Man, I am so bummed I'm not running Boston this year. I chose to skip this year's Beantown Classic because it's too close to my wife's due date.
I ran Boston for the first time in 2006, and again last year during the infamous Nor'easter. Qualifying for Boston for the first time--a surprising 3:08 at the 2005 Cleveland Marathon--goes down as one of the greatest moments I've experienced. Both Bostons were special, but I have to say my first Boston was the most memorable of the two. I went into it with an injured hip--probably bursitis--and was unable to really push it. My wife and I had a fabulous time in Boston, walking the Freedom Trail (I more or less limped it) and eating at delicious restaurants. I finished the race with a quite appalling 3:24 (What can I say? I couldn't go any faster with my bum hip.) but, man, the memories I have of that 2006 race.
I will never forget how loud the Wellesley girls were. Their energy easily helped me shave off 2-3 minutes. I also remember feeling a lot of emotion as I climbed Heartbreak Hill. It wasn't hard at all--just emotional because of all the stories I'd heard. I remember seeing the drunk Boston College students--drunk and rowdy, but supportive. The Citgo sign meant we were close to the finish, but what I was really experiencing then was blown-up quads. To this day my quads have never felt worse. And, of course, I remember like yesterday the crowds as I entered the city and rounded the corner for the finish. Unreal.
Boston is truly the ultimate racing experience. Every runner on the course has earned his or her way into this most esteemed race and those who finish earn that special status among runners--a Boston Marathon finisher. Sometimes I think a few of us in our club, which is full of accomplished Boston runners who could roll out of bed and run a BQ, forget what a special achievement it is to get to Boston. As we progress in our running careers and qualifying for Boston becomes a little less difficult, we forget that there are thousands of runners out there who lay it all on the line every spring, summer and fall hoping and praying for a BQ but falling short in their goal. I've known and been close friends with such runners. I am no more a runner than they are, except I've been blessed with the Boston experience.
Every runner should experience it.
The camaraderie is like nothing else. I could walk up to anyone in the Athlete's Village in Hopkinton and strike up a good conversation. I guess it's like that at almost any race, but most especially at Boston, where everyone seems to have good stories, mutual respect for each other and, most important of all, the deepest of respect for the race. This is where the greats like John A. Kelley, John J. Kelley, Alberto Salazar, Bill Rodgers, Amby Burfoot, Uta Pippig, Joan Benoit and others became legends. You can feel it on the course--from the corals at the start to the finish line in Boston. What an experience.
How I wish I were there. I'm already looking forward to 2009....