“I am never running another marathon.”  That is what I said at mile 10 of the Boston Marathon yesterday.  The weather was the worst I had ever run a race in.  Cold, windy, sheets of rain. My water belt was so wet that the water bottles kept on flying out and I had to stop 2x to retrieve them.  For some reason I had to go to the bathroom 2x by then and I rarely ever do that on any training run, even for 22 miles.   My body had suddenly become weary as if I had run 20 miles, not just 10.   I was drained and had 16.2 more miles to go.  It would have been easy to just pull off to the side, take the SAG wagon to the finish and call it a day.

Gutting it Out……

I thought of my kids and how they would think if I dropped out – also of the kids in my class who were waiting to see how I did the next day.   I could not drop out – that would not be a great role model.  So I said to myself – “let’s at least get to Wellesley” – and I did.  There were fewer college girls screaming than usual, but it was a good pep for me and then I was done with 12 miles – soon 1/2 way there.  The funniest sign this year said – “kiss me if you want a wine tasting”.  Once I got to the 1/2 way I just said “I have to finish – forget the time”.   14, 15 and 16 went downhill to the stream and the hills of Newton were in front of me.

I started taking my caffeine e shot/e+ mix at this point.  The 1st 2 hills went well – I passed a lot of people and stayed strong.  The 3rd hill I started feeling weak again and then a nasty stomach cramp hit me on Heartbreak Hill.  Everyone was saying to me: “it’s almost over” or “you’ll make it”.  I knew I would make it. The hill wasn’t the issue – it was my stomach. At this point the rain intensity hit its peak – a sheet of rain pelted me for 2 minutes.  I bent over as much as I could while walking and eventually the stomach pain went away.  I walked about 500 yards, but the damage was done – it was a 12 minute mile.  The total time was about 3:01 at this point – 5 miles to go.  I said “wow -I’m not even going to break 4 hrs at this pace!”

Inspirations…….

I had passed many inspirational runners on the hills – blind, amputees, disabled – amazing that they were completing the race and the guides also amazing for helping them.  Also on the hills I passed and got passed by the same runner with a multi-colored bandana at least 4x.   A little boy said, “Can I have a high five?” .There was a runner in distress also, ready to pass out – 2 other runners were helping him up the hill to the next aid station.  A third runner saw this and ran to get help.  As I passed people I tried to offer encouragement on the hills to keep my own sanity.   In the back of my head I heard Wang Chung songs “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”, “Let’s Go”, “Hypnotize Me”, “Dance Hall Days”, “Eyes of the Girl”.   I kept on circulating back to “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” for most of the last few miles.

Thankfully, I recovered a bit for the last 5 miles, picking up the pace a bit.  I started counting down the miles by laps on the track – only 15 more laps, only 14 more laps.  The crowd was definitely thinner here than usual but enough people to keep the excitement going.  When I passed people, I told them also “9 laps on the track to go”.  I passed the famous Citgo sign and an eerily quiet Fenway Park where no baseball game was played for the first time since 1984.  A runner to my right was ready to collapse and was using the barricades to stay up.  The rain and gusts of wind right at us continued to pummel us.

The Finish……

I was almost there – I kept on saying to myself – “This is it – just a right then a left” – and soon I was almost there.  I wore a shower cap over my hat until now and then threw it off.  I made the right and then the left onto Boylston.   I looked at the clock in the distance and figured I had about 2:30 before I was over the 3:50 mark and I started speeding up as best as I could.   All that got me under 3:50 – 3:49:49, my worst Boston ever with my best marathon training ever.  Disappointment, exhaustion, relief and then I was onto my next goal.

Aftermath……

I had to get my bag before I froze as I did in 2015.   I lost about 2 min looking for the runners parka area as it was not clearly labeled.  They handed us water 1st – that’s the last thing I needed at this point.  I got my medal, finally my parka, a protein bar and quick-stepped to the number tent to get my bag.  However we had all finished at the same time – 250 people were waiting and the line was not moving.  A male runner started collapsing and people asked for a medic to assist and they took him away.  I was shivering shivering….finally I got my bag.  25 minutes had felt like an hour.  I quickly stepped by a building to check my phone and saw 5 missed calls from my friend Sam who was going to drive me home. “Shoot” I muttered as my frozen fingers tried to call him back.  “Nick – I’m past the 4 Seasons and I called an Uber to take us back to the hotel and he’ll be here soon”.  “Shoot”   I walked as fast as I can – thankfully the Uber driver had just gotten there and we went back to the hotel without walking that mile.   That was the best ride ever.

My hotel, the Marriott Residence in at the Downtown Seaport was also the best.  It was only a block from the new Expo and 1 mile from the buses to the start and 1.4 miles from the bag tents after the finish.  They allowed me to check out late at 3 – because of all these delays we actually left at 4 – they didn’t even ask us to leave and were extremely accommodating.  They gave us goodie bags as a breakfast with bananas and water.  When we got back to the hotel they had chicken soup, more bars and huge chocolate chip cookies.   The shower back at the hotel was such a welcome relief.  We were on the way home by 4:30 and home by 10.   What a day……..

In retrospect, being sick for 10 days with about 3 weeks to go was too much for my body and I could not recover.  Next time will be better.   This is how I felt those days:  Click Here

Thanks!!

I can say that I survived through it all and I only can run better next time.  I am too drained to think about it right now.  Thanks to my wife Judy, my family, UN training partners Jazmin, Sam, Nestor, Hugo, Elena and Boris, my running best friend Tony, my Isagenix nutrition program including Jody and Keri, my chiropractor Dr. Stewart, my yogi Elinor Cohen, FitU, the Sports Conditioning Institute and Brad Vaccaro, Orange Theory Fitness and Ashley & Bill Woo, my PT Danielle, Jason and The Runners House and all the runners that I coach and have coached and all those who wished me well wishes before and after the race.

Trials of Miles,

Coach Nick

Nickolas Joannidis
Nickolas Joannidis
I have been running for over 35 years, having done practically every possible racing event or distance from the 100 meters through the marathon. I competed in varsity high school cross country and track at Saddle Brook High School in the mid-1980's, varsity cross country and track at Division II Pace University and finished well over 200 road races since then, including 20 marathons with a lifetime best of 3:14:50. I was the president of the Hoffmann LaRoche corporate running team for 7 years, growing the team from 25 to over 90 during his tenure. I coached many of these runners to achieve their goals, whether they were beginners or advanced. In 2011 I was an assistant coach for the Fair Lawn Recreation track team, helping the 10 to 14 year old group. I am currently personally coaching dozens of runners, from beginner levels to advanced levels and getting them to be prepared to meet their goals.

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