Relentless Forward Motion Part 3 (The Agony)

Splits for miles 16-20 (8:51)(10:09)(9:55)(9:08)(11:03)

I charged-up the hill over 128 and past the Newton-Wellesley Hospital feeling refreshed and full of vigor. Then the first sense of trouble. Coming into 17 I felt a slight twinge of a hamstring cramp. I walked a bit. Then I ran. Then I had no choice but to walk through the Powerade Energy station as it was SWAMPED, and yet somehow I only managed to grab a Strawberry-Banana flavored gel which made me want to puke. Immediately. It was gross. So, I ran to the aid station and walked through grabbing several waters. One for my head, one for my belly and one to rinse out the nastiness of that gell from my mouth. 

Once I got running again I felt pretty good. I rounded the corner at the firehouse and started looking for my coach and his family. The first person I saw was Coach Vin going nuts, which was awesome, then I saw Coach Capo and his wife Sam. They were all cheering me on and it gave me a boost. i gave them a double-handed wave and a smile and just kept trucking. As soon as I passed them I realized just waving and smiling took a lot out of me right there. Once the carriage road broke-off to the left and we went right starting up the hill, I was overwhelmed with this feeling that I needed to power-walk if I was going to finish. As soon as I started to power walk Coach Capo came running-up beside me and said "let's keep it up! Focus on your cadence and get up this hill!" So I did. I found out later he came running-up after me to catch my teammate Timmy and tell him to catch me so we could run the last 9 together. But by the time he caught me Timmy had passed me and was running up the hill ahead of me. I ended-up walking the aid stations and portions of the hills from here on out.

Splits for miles 21-25 (12:27)(9:51)(9:57)(9:55)(12:09)

Right after 20 I walked throughout eh aid station and started running again. Just as I started running again I saw my friend Alett and she came running at me cheering and waving a sign that said "You are a heartbreaker!" It was so good to see a familiar face that I almost broke down crying immediately. I remember saying to her something about being locked into a "death march" and her giving me encouraging words to get me going again (but for the life of me I can't remember what she said). Once I started running again I saw my friend James and his wife Shana (Brenya's Parents) and their signs telling me I was Brenya's Hero and their hugs and kisses reminded me of why I started doing all of this craziness and all sorts of emotions came rushing to the surface. I left them and I was a hot mess. As I started up Heartbreak Hill, in tears, walking, my heart was definitely broken as it was then that I realized my A, B and C goals were likely out the window.

I'd heard stories and been told on more than one occasion that if you keep running the pain goes away. All pain is only temporary after all, right? It was here that I turned on my iPod and put Eminem's "Till I Collapse" on repeat.

"... 'cause sometimes you feel tired, you feel weak. 
And when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
and just pull that shit out of you, and get that motivation to not give up
and not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.

I got to the top of Heartbreak and took off running. As soon as I started running I felt an exquisite pain in my quads. The gremilns had shown up with their ice picks early this year, but I pushed on. I started drinking as much Gatorade as possible at every aid station an dashing it down/rinsing my mouth out with water. I decided to turn this into a race between the aid stations, 1 mile at a time all the way to the finish. Right around mile 24 I saw a whole group of Children's Hospital kids and their families (later I found-out that one of them was my friend Tom's patient partner), i gave them all high fives and fed off of their energy. At the aid station after 24 I stopped to try to stretch my quads. It didn't work because my hamstrings cramped. So I kept walking. I looked at my watch and for a second thought that I wouldn't even beat my time from last year.

Turning-off the iPod
Running again...
Then in an instant, in my delirious state, I realized if I ran as hard as I could for these last 2 miles I could break 4 hours. With a quick "Suck it up, Buttercup!" I took off running again. Even though every step was excruciating... Even though I got sick of Eminem and ripped the headphones out of my ear with a "this shit isn't working anymore!"... Even though every cell in my body was screaming at me to stop... I KEPT. RUNNING. Under the Mass Ave. overpass, right on Hereford (which was the longest hill on the course at that moment), and left on Boylston. Someone said the clock on the far right was the "wave 3" clock and it had just ticked over 4 hours. I knew it had taken me a few minutes to start, but I was unsure of the exact delay so I pushed harder. I passed one of my brother's from the Needham Fire Department and his wife spectating in front of the Mandarin Oriental. He yelled my name, I acknowledged, but I can't for the life of me remember what I said. I would have stopped to get a picture or something, but I was on a mission.

I looked at my Garmin right after crossing the finish line and knew I had done it, 3:58:25! A new PR by almost 16 minutes. Elation and sadness at the same time. I was just glad it was over. The first thought that crossed my mind was "I'm done with Boston!" Meaning no more, never again. It had broken me twice and I resigned myself to leaving it that way. Sometimes it's best just to admit defeat and walk away. Upon further evaluation, I've decided that I'm definitely not running Boston again... Unless I just happen run a BQ somewhere else. Over the past week I've gone back an forth agonizing over whether or not I'd ever run another road marathon. I really don't feel drawn to the 26.2 distance, but road marathons are especially suck-y. On the other hand, I love the half marathon distance, it's the perfect distance to race. 10k's are fun too, and if I really feel the need to suffer, I'll just run as hard and fast as my legs, lungs and heart will take me in a 5k and work on breaking 20 minutes! There is simply no need to subject myself to the sheer torture of 26.2 miles on the roads. None. I can't think of a more unpleasant thing to do with 4 hours of my life that I'll never get back.

Then again. One thing I've learned on this crazy journey is the old adage that "Runner's are Liars!" And I am a runner after all...
I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong

I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

By the way... I found my Endurolytes. When I got to my bag and opened it up, there they were right on top. When I hit the porta-potty that one last time I must've pulled them out of my waistband and put them there for safe keeping. At least that worked-out for me, right!?!

There is no tomorrow. Go out and get it today!


  1. A great read!
    Congrats on the sub-4h!
    : )

  2. A great read indeed! The emotional endurance to handle it all is so impressive. I often say "this is a process not an event" when dealing with autism related issues, and boy does that apply to your marathon. Congrats on the PR, and as I have learned in life, never say never!

  3. Thanks Alett and Sheila! As I continue to edit... I'm such a horrible blogger. I'll probably edit it 14 times in the next couple of days, so you may want to come back and read it again. LOL!

  4. What a great series of posts on teh Boston Marathon. You continue to inspire.

    I'm going to start using that mantra "Suck it up, buttercup." Mine usually is "running is a priviliege, but that's a good one!! :-)

  5. ha, I just read the first part...didn't realize how behind i was on blogs! what an awesome set of posts. congrats on your huge PR!!!!

  6. Great series of recap posts Doug. Congratulations on the sub-4 man. I know it's bittersweet, but that is a huge accomplishment!

    I'll see you "out there" :)

  7. Love the recap! You did it!! Congrats!!!

  8. Congrats on your PR, Doug! I realize it's not what you wanted, but a 16 minute PR is a big deal. You pushed through lots of mental and physical challenges and that's also something to be proud of.

    Also, I'm totally not buying the "not doing another road marathon" business. See you in Vermont!!

  9. Very much enjoyed your post-race post(s) ... felt like I was totally there. Such a strange feeling to PR by so much but to miss a goal by so much at the same time. Kudos to you for going in with big goals ... you'll get them, whatever the next ones are.

  10. Just read all your recaps, man oh man what a day! Congrats on the PR and like you said, runner's lie so I'm sure you'll be back! Hope you're feeling much better now that time has passed!

  11. Suck it up - buttercup! HA! I have been saying that to others and to myself a LOT lately! Great post! Great to meet you at the meetup - I was just reading the report from the meet up on the blog and I came across the link to your blog - well done - well written! I need to post my info on my blog too -- crazy day for a marathon - too hot in my opinion. :)