Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Warm Race; Secret Strategy -
Jack Mahurin (April 21, 1973)

Jack Mahurin
Running marathons, I have never had a great day on a good course in good weather. Of my two fastest races, one was plagued by heat and the other by rain and a sloppy track. But certainly Boston 1973 was my best marathon effort.

In the late 1960s, I was in the Air Force stationed at Pope Air Force Base. Wanting to continue running competitively, I had written to several nearby North Carolina universities looking for possible running contacts. I thus met up with a small group of fellow post-collegiate runners who trained and raced under the banner of the “North Carolina Track Club.”

The ‘70s were a great time for amateur racing, and NCTC was right there in the mix, winning three national team titles: the National 30K in 1970 and 1972, and the National One Hour Run in 1971. I ran 2:25:54 at the 1970 Atlanta marathon, then used that time to join four other NCTC sub-2:30 marathoners at the ’72 Olympic Trials. Three teammates finished in the top 21: Eddie Hereford, Gareth Hayes, and Marshall Adams. By 1973, my Ph.D. work in exercise physiology at the University of Maryland carried me to the D.C. area, and I decided it was time to set my sights on Boston. That year I had been consistently training 80 to 90 miles a week.

Friendly Rivalry: Practicing German drinking songs
after a North Carolina Track Club - Washington Sports Club race
Travel expenses were always an issue in those days. Fortunately, guys from the Baltimore running club had worked out a deal for area racers with one of the airlines. Basically, the plane was full of runners who had really cheap seats. I think we got tickets for about half price.

In 1972, the Boston field had topped 1,000 runners for the first time. Now a year later, those numbers were up another 40%. Joining the mob scene in Hopkinton, I was not on the front row. Instead, I stood just back in a gap between guys on the front row. I had enough gumption not to try to horn in on guys I knew were top runners, guys I had previously run against who had kicked my butt. For example, I recognized track star Jon Anderson, and knew I wasn’t going to take off with him. (A good move on my part, as Jon would be almost ten minutes faster in his impressive ’73 Boston win.) I remember Jack Fultz was one of the guys on the front row. Of course, Jack and I raced against each other in DC. I felt it was pretty much a pitch up, though he probably had the advantage in longer races.

Waiting for the starting gun, there was no shortage of talent on the front row; plus a number of publicity seeking sprinters of dubious pedigree, ready to take off like scalded dogs. So, I was content to stand a little further back. Then the starter fired his gun, and not only did this row of runners take off down the street, it seemed like everybody who’d been standing nearby on the damn sidewalk joined them!

One problem with the Boston start back then was a 90-degree right hand turn almost immediately after gun. I purposely set myself over on the left, because I wasn’t going out with those sprinters: No way; I didn’t come here to run eight miles and quit. I figured, way over on the left side, I could stay out of trouble. I swung wide, and took the longer route. After the sharp turn, I was still on my feet, but already fifty yards in the hole distance wise. You just hoped you don’t lose a place at the end by not joining in the sprint at the beginning.

Crowded Corner: The tricky first turn in Hopkinton (HCAM)
After that turn, I’m still surrounded by lots of runners just getting in the way. The first five or six miles, it’s like you’d just run into a maze. Each mile, you probably ran a hundred yards out of the way, just getting around people. The congestion really slowed you down. However, I felt my early pace was quick enough to put me where I wanted to be.

I wanted to run a good race in a good time at Boston. But that afternoon, I pulled one out of my kazoo. Based on the competition, there’s no way I should have finished 12th. However, as can often happen in Massachusetts in April, this Patriots Day was very hot. And, the thing of it was, I had been assigned of one of those “special projects” where I had researched heat acclimatization. Back then, a lot of research on the subject had been done by the army, and a lot of that stuff was classified “Top Secret.” I’d had access to information on racing in the heat not available to the average runner.

Most of today’s modern synthetic fabrics were not around. However, those loose fitting, floppy running shirts allowed for ventilation, and I’d gotten several of those. Also, I’d started wearing white running shorts (of course back then, they were so skimpy, they didn’t cover enough of your body to reflect much heat!).

I’d even gotten a short haircut to help with heat dissipation. In the midst of a hot race, I’d read 13% of heat dissipation came from my head. Guys with mop heads, they took a beating. I knew a guy who’d been involved in the study of football, looking at body core temperatures of football players with burr haircuts versus football players with mop heads, guys trying to look like the Beatles. In warm early season games, the difference was significant. [Ron Hill was an example of a big time racer who understood this tactic: in hot conditions, he always showed up with his head clipped.]

Even in the sun, I didn’t wear a hat. Again, you wear a hat to keep your head warm. You might wear a visor to keep the sun out of your eyes, but you don’t wear a cap to keep cool. (That was a time before many people ran in caps. Now you see people out at four o’clock in the morning, running in a baseball cap. Turned around backwards. Like a disguise. 47 year old’s, old enough to know better. Why are you wearing a cap in the summer? It’s 87 degrees before daylight. How crazy!)

In 1972, I honed my hot weather running skills at the national AAU marathon in Rochester.
[Bob Fitts (91) and John Vitale (1)  finished 22nd and 9th  the following year at Boston.]
The big thing was many guys were intolerant to heat. That’s one reason I was so far back for so long at the beginning of the 1973 race. I started taking water early in the race: Gatorade, Gatorade, Gatorade; water, water, water. And I started taking ice cubes, and carrying them in my hands, to help the circulation.

In ’73, Boston’s distance check points were another item that hadn’t yet entered the 20th century. Funky splits like 6 ¾, 10 ½, and 13 ¾ miles. Yeah, that made a lot of sense! But I carried a stopwatch at the start, and had done the calculations ahead of time. That was probably the most studied race I ever ran in my life. At the time, I really didn’t know how many years more I’d be running competitively, so I’d really done my homework. I had sort of figured out what I wanted to be at each place. I was pretty close to being on schedule at the half way point, and pleased with my performance so far.

At ten miles it seemed like I was between 800th and 1,000th place! Because between 10 and 15 miles, I began passing groups, big groups of people, non-stop. You’d have groups and stragglers, groups and stragglers. You’d go by them, and think, “Now we know why you are suffering, because you were sprinting a mile ahead of me at eight miles!”

By then I’d really started noticing the crowds along the way. They were wall to wall, wall to wall. Some of the places, maybe not that thick, but still, the sidewalk was full, the road was full.

I’d heard all the horror stories about Heartbreak Hill. Of course, Ed Plowman, NCTC’s local contact during his grad school days at Boston University, had driven us out there to take a look beforehand. We didn’t see anything intimidating. You stop and think about it. Back when Heartbreak Hill got its name, Boston runners were trained with such low mileage, they were going to run out of gas at 17 miles, uphill or downhill. A twelve mile run might have been their long run. They might have gotten in one 20 mile run and then rested for four days afterwards. And that was at a minute or two a mile slower than race pace.

Anyway, I scampered over all of the Newton Hills. I really didn’t start getting fatigued until after the crest at Boston College. Going down that last hill, that’s when my poor old quads started begging for mercy. (It seems like my best racing distance was under 30K, maybe a half marathon. I tell people, “I got a two hour body and a two hour brain. Beyond that, I’m suffering.”)

I’m not sure I fully appreciated this fact during the race, but I was fortunate the weather had turned hot. Probably the only person I was seriously concerned about outperforming me in the heat was Jack Fultz. When I saw him at the end of the race, he had this spiffy looking purple outfit. It was nylon, high dollar designer stuff some company had given him. Basically he overheated: that dark outfit probably cost him fifteen minutes. Jack was in better shape than that. I think Jack learned from the experience as he turned around in ’76 and won Boston on another warm day. But in ’73 as I went by, he looked terrible.

From the top of Heartbreak Hill on in, there were just waves of spectators. Not inching in enough to make you feel claustrophobic, but a continuous large crowd. There were a lot of trees on Commonwealth Avenue, where the course ran from west to east. Running on the right hand side of the road, particularly at that time of the year, the south side provided some shade. I remember purposely running on the right side for the shade, though most of us always trained running on the left side of the road. Sort of an awkward sensation, running too far on the opposite camber of the road, but of course the shade was worth it.

I didn’t start falling apart until I got over the last hills, at 22 or 23 miles. When I made that right hand turn after the Citgo sign, I was hanging by a damn thread. But nobody passed me. Steve Hoag from Minnesota was right behind me. Afterwards, he said “I had my eyes on you. I kept bearing down on you, but you wouldn’t relent!” Steve finished sixth in 1974 and then ran 2:11:54 behind Bill Rodgers in 1975.

Jon Anderson - American winner
At the end, I wasn’t close enough to see track speedster Anderson or roadrunner Tom Fleming go one-two. Turning on Boylston Street, Germany’s Lutz Philipp (who had posted the world’s best marathon time in 1972) was about 150 yards ahead of me. Before the heat took its toll, Philipp had challenged for the lead, and run through both Natick and Wellesley in first place. Of course, I’d never seen him, so I didn’t recognize him until after we finished.

Dennis Spencer from the University of Georgia in sixth place had also run much better than expected. Talk about pulling one out of your kazoo! He ran 2:22:31 on Monday and was supposed to run in his conference championship 10,000 the following Saturday. I remember him saying later “Race 10K? I can’t even walk!”

I finished 12th, and was happy as a clam: just pleased with the time under those conditions, and more than pleased with my finishing position. At the last two turns, I knew I was in the small numbers. I didn’t think I’d be in the top ten, but thought I’d be somewhere close. I got a little medal about an inch tall, tied on a ribbon, presented to me afterwards upstairs at the Prudential Center, after we’d choked down a little beef stew.

NCTC at 1974 Yonkers: Eddie Hereford, Marshall Adams,
Woody Harrell, Jack Mahurin, and Doug McElroy
The next year I skipped Boston to concentrate on the AAU National Championship Marathon at Yonkers. I was trained for another good effort, but once again encountered less than ideal weather conditions. It rained the whole race, and on each of three loops, we had to deal with the slop of the Yonkers Raceway horse track. Running in the mud, it was not what you would describe as a “fast track.” I managed a 2:23:24, which remains my marathon PR. This time around, I was 21 seconds slower than Steve Hoag and right behind him in ninth place. We each finished behind four runners we had bested in Boston the year before: Winner Ron Wayne, Carl Hatfield, Justin Gubbins, and Marty Sudzina. You might say that PR at Yonkers both solidified my reputation as “NOT A MUDDER!” and made me appreciate even more my sole appearance at Boston.

Jack Mahurin
Greenbelt, Maryland

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Six years as “the Flying Parson” –
Ed Plowman (April 19, 1967)

Ed Plowman
Although I was more of a plugger and a plodder than a natural speedster, from an early age I always enjoyed long distance running. While in college during the mid 1960s, I ran cross country for North Carolina State University. However, my first experience running in, or even seeing, a marathon was a new event where I served as both Race Director and official time keeper, the inaugural Greensboro to Winston-Salem Marathon in August 1966. I started this race with the help and encouragement of my friend Fred Hurd, who pointed out those two cities were about 26 miles apart. It was just the second marathon held south of the Mason-Dixon Line. I had to scrape together our $100 budget and then personally recruit all of the runners. When participants questioned how I would be able to both run in the race and be the timekeeper, I told them with a smile “Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you at the finish line!”

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The weather was brutal. I don’t remember ever being so cold. - Mark Davidhizar (April 20, 2015)

Mark Davidhizar
Weather-wise this was one of the most miserable experiences of my life; but at the same time, Boston 2015 was one of the best experiences of my life.
But before talking about race day, what a great weekend it was in Boston! So much to do, no doubt about it, though we didn’t do or see it all. First off, I would like to say “thank you” to Meghan Irvine and her family for allowing us to stay at their house. Despite the fact we had to stay in a boy’s room with a bunch of Red Sox/Patriots stuff, it was comfortable and a lot cheaper than a hotel.

After a late arriving flight into Boston Friday night, Tina and I woke up early and drove a little over an hour into Boston for the BAA 5k. The weather was a perfect day for the 5k. Wish we got the same weather on Marathon Monday, but that’s another story… I was able to see Tina at a couple of locations on the course.  I also saw Sean Astin running the 5k. After Tina completed her impressive PR 5k, we made our way to the expo, stopping on the way for some quick pictures taken at the finish line.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Let me tell you, Boston takes no prisoners - Vince Hemingson (April 17, 2006)

Vince Hemingson
Boston is one tough marathon course. Reading about the route and even driving the course doesn't really prepare you for what it is like to race at Boston. Everybody who struggles with the Boston Beast can take some solace in the fact that even four-time winner Bill Rodgers dropped out of his first Boston race at twenty miles. I often caution people in training for the marathon to remember the saying, "You have to respect the race, you have to respect the distance." This goes double for Boston. After completing my first Patriots Day race, I developed a whole new reverence and respect for the Boston Marathon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

We've moved!!!

The senior (in age only) members of the BostonLog staff
"If you love somebody enough/
You'll follow wherever they go..."

-Tom T. Hall

Well, we don't know aboout that, but the big news is we think we've outgrown our old format, so we're taking BostonLog from a blog to a real live website.

We expect a few growing pains along the way considering the Huge Learning Curve we're up against, but if you liked this old site, we know you'll like the new one even better.

Come follow us at the new and imporved:


And to paraphrase ole Tom T. himself:

"That's how I got to Boston/
That's how I got to Boston..."

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Postponement for a By-Pass - Randy Lambert (April 18, 2005)

Randy Lambert
I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2001. My goal was to complete my first marathon in under four hours, but that day I crossed the finish line at 4:15. I was overwhelmed by such a large race atmosphere and was not prepared for a race of that caliber. A few months later I ran the St. Jude Memphis Marathon where I finished at 3:39. Comparing the two courses, I saw Memphis as the more difficult course. In my mind I knew I could return to Chicago and get the 3:30 BQ time I needed.

Shortly after the Memphis marathon I began training seriously for my return to Chicago. What I remembered about the Chicago course was it was flat, fast, and there were around 40,000 runners, and well over a million spectators. Over the last quarter of the race, there were  bands stationed every mile,  with musicians anxious to help push tired runners to the end. Thinking of all this motivated me during my training. On October 12, 2003, I crossed the finish line at 3:30.08 and qualified for the Boston Marathon. Thank God for cushion time! My wife and girls had accompanied me on this trip and were there to celebrate with me. I still get emotional thinking about reuniting with them after I made it through the chute.

I was on track to run Boston the following April. Two weeks after I came home from Chicago I began training. I returned to Memphis six weeks later to run the half marathon as part of my preparation. During the race I noticed I could not maintain the pace I was used to running, and when I would hit that particular pace I felt a burning feeling in my chest. I knew something was not right, so after the race I consulted my physician, who is a good family friend and fellow runner. He urged me to get this checked out immediately.

The following week I made an appointment with a cardiologist. I completed a stress test on a treadmill where I was told to run as long as I could. Well, it did not take long till the doctors and nurses started referring to me as “The Marathon Man.” I was told I passed the test with flying colors and there should not be a problem with completing the Boston Marathon in April. I was then instructed to go across the street to eat a hamburger and come back for one more test. It was during this test the doctor saw something suspicious. He ordered a heart cath for the following day as a precautionary measure. However, during the heart cath they found blockage that could not be corrected with a stint and would require open-heart surgery. I had this surgery the next day and returned home after a four-day stay in the hospital on Christmas Eve. I told the nurses Santa was coming and I had to be home for my girls.

Knowing I had two years eligibility to run the BM and knowing there would be no way I could run that April, I made the decision to run the second year. I guess it was not really a decision, but just what had to happen. Time went on, and even though I had been given the go-ahead by my physician and cardiologist to start training, there was still a part of me that was hesitant to put my running shoes back on. I bumped into Kenneth Williams one night at Walmart, and he asked about how my running was going. After sharing I was not doing any running and hesitant to start training again, Kenneth told me to stay put and he would be right back. Next thing I knew, he comes back with a heart monitor and told me to see if that would give me the peace of mind I needed to start running again. This did in fact provide me the encouragement and confidence I needed to get back on the road. After my hopes began to rise a little more, I got back into running 5Ks and 10Ks nearby until the time came to become serious in my training for Boston. In these races I would wear a shirt that said, “A guy with a by-pass just passed you.” While I was making my comeback, I was still hesitant to complete my long runs out on the road. I found solace with the treadmill at work. It was on the treadmill where I completed every single one of my long runs. Work even bought me a brand new treadmill, and I ultimately burned out the motor by the end of my training!

April came and it was time for my wife and I to make our way to Boston. We were both so impressed with how organized the expo was, and I loaded up on my Boston Marathon merchandise, unsure if I would ever have the chance to get more. We had a great weekend in Boston. My wife and I ate great food and enjoyed sightseeing. Come race day I soon found out training solely on a treadmill for a marathon was not wise. I vividly remember looking up and realizing I was at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill. I was so discouraged I started walking. I experienced cramps for the first time. I was planning to complete the race in four hours, but finished in just under five.

Although this was not my best race experience, I was so thankful to have made it to Boston. I know running saved my life. If I had not been running, my doctors told me I would have never felt the burning in my chest that led the doctors to find the blockage that would have led to a fatal heart attack. While I was running the Boston Marathon I focused not on the pain I was in, but how grateful I was to have the opportunity to run.

Recently I have put my running shoes back on and am training for my first marathon in many years. I am proud to say I will be running with my youngest daughter for her first half marathon with hopes of one day soon returning to Boston for my revenge on Heartbreak Hill. We have a score to settle.

Randy Lambert
Corinth, Mississippi

For more personal accounts of the 2005 Boston marathon, click here.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

April 21, 2014 - Boston on a Five Year Cycle

Beate Ritter
We started running in 2004 and at first never thought of doing a marathon. We just ran because it was fun. However, after a few weeks we signed up for a 10k race - my first - and we really enjoyed it! Then after a while we thought: "New York City Marathon. Wow, that would be the race!" So I started small: I did the Berlin Marathon in 2006 and NYC in 2007.

Our plans grew bigger and we signed up for our first Boston in 2009. We had a great race (although slow… Especially me!), but we finished and we decided to come back five years later!

Five years is a good length of time to look forward to something! But how shocking the April 15th bombing news on my birthday back in 2013! However, we decided to stay with our plans, and I was so glad to run my qualification time in Berlin 2013. We signed up early for Boston 2014.

Monday, October 6, 2014

April 21, 2014 - This Boston Was Tutu Memorable To Ever Forget

W. K. Munsey
Glance at my photos from the 118th Boston Marathon and you might mistake the smiling runner in the frilly outfit for a crazy old man who slipped on the getup as a last-minute stunt to simply gain publicity. But the deafening cheers I received during my 26.2-mile race from the hallowed grounds of Hopkinton to the finish line on Boylston Street reaffirmed the very personal decision I made to wear a tutu to pay tribute to the joy and spirit of the world’s greatest marathon.

My idea of running the “Super Bowl” of marathons actually was born on April 16, 2012, while watching the 116th Boston Marathon and tracking my friends throughout their journey. I had run four Boston’s prior, with the last being in 2004. Watching the broadcast of the runners and tracking my friends got me thinking about how I would like to go back and experience my favorite marathon again.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

April 15, 2013 - The sound of the bombs from the news went off in my head all night.

Diane Sherer
It’s been more than a year since I ran in the 2013 Boston Marathon, and I am finally writing my story — before it’s too late and I forget.

I have been running marathons since 2001, when I ran the White Rock Marathon in Dallas. I have since run more than a dozen or so – I lose track. I ran then because I loved to run. Boston was far from my mind. I had kids and work and life to deal with. I ran because it kept me sane. I ran because I loved to eat. I ran because it was my time to contemplate and talk to God (or running buddies!).

My first Boston Qualifying time (BQ) was in 2010 and was totally unexpected. My running buddy and co-worker Christy was training for her first Boston Marathon, having qualified the year before. She decided to run the Dallas White Rock Marathon as a training run, and I decided to run it, too. It was a freezing cold day in Dallas, and Christy and I shed our Goodwill throw-away clothes too soon at the start line, having to wait unexpectedly in a staggered start. When I got to the halfway point, I realized I was on track for a BQ and decided to try to keep up the pace. I finished in 3:58:50, ahead of my qualifying time of 4:00, if only by a few seconds per mile!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

April 15, 2013 - “Why are they rerouting the course this close to the finish line?”

Vicky King
I did not start running until I was 48 years old. I decided I would run one marathon, just to see if I could do it. So I ran the Santa Barbara Marathon in 2010 at the age of 54 and finished it in 4:11:10. Not a BQ time (4:00:00), but I was elated with being able to accomplish this feat. I was glad to cross that off my bucket list and never have to run another marathon! But as many runners can testify, something happened, and I found myself registering for the local Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon in March of 2012 to run alongside my Sole Sisters.

It just so happened I ran well enough to BQ (I needed to do it under 4:10:00 and my time was 4:04:24). A dream I’d never even had suddenly blossomed and I found myself strongly desiring to go to Boston and run the marathon! As a bonus, I also took first in my age group. What a wonderful and unbelievable surprise!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

April 16, 2007 – My road back to Boston went through Ventura

Lauren Padula
As a college student in the city, I made running the Boston Marathon for a charity team a before-graduation goal. On April 16, 2007, I checked that goal off the list, and in the process caught the marathon bug. 4:25:31. My very first marathon. I remember being in tears. Tears of accomplishment, yes; but mostly of pain.

Later that year I ran Chicago (4:27:15), and then work and life took me from Boston to San Diego. After taking a few years to settle in, I decided to make a push to qualify for Boston at the 2010 San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon. I had the race every runner has nightmares about: I bonked at mile 16 and never recovered. 4:12:55. I was devastated. Maybe marathons weren't for me. And so I retired from marathon running.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

April 15, 2013 - if I had not stopped to give my daughter a hug, I might have been right there...

Michele Keane
The 117th Boston affected my life in ways I could not imagine would ever happen. And although I'm pretty rational and nothing physically happened to me, I still think about that day and what could have been.

I am a runner, with 45+ marathons and countless other races - half marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks, 15Ks, 10 milers - you name it. I've run pretty consistently for over 30 years and it is a part of me. I used to be "fast" back in the day but I can still hold my own in my age group. Running defines me to some extent. In fact, I have an ongoing joke with my daughter Shannon. When we travel to a place where I have run a race, I will say to her, "Mom ran here," and it has become our own little inside laugh and bond over the years.

However, I was not prepared for the events of April 15th, 2013.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

April 21, 2014 - Cashing in on the "Old People Discount"

Lynn O'Neal
I started running at age 46 while living in Fulton, Mississippi. Since then I have been blessed with a great network of running friends who have encouraged me to keep improving.

I ran Huntsville’s Rocket City Marathon in 2011 and missed qualifying for Boston by about six minutes with a time of 4:01. With more intense training and lots more encouragement, I returned to Rocket City in 2012 and qualified with a time of 3:48:38. I tell people I got the “old people discount” because in between I had crossed over into the 50 year old age bracket. I don’t mind: I will take all the time the BAA will give me!

Friday, September 5, 2014

April 15, 2013 – “NEVER GIVE UP”

Lauren Lundy
"You must do the thing you think you cannot do." -Eleanor Roosevelt

It was a cool fall morning on the other side of the country in 2011 when I decided I was going to attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I was in California with Team GSF, an amazing group of athletes who race for the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation, to run the Santa Barbara marathon, just six days after running New York City. The Gwendolyn Strong Foundation ( www.thegsf.org) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing global awareness of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (the #1 genetic killer of young children), accelerating research focused on ending this cruel disease, and supporting families impacted by SMA. As we gathered at the start, another GSF runner asked "So, you going for the BQ today?" I laughed and looked at him like he was crazy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

April 21, 2014 - America’s Good Luck Charm

Woody Harrell
In July 1978, I finished third in the Grandfather Mountain Marathon (described as “among the most strenuous marathons in the nation”), just barely reaching my goal of under three hours. As I circled toward the finish line on the track at the Southern Highland Games, I was certain I was in fourth place. However, way up ahead of me, a running buddy of mine had made a wrong turn and was off course by a mile and a half before he discovered his error, a mistake, he was not able to overcome. It was the only time I ever came close to a marathon podium placement, so none the less, I happily accepted the third place trophy.

A few months later I read an article in a medical journal stating you lose 10% of your I.Q. every time you run a marathon. At that point my marathon total stood at nine, so I did the math, decided I didn’t have any wiggle room left, and gave up long distance running. Well, that’s what I tell people, anyway. In truth, much earlier I had injured myself while running barefoot on the beach, cutting ligaments, tendons, etc. so badly I can’t bend the toes on my left foot. This initially didn’t seem to be much of a drawback, but as I headed into middle age, my “on the ball of the foot” running style couldn’t handle the resulting ankle instability, and anything over a five mile run became very painful, so much so I had to move on to something with less pounding and abuse, like bicycling. Marathoning had become a thing of the past.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

April 19, 2010 - The joy is in the journey: Boston is the reward.

Joy Gray
I started running to lose baby weight with a 2001 New Year’s resolution. My goal was to lose the last 10 or 20 pounds from my second pregnancy. I initially used running as a tool to see how ‘small’ I could get. I truly believe running saved me. One day after an eight mile run, I got very confused, and I think it was caused by an extreme low-carb diet. I was that dedicated. In the end, though, I chose running because it provided me much more satisfaction than just a low number on the scale. I was the only one of five children to earn a high school diploma. I found running made me feel special, like I could “be somebody”!

My friend Harvey Pendergrast coached me through my first 10k, our local Corinth Coca-Cola Classic race; and I ran it well enough to discover I had some natural talent. After the Coke 10k, I joined an online forum, Coolrunning.com. I read every post, and one guy encouraged me to run a marathon. My thought was I would do one marathon and be finished. I graduated directly from a 10k to a full marathon, with no half as a warm-up.

Monday, July 7, 2014

April 21, 2014 - Thank you, Boston, for your strength, perseverance, beauty, and grace.

Curt Metzger
Just about anything I say will not do it any justice. But let me try…again.

Amazing support. The BAA kept in perfect contact with us through the final crazy month and few last weeks. Their information content was right on and they repeated very important items.

Volunteers realized what they were in for and they were ready: From the loads of service men and women stationed everywhere along the way of our trip out to Hopkinton, in Athletes’ Village, along the course inside and outside the barricades, to all the completely amazing course support. There was always someone there. A splash of water or two. Some lube. A cold rag. They were happy to be there and ready to help. True SERVANT’S HEARTS. Well trained. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

April 18, 2011 - Still paying back for a race just under the wire...

Brian Chisholm
I crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon in 2013. It wasn't the way I wanted to. I was wearing a white volunteer jacket with blue strips, pushing the yellow stretcher in the top right corner of the picture below, with three other volunteers. We were stopped briefly because the volunteer riding the rail thought he felt a pulse, but it was probably his own. That happens in situations like this where your own heart is pounding and you’re working to save someone’s life.

We continued our race across the finish line and into Medical Tent A where we were directed to "go all the way down." I knew we were going past empty cots and that didn't seem right. When we got all the way down and reached a second triage station on the right, the doctor said eight words, "hook up a monitor, set up a morgue." Those words were devastating. We lost this race.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

April 21, 2014 - Third time's the charm!

Chris Teachout
My Boston Marathon story starts on January 4th, 2011. That was the day I weighed in for “The Biggest Loser” challenge at work, and I tipped the scale at 300 pounds. That’s the most I have ever weighed in my life. At the time, I could barely walk three miles without stopping.

I spent the next nine months walking faster and farther, until September of that year, when I signed up for a 10K race. I tied for last place, but I finished, and was bitten by the running bug.

I then set my sights for Boston. I trained all winter, and when the day finally came to run, the temperature hit 90 degrees. At mile 16, I decided no good was going to come from pushing on, so I decided to “live to run another day”. Completely unsatisfied with the results of my first marathon, I immediately signed up for one in New Hampshire that fall. That marathon I completed, my first ever, in the pouring rain.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

April 21, 2014 - In the right place at the right time: How a race I had given up on became a reality.

Dennis Lebman
Running in the Boston Marathon for me was supposed to be a one and done deal: A bucket list item, a goal I set to celebrate turning 50 last year. Boston for long distance runners is the "Super Bowl" of marathons. You have to have a qualifying time on a certified marathon course to gain entry, or raise a lot of money for a charity. I got my qualifier "BQ" for the 2013 Boston Marathon in May of 2012 at the Ojai to Ocean Marathon with a time of 3:29:38 which was a BQ by only :22. Everyone who wanted to run the 2013 Boston Marathon and had a qualifying time was able to register and get accepted within the first few weeks of registration.

Four weeks before Boston last year I ran the 2013 LA Marathon and I got another BQ I could use for the 2014 Boston Marathon. My time was the exact same - 3:29:38. I hadn't really considered running Boston a second time, as I was focused on my upcoming trip and my first Boston.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

April 16, 2012 - One Red Grape

Kenneth Williams
You could see it coming: An early spring heat wave, making its way from the Great Plains eastward across the central United States. The unseasonable weather spared neither north nor south as it baked its way across the country. With only a week to go before the start of the 116th Boston Marathon, BAA warnings began arriving for registered runners. Faced with an ominous forecast, race officials warned: “Only the fittest runners should attempt the marathon,” causing me to introspect, at age 70 and just weeks removed from Melanoma surgery, how I could possibly be in that ‘fittest’ group. However, the chance to lengthen my streak of consecutive Boston Marathon finishes to ten overrode any conservative decision to defer or postpone. So, at 10:40 a.m. on Patriots Day, when the gun went off in Hopkinton for my starting wave, once again, I struck out on foot for Boston.

Monday, June 23, 2014

April 21, 2014 - A Day to Run Through the Cramps after Shaking the Winner’s Hand

Juan Martinez
I am an avid runner who normally trains 75 miles per week when not in marathon training phase. I’ve been running consistently for eight years, after seven years of no running while serving in the U.S. Navy. Prior to the Navy, I ran in high school for three years from 1994-1997, seeing lot of the New York City marathon being televised in my backyard, since I am a Jersey kid.

I was always intrigued about racing in a marathon, but I was more intrigued about racing the Boston Marathon. I ran three marathons prior to the 2014 Boston marathon. My debut was the 2010 Suntrust Richmond (Virginia) Marathon. I took 11th place with a time of 2:39:09. That time qualified me for Boston, but not the 2011 race since registration closed out the preceding September. My BQ was good for 2012. Good thing I was not motivated to race the 2012 Boston Marathon, since it was an oven that year!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

April 21, 2014 - At the finish line, nothing left but pure joy and pride

Kelly Swan Taylor
Looking back at this year’s Boston Marathon, I can honestly say it was both the easiest and most difficult thing I have ever done. The love and support from the crowd, volunteers, and fellow runners, especially while approaching the Finish Line, certainly made this race easy. And at the same time, completing the Boston Marathon is truly a difficult endeavor.

This year’s race started out a little more organized and, much later in the morning thanks to our decision to drive to Hopkinton, instead of venturing into Boston for the long bus excursion to Athletes’ Village (allowing me more sleep and a good breakfast of a bagel and banana). The ride went pretty smoothly until we encountered an accident around Hopkinton, which cleared up fairly quickly. Unfortunately, by that time my marathon hydration preparation started to get to me and I had to stop by a bathroom. Of course, my family was more interested in finding parking and was totally ignoring my requests. I had to explain I certainly could not wait until Athletes’ Village, seeing I probably would have to wait another 45 minutes just for the port-a-potty line. But, we turned around and finally found a Dunkin’ Donuts (like that is a tough thing in Massachusetts!). The funny thing was that I still ended up waiting in line behind -you guessed it - six other runners!

Monday, June 16, 2014

April 21, 2014 - #863 at the Start, # 865 at the End

Grant Stieglitz
The first time I ran Boston was back in 2013, and I was 28 at the time. I had a qualifying time of 2:46:46 when I ran the Kona Marathon on June 24, 2012. I then ran a marathon on October 7th in Findlay, Ohio, called Red, White, and Blue 26.2, which I also won with a new best time of 2:45:31. I used that improved time to qualify for Boston. My goals are usually to not only improve my times, but also run a marathon under three hours in all 50 States plus the District of Columbia. Massachusetts became State #8 for me on my marathon journey.

I was a bit nervous as we were getting ready to start, but I told myself, “Stay calm, take one mile at a time, and to use your head.” As soon as the gun went off and I crossed the starting line, I told myself the same exact quote over and over again so my nerves won’t act up. After crossing the first few miles, I felt pretty good and kept my rhythm going. I even told myself to be patient; this wasn’t a sprint, this was a marathon.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

April 20, 2004 - Nine years apart, tears for Boston

Emilio Romero
My wife had died four years earlier – just one month before the marathon which would have been our first. I had trained like crazy for about a year. A dearly loved aunt had flown to Houston to be with my three little kids while I ran the marathon. The very few stars in my then film-thin firmament were starting to align; but my children (10, 8 and 6 then) didn’t want to go to the Expo, they wanted to see the Aquarium.

In the aftermath of any defining moment in our lives, we often try – for good or bad —to make sense in retrospect and pinpoint when and how it all started. And while I say I had trained my butt off for almost a year, the most persistent memory of those months, which ultimately were supposed to qualify me for the Boston Marathon, takes me back to the track at my youngest son’s high school. Early in the morning, the familiar lyrics started whispering the music in my ears, saying first there's nothing, but a slow glowing dream your fear seems to hide deep inside your mind; and then the speedwork started: 13 x 1600 with 90 seconds rest in between.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

April 19, 2010 - Rewarded by the Smile on the Face of my Biggest Fan

Amy Macon
My journey as a runner began in 2004, when a group of friends challenged my husband and me to train with them to run a half marathon. Until then, I had logged many miles as a race walker. Since I’m always up for a new challenge, the training began and I transitioned from being a race walker to a runner. The transition was easier than I thought it would be, and I quickly fell in love with running.

After that first half marathon, I began to sign up for race after race including 5k’s, 10k’s, 15k’s and halves. I never really considered 26.2 as a runner, although I had covered that distance twice as a race walker. In 2007 another group of friends formed a training group called the Northshore Running Club, and invited my husband and me to join the insanity of training for our first marathon. We accepted yet another running challenge and ran our first marathon in October 2007: the Marine Corps Marathon. My primary goal was to finish, and my secondary goal was to break four hours. The months of training paid off and I successfully met both of my goals! I ran my first marathon in 3:55:32 and finally became a marathon runner!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

April 21, 2014 - A big "Thank You" to Boston for delivering the world’s greatest marathon.

Mikayla Rose
So many people have written such beautiful words to describe what we all felt in Boston on Patriots Day this year. I expected all the emotion of 2013 to come flooding back on the road from Hopkinton. But it wasn’t until the morning after, while reading messages of love and support from friends and strangers, that I was overwhelmed by it all. The tears at the breakfast table made my newspaper soggy.

I feel so privileged to have shared in the triumph and joy of this proud city on this historic day when Boston reclaimed her marathon.

This day started for me the moment I stepped onto Back Bay station 12 months earlier. I was amazed, way back then, at how powerful this marathon is in uniting people. We were all there to run or to cheer or to help; delighted by the thrill of being included in something quite rare and wonderful. It was intoxicating.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

April 15, 2013 - An Ode to a City, and a Promise to Return…

Mikayla Rose
Thank you, Boston

I will never forget the moment, at about the 100-meter mark of the 117th Boston marathon, when I thought, with sun shiny clarity, “This is going to be the most amazing thing I ever do.” And I was right. Thanks to you.

The moment I stepped onto the platform at Back Bay Station, I could feel it. I describe it now as an embrace. You didn’t just make me feel welcome, you embraced me. I was a part of your tradition and was swept up in your pride. Light as a feather, a Boston marathon starter. What an honour to be your guest.

I tell people about that embrace and about how rightly proud you are of your beautiful town, your strong community, and your iconic run. I fell head over heels in love with you during those three days in April. I am giddy with joy just thinking about it.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

April 21, 2014 -“Thank you so much for helping our city heal!”

Greg Hall
The Boston Marathon is special for its steep history, its fabled point-to-point course, the many well-known landmarks along the route and the great runners who have worn the champion’s olive wreath. This Boston though, will be remembered for those who never ran a step.

Spring was slow returning to Boston for the 118th running of the world’s most famous marathon. The green ash, maple, and flowering crab trees that typically greet the current of runners in full bloom were naked and exposed along Commonwealth Avenue and in the Back Bay; their stark branches a reminder of the cruel winter much of the nation was trying to forget.

But spring always finds a way – as does the American spirit.

One year after two cowards turned the 2013 Boston Marathon party into a chaotic life-changing real-life horror movie, the marathon returned to Boston with a resolve and determination to live and survive that even a dandelion would envy.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

April 21, 2014 - Nothing in my life will ever come close to this marathon!

Tim Kowols
“So, how was Boston?”

I have been asked that question by just about everyone since we got back home from Massachusetts. It only makes sense. I had not run Boston since 2008. Outside of the Marine Corps Marathon and the Walt Disney Marathon, I had done nothing under the current 3:05 qualifying standard. I registered for the race in September and became an official competitor by October. Then followed six months of waiting and training. Waiting for a dream to come true again, and training in the worst weather I have ever experienced.

Then, all of sudden, it's April: Hotel is booked, flight is booked, bags are packed. The only mishap was the USPS not handling my Runner's Welcome Packet properly, causing my Passport to fall out somewhere between the B.A.A. and Green Bay.

During this time, the hype begins to build. Expectations begin to rise. With most, if not all races, you hope the race gets within shouting distance of those expectations. Maybe it's because I love the Boston Marathon so much, but two times completed, two times absolutely blown out of the water with everything that is part of the marathon weekend in the city of Boston.

Monday, May 26, 2014

April 21, 2014 – “Toronto runner conquers double Boston Marathon — and much more”

Jean-Paul Bedard
Two weeks prior to last year's Boston Marathon I disclosed to family and friends that I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I was on the street when the bombs went off... After five months off work with PTSD, I decided to return to Boston and run a double marathon to raise funds and awareness of childhood sexual abuse. During the week leading up to the race, I did over 25 media interviews about the project.

Alyshah Hasham, a reporter for the Toronto Star, provided this introduction to my 2014 Boston story in her front page article the next day:

Friday, May 23, 2014

April 21, 2014 - Beauty from ashes. That is what I witnessed in Boston

DeDe Gibbs

That's the first thought that comes to my mind when I reflect on the past weekend. Just. Wow.

I ran the Boston Marathon yesterday. My seventh marathon - my second Boston. And yet it felt like a new experience - like nothing else I've ever done. I can still hear the cheers. See the faces. Passionate. Determined. United. Urging us on toward the goal.

Overwhelming. Compelling. Powerful cheers.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

April 21, 2014 - Taking part in the most important marathon of the century

Kyle Durham
Below is the account of my journey to qualify to run my very first Boston Marathon. I was so excited by my first qualifying time in the spring of 2013 that I completed five more marathons before the year was over. In November at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, I got my marathon time down to 2:47:09. Not surprisingly, the cumulative damage from those races was more than my body could handle. By February 2014, I was lucky to string together two days of running without injury. All of my Boston preparation efforts from 2013 left me with nothing left for Boston itself!

If this had been any other marathon, I hope I would have done the sensible thing and dropped out. But this was BOSTON. I had literally spent a decade dreaming about competing in the legendary Boston Marathon. I wasn't willing to abandon that dream when I was so close. And so I pushed onward. I took lots of rest days, I slowed to 8-minute pace, and my longest run was eight miles. I might not arrive in top condition, but I was going to make it to that starting line.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

April 21, 2014 - WE ARE BOSTON STRONG and the whole world knows it!

Kelly LeCours
I am 49 years old, married to a marathoner and have two beautiful girls. 2014 was my 13th Boston Marathon.

Last year in Boston I had a great race finishing in my fastest Boston time - 3:17:10. When I finished, I grabbed my clothes and went to Exhale Spa for a wonderful shower. This has become a Boston ritual for me. Feeling great after the shower, I headed with my friend over to MJ's for a beer. That's when we realized something TERRIBLE had happened.

My friend Carmela and I were desperate to find friends and family to make sure they were OK. I had told my brother, who also ran, I would be at the Lenox Hotel if he wanted to meet up. With interrupted phone service, it was difficult to locate people. First we confirmed our friends were safe in their hotel room. They informed me the Lenox had been evacuated.

I continued on to the Lenox to find my brother. It was scary walking through the streets seeing FBI, armored vehicles, dazed and panicked people. As I got closer to the Lenox I heard another explosion. Police were yelling to us to turn around and get out of the area. I’m not sure of the details, but I was told the police safely detonated another bomb. I ran back to the hotel where my friends were and begged the doorman to let me back in. They were locking down all hotels. They called the room and confirmed it was OK. I don't know what I would have done if they hadn't let me in. The phones were not working. Once I was in the room, a friend’s family offered me a ride out of the city. I was so grateful.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 15, 2013 - I was trapped in the middle of two exploding bombs

Stephanie Bland
This is my real life story.

I’ve never been so excited, so nervous, so overwhelmed as I was to be able to run the Boston Marathon, especially after having my baby just 3 ½ months earlier. I was so proud I could share this experience with my mom, dad, husband, and my beautiful baby boy Brady. I just kept thinking one day Brady will look back at say “Wow, my mom ran the Boston Marathon and I was there!”

The race was everything to me and more. Words cannot even describe the emotions I felt running through each town, with the cheers of the crowd on both sides of the race. Everyone was so happy, screaming and shouting with joy because we were running this remarkable race: High fives, signs, and people handing out water, Gatorade, oranges, and popsicles, just to help us. It was wonderful.

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 15, 2013 - I angrily answered my phone: “What? I’m trying to run a marathon here!”

Kelly Swan Taylor
In Boston, No One Runs Alone

As a runner in the 2013 Boston Marathon, rather than a day of tragedy, I prefer to remember the experience as one of a special race, with generous people, starting on such a beautiful day. The city truly came together to help its own, and adopted all Boston Marathoners as family.

I started my day with very little sleep, and woke at 4 am. I live in Providence, so we had a long trip ahead of us to drive to the Rt. 128 MBTA commuter rail station, and then take the train into Boston to meet the buses to Hopkinton. All of my race gear was laid out the night before, as I diligently packed things to bring to Athletes’ Village, and then to carry with me along the run. I packed a million things and have no idea how I thought I could carry so much extra stuff, including an extra two pairs of socks. Clearly, I never will be a light packer for any trip. Also, I should have carb-loaded during that morning adventure, but was just too nervous and excited to eat too much. Of course, I would regret the lack of food and energy later, but it certainly is a lesson learned.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April 15, 2013 - Give This Man a Medal!

Nick Laganas,
with Pat Cook
[Our thanks to Pat Cook of Middlesex Community College for sharing his story of a 2013 marathon hero.]

This is a story about my friend and fellow “E Streeter,” Lowell Massachusetts Police Officer Nick Laganas, and his first Boston Marathon. Nick and I are part of the PT team at the Lowell Police Academy that helps train police officers to run.

Nick is already a running machine, but this was his first venture onto the vaunted Boston course. Nick impressively made it across the finish line in 3:57:27, and was at the first water station in the finish chute, grabbing a water, when the first bomb blast went off. Instead of continuing down the finish chute, Nick did what law enforcement officers nationwide do - HE RAN TOWARD THE DANGER, even after just logging 26.2 miles of running!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April 15, 2013 – “I was overwhelmed with excitement, telling myself I was here, running the BOSTON MARATHON!”

Dennis Lebman
When I first started running in Sept 2010, I never could have dreamed I would ever run in the Boston Marathon. In November 2010, I ran my first race the Santa Clarita Half Marathon and I remember at the turn off from the South Fork Trail onto the two bridges where the half and full split off, thinking no way could I double that distance. I had a hard enough time trying to stay ahead of the guy with the balloons who was pacing the four hour group and two hour half. But it was my sister who quickly had me change my mind to run a full at the 2011 LA Marathon.

I finished my first marathon in 3:35:08 in the pouring rain. It wasn't until then I found out I was five minutes and eight seconds from qualifying for Boston. It was also then I realized that maybe, just maybe, it was possible. It was around that time I found out that the qualifying standards would become harder. But fortunately for me I would be turning 50 in February of 2013, and the same sub 3:30 BQ would remain for me: I set a goal to run the 2013 Boston Marathon to celebrate the milestone of turning 50. But it wasn't as simple as I first thought as I failed to BQ in my next two attempts at the 2011 Santa Clarita Marathon and at the 2012 LA Marathon.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April 15, 1996: A continuous clap and a constant roar

Joe Muldowney
On April 15, 1996, the world’s oldest marathon was about to become the world’s largest marathon.

But it wasn’t going to be easy.

The northeastern United States had experienced its snowiest winter on record, and simply because the calendar read “April” meant little to Mother Nature, who pursued her relentless polar assault into the middle of the month.

On April 10th, fifteen inches of snow fell on Hopkinton. Heavy rains continued for the remainder of the week, turning the grounds around the Hopkinton Middle School into a soupy quagmire.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April 15, 2013 – Left or right? A seemingly minor decision leads me away from danger

David Meier
[In 2013, David Meier cruised through his fourth consecutive Boston Marathon in 3:23:10, finishing in the upper half of his age group. Here he offers an introspective look at what happened next…]

Left or right? That was the choice we faced as we exited the Westin Copley Square that beautiful April afternoon. I had just finished the 2013 Boston Marathon and was feeling pretty good about myself. I was starving, so I said to my wife “Let’s go this direction away from the crowds.” So just a few hundred yards from the finish line, we turned away and headed down Dartmouth Street.

And there it was – a boom that stopped everyone in their tracks. People stood in the street and looked around, while cars blew their horns at the confused pedestrians.

Monday, March 31, 2014

April 15, 2013 - From the (happy) beginning through the (horrible) ending

Kristen Labarca
As I sit down to share my experience at the 2013 Boston Marathon, I'm still not sure where to begin or where to end. Do I focus only on what happened after 2:50pm on Monday and those who were injured and killed? Do I talk about the hundreds of heroes that rushed into harm's way to help? Do I recount all the good memories that were made in the days leading up to the marathon? Is it disrespectful to share the details of my race? If I don't talk about the race, does that let the terrorists "win" in some small way?

After sorting through all my emotions and feelings again and again, I still don't know which is the "right" thing to do. So I'm going to do the only thing I really know how to do -- share my Boston experience from the (happy) beginning through the (horrible) ending.

Monday, April 15, 2013

2013 - A text message suggests it would be a good idea to go on Facebook and tell everyone I am OK

Jonathan Hanson
My journey as a runner began in 2010, when a co-worker shared information on the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program. She was going to be mentoring runners for the 2011 Maratona di Roma. Prior to this, I had never done distance running, but something about this struck me. I went to the information session and before I knew it, I was training for my first marathon. It was such a life-changing experience for me that I continued with the program in 2012; this time venturing out to Spain for Madrid's first Rock & Roll Marathon.

Later in 2012, I received information on Team BMC, the charity program that benefits the various patient programs at Boston Medical Center (where I happen to be an employee and a patient). They were recruiting runners for the 2013 Boston Marathon. I knew Boston was one of the most prestigious marathons in the world; one people from around the world trained long and hard (and traveled across the globe) to run; the one practically in my backyard. As rewarding as my international marathon experiences were, I had also longed to be able to invite family and friends to share the day with me - to actually watch me cross the finish line. This was my chance. Before I knew it, I was preparing myself for my first Boston Marathon.