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RACE REPORT: BOSTON MARATHON

written by: Sean Luitjens
posted: 05/21/2004

The Short Version:
Over $24,000 was contributed to the Lown Foundation for Bill and Sean baking in the Boston Sun for about 8 hours over 52.4 miles on April 19th. Much fun was had by all and many thanks from Bill and Sean to all those contributing.
The Long Version:
So it all started years ago with the famous words I uttered out on the trails with Bill, “running any further than 26.2 miles is just plain stupid!”. From there it was an escalating series of challenges to doing a triathlon to a “real” trail race to this crazy event in Boston. Once I had been duped into this run with Bill on the premise of we would be raising money for a good cause I got to training. That was pretty boring as far as stories go so I will jump to the run itself.
We arrived into Boston a bit after 6AM on the 19th of April jamming out to Stevie Ray getting ready to settle into a long day. At the start line Bill sent me off to get the Starbucks while he dealt with the media and the hassles of being a famous ultra-runner. We met the gang from the Lown Foundation just before 7 and then it was time to saddle up and head out.
Just after 7 we took off from Boston into a stiff and chilly headwind (that would have been so refreshing 7 hours later). It is such a difference to see the course coming together as you head out from the finish, having to run on the sidewalks to avoid traffic. About a mile into the run Bill had to take a phone call while running with KISS 108 out of Boston, the trials and tribulations of being famous he must endure!
The first real stop for us was after Newton Falls at the 10 mile mark where Mary, Bill’s better half, would be waiting as the first aid station. I have to say the first 10 went very quick and easy and were very enjoyable but the temperature was beginning to rise. Fueled up, we alternated running with a Nawn kid running with us over the next couple miles as we headed through Wellesley. Glad they peeled off when they did as they were killing me with those fresh legs!
Mary again provided support at about miles 15 and 20 before we made the pilgrimage into Hopkinton. Did get some support from the Boston Tri Team as well as the people who had seen the famous Bill in the Globe. The only down side from the media coverage were the comments from people yelling out “hey, aren’t you the guys going both ways!” My plan was to make it to mile 22 running and then walk as necessary to try and save some of my legs for the second lap. We only walked a couple times on the steepest parts, well not coming into Hopkinton as we do have to look good you know! The biggest concern I had heading into Hopkinton would be our matching running tops with two red hearts on them as we passed TJ’s, the biker bar a couple miles from the start line. No comments were made but they did have the Stevie Ray cranking as we made our way past to the roar of the crowd, a sign of good karma indeed. Also, this year we only had 16 “you are going the wrong way” comments, a very low count compared to the prior couple of years!
Finally the start line was in sight about a quarter of 11 and we were greeted by the one and only Dave McGillivray, checking in with us to see if we were OK or if we needed anything. It may not seem like much but I thought it pretty cool that with all the other issues going on a bit before 11 on race day he stopped to check in, it is the little things at times that tell you about people. At the turnaround we had great support with the Lown Team on site with beverages and the goody bags we left with them at the start. We had over an hour to kill in Hopkinton and trying to not stiffen up was the toughest part. I felt great while fuelling up but when we got into the corals I started to feel a bit warm and stiff in my legs. Bill, of course, felt no ill effects as the wily veteran and was ready to go as if we were finally warmed up for the actual run.
The gun went off at noon and we headed back across the start line a bit over 3 minutes later. One of the most memorable sights every year for me is heading down hill the first couple miles and looking forward with runners as far as the eye could see filling the road. First couple miles were tough on the quads as we were going downhill on the tired legs but the lungs felt fine. All was OK until about mile 7, loving the crowds, walking the aid stations as I had planned (Ironman trained athlete on board!) when the wheels came off. They did not wobble, or creak, they just came flying off!! I began to have a hard time breathing (mental note, bring inhaler next time) and my stomach began to churn. From here to the top of Heartbreak I would begin the process of making my longest run. Now there were places I would HAVE to run, such as the Wellesley College corridor, by friends house in Natick, by the Boston Tri Team hangout at mile 17 or so but for the most part I would be trying to manage survival in the mid to upper 80s temps trying to take on water and Gatorade at all the stops to supplement the usual nutrition tools I use.
The one thing Bill said on the way out that has stuck with me since comes from someone in the Ultra running community; if you are feeling good don’t get too excited it will change, if you feel really bad don’t get too worried it will change! Basically plowed on with the shuffle logging some long mile splits through the top of Heartbreak Hill where Mary was with the final aid station before Boston. From there it is all downhill to the finish, well almost. We made one stop at the Lown team stop at mile 24 prior to heading to the finish. I managed to run the majority of the way back from Heartbreak to the finish.
It is so very cool to be heading down Commonwealth Avenue and be able to see people turning onto Hereford knowing a couple blocks later Boylston will be there. One of the great rewards in long distance events, up there with the final yards of an Ironman, is making that left onto Boylston and heading to the blue and gold finishing banner of the Boston Marathon with the crowds yelling and screaming! It was 4:27 in the afternoon and we had finished the day’s miles on the shoes.
So a good time was had by all on a warm April day in Beantown, well OK, by most. I will be back next year if I can get the sales job done at home to allow for the trip next year. All in all over $24,000 was donated to the Lown Foundation and the one with the “heart condition” was the one having to be patient waiting for me on the return trip. The most difficult post race event may have been getting off the plane the following day in Louisville after sitting on that little plane for a couple hours and trying to navigate the stairs down.
Special thanks again to all those contributing to the cause, to Bill for hanging in there with me on the way back (you really could have given me more crap than you did you know!), to Mary Nawn for the home stay, great cooking and the all important support race day, the rest of the Nawn clan for their support, the Lown foundation for their support in Hopkinton, the Ken Combs running group for the 5AM runs and the Tue night beat downs at the track, to FuelBelt, Runners Alley of Manchester, Hammergel, and EndorFun sports. And finally, but certainly not least, to my wife for once again allowing me to spend the necessary time out of the house to take on the next challenge in life. See you all next year!