As Tedy Bruschi says: The Boston Marathon is the Super Bowl of Marathons.
For the third year in a row, I had the honor and privilege to take part in this historic race as a member of the amazing family that is Tedy's Team. Tedy's Team raises awareness about Stroke and I run in honor of my Stroke Heroes - both of my grandparents and my Father-in-law Jim.
In the past three years, I have raised $23,412.37 to #FightStroke. A big thank you is owed to all of you lovely readers for your support over this time. I wouldn't have hit that amazing milestone without all of you. :)
The entire weekend was amazing as always and will be recapped in additional posts, but now it is time to focus on the BIG SHOW - Race Day.
On Sunday night, I put together Flat Dani (my race outfit) to make sure I had everything I needed. Plus I wanted to make sure local friends would know what to look for.
Now in 2013, I left my Garmin at home and my wife and dad had to take the long drive to Hopkinton to drop it off to me. To make sure that doesn't happen again, I rely on a post-it note.
Thankfully it works like a charm now. <<knocks on wood>>
The alarm was set for 4:15am so that I could get to Boston Common in time for the 5:30am bus that would take the Tedy's Team folk to our pre-race house (which is outside of Athlete's Village). Pre-2013, you could take the general athlete's bus and walk, but after the bombing security has gotten tighter.
I made my way through security with my bagel and supplies in my clear plastic bag. A few of my teammates and I boarded the bus we would share with the folks running for Dana Farber and made our way to Hopkinton.
Being on the bus with friends makes the daunting lengthy bus ride a little more bearable. Once in Hopkinton, it was a short 3 minute walk to our pre-race house.
It is a great space where we can eat, foam roll, take lots of pics, share our reasons for being a part of Tedy's Team and stay out of the elements pre-race. It is truly an awesome time together. I can't actually share with anyone hat Athlete's Village is like pre-race because I have never stepped foot in there.
Plus more time for fun,,, and selfies!! :0) Oh and you definitely did spot Doug Flutie in there. Pretty sweet!
After a good 4+ hours at the house, it was time to head to the Start Area. I love the walk to the Start as we make our way down the block as a group.
After going through the wands of security, we met up with the rest of the participants coming from Athlete's Village heading to the corrals.
As you may see I acquired a poncho between Flat Dani and the Start Line. Let me tell you best $2.50 I ever spent. :)
We made our way with the crowds to Corral 3.
It's always an adventure in Hopkinton getting to the corrals as you dodge people and discarded clothing. On this particular morning, you were able to add puddles to the mix. :P
With just a few minutes before our Wave kicked off, I had a little talk with myself (internally) about the upcoming adventure. The weekend and morning is so fun with friends and family that you sometimes forget there is a marathon at the end of it all. :P But I had set some goals for the race and knew some were out of reach so I just wanted to remind myself that the race was about honoring my Stroke Heroes and having a blast!
Oh and eating marathons for breakfast. ;)
After adjusting our ponchos one more time, it was go time. We gave last-minute hugs to all of our teammates and started jogging with the crowd to the Start Line. It was go time - here was Marathon #7.
We spotted Tedy and our Tedy's Team crew in the bleachers at the Start. Friends of mine tell me my name was called over the speakers, but I didn't hear it. Let's say it's because I was "in the zone?"
The crowds were tight at the beginning, which is par for the course, and rather than bobbing and weaving through folks to get to a comfortable pace - Page and I stuck with the crowds and opted to reserve energy for later. Plus with the extra slippery conditions, I didn't want to risk twisting an ankle trying to get around another runner to shave a few seconds off our time. Not worth it.
Despite the bad weather, the faithful crowd was loud and supportive. It was great to see so many families and neighbors out cheering on thousands of strangers.
Mile 1: 10:03
Mile 2: 9:06
The wind and rain were rough - holy headwind - but the energy of the race erased the annoyances from the weather. Okay okay not erased completely, but lowered by annoyance level. Plus by this point there was nothing more we could do about it. I was super thankful to have both my poncho and my Zensah running gloves. Otherwise my hands would've been frozen.
After making our way through Hopkinton it was time to bring on the awesome supporters in Ashland. While the race course itself for Boston is special, its the atmosphere that sets this race apart from every other one.
And the downhill at the beginning... and the small, but noticeable hills at the beginning of the race. Don't worry folks they are there.
Mile 3: 8:45
Mile 4: 8:54
Mile 5: 9:03
I know you are all missing the mid-run photos, but I took the first few miles to figure out how to snap some without soaking my phone. You know normal things to worry about mid-race. So there will be some in the near future. ;)
But wait? Who is that behind me? Is that my boo Linzie from Sharp Endurance. While taking a little snack break and trying to spot some of our Tedy's Team supporters in the crowd, I heard someone yell "Linzie" behind me. Now I know there are a ton of Lindseys/Linzies in the race, but something made me turn around. And there he was. Oh hey friend.
SELFIE TIME! This is the second-straight year that Linzie and I have been connected on the Marathon course. Call it fate or the interwebs knowing we need to see each other out there. We checked in and both of us were feeling fierce. We grabbed a quick hug and each set out to finish what we started. :)
Mile 6: 9:49
Mile 7: 8:41
Through the first 6-7, I figured out we were about 2-3 minutes behind the 4-hour pace band I had on. But I didn't mind. As the weather bore down on us, I switched my focus mentally from pace to having a fun race. Page knew nothing about what was going on in the brain. It was one of those internal discussions of should I bring up that we are behind, but why we are having a great time and isn't that was running is about? Yes it is. Once I stopped nagging myself about time, I could fully focus on the experience.
While part of my brain was thinking about the run and pace, the other part was thinking about a bathroom stop. Now many won't stop during a race to use the bathroom... I am NOT one of those people. I will stop as many times as I need to - again comfort over time.
Thankfully Page obliged and we made our way to the nearest port-o-potty. Oh there was a line. Eh perfect time for a selfie, right?
And time to check in on social media. I was keeping my phone on airplane mode so when I switched it over to post our bathroom selfie, the messages of support came flooding in and brought a huge smile to my face.
The stop ended up working out perfectly as Page had to use the restroom too. Seriously if you can find a good running partner hold on to them. Page and I were totally in sync and it was just making the race that much better.
By this point we were in Framingham and familiar territory. When our team does our big 20-miler we start in Framingham and run the course back to Boston.
And let me tell you Framingham knows how to freakin' bring it. There were bands and huge banners along the street welcoming the runners to Framingham and showing everyone why their Miles were the best. It is unreal.
Mile 8: 11:01
After basically dancing our way through Framingham, Natick was up next. Now some of Natick can be a little spotty in terms of spectators (which was the case again this year), but those that do turn out were high energy.
As you can guess there were no need for folks to be handing out cooling sponges or towels so the oranges and pretzels were ample.
We used this downtime in spectators to take inventory of Tedy's Team supporters and family we would know on the course. We wanted to make sure we stopped to see everyone that had come out that day to support us. Page's family would be up first after the halfway mark. Luckily before then we saw smatterings of Tedy's Team supporters and former teammates braving the conditions to cheer us on.
We also kept a good goal of stopping at the water stops to stay hydrated (which is an easy thing to dismiss when the temps are low) and making a point to walk through the water stops to save the legs. I know many folks that run through water stops, but that doesn't work for me. I tried that when I first started running and found my legs were stronger with those little 20-40 second breaks for water.
Mile 9: 9:12
Mile 10: 8:47
Mile 11 may be my least favorite mile in the whole race. It is a group of houses that is usually low on spectators and just a tough mental part for me on the course.
Mile 11: 9:53
But this year was different. Having Page there and running with someone made the normally tough mile fly by. Because we knew what was coming. The Scream Tunnel at Wellesley would be up at Mile 12. I knew no matter what the weather was the ladies would be out cheering for the crowd and dishing out those kisses. Plus I had a sign made for Page and I and we were determined to see it.
As we neared the scream tunnel, we stopped at the water stop and I couldn't pass up an opportunity to take a pic with this guy.
For those that don't know Pesky Pole is the nickname of the right field foul pole at Fenway Park.
Favorite volunteer of the day right there.
But as we got closer to the Scream Tunnel we realized most of the signs were damaged from the rain. Womp womp! But we kept our eyes peeled just in case. Unfortunately we never saw it, but we both knew they had spent the time making it since we did see it on Facebook.
While we never saw our sign, I did want to share a little glimpse of the amazing support the Wellesley Scream Tunnel provides.
Once through the Scream Tunnel, you are on to Wellesley center and the halfway mark.
Mile 12: 8:38
Mile 13: 9:45
And there she is... 13.1!
Now the race is all downhill from here... oh wait! Just the opposite. Oh I crack myself up. But seriously, the second half of Boston is what you really prepare for. What you save your legs for. And let me tell you I was feeling freakin' fantastic at the halfway mark. Both Page and I were and I was psyched!
Here's where the race takes a turn. Not in a bad way, but in an emotional way. So in 2014 my race really went South starting at Mile 14 and a trip to a certain med tent. I was determined to make this year different... and I had Page in my corner.
As we approached the Mile 14 med tent area, I could feel my chest get tighter with the memories from the previous year. Even though I felt 1,000 times better in that moment, the memories were taking over. Page and I saw the med tent on the left and Page said to me "time for a new Mile 14 memory." At that moment a little kid on the right side of the right side of the road offered me a pretzel rod. I happily ran over to grab one and a big smile took over his face. THERE was my new Mile 14 memory. The tears slowly slid down my face. Happy tears, but tears nonetheless. :) Man I'm such a sap.
Mile 14: 8:39
Once past the "emotional mile," we opted to take a snack/twitter break during the next water stop. Our fueling plans were in sync and it gave me plenty of time to let my family know how we were doing.
It was funny that spectators were trying to give us encouragement as we took a little walk after the water stop - I wanted to yell to them: "We are okay! I'm just trying to tweet about our snack attack." :P But I really appreciated the love!
I really enjoyed using the KIND Snacks bar as my race fuel, while Page stuck with her Gu. Fueling is such a personal thing. Always trust what works for you!
We tossed our wrappers and got back to work. We had family to see. We knew Page's family would be on the left during Mile 16 so we used them as our next burst of motivation. We had worked it out Page's family (Mile 16), Tedy's Team coach John (Mile 20), Kenmore crowd (Mile 25), my family (Mile 25+change) & Boylston! Breaking it down into little bursts of love really helped. During the breakdown - if you noticed - Heartbreak Hill wasn't even a factor. ;)
I know I know. I laughed at that last sentence too. :P
Finding Page's family was a great sight. Hugs all around as well as fresh snacks/Gatorade. While I took a Gatorade from her mom, I couldn't get my hands to work to open the darn thing. So extra thanks to Page's sister Erin for opening it for my pathetic self. :P
We stopped to update the crew on our fun run so far and of course snap some pics.
THIS my friends is what running is about. Page runs with Tedy's Team for her dad who has had multiple strokes and is a true Stoke Hero. It was an honor to see him and the entire family out cheer on such a dreary day.
So when they asked if they could take a pic of us. I couldn't pass up on that opportunity.
And yes that was my baggie of KIND bar blocking part of Page's family pic above. Oops!
After a great family catch-up it was time to get back to work. We did have a race to run. ;)
It was the perfect re-charge we needed before tackling the rolling hills of Heartbreak.
Mile 16: 11:17
As we began running through Newton, we spotted the amazing family that is Team Casey from Tedy's Team on the right and stocked up on some big high-fives.
Then it was time. Time to tackle that beast that is Heartbreak. But you know what - we were feeling awesome!
Mile 17: 10:40
I feel like I am letting you all down with the quality of this race pic, but here is the historic Newton Firehouse. :)
I've run Heartbreak countless times over the last three years of training and Boston Marathon races, but this time was different. What could it have been?
My friend, Stroke Hero and teammate Emily ran in front of Page and I at the start of Heartbreak (which is a little over 3 miles of rolling hills) and I was able to snap this action shot.
Emily motivates me to no end. You read that shirt right. On the day of the marathon she rang in the 699th day since she suffered her Stroke during a race. She once again lit a little fire under my butt and I dug deep.
I wanted to OWN Heartbreak this year. During the previous two Boston Marathons, I had to walk portions of Heartbreak and I wasn't about to let that happen this year.
And you know what? I didn't!
Mile 18: 9:52
Mile 19: 8:44
I high-fived the crowd, cheered on friends and took the opportunity to meet a fellow blogger and online friend Jen from Running With The Girls while on the run. :) What are the odds?
Mile 20: 8:53
We pushed through our need for a snack until we saw our coach at Mile 20, but can I tell you that led to Mile 19 being the longest freakin' mile of the entire race? I kept turing to Page and being like "Will we ever see Mile 20 marker?" The wind and rain were starting to pick up, but we stayed strong and kept putting one foot in front of the other!
And as we turned a slight corner near Center Street, there was the Mile 20 marker... and John's smiling face! Oh he was a sight for sore eyes. He had a fresh KIND bar for me and an encouraging hug.
Mile 21: 11:07
And just like that the Heartbreak was over... ;)
Are we loving the photo bombing from the water stop ladies behind us? I actually applauded their excitement afte we snapped this photo.
When we talked to our Coach at Mile 20, we asked if we should keep the ponchos or not. He told us to keep them. Maaannn was he right.
As soon as we came down from the final decent of Heartbreak, we were hit with brutal headwinds and freezing rain in transition from Newton to Brookline. Ouch!
But you know what we were high-fiving each other. Both of us felt so freakin' strong coming off of Heartbreak. This was my third Boston and Page's fifth and neither of us had ever felt so strong at this point in the race. Hollah! We were running a smart race and enjoying the entire thing. Stopping for snack breaks and savoring water stops when we needed them. Seriously I couldn't believe how consistent our time was up to this point.
BRAVO to us! I was living a race of no regrets and we were at Mile 21. Say wha?
Mile 21: 11:07
Not to keep bringing up 2014, but I spent a good time in a med tent on Heartbreak Hill in that year as well. So making it over that stretch without a med tent visit again made me tear up. The difference a year can make!
As we passed the student of BC, you could tell they had been "celebrating" Marathon Monday! ;) Not gonna lie by this point, I was sort of jealous of them. ;)
I felt like I was running in place. Now one downside of training on the course is you know EXACTLY how far you are from the Finish. :P
I was determined to soak in every moment of the experience. The crowds were rowdy and I loved it. Thankfully they could still read our names through our ponchos so the extra cheers were welcomed.
Mile 22: 10:04
While the wind and rain beat down on us, we knew that the only way to get through it was to keep running. If we started walking, it would be harder to start back up!
The crowds may have not been as deep as they were in years past... they were still as supportive! I actually fist-bumped a dog and it was freakin' awesome.
Again keeping the poncho and gloves on were crucial.
Mile 23: 8:39
As we continued making our way down Beacon Street, I noticed a familiar shirt. Oh it couldn't be. I can't know this person in front of me. Oh wait I can. It was my uncle's friend Tim who is the race director for the Thanksgiving Day race in Framingham.
Like seriously folks what are the odds that I literally run into this guy during Mile 24 of the marathon?
But it was the perfect opportunity for me to snap a selfie and send it off to my uncle! #MidRunSelfieForTheWin
Once again seeing a familiar face added a little pep to my step.
Overall I was feeling amazing! I had never felt this good this far in to a marathon before. I can't put my finger on one exact thing that led to that, but a perfect storm of things if you will.
I felt like I had a lot of strength still left in the tank and that was an amazing feeling. Nothing like running a consistent race in unwanted conditions and not letting them get in your way at all.
It was around this time that I started getting emotional. Shocking I know. But I started tearing up as I thanked Page for letting me share this race and this emotional experience with her. She quickly shot me down and said there would be time for crying after the Finish Line. I needed that. :) So I wiped away the tears and we got back to focusing on Mount Kenmore. That's right. That large ginormous hill - okay not really ginormous but feels that was in the moment - was looming.
I knew that I would try to get Page to stop for a mid-run selfie with the CITGO sign at the top so I focused on that. I didn't really share that plan with her until we were mid-mountain.
But it worked out perfectly.
As we turned to start running again, I caught a group of girls taking a photo with the Mile 25 marker and knew we had to do it next.
Mile 25: 8:58
Can we love Page's mittens any more? Each one says POW on them and they cracked me up every time I caught a glimpse of them. POW POW! :P
Once over Mount Kenmore, we were in the final stretch and time to soak up all the love. I even caught my Weight Watchers friend Brenda and her girlfriend in Kenmore for a hug before the photog missed my awesome leap. Thankfully the crowd was still there to see and appreciate it.
I also knew if i was in shape to leap I was doing pretty well.
In three years this is seriously the happiest I have looked in a CITGO sign pic from this point in the marathon. Also can we comment on how in sync Page and I still are at this point in the race? Perfection.
As we ran under Mass Avenue, I held on to the hope that my family would be on the other side. In 2014, that is where they set up shop. We came up the final incline of the race and I spotted my dad.
Can you tell I was a tad excited to see the family? Hugs all around - the wife, mom and dad - before Page snapped a quick group photo for us.
After a final round of hugs and good-byes, it was time to knock out the final 1/2 mile of this magical race.
We took the right on to Hereford and the left onto Boylston ... and I was all smiles!
This picture would only be better if my Sparkle Athletic skirt wasn't stuck in my poncho. :P
Mile 26: 10:00
With a small number of runners around us on Boylston, I was able to spot some Weight Watchers members of mine and some fellow Tedy's Team teammates cheering us on. Lots of waves and air kisses were flying.
The Tedy's Team photographers Diane and Roger were hanging out of the window of the Lenox ready to snap our photo just before we crossed the Finish Line.
Page and I grabbed hands and crossed the Finish Line together.
Not the best of Finish Line photos, but the best one we were given. :P
Big hugs and tears to cap off an awesome run. Oh and the bling of course!
Thanks to my volunteer for giving me my medal. I wish I had caught her name. Oops.
Page and I made our way to get our post-race heat ponchos before making our way back to the Lenox to meet our families.
We made the trek around the block and up what seemed like a million stairs ;) to the second floor of the Lenox. We walked in to see our fellow teammates who had already finished and a ton of family members. Our families both seemed to still be making their way to meet us.
So we opted to grab a beer and take advantage of the showers the team offered while we waited for our families.
A little before the shower vs. after the shower! The hot shower plus beer combo was perfection! We followed the shower up with a quick massage (again thanks Tedy's Team) before finally seeing my family and grabbing some much needed food!
These three are my best supporters and I was so thankful to have them with me celebrating a sweet day.
I need to give another special thank you to this man for allowing me to be a part of such a magical family in honor of my Stroke Heroes.
As more teammates finished, the room erupted into applause. Such a fun and supportive atmosphere to be a part of.
I am happy to report all 34 members of Tedy's Team crossed the Finish Line that day. :)
Overall the race was one of my favorites and I was thankful to share the experience with Page. We paced well, fueled at the right times and took time to see the people that support us day in and day out.
My final thank you goes to all of your for your support throughout the training and fundraising cycle! You help push me when I need it and pick me up when I have fallen. I carried each of you with me during those 26.2 miles!
So the last question to answer will be: Will I run again?
Time will tell... time will tell! :)