This was my first and probably my only trip to the Boston Marathon.  I make this claim because the journey is long and the timing is less than ideal.

I'm addicted to Ironman, what can I say?

Anyway, it was my first Boston encounter and my story is a lengthy one....

Boston Marathon Finshers Medal

 

Checking Boxes

Qualifying for Boston has been an item on my todo list for quite some time but I never felt compelled to sign up because I've been busy playing Ironman and running both programs in parallel seemed challenging.

That all changed at the end of last year when I felt I had banked enough lifetime fitness and that my recovery speed was good enough to pull off the stunt.

And trust me -- I use the word stunt because it has proven to be trickier than I had earlier thought.

Wilting Like a Daisy

I am, and always will be, a delicate flower.  In other words, I cannot handle the heat.  And I am particularly sensitive to the heat early in the season when I've had little exposure.

Prior to the race start, I could feel the impact of the record setting temperature while waiting under the tent at "Athletes Village".

When the race began, I looked down at my heart rate monitor and the Garmin display read:  "You're Screwed!"

It went downhill from there -- literally and figuratively.  No really.  The first part of the race is downhill.

The Petro Perspective

My buddy Mark (aka Petro) made an observation about our run in Boston being harder than the marathon in Kona.  His opinion was based on two points:

1.  In Kona, you get a breeze flowing around you, even if it's warm air, whereas in Boston, it felt like we we're running in a crowded room with no fans.   I can recall one moment in the day when I felt a cool breeze but it was an isolated moment.

2.  No ice.  Ice and icy sponges are frequently used for cooling in Kona.  It's something the WTC provides whereas in Boston, there was the odd spectator with ice but other than that, no ice to be found.  In fact, the aid stations had a mixture of cool beverages and what were supposed to be cool beverages.  But that's what you would expect when you leave unopened Gatorade bottles sitting in the sun rather than under the tables.  This is not so much a complaint as it is an observation.

Real Food

After finishing a race, I want real food.  And when I say "real food", I'm not referring to lean cut meats, fresh fruits, etc.  I'm talking about food with substance.  You know, like a fat burrito, a sandwich, bagels with pb&j – something.

What we got – a biscuit, a small bag of chips, a fruit cup, a banana, and a melted Power Bar.

On a hot day such as this one, I need real food.  If I don't get real food, I crash and I wind up in the med tent.  And I did.

Free Wheelchair Ride

A good lead in from Real Food – I started to crash from a combination of heat exhaustion and a lack of calories in the middle of downtown Boston so I was forced to sit on the ground.

After a few minutes, the medical personnel spotted me and within a few seconds, several surrounded me.  The conversation went like this:

Med Worker:  How are feeling?
Me:  Light headed and cramping pretty bad.
Med Worker:  Can you get up?
Me:  I think I'm better sitting down.
Med Worker:  We want to take you to the medical tent and get you checked out.
Me:  Okee dokey.
Med Worker:  Let's see if we can get you into the wheelchair.
Me:  (looking at the wheelchair thinking that's going to hurt.)
Med Worker:  It's best if you just go fast.
Me:  OUCH!

M.A.S.H.

My legs did not appreciated being propped up on the wheelchair which made for a very painful ride to the med tent but we eventually made our way into a secondary tent.  Yes, there were at least two tents due to the large number of causalities.

Once inside, the trick was finding an open bed.  There were none so we drove around until one freed up.

After the med worker dumped me off, he left me in between two racers who were in really bad shape.

To the left of me – a fellow who was getting his second IV and was awaiting the results from his blood test.

To the right of me, another racer who was working on her first IV and I'm not really sure what else was going on over there.

In the middle, me.  What I needed was food and chicken broth.

While waiting for someone to address me, I closed my eyes and pretended to be invisible.  I was starving and a bit loopy but I really enjoyed the quiet time and I hoped I would go unnoticed.  And I did.  That went on for about ten minutes and then someone figured out my scam.

By that time, I was starting to arrive at normal and I suggested the IV be saved for someone in more need.  I requested broth and food but they could only accommodate my broth request.  After sucking down that sodium concoction, I started to feel near normal.  Or at least what normal would be given that I had just run a marathon.

I decided it was time to go.  As I left the tent, I looked around one last time and the scene reminded me of an episode of M.A.S.H. – bodies everywhere and scrambling personnel attending to their needs.

26.2 + 4 = 30.2

After the race, I made the decision to walk back to my hotel.  It was only 1.5 miles and I felt like it might be good to get the blood flowing through my legs.

I looked at a map the day prior but in my current mental state, I was confused about which way to go.  I decided to start walking and I asked for directions along the way.  A kind person pointed me in the general direction and I continued walking.

After some time had passed, I began to question my heading and I spotted a fellow racer and asked him for directions.  He mentioned he'd run the race 17 years in a row, he knew the way and he would guide me.  When we arrived at his turnoff, he pointed me on and assured me it was "just right over there".  He was wrong.

Wandering around for a while longer, I stopped and I asked a police officer for directions.  He sent me back the way I came.

I eventually found my way back to the hotel but only after walking at least four miles.

Pick the Kenyan

I just want to understand my target audience before I move on.  Below are two people.  One is a Kenyan and the other is yours truly.  Would you be able to identify the difference?

This might seem like an odd test but as I walked back to my hotel room, a number of people asked me if I had run the marathon but several people asked me:  "Are you Kenyan?"  Really?!?!  Kenyan?  Me!?

I didn't say that, of course.  But I did think it.

Blasphemy

Time to start some controversy.

I've run quite a few marathons although the majority have been off the bike in an Ironman. 

My two favorite marathons -- in Kona during the Ironman World Champs and the Chicago Marathon.

Obviously Kona is Kona and I really don't need to expand on this further.

But Chicago was amazing!  The spectators were what you would expect to see if the Bears had won the Super Bowl.  (The Bears are still in Chicago… right?  Sorry, I don't follow sports closely.)

It wasn't just the spectators though.  Running through the different areas of Chicago was visually stimulating.

With Boston, the spectators were out in full force but nowhere near the same level as I experienced in Chicago.

Running Boston, the highlight of the race for me was when we passed by Boston college and I read the signs from the students which read:  "Kiss me" and then something.  For example:

Kiss Me, I'm Irish.
Kiss Me, I'm Italian.
Kiss Me, I'm a Nerd.
Kiss Me, I Won't Tell Your Wife.

There's a picture of me from the collection of photos snapped where my head is turned right face.  Clearly this photo was taken while I slowed to read every single sign in front of Boston College.  I thoroughly enjoyed that moment of the race.

Now before I really annoy you, let me preface what I'm about to say with the following --

- I am Ironman competitor and not a marathoner.
- I typically find the "must see" movies to be overhyped.  (I'm about to
watch Money Ball tonight, wish me luck!)
- I am in love with Kona but I was "interested" in running Boston.
- I might have been a borderline heat stroke victim in which case, you can
ignore what I'm about to say.

I think because I am not in love with the Boston Marathon, I was able to look at it objectively.

My conclusion:  It was fun, I'm glad I did it but I was a little disappointed visually.  Please don't kill me.

The following are images from my trip --

Leaving the Bay Area...

Jet Blue Engine over Bay Area

Over Lake Tahoe...

Jet Blue over Lake Tahoe

A warm welcome at Logan Airport...

Logan Airport Boston Welcome

Picking up my number...

Boston Marathon Packet Pickup

My bib...

Boston Marathon Bib Number

It's hard to tell from the picture but this fancy treadmill enables you to run a specific course.  If you could read the line at the top of the LCD, you would see this fellow was 18 miles into the Boston Marathon.  Pretty cool way to kill time on the treadmill.

Boston Marathon Treadmill

Banners everywhere in case you forgot why you were here...

Boston Marathon Banner

The view from my room...

Boston Marathon Hotel View

The best part of my hotel -- a 25 yard lap pool which was located right outside of my room...

Hotel Room Lap Pool


A little deli / grocery store right around the corner from my hotel.  It was very convenient and it met my needs while staying in Boston...

Deli

I found these hamburger sized sugary treats at the checkout counter for the deli.  I have no idea what they are or what they taste like but I'm certain they are certain to make your blood sugar levels rise.

Sugary Treat

The weatherman wasn't lying...

Boston Weather for Marathon Day

Not my best performance but it is what it is...

Boston Marathon Finisher

A closer look at that medal...

Boston Marathon Finsher Medal