Friday, April 22, 2005

Just to put a lid on the whole Boston thing, here are a bunch of unrelated thoughts about my trip. It's Swanson's Lazy Man's blogging, not very delicious, but it'll fill the void. Skip the peas and carrots though. Mushy.

1) The city of Boston began a massive project over 20 years ago to improve traffic, partially by digging tunnels under the city and routing traffic through them. This project, called the Big Dig, has cost around 15 billion dollars. Theoretically, it's about done.

$15,000,000,000! Holy crap! And the city still looks like it's in ruins. Construction debris litters large areas, signage for these new roads is abysmal, and several residents I spoke to weren't ever really sure about which roads were open and which weren't. Nice work, Boston!

Given that Boston has less than half a million residents of driving age, perhaps they could have spent this money more wisely. Like maybe divvy up the dough! Every would-be driver could have had $30,000. That would take the sting out of a traffic jam. Or, maybe a more realistic solution would have been to buy everyone jet-packs or invest in pixie-dust technology.

2) In the days before the race I kept encountering other runners, all of them with astonishing running resumes and much faster than me. The woman in front of me on the airplane was about to run her 50th marathon. The drunk guy on the shuttle bus was on his 7th Boston marathon. The guy next to us at the restaurant wasn't feeling healthy, but hoped to eke out a sub 3:00 marathon. Crikey! Somehow, I managed to finish ahead of about 16,000 runners in the actual race. Where were all these people hiding in the days before?

3) We arrived at our hotel on Friday night and made sure to put out the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door, knowing that we'd be sleeping in on Saturday (since we were still on California time). At around 9:50am on Saturday morning (that's 6:50am to me!) the phone rang. It was the maid. We had this conversation:

Maid: Good morning, would you like your room made up this morning?
Me: I...had....the...Do Not Disturb....sign out.
Maid: I know, that's why we called.
Me: But, but, you're disturbing me. This counts as disturbing me. Do NOT disturb.
Maid: I'm sorry about that, but we were on your floor and wanted to know if you needed your room cleaned.
Me: Why would you call me if I have that sign out?
Maid: To find out if you wanted your room cleaned.
Me: Ah, of couse. No thank you.

Oddly enough, this happened to us the last time we went on vacation. And that was that was even at a nice hotel. This one was not so nice. Our view overlooked a bus parking lot, a Hertz heavy equipment rental lot, a funeral home, lots of garbage, and some warehouses that seemed to offer outreach programs. Classy.

4) During the actual marathon, sometimes you'd get a good view of the course ahead, like when we would descend into a valley, or when there was a hill ahead. Each time I could see that the somewhat narrow course was jam packed with runners, even after many miles. The sight impressed me every time.

5) The bathroom door in our hotel room had a full length mirror on the outside of it. My daughter would often stand in front of it when the door was closed, admiring her beauty. Unfortunately, and inexplicably, the door opened OUT. I got to hear this exchange a couple of times during my trip:

Wife: (comes out of bathroom, opening door into daughter) Tra la la
Daughter: (Blam!) Owww! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!

Man, that's good comedy. Thanks, Best Western!

6) On Saturday there was a sign in the lobby of our hotel saying "Welcome Norvell Custom Fit Bras". I kept a hopeful lookout for women whose breasts were so impressive that they required custom bras, but could not identify said breast-owners. If I had seen them, I would have warned them about the bathroom doors which would have been doubly dangerous to them.

7) Although I'm not thrilled with my performance in the race (I think my slowdown in the late miles was more mental than physical, which is depressing), I take some solace in this. I believe all the runners were assigned numbers based on our qualifying times, and we lined up at the starting line according to our numbers. So, theoretically the 5000+ runners ahead of me in Hopkinton should have been faster than me. I ended up in around 3000th place. So, somewhere, there are 2000 runners who probably disappointed themselves more than I did. Their failure brings me joy.

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