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Friday, April 13, 2001
Updated: April 16, 11:10 AM ET
The Running Man

By by Jeff Bradley

Jeff Bradley, The Magazine's baseball and soccer writer, just completed his first Boston Marathon. He phoned in regular updates before, during and after the race (quite an accomplishment, considering he had never run a marathon before). Run the race along with Jeff. To see his splits, go to bostonmarathon.org, and type in bib No. 12,162. E-mail your feedback to jeff.bradley@espnmag.com.

Pre-race musings

I know, I know, by now, you think all I do is sit in front of the TV, watching Behind the Music, E! True Hollywood Story, John Hughes movies on TBS and the MLS ESPN Shootout Package on DISH network. Well, you're almost right.

The other thing I've been doing, since mid-December anyway, is training for the Boston Marathon. I'll be giving my thoughts from the road (literally) from Hopkinton, Mass., to Copley Square, along with sharing whatever Journey songs and famous Judd Nelson lines might be banging around in my head.

I'll see you at the finish line.

9 a.m., Hopkinton, Mass.

It took 52 minutes to ride out here on the bus from Boston. It's incredible how far away from the city we are. On the way out here on the bus there were a bunch of Brits who were belting out Beatles tunes -- this was at 6:50 in the morning. We got out to Hopkinton High School and there was a Christian rock band called "Moral Crossing" that was entertaining the group. The lead singer got up and spoke of the different reasons that people run the Marathon -- be they physical or spiritual or mental. I'm trying to figure out where I fall in.

10:30 a.m., Hopkinton, Mass.

That Christian rock band I mentioned below -- it's called "Laurel Crossing," not "Moral Crossing." That's a relief, although they did have me pondering my spirituality. The real reason I'm here: mid-life crisis. I grew a soul patch on my chin, too (sorry). In case you're coming out here to cheer me on, or to follow me on bostonmarathon.org, my number is 12,162. Which means I'm expected to finish 500 ahead of Christopher Green of Medford, Mass., who is sitting beside me right now.

11:15 a.m., Hopkinton, Mass.

It's like a big party here. Sunny and about 50 degrees. 93-year old marathon legend Johnny Kelley just sang "Young at Heart." The place went nuts. Kelley has run in 61 marathons in his storied career -- I'd be happy to finish just one -- and might even join us for the last five miles of this one. Definitely inspirational. But I'm getting a little nervous now. They're starting to move people to the starting line. I'll be in the back with the slow pokes. My wife will be at the finish line to cheer me on (if i make it). The rest of the day she'll be shopping.

11:50 a.m., Hopkinton, Mass.

Just minutes away from the gun, and I'm waiting in line for a port-o-potty. It's my third time today. Gotta hydrate, y'know. Been drinking water and I also had two gourmet power bars and a power gel. But now I'm stuck behind six women ... and you know how long women take. But I met Amy Nelson. She was the point guard for Southwest Missouri State's '92 Final Four squad. We talked hoops and Jackie Stiles. Now she's a physical therapist in Chicago. I was expecting to run with her, but she's faster than me -- five groups faster. But I'll be pulling for her. And I'll be bringing up the rear with all kinds of pride.

12:30 p.m., Away we go ...

26 minutes into the race right now. It took nine minutes to get to the starting line. I've been high-fiving everyone in my path, but I should've worn my name on my shirt. The guy running next to me has the name "Chucko" on his shirt. So everybody's screaming "Go Chucko!" Me? They're calling me nothing. And I'm wearing a bright yellow ESPN the Magazine hat, but it's gotta come off soon. It's all cotton -- too hot! [Reader Peter B. Vander Horn e-mails: "I ran Boston twice. Best crowds of any marathon anywhere. Wait till you get to Wellesley, the girls will give you a second wind."]

1 p.m., Framingham, Mass.

[Ed's. Note: When you're running a marathon, most of your thoughts -- and words -- come in a sort of breathless stream of consciousness. As you can see.]

Just passed the seven-mile mark. I'm about 52 minutes in. People are loving me in this town. I'm trying to get people to shout ESPN. But they're not. I need a breather, so I'm gonna pass the phone off to a guy I met.

Hi. This is Sean Landers. I do mechanical design. My brother-in-law works for ESPN in Connecticut. I'm 40. This is my 10th time in the marathon. Okay, I'll give you back to Jeff.

[Reader Kevin Haynes e-mailed: "What's up with Tampa Bay's middle infielders -- Anderson and Addo? Why is it so hard to find a good defensive midfielder? And if you answer this while you're running, I'll be darn well impressed.]

Kevin, in response to your Tampa Bay question: They do have a good midfielder -- Josh Keller -- but he's injured. And as for Addo, he's a good player. You don't need to worry about him. Ok, that's about the best I can do on the run.

U2's Angel of Harlem is stuck in my head. It's not really helping me along, but the fans are.

1:30 p.m., Natick, Mass.

I'm hangin' ... in ... there. I'm on pace to finish under four hours -- my goal. This is nothing like baseball though. It's me against myself. Me against my brain. I've got these blisters on both feet. I never had them while I was training. But I'm okay for now. What's the score of the Red Sox game? There's a lot of people yelling, "Yankees suck!" Hey, I just saw the first sign in my honor: "Go Grandpa!" I'm 37.

2 p.m., Wellesley, Mass.

I'm beyond the halfway point now. The Wellesley girls were amazing. They were screaming the whole time, for every runner. It's been a couple of years since girls have screamed that loud for me.

[Reader James Sharp e-mailed: Who won the battle in Saturday's Fire/DC match, DaMarcus Beasley or Craig Ziadie?]

James, in response to your question: Ziadie was impressive. So was Beasley. The thing about Beasley though is that he didn't get frustrated when things didn't go his way. He stuck with it. He's got speed. But most impressive is his mental game. He's got great skills of concentration for an 18-year old.

3 p.m., Newton, Mass.

I've just cleared Heartbreak Hill -- supposedly the last hill. And I've decided: I'm not talking to the media anymore. See you at the finish line.

[Ed's. Note: As Jeff cruises to the finish -- he's still on a 3:45 pace -- we'll be posting some of your e-mails here. We'll rejoin our faithful correspondent after he lifts the media blackout, probably in an hour or so.]

2:30 p.m., Newton, Mass.

It's getting tough. I'm on the hills right now. It's ... tough.

[Reader Rebecca Bryant e-mailed: It's great to follow your progress on the website ... I'm cheering for you. Can you hear it?]

Rebecca, in response to your question: No. But that's probably because these hills are getting ... really ... tough.

3:30 p.m. ... Some of the best e-mails that Jeff received while running:

"I'm following your status on the web. I'm a runner and I'm sitting in my office wishing I was there running. Funny, because at this point I'm sure you wish you were sitting in my office."
-- Brandon Angus

"I heard that if you break four hours, they'll run more MLS highlights on SportsCenter!"
-- Beau Dure

"Way to go, Jeff. You deserve a few days off."
-- Marc
[Ed's Note: Not until he finishes his next Boot Room column, though.]

"Keep the faith, buddy. Or, as Journey would say, 'Don't stop believing.' "
-- Sue Hovey (one of Bradley's co-workers at The Magazine)

"I was screaming at you as you went by Wellesley, and I'll be screaming again until my voice is gone. Anyone who can run 26 miles in one stretch deserves that and more."
-- Larissa J. Ranbom, part of the Wellesley Scream Tunnel

4:15 p.m., Boston

I made it ... Net time 3:41 ... I did awesome ... If I do say so myself! What an unbelievable experience. I was just a random guy hoping to finish the race, and for the last two miles everybody was cheering for me, "C'mon, you can do it!", and "You look good, only a mile to go!" I mean, the winners finished like two hours ago, why are people still out there cheering for us poor schleps? It was amazing.

Heartbreak Hill was really hard. The whole last four miles were really hard. My legs didn't have anything left. You really have to fight through the pain even when you feel you can't go any further. I thought the last five miles would be easy, but I was really laboring -- kept waiting for the adrenaline to kick in but it never did. With a mile left I knew I could walk the rest of the way and break four hours, but I just didn't want to stop running. I wanted to cross the finish line with some dignity.

With two miles to go I started thinking about my kids -- someday I'll tell them about this. I can't imagine that there's a better marathon, anywhere, but I don't think I'll ever run another one. Thanks for following along, and thanks for rooting for me.