I Love Boston
By: Brad Deel
Given the events that unfolded at the Boston Marathon, I debated the appropriateness of writing this. Yet, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to write it from the perspective I had until that horrible moment. Because the experience I had in Boston is what Boston is all about and if someone reads this and decides to run the Boston Marathon next year or the year after, all the better.
Like a lot of runners, the Boston Marathon was one of my “bucket list” races. The allure of Boston is undeniable. It is to runners what Augusta National is to golfers. Part of the allure is that you have to qualify to run in it. As I recall, only about 1 in 5 marathon runners manage to run a Boston qualifying (BQ) time. That says something about the time and effort and, yes, talent that it takes to BQ. The other part of the allure is that it has been around forever. It’s quirky as well. It’s run on Monday rather than on the weekend. It starts at 10:00 A.M. rather than early in the morning. It’s a point to point course rather than a loop. It’s Boston. So I went.
My expectations of what made Boston a great event turned out to be completely wrong. Boston is special not because you have to qualify and not because of the history but because of the people of the Boston area. At every restaurant, someone asked me if I was running in the race and all of them, runners and non-runners, wanted to talk about it. For the entire 26.2 miles of the course, there were spectators cheering us on.
My goal in this race was just to run easy and enjoy myself. I thought I’d finish in around four hours. I took a camera with me and took a picture at every mile marker. At several of those markers, volunteers took my picture with the marker in the background. I stopped and danced with someone. I took a picture of Santa. The screaming girls of Wellesley were louder than anything I have ever heard. Twice, I stopped and took someone up on the offer of free beer. Every picture I have of myself shows the ear to ear grin of a kid who just discovered a new bike under the Christmas tree. I had the time of my life. Much to my amazement, the crowd pulled me to a 3:23 finish. I have no idea how I ran that fast given all of those stops. (My qualifying time was 3:08).
After returning home, I was asked if I would run Boston again. Probably not next year because, quite honestly, hotels, airfare, rental car, etc, etc, make a race like that a fairly expensive proposition. However, there is no question in my mind that I’d be there if I could easily afford it. I say that for two reasons.
I’d be there because it was so much fun. Running in the Boston Marathon is an experience I wish every runner would have once in his or her career. More importantly though, I refuse to let the bastards win. If we don’t show up, the lousy bastards that planted the bombs win. If the spectators don’t show up or are prohibited from being along the course, the bastards win. If we let them dictate to us how we live our lives, the bastards win. To hell with them. My legs are still a bit stiff but I’m running again and I will race again. And races will go on all over the country this weekend. And runners everywhere will celebrate what we do and remember those caught in this senseless act and honor those who responded and we will keep running. Because we won’t let the bastards win.