Thursday, 18 April 2013

The 117th Boston Marathon

Hi everyone,

I have been on hiatus and I apologize for not reporting more sooner.  My body and soul have taken the beating of a lifetime that's for sure.  But as the Marathon warrior I choose to be, I will move forward. 

The big day finally came after counting down nearly a year!  I am sure fellow 'facebookers' made comments like, "I wish she'd hurry up and run that marathon she's always talking about!" lol.  It was a day like no other!

Super excited at bib pick up!
Race Day
My friends and I woke up before 5 a.m. We all had our own individual race day breakfasts that were previously planned and thought out beforehand.  I had my old reliable oatmeal.  :) We got a lift into town to catch the busses at 5:45. We immediately boarded, which according to Paul, was unheard of.  It was a pretty long bus ride out to Hopkinton where the Athlete's Village was.  I'd guess 45 minutes or so....it felt like it flew by.  I sat next to a man from Louisiana who looked cool and calm.  My stomach was rumbling and I nervously/excitedly sat to his left in the isle seat.  I only remembered putting a Canadian flag tattoo on my face that morning, but somewhere on my face it said, "Boston Marathon Virgin," I'm sure! lol.  He looked at me and said ever so chilled, "First Boston?"  Me, "YES!" And that was all he had to ask. I don't think there was a minute of silence the whole way...lol. 

When we arrived in Hopkinton there was a sea of runners walking in a spectacularly long line into a field outside of a school.  I think my mouth stayed open the whole time in awe!  There were hundreds of port-a-potties (which you're probably thinking is gross...but joyous news to marathoners! lol). There were also many tables of water, coffee, Gatorade, power bars, bagels, bananas, and basically anything a runner would need come race day.  I ate a banana, coffee and munched on a dry uncooked bagel.....good times! lol.  I could have been eating a dirty sock---I was pumped for Boston! 






We toured around the Athlete's Village with Paul as our trusty tour guide. This being his third time there....Go Paul! ;)  There were television helicopters flying above...I waved to my mom but I doubt she saw me ;)  Our Canadian flag tattoos were a big hit for all Canadians we saw.  The common line was, "Hey Canada!" :) We posed in front of some banners for the professional photographers, so fun!  And then the announcements came, "Wave 1 runners will begin loading their bags and make their way to the start line." EEK!  My stomach was rumbling and spinning.  I had the nervous chills too, even though the sun was shining and I was wearing 4 shirts! lol.  So I decided that would be a good time to make a stop to the port-a-pottie's ever-extending line.  Then, I heard it....a song from my Marathon Playlist, "Sandstorm," by Darude!!! I was so pumped.  Note to self, "don't start bouncing to favourite songs in washroom lineup!" LOL.  I met women from Germany, Calgary, Chicago, Ottawa, and all over the world that day. 
 
Port-a-potties galore! :D

My creative side is just blossoming! Lol

How cool am I with my Tattoo on my face!? lol

So, I missed the announcement for my wave to begin loading bags.....of course! No big deal though.  I got there in time.  So nervous, I left my paceband in my bag check....duhh!  (This later proved to be a positive thing).  I began stripping off my layers.  The sun was out so nicely, I decided to ditch the arm warmers and check them.  I wore my shorts and singlet as well as a pair of odd dollar store gloves that I planned to chuck on the course.  I do not like cold hands!  They were one black and one purple if you're wondering.  hehe.  We walked 0.7 of a mile to the corrals.  I was in corral 6 which seemed to take forever to find.  Thousands of people in this wave....9000 to be exact! 

The starting announcement was so motivating I wanted to trample everyone and burst out...not possible at Boston, lol.  I was pumped! My favourite line that was said, "You are the stars today!"  Oooh, shivers!

So, many people told me to pace the first 10km or so and I had no issue doing that what so ever.  As it happened I learned not to run behind tall men during an elbow-y race.  I never said, "sorry" so many times in my life as I did that day....lol. 

There were spectators lined completely on both sides, music busting out and hands reaching in for low high 5s!  I high-fived probably 25 people coasting down the first hill........how much did I feel like a rockstar?!  :D 

As you know, I am such a music Marathoner.  Well, I was having so much fun I didn't even turn on my ipod until about 5 miles....True story!  It was so cool. Next time I run Boston, I'm running Sans Musique!  I probably heard the Rocky Theme Song 20 times that day! 

I knew people were tracking my updates.  So, every time I saw the chip mat, I ran really fast towards it and stamped on it...I have no sweet clue as to why! LOL.  Not like it would show you my status any 'quicker' or 'faster.' I'm just ridiculous.  :D

Cruising by at a pretty good pace/mile, I felt it.  Oh no, something's going on with my toe!  Do I look down I wondered?  (At last year's Fredericton Marathon when this happened, I crossed the finish line with blood seeping through the mesh on my sneakers).  I had to look down and see what was up...this is Boston! I need to get it done!!!  And sure enough, around 9.5 miles or so I discovered that I was having another blister episode :(  insert whiny music tune here.  Right foot sneaker, soaked with blood on the top.  Just great. 

I had two choices:  1. Be totally stupid and try to make it through in hopes to secure a PR and obsess over my Garmin the whole way or 2. Pit stop at Medical tent, bandage up, lose 3-5 minutes, but finish race and have so much fun??? EASY: Option 2.  And that's what I unbelievably did at 10.5 miles.  I'm certain the medic thought I was a psycho.  I ran in yelling, "I've got a bloody toe!!! I need a bandage!!!" 'Sit down," he says. "You'll be fine," he says.  Meanwhile, I'm having a massive panic attack inside as I'm TAKING OFF MY RUNNING SHOE AND SOCK WATCHING HUNDREDS OF RUNNERS GO BY AS THE CLOCK IS TICKING DURING THE BOSTON MARATHON!  Yes, it was intended to be caps lock there to allow you to feel the effect of my thought process.  :D I am crazy!

There were three other men sitting there wrapped in mylar blankets and another female.  None of which intended to get back on course.  They told me I looked strong and to keep going.  I wished them well, thanked the volunteer for helping me and ran out of there like a bat out of hell....excuse my language! 

"I had lost about 4-5 minutes there.  No big deal.  I'm just going to have fun," I thought.  And I am so glad I did.  I saw 'Santa, a Werewolf, girls in bikinis???, rockbands, Queen Elizabeth, Prince William,' (okay, not actually them, just people dressed as them).  Ran through 'Scream Tunnel,' where the Wellesley College girls are all screaming and holding various signs insisting you 'Kiss' them!  No, I didn't kiss anyone...well not true actually.  I turned a sharp right around 17.5 miles at the firestation, which was the bottom of the infamous "Heartbreak Hill," and SAW MATT! :D He decided against running due to his Achilles Tendon injury and came to cheer me on. I knew he'd be in this area and I managed to barrel through several runners, hop up and kiss him, said, "Love you!" and ran off.  It was so motivating to see him on course! The ladies next to him all started cheering and I heard one of them yell, "Kiss and run!"  Motivating, but man my legs started to hurt.  Look who else Matt saw earlier that morning: (Matt actually snapped this shot with his phone!)

Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher!!! That's who! 
I was waaaay ahead of them at this point.....NOT! lol.
 I have to be brutally honest, the first of the 4 Newton Hills was the most challenging for me.  I had then decided I would never make it all the way to the top without walking.  Not true.  I kept chipping away at the hills and looked up as I felt the grade start to plateau.  I saw this most beautiful thing:
The arch reads, "The Heartbreak is over"....photo credit: C. Cummings.
I am not being dramatic.  I literally wiped tears off of my cheeks here.  (Mile 21).  The course had chewed up my quads during the first half of the race and then destroyed my hamstrings climbing the Newton Hills, and HELLO remember my bloody toe!?  Well, so do I! LOL. 

Once you pass that glorious arch above, you coast down a fantastic hill, on normal circumstances--not when you and your quads aren't on speaking terms... where the Boston College guys are all sticking their hands over the dividers to low-high five you.  They were all screaming! I must have hit 50 hands....it was awesome.  I heard one guy yell, "YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL!" No clue if it was for me, but it sure felt cool....lol.  Then another guy, clearly yelling to someone else, yells, "NICE TITS!" HAHAHA! Definitely not speaking to my A-cups! ;) 

The last nine km were the most challenging for me.  This is where the real race begins and boy did I ever know it on Monday, April 15th.  Every step hurt.  Every crack in the pavement felt like torture.  I was so hot.  I would take a Gatorade and water at every single station.  Drank the Gatorade and poured water over my face. Wipe the salt from my cheeks and forehead.  My toes hurt...beyond words.  My arm pits were on fire.  There were chaffed so badly.  I just wanted to be done.  Now.  A guy in front of me had blood running down the back of his legs. He must be hurting too. The number crunching was on overdrive.  I was so tired that my math was just not accurate-and I'm a teacher!  lol.  I pushed through the pain to see mile 22, 23, 24, oh God just 2.2 more miles.  Then I saw it, the enormous "Citgo" sign. When you arrive at this large red triangle, you have one mile to go.  One more mile.  "That's it,"  you say? Well, I was in more pain than any other race, ever.  Then I saw a familiar Maritimer in the crowd.  So tired, I couldn't remember his name.  I yell, "Hey!" and reach my hand out.  He looks and yells back, "Hey!" He recognizes me!  Then everyone around me clearly trying to push the pace for the last 0.75 of a mile.  Myself included.  I'm pushing pushing pushing, holding back tears, pushing, grunting. 

Citgo Sign indicating one more mile to the finish, (once you reach it). 
I turn a corner, then another, and there it is...Boylston Street! The finish line is an eternity away. Push push push.  Put sunglasses on the top of my head, arms waving in the air, screaming and smiling at the cameras above.  I did it! This is Marathon bliss right here.  I  step on first chip mat, stop and walk to the second, break down into sobbing cry from pain.  Limping and searching for water, I cried.  So happy for all of my hard work and sense of accomplishment.
Check out my race stats.  Search bib #14677: Race Results  I am so proud of my race and had a phenomenal time! I did not PR, but certainly had a PB='Personal Best experience.'  That is the part they can't take away from me.  I <3 Boston!


I felt like a warrior.  Who knew moments later I'd feel as small and vulnerable as an ant?

Post Race
I continue up the Runner's chute limping crying and hobbling.  Looking, searching and asking volunteers for water.  "Just keep moving ahead," she says.  Okay lady, I just ran for over three and a half hours! Lol...easier said than done!  The finishers have to walk for what feels like forever, but is probably only 0.25 of a mile, to get their water, medal and a mylar blanket.  I'm super slow doing this with my foot in the condition it's in.  When I was wrapped in my blanket I started to cry and make my way over to a railing to just rest there.  A medical volunteer approaches me and asks, "Are you okay?" "No," (tears rolling down my cheeks), I reply.  "I'm really nauseous and look at my foot!"  She pops me in a wheel chair and we make our way back towards the finish line into the medical tent. Every bump we hit felt like an earthquake since every muscle was hurting in my body. 

They laid me down on a flat bed, I moaned. Every muscle in my back hurt so badly from the pounding.  They propped me up with a large foam roller and began to pull off my sneaker.  Mega relief!  I warned them that if my toe was hanging off, I did not want to see it, as I faint at the sight of my own blood.  I am being dramatic here, lol...I secretly knew my toe was not 'hanging off.' ;)  "Just some serious blisters that have ruptured," they tell me.  The medics were more concerned about my nausea.  Check out this foot!
This was post race when I arrived in Maine.  Still no shower at this point.
They kept giving me water and I was not interested at this point since I was so cold and shivering.  After about 20 or so minutes, they released me with my papers and let me keep my disgustingly bloody sock.  They suggested I throw it out...."NO way! I'm taking a pic of this for my blog," I tell them, LOL.  I thank them all for their help and hobble outside.  Remembering I have to meet Paul, Nick and Nadia in the family meeting area C at 3:30 I make my way to get my bag from the bus and it happened............

A loud tremendous "boom" that rumbled in my chest and stomach.  "Did I just hear that?" I thought.  I slowly turn around in disbelief.  And then another.  This one more crackly and terrifying.  Smoke is towering the air like a spreading disease of fear only a few hundred metres away from me. I knew in my gut that this was not going to be good.  No one was screaming or panicking where I was standing so I thought, "Whatever it is it cannot be what I think it is."  I ask nearby people and no one knows. Every one looks silently fearful around me. I go into the bus that is carrying my bag from the Athlete's Village.  The lady kept asking "What you number?" (English was not her fluent language).  I ask her what was going on and she just kept asking to see my bib.  She gives me my yellow bag and I leave.  At this time what I heard from bystanders and other fearful runners I will not share.  Let's just say I won't forget their terrifying words.  "Do I get a cab?  Where are my friends? What do I do!!!???"  Scariest moments of my life.  I managed to slink into a hotel lobby where several other runners were also seeking shelter gathered around a TV.  Cell service was shut down, I had no idea where to go or what to do. 

After several attempts on random strangers phones I was helped by a man who said I could probably use the landline.  I managed to contact Matt and my Mom....very upsetting conversations.  More because I knew others were so worried about me.....and also I didn't know if I'd honestly ever see them again. 

Then I met Judy. 

Leaning against a bathroom wall crying in fear, a random lady approaches me.  "Are you okay?" she asks emphatically.  "No," I reply.  "I can't find my friends, I don't know how I'm going to get to my husband and I'm really scared." She hugs me and wipes tears off of my face.  "Where's your husband?" "Newton," I reply.  Then magically she says, "I'm staying in Newton.  My car's across the street. I'll take you to Newton," in the voice of an angel. 

Seeing Matt and him holding me in his arms was a feeling no words can truly express! He was my knight in shining armour as he took me to safety. <3  We truly believe there was a reason Matt was injured, then drove down to surprise me and then the meeting with Judy, who then took me to Matt. 

I am forever changed by the events over the past few days. I will continue to Marathon and I will return to Boston. 

Happy Running and thanks for sharing my story,
Heather :) 


Check out some of my pics: 





Courteney and Heidi were hard at work making me feel like a rockstar!



Marathon #5

Home sweet home!

Matt knows my weakness!

Flowers from the hubby <3

Check out these shoes!!!


The infamous sock!

13 comments:

  1. I loved this recap, I am SO proud of you. Can't wait to hear about it on Saturday -in real life! Marathon recaps make me feel emotional:p Glad you liked the signs:)

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    1. Thanks Heidi. I still have the signs up inside my house ;) p.s. I love Marathon recaps too.....mile by mile!

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  2. You made me cry ....so glad you did so well and are able to share your accomplishment. Way to go, girl!

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    1. Thanks Laura. I'm glad you enjoyed my story....I'm excited to hear about your upcoming race and training runs! :)

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  3. I came here from Hal's link. I cried, too. AWESOME job!

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  4. Thanks so much Christina! When Hal shared the link, I was floored! lol. Thank you for stopping by! :)
    Heather

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  5. Definitely just had a lump in my throat. I was interesting in reading your Boston story and completely forgot about the tragedy that happened there last year and that you would have been there for that! So glad you are okay, and I can't imagine how happy you were to see your husband and how relieved he must have been that you were okay! :D

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    1. Thank you Hillary,
      it surely was the experience of a lifetime! I am really looking forward to going back in 2014 to experience the prestigious course in all it's glory. :)

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  6. LOL I was waiting this whole blog post for the bloody sock picture, and there at the end you delivered! I can't imagine how terrified you were. What an angel that woman was to give you a ride.I liked reading your recap of the race. It's a lot of what I remember... the busses, the port o john's... just and awesome, awesome experience. You had a great time too! (As in, 3:37 time!)

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  7. I had to go back and read this recap. What an experience, it gives me chills just reading it. What a fabulous time and I just can't believe you managed that with that foot! It looked beyond painful.

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  10. Congrats on running your first Boston. I can't imagine being there at that time and how scary it would have been. So glad you finished as fast as you did and that you and your loved ones were safe. I'll be thinking about you this year!!

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