The hills in Newton on the course of the Boston Marathon aren't the larger than Everest aretes I heard about for years. What makes them a challenge is their placing... their timing. The last place a runner wants to encounter a series of quarter mile long, eight percent grades is between miles 16 and 20 of a marathon. Nasty, I tell you... just plain nasty.
My attack on the hills was my determination to run them all. No walking allowed here. Although my pace wasn't fast my head remained up and chest forward as flat feet plodded up the spectator lined esplanade. Everything hurt. Especially my knees and my neck.
Getting to the top of Heartbreak Hill was a small victory but the larger battle still remained. Ten kilometers, first sharply downhill, and then flat through the city. My desire to race was gone and replaced with a desire to finish.
Each mile that passed took its pound of flesh. But despite my aches I held my head up and focused on the road ahead. My mind wandered a bit. It took me to riviera banks of northern cities and warm hearths. Sustained by my thoughts each step took me towards a predetermined fate -- a finish.
With the help of the students at Boston College and the spectators remaining on the street I pounded along side of the trolley cars of the city. They called out "TriBoomer... you can do it!," and I believed them. The spectators on Boylston Street continued to shout my name and pushed me into a cold and strong headwind. Six hundred yards to go and I could see the finish line. Damn did it look sweet.
I raised my hands in victory, smiled for the cameras, and crossed the finish line.
This race was the hardest event I ever finished. Unlike some races when I felt I could have gone harder or raced smarter once I finished, that was not so in Boston. Everything I had, physically and mentally, was left on the course. And for this I have no regrets.
Next task... deliver a message and live the epilogue.