Monday, April 28, 2008

Back From Boston

So I’m back from the Boston Marathon! Wow, what a race! This was my first Boston marathon, and it was everything I expected it to be. I think it can be hard for some to go back to road races after moving predominately to trail races, but I still love a good road marathon. While I’m loathe to the commercial culture which has slowly continued permeating the marathon culture over the past few years and tend to prefer the picturesque views at many trail runs, Boston seems to have everything all in one package. Its history is unmatched, its route unchanged, and its championship history legendary. While I was a bit turned off by the puffed up chests and ego displayed in conversation with some of the participants, I found most of the city preparing for their party with enthusiasm and charisma.

For some, it’s a chance to show off their marathoning talents on the marathon world’s biggest stage. For others, it’s the culmination of many years of working towards this race. And yet for others, it’s a reward for the charitable work they’ve done to help others. Just to put the level of competition in perspective, a 3:00:00 time at other regional races like San Diego’s Rock N’ Roll Marathon or the L.A. Marathon or the Honolulu Marathon will put you in the top 100, at this year’s Boston Marathon would leave you in 1239th position. I know it may sound like I’m overstating what many already know, but it is probably the most competitive of the major U.S. marathons. Nonetheless, the Boston Marathon represents very different things to many different people.

By the time race day came, I already had 3 days of sightseeing under my belt and really considered the Marathon and extension of the Boston experience. I found the crowds to be invigorating, almost intoxicating. The route winds through suburban Boston through small towns, with even smaller roadways. It can feel crowded with so many runners out there and the pockets of people who fill the sidelines of the route. But it is those same people that create the intimate race experience. I could just imagine that these same people had probably been out here having a good time and cheering on runners in generations past. I was not only a part of the race’s tradition, but I was probably also part of their Patriot’s Day tradition as well. I was merely a footnote, but a proud footnote nonetheless. Whether it’s the Wellesley girls that line mile 13, the Hash House Harriers handing out beer at mile 19 or the enthusiastically hammered co-eds at Boston College, the energy of the spectators is infectious.

The trip itself was truly an experience, a reward for the countless other races I’ve done. While I thought about sub-3 for maybe the first few miles of the race itself, I slowed to enjoy the experience. I was content to spend the necessary time to slap hands with many spectators (particularly children), get hugs from the Wellesley girls, and yap it up with the Boston College co-eds as I ran by down the last hill into downtown Boston. It got particularly emotional as I crested Heartbreak Hill. This was it; although there will be other Boston Marathons to PR, this race was my reward. It took a while to get over the hump, but now that I was here, I wouldn’t let the moment get away. I didn’t feel better than anyone or any more “elite” than anyone other runner out there who is striving for their reward; I was just happy that my hard work had delivered a satisfying reward. It meant more to me to be able to soak in this view of the city, these spectators along the course and then meet my brother downtown for a celebratory beer.

Here are the pics and a video from the finish area taken by the PowerBar folks of my brother Daniel and I. Onward to Uganda in less than 2 weeks……

Cheers and God Bless,


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