Apr 26, 2013

Beantown - 4, Packet Pickup and Bacon

Beard: I stirred early Sunday morning, the day before the marathon. My folks were washed, dressed and pressed, four eyes trained on me in bed. 

We walked across the street to The Greenhouse restaurant for breakfast at Harvard. Dad and I each ordered the #8 special.  The waiter barraged me with questions:

1. Eggs fried, poached, scrambled, over easy or sunny side up
2. Bacon or sausage
3. Orange or grape juice
4. Coffee or tea
5. Buckwheat, plain or fruit-laced pancakes
6. White, wheat or rye toast
7. Butter or margarine
8. Skim or 2% milk

The menu interrogation was ruthless.  Dad chuckled, then did his best to defeat the pimply waiter: “Yes, I’ll have #8 with poached eggs, bacon, OJ, coffee with creamer, buckwheat cakes, rye toast, butter and 2% milk."

The waiter paused, then a slow smirk: "Do you want light or dark rye toast?  Waiter won.

Curls: Knock, knock! Beard is at my hotel door, ready to head out for packet pick-up. He starts off by going on and on, and on and on, I tell you, about what a smorgasbord of a breakfast he consumed. Greasy bacon, this. Fluffy pancakes, that. All the while, I am starving, for I had made the false assumption that we’d be grabbing something en route to downtown. He will tell you that I was firm in boldly interrupting, quite rudely, “Curls is hungry!” That cut him off, right then and there. I ate a quick grab ‘n go bagel and we’re off.

Packet pick-up. Ah, this is where reality starts to set in. The Boston numbers actually mean something here, unlike most other organized races. Your assigned race number is a direct indication of your qualifying time. Yikes! I must bear #13482. “Shoulda ran faster in Chicago,” I think to myself. I find these expos quite interesting, very “Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fair”.

I get a kick out of the freebies. I have loaded myself down with mini-jars of Smuckers sugar-free jelly, sunscreen, blow-up thunder sticks, and coupons for my favorite Bear Naked trail mix, just to mention a handful. I have also eaten practically an entire meal while gracing the aisles, the latest Gatorade electrolyte induced drink, power bars, Clif shot gels, soy-based chocolate milk, and even a cheesy rice mix was shoved in my face and consumed, almost subconsciously.

The crowds create an intoxicating buzz; everybody is so excited, nervous, and just plain happy to be there. I was plowing a path through the venue, with Beard about 20-steps behind. He may be a quick fella, but I have him beat on the speed-walking bit. I told him to “yell” if something interesting caught his eye. I lost him just once and found him hovering near yet another food table. For someone so skinny…a-hem, uh, lean, yeah, that’s it, Beard certainly can eat!

Beard:  Please tell me why they serve beer and Rice-A-Roni at packet pickup? That’s a strange mix, I liked it. They might as well offer oven roasted garlic-stuffed ham hocks and 80 proof malt whiskey. I was having trouble wolfing down free food and keeping up with Curls through the mess of people. Thankfully, her hair rises high, I used the curly tufts as a homing beacon. I’d lose her, gaze into the crowd for a second, then sure enough, there was her brown thicket of hair bobbing around 30 feet in front.

It was crowded in the expo, I draped the orange bag over my shoulder like a man purse and did my best to suck fumes of Speedy Gonzales out in front.

With our orange marathon bags in hand, we set out to explore the city. Boston was calling out, we'd be happy to oblige with a walking tour. We quietly explored a pair of 19th century churches, cameras inhaling the stained glass windows and brass pipe organs.

Walking through the city, the rain was making a mess of things, liquid creeping up the cuffs of Curls’ pants like a plague. We strolled to the harbor and walked into a 40 mph headwind, the rain felt like sand as it stung our faces and made the dry spots on our cloths disappear. The forecast for race day was for the wind and water to be even worse, a Nor’easter, the likes of which has never been seen on Patriot’s Day. The weathermen were predicting it would be the worst weather for the marathon in over 100 years.

It was at this point, when fighting our way up to view the harbor, that the looming marathon figuratively tapped us on the shoulder and seemed to say, “I am going to eat you for breakfast tomorrow, bring some ketchup and napkins. See you at 10:00 am.”

Curls: It was horribly windy and rainy that day. Under normal circumstances, a visit to the harbor would have been dreamy. All I could think about was how cruddy race day was gonna be. It’s just rain, I thought. I’m not made of sugar. I’m not gonna melt. We made the best of it.

Beard: The SCRC (running group at work) met for dinner in Little Italy at an intimate bistro. The atmosphere was great within the tiny restaurant, hungry customers separated from the chef only feet away by a clear plate of glass. My folks showed up for the feed, Mom sat directly across from Animal SCRC member). Mother is fond of fanny packs, she’s been an advanced user since they were introduced in the early 80s, back when they were crafted out of fluorescent green rip- stop nylon. She was sporting a ritzy high-end one this evening, a pleather material.

Animal is a fanny pack connoisseur of sorts, he and Mom dove into the intricacies of the rich world of packs. I’m sure their conversation went something like this: “Do you prefer to front or side load it? Velcro or polyurethane buckle connection system? Multiple combo pockets or a Big Mother Single?” Later that night, she asked me, “What is the name of that nice man that was sitting across from me? He was so interesting. He tells me that he runs with a fanny pack.” I simply responded, “That is Animal, there is only one.”

On the walk back from dinner, the wind inverted my umbrella, then snapped the metal shaft like a toothpick.  The group snickered. Back at Friendly Inn before lights out, Dad sucked out what little hope was left. I overheard him tell Mom, “That race is going to be an SOB.”  Such encouragers they are.
Tomorrow would be a battle for sure. 

Ready to rumble, let’s see what you got. Nor’easter my keister.

To be continued...


  1. Not sure why no one is commenting on these posts, but I just want to say I've enjoyed them immensely. Maybe it's the New Englander in me and the fact that so much of my family was so near to the marathon that makes me appreciate them!

    1. Comments ~ like pulling teeth.


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