Friday April 17th
I finished teaching and headed down to Boston for a talk put on by the Harvard Book Store at the Old South Church. Meb was going to be talking about his 2014 first place finish at Boston and also a bit about his new book. It was a chance to listen to him and at the same time get a copy of his book.
It was a nice evening and I got a chance to have a quick "catch-up" with David Willey, editor of Runner's World magazine. Meb is a terrifice speaker who did an amazing job speaking from the heart.
|David Willey, Mary Wittenberg, Meb, Amby, and Scott Douglas|
Saturday April 18th
I had planned to head into Boston early in the AM to watch the B.A.A. 5K and Invitational Mile races to support a lot of my friends. After chatting with my friend Ric from MVS, I knew being rested for the race on Monday was much more important. I can go in another year to watch (as I did last year), so I decided to rest at home in the morning. I was planning on heading down to the expo to pick up the finish line passes I managed to arrange for Sue and Owen, and to my pleasure, both Sue and Owen wanted to tag along. It was a beautiful afternoon for a trip into the city. Prior to heading into the expo we met up with a long-time online friend, Rachel Weeks. She is a visually-impaired Ironman-finisher and marathoner. She was there along with her guide, Brian Lane. It was a super quick visit, but I'm glad we got to finally meet in person. We walked around the expo and made sure to head to the Team Hoyt booth. Sue and Owen have met Dick, Rick and Kathy before, but got a treat today as my dear friend and runner, Dana was there with her boyfriend Giancarlo along with another friend Jennifer. Dana and I have known each other for a few years and try to connect every time I race in New York.
|Dana and I together for a moment |
in the 2014 NYC Marathon
Sunday April 19th
Prior to heading off to church I decided to do my last 20 minute run. It was a beautiful morning and all went well. It was a quick out and back from home making it almost all the way to downtown Salem. Church went well, and has been customary prior to my marathon races, Manny, our parish priest called me up to the front for a blessing. Again, it was a very humbling experience, but it helps me relax to know that I will be cared for while running. Knowing that others will be keeping me in their prayers during the long day goes a long way to helping me relax. After heading home I needed to make one last trip down to the expo. I was to be checked over by the USTF in order to be considered classified to run for the US Paralympic Track Team. Well, I now have provisional standing and can compete at events if I like. The problem is, they don't have any long distance events in my classification and I would never consider myself a sprinter. Before heading home I had the pleasure of meeting up with Wes Harding and his family from Canada. He is an amazing athlete who runs for Team Hoyt. His daughters are the most amazing cheering section ever.
|Rebekah Harding and I had to do a "Bandana Selfie"|
We headed home soon after the meal and I started to finish getting everything ready for the EARLY morning trip down to the city. The weather forecast was calling for cool temps in the low 50's with rain coming later in the afternoon. My hope would be to finish before the rain if all went well. Once Owen came home from his party he had one very important job to do for me. It's Owen's tradition to put on my shoes to put "SPEED" in them. For bigger races he also puts on my singlet to put "HEART" in my jersey. I find it hard to race without Owen doing this. I had all my clothes ready, including my drop bag and the clothes I would dump at the start line prior to the race start. With the alarm set for 3:30AM, I went to bed, but it would be quite a while until I finally fell asleep.
The alarm went off before I knew it and I was up. I headed downstairs to get dressed and try to get out the door by 4AM. I had decided not to eat my breakfast, but instead take it with me and eat on the bus ride to Hopkinton. A quick look outside and the sky was actually partly cloudly and then I looked at the weather forecast. They were calling for the rain to start much earlier then originally planned along with some strong winds from the NE. My immediate thoughts went to the winter of training I had just completed. Lots of snow and cold temps from the middle of January all the way until mid-March. I was ready for this! Once I was all ready to go, I went upstairs to wake up Sue and give her a gentle kiss and hug good-bye. We each said, "See you at the finish line", and I headed out.
|Meghan Cole from Team Hoyt|
|My friend and hero, Rick Hoyt|
We arrived at the school near the starting line and there was some confusion as to where the MI athletes were to assemble with some people were telling us to go the tent with the hand-cyclists while others said we were to be in the gym of the school with the wheelchair athletes. Given the choice with the weather the way it was, I opted to go into the school. I found a spot on the floor to chill for a while and was able to spend some time chatting with some of my fellow MI athletes like Scott Rigsby, Richard Blalock, Kelly Luckett, Dahn Trang, and Cedric King to name a few. I made my
|Getting ready with |
I took my usual ALEVE prior to race start and was itching to get outside to start stretching. And of course, the rain started, far earlier than expected. I went back inside for a bit, but then decided there was no time like the present to get used to the rain. Prior to heading outside I lubed up my feet in preparation for the all the rain and rubbed some Arnica creme on my legs and hips. The final step was to roll-on some BIO-FREEZE on my lower back. I quickly ditched my rain pants, tied up my drop bag and headed outside. I was left with only one remaining piece of clothing to ditch, a hoodie I picked up from Savers. The other athletes headed outside a few minutes later and then as a group we were lead to the starting line. For the 3rd year in a row, I was to be in the starting wave of the most amazing race in the world, the BOSTON MARATHON. One of the MANY amazing parts to the marathon for me, is the Human Chain that holds the runners at the start. I have been blessed to be a part of the Merrimack Valley Striders (MVS) for the last few years. The majority of the volunteers in the chain are from MVS. My dear friend Lyn, organizers this group of amazing people, so rather than list some of the names (you know who you are) and miss out on someone, I will simply say, that seeing Lyn and all the others reassured me that I was going to have an amazing day. I got a hug from my dear friend Dave (the race director) and even Tom Grilk, the CEO of the B.A.A. came over to wish me luck and remind me that I had a job to do. This was HAMMER-TIME!!!!
|My 3rd time at the starting line of the Boston Marathon|
At precisely 8:50AM, the race was started and off we went. We were warned to keep to the right, but I knew we had a long while until the wheel-chairs would start, so I ran the tangents as long as I could. I was doing my best to keep to my planned splits and like my coach Brian had suggested, I was focusing on my 5K splits instead of each mile. The race is downhill at the beginning and I did my best to pull back and not go too fast. I was to hit the 5K at 39:12 and in fact, did so at 39:11, so all
|Early on in the race by Eric Conti|
|Photo by Bradley Rhoton|
|Dr. David Driscoll|
The next few miles were the Newton hills, culminating in Heartbreak Hill, just prior to Boston College. I saw lots of friendly faces along this part of the course including but not limited to; Bill Pennington, all the Wicked Runners (Mike Fitzgerald for sure!!!) at the gel stop, Team Hoyt Support (thanks for the fig newtons Corey!!!), my friends at Breakthrough Performance (Marty!!!), and Bill Burnett of Streamline events at the water stop. If I'm leaving anyone else out, I'm
|Around mile 17. Photo by Mike Fitzgerald|
The Scream Tunnel at Wellesley is great, but I truly think the students at BC are more enthusiastic. Maybe it has something to do with the kegs of beer!!! As I reached the summit and started to head into Brookline, I knew I would finally be achieving our goal. I say our goal, because I consided Sue and Owen just as much a part of this journey. As I cruised down past the church at BC and down past the green line turn-around, the crowds were starting to really fill in. I think it was at this point that my friend, Scott Rigsby caught up to me and asked if we could run together, In my mind, that would be the same as Wayne Gretzky asking if I wouldn't mind having him skate with me for a bit. Scott was the first double amputee to finish the Kona Ironman and he has done it twice. He is truly a hero of mine.
|Running with my friend, Scott Rigsby. |
Photo by D. Fitzpatrick
|Heading up Hereford|
I was lead away to the VIP tent where they kept all the MI bags. I called Sue to have her answer the phone cheering that they had seen me finish. We were done. My finish time, 6:39:52. The most important word being, FINISHED!!!
|Photo by Joe Kelley|