Today's the day; Chris is running the Boston marathon. He left our hotel, the Courtyard Marriott, about 6:00 am to catch the bus from the Commons to take him to the starting line. The race doesn't start until 10:00 though, so he'll definitely have some time to kill.
Somehow, he sent me the above photo from his Blackberry (when last I checked, he couldn't figure out how to do that).
I'll update more, if I have a chance, later this morning, and again after the race, before we catch the train.
Oops - he just sent one more shot of Athletes Village:
One thing you may not know about marathons (or any running events), is that they bring in dozens upon dozens of porta potties and the lines for them are enormous. I won't go into details how disgusting that area gets but you can imagine after checking out this photo:
A tradition we have for Chris's marathons (and really any race Chris runs) is Becky makes a sign. These started as unelaborate pieces of artwork - maybe made on a piece of printer paper with a sharpie pen to signs like the one she made for NYC last November.
This year, I think she did a fabulous job in honor of Chris's fifth marathon:
Now as per the tradition, Chris has yet to see the sign. I toted it up here in a garbage bag for Becky, who unfortunately, do to a prior commitment, could not join us this year. She's upset that she's not here but will get text messages throughout the day, noting Chris's progress.
Ah - the elite women just started!
The first wave of men, including Chris, are off. I'm heading out to Heartbreak hill in 60 minutes to watch Chris pass there, then back into the City, where I'll meet him at the finish. Hopefully, I'll get some photos posted while he's in the shower.
I'm back. Did you miss me? Do you know where I was? In train hell! Yes, it's a new ring of hell, and who knew it was located just outside of Boston??
But before I get into that, Chris finished today, in what is now dubbed, "his favorite marathon" in an astounding three hours and 28 minutes! Go Chris. Wish I could have seen it.
Do you know why I didn't get to see it?
Because I was in train hell.
Wish I could post some photos.
Do you know why I can't?
Because all my pictures are of train hell!
Well, not entirely true. I do have some pictures while watching the race on or about heartbreak hill that I'll upload tomorrow. And I had a great time this morning, as Amy and Larry generously picked me up and took me back to their house which is located only 1 block from the course. And it was a beautiful, sunny day. And the Boston fans are really generous. And Chris ran by and gave me a big kiss (after he apparently kissed a Wesley girl), took his Yankee hat and ran off. Oh and yes he made it back to Boston before me because, I was in train hell! As a matter of fact, if I had walked along the marathon course from the time I saw Chris to the finish, I would have made it back to Boston 90 minutes quicker than I did. If I walked really slowly, an hour quicker. Why? Because I was in train hell.
Here's how it goes. After saying good-bye to Amy and Larry (and thanks Larry for holding up the sign! Oh and Amy, Chris spotted you first with your sign, which is why he headed that way), I walked from our vantage point, down Commonwealth, made a right on Centre and found the T with really no problem (Larry, I didn't even have to ask for directions).
Of course, when I arrived at 1:00, there were already quite a few people milling about waiting for the inbound train. One arrived at 1:02. I think the trains to the concentration camps were less crowded. No one got one. So we all waited some more. Somone said another should be by in five minutes. Ten minutes later, another one did arrive. It was more crowded than the first train. Luckily a person got off and a seething mass of humanity tried to push their way on to the train. Some actually made it. But there was no line, no order, so basically the ones who made it had the biggest balls.
At 1:17, another train arrived; more pushing and shoving and some more made it on but in that time, twice as many spectators arrived to take their place. Oh, and the train (think subway with only three cars) doesn't stop exactly in the same spot every time, so guessing where those doors may land is prophet's work.
I decide, screw this and run up to the cab stand. There are two cabs outside, no drivers. I go into the dispatch office, "No cabs today."
Back down to the tracks. Now people are heading over to the other side of the tracks (foreboding music please). They're going to take the train away from Boston, in the hopes of getting to the point before the crowds board, so they themselves can find a seat.
I decide to wait for one more train.
At about 1:27 that train arrives, and no go. The conductor on that train offers no words of advice but the other passengers yell, "Ride out to Woodland and cross the tracks to get on!" Woodland is the second to last stop on the line.
I and about fifteen other frustrated riders, do just that, we cross the tracks and wait for the next train. Those trains had been running about every five minutes but not any more. As we sit and wait, and wait, and wait some more, no trains arrive for about 10 minutes. Then one arrives in the wrong (i.e., correct direction, towards Boston). It's packed too. Now more people join us on the wrong side of the tracks.
At 1:47 (over a full hour after I saw Chris on heartbreak hill), I finally board a train, heading in the wrong direction, towards Riverside.. Everyone on this train has pretty much the same idea and we all scan the other stations as we go through. They too have huge mobs.
Finally, we make the collective decision to ride to the very end. When we do, the train doesn't merely turn around, we must all get off, run across the tracks to a train waiting there, heading in the correct direction, towards Boston.
I board at 2:15, maybe 2:20 and there's a seat left, occupied by a bag! Yes, can you believe it? Someone was sitting there with their bag on the seat next to them! Do they have no idea what day it is? Of course, I say, "Excuse me," and sit down.
By Woodland (the second stop), we are filled to the gills. And we stay that away, for the entire ride. And do you know how long that ride was? A whopping one hour and ten minutes!!!
Yes, due to delays, we were packed in like that until (and after) we arrived at the Arlington Street station, which was not my station but I decided to get off and hoof it.
And that's when it hit me, the ultimate seething mass of humanity, the likes of which I have never seen and pray I never seen again. Wall to wall people heading off the train, heading on the train, everywhere! It was unbelievable!! And all I could say (and the others around me), as we departed the station, to the runners and their supporters waiting to board was, "Go back. Get a beer. Chill out. You're going no where." And I did, over and over again. They looked at me like I was crazy but they'll see.
When after what seemed like an eternity, I finally emerged from the tunnels of the T to find I was in the midst of the runners' meeting area and another seething mass of humanity but at least this one had fresh air. And to the parents who decided this would be a good time to let there two-year old out of the stroller to walk around, "What the F*** were you thinking??"
After one turn in the wrong direction to get out of the masses, I made a b-line for the commons, and then my hotel, walking in to the lobby a whopping three hours from the time I left Amy and Larry in Newton! So, do you believe me? Train Hell!
All that said, Boston puts on a fabulous marathon! Why, because the people are just so into it - it's one 26.1 mile block-party and it's amazing to see. Chris hopes to do it again someday. But next time, I'll just wait for him at the finish line.
Oh - check in tomorrow for some pictures!!