Friday, February 24, 2012

The Road to Boston(Part 1B-1990)

   I was going to describe my 1st Boston in one word but I decided it would take two: Total Intimidation! I was intimidated from the time I got on the plane at DFW on Sat. till the time I got back off the plane on Tue. The funny thing is the intimidation did not start until I was waiting on the plane but when it started it was there to stay.
   We all headed to DFW that morning and everything was fine. Mary and Jessica had borrowed a van and were taking me there so it was all cool. I was ready because my actual training had gone good. I had run more miles and faster miles. My race times were even better than before White Rock-I was ready(or so I thought). Did I mention that Boston was only my 2nd marathon and more important did I mention that this was only the 2nd time ever I had been on a plane that actually flew. Of course when we got to the airport the plane had mechanical problems and we had a several hour delay. Finally we boarded  and I was off to Boston-Mary couldn't go this time because we were financially challenged at that time and only one of us could go and we decided since I was the one that qualified it would be me!
   Landed in Boston late Sat. nite and made it to my hotel where luckily for me, my brother Steve was waiting for me. He lives in New York and took the train down. It was great!! This year Boston fell on Easter weekend and the only thing close to our hotel that was open to eat was a McDonalds so here I am 2 nites before the biggest race in my life eating a grilled chicken sandwhich at MickeyD's.
   Sunday morning we went to pick up my packet and this is where the intimidation really set in. I mean I thought I was bad-qualified for Boston on my 1st try and ran a 2:52. The problem was everyone I seem to talk to ran faster than I did and there were so many of them. The biggest race I had ever run in had 3200 runners-Lord there were that many on one side of the expo and they had to all be faster than me. Speaking of Expo-it was my 1st(in those days at WR you just picked your # up at Lukes on Oak Lawn or you picked it up race day-no expo). I just wandered around in awe like the small town hick that I was(and still am). Really didn't buy much probably because didn't have much money and truthfully I just wasn;t sure how the whole thing worked.
   That afternoon we finally got into Cheers. It was at full capacity and we had to wait in line for a while. The show was at it's height in popularity and the in place to be on Easter Sunday in Boston. I was able to buy a "Cheers" shirt for Jessica and she still has it. That night I went to the pre-race carbo dinner and was lucky enough to meet Bill Rodgers there for the 1st time. What a great champion! Of course I met more runners who were faster than me(i'm sure there were some there slower than me-I just didn't meet any of them).
   Race morning finally got here. I got up early got ready told Steve I would meet him at the family area under "C"-Duh!I walked to the Boston Common and got on the bus for the 26 mile drive out to Hopkinton to the Athletes Village so I could sit for 3 hrs. waiting on the race to start. Nervous doesn't begin to do justice to how I felt. I just wanted to get started and use some of my nervous energy for something constructive. Finally we started walking for our corrals(which was also my first experience with corrals.) I really was a newbie.
   Now came the easy part: The race started and I finally had some control over what I was doing. My plan was to run the race just like I did at WR and everything would be okay. Well guess what: It didn't happen. It seemed like to me the effort was there but my pace was a little slower. It was basically the 1st I had ever experienced navigating thru crowds of runners,It is hard to remember a lot of the details of this race because it has been 22 yrs. since I ran it and my mind has done its best to forget some of it. I do remember the crowds and how excited and how many people there were along the streets. It was totally unbelievable to me.
   I had a good pace thru 20 miles but it all fell apart after I came out of the Newton Hills(Heartbreak Hill being the last of the 3). One minute I was fine and the next minute going downhill my quads were in excruiating pain-I mean bring on the tears pain. At one time it hurt so bad I wasn't sure I could finish. I did make it across the finish line and I can honestly say that moment dwarfed anything else in sports that I had ever done. The pain, the tiredness, all the struggles the were all worth it when they hung that finishers medal around my neck. I was a Boston Marathon finisher.
    A side note: this was the first time the defending Olympic champion had won Boston. Both Gerlindo Bordin-mens and Rosa Mota-womens olympic champions won there respective races. Also 40 yr. old John Campbell  ran a 2:11:04 to break the masters world record I was 40 also and was only an hour behind him. I ran a 3:11 which was not as fast as I wanted but as good as I was able on this day.
  Steve met me at the family meeting area and we made it back to the hotel where I called Mary and told her all about the race. This was the old days: no chips-no tracking just calling when you got a chance. This is why in all the older pictures everyone is looking at the clock and stopping their watches right on the finish line. The thing I do remember most about this race is getting back to the hotel and taking my shoes off. Couldn't figure out why my socks were so bloody. I took them off and two toenails came with them. Never have worn shoes that might have too many miles on them since this race.
    I apologize for such a long post but believe me I cut out a lot. Next month: Boston 2000.


  1. The whole "qualified for Boston the first time I ran a a marathon" thing is sweet. I can't imagine the quad pain on mile that close to finishing and having to suck it up and run through it. What a great memory.

  2. Yay! What a great description of the race!! :)