I have never been so excited to spectate a race. Boston’s marathoners are the best of the best—simply meaning, they’ve qualified to be there with unbelievable race times, and no doubt everyone was out for a personal best. Truth be told, I was looking at Boston Marathon weekend as a vacation. Not only did I get to spend time with good friends whilst eating good food and drinking good wine, but this was to be capped off by spectating said friends plus several thousand runners and past Olympians on the world’s oldest Marathon course.
And that’s when things got interesting. Twitter was blowing up all weekend long with discussions on Monday’s heat, the local weather report displaying a balmy, don’t shit yourself 87 degrees. The Boston Athletic Association sent out around 73 emails discussing who should not be running, that this was not a day to PR, and that runners should wear as “minimal amounts of clothing as possible,” which I could only assume meant “naked running.” Well that will make for interesting photos.
This brings us to race day. His Lordship awoke at 5:30 and quickly got ready to head out to the start at Hopkinton. I gave him well wishes, took the standard pre-race photograph, and he handed me his phone and was out the door. This also makes for some amazing foreshadowing, but we’ll get to that.
I laid in bed pondering what would go on during this magnificent Marathon Monday (ah, alliteration). ‘Screw sleeping,’ I thought. I turned on the news to my trusty Good Morning America news team and listened to the witty banter of George, Robin, Josh, and Lara. Oh Josh Elliot, you’re so quick and funny with your Play of the Days. And that’s when Sam Champion started discussing the heatwave in New England and the Boston Marathon. Oh boy.
I put his words of ‘heat wave during the start of the Boston Marathon’ aside, and I got back to getting ready for the day and texted ES. We quickly discussed our meeting place and plan of attack. I had an ample amount of time to get to Coolidge Corner, which was just before the mile 24 marker. I also checked in with Claire to see how she was faring race morning. She was in nervous mode, but nothing a little MadLibs couldn’t fix. I wished her well and told her to have a spectacular race, and gave her the location of our cheer squad.
After I dropped off our bags at check-in and rode a very slow train with charged up BoSox fans, I was out at mile 24 of the marathon course. I texted my comrades to get their ETA, and staked out a spot. We were right in front of a store entitled ‘Neena’s’ which had a clock that also displayed the temperature. This definitely came in handy during the race. With super cheer squad posters and high five stations in tow, my comrades arrived and we chatted over coffee about what to expect. It was 9:30 and the temps had already climbed into the mid-70’s. Jesus. I was suddenly reminded of the same temps during Chicago, except those became present at 11:00 a.m., thus a full 3.5 hours into the race. I couldn’t imagine how my friends were feeling 24 miles to the east.
The crowds started to pick up a bit, and after a while, we saw a truck with a race clock on top and knew this would be the wheelchair racers who started at 9:30. The lead racer, Josh Cassidy, was cookin down Beacon Street with a solid lead.—number 2 didn’t even arrive until six minutes later. Heh. Number 2. Oh, I’m a five-year-old.
Next up would be the lead ladies, who also started at 9:30. We had followed along Twitter that the elites were averaging slower times than normal. This concerned me, as I then knew it was going to be a slow race for everyone. Two women were in a dead heat (pun intended), to which I later found out it would be this way until the finish.
Deeds and I looked at each other and noticed that we both had goosebumps. The sun was beating down on us and the race had only just begun. My stomach started knotting and I was worried about our friends. Also hearing that returning champ aka fastest human in the world had dropped out at mile 18 due to cramping made me worrisome. The lead men weren’t far behind, and they too looked affected by the heat as they reached the high-five station.
Then came the masses.
The front runners of Wave 1 left me speechless. Running a sub-3 marathon in that kind of heat is something unfathomable to me, and they were doing it right before my eyes. Yes, some looked tired, but amazingly, some really looked pumped when they gave Maura a high five, to the point where they could have taken her arm off. And that wasn’t out of anger. And can we talk about how the women looked? Strong as shit. No matter how tired or downright drenched these ladies looked passing through, they were killing it. Congrats to you ladies, you bad asses.
As the clock ticked, the temperature rose, and carnage came out to play where runners eased up and started to walk. There was frustration on people’s faces. We continued cheering, Deeds waving her high-five station, and ES ferociously taking photos. I looked at the clock and noted the time. Soon, His Lordship would be coming through. My AT&T Athletic Tracker also notified me that he had gone through the 35K mark, meant he would arrive in roughly one mile. We kept our eyes peeled.
As if right out of thin air, he appeared and I was suddenly filled with glee and screaming. Seeing the smile on his face let me know that he would not give up on this. And with that, he charged on. One friend down, two to go.
I had a quick panic attack in thinking that I needed to get to the finish ASAP to meet His Lordship. I had his phone, after all (remember that?). And just like that, Eissa tweeted at me. ‘Where are you?’
Wait, wait. You don’t know? Eissa’s a baller multi-tasker who can tweet while running a 3:20 marathon. True story.
I turned around and gave our cheer squad the good news. And there she was, looking as awesome as ever with a giant smile on her face. She even posed for a photo.
Next up was Madame Walsh, who was in Wave 2 with a start time of 10:20 a.m. I knew we had to wait a bit because of that, but I also saw that she was safely through the 30K mark. At that point, the thermostat on Neena’s clock was reading 87, and that was in the shade. I knew my stomach would continue to knot until Claire made her presence known.
And just like His Lordship and Eissa, Claire appeared out of nowhere with a giant smile on her face. “FRIENDS!!!!,” she shouted. We gave her huge hugs and high-fives as she told us that she hated the race and it was purely awful. Then like our two friends before her, she charged onward to the finish. All three of my friends made it safely to mile 24, and I knew if they did that they would survive through the finish. I was so proud of them in this dreadful weather. Everyone was playing it smart.
By this time, it was 2:20 p.m., my phone was dead, and His Lordship’s phone was locked. I decided that if I were going to start this journey of reuniting, it might as well begin at the finish line. So I walked along the course and continued to witness the heat. I saw one man being held by EMS who were checking his pulse. I got nauseous and cried a bit.
Later on, I heard a tale from ES that she herself had to help someone who was on the ground when there were no EMS.
I realized that I was witnessing more carnage in Boston than I was in Tempe, Arizona during the Ironman. I got closer to the finished and started seeing finishers dressed in space capes and medals around their necks. I congratulated those I saw as it was well deserved.
“Thanks…I remember you!!!” was a response I got from one gentleman. No doubt it was probably my attire. Thanks, Ali On The Run, for providing my delightful spectating wardrobe.
After getting through the crowds to the finish, I reached the ‘Family Pick-up’ area, where there were posts designated with letters of the alphabet according to last name. Naturally, I went over to the ‘B.’ And it wasn’t easy. The finish was a first rate shit show with exhausted finishers and family members coming to greet them. After a failed attempt at searching, I thought it best to return to the hotel. This is where I’d like to take this opportunity to thank smart phones. Thank you. Without you, I had to find my way back to the hotel in a city I where I don’t know my ass from my elbow (it was like living in the 90’s without a Nokia).
I talked to fellow marathoners on the train. Although happy to be finished, they admittedly didn’t have a good time getting there. “By mile 18 I just wanted the damn medal,” one fellow told me. “And that’s the only thing I wanted from then on out. Just to finish and get the medal. I stopped caring about my time.”
Finally back in the neighborhood I had become accustomed to, I found the hotel. I frantically asked the concierge for my bag where my cell phone charger was packed.
“Miss Lewis, did you not receive my email?”
“MY CELL PHONE IS DEAD AND THIS ONE IS LOCKED WAAAHHHHH.”
“Mr. Baker is around the corner having a beer. He is waiting for you there.”
Well done, concierge. When I finally saw him, I cried. I was so happy for him and all my other friends, and everyone else for that matter. Finisher or not, people went out and battled with 90 degree temps without being acclimated to it. It’s a day like that where you wonder what you’ve trained for. I don’t know what I would have done in these conditions.
I can’t state it enough. Congratulations to all finishers of the 2012 Boston Marathon. You are all heroes and an inspiration in my book.