Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Boston 2007

It's never a good omen driving to the airport after a night of storms, with lightning still illuminating the early morning sky, and then arriving at Austin Airport and seeing a huge throng a people at the American Airlines counter. The departure board was littered with "Cancelled" and "Delayed". So began our journey last Saturday to Boston 2007, the "Year of the Great Nor'easter".

Our flight had predictably been cancelled, but a moment of inspiration took me to the JetBlue counter. "Yes, we have two tickets direct to Boston available!" $320 poorer, Claire and I climbed aboard with at least a dozen Austinites, and made it to Beantown in time for the Expo and packet pick-up. We ate corned beef and drank Guiness, and retired to a wonderful 12-hour sleep in our hotel, despite dire weather predictions and noisy neighbors.

Sunday dawned bleak, cold, wet and windy, with the meteorological promise of worse to come. A hearty breakfast was followed by a walk through Quincy Market, then more sleep, and finished off by a fine Italian meal in a North End restaurant with 7 of our good running friends.

By this time, let's describe the wind as "brisk" and the temperature as "chilly". The 1.5 inches of rain to have fallen thus far we may call "alarming". We headed back to our hotel to catch TV screens filled with more wet, bedraggled weatherpeople searching for superlatives about high tides, flooding and sandbags. Were we having fun yet?

We awoke early on race morning. A disturbed sleep had been punctuated by howling gusts of wind and the pitter-patter of rain and sleet on our window. But as we got up, things didn't seem so bad. Squally showers, some pretty heavy, but not as hellacious as billed. We managed to find a cab to take us to our bus parked at MIT in Cambridge, and reunited with our friends. Misery does indeed enjoy company. The 3 hours we were able to spend on that bus was worth every penny of the $28 we'd paid for the privilege. Even at the Hopkinton start, we could stay warm and dry, while the poor souls who'd taken the free school buses had to brave the dreadful elements as soon as they arrived.

After several changes of clothing, I finally decided to stick with a Goretex jacket and hat, and three layers of clothing beneath, plus 2 pairs of gloves. Think I overheated? Not according to the folks in the emergency tent at the finish, who measured my temperature at 93 degrees, as I shivered uncontrollably. (A good sign, apparently - hypothermia is a real problem when you stop shivering, a sign that everything's shutting down.) After 45 minutes of cramping, thawing, nice warm blankets and broth intake, I was turfed out into the cold to make way for more victims. I managed to find my warm clothes, and then fought my slightly disoriented way through the subway system and back to our hotel. A warm bath has never felt better.

Claire appeared 30 minutes later, tired but proud of her victory over the elements. We'd both run 7 minutes slower than we'd hoped, but then again so had the winner, and almost everyone else we spoke to. 24 hours later, my stupid brain is already starting to transition from "never again" to "that wasn't so bad really". Boston is so unique, and it is such a privilege to be able to run it. Next year?...we'll see...maybe if a heatwave is predicted?

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