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Friday, April 25, 2014

My Boston Marathon


video
The Beard has made it to Boston!!!!!!
 Short version - Finish time - 4:01:13. Not my fastest, but by far my most memorable race!


Five days later and I'm still on cloud nine about Boston. Nothing can change this for me. It will be a while before I come down :)
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What a fun filled marathon weekend it was! Started on Friday at Hopkinton with the family for dinner and pictures at the start line.
Notice we are wearing the official "Beard to Boston" T-shirts
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Saturday was the Expo at the Hynes Convention Center. 
My good friends Melissa, Sandy & Kristen


Are you taking the picture???
~My wife was our photographer for the day~

Not only did we experience the whole expo, we also worked it. We took on the second shift bib distribution. From 1pm to 7pm. It has to be the best job at the expo! We met so many people from around the world picking up their bib for Monday's race. It was awesome.
The wife and I  

Saturday was a LOOONG day.... 
~Sunday we rested. ~
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Monday,...  My wave didn't start 'til 11:25 that day but we had to in Worcester to take the bus to Hopkinton at 5:45. Because of the new BAA security measures, the bus needed to be at Hopkinton between 6:30 & 7:15.  It was going to be a long wait but we made the best of it. Here we are playing "horse shoes" with some running shoes and some bottles of water:
Yeah, we were red necking it..

Security was tighter than last year as you can imagine. You couldn't go anywhere in Athletes Village without your bib. Since running clubs were allowed to bring bags on our buses, every time we would walk from our bus to the village we would have to walk through a security check point. They would make sure our bib were visible, we would have to empty out our pockets, take off our hats and then we would have to "spread 'em" as they waved us down with hand held metal detectors.... felt like I was at an airport. Will this be standard from now on? Who knows. It was a pain in the ass, but at least it made us feel safe.

As it got closer to the start of the race, they would announce bib color and corral numbers to start heading down to the start line. Reds at 10am, Whites at 10:25, Blues at 11am and then us, the Yellow bibs at 11:25. When it was time for us to head to the start the streets were jammed packed. It was tough to get through the crowd of runners. By the time I got to the start, my wave had already started. Yikes!! No time to even think, just GO!! Saw my sister in law and her family at the start so I paused for a sec to let them take pictures:
Blew them a kiss to say "thanks for being there"

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I'm not going to go into every mile of the race. I honestly can't remember every single mile. It all went by so fast. All I know is that it was a very emotional race. At times my heart was in my throat and I had to calm myself down because it felt like I was hyperventilating. Temperature was about 65-68 degrees by mid race. A little to warm for my liking, since we had trained in such a cold winter. By mile 22 I was hot and could not drink enough water to satisfy the dryness in my mouth. But pushed through it.

The most memorable mile for me was the last mile. I remember passing the "1 Mile to Go" sign and at this point I was spent. The sun was beating me down and my feet were killing me. I remember thinking, "God please get me through this last mile". Then from the roaring of the crowd I thought I heard a chanting "Jose! Jose!, Jose! Jose!"..... I heard it, but it wasn't registering in my head. Huh? is that my name I hear? I looked to my left and there was my friend Chuck with like 15 other people cheering me on. Totally unexpected!! What perfect timing that was! That gave me that extra push I needed. Like minute later I see my wife, daughter and a group of friends on the same side yelling for me. I ran across and gave my wife a kiss and my friends a high five and continued on.

As I approach, Hereford St. emotions took over. I turned left on Boylston and and I see it once again. Memories of getting stopped right at that spot came rushing back. At that moment there was no one else there. Just me and the finish line. Nothing or no one between us and I was coming for it. As I approached it, it hit me that I should record this. I pulled out my phone pointed the camera towards me. That was the video posted above. I didn't know what to say so I just winged it. You can tell by my voice that I almost lost it for a second. Right before I crossed, I turned my camera around and took a quick snap shot. I made it!

Steps away from completing a life long dream!!!!

After crossing I saw my sister, her husband and my father not to far from the finish line. They took this picture of me after getting my medal. I was not expecting to see them there.


I had to walk three blocks to meet up with my wife and daughter at the commons. We just sat on the grass for about 30mins. I didn't want to go anywhere. I was where I wanted to be, right there with them.
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This blog does not do justice to the fun filled weekend this was. There was so much emotion, so many pictures, so many memories, so much more to this weekend that could never fit on this one page. I could write a book about this weekend and still leave stuff out. 

What's important to me is that it's finally done. Mission accomplished. I feel like I can finally put this past year behind me and move on.  

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I want to say a quick thanks to everyone that supported me this past year, through training and through the race itself. Many of you have reach out to me personally and said many kinds words to me. I can't express how deep this support hit me and how much it meant to me. I was overwhelmed. 

Thank you to Level Renner. Being part of Level Legion was an awesome experience. I met so many people because of their Boston Marathon articles of me. I felt like a celebrity at times! Ha!  It was truly awesome of them to choose me as one of the six runners for this project. And thank you for the singlet. It was perfect for marathon day!

Most importantly, a big "THANK YOU" to my wife. She sacrificed a lot to make sure I got my training in this winter. Many times after long runs she would be there at the end waiting with snacks and waters for me and the other runners. She made finishing a long run that more special and worthwhile. Everybody loved her. I'm lucky to have her by my side. 

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Til my next adventure!!!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My Images from Boston - A Year Later

Living in the Boston area all you heard and read about the past couple of months is about the survivors, the volunteers, the runners, the bombings, the suspects.... it's been the Boston Marathon every day since the last Boston Marathon. There is no way to avoid it. The media has been all over this story. It's almost been the norm around here. I have been slowly getting used to the whole thing.

But now, with the anniversary of the bombings quickly approaching, the news reports about it have been way to much for me.  Memories from that day are starting to surface at times have been overwhelming. We are all familiar with the images from that day; Jeff Bauman being wheeled away with Carlos Arredondo by his side; the older runner, Bill Iffrig, collapsed when the bombs went off; and the pictures of the three precious lives that were lost that day - Krystle Campbell, Martin William Richard, Lingzi Lu..... God bless them all...

But to me, NO images touch me more than these few I'm about to post for the first time here on my blog:

My two older kids with their friends at the finish line

My youngest sitting patiently waiting for me

My beautiful wife

My parents; 
the first race they've ever come to see run (my nickname is Pete in case you're wondering)

All of them waiting waiting for me to fulfill a life long dream of crossing the Boston Marathon Finish line. All of them there to support  me.... All of them, thanks to the grace of god, safe and sound after the bombings. No one was physically hurt, but all suffered life long effects of sights and sounds witnessed that day.

When I took this picture of the runners stopped before the Mass Ave bridge

I turned around to see this:

This image will forever be in my mind as the moment my heart was broken. My daughter, my wife, my mom & dad in the back ground, my sister in law and my son.... Guilt struck me like a ton of bricks. I remember crying so much after this. I felt like I was to blame for all of this. It was all my fault. It was my fault this all happened to them......
.... as I write this, even a year later, it still makes me feel the same way. I have wiped away plenty of tears tonight. The pictures and emotions have really hit me in a way I knew they would. I'm not surprised. To this day, I still feel guilt for the things that happened that day. I know, I'm not to blame. But I can't help to feel this way.

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With the anniversary of the bombings just around the corner, I felt like like I had to get this out of the way. My blog has always been a great place for my crazy thoughts and this is no different. I needed to get this out there because this is how I felt.

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Only thing left to do now is to cross the finish line. That day will be here soon enough and we can all finally put it behind us and move on.

Counting down the days til Boston.




Sunday, April 6, 2014

Crazy Fun In Crazy Conditions

This is a copy and paste of a freestyle article I wrote for Level Renner posted by Timothy Ritchie. As some of you may know, I'm one of the six people Level Renner chose to feature in their Level Legion Boston Marathon Edition. A while back they asked me to write a freestyle piece for them and I did it the only way I knew how - blog style. If follow me on Facebook, you probably already read it. Wanted to share it with my blog friends.

Link to the actual article HERE

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Crazy Fun In Crazy Conditions

As we get ever closer to the Boston Marathon, members of the Level Legion: Boston Marathon Edition are checking in with some thoughts on the training the race, or whatever else they can come up with it. We let them go freestyle, and we’ll be presenting those to you throughout the week. Up next is…
I am a Central Mass Strider true and true. I owe a lot to this organization. It was because of their volunteering program that I got a time-waived entry to run Boston in 2013. This is a great perk they provide for just a couple hours of your time to help out at local races.
As true as I am a CMS’er, I am also a member of and co-founder of Tri-State Running based out of Webster, Ma. Tri State Running was started by my friend Joana and I to get runners in the surrounding area together so they wouldn’t have to run alone, especially in the cold, dark winter nights. The group started out with just a handful of members and after an article in the local paper, the group practically exploded overnight. Next thing you know we were hosting morning runs, weekend long runs and Tuesday night Pub Runs.
Rivera pub run
From one of our pub runs
I’m not writing this to promote our group. We are small town and would like to stay small town. But I just want to state that because of this group, my training for Boston 2014 has been some of the best times in my “running life”.  Just about everyone pictured above, with the exception of my wife and two others, I have met through this club. With some, I have become good friends.
Everyone would agree that this winter has been a brutal winter for us runners. Especially so for those of us training for Boston or any spring marathon for that matter. Running with these new found friends has been a blessing to my training. Waking up at 4am for weekday runs have been a bit easier knowing that there would be someone out there to meet me. Those brutally cold long runs on the weekends have felt like short runs as most of us got lost in conversations. Many adventures and many memories were made out there this winter.
Rivera frozen beard
Froze my beard one too many times this winter
The extreme cold was the killer of many runs for a lot of people this winter. Most took to running inside on treadmills. I take pride in saying that 99.9% of my runs have been out on the streets in whatever kinds of conditions Mother Nature threw at me. Sometimes they weren’t pretty, but I got them in. I was happy to find out through this club that there were many other crazies like me that did the same. This winter we trained hard and got our miles in, but most importantly we had fun doing it!
Rivera group shot
When training is this much fun, is it really training? I am lucky to have found these crazy people!