My 2014 Boston Marathon.

The 2014 Boston Marathon is in the books. And, I am in that book.

In the days that have passed since, I’ve talked and thought a lot about the entire experience. And the one word I find myself constantly using to describe everything is “surreal.” I still cannot believe that I ran the Boston Marathon. Even typing that sentence seems crazy to me. But, it happened. It wasn’t easy, but I did it.

The entire day was amazingly awesome. Here is my, not so brief, recollection of everything from that day along with some pictures that I was able to capture along the way….

I remember being in Hopkinton, eagerly and anxiously awaiting my start to the 2014 Boston Marathon. My Marathon Monday started very early that morning. My alarm clock woke me up around 3:30am, which after going to bed at 1am, was more of a nap than anything else. I got up and started frantically buzzing around my apartment – chugging water, checking to make sure I had everything, eating a light breakfast, double checking to make sure I had everything, getting dressed, triple checking to make sure I had everything. Turns out, I had everything. And then it was time to head to the Boston Children’s Hospital team bus.

Around 4:30am, my parents and brother arrived to bring me to the Westin Copley where the team was leaving from. I was really surprised to see my brother that early. He lives in LA and made his way home so that he could be here for the marathon. He’s one of those people who can’t function properly without enough sleep. So, seeing him that early was a big deal. Before I knew it, I was giving them hugs, they were wishing me luck, and then I was on the bus.

Just before 5:30am, one of the BCH team member hopped on the bus and shouted “You guys want to go for a run?” And the bus was off. I was getting a ride out to Hopkinton, and would be running back to Boston. The ride took about an hour or so, and the whole time I sat there attempting to wrap my head around the fact that I was about to run the Boston Marathon.

Our bus dropped us off a few blocks way from where we would set up camp until it was time to run. Walking through Hopkinton, I could see hundreds of people preparing for thousands of runners to arrive over the next few hours. It was a very crazy feeling to me. These people were prepping for one of the biggest days in Boston sports history, and I was going to be a part of that. Like, what?! There was also a very large security presence. Cop cars from all over Massachusetts, the Armed Forces, bomb sniffing dogs – the whole deal. It was comforting, but a little odd at the same time. They were there to keep everyone very safe, and for that everyone was grateful.

For the next few hours, I waited. Hydrating, eating, stretching. Worrying about whether I was hydrating enough, eating enough, stretching enough. I knew I was going to find out soon enough. By the time 10am rolled around, it was time to really get ready.  I found my friend Brian, got my last stretches in, and we headed to our corral. I remember watching the officiator hold the gun in the air, waiting for it to go off. They announced “30 seconds to go” and I waited for what seemed like way more than 30 seconds. And then, it was go time.

I started running, and right away, it didn’t even feel like I was running. My runs usually consist of me putting my headphones on and getting lost in my music, but this was different. I was just awe-struck. Passing by all these cheering people, I wasn’t even hearing my music. I was so caught up with everything happening around me. It was so different from any other run I’d ever been on. It was awesome.

After about the first mile, I remembered that I had a long way to go, so I shifted my mind to try to focus on running. I noticed that I was going a little faster than the pace I should have been at, but I couldn’t get myself to slow down. This was a battle I had with myself for the entire first half of the run. I knew I was going too fast, I tried slowing down, but I couldn’t. I was going back and forth between thinking keeping this pace was going to be a problem in the long run, and conversely thinking, maaaaaybe I can keep this pace the whole way through. Well, the latter did not come true.

As I approached the notorious Heartbreak Hill, I hit a wall. Three weeks earlier, I ran from Hopkinton to the top of Heartbreak without any issues – so this caused me to panic a little bit. By biggest concern at that moment was whether or not I would be able to finish. Going into this, I knew that I very well may hit a wall – I just wasn’t expecting it this early. I left myself panic for a few minutes, slowed down (walked a little), and then started running again. I remember feeling like I had walked so much of the 26.2. In reality, I didn’t. Maybe a half mile at that point, and then any time I got water/Gatorade after that point, I would take a few steps while I drank, but then started running again. I would just keep telling myself, “Run. Just keep running.”

One of the things that kept me going throughout the entire run – the people. The thousands of spectators that lined the streets, from the start line to the finish line. Seeing my family, my friends, Jack and his family, and my #1 fan, along the way was incredible. Each time I saw them, I got a very much-needed boost. It was such an incredible feeling. Not only that, but the complete strangers were absolutely amazing too. I had my name written on the front of my singlet, and people would see this and root for me as if  they were my best friend. “Come on Vince!” “Keeping it going Vince! You got this buddy!” “Ooooh, Vinny! Let’s gooo!” I heard it all. It was so awesome. I would also think about all the people who supported me and helped me get to this point. The people who donated to Boston Children’s on my behalf. I wasn’t running on my own. I was running with my supporters and the people cheering me along the route. They all kept me going.

Among many of the amazing memories, there were two other awesome parts of the run that really stand out to me. One, the high fives. I sought them out. Spectators sought them from me. I love high fives, so this was fantastic. The second, is one specific spectator. If I remember correctly, it was at some point toward the top of Heartbreak Hill when this guy and I locked eyes. Everyone around him was cheering and shouting, but he was just there standing against the barricade watching the runners go by. As I approached him, he continued just staring at me with a blank face. As I passed by, I gave him a head nod. And he continued with his blank stare, and then, gave me that “You got this” fist pump. He reminded me so much of the guy Fortune from Rudy. He’s one of my favorite characters in that movie, so this was perfect.

Before I knew it (it really didn’t go by as fast as that makes it seem), I saw the CITGO sign. At the point when you can first see this, you’re still a few miles away from the finish. So, in reality, what probably took anywhere from 30-45 minutes, seemed like 5 minutes. I remember seeing the sign, then being in Kenmore Square, then turning on right on Hereford, and then turning left on Boylston. And boom, there it was. The finish line. This was a good half mile or so down Boylston, so it’s still a good stretch until you get there. It was weird because up until this point, the spectators are very close to you. But when you turn onto Boylston, the street opens wide and there is so much room between the runners and the fans on the sidewalks. At that point, everything became a blur. I was no longer seeing individual spectators, I just saw people. Crowds of people.

My memory of running down Boylston Street is very spotty. I turned left. Shortly thereafter, the Rocky theme song came on my iPod – randomly, which is just perfect. Next thing I knew I was passing Forum. And then, I was steps away from the finish line. I had no idea what to do. Do I take a video? Do I take a picture? Do I cry? Do I just run across??? I kind of did all of that. I have a 3 second video approaching the finish line. I have a picture of my shadow crossing the finish line. And I have a screenshot that a friend took of me crossing the finish line, both hands victoriously raised in the air. As soon as I crossed the finish line, there was a volunteer standing there in front of me. I high fived and hugged that person. I have absolutely no idea who he is and he probably already forgot about that, but I certainly haven’t. I never will.

And just like that, it was over. A commitment I made more than one year ago. The four months of training that I put in. It all reached its culmination, and it was everything I imagined – and so much more. I finished in 4:08:44. A time that I am very happy with. I’m not sure Tedy Bruschi feels the same way. Of course, now I’m convinced that if I pace myself better from the start and avoid hitting that wall, I can beat 4 hours. So, contrary to saying all along that I would be one and done, I will be back next year. Bet on it.

Once again, thank you to all my supporters. To everyone who helped me get to Hopkinton. And to everyone who helped me get from Hopkinton to Boston. THANK YOU! We did this together. We all finished the race.

Love you too.

-V


marathon medal