The 2007 Boston Marathon was better than expected.
It is funny how things turn out far differently then the way you imagine they are going to. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be terrified before the start of a marathon. Nervous, yes. Terrified, no.
I have been thinking about the Boston Marathon for a lot of years. In my mind's eye I always envisioned it as sunny. Actually, I never considered the weather, it was just there in the backdrop. It wasn't bad weather, it wasn't good weather, it was Switzerland, neutral and just there. So, imagine the angst when an email bulletin came in on Wednesday, before the race informing that the U.S National Weather Service issued a "severe" weather warning for Monday. So, what do you with that? What exactly does "severe" mean. Who is the judge of "severe"? Is it Alaskan severe, Vancouver severe, Southern California severe? Well, what you do is you check the links the National Weather and the Boston Athletic Association so kindly provide. This is where you come across links speculating that it will be a "100 Year Storm" Wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour (how many kilometers is that), heavy rain and flooding. Links with even the race director, talking about the race being cancelled because they can't compromise the safety of the runners and volunteers.
I have to say I had not seriously considered bad weather. For goodness sake I even did some preparatory runs in shorts, the theory being, don't you know "no news is good news". If you don't prep those virgin thighs it can result in a very painful, very bow-legged run for many miles. Ever get rope burns sliding down the ropes in the school gym while wearing shorts. Oops, I digress.
Needless to say a whole new emergency level of packing ensued. Long sleeve shirts, tights, rain jacket, toques, pairs of gloves, plastic rain ponchos. Not a problem, I can do this, I am from Vancouver, I am at one with the rain. Ohmmmm… So, we get on the plane, sit beside a rather stern looking women. Throughout the flight, Mark and I notice she is reading Middle East Quarterly, which she follows up with a glossy gun magazine. I have her pegged for an Arms Dealer. Late in the flight she tells me nonchalantly, "Ole, Nor Easter blowin' in. Gonna be snow," OH MY GOD!! New wave of panic and fear seeps through my veins. Snow, now there is something I had not considered. Oh God, my inner voice pathetically whimpers. I hesitantly ask her what a Nor Easter is. She responds "Seen, the movie Perfect Storm that was a Nor Easter". File this under category of questions I wish I hadn't asked.
Two days before the race the weather is cool, but nice. There is however a feeling of drama and tension in the air. (Worse then Vancouver when they talk about anything more then 2 inches of snow falling). All everyone is talking about is the weather, the weather, the weather. By the time this thing started I was ready for friggen Armageddon. I just wanted to run a marathon, I wasn't sure I was prepared to give life and limb.
We woke up the next morning. It was hideous weather, even by Vancouver standards. Driving out to the start, gusts of wind and rain are hitting the bus hard. I say to Mark, "we aren't in Kansas in anymore". He looked a little pale. I'm thinking, he's thinking (stick with me here) "Honey, I love you but I think I'll just watch you", "doesn't make sense to orphan the kids now". Nauseous feeling continues. Then, I guess because I am thinking about wind, I get a stupid Led Zeppelin song stuck in my head "But the wind don't blow, You really shouldn't go, it only goes to show, that you will be mind, by taking our time". Why is this the one time I can remember more then 3 words to a song.
The start scene was right out of a bad sci-fi movie. I know there are 21,000 to 22, 000 runners here (3 to 4 thousand didn't bother getting out of bed) but I really can't see all that many runners. However, when you started to look closer and focus, if you looked in doorways, under trees, you could see them. Runners in hideous plastic ponchos huddled for dear life in clusters. Those who did venture out into the elements did so at great peril. Those ponchos are magic for setting sail to runners, especially some to those spectacularly scrawny runners. Mark and I were started to take bets on how many feet of lift off some them would get. Contributing to the sci-fi effect was the fact that literally hundreds of runners wore their hotel shower caps. In combination with their shower caps, many ducked taped plastic bags around their feet in a (pathetic) attempt to keep their feet dry. We are without a doubt one sorry looking, butt ugly crowd.
Well, I tell you the combined prayers of 22,000 nervous runners, and every freezing cold volunteer, and spectator must have been heard. At about 10:15, in between the fist wave start, and the second wave start. The rains stopped, and the winds died down. There were the occasional gusts during the race just to keep us on our toes, but certainly nothing of the Perfect Storm variety. The temperature was cool, which was great for me but that skinny sub-species of runner had a tough time. It reminded me of that fact that I have always wanted to grab those runners and tell them "For the Love of God, go to Cinnabons".
It was a really great adventure -- everything I thought it would be.
Have to say, I am kinda sad to see this one go. This one has been with me for a long, long time.
But, hey, who know what escapades lay ahead.