Zero Days Until the Boston Marathon: Every Second Counts

Posted on Apr 18, 2016 | 4 comments

The 120th running of the Boston marathon is in the books for the Harkins. It was a tough day. The heat played a pretty major role in both of our races.

For me, I felt like I could have changed my goal to something closer to 2:40. It was hot in the starting area, and I knew that it would be a factor. But then, I did not come to Boston to run 2:40. I came to run 2:35.

The race unfolded as many do with the exception that there were like 600 guys at exactly my pace. It was really pretty amazing to see so many sub-2:40 marathoners in one place.

This year I was able to take in more of the early sights and enjoy some of the crowd support. It is the closest I will ever come to the feeling riders must have during the Tour de France. It truly is worth every minute of pain.

Dave at Mile 15.

Dave at Mile 15.

I physically made it through about 16–17 miles, but my brain was working overtime. Both quads cramped around mile 10, and I had to spend some significant time rubbing them out. I took a gel, two Endurolytes, and about 8 oz. of sports drink around mile 18. It was a luxurious, but necessary, layover. It had a high impact on my spirit as my goal started to slip away.

The latter stages served up more challenges as my quads continued to cramp through the hills. It was a pretty severe defeat during that particular battle. Boston had become the adversary even though she sounded like a friend. So many people cheered, “Come on Pawtland!” But they were sort of saying, “Don’t embarrass us!”

At mile 22, my mental mantra: “D-I-G-N-I-T-Y-one; D-I-G-N-I-T-Y-two,” and so on. I tried every trick.

I was essentially slogging through the final miles until I found some focus. I challenged another guy to a race. Sounds pretty strange since we were already racing, but we were both balled up in some kind of fetal-position, save-me-from-this-monster pose, so it was necessary.

For about 12 minutes, I replaced the pain and despair with courage and fortitude. My original goal was lost and forgotten. My new goal was to squeeze whatever I could out of the final miles.

I finished by out kicking one last guy. I grabbed my knees, closed my eyes, and listened to a man on a megaphone shout, “Welcome back to Boston!” My first thought was, “I should have never left….”

My next thought was a thankful appreciation for one the best athletic events in which I have ever had the privilege to take part.

I returned to the finish corral to collect my wonderful, tough-as-nails wife, Paula. I am so proud of her. She will always set our household standard for perseverance and grit. She had early challenges at the four-mile mark…I never would have made it back. Proud!

This 100 Days has produced a large volume of work, especially for a non-poster like myself. Thanks for the well-wishes and the support. And thanks for joining me on my journey.

The Boston Marathon 2016 is now history. I missed my mark by a bit, but it was certainly not from a lack of preparation or support. Thanks Paula Harkin, Scott Fauble, and the crew at Portland Running Company.

Final Time. 2:45:59. I guess every second does count.

Relief near the finish.

Relief near the finish.





Dave Harkin and his wife, Paula, own Portland Running Company. He lives in West Linn.


  1. Even though you may not have met your goal Dave, you are inspiring to many of us here at The Union Gospel Mission. We enjoyed hearing the updates of your and Paula’s day back here at the mission. Your perseverance and persistence is admirable! I appreciate the reality of your struggle and the modification of your goals. Thanks for sharing this journey with us here. We look forward to your return!

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  2. Credit to you for keeping your running mojo, mine up and left me pretty early on. It was so tough yesterday and I’ve never been happier to cross the finish line.

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  3. We are all so proud of you, Dave, as well as Paula. Way to go on the revered Boston Marathon route and all its history…and your races have now written some more history of it!

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  4. Congratulations Dave and Paula! Way to represent Portland in Boston! I enjoyed following your journey…goal or no goal, those are some crazy fast times!!

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