A Diary of the Boston Marathon
By Sheryl Rosen,
An early day
Race day began at 4:45. I prepared my race bag and rode to the Boston Common with two runners staying at the same bed and breakfast as I. We arrived at the chain of buses queued for Hopkinton at 6:00. I was comforted that the temperature had risen a few degrees overnight, but the rain was falling steadily and the winds were significant. I huddled in my raincoat.
Soon I boarded the school bus moderately wet for what seemed like a 40-mile drive out to the start. I knew the driver wasn’t following the distance of the race course, but the trip under the gloomy morning sky made the task ahead more daunting.
The athlete’s village
The athlete’s village was what seven-year-old Sheryl would have judged mud pie material. It was a miserable sight. The soggy tents were large and nearly empty when I arrived, but I knew they would be inadequate for the more than 20,000 runners to come. I secured a spot under a tent and sat on a plastic bag offered by a runner who came better prepared than I. All I could do was wait and hope the weather improved or, at the very least, did not worsen. The wet had already crept in though. My core was warm and dry, thanks to my coat, but my legs, hands, and feet were painfully cold as I saved my dry gloves and socks for the race.
As I passed time by people-watching, I realized how very foolish we all appeared. Attempts at warmth and dryness completely eclipsed all vanity. Runners were clad in garbage bags, shopping bags, ponchos, and raincoats. Some huddled under tarps or beneath overhangs jutting slightly from Hopkinton High School classrooms. Many clamored in small mobs for handouts of coffee, bagels, and bananas.
The rain lessened a bit but still persisted as I made my way to the starting corrals. I arrived with my fresh gloves and socks newly dampened and very eager to start the race. When the mass of people in my corral moved forward and I finally crossed the starting line, it was disappointingly anticlimactic. I was simply relieved to be taking my first steps of the challenge for which I’d traveled so far already.
With the race underway, I splashed through the puddles undeterred, settled into a pace, and tried to concentrate on my running in my usual fashion. However, I found that impossible. Instead, I noticed various historical spots and course landmarks about which I’d read. I noticed the cheering bystanders and wished I could stop to thank all of them. I watched my fellow runners and wondered where they were from and whether this was their first Boston.
The miles flew by quickly. Before I knew it, I heard the Wellesly Scream – the tunnel of noise somehow emanating from relatively few women – before I could even see the college. I saw the unimpressive Heartbreak Hill and was happy to barely notice the brief climb. I passed the big Citgo sign in the city and knew the end was close. I made the final turn onto Boylston Street and soon saw the finish line. The cheers were invigorating, and despite the bitter winds, I sped up to reel in the big blue and yellow finish.
I felt vindicated. In a race that felt at times like a death march, I had finished. I had completed the Boston Marathon.
Celebrating with friends
The faces at the Gulf Winds celebratory dinner were familiar and welcoming. Warren Emo, Hobson Fulmer, Jack McDermott, Kathy Lindsay, and I traded stories and observations about the race. No matter the outcomes of our individual efforts, we said cheers to a Boston to remember.
Thanks to David Yon, Jack McDermott, Gary Droze, John Kalin, Jane Johnson, Brian Corbin, and the many others who helped me prepare for Boston. Your encouragement and advice are greatly appreciated.