Friday, April 25, 2008

A Gift of a Day – Heidi

Now that Patriots’ Day has come and gone, it seems a bit like a dream. The fact that it turned out to be such a perfect day for me adds to the dream-like quality! The entire Marathon weekend was great. The workweek was so busy that I didn't have much time to give the Marathon a thought. However, I was energized by all of the “good luck” wishes I received from patients, friends and co-workers. My son had a jazz band concert on Thursday night before the race and I was inspired by how good the kids had become with all of their hard work practicing. My husband and son went to the Expo with me on Friday night after work. We got there around 7:00 pm so had an hour to look around before it closed. My friend Jeannie was there as well so she gave us pointers to the highlights. The three of us then went out to dinner (steak frites for me: protein and carbs!), which was a fun way to end the night. On Saturday night, our family had dinner with good friends who provided me with a hearty pasta dinner. I had a quiet Sunday pre-race dinner at home with more pasta and lots of bread.

Jeannie had kindly invited me to go out to Hopkinton with her and the rest of the group running for the Matty Eappen Foundation. My husband got up early with me to drive me to our meeting point. It was great to have company while waiting for the Marathon to start. Jeannie brought along equipment to put names on our shirts, which I would never have done on my own. This turned out to be a key activity because I felt that I had all of Boston cheering for me along the course! Jeannie had the best bib number of the group as she had qualified for Boston, but we all lined up together at the back of the pack to start the race together. It took at least 15 minutes to get to the starting line and a solid sea of people filled my view of the course. Unlike last year, however, there were no puddles or piles of clothing to dodge at the beginning.

I ran with Jeannie for the first half of the Marathon and made that distance in just over two hours. While my primary goal was to finish and be healthy, my dream goal was to finish in four hours. I was feeling strong at the half and had the bulk of my “fan club” in Wellesley and Newton, which gave me that extra boost to pick up the pace a bit. My friend Michelle gave me my lucky liverwurst sandwich at Cliff Road in Wellesley (tradition from last year – high in calories and salt and easy to chew) for true fuel as a diet of nothing but GU gets to be a bit sickening. The highlight of the Marathon was getting to Warren Park in Wellesley where I initially saw neighbors and then saw my son. His presence and that of my husband, parents and in-laws really added to my sense of energy and strength. I then saw my neighbor Susan and her family; she’s been my running partner for I think eight years. While still on this “high” I got to Newton-Wellesley and saw co-workers from the labor floor in their telltale blue scrubs! Around this point a fellow marathoner actually made the comment that I had a lot of fans in the area.

Next came the Newton hills where having my name on my shirt afforded me lots of cheers from kind strangers. The funny occurrence in Newton was hearing a soft, questioning “Heidi?” and looking up to see my friend Kathleen who had delivered my son. I don't think she knew I was running and as she doesn't live in Newton, I wouldn't have thought to find her "spectating" there. For the rest of the run, I knew the four-hour finish was in my grasp if I could just hang in there. While the sun was bright, there was a nice breeze that prevented me from over-heating. The spectators near BC in Brookline tended to be younger and gave me new appreciation for my name. It turns out to be an easy one to turn into a chant so there were times when I would hear, “Heidi, Heidi, Heidi.” Thank goodness for the beautiful weather that brought out all of these spectators that kept us going.

Last year I don't remember seeing the Citgo sign or the Hancock building. This year, I knew when I reached the Citgo sign I had about a mile to go. I was also looking up to the Hancock tower where I knew my husband would be meeting me. I was confident at this point that I would get my “dream goal” of four hours. I could have slowed down at this point and still made it but I felt great and actually picked up my pace some more to cross the finish line. I did forget to look up at the cameras and pose for the finishing picture but that’s ok because I didn't have Martha to do it with!

In summary, it was an incredible day and a memorable event. I think it would be difficult to have another marathon be this enjoyable or to be lucky enough to feel as good as I did for another event. I probably should stop while I'm ahead and my body is intact. My finishing time actually qualifies me for Boston next year when I move into another age category. I'm going to enjoy the rest of this beautiful April vacation week with my family but will give that some thought in the months ahead!

A huge thank you to all of you who lined the course and made myself and the other runners felt like we could do it! Another huge thank you to Newton-Wellesley for providing me this opportunity.

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