I think I'll break up my Boston trip into a short series. Today, let's talk about the race. Also, you can see pics of me in the race by searching here. Choose "Boston Marathon 2008" from the race selections, then put in my last name (Basham) and my bib number (4006).
But, first, I have to thank my friend Ceci for making the trip practically stress-free in regards to obtaining a place to stay, food, transportation, etc. All of the external things that can create added stress to an event like this were handled for me by a good friend who knows the city, the marathon, and how to drive in Boston. She set me up at a friend's house who has hosted many athletes before. It was GREAT to have a real, home base in Boston instead of a hotel. Thanks, Ceci and Sue!
OK, I think today I'll go with the Top Ten Things You See While Running the Boston Marathon.
10. BLUE. The Hynes Convention Center in Boston was bedecked in blue trimmed with yellow for the runner's expo and race packet pickup. And, the pickup (indeed, the entire event) was a model of organization and efficiency. There were literally thousands of runners there when I picked up my number, race bag, and race shirt, and I was in and out of there in just a few minutes. Incredible.
9. During a 1.5-hour start-and-stop bus ride to the starting line in Hopkinton, you see people jumping off the bus and sprinting to the woods to relieve themselves (#1 and #2). Or sometimes, NOT sprinting to the woods and just going right next to the highway. Think about it: you have 25,000 people on buses who have been eating and hydrating to run 26.2 miles for days. In light of this information, it's not surprising that many could not wait to get to the port-a-potties after being forced to sit for 1.5 hours on a cramped bus. Still, kinda weird. But, everyone was in the same position, so it simply seemed like part of the process. Everyone laughed it off.
8. A man dressed as Minnie Mouse. Not a spectator: a RUNNER. 26.2 miles in big mouse ears, white gloves, and a red polka-dot skirt? To each his own, I guess. For what it's worth, I passed "Minnie" about Mile 22 even though s/he started ahead of me. However, an Eagle scout (in full khaki unform) blew past me at about Mile 24. There were all kinds of interesting outfits.
7. Team Hoyt. Dick Hoyt, who pushes his son Rick (who has cerebral palsy), through triathlons and marathons including 25+ Boston's. If this is news to you, I implore you to watch this video. If this does not inspire you or move you, I fear that you are beyond hope.
6. The start line. 25,000 people waiting to embark on a 26.2-mile journey to the most famous marathon finish in the world.
5. The Women of Wellesley College. Wellesley is at about Mile 12 in the race, and the women treat the runners like rock stars. The shrill screams of 2,300 college women is enough to perforate eardrums. For at least two minutes, I know what Elvis must have felt like every day of his life. Several had signs that said, "Stop running and kiss me!" I politely declined, opting for the safer occasional high-five. Several other runners around me took them up on their kiss offers, though.
4. Newton Fire Station. When you make the hard right turn here, you know the teeth of the course is coming. It's a disheartening feeling to be getting tired at mile 16 and know that the hard stuff is yet to come.
3. Heartbreak Hill. Actually, it's the series of hills in the Newton area. Heartbreak is simply the longest hill and it's the final punch in that flurry of hills from Mile 16-Mile 21. But, it sure does break hearts. Lots of runners were stopping, walking, cramping, even sitting and lying flat. If Heartbreak were the ONLY hill, it would merely be "just a hill." But, the hill after Newton Fire Station tenderizes you a bit, then a series of smaller hills beats you up before Heartbreak's attempt at a knockout punch.
2. Boston College. When you hit Chestnut Hill, you know that the worst is over. It's 5 miles of downhill running at that point. The question is, how much do you have in the tank? In my case, not much. Enough to set a PR and finish well, but I was leaking oil.
1. Finish line. The home stretch was packed with spectators and the roars were amazing. As tired and exhausted as I was, the sound and energy of the crowd really helped push me home. It was quite a feeling finishing the race.