The Long and Short of the Boston Marathon!

The short answer is 3:51.

Where I hoped I'd finish...

Where I hoped I’d finish…

But that doesn’t really tell the story, now does it?  It’s a marathon, after all, and a special one at that.  So you get the long version too. Hmmm… to start, you need to have read the prequel to this race (here), in order for this to make sense… so start there first. Okay, now that you are caught up… let’s talk Boston.  Our first experience happened the moment we got to Boston!  We walked into the incredible race headquarter hotel, the Fairmont Copely Plaza and were checking into the 2 bedroom suite on the “Gold Level” (our host, Don, spared no expense!  This was probably the nicest rooms on the nicest floor of the best hotel in Boston, right at the Finish Line, on the busiest weekend of the year!  wow.  Again, read the prequel if you haven’t!).

One of the greatest marathon runners of all time... Joan Benoit Samuelson!

One of the greatest marathon runners of all time… Joan Benoit Samuelson!

Anyway, we got on the elevator to go to our floor and the 5 of us cram in with 2 other official looking people.  An older gentleman and woman.  They had “credentials” hanging around their necks, so naturally I read them.  The man was with the “press” and the woman was “JOAN BENOIT SAMUELSON”!  I immediately said the obvious self-fulfilling moronic question: “are you Joan Benoit Samuelson?!”  She tried to alleviate the obviously awkward and stupid question with: “last time I checked”.  I immediately said: “can I shake your hand!”, to which she graciously agreed… while I introduced my embarrassed family and explained to them one of her greatest accomplishments, which was winning the gold medal in the very first women’s Olympic marathon at the 1984 Olympics in LA.  Joanne later Google’d her and found an equally impressive stat:  she entered the 1979 Boston Marathon as a relative unknown. She won the race, wearing a Boston Red Sox cap, in 2:35:15, knocking eight minutes off the record. She repeated that success with a victory again in 1983, that took more than two minutes off the world’s best time, set by Grete Waitz in the London Marathon just the day before. Her Boston course record of 2:22:43, set in 1983, was not broken for another 11 years… and is still the 7th fastest ever!!! sarah-and-tommyI was already so excited with my chance encounter.  But to those less in the know about marathon hero’s… say Jillian, for example… she was just as excited (well probably more excited actually) when she saw “Tommy” in the lobby.  Tommy? you ask.  Tommy is Sarah Richardson’s sidekick on the HGTV program about home designs.  16 year old girls… what can I say.  No offense, Tommy. From there… on to the first marathon of the weekend.  The Expo.  This is my 4th Boston Marathon… and 4th Boston Marathon Expo.  And each time I swear to myself that I won’t spend numerous hours on my feet, blowing my taper, just before the marathon.  And each time I do.  I’m an idiot. But in my defense, it is an amazing Expo.  And I love a great marathon Expo.  Our next chance encounter was with another legend.  Probably the most inspiring person on the planet!  Now if you don’t know who Dick and Rick Hoyt are… well you should!  Check out this video… and Team Hoyt!

The cool thing was that Dylan and I got to get our picture with Dick and chat with him a bit.  Interestingly he is about the same age as my dad and I’m about the same age as his son.  And it was cool to be there with my son.

Dylan and I with the most inspirational guy on the planet!

Dylan and I with the most inspirational guy on the planet!  He’s shorter than Dylan and I, but there is no bigger man in the world!

Dick said that this was his last Boston Marathon, as he is now 74 years old, although the organization “Team Hoyt” has arranged to push Rick in more races in coming years!  He and Rick have done 30 Boston Marathons, 6 Ironman tri’s and over 1000 races!!!  (click here).  And as the perfect segue into our next adventure of the weekend… what were the first words that  Rick Hoyt spoke when they built a special computer for him that enabled him to communicate?  “Go Bruins!” And off we went to watch the Bruins game! Joanne, Dylan, Maisey, Jill and I went down to the pub “Fours”, named after Bobby Orr, of course, and is located just across the street from Bobby Orr’s statue, to watch the game.  I’ll skip over that game (as the Bruins lost 1-0 to the Red Wings 🙁 ), but in watching the game, Dylan and I did some scouting and found that tickets to the game on Sunday could still be had via scalpers.

Brian, Alex, Al, Dylan, David and me... pre-game beers!

Brian, Alex, Scott, Dylan, David and me… pre-game beers!

When I told the guys… they were in!  So after much consternation on Stubhub.com, we ended up with 6 tickets to what turned out to be yet another fantastic outing!  The Bruins won 4-1!  Even Dylan, who is oddly a die-hard Detroit Red Wings fan had fun… because we sat down next to two young women, who were over-the-moon excited to be there… I mean I had goose-bumps and all being at my first ever Bruin playoff game… but these girls seemed conspicuous.  First of all they were not among the 95% of the population with Bruins jersey’s on… and secondly they could hardly contain themselves.  P4200126To the point where I had to ask “so you seem pretty excited”… and the one girl replied “yes, my cousin is playing!”  Her cousin is Riley Sheahan! A 22 year old Red Wing rookie who was called up from Notre Dame University and among the 12 AHL players playing for the Red Wings because of their recent rash of injuries.  In fact, when the Wings were on the bubble with Columbus, Washington, New Jersey and Toronto, all vying for the last playoff spot… he scored the game winning goal to put

St Catherine's native, Riley Sheahan!

St Catherine’s native, Riley Sheahan!

them into the playoffs!  No wonder she was excited.  So Dylan had someone to chat with while the rest of us cheered!

This of course, was a very special year, given the bombings last year.  A year where all Bostonians, all runners and especially the runners of the Boston Marathon got to make a stand for Boston and for running and show a real sense of community and togetherness.  Now the “Boston Strong” shirts and logos were everywhere, almost to the point that they were a bit cliche.  I’ll give you that the whole thing may have gotten a bit over done by the end… but if over-doing something that is all about civic pride, community and celebrating athleticism, well then I think there are a lot worse things that are over-done in our society than that.  So put me down as Boston Strong, rob“all for it!”  There was a lot of funny, clever and poignant things commemorating the events and showing pride of the city and the event.  One that was not too politically correct, but I thought was very Boston and brought a smile to my face was this t-shirt I saw that came from the speech that David Ortiz of the Bosox made after the bombings last year…

Pretty much says it all... they picked the wrong city to mess with.

Pretty much says it all really… they picked the wrong city to mess with.

Of course, there were other (more politically correct) ways that Bostonians shared their feelings on the matter too.  Another one that I thought was incredible was the scarfs.  There is a large and very old church right at the finish line, the Old South Church.  And after the bombings last year they thought it they would put something together for “Remembrance and Hope”… so they organized the “Marathon Scarf Project”.  They thought they’d ask people to knit a blue and yellow (Boston Marathon colors) scarf and send it in… and they would distribute it to people at the Blessing of the Runners, before the race.  They hoped to get 200-300 scarves from around the country.  It went viral.  They got 7200 scarves!  And they gave them all away to the runners!  Mine had a tag on it that said: This scarf is interwoven with love and courage, by Sarah, from South Congregational Church in Concord, New Hampshire.  Pretty cool.

Pre-race carbo loading!

Pre-race carbo loading!

I can’t forget the fantastic dinner that Lambrina arranged for the whole group too!  Good friends and good times… gotta love that! Oh yeah… and then there was the race.  That’s just about how it felt too.  I was having so much fun with my family and all our friends… and all my new celebrity friends, that the race came up pretty quick.  Suddenly it was 10:00 on Sunday night and I was running around the room looking for pins to attach my bib to my jersey for the little run that we had to be up for in 6 hours (thanks for the pins, btw, Lamb!).

Alex,

Alex, David, Rob, Brian, Lamb, Scott, Brett, Al

More VIP treatment.  Brian, a police officer here in Oakville, got us on the Police Bus that took us out to the start with a full police escort and had a table with food and supplies and a nice coach bus for us to wait on.  Brian and I were in the last wave, so considering we were up at 4:30… and didn’t start until 11:30, it was nice to wait in comfort.  By 11:30 we realized that it was going to be hot too.  The idea of running with my Bobby Orr jersey on this year, as I have done in my previous 3 years, went by the way side.  Too hot for that.

... and no line ups if you get there early!

… and no line ups if you get there early!

Well, after seeing the rest of our crew off, Brian and I finally hit the road too.  We both knew we had to take it a bit easy because of the heat.  But, did I mention I’m an idiot.  I always get caught up in the excitement… and went out a bit too hard.  Not terrible, but not the speed you want to be going out at on a warm and sunny day like that.  Brian stayed with me until about 3 or 4 km and then he dropped me.  He’s faster than me… but he also does NOT do well in the heat.  He had a tough day.  Hell we all had a tough day.   The Hills of Newton is the natural place to fall apart.  And much like the issue of the heat, I knew that.  But there wasn’t much I could do about it.  I was holding a nice pace until then, about 5 min/km, which would have put me in at 3:30.  A bit ambitious, but I was hoping to be between 3:30 and 3:45.  As the day and the heat went on, I knew it was going to be at the upper end of that range… and 3:51 it was.  Not great, but not too bad all things considered.  Having said that, it was hard to feel really disappointed.  It had been such a great weekend and it was still a quasi-respectable time for me.  And the crowds were amazing.  They said there is usually 500,000 fans cheering…

... what a crowd!

… what a crowd!

and over 1,000,000 this year!  I believe it, Boston always has great support, but I’ve never seen anything like this before.  I was running with my music for a while, to try and stay focused and not get caught up in it… but it was pointless… the crowd was too loud and fun to be ignored.  I shut my music off and took it all in. Having said that… it was hard.  Hot, hilly and hard.  But that’s the nice thing about having a few of these under your belt, you may fall off pace, but you do know that if you just put your head down and keep going…. you’ll get there.  And I did. Like the t-shirt says, I finally got to “take a right on Hereford… left on Boylston”… and came down the finishing straight to see my family sitting in the grandstands… yes, with the VIP’s.  They were sitting with our host, Don Guloin, the CEO of Manulife (parent company

hey, down in the front... um, Mr. Mayor!  ;)

hey, down in the front… um, Mayor Walsh!  😉

of John Hancock), the Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, the long-time former Mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino, the Director of Homeland Security, and several other and honorable people.  But they were also right at the finish line.  They got some great pics and got to experience seeing a course record set by Rita Jeptoo as she won the women’s race! Then they got to see the first American win the race since 1983, when Meb Keflezighi won the men’s race!  And not nearly as impressive, but equally meaningful for them and for me, they got to see me come in and cross the finish line too!  In fact, with only about 20 feet to go, I cut across Boylston and saw them in the second row of the grandstand… they were up about 8 feet off the ground, but I reached as high as I could to give them an emotional high-five… I couldn’t reach the second row… so the guy in the

Don't believe the smile... I wasn't feeling nearly that good!  Just happy to be at the finish... and see my family!

Don’t believe the smile… I wasn’t feeling nearly that good! Just happy to be at the finish… and see my family!

first row (President of the BAA!) gave me a weird look, wondering why I wanted to give him a high-five, but he gave me one anyway… before Joanne and Dylan reached over him to do the same!

Meb, Boston 2014What a day.  This is sure to live on in Kent family lore. And one last thing… in case you were wondering.  I know this has been all about the incredible time we had thanks to Don, and I kind of feel strange about it, given how this whole thing started… when Ted’s heart stopped beating during the Hamilton Marathon. But he sent me an email the day before the race wishing me good luck.  He also let me know that he’s doing well.  He’s running up to 6k a few times a week and has been out for some decent rides too!  He may even try to get back to the point where he can do the Hamilton Half Marathon this fall!  Now that would be quite a story.

fun at the finish... with Joanne, Maisey, Jill and Dylan!

fun at the finish… with Joanne, Maisey, Jill and Dylan!

It is strange to feel thankful about something that started so badly… but ultimately I suppose that is what life is all about, taking what is thrown at you and trying to make the best of it.  This was probably the extreme on both ends of the scale… the worst that could happen… and turning it into one of the best experiences that Jillian, Maisey, Dylan, Joanne and I have ever had.  Who doesn’t like a nice happy ending.

 

Jill, Meb and Rob!

Jill, Meb and Rob!

Okay… I lied… one more thing.  In case this weekend wasn’t over the top enough… we met Meb Keflezighi as we were both checking out of the hotel on Tuesday morning.  What a nice guy.  And not a bad way to cap off the weekend!

Cheers,

Rob

Fun at Fenway, after the race!

Fun at Fenway, after the race!

Rita Jebtoo... winner and course record in 2:18!

Rita Jebtoo… winner and course record in 2:18!

If you know anything about the Red Wings, you'll get the Fried Calamari joke that I ordered for Dylan!

If you know anything about the Red Wings, you’ll get the Fried Calamari joke that I ordered for Dylan!

Lamb

Alex, Lambrina, Ron, Rob, Scott, Darren, Al & David… the Oakville Gang!

About LOST Swimmer

I founded LOST Swimming because I like open water swimming and would like to see it grow and thrive in Lake Ontario. I started as a competitive swimmer as a kid and ended up getting as far as a silver medal at Nationals and going to the Olympic Trials in 1988. But I retired after that, I was sick of swimming. So I got into running marathons and have run over 35 to date, as well as a few ultra marathons, including the Marathon des Sables (7 day, ultra across the Sahara Desert). I also kind of fell into triathlons and have done a handful of Ironman tri’s too. This gradually got me back in the water and in 2006 I took the plunge and attempted swimming the English Channel. I didn’t quite make it across, but the circle was now complete and after 17 years I was a swimmer again! Although I still do plenty of pool swimming, I now much prefer open water swimming and like to say that open water swimming is to pool swimming, what trail running is to treadmill running! As a result I hope to encourage more people to join me for a dip in Lake Ontario as often as we can!

This entry was posted in The LOST Blog. Bookmark the permalink.