Aside from the training and anxiety in the months leading up to Boston, the first dose of reality hits when you board the flight out before race day. For me it was obvious that at least a dozen other passengers were qualifiers. You notice the carry-on shoes, the gaunt faces, timex watches. There's no other place they could all be going. At our connection, twice as many new runners boarded. I hadn't expected any of this. This was going to be crazy.
|Christina, Me, Naomi, & awesome signs|
By the time you bus out to Hopkinton the next day most of the nerves are settled. You've got your bib, the weather is a known entity, time for some ass-kickin'. Athletes' Village before the race is insane. You just hang out for a couple hours as endless busloads of runners arrive and fill an entire park. We brought lots of warm clothes, plastic bags to lay out on, and stuff to read. I drank coffee and ate a banana - don't like to eat before racing. Briefly saw a couple friends from back home on the way to our corrals and wished each other the best.
|Me looking thin as a rail, checking out the stuff I'd be blacked out running through|
I knew that the ladies of Wellesley would be at mile 12, so I had imagined many times what that experience would be like. Passing by the college is described as an emotional high-point of the race but it was better than advertised. You cannot help but smile and become a spectator yourself. I was worried about tripping-up and falling. I saw a few runners find a cheek to kiss, one did pushups, none of it seemed all that un-ordinary. You can still hear the cheers and screaming a half mile after you've passed. Brilliant.
|Wellesley's aptly named scream tunnel|
|Boots, crushing mens' souls|
From there you roll down into town, past Boston College, past Fenway apparently. I was passing dozens of runners through this section but felt like I was working much harder to hold pace and my mind began to close up. Passing Boston College several belligerent students cursed out a guy right behind me inexplicably wearing a Yankees cap. That woke me out of my trance for a minute. Around mile 23 I saw Christina, Naomi, my Mom, and Bill & Ingrid my in-laws. This made me happy because I was freaking dying. At mile 24 I finally saw Boots up ahead in a slow fade. When I ran up on him I yelled, 'you long haired hippy-bastard!' and a few tired heads turned to see what was going on. Ha! Cut your hair you damn hippy.
|Boylston St and agony|