Since literally stopping in the middle of a run and deciding not to race the Boston Marathon more than a month ago, I have spent a lot of time thinking about how I would experience the race this year. With a non-refundable down payment already made on apartment near the finish line, not attending is not an option. Even without the down payment, not attending is not an option. Even though I am physically unable to race at the level I’d like, I’m going to attend in some other capacity to be part of what will undoubtedly be an historic one.
Originally, I thought I’d spectate. Why not? It’s a role just as important as the participants’. Without the support of the massive crowds lining the streets from Hopkinton to Copley Square, the Boston Marathon is just a couple thousand crazy people going on a group run and clogging up traffic. I also contemplated throwing myself into full work mode. I could take pictures, tweet, field produce, whatever the mother ship needed. Then, I remembered Allen Strickland. I mean, I didn’t ever forget Allen Strickland. He’s a pretty memorable dude. But, I remembered he was running and for him, April 21st was going to be an important day for two reasons.
Let’s go back to 2012. After working his ass off to qualify, Allen, who’s excellent blog is appropriately titled “Allen’s Road to Boston”, had finally made it into the field. He was in great shape and prepared to run a personal best. What he and most of the other runners in the field were not prepared for was the heat and humidity. The Reader’s Digest version is that Allen had a bad day. The heat took its toll and Allen limped across the line, head hanging, in just over five hours. It’s a sad story of a man’s dream to conquer Boston being stolen by the one factor a marathon runner can’t control.
That said, Allen’s official finisher’s photo is one of the most unintentionally hilarious things I've ever seen. The juxtaposition of emotions happening here could not be more perfect.
Also hilarious, an incident that happened to Allen late in the race. His words:
“Somewhere very late in the race – I can’t be sure where as I was no longer coherent – a belligerent drunk girl angrily berated my fellow walkers and me. “This is the Boston $%^&ing marathon, the greatest marathon in the world! Show some respect and run! Jog it out!! Jog it the #$%! out!”
I spent the day after that race recovering with Allen, and he could not have handled his misfortune better. Allen has been able to laugh about a day that unarguably sucked from the get go. Perhaps that’s why he formed Team JITFO; the acronym inspired by that drunk girl somewhere in Greater Boston. On April 21st, he’ll give the World’s Greatest Marathon another shot and he’s allowed me to run alongside him. Allen’s goal is to set a personal best and if I can help in any way, it will make me feel like I went back to Boston with a purpose. Granted, my running over the past month has been minimal, but I think I have enough fitness to keep Allen from having to revive me somewhere near Newton.
Since I last posted, I've gone from being extremely depressed about my Boston decision to being extremely excited about experiencing Boston in a different way. At least once on every run I think about how electric the atmosphere is going to be that weekend and about being a part of what is bound to be a day I will never forget. So, thanks to Allen for letting me tag along. If we get tired, we know what to do.