Kopacs at NY Marathon finish line
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Lynne in NYC

Kopac's Corner

2006 Boston Marathon Conversations

by Bob Kopac

One of the enjoyable parts about covering the Boston Marathon is the opportunity to talk with runners. Each has his or her own feelings concerning the Boston Marathon.

During the Sunday 2.8-mile Freedom Run the day before the marathon, I ran next to Heather Bracken of Citrus Heights, California. She told me that, although she was thrilled to be at the Boston Marathon, it was a bittersweet experience for her. Heathers 58th birthday would be the day of the marathon. However, her father had died in hospice 3 days earlier while she was in Boston. He had told her he wanted her to run the Boston Marathon, so she was going to run in his memory. [Heather Graham finished the marathon in 4:11:13.]

Later that day, Lynne and I had lunch with Lynn Mueller and Hal Goolman of Lancaster, New Hampshire at the Irish pub Sls in the Lenox Hotel. I had photographed Lynn 2 years in a row as she crossed the Boston Marathon finish line wearing pink Cincinnati Flying Pigs Marathon wings, and I had arranged to meet her in person this year. We got into a discussion about Boston qualifying times.

Hal: They slowed the qualifying times enough, that it is not like it used to be. When I first ran Boston, you had to run a sub-2:50. If they held to those standards now, there would be a thousand people in the race, maybe.

Lynn: The one thing that will never change is that it is probably one of the most challenging courses, so you still have bragging rights to be able to do Boston. Its not just about being fast. You have to have it all together. You have to have done the training, and yes you have to be fast. But you also have to be able to know when to go.

Hal: And it is the most historic. It has the best expo of any marathon I have been to. The expo is great.

Lynn: Boston is about legacy. The history it has, the traditions it has. There is something special about it. I don't know of any other race where somebody wants you to say, I've run Boston. To able to say, Ive run Boston will mean more than any other race. Even people who don't know running know Boston.

Hal: It is everyone's goal to run Boston. But now Ill hear, My niece is running Boston. Its her first marathon! For charity, they bought their way in by raising money. And, being a runner for a long time, and being a purist, I think it is good for the charities But fifteen years ago, if you told someone, I ran Boston, you knew what that meant. Now, you have no idea what that means.

John Eddy and his wife Pat from Lancaster, New Hampshire then joined us for lunch. We talked about how each person qualified for Boston. John reminisced about qualifying at the Las Vegas Marathon.

John: I was having such a great time, that I stopped at mile 18 and handed out water for 5 minutes with the rest of the volunteers. And I still qualified for Boston! I ran 3:30, something like that. I had a 3:18 marathon going. You have to remember, though, Las Vegas changed their course. Before they changed it, the first 16 miles was downhill. You went from 8,000 to 4,000 feet. Don't quote me. Or, you can quote me if you want, but I don't know. [Laughs] It was straight down. I ran a smart race. I got behind a guy who was trying to qualify for Boston. I ran behind him the entire way There was a headwind, right in your face for the whole 16 miles. He'd slow down, Id slow down. Hed speed up, Id speed up. I almost tripped him, that's how close I was. I was in his pocket. After I stopped for water and started up again, I saw him, he was walking.

[John Eddy finished the 2006 Boston Marathon in 3:29:30. Hal Goolman finished in 3:33:16. Lynn Mueller also finished in 3:33:16 wearing pink wings.]

Later that day, Lynne and I walked to the Boston Marathon finish line to watch the setup activities. There we met Mike Edwards and his wife from Deer Park, Texas. I mentioned the Keep Austin Weird 5K, and we discussed various weird events at races.

Mike: A deer ran out of the woods during the Austin Marathon and ran into a runner! It was 29 degrees at the start of the race. There was black ice. The course officials put down a lot of gravel and salt, but there was still a lot of ice. A lot of runners were slipping.

As we talked, Mike mentioned that he was running Boston after having surgery.

Mike: I had super ventricular tachycardia [severe abnormal heart rhythms]. But I got it fixed, and I havent had any episodes since. I'm running tomorrow, and I hope to just finish! [Mike Edwards finished the 2006 Boston Marathon in 3:30:53.]

The next day, Lynne and I caught up with Nick Lamando of the Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club (MHRRC) in the family reunion area, after Nick finished the marathon in 3:33:36.

Nick: It went well. The first half went very well. It was like 1:40 at the half. After that, things started going downhill. I started fading after Heartbreak Hill. I walked a little bit and then started running again I didn't train enough as usual. [Laughs] I had maybe 5 long runs, and maybe 3 to 4 days a week is all I got in, like 6, 7 mile runs, a lot different than I used to be doing. It was good for me, and I feel good. Not that I am going to run again, but I feel good. [Laughs]

Eric Gross of MHRRC then joined us after finishing the race in 3:42:45.

Eric: I had a hard middle [of the race]. My legs never felt good at the beginning. I came out okay, and at mile 23 I started to get cramps in my stomach. I couldn't run. My legs were fine. I was struggling from mile 12 through 18.

Q: Anything help you get through?

Eric: Jolly Ranchers. Its an old Dick Vincent trick that he taught me years ago. I started about the halfway mark sucking on Jolly Ranchers. Whether it is a placebo or not, its good.

Nick: I used salt tablets, I think they helped I tell you, some people have a good kick at the end of this race. I don't know where they can drum it up, but boy, they do.

Eric: The crowd doesn't get me going; Im just focused on looking ahead Its hell when you start to walk in those last miles. The crowd just gets on your case One guy gave me a beer, and I sipped a little beer, kissed a few girls in Wellesley. It was fun.