Tuesday, April 22, 2014

RACE REVIEW: BOSTON MARATHON

"Unfortunately, it takes a tragic event like this to bring good people together.  
Luckily, it isn't difficult to find good people in a great city like Boston."
 ~ David


Wow. Where to begin?  It's going to be hard to put the experience I just had into words.  But, I'll do my best.  On Sunday night, I had the pleasure of having some of my Oiselle teammates over for dinner, a lovely and much needed distraction.  Instead of stressing about the race, I got to spend several hours hanging out with friends, both old and new.  We discussed everything from fried calamari (this was a very eye opening conversation) to family life to race tactics.  Once again, I was reminded how insanely lucky I am to be a member of this amazing family.

BIRD LOVE
The birds took off around 8:00 and shortly after that I headed up to bed.  Huge shout out to my husband for both cooking AND cleaning up.  I owe him one.  Monday morning...race day...was gorgeous.  My husband drove three of us, myself, John and Nicky, out to the Hopkinton State park drop off.  I've known John for a while, but had never met Nicky, who trained with John all winter.  It should come as no surprise that we became fast friends.  Runners always do.  The ride to Hopkinton was seamless, if not frighteningly long.  So...many...miles.  We hopped out and jumped into the crazy long line for the shuttle to the start.
Nicky, John & I waiting for the shuttle.
 Nicky and I decided to duck into the woods and use the ladies room.  Nothing like getting to know someone even better than you already do (which was not at all) than by squatting next to them behind a bush.  The bus dropped us off and we slowly made our way over to the athlete's village.  It was eerily quiet and, for a brief moment, we thought the bus might have left us in the wrong spot.  We hailed down a park ranger who assured us that we were headed the right way.  As it always is, the athletes village was total mayhem.  The crowd was insane and the lines for the port-o-pottys were beyond insane.  Sadly, I had no choice but to wait, which I did, for about 45 minutes.  At this point, I had a serious heart to heart with my bladder, letting it know that it better be good to go after this break, because this would be it for a long time.  Turns out, this one quick bathroom stop was all I had time for as they were calling my wave to head down to the start when I got out.  So, off I headed again.  Holy crap, it was really happening.  My nerves were in high gear, but I was ready to get going.  As we lined up, we were efficiently squished into our corrals like sardines.  I found my buddy, Kelly LeCours, which was such a nice treat as my nerves settled down a bit just by having her next to me.  At that point, the temp was 59℉ and I started to get a little nervous about the heat.  I got the sense that a lot of us were.  And there was absolutely nothing we could do about it.  And then, suddenly, the whole crowd moved together in a wave-like motion toward the line.  This was it.  Game on.  I was hit by a rush of excitement as I took those first steps on the course.  I had to curb both my enthusiasm and my pace as I was incredibly eager to fly down the street.  In marathoning, this is my classic blunder and I was doing everything in my power to reign it in.  As you can imagine, it was not easy.  After a couple miles, I settled into a steady groove.  I began to soak it all up...the spectators, the runners, the noise...all of it.  It was like being on the set of a movie; the scene was one big, wild and crazy party where none of us knew each other but we were all having the time of our lives.  The crowds on the side were amazing.  I have run 3 other Boston marathons, but nothing compares to this one in terms of the number of people who came to cheer us on.  People held up signs, rang their cowbells and generously handed out everything from orange slices to popsicles to cold, wet sponges.  There was not a single dead spot.  And that was awesome.  The race volunteers were the oil in the machine.  Hail to them.  Without them, there truly would be no race.  I did my best to recognize this and thank them at every stop, which still would never be enough.  

Race volunteers having a moment together before the start.
My plan was to break the race up into three parts.  For miles 1-16, I wanted to hold steady at a comfortable tempo pace.  For miles 16-21, the dreaded hill section, I would give myself a little more cushion with the pace and try to just stay relaxed.  And then, for 21 though the finish, I would just go for it with whatever I had left.  The heat was becoming a factor by mile 10 or so.  I started to take 2 cups of water at each station, one to drink and one to pour over my head.  The sun was beating down on us and there wasn't an ounce of shade.  Lesson learned, ALWAYS where a visor when it's sunny.  In the end, I had 2 solid miles left in me after the hills and then my legs decided they were tired.  Really tired.  My pace did slow a bit, but I knew I had enough in me to make it to the finish at that point and that all I had to do was hold on.  Easily the longest 16 minutes in my life.  In the end, it was the crowd that carried me in.  The cheering was deafening, which was exactly what I needed.  I crossed the line with a time of 3:23, which I was more than pleased with.  Not my best, but far from my worst.  The first person I saw was race director, Dave McGillivray, who must have been dealing with logistics at the line.  I took his hand in both of mine and thanked him profusely.  He gave me a big smile and thanked me back.  Then, I turned and hugged the next runner who came in behind me.  Then I hugged the woman who gave me my medal.  Then I hugged the woman who wrapped the blanket around me.  I didn't say much.  I was totally out of fuel.  But I smiled and hugged anyone who was ready and willing.  And a lot of people were.  There was so much love in the air you could almost taste it.  I slowly (very slowly) walked to the end of the race zone and through exit gate, and then I looked up to see my husband standing across the street.  To my surprise, he had left work early to come see me finish.  I was so thrilled to have him there with me and so exhausted that I almost cried.  Almost.  We then chilled out in the Commons for a while, him eating lunch, me drinking a Starbucks passion fruit iced tea (the drink that rocked my world) and not moving, as we waited for John to finish so we could give him his bag.
POST RACE BLISS
Eventually, we ambled (okay, I ambled, Jeff walked) over to our car and we headed back home to Winchester.  Later in the evening, I relaxed, enjoyed a well-earned beer, and thought back through both the day as well as the week-end on the whole.  The experience was epic, life changing, surreal... I won't go on, but I could.  Somehow, I've managed to put a lot down in words here, but there is still a piece that will always be left unspoken.  And it is that piece that I will cherish the most.

Listen to this:
Don't You Give Up On Me - Milo Greene  

Monday, April 21, 2014

TODAY I RUN

FOR BOSTON


“Keep looking my way. My head is held high. 
You wanna bring me down? I dare you to try.”
~Unknown

Listen to this:
The sound of 72,000 footsteps headed into this great city.  Pure joy.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Today In Boston I....


1. Watched with pride and excitement as the city came alive at 7:00am.


2. Met and hung out with my Oiselle teammates
(Ellen, Allie & Anne)


3. Watched Sally Bergesen & Lauren Fleshman fly in the BAA 5K.



4. Noticed these ducks.
(seemingly annoyed that we were in their park)


5. Had a lovely conversation at Dunkin Donuts with Bart Yasso
& Jeff Galloway (standing behind us, purchasing his coffee)


6. Stood in awe as I watched Sally, who had literally just busted out a sub-19 5K, effortlessly set up at the Oiselle booth at City Sports.


7. Continued to stand in awe as Kara Goucher snapped a photo of her fans
with teammate Lauren Fleshman by her side.


8. Walked down the middle of Newbury Street, which is currently closed
for the marathon.  TOTALLY surreal.

All before lunch.  Needless to say, it was a pretty spectacular morning.

Listen to this:
Embrace - Goldroom  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

THANKS. AGAIN.


As most of you know, a marathon training cycle is typically about 4 months long.  Four very long, often physically brutal, and for this particular cycle, painfully cold, months.  Wait, why do I do this again?  Kidding.  (sort of).  When I get to this point, just a few days before the race itself, I tend to look back and reflect a bit.  Because for all of the workouts that were so hard, where I found myself frustrated and wanting to throw in the towel, there were an equal number of runs that made me feel like I was a superhero.  A feeling that is not only amazing, but is likely one of the main reasons that I continue to run these crazy ass races over and over again.  I also like to take a moment at this stage to recognize how unbelievably lucky I am to have such an incredible support system, without which I would never make it to the start line (knock on wood).  So, here's to you.  All of you.

~ To my husband, who is my biggest supporter.  
~ To my kids for their patience and understanding when mom was too tired to deal and their readiness to step up when this was the case.
~ To my extended family & friends who consistently checked in to see how it was going.
~ To my coach, Lowell Ladd (of 2L Coaching) for his guidance and support.
~ To Kirsten, my good friend and running partner, for dutifully joining me for most of my long runs.  Bless her.
~ To my Oiselle teammates for their amazing bird love.
~ To Oiselle (the company itself) for keeping me both stylish and comfortable, 24/7.  Not an easy task.
~ To NUUN for keeping me hydrated.
~ To RUNNERBOX for all the goodies and new products that I've gotten to try. 
~ To Yurbuds for always keeping the beat, and NEVER. FALLING. OUT.
~ To Spotify for being my music oasis.
~ To Saucony for the 3 pairs of Rides that carried me along.  Literally.
~ To the Loopsters for being so damn cool.
~ To my LHS runners who keep me inspired day in and day out.
~ To the great city of Boston.  Just because.
~ And finally, to you, dear readers, for allowing me to document this crazy nut-job experience and your willingness to be along for the ride.

So, again, THANK YOU.  On April 21st, I'll be running Boston with all of you in mind.  And I am forever grateful.

Listen to this:
Keep On Running - Andy Bull  


* Congrats to Tom S., winner of the RUNNERBOX Race Day Survival Kit.  May you always be ready.