I first saw this post near the beginning of our adventure some 489 odd days ago. I believe it was posted by fellow runningcruise.com, runner, Joanne Brown. The only person I have met that is not a pilot, that has a full time job, and is on the road as much as us.
Wanderlust pretty much sums up my personality.
I get it honestly. My parents divorced when I was around 18, but I watched them closely in their 60’s to 80’s as they both traveled the world. Our mother would pack her bags for a few months of travel and would go from child to child with stops along the way to check on her condo in NY. Often going on far flung trips with the grands on cruises and safaris. Our dad was know as a world traveler and would tell stories of his adventures in vivid detail up until he passed at 94.
It is in my blood and I am so fortunate that I found the right career, as a pilot, to live out those deep desires. I am still looking for somewhere to settle down, but not really.
As we walked the terminal for our gate, I asked Catherine if she was tired of all this travel and she simply replied, no.
It is in her blood also. As she grew up her parents were always taking the 5 kids on camping trips and that spilled over as an adult as she closes in on getting an Marathon or half marathon in all 50 states. After Fort Collins Colorado, on her birthday, the 1st of May, she will only have 3 states left.
We ran into her mother during Catherine’s grandchild, Aaron, birthday party in Bloomington. At 81 she informed us that she just bought a mini motorhome and is off to Alaska, next month, to end up in California by July.
We are destined to travel or better yet wander.
Off to Playa Del Carmen, which I have nick named, PDC. In my flying days that stood for Pre Departure Clearance. That was the automated message you would get on our onboard computer for our route of flight that day. Only fitting since I will be taking a close look at this place for us to settle down at some point in time. Not permanent, but maybe a month or two at a time.
Noticed a plus already and that is the fact that first class is not in high demand, on this route. We got an upgrade pretty easy and plenty of empty of seats to boot. More champagne for us. Two and 1/2 hour non stop flight from Atlanta is also a plus. Catherine mentioned back in Fort Pierce, Florida that she wanted to be near a beach so that is another plus.
The ticket price of was not bad and the AirBNB that we are renting is also very reasonable. Joanne gives it high marks but the proof is in the pudding. Very interesting phrase.
The original phrase is “The proof of the pudding is in the eating!” Which means you have to eat the pudding to know what’s inside of it.
The modern version of “The proof is in the pudding.” Implies that there is a lot of evidence that I will not go through at this moment and you should take my word for it, or you could go through all of the evidence yourself.
Now where was I.
The arrival into PDC was easy enough. Plenty of agents to process you through Customs and Immigration and a taxi stand was right outside to book your roundtrip fare. They do try to steer you to some of the tour guides that await as you exit but that did not take long before we were on our way in a nice van for the 45 minute trip to our AirBNB condo called the A-Nah suites.
Hit a home run here. This place was first class and the folks that rented it out knew exactly
what they were doing. Everything you could ever wanted were waiting for you inside the condo. They had instructions everywhere in both English and Spanish on how to use everything. They had a great roof top pool where the lounges were in a few inches of water and a few steps away was the 5 foot pool. Not quite long enough for laps but easy to cool off in.
The also had a workout center, business center and washer dryer right there in the building. I have said this before but we will use this place again when we come back to PDC. There are many great resorts in the area but with all the restaurants in the area not sure why someone would go for an all inclusive resort. It was easy for us to eat and drink on 100 dollars a day and that was us eating out every night.
The Condo had a full kitchen and they even had a welcome basket that include a bottle of bubbly so if were to stay longer we could easily cooked and saved even more. A mega market was only 2 blocks away. The infamous 5th Avenue that had every store and shop you could ever need or want was 3 blocks away and add another 2 blocks and you were right on the beach.
Needles to say, we ran or walked numerous miles while we were there. There was also plenty of sights to see nearby but decided to make this a tour free trip. Some of the sights included a ferry to Cozumel, tours of Cichen-Itza and the Xichen deluxe tour, which is another flat top Pyramid.
Yes I did and yes they put our pictures on a bottle of Tequila for 20 bucks
Thriller had to get in the act
You have to love a place that has this on the base of their airport tower
This was a very relaxing trip that usually ended at the Tequila Barrel bar with the finest Kahlua Colada’s on the planet. This will now be the third place in a row that we wished we had planned on spending more time. My daughter, Mariah, asked me if I ever thought about going somewhere without a departure date in mind. I might have to think about that for future trips but right now there are just too many places to see to just hang out in one place with out knowing where we are going next and when.
The trip back to the airport was as advertised. The scheduled van hired was right on time and 45 minutes later we were back at the airport. The only problem was that we arrived around 2 1/2 hours before flight, which is about usual for me. I never want to have a plane leave without me. Usually that is not a problem because we simply go to the Delta lounge and us their wifi and have a few glasses of wine while we munch on breakfast, lunch or dinner snacks. At the Cancun airport the lounge they codeshare with is in terminal 2 and we were flying out of terminal 3. That does not make much sense especially since we can’t get past security at the terminal 2 with a ticket for a flight out of 3.
No big deal since we needed to get some steps in and we have walked many a terminal over the last year so why not at the Cancun Airport. No free airport WIFI, however. We had to pay for lunch but the flight was right on time and even arrived a bit early back in ATL. We arrived in terminal E and had to walk about 1.5 miles to terminal F for customs and our bags. Not a first for us and we were able to both get our 10,000 steps in that day.
Back in ATL for some routine Doctor and Dental appointments. That is something you really have to take into consideration if thinking of becoming a nomad. You have to be good at planning since we are not getting any younger and these types of appointments are becoming more frequent as we get older.
We leave on Saturday for Boston so that I can achieve one more goal I have set for myself.
Catherine qualified and ran Boston back in 2002 and ran it a year later. She has held that fact over my head ever since. I really tried to qualify back in 2007, and came within 12 minutes with a time of 3:57. I hated the entire race with me watching my watch the whole time. It was about mile 19 when I knew it was not going to happen. I got off pace around then and slowed down the rest of the race. On the fly I set another goal to break 4 hours so all was good, so I thought.
I figured, I would continue my training and as I got older and the qualifying time got longer, I would eventually qualify for Boston. About a year later as I continued to slow down as opposed to getting faster I realized that I would have to be around 85 to ever make the cut off. Around the same time I read an article about a guy in his 80’s that qualified with a time of 4:35, so i knew then that goal would have to be put on the shelf and forgotten.
A few years earlier when I turned 50 and we both completed the JFK 50 miler in Hagerstown Maryland. At 55 we ran from our house 27.5 miles, stayed in a hotel and ran back home the next day for a total of 55 miles in two days. As I continued to slow down I thought the idea of doing the ultimate endurance event would be in order. So in 2011 we both started our training and completed the Louisville Iron Man triathlon that August.
I thought my slowing down was simply old age but learned the spring of 2012 that I had a heart murmur and I was simply compensating for this fact by running slower and slower. I felt fine but when I heard that news, the thought of pushing myself during a marathon or even during training was out of the question.
Fast forward 2 years and after open heart surgery, to replace my faulty aortic valve, with a mechanical one, I was able to complete my 53rd marathon in Berlin a mere 3 months after surgery. It was not anywhere near what is needed to qualify for Boston but must admit, it was one of the most enjoyable marathons I have run to date. Even though I felt great the thought of pushing myself, as needed to qualify for Boston was still out of the question.
Some might be wondering how is it possible that I am actually going to run the Boston Marathon, on Monday April 18th. A simple answer would be that money does buy happiness, in some cases. As most are aware there is a second way to get into Boston and that is to raise funds for one of their charities. I did that with Team in Training, (TNT) for Leukemia back in 2001 to run the Marine Corps Marathon. I was willing to go that route with a minimum being $5,000 but it turns out Marathon Tours and Travel also gets a few slots each year. They have been a sponsor of the event for 35 of the 120 year history for this race and they are based in Boston.
How I was selected for one of those coveted slots was a combination of the amount of business I have done with them over the last 5 years and the mere fact that I was able to come back from open heart surgery 2 years prior to be in a position to finish a marathon consistently under the 6 hour time limit set up for this marathon. This will be my 11th marathon since my operation combined with numerous races of varies distances. Only time will tell if I will actually complete the course in that time limit but I feel good about the possibility.
The Boston Experience
Well on my way to run the most prestigious marathon in the world. This has been a long term goal of my. Kill two birds with one stone. Finally get the run the marathon itself with all its history and also get my 6th World Major Marathon. Those being, New York, Chicago, Boston in the states and London, Tokyo and Berlin overseas. Catherine got them completed last year so now we will be on equal footing, so I thought. Not really true, because she will always say that she actually qualified for Boston and that her fastest time in a marathon is 8 minutes faster than my time. Who says we are not competitive.
As we walked our way to the gate, I realized that over the last 15 months of running all over the world, I have been in a plane as a passenger more than I had as an actual pilot. We have a Black Captain on today’s flight and you might not realize this but that is a very rare event. Less than 1% of all airline pilots are black and for Captain that number is even less. They say a typical business man can go his whole travel career without ever having that to occur. Glad to say this is the second time on our endeavor. Proud to say that at UPS the numbers were much better at 5%.
I have another goal during the actual marathon and that is to smile and enjoy the entire 26.2 miles. Plan on giving plenty of high fives and will try to stay in the moment since I do not plan on doing this again. I hear the fan support is outrageous and there are a few others like it in the world. New York, Chicago and London to name a few. I tell people all the time if they are to run only one marathon they should run Chicago since the crowds will not let you stop running they will simply will you to the finish.
My Brother, Garrett and his son, Coleman are from Boston area and my Sister, Gwen is coming up from Connecticut to cheer me along. I hope to run into a few racing buddies while there. My Gwen was there for my first marathon in NY, so this will be very special experience for me to have her here again. We are planning a dinner after the finish so all I have to do is get there in time. I am a bit anxious, which is new to me. You would think, this being my 63rd marathon that this would be old hat for me. I came to the conclusion that the fact that I am going to only get one chance at this so this makes it truly a one in a kind experience. I decided to handle it just like I did my open heart surgery. I have prepared, I am in great health and will just enjoy the ride.
The past is really almost as much a work of the imagination as the future.
— Jessamyn West
The expo was like no other and did not disappoint. We usually just go get our numbers and leave but had to take in the whole experience. It was a bit crowded so moving around was tricky. Three stops I had to make was the Marathon Tours and Travel booth to shake Thom’s hand for thanks for the bib number and hug some of my favorite tour guides, Nichole and Karen. Next stop the Sam Adams booth for some free beer. Some may say they saw me in line twice. Last stop was to buy some official Boston Marathon gear.
T-shirt and mug for me and jacket for Catherine. I bought my jacket a month ago and can’t wait to wear it after the race.
After that we were able to catch up with Mariellen, who lives in the area and was with us back in Dublin, last year, during another Marathon Tours trip. We will meet up again in June at Easter Island. There was a place called Whiskey’s right across the street so we raised our glasses in cheers over some more Sam Adams beer, 26.2 and a whiskey sour for Catherine. Her local running group is working the water stop at mile 12. My family will be along with Catherine will be looking for me at mile 16 which is where the 5 miles of hills begin.
They had a special beer made for the occasion called 26.2. Very tasty
Two thumbs up and one last head shot before tomorrow
The day before consisted of getting one last look at the finish area from the perspective of a spectator. We also wanted to meet up with our all time favorite Marathon Tours and Travel guide, Kelly. It was bitter sweet. since she left them for another job a few months back so we cried in our Sam’s 26.2. We had a blast but had to go our separate ways but will meet again in the morning since we will be on the same bus to the start in the morning.
She usually has to jump to give me high fives
Next we were off to the pasta dinner hosted by Marathon Tours and Travel where as usual we ran into some runners from other adventures over the years to swap stories. We did have to the pleasure to listen to two icons in the running community. Roger Robinson and Kathrine Switzer. They gave away a few books and had some great stories to tell. Turns out Kathrine was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon 50 years ago when she was 20. She is now in training to do it one more time next year. We sat across the table from a lady that qualified for the race for the third time. She is now 75 years old. I am still planning on only doing 3 more marathons in the next 5 years. That’s right 65 marathons at the age of 65 sounds like a good place to stop the insanity.
The race itself was kind of an out of body experience. Bus at 7:30 to the parking area. Did not have to leave the bus at until 10 which was a great benefit since it was cool inside and it had a bathroom. On the way to the athletic village for security screening and the temperature was now up to 72 in the Hopkinson area. 10 degrees cooler back in Boston so just need to get near there before I over heat.
Right before one more high five from Kelly
My wave started at 11:15 after a one mile walk from the village. Very surprised how much trash was left by the runners. They are going to run 26.2 miles but were too lazy to pick up their own trash. It took me another 5 or so minutes to get to the actual start and it was all down hill from there.
The first few miles are mostly down hill and tried my best to stay on my 12:30 per mile pace but just like everyone else got caught up in the down hill and screaming crowds so the first 5 miles were just a bit faster than I had hoped. I learned a trick from Mariellen and that is to reset your watch every five miles.
Ready to go
It forces you to concentrate on the race 5 miles at a time which helps mentality. More like rolling hills for the second 5 miles and once again a bit ahead my predicted pace but figured I was going to need it later since heartbreak hills run from mile 15 through 21. Ran into Mariellen at mile 12, where she was working the water stop for her local running team. The hug came in handy. I could hear the girls from Wesley College that were still about 1 mile away.
Up to then I had given out many a high five and even a hug to a stranger at mile 5. The ladies at Wesley required me to use both hands to give high fives to as many of them as possible. Was starting to slow down a bit but all was good since I was still smiling and the crowds kept me going.
My family were waiting for me half way up one hill just past mile 16 and after a few minutes of hugs and pictures I was on my way again. I then had something that had never happened, during a marathon before, kicked me in the legs. Each of my leg muscle groups decided that they really did not want to go any further. I had been talking about how much I liked running half marathons over a full and had great experiences in Tele Aviv and Mexico City so my legs started to rebel.
Quick stop for hugs at mile 16 with Garrett and his grandson Whit with his Boston Strong Banner
I still had 5 more miles of hills to go so I put my head down and started to worry if I was going to be able to finish. None of them actually cramped up to the point of forcing me to stop but each would give out that warning clamp down at random times. It didn’t matter if I was running or walking so I just kept going. Each water stop I grabbed two cups of gatorade and took all the electrolytes I had with me.
I made it up the actual heartbreak hill but must admit I had to walk it. I was now doing 13 and 14 minute miles and the time I had in the bank looked pretty good right about now. Pretty much all down hill into downtown Boston but now the temperature had cooled off. Not a problem since I had some arm sleeves and my Paris head scarf to keep me warm.
I was now on pace to finish with a 5:30 total time a full half a hour prior to the cut off. Now my muscles were really starting to cooperate so it was back to giving the deserving crowds their much needed high fives. Another section where two hands were necessary but my legs disagreed with that idea, since it required me to run sort of sideways and they clearly pointed out that was not part of the agreement.
I had a flash back to the bike portion of the Iron man competition where I had to have a long talk with them to get to the transition area. The agreement back then was that they were going to work during the uphills but I was to coast down hill. I felt so good near the end that I started pedaling down hill and both calves screamed out for me to stop that. Once I complied with their request we coasted into the transition area and off we went on the run portion.
Right before mile 25, which I was happy to realize was not 24 again. Math becomes increasing harder during this phase of my marathons. I use to say that it is so hard for me to calculate when I would finish. I would just come up with the answer that I will finish by Tuesday. One more hill to conquer and there was a long line of yelling and screaming fans along the right side so I decided to take one more detour to give them what they wanted.
As I approached I started yelling, “get me up this hill”, over and over. My hand was out and everyone responded in kind with not only hits to my hand but also my back and they got me up that hill. You could see the high rise buildings in the distance and there were now police everywhere. Here you made some twits and turns and took off my headset so I could take in the entire experience.
Right before the last turn on to Boylston street I could hear my name and looked to the left and there was Nichole and the rest of the gang from Marathon Tours and Travel and ran over to give them all a hug. I was wearing my Marathon Tours and Travel T-shirt which they gave me years ago so it was a great photo op.
Right before I turned final
I use the Galloway run walk system with 3 minutes of running and 1 minute to walk but always abandon that when I can see the finish line. I turned the corner and there it was but in this case it seemed like two miles away. In reality only about a half mile since I did see the 26 mile post off to the left about a quarter mile away.
The street is very wide and the barricades kept the spectators up on the curbs but you could hear people yelling out various names on either side. By now there were not many of us running in so I would turn from side to side to see if there was anyone else that I knew. Shortly I heard my name but it sounded like a lot of people calling out my name and when I turned to the right I could see a large group chanting, “Tony, Tony, Tony.” At first I ddi not recognize any of them but in a second I recognized my Gwen and Catherine. Ran over and gave them hugs.
Turns out the people near them asked what my name was so they joined in yelling out my name to be sure I did not run by without noticing. I did not expect them from being there so it was great surprise.
That lifted me to the finish where I heard my name announced as I approached. It was a nice touch for them to add that I am presently running all over the world. I am sure Thom at Marathon Tours and Travel gave them that tidbit.
By the numbers:
Over 10% did not start and another 3% did not finish
Nothing to sneeze at. I remember the days when I was a consistent mid packer but now I will settle with not getting a DNF, Did not finish.
The evening finished up at Lucca Back Bay restaurant with Gwen, Garrett, Catherine and running cruise.com buddy, Lori. She was working in town and stayed over which was a fantastic gesture. We had a great meal and talked about that we will meet up again on a running river cruise in South of France in October.
All smiles with Lori
I am glowing and Thriller is even proud of me
After a few days back in ATL we are now off to Acapulco to recuperate and plan another goal for me to tackle. Next race will be a half marathon in Fort Collins Colorado in two weeks and the last full marathon for awhile in Prague on the 8th of May.