After running the Boston Marathon last year, amidst all of the chaos and trauma I felt a little jipped of the full marathon experience. I knew that I would want "redemption" on the experience. But with Justin being unemployed and our finances being a huge consideration it was a hard commitment to make. When it came down to the ultimate point of no return Justin still was unemployed. Family and friends convinced me to at least do it, but the decision was made I would travel there alone. Justin would stay home with the kids and instead my best girl friend, Wendy, would come with me for emotional support. (Ironically just a month before the race is when Justin got a job and it turns out he could have come with me after all, but by that point plane tickets were ridiculously expensive).
So April 16th came and off I flew to Boston.
I was glad Wendy was able to meet me there. It wouldn't have been quite as fun completely all by myself! We had fun for a few days before the race. Trying to take it easy but still seeing things around the city as well as out of the way fun locations!
I missed my family though! Some of the things we did were even new to me and I wished I had those cute little girls of mine there to experience the fun! But Wendy and I still managed to have fun without them. We always do!
What's up with all these little doors everywhere?
It was hard to not do too much walking so we forced ourselves to relax by this lake for a day. I know. Tough life hu?
The expo was out of control but still as organized as ever. We had a blast spending HOURS there! Man I love that expo! It really helped to get me pumped up for the race too!
This sign we got in honor of Justin and memory of my Mt Desert Marathon.
"I hate it when you say that!"
The night before the race I was in hysterics on the phone with Justin. Considering I was still working myself back form my injury and in physical therapy, my training had started late and I hadn't been able to train as I normally do. I just felt fortunate that I had actually hit most of my long run milage and most of the weekly runs. Another set-back was that I also had been suffering from some tendonitis in my foot for the weeks leading up the the race. I had killer amounts of anxiety; which is not typical for me. I didn't know what my goals were and I didn't know what I could expect from myself.
Talking things through with Justin and Wendy they tried to convince me that the only goals that mattered were to run the race, finish it and enjoy it as much as possible. I agreed....but then again I do have a VERY difficult time not expecting more from myself (surprised aren't you?). I knew there was no way I would PR on this race but I really wished that I could at least run it as fast as I did last year.
I went to bed pretty upset. What a wreck.
I woke up bright and early and felt a bit better. I tried to keep telling myself that really this was just about enjoying the race, and after my injury I should just be grateful to be running again at all.
I hitched a ride to the Athlete's Village near the start with some friends from my old running club. We sat and relaxed taking in the mass crowds and wicked amount of energy! There were moments of silence in the memory of last year and cheers of excitement for the opportunity of being here now, running this great race in this great city.
I felt pretty proud of myself for qualifying with a fast enough time to be able to start in the first wave of runners (though towards the back of the wave - I'm not THAT fast). But I was thrilled for the opportunity and knew that IF I ever, somewhere WAY down the line would EVER run this race again, I most definitely would not be starting in the first wave again. I just tried to take in the excitement and ignore my feelings of inadequacy.
The beginning of the race has some downhill and I knew not to let myself get off to fast. But when I realized I was expending more energy holding back than just going with the decline I just let myself go. I knew my pace was too fast. Whenever that happens I usually just tell myself that I've made my bed now, and I have to lie in it and try and ride it out for as long as I can.
I knew that the crowds would be even more intense than they normally are (which is already quite crazy) but I seriously could not have expected such insanity! It was truly epic. There wasn't one spot of that entire 26.2 mile course without masses of people cheering madly for all the runners! Try holding back with that amount of energy surrounding you! It propelled me forward the entire race!
How invigorating! The cheering was so loud the entire race that any time Justin tried to call me to check up on me I couldn't hear a word he was saying!
For the first 8 miles or so I was running in pace with a guy who was like a mad-cheering-man! As he ran through intersections he would whoop and holler, throwing his hands in the air, and the spectators would go even more insane! Seriously, what a thrill. (I think that he expended too much energy doing this because once I passed him and never saw him again.)
I consciously made an effort to enjoy ever single moment of this race. I tried my hardest to take it all in: The crowds, the cheering, the energy, the beautiful scenery, the amazing towns with their fabulous buildings, the strength of the runners surrounding me, the beat of my heart and the air in my lungs. It consumed me so completely that at times I became emotionally overwhelmed.
I felt physically great for the first half of the run, and it wasn't until about mile 14 or 15 that I noticed some of the cramping in my legs beginning to form. But I willed it away. Any time I felt pain or faint I would remind myself of the people who were affected by this race last year; especially those who's legs were taken from them. I ran for them. I ran for their loss, for their strength, for their memory. I ran for those who can't run anymore. And I ran out of gratitude that I am capable.
I pushed myself through those Newton Hills all the way up Heartbreak Hill. I dug in deep and gave it my all. It was warmer than I would have liked, but still pretty pleasant, and I focused on the fact that my lungs felt great! All that altitude training in Colorado this past year really was noticeable. It didn't help me go faster but it made my lungs and muscles feel better!
I handed some water off to Wendy near the top of Heartbreak Hill and plugged on into what I knew would be the hardest miles of the race.
This was the point it became more difficult to concentrate on remembering and experiencing every single thing about the race. I kept reminding myself to enjoy this. And I feel like I really did. Yes those last 5 miles were tough. They should be. But I enjoyed ever second of them.
As I turned right on Hereford I knew the race was almost over and I knew after those two blocks on Hereford I would turn left on Boylston street where I would see the finish line, and hear and literally FEEL the roar of the crowd, and I would feel even more like an Olympic athlete than I had for the previous 26 miles! I wanted to remember the sounds the sights and the feeling. I wanted to feel the power and memory of last year propel me across the finish line.
and the powerful memory of completing the Boston Marathon again will stay with me forever.
Gratefully this year there were no bombs, no rush of police to the scene, no injured, no death, no tragedy to overshadow the wonderful experience of completing a marathon - the Boston marathon - no less.
Just after I finished I snapped this photo of myself
Then I sat down and looked back towards the finish line. I couldn't help it; I was overcome with emotion. Maybe part of it was just the emotion of finishing a marathon, but mostly I think it was the gratitude I had for running this race, in this town that a part of my heart belongs to; Emotion for last years events that still hang heavy in our mind and hearts; Emotion for those lost and affected by that tragedy; And maybe also partly it was knowing that I this was most likely the last time I'd be in Boston for a long while. I allowed myself to weep for a bit then tried to pick myself up, which was next to impossible because by then my legs had seized up!
I found Wendy and we "celebrated" my victory with chocolate milk (Cocoa Metro no less!) in the Boston Public Gardens.
I ended up finishing faster than my last years time. So I guess you could say this race was a HUGE success on all levels! All goals met: Finished the race, beat my last time, and enjoyed ever single second of it!
p.s. how in the world did this old guy stay in front of me for 23 miles or so!?
We stayed in Boston for a couple of days after the race. We went to Rhode Island with some friends. I love that place!
We enjoyed the company of friends and great people who let us stay with them, we went downtown one last time and ate some more delicious Boston grub.
It was hard leaving, not knowing when I'd be back. I miss a lot there, especially spring and fall in New England.
I have great memories here, and this trip was just the icing on the cake!
I'm so proud to be BOSTON STRONG.
And when I got home, as if a gift from heaven, I was greeted with SPRING!
And loads of pink blossoms, which are some of the things I love most about Boston Springtime.
Ah thank you Colorado for the beautiful welcome home!