The emails from the days leading up to the 2012 Boston Marathon basically told you, “Due to the severe heat coming to Boston, should you choose to run the marathon there is a good chance you might die.” Of course the race directors needed to get the point across that the heat was going to be a force to be reckoned with, but when I read the email to my poor mother at dinner on Saturday night before the marathon she basically stopped eating her meal.
We headed out to Boston nice and early the morning of the marathon and found a parking garage strategically located near the finish line. We walked over to Boston Common to hop on the school buses that would be our ride out to Hopkinton. I must say, even though I was riding on a school bus I felt like royalty heading out to the starting line as police officers held the traffic and allowed the buses to run red lights and head toward the Mass Pike.
When we arrived in Hopkinton, an impressive organization was laid out before us. Some last minute waters, sunscreen, bagels, nipple guards and more were all available for free and we found some prime real estate in the shade to hang out in and avoid whatever sun and heat we could.
When it was finally out turn to head toward the starting line, there was a certain sense of “Oh my God, we are doing this” that sunk in. Beth Ann and I marched proudly toward the starting line and made a few comments about how hot it was just standing around and how we planned to run the race with the end goal of finishing the marathon at the finish line rather than Newton-Wellesley Hospital.
We met a great lady named B.B. who came up from New Orleans to run her first Boston Marathon. In between her cheering of “Who Dat” in homage to her New Orleans Saints she made a comment that basically summed up the morning: “This is like Christmas.” Her energy was infectious and helped but whatever nerves we still had at ease.
We crossed the starting line and headed out on the course. The crowd support was absolutely amazing along the course and the first few miles went really well. We maintained a good pace (Beth Ann and I agreed to run the race together) and felt pretty good. It sure was hot, but we were doing it.
At Mile 4, we ran into our running club The Thirsty Irish Runners who do an amazing job manning the water stop at Mile 4. Call me biased, but their water and Gatorade was hands down the best tasting along the course!
The miles kept on coming and we knew that my parents were planning on being in Natick around the Natick Town Common. We knew despite the heat that we agreed to look for them on the right hand side of the road and they had strict instructions to have water and an energy gel available. However, what we weren’t expecting was that they had hands down one of the best signs on the route. For those who don’t know, Beth Ann pledged to run the Boston Marathon in honor of our daughter Cailin who was born at 2 lbs. 13 oz. in August and less than a year after Beth Ann was hospitalized for over 2 months and less than a year after Cailin was born premature at the aforementioned weight, Beth Ann was doing just that: Running for Cailin!
We got to the half-marathon mark and both sort of looked at one another and agreed that was not so bad and pledged to keep on running. After all, our options were either keep running or stand on the side of the road in the heat and hope for the best. Might as well keep running since our car was in Boston, after all.
As we continued along the course, things just kept getting better and better. We ran past the girls of Wellesley College, we made it to Heartbreak Hill, we got to the 20 mile mark. At times, running was scary as people were significantly being impacted by the heat. Runners fell, at times there was not enough water on the face of the planet it seemed, but we continued to head toward Boston. The weather forced us to run/walk portions but we still continued along. Folks that had ice, Twizzlers, pretzels and oranges along the course, I have already written to the Pope and asked for consideration for sainthood for each of you.
Mile 24: We knew my brother and his friends were planning to be there and thanks to the miracle of the World Wide Web he was able to track us to plan for when we would be arriving. Even though the weather was torture and given the fact that there was what seemed to be an endless amount of fun and libations to be had at every bar lining the route, like clockwork we saw them. Pretty cool that he and his group of friends were there with signs, Gatorade and gummy bears; seeing them cheering us certainly helped us carry on for the final 2.2 miles.
Now, having grown up and lived in Massachusetts my entire life the Citgo sign has always had this famed history given its close proximity to Fenway Park. However, when we saw the Citgo sign running toward the finish I almost fell in love with a Venezuelan oil company and felt emotional looking at a large neon billboard. We are so close.
The Boston Marathon has a sort of saying, “Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston” which reflects the final two turns that you take coming into the finish line. When we turned right onto Hereford, I got goosebumps. When we turned left onto Boylston, I looked at Beth Ann as she was running next to me and was overtaken by perhaps some of the most intense pride one could ever imagine. Less than a year ago, Beth Ann beat severe preeclampsia and she is now sprinting toward the finish line to finish the Boston Marathon.
When the race directors of the Boston Marathon sent out their heat advisory emails, they focused on the importance this year (given the 88 degree temperatures) to run the race not as a run but an experience. Perhaps they didn’t know it when they sent it, but “experience” is just about the best word that comes to mind when thinking about my running of the 2012 Boston Marathon. Beth Ann and I crossed the finish line together as planned with a time of 6:07 and the six hours of running that we completed will now allow us a lifetime of memories and stories to share about the 2012 Boston Marathon.
I am now a proud Boston Marathon Finisher. Not many people can say that. And no one ran with a better running partner that day!