Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Experience of a Lifetime – Sue

What a day! I can barely walk down stairs this morning, but the pain and soreness are worth having the chance to run the Boston Marathon!

The weekend was a bit of a blur with having my parents arrive in town, getting to the Expo for number pick up and trying to figure out the details of Marathon morning. One of the biggest stresses of the morning was what to wear. The weather was perfect for running, but with the forecast of strong headwinds, and a high of 48 degrees or so, I was debating on wearing running tights or shorts. I brought my shorts with me and thought I'd see what the majority were wearing when I got to Hopkinton.

After a pasta dinner with my family the night before, I tried to get to bed early, but it ended up being about 10:30 or so. The alarm went off at 5:50 - I got dressed, loaded up on Glide and had my usual pre-run multigrain English muffin with peanut butter and blueberry jam. I limited myself to one cup of coffee vs. my usual two, since I knew that could be an "issue" later. We left the house at 6:30 and had to pick up my friend, Joel who was the one who got injured while we trained, but felt OK enough to give it a go (and finished well under four hours!).

My husband drove us to the start and the killer 2 1/2 to 3 hour wait started, which included long lines for the porta johns. I stopped at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital medical tent to say hello to "my" physical therapist, Carl Faust, who promptly cracked my back as he's done during our sessions! My friend Paul Satwitcz was there as well, who encouraged me to wear the shorts - thanks Dr. Paul, good call!

It was finally time to get into our "corrals" for the start - on the way I finally saw my friend Diana who I had hoped to run with but we got separated by our numbers at the start, so didn't see her again until the finish. When I looked at my watch going over the start pad, it was 10:47 (for a 10:30 start), which was a testament to the large crowd of runners!

It was such a wild experience - the fans were incredible! Some were in costumes, offering food (and beer!) but all very supportive and encouraging. I tried to stay in the moment, meaning I was trying to really enjoy the experience and to take it all in. In Natick, I had a running friend of mine, John hop in to run along with me. He had his camera with him to try and capture some of the moments, especially the girls lined up in Wellesley! My ears were ringing by the time I made it through there. When I checked my watch going over the half-way mark in Wellesley, I was exactly at the two hour mark - 12:47, so I knew I was at the pace I had hoped for - about a nine-minute mile.

Going past the Hospital was exciting mainly since I was now on "home turf" - just down from the Hospital were my friends Jane and Dave who were ready to also run along with me - such great supportive friends! I had a lot of familiar faces cheering me on at the Fire Station, in particular my husband, kids and parents. I stopped to give quick kisses and was on my way up Heartbreak Hill. This is my usual running route, so I tried to focus on that although the hills feel quite different with 17 miles behind them! Once I got to the top, it felt great to put that behind me, and then it was on to Boston College, which was crazy! I made the comment that I couldn't believe the energy they still had for cheering, when my friend Dave reminded me that I still had energy for running! By now my quads were really burning- thankfully Jane had two Advil with her, which I took promptly when she joined me, but I knew at that point I could not stop to walk since I would not be able to run again.

So on we went, through Brookline, and I pointed out to my pals when I caught sight of the Citgo sign. Yeah! I looked at my watch and saw that I was at 2:33, which meant I had only 14 minutes to get through two miles to make the four-hour qualifying time for my age group. I was quite sure I could not kick out a seven-minute pace at that point. I did have enough to move ahead a bit, so my friend Jane dropped back and had the guys run me in. My legs were killing me, in fact the word that comes to mind is "pulp", so I just had to do the best I could. I crossed at 4:03 - just three minutes past qualifying again - but was SO happy to cross the finish line! Once I handed in my chip, and they put the medal around my neck was the moment I got really choked up, and even now get teary writing about it. I got home to many calls and emails congratulating me and can't really describe how awesome it feels to have accomplished running the Boston Marathon! If I never get the chance to do it again, I had the experience of a lifetime and I know memories that will last me a lifetime. Thanks for indulging my recounting of the day - this is one of the ways I can document it and will always be able to go back to this.

Thanks again to Newton-Wellesley for giving me this chance - it never would've happened otherwise. Now, off to work - a bit late, but I'll get there....slowly!

No comments: