After my usual restless pre-marathon night’s sleep, I got up at 5:00 a.m. and immediately checked the National Weather Service web site for Boston. Last night, things were beginning to look a little more optimistic, with the heaviest of the rain ending by 9:00 a.m. and winds ‘breezy at 20-25 mph’ diminishing to 16 to 19 mph as the day progressed. However, the tune changed by this morning, and the weather was back to being ‘heavy rains and winds until 3 p.m.’
Oh well. It is what it is, and we’ll have epic stories and amazing bragging rights.
My poor, sweet husband was once again dragged out of bed at an earthly hour to haul my butt somewhere to make my marathon dreams come true. Specifically, he delivered Jeff, Charlie and me to a town about 30 minutes from our house to ‘catch a bus.’ We all had reserved spots on a local track club’s chartered bus to Boston – complete with bathroom, and access to a hotel room for hot showers post-race. Perfect! No driving! No parking! A bathroom! A place to stay out of the elements until the race started!
The honeymoon with the bus was over quickly. We were unable to all sit together, and I ended up sitting in the last row…right next to the bathroom. Convenient? Yes. Stinky? Oh. Good. God. Yes. Runners are stinky people to begin with; throw in race day nerves and grab a clothespin for your nose. Within 20 minutes of departing, I had my shirt pulled over my nose and mouth and spent most of the ride breathing through my mouth.
As we rode to the race, the rain was coming down in buckets. People were calling their friends along the race route, asking for weather updates. We heard one temperature report of 50F. Immediately, I start second guessing my clothing choice – especially the tights. But, I didn’t have any shorts to change in to, which made my decision easy.
We arrived in Hopkinton, and watched the rain continue to beat down on runners scurrying across the parking lot. Folks had all sorts of plastic products strapped to their body like garbage bags over torsos and shopping bags over shoes (and inside shoes).
Expectantly, the lines for the port-a-porties were quite long, which didn’t affect my bladder personally, as I had access to the stinky bus bathroom. However, this did allow us to have a fabulous view of runners peeing behind the buses. My favorite moment was when jeff pointed out one ‘bus-reliever’ and I turned to look (of course), getting a full-frontal nudity shot of some very cold man.
We sent Charlie out for his first wave start, and began our final preparations: one last bathroom break, gear assessment, and 99-cent poncho application. We grabbed our gear bags, full of warm, dry clothes for later, took a deep breath and launched out into the rain and wind for the walk over to the start line corrals. On the way, we stopped to check our gear bags, only after being reassured by a friendly volunteer that my gear bag bus was just around the corner – ‘You can’t see them yet…but don’t freak out, they’re there!’
Of course, there was one last bathroom stop just before the corrals (lines were short!). As we finally made our way into corrall #13, we both let out a whoop and then, for some reason, did a body slam. Once jeff got his breath back, and my chest stopped hurting, we laughed at our silly selves and lined up. Just then, jeff noticed a banner over the church next to us – and it was the verse from the Bible that Joe named his site after (“and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1) which made us instantly think of him. The RBF was with us before we took our first step.
Then, something amazing happened…the rain began to let up. Almost completely stopped. I was stunned, but skeptical. I was not going to let myself believe for one minute that this day would not have ‘apocalyptic’ weather. But it was nice to delay the anticipated soaking.
Before we knew it, we were off! Jeff made sure we took note of our very first step and then we were underway! Our rain ponchos were off, our smiles were big and we were ready of whatever the day had in store.
The first five miles clicked by quickly and looked like this:
By mile five, it still wasn’t raining. The winds weren’t *that* noticeable. I looked over at jeff and declared the day to be a Festivus Miracle. Jeff was scooping up high fives left and right. Our smiles were still plastered to our faces.
Mile 6.6ish and we spot Jason with the camera, capturing our joy via pixels. He lets us know that the ‘gang’ is just ahead. A few steps later and we see the sidewalk erupt and there are signs bouncing up and down. We slow down long enough to say “hi!” and I give my mom a smootch. With a quick glance, I read Michelle’s sign and it says ‘My hero wears orange.’ My heart tugs, not only because the sign was meant for me, but I knew that since the marathon theme color this year was orange, lots of runners were wearing orange and they might read the sign and feel inspired too. Mush head. I know. Jeff told me I wasn’t allowed to cry. I didn’t.
The wind picked up a bit here, and we encountered the first rain drops since the start line. Luckily, the rain disappeared within a half mile or so.
We hit mile 12 with the 7:52 split, and jeff turns to me and says “Can you hear that?” There’s a dull roar coming from up ahead…about a HALF MILE ahead is the infamous Wellesley Scream Tunnel. Half mile. And we can already hear them. Holy. Crap.
I was giddy with excitement.
The Wellesley experience delivered just as much fun and energy as I could possibly imagine. Hundreds of young college women screaming for us. It was overwhelming. And, yes, the first woman with a ‘Kiss Me’ sign, received a kiss from *me.* She was a little surprised at first but then smiled, laughed, and held on to my arm as I pulled away. But that wasn’t enough for me. I just had to do it one more time, and the young woman brave enough to wear a bikini top was my next victim. If only we had a camera.
We entered the actual town of Wellesley, crossed the 13 mile mark in 8:03 and then hit the half marathon mat, scanning the sidewalks for our cheering section. We were halfway there!
-End of Part One-