A Runners Perspective

The love of running is an unexplainable passion that only runners can fully understand.

And there are certain races that in the running community can be understood to be the Mecca of all races.

With the cumulative knowledge that comes from having runners on the Servus High River Half committee, the Foothills Advocacy In Motion Society recognizes that we are very blessed to have such committed and passionate runners share their knowledge and time in ensuring the success of this race, a race that is a major fundraiser for FAIM Society.

One such person is Ron Abramson, the Servus High River Half Marathon Committee Chairperson.

Ron is passionate about the sport, this run, its support of the FAIM Society and the community of High River. Because of this he, like the rest of the committee, over the years has put in countless hours ensuring the success of the HRH.

FAIM Society would like to congratulate and highlight an accomplishment of Ron’s that fulfilled a dream of his and stoked the fire for many of us.

Please enjoy Ron’s story in his own words about his love of the run and the thrill of participating in a once in a life time experience.

Ron Abramson

The Boston Marathon was an amazing experience. More so than I ever imagined. It was a long road and I have not been sharing any of it in this preceding 7 months. Now that it’s come and gone I am ready to share the lead-up and the race itself.

As many of you know, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in February 2016. Fortunately I responded well to the meds and I went into remission by the end of April. That’s when I decided to give running Boston one more attempt. I qualified in 1997 but due to some life circumstances I couldn’t run in 1998. I figured I would have plenty of time to qualify again. Alas, I did not run another marathon for 14 years and in that attempt I did not run a qualifying time.

Anyway, once I decided to give it one more shot I realized in order to really make a viable attempt I would need a coach. So I hired a coach and through her support, pushing and fabulous training plan I was able to run a Boston qualifying time in February 2017. That meant I was eligible to run Boston in April 2018.

I planned on starting my training on November 1, 2017. Unfortunately in late August 2017 my Colitis flared and by November instead of training I wasn’t running at all. I had to stop my running from late September until I finally got the Colitis under control in late December. Instead of a 24 week training program I was down to 16 weeks. That was going to present some issues in getting ready but what it wasn’t going to do was change my approach to the race itself.

Running Boston was never going to be about time. I said right from the start of my training for the qualifying marathon that if I did qualify to run Boston all I wanted was to enjoy the race and the entire Boston Marathon experience. So that is what I did.

While I was confident that I was ready to run the 26.2 miles I knew that I was not going to run a personal best time or even match the time I ran in the qualifying marathon. I was hoping to run a Boston qualifying time just to say that I ran a Boston qualifying time at the Boston Marathon (arguably one of the most difficult places to do so).

About a week out from the race I started looking at the weather for the race and it was not good. Hoping things would change, since it was a week out, I started preparing. As the time got closer to leaving for Boston nothing changed with the forecast except it was getting worse. Rain, cold and high winds out of the east, directly into the runners face for the entire 26.2 miles. So I packed everything I had for those conditions and hoped for the best.

Perhaps the best part about the trip was the amount of family joining Donna, my wife, & I. We were bringing our daughter Molly, one of our 5 sons, Josh, his wife Sarah and their 4 week old daughter Violet, our first grandchild. We were flying to Newark to meet up with my sister Jill and her husband Carl, who were joining us in Boston. We met up with their daughter Justine who attends college in Boston. So I was surrounded by a great support system and that was important to me.

 

Now we are up to race day, Monday. The weather was horrible at 6:45 a.m. when I left for the trip to Hopkinton and the start of the race. It was about 2 degrees and raining when I started my journey. By the time I got to the athletes village in Hopkinton it was 9:00 a.m. and it was cold, very windy and raining hard. The athlete’s village was a quagmire. Good thing I took the advice of the race organizers and wore a second pair of shoes and socks that I could change out of and donate before the start of the race. I also took off a sweatshirt and sweatpants that I used to keep warm prior to the start and donated them as well.

Made it to the starting line for my 10:50 a.m. start time, I was the 3rd wave of runners to start, with about a minute to spare. There I was, at the start of the Boston Marathon. Something I have watched numerous times on TV but to actually be there was surreal. The gun sounded and off we went, after about 2 minutes of walking to get to the starting line.

Watching the race and running it are so different in the perception of what the course is like. I knew it was downhill for the first 6 miles. The amount of downhill was unexpected. Along the route there were people everywhere. There was hardly a section where there were not spectators yelling and cheering. It was amazing as the weather was so horrible and standing out there for hours would have been very uncomfortable.

There were a few places that I knew would be special, at Wellesley College there were hundreds of screaming coeds and they were extremely loud and excited to cheer us on during our run to Boston.

Heartbreak Hill definitely deserves its name. It is long and steep and it was great to get past it and have only 5 more miles to the finish.

But the place I was most looking forward to experience was the right turn onto Hererford Street  and left turn onto Boylston Street and the final .4 miles of the race. That was amazing for so many reasons, firstly because I was in the final stretch, but more importantly for the sheer pandemonium of the crowd. It was so loud the entire stretch to the finish line and I enjoyed every second of it. I was told the crowd was down from years when the weather is good but you’d never know it from the noise. They may have been only 3 or 4 deep instead of 6 or 7 deep but they were enthusiastically loud.

When I made the turn onto Boylston the rain started coming down harder than it had the entire length of the race but it didn’t matter. We were nearly finished and the crowd was so supportive.

When I crossed the finish line I was never more relieved to finish a race. More importantly I was never so proud of myself for doing it. I worked long and hard and I knew it.

After going through and receiving my medal, which the volunteer who handed it to me telling me I had to wear it all day on Tuesday, I stepped into the tent to change into some dry clothing. After changing I picked up the bag with my wet clothes and was shocked. The clothes I wore weighed about 2 pounds at the start of the day when they were dry. By the time the race ended they must have weighed close to 20 pounds. That is a lot of extra weight to be running 26.2 miles with when not be used to training with that much additional weight.

I went to the family meeting area and met Donna, Jill, Carl and Justine and it was so great to see them. I was sore, my calves were tight, but I was smiling and happy about the day.

Donna won’t want me to say that she was emotional, not crying like she did when I got my race bib on Sunday, but she was obviously happy I made it in good shape.

There were about 2500 people that had to stop due to hypothermia and some even went to the hospital. I feel fortunate that all that is bothering me are some tight calves still this morning.

Boston was a great way to end my marathon journey. I am finished with marathons. I will continue running half marathons and other shorter distances however because running is in my blood.

Sorry about the length of this post but I wanted to tell my story. It was a most amazing day and the weather could never dampen, no pun intended, the scope of the event and my experience. If any of you reading this ever have the opportunity to run or view the Boston Marathon definitely do it. You will never regret it.

Cheers and I hope to see you at the upcoming Servus High River Half Marathon,

Ron Abramson