“If I ever doubted your sanity, . . . ” says my primary cheerleader, race morning chauffeur, and friend. Now she tells me! I trust her judgment and may have reconsidered had she voiced her doubts that morning on our Hampton, NH – Hopkinton MA drive through gusting wind and sheets of rain.
I catch the shuttle, she moves on to brunch with friends in Wellesley, then we will rendezvous at the finish. The year is 2007, when I was still hanging out in the F55-59 age group. E-mail messages from the Boston Marathon, warned of difficult weather conditions, urging runners to dress for the wait in the athlete’s village and for the marathon, this to avoid frostbite and other conditions resulting for the Nor’Easter predicted to coincide with the race. Shortly after I leave the comfort of the SUV and am seated on the shuttle, an unhappy 30-ish man asks two questions. “Mind if I sit here?” No, go ahead, and “It’s already 40 degrees out! Did you know its 40 degrees out?” No, but it is unexpectedly warm. Everyone on the bus is wearing layers to get us through a cold, icy run. My pleasantly grumpy seat mate was not the only overlayered runner. He had lots of company, including me.
Arrival at the athlete’s tent brought a soggy couple of hours with mud oozing into shoes from the rain-soaked turf.
The only protection, the tent, was packed. I found a bit of concrete along a building overhang and huddled until my corral was called. Removing layers, I drop my bag at the designated bus and head off for the 26-mile Hopkinton to Boston trip, the wind vacillating from calm to gales.
Hats sailed off heads. My purple Runner’s World baseball cap lifted with a gust and someone a step or two behind caught and returned it. A few minutes later, I did the same for a runner ahead of me as his hat whirled in mid-air clock-wise circles. Odd, the things you remember from any given marathon.
On the far side of Wellesley, I hear from the sidelines “Mary, Mar – over here.” It’s my short-of-stature friend in the front row of spectators, wearing bright foul weather gear. I wave and give her a thumbs up. At about this time, Lidya Grigoryeva, the first female, was crossing the finish line in 2:29. In another two+ hours I follow in her footsteps with my slowest Boston finish.
Managing to retrieve my warmup bag and find my friend, I drag my soaked, muddy self into a warm automobile and negotiate into dry clothes, sock and shoes. I then learn while the Nor’Easter had been kinder to Boston than expected, my friend’s home had been inacccessible most of the day, with high tides sweeping over the road leading to their house. The water had receded before our arrival and her family was snug at home,
but the storm left big chunks in the seawall and small rocks and sand from the ocean floor covered the road.
Is it a question of sanity to run through ice, sleet, unexpected temperatures, humidity, or gales of rain over a four (or five) hour period, armed only with our running shoes and cell phones? Most marathoners experience some odd and unexpected weather along their journey. Some would consider such an endeavor punishment and yet many of us relish the opportunity, perhaps to meet a spoken goal, an unspoken need, or to retain our sanity. Who knows?