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:

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