Thursday, April 24, 2008

todd's boston marathon race report: guest post

i'm very happy to post my good friend todd's boston race report. todd and i have know each other for years and been to some great races together - the wurtsboro mountain 30k and the escarpment trail run come to mind. todd is also a fellow deadhead - and it was the tie-dyed bandana that caught my attention across the corral and led us to find each other! he also had a dancing bear sweatband on his wrist.

fyi, todd is currently the president of the orange runners club and a former crafter of some awesome home-brewed beer!


our view from mile one!

The 112th running of the Boston Marathon is now in the books. This year was my second consecutive Boston, and with last year's event in mind, one phrase continues to ring in my ears, and that is: What a difference a year makes!

The 2007 edition will be known to most in our generation as the "nor'easter Boston." But this year's weather could not have been more different. A glorious starting temperature of about 49 degrees treated us to a grand exit out of Hopkinton. Last year, I ran the first 13 miles with my friend Gary. He and I lined up together again this year, but I was also joined by my friend John from my weekend run group, and my friend Frank from down Westchester way. Frank and I had intended to meet up at the race last year, but the foul weather made pre-race communication difficult, and then we somehow had failed to see each other on the course as I passed him during the second half. But this year, Frank hollered out my name as we stood in corral #9, and it set us up for a greatly enjoyable first 14 miles together.

After the gun, Frank and I kept a slow, steady pace from the start, while John and Gary ramped it up over the first ten miles. At mile 8, Frank started feeling strong, and managed to put some space between he and myself. But by mile 10 we were shoulder to shoulder again, and not even a mile later, we caught Gary and John, who had slowed to make a "pit stop." Soon after that, we made our way toward the "screech tunnel," otherwise known as the half mile stretch that is Wellesley College. Legions of young ladies looking for kisses line the roadway, screaming so loudly that you can hear them a full quarter mile before reaching the throng. Well, not wanting to miss an opportunity, I confidently stopped and planted a wet kiss on a pretty flower dressed in a tie dyed sundress. She was a good kisser, and received my overture just as confidently as I had put it forward. :)

From that point it was where the race really began. I reached the halfway point in 1:40, exactly the same time as I had last year. But this was a different year, one in which my training left an awful lot to be desired, and also one in which I was planning to run another 26.2 only five weeks later. And so, I didn't push the pace. I was nursing two different injuries that I suffered during training, so my most basic goal was simply to make it to the finish line.

I plodded on, dealing with the pain from the injuries as best I could. Then, something happened. My phone, which I was carrying, rang. WTF? At first I thought "anybody who would call me KNOWS I'm in the middle of a race right now, so I'm definitely not going to bother." But then I decided on a different tack. Here was a chance to take my pain out on someone else ! So I answered the phone "Hi, I'm running the Boston Marathon. I can't talk right now. Why are you calling me?" I hear a woman's voice on the other end. "Todd?" "Yes," I say "who is this?" "It's Tara." she says. My friend Tara from Middletown. My friend Tara, who is RUNNING THE SAME RACE AS ME. "Where are you?" I ask her. "I'm at mile 12, where are you?" "I'm at Mile 17," I reply. "We shouldn't be having this conversation." So anyway, we exchange a couple of further remarks like 'how are you feeling?' and 'I'll see you at the finish' and then I'm back into my race focus. But as it turns out, it was a great diversion, as I was just reaching the first of the vaunted Newton hills, and the levity of the phone conversation helped me to temporarily forget about the work that lie immediately ahead.

Well, the hills came, and then one after another, they went. Before I knew it I was hauling down the backside of Heartbreak, past the cheering crowds and beer drinking guys of Boston College. Cleveland Circle lied dead ahead, and only 5 miles left of my second journey from Hopkinton to Copley Square.

As the discomfort of my two injuries began to nag, the general "pain-all-over" discomfort of those last three miles superceded all else, and never was there a more welcome sight than the "One Mile To Go" sign on Commonwealth Ave just the other side of Kenmore Square.

Then, the right-hand turn onto Hereford, with crowd noise almost deafening. And finally, the last left-hand turn onto Boylston, with the Boston Marathon finish line only 4 blocks away.

And with the most coveted finishing mat in the history of running beneath my feet, I gasped, and smiled about a finishing time that I never would have predicted when I got up that morning - 3:22:32. I had re-qualified for next year's race. Last year I had expected it. This year, I was simply grateful. Grateful for the whole experience. Grateful to be there with so many of my running buddies. Grateful for the beautiful weather, the amazing crowd support, the tasty beer at Cuff's Pub only 3 blocks from the finish line. But most of all, grateful to be blessed with the opportunity to experience this great race not once, but twice.

And as to next year, I hope to be able to say again

"What a difference a year makes!"


peter said...

3:22, pretty nice run with some nagging injuries. Nice post, gave me a good feel for the race without being excruciatingly long.

TeeJay said...

Hey Peter,

Thanks for the good word. Frank was a blast to run with - he always is. And he was a great sport when I told him I had to stop at Wellesley to make a date with a college girl. ;)


CTmarathoner said...

such fun reports from Todd and Gene -congrats on re-qualifying, Todd!!what an awesome time. Maybe we should come and do an Orange RR race -just to see you!.

Just_because_today said...

I am still very interested in that kissing part...are there boys willing to receive a kiss...? or will I have to settle for a girl????

TeeJay said...

ctmarathoner (although I'm well aware of your true identity): Thanks for the congrats. I'll return the kind words and congratulate you on your awesome completion of your 100-miler ! And by all means, please come up and run a race with us on the Orange County scene.

just_because_today (me knows who you are, too): Yes, there are boys, but they are at Boston College, and that doesn't come along until the top of Heartbreak Hill; about mile 21. But I have to admit, I didn't try to kiss them, so I don't know if they are receptive or not. You'll have to take your chances, I guess. ;)

IraFromSyosset said...

I am inspired, Todd! BTW, was the kiss french? Ahh, sundresses just lift my spirits!!

Ira (NYC Loves Marshall)