|Kilian is the sweetest and messiest puppy ever.|
Adventure 1 - My First Boston Marathon
The Boston Marathon is THE epicenter of the heart of the running running universe. But running in your first Boston Marathon is NOT like being a red blood cell, bouncing around the arteries of the Run-God's circulatory system. More than anything else, it turns you into a military grade sperm cell.
For so many years, the idea of running in the Boston Marathon is just an idea. Formless, disembodied, out there in the future, somewhere over the horizon, but beyond your capabilities and imagination. Only a foggy idea in your head, "One day that would be nice," you say. But then one day comes - the sun hits your face just right out on a routine trail run, and you say, "I feel it now. I want it now. I'm going to GO FOR IT!" The seed of an idea enters a dangerous phase - unstoppable growth.
It's a glorious culmination of years of training when you finally qualify - worth celebrating in the best way you know how - going on a run with thousands of friends in an exciting new town - Beantown!
I actually believed myself when I told my wife that for my first Boston Marathon my goal was simply:
"Just run it like a tourist,
soaking up the experience,
snatching peoples' coffees and donuts,
and just celebrate all the effort and sacrifice that went into manifesting my dream."
When the day arrived, ominous storm clouds hovered, and I was corralled in Hopkinton with a bunch of sinewy freaks in neon. The happy-go-lucky tourist plan was out the window. Suddenly, it felt more like I had been enlisted in an elite special forces branch of military-grade invasion... ready to storm the beach in Normandy...in hot pursuit of Helen of Troy's resurrected uterus... in a high stakes game of geo-political impregnation by the Platonic form of the Run God himself.
Considering my other goals for the year were to:
a) race race the Flying Pig only two weeks later (May 3), and
b) more importantly, achieve a FKT (fastest known time) at the Smokey Challenge Adventure Run May 30,
on EVERY single level, "kissing babies" and "running leisurely" on Patriots Day (Patriot's Day) was the appropriate way to approach my first Boston Marathon. I was hoping to just catch up with my buddy Franklin, who had just moved away from Cincinnati. That would have been smart. And darn fun, too. The problem is, whenever I run with that guy, things are always more fun than expected and they never go according to plan.
|Chris and Franklin in Hopkington. On a full stomach, about to charge toward Boston.|
|World's best fans. Some Bostonians from Cincinnati|
|"Franklin, are you sure we should be running 6 min miles?"|
I was headed into a worst case scenario - going too fast to enjoy Boston AND too fast to do well at the Flying Pig but NOT fast enough to qualify for Boston the following year. Mulligans are trickier in running than golf. A do-over in golf costs only the effort of one measly swing of the club and maybe a beer for your golf partner. But when it comes to a Boston marathon, you can't just start back at the beginning. You have to qualify again and that isn't ever a sure thing.
With the wet and chilly weather, there weren't many babies to kiss or kids' donuts I could snatch. I was running with an empty gas tank. I was at a crossroads - Wellsley women's college. I either needed to contain myself and start kissing babies and stealing donuts...OR, I had to race Boston like a real race and try to qualify for Boston next year...where I could have my mulligan, my do-over. There was a big section of minority students at Wellsley, so I made a point to start snatching some kisses as any tourist would do. This was the beginning of my end. The divided mind - the kiss of DEATH. For what are stolen kisses without stolen donuts? They are negative calories!
From Wellsley onward, I was useless. The temperature dropped. My glycogen gone. I tripped and fell twice over dense clumps of frigid Boston air, slicing my shin and hands. I begged Franklin to go ahead without me so he could at least qualify for Boston. He darted ahead in the last few miles, keeping my company way longer than he should have. Meanwhile, I finished in pain, shame, and shivvers several minutes behind.
When I finally met up with Susie and her Sister, they offered me the warmest congratulations anyone ever got. "Chris - congratulations!! You qualified for Boston again!"
"What are you talking about?!"
"Didn't you realize -you're in a new age bracket next year, so your qualifying time is 5 minutes slower than last year."
"Haha! You've gotta be kidding me! I accidentally qualified as a geezer."
Technically, my acceptance will depend on how many other people reach the qualifying time, but maybe I'l get my mulligan, after all. In any case, I'd LOVE to do it again!