Boston Marathon Part 2: Toughest Race Of My Life

This race did NOT go as planned. And don't think I know it has been about two months since the Boston Marathon actually happened. But I got swept up in the feelings that day and immediately hit the road for the Nashville marathon so the recap was put to the wayside.

But now I am ready to write and hey! it won't get lost in the influx of Boston Marathon recaps. ;)

When we last left, it was the pre-race waiting game and my arrival at the Start Line.

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photo 3 (54)

But now that the National Anthem was played and the volunteers moved out-of-the-way of the Start Line, it was show time.

I had a goal. I even had a pace band to make sure I stayed on plan.

My goal: 3:55. It would be a PR and fit my goal of a sub-4 Boston. For perspective, I ran Boston in 2013 in 4:04:08 when I was on pace for sub-4 til a shooting foot pain had another idea.

I had to listen to my body and stick to the band. It was based on a pace calculator MADE for the Boston course and it's peaks and valleys.

With a start time of 11:25 it was getting warm and the sun was high. I had a sense the race would be warmer than we expected and warmer than what we had been training in.

Our team each gave Tedy a fist bump and we were on our way.

Garmin started.

The Boston Marathon starts on a downhill if you didn't know. So many have the problem of starting out too fast.

Hi I am part of the many.

But within the first mile I was right by Tedy and wasn't sure how long I would be near him so I asked for a quick mid-run selfie. :)

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photo 3 (56)

And he obliged.

The race was ALREADY off to a good start.

But as I hit Mile 1 I knew I was going out ahead of schedule, but I kept plodding along because I felt great.

5k Mark: 26:44 (8:37 min/mile pace)

I tried to start pulling back. Slow the pace down. I needed to conserve energy for the later half of the race - the tougher part - the Heartbreak Hill part.

There was NO shade. When I say none I mean none. It was blistering already.

10k Mark: 54:45 (8:49 min/mile pace)

I made the decision then and there to make sure I took water and Gatorade at every stop. I had to race smart. This wasn't a half marathon.

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photo 3 (2)

For some reason my phone wasn't working during this time so while running I had to power down and restart. Magically it started working again. Thank goodness. I knew I would need my social media peeps on this day.

15k Mark: 1:23:22 (8:57 min/mile pace)

Alright slowing the pace down was working to my benefit. It was hard to do, but I knew I would benefit later on.

Now keeping myself while running by myself was TOUGH. As we have seen time and time again I am bad at pacing myself. I had really hoped to run with a teammate, but it didn't work out. My normal running buddies were using different plans or in different corrals than I was. So I had to improvise. I had to use the crowd to my advantage.

And right when I needed a pick me up was my cousin. My cousin Jen was there for me at Mile 10. I don't think she really knows how much that hug meant to me. Since my phone was being annoying - I asked her to text my dad to make sure he knew where I was.

20k Mark: 1:54:54 (9:16 min/mile pace)

Okay maybe I was slowing down a tad too much.

My plan was to hit the halfway mark ahead of the 2-hour mark.

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photo 2 (66)

Half: 2:01:27 (9:16 min/mile pace)

It was around this time in Wellesley that I could tell something inside was off. It felt like a heavy weight was on my chest. I just couldn't get my breathing under control.

I stopped in front of the Medical Tent at Mile 14 to stand in front of the large fan and BAM the breathing just wouldn't get under control. It ended up being one of those tiny breath moments. You know over and over but no air was actually getting into the lungs? Ya that.

An EMT saw me and made me head into the Med Tent. He didn't like how I sounded so I obliged.

Once in the volunteers scanned my bib in (hello 21st century) and I was handed a space blanket and a cup of water an gatorade. The doctor then came over to check my vitals. My temperature was lower than they wanted, but other than that I looked okay. Sitting in the cool Med Tent allowed me to focus on the breathing and get the air I really needed.

I knew folks were watching my time and progress so I made sure to get on social media to let folks know why the updates would be slowing.

As always my dad wrote: "Don't be a hero!" He was trying to take the self-imposed pressure off me.

Once the doctors and volunteers okayed me to leave, I was scanned out and back on the course.

I couldn't even LOOK at the pace bracelet since I was soooo far off. So it took a lot of energy to rip it off. I couldn't handle the reminder any longer.

25k Mark: 2:49:25 (10:55 min/mile pace)

Wow! Nothing like a Med Tent stop to mess with a girl's pace. I had to take pace and finish time out of the equation. This would come down to simply finishing.

I made sure to keep the pace even as to not upset the breathing. I tried to focus on the crowds and the energy. Seeing familiar faces in the crowd was a plus.

Thanks again social media for helping me keep on top of everyone's locations.

I opted to bypass the Mile 16 Med Tent as I was feeling okay.

At Mile 17 is where Heartbreak Hill begins. For those that don't know Heartbreak Hill is a series of 3 rolling hills totaling about 3 miles through Newton. It isn't the severity of the hills as the placement they are in the race that hurts runners.

In two years of training and one previous Boston, I had never walked a part of Heartbreak Hill ... until this fateful day. I run-walked to the hill and I was angry. There were tears, internal yelling and just unhappiness.

I had to shake it off. I saw some amazing friends, Weight Watchers members and family at that point of the race and it was the pick-me-up and reframing I needed.

But at Mile 18, I couldn't pass up the Med Tent. THe breathing wasn't getting any better and I still had 8 miles to go.

I sat outside the Med Tent drinking water before I was officially scanned in. The Med Tents were all busy. Many folks feeling dehydrated on the course.

I was given a breathing treatment to help open up the lungs.

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photo 4 (43)

I took the time to think about how lucky I was to be out there, why I was running and how many people were in my corner. I was trying to shake the disappointed feeling as much as I could.

Once the treatment was over, I was scanned out and headed back on to the course. Two of my Tedy's Team running mates were heading in as I was on my way out.

30k Mark: 3:26:09 (11:05 min/mile pace)

I knew our coach John was at Mile 20 so I just had to make it to that point.

Once I saw him, I lost it. Tears flowed and I couldn't stop them. Oh hey Mile 20 wall. I hit you freakin' hard.

But it was rejuvenating as four other Tedy's Team folks arrived when I did. The doctor at Mile 18 told me to walk the rest of the way. Well really she had mentioned being put on the bus to the Finish but that was thrown out the window by me. Even if I had to crawl I would make it to the Finish.

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photo 3 (57)

So starting at Mile 20, I did a run-walk with my teammates. We all talked about how tough it was out there. They had even started 4-5 corrals behind me so I knew I was out there for awhile.

We pushed each other to keep going. We waved to the crowd. We stopped to hug friends and family. We each would pick a point and say: "Okay run to the light then we walk." It was the support and structure I needed to get to the Finish.

The miles started ticking by and we were running a little more than walking. But either way a much slower pace than I usually run at - which kept the lungs happy.

35k Mark: 4:27:53 (12:20 min/mile pace)

Yeah stopping to talk to a coach for a while can also impact the pace. :P

But once we hit Mile 23, the fun level picked up. The crowds were lively and I knew there would be a ton of family faces coming down the stretch, including my dad and my wife!!

I know it is hard for spectators to hang around for us folks in the back, but it is so appreciated. The crowds seemed a little thinner than in 2013 and I think that was because I started an hour later. That mixed with the heat meant there were actually patches of the course where there weren't folks - which didn't happen at all in 2013.

But I was glad I opted to run without my headphones. I took it all in.

My teammates Christine, Tom and I had found a good rhythm. We listened to each other and stuck together. Just another reason why I love Tedy's Team so much!!

I saw my friend and WW member Alex at Mile 24. I'm not sure she wanted such a large sweaty hug, but I gave it out any way.

Then came my girl Beth with this amazing sign.


Words cannot express how thankful I am to the friends, family and blog readers of mine that stand out along that course to cheer me and thousands of others on.

40k Mark: 5:11:23 (12:33 min/mile pace)

And just like that we were at Mile 25 and at the famed Citgo Sign and Kenmore Square.

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photo 2 (65)

So glad Tom and Christine were up for a selfie. :) Priorities. Did you spot the Mile 25 marker in the top right of the picture?

I spotted some of my old Red Sox coworkers at the Mile 25 sign, gave them a hug and then hit the pavement.

Once you hit Kenmore Square the crowds are unbelievable. You can see the folks leaving the Red Sox game and joining right in to cheer the runners on.

I knew once we made it through Kenmore Square I would see my family.

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photo 1 (74)

Thank you random stranger for catching this moment. I have never hugged the wife or my dad tighter than I had in that moment. It was just the little boost I needed to make it to the end.

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photo 2 (64)

All that was left was a right onto Hereford and left onto Boylston.

The thoughts and images from 2013 came flooding back, but I pushed them aside. It was time for new memories with amazing teammates.

As we took the left onto Boylston and the final march of the Marathon, we held hands. Seven across. Of these seven, I was the only one to finish the race the prior year. It was an HONOR to be able to finish what they had started with them.

We held hands. I could feel the energy from Christine's. I could hear the crowd yelling for Tedy's Team. Pushing us to the Finish.

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photo 1 (75)

I soaked it all in. I took mental video. This was a feeling and an experience I would never forget.

We raised our hands and crossed the Finish Line together.

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photo (45)

I need to thank a blog reader for catching our Finish on TV.

It was an amazing way to end one of the toughest races of my life. With hugs and high fives with teammates. Folks that will forever be in my life.

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photo 5 (29)

Official Finish: 5:31:18 (12:39 min/mile pace)

It wasn't the race I wanted, but it was the race I was meant to experience.

I kept telling myself how you never know which version of you or the run will be their on race day. And on that day, it wasn't what I had expected.

The couple of block walk from the Finish Line to our post-race party at the Lenox hotel seemed like a marathon. Ha! But we limped our way over there. I just kept thinking I was closer to a celebratory glass of wine and a hug from my family!

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photo 5 (28)
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photo 1 (73)
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photo 2 (67)

It was amazing hugging and seeing the team after the run. Swapping war stories from the course. Enjoying drinks and food.

Oh and getting a painful 10 minute massage. It hurt, but I know it was necessary. Plus I was happy to have the chance to have one.

Thank you Tedy's Team for treating us so well on the day of the race as well as during the training. It is a team that is unmatched.

So overall thoughts on Boston Marathon 2014 are mixed, but I am proud for giving my 100% and NOT giving up. I ran for my Grandparents and I know no matter the Finish Time they were proud of me.