I Gotta Have More Cowbell ….

Posted: April 16, 2010 in Pace and Racing
Tags: , , ,

Hard to believe but in a few minutes I’ll be leaving for the airport here in Austin and headed out East to the Boston Marathon.  This week has been a great one with training wrapping up on Wednesday morning with a great final 4.4 mile tune-up and all of the “to-do list” items crossed off.

After checking the weather forecast it looks like near perfect conditions – for me anyway – for the 114th running of the Boston Marathon.  Race-time temperature should be somewhere around 43 degrees and climb to only a high of 52 by 2:00 p.m.  If the forecast holds true the majority of the 3+ hours I am out on the course will be in 45-50 degree temps – almost exactly the same as last year’s Pittsburgh Marathon where we posted our Boston Qualifying time of 3:17:43.

They are calling for a 30% chance of rain for race day, but only winds in the 6-9 mph range coming from the SW.  That tells me they are not expecting high winds and a significant storm – perhaps a light rain falling – which again would mimic the race experience from Pittsburgh last year.  I’ve got my ball cap tucked into my race bag just in case we need a hat with a brim to keep the rain off of my face, but other than that it looks like the training gear I picked for my 20-mile training runs will be what I am able to race in on Monday. So if you are looking to spot me along the course – we’ll be rockin’ the Moeben Sleeves with Stars and Royal Blue Under Armour Gear on Race day.

Boston Marathon Race Gear

It’s hard to pinpoint the one thing about the race experience that I am looking forward to most at Boston.  I’m sure many would think that the finish line would be the one thing that stands out above all others.  But in my experience I really have a lot of mixed emotions approaching that finish line.  Because so many emotions are all happening at exactly the same moment. it is hard to describe the feeling. 

Realistically when in your life have you felt Relief, Ecstasy, Pride, Pain, Exhaustion, Exhilaration and Sadness all at the same time?  The experience is so intense that you find yourself wanting to cry and laugh out loud at the same time.  It’s a powerful feeling for sure.

Sadness?  Seems like an odd one, but for me it hits me almost immediately coming through the chute.  There is a feeling that something tremendous just occurred in your life – something that you had been preparing for and looking forward to for months and months, and in the blink of an eye —- it’s over.

There are no victory laps, no post race press conferences for us amateurs.  Just a click of a timer and it’s done.  Four months, hundreds of training miles, early mornings, bumps and bruises followed by a grueling 3+ hours of testing yourself both mentally and physically.  You keep those legs pumping, those arms swinging, you block out the pain in your legs, knees, hips and as you finally cross that line …. done.

That is what I find so great about the final 2/10 of a mile in the marathon.  I for one am glad the race doesn’t end at 26 miles.  I treat that final .2 miles as my very own victory lap.  It’s the time for me to drink it all in and try to burn lasting images in my mind that I’ll never forget.  I look for faces in the crowd that stand out.  Small children clapping or holding signs – looking to spot their Father, Mother, Uncle or Aunt.  I search for my family and friends that have made it to race day and of course look to see if I can spot Dawn somewhere in the crowd – that’s the point when I know it is real, that all of the hard work was worth it and then some.

It’s an amazing experience that final 1 minute and 30 seconds covering the last 2/10 of a mile – so perhaps that will be the best part on Monday.  Of course the starting corral will be a great moment as there is nothing like the electricity in the air and the nervous energy coming off of the thousands of runners surrounding you before the starting gun.

Then there will be running through Wellesley College, through the screech tunnel and on to Newton to due battle with the famous Newton Hills.  That is going to be pretty special for sure.  I must admit that by incorporating so much hill training into my preparation for Boston, I am actually looking forward to seeing that 16 mile marker in Newton, MA.  That marker signifies the start of a 5 mile stretch of hills leading to perhaps the most famous of all marathon course hills — Heartbreak Hill.

To me, that is where my Boston Marathon is going to be defined.  If I run my race and stay within myself up to that point I know that I will have the energy and the will that I need to push up and over that part of the course.  I realize that stretch of course has tripped up many a confident marathoner in the past – some much more accomplished and experienced than I.  But I’ve got a secret weapon in running for Dom this year and I know it.  I am going to tap into that reserve and take on those hills with a vengeance. 

Frankly, Heartbreak to me is just another hill.  Just another .40 miles and 88 feet in elevation that need to be covered on my way to Boston.  In a little more than three and one quarter minutes it will be in my rear view mirror and I will find myself powering down to Boston proper.

But what I think I am looking forward to almost as much as anything else is the crowd of spectators watching the race.  Because Patriot’s Day is a New England Holiday, essentially the entire city of Boston is off for the day.  500,000 spectators will be lining the course from Hopkinton to Boston and they will be there encouraging me, making me laugh with signs and comments and helping tired legs feel just a little bit stronger along the course.  The spectators make a huge difference during a race – it is something that you really have to experience to fully appreciate.

I received an e-mail from the Boston Athletic Association on Thursday afternoon letting people know that Free Cowbells, compliments of Tata Consultative Services are being made available to all spectators who want one to help root along the runners.  Ah, the cowbell, another great marathon tradition.  During every race when I hear that cowbell ringing it always brings a smile to my face as I always flash back to that classic Saturday Night Live parody featuring the music of Blue Oyster Cult.

Afterall, I gotta have more Cowbell baby!

So with that I’m off to Boston.  Thank you for all of the kind words and encouragement over these many months and for all of the help making a difference in the lives of Dom, Val, Sierra and Nico.  We’ve raised more than $11,000 to date with more gifts coming in every day.  If you would like to help, please visit:

http://www.runfordom.com/donate.html

Have a great weekend everyone!  Please check back for updates over the next few days as I will be updating the blog throughout the course of race weekend.  To all you Boston runners – I hope your travels are safe ones, especially that last one from Hopkinton to Boston.  And last but certainly not least to Dom.  I know you couldn’t make the trip this weekend, but don’t think for a second you won’t be there with me.

This one’s for you Dom.

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Comments
  1. connie says:

    I,ll be thinking and praying that all goes well with you.
    Because before you get started they will announce that you are
    THE WINNER

  2. Mike says:

    Good luck Joe! Run strong…

  3. onelittlejill says:

    Have fun! I’ll be tracking you and sending your good run vibes!

  4. Sarah says:

    Have a great run!! I loved your comments on the finish line, you summed it up so well. All those feelings all in one, it’s an amazing experience. Perhaps why we continue to run and to race despite pain and obstacles.

    Enjoy your victory lap, you and Dom both deserve it!

  5. Momma S says:

    I guess 3 hours and 16 minutes. What is with the $10.00 bets. If you are so sure you are right put your money where your mouth is. I bet $50.00 I’m right.

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