As it turns out, Monday’s Boston Marathon was a bit more dramatic than I’d first realized for all three runners in my family.
My youngest son, Jeremy, tore a calf muscle two weeks before the race, but he insisted on running anyway.
Jerry was in the third 9,000-runner wave, and his brother Richard was in the fourth wave, which took off 25 minutes later. Their plan was for Jerry to set a slow pace and wait for his healthier brother to catch up so they could run together.
But less than half-way through the 26.2-mile course, Richard texted Jerry to report that he’d blown out both of his quads and was trying to soldier on. Jerry slowed to a walk now to wait for his injured brother to catch up. When he finally did, they pressed on.
In front of them were the four Newton hills—including the one called “Heartbreak.” And now, Richard was cramping.
The third family member in the race, Richard’s wife Deana, was far ahead of the men, on a pace for a good amateur time.
But the race should have been over for Richard and Jerry. It was time for them to head for a hospital tent. My boys have always been stubborn, however. And this year they had more reason than usual to be that way.
Richard and Deana had competed in last year’s Boston Marathon, too, and Jerry jumped in to run the last few miles with them. But their day ended short of the finish line when the bombs went off.
Still, as I know from experience, it’s all but impossible to walk up a hill with one blown quad, let alone two. And a torn calf muscle is no picnic either. But my sons weren’t about to let pain stop them. Not this year. Up the hills they went, half-running, half jogging.
Well ahead of them, Deana was cramping now, too. Realizing she wasn’t going to make the time she’d hoped for, she dawdled and wait for the two guys to catch up.
Five hours and 25 minutes after their races began, the three of them linked arms and crossed the finish line together.
Richard, 44 years old, and Deana, 43, ran to raise money for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which provides support for cancer patients. Jeremy, 38, ran to raise money for the Boston Museum of Science.
I’m proud of them, of course, but they were not alone in the single-minded determination to finish the race in the wake of last year’s tragedy. The Boston Athletic Association reports that 99 percent of the runners who entered this year crossed the finish line, shattering the old record.