Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Beautiful 2010 Boston Marathon

This morning, I had the great pleasure of joining 26,000 runners for one of the biggest annual parties in American history, the 2010 Boston Marathon. Ideal weather (even a tailwind!), plenty of beer, and new and old friends alike made for a perfect day for the 26.2 mile trek from Hopkinton to Boston, MA. Per usual, the Boston natives and volunteers made it a special day for all of us.

I felt a deep appreciation for this Boston, my 6th, for it nearly didn't happen. Just a week ago I crashed on my bike when I slid in the rain trying to avoid a rock in the road, and in one instant hit the pavement, crushed my helmet, destroyed my bike, and bruised up my back and left butt cheek enough to see my peak fitness get put on the shelf. Oh, and did I mention sexy? Nothing like asymmetrical swelling in the butt to drive women wild. I've spent a few days ass up on the bed, and it appeared to be healing quickly with rest/ice/elevation. I wasn't able to run all week, so I toed the line at Boston with that unique sensation of not knowing if a finish was in my future or not. Beers yes, pictures for sure, but finish, who knows?

The days before were the usual pandalerium, with all of Boston feasting on the Patriots Day long weekend. the only ones missing from the party were the hundreds of European runners stranded at home from the volcanic ash that stopped all jets the last few days. We toasted them in spirit. I had a pre-race dinner with fellow trail running warrior Sarah Syed and her Mom, sharing any Boston tips I could for her inaugural run.

I joined Laurie and the Injinji gang to work the Injinji booth at Expo, and had a chance to meet Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1966 when she snuck on the course and clocked a 3:21:40. Her new book, "To Boston with Love", chronicles a passion for love and nature that led her to running ultras long before her Boston victory. And get this - she got married in my home town of Woodside, CA! She could even recite my home trails by name. How cool is that?

(The Adidas shwag empire goes one more year - 
I counted $1200/minute being rung up at their booth)

(Chatting with Bobbi Gibb at the Injinji booth)

Race morning found a welcome break from the rainy weekend, with enough blue skies to coax 500,000 spectators to line the course from end to end. Sarah and I both made it in time to get pre-race massages in the Athlete's Village (still the best kept secret), and I met a nice pilot from American Airlines from Chicago taking a break from his four girls for some marathon fun. With a quick sprint to corrals, I made it just in time for the countdown. 3, 2, 1 and we're off!

(Pre-race massages, the best way to hang at the Athlete's Village)

(Great weather this year!)

My pace was so slow, I easily got passed by 1,000 runners in the first mile. Yup, I was one of "those guys"! But as long as the strides were short, the pain in the ass remained only a pain in the ass. Among those passing me were familiar faces of Jason Jones, 24-hour superstar John Geesler (a prep run for the NYC 6-Day run next weekend), Roy Pirrung (doing a double marathon), Michael Wardian (actually, he was in front of me the whole time no surprise), and Kevin Sullivan (supposedly in running retirement...busted!). Ultrarunners are everywhere!

 (I love that I took this picture behind me, and the first guy in the picture is taking a picture behind him)

(Kevin Sullivan says hi as he cruises by)

At mile 2, one of the local rabble-rousers handed me a beer and I was happy to oblige. In all my Bostons, the ones where I took the time to enjoy everything it had to offer were the most memorable, so why stop now?. It was fun to keep a mellow pace and reflect on all the world, local, and personal history of this race. It is the 2500th anniversary of the Battle of Marathon (which originated the distance and the legend of Phidippides), the 114th running of the Boston Marathon, and every street corner seemed to remind me of running with my Dad last year, donning the Bleeker costume, with my friends Kik and Paige, or the many folks I've met along the way. So many great memories!

(Dan the barefoot runner)

(Anytime I needed a beer refill, I followed these guys)

At mile 4, I ran with Sam Morris from Laurel, MD, who was staying right on a 3:15 finish pace. Sam was new to running, but had that natural stride of an all-around athlete and the watch-like consistency of a military man. We passed the time sharing stories, meeting people, and getting high fives from the kids as we came through Natick. 

(Sam flashes a chaka as I start a chin counting contest - GO!)

(A random accidental shot, but neat composition...hmm, maybe too many beers)

I grabbed another beer at mile 11, as we heard the famed scream tunnel approaching. I always enjoy watching the men check their hair and breath as the long line of beautiful young maidens approach - although it's not necessary, I'm sure the hundreds of Wellesley girls are appreciative of a little extra grooming. My favorite sign this year was "kiss me 'cause I majored in kissing!". I took a short stop to give/get some smackeroos, and immediately clocked a testosterone powered 6:20 min/mile. Ah, the sweet seduction of drunken youth.

(The Wellesley girls get prettier every year!)

(High five? Really? Time to nut up or shut up, my friend in orange)

(Lean in for a kiss and you may get sucked in for good)

As we entered the hill country, we got the benefit on a nice tailwind breeze. Sam decided to pick up the pace a bit to get closer to his 3:15 goal, so I wished him luck and watched him mountain goat up Heartbreak Hill. The Hash House Harriers aid station was fully functional this year at mile 20, and beer #3 made it official...I was running buzzed, much to the Harriers delight. I realized this when I took a PowerBar gel and washed it down with a Sam Adams (yuck). Probably best to cut back or this was not going to end well. Remember kids, do as I say, not as I do! (ahem)

 (Having a beer with the Harriers!)

(Pacing with Mario)

(Doing 26.2 the hard way...hey, did you know Inov-8 makes a lightweight race boot?)

(The clouds close in on the last hill)

(Another roving photographer)

(Boston fans are the best!)

The final stretch after Boston College had a wonderful tailwind, and I used the opportunity to pick up the pace a smidge.  My strides were still fairly short, like a Chi-running robot, but anything more felt too risky. I slowed to chat with Jason Jones, who is also doing the Boston/Big Sur/Miwok triple, before hitting the final 5k. The Citgo sign appeared in the distance, and the road began to fill with cramp-induced casualties. I slapped as many backs as I could to give encouragement.

(God says "run")

(Jason Jones in the home stretch, saving a bit for Big Sur and Miwok...I am clearly a few beers in) 
(Shawn Kyle gives Team Noah a shout of encouragement in the home stretch)

 (Nice cloud cover in the final stretch)

The crowds went wild as we pulled onto Boylston St and made the final stretch into the chute. I finished in 3:18:10, good for 4203rd place. Another great race in the books! It felt like the first finish all over again, and I thanked my body for holding up.

 (The finish!)

(The sea of burrito-wrapped finishers)

(One day, two massages...you can't beat that!)

I hit the post-race massages, and they did a good job of loosening up my back and glutes again. In an odd turn of events, I would get a phone call later saying that one of the medical advisors was convinced the bruising indicates a broken tailbone and I should get x-rays asap. How is that possible? I don't think you can run a marathon with a broken tailbone. Only an idiot would try something like tha-...fine, fine, back to the hospital. ;-) But I don't think I'll mention Big Sur on the calendar for next Sat. I mean, it's not like we use our tails or anything.

My thanks to the great people of Boston for another awesome race!

- SD


  1. How fun Scott! I love all the pictures and captions. After running the 111th and 112th Boston Marathons I have watched the last two on live stream from my computer the last two years wishing I were there. Boston is such a special race and I hope to get back there someday soon. Take care of that bum of yours and best wishes at Miwok. :o)

  2. Brilliant, Scott! It seems to be in vogue these days to say how Boston is overrated, but I disagree, and you're living proof that it's all in the attitude of the runner. I love a race report that can combine so much history, beer, kissing, nostalgia, high fives with kids, smiles and signs that "God says RUN."
    Also, perhaps the swollen butt cheek will prevent those sex-related injuries to which you are prone.

  3. Thank you for posting such fantastic pictures!!! :)

  4. I am a proove that you can have a broken tail bone and run. But, man, I certainly can't run on so many beers! Awesome fun!!!

  5. Hey Scott,
    Fun read. Lets see, broken tail bone, $50 co-pay. Flight to Boston $400. Three beers on a run, etrance fee. Trying to explain to everyone that doing all that as the start to the Boston, Big Sur, Miwok triple play is in fact not insane...priceless.
    I am duly impressed at your determination and plan to channel it when running Miwok. I am also planning to do the triple next year. I have no doubt catching up with you prior to Miwok will likewise be priceless.

  6. Bummer about your bum. :( I was looking forward to seeing you set a P.R. after your super-fast training run at the Oakland Marathon.
    Thanks for putting together the great blog post with photos; I felt like I was there! Glad you had so much fun with the race.
    See you at Miwok! Get well soon!

  7. Sorry about your biking accident, but way to roll with the punches! What a great race (while injured no less) and report! Good luck with the rest of your crazy adventures.


  8. Great, Scott!

    Big Sur on Saturday should be fine. It's Sunday - you know, the day we'll be running the BSIM - which your medical people might have problems with. Good luck with the recovery.

  9. Scott -- Great post. It was my first Boston and it exceeded all the hype for me. I saw the same "I majored in kissing" sign and it provided me with several laughs later down the road. I went to Boston focused on turning in a good time, but after the start decided to take it all in -- chatting with other runners (before the hills), giving high-fives to kids along the way, stop for a kiss, etc. All the positive energy carried me to a PR!

  10. Scott, you took a picture of my back (the pic captioned "the clouds close in on the last hill"). We are wearing the OXY socks. Wish I would have known you were there and I would have said hi - I have followed your blog the last few years! Congrats on a great race!

  11. Once again, a great race report that made me want to be there. It sounds like you had a great time.

    Injured, slightly buzzed and you still pulled out a pretty strong time. That's pretty amazing, if you ask me.

    Congrats on a great race and good luck on your upcoming races. I hope you are back to 100% by Miwok.

  12. Great post. Good reminder to all of us to slow down and enjoy the day once in a while.

  13. Thanks for the comments, everyone! Just got back from the doc...nothing broken, just a lot of bruising. So I'm good to go for Big Sur! My thanks to the medical crew at Boston for having me double-check. Can't be too careful.


  14. wow, what an event. thanks for the insider view!

  15. Wow! What a fun post! Next year I'm going tontry to run it your way! This was my first Boston and I...am...hooked! I'm floored that you could down three beers and still finish in a speedy 3:18! My new hero!

  16. This was one of my favorite posts of yours ever. I loved it! Your pictures and the beer drinking just cracked me up.

  17. Very funny post. You clearly are smiling throughout the whole thing! Looks like great weather at Boston this year.

    God says RUN. That's my favorite. Or the Wellsley girl with the horse...what did her sign say?

  18. LOL way to drink your way through Boston! Ha. Hey I thought I was all cool cause I did a shot of beer at mile 25 of the Vermont City Marathon, but nooo - you are way cooler than me! Especially with the injury! Holy crap. :)

  19. It was great to see another Bay Area runner at Boston. See you at Big Sur!

  20. Hi Scott! Thanks for the inside info on the Boston Marathon. I am hoping t enter the race in a couple of years time after some serious training and your light hearted post and fantastic photos have made me want to get out the door and do a marathon today not in a couple of years! Cheers

  21. You've inspired me. Maybe I'll try the beer thing. Probably wouldn't be able to clock a relaxed 3:18, but then I would probably be more buzzed than you.

  22. Hi Scott!

    It was terrific to meet you at the Boston Expo! I really appreciate your sense of humor! Someday I hope I'll be running those redwood trails again. Meanwhile, it's amazing to be back in New England watching the spring unfold. Would love to keep in touch: the best way is through my website, www.bobbigibb.com.

    Thanks for mentioning that I was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. It's amazing to think that when I ran in 1966 it was generally believed that women were physiologically incapable of running marathon distances and the longest AAU sanctioned women's event was 1.5 miles. That's what they told me when I wrote for my application. I'm glad I had an opportunity to help change things!

  23. Hey Scott,

    Looks like from your finish photo I was just behind you in the chute. Don't see a time posted for you from BSIM. Forget your D-tag? Didn't see you on the course either. Maybe in Sacramento in July,.. 5000m baby.

    Bill Newsham

  24. Those are great photos! Thanks for sharing them. I heard that the Boston marathon is beautiful, but now I've seen it. :)

  25. I like the adidas jacket...hope I can have one...

  26. Reading this got me so excited for my first Boston this year. Thanks for sharing such great details about your experience -- and love the pictures!

  27. Just found this post on your blog today. More Bay Area ultrarunners were there last year: John and I ran last year's Boston with nearly perfect weather. It went very well for one of us and not so hot for the other. Perhaps John should take your more relaxed approach of run, drink, enjoy, repeat :)

    I always enjoy reading your post race reports, Scott.
    Amy Burton

  28. I was in the fortunate position to be on holiday in Boston at the time of the marathon a few years ago. It was a great day, esp as it was on a holiday Monday so the Red Sox played that day. We went to Fenway Park for the game then came out and cheered the runner home when it finished

  29. Great pictures, you sure got a lovely day for it. It's an amazing feeling when you pull into the final stretch and the crowd are cheering. The adrenalin rush is awesome.


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