One Year Later – A Delayed Race Report

I haven’t blogged in well over a year, for reasons I may get into another time. But for now, here’s my 2014 Boston marathon Report.

This story is a big one. Not in the newsflash, stock market crash, another politician lies kind of trash. But big to me, and to the people who know myself or Danny. And it stems from such a small gesture, during a brief interaction which to me, is what makes it so big.

expo

The must do for every year, pose by the expo entrance

The marathon is a beast in itself, anyone who has run one knows what I am saying. I’ve now run 36. The 36th time running a marathon may not seem like the beast that the first one is, but it’s still something big, and to me , each one has been significant. Boston 2014 was one for the books as it was the 1 year anniversary of the bombings and had a record number of participants. The city was unbelievably electric. The runners attending were wrought with emotions. Excited first timers, nervous and fretful runners who had been affected by the previous year’s tragic incidents, perhaps themselves having only barely avoided the bombs. And hundreds of thousands of spectators hoping to see a good, safe race. I, along with most, was as excited as ever.

I trained pretty hard for this race, perhaps prime for a personal best (read PB) and was pretty positive leading up to the race, until 3 weeks prior when I first felt the twinges of pain in my hip at the conclusion of the Around The Bay 30k race. I assumed it was nothing (it was revealed as a torn TFL during a post Boston MRI) and continued to push through the taper phase and prayed that race day would reveal it as just me tweaking and magically the pain would not appear on race day.

gang1

Someof our usual suspects at the Athletes Village in Hopkinton

That weekend, our usual crew and new Boston marathon weekend friends went through all of the motions, as it were. Although that may sound boring, the motions are what we love about a the Boston Marathon. The travelling, the race expo, the electric feel of the city, every retail establishment hopping and full of energetic and exuberant staff, asking if you’re running the marathon and wishing you well. Race day eve is full of nervous energy, and, well, a relaxed feel just the same Since most of the runners are veterans and here for a good time as much as a fast time, everyone is much more jovial than usual. All in all, pretty much every moment is predictably good.

Race day comes and I feel as good as ever. No pains despite pushing harder than I should have in the 5k race on the Saturday, and after a good sleep, I am thinking this is a PB day, aiming for 3:05. Right up until the sound of the start horn, I was confident this would be a fast race, and a great day. But…

We’re running along the first mile, Nir and I, and I am thinking to myself; this is good, as good as I remember, the thrill never gets old and we’re off to a good start including no pain, yet. As we cross the 5k mat on pace, the pain returns, almost instantaneously, and by 6k I know it is real. I tough it out and pop some Tylenol as we cross the 10k mat, still on pace, but Nir starts to push ahead and I can’t match him. The turnover just isn’t there when each step hurts. I can still see him up ahead as we cross the 15k mat, but the drugs have had no effect, the pain has worsened and I realize I am doomed for the day. The remaining 27k seems so daunting, I stop shortly after the 15k point and begin walking thinking it’s time to find transportation back to the start and save my hip. This is where the fun begins.

Friends of Danny

Danny, and new ‘Friend of Danny’

As I walked along MA-135, cheering the hoards of runners passing me by, I came across a small cheering section that included Danny Langar. He encouraged my to get running and keep at it to which I replied, “I’m done. Hurting too bad to continue” and that I was actually looking for the train. Danny immediately went into help mode and told me it was about a mile ahead and not right on the race route. He said he couldn’t drive due to the fact he was on the wrong side of the road, but had a friend just up ahead, on the other side that could access the road to the train. His words were “Just tell him Danny sent you, and he’ll drive you to the train. It’s the yellow house, just up there, you can’t miss it!”. I was overwhelmed at how helpful he was being, and actually considered just plopping down and hanging out for a while to cheer on the runners before moving on.  But I did want to get back to Boston and my family, so I decided to get going. Before I did, and I am a bit foggy on this part, I either asked for a beer from Danny’s cooler, or he offered me one and when I said yes he got really pumped and said “Are we doing this?!” (that quote, I remember clear as day) and we cracked one open. I had my phone on me, knowing there may be need for it to communicate with my wife, Anita, should the injury rear its ugly head and this allowed me to take a couple of photos. Actually, I believe Danny’s wife Carolyn that took them (I try to abstain from taking selfies!) and the photos became keepsakes for me.

volunteers

Just another volunteer (7000 of them!)

I continued along MA-135, walking, and enjoying what remained of the beer, soaking up the sun and high fiving the spectators who all encouraged me to get running again. I just kept smiling and stating my woes and they all seemed compassionate. Natick as with all of the towns along the route, is just awesome. It didn’t even occur to me until I got to the next aid station, that I had totally forgot to pop in to the yellow house to hitch a ride. No worries though as I was really enjoying the day. I had communicated with Anita that I was dogging it and would maybe catch a train or a ride somehow, but she said if I wanted to walk the whole way, she’d wait. The aid station had no transportation in the near future so I kept going and was going to ask for directions to the next train station when I happened upon the Wellesley College and the screaming mass of Mass girls. I had walked nearly 5k since stopping! Traditionally, all of the runners veer right here for high fives and kisses soI thought I should move to the other side of the road or run through this section to avoid getting trampled. Run through it I did and although painful, I felt good to be reaching home quicker, and decided I would see if I could run the rest of the way. I won’t lie, I wanted to make the right on Hereford and left on Boylston and cruise down the best finish chute in running, to receive my 5th Boston Marathon medal and that caused me to be stubborn enough to continue.

wellesley

my view of the race, all of these runners kept disappearing ahead

I settled into a slow painful run, limp-hobble that resembled Terry Fox’s gait and I just thought that this could be worse and battled through it. Believe it or not, I actually enjoyed the whole run despite the injury. The crowds were amazing and encouraging and definitely helped mask the pain. Past halfway, heading home, taking in each nuance of the historic route and each mile seeming to click off way faster than I thought they would. Recognizable faces from waves that started after me passed by me and I took it all in stride, not worrying at all about time, just the finish line and the medal. Newton fire station, The Newton Hills (OMG!) Heartbreak Hill, Boston College, were all being ticked off my mental checklist – but the stretch along Commonwealth Ave, as exciting and fan stocked as it is, was a lot to handle. The pain had gotten fierce, it was warm, and only knowing it was soon to be over could keep me moving forward. To ease the pain, I grabbed myself another beer but not after asking several times. Although many people were drinking, they were retrieving them from indoors and did not have one accessible. Finally, at about mile 24, I spotted a cooler and coerced the man standing next to it  to give me one. He did, and ironically it was a Sam Adams (a race sponsor) and it was lovely. I nursed it to the finish, retrieving copious amounts of cheers and kudos for running with it. A quote that stands out vividly was “Look at Canada rocking a beer!” as I strolled by Coolidge Corner.

dave-kids

My loving kids!

dave-kiss

My oh so patient, and greatest supporter

Just a few blocks past the famous Citgo sign actually, where Anita, and kids – Sarah and Cam – were awaiting my arrival, as happy to see me as I was to see them. Sarah snapped a selfie of us and I then proceeded to the finish. On and off I had run and walked, averaging about 6 minutes per kilometer. Tally that together with the fast first 15k and the super slow 16-20k walk period, I ended up with a time of 4h 37m, which is only unofficially documented as my timing chip malfunctioned but that’s another story! I tipped my empty beer as I crossed the finish which summed up my race. I had managed to make the best of a tough situation. I found my friends and congratulated those that had finished already and we celebrated that night as we would normally, regardless of the day’s results. Despite my time, despite the pain and waking up the next morning with a purple hip, I had managed to enjoy the weekend immensely and took from it some great memories, mostly the awesome dude, who’s name I had forgotten until recently, in Natick, that would have done about anything to help an ailing Canadian runner make his way home. Thanks Danny, and Friends of Danny!

medal

The illustrious medal. Worth it all? Yes!

One year later, the story is still clear in my mind, having
told it many times throughout the year but never thoroughly documenting it until now. I thought I should try to touch base with Danny, if for no other reason to say hey, you helped make last year’s race a decent one and I hope to see you en route again. I had no way of knowing where to find him. Or did I? Looking at the photos again, I could use the house in the background as reference, and loaded up Google street view starting at 15km into the route. I followed it along until it became recognizable as Danny’s area. Back and forth a few times, I clicked around, spun it around until I saw a house across the road that resembled the one in the photo. I spun that around and recognized the lawn where Danny had been standing. Boom, that was it. I crudely printed on plain paper, one of the photos of us and hand wrote a letter (who does that nowadays?!) stating who I was, ‘I hope you remember me’ etc. and noted that I am still fighting a painful butt, as a result of running with the painful hip so I maybe into another pit stop for a beer and an updated photo, depending on how well the run goes. I added a small photo to the outside of the envelope so whomever received it could maybe help find the right recipient should I have gotten the address wrong. Well it worked! It reached a friend’s house where Danny and company congregate to watch the marathon each year. Danny’s wife Carolyn posted the letter and photo on Facebook and the comments came in like crazy, all positive and no one seemed surprised at all at Danny’s gesture which shows you that I found the right guys to encourage me to keep it going that day – and this year for that matter.

So now we are in touch and it feels really nice to have been able to keep this vibe going. I look forward to seeing them all on the run come Marathon Monday and if I am on qualifying pace for 2016 and can’t stop for too long, I will be sure to try to find the time to pay Danny and friends a visit some other time and maybe be the guy that returns the favour and buy him a beer!

letter

The letter and paper photo. Somehow, they found their way.

 

 

 

 

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Beaches RunnerAbout Beaches Runner
Crazy mad runner, wanting to be fitter and faster but too busy to do it right. Still, I keep trying.

  • Paul Radcliffe

    Better late than never. But this is an incredible story Dave and very worth sharing!!

    I’d be really happy with a marathon time of 4:37, so I guess timing is all relative.

    I love that you got that photo with Danny, and grabbed a beer. And then ANOTHER beer later! That’s a wonderful way to enjoy the race!

    And, it’s incredible how you tracked Danny down and maintained that connection. It’s stories like this that warm the heart and make me happy to be part of this big, welcoming running community!