As promised, my race report is here. This is what I send to everyone, so it was written not just for our forum. Excuse reading things you already knew about me.
Now curl up on the sofa, grab a beverage and see if you can make it through.
My long journey to the 2015 Boston Marathon
Brace yourself this is a super long read!
As most of you know my runner dream was to run the Boston Marathon.
Way back in 2011 I did my first qualifying run at the Glass City Marathon. Unfortunately the 2012 Boston was the first year under new registration rules. Rolling registration changed everything for me and faster runners beat me out even though I had almost two minutes on my (then) qualifying time.
I cried for two weeks. After a long pity party I convinced myself that working on completing my 50 states was more important. Sooo that’s just what I did, running as many as 16 marathons a year in different states. But the Boston dream was still in my heart.
Planning for my 50th state became very real in 2013. The outlier was Massachusetts.
Fast-forward to 2014 and a run for a new (and harder) qualifying time.
Running Erie became a near miss which put me 26 seconds out of my goal. Once again I was so close to my Boston dream. Since I really wanted Boston to be my Massachusetts marathon, the YPOM gals convinced me that I should put in for a charity.
Now I know what your thinking. Just put in, raise money, they take everyone. Well that turned out not to be the case. The American Red Cross had a 4-page application and 40.00 non-refundable fee just to be considered! I tried for 4 different charities. Waiting for confirmation was nerve racking. After my third rejection I was ready to give up.
Then a miracle happened. With everyone’s help and the graciousness of American Liver Foundation I was able to get one step closer to my dream. The Run for Research Team wanted me as part of their Boston team. Go Livers!
Oh the excitement. Here it was September and I was accepted into the race that I’d dreamed of for so long.
All I needed to do was raise a little money (hahaha) if you consider $5000 a little. Pay the 325.00 entrance fee and train my butt off. Boston was in my sites.
Tim Cripsey, (and his running club the Thundering Gazelles), Joe Burn’s (and all the Back to the Beach Runners), my wonderful Brooksie Way training AM group and of course the my own wonderful running club, YOUR PACE OR MINE made it happen.
Tim and I organized the Warm Hearted Runners 5k walk and run.
The event was December 12th and with the generosity of everyone that gave to my web site and those that ran, I had hit my goal on December 13th.
This is where I have to back track just a little.
With great victory also came great loss.
During that time we all lost a great friend. Nicky’s death on December 4th was the beginning of what has turned out to be a very difficult 2015. Secondly my Mom was hospitalized on Dec 7th (indecently the day after I flew home from the Rehobooth Beach marathon). That was my first week of Boston Marathon training.
A little about Mom, back in 2013 my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 renal cancer. At that time she was given one year. I was a mess then but she never showed signs of illness. We were fortunate! Even with a year and a half of chemo Mom lived a great life with no side effects. Mom had 2 fantastic years. Years that she was able to do so much.
This time however the cancer won. It had moved into her bones.
The last four months were the most difficult in my life.
Not only did we have mom in and out of hospitals and rehab facilities, so many other friends suffered losses that really hit home. Many of us had heavy hearts that running (let alone sleeping) was just not high on the priority list.
In January I did take a weekend away to run the New Orleans marathon. At that time Mom was in rehab so I felt safe to leave Michigan. Since I hadn’t run more than 12 miles since Delaware I knew it was not going to be pretty. It was all thanks to my wonderful YPOM traveling companions that gave me a wonderful race and a moment out of time. Little did I know how very much I would need that time.
While the Michigan winter weather got worse so did mom. Every day was just a bit harder.
Why am I telling you all this?
Well you see, my journey to Boston was not what most runners have or even what I had hoped it to be. Instead it was so much more.
April 2, after a long battle, Mom passed away peacefully. There are not enough words to thank everyone for their support, prayers and good wishes that were sent to my family and me. Mom had requested to have nothing more than private mass, which was held, at her church on April 16th.
John and I left for Boston on Friday April 17th with such mixed feelings.
My heart, which had been so heavy for so long still was not fully into the task ahead. Training, if you call one long run a week, training, was going to have to get me through. The 12 pounds I’d gained in the past 5 months sat on my butt and of course made clothes fit in a most unflattering way (ladies I know you know what I mean). And last but not least, the cold I’d been fighting made my chest so tight that I was just a bit worried that finishing in the 6 hour cut off might be a problem.
The dream of running Boston was here and I felt like a fraud.
Now the kind and wonderful people of Boston didn’t care. They didn’t look at me and say, “Hey what are you doing here!” The city of Boston embraced all runners, even those who didn’t quite look the part (say’s my 12 pound heavier butt).
Now I could tell you all about that wonderful first day in great detail but that would add another hour on to your reading so I’ll just give the travel log:
1. First Stop Sam Adams Brewery Tour (yes beer for breakfast at 10a)
2. Go to lunch (and drink more beer, hey it was for a free glass, you know you would have done it too!)
3. Go to hotel and check in
4. Head to expo and be completely overwhelmed!
5. Come back to hotel to rest before heading to Fenway park
6. Watch the Red Sox win in walk off fashion from seats on the Green Monster!
7. Finally Sleep. Yes a real sleep with not one alarm set.
Yes and that all was just Friday!
I could go on and tell you about Team brunch, pasta parties and napping in Boston Common but you’ll just have to join me on a run for all that.
Since this is my race report I’m just going to skip ahead to Monday morning or you’ll be reading until the next Boston marathon.
Soooo. For weeks the weather reports were showing bad weather for the day before and the day after the marathon with a special window of perfection called Marathon Monday. Unfortunately the weatherman was just a touch off.
Beginning Sunday morning, the B.A.A. started sending out blasts regarding what would be challenging weather conditions. Cold, rain and high winds were predicted and unfortunately they did get it right that time, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Monday morning started for me at 4:30am where I spent a good ten minutes covering myself from head to toe in Waxeleen (like body glide only better). It was while putting on what felt like my own waxy body condom I began to chest pains. Yes chest pains on the morning of the biggest race ever. I did the checklist and knew it wasn’t a heart attack. After months of stress, poor sleep and worry, my body decided today was the day to start a chest cold. Just a small amount of panic set in.
For months I’d been telling myself that it would be okay that I hadn’t trained. I mean really this was about to be my 51st marathon. I had just run a marathon two months before in 5:05 surely I would be able to finish this race in under the 6 hour course time limit. That morning I wasn’t so sure.
I quickly dressed in my YPOM running jacket and team Liver Tank and set out to meet the rest of the team in the hotel’s ballroom.
Now running with a charity had some really really great perks and just a few drawbacks. First we were very fortunate to have our own bus to the start. Deluxe motor coach all the way! The Liver Foundation packed each of us a runner breakfast bag for the road and let’s not overstate the luxury of a private bus bathroom! The gals made an orange duck tape nametag for me to proudly wear on the front of my orange team jersey. Everyone was welcoming and great. The drawback was that we had to leave at 6a. I know, I know your all thinking that’s a normal time to leave for a race, however our wave did not start until after 11:15am.
Boston, however, sure does treat it’s runners right. Athletes village had everything you could want and more. Water, Gatorade of all forms, bananas, bagels, coffee, hot chocolate, hot tea, water, last minute medical supplies like Vaseline and Band-Aids not to mentions the largest banks of port o potties in the free world. And as nice as all that was it was still a long long wait.
Sitting on the bus, swapping stories with team members was great. We even started to feel fairly optimistic since it hadn’t started raining yet. It was a great time. So great that I started to think that I should have a time goal. Yeah, real stupid since earlier in the morning I was just hoping to not have a heart attack on the course. I decided I should up grade my time goal from “just finish under 6 hours”, to “hey why not just under 5 hours”.
And then the rain came.
Yes as I stated earlier the weatherman got timing just about right. If you were watching TV you probably saw the top runners head out. I was still on the bus. Bet they looked great at half waypoint. I was still on the bus. Oh boy, about the 30k mark it started to rain on the leaders. I was still on the bus! Holy crap it really started to rain.
Guess what time I had to get off the bus!
Yup you guessed it! Wave four left the bus and headed to athletes village in a nice gentle rain. We began our .7 of a mile walk to our corral thinking, this isn’t so bad. All weather worries were soon forgotten when the call came and we were sent off.
Hey it wasn’t so bad. First the gloves got tossed at mile one. Then the toss away sweatshirt was disposed of at mile 2. I was wet but comfortable till the 5k mark where they skies really opened up and it poured.
The race directors, the coaches, everyone who has ever run Boston will all give you the same advice. DON’T START OUT TOO FAST!!!!
Well guess what I did? While the pace I was going was really not too fast for me. That is when I’m in normal running shape, however it was way way way too fast for someone so out of shape and under trained.
For the next 10 miles I made an effort to slow down, knowing that if I didn’t there would be a world of hurt in those later miles.
The problem was the crowd. No they were not bad, they were AWESOME! And I do mean awesome.
People told me that the crowds at Boston were like no other and to be honest I wasn’t expecting anything special. I mean really, I have run Chicago twice where the spectators number over a million. How could Boston be any different?
Again, I was so wrong.
First of all having my name on my chest was brilliant. (yes it helps that Sue is a one-syllable name that is easy to read). For the entire race, and I do mean the entire race I was cheered on by name. Just a bit later I’ll tell you why that was both good and bad. The spectators were epic. Remember most of them, by the time they cheered for me, had been out on the course for a minimum of 3 hours (some near the end for as long as 7) in freezing cold rain. Boston Strong is really not a slogan for runners but a truth regarding the heart and soul of the city. It is really the spectators that make this the world-class race it is.
Now back to me….
Yes I went out too fast but felt I had a pretty good handle on slowing down and settling in by the halfway point. I just enjoyed the running rhythm, the cute towns and cheering crowds.
The gals at Wellesley College did not disappoint because I could hear them a good quarter mile before I saw them. Hey guys I’ve got to tell you the ladies of Wellesley were something else!
For a time the weather even cleared up just a bit and for about a quarter mile I felt just a little warm.
Yes the famed Newton hills. To be honest I didn’t really think they would have been bad (if I had trained at all on hills) but at the time I hit them, the wind decided that was the perfect time to start gusting. So much for getting warm.
Remember earlier when I said that going out too fast would come back to haunt me. Well the combo of a too fast start, too cold temperatures, made this part of the race a bit of a challenge. All I can say is thank god for BEER. Yes Beer! I found a kind soul who gave me a red solo cup at mile 17 and another kind soul with a blue solo cup at mile 19 followed by a cute Dixie cup full at the top of Heart Break Hill.
Those little breaks also helped me over some really emotional moments. Yes this race was full of them.
It was lots of little things that often brought me close to tears. Whether it was the runner next to me with the picture of her Mom that she was running in honor of, or the runner who was bundled in a Mylar blanket walking because she told me she was just too cold to run or the guy I passed who was on crutches because he hurt himself just a week before. Yes it was a very emotional run.
Like most marathons for me there comes a point where I just don’t want to run anymore. If I’m not running for a time it’s easy. I just take a walk break. Remember when I said the crowd knowing your name could be good and bad.
Here were the bad.
For when I really really wanted to take a walk break, the crowd would cheer:
“Go Sue Go”
“Go Sue Your doing awesome”
“Hey Sue you got this”
“Sue you are Boston Strong Girl”
Sometimes it was just a group chanting “SUE, SUE, SUE”!
Just when I would stop to walk, they would shame me into running again. After all how can you walk with such an awesome crowd cheering you on! They even cheered when I did something not very ladylike.
“Yeah Sue, Go Sue, Great snot rocket Sue” (really I didn’t make that up).
With every mile I found myself hearing voices in the crowd that I could recognize. It was strange but they were yours. My best and most wonderful supporters back home. During those last 4 or so miles I thought of everyone who helped me get here in one way or another. You all were with me every step of the way.
Sometimes my emotions were overwhelming.
But before I knew it, I made the turn on to Boylston. And there it was.
The finish line that for three days I walked under, took pictures of, had dreams of passing. Now was my time. For so many years, so many miles, set backs, injuries, near misses and missed opportunities, my finish line was in reach. I almost couldn’t find my breath.
With the rain coming down I crossed the line at 4:41:41.
Was it the pretty race I dreamed of? No
Instead it was real and way better than any dream. I started this with a heavy heart, self doubts and lots of emotional baggage.
In the end I ran my race the best I could with friends and family supporting me feeling victorious.
I gave my sport my heart and it gave it right back to me.
Now I would love to end this race report this way so if you’re tired of reading feel free to stop now. If you have time I’d like to share with you what happens to a body that doesn’t train for a marathon.
Are you still with me? Good.
After I finished and received a water bottle, medal and warming blanket (they were really cool with a Velcro closure and a hood) it really started to rain hard. Instead of going to the food area I decided to just go back to the hotel and meet John.
I could see my hotel but with the security check points I had to walk about three blocks out of my way to get to the hotels entrance.
At this point I was really getting cold but other than being an emotional wreck I didn’t feel too bad. I finally made it to the hotel more than ready to get out of my soaking clothes and sit down. So were the other 100 people in the lobby waiting for elevators.
While standing and waiting things started to go just a little wrong. Every second felt like hours. After just a few minutes I knew I was going to get sick. I calmly walked to the security desk and stated that I was going to be sick. The sweet security officer said Now?! And since I was probably a nice shade of green he handed me his trash can for which I promptly deposited every water and Gatorade from the last two miles of the marathon.
Now the problem with being cold is that when you stop you are even colder. They brought me a chair to sit in. After sitting just a second or two I promptly went from green to blue. Yes Blue! Hands, lips, nails were a lovely smurf blue. Security to the rescue. They all took off their jackets and wrapped me up tight. It was the promise to call medical that got my butt up quick.
Do I want a wheel chair? I think my answer was “Hell to the No”. After all I just ran the Boston marathon damn it! Surely I can get my cold butt up to my room.
Again Boston Strong is not just about runners. Michael from security was wonderful. I think he knew how much getting up on my own meant so he held my elbow, took me up in the staff elevator, opened my door, and ordered hot towels. He made me promise to warm up with them for 10 minutes before getting in that hot shower I was dreaming about. Going into shock is not the way you want to end your marathon day.
Listening like a good girl I texted John to let him know I made it up to the room. Warmed up with my towels then hopped into the most heavenly warm shower known to man.
So that is the long and short of my Boston Marathon race report other than to once again thank you all. Most of all I thank my husband John. He spent the past 5 months living all of my highs and lows. He dealt with more drama than any man should have to, with caring, love and unconditional support. Honey when you read this I hope you know I wouldn’t be any thing (or want to be anywhere) without you. Thank you, for being you and making me, a better me.
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