Marathon Monday arrived with clouds and wind. I went through my usual routine of stretching and foam rolling and eating an early breakfast. My start time was not until 10:50 AM ,so I did not need to get up in the wee hours of the morning. I dressed for the expected rainy, windy conditions. My wife, Jodie, gave me a good luck kiss, and off to the train I went into Boston to check in my gear bag and get on the bus to the starting line in Hopkinton. On the way to the start, the rain began. So much for later in the day. No turning back now. The bus ride was very loud with everybody talking from nervous energy and excitement. I chose to read the Boston Globe sports section.
We were dropped off at the high school athletic fields in Hopkinton. Now because I tried to stay hydrated all morning, the 45-minute bus ride made it necessary to head for a Porta Potty. So standing in line for 20 min was already testing my endurance. I looked around me at the site, and it appeared to be somewhat of a refugee camp with runners crammed into tents to stretch, eating and waiting for the announcer to call for their wave color to walk the 1/2 mi to the starting line. One last Porta Potty stop and the call came for the blue wave came I was in. Along the way I had to get rid of my outer layer of nice warm sweats and donate them to Big Brothers and Sisters. Of course as soon as I got rid of them the rain came down a wee bit harder. More endurance as we walked and waited to start.
The start was slow with the mass of runners trying to get moving. What struck me as odd is that about half of the runners were dressed as if it was a 70 degree sunny day instead of the 40 degree, windy, rainy day that it was. They were much hardier than me for sure. I kept in mind the advice of the runner I spoke with on the plane, which was to avoid starting out to fast . . . and slow it down on the downhills. It didn’t take long before I realized the rolling hill type of course that it was, not steep hills but a constant rise and fall. This could be trouble for the ol’ quads eventually.
Leaving Hopkinton and by the time I got to the next town of Ashland, I realized what makes this marathon so special– the thousands of people cheering you along the way and cheering at times in a down pour. As I reached the heart of each town the crowds grew in number and the cheers grew louder. It is all part of their tradition I guess. On through Framingham and Natick and to the half way point of the marathon at Wellsley. Then I heard loud cheers at mile 12 as I entered Wellsley. It was the “Wellsey girls” at mile 13 from Wellsley College and the volume of their cheers and screams increased every step of the way. It was as the runner said, you won’t understand until you experience it. It definitely gave me a boost of energy for the hills of Newton.
The hills of Newton are not steep, they are just a series of hills culminating with Heartbreak Hill at around mile 20, and then it is pretty much all downhill to the finish. So going up the hills was fine; it was the down hill that my quads were not happy with at this point in the race, even though I kept my pace at 9-minute miles. Meanwhile as I entered Newton and Brookline, the crowds got larger and larger, which kept me going as the rain and head winds kept up.
In Brookline at Mile 23 I got another boost of energy as I got a kiss from my wife, Jodie, and headed off to the finish line. As I neared the last mile, the crowd’s cheers got louder, and when I turned on to Boylston street for the final 3 blocks, the cheers were deafening. What a great feeling! And my first thought when I crossed the finish line was, “I did it and it was over, thank goodness.” A long cold half mile walk to get my dry clothes and change, and life was much better. My quads did not think so, but I could get out of the chair in the changing tent better than some.
It was a great experience because of the enthusiasm and spirit of the people of Boston and the surrounding towns. And that is what I will remember most–the people. I did take time to people-watch and to take in all the joy and enthusiasm of the people along the marathon and actually see the sights along the way. Will I do it again? No, I don’t think so. I am not a marathon enthusiast. It was a bucket list thing, so now it’s time to move on to something else on the list. But I hope to get back to Boston and take in more of the city, its people, and its history. It is a remarkable place. But so is Missoula, and as always, it is great to be back in Missoula.
Dennis McCrea, PT