Sunday, April 22, 2018

Boston Marathon 2018: Ben There, Done That

A tad bit late, but been busy getting a certain world traveler back to these shores and back to her Dinsmore Street digs (see subsequent posts for more deets on that front)
But couldn't let the week pass without recognizing the Herculean task undertaken by my nephew Ben Nicholson last Monday when he swam all 26.2 miles of the quite waterlogged Boston Marathon course.  The conditions were historic, and not in a good way.  It'll be one for the books, filed under miserable, nightmare monsoon conditions that taxed even the elitist of the elites.
But before we get to the starting mat in Hopkinton, we first have to experience the glory that is the Boston Marathon expo.
Hard to believe that prior to last fall, Ben had never run more than 5 miles in his life.  Sitting beneath a tent at Kimball Farms in Westford, our conversation began, wherein Ben said he'd consider taking a run at the run to end all runs.
Fast forward to Marathon Weekend 2018, and you've got this athlete ready to make history
With a couple of hanger-ons.  Barry and I felt more than a little awkward standing in front of the sign welcoming athletes, but they didn't have one welcoming couch potatoes.
Running the numbers, but in this case, 30158 was the only one that mattered
That sign probably needed to be about 10 times bigger to prep the runners for the conditions they were going to experience
Moving Together Forward, with about 30,000 other runners
Ah yes, the wonderful plethora of running gear samples
This year's hot commodity was the Saucony Dunkin Donut sneakers, most sizes of which were sold out within the first two hours of the expo
Once upon a time, Barry and I tried to secure Boston Marathon sponsorship from a local donut shop.  They foolishly declined.  That decision ranks up there with the Boston Red Sox trading Babe Ruth sports mistakes.  Had they bitten on the offer, though, here's a sampling of some of the signage we could have used for the partnership
It's like Saucony knew me and Barry were coming with Ben when they staged their ad campaign
Leaving his mark early on the autograph board
He wasn't the only one staking a claim to history on the wall
Everyone who's ever run a step of the vaunted Boston Marathon knows the mantra - right on Hereford, left on Boylston.  They also know that means you're in the home stretch of the 26.2 
The Muffin Man
And with that final bite of nutrition, it was time for a weekend of hydration.
Little did we know the hydration that Mother Nature had awaiting runners on Marathon Monday morning
So here we go - and yes, that is fresh fallen snow behind Ben as he gets ready to start his day, with a poster of encouragement via his cousin Andrew
We weren't in the starting chute with Ben in Hopkinton, so the first pics we glommed along the way came via Marathon Photographer John "Salt Tablet" Piekos.  He and Barry met Ben, not coincidentally, at the Wellesley College Scream Tunnel.
Barry and John were both trashed for their leg
Props to support team extraordinaire - Ben's mom and dad, Aunt Jackie, and girlfriend Beatriz, who weathered the weather to cheer him along
A quick wardrobe change at Mile 16 to get some warm and dry clothing on, but you know what? It didn't matter - it was soaked again before Mile 18!
Sadly, I couldn't take as many pics on the course as usual, because you couldn't brandish the phone in the torrential downpour because it would quickly shut down from the water damage
Did manage to snag one of a smiling Ben as he plodded up Heartbreak Hill
With the incessant downpours, I wasn't able to break the camera out again until Kenmore Square, as Ben roared past the iconic Citgo sign, as he entered one of the only two miles of the Boston Marathon that are actually located within the boundaries of Boston itself
An addition after the infamous 2013 Boston Marathon, proudly reminding the runners that they're all running strong, this day in particular
Hereford Street was littered with literally thousands of trash bags tossed by the runners as they headed into the home stretch.  Clearly, they didn't want to be wearing trash bags as they crossed the iconic finish line on Boylston Street.  It made for quite the tricky footing on a stretch where you're usually just focused on finishing.
Just .2 to go, Ben!

The end is in sight!
The finish, captured via Andrew off the TV-Cam
And boom!  Right away, dad Don was there to congratulate the first time marathoner!
As were several other members of Ben's support team
Time for the highly-sought after medal

With his proud Uncle in tow
Beatriz was beaming!
As was the rest of Ben's family - more than a little wet for the wear
Beast Mode Ben
And that's a wrap!
The Nicholson Family and the extended E Streeter running family couldn't be prouder of Ben!
He never stopped along the entire course, and he kept an amazingly upbeat and positive attitude every step of the way, even during the blinding downpours at the Johnny Kelley statue and along Heartbreak Hill.
He persevered, he kept on smiling, and saw every hill as an opportunity.
Congrats on the entire six-month training cycle, Ben.  You had an army of supporters, but it was you doing the work every step of the way.
Bask in your amazing accomplishment and never forget that you logged the 26.2 miles during some of the most extreme weather conditions the day has ever thrown at runners along the course.
Living proof: Ben don't break.