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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story.