Yesterday was quite possibly one of the greatest days of my life. I can hardly believe it really happened. Not only did I have my best race I will probably ever have, I truly, honestly enjoyed every minute of it.
The day started with a 5:50 am wake up call where I was for sure I missed my alarm. Apparently the sun rises a lot earlier in Boston than in Atlanta so it was actually light out at 5:50 which was scary. I got all decked out in my outfit and blanket (which was amazing) and headed out the door with breakfast of a bagel, banana and PB in hand. I picked up a quick cup of coffee and headed to the T.
Once I got off and hit Boston Common, I immediately became overcome with emotion. Standing in line waiting for the buses I actually cried I was so overwhelmed.
This quickly passed when I got on the bus and met my new friends for the morning. Michelle, Maryann and Renee took me in and I stayed with them all morning in Athletes village. Renee and Maryann were veterans and filled me in on everything on the bus. What to look for, what you had to see, when to speed up and slow down, literally everything they could think of.
After getting off the bus, we staked out some territory in Athletes village to wait out the next almost two hours. We had an incredibly emotional moment of silence and a flyover by Charlie Company helicopters that flew over the entire course (in 15 minutes no less).
When the time finally came for us to line up for wave 2 my stomach actually dropped. Renee and I got up, she attempted to calm my nerves and we began the half-mile trek to the start line. People were already lined up along the sidelines this early on, it was remarkable, but still didn’t prepare me for the rest of the course.
At the end of the walk, corral 7 and 8 split and I said goodbye and good luck to Renee before making my way to the actual start line. Before I knew it we were off!
I hadn’t gone 1 mile before I heard someone call my name from behind; it was Renee!! I was so excited to see her and to have my new friend to run with, especially because she was such a veteran and could point out everything I didn’t want to miss.
The miles just slipped by. Never once did I count down how far I had left, which is an insane rarity for me. When I say there were people along the entire course, I absolutely mean it. From the crazy biker bar at mile 2, to all the residents of every town, to the people jumping on trampolines, to the Wellsley girls (that is an actual real life wall of sound), to the kids of Boston college and all the incredible spectators in down town Boston.
Running through Wellsley at the half way mark was the only time I actually shed a tear during the race. I couldn’t hold it in, it was such an overwhelming amount of support there was just no other way to react. However, I knew once we made it through here, there was one mile left until the hills were going to start.
This is where I thanked god I trained in Atlanta. I am not going to say it was easy by any means but I will say I wasn’t sure if what we did was “Heartbreak Hill”. I knew there were a series of four hills but I wasn’t sure which ones were counting. Once I asked another runner and he confirmed it I knew it was smooth sailing. I was elated, and we were cruising downhill. A guy in mile 20 even said, “You aren’t even sweating, but it’s nice to see you are having a good time.” I had a huge grin plastered across my face ear to ear, I just know it.
Mile 21 was where the magic happened for me. I felt good, like really good so I thought why not, lets just go. Then I started high fiving BC students like it was my job. When I say I was giving high fives for a half a mile, it is absolutely no exaggeration. The skin on my right hand and arm was red/purple. I had to give up eventually because it was wearing me out, but not until I had put in a 7:30 mile.
I still felt good, and the miles kept slipping by in the 7:30-7:40 range. The crowd was getting louder. There was a slight breeze finally cooling me off and I was at the very end of the Boston marathon. At mile 24 I was actually so sad it was almost over. I had two miles to go and was bummed I didn’t have more left. Rounding the corner to Hereford, I knew I was in the home stretch. After my watch beeped mile 26, I ended up with 0.41 to go and averaged a 6:16 mile. That is 100% due to the most incredible crowd, city, law enforcement, service members and volunteers cheering me on harder than I was running. I feel like the crowd literally picked me up and threw me the last 6 miles, I hardly even felt like I was running.
I crossed the finish line in 3:24:24 with over a 6 minute PR. Walking through the shoot I was nothing short of delirious, elated, ecstatic and all the other words that mean the-happiest-I-have-ever-been-in-my-whole-life! I stumbled through and got my medal and fancy foil jacket and just as I was grabbing water saw Casey on the sidelines. Then I happened to run in to the sister of a girl I was on the beach patrol with back home in Delaware, small world.
When I finally met up with Casey we headed back to get my stuff from the gear check, took a few pictures and kinda had to get a move on to be able to catch our flight. People everywhere were congratulating me, I felt like a pro-athlete.
I cannot possibly explain what an absolutely remarkable experience this was for me. The city of Boston was so overwhelmingly welcoming, the crowd support was incredible and the memory of those who lost their lives and had theirs forever changed lived on in every mile. I would say you have to live it yourself, but I don’t know if any other year will quite be like this one. Boston came back with a vengeance and I can’t believe my own two feet allowed me to be part of it.
I want to say thank you to my family, my friends and Casey for supporting me and encouraging me endlessly not only this weekend but always. I want to thank Boston for being an incredible host. I want to thank everyone who ran today, in years past and in the future for making the Boston Marathon what it is today.
Sean Collier, Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Lingzi Lu we ran for you today, I hope we made you proud! We all run Boston! BOSTON STRONG!