Saturday, April 20, 2013

Boston Marathon

We had such a wonderful weekend.  Until the very end.  Such a sad, strange finish.  We were lucky, not hurt, able to leave, able to let everyone know we were OK.  So sorry for those caught up in the middle of the horrible events at the finish line.

This post is a celebration in everything good about that day, plus our story of the aftermath.  There is no separating the good from the bad, forever intertwined into what is surely one of the most different and memorable days of our lives.

My favorite photo, to start things off on the happy side:


Saturday John took a solar class while I got to wander around Boston.  I do love this city.

A little local solar flavor:

Bobby Orr (Mom might know this name from crossword puzzles):

I had no idea the significance of this picture until a couple days after we got home, I just thought it was a cool compilation of marathon items at Marathon Place:

The finish line was being set up and readied:

Crazy crowded expo and packet-pickup (not my favorite part of the amazing spectacle that is the Boston Marathon):

My foot was doing better since the previous weekend, but I still had no idea how far it was going to let me run on Monday.  So I figured I better cross the finish line a couple days early just in case.  Interesting how that worked out:

Early evening glow in the state Capitol building:


Sunday we hung out and volunteered at the "Don't Run Boston" ultra race, stocking the aid stations and getting to chat with some friends we don't see very often.  John took the T into town to check out the marathon expo (also getting the chance to cross the finish line his own self).  It was a beautiful day, I only wish I could have been running on the trails again.  Although with my history of hurting myself there, it was probably safer not to.

Yep, a road marathon, much safer.  Time to get ready for the big day.

Race morning:

John decided to run with me so he wouldn't go out too fast and then struggle to finish.  He had worked so hard to get there that he really wanted to enjoy as much of it as possible.  It wasn't about how fast we could run this time, it was all about the experience.  This was the ultimate in marathons - in addition to not being easy to get into, also one of the best supported and fun marathons in the world.  Let's just have fun with it!

He also decided to carry the camera and document the fun things we saw along the way.  He had a ton of energy the whole way, criss-crossing the road to take pictures and high-five people.  I was impressed.

Waiting for the bus to take us WAY out of town to Hopkinton (at least we have coffee and bagels!):

Good morning friendly bus driver!

Heading to Athlete's Village to hang out and find more coffee and bagels:

Interesting artwork at a nearby house:

26.2 miles is Wicked Fah...

Lots of yellow and blue and many other colors, listening to fun music and a funny announcer:

I guess if you get tired of people chanting your name, this is what you wear!  Too funny.

Big Dog is ready to run in the Boston Marathon!  He's mostly covered by my race number, don't want to scare him with all the people:

Time to head to the starting line:

In the corral:


One of many new friends that day:

Go Buzz!

Woo hoo, we made it to the starting line!  An accomplishment in itself.

Boston Marathon 2013:

So many stories from the race!  Luckily for anyone trying to wade through all of this, I probably won't remember the bulk of them.  John's pictures pretty much say it all.

We started at the back of wave 2 and started slowly, which made for a nice mostly-open road as the bulk of wave 2 took off ahead and wave 3 wouldn't start for another few minutes.

1 kilometer and my foot is still fine  :)

We had lots of choices in discarded gear in the early miles and I kept an eye on all of it.  Then I scored a Red Sox hat!  John ended up wearing it the rest of the day.  He also found some awesome arm warmers that will show up in some photos further along.

Low-fiving the kids:

Another excellent find - some gloves with touch-screen fingertips.  Very useful in the winter with smart phones, I've been wanting a pair of these.  Can't be too picky on the color.  See also - the guy with the Go Pro on his head possibly capturing us on film in return:

One of many, many water and Gatorade hand-out tables on the course - incredible number of friendly volunteers.  Thank you volunteers!!

Knocking out the early miles:

Somehow we're STILL chasing the Nads... and apparently the Balls this time too (Go Balls??):

John noticed this large array - he had plenty of time to notice things and take pictures and then catch back up with me.  I just ran along, happy for every mile I was able to cover, enjoying the beautiful cool and sunny weather.

Sweet puppy!  And another solar array in the background:

Some of these signs:
"Your pace or mine"
"Keep going! Keep going!  #thatswhatshesaid"
"You are NOT almost there"

I had been eyeing these signs on the telephone poles and this seemed like a good spot to get the requisite "Yes, John could sleep here" photo.  Made a few spectators laugh!

A couple things - this band was rockin' but didn't mind pausing for a picture.  Also a good look at John's groovy new arm warmers:

A fist bump/high five with Santa:

Freezy pops!

We never got too hot, but these still tasted good.  John sampled just about everything that people offered, including twizzlers, Kit Kats, jelly beans, Snickers, Twix, banana pieces, and a fig newton.

And a gel from the official gel station.  But not a single orange slice.  And I passed on the beer.

A view of the back of the official photographer station:

Funny banana people:

Elvis welcoming us to Natick:

This would have been worthy of a video - a bunch of kids bouncing up and down amid the spectators, it was completely unexpected and funny - and good exercise for the kids!

Backside view of a water stop:

And the mass of cups that followed:

All in for Boston!  I mostly just ran while John took pictures but every once in a while I had to stop to pose for one myself.  Good luck all in!

John found some remaining snow...

Then we hit Wellesley College near the halfway mark.  I was really hoping to get this far and run through the "scream tunnel".  It didn't seem like as large a crown of women this year (compared to the one time I ran Boston many years ago, so my memory may be faulty), but they were all very excited to cheer and high-five us!  And kiss anyone that wanted.

John captured a short video clip:

Back to the "normal" crowds of the streets of Wellesley town - we were firmly in the middle of wave 3 by now, tons of runners on the road and tons of spectators on the sides.  John and I had to pay attention if we wanted to stay together, but John always managed to find me after he took off to take another picture.

Go random stranger!

Run faster - I just farted (that's the sign, not me):

"Les Zebres Munich" with shirts from the Marathon du Medoc - might have to try that one someday.  Oh, and mile 15!

Running with a king - that's different!

Hey, it's Team Hoyt!  I was excited to see them.  Man, if someone had messed with them...

This shirt says "Michael Scott's Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run Race For the Cure"

I think this is a gorilla?

Let's go Red!

Nice sign:

This makes me laugh every time I look at it:

Had to stop to pet George - thank you for the kiss, George!

John wishes he had gotten some video of these drummers - they were really good:

Another official photo opportunity:

A short section of trail - my foot liked that.  It was holding up well still, another mile down!

Thank you Mr Bagpiper!

Now THAT is a gorilla!

All the way up this climb we had a discussion about whether it was Heartbreak Hill or whether we had climbed it already.  Which is more likely, that John remembered the race map correctly or all of these people knew what they are talking about?  We'll go with option #2:

Another doggie kiss - John was trying to get the dog to look at the camera but the pooch was more interested in John's face:

Then we came to Boston College - these kids were AWESOME.  We ran down an entire long hill high-fiving and yelling the whole way.  You rock - no, YOU rock! - woo hoo!

A short break from the excitement while I took a break in a porta-potty (this clock was set for the first wave, I believe, whereas the finish line clock was set for wave 3 by the time we arrived downtown, in case anyone is curious):

Another little video clip:

Continuing on, more great crowds and fun music.  I don't think this is exactly zydeco?

A couple warriors sped past us in capes.  Apparently even warriors need Gatorade once in a while:

This guy was funny:

And had a back-up sign:

Another Marathon du Medoc shirt - this guy even chatted with us about it ("le marathon le plus long du monde"):

Finally - the famous Citgo sign!

I saw this sign and wavered briefly but decided we really needed a photo of Mr Big at 1 mile to go.  A nice woman took our photo and even tried again for the picture at the top of the blog.  In retrospect, we were glad we had paused for a minute here:

We ran under a small overpass and then turned onto Hereford Street.  I thanked my foot (and the rest of me) for getting me all the way back to Boston.  I kind of couldn't believe I had actually made it, what a joy for the whole experience.

Crowds cheering, still high-fiving, then the last turn onto Boylston Street.

End of the day:

We ran a few steps down Boylston and then there was this "boom!" like a cannon, down the street.  What in the world?  Is there a cannon at the finish line now?  I don't remember any such thing.  There was a big cloud of white smoke.  This was confusing.

Then a second one, which apparently was closer but I didn't realize it at the time.  John said something about getting out of there, to which I agreed.  Before turning around John got one last photo from the course:

Something I read later: "There are two types of people, says National Public Radio's Peter Sagal. There are those who hear an explosion and in a panic think - 'it must be car bomb;' and there are the people who turn to the first person and say 'come on! What are the chances of that?'"

It turns out I'm firmly in the 2nd category.  But we didn't need to take any risks, the finish line wasn't important to us.  Time to leave.

We walked the other way as some police took off running toward the blasts and others moved barricades to keep any more runners from heading toward the finish.  We dodged through them and saw faces of confused runners being stopped at the corner.  John suggested we should get away from the crowds, sounds like a plan.

We were so lucky to be together when it happened.  We've never run a road marathon together before, this just happened to be the first one, and if nothing else we didn't have to worry about each other being OK.  It's hard to imagine how it would have been trying to find each other that afternoon.

Our first goal, after walking away from the scene, was to let everyone else know we were OK.  We had not publicized running the race, since we were doing it just for fun and for the experience.  Heck, I wasn't sure I would get past the 1-mile mark.  Only 2 friends (that I'm aware of) were actually tracking us online, and they saw our last time check at the 40 kilometer mark, about 1.4 miles from the finish.  Both of them were understandably a bit freaked out about the timing.  Luckily there weren't a whole lot of friends and family having to deal with that.

We stopped a guy with a phone, and he said he didn't have much battery left but he suggested we try a hotel lobby or the Greenhouse apartments.  We wandered the streets with spectators leaving the area, trying to stay out of the way of all the ambulances and police cars roaring up and down the streets.  So many sirens!  So many ambulances, it was hard to imagine what was going on a couple blocks away.

The Greenhouse apartments suggestion was a really good one.  The lobby was open - and heated.  It was a beautiful cool day for running, but rather chilly for standing around outside in race clothes.  Plus it had a rec room with a TV, so we got to see the first reports of a bomb exploding in the Marathon Sports store at the finish line.

PLUS a really nice guy with a laptop who let us log into my email account and send a note to our families, including Kip who called our parents and also let everyone in our Facebook world know that we were OK. That was a big load off our minds.

We decided then that we should at least try to retrieve our drop bags.  That would get us some warm clothes, John's phone, and our car keys.  Back on the street, we made our way around the finish area and found several people with their bags walking toward us.  A couple nice ladies pointed us in the direction of the yellow school buses holding the bags.

After walking a few blocks we found the long rows of buses along a couple streets, and our timing was so lucky because as soon as we found the two vehicles with our respective race numbers posted, a woman started yelling that they were clearing the street, everybody out!  An extremely helpful volunteer grabbed my bag off one bus as John jumped on the other and found his.


Warm clothes, the ability to leave town, and a phone.  We headed to Bruegger's for some food and drinks and to call our parents ourselves.

From there we were able to take the Blue Line out of the city to our car (the Green Line subway was shut down).  I-90 was open and we drove out of town, listening to more sirens on the streets overhead as we passed through the Back Bay area.  So happy to get home.  So sad for the day's ending.

Our splits and lack of a finish time - it's OK, we made it as far as we needed to.

Boston Strong, y'all.

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