It was an awesome day that began with a short run with my pup, followed by coffee and nails (marathon nails, that is), lunch in Charlestown, my old stomping grounds, and some chill time (translation - a nap). My dear friend and Oiselle teammate, Ashley F., was visiting from TX for the weekend and came in via train so I met her down town around 7:30 and we headed home to join Jeff for dinner. Both of us would be racing the BAA 5K the next day which was starting at 8:00am, so we turned in pretty early (I know, shocker) in preparation for our 6:00am wake up. We popped out of bed pretty easily, drank some coffee, gathered all of our gear and headed out, as planned, at 6:50. We were chatting away, rocking out to tunes when Ashley mentioned that she needed to find some safety pins for her bib when she got to the race tent, to which I responded....OH SHIT!!!! Yes, I forgot my bib. No number, no race. So, we had to turn around and head back to Winchester so I could grab it. This set us back a solid 20 minutes. Not good. I had a mild freak out session. Ashley was totally chill and took it in stride. Bless her. We eventually made it into Boston around 7:30 and found a decent parking spot which which was a serious stroke of luck. We threw about 50 quarters in the meter and ran/walked to the Boston common so we could leave our bags at gear check. On our way to the tent, we found our teammate Liz, who then joined us for a quick warmup before the start. Ash and I had hoped to get two miles in and were only able to eek out one before we had to line up. We all considered a quick pit stop before the race but the lines at the port-o-pottys, all 100 of them, were about a mile long, so we decided against it and just jumped in with our pace groups. I got through the National Anthem and the race announcements before deciding that I couldn't hold it, jumped back out of my corral and quickly went (yes, I'm 100% sure it was all in my head). Better? Yes. But, now I was way in the back of the pack and nowhere near where I'd hoped to start. Oh well. The gun went off but because there were almost 10,000 people running there was no movement for quite some time. I finally reached the timing mat about five minutes later, started my watch and hoped for the best. Turns out, it's really hard to ramp up and hit race pace when you're in a crowd of that size with several people who are walking and simply enjoying the morning.
I darted and dovetailed shouting out many "sorrys" and "excuse mes" as I attempted to find a spot and get into a groove. But, there would be no groove for me, at least not for the first mile, and I sighed as I crossed the mat in 6:28, not even close to the the 6:10 pace I was aiming for. At this point I smiled as I realized I needed to let go of my time goal and just embrace the race for what it was, a fantastic Boston race experience on a beautiful day. Don't get me wrong, I still tried to push and see what I could do once I hit the second mile and I was more than pleased to have crossed the mile 2 mat in a 6:06 and the mile 3 mark, which was a bit of a battle into the wind, in a 6:23. My overall time was a 19:48 which, given the logistical nightmare that I'd just lived through, was absolutely fine. After crossing the finish, I moved right into social mode as I ran around trying to find the rest of my Oiselle teammates. I knew there were a lot of birds in for the weekend and several of them had just raced so I wanted to try and round up as many as I could to both meet them and to get a group photo. (thanks to Liz's husband for being our photographer)
Not surprisingly, it was an instant love fest as we all gathered, old friends and new, and talked about the race and our plans for the rest of the weekend as there were many more team events planned. Eventually we broke off to go our separate ways but not before taking a quick shot with Sheri who had missed the group pic but ran in to catch up with us nonetheless.
Ashley and I had a couple more miles to do for our cool down, so we ditched our bags in the car, added about 10 more quarters to the meter, and then ran along the Charles River for another 20 minutes or so. The scene was beautiful and so cool to be a part of as runners of all kinds were sprinkled along the path for miles. The air was so full of excitement it was almost electric. Once we finished, we headed over to grab our friend Courtney, the other Oiselle hot shot who would be staying with me for the weekend. I needed to pick up my bib for the marathon, which I would be running with Joyce as a member of Team With A Vision (TWAV) on Monday, so they both came to the expo with me to do that and then some exploring. We made our way through the various booths, stopping to say "hi" to friends at Skechers, Feetures, & NUUN, and then at the snack booth for a hot pretzel. Oh man, was that good. I also tracked down the lovely Staci from Runnerbox who I had not yet met in person but have known for many years. I was thrilled to finally get to meet and hang with her. By now, the expo was total chaos and we started to get overwhelmed so after about an hour, we darted out to grab a much needed coffee. Can you believe I waited all that time until I got my second cup? No, I can't either.
Eventually, the three of us headed back to Winchester for some much needed rest and relaxation. The traffic in downtown Boston was insane and it took us a while to get out of the city, this was after the 52 point turn I had to make in order to get out of the stupidly tight spot I'd been parked into in the garage (think Austin Powers). Not surprisingly, once we were home and settled, all three of us were down for the count. Sweet, sweet sleep. A few hours later we reconvened and got ready to head over to the Cambridge Brewing Company to meet up with the Loopsters, an awesome group of runners and friends that I've met through Runner's World and have gotten to know well over the past few years. (yes, I'm on a lot of teams. I can't help it)
Many of us were carb loading for the marathon, thus the table was eventually covered from end to end in pasta and pizza and all of us were happily digging in. We chatted and got to know each other as some of us had not yet met in person despite knowing each other through the Loop for years. We ate and enjoyed each other's company for about two hours. We had a ball. We always do. I love that! Finally, around 8:30 we gave out hugs and said our goodbyes and then broke off to head back to our various homes and hotels. Again, Ash, Courtney and I got home (easily this time) and turned in early in preparation for the next day which would be another big one. Mind you, I was going to bed earlier than my kids do each night but I was having a hell of a time falling asleep with all that was going on. And there was not a damn thing I could do about it. Oh well. It was worth every lost minute as far as I was concerned.
On Sunday, I got up early and had a quiet moment to myself on my front porch, the calm before the storm, if you will. After some more Oiselle activities later that morning and a Team With A Vision brunch with Joyce, I would be hosting all the birds who were in town, their families and friends, for a pre-race pasta dinner. So, yes, I needed to re-set for a moment and just breath. Around 9:00am, the three of us headed back into Boston to meet up with more of our Oiselle teammates for a shakeout run and some coffee at the The Thinking Cup. About 70 birds showed up, some of whom I knew and many that I'd not yet met, and after intros and photos we headed off for another run along the Charles. It was another beautiful day and we all settled in together at various paces as we took in the scene, the vibe of Boston in general and each other. After about 30 minutes, we met back in the Common and hung out for a while, a few people breaking off to enjoy the rest of their day and others grabbing coffee and soaking up the rays.
Around 11:00am, I made my way over to the Westin Copley hotel to join up with the volunteers, runners and staff from both Team With A Vision and MABVI for a celebratory brunch. It was a lovely event. We heard speeches from various members of both organizations along with several visually impaired men and women who benefit from their services. Mayor Marty Walsh received an award for all the work he's done to make the city of Boston accessible to all, which I learned is a ton. All of it made me realize how little it takes to give back and what an enormous impact can make when you do. After brunch, Joyce and I met up with Seth, one of the other two guides that would be running with us the next day, and talked strategy.
Joyce was aiming to run a 4:30 and felt that based on the success she'd had with her training, if we paced ourselves cautiously, this was very doable. We discussed crowd management and water stops as well and it was at about this moment that I realized enormity of the task ahead of us. I tried not panic and to play it cool so Joyce didn't sense how I was feeling. Hopefully it worked. Around 2:00 we said our goodbyes and I bolted as quickly as possible to my car so I could pick up some last minute items for the Oiselle dinner that was happening a few hours later. You could say my stress was at an all time high at this point and I was doing whatever I could (deep breaths, music, mantras) to keep myself in check. I finally got back to the house around 4:00 and turned all the remaining logistics over to my amazing husband and to Ash & Courtney so I could take a minute to myself to shower and switch gears....yet again. Around 5:00, the Oiselle crew began to trickle in. What fun we had as runners, husbands, wives, kids, friends, dogs....all of us gathered together to eat, drink, and be merry. I had been so tired just hours before and was totally rejuvenated by the excitement and love that was flowing over the next couple hours.
Around 8:00 I started to fade big time. My TWAV shuttle was leaving from Boston the next morning at 6:00am, which meant I needed to be up and out the door by 5:30. I'd been going on fumes and even if I wouldn't be able to fall asleep, I needed to get to bed. So, I said my goodbyes to the remaining gals who were still lingering (sorry, ladies, totally inappropriate for a hostess to duck our before her guests) and got myself ready to go for Marathon Monday before finally hitting the hay. I cannot thank Jeff, Ashley and Courtney enough for all the help they gave me both mentally and physically throughout this entire weekend. Their support was invaluable and I am beyond grateful. Next post...the Boston Marathon. But first, a nap. Stay tuned!
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Late Night (It's Okay) - VHS COLLECTION