Monday, May 9, 2022

Part 5: The 2nd Half of the Boston Marathon

When I left off my previous recap, I'd just passed the halfway mark. The course was starting to play tricks on me, and I had to convince myself to keep going - keep taking that next step. Each step was bringing me closer and closer to the finish line. The nature of this course was brutal with its consistent downhills. My hips and knees were starting to seriously dislike me by this point! 

Regardless, I carried on, reminding myself that I CAN do hard things, and taking pictures with random things along the way! :)

By mile 15, I was physically "done". Coming from completely flat Louisiana land, this terrain was way out of my norm. This is where the mental part of a marathon kicked in. 

Quite honestly, I'd truly forgotten how hard it is to run a full. It truly takes everything within you - physical, mental, and emotional.

By this time, I could no longer keep up my "run to the water stop then walk" system I had going for me, so here's where I turned to the Jeff Galloway method of run/walk/run. I truly wish I'd started this much earlier - lesson learned. Also, my heart kept threatening to jump into PSVT around mile 15, but I kept it at bay. 

The sea of people still blew my mind! 

Around mile 18 or so, I heard someone say to their running buddy, "Look around you! EVERYONE is hurting!" That statement was the best thing I could have heard that day - it was so true. We were ALL hurting but all pushing on towards that goal of the finish line. This stuck with me the remainder of the race and really carried me through!

By this point, I was really struggling. Not long after passing the mile 20 sign, I heard my name...and it was my full name, so I knew they were truly hollering at me! 

It was Christine, my runDisney friend from way back - her and her mom Pam used to blog at We Run Disney! How fun it was to see her out there on the course! It meant so much to me and was just the boost I needed!

Around this time, I knew that heartbreak hill was nearby, but seriously had zero energy to tackle a hill with running. I started on a walk break, then realized I was on a steady incline, so I continued to the time I got to the top, I realized I was literally ON heartbreak hill that whole time. 

I'll be the first to say - for once, my stubbornness didn't get the best of me and I did not run a single bit of this hill. If you know me, you know that's pretty rough!!

I was also kicking myself for taking that hot shot earlier in the race. I know "nothing new on race day" but I was also cramping and knew I had to take care of that asap. Thankfully, the hot shot did help the cramps, but the thought of even attempting more GU by this point made my stomach turn. So, from mile 11 to the end, I relied on only water and gatorade as my supplements. Terrible idea, I know. I should know better, but I'll definitely remember this for the future!

By mile 23, I knew I just had to get there. The crowd had thinned out considerably and I knew that everyone who was my pace was long gone by now. I was attempting to finish under 5 hours, but by this point, I was happy with any time. 

I'm happy with my time if I go out there and give every single thing I have in my tank, and that's what this situation looked like here that day. 

By mile 24, we were approaching Boston and the famous Citgo sign. 

I'm telling you - this crowd pulled me through. When I say it was literally 26.2 miles of people cheering on runners, I mean it. Insane.

The guys near the Citgo sign were especially entertaining because they were hollering at me with my Citgo shirt on and waving at the sign. It made me laugh!

I knew Jason, Brayden, and my friend Melissa were on Hereford, not far after the turn. This is the part of the race I will never ever ever forget as long as I live. Turning right on Hereford, scanning faces, hoping to not miss my family...then, I saw them...and I lost it. I was almost finished running one of the toughest and most incredible races of my life, with my family and friends cheering me on...this moment right there...I wish I could freeze it in time. 

Truly one of the happiest moments of my life.

As much as I wanted to stay a while, I knew I had to finish.

Just a bit more to go...left on Boylston... 

I spotted the finish line and stopped to take a quick video and picture because I knew I would regret it later if I didn't.

While running, the tears started to flow and I began ugly crying. I WAS ABOUT TO FINISH THE BOSTON MARATHON! A race I never even thought possible for me, not even in my wildest dreams! 

I also had NO clue that there were photographers everywhere, capturing said ugly cry...but here you go! 

About 100 yards from the finish line, my breathing was thrown off from the crying and running and my heart jumped into PSVT. I thought "Seriously, right here, right NOW?" So, I had two choices - did I stop, 100 yards from the finish line to squat down and try to control my heart rate, or did I run through it and cross the finish line, then stop and control it? 

So, I made the dumbest decision possible and continued running with my heart erratically beating. As I crossed the finish line, it took every ounce of my energy to raise my hands up over my head. I kept thinking, "Just breathe and smile breathe and smile"!! I also veered towards the left side of the finish line so I could stop and get my heart under under control as soon as I crossed.

I couldn't remember if I smiled, so I was happy to see in the official course photos that I did indeed smile...haha!

My official finish time was 5:09. Not the time I went in there expecting, but I was and am 100% ok with it, knowing that I gave this race every single bit of every single thing that was within me!

After crossing the finish line, I immediately stopped and crouched down between two first aid volunteers with wheelchairs to hold my breath. I must have been down there at least a minute. It felt like forever, but didn't take long for my heart to chill. I honestly think the combo of the hot shot, plus running, plus my crazy crying set it off. As I stood up, one of them asked if I was ok. I told them yes, my heart occasionally goes into PSVT but I got it under control. They gave me a smile and a thumbs up, so I carried on my way!

Immediately after crossing the finish line, I looked up at and spotted several messages on the amazon board, sent to me by friends through the app! How fun!!

I also heard my name here - and when I turned around, it was Pam!! Pam is the mom of the Christine/Pam We Run Disney blogger duo and oh my goodness I couldn't believe it! Pam was a huge help to me in this Boston journey with wonderful advice along the way - I was so excited to see her!!

Finally - the highlight of the day - my medal! Finishing this race was seriously one of the most mentally challenging things I've ever done - right up there with the birth of my son. I couldn't believe that I ran BOSTON and had the medal to prove it! 

My one request to Jason was to bring my jackets with him to the finish area and I'm so glad he did! Although the day started off sunny and feeling warm, the sun hid behind the clouds around mile 16 and my hands were so cold the remainder of the race. Having this jacket at the end was a life saver!

This whole experience from start to finish was incredibly surreal and still feels like a dream. Did I seriously run THE Boston Marathon?! 

Having my family and Melissa there to be with me was the icing on the cake. What a ride. What an experience! 

A thousand thank you's to Citgo who made this once-in-a-lifetime / can't-believe-it experience happen for me! You guys are the true MVP's!!

Thank you to everyone who followed along and tracked me/text me/sent encouraging messages along the way! I saw them all and appreciate every single one of you!!

Check out all the Boston recaps here:

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Part 4: The 1st Half of the Boston Marathon

On the morning of the Boston Marathon, I woke up around 6 a.m. to get dressed and begin my "readying" process. Since I wasn't set to start running until 11:15 a.m., I had to rethink my ENTIRE normal race day strategy. In a "normal" race situation, I'm almost finished running by that time, and I know how hungry I've been towards the end of my full marathons in the past. A quick calculation told me that I would probably finish running somewhere between 3:45-4:00 p.m. and I didn't want hunger to be my main concern. So, I purchased bagels and peanut butter ahead of time, along with a cliff bar to carry with me on the bus. I also checked the weather and was excited to see that the majority of the day was going to be perfect - sunny and in the high 40's - can't ask for better!

Even though I wasn't running until 11:15 a.m., there was still quite a process of getting to the start line. Our team planned to meet in the lobby of our hotel around 8:30 a.m. to begin walking to the bus area. 

As we passed this corner, one of the runners on our team said, "Look! The next time we will be here is when we're making the left on Boylston!" My heart jumped and I knew this spot would be a special one to remember!

Before long, we approached a set of buses and I thought we'd already made it! Little did I know, these were the "gear check" busses - we still had a long way to go!

Throughout this entire process, I met so many great people! One of them was a nurse from a hospital in a very close neighboring town. It was great to connect with so many wonderful people I would not have met otherwise!

After a quick team photo, it was time to line up for the actual buses. Since we were in the last wave of the last corral, we were literally some of the last ones to board these buses. I'm telling you, they have this whole thing down like a well oiled machine. I can't even imagine trying to figure out how to bus 30,000 runners anywhere and they did it just fine!!

When I tell you this bus ride took an hour, I'm not kidding. We didn't get stuck in traffic or anything, the trip literally took an hour. Be prepared for this, and arrive on time to the bus loading area when its your turn if you're running Boston! (Let me clarify also, we were not late - we arrived on time for everything we were instructed to do!)

After realizing how long of a trip this bus ride would take and calculating out my time, I decided to eat my cliff bar and drink my bottle of water right there on the bus. (Yes, I did wear my mask while chewing.) I'm SO thankful I did because by the time we arrived at the Athlete's Village, we literally had time to potty before it was time to walk to the start line. 

I do wish I had more time to explore this area. Oh well.

Off we go!

The red, white, and blue bibs were for runners who qualified with a time. The yellow bibs were the "fun" corral as the DJ called us! (Charity runners and Invitees)

To the start line!

The walk to the corrals was quite a journey, too! It was about a 0.7 mile walk which totally gave me runDisney vibes! :) 

"There's only one Boston. And it all starts right here." Chills.

Another friend I met along the way! She's from Houston which is about two hours down the road. There's just something about marathon friends - you share a bond of this crazy experience that's unlike any other!

While waiting for our turn to run, I looked up and spotted two armed guards on top of one of the buildings. I text Jason, "Toto, we're not in Disney anymore..." When you think about all of the pieces and parts it takes to put on a race of this magnitude, keep everyone safe, and bus all of the runners to the correct place, it's truly mind blowing! And they seriously do a fantastic job!! 

With that, we were off! You see those two yellow triangles in the air? That's the start line!

The literal "sea" of runners was mind boggling! 

The first half of this race was pure fun for me. I was running Boston and living it UP! I stopped for every "character" interaction I saw because many of them made me laugh - especially this one!

Before long we were at mile 2 and the miles started flying by. I was still in with that giant "pack" of runners and felt great!

Along the way, I saw a line of people and knew I had to stop before I even saw what was up ahead. If runners at Boston were willing to stop for a photo-op, I knew it had to be important. runDisney runs in my blood after all! :) 

Once I jumped in line, I heard excited whispers "It's Spencer!" "You can't miss Spencer!" "I HAD to stop for Spencer!" 

Who is Spencer? He's the precious therapy dog who has cheered on runners of this race for several years (including the rainy 2018 where he stood in a rain jacket). He's also a cancer fighter and was named as the official dog of the 126th Boston Marathon. So yes, I knew I had to stay in this line to see Spencer and couldn't miss the opportunity!

After leaving Spencer's line, I realized that the "sea" of runners had left me and I kind of started to panic. So, I sped up my pace a tad bit to catch up to them. Finishing Boston was very important to me and I was seriously panicked about the lack of people around me! I knew 2 minutes of seeing Spencer didn't make that huge of a difference but I'd never run this course before and you know how crazy thoughts can take over if we let them. 

It wasn't long before I mostly caught back up to the tail end of the big group and felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief. Our local news reporter who was doing a story on my experience also text me to see how I was doing, so I sent her this photo!

As the miles ticked away, so did the towns across Boston. There was SO many things to see, I never even needed the use of my headphones. This whole experience was just mind blowing!

I loved seeing the course support from everyone in the neighboring towns! They had outdoor front yard parties, signs, fun jumps, obstacle courses, food tables, cowbells, costumes, you name it! 

There were also signs everywhere along the course, to let runners know when they'd made it to the next town.

SANTA! I couldn't pass up this opportunity!

Y'all know those internet strangers who don't seem like strangers at all? My friend Mel and I had been messaging throughout the weekend and told me she would be around mile 8 on the course. I knew I HAD to say hi, so we found each other! I loved loved loved seeing familiar faces out there on the course!

Oddly enough, I had a few people say they cheered for me, but the crazy thing is there was a girl named Karen running right beside me with her name on her, when I heard "Go Karen!" I assumed most people were cheering for her! If you spotted me and cheered, I'm sorry I missed you and I appreciate your support so so very much!!

"The Citgo Sign" was something everyone talked about towards the end of the race. Just a mile to go after that! Of course running with Team Citgo, I had to snap a photo of these yard decorations!

I just love the spirit here!

As you can see, the crowd started to thin out here. Around mile 10, I started randomly cramping in my hamstrings and although I didn't have any salt packets on me, I spotted an official tent with a product called "hot shots". They were handing these out to runners during the race and I snagged one. Initially, I was going to hold on to it just incase, but the cramping was getting worse and I didn't want to crash and burn before even reaching the halfway point, so I took it. The whole selling point of the hot shot was to help with cramping, and it worked - but it made my stomach feel as if it was on the verge of nausea. I'm glad I took it, but I honestly wish I'd remembered salt tabs instead. Oh well! 

Also up to this point, I'd taken two GU packets. After the hot shot, I couldn't even think about GU, so I went the remainder of the marathon without any. 

I loved how the mile markers are an official part of the painting in the roadways!

By this point, things were starting to hurt. I wasn't doing a consistent run/walk/run just yet, but I knew I'd have to turn to that soon. Here, I was able to run to each water stop, then walk the water stop. I had just enough energy to get to the next one each time!

One thing that made me giggle was the stickiness of the roads at the gatorade stops. With so many runners ahead, the roads were incredibly sticky and my shoes made noises as we ran over it!

Hello mile 12, my trusty old friend!

The scream tunnel in Wellesley was INSANE! I thought it was an actual tunnel but no - with trees on the left side of the road and about a half mile of screaming women behind parade grates on the other side of the road, it formed a literal "tunnel". My ears were ringing after we made it through! Such a cool experience!

Half way there, another 13.1 to go! 

Stay tuned for the second half of my incredible Boston Marathon experience!

Check out all the Boston recaps here:

Blog Archive

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...