In 2006, I visited my doctor weighing 104kg. With medicated high blood pressure, dangerously high cholesterol, and a shocking liver reading, I was on a path to destruction! I started my own butchery business at the age of 19, and that was the end of my exercise years until 2006. That day the doctor told me I would be lucky to see 60! I went home, tipped out the whiskey bottle, and went for a run. I told my wife I wanted to run the Boston Marathon and she laughed ha-ha-ha.
I said “But first I have to run a qualifier.” I set my sights on the Gold Coast Marathon here in Australia and trained for a year. Giving up alcohol and unhealthy foods, the weight fell off and in a few months I was down to 68kg, and my legs remembered I could run a fair cross-country in my school years. I entered many local races and always seemed to do well in my age group. I followed a 20 week program leading into my first marathon in 2009. I ran the marathon and ran a strong Boston qualifier with a 3:22:42. Back then the standard was 3:30 for my age group, so I was over the moon. My race bib in that race had Boston 2010 on it, rather than my name, so I had to qualify. 🙂
I entered my first Boston in 2010, traveling the second furthest distance in the world away from Boston, 10,000 miles or 16,000 km’s from Tasmania in Australia, totaling 34 hours travel with stops and delays. From the minute we hit town I was hooked. Facebook friends I had met on the BAA Facebook page met up with us and being locals, they showed us around and drove us over the course. It was a dream come true.
Race day came and the excitement was overwhelming. I started in mid pack of wave 1, and ran a 3:29:27 after going out too hard and then Heartbreak Hill eating me alive. I managed a kick the last mile to give me a 33 second qualifier in 2010, and yes! I was coming back in 2011 to run Back to Back’s.
Jump forward to registration 2011, and being on the other side of the world, we were asleep as registration started. That was the year the race filled up in just a few hours. We had our hearts set on a big trip with the kids this time, so we had to go somewhere to run a marathon so I ran Paris in 2011. The race was nice, but nothing compared to Boston. 🙂
Things came up in my business in 2012, and I could not make it, although I did have a qualifier from both Paris and the Melbourne Marathon here in Australia. But I am so glad I didn’t make the trip that year as 2012 was “THE HOT ONE.”
My wife found out she had breast cancer that year, so after her treatment began, we said let’s go back to Boston after the treatment with the kids and live life to the fullest. I trained like a demon and Allison my wife took on the Beast (cancer) and came through treatment with a very good prognosis. In 2013, I arrived a few days before the family and stayed with my friends on Commonwealth Ave., and got my last week of taper running in local conditions. I was on track for a good race. Race day came. In 2010 my wife stood outside the Marathon Sports store to watch me finish, but since the children were with her, she made her way to Commonwealth Ave. near our friends’ condo to see me run past. It was a beautiful day in the Athletes Village and I was a bit upset I wasn’t in the first wave this time, but, gee, I was on the actual start line of wave 2, and so glad I took my iPod to take some fantastic once in a life time photos. The race started. It felt great and I ran a little easy. With strong memory of the Newton hills from back in 2010, I flew up the hills and into Boston, and saw my children and wife, and sprinted up Boylston Street to a personal record 3:18:23, doing it easy. Yes, I had a personal best, but ran way too easy. I knew I would have to return in 2014 to make my mark in Boston.
Anyway, back to 2013: we were staying at Lowes Back Bay near the finish line/ family meeting point area, so I was back in the hotel after the medal collection and photo opportunities. Allison called me. She was on her way back to the hotel. I went straight up to the room to upload my Garmin and let my mates know I had ran a PB, when I was almost shaken out of my chair by an explosion, then a few seconds later the second one. I knew straight away what it was. I rang reception and they said it was Patriots Day cannons, but a few minutes later our worst fears were confirmed. I tried to call my wife but phones were down. I could not leave the hotel to look for them as the police would not let me. I went back to my room and it was the worst 70 minutes of my life until my family finally made it back to our hotel. They were caught between the blasts and had to run the opposite direction from our hotel. They were terrified. They made it to a safe hotel where my ten year old had his head jammed in the hotel revolving door. They were still unclear what had happened. My daughter was told a sniper was shooting people. We spent the whole afternoon in our hotel room and I spoke with most of the big media networks in Australia due to having friend in the media who knew we were in Boston.
The next day was so surreal with the armored vehicles and no other traffic on the street, and all the bags of runners who had not gotten to finish. We left Boston early on the Tuesday and continued our holiday. We were very shaken and could not really enjoy the rest of our two weeks in America, remembering we had came away to relax after my wife’s breast cancer treatment.
We came home and got on with life, but my youngest son was shaken, and I could not sleep. We both sought some medical help to get us through the first few months.
We made a decision to return in 2014 and we did, all of us running the 5k race on Saturday, and my wife and children had their chance to help take back our finish line (I am crying while writing this).
The Big TV networks followed us back to Boston, and we made national news before we left Australia and when we were in Boston.
I went into the race with a torn plantar fascia tendon in my foot – missing the last six weeks of running in my program, only doing elliptical training to stay fit. The race started and I sat on five minute km’s, aiming to go just under 3:30 for a re-qualifier, but at 26k my foot called a halt to any more running. I walked/ shuffled to just finish and end up in the medical tent being filmed for Australian TV. This was not my greatest moment, but it was my best ever feeling of greatness to finish that day, and time did not matter: “We took back our finish line.”
We came home, and I had to take six months off running to let my foot recover. I came back to running in October. It’s been a grind to get back to my 2013 pre-race condition, but as Patriots Day approaches, I look forward to my Boston Marathon #4.