The Boston Marathon: You’ll Only Understand If You’ve Been There - Part 1
Although the tradition of the Boston Marathon is as deep and rich as the game of baseball, its power and impact is understood only by a small few. This small group is comprised of those that have endured and by those that have been present at this annual tradition. Typically only viewed by the cult of slender underdeveloped group of humans known as runners and the often intoxicated locals celebrating a so-called holiday known as Patriot’s Day, the Boston Marathon is as synonymous with the city as Fenway Park. It took a tragic and selfless act of hatred but this great urban tradition has now evolved into something the entire world will celebrate annually.
This year marked my third straight Boston Marathon and I can definitively say that the Boston Marathon is the greatest endurance event in the world. I have been to the Hawaii Ironman and although it may be a more grueling event, the atmosphere doesn’t even compare. The hype around this years event was greater than ever and so too was the strength of the field. With the over 4,000 participants that were unable to finish last year granted the opportunity again this year, the race size grew to its largest ever. The size of the blind/visually impaired field also grew to 63, marking the largest blind/VI field in a US event ever. The majority of these individuals, including myself, were apart of Team With A Vision. Team with a Vision is a team of blind/VI and sighted individuals that come together and raise money for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind (M.A.B.) which provides opportunities and tools for blind individuals to succeed in society. Team With A Vision is steer-headed by one of the greatest guys around, Josh Warren. Josh has helped build the team to a point that a position on the roster is highly coveted. Since he has been at the reigns, fundraising has grown astronomically to a point that this year the team raised over $160,000.
In the months leading up to the marathon, I was right on track to where I needed to be minus a few nagging ache and pains. My body can’t take a bunch of junk miles and high volume so I only run 3-4days per week and add strength training and/or swimming/biking on a few other days. Each week I did a long run which was run primarily at my marathon pace (6:00/mile) and a speed workout on the track with one of the strongest running clubs in the country, Club Northwest. The remaining runs were typically 7-9miles at a little slower than marathon pace. I averaged probably about 35-45miles/wk when it was all said and done. Within the last month of preparation I also attended a week long swim camp at altitude at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. I came back from this twenty-one hour week camp breathing easy and feeling confident. In fact, two days after returning from the camp I ran the Mercer Island Half Marathon in Seattle, which is a good simulation of Boston in 1:16:50, just twenty-five seconds off my PR. This gave me the confidence I needed to conquer the Boston course in my hopes to break the American record for the fastest time by a blind/VI individual in Boston Marathon history held by Kurt Finney (2:43:54).
The remainder of my preparation for the Boston Marathon was spent creating a new special edition Boston Marathon CDifferentwithAaron Eye Chart shirt which would be used as a fundraiser for Team With a Vision as well as designing a custom Boston Strong race singlet through Champion Systems. Both of these apparel items turned out amazing but the CDWA Boston Strong singlet was off the hook. Immediately when people saw these they were going to drool and that’s pretty much what happened.
It wouldn’t be an accurate Aaron entry if it wasn’t on a red eye flight. I looked like a high maintenance female with my two large roller bags as I got out of the car at the SeaTac airport. Just to clarify, an entire roller bag was packed full of hundreds of the special eye chart shirts which would soon be selling like Lulu Lemon yoga tights in outlet stores. The proceeds from the shirts would go to Team With a Vision and add to their ever growing fundraising total.
From the time I sat down in my seat until the time we landed in Boston it seemed like all of two minutes as i was out like a rock. It was 6:30am Friday morning and I was anxious to meet my homestay (David McCord and Stephen Hendrickson) for the weekend. I didn’t know what to expect when I got the text from David McCord that he would be waiting at baggage claim and was wearing a pink sequin jacket. This was not uncommon to me as i live in Seattle where this type of attire is the norm and not the exception but I didn’t really expect it in Boston.
As I walked through the door into baggage with the airport escort, Stephen and David were waiting and the pink sequin jacket was not what I had envisioned. I was thinking it was going to be some hot pink moving disco ball that shined in my eyes whenever I turned towards it but it was more of a salmon color and to be honest I never saw the sequins.
From the instant that I met them, David and Stephen were awesome. Little did I know that they lived in a penthouse sweet downtown, only five blocks from the finish line of the marathon. In fact, they lived in the penthouse 2 which was a step up from the regular penthouse. When I walked into the luxurious place I would be staying for the next few days, a panoramic view of hte Boston skyline could be seen from the living room. My room would be the library/bar where a nice air mattress was strategically placed so that if I were to so choose I could make myself a drink without ever moving from my sleeping position. The main bedroom in the place would be occupied by a good friend and fellow blind/VI individual Dianne Berberian and her guide Carolyn Kiper.
Just to give you an example of how awesome my home stay peeps were, they had already went out and gotten special blue and yellow Boston Marathon doughnuts from Boston’s own Dunk’n Doughnuts. David and Stephen were partners that had just gotten married in Maui so they told us the story of how they got Maui’d!!!