Friday, April 30, 2010


“Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.”
Thomas Carlyle

The last two weeks have been filled with excitement, planning, racing and camaraderie. I have enjoyed every minute of it and it does not stop.

I went from participating in the 114th running of the Boston Marathon, to being a man slave for a group of dedicated, hard core athletes in a 200 mile relay to know awaiting my wife, Sarah to accomplish another goal she has set for herself, a Half Ironman Distance Triathlon.

Sarah is in her final week of training for her epic race that takes place 1 week from tomorrow. As I write, Sarah is out on a 6 mile trail run with a few of her training buddies. I feel a sense of pride in her dedication and commitment to herself and her race. With the injuries that have plagued her on her run, she still holds a good frame of mind and is going into this race believing she can and will do the best she can. Sarah already has the self-esteem and confidence that will carry her to her accomplishment next Saturday.

This week for me has been up and down. I am officially in “post marathon training” for the next 8 weeks until I kick it into high gear for the Chicago Marathon in October. Mid-June cannot come fast enough, but I think my old age is allowing me to accept a slow progression and patience in training. Like my friend, Carmen who smoked the St. Anthony’s tri last weekend, I am about schedules and timing. In order for me not to put too much on but slowly build back my fitness from the pounding you take on a marathon, I have turned to the Hal Higdon programs for recovery and base building on my run.

For the next 8 weeks, I have a regimented program of runs 5-6 days a week, but unlike the winter training I endured, I am going to run with other runners. The plan I have established has a lot of variances involved to allow me to “run” with other runners, which I have missed over the last year.

This morning was one of those days were I could run with another runner. I met Ann Marie at the pool this morning. Her Friday workout consisted of a swim then a tempo run. We got to the pool at 4:50AM (that was hard to do) and swam Ken’s workout her established for her:

300M Warm-up
10 X 200M on the 4:15’s
200M Cool Down

I took lane 3 and Ann Marie was in lane 4. The water I must say was good. Not cloudy, not dirty, not the chemical peel as Rebecca stated a few days ago.

After the warm up, we jumped into the sets. Ann Marie was consistently hitting the mark of 3:25’s + or -, while I hit around 3:00’s. I waited for her interval time of 4:15 and then we took off again. The workout was good and I enjoyed swimming without having to “prove” anything to other swimmers in your lane. We both swam or swim.

When the swim was completed we changed into our running gear. I had brought a jar of honey along to refuel since all of the GU’s have been used up by Sarah and me. I downed a huge mouth full of nectar and went to meet AM in the lobby. As I approached the LTF lobby I saw Bob stretching near the lobby T.V. Bob had just came in from running 3 miles. He is doing a 5K with his son tomorrow and ran a short run to get the blood and muscles moving. We chatted about weight, runs, Chicago while waiting for AM.

After a few moments of conversation, AM appeared and we took off on the tempo run. By the way, good luck tomorrow Bob, I expect to hear your results!
Ann Marie’s run consisted of:

10 Minutes @ 8:15
2 X 10 minutes @ 7:45, then 5 minutes @ 7:15
5 minutes @ 8:15

I had plotted her paces and time and come up with a 5.8 mile loop that was dead on:

Tradewinds to Morris
Morris to MBTA
MBTA to North Point
NP to Windward
WW to HWY 9
HWY 9 to Henderson Pkwy
HP to Cumming St
Cumming to Westside Pkwy
WS Pkwy to Morris

It was a good run. The temperature was in the mid 50’s, ideal for running. There was a series of hills up and down along with some flats to hook into a groove. At the end of the run, we both felt like we got a good workout in.

While stretching we “ran” into Brian, Calvin and Michelle. The 3 had just finished a 10 miler in and around Alpharetta. Michelle is participating in Gulf Coast next weekend which will also be her first Half Ironman distance event.

Race season is here. The construction of building confidence and esteem has begun for all.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Quest of the 200 Miler

The weekend after the Boston Marathon I participated in a 200 Mile Relay in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Now, I did not run, oh no! I was the van driver for half of the 12 runners who ran this tough and challenging course.
Instead of a long narrative like the Boston Report, I decided to make this adventure into a picture book.

Once upon a time in a far off State there lived 12 amazing athletes. One day, by the order of the Running gods, they where sent on a quest. A quest to run 200 miles without stopping for over 1 day.

So the warrior's set off on this quest.

Along with their driver and man servant they packed up the chariot and headed North.

Arriving at their first check in point awaiting the first chariot to arrive Knight Ironchick, Knight Smiley Face and Knight Быстрый бегун had time to do a little Can-Can Dance for the group to ward off the evil spirits.

Chariot 2's warrior's

The male warrior's Knight Fire Snubber, Knight Home Boy, Knight OCD and the Man Servant attempted to mimick the female warriors, but it was a lost cause. Flat Stanley was the Man Servant's companion throughout the quest.

Within minutes of the warrior's completing their tribal dance, Knight Hippie, chariot 1's scout had arrived to inform us that the warrior's that have done battle where coming in for much needed rest.

Knight Blistering is giving pointers to Knight Adventure Racer about her speed and accuracy in battle. Knight Ironchick can't agree more.

Knight Hippie shows off her battle fatigues after her conquest.

Knight Home Boy egarly awaits his turn in battle against the evil mountains of Georgia

As the Knight's from chariot 2 prepare for battle, Knight Smiley Face captures the souls of her competitors with the Soul Catching Machine.

On the horizon comes Knight Rock Star after her courageous battle.

Knight Rock Star is a giant among the warrior's in her techinques of running. She walks amoung the other Knight's as they are in awe of her presence.

After Knight Быстрый бегун winning battle against the evil asphalt of Georgia she spares the defeated with a "thumbs up"

Knight Ironchick comes in after her heated battle against the sun gods and evil asphalt doers to hand Knight OCD the "Shield of Protection" as he takes off on his journey.

Knight Home Boy prepares for his epic battle by doing the "Hang Ten" battle cry.

As Knight OCD is being chased down by the "Sands of Time" he increases his stride to insure victory!

The hand off of the "Shield of Protection" from Knight OCD to Knight Home Boy, Knight Home Boy battled the Truck Monsters to bring in the sacred chalis of Gatornector.

Knight Быстрый бегун and Knight OCD washing war wounds after their recent battles.

Knight Smiley Face dances the dance of the running warrior before she does battle with the Taybor Monster

Knight Smiley Face heading into battle

As Knight Smiley Face continues her quest, Knight Fire Snubber marks the trail for the chariot just in case the warriors need to double back.

After her 11.6 brutal battle against the Taybor Monster, Knight Hippie transfers some of her "mojo" to Knight Smiley Face in order for her to recoup her strength for her next encounter.

Knight OCD poses for the warriors to make sure his battle fatigues don't make him look fat and are flattering to his figure.

The Man Servant was honored to be standing beside the Almighty, Knight Smiley Face as the warriors awaited the arrival of Knight Fire Snubber.

After a long hard battle in the second round 5 of the knights relax in the wee hours of the dawn to prepare for battle again.

Knight Fire Snubber is out after the battle cries into the night. Sleep well, warrior, sleep well as tomorrow brings the final leg of the quest.

Knight Быстрый бегун rests her head upon Knight Smiley Face as both drift off exhausted from the battle.

Two warriors conquering the restrooms at Camp Huddle before dawn.

Knights, OCD and Home Boy take in some grog at the local tavern at Camp Huddle.

Knight Smiley Face with her warrior's face paint and tribal hair.

After the pilaging in the forest, Knight Быстрый бегун is mesmerized and pays homage to the rain to wash her battle scars away from her hand.

Knight Ironchick begins her travels to do battle with the notorious Seeded Lake Serpent

After time, Knight Ironchick is bruised and banged up from her encouter but continues to forge ahead.

Receiving encouragement from another warrior, Knight Ironchick calls in reinforcements from an allie, Relay.

The hard battle Knight Ironchick fought was one for the history books as Knight Быстрый бегун tells the tale to Knight Rock Star in order to pass the fight down from generation to generation.

Knights await the return of Knight OCD as he battles rain, wind and the black serpent, Asphaltus.

Knight Smiley Face consults, Knight Nike' and Knight Hippie on her choice of foot ware. Knight Smiley Face is concerned that the battles have taken their toll on her equipment and her battle maybe lost if her footware remains dirty.

Warriors and servants preparing for the dance for the rain gods to be cast away.

Knight OCD on his final leg of his journey!

Knight Home Boy's skirmish with the rain gods proved to be a tough one as his battle clothing was literally ripped from his body as he made his way to the checkpoint.

Knight Smiley Face on her last leg of her journey as she pours magic running elixir on her body as the rain gods pelt her to stop her from moving forward.

Down and fatigued her battle was won!

Knight Smiley Face completes her quest with the "Chicken Dance"

In the end, the warriors from chariot 1 and chariot 2 were victorious crushing all evil and enemies from the 200 mile quest in their path.


The group of warriors capturing their success for the ages.

The warriors end their conquest by feasting with the nobles from Lake Chatuge.

The End

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Boston Report

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind not with it.

Henry Ford

When I first read this quote, I started to reflect on the past 18 weeks of marathon training. To say the least, it was not easy. I tend not to dwell on the past or the negatives that come in and out of my life, but the quote from Henry Ford did have an impact on my training and does sum it up.

Right out of the gate in Week 18 of training, the cards were against me. The first long run of the season ended in a left hip injury. This put me back 3 weeks in keeping up with my schedule. I drudge through the pain with stretching, icing, weights, water running and Ibuprofen.

Then the weather turned and did it turn nasty. All winter long we experienced, rain, cold, wind, sub- zero temperatures, snow storms that drove not only me but all my friends to the dread mills in the gym.

A few weeks after the hip was healed and I was back on my game I dropped an 80 pound piece of particle board right on my Big Toe. The pain was so intense that I remember wobbling off to the Home Depot bathrooms and sitting on the commode for over 20 minutes delirious from pain. The next day, my hopes of Boston felt like they had slipped away. The toe was twice the size and the whole nail was black-blue. Michelle, Susan and Bob all told me that I was going to lose the nail. To combat this I drilled a small hole near the cuticle to relieve the pressure. It worked! As of today the nail is on and no issues have come up.

In the pool, besides the quality of the water being the worst I have ever seen, I pulled my shoulder muscle, which had an effect on my speed workouts. You need upper body momentum to carry you through and the soreness had another impact on my ability to perform in my training. Ice, stretching, weights and adjusting my swim helped. Too bad the management at LTF can see an issue and readjust to fix it.

During the 4th 20 mile run, I needed a change of scenery in my routes. I plotted a course through Cumming with a mix of hills and flats to simulate the Boston course. Elevation was comparable, flats and down hills were right on, the only thing I had that Boston did not was dogs. At mile 15 I was surrounded by two packs of dogs at different times. Fangs showing, barking and attempting to bite my ankles I moved past one group right into an ambush from the second pack. Again, snarling and barking pushed me to the end. Being afraid was not on my mind, but rage. Rage engulfed me and I started screaming at the dogs and the owners of these vicious animals. I am not an advocate for putting down animals, but I am one for putting down the humans that allow their animals to threaten another human on a public road. I am still enraged at the situation I went through and do not recommend going on Orr Road in Cumming.

Sciatica. I did not mention too much about this during training since it is always there. Throughout the season especially with the cold, wet weather, the pain was constant. Pain Management has been a constant process in my training. Ice, heat, stretching, core, weights and rest are the only ways for me to move past the nagging spikes in pain, the reoccurring since that your hamstrings are pulled and the numbness in the toes. You either live with this and do what you enjoy to do or give up. The latter is never an opinion for me.

Solo running has been a constant state of affair for me. I enjoy the company of friends, Ann Marie, Jay, Bob, Jeff, Stacey and everyone else on runs, rides and swims. With this training, the workouts are Key Workouts and you are forced to run at paces that my friends may not be able to run. I had to sacrifice companionship for my individual goals. I was lucky to be able to run track with my friends and hit a few tempo runs with the Twins when our training distances crossed paths. Every long run was accomplished by myself. The only motivation I had was the carrot at the end of the string, my goal. I ran in all types of weather to attempt to meet my goal. My friends understood since we are all forged from the same mold and I am grateful for their support along with Sarah, Grace and Ellie’s support of my desire to be my best.

The last hurdle I came up against while on the tail end of training was in the taper weeks. Both Achilles tendons flared up. The pain was hard to manage. 24 hours a day, sitting, sleeping and even running the tendons felt like they were on fire. I stretched, iced and down numerous Ibuprofen to subdue the inflammation. Nothing helped. My only saving grace was after about 15 minutes of light warm ups on the run the tendons calmed down and I could manage the pain during the paces I needed to hit during each workout. The day I left for Boston I knew this was going to be an issue and I knew exactly where it was going to be as well.

At this point, you are probably thinking, dang! This is negative and a downer. I wanted to hear about the race and what he did. Well, fasten your seat belts, the plane is about to take off.
29 hours. This is the time I was in the great city of Boston Massachusetts to run the 114th running of the Boston Marathon.

I landed at Logan Airport at approximately 1PM on Sunday, April 18, 2010. I opted for this flight because the day before was my wife, Sarah’s birthday. With all the selfish things we do during training, this was one thing I was not going to do by missing her day.

On the flight, there were about dozen other runners on the plane with me. 3 women across the aisle talking the whole time about their qualifying, their races, their shoes, bodily stuff, which all conversations about running lead to. One of them asked me if I was running. I told her, yes. She asked me if I have run it before and I said, yes, last year. This was their first running and we excited as she asked me what I did last year. When I told her and the other two, a look of shock came on their faces. She then asked me if I just run, and I told her I compete in Ironman’s as well. The three looked at me up and down and did not have anything to say. The one woman wished me good luck and I wish her and the other two the same.

I chuckled a little too myself after experiencing the looks on their faces as if they were in the midst of an Elite Athlete. In my mind, I am far from this.

The rest of the flight was uneventful as I relaxed, sipped Gatorade and water and listened to the background conversation of the women runners across the way.

Touching down in Boston, I grab my duffle bag and headed towards the T. Since I was in Boston for a short period of time all I brought with me was a regular size duffle bag or nap sack. The contents were: running shoes, running shorts, socks, singlet, white cotton gloves, hat, running pants, jacket, throwaway shirt, gels and mini sized toiletries. I had gone out and bought a small deodorant, man spray and travel wipies to make myself presentable for my fellow air travels on the way back to ATL. Yes, no shower after the race.

I headed towards the pickup zone in Terminal C to catch the MBTA Transit Bus to the Blue Line of the T. The route that took me to the Hynes Convention Center on Boylston Avenue was: The MBTA Bus to the Blue Line, the Blue Line to Gov’t Center. Got off the Blue T and headed inbound to the Green Line. There are three T trains to take, I was on the Boston College T which was packed. This T took me to the Hynes stop were I unloaded and headed out of the subway to the surface.

As I neared the exit doors I heard and saw rain pouring down from the skies. I opened the duffle bag and pulled out my 113th Boston Marathon jacket and a hat to shelter me from the rain. I was not meaning to wear this jacket until after the race for karma reasons even when it was last year’s jacket. Weird idiosyncrasies I have.

The temperature was around 50 degrees with a heavy rain. I was in shorts but I sheltered my core from the cold rain. I made my way from the Hynes T station to the convention center. The walk was approximately ¾ of a mile. The streets and sidewalks were bustling with runners, spectators, tourist, Bostonians and alike. This is the point I felt the ubiquity of what has transpired on these grounds 113 times before.

Boston Marathon jackets old and new shuffled the streets of Boylston as we all were soaked by the afternoon rains. Looking into the eyes of the people around me no one seemed to mind though. They journey was coming to a conclusion as was mine and a little rain was not going to dampen anyone’s spirits.

Outside the Hynes

The pictures are a little grainy due to the disposable camera, but when you arrive in the convention center you are in awe. The amount of runners and the Expo are unbelievable. The Expo is on the second floor which you take the escalator up and you are in view of the WELCOME sign. This sign leads you into the millions of vendors and products at the Expo.

To your right is where the real action is. The hallowed halls of the 114th Boston Marathon Registration. This is where Number Pick Up starts and where you pick up your BM technical shirt. The hall is long, wide and tall. The hall is decked out in the Boston Marathon colors of blue and yellow. There are larger than life pictures of past winners plastered on the halls and columns. The bib numbers seem to go on forever starting at #1. The volunteers are dressed in their official Boston Marathon jackets.

I make my way down the corridor to the sign: 7800-7899. I pull out my official entry into the 2010 Boston Marathon and give it to the friendly volunteer, who name was, Steve, along with my license. In exchange, he produces an enclosed clear packet with my race number, official chip, 4 safety pins and the directions on how to attach it all to my person. Steve then looks up at me and says, “Corey, thank you for running in the Boston Marathon.” “Thank you?” I think. He is actually thanking me? That is crazy! I in turned said to the friendly volunteer, Steve and said, “ I would like to thank you for supporting us.” We both smiled and said, “You are welcome”.
I departed from Number Pick Up and proceeded down the corridor to the technical shirt and clothing bag pick up. I made my way admiring all the pictures of the past runners while glancing at the runners strolling through the halls. All I could think about is that I wish I could experience this right now with my wife and friends who have BQ’d for Boston. Next year, I thought, next year…

The Hall of Numbers

I ended in front of the table that read, “Men’s Medium”. I asked for a medium, the friendly volunteer, Trish, marked my bib packet and handed me a heavy florescent yellow bag. Again, I heard the words, “Thank you for running this year” I returned by saying, “Thank you Trish for helping out, I really appreciate it.” We smiled at each other as I departed to a corner of the hallowed halls to transfer the bag’s contents to my backpack.

Technical shirt, Boston Marathon Program, Poland Springs Water Bottle (drank this actually), 2 packets of mini Jasmine Rice, Key Chain, Maps, Brochures and marketing paraphernalia. Not much but I am not here for the goodies.

The end of the corridor filtered right into the Expo. And man, what an Expo. This one puts even the ING Atlanta Marathon expo to shame. First, the place is jammed with runners and spectators. The Adidas area is huge. There are 114th Boston Jackets as far as the eye can see. Tons of runners trying on the perfect jacket to top off their prize of making it to the Big Dance. There are hats, socks, gloves, backpacks, mugs, stuff animals, shoes, glasses and of course t-shirts. The lines are well organized and the store employees are there to assist and to shuffle you through with your purchases. I stopped and purchased a running hat, which went right into the backpack until after the race.


Call me superstitious but, I believe you can jinx yourself by wearing the garb before you have tackled and finished the event.

At this point I was starting to feel hungry. Only one thing to do, raid the stands for giveaways. I hit PowerBar, Gatorade, Casacadian Farms, Muscle Milk and when I was full I walked the Expo for a few more minutes just in case it was not a false fill.

Being there alone I was still in awe of the Expo, but all I could think while I made my way around was I cannot wait to experience this with my Boston Qualifiers. This is a part of the experience no matter how hectic it is. You must take it all in.


I made my way out of the Expo and onto Boylston. To the right of me about a quarter mile in the distance was the big, blue stage with the words, FINISH. I decided to head down that way and take a shot of the Finish Line. As I made my way down Boylston it continued to amaze me the amount of runners that have converged on this town. There were Boston jackets from 10+ years back. Old runners, young runners, men, women, kids (18+) all here for one purpose and one purpose only.

As I approached the Finish Line, I remembered an article I read last year on Ryan Hall. Ryan ran the route a number of times during his training, but one thing Ryan never did was cross the Finish Line in his training. He would always stop his runs before the line. As I made my way by the Grand Stands on both sides, a feeling came over me. I stopped in my tracks. Just like wearing the race shirt or jacket before you have completed the race, I felt as if I should not approach the sacred Finish Line. I turned back and walk to the end of the police gates and took this shot. I never saw the line.

Close as I was going to get to the Finish Line...

I had a train to catch on the weekend schedule, but I also wanted to grab some food at one of my favorite pizza joints in New England, Bertucci’s. I made my way down Boylston, right on Hereford, over Newbury Street and left on Commonwealth Ave, or “Comm Ave” as the locals call it. The skies opened up again and I was drenched before I made it two blocks.

Less than 1 mile from the Finish on Comm Ave, pouring down rain.

Arriving at the pizza joint I made my way in soaked to the bone. I figured I had a little time so I grabbed a booth, took off my water logged shoes and looked at the menu. I ordered a chicken margarita pizza and a Harpoon I.P.A. The Red Sox were playing the Rays at Fenway and getting creamed. I watched the game on the tube and ate, drank and dried off. I decided after lunch to head over to Fenway to walk around and take it all in.

Favorite Pizza Joint in "Bah'sten" & The CITGO Sign

I wanted to head down Yawkey to take a shot of “Who’s on First” the bar where I met my lovely wife, Sarah, but security was tight and tough. They were not letting anyone in without a ticket. I did not need any bad karma so I tried to take a shot from outside the gate, but just could not get the right angle.

Red Sox Nation!

On Lansdowne Street

By this time I needed to make my way past Boston Beer Works, yes it killed me not to go in. Sarah and I spent many nights eating nachos and drinking funky beers in this establishment. But I had to catch the MBTA train to Natick.

I only had to walk across a parking lot to the Yawkey Station. While waiting for the train to arrive, a family with the dad, mom and 5, uh, yes…5 girls came up to me. They noticed my jacket and asked me if I was running tomorrow. I said, “yes” I will be there. They said congratulations. We exchanged small talk for a minute or two and when the train pulled up to the platform the mom said, “we live in Wellesley and we will see you tomorrow running.” Not to sound negative since there are 24,000 runners, I said, “I’ll keep my eyes open for you as well” laughing a little.

The train ride was easy and uneventful. The train actually stops less than ½ mile from my in-laws house which makes it convenient going in and out of Boston. I hopped off at the Natick Station and made my way in the drizzling rain to their home.

Joe & Joanne's aka: "The In-Laws" Home

I will save everyone the time and my fingers from typing on the next 13 hours by summarizing:
I sat and talked with my father and mother in-law. My brother in-law with my three nieces showed up about an hour later. Soon after that, my sister in-law along with my two other nieces arrived. We chatted and ate pasta with meatballs. Had a glass of wine along with a fruit and granola dessert. Everyone left and I was upstairs prepping for the next day by 9PM.

Ready to Roll!

Then it was bedtime…

Monday morning. Race day. 18 weeks later and here I was waking up to for my “A” race. I woke at 6:15AM. I was actually up around 5:40AM not due to nerves but the sun. Yes, the sun started to show itself along with the birds singing.

I got up, checked my stuff on more time and then headed downstairs to eat. A 10AM race is awesome! You do not have to get up at 3AM to eat, drink or make sure you have pooped enough. You feel like you have all the time in the world to get ready.

I made a large bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar, almonds and cranberries. Finished it and topped it off with a banana and coffee. I was going to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but felt quite full so I bagged it. I had Sports Beans and gels for the pre-race snack so I was not too worried.

After breakfast I did what everybody does from the book, took a shower and got into my running gear. About 8AM my in-laws got in the car to drive me to the Hopkinton State Park. I am thankful they allowed me to stay at their home. It makes the world of difference not to get up at 4AM and jump on a bus in Boston to trek to Hopkinton and wait around for 3-4 hours before the start.

We made our way down Route 9 from Natick to Hopkinton. The ride took about 25 minutes with a little traffic. No nerves where shown. I knew I had plenty of time to make it to the start for 10AM.

We made it to Hopkinton State Park and they dropped me off my the buses. I thanked them for the lift and would see them in Boston in a couple of hours. My in-laws, sister in-law and two nieces were going to meet me after the race. They did not want me to me alone in a big town all by my lonesome.

I headed for the bus to take to the center of Hopkinton.

Heading to the bus to take me to the Start

Arriving in Hopkinton you could feel the presence of thousands of runners walking and running the street awaiting the start. The buses drop you off .7 miles from the Athlete’s Village, which is not bad. The walk is a light uphill and gets the blood moving in the legs. The village was what I remembered but there seem to be a lot more runners this year. I walked around to see if I could find anyone I knew, but the old saying, “finding a needle in a haystack” does apply in this case. Everyone looks the same. Sweats and baseball caps. I hit the Porta Potty and milled around the village for about 20 minutes until it was time to drop my gear off. Leaving that night I had all my worldly trip possession in one bag. I made my way over to the bagged drop buses as thousands, yes thousands of runners started to walk down Grove Street to the start. I wanted to warm up a little after I dropped the gear so I headed down Hayden Rowe Street to warm up and hit a few pick-ups before the Start Line. With Grove Street packed end to end with runners there was no way to warm up heading this way.

Athlete's Village. The top runners in the World!

Hayden Rowe dumps you right near corral #1. I had a chance to quickly see the Elite Runners milling around in waiting for the gun. I did not see Ryan Hall in the midst but I knew he was there prepping for the run of his life.

I made my way past the corrals, 2, 3, 4, 5…This is when I saw Minnie Mouse. A guy was dressed head to toe with make-up on making his way to corral 3 dressed up. I laughed and thought there is no way I would spend the money and time to get here and run in a costume, but to each his own. Corral 6, then my corral, number 7. It was already packed tight with runners as I squeezed my way in. The runners in #7 were antsy. A lot of jumping and shaking going on. I looked at the woman next to me, smiled and she looked right through me as if I wasn’t even there.

I decided to move up a little and get away from the negative vibe she was casting on my mojo. I passed a dude decked out in a nerd’s outfit. Corn rimmed glasses with white tape, plaid , short sleeve shirt, pocket protector, pencils, Bermuda shorts, black socks and dress shoes. Okay, the dress shoes just let a little mojo escape from me. I moved on. I found a little clearing as the National Anthem started. After we gave our respects to our great country, two fighter jets buzzed the corral’s sending a pounding vibration through your chest. Man, that was awesome!
A few minutes later after hanging close to other runners for warmth the announcer came on the P.A. and said, “45 seconds to the start of the 114th running of the Boston Marathon!” The corral started to shift side to side as the runners moved forward in anticipation.

The next thing I knew the gun went off and the announcer stating the Elite Runners were off! The corral clapped and hollered as we made baby steps up Route 135 to the crest. The mass of runners kept a slow but consistent movement forward as we made our way closer to the Start as you could hear the loud cheers from the spectators in the foreground.

A few minutes later corral 7 was jogging then running as we crested the center of Hopkinton and started the descend down Route 135. This was the first time you could see where the noise of the crowd was coming from. There were hundreds of spectators lining Route 135 at the Start, cheering on the runners as we filled by. Talk about getting the juices flowing. Everyone’s faces had the look of joy and happiness as they cheered each and every one of the runners.

But wait, the cheering did not stop. Not after 1 mile, 3 miles, 13 miles, 18 miles. All the way from Hopkinton to Boston, Start to Finish, the streets where lined with spectators cheering the runners on all the way!

The first mile was epic. The cheers and the runners pushed you forward at a faster than prescribed speed. I knew that the first couple of miles were going to be fast which I had planned for in the pacing.

As we cruised down Route 135 into Ashland, the crowds did not let up. This continued to fuel the adrenaline pushing me faster down the hills. Passing the marker where the first Boston Marathon started in 1897, the road even out and I knew this was the time to dial it back and fall into a rhythm. Within a minute of thinking this, I heard Black Sabbath cranking in the foreground. Rounding a small bend in the road, I passed a biker bar. Out front, there must have been over 200 motorcycles and well over 300 bikers decked out in leather gear drinking beers, smoking and screaming as loud as they could. It was awesome to see a group like this supporting the likes of us.

Hitting the Ashland Clock Tower the road changed with a slight upgrade, again I focused on my gait and pacing. I slowed it down a little while my turnover on the short quick hill increased. I continued up and over without losing momentum.

The next land marker was the center of Framingham. I remembered last year the crowds lines both sides of the street 5 to 6 deep. This year was no exception. I believe there were even more spectators out cheering. The roads narrowed not because of the terrain but the cheering spectators had started to spill out onto Route 135 to get a glimpse of the runners as we hoofed it on by.

The amount of cheering had an effect on you. Your blood is pumping, your legs are turning and you have an uncontrollable smile on your face that I believe you could not shake if you tried.
Leading out of Framingham, the road remained relatively flat. The pace for the first 8 miles was 7:10’s. This was way too fast! I should have been averaging 7:15’s max. I knew I should have eased off at this point but we were heading into Natick. Natick is where my in-laws live. A small contingency of family, friends and neighbors were going to be at the Natick Library to cheer me on. As I passed Lake Cochituate, the noise from the upcoming crowds started to ring in my ears. Which each step the sound grew and I could feel my turnover start to increase. With a short incline and then cresting you could see the center of Natick. The crowds were immense! The intersection of Route 135 and Route 16 were smothered in spectators cheering, waving banners, beating drums, blowing horns and even a guy in a kilt playing the bagpipes! I navigated to the left side of the road through the intersection and focused on trying to find my mother-n-laws bright yellow jacket. Within a few steps of the library, I saw her and my two nieces. I waved and hollered at them giving a few a high five as I sped past. There is nothing more you would like to do is to stop, but as you know once the legs are in perpetual motion, it is hard to get them spinning again.

After Natick, I said, “okay dial it back and hit the pace”. I was roughly 1:25 minutes ahead of plan and needed to save the energy for the back portion of the course. But, this is futile. Wellesley was coming up and the “Wellesley Girls” were out in force. Before hitting the college you pass by huge bright yellow banners that say, “Be prepared for the Noise”. This is an understatement. On the right side of the road by Wellesley College are hundreds of college girls screaming at the top of their lungs. A majority of them are holding signs that say, Kiss Me.” I saw men and yes, women stopping and laying a big sloppy kiss on these girls. One guy ahead of me would stop every few girls and kiss them. I pulled a little left and just watched the show. The girls were cheering and kissing and just having a great time as they always do.

Looking down at my watch at the half way point in the middle of the festivities I was ahead of plan by 1:40 seconds. I knew that I was going to pay for it on the back half. At this point the only thing to do was push on and get out of Wellesley and try to settle in again.

Leaving Wellesley I knew at the 25K mark the terrain was going to start to change. I eased back on the pace, but I could feel myself labored as I continued onto Route 16 and towards the first major hill. The pace I was running felt off as my breathing increased and legs started to feel a little mushy. I decided to hold the pace until I made it up and over the Highway 95 bridge at mile 16. At this time the average pace was 7:11’s. I felt good, but needed to dial it back.

The crowds thinned. Well, what I mean by this is that the crowds were not 5+ deep. The roads were lined with people cheering, they just were not all over the road. I decided to pick up 3 PowerGel’s right before mile 17. I had 5 minutes before I was scheduled to take one. I swung on the left side and picked up a chocolate, raspberry and espresso with caffeine for the next 9 miles. I knew my energy levels would diminish and the extra calories would help. Right before the turn by the fire station I took in the chocolate gel. Drank some water and settled into the second major hill that leads into “The Hills of Newton”. Last year, this hill messed with me. It is short but increases almost 100 feet in less than a quarter mile. Hit it too hard you pay on the next series of hills, run it conservatively you loose time.

The plan was since I had some cushion was to run it moderately. The pace was controlled and I felt good cresting the hill. The road on each side was lined again with bands playing, kegs of beer, hula skirts and coconut bra’s, a old man pounding on tribal drum while a young boy was playing revelry on the trumpet.

I took in some Gatorade at the water station, which I did at every station from mile 1. The next two hills were going to make me or break me. Being over a minute ahead of pace in total I knew this was the time that I had to pay. After a short downhill and bottoming out to mile 19 the road changed again heading up. The hill was again step, but stepper than the first. It is also misleading. Your mind has a hard time comprehending and computing at this point. I thought for a minute this was Heart Break Hill and I heard a few other runners say, “Welcome to HBH!”. Then it dawned on me that this was Hill 2 and not HBH. I tried to readjust but the hill got me before I could compensate. I slowed and my breathing was labored. I shifted the gait and chopped baby steps up. Once I hit the top, the 1:40 cushion I felt hit me like a ton of bricks. All the thought of me saying, “too fast” ran through the mind.

I knew that the pace was slowing, but I had to push on. I splashed a cup of cold water from the station on my face and head, took a gulp of Gatorade and readjusted again. HBH was right ahead of me. The crowds were intense. This was Boston College land and the college kids were out in force. They were screaming, drinking, waving banners and just pumping the runners up.

Heading on the cusp of Heart Break Hill, I decided to be conservative. The faster than prescribe pace so far was having its effects as I knew it would. I focused on short strides and looked for the traffic light at the top of the hill. Once that light was in my sights I tuned out. I did not hear the crowds or see the crowds. My whole focus was on the red light, then yellow, then green and back to red light ahead of me. I pushed myself up the hill and once I crested I did not feel so bad. I cruised along towards the end of Boston College on relatively flat terrain.

The came the hill…The hill this time was downhill. I felt good and started the decent, but almost instantly the legs seized up and my Achilles on both legs exploded. The pain that radiated from the lower part of the calf to my heel was intense. I could no longer lean forward and run on my mid foot. I readjusted and leaned back landing on my heels. This slowed the pace down to a 7:47. I knew I had to figure out a new strategy to get me to the finish. Running on my heels and the cushion I had in time being eaten away I saw a vision. Well, actually two visions. Two female runners in florescent yellow Brooks running singlets came up beside me and passed me. They were not going at a lightening pace but a few clicks faster than I. The color of their shirts was mesmerizing to me so I decided to see if I could lock in behind them and focus on the yellow taking away from the Achilles pain to bring me home. With less than 4 miles to go, I had to give it a shot. I put the rally cap on a moved forward down the road.

I locked in and mimicked their pace. The front-runner was obviously pacing the second runner. She kept looking behind and adjusting her pace to match her. I hung off the back of the second runner out of view of the both. I did not want them to see me and try to kick me loose at this point. The pace was good and I was able to push the pain down and just focus on clicking off miles.

The CITGO sign came into view and I knew to hold pace until reaching the sign. The road was mostly downhill as I ran on my heels. There was one more incline of significance near Brookline Avenue which was a bridge near Fenway. I had to adjust the gait and run on my mid foot. The Achilles barked back but I did not pay attention. Cresting the bridge on the other side you could see the 1 mile marker.

At this point the goal time was shot. The two runners were streaming along and I knew I would have a descent time and beating last year’s time. I pushed down Comm Ave past the CITGO sign and with a few turns, I was on Boylston Street!

Boylston was hopping! There were thousands of people cheering you on as if you were the one that was going to win the Boston Marathon! The two yellow shirt runners picked it up as I looked down at my watch. My watch said 3:10:05. I did not make my goal time, so I decided to soak up the nostalgia and the crowds. I continued to push but not a really fast pace.

I made it to the grand stand seating while I looked at all the people who paid top dollars to see me, yes me complete the 114th running of the Boston Marathon.

As I crossed the line hitting my watch at 3:11:29, all I could think about was next year. My wife, Sarah will be running the Boston Marathon along with a number of my dear friends.

Words can only tell you about this marathon, but I am so glad and thankful that I will be able to experience this epic race with them and bask in their awe of the race.

That was my major goal, to get back here for 2011. I ran directly into a headwind over 18 weeks ago, but at the end I was flying high. Mission accomplished.

Paces for the 114th Boston Marathon. Too fast but stayed consistent!

I will keep this short and add a few pictures. I gathered my stuff, met Joe, Joanne, Julie and the nieces at the Family Meeting Area, “P” and we headed over to Champions for a bacon, cheddar cheese burger, fries and a few Harpoon I.P.A.’s to celebrate. I took off that evening back to ATL and was in bed by 10:30PM.

The bag and change area. Yes, there are changing tents as well.

My "Bah-sten" supporters!

My cute nieces

Tried to get a picture of the Finish after the Race. Not going to happen. Too much security and the crowds were packed in tight!