Posted by: David Stewart | May 1, 2011

What it looks like to run Boston

Boston - I'm here at last!

The dream I had of "someday running the Boston Marathon" became a reality. It’s tough to qualify for, but it is certainly run as a top-notch event. Here at the expo, there were a lot of people getting photographed with their race number, so I thought I ought to join in.

Race Day

Race day was perfect in terms of conditions – a little shivery at the start.

Boston Marathon 2011

But after the first couple of miles I was shedding gloves and arm warmers.

Boston Marathon 2011 Boston Marathon 2011

The end of the race requires you to figure out what you will do at the finish. I’m not a handspring kind of guy as some are. Instead, I flashed a "5 0" with my hands, indicating my rather decrepit age. Fortunately, I was smiling at the end, which was my goal.

Boston Marathon - Donald R. Vancil credit

And thanks to Deb and my sister and her husband, there were a few photos of my smiling finish.

Boston Marathon 2011 Boston Marathon - Donald R. Vancil credit

My family members were waiting for me in the family greeting area, which was really really special. You can see Ellen on the left and Deb on the right. How amazing to have family at the end! It was a really rare treat.

 Boston Marathon - Donald R. Vancil credit


Family and Friends

When it became clear last December that I needed abdominal surgery and it became doubtful that I could run Boston, one of the things which kept me going was the knowledge that my close friend from college, Anne Trefry had qualified and was running Boston. So of course, I had to get over being cut through the belly and get myself to the starting line no matter what. It was great hanging with Anne and her husband Brian, who were tramped through part of the Freedom Trail with us.

100_1230 100_1225

And as I said, it was very special to have one of my sisters, Ellen, and her husband Don come out and stay in the city and come out at the end of the race. We enjoyed a number of great carb-laden pre-race meals together, like this time at Maggiano’s in the North End.

 Boston Marathon - Donald R. Vancil credit Boston Marathon - Donald R. Vancil credit

Maggiano’s is I guess a chain, kind of an upscale version of Buca di Beppo. (Not that we have either in Portland…)


Boston History

We had never really spent time in Boston, so it was terrific to wander around the area. I had never heard of the story "Make Way for Ducklings", but I guess it was pretty familiar to many, and of course I had to read it myself. There is a statue in the Public Garden celebrating the book.


 Make way for ducklings!

The city of Boston has done an outstanding job preserving its history as it relates to the dawn of the Republic.  Like for example, the Old North Church, which Paul Revere used as his primitive semaphore.

Old North Church, Boston

The city has some terrific character, and the Freedom Trail, where the most historic buildings are linked by a red line in the sidewalk, making it easy for us dumb tourists to find most of the good spots. There are plenty of cool cemeteries with famous dead folk holed up as well.

Boston, MA

One day we took the train up about an hour to the town of Salem. This was an old town with a spotty past. In the year 1692, the town went through an incredible bit of mass hysteria and executed a bunch of men and women on fear of their being witches. Salem itself was a prosperous sea port in its day. Nathanial Hawthorne, a very famous early American novelist lived there, and we toured through the very nice House of Seven Gables, where Hawthorne spent a lot of time.

 Salem, MA

But today, Salem has a ton of really cheesy spiritists, witchcraft museums and other such blarney, playing off the Witch Trial past. In the midst of all of this hoo-ha, there is an amazing and very high-class museum, the Peabody Essex Museum, which had an amazing and very high-class display of art from China, Japan and a few contemporary pieces. I wondered, "Why in the heck is such a nice museum in a place like Salem, Massachusetts?"

"Well, you know there were these rich families, like the Peabody’s and the Marblehead’s around here," my lovely wife informs me.

"Well with a Marble Head and a Pea Body, you would get crush immediately." Enough said.

We were so awestruck by this great museum that we gave a pass to the very fine Boston Museum of Fine Arts, though we walked through the gift shop.



  1. Congrats on finishing Boston! That’s one of my goals I hope to accomplish, I don’t think I’d take the medal off for days! Also, Maggiano’s is an upscale Macaroni Grill, both owned by the people who own Applebee’s. My friend works for On The Border, so we get discounts at Maggiano’s too, great place!

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