Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Boston Marathon 2015 Recap Part 2 of 2: The Race

Part 1 of my recap left off the night before the Boston Marathon. Here's Part 2 where I'll try to give a glimpse of my experience. It's long...but it does truly feel like I'm scratching the surface.

I like to leave a few weeks between me and my races before I write the recap. It first and foremost allows me to collect all the pictures I want to share (because #PhotoOp). But it also allows me to really distill in my mind what is important from the experience. What stuck? What stands out? What do I think about in hindsight? 

I'll try to share some of those thoughts with you now.

If you're going to run a marathon in the cold and in the rain....start your day off with Dana-Farber.

Last year I briefly wrote about these amazingess of the pre-race set-up Dana-Farber volunteers run for us at a church near the starting line in Hopkington. Instead of sitting on the ground in the Athlete's Village, members of the DFMC team are hosted with VIP treatment.  

View of the empty church before we arrived (photo courtesy DFMC)
Heat. Chairs. Indoor bathrooms as well as our own porto-potties outside (no lines!). Food. Drink. First-Aid prep table. Arts & Crafts table. Smiling volunteers. Company of friends.

Hey runners: Is this not the most glorious sight in the world???
500 runners....just getting geared up!
And it was great we had those facilities, because the weather had already started getting nasty. And we had a lot of time. The wheelchair and Wave 1 athletes started before 9 am. Wave 4 -- where most DFMC and charity runners begin -- had an 11:15 kick-off. Ugh.

Around 9 am we were all hearded outside in a break from the rain to take a group photo and listen to announcements. 

Getting Organized 

Getting us pumped up: See you in Boston!!!
The 2015 Dana-Farber Marathon Team: $4.8MM raised....AND COUNTING!!

I also had some time to meet celebrities.  #Famous

Teammate Uzo Aduba stars in Netflix show "Orange is the New Black" which I LOVE! Clearly she and I are best friends now, if you couldn't tell.

And did I mention the porto-potties? That I used 75 times? Oh the pre-race tummy....

And then it was time to walk to our starting corrals. Dana-Farber -- ever so prepared -- had ponchos for us so that we'd at least stay dry during this 10-15 minute parade to our start line.

I was a little excited.

It rained. A lot. But that was no reason to have a puss-face on. Turn that frown...upside down!

I had made a decision over the weekend. Rain or shine, I was going to have some fun! I had raised over twelve-thousand dollars and I deserved to have a party in my hometown city.

Coming off of last year, I knew that there would be less spectators on the course and I was expecting things to be pretty sparse when you layered the weather on top of it. And, sure, there was less...but still so many! Amazing people came in their ponchos and their umbrellas and their mittens and they cheered like it was 70 and sunny. They were inspirational and their energy was truly infection. And I can't say enough positive things about the thousands of volunteers out there keeping us safe, hydrated and motivated.

Friends and family got me through!

I had a mental list of people I was going to see along the way and I saw almost every body I intended to! What was so fantastic was seeing some bonus friends that I hadn't even necessarily been planning on. Good eye, everybody! Good eye!

My sister was in Natick at mile 10 holding a bit balloon caterpillar balloon. SMART STRATEGY.

Me and the aptly named balloon caterpillar: Natick
Yes, I finished 2 seconds off my PR....but this selfie is WORTH IT. Wouldn't trade it for the world!

I was so happy to see her, and so appreciative that she drove by herself to stand in the rain and watch me. What a good sister!! About a half mile later, I saw my friend Andrea and her mom and I gave them big sweaty hugs. [Bonus to bad weather: Are you sweaty? Or just wet? Who cares!] 

I had a little friend hiatus from 11 through 16, but that's okay because it was filled with great spectators including the famous Wellesley Scream Tunnel. Thanks, ladies!

Childhood friend Lauren and her step-mom Lizzie at mile 16 was another highlight. Lauren provided a very sturdy post for me to stretch my quads before hitting the Newton Hills! [Are we hugging? Or are you just holding me up? Either way, this is nice.]

Just at mile 17 you make a right hand turn by the Newton Firehouse. This is where I turned on the pizzazz because, camera.

A marathon is no excuse to not be taking your glam shots.

This is one of my proudest accomplishments from the day: A good in-action running shot that actually looks like I'm running! #KillinIt

The energy at 17 as you enter the hills is powerful and for a little bit I was A-OK.

My legs, which had felt great through the first half, started acting a little wonky at this point. It felt kind of like...I had been running for nearly three hours. Yes. It felt exactly like that. Oh, and the tough part was just starting. Because then, I was running uphill. In the rain. Against 20 mile per hour winds. That were in my face.


I'll admit that miles 17-21 I had a bit of a frowny face on the hills, culminating with Heartbreak. Up until this point I had been slapping high fives to children and giving the happy thumbs up to spectators calling my name. But Newton? You kicked my ass and I was unable to turn my grimace into anything remotely close to a smile for a little bit.

Ouch. Grimace.

One great surprise was seeing an unexpected friend -- Rach -- during those hills. In moments like these, seeing familiar faces is pretty much the best feeling ever. You're like, OMG! IT'S YOU! IT'S YOUUUUU!! 

I crested Heartbreak Hill and was greeted by quick a sight for sore eyes: my parents!

Dad, as always, brought his A-game when it came to signage:

Winter Is Coming!

The quads....oh the quads! Ahhhh! Help!
After a little stretch and big hugs, I was on my way downhill into Boston.

In Brookline at Mile 23 I saw Amy (my hostess with the mostest from the night before!)

"Hi Amy!"
Mile 24 at Coolidge Corner, I saw Meghan and blew kisses.

I unexpectedly saw friends Mike, Sam and Jane -- or rather, they saw me -- during Mile 25 which was pretty damn amazing considering A) I wasn't looking specifically for them and B) I was basically delirious and in pre-hypothermia at this point. Seeing them was like an oasis in the dessert. 

At a certain point I was just plodding one foot in front of the other. Literally I was thinking in my mind "Left. Right. Left. Right." I ran through every water stop because I knew that if I stopped to was very possible I'd never start again.

Knowing the Dana-Farber Cheering Area was at Mile 25 was a godsend. 

I just keep running towards them. The last significant uphill on the course is small, but certainly there during Mile 25 as you approach Kenmore Square. To a fatigued marathoner, who has just completed all of the Newton Hills, you're like, what the....!?! when you see it coming up ahead. But I put my head down and started smiling. Because I knew my cheering squad was waiting.

Waving to the DFMC supporters
A shot of my best side: With the Pacesetter patch (signifying my fundraising accomplishment!) and names of some of the people I was running in honor or in memory of.

Running in Kenmore Square I inexplicably saw Britany and Leticia amongst the crowd.

Bye guys! Just 'bout to finish my 4th marathon!

From Kenmore you just go. You don't think. You just do.

You run. You've just been powered by the crowds outside Fenway hollering your name. You run over a painted line in the street that says "1 mile to go." You run under some overpasses and you go underneath where Mass Ave crosses over. You go uphill for a minute and your legs are screaming but you don't care. Everyone is screaming so why should your legs miss out of the fun?

You turn right on Hereford.

Your turn left on Boylston.

You start to cry.

You start to cry just writing this.

You feel the emotion of what you have just accomplished. Raising over $12,500 for a charity you love thanks to over 120 separate and individual donations from people in your life. Celebrating that accomplishment by accomplishing something you've never done: Completing a marathon in the rain. 

You're wet. You're tired. The crowds are deafening. You think about looking at your watch and then you realize that you don't care about your time. You know you've done everything you possibly could and that you did something remarkable today.

You push as fast as your beaten up body will allow it, with the Finish Line ahead. You stop to look to your left to the sites of the 2013 bombings and give a little nod.

You can actually feel the crowd looking at you. Cheering for you. You are a hero.

And you smile through your tears that may be of pain or maybe of joy, because you're really not sure anymore. And your raise your arms and cross the Finish Line of the 119th Boston Marathon.

I couldn't stop crying when I finished.

My body released this physical and emotional energy as I walked to collect my medal that was truly unlike anything I had experienced, even after Miami, NYC or Boston last year. I was so full of joy and pride that I thought my heart would burst.

A stranger gave me a hug.

A Dana-Farber photographer took a picture of me with some other teammates who finished at times near me, but who I don't know. It doesn't matter. They felt like my best friends that moment.

People ask about my time. But it isn't about that. It never was.

I knew I likely hadn't PRed, but wasn't sure how close I was because I hadn't stopped my watch right when I finished. It would later turn out I was two seconds off last year, which is also my marathon PR. Official finish time: 4:16:55. 

Who cares. I had fun. I did it. And I was proud of my time. Last year can remain my PR and I am happy with that. I trained as hard as I could and I ran that race -- in the rain and wind and cold -- as hard as I could. And I still took a selfie with a caterpillar and gave kids high fives and hugged my mom and smiled for the cameras. So, I win.

And then what?

A volunteer collected me and brought me back to the DFMC meeting area at the Marriott Copley. There I recovered, changed into the jacket I had earned with every one of those wet, hard, cold miles. And I found my fan club. 

I have to say some thanks at this point. If you'll indulge me.

Thank you for allowing me to share this journey with you. I know Marathon blogs can be a dime a dozen, but writing about my experiences is so therapeutic and wonderful for me. I want to capture these memories forever for myself...but I like sharing them with others as well. It brings meaning to my miles and to why I do what I do. So, thank you.

Thank you to my parents. For everything you do and everything you say and for all the k'velling both to me and to...basically everyone you encounter. You make me feel so special and loved and supported. Experiencing this training season and that weekend wit you means the world to me and I will cherish these memories always. You are truly the best fan club and "ground crew" anyone could ask for.

Thank you to my sister and friends who spectated in-person and to all of you who I know were "spectating" from afar. It may sound cheesy, but I felt your energy and your encouragement. Especially when I crossed a mile marker I knew was being tracked in the app, in my head I knew I was being thought of and cheered on, and I appreciate that so much.

Thank you to Dana-Farber. To my teammates, the volunteers, the coordinators and -- of course -- the Doctors and staff at the hospital itself: You are wonderful.

And last but not least, thank you to everyone who donated to my Marathon Challenge. We raised $12,548 (with some more trickling in!). Every time I felt like I was going to have to stop or that I was in pain, I truly did think of you and your support. You got me through it and I was proud to run in honor of the funds you donated to the cause.

With gratitude, love, and some lingering soreness,

Until next time...


  1. I got teary eyed just reading this - just amazing! So proud of you and all you accomplished!

  2. Beautiful post! You left out the most important part, though! It was when all the patrons of a chinese food restaurant in Duxbury started cheering when you walked in with your marathon jacket on and bought you drinks as you hobbled toward the bathroom. =P

  3. Bursting with pride. I love you .