Boston Post-Race Dinner:
No Tea Party

By John Dodds

Fairmont Coply Plaza, BostonOne of the things I noticed about most of the reports on the VHTRC web site is that they are about trail running. Oh, sure, there are a couple about road running as well. But it's hard to find one that's not about running at all. Until now. While this is not about running, it is about some members of the VHTRC. There have been some questions about several of us VHTRCers going out to dinner after the Boston Marathon. What better person than me to give a fair and balanced account of what happened that evening?

A bad omen? I drove to Boston the day before the race and parked at a subway (they call it "the T") stop at the end of one of the lines. I would ride the T to packet pickup at the Hynes Convention Center, then on to the dinner at Quincy Market, and then back to my car at night. I sat next to a woman on the T. During our conversation, she told me that she was a veterinarian and went to school at Virginia Tech. She was somewhat taken aback when I told her that I had just driven hundreds of miles to get away from someone like her. I was getting a case of bad karma (or was it a case of the heebie-jeebies?) because I had only been in Boston ten minutes and the first person I talked to was a vet from Tech.

John DoddsWho invited him anyway? Frankly, nobody. A number of us before the race agreed that we would meet at the "B" (as in Bonini) section of the family meeting area after the race. Although I was there, I didn't see any of the rest of us or their relations (such as Gena's or Margie's husbands). So, I continued on to catch the van back to the air force base where I was staying. One of the runners (a good one at that because he ran a 3:13 on a hot day) got queasy on the van. The van dropped us off at the officers' club on base, and he got out and crawled over to the grass on his hands and knees and threw up. Two of the women spectators on our van were very concerned and asked if we should do something. I told them "Nah, he'll be ok." Since he had already checked out of his room that morning and had planned to drive back to Rhode Island, I offered to let him take a shower in my room and lie down for a while if he wanted to. (This is exactly what Kerry would have done.) While he took a shower, I stirred up some coke to make it flat. With that and some corn chips I bought, he felt almost normal and took off. As planned, I then called my friend from Minnesota (we met at the pre-race pasta dinner 4 years ago; we get together every Boston marathon and when I go to Minnesota) whom I ate with the night before. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a hold of him because, as I learned later, he left his cell phone in one of the porta potties that morning before the race. What to do about dinner now?

I had seen Farouk after the race; he was asking a volunteer how to get to his hotel. I remembered the name of the hotel, and I also thought Vicki was staying there, too (as was Linda). So, I called Vicki and asked if they were going out to dinner. She said they were, and I asked if I could join them. Sure, she said. I don't remember her exact words, but she did say it would be somewhat expensive. She also said they were going to meet in the lobby at 8, and I should try to be there by then. If I wasn't, then she would send the other two to dinner and wait for me. It was ten of 7, and I still had to drive to a T stop and then ride the T to get to their hotel. Since I didn't really know how long this would take me, I assured Vicki I'd be there by 8. During this conversation, I felt like I was in the middle of a Big Bopper song:

What's that honey?
Pick you up at 8 and don't be late?
But baby, I ain't got no money, honey.
Ha ha ha ha ha.

As luck would have it, I arrived exactly at 8. Just as Linda and Farouk were heading out to the restaurant.

A horse with a name. I went to high school in England, and several people from the time I was there actually amounted to something. Such as the current commander of the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq. And the three guys who played guitar, formed a group called "America" and made a gazillion dollars while I was barely passing calculus in college. For those of you old enough to remember, they had such hits as "Sister Golden Hair" (whom I later met) and "A Horse With No Name." The horse we saw that night in Boston had a name.

We walked out of the lobby of the hotel which was connected to an indoor shopping mall. It seemed like we walked forever until we finally came out to the street over a block away. It wasn't clear to me that the three of them knew exactly where they were going. It's like getting the feeling when you've been running on a trail and you haven't seen a blaze for a while. I spotted a policeman mounted on a horse and suggested that we ask for directions. After Linda got the directions (we were actually very close), I pointed to the horse and asked the policeman: "Is this Camden?" He said it was. I remember Camden from being in Boston for the 2001 race and seeing him down near Quincy Market. While I was getting reacquainted with Camden, one of the other three asked (to my horror) if the horse was a Clydesdale. True, Camden was a big horse but no Clydesdale. The policeman patiently explained that the horse was a draft horse and was actually a shire (pronounced "shy-uh"). As we left, Camden rolled his eyes and gave me one of those "Where-did-you-get-these-three-people-from?" looks. I just shrugged. Continuing our walk down the street, Vicki asked me how I could remember the horse from two years ago, and I told her I never forget a face.

Dinner. We finally arrived at the restaurant. As I mentioned in my email before, Linda had wanted steak, and she had picked out the restaurant. It was very nice. Maybe that's why Linda and Farouk wore real people clothes (in addition to their finisher's medals). Vicki was wearing real people clothes except for a Boston marathon t-shirt. However, she wasn't wearing her finisher's medal. On the walk to the restaurant, Vicki whispered to me that "Linda is sort of upset that I'm not wearing my medal but don't say anything." So I didn't. I myself was wearing sneakers, sweatpants, and my Pikes Peak t-shirt. And no medal. I'm still surprised they let me in the place. In case you're wondering, the restaurant was the Oak Room in the Fairmont Copley Plaza. Yes, we needed reservations, and Linda had made them earlier. I was not surprised that the place did not have a drive-up window. Here's how it advertises itself: "The Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston has been a bastion of sophistication and elegance since its gala opening in 1912." I don't know about you, but I had never eaten in a bastion before.

Since we had come here to eat steak, I ordered steak. As did Farouk and Linda. I didn't want to upset Linda by ordering something different. Vicki ordered the Atlantic salmon. After we ordered and were about to engage in what I assumed would be pleasant dinner conversation, Vicki announced: "Be careful what you say-John's here." As if I were going to write anything about a stupid dinner. Well, her comment put somewhat of a damper on the conversation as it seemed that I was doing most of the talking. Which I realized when the waiter had cleared their plates, and I had eaten only half my dinner. The waiter asked me on three separate occasions if I was done, and I had to tell him no. I believe the other three put the waiter up to that.

I think we all enjoyed our dinner-except for Linda. She had ordered spinach as a side vegetable and when it came, she poked and prodded at the little white things in it with her knife and fork. Sort of reminded me like a biology dissection experiment. She leaned over and smelled it and then pushed it away with a dismissive sniff and said in a disgusting tone, "Garlic." Frankly, this didn't bother me at all. She could have taken a bite and spit it out for all I would have cared. But what I was really pondering (as I'm sure you are, too) was who in their right mind would order spinach as a side vegetable? Vicki and I split orders of potatoes au gratin and zucchini & artichoke hearts. You weren't going to get baked beans and potato salad at this place. As for the steak, Linda thought it was a tad overcooked; I agreed because technically it was not cooked "medium" as we had ordered.

VHTRC memories. Although we don't really get squat for our $10 being a member of the VHTRC (as Anstr would say), we do get the opportunity to meet and associate with like-minded people. Like going out to dinner. This led me to think about other memorable meals. (1) Although not technically a meal, it seemed like it at the time. It was my first VHTRC training run, and at our first break, we stood in the pouring rain under the tree at the Visitors Center eating corn chips, vanilla wafers, and drinking Pepsi. It was exquisite. (2) Last year when MikeB, Brian and I finished a long trail run at MMT and sat in the dark at a picnic table at Camp Roosevelt where Brian extracted from the trunk of his car almost a full course meal. (3) The night before Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin where Jaret, Ed, Kerry and I ate at an Italian restaurant, and Kerry, fueled by a glass or two of red wine, amazed us with her ultrarunning wisdom. (4) This winter when Gary, Mike G, Jaret and I ran in the afternoon in below-freezing temperatures at MMT and then headed down to Jalisco's for a full meal. Then back up on the mountain for the moonlight run where the temperature had dropped to 10 degrees. Which makes me think that for the last three years I've been living a Garth Brooks song when he sang, "I've got friends in low places..."

All kidding aside, this was a delightful evening in Boston (I can't wait to qualify for next year.) I'm sure you all have your share of favorite memories, too.

All of which leads me to ask: anybody want to go out to dinner after MMT next weekend? I know a great steak place in Front Royal.....


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