Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Boston Marathon Day April 20, 2009

My friends Ryan and Kevin were running the Boston. Temperature was 45 degrees at race time. Over twenty-six thousand runners. I parked in the EMC lot and took the marathon bus to the center of Hopkinton. I walked around Athlete’s Village, but could not find either friend.

I kept in cell phone contact with my son Shaun, and friend John Kerrigan – later they would text message me Ryan and Kevin's locations and times on the course.

Ryan wore bib 1862, and his coral was right behind the elite runners. I went to the 1000-1999 coral to search for Ryan. It was ten minutes before the start, so every 30 seconds I yelled ‘Kerrigan!’ I was determined to find Ryan. Ryan heard me calling his name – and we were both excited to see each other.

Thirteen thousand runners started at 10 am. I now had to find Kevin for the 10:30 am start. It was surreal seeing runners of all shapes dressed in assorted attire. Everyone was nervous, and the smell of liniment and old sweaty clothes filled the air. It was fascinating watching the next 13K runners ready for the second wave.

I had a thought that I should be running! It lasted less than a nanosecond, as I realized the training and effort all these athletes did to get to this starting line. I ran Boston three times – and I knew the pain they were about to endure – especially the back of the packers when in three plus hours they face heartbreak hill with cramps and exhaustion. Moreover, they still have an hour to go before they finish.

The public address system calls out the 10:30 am start – and nobody moves at hte back of the corals! Yup, it will take nearly ten minutes before Kevin crosses the starting line. No matter, as his microchip will give him an accurate time.
I yell three bits of advice to Kevin 1) Drink lots of water, 2) It is OK to pee in your pants, 3) Enjoy the run!!

I take the athlete bus back to the parking area, pick up my car, call John Kerrigan for his location at the 20 mile mark, check my map, set my GPS and I am off to the corner of Commonwealth Ave and Sumner Street where John is standing.

My twenty plus mile trip down the Mass Pike is without traffic, I get off at Center Street Exit 17 in Newton, pull off the side of the road, and set my GPS to the 536 Sumner Street address John gave me. I was only 1.5 miles away. I found Sumner Street, and a side street to squeeze my Jeep in with dozens of other illegally parked cars. No doubt, there were too many cars to tag or tow!
Ten minutes after exiting from the Pike, I was standing next to John at the twenty-mile mark of the course. John’s son-in-law had text messaged John that Ryan would be reaching our area within the next ten minutes.

We see Ryan! His six plus minute pace looks smooth - he smiles as he sees us, and I fumble my camera! Gosh!! I manage only one good video – of him running away from us.

John leaves and heads to the finish to greet Ryan.

Bill Roger runs by me – I wish I had my camera ready. He won the Boston in two of the years I ran Boston. What a great athlete and representative of the Boston Marathon.

I now await Kevin. I had set my watch when Kevin started to run at Hopkinson, and my best guess was he would do a nine-minute pace.

It was about 1:30 pm, and the temperature was beginning to drop. It was getting windy. I zipped up both my sweater and Jacket. I was thinking Kevin is getting dehydrated, and when he reaches me, will be cold and shivering. I will offer him my sweater and windbreaker. I watch the bib numbers of the runners. Kevin’s bib is 23369. The numbers passing me have not yet started in the 20,000.

It is now close to 3:25 on my watch and by my calculation, Kevin should be here. Did I miss him? I was sure he was going to finish, but how long should I wait here before I leave? I called Shaun, and his last checkpoint for Kevin was 30K (18 miles).

I see Kevin!! I start yelling and waving for him to see me. I have his water and orange ready. He says his stomach has been bothering him for some time – and he does not want anything. I walk with him listening to his thoughts about “I never knew it would hurt this much.” What do I say to him to encourage him in a quest he started six months ago. Since I had been in his position three times, I knew that plain words were not enough. Out of my mouth came “You are at the twenty mile point. You are now in a 10K race.”

He picked up his running pace and away he went!

I headed home to watch the marathon that I had recorded on my DVD.
Ryan finished in 2: 48.26. Kevin finished in 4:44:08. Great accomplishments for two highly trained athletes!

I will never have to say, “I wish I had been at the Boston to root and support Ryan and Kevin”

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