Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


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A matter of time, crossing the line at Boston

It is taking me awhile to process the experience of crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon at 2:39:20 p.m. – 10 minutes before the explosions went off at 2:49:43 p.m.

BostonFinish Area3in-x

Where I was standing when I heard the explosions is shown by the *X*

Runners are greeted at the finish line by officials whose  job is to make sure they move along quickly through the post-finish line area which spreads over three city blocks. This process includes; recovery drinks and water, getting a heat sheet blanket, a sticker to keep the heat blanket secured, a medal, the option of a photo while wearing the heat sheet blanket and medal and then a bag of food. I did all of the above, except for the drinks in those ten minutes.

Just after receiving my bag of food explosions were heard and a very large plume of smoke rose to what seemed like 20 stories high. It appeared to be at least a mile away. My sense is that we were all thinking “this can’t be good” but were hoping that it might be simply be a gas explosion. Nobody wanted to believe that it could be something more sinister.

An integral aspect of the Boston Marathon experience is the spectators. Having been buoyed by their support all the way, I now realize survivor guilt is inevitable. The rational question is “Why anyone?” but as a benefactor of the incredible enthusiasm and cheer-leading at Boston the question for a participant becomes “Why so many spectators when they were only there for us?”.

PROTECTED FROM ANXIETY

Somehow the mayhem did not immediately spread two blocks past the finish line.  We did not hear a chorus of sirens wail, leading one woman to echo our hopes (or state of denial) when she said, “It’s funny that there aren’t more sirens maybe that means its not serious.”  We saw one or two officials run towards the finish line but without giving us any direction. We had no idea what was going on. The roar of the crowds at Boston are deafening. I think I will always ask myself why we were not able to make out that the screams of encouragement from two blocks away had turned to screams of anguish, pain and terror.

We finishers continued,  albeit with some anxiety, with the usual post-race routine, the next step to pick up a checked bag. My checked bag contained items that I was willing to leave behind should the line-up be overlong.  I have a cache of old gear saved expressly for this. My habit with out-of-town marathons is to stay at  hotel within reasonable walking distance to the marathon finish should I decide to skip picking up my baggage and have just a heat blanket to keep warm. I still considered picking up my bag as there was still no sense of panic in my immediate area. I walked by the baggage bus and saw that there was a line-up of 6-7 runners for my bib number sequence (which by usual standards is quite reasonable) but decided that it was sensible to skip the baggage check. I walked quickly out of the runner-only area eager to reunite with my husband asap.

Our hotel was 1 mile from the finish line and our meet-up plan was a street corner enroute to the hotel. The understanding was that if he was not there, I would likely head back to the hotel and message him. At the best of times, nothing is more unpredictable than trying to connect with friends and family after a marathon, especially when you are away from your home city. The chaos and worry that ensued for all those who were more immediately affected by uncertainty in reuniting must have been grueling.

Boston after the finish line

Turning towards a spectator friend for a photo after crossing the finish line in 2007

My mental construct was that my husband may have seen me cross the finish line and be walking parallel to me on the sidewalk toward the exit to the runner-only area or our meeting spot. I drew this image from 2007 when I was spotted by a friend just after I finished and she took a photo from the sidelines. Since I did not realize how close the blast had been this image did not cause me to worry. I walked over to our meeting spot and my husband was not there so I walked quickly back to the hotel where I immediately emailed him.

3:26 p.m.
Subject: I am at the hotel 🙂

Shortly after, he replied . . .

3:31 p.m.
Subject: re: I am at the hotel 🙂

Thank God

After this an email arrived which included a link to a photo from the devastation at the finish line. I was then that I became aware of what had happened.

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Post-Boston Marathon

Dear friends,

Thank you for all your concern and care. I deeply mourn and grieve for the loss of life and injury suffered by so many at the Boston marathon. My heart and prayers go out to their friends and families. The spectators at Boston are one-of-a-kind and exemplify the best of American exuberance, civic pride and love-of-sport. As a runner whose spirits have been buoyed by the unbelievable cheer-leading of Bostonians for a fifth time, the fact that spectators were a target adds yet another element of tragedy. If city dwellers everywhere could rise to the level of support and celebration that exists at Boston, cities everywhere would be better for it. Boston, we feel your pain.

Lynn

Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi

Finish line 2007


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A fast pace

Indeed! With seven weeks before the Boston Marathon I’m heading into the heart of marathon training. In addition to 60+ miles of training a week, a number of other activities are keeping me busy. But first a running update.

Lynn Kobayashi, Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi

*The Look* On the verge of death or childbirth? I think I need some finish line coaching from Usain Bolt.

A few weeks back I set a Canadian age-group record for the indoor 5K. It was “low-hanging fruit” as far as records go but as one friend said I’m sure it was delicious nonetheless. I ran 21:55 – breaking the old mark of 26:14 held by Gossette Radlein since 2008. Tomorrow, I’ll be running another indoor 5K so it looks like I will be running to lower the Canadian record 🙂

Lynn Kobyashi, Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi

Why am I HERE? (far right)

The 5K was an invitational race with athletes of all shapes, sizes and ages, and just one woman. That would be me. I’m not sure what the logic was of putting me in the best starting spot, the inside track, so to speak, perhaps that was the spot where it would be least likely for someone to trip over the vintage 1955 wannabe record chaser.

5K jerry k

Jerry, the class of the field.

A couple of other records were broken in the race. Jerry Kooymans broke the men’s 55-59 record and Jack Geddes ran 23:29 – breaking the record of 27:46 held by Whitey Sheridan in 1991. I was happy to take the record down to a respectable level, a solid national class time (equivalent to about 17:40 were I in the Open category).

Mini Meet JackLynn

Setting the pace for a 75 yr. old record-holder.

Jerry on the other hand is the crème de la crème of masters running in Ontario, an international caliber athlete who has been competing his whole life and still holds records for the Princeton team. Jerry ran most of the way by himself, finishing in 16:44. He broke the old record of 17:27 held by Robert Jackson set in 2011. Jerry is just a few months older than me which makes me an expert in knowing when he enters a new age-category.

Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi, Lynn Kobayashi

We did it!!

This blog post has filled up rapidly thanks to all the great photos courtesy of Doug Smith of the Ontario Masters Track and Field Association. So I’ll have to elaborate on my other activities some other time. As far as that goes, let’s just say that Ethiopia is on my mind.

My To Do List for the Next Ten Weeks

  • Organize reception at University College on March 7th to recognize and attract sponsors and supporters for gala to benefit Ethiopian orphans. If you are interested or know of companies who might be interested, download this invitation: Sponsor Reception or email: people4kids@bell.net for more details.
  • Organize gala for Ethiopian orphans at the ROM on May 1st
  • Finish reading Les Miserables – The harsh conditions in the book make me think of hardships faced by those in developing nations. I am 45% of the way through.
  • Run for Ethiopian orphans at the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15th.


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Boston Marathon 2012, Here I Come!

I started this blog to document  my return to marathon training after a break of almost three years.  My goal was to qualify for this years Boston Marathon.  To qualify, my plan was to run MY qualifying time at the California International Marathon, last December which I did successfully.  BUT WHOA . . . the Boston Marathon sold out in 8 hours and 3 minutes, on  October 18th, 2010, the first day of registration.  So much for the plan. A big rethink was in the works for the marathon and word was that the new plan would be unveiled in early January.  Finally on February 16th, the new plan was revealed with this headline.

B.A.A. to Offer Fastest Qualified Runners Early Acceptance into 2012 Boston Marathon With New Registration Process

BOSTON – The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) announced today a change in its registration process for the Boston Marathon, allowing the fastest qualifiers to enter the earliest and with a rolling admission system while also offering all eligible runners an increased registration period. The changes in registration are a response by the B.A.A. to greater than ever demand by runners to gain entry into the Boston Marathon and culminate more than three months of analysis, including input from the running industry. Rather than accepting runners who have met the qualifying standards on a first come, first served approach, a more systematic, performance-based process will be employed. READ MORE

Personally, I’m satisfied with the new process of staggered registration dates, with those exceeding the qualifying standards in larger increments given the opportunity to register first.  Since I exceeded the qualifying time for my age-group of 4 hours and 15 minutes by 33 minutes with my December time of 3:42.  I can register on day one and day two (all those who have surpassed the standard by at least 20 minutes) and rest assured that I won’t lose an online registration race.

More from the B.A.A.

“Those who qualify by the greatest amount of time to have the longest period to enter,” said Tom Grilk, B.A.A. Executive Director. “Our new registration process takes into consideration the many comments we received from runners this past fall and winter, most of whom urged the B.A.A. to institute a system which recognizes athletic performance above all else.”

As for the 2013 race, qualifying times will be tightened by 5 minutes. I’m disappointed to miss the 2011 race but it is probably for the best, given that my big focus for the spring is the Gala.  And speaking of the Gala, some late-breaking news . . . Peter Fonseca MPP and former Olympic marathoner has agreed to be an honourary Patron for the Gala, along with his wife Christina who recently was elected to the Mississauga City Council.

I have known Peter for a number years as a generous contributor to community events that I organized including a “Breakfast of Champions” that I held as coach of school cross-country team.  Peter a 2:12 marathoner, used to do live commentary of the Boston Marathon and placed 17th as top Canadian in the 1996 Olympics.

Lynn Kobayashi, Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi, Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon 2007 – Louise Voghel, 1st place age-grouper & Canadian marathon record holder (left) and me proud to be third.