Running in Boston

There are thousands of marathons in the world, but there is only one “Boston”.   Even though marathons are all the same, 26.2 miles, Boston is the grand-daddy of them all, the feather in your cap, the one non-runners and runners alike are impressed with.  Other than the Olympic Trials, Boston has been one of the only marathons that you must qualify for.  Qualifying times have gotten more relaxed over the last few years, and there are ways around qualifying (such as running for a charity and raising a miniumum of $3250… if you miss the mark, the missing amount will show up on your next credit card statement).  I have mixed feelings about this, but regardless of that, running the Boston marathon at least once is something every distance runner should do.

I ran Boston in 1993.  Wow, that is a long time ago.  Sometimes I can’t believe I am this old, and I really can’t believe I’ve been running for so many years!  Standing with Heather. a recent graduate of our track team at a statue depicting the young John Kelley (first won in 1935) and the old JK ( last ran the full marathon in 1991)  seems very appropriate.  Heather is the young, and I am the “young at heart”!

I’ve run 6 other marathons, and actually running  Boston  was NOT my favorite.  I don’t really like crowds, and being in a moving crowd for 3.5 hours was not all that much fun.  HOWEVER, I sure did enjoy talking about Boston, commiserating with other sore runners the next day, and always being able to say, “I ran Boston”.   My running marathon career came to an end shortly after that Patriot’s Day run in 1993, when I switched over to marathon canoe and kayak.  Running became my cross training, and until recently that was enough.

There is still something special about running in Boston (the city of Boston that is) .  My track team competes at Boston University twice every winter.  It’s a great track and always a 2 day meet.  For me the best part of the trip is the couple of free hours that I have each Saturday morning before the team wakes up.  I always put in a long run either through the city, along the Charles River, or out Beacon Street along part of the marathon course.   This year was special, two girls that I coached through college have qualified and are running the marathon this year.   We planned to meet at the hotel and go for a long run.  Having run a hard half marathon last weekend (and being older than either of their mothers), I was a little nervous, but I took most of the week off from running and spent a lot of time in the pool, stretching, and with the “ever so painful” foam roller.  My husband decided that he wanted to get in on this fun, and came up Friday night, after the meet.

At 8am Saturday morning, Heather met us at the hotel and we trotted down Mass Ave towards Beacon St.  We ran to the Johnny Kelley memorial statue at the base of Heart Break Hill.   Anyone know “why” it’s called Heartbreak Hill?  You would assume because it is so difficult, right?  Well, it’s really not- it is mainly  hard because it’s at 20 miles and you are tired, but the real reason is because this is where Tarzan Brown passed Johnny Kelley in 1936  and “broke his heart” .

We Snapped a few pics with my blackberry, and then headed back to the hotel- Ken’s GPS measured 15.8 total miles. I would have never guessed it, the time flew by with so much to talk about and so many other runners on the course.  I was amazed, there were 100s of runners, all checking it out!  What a great time to see so many people out on a cold, snowy morning, enjoying being outside and moving.

Running part of the course made me itchy to try qualifying for the marathon again.  At age 52, it should be a piece of cake, the qualifying standard is only 4:05 (over 9 min mile pace)


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