Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Boston Marathon 2015 Recap Part 1 of 2: Race Weekend

Get ready for a long, photo-heavy Recap!

The Friday before the 119th running of the Boston Marathon, I arrived by Train from NYC to Boston. Rolling my little suitcase along, I could tell fellow Marathon journey-ers. They were the ones wearing sneakers instead of stylish shoes. And rocking their garish orange 2014 jackets. I felt like I wanted to go up to them and give them a hug or ask them how they were feeling. But I decided instead on being appropriate. For once.

My parents picked me up from the train -- just the start of a full weekend of them being the most supportive, amazing, wonderful fan club in the world. You've seen the pictures on Facebook already, so you know I'm not exaggerating! I got to see some of my good friends from high school that night before getting a good night sleep in my childhood home.

That morning I had my only real freak out of the weekend when I saw the long term forecast was for temps in the 40s with headwinds and rain. When my Dad asked if that was a problem while being amazing and cooking me eggs I was like, "OF COURSE THAT'S A PROBLEM AND I DON'T LIKE WEARING PANTS AND WILL I BE ABLE TO WEAR A SHIRT UNDER MY CHARITY RACE TANK AND WHAT IF I CHAFE AND GAHHHH." And my Dad was like, "Would you like Kielbasa with your eggs?" And I was like, "yes please" and that about covered the freak out.

My Mom and I got up bright and early on Saturday to drive to Boston to register and spend money time at the Expo at the Hynes Convention Center.

I got my race bib without incident (they run a good ship at the Boston check-in!) and alongside other eager runners took my turn to grin for the camera. Myra is well-practiced at the step-and-repeat wall photo now!
Entering the Expo! Always gives me chills....

I bought. All the things. All. The things. And my mom insisted on holding all the things so I would "rest up" and have my hands free. I did not argue. She also bought me these amazingly ugly comfortable "recovery footwear" sandles by Oofos at the expo. I scoffed at them at first because they are--frankly -- less than stylish. But they're AMAZING on the feet. I'm in love. Runners, take notice.

Note: She also insisted on purchasing them for me, but only if I would consider the hot pink option instead of black. Because they are "snazzier." For once, I can not argue. They are indeed snazzier.

Me and my sherpa
How many headbands purchased....are too many headbands? Would you say? These headbands all speak deep truths so I think it's okay.

I always love a good expo, and I find Boston second-to-none. There are so many great booths in addition to the typical fare from pre-race events (Sam Adams? Yes PLEASE!) And the custom Boston shirts were so cute. I had to hold myself back from buying them all. My Mom kept asking me, "But do you need it?" To which I kept replying, "I literally need nothing. I will -- however -- buy everything."

After spending some quality time, we headed from the Hynes Convention Center to the Marriot Copley where Dana-Farber had their own check-in. There, I received detailed instructions from amazing volunteers about our own pre-race activities.

I also was able to check out the board which listed the fundraisers who had reached different fundraising goals. Here is Mom pointing with pride to my name(ish) as an $8K Pacesetter!

It was so fun to do these activities a second year in a row. Going into it, I thought maybe I'd be a little "let down" being a veteran. Would it be as special a second time as the first? Would it feel weird? Redundant?

It actually was fabulous.

Ran into another fan club of mine outside of the Expo! Val and Rob have known me since I was a baby and -- how wonderful are they? They made signs for me at the expo! And are dressed for the part!

Last year I was a bit consumed by the logistics and newness of it all. And frankly, I was also very consumed with it being the one year anniversary of the bombings (understandably). I found it wonderful to enjoy a "normal" expo that still had the vibes of Boston Strong pride, but without the mayhem of the crowds from the year before that flocked to the Expo and Finish Line. I also enjoyed knowing where to go, and what to see. I learned from the year before and optimized my experience this time.

It was, in fact, freaking awesome.

I finished the day a bit tired having walked more than I probably should have (but I had the OOFOS!) but feeling energized. Weather schmether. The expo had hooked me in to the energy, power, history and wonder of the race and the unique, unparalleled Boston Marathon vibe. 

Sunday I got up and packed my bags. One to check with Dana-Farber for after the run, and one to keep with me when I stayed with college friends of mine who were amazing enough to host me at their place in Brookline for the pre-race night. I can't stress enough how much better having solid pre-race logistics makes your mental state. A comfortable place to stay with friends who will drive you to the Boston Common at 6:30 am to catch the shuttles to Hopkington is more than clutch. Thank you, Steven and Amy!

My parents and I drove into Boston and spent some quality time on Boylston Street taking in the gorgeous day. My brain kept alternating between: "Why can't this weather just be tomorrow?!?!"  and "Shut your face everything is wonderful." 

 A magical place for a stroll!
It's I! On an I!

There's Only One #DFMC. But there's also only one Boston Marathon. And only one bestest fan club in the whole wide world!
Let's take a selfie!

Let's take an excited selfie!!!
My Dad would tell you this is part of an inside joke. I would tell you that these are two of the most badass gangsters you've ever seen. You decide.  
The man who inspired me running with Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge! 
My Dad is wearing a button in this picture that says he is "Living Proof." This is Dana-Farber's way of recognizing friends, family and -- in many cases -- the Runner themself. Living Proof are current or former cancer patients, and they are strong. They are resilient. And they -- and their families -- are why I run.

See you tomorrow....

Although the ambiance was positive, upbeat and full of excitement, there was of course reminders of 2013. We never forget.

And we also never forget that nobody. And I mean Nobody. Runs like Boston.
Nice Marketing New Balance! xoxo

We went to the much anticipated Adidas "RunBase." It's basically a Boston Marathon store run by Adidas that sells merchandise, provides course information and displays memorabilia. But it will also serve as a place for Boston runners to store clothes, change, shower, etc. while they run. In essence it's the most brilliant marketing ever. And it was cool!

3D topography map of the course
Interactive digital view of the course

After spending some time there and strolling Newbury Street, we meandered back to the Marriot Copley -- DFMC's home base -- for the other main event of my Marathon experience: The Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge Pasta Party.

If you followed me last year, you know how incredibly moved I was by this experience. And this year provided those same strong emotions.

The event is top notch.

This picture doesn't capture how MASSIVE the ballroom is. I think there was something like 140 tables and 6 pasta bars!

Our table. Cookies and brownies already out and ready for the taking. On point.

I could write a novel just trying to capture the experience of being at this dinner. They had speakers from DFMC explaining how much we raised and where the funds would go. We had the Boston Marathon Race Director talk to us as well as Uta Pippig who won the women's race in the early 90s and is a big DFMC supporter. And we were reminded why we run.

A gentleman spoke who had lost his wife to cancer and who himself had battled the disease. He thanked us for the 1004 "bonus days" he spent with his talented, artistic wife due to experimental treatments that came directly from Basic Research which we were funding. He and his son would be running with us on Monday. And we were reminded why we run.

We watched an In Memorium video of children who lost their battle to cancer. And we were reminded why we run.

And we watched children currently being treated for cancer get awarded their own special medals by their runner partners. And we were reminded why we run.

We were told that of our team goal of $5.2 million dollars towards Innovative Basic Cancer research, we were already at $4.6 million. And more continues to pour in. This money will fund programs that will help extend lives and improve lives. We are making a difference, and we were reminded why we run.

Tears poured out of my eyes so often. But beyond feeling those pangs of sadness, I felt so proud of our accomplishment. Of my accomplishment. As of today -- April 28 -- I have raised $12,548. This is over $1,000 more than last year and brings a two-year grand total to nearly $24,000. By the people I know and have connected for this cause that I hold so critical near and dear.

So when I was asked, are you nervous about tomorrow? No. Not at all. I have the support of countless friends and family. I have done an outstanding job raising money. I have trained. I have prepared. I am ready.

Let the rain come and get me. I didn't care. I was reminded why I run and I was ready to take on Boston.

In addition to his Living Proof button, my Dad is wearing his PMC hat. He has been a volunteer of the Pan Mass Challenge -- which also supports Dana-Farber -- for over a decade. My Mom dons her DFMC cheering shirt. #FashionFirst.

And with that...I was off to Steve and Amy's to rest and prep for the big day....

...to be continued....