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“The next stop is…”

When a New York Subway comes to the station and you happen to catch it just in time…

When you happen to get to a station and the subway enters…

When you catch a subway rushing to the station…

When a subway pulls into a station as you’re rushing in…

…it is the greatest feeling.

The silver train is stopping. You’re not even a dozen feet from where the doors will open and you know that’s your train. You can’t miss it.

Your ride, Madam, Sir.

You won’t wait in the station. You’ll get in Scott-free. Feelings of liberation and relief fill your soul, the way a goblet overflows with red wine at a harvest Renaissance fair. New York is alive.

I’ve made the subway. It came for me.

Yes, you, even in those half seconds you are more than special, as you walk closer and the train slowly comes to a stop. The screeching wheels of steel against the tracks cannot disturb you. You welcome the noise. You’re part of the concert; it is for you, an orchestra of mass-transit love. These feelings really are so beautiful, whether you’re late or early to your rendezvous, though everybody knows no one’s early. We’re all late, fashionably, in our rushed city of Gotham. 

But not this time. Your rush is calm.

You’ll get the train. You’ll make it. Ever since you swiped your MetroCard at the turnstile, that train, that time, that turnstile, all were made for you, and that makes it all worth it, whatever all is.

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Reflections

Boston Marathon 2008 Report

April 29, 2008

So…I ran Boston ‘08 in 3:36:17. The whole thing was an incredible high. The crowds of spectators were so euphoric, and more than deafening at some points, and there were the kisses (the good-natured Wellesley spectators of the fairer sex). Yes, I may have gotten stalled by all that fun I was having, but everybody knew me! I attached my name in bold black marker to the front of my racing shirt, stuck right on with a big white sticker.

The day started with adventure. At 7am, I left Sharon & Seth’s apartment in Somerville, which is just 18 minutes away from Boston via the Red Line train or T, as Bostonians call their subways. I took my Charlie card, what we call Metro-card here in NY. Well, as I went down to the station, and stuck the card into the turnstile, a message read, “insufficient fare.” I panicked, not so much because the card had only a dollar but because I had not packed a dollar with me; a subway ride costs $2 in Boston, but they have an option to put in an uneven $5 into it, which I did some days ago, but had not realized that I had used all available evens, and I had sworn I wouldn’t forget that dollar in case I needed it, but my mind worried more about stretching, eating granola, packing the body glide and sunglasses, than packing a dollar. I went out of the station and a good soul gave me a dollar when I said to him in desperation, “Excuse me. Hi, I’m so sorry to trouble you, but I’ve only got a dollar in this Charlie card and I got a race to run, would you please give me a dollar?” I showed him the Charlie Pass and pointed to the uneven amount printed. He took out his walled and gave me a George Washington. He was the saviour. Thus, I was able to take the Red Line down to Boston Common and get into the busses that would take the runners to Hopkinton, where the race starts, 26.2 miles away from Beacon Street, where the race ends.

Peeing…our bus; I say "our" because I managed to get into the busses with some of my Goodwill runner-teammates. It was pure coincidence that they saw me when I got to Park Street. We traveled together on the back of the bus and it was a little fraternity. When the bus stopped at Hopkinton, we split because they wanted to go to the bathroom on the bushes, the girls mostly; they’d been in line for two hours and had plenty of fluids, whereas I had gone late because I wanted to sleep more and left my dollar in my wallet, etc. The day looked overcast, but as I waited in line for the potties at the Athlete’s Village, the sun came out and so did my sunglasses.

It got so sunny, perhaps too sunny, so says the red skin on my right shoulder, but it was beautiful. The weather was pretty much perfect, at no more than 62 degrees, no less than fifty-five.

At Main Street in the rural New England town of Hopkinton the race started. It was crowded. Perhaps it is no wonder that Boston only allows up to about 25,000 runners for this marathon; the streets are narrower because the race starts from far away and ends in the city; whereas Chicago and New York start and end in their urban spaces. Either way, I found enough room to move. I passed my share of folks, with grace and respect. No tripping, no pushing; how necessary when you’ve got 26 miles in front of you!

Around mile 10, a runner’s cell phone picked up his ringing phone. He answered, “I can’t talk right now. I’m running.” He hung up and put the phone back in his running pouch.

At mile 7, a woman ahead of me was racing without shorts. Her behind was bare. My pace was faster and so I got closer to her and realized that her behind was a costume, perhaps made out of rubber, for it really resembled the organic butt of a woman. As I passed her, I could not help but accidentally say, “Nice ass.” To which she smiled and said thanks and kept her pace as I moved on to mile 8.

Around mile 12 a man listening to his I-pod had a major revelation. He took one of his earphones off. He heard the surroundings. He said out loud, “Wow, what the hell am I doing. I’m shutting this down. This sounds better than what I got on [this I-pod].” He found more pleasure to hear the experience, to be part of it fully, so that all of his senses would be part of Boston. For this is the way: Ears, eyes, nose, taste of sweat, taste of gu, taste of Gatorade, of water, the feel of pain, feel of bumping into others, inside 25,000, others behind, in-front, to the sides, sometimes top and bottom and to make it wholesome, you got two sets of cheering squads on the left and on the right, the feel of a rock star. Why would you tap all that out…? Ears to hear and Eyes to see.

I took water from a little boy. He screamed my name. I took water from somebody’s father, he said you’re Victorious.

In a marathon you don’t give high fives or low fives, you give side fives. So many palms, so many miles. Ecstatic. I would make out like a flying bandit with my arms up, like a plane, and I was flying and the spectators were my wings.

But amidst all this pleasure there was pain.

It started bright and early, with a rib stitch (crampy sort of thing) at mile 3. Luckily the mind controlled the body and that lasted only two minutes and left me by to come back around mile 20, but left again at 23.

Then there was the pain of the plantar fascia, a tissue at the bottom of the heel that gets a bit abused during a marathon—it started hurting barely a third into the race, around mile 8, but like the other pains, it too, left me after about 30 seconds.

Hip Flexor? It behaved. It did tickle me around mile 18 and mile 20 and only for a few seconds.

Near cramping: A series of threats of crampyness started from around mile 18 until the end of the race, but they were threats only. Though at 19 I had to stop for water and thought I’d stretch the quadriceps only to find out that as I’d lift the leg, the cramping was coming, so I stopped. A volunteer saw me and asked me if I was ok. I told her I felt cramping coming. She said the medic was there. He was right there. I asked him, “What do you think; I think I’m cramping, should I stretch or should I just go and run this?” He said, “Just go, just do it.” So, I went. It was the best advice.

The mind conquered the body. The flesh was not weak!

Food: I ate a ton out there. It was like brunch, well, marathoner’s running brunch. I had three GU’s (at mile 12, 17 and 19), at least a pint of Gatorade, and one pint of water. And…I did not go to the bathroom. I did not feel any need. Truly I was recycling the fluids somehow, through intake and osmosis! I guess what I can say is here in Boston I perfected how to feed myself. I hope to take this lesson throughout life and any other race I may venture to next!

Heartbreak Hill? Not the big terror of fame. In fact, I found it very doable. Looking back, I think New York’s 59th Street Bridge is more of a terror challenge. Two factors make Heartbreak not so heartbreaking: 1) The wild, lovely, crazy, sexy, loud spectators & 2) The hill is winding and curving; it’s not a long shot up, and not one hill but rather a series of hills & 2 ½) I had done worse hills in Pittsburgh! Remember Devil’s Hill in Haysville; now that’s heart-shattering! Oh and maybe there’s another reason, 2 ¾) You start out going downhill from mile 1 until about mile 16 when the Heartbreak Hills start, so you build up this momentum; it’s like when you are riding on a bike down a hill, you go so fast and build up so much speed enough to overcome a hill.

Amy Seusing & The Goodwill Girls, for whom I raised money with this marathon: They were so loud & proud! There they were at mile 17, Amy with her wild 80s outfit and the Little Ladies cheering immensely. I extended my hands, they extended their hearts. I got water from one. My stay was but brief, but it was memorable.

Pace: I was even! I was finally consistent. Oh yeah! Look at these miles:

Mile

Time

1

8:32.89

2

8:15.86

3

8:10.32

4

8:07.00

5

8:16.10

6

7:55.21

7

8:00.04

8

7:58.00

9

7:57.82

10

8:07.72

11

8:06.81

12

8:00.63

13

8:15.92

14

8:06.23

15

8:24.72

16

8:17.23

17

8:45.51

18

8:44.00

19

8:33.36

20

8:41.67

21

8:39.00

22

8:13.29

23

7:59.22

24

7:49.81

25

10:25.76

26.2

7:53.15

   
   

Total

3:36.16

   

Average Pace

8:15

Don’t let the time of mile 24 fool you for my fastest mile was the last, for that 7:53.15 includes the last .2 of a mile! Ah, that last mile is marked at its start by the giant Citgo sign that you can see from mile 2, where there’s a fabulous view of it next to the John Hancock tower, where the finish line is, a vision.

Here are some aerial maps of the race route, I thought you’d enjoy. From Hopkinton to Boston!

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First Miles

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Final Miles

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Check this out, with the flexing arm of Cape Cod below! It gives you perspective, eh! I’ve also thought of that Cape Cod flexing arm as a leprechaun’s shoe too!

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Here’s a map of the run: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=1840480

Video: We’re going A/V Baby! Sharon did a fantastic undertaking! Since she and Heather had great seats and had good views, she came up with the idea of using her digital camera as a video camera! It worked! She was able to get my last 6 seconds! I would like to share them with you. The video’s here: www.floydinnovations.com/upfiles/victorsfinish.mov but if you find this version too long to download as it is full quality, you can try a lesser quality, but quick to download version at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4913520666448769599  or  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44QR5U_y4As)

I’m in the middle, wearing a fluorescent green shirt and the dark blue shorts. I’m also going pretty fast. That’s one thing that made this race amazing. For the first time in a marathon, I finished with speed and strength. That last mile was of the 5k race type with a marvelous final 400 yard sprint. Oh, just heavenly! “Chariots of Fire” did come to mind, as did Rocky’s “Gonna Fly Now.”

I owe a lot to the spirits that be. Yes, I did pray to God while running. I asked God to please not let me cramp, that if I must cramp, let it so be after the race. And it happened. I was walking minutes later after crossing the line and didn’t want to litter so I went to the sidelines to throw away an empty water bottle. As I reached to put it in the wastebasket, my legs shot up in cramps. I fell to the ground in front of the spectators. My legs got open and I could not move. It was the muscle underneath the calves. They were like rocks that could not be moved. The volunteers came out and got me into a wheelchair, meanwhile several spectators, like paparazzi took pictures of me. I was laughing the whole time, though, because though painful, it also tickled when the volunteer women held my legs open and got me into the wheelchair! But the “Don’t Cramp; Just Go!” chant will forever be stuck anytime I’m in a bad situation…

Ah, it’s all sweet memories now…

I would like to thank all my friends, not only their your support, but also for having so much stamina to read this long ass report! If you can do this, then rest assured, you can run a marathon!!

Until next time,

Love always,

Victor

PS: Our Goodwill Group raised over $80,000!!! My donors put in $4,710.64 for me!!! Thank you!!!

PS.2: In terms of race statistics, here are mine:

Out of 21,963 runners who finished the race, I was number 8295.

Out of 13,028 male runners, I was number 6,481.

Of runners aged 18-39, totaling 9,592, I was number 3,013.

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Reflections