In the blink of an eye, the Boston Marathon is a memory and a week has gone by in such a blur. It has really taken me the whole week to process my emotions and coherently pour them out onto the page.
I have learned so much through this journey - working hard for what you want will fuel you and inspire you to your own personal greatness. Even if you fall short, you can still walk away knowing your will and dedication is worth something pretty special. You can use those feelings to propel you onward in a continuing path of never giving up and always striving to reach your goals.
This has been such a long awaited weekend. In fact, I distinctly remember my high school cross country coach telling us how amazing the Boston Marathon was when she ran it and that we MUST run it at some point in our lives. As a young, impressionable teen, I listened to her with awe and wonder - I knew in that moment that this would be an important goal of mine.
I was never extremely hungry for Boston until after I had my kids. Then it hit me that life was swiftly passing by and I had better make this little dream come true. Pre kids, I had run 5 marathons and achieved a few BQs, but had never taken advantage of going to Boston. There was always something more important going on in my life and I chose life over Boston.
I had done my extreme share (and honor - I loved all of it) of dirty diapers and nursing three babies, now it was time to get to it.
Go to BOSTON.
As the new year rang in 2014, the hunger could no longer be denied. The rest of the story, you all know (post babies marathon, injury, heartbreak, surgery, struggle, recovery).
Now here I am. Exactly one year post surgery. The training is done, and I feel like I kicked serious butt in this training cycle.
I put in the work and most importantly, I had a blast doing it. In fact, I believe there was only one run (I think it was a 14 miler) toward the end of the cycle, right before the taper that I lost it. I was super tired, I felt a little off and I just wanted to be finished.
I called Jerold (which I never do during a run) and told him I couldn't do it - I felt really crappy and I just wanted it to be over.
Jerold: "Well, you have a choice - you can finish the workout, or you can quit. It's really that simple."
Ugh. Zero sympathy from him. That of course made me mad and I finished the run with a vengence.
One week before Marathon Monday, my coach sent me the plan. I had been waiting with bated breath for his marathon plan. I knew how hard I worked, how I completed every workout, how meticulous I been in the planning and mental preparation that comes with marathon training. Toward the beginning of the cycle, I shared my goals with Mark, and yet this would be the first time that it was laid out in black in white.
I remember dropping my kids at school, going for a short run (taper week) and receiving the email on my phone as I was running errands. I immediately stopped to devour every word.
I believe in you, otherwise I wouldn't give it to you...
3:14-3:17 (even a bit faster if all goes well).
You are are capable, you can do this.
There it was. I knew that I had been training to run 3:15 and even sub 3:15. I felt in my heart that I was ready for that. It had been a long time goal of mine - one that always, always seemed to fall short.
I love running so much, and numbers are such a small part of the equation, but still...
I wanted it and was willing to work hard for it. I felt there was no reason why I couldn't accomplish this goal that seems to be an invisible barrier in running.
We arrived in Boston on Thursday late afternoon. I planned this so that I would have plenty of time to rest and get sort of used to the three hour time change.
Yes, there were 3 children and a husband right across from me.
The weekend went by in a blur of rest, friends, expo and fun. (Note: I will write another post on the the friends portion of Boston - so fun! So many wonderful friends.)
I felt like I slept well each night, ate my normal foods that weekend, along with some added carbs - have to have a giant pretzel at a Red Sox game!
Finally, finally the alarm buzzed on Marathon Monday. This was it! I couldn't believe the day had finally arrived.
I got out of bed at 6:15 am and ate my normal pre race meal: two pieces of raisin toast with almond butter, a banana, water and a glass of sports drink (I use Fluid Performance Drink).
My ritual with hydrating for the marathon is to drink well (not excessive) a mix of water and electrolyte drink and then two hours before the race I stop drinking. At that point all you are going to do is run to the bathroom, which I did anyway.
Jerold and I left the hotel and jumped in an Uber to get to the buses that would carry thousands of runners to Hopkinton. The traffic was crazy and we made the decision to get out of the car and walk a block to Boston Common, such a good choice.
It was time to say goodbye to Jerold and I felt a little bit of emotion welling up inside. This was it. I knew a big reason why I was getting onto that bus was because of my husband. He has supported me and been there for me every step of the way, and I can't begin to thank him enough. I feel really blessed that he takes my goals and dreams as seriously as I do. So, we hugged, kissed and hugged again and then he picked me up, twirled me around and said "Go get it."
The bus ride was relaxing + super long (I talked to a nice girl from DC and then took a nap) and I could feel my bladder pleading for release. We arrived at athlete's village and nothing prepared me for what I had heard so many people talking about. A runner's dream - runners everywhere. It was glorious.
I snapped a few pictures, made a bee line for the porta potties and I realized the wonderful insanity of it all. I knew that I would be in line for a very, very long time. Never had I ever had to go to the bathroom so badly. Anyone that spotted me would think I was either going to be violently ill or was just a complete weirdo. It was hard to take everything in clearly, because all I could think about was peeing. Don't think about, try not to think about it. Should I ask someone to let me go ahead. No, that would be rude. Ugh. What do I do. Don't think about it. This is miserable.
Finally I get toward the front of the line and there are 3 guys and a girl ahead of me. At this point, I must look like I am in complete agony, because one guy (thank you!!) asks if I'd like to go ahead. Oh yes, please, thank you, thank you.
Once I peed, all was well.
It was so obvious that the day was going to be hot. Already I was feeling super warm and didn't need my throw away sweats, but left them on till the last minute. I didn't know anyone, so I had time to zone out, talk to myself and do a little bit of dynamic stretching. Very shortly, it was time to walk to our corrals. It was a pretty long walk, but there was so much to take in, all the runners, the homeowners outside of their homes, cheering for us and we could all feel the heat beating down on us. What happened to the cloudy, chilly previous couple of days?
Right before the corrals, there were tons of porta potties and I knew I needed to pee again. Another less agonizing wait, a little more dynamic stretching and a light jog. By the time I went to the bathroom, I had two minutes until the race began.
I hurried and tried to get to my corral # 3 and there just wasn't time - they immediately directed me to corral #5. I hope this isn't a bad thing.
In what seemed like an instant, we were off. I was running the Boston freakin Marathon.
I remember thinking that there would be zero trouble with going out too fast, because there were wall to wall runners everywhere.
Don't panic about the pace.
This is like a snails pace.
Just take it in.
I could tell some runners were thinking the same thing that I was, so we all started running to the left side of the road without weaving and I kept thinking I didn't want to burn up any extra energy.
I recalled how much zip in my step I had at the start of the Oakland half marathon last month. I had felt like a caged tiger ready to pounce. At that moment I felt sort of like a limp dishrag, but quickly threw that thought out of the window. I kept my thoughts centered around what my coach outlined for me: ease into the first few miles. Find your rhythm at mile 4, steady does it and come in the half at 1:37/1:38.
Mile one: 8:05
Seriously, 8:05? Holy moly. I tried not to be thrown for a loop. There were so many people, I couldn't run any faster. Well, I am definitely not in danger of going out too fast. It is mile one. Don't let this throw you off.
I couldn't help but get caught up in the elation of the race - people cheering, runners breathing, feet moving.
Miles 2, 3, 4: 7:49, 7:33, 7:02
Finally, finally mile 4-5 things started to thin out a bit
Miles, 5, 6, 7: 7:24, 7:16, 7:30
I was hot. Don't think about the heat, just keep running. Just make it to the half strong, but with little effort. Jerold, the kids and my dear friend Laura (we ran cross country together in college and she is from Boston) would be there waiting for me.
Miles 8, 9, 10: 7:32, 7:31, 7:37
The 7:30s pace was troublesome. I knew that the heat was present, but I knew I had to keep working. I knew under any other circumstances, I should be running faster than 7:30s in a goal race, but I couldn't dwell on it. Run the mile you are in. keep pushing.
Miles 11, 12, 13: 7:38, 7:21, 7:28
Coach had directed me to run between 7:24 and 7:30 pace until after Heartbeak Hill and then give it everything I had left. I vowed I wouldn't go out too fast, I promised myself I would stick with the plan.
Halfway mark: 1:38 and I got to see my family!!! I was so happy to see them and I felt a renewed sense of energy that I got to the half in 1:38. I blew them a kiss and kept chugging.
The crowds were incredible. Everything I imagined and so much more.
This is awesome. I love this.
Look at the sweet signs my friend Laura made for me!!! Thank you so much my friend!!
13.1 down, 13.1 to go!!
Miles 14, 15, 16: 7:27, 7:43, 7:21
It's too soon to be running 7:40 something.
Miles 17, 18, 19: (Newton Hills) 7:38, 8:02, 7:46
I knew that my training runs were so much better than this marathon I was running right now. The heat was intensifying and I knew I had to make it up Heartbreak. I was running along with a girl who was running steps ahead of me and every couple of minutes she would stop and hug someone she knew, grab food and talk. I would run past her and after a couple more minutes, she would pass me again. This kept going for miles. At one point I thought, maybe I would have better luck if I stopped for a while - it's clearly working for her.
I kept going. Hydrating at almost every water stop. I had a GU at mile 7, 14 and I had one GU left.
I grabbed a cold paper towel that people were passing out. Gosh, it's freakin hot.
Why do my legs feel like I'm running in quick sand?
Miles 21, 22, 23: 8:47, 8:03, 8:41
Heartbreak was hard, harder in the heat. I knew I had practiced for this. I have so many heartbreaks near my home that I had run on tired legs. Then why am I running so slow?
After Heartbreak, I grabbed my final GU and was determined to have a new resolve.
So what you have just run 3 miles well over goal pace. So what that you feel like crap. So what that this isn't the goal race you envisioned.
You will not give up.
This sucks. Why can't my legs move faster?
Mile 24, 25: 8:27, 8:27
I can't believe this race is almost over. I am scared to look at my watch. I know I am not going to make my goal time. Not by a freakin long shot.
I'm so hot. I want to finish so badly and yet how can it be over?
Where is the Citgo sign???
The people are incredible. It feels like a 26.2 mile rock concert.
This is incredible...
Not taken during the race :)
Mile 26: 8:25
The left on Hereford and suddenly I am running down Bolyston. I am completely spent. I am hurting. I am happy. I can't sprint. I feel like I'm barely moving. I have nothing left. Is it mental? No, I physically have zero left.
I am sad. I am happy.
I had a friend at the BAA who was so wonderful to get my family grandstand seats (thank you so much Gina!). Where are they?
There they are. Hi guys.
I am finishing. I am okay. Don't worry.
Waiting for Mommy to finish.
Don't forget to smile and raise your hands.
You did it.
Remember this is for Lesley. She is looking down on you, cheering you on. Finish with pride.
I cross the line and immediately start crying. I can't stop crying.
A girl who has also finished asked me if I am okay. Do I need medical?
No, I just gave it everything I have.
I can't stop crying.
Crying for the year I have had, crying for the friend I lost (Lesley), crying for the race that I finally got to run, crying for the training that didn't reflect in this race. Crying for coming up short yet again, and yet - why cry? My knee is better than ever - I have the world in front of me. I have two legs.
Another woman asks if I am okay. We chat. Do I need medical?
No, I am just so happy to be finished.
I call coach. He says how proud he is of me and how everyone had a hard day today.
Really? I thought it was just me.
No, everyone had a slow day. You did so great.
What's my time coach?
That's a PR he says. No it's not I say (3:23 was previous PR).
A PR from your last marathon and the surgery.
Thank you coach for everything.
We hang up and my sweet friend Kristin calls. I pick up the phone.
I can't believe you answered the phone! She cries out.
I am so proud of you.
I gave it all that I had, I tell her. It was so, so hard today.
We hang up, and I get the beautiful medal around my neck.
I am at the Boston freaking Marathon.
My legs hurt.
My legs are cramping...
Ohhh, I don't feel well. I am drinking water, but it's not helping. I munch on a banana.
I can't walk. I stop.
The medic comes over.
Are you okay?
My legs hurt, I can't walk.
A wheelchair instantly appears. I don't need a wheelchair.
I need a wheelchair.
The pain is unbearable.
I go to medical. I am freezing. My temp is 94.
Get her warm. They say. Get the heat blower and heat blankets.
I need my family. I don't need to be here. Yet I am freezing and my legs hurt so badly.
They give me chicken broth and electrolytes.
How do you feel?
Temp is at 95. Still so cold.
My Mom calls. Mom, I am in the medical tent.
I'll be right there, she says.
No family allowed in the medical tent.
Ahhh, the heat feels so good. My legs are still cramping.
An hour (was it an hour?) passes and I can finally leave.
My Mom and the kids are right there and Jerold is on his way.
I am freezing and just want to get to the hotel.
I look around and try to take it in. This is my first Boston. It's surreal. I can't wait to come back.
I had no desire to go out that night. I mean I really wanted to, but I was tired. I was so happy to be warm in my jammies. Hooray for jammies.
I felt like I should be partying! We need to go out.
Jerold says, we can do whatever you want. I have a couple of restuarants lined up.
Let me think about it, I say.
No, this bed is pretty awesome.
Mommy, Mommy, we love you and are so proud of you!!
That's all I need. Those words meant everything to me.
I found Josh's sweater on sale at the Gap for $4. SCORE. (it's on backwards).
Text from my Dad - You did it Champ. I am so proud of you.
I slept so well that night, grateful I don't have to get on a plane. Grateful for so many things.
Home on Tuesday evening, with a stop in Harvard Square and a lot of wonderful memories from this trip.
There will always be another marathon, another race.
This was unique and special. I will never forget it.
Thanks God. Thanks for holding me up out there.
SO many people to thank. These words don't begin to express my gratitude. You are all true friends.
Coach Mark Hadley, Julie Knap, Roger Thomas, Brian McGovern, Kristin and Rob Pelinka, Dr. Banffy (my amazing surgeon), Rob (my amazing PT), everyone at Gail Wehner physical therapy in Santa Monica, Vanessa at Massage Envy, the staff at Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, MT, Laura Hodnett, all of my girlfriends who inspire me with their love and thoughtfulness, everyone at my amazing church, all the friends at my kids' school (who always ask about my training - thanks guys!), my late friend Lesley, her husband Brian and their kids. Gina at the BAA for the amazing seats and kindness. All of my friends I have met through social media - you guys seriously rock. My extended family for their love and support (aunts, uncles, cousins), My Mom (a huge thank you to my Mom for all her help!) and Dad, my 3 super star kids and my husband Jerold.
Hoping I didn't forget anyone...
Until next time Boston. Thanks for everything.
Happiness Is Running Life.