got a few kisses and pictures before heading on.

I helped get water and gatorade for my sister for most of the race and tried to pace her the best I could. I felt great until we got to the Newton Hills. I could feel my legs start to tighten up. Then came Heartbreak Hill. It might not have been as bad if I had trained a little harder for Boston, but I hadn't planned on running too fast so I slacked off a bit. Well, it sure broke my heart and busted my legs up. After cresting the top, downhills followed all the way to the finish. With my quads and calves locked up it was tough even going downhill. I tried to stay with Jamie, but finally had to let her go. I was a little nervous since I was only at mile 22 and had 4 left.

My running got slower and slower and turned into a shuffle. For the last couple miles, I ran close to 11 minute pace. Around Boston College, I girl gave me a beer and yelled "Chug it!". It was gone within seconds and I continued on. I saw one kid shuffling like me and talked to him for a bit. He was from Utah and ran a 3:06 to qualify. This made me feel good that I wasn't the only one in this boat.

As I neared Fenway and the finish, the crowds got bigger and bigger. One guy ran next to me and told me to just put one foot in front of the other. I sped up with him for a bit and was thankful for the encouragement. I finally turned on Boylston St. for the finish. I waved my arms up a few times and the crowd screamed.

As I crossed the finish line, I was overcome with a great feeling of accomplishment. I still get chills thinking about it now. My finishing time was 3:42:24 and my sister finished in 3:32:02. Good job Jamie!! I'm really proud of you!

We finished!!

My time didn't matter to me because the effort and experience was great. We met people from all over the world including Nova Scotia, New Zealand, Germany, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Korea. We met elite atheletes and watched the Womens Olympic Trials. And most importantly I was able to run the Boston Marthon with my sister.


Bill said...

Congratulations to both of you!!!! Nice report, good photos.

Jeff said...

Thanks Bill!

Jamie said...