This coming April 21, I'll be crossing the finish line as a runner in the 2014 Boston Marathon after being one of 467 people selected out of 1,200 applicants for the special invitation for those the Boston Athletic Association described as being "personally and profoundly impacted by the events of April 15."
I'm honored for the opportunity to run on behalf of all the survivors and families affected by the events of that tragic day, and am going to train hard, and run the race harder. I simply saw the invitation posted and said to myself, "Why not me?"
Last April, I saw the attack, the heroic first responders, and my city in a state of shock up close but I continued to do my job, which was to show people what happened on Boylston Street via the images captured in my camera and tell people what I saw.
I've run this marathon before, I've been in those bars and restaurants on Marathon Monday, those were all our neighbors on the sidewalk, and they are our friends who are doing so great in rebounding today, from Jeff Bauman to Heather Abbott to Paul and JP Norden, the Richard family, and the rest of the brave survivors. I want to run strong for them and do my part in showing the world that Boston Strong is not just a theme but a reality that will be demonstrated by runners, volunteers, and spectators alike on April 21, sure to be one of the most emotional days in Boston history.
It's been 14 years – and 35 pounds – since I last ran the Boston Marathon as part of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team. I finished in under four hours in back-to-back years ('99 and '00). I'll never qualify for Boston, so this is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something special... and make my primary care physician very happy when I weigh in next spring. The challenge now is to drop more weight and properly train to put myself in a position to finish strong on April 21. A four-hour race is a long shot, but I'm sure I can get in under five.
I'll be posting here from time to time with updates on training and happenings around town, along with my friends Ty Velde, and Rich "Shifter" Horgan, and providing other observations with less than 18 weeks to go before race day.
With this being a last minute opportunity and decision, my training started from rock bottom. Coming off a full-year of rehab off a torn hamstring, I packed on the pounds and weighed in at 249 the day I found out I had been accepted on Dec. 4.
I ran the 8th annual Donahue's "5K Turkey Trot" in Watertown on Thanksgiving Day and came in No. 34 out of 37 Clydesdales, finishing in 34 minutes. Horrendous effort by my standards!
Slowly but surely, I've cut down the calories, and have picked up the pace and miles to get this marathon training jump-started. Breaking up with Little Debbie was not easy, neither was driving away from Pepperidge Farm for the last time. A fortunate business trip to Orlando and Miami allowed me to drop a quick 15 pounds as I pounded the pavement in the hot Florida sun for seven of the last nine days.
Now I'm back in Boston. When I stepped off my arriving flight at Logan at 11 p.m. Monday night, the sharp frigid air shot up through the gap between the plane and the gate connector and sent a shockwave through my system. The realization that I'm not going to be running in the South Beach sun on Ocean Drive hit me like a snowball in the face.
It's going to be a whole new ballgame now running on the snowy hills of Newton and the icy path around the Charles River. And it's primarily going to be a solo effort, without the benefit of a training team to fire me off the couch when the long runs are due and the temperature drops into the single digits.
So I'm off to do the cold-slippery-snowy run and make the transition back. As my old running coach for Dana-Farber Jack Fultz, winner of the 1976 Boston Marathon, says, "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing."
… so it's out the door and on the road I go.
Steve Silva can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @stevesilva
- Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
- Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
- Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes