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Firehouse Subs' Jeff Walsworth Chronicles Journey to Boston Marathon

Back Story
journey-to-boston-1In 2008, when Jeff turned 40 he fulfilled his goal to do the Chicago Marathon. It was a hot year, and the run didn’t go as well as he had planned. He decided to redeem himself in his own mind, and he completed the First Monumental Marathon in Indy a few weeks later. This time he felt as if his hard summer training paid off.—That was the beginning, he caught the “marathon bug” and decided over the next couple of years he would do more distance running in hopes of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

In 2012 he competed in the Chicago Marathon once again, in better shape, with a training program he enjoyed more and seemed to help increase his speed and endurance better than the previous program. He finished Chicago in 3:16.23. For his age group he had to finish 3:25.0 in order to qualify to register for the 2014 Boston Marathon. Just before registration opened, we began booking hotels, car rentals, and dinner reservations while he applied, and we waited---for what seemed an eternity, until we got the good news that is time was fast enough to run.

journey-to-boston-2His marathon training program began right around Christmas of 2013, and opening a new restaurant a few months earlier, and working full time as a Valpo Firefighter, in addition to having probably one of the coldest, snowiest, iciest winters in recents history forced him to put proper training on the back burner. Thankful that God blessed him with a great job, and a growing business, and excellent health, Jeff trained the best he could, but decided he was just going to enjoy this, possibly once-in-a-lifetime experience, for all it was worth. I can't wait to experience this journey with him.

If you care to "follow" Jeff on marathon day, text his bib number (10177) to 345678. As you get the updates you can pray for him and cheer him on from home.

The marathon as always, will be televised, I would encourage you to tune in or DVR it, as I would guess there will be some great side stories of recovery and hope along with the coverage of the amazing elite runners.

Make it a GREAT day for someone! - Robyn

Day 1
Flew in early from Ohare, there were quite a few runners on the plane and a lot at the airport at Boston Logan. Everyone who has run Boston before wears their Boston jacket around like a trophy, more on that later. The roads are a bit crazy we pulled out of the airport and paid a toll to go through a tunnel, then paid a toll to get off the highway to make a U-Turn to get back on the highway and pay another toll and end up about a mile from where we started. Due to lack of exits, we paid $6 in tolls to go one mile to the parking garage we had reserved by the expo. Guessing if you were a local you might know a better way, Siri, however did not!

journey-to-boston-7We parked just off Boyltson Street where I hope to finish feeling good in a couple of days. We took a few pictures of the finish and walked down to the expo. On the way, the members of the Old North Church (think Paul Revere) were handing out handmade scarves. They had people from all over the world make 7,000 scarves. They were all blue and yellow (Boston Marathon colors.)Those that knitted the scarves attached words of encouragement to the runners, and those handing them out offered to pray with the runners. The scarves were symbolic representation of wrapping the runners in warmth and comfort as we all remembered the tragic bombings just a year ago.

The expo was crazy, the line was worse than waiting for the Pirates of the Carribean at Disney. It started one floor below and snaked through conventions halls, back hallways until we finally got to where the numbers were. I picked up my number and goody bag and I was able to pick up a friend's packet who was unable to run due to an injury.

We then went to the expo. If anyone has ever been to the Chicago marathon expo in McCormick place, it is nothing like that. Boston is low on space everywhere including expo space. The expo is huge but tight. I had to get my official marathon jacket, it is like a trophy. You wouldn’t wear your finishers medal around but you can proudly wear your jacket. And they were everwhere, a sea of yellow and blue with some other colors mixed in. Unfortunately, this years jacket is neon orange which is kind of ugly. So many comments were made on how they should have used the traditional yellow and blue and mixed in a little red, white and blue for America. Oh well, I will still where it with pride, remembering the experience, and the blessing of health and strength God has given me to get here.

journey-to-boston-3I was able meet Dick Hoyt who is such an inspiration. He pushes his wheel chair bound son in marathons and Ironman triathlons. This is the last Boston that he is going to do with his son. He had a booth set up and I shook his hand, and snapped a picture with him. He was shorter than I expected, but built like a bulldog. His towers above the rest of us though with his showing of love and unselfishness and training throughout the years. Tomorrow, Robyn and I hope to visit some of the other areas New England has to offer.

journey-to-boston-5 journey-to-boston-6 journey-to-boston-4

Day 2

journey-to-boston-8Saturday was a nice day off. I haven’t had many relaxing days since we opened the restaurant but this was one of them.

I started the day with a nice 3.6 mile run with Scott, Robyn’s cousin through North Reading, pronounced (Redding). I’ve noticed the people from Mass don’t like to pronounce the city names phonetically or anywhere near for some such as Worcester is Wooster. It is pretty hilly here and we bobbed up and down through some pretty neighborhoods where the lots are large and they are lined with colonial homes from the 70’s-90’s.

Robyn and I decided to go away from Boston and made our first stop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We are at a place called Friendly Toast, which was funky and eclectic and had the best homemade toast with breakfast. We shopped for an hour or so after breakfast and bought a few souvenirs. By this time it was about noon and there were tons of people milling around. They have chairs and tables set up along the sidewalks with natural spots to sit to bask in the sun, and watch the people passing by with their dogs, and listen to the occasional hipster street musician.

journey-to-boston-9We packed up and headed for another state of our Union, Maine. I have never been to Maine before so it was cool to be able to check that state off the list. We took Highway 1 up instead of the Interstate 95 and the drive was only 20 minutes or so from Portsmouth. It was very scenic but littered with outlet shops, antique dealers and loads of ice cream and fudge shops! We arrived at our destination of Ogunquit, Maine and drove down to the beach parking.

Unfortunately the tide must have been heading out as the surfers all were heading in. The beach was pretty; the water was cold and it would be a relaxing vacation area with plenty of kitschy shops, and restaurants. We wanted to do a walk along the breakers down a path called Marginal Way and were given directions from a local store-owner with a thick Boston accent.

We made it to the walk, and the views were gorgeous. You are right above the rocks where the surf is breaking and can see the power of the ocean. There was a wedding party taking pictures and we snapped a few of ourselves. On the point you can see pretty far up and down the coast. To the north is Kennebunkport, where the Bush family hash famously put on the map.

journey-to-boston-10The hospitable woman at the store we stopped in earlier also gave us a tip about a little shack in the harbor to purchase a lobster roll. The owner of the Foot Bridge Lobster, caught his owner lobster and served them up right, on New England rolls, with a ton of lobster meat, and fresh drawn butter. I couldn’t go to Maine and not eat lobster! It would be like going to Valpo and not have Valpo Velvet, Ice Cream or to Portage and not have Firehouse Subs!

We headed back to North Reading and enjoyed some fresh grilled chicken and veggies, a nice glass of wine; now we are packing up to head to stay in Boston tomorrow. We are missing our kids, and sad to have missed Good Friday Services with our friends at Calvary Church. Tomorrow will be bittersweet as we celebrate our Risen King away from our Calvary family.

journey-to-boston-11 journey-to-boston-12

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