I met my wife in May of 1999. We had met through Kris, a mutual running friend. I was biking a ton back then so I became the friend who took Kris and all of her running girlfriends out for their once a summer long bike rides. I wasn’t really a runner at that point. The occasional 5k/10k but that was about it. I had no problem helping out since it was me and about nine women riding bikes. I used to call these rides the “Bike of the Dead” because they really didn’t want to ride. They wanted to do what they did when they ran…talk….and talk…and talk.
Anyway on one of these rides I met my future wife. I thought I had met all of Kris’s running girlfriends but on that Sunday morning this girl showed up who I didn’t know and who Kris had never talked about. Her name was Donna. She was a little late getting to the ride. I didn’t mind because I was a bit “tired” from the Cubs game the night before. So we start the ride…and they’re all just gabbing away. After awhile I couldn’t stand going that slow any longer so I took off. I figured they lived here…they can find their way home. Anyway I’m riding for a few miles and I turn around and there’s Donna right on my wheel! No one else is in sight. It was love.
So we started dating.
The spring of 2000 rolls around and Donna and a few of her friends are training for their 3rd Boston Marathon. They all had these shirts printed up with their names on the front and their motivations on the back. Donna was “Discipline” and her best friend Julie was “Strength”. She and Julie ran the exact same pace, so they planned to run the race together. I was going out to Boston with Donna that year and she asked if I could jump in and pace her and Julie a few miles at the end of the race. “Sure…no problem!”
Remember I had never run with her before this point. I figured I meet them at about mile 22 with food, drink and some encouraging words. I thought they’d be exhausted at that point and running at my pace which at that time was about a 10 minute mile.
She told me they’d be at mile 22 at this specific time and I’m like “OK no problem”. Well they were there within 30 seconds of that time. They were robots. I jump in with all my gear, long cotton sweats and a long sleeve cotton shirt, and start giving them bananas, water and candy. Not really noticing at this time how fast we’re running…which was between a 7:20 – 7:30 pace. A pace, at that time, I can run for maybe a mile….maybe.
Now the Boston Marathon is run on Patriot’s Day. The Red Sox always play an early day game that let’s out when the marathon is going past the left field wall of Fenway Park, which is one mile from the finish. Because of this there are large storm fences put up to keep the drunks off the course. The fences also keep the runners in until the finish.
I made it to about mile 23.5 when I realized I might drop dead. So I told Donna and Julie go power on and I’d see them at the finish. I’ll never forget the image of them just disappearing into the crowd. I slowed to my normal pace. I was quite bummed. But then I heard a voice. A drunk voice, but a voice. It kept yelling “KEEP GOING…YOU’RE KICKING ASS DUDE….YOU GOT THIS FUCKING THING” Then another drunk yelled something else, then another, so I started running down the side of the street, staying away from the runners, high fiving these drunk baseball fans who thought I had run the whole thing. I was having a blast. I turned the corner on Boylston street and there’s the finish line. I raise my hands in victory as I cross.
A volunteer puts a mylar wrap around me. Another attempts to hand me a medal which I, of course, decline.
I find Donna and Julie about a block up and snap this picture…my absolute favorite running shot.
So it turns out that the girls here decided to run negative splits that year. At the time I had no idea what that meant. I do now.
Donna ran the 2000 Boston Marathon in 3:27.
But I had so much fun running the last few miles of the race that I did the exact same thing the following year!
Once again I couldn’t keep up with her.
In April 2001 she ran the Boston Marathon in 3:24…her PR.
We were married a month later.