Without a single iota of sarcasm or tongue-in-cheek here, I want to tell you that training these six months has been one of the highlights of my athletic life so far, with the jewel on the crown looking to come right about this time next week as one sweaty, aching, dehydrated, disorientated mess of a 19 year old crosses the finish line on Boylston Street. Bring your camera, I know. Now, I know it’s still very pre-mature to be making my Sally Field acceptance speeches here (“You really really like me!”), but finish or no, at the back of the pack or a with surprise upset of the Kenyans, I want to send out a huge thank you to quite a lot of people.
First, to my mom, sister and dog… You three have patiently watched and mercifully held back on telling me what a lunatic I’ve become as I descended into slow insanity over the past few months and actually started enjoying going the long distances. I know next Monday, you three will be the loudest, most fantastic spectators on the course out of a field of millions. I’ll be looking for you!
Secondly and hugely important: The E-Streeters. Not the ones you’re probably thinking of… Springsteen and his band were across seas touring for most of this training season. These guys are a little less known by all except perhaps the nearby state penitentiaries and police departments (kidding…), but regardless, there is no single other group I’d have rather trained with for this race. Somehow they were able to make waking up at UNGODLY hours every Saturday morning, driving to some remote starting point and running 2+ hours – often in the FREEZING COLD, and on hills that made Mt. Washington look like a slight incline in comparison - an absolute highlight of each and every week. The jokes never stopped coming, and through it all we were able to keep what little already remained of our self-esteem. Two especially – the brothers Scanlon, Barry and Tommy – I want to send a special shout-out to and wish especial luck next Monday. They’re the only two crazy enough to sign up with me to trek the whole 26.2, cracking jokes the entire way that belong in any comedy hall of fame. We joke about it a lot, but I can only hope to be as in-shape as you guys are when I get to that age. First one in buys dinner?
The Race: Hooo boy. My fingers and the (admittedly stiff) body connected to them are certainly counting their blessings tonight that they’re all healthy and able to be typing these words to you. And brother, there’s a LOT to type, so we’ll certainly put their gratitude to the test by the end. This is the story I’ll hopefully be telling my grandkids 50 years from now about what granddad did when he was a crazy youth. So let’s start from the very beginning (a very good place to start).
|The Warriors Three|
It could not have been a more perfect day for ANY kind of run, but for a marathon, it was literally the ideal: gentle winds, temps in the mid 50s, with some steady sun occasionally hidden behind a nice cloud cover now and then. Maybe the only ones more appreciative of Mother Nature were the spectators, a crowd whose size easily numbered up into the millions without breaking a sweat. For 26.2 miles, on both sides of the road for as far as you could see, the sea of onlookers never let up. Seriously, these guys were literally dozens deep from the street in some places. I really can’t put it into words, and that for me is a rare thing. Picture – that kind of reception on either side of you; in front of you and behind you, thousands upon thousands of brightly colored heads bobbing up and down, your fellow runners. For twenty. Six. Point two. Straight. Miles. Yeah. Me, too.
|The kisses at Wellesley were, not surprisingly,|
rather a good part of the day. *Cough*
Various aches and pains started popping up right as I was making my way past Boston College, about five miles out from the finish. These turned into flat-out injuries as the miles ticked on, coming to a head as I felt the ligaments of my left knee pop as I crossed over the Mass. Pike at mile 25. Hobbling through Kenmore Square, up Hereford St. and down Boylston St. towards the finish on a popped knee and an injured right foot (tendinitis, I later found out), the only thing keeping me going was my will to get to that finish line. Looking at some of the pictures taken during that stretch, I barely even recognized (and certainly didn’t want to, when I did) the grimacing, scowling, sweaty mess of a runner pictured, spit flying from his mouth as he shambled along without stopping. My dad thankfully was able to drive down to the finish line and meet me a quarter of a mile out, egging me on the whole last stretch while serving as my own personal paparazzi. As soon as I threw my hands up in the most elated sense of accomplishment I’ve ever known after crossing that finish line, I collapsed onto his shoulder, literally unable to support myself on my own two feet. My body’s never known that amount of pain or stress before, and while I’m not looking to get back to it any time soon, it’s still pretty impressive knowing the human body can endure through that kind of trauma.
|There's quite a lot of pain happening during this picture|
Then, it all went south.
|My dad actually had the sense |
to snap a picture of the immediate
aftermath. It's tough even looking at it.
From there, we escaped to the family car as fast as my numbed legs would carry me; and as soon as we had my mom and sister safely in hand, we drove out of the city as quickly as we could. Sirens could be heard down all the streets headed towards the direction of the finish area. We were actually only just able to make it out in time, before the city was totally closed off to all traffic. I didn’t begin to recuperate until we finally reached home, and I was sitting under the hot water in the shower. THAT’S when what had happened finally started to sink in. THAT was when the “Wow… That actually just happened” moment took place. It’s a scary, scary feeling, let me tell you. The close-call stories started coming in then from friends and family around the finish, who, by nothing else than the will of God, had been lucky enough to escape all injury. There were some guardian angels working overtime that day, no question.
More importantly, there were angels on the ground as well. Mere seconds after the blast, as shown in the endless newsreels shown in the aftermath, marathon volunteers, Boston police, first responders, and good Samaritan runners and spectators made a bee-line to the blast site, totally heedless of their own personal well-being, to give much-needed aid to the victims. A friend of mine, fellow E-Streeter and Lowell cop Nick Laganas, had actually just crossed the finish line, and after running the 26.2 mile distance, turned around and ran another 200 yards in the opposite direction to help out the wounded. Nick, you’re a hero in every possible sense of the word, my friend. Reports came in later of runners who ran right on through the finish area for another two miles straight to Mass. General to give blood to the victims. Dozens of websites, created by Bostonians and residents of the surrounding suburbs, went up within hours offering up free housing, food and showers to all stranded runners. These are the kinds of stories that keep my faith in the human race, even after all the tragedies. The single act of one coward is what’s been making the headlines, but it’s the countless acts of an entire city that made the day.
|"I'M COMING FOR YOU!"|
“Boston, you’re my home.”
Andrew Cook (Class of ’15) posted these entries on his Student Blog on the College of the Holy Cross website on April 8th and 18th, 2013. Our thanks for his sharing his account with BOSTONlog.com.
For more personal accounts of the 2013 Boston marathon, click here.
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