I entered and started the 2008 Boston Marathon with one goal in mind: break three hours and never run 26.22 miles all at once ever again. I failed. I was on pace for the first eighteen miles, but started to crap out bigtime in Newton and slowed more and more every mile over the last eight, finally carrying my flaccid corpse over the finish line in just over 3:11.
It was a beautiful day in New England Monday, a nice change from last year when it was cold, rainy, and windy. Last year I wore a light fleece which turned out to be too much. This year, instead of just wearing a normal shirt I had to go and wear my Arsenal jersey which is the shiznit, but is also 2x as heavy and probably 4x as water absorbent as a running shirt that I would normally wear. The sun is hot. While running, this hotness (like C&C Music Factory) is gonna make you sweat. That handsome jersey, starting at about the halfway point, became saturated with my man-coolant. At some point in Newton a shirtless runner strongly suggested taking it off, that I would feel a lot better. I took his suggestion and finished running the Newton Hills topless. The guy was right on the money. I was much cooler and I held my pace. The only problem was that I had to then carry a soaked soccer jersey. While it wasn't really "heavy", anything that goes against the running motion is noticeable in a marathon, so I put it back on at about the 22 mile mark. Just before I finished the race, I heard the same guy yell "Hey, didn't I tell you to take that off?". Yes sir...
While the jersey sucked as a marathon shirt, I have no regrets about wearing it because it resulted in a surprising number of vocal reactions from spectators. This was good for two reasons:
1) It feels good to get an cheer directed specifically at you when you are one of tens of thousands. It gives you an instant burst of energy, followed by a comedown. It's like cocaine in that respect.
2) The fact that I got hundreds of "Go Arsenal!", "Gunners!", and "I hate Arsenal!", "Go Liverpool!", etc... cheers from spectators reacting to me wearing the Arsenal third (alternate) jersey, indicating quick recognition of the team and in many cases being an actual fan is an encouraging sign for the sport. Even more encouraging was that most of these cheers came from college age or younger students, and not all guys. Many of the most excited Arsenal fans were girls, and a pleasing percentage of these girls were of the i-want-to-penetrate variety.
As I have stated previously, the prospects for the growth of interest in world class soccer in this country is tied to hot girls aware of the top players and wanting to have sex with them, especially if they don't look like Jimmy Bullard.
So despite my race going all too much like Arsenal's season - starting out strong, sustaining, but faltering down the stretch - the great support the crowd gave me and probably more accurately Arsenal, left me with a great feeling to go along with the horrible feeling of deep pain I still have in my legs. But still, the most important point here is that I failed out there, and now I have to see if I can really quit these stupid physically debilitating events or like a true addict go back for just one more fix. And while the growth of soccer may be tied to hot girls giving BJs, my prospects of not having to get multiple knee surgeries by age 45 depends on me not receiving sympathy BJs after this failure. And so far, so good with that!
One final note: I LOVE the wonderful girls of Wellesly College. It cannot be overstated how great it feels to run by the wall of sound. Some runners strongly suggest not getting wrapped up in this, but I dove in like a champ, high-fiving as many of you as possible. I want all of you inside me.