Patriot Act 2 – Boston 1999 – the race

I found my spot in the corral for my bib and awaited the start.  I was in pain, sweating and doubting my sanity.  This was the Boston Marathon, a dreamed of event, and I was waiting for the gun with my back in spasm.  My plan, long before the spasm echoed the plan many runners who line up for Boston have — to requalify.  To do that, I needed to run a 3:15, give or take 7:30 pace.  With thoughts of limping my way through the day, I tossed that thought from my mind and decided to try to run eight minutes per mile for as long as I could.<br /><br />The gun went off and the pack surged forward.  I gingerly put on foot in front of the other as I worked my way down the first Boston hill.  Few runners who haven’t run Boston or read about it in some detail know it for the big downhill at the start, but there it was.  I reached Mile 1 in just under 8 minutes.  I was shocked.  I kept thinking any wrong move could put my back over the edge and yet, I had just run a mile faster than my plan.  Oh, boy.  I kept going and played tricks on my mind to pass the miles.  One good one was to count the number of businesses that included one of the following: Patriot, Puritan or Yankee.  There was no shortgage of any of those.  I wonder how many of the Puritan named businesses realized what they were really doing.<br /><br />Without letting this get to long, I reached the halfway point with my pace still below eight minutes.  Each step sent tremors through my aching back, but I was running.  I began to think I was living a miracle.  I had experienced terrible back problems for years (still do), but never in my wildest dreams did I think I could keep running as my back tried to persuade me not to.<br /><br />My pace stayed below 8:00 until Mile 23 when, finally, exhausted and undertrained, I began to slow.  I climbed hill after hill.  I maneuvered past a guantlet of fans and finally made the last turn that lifted me up the one block long hill that brought me to the finish line.  I crossed the line, received my medal and then began to sob.  Tears streamed down my face as I realized that with my back in spasm I had run a marathon in 3:24 minutes, give or take.  It was a world record, it wasn’t even a personal record at the time, but it was a testement to, well, to both my stupidity and my strength.  A spring classic, by the measure of the day.  <br /><br />Ten minutes after I finished, I made my way to the runner reunite area and found the “F” heading.  Debbie and the baby were not yet there and so I stood, baking in a 70 degree Boston April day, listening to a cover band play a song by the band Cake and cried.  I was happy, I was sad and I was in pain (as evidenced by the giant bags of ice that would be my companion all through the night), but I had done.<br /><br />And then, there was the flight home . . . .

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