*RECAP* Rockin' Marathonin' & Laughin' Through San Diego!

*RECAP* Rockin' Marathonin' & Laughin' Through San Diego!

I had three main objectives when heading to San Diego in May to run the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon:

1) Have a freakin' blast with the We Run Social crew (aka soak up all the love, laughs and hugs from my West Coast blogging friends)
2) Take as many pics during the race as possible - oh hey mid-run selfies!
3) Be a small part of my girl Sarah from Mom Running On Empty getting a new shiny marathon PR

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Boston Marathon 2015 Recap: A Wet & Wild Ride

Boston Marathon 2015 Recap: A Wet & Wild Ride

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.


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Rockin' And Rollin' Through Nashville

Remember that time I decided to run two marathons in a week to help Fight Stroke? Well let me refresh your memory.

A few days before the Boston Marathon I decided with the help of Tedy's Team to take the plunge and sign up for the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, which took place on April 26. Taking on this challenge meant raising an additional $1500 for the American Stroke Association in honor of my grandparents.

My pleasure.

On Thursday, April 24, I headed South.

2014-04-24 13.52.18
2014-04-24 13.52.18

And was pleasantly greeted with this amazing Edible Arrangement from my girls of the #HotMessExpress. It was such a touching and sweet gesture.

2014-04-24 19.11.40
2014-04-24 19.11.40

Since I was the last addition to the Tedy's Team crew heading to Nashville, I had to buy my bib at the Expo. After Boston, I decided I would drop to the half for safety reasons.

Well when we got to the Expo I realized the Full and Half were the same price. According to Rock 'n' Roll rules, you can drop down during a race from Full to Half, but you can't go from Half to Full. So just in case I registered for the Full. ;)

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2014-04-25 14.37.59

We had a great pasta dinner the night before.

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2014-04-25 20.38.55

Seven folks doing the Half; Three doing the Full Seven of us had run Boston on the Monday

On the morning of the race, I woke up excited. We had to leave the hotel in the 5 o'clock hour because our hotel was on the course for the full marathon. So in order to get the guests who were racing down to the Start Area, we had to get out before the race closures.

Thankfully Tedy's Team provided some bagels for us to bring on the bus so we had a snack pre-race. I packed my ENERGYBits in my pocket and was ready to run.

As we drove, I knew I wanted to give the Full a shot. The split came around Mile XX so I would make the final call then.

We were dropped about a block from the Start Line so we made our ways towards the Resolution tent to get extra safety pins. ;)

2014-04-26 05.23.09
2014-04-26 05.23.09

It was chilly walking around the Start Area. We set up shop on the benches in a small square area, where Rock 'n' Roll set up their tents. But, we were lucky. My teammate Lisa's boyfriend John had stopped in a hotel to get some coffee and found a bunch of other runners hiding out. So we followed suit. We claimed an area of the group and made sure to do the last-minute foam rolling, use real bathrooms and just chill out before the race.

Another teammate's fiance was running the 5k and part of me wanted to switch places with him. ;) But he was the first to depart as his race started prior to ours.

After a final bathroom trip, it was time to head to the Start Line. I can't thank John enough for playing sherpa and carrying the extra layers we had worn.

But, before we could all head to our respective corrals - let's take a team selfie.

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2014-04-26 18.54.51

It was great to get final high-fives and hugs before we all departed.

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2014-04-26 06.59.41

 Dan and I were in Corral 6 together. And you know how small the race community is? Oh if you don't here is an example. As we went into the corral, there were my friends Crystal and Mindy!

2014-04-26 06.55.55
2014-04-26 06.55.55

Crystal would be running her first marathon. I was sooo excited for her.

Something not new - I was so distracted catching up with my NYC ladies that I didn't realize they were doing the National Anthem and getting the party started. I think this was the farthest back I have started at an RnR event in a couple years.

But as they set each wave off, we moved closer and closer to the Start before BOOM!

We were off...

I was taking the race off Dan's pace and game plan. I had no set rules for the day except to avoid medical tents. If you missed it, here is my recap from Boston a few days prior explaining the medical tent visits.

The Country Music Full Marathon was set up in three separate out and back loops. We started out in downtown, which was quiet and peaceful. A far cry from the day/night before. It was too early for the tourists to be awake. ;)

We took a port-o-pottie break early, which was one of our smartest decision.

During Mile 2, Dan said "There's Belichick." And it was. We knew that New England Patriots' Coach Bill Belichick would be running the Half Marathon that day, but we weren't sure if we would see him or not. Of course I had committed his bib number to memory - just in case.

But there he was, he must've started in the first corral. We made our way across the street to try and talk to him. My main goal was to take a selfie with him, but he didn't seem in the mood. We said a quick 'hi' to him and let him know we were part of Tedy's Team. Kept it brief to let him get back to his run.

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2014-04-26 14.52.31

Thanks Rock 'n' Roll for the pic!

Just before Mile 3, we spotted Tedy's Team leaders Zack and Lauren with signs. It was great to tell them Belichick was behind us and see familiar faces.

After a quick 'hi,' we hit the road.

5k Mark: 31:48 (10:15 min/mile pace)

The weather was hot, but there was more shade than Boston, which was appreciated.

The crowds were doing their best to rally the runners.

We were feeling good. I wondered when my legs would realize they had run a marathon about 5 days earlier.

10k Mark: 1:03:16 (10:13 min/mile pace)

And at Mile 7, the soreness settled in. Ha! It hit Dan and I at about the same time. But didn't slow us down.

I really hadn't been paying attention to pace at all since we were having such a good conversation and taking in the scenery.

If nothing else, there was a lot of beautiful houses and buildings to look at.

As we headed towards Mile 10, we saw Lisa's boyfriend John with the Go Pro. It was a great pick-me-up to see a familiar face cheering for us.

Dan and I were both wearing our Tedy's Team singlets, which have our names on them, so I am sure some people we wondering why we had done that. It is something common at the Boston Marathon, but not something I see a majority of folks do at other marathons.

Mile 10 Mark: 1:41:43 (10:10 min/mile pace)

The big decision moment was quickly approaching. Would I bang right and take the Half option or power through the Full.

Well, the breathing was under control and my legs felt tired, but not painful. So onward and upward I went. :)

We enjoyed a bit of a downhill, but looked to our right only to realize we would be climbing back up this hill only a few miles later.

Don't you hate how hills work?

Half Marathon Mark: 2:13:55 (10:13 min/mile pace)

I give big credit to Dan for keeping us in check. As the conversation rolled, there were times when we sped up and he brought us back to a nice even pace.

We knew the hills would be coming on the second half and made sure we had the gas in the tank to make it through them.

When we hit the half way mark, we were in what felt like the middle of nowhere. It was an office park of some sort, but not what we have in New England - meaning there was like three businesses in it. :P We ran about two miles in this office park/neighborhood with zero spectators.

I had heard from friends not to expect a lot of crowd support during this race, especially on the second half. So I tried to keep that in my mind and instead focus on the other participants and my running buddy.

As we came out of the office park area, we met back up with a large hill/incline. We tried to be smart and walk a good portion of it. It was hot and no one was trying to be a hero on that day.

During Mile 15-16, we met back up with the half marathon route. They were on the right side of the cones and marathoners on the left. I tried to scan the crowd to see if we would catch any of our fellow teammates out there. I didn't see any unfortunately.

We had already run with two teammates during the first half so I knew I might not see any more.

While we endured Mile 17, you could see the Finish Line chute on your right side. Oh c'mon. That is just CRUEL. :P

Dan and I had been walking when necessary.

But as we approached Mile 18, my breathing was starting to act up so I wanted to walk a little more. I freed Dan to run his race. We had decided early on that if we had to leave each other we would. In the end, it was our own races to run.

I wanted to listen to my body to make it through the final eight miles.

Oh and since I lost my partner and entertainment, it was time to take out the phone and get to picture taking!

2014-04-26 10.18.06
2014-04-26 10.18.06

While walking I took this opportunity to let my social media channels know that I had decided to run the Full rather than the Half! Ha! I'm such a sneaky blogger. ;) It was great to see the cheers and shocked reactions coming through the phone.

It was another pick-me-up.

So I started running again. My game plan was to use the run-walk method the rest of the way. I wanted to stay ahead of the breathing issues that plagued me a few days earlier.

After climbing the Mile 18 hill, we were back in a neighborhood, which meant the spectators would be out there. And that they were. In full effect.

Folks were having parties on their lawns, spraying water hoses out into the streets and offering makeshift water stops for the runners.

It was the liveliness I am used to from Rock 'n' Roll races.

I almost kissed the girl giving out jolly ranchers - it was welcomed sugar.

Mile 20 Mark: 3:29:01 (10:27 min/mile pace)

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2014-04-26 10.40.34

Can you tell I was excited? I was ready to eat those last 6.2 miles.

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2014-04-26 10.46.51

Favorite sign of the day!

We were heading downhill - hello rolling hills - towards Shelby Park. We would be running in there for less than two miles.

But in the moment it felt like longer. There was one water stop and one band, but it was quiet. It zapped some of my energy. But the shade was welcomed.

It was at that time that I wish I had brought my music. It was now just me and my thoughts, which can get scary this far into a marathon. ;)

As we completed the Shelby Park loop, we met back up with the downhill we had enjoyed to enter the park.

I was thankful I was not one of those runners just getting to the park, but leaving it.

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2014-04-26 11.15.39

I took this picture to try to drum up entries to my virtual 5k fundraiser that I was hosting to hit the final $$ I needed to raise. I tweeted this out and it gave me a boost.

As I trekked up the hill towards Mile 24, I saw my friends Crystal and Mindy running towards the park. It was great to cheer them on and to know that Crystal was still out there fighting for her first marathon finish.

It was around this time that I just started talking to the people near me. Especially if people were run-walking, I would join them. Why not make friends? I met a guy that always runs in a kilt. He hadn't properly trained for this race - having not done a training run more than 9 miles. Eek! But he was out there pushing through.

The steps ticked by. I fist pumped as a local high school cheering squad at the Mile 25 marker.

I knew I could finish.

This whole time we had a group text chat going between the Tedy's Team folks so it was great to see the half marathoners had all finished and they were checking in on the three marathoners left out on the course.

Thank goodness I am semi-decent at running and texting so I could stay in the conversation.

I bottled up their excitement and pushed on through the final Mile.

Since this was the final loop, I knew there would be crowds the final half mile.

I fist pumped again after seeing the Mile 26 sign, but then wondered: "Man 0.2 miles seems like forever right now."

But there they were. My teammates had waited for us. I was about to start crying.

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2014-04-26 20.15.07

Could you tell I was happy to see them? It was the little steam I needed to get my engine to the Finish Line.

I gave it all I could for the final 0.2 and it was over.

Finish Time: 4:42:12 (10:46 min/mile pace)

My third-fastest marathon time came five days after my second-slowest. Who woulda thought?

I happily collected my medal and got ready to hit the Got Chocolate Milk tent! Even though I didn't run as Team Chocolate Milk for this race, I couldn't wait to see them!

There was Dan! He finished in 4:33:29 (10:26 min/mile pace). I knew that meant I walked more than he did in the final 8 miles, but I was happy to have finished less than 10 minutes after him.

We snapped a pic, picked up the amazingly cold wet towel they offered and headed to refuel with chocolate milk.

photo (46)
photo (46)

It was heavenly and just what I needed.

I continued my normal RnR post-race by heading to the Medal Engraving tent. $20 is worth getting my medal engraved on-site when they have extra medals on hand in case something ends up being misspelled.

Our final teammate Carly finished 4:54:14. Heck yeah three of us in under 5 hours.

We collected Carly and limped to meet the rest of the group at the hotel shuttle. Unfortunately the shuttle stop seemed like miles away from the Finish Line. It took what felt like hours, but we finally made it and it was great to hear how everyone's races went.

We got back to the hotel and met up with the rest of the team at the hotel pool for snacks and a recon discussion.

I had felt a blister forming at about Mile 2 and it bothered me all race long. It wasn't until I took my shoe off that I noticed how bad it was.

Note: please scroll quickly through if you don't want to see it. It is so bad I have to share.

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2014-04-26 13.02.01

Okay done.

After some water and snacks, we all broke to shower-change-decompress before a night of celebrating.

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2014-04-26 14.14.10

Overall, the race was well-organized as all of the RnR races I've done have been. But I felt the second-half of the course was seriously lacking crowd support, as well as a music presence. It was a little sad and disheartening. I expected more from what I had heard about this race before getting to Nashville.

So if you are someone running alone, I recommend keeping music on your person for the lulls. There will be some so be prepared.

I did enjoy the race being on the Saturday, which gave us Saturday night and Sunday to really enjoy all that Nashville had to offer. :)

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2014-04-27 17.04.16


2014-04-27 12.36.00
2014-04-27 12.36.00

Country Music Hall of Fame

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2014-04-27 17.04.19

Country Music Hall of Fame

But can you beat that medal? Loved it.

Thanks again to Nashville for being a great host city and Tedy's Team for making it a weekend I would never forget.

2014-04-27 15.25.37
2014-04-27 15.25.37


I was shocked at how my body held up through the two marathons I put it through in a week. I couldn't believe how much better the second one went over the first. I think what they say about being trained is right. I had put all the miles in so the body was ready to do it's best. Neither was a PR and that is okay.

I was there to push my body to help Fight Stroke and I ended up raising $10,000. THAT is the reason I did it.


Have you rocked and rolled through Nashville?

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.

photo 3 (54)
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. :)

photo 3 (56)
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.

photo 3 (2)
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.

photo 2 (66)
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.

photo 4 (43)
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.

photo 3 (57)
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.

photo 2 (65)
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.

photo 1 (74)
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.

photo 2 (64)
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.

photo 1 (75)
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.

photo (45)
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.

photo 5 (29)
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!

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

The 117th Boston Marathon Recap...

... 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!