Marathon Run a Race of Marvels
Would this be the headline on the Boston Globe the morning after Santry’s and Easten’s marathon attempt.
No this was the headline the day after the Boston marathon in 1903 when John Lordan a fellow West Cork man and Irish emigrant was the first to cross the finish line.
This plaque was erected in honour of his achievements.
Surely this was the inspiration I needed to get me through another winter of hard training. It was John Lordan’s 3rd attempt so at least I have two more goes!
‘’Santry you trained your arse off to get a qualifying time for Boston and once you got it you didn’t get off your arse’’
Thanks Ellen! She was dead right thought. I had gotten my marathon target time last year so motivation was seriously lacking this year.
Many sessions were skipped and I was a little like Conor McGregor (UFC Fighter) as I moved up 3 weight divisions in one go!
Luckily I didn’t have many injuries and got in most of my long runs but I knew in my mind I hadn’t hit the required paces.
Chicago in the springtime was the perfect place to spend a few days pre-race as I was there for my Godchild’s christening. A long story but I (and the child) ended up being over an hour late for it as we got stuck in traffic on the way to the Church!
My brother dropped me to O’Hare in Chicago for my Saturday evening flight to Boston. I was checking if other passengers were wearing garmins and if they looked like ‘Boston Qualifiers’.
Worryingly at baggage reclaim in Boston every other bag got picked up from the carousel and there was no sign of my bag which included my race card to collect my race number, racing flats, Eagles vest and all my gels and race day essentials.
Holy Sh*te Santry!
The lady at baggage told me that my bag had definitely left Chicago, and that it might be stuck up in the overhead carousel, I suggested that I could climb up there and get it but she was having none of it and said airport security would be all over me.
I reminded her of what it took to get a place in the race and if my bag was up there then I was getting it.
She then passed a large empty tray through the carousel in the hope it would free my bag. The tray passed through and still no sign of my bag. Oh it could be in New York Mr Santry. ‘’What the f**k ?’’
Well there was a flight leaving Chicago for New York at the same.
Call us in the morning and we might know where your bag is.
Not ideal race day preparation but I still had a day to get ready.
I was suckered in buying ‘’The Boston Jacket’’ at the expo but I also had to buy everything else as I still wasn’t sure if my bag would arrive.
Walking the streets of Boston the day before gave me a sense of the occasion and I was starting to regret I wasn’t in better shape, this race is pretty special, a real sense of history and the locals love their marathon. BOSTON STRONG.
My bag finally arrived at Boston airport at 2pm and I made another mistake of not going to the airport to collect it myself.
They put it on a courier which didn’t arrive at our house until after 8pm, but thankfully everything was in it and I had to turn down Ellen’s offer of wearing her Eagles vest.
Tom and I had a little domestic that tested our bromance, he wanted to get to the race start as early as possible but I like to leave things until the last minute.
So Tom won and we left the house in what felt like the middle of the night! It was a cracking scene arriving at the race pick up point (and bag drop!) seeing hundreds of yellow school buses lined up ready to transport 36,000 athletes to the start line.
Although the leg room certainly was cosy!
We were so early we helped the organisers set up the race village
Even at that ungodly time it was getting warm, we were in Wave A and after 3 hours the announcer called us to go to the start line which was 1km away.
He then roared wave A only, not those in wave B or C, those in Wave B and C you should have run faster in your qualifying race! That didn’t go down so well!
Tom passed me his hideous Green and Yellow tracksuit bottoms and we went looking for the bag drop that was 26.2 miles away!
After a few discussions with various marshals I was told I either had to run with my bag which contained my wallet, phone, change of clothes and finishers top or dump it.
I suggested hiding my bag somewhere and maybe collecting it the next day, that wasn’t a very wise suggestion given that there were snipers on the rooftops!
I broke the news to Tom that he would never see his tracksuits bottoms again he was distraught as we now parted in the hope I could do something with my bag.
I made my way to the start line considering what I would leave behind, I decided that I really had no option but dump everything and maybe just carry my phone.
Total disaster, as Roy says ‘Fail to prepare then prepare to fail’
Then I saw a few people outside of a house so I scaled the barriers and approached them. They couldn’t have been more friendly and my accent definitely helped.
Bonnie was the house owner and said that she and her husband were in all evening and the next day so I could leave my bag with her and collect it anytime.
Problem sorted only now I had no excuses left.
A quick dash to my starting pen which was full of finely tonned athletes and myself. There was no sign of Mr Easten so I got chatting to a Dublin lad and we had good auld moan about how hot it was.
I had decided that I’d go out at 3:10 pace, get to half way at 1:35 and hold on as long as I could. Oh what a difference 12 months can make.
The black hawk helicopters flew over and the Stars and Stripes was belted out and we were off running the most iconic marathon in the world.
5 miles in and I was on pace but I have enough marathon experience to know it was requiring too much effort. I dropped the pace slightly but it was still more effort than marathon pace should have been at that stage in the race.
Then the Wesley College Cheer leader girls deafen my eardrums for half mile or so.
They certainly lived up to their reputation as they didn’t hold back on their signs!
‘’I’d never do a marathon but I’d do a runner’’
‘’My mother called me fanny’’
‘’Touch here and I’ll flash my t*ts’’
These were some of the cleaner signs along the way and I certainly don’t believe Tom’s claim that ‘I never even noticed them’ ya right!
I crossed half way in 1:36 so only slightly down on planned pace but each mile I could see the pace slipping away. It was great to see Sandra, Ellen, Skye and Linda at mile seventeen.
Heartbreak hill approached and I nearly did what I hadn’t done in my previous 12 marathons. WALK. It certainly crossed my mind but I kept thinking that this is the one and only time I’ll do Boston
And I didn’t want a really sh*te time on that Strava segment. I didn’t walk but my pace was now well over planned marathon pace. I did enjoy the last few miles as the crowds were going ballistic and I managed to hold a steady albeit slow pace until the end.
The American crowds were boisterous and running up the slight incline and turning left onto the finish line on Boylston street is certainly a memory I’ll keep for years to come.
3:26 was my finishing time.
Meeting the girls and Linney at the finish line was good and telling Tom his yellow and green tracksuit was safe brought a short smile to his rather grumpy face!
Tom, Skye and I travelled back out to the now sleepy village of Hopkington the next day to collect my bag and meet my saviour Bonnie.
She informed me that she held bags for 6 other runners, all of whom had collected their bags the previous evening.
Bonnie and her husband had a great day tracking the 7 eejets who missed the bag drop. They had our race numbers on our bags so it was easy to track us. I have no idea who the others were but it made my day when she said that I was a proper runner!
She knew I had finished and when I didn’t collect my bag that evening she then started following me on Strava to contact me!
The locals of Hopkinton love Boston marathon day and she said her late father told her that he remembered when just a handful of runners use to gather in Hopkington.
If you get the chance certainly have a crack off the Boston marathon.
They do an awesome job of making you feel privileged to be running their historic marathon.
Just do at better job at preparing for it than I did!