Sunday, September 7, 2014

Today's Featured Story:

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!

My emotions ranged from excitement to trepidation as my husband and I flew up to Boston. This being my first Boston Marathon experience, I was scared, not really knowing what to expect. Fortunately I was with a strong contingent of veteran female runners from Mississippi, and these friends had prepared me as much as they could beforehand. For that I am truly thankful.

A race number four years and several miles in the making...

With the North Mississippi contingent...
...together, ready to run!
Waiting for the bus, BigFoot and I are dressed
for Boston's post-Easter parade.
The morning of the marathon we headed out to meet the buses and take the ride to Hopkinton. The Athletes’ Village was packed and the port-o-potty lines went on forever!! Before long we were lining up in our corrals to start the race. I was amazed at the number of people lining the streets and sitting on rooftops. My energy level was high as the race began.

Long lines in Hopkinton allow plenty of time for phone calls...
One of the highlights of this race was the amazing fans. I slapped so many hands along the way. I really tried to slap hands with as many children as possible: their smiles were amazing. The noise level along the route was really loud, and the crowds just pulled me along.

Due to the down hills, I actually went out faster than I had planned. I passed the half way point at 8:13 pace, well ahead of my qualifying average back in Huntsville. However, by the time I reached the Newton hills, I was starting to have leg cramps. As a result, I was about 15 minutes slower over the second half of the course.

At one point I was stopped in my tracks and grabbed the railing. The people along the route gently but firmly told me to not stop and to keep going. I had to dig deep but I kept going.

My running friends had told me to watch for the famous Citgo Sign. When you see that landmark you are almost done. What a relief when it came into view!!

I did make a trip to the medical tent after I crossed the finish line. My leg cramps were that bad. Eventually, I was able to walk out, get my medal and find my sweet husband. I needed a hug. But, I had done it: I had completed the 2014 Boston Marathon, and even better, re-qualified for 2015.

Lynn O’Neal
Fulton, Mississippi



For more personal accounts of the 2014 Boston marathon, click here.

All our most recently posted stories can be found on the BOSTONLOG homepage.

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
Wow.

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.

Wow.

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.

2013 - "I had no cell phone, no I.D., no money, no hotel room key. However, I did have my lipstick."

Roan Johnson
First of all, I want to explain how I even got to run the Boston Marathon in the first place.

If you know anything about the sport of long distance running world, you probably know the Boston Marathon is the big race. This year was the 117th Boston Marathon. Elite runners from around the world compete in this marathon, and about 20,000 qualified runners make up the majority of the field. A Boston Qualified runner is one who has run a certified marathon course below a certain time based on gender and age. And it is tough to qualify! Currently for my age group (40-45), a female runner must run under a 3:45 marathon to qualify. That's never gonna happen for me! At age 45 (in 14 months) my qualifying time will be 3:55. Possibly doable---with lots of work---a goal I have set for myself. My husband Jimmy has missed his current qualifying time by just four minutes. Anyway...

2013 - Running down Beacon towards Kendall, I was sure I would really make it...

Leah Dickerson
The 2013 Boston Marathon was my first marathon.

I got a bib at the last minute (about a month before) to run on the Team with a Vision, which supports the Massachusetts Association for the Blind. Luckily, I had been in training mode since December for a marathon that I didn’t make. Before Boston 2013, the longest race I had ever run was the 2012 Austin Half Marathon.

I was so nervous the morning of the marathon. All of my energy and focus was on finishing. I wanted to go as slow and steady as possible, I wanted to really enjoy the run and pass through the finish line.

2013 - "I had just gotten out of the city, away from the devastation, and now my husband was heading directly into it."

Julie Benson
I woke up the morning of April 15 th, 2013, ready to conquer a marathon. Literally. I had trained for the past four months with every fiber of strength, passion, tears, and determination to run through eight cities totaling 26.2 miles.

The winter of 2013 was an unforgiving one. My long runs were constantly tested through blizzards, ice, and sub zero temperatures. Yet I persevered because I believed I could do it. That I was strong, that nothing could stop me. “Bring it on!” was my mantra. One particular weekend I had a 15-mile run scheduled, but Mother Nature dumped two feet of snow in my town. “No excuses,” I told myself. I went into my dank basement, growled at my treadmill, and ran for over two hours.

2013 - Never Got To Make The Last Two Turns

Kenneth Williams
"Right on Hereford, left on Boylston" – that’s what was written on the T-shirt Kenneth Williams decided to wear to the Boston Marathon. Those are the last two turns of the race, and Williams was just about to make that right turn on Hereford when the bomb went off on Boylston.

"I saw smoke and thought to myself, ‘what is that?’ " Williams said. "One moment, I was just trying to survive up to the 26th mile, and I was only thinking about oxygen. Then, a moment later, we were stopped."

That was the end of the race for the Corinth, Mississippi, native who traveled to Boston with 17 or so members of the marathon running group he leads.

2013 - "I Have Unfinished Business in 2014"

John Hazen
My Journey started on a very good day, as I was blessed to qualify in my very first marathon, September 2012, at Presque Isle, Lake Erie, PA, running a 3:52:00, three minutes under my BQ time of 3:55.

At age 60, I was the oldest runner from Shelby County to run the 2013 Boston Marathon. Jan Jensen, a fellow runner in the Gazelles & Geezers and Germantown Thoroughbred groups, and a Boston Marathon veteran, convinced me I should try a full marathon, based on good runs I ran at the St Jude's 1/2, Gulf Coast 1/2 Ironman, and Navy Nautical 10 miler. Jan ran a PR at Presque Isle and also qualified for Boston.

In January, I tore a calf muscle, but Dr. Laura Linderman and Therapist Joel Lyons got me back up to 18 miles two weeks before Boston.

Marathon morning is exciting and the logistics of getting to the bus with your bag in hand are a challenge for a first timer. Athletes’ Village is busy; I hardly got off my feet though before I began the three quarter mile walk to the start. On the way, you shed clothing and my black Memphis Runners Track Club hoodie is now in a Boston charity. Jan and I both started at 10:40 a.m. in Wave 3, Corral #2, and we ran together the first two miles in a large crowd. There is no maneuvering and you are packed in very tightly with fellow runners. Boston is a hilly course, and my quad muscles really tightened up forcing me to walk several times. The spectators lined the entire route, were incredibly vocal and supportive, and made you feel special, like an elite runner.

2013 - "Residents came out of their houses with food and water, offering any kind of aid they could."

Tim Zuelke
I am not sure I can put into words what we are feeling and what yesterday, April 15th, 2013, was like, but I will try.

I was at the front of the group of runners police stopped within half a mile of the finish line soon after the bombs went off.

Officials held us there for about 40 minutes. We did not know what was happening and many of the runners started to suffer from the effects of stopping without water or medical aid, myself included.

Finally the officers realized that 2,000 people standing in such a small area was also a possible target. We were told to disperse, which was not easy to do. Where were we to go, anyway? A nurse who was running the marathon was standing next to me. I was so cold and shaking. She said my lips were turning blue and I should find some first aid as soon as possible. I tried to make my way back to our hotel, but the streets were all blocked off as a crime scene.

2013 - Between the Blasts:
A retired judge describes the finish line terror

Roger McMillin
A total of 23,336 runners started the 2013 Boston Marathon, with 17,580 finishing. In the next few days, the Associated Press analyzed images and data including the finishing times recorded by chips on competitors’ bibs, to pinpoint some of the runners who were in the finish line area when the bombs went off. First published at Washingtontimes.com on April 20, 2013, this is one of those stories:

The Judge

Four hours, 10 minutes, 16 seconds. That’s the time stamped next to Roger McMillin's name at the Boston Marathon this year

Maybe it shouldn’t matter this year, but to McMillin, it does.

The retired chief judge of the Mississippi State Court of Appeals needed to break 4:10 to automatically qualify for a return trip to Boston to run in the 2014 marathon.

He was well on his way when he heard the first explosion rock the area near the finish line. Then the second.

2013 - A Runner's Story of 26.13 Miles

Ginger Cross
Of course, if you asked, I could have told you hundreds of ways I thought my story would play out, but never did I imagine an ending as tragic as this. As we all know, this day that was supposed to be of joy and celebration became a day where running a marathon was of no importance. However, my story still needs to start from the beginning to understand how quickly the day changed from running towards the finish line, to running for my life...

My name is Ginger and I live in Arizona. I am a wife, mother, amateur athlete and freelance designer.

Two years ago I never would have believed you if you told me I was going to run the Boston Marathon. I was a cyclist and triathlete, but not “a runner.” And even when I did run, I was not very fast.

2013 - Keep Calm and Marath-On

Andrew Cook
Preparation: Here we are… After a long time coming, the Boston Marathon is finally only a week away. For those of you starting to get worn down by the constant talk of it from us deranged people who find these kinds of things fun, just bear with us: it’s almost all over!

Without a single iota of sarcasm or tongue-in-cheek here, I want to tell you that training these six months has been one of the highlights of my athletic life so far, with the jewel on the crown looking to come right about this time next week as one sweaty, aching, dehydrated, disorientated mess of a 19 year old crosses the finish line on Boylston Street. Bring your camera, I know. Now, I know it’s still very pre-mature to be making my Sally Field acceptance speeches here (“You really really like me!”), but finish or no, at the back of the pack or a with surprise upset of the Kenyans, I want to send out a huge thank you to quite a lot of people.

2013 - I was there. I should write something.

Beth O'Grady
I was there.

I should write something.

I was there at the start when the air was alive with energy and anticipation. I was there when runners who prepared for months nervously counted down to the start of the race.

I was there when it was a perfect day for running 26.2 miles, fueled by the energy of the volunteers and spectators lining the route. I was there when it was uplifting and exhilarating. I was there when it was a fantastic day to run the 117th Boston Marathon.

2013 - A lifetime's worth of tragedy in the span of 20 minutes.

Brian Carroll
Accompanied by cooler temperatures, race day started with promise and enthusiasm. The starting line was abuzz with talk of PR's and possible personal Boston bests. A trend of new PR's was also evidenced by the too-many-to-count runners who scanned their wristwatches while covering the last five miles. I crossed the finish line at 2:45 pm with a face smiling and a 3:57:33 time.

Taking a picture with my wife next to the medical tent is a tradition unlike any other in my family. Joy, love, sweat, and then "BANG!" Only five minutes after the finish, the heaven turned to hell. “Maybe a cannon,” I first thought...but I know I would have noticed one next to the finish line, and I thought the sound was odd. No, this was bad. The second "BOOM" confirmed bad had gone to worse.

2013 - "Though in a crowd of stunned runners and spectators, I felt alone"

Jimmy Johnson
After months of training, my wife and I had arrived at the marathon event of the year, the 2013 Boston Marathon. We started together in Wave 3, Corral 6, running for an American Medical Athletic Association charity. In four hours our day would drastically change.

A knee injury forced me to slow my pace and allowed me to just enjoy the scenery, the cool weather and cheering fans along the legendary Hopkinton to Boston course. Little did I know, had I slowed down another ten minutes, I would have been directly in front of the explosions.

I had just received my finisher’s medal when I heard and felt the first blast.

No one knew what was happening. Some thought the explosions were planned events, such as cannons being fired to celebrate Patriots’ Day. Several minutes later, the fear in the back of my mind was confirmed when the ambulances began pouring in. Not wanting any lasting memory of the event I was witnessing, I resisted taking any photographs.

2013 - "There has been a bomb and I am all alone and scared to death..."

Misty Thompson
Jim and I left for Boston Saturday April 13, with much anticipation and excitement. We left the girls in the very capable hands of Gramsby and then Grandmommy. We traveled much of Saturday (with some flight complications), but arrived in Boston Saturday afternoon. As we were in the cab on the way to the hotel, I kept saying "this is amazing, beautiful, like nothing I have ever seen…"

The architecture was beautiful and old, and there were people walking everywhere. We quickly checked into the Sheraton and went to the Marathon Expo (which was connected to our hotel). This was also unbelievable. There were die-hard runners everywhere (me being the very least of these). We purchased official Boston Marathon 2013 goodies and happies for the girls. Seeing everything took several hours to get through. We then went to dinner at Legal Seafood with a group from the North Mississippi/ Tennessee area, an event organized by Kenneth Williams (who was such a Godsend during the whole experience). It was great to get to meet and visit with these families (most of whom we met for the first time in Boston). We visited there for several hours before retiring to our room.