Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thank You - Kellie

I had decided to splurge and stay at a hotel in Boston the night before and the night of the marathon. I figured it's a once in a lifetime chance for me to run Boston so why not. I got there on Sunday and headed to the Expo to get my number. It was such an exciting place. I got lost in the crowd but eventually I found where to get my number. After I got my number I went back to the hotel and sat at the lounge. They started laying out a delicious looking pasta buffet. I decided to stay put and purchase the buffet. The marathon was having a free pasta dinner for the runners, but I was worn out from the expo and had no desire to go back out there.

After dinner I went back to my room and kept trying on different running clothes. NWH gave us team members both a tank top and long sleeve shirt that we could wear. The tank top was just too tight for me so I was thinking about wearing my own tank top and writing my name and team name on it. I was freaking out a bit over what to wear. Will I be too cold if I don't wear pants?! Will I be too hot if I do?! Will I freeze with just a tank top? Ultimately I went with my own tank top, the long sleeve team shirt over that and my running skirt. I put a pair of pants in my bag just in case.

Adding to my anxiety, my womanly visitor decided to follow me along for the trip. TMI for this public blog I know, but she got in my way enough that I have to talk about her. She was making me tired and emotional the night before. Once I had everything settled for the morning I started to relax. I received so many phone calls, text messages, emails, FB messages all wishing me the best. Every single message made me so happy. It was an amazing feeling to have so many people thinking of me and cheering for me. I knew I'd have fans along the route and people waiting for me at the finish to celebrate. I didn't specifically ask anyone to be there because I know it's a lot to ask and difficult to get around Boston on marathon day. Some friends from work insisted they would be there at the finish for me. Another lifelong friend said she would be there with her daughter and two granddaughters to greet me at the finish. They are like my adoptive family whom I've known my whole life. I was so excited to have great friends and family at the finish and I didn't even ask them to be there.

I got right up with my wake up call. Of course I had also set my phone alarm and room alarm for fear I would sleep through and miss the bus to Hopkinton. I am a little nuts sometimes. I walked over to the Common to catch the bus to Hopkinton and wow I've never seen such a line. The line was still forming as I was trying to find the end of it and it was getting longer and longer. It was a race just to get a spot in line. It moved along fast and there were so many buses I couldn't count them all. After about an hour I made it onto a bus. The bus ride to Hopkinton took nearly an hour as well. I began to think it was a bit sadistic to put people on a bus in Boston, drive them 26.2 miles away, then tell them okay now run back. Hahaha well I could hardly wait to get back to Boston.

I finally arrived at Athletes’ Village! They let me in! I'm an athlete woo hoo! I have to pee! All I could see were walls of porta potties and lines to the porta potties. I spent about an hour in line. I couldn't find any teammates or anyone I knew in the village. It was just too big. I wandered around looking for anyone from team NWH but in a sea of thousands of athletes it was impossible. They called for wave three to drop our bags in our assigned buses and I found it without a problem. I dropped my bag feeling like I was forgetting something (which I was) and was able to hit the bathroom one more time. I followed the wave of people to my corral and suddenly I was spotted by fellow teammate Vanessa. It was so nice to see a familiar face finally. We got to say hello and wish each other good luck.

Race Time
My wave started at 10:40 and my phone said about 10:50 when I crossed the start line. This was so great! I could not believe the crowd support. It was mesmerizing to see. There was a team of cheeseburgers, many super heroes, blind runners with guides, people running for other people who couldn't run. I was teary eyed to be a part of this.

All I could think about in Hopkinton was that I had to pee. I looked to my left and there must have been at least 20 runners pulled over in the woods to pee. Oh boy I was hoping I could hold off and use a bathroom. I was on the left side of the road and somehow I spotted porta potties to the right behind a huge wall of people. I quickly dodged through the crowd and made it. There was no line and I don't think most people could see these through all the people. Relief! After that I was able to enjoy the music and crowd support in Hopkinton. People were cheering my name (I wrote it on my shirt) and I felt like a celebrity.

My first town crossing! I'm still a celebrity! I soon saw my first familiar face on the sidelines cheering me on. I got high fives from my friend Mel and her beautiful children who I got to meet for the first time. It gave me a warm fuzzy feeling to have people there.

Framingham was fun. They had the best signs. “NO YOU'RE NOT ALMOST FINISHED” “YES THOSE SHORTS MAKE YOUR BUTT LOOK BIG”....and my favorite sign “THIS IS THE WORST PARADE EVER!!!!”

I could not believe I was still feeling good. This is so much fun! I knew I might have another familiar face in Natick. My friend Kathy was working the med tent in Hopkinton but I couldn't find her there. She said she'd try to be in Natick around mile 10. I found her! She was there with a sign for me! She's been my mentor through all my training. She's my idol and she's finished Boston more times than I could ever dream of. She gave me momentum and again that warm fuzzy feeling.

I was getting tired. I needed a bathroom. I found one and also found that my womanly visitor was threatening to take me down. This is when I realized what I had forgotten to take out of my bag. Ugh. I knew I was getting close to Newton-Wellesley Hospital and in desperation I posted on Facebook “I'm near the hospital if anyone there can see this please give me a tampon.” Then I turned my phone off so my battery wouldn't be dead by the time I reach the finish. The cheering from Wellesley College helped keep my spirits up and distract me from my misery.

Newton-Wellesley Hospital! My home! So many hugs, so many familiar faces, signs for me! It was so great to be home with my work family. Warm fuzzy feelings and happiness. Unfortunately none of them saw my desperate Facebook post.

Next came the hills. The combination of the hills, my left foot being in excruciating pain, and my still needing to take care of you know what made this part difficult to say the least. The amazing crowd support got me through. At the top of the last hill I stopped at a med tent. Handsome medic: Can I help you with something? Me: Ummmm, well ummm, I really need a tampon. Handsome medic: I know we have some just a moment. Then he looks through multiple containers, and keeps looking, and asks another handsome medic “Where are the tampons?” Me: This is really embarrassing. Handsome medic: (laughs) No don't worry about it...ah here you go sorry it took so long.

Boston College! I made it! I've only got five downhill miles left! I'm still running I'm going to finish! The crowds were getting louder and louder. When I made it past mile 25 I was trying to stop myself from crying like a baby. I could not believe I was going to finish the Boston Marathon! There were so many helicopters overhead. I couldn't believe they were still covering the finish for us non-elite finishers! This is so amazing! I can't even explain how happy and elated I was feeling at this moment. I was physically fighting off tears of joy and just trying to hold it back for the finish line. I can't wait to celebrate and hug my friends! One person shouted out to me that they were stopping the race at Park Street. What is he talking about? That's ridiculous! Why on Earth would they stop the Boston Marathon?! I hope nobody had a heart attack or anything like that. It was getting windy and I was in a race that was stopped because of a tornado just this past September. In that race I had crossed the finish line right before they pulled everyone off the course. I better run faster so I can finish. I can't believe my luck with storms and races being called off. But everyone is still running and the crowds are still cheering for us, cheering out my name saying, “Kellie you've got this! Kellie you're looking good! Kellie you're almost finished! Go Kellie!” I saw a runner walking back this way crying. Then everyone was stopped. “The race is cancelled! There are bombs exploding at the finish!” OMG Dorothy, Hillary, Diana, Tracey, Michelle and her beautiful little girls! They're all there waiting for me! I turned my phone on and it exploded with messages. My battery is in the red! I couldn't read through the messages or call anyone. I couldn't get over there, everything was blocked off. I posted a blanket FB message saying I was okay and for anyone waiting for me to please let me know you're okay and don't try to find me. I heard my name, it was team member Pam. She was okay. People were crying and trying to contact loved ones at the finish. I found a text from Dorothy. Dorothy and Hillary were fine but I couldn't reply my phone was saying battery dead. People were asking to use my phone but it was dead. I wished I had turned it off in Hopkinton so I could use it and share it right now. I was able to see a message from Dorothy that said where they were and that they weren't moving until I got to them. I was walking in their direction on Commonwealth and police yelled a bomb is about to explode! And I heard a bomb explode. What is going on this doesn't make any sense. I wasn't able to reach my other friends. Were they there?! I can't get to them the police were yelling for everyone to stay away. I found two of my friends on Commonwealth. They asked what I wanted to do and I wanted to get to my hotel so I could charge my phone and contact people.

Hillary has a smart car. Dorothy drove and I sat on Hillary's lap while she drove like a maniac around the city to get to my hotel room. At this point I smell horrible, I physically feel like I've just ran a marathon (oh ya I did just run a marathon), I have to pee and I don't know how my womanly visitor is holding up. I'm thinking that wow I'm lucky I didn't get blown up but now I'm going to die in this clown car. Then the gas light goes on. There's less than a gallon of gas. “Sorry Kell this sucks you just ran a marathon and now you might have to push this car around Boston." It was a very funny moment. I smell nasty, I'm sitting on my friend sweating and hoping I'm not getting more than sweat on her, hoping I don't pee on her, I'm about to get thrown through the window of a clown car in Boston Marathon post bomb traffic, and maybe run out of gas and have to push the car. I don't think I could have even dreamed a crazier scenario.

My friends got me to my hotel in one piece. They got home safely without running out of gas. I soon found out all my friends and family were safe. I no longer had a reason to stay at the hotel. I actually felt like it would be wrong for me to stay when people from far away probably needed a room. And I was wanted at home.

The day after the marathon, I drove back to Boston to get my bag. I needed it. I felt so empty without my race shirt and all my mementos they had given me. Everyone there was thoughtful and kind. I was happy that I went back. They put a finisher’s medal on me. I cried all the way home.

Thank you everyone for you're overwhelming support, encouragement and kind words before, during and after the marathon. It means the world to me. It was a great experience from the start up until somewhere in between mile 25-26.2 when we were stopped. I can't even explain how amazing the crowds were throughout the entire marathon. Boston has the world’s best support, the best fans, that's why people travel from all over the world to experience the magic that is the Boston Marathon. I'm lucky to have experienced it and sad that the main ingredient to the magic, the spectators/fans were attacked. I'm sad for what everyone is going through.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." ~ FDR

I believe that's true. I'm afraid that people will become too afraid to live life. That's what terrorism is and that's how terrorism wins. Please don't anyone stop living life, don't stop doing anything positive that ignites your spirit and gives you inspiration.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

What Ifs – Kellie

“Only four days left until THE BOSTON MARATHON! No time left to train! My son has strep throat! What if I get strep throat? I should have done more hill repeats! I should have pushed myself to run when I was snowed in! What am I going to wear?! What if my alarm clock fails?! What if I forget my runner's passport and I can't get my number?! What if I just give myself so much anxiety and self doubt that I just pass out before I even get to the start?! What if I have to go to the bathroom and there aren't any bathrooms!!!? What if?!” These thoughts have been creeping into my brain, but for the most part, I've been able to shut down those negative thoughts.

At this moment I'm not nervous at all. Although, the fact that I feel so relaxed is making me nervous. I've almost convinced myself that there's nothing to be anxious about. I've trained plenty. Sure I could have done more, trained harder but I also didn't want this to consume me to the point that I'd hate training for it. I think I found just the right balance for me in my training. I worked hard and rested after the extra hard runs. Most importantly, I didn't injure myself. All I have to do is go five miles farther than my longest run. I should be able to manage that.

I won't be fast but I'm not in a hurry. I want to enjoy every step of the way and take in every mile. I can hardly wait to meet the Boston Marathon and hear the best marathon crowd out there. It looks like Mother Nature will be on our side this year and I am ready.

A big thank you to everyone who's given me encouragement, support and listened to me obsess about the marathon for the past four months. See you next week!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I’ve Forgotten How to Run – Vanessa

This is a huge problem. The taper is messing with my head! For those of you non-marathoners out there, let me explain. A taper is supposed to be a beautiful one to two week window before the big event during which you decrease your mileage. Long runs get shorter and short runs become less frequent. The idea is to give your body and brain a chance to recover, rejuvenate and, in my case, freak the freak out.

I thought the taper would feel good on my legs, give me time to catch up on my severely neglected social life (and TV schedule) and get excited for the marathon. I thought WRONG. I feel out of practice and out of touch. I can feel all the mental and physical work I’ve done unraveling every time I stop at four miles. Suddenly the thought of adding another 22.6 on to that jog sounds impossible and crazy. I have dreams that I get to the starting line and cannot for the life of me figure out how to put one foot in front of the other – Dream Vanessa ends up flopping around on the ground while the rest of the runners step over her pathetic body, literally leaving her in a cloud of dust…Tapering is the devil.

Thankfully, I still have a week to refocus and change my perception. I’m going to try my darndest to think positive thoughts, let my legs relax and visualize myself flying to the finish line instead of writhing in the dust. Here goes nothing! Send happy, speedy running vibes my way, please!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What’s So Great about Marathon Training? – Vanessa

This is a question I get a lot. I ran my last “longest long run” on Monday and will begin to taper from here until the big day. The 3.5 hours and 22.5 miles gave me plenty of time to reflect on this question: What is so great about training?

Almost anyone can strap on a pair of tennis shoes and walk/run/jog/crawl 26.2 miles in one day. It might not be pretty and it may take 26.2 hours, but it can be done. No training required.

A few select people hope to finish in the top of their age groups, make a qualifying time or even win the entire race and set a world record. This will undoubtedly take some training.

But what about those of us somewhere in between? Why all of the effort and hours of running, stretching and cross training just to finish in the middle of the pack?

The answer, I’ve decided, is that running a marathon isn’t so much about race day – it’s about everything else leading up to it. Not to toot my own horn, but over the past few months I’ve accomplished a lot. I’ve been up at 4:45 am in 15 degree weather just to jog. I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone to ask friends and strangers alike to donate to a cause I care deeply about. I’ve made new friends out on the running trails. I’ve practiced discipline, drive and devotion. I’ve learned to listen to my body and treat it well, all while pushing it to the limits. Over the past few months, I’ve grown as a runner and a person, and I feel pretty good about that.

As this experience comes to an end, I feel stronger, more confident, and prouder of myself than ever before. I will cross that finish line at whatever time I do knowing that I’ve done my best, given it my all and had tons of support all along the way.

For me, turning a hobby into a challenge and pushing outside my comfort zone is exactly what is so great about marathon training – regardless of what happens on race day.

Boston Marathon Magic – Kellie

Last weekend I ran the first 21 miles of the marathon, from Hopkinton to Boston College. I was lucky enough to get in on the annual training run with the Hopkinton running group. Thank you Pam! It cost a mere $20 and included plenty of aide stations, support along the way from encouraging volunteers, other runners of all levels to suffer enjoy running with and a bus ride back to Hopkinton.

The night before the run I did not want to do it. I had had a bad week in general and was trying to figure out if there was a point to any of this. I get like this every now and then, it's probably hormonal. I reminded myself that part of the reason I signed up for the marathon was so I wouldn't fall into this kind of a slump. The new enthusiastic girl in me is always in battle with the old depressing lazy me. So the new me had a talk with the old me:

Old me: I don't want to get up early, I don't want to go all the way to Hopkinton then run to Boston College!
New me: Quit your freaking whining you sissy and just do it! You'll be happy once you're done and you'll hate yourself if you don't do it!
Old me: My stomach is going to act up again and if I stay home I won't have to worry about it.
New me: So you'll have to use a porta john or public rest room big freaking deal!
Old me: It will slow me down and what if I don't get to BC fast enough and they leave without me?!
New me: Slow you down? Really? Hahaha you can't go any slower and who cares how fast you go?! It's not a race, it's a training run and you know they will be checking on runners at all the stops. Even if you are too slow, which you're not, they will pick you up.
Old me: What's the point of all this?!
New me: It's fun! Running 21+miles is fun!!
Old me: You're a liar and I don't like you!
New me: See you in the morning sunshine!
Old me: OH BITE ME!!

Eventually I stopped arguing with myself and went to sleep. The alarm went off at 4:45am. I ate some fruit salad, drank stuff that wasn't coffee, grabbed some Clif bars, bananas and my running companions (GU Chomps). On my way to Hopkinton I realized I'd be running more than half the distance that I was now driving and gave myself anxiety. When I got there I had to get to a bathroom immediately. Luckily the BAA already had some porta johns ready for me. Old me: I TOLD YOU SO!! New me: HAHAHA!!.....I found the bus and the organizer. She gave me a name tag and said “okay off you go!” Me: Which way do I go? Organizer: That way.

About two miles in and I desperately needed a bathroom again. Old me: I should have stayed home but now I'm gonna crap my pants thanks to you! Do you really think they'd let me on the bus now?! New me: HAHAHA well you're the one who's full of crap now! Dunkin Donuts is your friend and it's right there so relax and talk a load off.

Once I was back on the road, my old miserable self started to disappear. It was fun. I was on a great stage where magic happens. So many inspiring stories have taken place on these roads. People travel from all over the world for this magic. Each time I crossed into a new town I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. I was doing it! Two years ago I couldn't run one freaking mile and now I'm running the BOSTON FREAKING MARATHON! A bit of runner's high was setting in.

The aide stations were great. (They had jelly beans which may have been better than the GU chomps that I forgot in the car when I was in a hurry not to crap my pants.) At each aide station they would check us off and make sure everyone was okay. They said I was looking good. I thanked them for volunteering and for lying to me. As I got closer to Boston, there were more and more runners. It got more magical along the way. When I reached Commonwealth Ave I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to run most of this section. I had expected some walking but it was minimal and much less than I thought it would be.

I made it to Boston College! The running group had more than our money's worth of post race food and drink. They were welcoming, encouraging and all out fantastic. I'm glad I didn't let myself talk myself out of this training run. I'm grateful to have this opportunity to experience the magic that is the Boston Marathon.