Prior to this year I've run the Boston Marathon course twice. I considered myself 0-2 with Boston beating me handily both times. I've run several sub 4 marathons, but was way over 4 hours in each prior Boston. I've always had real ham and quad cramping issues in the Newton Hills.
Why did I come back for more? Because its Boston. I love the history, the tradition, the excitement of the expo. This year I had convinced my friend Wayne Crayton from Anchorage, Alaska to run it as a charity fund raiser. He was a solid 4:15 to 4:30 marathoner, so it looked like he might not hit that qualifier until he got much older.
Being a cancer survivor, he chose the Dana Farber Cancer institute as his charity. Having lost my brother, my father-in-law, and most recently a good friend to cancer, I had no choice but to donate my time and money to support this noble cause. I also agreed to run as his photographer to document his run.
Wayne posted a fund raising goal of $8,000.00. I told him I thought he was setting the bar pretty high. He was a little nervous too about such a high commitment. However, with $25 and $100 donations from family and friends, Wayne soon started moving towards the $4,000.00 level. Some buddies of his in Mexico held a golf tournament on his behalf and they raised another $2,000.00. Before he knew it, Wayne had surpassed his goal and has exceeded $10,000.00.
I really enjoy the history of the Boston Marathon. I got Wayne pumped up with Clarence DeMar's book, Marathon. I followed that up with Hal Higdon's excellent coffee table book that was published on the 100 year anniversary of Boston, and finally, Duel in the Sun. A couple of weeks before the race, I sent him Saint Ralph. Needless to say, he was primed for Boston.
The expo did not disappoint. We bought our shirts, jackets, and some weather gear, then headed for the Runner's World Seminars. Man, it was like going to a Hall of Fame, but with your hero's right there in front of you. I'd given Wayne my spare copy of the Boston edition of Marathon and Beyond from last year's race, which he promptly had all the running heros and heroines sign. It made for a great autograph book. The advice all these guys gave was, forget about time goals tomorrow, try to survive the conditions.
In any event, I ran at his pace which allowed me to survive this race without cramping for the first time. I simply enjoyed the sights and sounds of the journey.
My comment to a running buddy at the finish who failed to hit his race goal was: "Its Boston. What can we expect?" The race that humbled the likes of both John Kellys and Bill Rodgers, humbled me each time I've run it.
As I thought about it later, I decided that perhaps its tempting fate to think that we should try for a PR in any marathon. Perhaps the better approach is to follow that good training program and when the PRs come, they will come. Our task is simply to keep on the road of good health and good cheer.
These events are festivals of a sort. I've often described them as a moving party of good people who are living their dreams of good health and social bonding with like minded people. The trick in this game is to stay motivated and involved.
The first time I ran Boston, my parents accompanied my brother, his wife and I to the race. After the race and showers, we were walking past the food court in the Prudential Center. Two older runners who looked to be in their late 60s or older were sitting at a table closest to the hallway. They were still in their running gear with mylar blankets draped over their shoulders. I congratulated them and shook their hands. One of them nodded his head and told me to ask his buddy how many marathons he had run. It was something over 100. When I didn't ask him the same question he elbowed me and said, "Aren't you going to ask me how many I've run?" It was something like 150. Now, I don't think I'll run near as many as either of those two guys, but I hope and dream that I'll still be interested and able when I approach their ages.