Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Marathon Monday continued...

I’m currently hobbling around Boston/Cambridge, and loving every second of it! 

Race day started off as planned. I slept well after having a half of a glass of red wine to be able to calm down enough to relax (Thanks Mike!) I woke up around 4:30a and then headed to the Marriott in Copley via Jamie's jeep. I packed my green marathon bag with enough crap to last me for days, but hey, you never know when you're going to need duck tape, leg warmers, and a half eaten bagel... Angela and I were pretty much inseparable from then until around mile 13 of the marathon. We waited in line to be bused down to Hopkinton until at least 7:10a. We arrived around 8:15a to Athlete village and man did we have to go to the bathroom. There were runners asking to get off the moving buses to go into the woods to pee. It was crazy. We kept driving and seeing people randomly walking out of the woods in their running gear. I'll leave the rest to your imagination. 

We finally got around to the Dana Farber refuge and had our team photo. After we took the photo with all 550 of us, they asked all of the cancer survivors who were running to come down and take another photo. There were at least 15 people. I didn't even realize how many of my teammates were survivors. It was really amazing and emotional to see how far they've came. We were finally closing in on 10:40a and we were heading to the starting line "corrals". Literally, they corral you in these fenced off areas. I was heading through an entrance to the corral area and out of no where, Teddy Bruschi opened the gate for me. I gave him a high five and then was on my way! 

Fast forward to the start. I remember looking at Angela and saying, "holy $Hit. We're running the Boston Marathon!!" As most of you know, the first 5 miles are basically downhill. It's gradual too, so you barely even know that you're flying. I was tracking at a 10 minute mile pace for the first 13 miles which was right on track with where I wanted to be. I was running with a few of my team members but my knee was pretty tight on the right side. Around Wellesley College, things took a turn for the worse. The crazy yelling and the amount of people at Wellesley kept my attention for awhile away from the pain. Then it got REALLY bad. 

I told the girls to go ahead. I had to stop. My IT band tightened up on the right side and started pulling on my knee preventing me from being able to bend without severe pain. I stopped to stretch and then tried to continue running. All I could think at that point was how mad I was. I trained so hard for four and half months without too much pain. People kept yelling my name since it was on my shirt and also telling me how thankful they were for the money I raised for Dana Farber because of the singlet I was wearing. This is what kept me going. This and the thoughts of all of the people supporting me that day and the months before. I basically walked from mile 13-16 until I reached my Napoleon cheering squad. My parents, their friends, and some of my childhood friends came in for the weekend. They were there cheering so loudly and with such enthusiasm. I had to start running again. I thought about the pain I was in and then I thought about the cancer patients I was helping and how hours of exhaustion can't even compare to what my friend, RJ went through until he ultimately lost his fight against cancer. I cried at least five different times along the last 13 miles. I met a girl on the route who had the exact same injury, we walked those few miles together and then I knew I had it in me to run the rest. I wanted to run so badly. When I hit the Newton hills, I realized I was near the home stretch. I had run those last nine miles probably 15 times. That helped a ton because I knew what was ahead. I also ran into a fellow teammate who had the same injury, she suggested that I get sprayed with lidocaine at every medical tent to numb my leg and hip. Now that was a great idea! When I hit heartbreak hill, I just kept saying "I am resilient" over and over again. I was determined to run up that hill with vigor! I knew that some of my Ohio State friends and Mike were going to be just over heartbreak at BC, so I kept on my game face and ran through the pain. I was SO happy to see them! I gathered some energy and kept going. 

After that point, I took my last gel pack and got another burst of energy. When I turned on to Beacon St. in Coolige Corner, I was thinking about my friends at mile 23. They were all at PJ's and were probably going to be feeling pretty good by the time I got to them. I was right. Lauren ran with an American flag, PJ ran with a big sign with my name on it, and Dan ran with a beer can. They ran with me for at least one mile like that. It was EXACTLY what I needed.... then they got tired. 

By this point, I was approaching Kenmore square, near Fenway. The Dana Farber patients were cheering like crazy at mile 25 just going over the bridge over 90, I lost it again. They were so amazing, I couldn't hold it together. As we merged back on to Commonwealth, I thought of the last two years I watched the marathon from  that exact place and cheered people coming up that last hill. I flew up that hill and passed a few people on the way. Jamie could hardly keep up with her bike. I took the right on Hereford and was overcome with people cheering my name. I said outloud, "Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston." My body was shutting down, but I had to keep going. Once I took the left onto Boylston, I saw the finish down the way. All I could think was don't speed up yet, it's too far!  I remember seeing Tasha, RJ's wife, hanging over the fence SCREAMING my name yelling. Then I saw my friends and my parents next to her. I blew a kiss to my Mom, my hero, and a tear rolled down my face. I turned my head and the finish was right there. As I crossed the line that I've come to know so well in the city, I threw my hands in the air but I couldn't stop my feet from moving. It was the craziest thing. Then I abruptly stopped and almost fell over. I finished. I FINISHED!... and now all I wanted was some cold water. I finally found the place to pick up the medals and met up with some teammates and then was escorted back to the Marriott to meet up with my family and the rest of the team. 

Things I will remember about the race are my fans at miles 16, 21, 23 and the finish and of course, Jamie for biking along side of me during the last 10 miles. You were my angel on Monday. If I didn't have them there, I don't know how I would have finished. 

I will also never forget the last mile. I was in SO much pain, but the people and the energy got me to the finish. 

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