... you've all been waiting for! Or not at all, but let me pretend you were all just hitting refresh over and over again on my blog until this very post hit the page. ;)
So I already did my emotional piece about what happened AFTER The Boston Marathon on that fateful Monday, April 15 - which you can read here - so this post is about the race itself.
I wanted to make sure I got one good night of sleep the night before so I hit the hay by 7pm thanks to some Tylenol PM. I needed to make sure I had plenty of time to sleep with this wake-up call waiting for me Monday morning.
How could I not LEAP out of bed with these notifications on my phone?
I was pumped.
I had to make sure I was at Boston Common in enough time to catch the 7am bus to Hopkinton. As we've learned, I'd rather be early than late so the wife and I hit the road by 6:15 so I could stop at Dunkin Donuts before waiting in the bus lines at Boston Common.
I've never been so excited to put on a race outfit as I was that morning. I was honored to proudly wear my Tedy's Team singlet with my Gramma and Grampa - my Stroke Heroes - on the back.
Since it was sooo early in the morning compared to when my wave of the race was actually taking place - 10:40am - I was able to get a Dunkins Iced Coffee and bagel to enjoy before the run.
The wife dropped me off at Boston Common and I got in the endless line to load the bus to Hopkinton. It was an amazing feeling being surrounded by so many amazingly talented runners.
I even made a friend while waiting in line. She was another charity runner, who thankfully had run Boston before so she was able to give me her thoughts behind the race.
We actually were able to board our bus just after 7am. As the bus began to pull away from Boston Common, I realized I left my Garmin at home.
You HAVE to be kidding me. On just the most important race of my life, I forget my watch.
I texted my dad and my wife to get their thoughts. My dad said "well one less distraction." Yeah, not what I wanted to hear.
Thankfully they love me more than I deserve and they got in the car to meet me in Hopkinton.
Since they left just 10-15 minutes after my bus, I knew - okay hoped - they would get to me before we headed to the start line.
The roads in Hopkinton close at 7:30 so they had to park at a nearby office building and take a Marathon Shuttle to the Start area.
I'm lucky - I know.
While they drove to Hopkinton, I tried to calm my nerves.
It was just a sea of bodies when our school bus finally rolled into Athlete's Village.
Thankfully the girl I was with knew how to walk around the crowd and get to the charity meet-ups spots, which were outside the village.
Once we parted ways (I wish I knew her full name so I could check in on her), I took out of Google Maps printout and made my way to the Tedy's Team pre-race house.
It was nice to walk up and see a bunch of familiar faces.
I headed inside and checked in with my teammates. It was great to have a roof over our heads (especially if the weather had been uncooperative), bathrooms and foam rollers.
My dad and wife arrived right on time ... for pics with Tedy Bruschi himself.
After getting final hugs and good luck wishes from my dad and wife, I headed back inside to try and calm the pre-race jitters.
I made the decision to run without headphones/music. I did however keep my headphones in the pocket of my pants JUUUSSTTT in case I needed some motivation.
It was great being surrounded by a great group of teammates, who were thankfully feeling exactly what I was. :P
Photo Courtesy Of Tedy's Team
Before I knew it, it was time to start heading to the Start Line.
Before we left the house, I made sure to take my Energybits.
I walked out the house door and it was time for a group meeting led by Tedy before we headed to the Start Line. Standing in a circle, holding hands with our running coach John and one of my teammates, I just started crying. I, and many others, couldn't hold the emotions in any longer.
We walked as a group to the Start Line area. Tedy opened the corral for us and we headed in as a group. It was great to get one last hug from Zack (Team Director) and Tedy before heading to our corral.
As I made my way through the crowd, I reconnected with some of the team in Corral 5. My running mate Nanci was shooting for the same finish time as I was - around 3:55-3:57 - so it was nice to find a running partner right off the bat. Nanci was wearing a pacing band so we could see if we were starting out too fast or not. It was specially designed for the Boston course. Why didn't I have one myself? Because I'm a slacker. :P
It was finally our time to cross the Start Line and Tedy was at the mic to wish us off.
And as I started my Garmin I once again made the realization that I was freakin' running THE Boston Marathon.
The crowd was amazing right off the bat. There were guys offering Corona Lights at Mile Two. Thanks, but we really needed to wait til double digits for that. ;)
As Nanci and I cruised through the first Half of the race, we realized we were about 1-2 minutes ahead of schedule. We tried to reign it in a little since we knew we would need extra gas for Heartbreak Hill.
I was wicked excited to get to Mile 12 because that meant I would finally experience the Wellesley College Scream Tunnel. I had heard so much about it ... and the girls didn't let you down. The girls lined both sides of the street - mainly the right side - with signs in hand and offering up kisses to the runners. I've definitely never seen that before.
Entering Wellesley Center, we saw a group of soldiers running in full gear. I give so much credit to those folks.
As Nanci and I hit the halfway mark, Nanci had to make a pit stop so we parted ways. I hoped in the back of my mind that we would meet up again later in the race, but it didn't happen. :/
I thought about taking out my headphones since I was now alone, but I couldn't. The crowd was constant and empowering.
It was a lifesaver having my name written on the front of my singlet as well as on my arm itself.
Picture from post-race as you can tell by my sunburn :P
I was also got an in with the crowd thanks to my outfit.
The Sparkly Skirt from Team Sparkle was a HIT with the women and girls in the crowd - especially the teens. ;)
The Superman socks were a big crowd pleaser with the young boys especially.
So having some eye-catching running accessories really help with getting crowd encouragement!
It also helped people I actually know spot me in the crowd. One of my Weight Watchers members told me after the race that since I posted my outfit on social media before the race they knew what to look for ... and actually spotted me!
The crowd was carrying me through the run as right heel pain started taking over my thoughts during Miles 15-16. I didn't know what to do. I hadn't experienced pain like that before.
But, there was no way I was going to stop.
So as I approached Mile 17 and Heartbreak Hill, I bore down, dug deep and just ran.
And you know what?
I ran the entire span of Heartbreak Hill. I didn't stop or walk once. One of my goals for the race.
The crowd on Heartbreak was rowdy and having a good time. I wished I could've stopped to have a beer with them. :P
But, the idea of seeing Tedy's Team's Running Coach John at Mile 20 kept me going.
I saw the 20 Mile marker and just ran towards John. I blurted out everything that was going on - the pain in the heel, being scared of what it was, etc.
John gave me some Swedish Fish and told me to just dig deep and finish strong.
Simply put - "just run!"
It seems easy enough.
With that little boost from John, I was off to finish Heartbreak. I never thought I would be so happy to see a Mile marker as I was for Mile 21!
Thank you BC for the reminder! In case I had forgotten that the toughest part of the Boston Marathon was over.
The right heel pain continued, but I had to push on.
I knew the course. We've been running it every Saturday since December 1 - just 5 more miles to go.
My pace had started to slow. I knew it. I could see it on my Garmin and in the text updates from the BAA.
I wasn't happy. But, I wasn't going to let it stop me.
I tweeted when I hit Mile 22.
As the pain in the heel (which occurred every time I pushed off my right foot) continued, I made the decision to stop at each of the remaining medical tents to stretch out the calf as much as I could. It was a suggestion by John to help - so I was willing to try it.
Bravo to the people working the medical tents!! They immediately came to my aid asking if I needed anything.
I walked a tad during Mile 23 and 24. But once I saw the Mile 25 marker...
... I was going to run through WHATEVER pain I felt.
Seeing that sign just reminded me how close I was to the dream - the Finish Line.
And the crowd was AMPED! Many were still milling around from the Red Sox victory in Kenmore Square and they were happy to see us.
They could see the pain and the doubt, but they were there to give whatever they could to us.
(I am tearing up thinking about the energy and love I felt during that stretch)
My friends usually cheered from outside the bar Lower Depths in Kenmore, but as I passed by they weren't there. I was hoping for a familiar face, but at that moment everyone in the crowd sounded like a friend.
As we took that left on to Boylston, I couldn't help but smile. No matter what was happening in my foot - which was the ONLY piece of my body that hurt - I was going to finish this thing. Boylston St is the epitomizes the Marathon.
I caught a glimpse of the Mile 26 marker and tried to make my body go faster. In my mind, I was Kim Smith out there. But, as you can see in the pictures I was just kinda trekking along...
Just after Mile 26, I waved to my dad and wife on my left-hand side and then turned to my right to wave to Tedy and Tedy's Team crew on the second floor of The Lenox Hotel before passing over the Finish Line.
And promptly trying to catch my breath. Not sure why I get so winded after marathons - same thing happened in Savannah in November. But as I walked through the Finish shoot, I found my mom in the crowd on my left. I stopped to chat with her ... when the explosion happened.
Just before the explosion, in the moment when I was catching my breath - I was angry. I officially finished in 4:04:08 for a 9:18 min/mile pace.
Dammit! I really wanted to finish under 4 hours again. If we took out my stop my with coach and the medical tent stops, it would've been under 4.
But, I let that go with what was happening around me.
Again, that experience is recapped here if you need it.
But, as my mom told me to get much-needed water - we were separated. So I grabbed a space blanket and my medal and tried to find my family.
This picture was taken after my family and I were FINALLY reconnected. It felt like hours. This is the smile of 1) Finishing the Marathon and 2) Jubilation of being with my Family again.
We thankfully found a cab and headed home, where I was greeted with gorgeous flowers from my parents. :)
After some much needed family snuggle time in bed with the pups and doing some media interviews with old colleagues from Chicago, it was time to have some celebration/thankful family dinner with my parents.
Enter BBQ and some Sam Adams.
Oh that beer was delicious... :)
My final stats weren't what I wanted ...
... but I will have redemption in 2014!
Overall, the Boston Marathon was like no other race I have ever - and probably will ever - participate in. The crowd, the love, the excitement, the sounds, the smells, and the unity shone through during each and every mile.
Was I happy that of all days a random heel pain had to occur then? No.
But such is the life of a runner right? Not every race will be perfect and you never know how your body will perform on a given day.
So in the end, I am pleased with how I did because I represented myself, my family, my Stroke Heroes, my teammates and my followers to the best of my ability. I also completed my third marathon - not bad for someone that used to weigh in the 230s and not bad for someone who ran their first marathon in 5:59:27.
I gave 110% on that pavement!
But Boston BE READY ... I'm comin' for ya again!