Last weekend, I returned to
I flew in on the red eye Saturday night, and after a quick breakfast with the
At 10am, Dean Karnazes made a brief presentation about his book (you can hear a similar NPR interview here), and his upcoming “E50” challenge. E50 is Dean’s attempt to do 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states this Fall, all to raise money and awareness for Karnos Kids, his non-profit. There were lots of questions from the audience about his training and motivation, and it was clear that nearly everyone in the room had read his book. Yet I was surprised that most of the audience referred to ultrarunners as “a different (and crazier) breed”. It’s really only a few more miles, right? Dean was gracious and friendly, and talked about the pacing and recovery challenges of doing consecutive daily marathons (for example, anything faster than a 3:30 marathon yearns for recovery on the next day, something he had learned from practicing races over four days), and how travel time will be a bigger factor this time around. For the days that Dean can’t run an “official” marathon, he will be running an official course with the help of Race Directors to ensure it’s all legit. I mentioned to the guy next to me that this sort of thing must take serious dedication. Little did I know I was talking to Neil Weygant, who was about to attempt his 40th consecutive Boston Marathon. Wow!
As I left the Expo, I read much the “22,000 reasons to run
The night before the race, I caught up with my running pals, Kristin Armstrong and Paige Alam, and their morale-support crews (Kik's friend Eric and Paige's husband Jamil, as well as their friends the Boyles). We dined at Teatro, discussed life and love, and the various paths that brought us all to
I’ve told you guys about Kristin before, and you may have heard about her good friend Paige from the articles in Runners World. Paige is a perfect running pal – motivated, funny, and a kindred soul that is always providing moral support. As they recalled their adventures over the last year, it was always “Kik and Paige, BFF (Best Friends Forever)”. One of the best parts about these two is they know how to challenge each other in little ways. For this race, Kristin had convinced the split-obsessed Paige to run without her watch. This is a tough consideration for a talented and competitive runner like Paige, and you could see her physically squirming with the idea. She took some comfort in knowing I would have a watch “just in case”.
The next morning, I caught up with Kristin and Paige about 45 minutes before race start and we made our way to the starter corral. My blue number (#3103) stood out among the sea of red numbers in the 12,000-13,000 corral, but I was welcomed with open arms. The runners here were much more diverse than the 3-hour corral – people of all shapes and sizes, matching Elvises, you name it. As we started running, I could see a lot of these people weren’t “natural runners”. Their gaits and strides were as varied as one could imagine, but they all found a rhythm they knew well from putting in the training miles. I instantly had tremendous respect for these runners. Who better to represent the Boston Marathon than those who overcame the most to get here?
Kristin and Paige had dressed well for the occasion, as they always do. Paige had a shirt that said “Go Paige” on the front, while Kristin had “Go Kristin”. Within a few hundred yards, they were already getting shouts of support. After a few miles and a few hundred thank yous, Paige began to understand the magic of Boston Marathon fans – she was going to be hearing “Go Paige” for the next four hours! She cracked a smile that never left her face the whole race.
The ladies set the pace and I glanced at my watch at each mile, amazed at the consistency of our time as we weaved through the hills. 8:13, 8:17, 8:15, 8:18…so far, a pretty quick race. Kristin was leading the pace on the flats, while Paige-the-mountain-goat pulled us up the hills. At each mile marker, Paige would read off a prayer or focus word, such as “hearing”, “truth”, “calling”…a wonderfully addictive way to pass the miles. I found my thoughts gravitating towards my excitement about impending fatherhood, and how much I appreciate sharing a running experience with friends. Paige and Kristin, both great moms, were the perfect friends to share the day.
We ran through
Mile 10 came up fast, and it was the first mile where Paige and Kristin naturally slowed down to 8:50/mile. But the constant support from the crowds rallied them back on pace by Mile 12 and straight through to
I snapped some pics as we headed into the hilly section of the course. Our pace had slowed to about 8:25/mile around mile 18, which one would expect in the hills. The rolling up and downs gave our legs some variability, and we refueled to prepare for Heartbreak Hill. I accidentally passed the Hash House Harriers aid station, so I turned around and ran back for a beer. It looked like a normal aid station, except each plastic cup had 2-3 oz of beer. When I grabbed one and yelled “bottoms up!”, everyone cheered, grabbed a cup of their own, and drank with me. As I took off to catch my pals, it dawned on me how much those guys were going to drink today…and it was only going to get more intense as the slower folks indulged. Again, amazing fan dedication!
The beer really hit the spot. Easily digested carbs, tasted good, and smoothed out my running a bit. Maybe these Harriers are onto something! I caught up with Kristin and Paige and we all knocked down Heartbreak Hill with ease. Just a 10k to go!
Paige was hamming it up big time in the last few miles, and the crowd loved it. She must have said “thank you” a thousand times. As Kristin and I laughed, it helped us keep moving forward with a smile on our faces. I glanced at my watch and realized we were just a couple of minutes off a 3:40 pace, which would allow Kristin and Paige to qualify for
As we rounded the last corner, Eric and Jamil were there to lay on some last minute kisses on their sweeties (even better than a shot of caffeine!), and we joined hands to cruise in to a 3:44:46 finish, good for about 9,970th place. Hugs abounded at the finish (including strangers), and everyone seemed pleased with the day. Rena Schumann, one of three
A shower and nap later, we all dined at Anthony’s at Pier 4, a superb steak and lobster restaurant with one of the best views in
The next morning, I got an unexpected treat at the airport. I sat down in a Starbuck’s and asked the guy next to me if I could read one of the five papers he had. When he smiled, I realized he was the same guy on the cover of the newspaper – Robert Cheruiyot from
When I come back to