What It’s Really Like to be an Elite Boston Marathon Runner

He came from over a thousand miles away to go 26.2 more.

When watching the Boston Marathon as an outsider on the sidewalk, the runners that blur past can start to look like super-humans from another world.  It’s almost impossible to believe that the people before you can run 26.2 miles faster than one can drive to the Cape on a Friday afternoon. By the finish line, runners draped in Heat sheets look like gods. These runners cannot be stopped, and possess alien amounts of bravery and skill.

But as it turns out, the people that run and conquer this unfeasible marathon are real, normal people.

Last Monday Chris Dietrich of Eatonton, Georgia finished the 119th Boston Marathon in 2 hours and 52 minutes: a personal record for him, and a time fast enough to include him as one of America’s elite runners.  Dietrich’s time was only 43 minutes behind the marathon winner Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, with a finish time of 2:09:17.

Runner Chris Dietrich from Georgia  at the finish line- his first time in Boston!
Runner Chris Dietrich from Georgia at the finish line…his first time in Boston!

“Although it was cold, rainy and we were running into headwinds, I still enjoyed the overall experience very much.” Deitrich shared after the race was through. “I’ll definitely be back!”

A rainy day it was. The sky in Boston was overcast all day, and storms of rain came and went. But thousands of people like Dietrich from across the globe had been preparing for this marathon for weeks, months and years, and a rain check was not an option.

Fans watch the marathon  in the Back Bay.
Despite the rain, fans watch the marathon in the Back Bay.

How does one become a mysterious, godlike runner of the Boston Marathon?

“I’ll tell you running can be very mental, you can get a lot of negative thoughts. Keep focusing 1 mile at a time.” Dietrich advises. That can be difficult for any non-runners who could very well vomit at the sight of the number 26.

“Stay hydrated,” He added. “Don’t lose sight of the end and what’s coming. Don’t get lost in the moment— a lot of folks run the whole way in an adrenaline rush, but that can hurt you. By mile 20 or 23 you might hit a wall. Try to enjoy it.”

Dietrich was born and raised in Georgia and lives there today. He ran for his high school team until graduating in 1995, and like many high school athletes he fell out of it once the lockers were cleared out and the last spring season was over. “But around 2007, I started doing small races and 5k’s, and I was hit with a running buzz.” Dietrich says he liked the competitive nature of running, and how healthy it made him feel. That buzz carried him for the next couple of years, and in 2010 his running times started getting shorter and shorter. After a marathon in Savannah, Dietrich qualified for the Boston Marathon.

So fast the runners almost disappear.
Runners almost disappear as they descend under a bridge.

Qualifying and training for the Boston Marathon is no easy feat. Dietrich had been training for twelve weeks, and he recorded the entire process on his own official marathon Facebook page. It was through this page Dietrich was asked to speak about his marathon experience. Every day throughout training Dietrich posted his run lengths and times with supreme dedication. “When you have a family and a full-time job, it takes a lot running 60 to 80 mile weeks.”

Dedicated posts like these were made by Dietrich every day on the Facebook page.
Dedicated posts like these were made by Dietrich every day on the Facebook page.

Though this was Dietrich’s first time coming to Boston, he had still felt connected and affected by the marathon bombing two years ago. Dietrich explained that the running community is a tightly woven one, and the bombings felt like an attack to all runners everywhere. “I was watching it on TV when it happened, and it was all over the news. Running, you see a lot of the same people and make a lot of friends through it…All of my running friends were talking about it, and some of my friends from Macon had gone to Boston to run. We were really scared for them, but none of them were hurt and they were okay,” Dietrich shared. Even all the way south, the panic from the marathon was felt.

This year, security lined every street, and bags had to be checked at stations the closer one got to the finish line. But the event ran smoothly, and no incidents were reported.

“It was a great experience. The community and crowd support from Hopkinton to Boston was like no other race that I’ve been in. The atmosphere was just awesome being surrounded by others who enjoy the sport of running,” said Dietrich. “[Boston] is a nice, historic place to visit. I only wish I could’ve had more time to do more sightseeing.”

Runners finally catch sight of the Citgo sign.
Runners finally catch sight of the Citgo sign.

Dietrich came to Boston with his friend Alan Black, a Master Runner who was also competing in the marathon. On Tuesday, the two returned back home on a flight from Logan Airport to Atlanta. But Dietrich’s brief time in Boston will surely never be forgotten. What is the one memory he will always think of first? “That last turn onto Boylston Street, and seeing the finish line while the crowds were cheering me on!” An unimaginable sight to see.

Get Ready for a Rainy Marathon Monday

Unfortunately, it may be a muddy Marathon Monday.

Boston has finally gotten through the harshest of winters. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Marathon bomber of 2013, is facing the conclusion of his penalty trial. The Red Sox are playing again. But that darn New England weather, unpredictable as it is, might not keep up with the comforting, sunny days of the past week.

Weather reports are predicting rain for Monday, with almost a 100 percent chance of rain. Only time will tell. But those watching the marathon are advised to come prepared. Don’t leave your rain boots, umbrellas and hoodies at home.

There are some things not advised to be brought to the race. It has been asked by marathon officials not to bring bags to the event, and if bags are brought they may be subjected to a search. If one needs to bring a bag, a clear plastic bag will work just fine. Weapons, coolers, glass containers, explosives, large blankets or sleeping bags, face masks, and props are also not allowed at the marathon.

If you’re looking to catch a particular runner at the marathon, the Boston Athletic Association has made it easy. There is now an app to track any runner’s progress during the race. It also helps to be at the right place at the right time. The mobility impaired participants start at 8:50 am, followed by the push rim wheelchair division at 9:17, and the hand cycle participant start at 9:22. Elite women’s start is at 9:32, and the Elite Men and Wave One begin at 10:00. Wave 2, 3, and 4 follow at 10:25, 11:00, and 11:25 subsequently. The first runners should cross the finish line around 11 am, so if you’re looking to see the winners, make sure it’s not a sleep-in-til-noon Patriot’s Day.

What Should Happen to the Boston Bomber?

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been found guilty on all accounts for the bombing of the Boston Marathon. Now, on April 21, the penalty phase of his trial will determine whether or not Tsarnaev should face the death penalty.

There is no way to know what will happen until the trial is over. But what does the Boston community feel should happen to the man who terrorized their city?

In a poll of 50 people on the Emmanuel College campus taken by journalism students on Friday morning, 17 people believed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be sentenced to death while 32 people felt he should live a life in prison. One person was not sure of what the Boston Bomber’s fate should be.

“If you don’t kill someone for what he did in this country, then what kind of example does that set?” Asked David, who works in the post office on the Emmanuel College campus. David was one of the 17 polled who all agreed Tsarnaev should be sentenced to death.

But those in favor of the death penalty were strongly outnumbered by those opposed to it. “I don’t know, I don’t really like the death penalty! If anyone should get it it should be him, but I don’t like the idea of it. I think people should just go to jail for life instead,” stated Kristen, a 19 year old student.

Brittany, a sophomore at Emmanuel, had similar ideas. “He should definitely not have the death penalty. Killing people…no.”

Surprisingly, it has been found that citizens of Boston are more likely to oppose the death penalty for Tsarnaev than the rest of the U.S. In an April 10 Huffington post article, it was discovered through several polls that only 27 percent of Bostonians believe Tsarnaev should face the death penalty, compared to 47 percent at a national level. This may partly have to do with Massachusetts’ Democratic majority, giving that Democrats are generally not in favor of capital punishment. But it is still interesting to see that giving the harm happened in Boston, less people in Boston want to see him lose his life.

Massachusetts does not have the death penalty, but as this is a federal case, capital punishment applies. Only time will tell what will happen to the Boston bomber. The day after the 119th Boston Marathon, the penalty trial will begin.

Five Questions With A Guy Out for a Smoke

IMG_1210

Standing by a couple of girls on a park bench on The Fenway, I came across this lad out for a smoke.

What’s your name?

Craig.

Where are you from?

A town by the river in Connecticut. Unless you’re from Connecticut you wouldn’t know what it is.

You’re a student? What year are you?

Yeah at Emmanuel-I’m a freshman.

What are you studying? 

Theology!

A lot of my friends and people I know think religion is obsolete today because of science. What do you think of that? 

It’s not true at all. Science and religion can coexist- both ask different questions.