Really, Really Happy!

A Race!  Philadelphia Marathon 2017

7:33s  |  26.2 miles  |  ~51°F

Today I ran the 2017 Philadelphia Marathon.  I completed it in 3:17:59 (7:33s).  It was really nice to run this race much faster than I ran the NYC Marathon two weeks ago. As a result of running Philly at this pace, I got validation that my training this year was better than the race I finished in NYC.

Here are my unofficial results per my Garmin:

The Philadelphia Marathon official results had me finishing 650th overall, 579th in my gender, and 79th in my division (which is maybe age?). My splits were 46:12.9 (10K, 7:26s), 1:36:02.2 (Half Marathon, 7:20s), 2:17:09.6 (30K, 7:21s), and a finish of 3:17:58.8 (7:33s).

Today’s race started with sub-optimal conditions. It was raining! When I got to the starting area around 5:30am, it had only been sprinkles for me to that point, but then the sky opened up for a long, windy shower. At least I didn’t have to walk there in the rain!

By the time the race actually started at 7am, though, the announcer pointed out the sun was starting to come out — just as forecast!  However, also just as forecast, it was windy. REALLY windy.  Like, 20 mph windy, with gusts to 40 mph windy. The effect of winds like these was felt throughout the race, at times making for some real pushing. There were maybe three times during the whole marathon when the headwinds were so strong that it took a real effort to keep moving into them.  At one point, a crosswind knocked my lifted foot into my other leg! As for tailwinds, there weren’t as obvious. That said, the winds didn’t seem to have that much of an influence on my race.

As for my strategy, I learned a lot from NYC two weeks ago. For one, since I trained with little water and never got cramps, I decided to hold back a bit on the water and be a bit more strategic about having it as well as gels.  After studying my splits in NYC, and my splits over the last three Philly Marathons I did (2010, 2011. and 2012), I realized it would be smarter for me if I tried for a slower, more even pace out the gate. That meant if I felt the desire to run 6:40s in the beginning, I should really slow down — at least in the beginning. Training had suggested that sometimes I run a second 10K faster than a beginning 10K, so if I felt like picking up the pace after 6 miles, then that might be okay. In the beginning, my first six splits were 7:03, 7:16, 7:51*, 7:28, 7:20, and 7:11. (*I stopped at a bathroom and lost about 45 seconds, and added some compensatory speed going into it and leaving it.) These splits were clearly slower than my 2017 NYC Marathon, with opening splits of 8:05, 6:30, 6:57, 6:43, 6:42, and 6:39.

The reason to go slower was obvious to me: In NYC, I flamed out around the 10th mile after having run superfast miles before that point. Plus, I didn’t have any training this year in maintaining those splits, or even really running miles that fast except on very rare occasion. So, it made sense that for Philly, I should run above 7:00s, and probably at a pace more like what I’d trained at.  That was a hard estimate to make, though, because my summer long runs were 8:05s at their fastest, but as it got a little cooler I was doing 7:45s and sometimes faster. Not knowing the target time was not a big deal.  What mattered was just to relax and run at a slower pace than I might want to. So after the first mile, I slowed myself, and subsequent miles I just tried not to pick it up that much.

As for the course, it was basically as I remembered it, with a few changes. The most noticeable change was at the top of the hill halfway through mile 9. Instead of veering to the right, the course continued down a ways. Then we ran through completely new, peaceful, rolling roads that had some nice downhills to them. On the downhills for most of this race, I refrained from picking up the pace, fearful that I’d wear out my quads in the effort to steal some cheap downhill time.

The hill after Drexel University, halfway through mile 7, isn’t so bad and not that long if I don’t go too fast before it. I think if I were sprinting in the beginning, it would have killed by the time I reached it. There is a distinctive building at the top of it that serves as an actual sign of the hill’s completion, rather than a false flag of its summit. After it’s pretty much downhill for a long while.

My pace started to slow around mile 10.  That made some sense because the longest hill in the race was in the second half of mile 9, so in a way losing maybe 15-20 seconds wasn’t so bad, and in looking at my past Philly stats, that seemed to be a common thing to happen. Still, at this point I didn’t know if this meant my time would start to balloon, so I started to put the pressure on.  In fact, I had told myself that after the first 8 miles or so, I’d start my running “work,” so it was now okay to push myself. And by pushing myself, it mainly meant protecting my pace from ballooning much over 7:20s.

While my half marathon was in the 1:35 range, I did the math and figured out that if I kept up the pace, that meant I’d pull off a 3:10. That was pretty respectable, and since I was running at a pretty relaxed pace, I knew I wasn’t going to get a 3:10 but maybe I’d score a 3:15. That gave me hope and a challenge. The challenge was putting on the pressure, especially if toward the end (when the racing is toughest) I was close to achieving a 3:15.

Kelly Drive was pretty much as I remembered it. This year, there was no exit onto a bridge and down a hill to a turnaround point that dumps you back onto Kelly Drive. Thank you for not having that! That was so demoralizing. This year it was straight down Kelly Drive all the way to Manayunk and the turnaround point. From prior years, I recalled that Kelly Drive seems downhill going out, which means that coming back would seem uphill. However, in truth, most of the return down Kelly Drive is a noticeable downhill, however slight. The only memorable uphill is toward the end, as you struggle to locate the finish.

On my return to Kelly Drive, I saw my times were starting to balloon to 8:10s.  Doing the math meant I might still finish in the upper 3:15 range (under which would mean a Boston Qualifying time for my age), or I might even finish 3:16.  That was VERY promising! And while it probably seemed as if I had some energy still in me, it was such a gamble: If I picked up my pace now, I might flame out later — before the finish when it counted. So rather than pick up the pace, I just tried to maintain, maintain, maintain, until I knew where the finish line actually was. I had thought it was an uphill finish, too, so that was another factor — I wanted to have gas to get across the finish line.

One part that was mucking with my math was that my Garmin would tick off miles about .2 miles ahead of the mile markers. So what that meant was that I’d cross the finish line at 26.4 miles rather than 26.2. And it takes about 2 minutes or more for me to run that last .2 miles of the marathon, so in doing math in my head, should I add two minutes to my projected finish time, or four minutes?  That is, would the finish line be where my Garmin says 26.2 miles is, or where it says 26.4 miles is?  Should I protect for another two minutes of running, or sprint early?

It didn’t matter much. As I got close to the finish, I couldn’t really up my pace much. I saw the clock, though (they don’t have them along the course, so this was the first clock I saw!), and I could see it was ticking close to 3:18. I wanted to see if I could finish sub-3:18. I crossed the finish line shirtless (which is how I did the run), and the announcer humorously called out my pecs. I stopped my watch a second or two after crossing the finish line and my Garmin said I finished in 3:18:01. I thought that meant I might have done a sub-3:18.  I didn’t confirm that I had in fact run 3:17:59 until I got back to my hotel room.

I was so, so, so happy to finish so much faster than the 3:30:03 I did in the much harder course of NYC. In past NYC-then-Philly combos, I’d sometimes run Philly slower than NYC, even despite the flatness of Philly. So, I didn’t know how I’d do in Philly this year. My training between the races was different, and I thought improved: I did a Friday 12-miler after the NYC Marathon, then a Saturday 18-miler with some fast parts. I missed a few days of training then did a Thursday 12-miler, followed by a Friday 6-miler. That was a lot more mileage between races than I think I’ve done before — I don’t think I’d ever run longer than a 12-miler between races. The reasoning to run longer and more was to keep my fitness up in the latter parts of long runs rather than to let it slide. Plus, in a way, the NYC Marathon was a training run for Philly! I think the heavier mileage coupled with the rest day before Philly helped.

What also helped was a big pasta dinner the night before the Philly Marathon.  I ordered Seamless from Trios Pizzeria & Tratorria: Ortolana pasta with broccoli and olives, a small piece of bread, a salad, and a fudge brownie. (Remember to order utensils in the future!). The food was delicious and despite the size, not overwhelmingly filling.

All in all, while this was not my fastest marathon ever, it was some reassurance that all this running I did this year meant something.  It meant I could run a marathon pretty fast — at least faster than a 3:30, and even faster than a 3:20! It made me think that if I did more distance speed work despite the warmth of September and October, it might have paid off in my endurance. It meant I still “got it,” even if I didn’t run a 3:08 or less. Running a faster marathon than 3:17:59 seems totally plausible. The question is: When?

I’m thinking about doing the Icebreaker International Marathon in East Meadow, NY, for January 28th.  It’s close enough to NYC and it’s inexpensive. It might be a way for me to try again to lower my time while I have this level of fitness.  We’ll see!

Surprised, Not Disappointed

A Race!  NYC Marathon 2017

8:01s  |  26.2 miles  |  ~57°F

Today I ran the 2017 NYC Marathon.  I completed it in 3:30:03 (8:01s).  While I’m not feeling disappointed, I’m more surprised at how slow my time was because I had thought I trained better for this!

Here are my unofficial results per my Garmin:

I studied up for this race the night before.  I looked at my Garmin splits for the 2010 and 2011 NYC Marathons I did, and I noticed a curious pattern.  I noticed that if I subtracted about 5 seconds from the time on my first mile, I arrived at the minutes above the 3-hour mark that I’d finish.  That is, in 2010 I finished mile one in 7:33, and my finish time was 3:27:08.  In 2011 I finished mile one in 7:18, and my finish time was 3:13:59.  My first mile in this year’s marathon was 8:05, so I was confused about what to estimate my finish time as, especially considering I thought my training would finish me between the times of 2010 and 2011. I also held back a bit in that first mile, partially because of all the runners but also because the 3:05 pacer was just ahead of me!

Well, during 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, when I was ticking off miles with paces of 6:57, 6:43, 6:42, then 6:39, 6:42, and 6:50 to finish mile 8, I had to shake that theory. I was running very fast — faster than all my training this year, at paces that were generally far better than any of my paces this year! — and I decidedly was unsure when this party would end.  I knew that come about mile 10 I would potentially start to fade.  For the uphill over mile 9, I kept up my pace, logging a 6:55. And for mile 10 I kept up that same pace. But on Bedford Avenue, I had forgotten any notion that it was a long, low-grade uphill, and runners quickly started to pass me as I felt my body power down.  I powered down so much, mile 10 was 6:55 but mile 11 was 7:41!  That was surprising.

It also might have been a signal of my training to some degree. My standard run in the summer was 10 miles.  While I hadn’t done a 10-miler in a while, it was maybe interesting that I broke inside mile 11. Or maybe it was that I had fewer than recommended long runs in the last month, spelling out that I would tire rather than sustain a pace, or at least hold on a bit closer to 6:55. I mean, there was also a long hill, plus I’m considerably older than I was in 2011.  And it was a warm year, with 60s-70s holding all of the way through October into November, with a number of humid fall days. But whatever.

Not far ahead of me, though, was the Pulaski Bridge and with it the half-marathon mark. I don’t like that bridge! It’s a slow trek up it to the anti-climactic half-marathon mark. It can be draining. Plus, I’m only HALFWAY done at that point, and the second part of the NYC Marathon is tougher than the first! Still, knowing that Elizabeth Corkum was lurking in Queens to cheer me on helped to motivate me and to look strong, and sure enough I saw her just after 46th Road and high-fived her. Woohoo!

After that point, though, I could just tell I wasn’t doing well, and I was dreading the massive Queensboro Bridge.  I knew I would considerably slow down on it as I had in the past, and while my uphill mile 15 was faster than in 2010 (it’s partly on land), my downhill mile (partly uphill) was slower than both 2010 and 2011.  I remember simply plodding along with much better runners pouring past me.

Up to this point, my gel consumption was based on whether I felt a power-down. I consumed an AccelGel just before the race. I had one at mile 5 when I felt myself power down, so I calculated then to have a gel each 5 miles. I consumed water and/or this watered-down Gatorade Endurance formula at most stations, looking for fuel. Did I not have enough carbs in my system? I had sushi for dinner the night before and no sizable pasta or anything before the race. I don’t think I would have run much faster had I carbed up, but maybe I would have sustained myself longer.

Once on 1st Avenue, I just had to keep going. I never really looked at the crowd, just trying to keep going and ignoring the hills in getting to 77th Street for mile 17, 97th Street for mile 18, and 117th Street for mile 19. That’s a lot of blocks!  At mile 17 were Poland Spring sponges soaked in cold water, of which I grabbed two and squeezed them over my head which felt really good. At mile 18 were PowerGels, and I consumed one with 25mg caffeine which may have given me a tiny boost. Around this time I was dealing with leg cramps. One was on my right leg, on the outer side, in the quads area. There was another cramp forming somewhere on my left leg — I can’t remember where. I just focused on keeping on and eventually the sensation passed.

Crossing into the Bronx, since it’s only for a mile and I remembered the course better this year, I was more encouraged and it seemed as if my pace picked up a bit. Not really much, though, as I was running deep into the 8:00s at this point. I grabbed a banana inside the Bronx to give myself real food but more so to help stave off any future cramps, which I remember in the past happening in my lower legs around mile 22.

I was encouraged once in Harlem to see my friend Sharon at the place where I thought she would be, just after mile 22, but I felt frustrated when there was no sign of her there. (Apparently she was in a different place, and while I thought it was clear where she would be, we did not communicate this clearly enough between us.) I shifted to focusing on 5th Avenue, which is another low-grade hill for too many blocks. Sure enough, it delivered, with seemingly endless blocks of uphills.

I remembered to start calculating my finish time once passing mile 23.  I figured at this point I’d finish about 29 minutes after this point, which seemed to pace out to a finish around 3:29 or 3:30, especially considering there was no real chance of my picking up my pace any better than the trek I was doing now, but also considering the rolling hills in Central Park I was about to encounter. I expected at this point my fiancée Rachel would be watching on the app, gearing up for my meeting her at the sign for one half mile to go, and that expectation kept me motivated and going forward. I got more eager once I hit the mile 25 mark, because from there it’s a faster downhill then a turn onto Central Park South where I’d see her.

I saw her! I started to break down emotionally as I saw her, and I stopped for a few seconds to give her a kiss.  She grabbed a few photos as I was advancing toward her. She said because I ran this marathon shirtless, it was a bit easier to spot me — not a lot of people were shirtless this year, and I noticed maybe one runner during my journey.

After that point, I just had to finish. I had researched during my last days of training not to sprint until I hit the “F” sign the NYC Marathon posts close to the finish, because that’s the top of the last hill, and just far enough from the finish to warrant not sprinting sooner. I did, though, get to pick up my speed and finish this marathon sprinting. As of this post, my unofficial finish time was 3:30:03, which means that if I didn’t stop to kiss Rachel, I would have finished under 3:30. Not a bad reason to give up on that goal!

Right after I crossed the finish line, and probably because my blood pressured dropped from the sprinting, I asked to walk with someone who was in a red coat.  I put my arm around his shoulder and we walked for a few yards until I recovered. Then it was the long walk to get my bag and exit at W. 85th Street. Rachel rendezvoused with me there, and we simply walked another 14 blocks home.  So, in addition to the marathon, I walked all the way from about W. 65th Street to W. 100th Street.  Until I finally laid down in my apartment around 2:20pm, I figured I had been on my feet without sitting since about 8:05am!

Next up is the 2017 Philadelphia Marathon, which is two weeks away.  I think given this race, I have a better sense of what my body will do in it. If I stubbornly try to run Philly in sub-7:00s for the first few miles, I’ll probably tank similarly before the half-marathon mark and have a grueling finish. But if I hold back, I may have more endurance through the middle miles and maybe (maybe!) the energy to pick up my pace then rather than dissolve. I shouldn’t expect a PR at Philly, and I might even have to expect a finish around 3:30. Given my notes from the prior years, it helps when I train between these races, so it would be advised to train well between these races. I also probably should carb up before.

I kept saying, and keep saying, that I was more surprised by how slow my NYC Marathon was this year than disappointed with my time. I’m older too, but it’s hard to use that as an explanation because there are older, faster runners than me. Still, it’s really great to have finished. It was not fun. Maybe it would have been fun were it cooler, brighter, and not so rainy and humid (the start was 57 with about 80% humidity, cloudy, with the rain seeming to hold off for the run unless maybe there was drizzle). Of course, it would have also been fun had my body been responding better to the running! But having gotten in via lottery this year, not even thinking I’d be doing another marathon, it was a great achievement to finish NYC again.  I think this was my sixth running of it: first in 2001, then 2003, then 2005, then 2010 and in 2011. Hurricane Sandy wiped out my 2012 running (I ran a replacement marathon instead), and I elected not to run 2013 for lack of training.

As for pain, I had almost zero chafing, and my legs felt pretty good a few hours later!

Well, That Happened!

A Race!  Boston Marathon 2013

8:19s  |  26.2 miles  |  42~48°F

Today I ran the 2013 Boston Marathon.  I completed it in 3:37:59 (8:19s).  Definitely not one of my faster marathons, but at least I got to finish!

I’m actually writing this entry on Sunday, April 21, 2013, and backdating it.  I’ve just gotten around to writing it, after a tumultuous week of news surrounding the tragic events that happened about an hour and ten minutes after I finished the marathon.  So some of the information in this entry may seem futuristic relative to the publication date.

Official Stats per

Bib No. 5653 (Wave 1, Corral 6)


5k 10k 15k 20k Half 25k 30k 35k 40k
0:22:45 0:46:22 1:09:30 1:33:41 1:38:46 1:58:10 2:25:12 2:53:22 3:24:45



Pace Projected Time Official Time Overall Gender Division
0:08:19 3:37:59 3:37:59 10638 7608 3242


Unofficial Stats per my Garmin 610

The day started off with relatively ideal conditions.  It was mostly cloudy but the sun was peeking out.  It was cool but not too cold, with a forecast for the race to get up to about 56 degrees — optimal for me.  I was at the runner’s village with Elizabeth Corkum, who was also running it, set to pace her friend and running teammate Cip.  They weren’t able to rendezvous at the village because of poor cell phone signal and low cell battery, but eventually found themselves in the corral.  Elizabeth’s more remarkable stories of the day are here: Ode to Boston | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

I wasn’t feeling all that great this morning, which is generally a good thing for me in terms of racing because I tend to do fairly well when I feel bad in the morning.  It was mostly a less than comfortable feeling in my digestive system but nothing that really terrified me.  I wasn’t sure how I’d race today.  I had not really put much strategy into the race this time, relying mostly on my 2011 Boston Marathon experience when I ran 3:15:16 (7:27s).  I did not think I would achieve that level of performance this year; instead, I estimated I’d finish around a 3:25.

I ended up in Corral 6 in the first wave, which started at 10am.  My impromptu strategy this time was to do a bit of research: I recalled how fast these first miles leaving Hopkinton could be, even without effort, so I decided I would run slowly out of the gate to see what that might do for my later effort.  This included slapping kids’ hands on the right side of the course, which I thought would help to slow me down a bit.  In my first miles I was mostly in the mid-7:10s without much effort, with a couple of slowdowns when I took a bathroom break during the 4th mile and stopped to loosen my laces in the 5th mile after having an intensifying tingling sensation in my left foot.  The sensation didn’t relent so I decided I’d just see if I could deal with it while running and see if it would go away.  It eventually did — I think sometime during the 10th or 11th mile.  (I wondered if hydrating myself had any impact in the tingling going away because the loosened laces didn’t seem to help!)

My pace started to slow around the 8th mile, going into 7:20s territory and then quickly moving up past 7:30s up to an 8:00 for my 15th mile.  During this time, I ticked off one of my things to do : get a kiss from a Wellesley girl or two.  I found a spot where I thought I could get kissed on both cheeks by two girls.  I got one kiss and quickly left.  It was only after then that I realized that it was more the point to kiss a Wellesley girl than by kissed by one.  Darn!  Well, maybe I’ll try next time.

Once I ran 16 miles, I saw the game change for me.  In my most recent training runs, I’d been able to get my 16-mile runs down to close to two hours, and here I was hitting that just about on the button, just a few seconds to maybe a minute slower than that pace.  But from this point I realized that’s when things will get really tough with this race (what with the Newton Hills just ahead, plus the challenging last 10K), so I wasn’t expecting myself to hold to that pace, especially since my recent training had tapered too soon quite accidentally from being trapped in an unrelenting work schedule.  Sure enough, it was after this point that my splits changed from sub-8:00s to ultra-8:00s, ultra-9:00s, and even ultra-10:00s!  (There was one notable exception on the fast and exhilarating downhill off of Heartbreak Hill when I ran a 7:53.)

As far as the Newton Hills, the first one seemed the longest.  The next two are a bit of a blur, with the downhills of these three seeming quite long.  If I’d had more energy for these hills, I might have tried to shave off some time on these downhills.  The fourth and final hill, Heartbreak Hill, indeed starts at the traffic light with a little bump, and concludes at a curve where I think there’s another traffic light.  I was crawling along but didn’t stop.  It was really fun getting some energy back on the long downhill out of Heartbreak Hill.

The Citgo sign is a welcome sight implying that you’re really close to the finish.  You see it from a bit back then you don’t … and then you do.  This second time you see it is more promising.  However, there is a highway overpass of a very steep grade at this point in the race (steep to me at this point, that is!), so that’s to be remembered.  From 2011, I remembered how hard all of the remaining hills were to me but this time they were a little less difficult except for this one.  I was really drained for a lot of this 2013 race at the end.  Crawling along in the ultra-9:00s and 10:00s, I wanted to stop but kept myself motivated enough to put one foot in front of the other and by reminding myself I’d only be running about 18-20 minutes more.

Elizabeth’s boyfriend Chris was near the end of the course, so that was also a motivator for me.  He didn’t know exactly where he’d be so that was going to be a bit of a challenge for me to pick him out, so I didn’t lose too much energy trying to find him.  He was going to be positioned near the underpass inside the last mile — this underpass below Massachusetts Avenue was across the street from our hotel, The Eliot.  In the end, I missed Chris, and I continued on toward the Hereford turn and then to Boylston.

On Boylston, I picked up my pace just a bit, with my strategy being to sprint only once I hit the last cross-street, Exeter.  I came upon an older man running in front of me whose shirt claimed he was 60 or so, and not wanting him to beat me, I made sure to pick up the pace enough to get by him.  When I hit Exeter, I turned on the gas, and I ended up robo-sprinting through the finish line.

Since it was so helpful in 2011, I did the same this year and held the hands of some volunteers while I walked the intersection to get water.  I picked up water, Gatorade, a heatsheet, medal, and other nourishment, all moaning a bit with my calves really aching.  Once I accumulated all of my stuff, I decided to rest my legs a bit by stepping each one at a time on the lower rail of a security gate, with a volunteer making sure I was okay.  I was, though I was aching.  I then made my way over to the buses to get my bag, then off to the family reunion area.  At some point I called Chris to triangulate with him.  I decided to head over to his general area on Massachusetts and Commonwealth.

The route wasn’t as direct as it could be because of the road closures, so I hacked my way a bit in our hotel’s general direction.  I ended up being near the finish so I turned down I believe Exeter and ended up very near the finish line.  I was walking along the south part of the race, right in front of Lord & Taylor.  It was in front of Lord & Taylor that I encountered a disturbing mass of people, pretty much sealed in like sardines with almost no room to move.  The sidewalk was packed with about 3-6 rows of people watching, with only about two rows of people getting by near the wall of the store — and they were hardly moving.  We would take babysteps every few seconds.  I had two thoughts around this time: 1) if a bomb went off here it wouldn’t be pretty, and 2) why are there not police officers regulating the flow of people here?  It was definitely unsafe.  Where I was ended up being I believe diagonal from each of the bombs that were to go off minutes later.

Eventually I freed myself from the pedestrian traffic and made my way along Boylston.  Lots of “Congratulations!” were uttered to me as I’d walked from the family reunion area, and they continued even to this point.  I reached Hereford and all this time I’d been looking to see if I’d see Elizabeth and Cip finishing, but given what Chris had said about their time I figured it would still be a while.  I thought about turning down the west side of Hereford but there looked to be so many people, I didn’t really want to endure navigating another mass of people.  So I kept going along Boylston until I got to Massachusetts Ave., and I saw Chris waiting for me at Commonwealth.

We talked outside the hotel there at the corner for a bit.  Chris said Elizabeth and Cip had just passed by, and sure enough soon after we got simultaneous text messages alerting us that they’d finished.  It must have been three minutes later that we heard an enormous boom.  I only remember one boom, but Chris remembered two.  I looked to the police officers there who were regulating traffic and they seemed to look at each other, but we all carried on a moment later as if that-was-that.  While it did sound like an explosion, I didn’t know the city very well so I figured it must have been loud sound on a construction site or something.  It sounded like a dump truck hitting a pothole, which is a very loud sound.  However, it sounded about ten times louder than that.

Chris went off to grab some lunch and I went up to the hotel room.  Chris had left the TV on and I was watching The Talk on CBS and nourishing myself when suddenly breaking news came out.  That sound I’d heard indeed was an explosion.  In fact, it was at the marathon.  Early reports were of limbs.  It didn’t sit well.  I first thought it must have been some tragic explosion of an oxygen tank at a medical tent.  It wasn’t long before I realized it was something else.

Eventually I got a call from Elizabeth from Cip’s phone.  Elizabeth hadn’t been able to reach Chris and since her cell phone battery was dead she had to use her friend’s phone.  She said she had just finished about three minutes prior and had to run away.  She was definitely in a state of excitation and I remained calm and asked her to remain calm.  I figured it was all over — of course I didn’t know but I didn’t doubt that.  She explained that the route back to our hotel was cut off now, so she would go to Cip’s hotel near Boston Common (the other side of the finish line from us) where she could also recharge her phone.  Chris, who’d just gotten Elizabeth a burrito, was with me before he decided he’d see if he could walk over to her hotel to get her.  He did, and meanwhile I got out messages that I was safe to those I knew who knew I was running.  I did that nearly the entire time Chris was gone, when he came back with Elizabeth.

It is about there that my story ends.  The only eerie thing for me is that I was on Boylston minutes before the explosions, but I just don’t recall how long before.  I’m guessing it was about ten minutes before.  The next eerie thing — I described as “chilling” — happened to me two days later when news got out that they had footage of one of the bombers laying down a backpack … footage taken from Lord & Taylor.  When I heard Lord & Taylor mentioned, it hit me a bit since I’d been there.  I remembered how packed it was, how some people were standing inside the glass entrance presumably out of the crowds, and how empty the store seemed despite being, I believe, open.

I ended up fixating on the news, staying in bed all day Friday from about 6:50am until the capture of the second suspect late that night.  I was interested in the news.  I don’t think I was traumatized by the events, but the last two nights (Friday and Saturday) I’ve dreamt of bombings and even a bombing at a race.  I think that must be more from the impression of the news than the actual events, but I can’t be sure.  I’ve had some other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder but I don’t really think I exhibit the condition, just more a confluence of things in my life coming together around the same time as this.  We’ll have to see how this continues to unfold.

So that was much of my 2013 Boston Marathon experience.  Wild.  Marathoners in the last five months have been through a lot.  From the cancellation of the 2012 NYC Marathon and the bad blood toward marathoners Hurricane Sandy sponsored, to the bombings of the 2013 Boston Marathon and the support its marathoners got, such an apolitical activity as marathoning seems to have become political.  I’m hoping it’s only a blip in the history of marathoning and that marathoning can get back to its normalcy.  Before the bombings, marathoning had long had a symbolic value, but after these bombings its symbolic value has increased manifold.

To see photographs from my 2013 Boston Marathon, click here.

To read an article from the Times Ledger in which I was interviewed about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, click here.

For a second article appearing in the Times Ledger, along with some photographs I provided, click here.