Posted by: Joe English | April 28, 2008

Follow-up: Duane Slade on the Boston Marathon

During the week before the Boston Marathon, we ran profiles of some first time Boston Marathon runners. I asked them to write down some of their thoughts about the race and tell me how it went. Here is the first follow-up from Boston: Duane Slade from Mesa Arizona writes about his first-time at the Boston Marathon.

I captured some footage of Duane before the start of the race, which will likely make it into the short-film that we’re about to release called 26.2 Miles to Boston. You can check out a preview of the film by clicking here. Now, here’s Duane’s story.

It all started this morning around 4:30 with the hotel wake up call. I really wasn’t sleeping well so it wasn’t hard to get out of bed. I had a little breakfast and went down to the lobby to wait for the buses that would take us out to the start line.

As I was sitting around in the lobby I quickly realized that I was not prepared at all. I had on a sleeveless running shirt and a pair of shorts. I looked around and everyone was dressed like they were going to Alaska. They had on jackets, sweats, hats, and gloves. They were all carrying bags with their numbers on them and I was carrying a bottle of water and a bagel. After assessing the situation I hurried upstairs and put on a couple more items, grabbed my red bag with my number, and went to the bathroom one more time. I then headed outside to catch the bus.

The bus ride was very cold and long. As we rode up to the start line we definitely took a wrong turn because we were going way too far. It felt like we were on the bus for an hour. The guys behind me didn’t make the ride any nicer with their windows down the whole time. They must of grown up in the arctic circle because the -40 wind-chill that was coming through the window and blowing on me didn’t seem to affect them the slightest.

As I sat there I was embarrassed because of the chatter that was coming from my teeth slamming together do to the cold. They were chattering so much and so hard I thought I was going to have to go get my new veneers replaced. We finally arrived at the start line and quickly emptied the bus.

There were so many people waiting it was incredible. 25,000 runners sitting, sleeping, talking, shivering, and getting ready for one of the biggest races of their lives. It was truly a sight to see. I sat there for awhile and just took it all in. That is when this experience started to change from being miserably cold to incredibly exciting.

The announcer called us all down to the start line so everyone started to walk to their stalls. It was about a mile or so just to get to the spot to begin the race. I did one more check of all my stuff and then it hit me, I AM RUNNING THE BOSTON MARATHON!!

I looked around and really felt outclassed. The quality of runners was intimidating to say the least. I made a decision right then that I was going to beat my bib number. I was 5498 and I needed to come in 5497 or better. Then the gun went off and we were off and running. It took about 3 minutes to get to the start line, I had 5000 people in front of me and 20,000 people behind me.

The first couple miles went by quickly. It was like I was running on air. The crowd was yelling and the runners were all high on adrenaline. I wanted to hit 6.2 miles (10k) in 45 minutes. I hit it in 44 minutes. I wanted to hit 20k in 1 hour and 30 minutes and that’s exactly what I did. I hit the half way point in 1:35 and I was right on target to run a 3:15, which would give me an automatic invite to Boston next year. I was feeling good and ready to continue.

Looking around I saw so many different kinds of runners. I kept telling myself that I could do it and that I just needed to keep going.

I really wanted to hit mile 19 at 2:15 and I hit it at 2:19. I had two more miles of Heartbreak Hill and I was beginning to feel some pain. I knew that in order for me to get the time I wanted it would mean a lot of pain and honestly I wasn’t up for it. I decided to have fun and enjoy the rest of the run, which I did.

I was able to see the ‘super dad’ pushing his son in a wheelchair the whole way. I ran with him for a mile and I have to say he is a neat man. I asked him if he would run without his son just to see what it would be like and he said that running a race and leaving his son at home would be like running a race and leaving his shoes at home. He is truly an inspiration.

I just want you to know that all the work, training for 8 years, 1000’s of miles logged, over a hundred pair of shoes, countless races, blisters, cramps, pulled muscles, running outfits, throwing up, back problems, losing over 40 lbs and many more things was completely worth it. I would do it all again and then some to have this experience again. I cannot say enough about how cool this was.

I ended up finishing the run in 3:24 and overall place of 5318.

I loved every minute of it. It was a great experience and I am honored to have been able to participate.

Congratulations to all of the other Boston finishers out there. I can’t wait to get back again!

Duane’s blog can be found at: .

Duane Slade, Mesa Arizona
for Running Advice and News



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