I ran with the tissue in my nostril for maybe a half or 3/4 mile. I remember stopping at the next water stop, right before the Girls of Wellesley, to take out the tissue, hoping that the bleeding had stopped. Right before I stopped a sweet southern girl running next to us noticed the tissue in my nose and asked if I wanted a Tampon to shove up there. We chuckled about how well they worked for nosebleeds. I thanked her but explained that I was sure that it had stopped by now. It had.
We could hear the screaming from the well known scream tunnel well before we could see it. It was exciting and I couldn't wait to run through that section to see it with my own eyes and hear it up close! The girls lined the right side of the road, many of them holding sings giving someone a reason to kiss them. I wish I could remember them now as several of them were pretty funny. The girls appeared tiny but their sound was larger than life. We were then approaching a section I knew oh-so-well as I'd run it every time I went down to run with the team. Wellesley town center. It's such a pretty area and running in the street felt so different than running on the sidewalks that I had come to know so well.
The crowd that had thinned out was getting bigger the closer we go to Wellesley Community Center, my home base for training. I ran past the Oiselle cheering crew and shouted out to them with a wave of thanks for being out there. I was eager to get to the community center and see some familiar faces. I also wanted to let them know about a teammate I'd seen maybe a mile before on the sidewalk with police. She didn't look well and I felt worried for her. At this tent there was a local runner, David, who is a TNT alum and Heather's running coach. It was great to see him and he walked with us for a minute checking in on how we were doing. I told him I was doing ok. He offered me food, which I passed up, and a hard candy, which I happily took. That Jolly Rancher was amazing for my taste buds. After many thanks we parted ways. This was around mile 15.5. From this moment until the end of the race I would play a running game of leap frog with my teammate Kevin. I felt badly that he was having a tough time like me, but it was nice to see him so often. It kept me going, knowing someone I'd trained with was either just ahead or right behind me.
We were approaching another downhill section which can mess you up if you let it. It felt good to go downhill and Heather and I talked about letting the hill carry us down. I voiced how I hated the section after this because it was the longest 2 miles ever. It appeared that you were close to the famous Natick Fire Station, when you really weren't. I don't remember much about this section, except that we had to stop and walk a few times I loved having my name on my shirt because people would shout it and say something encouraging. It was such a boost!
Becky, Ashley and Maranda were right after the mile 17 mile marker. I didn't expect to see them at that point, I thought they'd be closer to the fire station. I was walking up this small incline and was feeling frustrated, so when I saw them it was really hard for me to slap on a smiling face and act happy. I'm pretty sure they didn't think we saw them, but I did and I couldn't react. It felt like it was going to suck out more energy. I was finally able to muster up a weak wave and maybe half a smile. I had nothing exciting to share with them, just that my legs were tired and my calves were not happy. They had food and drink for us, but I couldn't even take anything. I felt full from Gatorade and oranges. I gave my sister a hug and let her hold me for a bit, I was so tired and just wanted to sit down. I didn't though. After a mini grump session I was able to suck it up and strike a pose for the camera. I hoped my strong looking pose would give me the strength I needed to continue on.
Downhill we went and the noise and crowd grew as we neared the fire station. We turned the corner and I gazed at the fire house and saw this amazing water tunnel, I tried to grab Heather to come with me through it but she just missed it. The cool mist sprayed my entire body and I felt goosebumps prickle my skin on the back of my neck and along my arms. A welcomed feeling. Right as I got out of this tunnel I saw Heather running toward her sister. Tears streaming down both of their faces and we embraced in a group hug. Her sister was screaming how proud she was and how amazing we were and how much she loved Heather. It was impossible to not join in the with the crying and the hugging. After a minute or so we were off to tackle the first of 4 hills.
From here to mile 23 or so it's a big blur. I know things that happened but I can't be sure of what order they happened in. I know I had to continue run/walking. I know that I walked all of Heartbreak Hill.
I saw a student and her family right after Heartbreak Hill and my student was so excited to see me! They were so sweet and kind. They had oranges, pretzel rods and freezing cold water. I wish I had gotten a picture with this student but I wasn't even thinking of it in the moment and the mom didn't have her phone out, that would have reminded me to take one! Anyway, we waved good bye and continued on. We were so close, yet so far away. Popsicle were being handed out and I gladly took one. They were cold, they were wet, they were sugary. It was the best Popsicle I'd had in weeks. Thankfully, Darci, a friend I passed by on the course, saw me and snapped this picture! I'm sad I didn't see Darci and her amazing sign in person! It still means so much that you came out to cheer us on!
|haha, thanks Darci for this gem! Mmm popsicles|
I was really struggling to stay positive. I felt like I'd been running for days, my legs shouldn't feel this way. My training was amazing. I'd been able to run a 9:18 av pace on my 20 mile run on THIS course. What is happening to me? Why is this happening? I tried to focus on everyone around me. People shouting my name when they'd see it on my shirt was the best. I'd pump a fist in the air or give a small wave showing them I heard them. I'm pretty sure my face looked like death. I tried to smile but I don't think my face muscles worked. At one point I was stretching my calf, feeling bummed that I had to stop, yet again, and this woman nearby was saying how awesome we were doing. She must have sensed how tired and rundown I felt, because she started saying the nicest things to me. "Remember why you're doing this... you are really so close... the hardest part is over... " I started crying, continued stretching, took a deep breath and thanked her and attempted to run again. If you ever get a chance to spectate at a race, do it! It's the most amazing thing to do and you have no idea the impact you have on the runners passing you by!
Eventually, I saw someone I work with jumping up and down, screaming my name. She was so happy and excited to see me pass by. Her son was running with MR8 and so she'd been out there all day and had hoped to see me. We took some pictures and she told me I was doing awesome. I had to work hard to smile, but with Joy you just smile without realizing it. Her energy always manages to work it's way through whatever you're feeling.
At some point after seeing Joy there was a runner to the far right of me. His name was Paul. I knew this because everyone was shouting "Go Paul!" "Yeah Paul!" "Looking strong Paul!" His name was shouted at least 30 times in the span of maybe 3-5 minutes. I smiled and said Hi to Uncle Paul. I couldn't believe that when I needed it most, he was there to get me through the toughest run. I mean, I knew he would be with me, but to have someone named Paul at the exact moment when I questioned how I'd get to the finish, was truly amazing. I got the goosebumps and tears filled my eyes. I said aloud that if I could run near Paul for the rest of the race that would be amazing. Just as sudden as I heard his name being shouted, it stopped. I don't know where the runner went, I don't even know what he looked like, but he has no idea how much him passing me at that moment meant to me. Thank you Uncle Paul. I love you. I told this story to my sister and husband through tears and a blubbering mouth on the drive home from the marathon as I processed the day that had just happened. I still cry about it when I think about it, like right now, I can barely see the screen before me.
After that all doubts fled my mind and I had a newly lit fire inside me to get to that damn finish line. We were getting closer to Boston and I didn't care how I got there. The crowd support, somehow, got better and better the closer we got to Boston. Around mile 23 we saw my awesome friends Mel and Matt and their 2 girls, who were wearing t-shirts from my first marathon- seriously, amazing! (I had actually set that same shirt out for my son to wear that day but my husband didn't seem to see it.. ha!) The girls were up on a ledge holding signs and jumping up and down. The cutest sight ever. What I will never forget is the screaming from Mel. The look on her face and the pure excitement and joy coming of her mouth! She was jumping up and down and taking pictures as Heather tossed out her warm oranges for some nice cold ones. A little more than a 5k to go. We got this! I was going to finish 45 minutes later than I had originally anticipated but, I didn't care, we were going to finish!
Running over train tracks felt like I was running up Mt. Washington. It was so much effort to get my legs to life higher than they had been. The buildings were getting closer. Shortly after mile 24 I turned on my phone. I needed to give it time to load all the notifications I knew it would be storing. I could see the city flag for Boston and I was so excited! I took my phone out again and took a picture of the flag. I could now see the Citgo sign. It was so far away, but it was there. We were SO close!!! I was getting so excited and could run longer stretches now. It was like my body overpowered what my calves wanted to do and I could run. With the end in sight it was ready to finish and be done. I wish my body had taken over earlier on! I texted my husband that we had just about to mile 25 and if Carter wanted me to, I still wanted to carry him across the finish line.
I snapped some pics of the Citgo sing, stopping to walk when I needed it. We ran again and I ended up seeing one of my TNT coaches. She waved to me and I didn't register it was her until I was right next to her. She asked how I was doing and I told her I was ok. She ran with me for a bit and then saw that I was Heather and said since I was with someone else and looking good that she was going to stay there. It was nice to see Coach Bintz!
The crowd was going wild! I was feeling overstimulated and energized at the same time! I couldn't believe we were almost done! I was enjoying looking at the crowd and I searched back and forth for my friend Beth. I knew she'd be somewhere towards the end. I wanted to make sure I didn't miss her. Heather and I stopped to walk and take a picture of the Boston Strong on the overpass. We said this would be our last time walking. We began running and somehow my body sped up and I was feeling good. I glanced back to see where Heather was. We ran this whole thing together, I wanted to finish it together.
I must have been looking back and forth so much that I didn't even realize until I was turning that I had made it to the end and was turning RIGHT on Hereford! The sound was absolutely incredible. The sun was gone and I was now in, what felt like a tunnel, a shaded area filled with people screaming like wild banshees. Some how I knew to look to my right and I saw Beth and her son there with a sign cheering and screaming for me! I waved and blew her a kiss. I was beyond thankful that she was there! I was finally feeling good, and she was all the way across the street. I had one thing on my mind... get to my son Carter and finish! I saw a message earlier from Becky giving me their location so I knew what to look for. Stay on the left. No problem. That was actually where we ran for the majority of the race. Heather and I were farther apart but I figured when I got to Carter and hugged my family she'd be close by.
I turned LEFT on Boylston and OMG! The sight of that finish line gave me chills and sent tears to my eyes instantly. This was actually happening. People lined the streets so thick, I once again thought I was an Olympic runner, clearly they were all cheering for me! Ha! Where the heck is the Lenox! I needed to find the sign and look to my left. I glanced all around me, smiled at the photographer and took it all in. Or at least tried to.
Running. Running. Running. I was still running. Finally, the black Lenox canopy flapped in the wind. I could see how far I needed to go to find my family. I spotted them and started crying. I had to choke back my tears when I got close to my son because I didn't want to frighten him.
Everyone was standing there with the biggest smiles on their face. I hugged and kissed my husband, my sister, my mom, dad and grandma. I think (I hope-I hugged Becky). Carter had a huge smile on his face and some how I managed to find the strength to carry my 40+ pound child and run with him.
The look on his face....
I'll never forget it.
I couldn't stop staring at him as I ran.
I didn't even see anything around me but his smiling face. A smile so big and proud that I wish and hope he'll remember it when he gets older.
I swear the cheers got louder when I passed by with my son in my arms, like everyone was cheering for Carter and it was amazing.
I kissed him on the cheek and squeezed him with my arm as I shot up my left arm and crossed the finish line.
I did it.
I fricken did it.
I stopped shortly after the finish line searching and searching for Heather. I wanted to hug her and congratulate her and thank her for an unforgettable day. I even saw her husband as I was walking through the finisher shoot and he asked where she was. The volunteers apologized as they had to shoo me away toward water and my medal. I kept looking around but never saw her. I didn't end up seeing Heather until 3 days after the marathon.
I moved Carter from one side of my body to the other as he didn't want to walk. I didn't blame him, but could feel all of the work I had done that day in every part of my body. I got my medal and a permanent smile on my face. I thanked Uncle Paul for helping me out that day and told him this was for him. I dug out my phone and snapped a picture of Carter holding my medal. The sun was shining from behind us. I'd like to think that was Uncle Paul sneaking in for a picture with us. I posted it to FB real quick while I waited for my family to catch up. They were walking on the other side of the barricade and had to walk allll the way around certain sections. I was surprised to see long time family friends waiting for me after the finish. What a nice thing of Tim and Karen to do... come out and cheer me on!
I never had the bawling finish like I thought I would have. I think it mostly had to do with the fact that I had my son on me and as mothers we hold some of that back as not to worry the kids. I don't know if his 3 year old mind can understand what happy tears are. However, I cried SO much throughout the day, I'm pretty sure I ran out of tears.
The memories and emotions that I had during this experience will always be with me and are far better than any time on the clock. The love and support for my charity and myself are something I'll always cherish. Blood, Sweat and Tears got me through the 2016 Boston Marathon. I can say for certain this is not the last time I'll run this course.
|2016 Boston Marathon Finisher!|