Marathon Day in Boston and all of Massachusetts, it's Patriot's Day, and it's a big celebration for us. It's a day when we're kind of the whole world's city there.
~ Elizabeth Warren
As expected, this past week-end was beyond incredible. While I watched live coverage of the race on Monday, I heard a reporter claim that the Boston Marathon is like the Superbowl for runners. What a perfect comparison. People come from all over the world for this event. And they don't just come for the race itself, but to experience the awesomeness of the whole week-end and to be a part of the city of Boston at a time when it is most alive and at its best.
I did not run the marathon this year, but I had tons of friends and teammates who did, so I was totally swept up in the beautiful chaos of it all. Here's how it all unfolded for me.
Saturday, April 18th (& BAA 5K Race recap)
On Saturday, I woke up early on account of major pre-race jitters. I was running the BAA 5K, one of the many additional races held throughout the weekend, with several of my Oiselle teammates. I've been training for a June marathon since February so the 5K race distance was incredibly daunting. Thus, I decided I would treat it as a workout, tack on some additional miles before and after, and aim to just push hard and have fun. My wingman & Oiselle teammate, Jess C., scooped me up a little before 7:00am and we headed into the city. We had one minor lane-changing incident on Storrow Drive (I may have stopped breathing for a few seconds) and then a wee bit of traffic, but we eventually made it into a parking garage. Unfortunately, it took us a little longer than we had expected, so my stress level shot up pretty quickly at this point. We jogged from the car over to the Boston common and immediately found the port-o-pottys. Despite the fact that there were, like, 80 of them, each one had a line about a mile long. Of course. So we waited, sweated (it was hot), stressed some more and finally made it to the front. Next stop, bag check. Also a bit of a deal fest as I had to transfer the items from my own bag into a clear one which required my waiting in not one, but two different lines. No complaints. Safety first. Then, finally, we were good to go. There would be no warm up. No strides. Nothing. Straight from the bag check we made our way over to the start where I continued to sweat and be nervous for the next 10 minutes. There were around 10,000 people running the 5K. WHAT?? Once the gun blew, there was quite a bit of jostling, jumping and snaking through the crowds to deal with before I finally settled in. Wait, no. There was no settling at all, actually. As I ran, I was reminded that, unlike in the marathon, there really isn't enough time to "settle in" during a 5K. You just go and then keep going as hard as you can until you're done. And, man, does it hurt. Despite feeling like I might keel over at any moment, I finished strong with a 19:16, which is a time that I was more than pleased with given the circumstances of the race day logistics and my fear of the distance in general.
Post-race pain, bliss, etc.
After the race, Jess and I went around looking for some more of our fellow birds. We found Holly and Laurel, took a quick post-race photo,
w/ Holly, Laurel & Jess
and then handed our bags over to Batch, Holly's husband, who kindly offered to hold all of our stuff while we tacked on some more miles. (thanks again, Batch)
Batch, the Sherpa
Sunday, April 19th
Sunday morning, my husband and I got up at 5:00am so we could get our kids to their airport for their solo mission down to Florida to visit the grandparents. The girls had no problem popping out of bed and into the car. Me? Not so much. I was wiped from both the race and the day before in general, and had some big time heavy lids. Of course, when we got to Logan, the lines at Jetblue snaked and coiled throughout the entire terminal and the tension among travelers was crazy. I did my best to remain calm and get my kids through security and onto their plane without freaking out. Let's just say it was a little too close for my liking as the flight attendant shut the door behind Rosie and Grace as they went down the walkway. D'OH. Jeff and I headed back home and I caught a short nap before going back into the city to meet up with the Loopsters, a group of fellow runners that I have connected with via the Loop on runnerworld.com, for breakfast. Over the past couple years, I have gotten to know many of these cats through their blogs and I was thrilled to finally get a chance to hang with them in person. We all grabbed coffee and breakfast, hung out and chatted for a little over an hour, which was definitely not enough time. I could have used an entire day to get to know this awesome crew. Oh well.
After breakfast, I made my way over to the expo so I could say "hi" to some friends and stop by a couple booths. Within about 3 minutes, I was sweating as the crowd was huge and the space to get around was nil. You'd think I would remember this having run the marathon several times, but I was still floored by the madness. After a few quick conversations and a little bit of exploring, I was out of there. My husband and I grabbed a bite of lunch in the city, something we never get to do, and relaxed and soaked up the good vibes for a bit (we were kid-free, remember?) Finally, I headed off to PartyCity to grab the balloons that I'd ordered for the Oiselle team dinner that I would be having later that night. Yes, I am a total dork.
Starting around 5:00, people started to trickle in for some pasta and conversation, hopefully a good distraction for those who were racing. We had a blast, many of us meeting for the first time and some of us reconnecting after not having been together for a year. In addition to those who would be racing, people brought family, friends, roommates, cats, dogs, etc. There were about 40 of us all together. It was a big old love fest and a great reminder of how lucky I am to be a member of the Oiselle family.
Monday, April 20th
Originally, I was going to meet up with Holly on Monday morning for a long run in the city before the marathon. But because the weather was going to be bad and the logistics might be tricky, we decided to bail and do our own thing. Around 8:30am, I headed off for a solo 20 miler, trying hard to hold a decent pace so I could get back home in time to then turn around and head out to Wellesley to cheer with the Oiselle crew. Turns out, my legs have only one pace for a long run, as it took me just under 3 hours to finish. By the time I got home, it was starting to rain and I realized that it was probably a stretch to get out to Wellesley and find my group before it was too late. That was a bummer. Instead, I watched the top women and men finish the marathon on tv, which was still pretty sweet. I was thrilled for Desiree Linden, who came in fourth and told a reporter that she was so happy and felt like it was a win for her. I got chills as I watched Rebekah Gregory, a marathon bombing survivor who had her leg amputated just 6 months ago, cross the finish line and fall to the ground in tears, and then I both smiled and cried when Meb came down the final stretch, grabbed elite runner Hilary Dionne's hand and crossed the line with her. I don't believe you if you tell me you didn't, too.
Then I just watched for a while. People of all ages, colors, shapes and sizes cruised through the finish line in the pouring rain; some smiling, some hurting, but all of them wearing that remarkable badge of courage and pride that is awarded to each runner at the end of every marathon regardless of their time or place.
I went to bed with a huge ear to ear grin that night. The week-end had been amazing, yes, but more importantly, the city had delivered, yet another life-altering experience to all of us who were part of the Marathon - our Superbowl - in any way. Thank you, Boston. Let's do it again, soon.
Listen to this:
Stronger - Clean Bandit