118th Boston Marathon

Craig enjoying one of the best days of his life in his 12th Boston Marathon

Craig enjoying one of the best days of his life in his 12th Boston Marathon

On April 21st I raced in the 118th Boston Marathon. This was my 12th time and Laurie’s 18th time running this great race. Simply put – it was one of the best days of my life!

The 2014 Boston Marathon had nothing to do with running a good or bad race. It had everything to do with taking back the finish line and getting back to normal.

It has been said that the Boston Marathon is 1 of Boston’s Big 5 Sports. Boston has the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins and it has the Boston Marathon. Other big cities can make a similar claim, but nobody does the marathon like Boston. Nobody!

The spectator support is always great in Boston. 2014 was the best I’ve ever experienced. Every spectator seemed to have a vested interest in getting the runners to the finish line. It must be pretty cool to play in the Super Bowl in front of 90,000 spectators. It must be even better to race in the Kentucky Derby before 165,000 fans. Nearly 400,000 watch the Indy 500 in person. The Tour de France gets 12-15 million fans, but that’s spread over 3 weeks. The experts say the 2014 Boston Marathon had over 1 million spectators lining the course. It does not get any bigger than that. It was thrilling to race in front of that many people!

The day before the race I organized a group of 25 Triathlon Club of San Diego friends to gather for lunch at the Prudential Center food court. When I picked that location I had no idea what a challenge that might present for 2 of my friends. My good friend Steve Tally did the 2013 race and afterwards was having lunch with his wife Kris in the food court when the bombs exploded. The food court is indoors and overlooks Boylston Street where the race finishes. When the bombs went off hundreds if not thousands rushed into and through the food court seeking safety. Tables and chairs were turned over in the mayhem. Both Steve and Kris will never forget those moments. Kris was particularly shaken. But she overcame some significant memories and fears to show up for the Tri Club food court lunch. I’m so proud that Kris was able to take back the food court just like we were going to take back the finish line the following day.

The anticipation for this race was building for an entire year. I thought about it every day. But when the day came – it went by wicked fast as they would say in Boston.

The usual routine for Boston is to board school buses at the Boston Commons at 7am. These buses take the athletes 26 miles away to Hopkinton for the start of the race. This year the athletes were not allowed to take any bags on the buses. You could only take what you were wearing. Over the years, we’d been getting tired of the bus program so we figured this would be the year to hire our own shuttle. For $20/person we hired a shuttle to pick us up at our hotel and take 10 of our friends to Hopkinton. We had a lot of fun together and our legs were glad to avoid the 1+ mile walk to the Commons.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day. God definitely shined His light on Boston on this day. The beautiful weather encouraged even more spectators to line the course. I started at 10am with the Elite men and about 8,000+ of my closest friends. Laurie started with the 2nd group at 10:25am and 2 more waves followed at 11am and 11:25am. The fastest runners started first so unfortunately the slower runners really cooked as the day did warm up into the high 70’s.

Some of my highlights from the race include passing Team Hoyt at the 8 mile mark. 2014 was the 32nd and final time that 73 year old Dick (father) would push 52 year old Rick (his son who is a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy) to the finish line. Team Hoyt will always be a significant part of Boston history.

The screaming college girls at Wellesley College (mile 13) were off the hook! My favorite signs were “Kiss me, I’m performance enhancing!” and “Kiss me, I am Sweet Caroline!” Heartbreak Hill (mile 20) was tough as always, but the crowd was fully engaged in their goal of helping the runners. Boston College (mile 21) and Boston University (mile 23) were louder than ever before.

My stomach was perfect throughout the race. My cocktail of PowerGels, CarboPro, Vantage, Motivators and Saltstick led to my success. I ran 3:14:23 (7:25/mile) which ranked me 317th out of 2,475 men age 50-54. I was the 4,579th out of 17,575 men to finish. And I was the 5,138th person out of 31,931 overall finishers. I was actually 2:12 faster than in 2012 which was the last time I did the race. Laurie had a great race, too, as she finished in 3:36:57 to place 291st in her age group. We have much to be thankful for!

Click on this link to view my race photos:

The icing on the cake for the day came when American Meb Keflezighi won the men’s race. It had been 31 long years since Greg Meyer brought home the last American victory. Meb is a San Diego resident and has been a guest speaker for the Tri Club. We actually made Meb a lifetime TCSD member. The victory could not have happened to a better guy. Meb has said all the right things in all of his post race interviews. He is a very deserving champion.

Living the life…

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6 Responses to 118th Boston Marathon

  1. Karen Labenz Tom Hunt says:

    Craig – CONGRATULATIONS!  Loved your write-up.  Sounds like a fabulous day.  Hope that things are settling down in CA!  xoxo KEL

  2. Craig Zelent says:

    Thanks Karen! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Things are better today. The winds have calmed down a lot. I ran 9 miles and was done before 8am as it will get to 100 degrees today. At least I’m getting things done!

  3. Chuck Carey says:

    This is tremendous Z – you have a great story to tell and you are a wonderful writer. I share your emails so proudly with family and friends –



  4. Colin Reid says:

    You are amazing! Congratulations to you both!

    Colin & Monika!

    • Craig Zelent says:

      Thanks Colin & Monika! I was just chatting with my neighbor who was on his way to start a 3 day bike camping trip in Ventura County. You would like him. I’m sure you will be on your bike today so have a great ride!

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