Author Topic: The 2019 Boston Marathon  (Read 231 times)

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Offline Eco Ellen

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The 2019 Boston Marathon
« on: April 17, 2019, 09:54:45 AM »
The 2019 Boston Marathon
 
I owe you guys a story.
 
Up at 4 am, out the door at 4:45, I get to Brookline at 5:20 to catch my bus to the start.  If all goes well, today Iíll finish my tenth consecutive Boston in support of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind, have raised more than $82K over that time.
 
The week leading up to this yearís marathon had daily weather warnings that runners were in for a soaking similar to 2018.  The Boston Athletic Association sent emails warning of hypothermia and how to dress for 26.2 miles of cold & wet misery.  Until the night before, when the final forecast came through at 9 pm:  the day would start with thunderstorms, have periods of dryness and sun, and temps could likely rise.
 
The dark drive west pelted us with heavy rain and deep thunder.  At 6:45 we disembarked to lightning and downpours.  My wave was scheduled to start at around 11:00 Ė I say ďaroundĒ because the BAA adjusted starting times to accommodate the weather.
 
By 11:00, Iíve eaten a bagel, had coffee, water, and Gatorade, tried to nap under a desk while blind runners and their guides milled around and my compadre charity runners sat cross legged on the floor, and been to the bathroom at least ten times.  The weather settled into muggy Ė with an untimely heavy wetness in the air.  But off we go.  At least the clouds are nice and grey.
 
The day before the race, I had to go to the running store to buy some Gu and a new waist belt for the race (where the heck did my pink spibelt go?).  When I got in my car there was a white index card with the words ďTake it easy Ė relax Ė and enjoy Ė Nancy Wilson.Ē    My local runner friend Ė 80+ years old and you see her out there almost every morning Ė had tucked the note on the armrest.
 
I try to remember my goals.  After ten years running Boston, what should I hope for?  I would love to take it easy, relax, and enjoy.  My training wasnít great but Iím at least trained to finish Ė can I relax and enjoy?  Can I get out of my own ruminations to notice the people around me, connect with them, create what weíre here to do together?  In better years Iíve run this race in 4 hours 41 minutes.  My fastest non-Boston marathon was 4:15.  I can maybe do this today in 5:15, a 12 something mile pace.  Should I even worry about time at all?
 
Mile 1, 2:  10:49, 11:13.
 
Mile 3:  A quick stop at the portapotty, 12:41.  There is mud from the morningís weather.
 
Mile 4, 5: 11:08, 12:24.
 
Mile 6, 7, 8:  11:38, 11:32, 12:12.  I think, relax, enjoy. I smile and jog near the spectators, try to get each kidís outstretched hand, double back a few steps to get a boy I missed.
 
Mile 9:  12:26. Roughly, this is the slow pace Iíve been planning to get me to the finish in 5:15, but the sun has come out and itís Ė how can it be? Ė hot.  I look for Arnie, manning the mile 9 clock with his wife.  Every year except for the one he ran it himself, heís been on the course for me, for someone to look for, for someone to throw myself at in exuberance and endorphins.  He takes my picture at the mile marker, walks with me for a minute, and then I must go on.  How am I doing, he asks? And I tell him, Arnie, itís hot.
 
Mile 10: 13:01.  Itís hotter than I thought it would be.  I high five a golden retriever.
 
Mile 11, 12, 13:  12:58, 12:39, 14:00.  I know theyíll be there, and I love them more every year.  Hello I smile to the Wellesley women, because here they are with their signs:  Kiss Me Ė Iím a Patriarch, Kiss Me Ė Iím Single, Kiss Me Ė I Heart Girls, Just Kiss Me Ė and I get my own kiss,  I am thrilled to be here with them, for them, making this thing the thing that it is.  I hear my name and see some MAB folks, raise my arms high, smile big, this is a good day after all.
 
Mile 14:  13:02.  I start pouring water over my head at every water stop.    I have forgotten all about relax and enjoy.
 
Mile 15:  13:24.  A sip of Gatorade.  A cup of water over the head.  Another down the back.  The next in the front.  Two more on the head.  Sign: toenails are for sissies.
 
Mile 16:  13:21.  Is it raining? I say, incredulous, to another runner, because through how badly Iím starting to feel I canít quite imagine why Iím feeling wet too.  Yes, itís raining, he laughs.
 
Mile 17, 18, 19:  14:29, 14;33, 15:15.  More water over my head.  Somebody hands out pretzels, and though I want to eat them itís like trying to chow through clumps of dirty sand.   
 
Mile 19, 20:  15:15, 15:33.  I am so slow now, and hot, and canít drink or eat, and try to focus on the moment, the little kids.   Sign: Run faster, my water just broke.
 
Mile 21:  16:17  I hear a familiar and unexpected voice call ELLEN GOLDBERG from the sidelines and am shocked to see my friend Jen from Nahant with her daughter.  How did they spot me out of the crowd in the Newton hills?  I yell back happily, throw up my arms enthusiastically.  And then resume my death shuffle up heartbreak hill.  A cemetery.  Who have you lost who would be here today, who would want you to finish?  I want that tenth medal.  I call out Boston College I love you so much to the crowd, and get fist bumps, high fives, more love back than I can even hold in my heart.
 
Mile 22:  14:45.  I am shuffling, dry, and thoroughly unwell.  I wonder, is this is the year I will go to Medical on the course?  Blinking signs tell me Medical is now at every mile.  I tear up thinking I might not finish.  The med tents look so comfortable and beckoning, with friendly, alert professionals with intelligent eyes scanning the runners for trouble but like every year, Iím afraid if I go in I wonít come back out. And I have to get to mile 24.5, to my kids, to Ben, Sarah, and Ari.
 
I sidle closer to the sidelines.  I say, while shuffling along, tell me not to quit and the reaction is instant and perfect:  I get a half mile chorus of people adamantly telling me not to quit, donít you dare quit, youíre not quitting.  Itís as if?  You tell them what you need and they give it.  And theyíre reaching through the cattle gates, fingers out, and I want to give them what they need too.
 
Sign: Heartbreak is behind you now.  A small blonde boy hands out blue freeze pops with the wrapper already sliced open.  I grab one, have never been more delighted.  I can take only brief licks because I feel so sick but I hold it as long as I can before it slides to the ground in melting chunks.  I find out later the temperature was 70 degrees with intense sun.
 
Mile 22.72:  10:10, my watch dies.  Elapsed time: 4 hours, 59 minutes, 28 seconds.  I realize while writing that this is over an hour slower than my last 20 mile training run on the course a month ago.
 
Ten years ago my father, Norman Goldberg, was still alive.  I was still married.  Ben and Sarah were six and two years old.  Next year Ben will be applying to college.  Sarah will be in eighth grade.  Who were you, who was still with you ten years ago?
 
Nothing is guaranteed.  No Beacon Street, no Citgo sign, no Hereford, no finish.    I know this, but Iíll be damned if I give up without fighting.  I pass police officers and call out, nobody quits now, right? And these Boston tough guys say no way, nobody quits, nuh uh, you better keep on moving.   I love them. 
 
I trudge down Beacon Street, feel shocked to see all the people still on the sidelines, there until the last of us can say weíre done.  This is Boston. This is what Boston is. We are all here together doing what weíre supposed to, making this thing that is bigger than any one of us, and I  wonder if I start walking, can I still make it in under six hours and have an official time? 
 
These last six miles are sheer and total stubbornness of will, not technique or skill or training or fitness.  What keeps you moving Ė one foot, one foot, one foot Ė forward?  Is it the will to avoid failing even more than you already have failed? Is it your kids waiting for you at mile 24.5 on Beacon Street?  Is it the dark haired woman who made eye contact and told you to keep going, you got this, you look great as you dragged and shuffled and smiled your sorry, sunburned, dripping, salty self towards the Citgo Sign and beyond?  Is it the tenth medal?
 
Or is it something less physical, but no less lovely, the need to create and be a part of something, and play your own role, and do it for the memory of those you loved and those you now love and those who will want to know who you were?
 
Kent Street.  I know it, if they caught the train and figured it out, Iím almost there, and seeing them behind the barriers is like a vision of all things beautiful in the world:  of love, of longing, of dirty grit, of Sarahís red umbrella.  Mile 24.5 and theyíre there, and I run towards them arms open, reach over, cry, shake, theyíre here and Iím almost done.  I canít open the bottle of water they give me and I try to drink it and canít do that either.  I hug them.  I gotta go, I weep, leaning over the railing, and weíll meet at the finish line, and now itís time to finish what I started.  The wind kicks in.
 
The Citgo Sign.  Another runner stops to take its picture.  Itís a beautiful thing, I say.  On Boylston Street, the crowd is constant thunder.  A woman in a yellow shirt is walking; Iíd seen her struggle on the course, and I bark:  HEY.  Letís go! There is no disobeying me.  She runs, and we cross together.  Through the bullhorn we hear, Welcome to Boston.
 
Mile 26.2:  5:53:06, an official finish.
 
A volunteer gets me water, my tenth medal, a foil blanket, and lets me Ė literally Ė cry on her shoulder.  Before I can find my kids, I acknowledge the nausea, find my way to Medical, where I am promptly and professionally ushered to a cot, vitals taken, given Gatorade and potato chips until I can stand and walk on my own.
 
Memory is fickle.  In the sunny haze of Tuesday, all I now feel is deep gratitude and love, all I now see are stills from the course:  strong fists in the air, police, kids, strollers, dogs, signs, barbeque, rain, wind, sun, clouds, freeze pops, pretzels, ice in paper cups, water station volunteers in yellow jackets, and not one moment on that road to Boston without somebody else reminding you why youíre there, why weíre all there.
 
For ten years, youíve been there, lining the streets, telling me not to quit.  The finish line on Boylston Street isnít just mine, though, itís all of ours.  For ten years in a row, you gave me Boston.  But itís not just mine to take. 
 
For ten years in a row, Iím giving it back.  Here.  Now.  To you.
 
Welcome to Boston.
 
 
 
 
Ellen S. Goldberg
Nahant, MA
April 15, 2019

Offline Fast Eddie

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Re: The 2019 Boston Marathon
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2019, 10:15:16 AM »
 :'(  Sweet, touching report.  Congrats on your tenth Boston.   :bouquet:
Live, learn, have amazing sex, and move on!!  :D - floridagal

Offline rocketgirl

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Re: The 2019 Boston Marathon
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2019, 10:23:41 AM »
I think there's something in my eye...

Congrats on your 10th Boston and all the funds you have raised.  You rock!
If in your estimation there is a greater than 0% chance that I will later decide that I shouldn't have said that, please do not quote me.

Offline lamerun

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Re: The 2019 Boston Marathon
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2019, 10:27:50 AM »
Great report, and way to tough it out.  I am sorry you felt so lousy the last few miles. I was checking on you and a few others during the day.

Offline McTortle

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Re: The 2019 Boston Marathon
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2019, 10:31:52 AM »
I have goosebumps.

 :heartbeat:

Offline seattlegirl

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Re: The 2019 Boston Marathon
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2019, 10:37:29 AM »
Oh Ellen, I have tears in my eyes.   :hug:

Offline TK

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Re: The 2019 Boston Marathon
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2019, 11:07:48 AM »
Expertly written as always.  Great job on the race.

Offline JBM

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Re: The 2019 Boston Marathon
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2019, 11:26:44 AM »
Congrats! I got chills...

Offline Arrojo

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The 2019 Boston Marathon
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2019, 01:22:37 PM »
<sniff> you are as strong as you are talented as a writer. Have you ever considered writing a novel? You should!

Gratuitous Eco Ellen marathon photos:



« Last Edit: April 17, 2019, 01:40:37 PM by Arrojo »
Yankees suck.

Offline Richard21142

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Re: The 2019 Boston Marathon
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2019, 04:49:29 PM »
 :obh:

Offline RioG

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Re: The 2019 Boston Marathon
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2019, 08:27:09 PM »
Bawling like a baby Ellen.  Congrats on #10.

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Offline Coyote Mas Loco

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Re: The 2019 Boston Marathon
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2019, 09:23:03 AM »
Congrats on doing this and fighting it out on the course for 10 years running!
The coyote - doesn't play nicely

Offline Eco Ellen

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Re: The 2019 Boston Marathon
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2019, 09:25:13 AM »
Thanks everyone!


 

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