Much like last year I had the pleasure of riding on a bus to the start with my fellow Hunger Strikers (who raised over $80K this year for the Lazarus House food pantry). Getting a bus to the start sounds like no big deal but for a marathoner it is a pleasure that rivals taking a limo to your senior prom. To contrast it, most runners have to catch a 6AM school bus out of Boston for a long, crowded, bone jarring ride out to Hopkinton (made all the more enjoyable by the famous MA potholes). After banging you knees on the seat in front of you for an hour and a half you have the privilege of sitting around in the sports field of the Hopkinton high school in 35 degree temperatures for 2+ hours with 20,000+ other runners who have little to do but swap running stories, discuss the weather and what they should wear, drink water, make port-a-john visits, re-tie their shoes a half dozen times, get more nervous, drink more water, make more port-a-john visits (you have some of your best conversations in line at the port-a-johns).
As a quick aside, there is a science to making your last potty visit just before the race starts so you don’t have to make a pit stop during the race. This is further complicated by the fact that you have to be in the starting area 15-20 minutes before the gun goes off. Given there are a limited number of units and thousands of people all trying to go at the same time, timing is everything. For an old guy like me who has had his pipes bounced around a lot over the last 50+ years, this is an important issue. I had a dream one year that I was locked in one of the port-a-johns when the gun when off. Scary.
Then it’s time and we make the half mile trek down to the starting area which is broken up into one thousand person corrals based on your number. There are two waves to the start, 10 am for the 14,000 fastest runners and 10:30 for the remaining 12,000 or so. As you head down to the start you pass busses where you can leave spare clothes that they take to the finish for you. Picture this…I’m walking down this residential side street with 14,000 other runners and I hear my name. Walking next to me is Bob Mackin who works with me at VidSys. Life is funny that way sometimes.
Back on the course things went well until about 15 miles. I knew I was in trouble strength wise at half way but I had been running better than I had expected and while the hamstring was tightening up I was able to keep it under control by shortening the stride and lowering the pace. The real challenge at 15 was the right knee. I suspect favoring the left hamstring and the pace over the first half were a bit too much for it. I made it to 16 miles where my family was waiting and that gave me a big boost…my second best part of the day (thanks Pam, Betsy, Tiff, Matt, Allie, Drew, Ian, and Terry…you are the best).
OH…and for those counting…the third best part of the day…climbing into bed that night.