April 21st, 2018
As I’m sitting here in my cozy living room, by the fire, with my feet up, I am contemplating how different I felt crossing the Boston Marathon finish line 5 days ago. Here I sit warm and relaxed. Clear-headed. But I was anything but warm or clear-headed when I ran down Boylston Street to the finish line a few days ago.
I woke up to snow today. Snow mixed with rain at the end of April. That’s Colorado for you. I had an 8-mile run on my schedule, but one look at that weather, and even though the temperature was like 40 degrees, I just couldn’t muster the willpower to go run outside. It brings back rather unpleasant memories/sensations from Monday’s race to be in any conditions that are wet, windy and/or cold. Almost like a weird kind of PTSD…. I know, that sounds kind of dramatic, but it was….dramatic. And a little traumatic, if I’m being honest.
Over the last couple days, more and more of the running community that ran Boston this year have been posting their experiences on social media. Everyone has an epic tale to tell. There is this sense of catharsis with these posts. Like you have to share your story to come to terms, mentally, with it.
It was one of the hardest mental battles I have ever fought. Why? The race-day weather. The starting temps were in the low 30’s with a wind chill around 20 degrees. Along with those weather challenges we also had headwinds up to 35 mph, and constant, heavy rain. Tough stuff.
I feel this kinship with everyone that was out there on Monday; taking on the elements as they battered our bodies and souls. We were down in the trenches together. Our adversary was the weather and ourselves.
There is definitely something dreamlike, something ethereal to my memory of Boston, but I will try my best to capture, in words, my experience.
This is when I give you the disclaimer that this will, more that likely, be a very long post. Read on if it interests you; if not, well, thanks for visiting! My running memoir is just that, a memoir.
So, it is important to note some key players in this year’s Boston story. My good friend, Brooke Clayton, plays a starring role. Other characters include a vibrant, talented group of Fort Collins runners that traveled to Hopkinton with us by bus this year. We had the privilege of hanging out with them in the Running Club Athlete Village (more about that later).
The training cycle for Boston had its ups and downs. While I stayed injury – free during this training cycle–except for some minor Plantar Fasciitis–Brooke was hit with Influenza B hard our last month before Boston. She was so sick she couldn’t even run. But, she came back strong about three weeks before Boston, totally Brooke-style.
Sunday, April 15th, Race Eve
We left Fort Collins around 5 am on Sunday to catch our 7:57am departure out of DIA. Emptying our bags of liquids and foods at the TSA screening was comical. Only a fellow marathoner could understand why we had so much food! Carb-loading was still in full swing AND we had all our in-race nutrition and post-race stuff too!
We boarded our plane without any incident, but then United decided to keep us on the runway for an hour and then add an hour to our flight. That was long. The problem was Boston. Boston was being hit with freezing rain and causing United to reroute and approach from a different direction. To do this, they had to add fuel to the plane to compensate for our extra traveling distance.
We were a little concerned by our delay because we were already landing, without the delay, just three hours before the Boston Expo was ending. Arriving before the end was crucial because we had to pick up our racing bibs in order to be able to run!
We ended up landing at 4:30pm and went directly, by Uber, with our backpacks, to the expo. The expo was pretty deserted by then, but we were able to get our race bibs and spend a little bit of time visiting the different vendor booths and getting a few gifts for family.
The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) had set up a free shuttle from the expo to the Back Bay where our hotel was, but finding where to grab the shuttle proved impossible.
When we left the expo, the wind was blowing, a light rain was falling and it was FREEZING. We gave up on finding the shuttle stop and decided to hail an Uber.
The three minutes the Uber app reported it would take our Uber driver to get to us stretched into 15! Brooke sought shelter in a nearby garage and I kept look out. It was a desperate time. We were tired from flying, fatigued from carrying our backpacks/bags around since the airport, we were cold, and filled with anxiety for the race the next day, oh AND hungry!
Finally, the Uber arrived and we jumped in.
The Boston Marriott Copley Place
We got settled into our hotel room at the Boston Marriott Copley Place and went in search of food. While in Fort Collins, I had done some sleuthing and had found a restaurant near our hotel called SweetGreen that could make a rice, chicken, salad meal to order so that we could get the carb-loading, pre-marathon meal that we desired. Getting to the restaurant was another fun adventure–we took the sky bridge.
The Boston Marriott Copley Place is the sweetest Boston hotel that I have stayed in. It is connected to the Shops at the Prudential Center by an enclosed sky bridge. This meant we had access to 40 shops and 18 restaurants without having to feel one drop of rain. Since this trip was pretty much non-stop rain (aside from the day we left–of course) the sky bridge access to these incredible stores and restaurants was beyond convenient!
We dined and then Brooke grabbed some pre-race Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for the walk back. (Hey, everyone carb-loads in their own way. I could be persuaded to try her method next time!)
We briefly checked out the hotel and discovered a hot tub on one of the levels. Yes! We decided we would definitely need to visit that after the race.
Our First Encounter with Buttonless Elevators
(Side note, we discovered on this trip the existence of elevators with no floor numbers or buttons to call. I don’t know if you can fully appreciate this scene without being there, but when we first arrived at the hotel with all our stuff, tired hungry and cold, we went to the elevator section and found 6 or so elevators with no buttons to call them. We walked around in a noticeable stupor until Brooke exclaimed, “Krista, what is happening!” She too felt like we must be missing something with the buttonless elevators. We did, eventually see a screen off to the side where you put in your floor number and it assigns you a lettered (ABCDE) elevator to go stand by that will take you to your floor. Once you are on, it stops on that floor. You don’t have any buttons to choose inside or out…#crazy)
Preparing to Race
We arrived back at our room and prepared for the next morning by laying out everything we would need and loading our bag for the bus. My Timex Factory Team jersey had arrived in the nick of time. Luckily, Boston’s late start meant we didn’t have to get up before 5:30am. I ordered an Uber to pick us up at 6:00am to take us to meet our private bus at MIT, and we hit the light.
At this point, we were both feeling pretty nervous because of the weather and because of all the moving parts to get us to the race start. We were both ready to start running and to finish running.
Monday, April 16th, Race Day
Alarms woke us up on time and we prepared for battle. We dressed, I had 8 oz of water with a double-serving of Mio (getting a little caffeine in the system; wakes me up but also helps wake up my intestines which is helpful if you have a few hours to go before a race). We took a quick pre-race pic and left our hotel to look for our Uber.
Anxiety level high.
Intersecting with our Uber was going to be tricky because I wasn’t planning on running with my phone. This hadn’t occurred to me until that morning, but with the Uber already scheduled, there wasn’t much I could do! I took screenshots of the information about the Uber car and driver and texted them to Brooke and we headed down.
Running Down an Uber in the Rain
We headed downstairs to look for our Uber. We had an arrival window and we weren’t sure if he was there yet. Brooke spotted him a block or so away and we headed toward him as fast as we could in the rain–oatmeal and bag in tow. We were about half way to him–running–and Brooke noticed he was starting to drive away. That would be disastrous!! We had to make it to our private bus on time to get to the start and to get a seat with our friends.
We kept on running while our Uber, luckily, was stopped at a red light. I literally jumped in front of his car to keep him from leaving and we jumped in.
At this point, he had cancelled our trip and was pretty annoyed with us for jumping in his car. But, seriously, it was raining, we were freezing, and he was our ticket to MIT. He said he had tried calling me several times and I explained I didn’t have my phone. (Eye roll.)
Brooke quickly downloaded the Uber app to her phone and we re-ordered him, promising him a nice tip for sheltering us and taking us anyway. He really seemed annoyed, but once we got him ordered–and he knew he was getting paid–he turned on the charm.
We breathed a sigh of relief as he started us on our way to MIT, about 15 minutes away.
Duke’s Private Bus
Okay, let me just say right now, that getting a seat on the private bus enabled us to finish the 122nd Boston Marathon. Period. This was such a crucial part of our experience! A BIG shout-out to Terry Grenwelge of Fort Collins for the hook-up and for telling us to meet the buses at 6:30am–we had been planning on getting there later.
Our Uber got us to the private bus right in the nick of time. We were able to hop on board immediately–still raining–and were surprised to see that it was already partially full even at 6:25 am–nearly 45 minutes before we were set to leave! Not long after our arrival, the bus filled. There were supposed to be 4 private buses parked along MIT for scheduled riders, but something happened and the other 3 were delayed. This meant that the other runners that arrived after our bus was full had to wait outside in the wind and rain until the buses arrived! We felt so bad for those runners! Fighting to stay warm was not how you wanted to spend your energy right before a marathon!
So, A Little Bit About These Buses….
Running clubs provide comfortable intercity “coach” buses that go directly to Hopkinton from MIT. In Hopkinton, the buses park in a private lot adjacent to the Athlete’s Village at Hopkinton High School, in a lot set aside by the BAA exclusively for running clubs. The buses remain in Hopkinton, and available for passengers to use, until after the race begins. There are a limited amount of these buses so getting a seat is pretty awesome. That $35 was well spent.
Not only did the bus keep us sheltered from the rain, but it also had a bathroom on board that I frequented several times. Once we arrived at the village, we had our own private porta-potties, right out the door, so didn’t have to wait in lines or even get more than a couple drops on us.
The bus driver kept the heat going for the entire 3 hours we occupied this bus before race start. Seriously. Hanging out with our friends from Fort Collins, and meeting new friends on the bus, was such a great way to distract us from the pending, wet challenge ahead of us.
(In years past, before I learned of private buses, I would board a school bus at Boston Common–no bathroom–for the 45-minute, bladder-bursting ride to Hopkinton, then immediately upon entering the village, when you have to depart the buses, I would hightail it to a porta-potty line. There is one large canopy to shelter under, but other than that, you are just outside until race start. The lines for the porta-potties get really long…. Remember, 30,000 runners run the Boston Marathon.)
Time to Go
We watched our red and white-bibbed friends begin to slowly exit the bus to head for the starting line corrals. (Although my Tucson Marathon time had earned me a white bib in wave 2, to run with Brooke, I needed to join wave 3–wouldn’t miss running with Brooke for the world! We took advantage of this extra time to prepare and try and pysch ourselves up for what we were about to do.
While on the bus, we were also focusing on fueling ourselves physically. From the time I entered the bus, I finished my oatmeal, 16 oz of Maurten 320, and a 1/3 of a bagel.
We also took some time to hunt down some discarded grocery bags from our departed friends to secure around our running shoes for the soggy walk to the race start. (We were prepared to walk in our extra donation shoes we had worn, but then thought it would be a pain to change our shoes standing out in the pelting rain before race start.)
They called our wave and I was still loading all my gels, fixing my music, adjusting my poncho, tying bags over my feet etc. The time to depart had crept up on me and I was behind! I didn’t have my poncho set up and had an unopened space blanket in one hand and hot pockets in the other when I carefully stepped down the bus stairs in my bag-covered shoes. The wind and rain instantly assailed me. Trying to keep my poncho and space blanket around me was a joke.
We joined the mass of runners walking up to the corrals from the Athlete village and then things started to get real.
Earth, Wind and Water and an Alien Trudge to the Start
This was my fourth Boston, but nothing prepared me for the mess that was the Athlete Village. While we sheltered on our warm, cozy buses, thousands of other runners huddled under the massive canopy in the middle of the athlete village field; a field that had turned into a swampy, muddy mess from all the rain! What was usually a field of order, was absolute chaos. The race announcer kept reminding runners that only the blue wave should be headed to start line, but we were seeing yellow bibs everywhere–the wave after our wave.
I started to feel panicky that we were going to miss our wave. It wouldn’t have been the end of the world; we could have started with yellow, but I didn’t want to stand out in this pelting rain and wind for any longer than necessary.
At this point, we were all walking kind of blind. You wanted to look down to keep the rain out of your eyes, and everyone around you had their silver space blankets wrapped around their heads so it was hard to distinguish between one person and the next. We were a slow-moving, silver mass packed together like a bunch of slimy sardines.
Mud and puddles of water were difficult to dodge as we tried to weave or way into the blue wave and out of all the yellow wave runners that had lined up–prematurely! I spotted several runners’ shoes that were already soaked and in some cases covered in mud. Brooke’s right shoe had lost its garbage bag and was completely soaked–not the way you wanted to start a marathon. I was worried for her; for us all!
Somewhere in all this weaving, I lost Brooke and our bus friend, Marissa Mercurio, that headed to the start line with us. Not good. I started shouting out Brooke’s name, but couldn’t hear or see her. I had the horrible thought that we would be separated for the entire run, lost in this sea of soggy runners. I finally gave up looking for her, happy she at least had Marissa, and concentrated on not falling down (or getting too muddy) and kept shuffling toward the start line. My hope was that I would reunite again with Brooke in our starting corral as they divided this mass of runners into smaller groups.
Clothes, trash bags, and food lay discarded everywhere in the two villages. (Usually, runners respectfully leave these items in the trash bins provided, but today, it seemed everyone was in pure survival mode and had just dropped things as they went.) It was such a mess. I can’t imagine how long it took to clean up!!!!! (26 tons, 50,000 pounds, of clothing were left behind. The good news, the proceeds all go to supporting local children).
Head down, feet forward, rain pelting, wind blowing we all moved forward to the start. Through what could only be described as a miraculous event, I heard my name above the elements and crowds and saw that Brooke and Marissa had found me!! We joyously reunited and continued our forward movement.
Missing the Start
Our delayed departure from the buses, and our extra-long walk to the start line, resulted in us missing our wave start! This was absolute craziness. We are rushing as best we can to the start line, trying to decide when to shed our final warm layers that are offering us some protection from the rain, and realize we just have to start running! The volunteers aren’t even checking our bibs; they are just telling us to start running to catch our wave!
We quickly stop and shed everything except our ponchos and sweatshirts. I gulp down my gel and we take off. We not only missed our wave, but the yellow wave is just about to start. We head over the start line with absolute zero fanfare and join the last stragglers of the blue wave as we begin our very wet, cold journey to Boston.
A Very Different First Few Miles
The one upside to being late to our wave and missing the start is that there is hardly anyone around us when we start. Typically, you are so sandwiched in that you have to run at the pace of the pack. In our case, there was no pack! That was nice, but so weird at the same time. We fought to settle into a pace and to figure out the best way to run with the driving rain.
I learned quickly that my “waterproof” gloves were getting saturated, and Brooke recommended I not use the poncho arm holes and just keep my arms/and hands inside under the poncho the whole run. This was genius and kept my hands from getting completely soaked.
As I ran, I put the hot pockets into the top of each of my gloves and instantly my hands started to feel better–thank you, Brooke, for the foresight!! My hands stayed warmish a long time because of this factor.
Trying to Enjoy It
Once all my gear was situated, I tried to get my mind to a better place and enjoy what I was doing. We had planned on an easy-pace, under 4-hour-marathon finish since I was racing in the Mt. Charleston Marathon 12 days later. The easy pace allowed me to look around and try and absorb all that we were passing and seeing.
I DID enjoy many parts of running the Boston Marathon in spite of the horrible conditions, but it was a far cry from my other experiences out there.
The number of blind runners–yes, blind–we saw out there taking on the elements inspired us.
The wet roads acted as a constant reflection of the travelers they were carrying. So many beautiful images I wish I could have captured with a camera. . . .
Brooke and I both steeled our minds and were focused on getting this marathon task DONE, so we weren’t talking much. Luckily, we both had good tunes because we needed the distraction. Usually at Boston, it’s the crowds that overpower your ability to converse well. This year it was the rain and wind.
The miles began to tick past and we kept our forward movement, one foot in front of the other.
Gear Issues and Kind Volunteers
Most of the race is pretty foggy in my memory, but I recall all our stops. We stopped so I could shed my sweatshirt when I started to warm up–ha, yeah, that actually happened in the beginning; we stopped when Brooke was ready to shed hers; and we stopped to take gels and water.
I was doing okay taking my gels until Mile 12. At mile 12, I couldn’t get my gel open because my too-cold fingers wouldn’t work. Brooke had to tear it open for me with her teeth!
At mile 18 when we stopped to take our gels, I was struggling to even get the gel out of my pocket. A male volunteer witnessed my futile efforts and offered, sheepishly, to get it out for me! I hitched my hip in his direction and said “PLEASE! And will you open it for me too??” He was more than willing to help me out and then we were on our way again.
I have to say, the spectators and volunteers that were out in this horrible weather helping the runners were AMAZING. What a thing to do. They made it possible for all of us to continue! Everyone was so encouraging. You could tell that everyone not running was sympathetic to what we were doing. You could feel their hearts. That is something I DO remember.
Dancing on Top of Heartbreak
Despite all the running drudgery and misery, I do, vividly, remember the Newton hills. This section had quite a bit of crowd support, especially as you ascended Heartbreak Hill. The hills felt remarkably easy this time around compared to other Boston Marathons. (Brooke had me training more hills and that definitely helped.) When we crested the top of Heartbreak I did a little dance–literally–because I was so excited that we were through that and into the last 10k. The hardest part of the race was over….or so I thought. Turns out I may have started celebrating a little too early.
Forget This! The Crucial Mistake of Discarding My Poncho
So, around mile 23, I was done with my cheap-o poncho. Seriously, I hadn’t invested in a nice poncho because I hadn’t planned on running in it. But discarding it never became an option because the rain was so fierce–everyone was running in their ponchos. But my poncho was unique in that it had an off-the-chart annoyance factor. The rain and wind turned it into Saran wrap around my body. It would cling to my wet skin and inhibit a good arm swing while running. Then at other times it would get totally turned around so that the hood was blowing up into my face. It was ridiculous. It was akin to Dr. Strange fighting the desires of his red cloak of levitation–my poncho definitely had a will of its own.
So, at about 3 miles to go, I figured it couldn’t be doing that much for me–other than frustrating me to no end–so I whipped it off my body and spiked it to the ground with triumphant pleasure, much like a professional athlete would a touchdown football.
The immediate use of my full arm swing was euphoric, but then I started to become acutely aware of other sensations. As my body temperature began to plummet, I could hear the cocky cackle of my discarded poncho from its gravel graveyard taunting my foolishness. (Okay, that was dramatic, but seriously, this was not good. Not good at all.)
Olympian, and New York Marathon winner, Shalane Flangan, put what I was feeling at mile 24 perfectly when she described her 2018 Boston Marathon experience:
“Well that was a memorable, horrible, wonderful, epic adventure. I’ve never run in conditions that brutal. Around mile 16 my body decided it was not thriving and instead went into surviving. My mind had to shift from competing to just completing. I’m not sure how I found the finish line. Like many I was experiencing hypothermic symptoms. I’m so proud that I finished and so proud of everyone else who finished. 👊🏼💪🏼🙌🏼 We gave it our all…..and that’s all that’s ever needed. “
At mile 24, I was so cold I was shivering and my teeth were chattering while I was running. This was new. I mean, in 2015, when I ran Boston in the wind and rain, those symptoms didn’t start until I stopped running.
I was so cold that my legs started to feel like they were going to fall out from under me. Not like glycogen depletion; it wasn’t that. This wasn’t stiffness. This was simply frozenness.
Brooke’s visor was so saturated it kept falling into her eyes, but her hands were too cold to tighten it. We pulled to the side and a kind volunteer tightened it for her and offered her a Ziplock bag with some dry socks for the finish line. Brooke profusely thanked her and proceeded to put the socks over her frozen hands! Lucky for Brooke, she still had her poncho on, but we were both frozen to the bone.
We kept on.
I can’t remember if was mile 24 or mile 25 but somewhere in there, we almost landed in a med tent with the other 2,500 hypothermic runners that day. Our legs just weren’t working. My vision started to go wonky. But we were so close to the end and we knew that if we stopped at a med tent, chances were we wouldn’t finish. We kept thinking about the hot tub that awaited us back at the hotel and the desire to just get done overpowered our desire to seek medical assistance.
As we got closer to Boston, and to the coast, it got colder, if that was even possible. But, it did. More humidity. More wind. And then we had the hardest downpour of the whole day as we turned at Hereford. A runner went down right in front of us. Just collapsed. She was quickly attended to so we kept on going. The crowds were thick and loud now and the blue line that marks your path to the finish was now beneath our feet.
We kept on.
Left on Boylston
We took our final left turn on Boylston and could now see the finish line. It was more than a beautiful sight, but felt like a mirage.
I don’t remember the noise of the crowds at this point. I don’t remember the feeling of victory that we were going to finish. I was numb. Physically and mentally. The finish line didn’t appear to be getting any closer despite the fact that I knew I was moving towards it. It was like an optical illusion, suspended just out of reach.
At some point, the distance between us and the finish line disappeared and we were crossing it.
We did it. We did it. We did it.
My feet floundered a bit after I crossed and I reached out for Brooke and gave her a hug as a brief sob escaped my chest. Tears clouded my vision, but my body quickly reminded me that there was, simply, no time for this right now. I would have to breakdown later. We needed to get warm. We needed to get warm right now before our body temperatures fell even further.
Mission Heat Shields
At this point, I’m not looking around. I’m not taking in any of it. I have one thought and that is that we need our heat shields (BAA blanket-type, hooded ponchos).
The exit from the Boston Marathon course is a long funnel of blocks with different race-affiliated things at each block or so. The medal tables came first. Then the heat shields. Then the recovery bags with food/water to replenish the spent athletes.
Getting the medal was memorable–we definitely fought for those–but of more immediate need was warmth. We stopped to pose for a quick pic from a race photographer that Brooke had the foresight to stop for; she knew we would want it at some point. I was shaking violently at this point. The trembling shook my body so hard I felt like I was having seizures. It was like my body was trying to shake some warmth into me.
We arrived at the heat-shields station and you could tell that the volunteer was worried about us. He quickly got the heat shields around us as we fought to catch our bearings. We had our heat shields, but now we needed our hotel. We needed to get out of this driving rain and wind.
We were near a course exit, and decided rather than walk the extra block to get our recovery bags, that we would rather walk the block to the hotel. A race volunteer pointed us where we needed to go and we went.
A Bell Boy, a Heater and a Momentary Breakdown
The walk from the finish line to the hotel was less than a half-mile away, but dodging the people and trying to make our convulsing bodies move, while keeping our teeth from chattering off, made the walk seem endless.
We got more than a few concerned stares as we moved on. We sought shelter in the Westin Hotel lobby when we didn’t see our hotel and quickly asked the bell boy how to get to our hotel. He told us, but demanded that we first stand by their lobby heater before we went another step.
Much like a mother hen would her little chicks, he shuffled us towards a standing, top-venting heater and we willingly obeyed. We felt the warm heat and it was here that my quaking body, and frazzled brain lost it. I started to weep. I was soooo cold. I was so tired from the last four hours battling the elements. The crying was cathartic, and I just let it out much like you would a breath you had been holding for much too long.
Brooke let me cry, she may have been crying too, I can’t remember, but after a little warming, she kindly urged me away from the heater so we could really do something about our condition at our hotel.
We kept on.
Up an Escalator, Up and Elevator, Down a Hallway, Almost There
Still shaking. Totally not all there mentally, but we made it up the escalator, and across into our hotel lobby. I don’t remember the ride up the elevator to the 23rd floor or getting into our room. I do remember entering the bathroom and getting all the wet clothes off me. The survivalist that was leading the show told me to turn on the tub and get in; that I didn’t have time to get in my bathing suit and seek out the hot tub some floors away. This seemed sensical, but the tub handle wouldn’t move. I pulled and pushed and yanked and blinked. Was this some trick of my mind? Why couldn’t I get the handle to move? What a sick joke. I discarded that plan and got my bathing suit on.
I grabbed some recovery food from the nightstand that I had left from that morning, grabbed my phone, a water and we headed for the elevators.
Hot Tub Heaven
If I could have cannon-balled into the hot tub, I would have. Spiritually, I think I was, minus all the dramatic flare. It took me about 15 minutes in the water, and then I started to feel my survivalist persona take a backseat in my brain and myself return. The shaking stopped. The combination of blood supply and nutrition from my Clif Bar started to fire my neurons again. What did we just do???
Other racers slowly joined us and much like warriors after a battle, we shared our tales and victories over the course of an hour in the hot tub. The water didn’t feel hot enough, even though I’m sure it was piping. It did the job though.
Usually, I can last 15-20 minutes in a hot tub before I start to feel too hot. Not the case here. I’m not exaggerating that it took me an hour to finally feel like I could get out. So grateful for that hot tub. That was bliss.
Warm Now, Time to Get Clean & Eat
Once we were warm, we were able to communicate with our families, shower and go for food. (I should mention here that, upon returning to our hotel room, I told Brooke about my issues with the tub handle. As a point for my sanity, she wasn’t able to get it to budge either. It wasn’t some sort of post-race delirium I was experiencing. We called the front desk and had a guy muscle it into action for us.
Warm, clean and safe, it was at this point in our Boston journey that we were awash with contentment and satisfaction for a fight well fought.
As the day proceeded, the question of the day wasn’t “did you run Boston”, but “did you finish Boston?” People seemed less concerned with finish times, and just awestruck if you were a 2018 Boston Marathon Finisher. I have to admit, I felt kinda like a rockstar, when I answered yes, we ran AND we finished.
Looking back, it all seems more like a dream (or nightmare) then an actual experience. I too am amazed we were able to finish.
Our long stops brought us in at a 3:44:55 finish, (well, 3:44:56 for Brooke because she was taking her poncho off as she was crossing the finish and so we weren’t exactly in sync over the line) but under four hours which was our goal.
Just a Little Traumatized
My favorite place to eat in Boston post race is the Shake Shack. Nothing screams recovery to me like a salty burger and fries chased down with a sweet, strawberry shake. There was a Shake Shack about a half mile from our hotel on Newbury Street; a walk that was primarily rain-free due to our convenient sky bridge and Prudential Center location. About a block of that distance was uncovered. When we exited the Prudential Center and stepped out into the rain to walk the remaining distance, we both froze in our tracks. We took one look at each other and walked right back inside. I love a good burger after a race, but just a drop of rain, mixed with wind, and the memories of our freezing ordeal just a few hours prior was too much for us.
Brooke had remembered seeing a burger place in the Prudential Center so we easily discarded our Shake Shack dreams and headed to 5 Napkin Burger instead. It was no Shake Shack, but the bleu-cheese-bacon burger and black/white shake I ordered did its job. We shared a table with a runner and her mom from Australia and swapped stories.
Time for Sugar
The nutrition discipline required for pre-marathon racing doesn’t really allow for some of the sweets I often crave, so post-marathon is all about justified indulgence. Even after a shake, we still had room for a florentine cannoli after perusing (and drooling) through Eataly. Definitely want to try dinner there sometime, but the basement cafe had some great treats too. The cannoli was no Mike’s Pastry, but, yeah, rain? Not having it.
Luckily, my husband had packed some post-marathon Mary’s Mountain Cookies, for me as a surprise in my bag, so I had those to enjoy back at the hotel too since it was too wet outside to go in search of the Boston Cookie Monstah.
After some delightful strolls through the Prudential Center, we headed back to hang out in the lobby of our hotel and wait from some Fort Collins friends.
That’s a Wrap
We returned to our hotel room, prepared our bags for our early airport departure and soaked in the happiness of a goal achieved. Sleep found me sooner than I thought it would and we were both out like a light.
We left our soggy, mile-heavy shoes as a hotel donation and grabbed a 6:00am Uber to the airport. We were welcomed with an EXTREMELY long security line, but when the TSA agent asked if we had run the marathon, we were quickly given VIP treatment and taken straight to scan our boarding passes and through the x-ray without taking our shoes off OR emptying our suitcases of any liquids etc. That felt pretty good.
So many people wanted to hear about our experience. It has been fun to share.
Jet Blue Baby
Our travel home was so much smoother than our trip out. For one, our Jet Blue plane was so posh. We both watched a movie on the way home, rehydrated and relaxed. We landed at 10:30am and still had a drive home, but made it home without a hitch, and in astonishingly good time because Brooke was driving.
Looking Back and Looking Forward
It’s May 6th as I finish this entry–life has been busy.
When I think about the 2018 Boston Marathon, I feel a real sense of accomplishment. It was brutal and I really disliked the run itself. REALLY disliked it. BUT it will forever be one of my favorite marathons because it was such a fight and we finished. It is one of those Boston Marathons that will be remembered and talked about for years to come because of its brutishness. It was the coldest in 30 years–some say the coldest EVER–and the first one in 33 years that had been won by an American woman (Desiree Lindon). It was a race that brought even elite runners to their knees and opened the doors for former unknowns to shine in the 2nd-6th spots. It was a marathon that stripped you to your core and showed you what you are all about.
We kept on.
We are strong.
Why Did/Do You Do It?
Some might ask, why would you put yourself through that? What drives you? Why didn’t you just stop?? Some mistake it for pride. But they are inexperienced.
It’s not the medal or the label, it’s something far more valuable than that. It’s the journey–beginning, middle and end.
Our experiences shape who we are. Every struggle I have faced–both those I have signed up for and those I haven’t–have chipped at me and etched me in defining ways.
Life sculpts us, and if we allow for those chipping and etching moments, we begin to discover a more detailed version of ourselves underneath. We are so much more than our outer layer. We are multifaceted. But excavating those layers that lie beneath the surface of our character, necessitates that we allow for struggle. We must permit hard things to test us, then give them everything we have at that moment. The joy of prevailing is hard to top.
The result is, I love more deeply, feel more acutely, see more closely and can give more freely with each iteration of myself that I uncover through adversity. That’s the gift.