Friday, June 17, 2011

My Boston Blues stole my race report

I can't believe it has already been several weeks since I crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon.......
It has taken me a bit to re-group & digest all that led up to the race & the actual race.  Honestly, I realized that so much of my mind  and time had been wrapped up in April 18th - I have been a little "post race" sad that it is all over & writing the re-cap seems to somehow finalize it all.  Hopefully some of you have experienced the post-race or marathon blues???

So - here it is - though it seems a little anti-clamatic at this point,  I need to get it out in words. I have been in a post-race funk - there is just no way to not officially share such an amazing part of my running journey. And my friends running their 1st Marathons this weekend have definitely inspired me to share and move on to what's ahead.

 My experience on Monday, April 18th at the Boston Marathon.......

Well, let's back up a day - the Boston Marathon Expo:

Andrew & I arrived Saturday evening,

greeted by this at baggage claim - how fun!!!!

checked into our hotel that we LOVED & tired from our all day travel - headed out to get a meal.  This ended up being quite the experience because my sweet husband decided that a good old local Irish pub sounded good(which I know was fueled by the fact that their was a playoff game with our home town team about to begin), which I agreed to as I knew that the next night's pre-race meal would be my own foodie obsessed decision.  We called a pub nearby from a list our hotel gave us and asked if they were still serving dinner and we rushed to make it in the 45 minute time slot the manager told us we had.  As we approached the "cute Irish pub" - we realized that there was a line around the building of much younger, cooler people than us;  looking serious about having a night out -opposed to our agenda of a quick meal and catching a basketball game.  We asked the gentleman at the door if there was a separate restaurant and he quickly realized we were the couple he had just talked to that he had not informed that our quick dinner attempt was not a good match for the local "scene".  He then whispered to the bouncer who then unhooked the velvet roped and nodded us in ahead of the line. Either he thought that we looked ready to have a good time and was impressed with our straight off the plane attire or he felt sorry for us....I am thinking the latter.  We were seated in a table directly in front of a tv to catch the Blazer game ("Go Blazers") & in ear shot of the band taking stage - who were actually quite good!  We were really too tired and hungry to realize the special treatment we were receiving and grew even more tired watching the energetic college kids out for a Saturday night - so we ate some really good food and headed back to the hotel.  We had an EXPO to head to in the morning!!

Nothing like some GREAT pub fries and a Guiness (for Andrew!!)

The moment we headed down to the Starbuck's in the morning (in our hotel lobby - a big selling point for me!!!) & the Boston Marathon buzz began.  Immediately I spotted them - THE RUNNER'S - everywhere.  Wearing past Boston jackets, new Boston jackets, running knew who they were.  They were there to run the Boston Marathon.......WITH YOU!!!!  It was so exciting and my ever creative mind began with the wondering of each of their own personal running stories.  My stomach was in joyous knots!!  Andrew & I sat and drank our coffee I read a great story of the race director and how he runs the ace EVERY year after he done with his multitude of duties and finishes when we are all well on our way to celebrating or resting.  I couldn't contain myself anymore - I needed to get in the mix of it all - I needed to get to the expo!! To see all the other runners, to hold my race number in my hand...............and we were on our way.
Immediatley we met two other runners that needed to figure out how to get there and at the same time a local who had ran it before and was headed to work the expo offered to lead us on our way.  There truly wasn't anywhere you could turn and not see someone that was clearly marked with the honor of being a part of that day.  The local gentlemen gave us pointers on where my family should go to see me during the race, where to eat, what to not miss during the race ect.  There was the amazingly odd connection of people going on in the city - it was if everyone was somehow tied together by this race and were instantly bonded - even it it was with with a "good luck" or just a smile - it was an incredible vibe.


Oh my word - talk about an energy walking into a room - an instant runner's high.  The best way to describe it - I was GIDDY!!
I walked in & was greeted with 100's & 100's of other runners, course maps on the wall and the PACKET PICKUP.  I stood in line ready to pee myself with excitement (which honestly doesn't take much with my pre-baby bladder) - while Andrew was holding all my things (he said he felt like my assistant) - I had to save all my energy you know!!

My happy "assistant" - cute even with a smart a** grin!

GIDDY!!!! It is OFFICIAL - I have a Boston MArathon bib number (MY BIB NUMBER) in my hands.  Pretty cool moment.

So the actual Expo was overall fun even with the fact that EVERYTHING was sold out in my size.  I got to meet up with my new running friend -that I met through a mutual friend there.  We ran one of our 20 mile runs together - which every runner knows, creates an instant intimacy that gives you at least a 6 month status of being friends.  She was my Boston buddy!
Katie & I at the Expo!!

Andrew & I went down EVERY aisle as if I had never been to a marathon expo before.  I just had to - what if I missed something.  This was a HUGE sacrifice for my sweet husband who says his back hurts after 10 minutes of shopping (funny how 5 HOURS of golf doesn't do this hmmm.......).  We saw it all.  I accepted that I was going to have to order my memorabilia on line and I did find one shirt that I loved.

                                                       Super comfy tee marked with all the memorable passage ways of the course.

Now - onto look at that finish line.  The one my feet would (God willing) be crossing in less than 24 hours!!!!!

Ok, so here is the part that makes me laugh.  My parents obviously never taught me that when college boys ask you to make a video with them - YOU DON'T.......................

These guys said they were from Boston College and were interviewing marathoners and how they got there.  Still have no idea if my video is out there somewhere on-line and what they did with it.  I just proved that if you catch me in an excitable moment - I obviously won't ask too many questions of you and are pretty agreeable!!! :)  My assistant, husband/body guard was right there though.

After we realized we didn't have any more time for paparazzi and interviews and needed to head back to the hotel to meet my dad and step-mom who's flight was arriving and rest.  I hydrated & finalized my play-list and andrew drank a beer....

We had a great local pasta dinner.  Minus the wine for me - NO FAIR...

And headed back early to prepare for the next morning......
Andrew likes to laugh at all my "drugs" and my pre-race prep.....
I divide up my shot blocks (margarita is my flavor of chose) & my Cliff Shot Roks ( I just use 1 to 2 every 5 miles or so for a little protein)into small baggies that I got a craft store.  Makes it so much easier during the race.  Was using Orbana my electrolyte - a new drink a friend introduced to me - as I am still trying to figure out my salt loss issues .......
                                                         All "my goods" - and wearing my sweet mom's sweater.

                                                                                     Put my clothes out

                                     Packed my race belt - including my believe cross form my SISSY (my little sister).

Off to try and fall asleep SEVERAL hours earlier than I was used to with the time change, the fact that I usually go to bed ate and the excitement - it was a challenge.  BUT I did it.  Managed to get a good night rest!!

THE MORNING OF THE BOSTON MARATHON 2011 - it was upon me!!!!  
TODAY - I have been preparing for today - April 18th for 2011 - for SO LONG.  The months of training is a given.  But to get a little dramatic - my life - MY ENTIRE LIFE, has prepared me for this day.
My joys and hardships.  Joys have shown me how to celebrate and enjoy moments like these.  Hardships have shown me how to push through the hard and the pain and take the experience of those along with me to become a stronger person.
MY Loss.  Losing my sweet mom has shown me more than any other experience in life.  But today I know my mom is with me and that I have to take on this race and enjoy it - even the challenge (just as my mom still laughed through her battle with cancer), because you NEVER know what tomorrow holds.
My "Peeps".  The amazing people in my life that I get to carry them with me today and always.

I have prepared for this day, God has prepared me for this day for so long - so here we go....

We started the morning early to get the shuttle from our hotel to the Boston Marathon school buses for our journey over to athletes village.

Two of my biggest fans with me before the race (my Dad & Andrew).
In Memory of my sweet Mom.
Katy met me at my hotel so we could take the LONG bus ride together
Coffee,Oatmeal & sleeping bag- ready to go!!!

The wait for the bus was so fun - seeing all the runners taking on the same challenge and putting in the same hard work to get there - it was so exciting!  The bus ride was long, but was fun with Katy to visit with and gave me a little time to let the reality to set in.
2 things that stood out as a big difference from other races:
- It was a little hard to figure out how to fuel with food with the race starting much later in the  morning than the normal 7:30 race time.
-  Sitting around in a field for 2 hours with all the other runners before the race.  Athletes Village was a cool experience.  A friend of Katy's that had run it several times before described it to us a "Woodstock for Runners" - which is a perfect description.
There were a sea of runners either gathering with running buddies and talking pre-race strategy; runners laying around sleeping, long lines for food and coffee, and even longer lines for the bathrooms.  Waves of excitement and anxiousness shot through every time the race anouncer of spoke of starting waves - the elites paving the way and then the rest of us following in their speedy foot steps.

I ended up starting the race in a different wave than I was assigned due to my obsession with using the restroom as many times as I can pre-race.  I stood in line thinking I had plenty of time for "just 1 more time" & was not aware of the time it took to walk form Athletes Village to the start line and that it would be absolutely packed with people waiting for the next wave.  By the time I got to the start line the 3rd wave was starting.  So - my start was a little slower than I wanted, but I was quickly distracted by all the people lining the streets of the neighborhhoods we were running through. I immediately noticed all the kids holding out their hands waiting for a high five, it made me teary thinking of my kids and how I would love to see their sweet faces along that course and I took on the commitment to try and give every kiddo I passed a high five (of courseI did this not truly knowing, YET how many people come out to support the race that day).
There is so much to take in on this course along with the constant reminder and stomach flutters that "You are running the Boston Marathon"!  The spectators, sober and otherwise -  the infamous towns that you pass through that all own their own memorable features of the race.  It is one of those experiences that you can read and hear all about, but not truly get it until you are there.  Every one of my senses was taking in the day and making a permanent mark in my memories.
Performance wise, I felt strong until about mile 15.  I knew going in that I wasn't trained like I was for the Portland Marathon, due to a nasty chest infection that lasted a month and the reality of my husbands travel schedule leaving me with less early morning run opportunities.  My training lacked the intensity I had hoped for, but I HAD put miles in and I was pretty sure I could hold at least a 8:30 pace through the race.  My left leg starting giving me issues and by the infamous Boston hills, made me feel like I was shuffling; like I had to put in SO MUCH effort to lift me legs.  I started to feel discouraged, ecspecially because if anything - I HAD trained for those dang hills and endurance wise I felt like I could knock those hills out at a steady pace but my legs had a different idea.
The amazing spectators were a quick reminder that I needed to change my focus, whether I was slowing down or not - I was still running the Boston Marathon and I would regret finishing this race focusing on what I "wasn't doing" and just needed to take it all in.  I made a quick perspective change and soaked it in and smiled and teared up at several points along the way.  The day ended up being much warmer than it was suppose to be - so not only did I end up with a horrible sunburn but I could tell by mile 22 that my tendency to lose too much sodium was creeping up on me.  So, I started taking in all electrolytes at the hydration stops and hoped for the best.  When I saw the Citgo Field sign -

I had this amazing feeling -  as much as my body wasn't feeling great and as much as my pace was not on was going to happen......I was going to cross the finish line.  As I got closer, knowing my family was going to be waiting near the finish line - it made me push even harder; even though my body was saying NO.  These are those times when your mind over rides your failing body and you push through it.  When I turned the corner for the last 800 yards and had the finish line in sight and soon after the sweet faces of my family - I had so many emotions running through me - that happiness, those feelings......... carried me to the finish line more than my tired body did.

I threw my hands in the air, received my medal and made it official - I finished the Boston Marathon.  Whether it was what I hoped or planned - I owned it.   It was mine!!! My time, aching legs or nausea from my sodium levels didn't matter so much right then.  I just wanted to find my family and celebrate!
A face white, covered in salt - but still smiling

The Boston Marathon holds a little piece of my heart - and that course certainly kicked my butt that day and I LOVE IT!!  If that race is the climax of my athletic experience and it is "the race" I talk about when I am old still shuffling through finish lines (I hope)  and speaking of my glory days like all the "not so fit" past football players at their high school reunion - I will certainly take that.  The runner in me that always wants to challenge myself and knows what I really can do - does hope for the honor of pounding that pavement agin one day..........
But, no matter what my running journey brings -  I will ALWAYS cherish April 18th, 2011.

Thanks for sharing in this part of my running journey (and being patient through my running and writing "funk").  Here lies the end to my "Boston Blues" & now on to what's next..........