It’s early Tuesday morning. My legs have awakened me to let me know that they have elected to secede from my body. My flight back is not for a couple hours. So this seems like a fantastic time for me to write the story of running the Boston Marathon yesterday.
I kinda doubt many people are reading it this early, but I still think I’ll post it liveblog-style, as proof against a flaky computer and a weak internet connection, more than anything else.
The Hammer and I got to the airport two hours early; we are both very cautious travelers, and she knows that — for some reason — I am more productive in airports than anywhere else.
We were supposed to each get a free bag checked in with Delta, but weren’t able to when I tried to check in online, so we went to the counter, where the counter entity was happy to waive the $25 fee for us.
She was not so happy, however, when she saw The Hammer’s drivers license, however — The Hammer’s expired drivers license. See, The Hammer had a birthday earlier this week, and unbeknownst to us — because we don’t spend a ton of time inspecting our drivers licenses — her license had expired that day.
The counter entity called her manager. “I’m going to let this one go,” the uber-counter-entity said of the license that had expired ten hours ago. “But good luck with the TSA.”
We gulped and left, making plans as we walked up to the security line of how we could — if necessary — haul back home, grab The Hammer’s passport, and get back here in time for the flight.
The TSA didn’t give the license a second glance.
Also, oddly, when packing, The Hammer had accidentally included two avocados from her grocery shopping the previous day in her carry-on bag. These were OK as far as the TSA is concerned, too. Which opens up all kinds of new possibilities for in-flight snacks.
From the airport, I called my oldest son and asked him to overnight The Hammer’s passport to the hotel we’re going through, so I wouldn’t have to worry about abandoning my wife in Boston on the return trip.
Because I’m very gallant.
The race wasn’t ’til Monday AM, but we had given ourselves a couple extra days in Boston because neither of us had ever been here before (I’ve been through Boston and have stayed in towns near Boston, but have never stayed in Boston itself).
This was a wonderful idea.
We slepped in ’til about eleven — something I didn’t realize we were even capable of — then went and got our numbers and drop bags. The Hammer got a number with a white background, meaning she had qualified for the race by being fast.
I got a number with a blue background, meaning I had qualified for the race by raising money for a charity (LiveStrong).
We then walked around the expo, and I noticed something amazing: the fitness and trimness level of everyone there. By far, most of the people in the race qualified with a fast running time, so there weren’t a lot of folks who looked even trivially pudgy. All wire and muscle.
“I’ve never seen so women who are your kind of hot in one place,” I whispered to The Hammer. “Her kind of hot,” by the way, is my favorite kind of hot: very trim, casual clothes, ponytails, not a lot of makeup, and athletic as hell.
Also, people were taking pictures of everything. For example, when I saw a group of strangers posing with a mannequin at some random clothing display, I had to get a photo of it:
Back at the hotel, I opened my swag bag. Along with the usual junk mail, here’s what it included:
The (very nice) long-sleeved running shirt, a small poster, a bottle of water, and sample packs of uncooked rice, natural peanut butter and fruit chews.
I combined them all together in the hotel coffee pot the next morning and made a delicious breakfast porridge.
As part of Team LiveStrong, we then got to go see a baseball game at Fenway Park — my first-ever professional baseball game.
Now, I genuinely don’t follow baseball (or football or basketball or anything but cycling). This isn’t cycling snobbery; up until I followed cycling, I didn’t follow any sports at all.
Still, though, being in a stand with thousands of fans is pretty awesome. And helpfully, at the end of the game, we were given some important and clarifying information:
Sunday: We Get All Historical
The next morning — the day before the race — we slept in again. I believe I could get used to this “sleeping in” thing.
Then we spent the day with a guidebook and following the “Freedom Trail” — a red line that leads you on a walking tour of some of the most famous historical sites in the city.
The weather was perfect, the day was free, and in general The Hammer and I learned a bunch of important things about U.S. history we should have already known, but didn’t.
Sunday Night: Team Fatty
My favorite part of any race is the traditional cargo-load dinner the night before the race. Not that I eat any different any other night, but the night before a race, I’m able to do it without the slight pang of guilt I normally feel when I eat twice my weight in starch.
Jeff D and Philly Jen had organized a Team Fatty get together at a fantastic Italian restaurant.
I got the Gnocchi Spezzatino; The Hammer had tortellini. I liked my meal well enough that I completely killed it (as opposed to Philly Jen, who ordered the same thing but was unable to finish even half her meal).
Also, I finished the last third of The Hammer’s tortellini. If you ever get a chance to witness me using my most obvious superpower — near infinite consumption capabilities — you really should. And also, bring a camera, because I think it’d be a YouTube sensation.
Interesting fact: of the nine people there, five work in the health care industry.
Oh, and apropos of nothing, here’s a picture of Jeff, The Hammer, me, and Philly Jen, posing together for another photo.
As you can see, Jen is making a shark with her hands, or urging me to live long and prosper or something. And I look a little bit concerned by whichever it is.
Monday: The Marathon
I’m used to having to get up at ridiculously early times of the morning to do big races. But my start time (i.e., the very last corral in the very last wave of the race) wasn’t slated to start ’til close to 11am.
There are both good news and bad news aspects to this.
The good news is we were able to sleep in ’til around 6:00am.
The bad news is that we’d be starting a marathon at 11am on what was predicted to be the warmest Boston Marathon in history.
Earlier, for example, I had gotten a helpful and encouraging email from the race organizers:
It’s like they were talking to me. But I wasn’t listening.
Before the Run
The Boston Marathon organization is about as perfect as it could be. We stood in a very short line to get on our bus, had a very short line to go use the restroom, and then just hung out on the line, waiting for our turn to run.
The Hammer had chosen to run with me, starting with my wave, rather than going on with her own group. Her claimed rationale was that she wasn’t interested in doing this race fast, she wanted to share the experience of a famous historical race with me.
But I think the real reason is she knew that I might turn around and leave if she weren’t there.
Then we got ushered into our corral, which was really more of just a funnel. Keep walking, slowly, ’til you get to the starting line, and then start running.
“I just hope I can deal with all my running issues,” I told The Hammer, for the mistifillionth time. Because, in fact, I’ve had an incredibly bad time with running lately. My back hurts. My right knee hurts. My left hip hurts. My right achilles tendon hurts. I’ve stopped many runs within just a few miles lately, and it’s been a couple months since I’ve made it more than 15 miles.
“Let’s just make a goal of finishing in under five hours, OK?” The Hammer asked.
“I can’t commit to that,” I said.
But in my head, I had already committed to it.
PS: Part II of this (two-part) story will go up on Thursday.
PPS: The reason Part II won’t go up tomorrow is because tomorrow I’ll be announcing registration for the 100 Miles of Nowhere. My guess is it will sell out in one day, so I recommend you do not delay.