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Boston: Parting thoughts and post party!

After having a few days to digest and talking to other people, both spectators and runners alike, here are some things that really, really sunk in and I wanted to note about or take away from the race:
  •  It wasn't just about me. Or the race. But about the journey to get there.
  • The people from Hopkinton to Boston are AMAZING! I couldn't ask for more support. And, to be honest, I am not one that gets juiced by random crowds of people (just my family and friends) on a race course. But the difference with this was the support in ways of ice, water, hoses, oranges, etc. that they offered were what made the difference.
  • The spectators weren't just family members. In a race with 26,000 runners, there is bound to be a plethora of support on the course, but this was different. Like I mentioned above, this was true support from the locals - and their tradition. My parents were at halfway, chatting up the crowds... imagine that, I come from a family of chatters? Anyways, there were two women who had sat at that very same corner for the last 50 years, never missing a year. There was another mother and 2 daughters that showed up with cooler of freezy-pops handed them out and then they were off (they weren't waiting for a certain runner or runners they knew in the race, they just wanted to help out). And there are countless other stories.
  • Boston is a true homegrown marathon. Reread the above two points, which to me are two of the things that set this race apart and above the rest. There are few homegrown races anymore and the ones that are and are successful are getting bought out by conglomerates. Denver used to have a marathon. Rock'n Roll bought it. Boulder used to have a homegrown triathlon series, Ironman bought it. Now, I know that those companies still do do good for the community and all, but it is not the same. It is people coming in from the outside... and usually just with profit margins in their minds. While I am thankful for what these flashy races have done to encourage people to run, I am afraid that soon "flashy" races are all we are going to have left.
  • The B.A.A. did the right thing 100% with their emails, warnings, mantras (run slow, this is not a race - it is an experience, race smart, HYDRATE, NO PRs!, you name it), etc. that they were issuing before the race. At first, I was thinking it was for insurance purposes (and it probably was to a point), but it really made it register in the runner's heads to take it seriously. I know it did with me. When my dad showed up on Friday fretting for me, I was like, "whatevs, dad... I got this". But, as the warnings got more persistent, it really did make me reconsider my race strategy and reassess my goals.
  • This race was easier for me to race because I didn't have direct time goals going in. I had trained to finish strong and happy, but I hadn't trained to pr or with a set time goal in mind. With that in mind, it was easier for me to let go and be "ok" with running slower. I feel bad for the people who had trained with a certain pace or time in mind, because to meet the kind of heat we did on race day, it just wasn't possible and, in those conditions, it is easier to feel like a "failure" even though you are not.
  • It was the elite that probably suffered the most. You would think it was the inexperienced runners (ie, charity runners) who really struggled on race day. And I am sure there are some that did. But it was the red bibs (wave 1, the fast guys) who you saw hobbling at the end, laying on the sides of the road, etc. It wasn't the ones who took it slow and stayed away from the medical tents. What this means to you all reading this: when you run in the future in the heat, assess your goals and weigh time over medical conditions and set your goals accordingly.
  • I am not the only one who ran slow. While I don't wish anyone else to have a bad race, it was nice to see post-run, that I wasn't the only one affected by the heat.
  • Running slower is gonna make for an easier recovery. Don't get me wrong, I couldn't have gone any faster on said race day. But since I was going so much slower, my body didn't get the beating it would have had I ran faster. What I am learning - I already feel great! 
Which is a great segway into the next section -- the post party! Ie, the first step in recovery.

Until this point, this has always been my favorite race post-party.

 Yes, that's me. Dancing. In a running club hoodie. In a beer tent. In Wisconsin. Cuz that is how we roll in Wisconsin (beer tents = good times).

Evidently, our friend Sam Adams, had a different idea for us and hosted a post-Boston party at the House of Blues. For that, I was all in.
The boys and dear, old Sam
 As was the rest of our 26.2 crew and significant others.

In addition to the party, Sam had gone out of his way to make us some 26.2 Brew.
It was delicious!
 To top off the night Ty (Heather's hubby) had talked us all into the VIP room (keep that kid around!), where we enjoyed more goodies, free drinks, the men talked with the master brewers about brewing things, and the girls got in a little active recovery on the dance floor.

This was the perfect way to end the"Boston marathon experience".
Can this race get more awesome? I think not.

Boston: Baaaahston!!!! 2012

So, let me just start out this post with a HUGE shout-out to all of my peeps in Hopkinton, Ashland, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline and Boston, because without them, I would not have made it through this race. They really kicked it up a notch or two with their support in the form of sprinklers, hoses, "splash"es, busted fire hydrants... you name it! The good it did is truly immeasurable!

This morning started off quite early. With only a few hours of sleep (not sure exactly why), but I woke up and was  up an out the door by 4:50 a.m.
Shuttle Ride to the Boston Common

Bus ride out to Hopkinton!

We caught a hotel shuttle to the Boston Common and then a got on a bus. We were early enough to have our pick of the buses, so lucky #2 it was! After a short time, we were on our way to Hopkinton. Everything went off like clockwork. Which, I have learned about this race, it is like clockwork. They have done this for 116 YEARS, so they know how it goes and it is boom boom boom.

Anyways, we got to Hopkinton and entered the famed Athlete's Village, which was really nothing more other than some tents for people to camp underneath on and a bunch of food and beverages provided by the sponsors. Good enough for me. It was there we hooked up with Louis, Andrew and Bill (who caught a different hotel shuttle and bus). We all spread out our blankets, popped a squat, as the race was still 3+ hours away! I had never had a race where I had to wait that long, but time went by quickly with friends and we relished in the atmosphere reminding each other that the long wait was part of the "Boston experience".
Our little pre-race picnic. Notice all the room around us? Being type-a triathletes,
we all were on the first 2 buses out to Hopkinton. We told ourselves we just wanted the
"full Boston experience".
Heather educating us all on the benefits of Peanut Butter Gu
By this time, everyone was there.
No room in the tent now!
Lines for porta-potties.
After awhile, it was time for Andrew and Louis to head to their corrals (they started 20 minutes ahead of me, Heather and Bill), so they were off.
Our little 26.2 crew.
 Then it was the three of us to get ready to go, and off we went.
I wanted people to cheer for me. Wasn't effective. Next time use black.

Wave 2 buddies -- Holla!!!
Again, like clockwork. Dropping our bags, hitting the porta-potties (Boston Tip: there are porta-potties without lines by the bag drop and the start, don't waste your time in the village with these lines!) and off to our corrals to start the race.
Second wave - sixth corral. That's me!
 I think this is the first time I REALLY noticed the heat. Up until then, we had been in the shade and it hadn't really effected me, but now being in the sun - it was HOT!

 Now, if you have been following any of the coverage on Boston this year, you will know that the big news was the heat. Evidently in 2004, they had a race in the 80s and over 2,000 people ended up in the medical tent. They didn't want that happening again. Over the week, we received many emails from the B.A.A. pertaining to the weather and as the forecast got worse, so did the urges from the B.A.A. to run smart, run slow, possibly NOT run, to the point where they were offering deferments into next year's race. Crazy! My parents assured me that if I wanted to defer, they would not be let down and they would gladly come back to support me next year. I told them I wasn't contemplating that deferment was never an option for me, I was running this marathon and running it THIS YEAR.

Anyways, back to the race.
Heather and I ready to start in the corral!
The race started for us and off we went. Although Heather and I started together, I told her I didn't want the pressure of keeping up with her, so I just let her go and run off. And, I will be honest, I felt like CRUD. I don't know what it is, but I just did not fell like I had it in me today, but I was determined to finish. So I found a pace I knew I could keep for awhile. A loooong while. It wasn't fast, but it would do.

Now I will be the first to say I HATE running wet. I hate pouring water over my head because (a) it usually makes the salt (from sweat) go into my eyes and (b) I am terrified of blistering on my feet with so much moisture dripping to my shoes. After thinking, I decided that if I got wet right away, and kept myself showered with water to regulate my temperature, I didn't think I would get salt in my eyes BUT I would still be risking getting blisters. I decided to take the gamble and go with it. I think I saw my first aid station somewhere around 2.5 miles and was more than ready to pour water on my head. And did so.

As I went on, I continued to keep hydrated and cooled by pouring water on my head. A volunteer handed me two water cups and told me, "drink one, wear one". I quickly adopted that as my mantra for the day. At times it was "drink one, wear two". Or three. Or four.

The race starts in Hopkinton and travels down a pretty narrow road through a number of small towns all the way into Boston. The very cool thing about this is the amazing support along the route. I have run races through small towns a lot in my past and you generally see some support, but definitely not the amount that was along this route. And what was the coolest about this was that the residents were setting up their own aid stations along the route, setting out sprinklers, getting out their water hoses, cutting oranges, etc. My favorite were the kids with buckets of water that were offering "splashes", I was all over that one - oh, it felt so good! Whenever I could, I would tell the person with the hose, sprinkler, etc. "Thank you, you don't know how much this helps". I know, I know, you will say "I've seen that before", and I have too. But definitely NOT to the point that this race had. I will see a half dozen or so home-made aid stations along the way on a race, but here you had it continually for 26.2 miles - more in some towns, less in others - but you could count on getting water before the next aid station, if need be.
Makeshift aid and misting station set up by ambitious pre-teens. Awesome.
Kid handing out water: artistic interpretation or water-logged camera? You decide.
I'd like to say the miles ticked by quickly, but they didn't. It was hot and I was miserable for awhile. And then somewhere around mile 7, things all changed. I am not sure what did it. But I found my happy place, or as a banner for Gatorade said "find your happy pace", to me, they were the same. I'd like to say it was this that helped put me there:
That's a freeze pop handed to me by a little girl and it was HEAVEN.
So after that, I was all good. At least mentally, and that is when the miles really did just start ticking by. Soon I was at 10. Then 12. Then was Wellesley College, where the girls lined the course and for a long while you just heard some screeching, but it was still encouraging. All the girls had signs saying "Kiss me! I'm a senior!, "Kiss me- I'm a redhead", "Kiss me, I'm from Wiscoooooonsin", "I kiss girls, too", etc. I looked and I looked and I found one who was kissable--

But, considering I was married, I passed him by.

Runners coming through Wellesley.
Favorite shot because it has the steeple in the background, which to me is "New England".

I was almost to halfway and thought, "Man, it would be nice to see my family right about now", I thought they would be at mile 15.5 miles, but guess what --  THEY WERE THERE!!!
I was SOOO happy to see them!
Kisses and hugs to/from everyone -- they even love me when I am sweaty!
Close-up of how incredibly drenched I am in water, sweat, you name it!

As I left they got a shot of me, yet again, chasing a sprinkler.
Tip: throw your arms in the air to show you want the water and they spray you every time!
Then it was plug, plug, plug along. I was still feeling good and wondered when it was gonna hit. I was ticking down (or up) the miles and one just seamed to come after another. I knew that miles 16-22 the course went up, so I wondered if that is when I would really start slowing.

I hit mile 16 and nothing seemed to happen. I was still moving. Maybe 10 seconds or so slower per mile, but not too bad. I did start to notice people walking. Lots of people. But I tried not to think about them. People were talking about how slow they were going and how they hoped to finish in 5 hours. Really? We were on pace for a 4 hour marathon and I was only anticipating going faster. I guess not everyone was feeling the same way.

I wondered how many "hills" I was going to do. The course was going up, but I wasn't really sure... All of a sudden, I was somewhere around 20 and a spectator said "last hill!". I looked at him and said, "Really? This is Heartbreak?". He assured me it was and I was happy. I was running this bad boy.
Popsicles make me happy, so I took one as I was heading up.
All the runners - and the inspirational chalkings on the ground - on Heartbreak Hill.
HAPPY to be running it. The way the race started, I thought I might be crawling by now...
I think the top was around 21 miles. I knew I had another mile of up till I hit the "down" of 22. And that I did. Happy to be running on a downgrade for awhile, I just cruised. At 24, it turned flat and all the "down" momentum was gone. I felt like I was pushing so hard, but going soooo slow. But then, all I really had to do was look around me and there were people going much slower and loads walking, so I reminded myself I was doing "good".

Where was the end??? Between running in and out of of sprinklers and across the streets to get water, aid, etc. I had added a good 1/2 mile to my distance and wasn't sure when the end was going to be, BUT I knew there is a huge Citgo sign exactly 1 mile from the end, so I had that in my sites. When I hit the 1-mile-to-go point, I looked at my watch and knew I had to do an 8:50 mile to make a 4-hour marathon. So, off I went, mind over matter.

I got about 3/4 of the way through my last mile when I turned onto Boylson. Yay!!!! Until I saw that I had 3 minutes to make it to the end.
ALLL the way down there. Ugh. Yikes. Not sure if I will make it.
I didn't think I could make it, but I kept running. AND, I didn't want to miss out on this, either so, I whipped out my camera and started snapping pictures.
Almost there!
It was then my family spotted an arm reaching up in the air with a camera and knew it had to be me (evidently no one else was taking pictures at this point???) and I heard them yell my name and got to see them!!!! And then off to the finish line - would I make it???


Feeling good, and happy. I crossed in just under 4 hours (3:59:10). A far stretch from an ideal time goal, but considering the extreme conditions, it felt awesome! And that meant: Boston 2012 = success!

To top it off, after getting into the shoot, I turned around to see Heather. We had seen each other briefly at mile 7, but other than that, not till now, and I was ecstatic to end the race with the friend I started it with.
Yes, those are mylar blankets at 89 degrees.
It was a doozy of a day, but I loved every moment of it. The first 7 miles were not my favorite, but every race has a low point, and I am happy mine happened at the beginning and not the end.

On top of everything, I had the support of my family behind me, my friends, everyone watching online and I feel like the support of everyone who has encouraged me over the years. I really do look at the journey of getting to this finish line as starting when I ran my first marathon 10 years ago, not when I toed the line up in Hopkinton, and that made this 26.2 miles not the fastest, but the sweetest, I ever ran.

Thanks, especially, to my family who traveled to Boston with me. They are the reason I am here. I wanted to make this race not just about me, but experience it with them.
Freedom Trail (minus Ross)
Fenway (minus Mom)

Boston: Getting Settled...

We got to Boston on Thursday night. Safe and sound. It was a long day of traveling, but that's what you expect when you are going cross country.

Anyways, I wanted to make this trip about the race, but also about family and visiting Boston. Too many times they come to see me race and that's it. And, since I wouldn't be in Boston without them, I wanted to have them there and make this fun for them, too.

So, Friday morning, my parents came and met us in Boston.
My mom and dad with the kids outside of the aquarium.
 After a morning of fishies, penguins and seals -- not to mention our favorite stingray Lincoln named Pancake-- we headed to Quincy market for some lunch.
Lobster roll and clam chowda - yum!
And then it was all about checking in at the expo.
YES!It's official- I'm running!
Hmmmm... will I be accepted into "Pure Running Heaven"?
 Night time was a low-key dinner and off to bed for me and the little folks. What I realized was that I needed to keep off my feet. Walking around the aquarium, the markets and the expo was kind of taxing.

So, we planned a more relaxing day for Saturday. Kicking it off with a sightseeing tour on a duck where the driver, bless his soul, even let the kids drive for awhile.
Linc ready too duck it up - quack! quack!
Hunter at the helm - help us!

Then it was another lunch and off to the finish line. I know that race day will be crazy, crazy with people and I wanted to see it and soak it all in before the big day.
Me and my monkeys
Lincoln scoping out his spot on the grandstands.
Me, Hunter and the finish line
I had to explain to the boys that they wouldn't be able to run with me to the finish line on race day, which was a big bummer to them (some races let the kids in). So, instead, we had out own finish line racing going on.

Me and my pop - the man who introduced me to running by running himself.
 Now that all the finish line fun was done, time for more relaxing... off to the Boston Common.

The swan for our swan boat ride
Yes, first duck boat tours, now swan boat tours.

 And being right around happy hour, we headed over to a pub where we knew everybody'd know our names for a drink.
Can you spot the special marathon brew?
 I love how the whole city gets behind this race. Thank you, Sam Adams.
Dinner = lobster dinner

 Count down to race day = 36 hours...