Boston Marathon: The First 26 Miles

The last few days have been filled with sharing stories, clamoring home to hug my kids, and then diving back into life as normal…when things, well they don’t feel very normal.

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From the OC Register

I wrote a little about my 27th mile, and have hesitated to tell the whole story about the 26 leading up to it, because it didn’t feel right.  It felt forced. It felt insensitive. It felt insignificant.  But the more I’ve reflected, the more I realize that by not sharing that story, I let the person who caused this tragedy win.

I’ve read countless stories of the goodness of humanity at it’s finest…and today I’m not going to let some crazy whackadoo (or two from what the media says) rob me of one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  Yes, the experience will forever be changed by the 27th mile, no one can take away the first 26.

BH5FvalCMAA8vBu.jpg-largeThe day started out…well, let’s be honest – trying not to throw up.  In a sport where even on my worst day I can usually finish in the top 10%, I sat next to Katherine lamenting on the fact that I’d be happy to be in the top half if I ran a great race.  I felt like the high school freshman who was invited to the varsity meet and told not to embarrass anyone.

We rolled into the Athlete’s Village and there were literally thousands and thousands of people.  After going to the bathroom approximately 10 times and Katherine reassuring me that just finishing was enough because I was here after all, I finally calmed down and was ready to set out to start.

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Sure there were some panicked moments – like going to the remarkably clean port-a-potties by the starting line (what!?!) while they announced my wave leaving in 4 minutes, or the phone case I was wearing on my arm to run breaking literally 90 seconds before starting (yay for safety pins from the bib to the rescue), but eventually I calmed down and set out at a very conservative pace:

 Mission – just finish & have fun trying.

The course:  packed solid with runners.  Everyone warned me to go out slow so I did – first mile at an 8:23 or so and I stood in awe at all of the people running and all of the people cheering.

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On the course….It was literally packed the entire way with amazing crowds!

The weather was perfect, the crowds were fantastic and mile by mile, I continued to be awed by the unending screams, cheers, posters, high fives and offers of cold beer from the people of Boston.  I stopped watching the watch, and started soaking the experience right up.

I wove from side to side on the course high fiving little kids on the sideline, I found new friends to talk to, I talked to old friends I bumped into on the course (not even kidding), I bantered with people holding humorous posters, I stopped to kiss a girl in Wellesley and suddenly I was halfway there running my 5k splits between 8:11-8:16.

I had been running a really steady pace and was ready for the hills which I knew were coming at approximately 1 mile intervals from 16-21.  At this point I was mentally ready to tackle the hills, but forgot about coming down.

Ouchsies.  Despite my conservative out of the gate approach my quads were trashed and I lamented every downhill step.  Heartbreak came and went without little fanfare from my body or brain, but the crowds on the downhill were amazing….

My pace started to slow down some – rounding the 8:20ish mark…but I was just cruising – noshing on Icee Pops kids were handing out and continuing to high five and banter with the crowd.  I was just having fun.

Around mile 22 I was kind of emotionally and physically spent, but came downhill to the area near Boston College and my ears were literally rattling due to the crowd.  I tried to video it, but my iPhone did not do the crowd justice.

Around mile 23 things got really tough.  I considered walking, but remembered a conversation I was so fortunate to have the night before with two incredibly respectable runners who ended up reminding me about how runners have to be a little bit crazy to run through the pain.  So from mile 23-26 I kept lifting each foot up one step at a time chanting, “just a little crazy, just a little bit crazy” until I turned the corner onto Boylston….

I saw the finish line in sight and completely and totally….

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Picture from a few days before

Started crying.  

Not like a little tear trickling down my cheek symbolic kind of cry, but hand slapped over my mouth, awkward ugly sobbing down Boylston type of cry.  Visions of every early morning workout, the chaotic schedule, the amazing athlete’s who’s feet had tread the very ground I was running, all filled my mind.  Feelings of shock, awe, inspiration, relief, fatigue and accomplishment all swirled around in my head and my heart….and I finally crossed the finish line:  3:37:52. (8:18 average pace).

My (errr Katherine’s) Garmin said 26.5- apparently all the zig zagging to high five cost me some mileage/time, but it was worth every second & extra distance.  I had finished the Boston Marathon and everything leading up to that 26th mile had been amazing, and some moments, beyond amazing.  As time goes on, I’ll share some of those stories from the weekend, but getting to the finish line was truly one of the most humbling and thrilling experiences of my life.

I snapped a quick pic to send to my family and as far as the rest of what happened, you can read here….

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The last pic I took in Boston- check out the red popsicle stain that cries “fun” on my shirt.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Boston and those families who were affected.  Talking to others, and from my own experience, there were physical and emotional wounds that will take a long time to heal.

A local reporter asked if I would go back to run – and without hesitation, the answer is yes. With my season in life, it will be a few years, but I will go, I will cross that finish line again and I will get to once again see just how amazing the people of Boston are to the running community.

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8 thoughts on “Boston Marathon: The First 26 Miles

  1. Yaaaaaaah! I was thinking about you on Monday and hoping that, despite all the craziness and worries and doubts, you were having a kick-ass race. Seems like, no matter what the clock said, you had a kick-ass TIME, and that’s what counted that day. CONGRATS. 🙂

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