Thursday, April 18, 2013

Boston Recap: From Tears of Joy to Tears of Sorrow

On April 15, 2013 my watch alarm woke me at 4am. I didn't sleep well; I never do the night before a marathon. And, especially, not this one. The 117th running of the Boston Marathon was special to me. I ran as part of the 2013 Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge Team (DFMC). To date, I raised $10,820.00 for cancer research and care. Wow! I can't believe I did that! I met my goal of $10,000, and surpassed it.

Marathon Monday was my day. I was running the oldest marathon in the world! A marathon full of rich history and amazing fan fare. A marathon in memory of a special angel, Jennifer Lynne Kennedy. My reward in the end would be two-fold: 1. knowing that I made a difference in the lives of so many people fighting cancer. 2. crossing the finish line to the Boston Marathon and earning that special bling...

Dean Kennedy did me the honor of waking up to drive me back to the Copely Marriott where I met up with the rest of the DFMC team members. Immediately, I found myself in a conversation with a girl named "Staz"(Anastasia) originally from California, but attending college in Conn. Her family lives in France. She is running in memory of her grandmother and so many others. We walked together to where we loaded up on the bus to the starting line. As we were waiting in line to board the bus, we met Kandace. Kandace is also from California and she was running for herself. She is a breast cancer survivor. 

The ride to the start was about one hour long. We arrived to the start and made our way to the designated area for the DFMC team. This is were we met Sara. She's from MA and was running as part of the partner program for DFMC. She was running for a little boy currently fight cancer. So the four of us pal-ed around.

Sara, Kandace, me, and Staz

At 9:15am, the team made their way to the front of the church for a group photo. The marathon began at 9:30am and I was ready to get the show on the road. 

At 10:30am, the second wave of runners took off. This was about the time we charity runners made our way to the corral. As we waited in the corral, I discovered that Kandace and I had very similar goals for the marathon. And then we decided to ditch those goals and just have fun and enjoy the race! 

At exactly 10:40am, our journey from Hopkinton to Boston began. Kandace and I decided to try and stick together for the duration of the race. The race crowd was very thick. We did a lot of zig-zagging to get around slower runners. The first mile came quick and at about .2 miles into the 2nd mile, I lost my bottle full of EFS gel. Great. I lost 10oz of FUEL. I knew it would be ok, though. Along the way, fans had slices of oranges, jelly beans, pretzels, ice... you name it, the fans had it. THANK YOU FANS AND SUPPORTERS! 

At about 2 miles, I lost another bottle full of water with EFS. Awesome. So, I physically held onto the third bottle for a while. Then ditched it and decided to go with the Gatorade and water along the course. I alternated between water and Gatorade every other mile. I felt pretty good. I was taking in the fans and enjoy the marathon with a new found friend.

Kandace and I looked out for each other along the way. But, I could tell she was struggling a bit. She had a long sleeve shirt under her singlet. It was too warm for a long sleeve that day. So I showed her a little trick I did during the Boilermaker 15k. I grabbed a bag of ice offered by a fan and told her "stick a couple of ice cubes down your bra." It feels great. I lost Kandace at about the halfway point, which is where I entered "the screaming tunnel." The Wellesley College girls are off the charts with their cheering!! Big time boost.

At about mile 20, I was on my way up heartbreak hill. Heartbreak hill is a series of three hills. I got up the first hill slowly but surely. As I began to go up the second hill, all of the college kids lined up along the route started running up the hill with the runners. Some runners found this to be annoying, but I thought it was great! Motivating! There was chalk writing on the road telling the runners that the top of hill was near. It made me smile and gave me more drive to keep going. I got through the 3rd and final hill. I made it! 20 miles down, 6.2 miles to go.

At mile 25, I started to look for my husband and our girls, and the Kennedy family. My quads and hamstrings began to twitch. My muscles were tired. And I was emotional about the reason I was running and the angel I was running for. I relied on the fans' cheers and encouragement to carry me along. Finally, Michelle Kennedy saw me and cheered and I saw my favorite supporters . It was one of the happiest moments during my journey. We cheered, hugged and kissed, and said goodbye. At that point of the marathon, I saw the infamous Citgo sign. I knew I was almost finished with my journey. The journey that began in late fall of 2012.


Approaching my favorite supporters
                                                       
Hugs



                      
Kisses


















Goodbye
         
With 1.2 miles to go, I tried to relax. I was on my way to Boylston St, which is the last stretch of the marathon. From Kenmore Square, I continued under Massachusetts Avenue. The fan-fare was deep and got deeper as I got closer to the finish. The course turned right onto Hereford Street and then left onto Boylston Street. I could see the finish line from a distance. I smiled and reminded myself to relax. I was almost done.

As the finish line got closer, I heard a loud bang and then I saw a cloud of smoke. The bang sounded like a cannon blast. Even though it didn't seem right, I didn't give it much thought. I wasn't close enough to see the devastation on the sidewalk, so I kept running towards the finish line. Then, seconds later, there was a second blast which occurred directly to my left side. Once the cloud of smoke rose, I could then see the devastation. It was like a scene out of a horror film. So many people were on the ground. I could not believe what I was looking at.  Was this really happening? I knew then that both blasts were bombs. Everything was in slow motion right up until the smoke from the second blast cleared. Then there were people running away from the scene screaming in sheer panic and terror. Finishing the race was no longer in my mind. Survival was. I turned right and ran up Exerter St away from Boylston St., and away from the horrific scene. Was there a third bomb? Where was it safe to go? I was in total shock. I tried to call my husband to let him know what had just happened and that I was safe, but my calls would not go through. Nobody's calls were going through. Signals were dropped almost immediately for the fear that a bomb could be detonated by cellular phone.

I was freezing. I never made it through the finish line, so I had no blanket nor warm clothes to get into. I was familiar with the area and made my way back to the Copley Marriott where DFMC had the third floor designated for the team. As the shock wore off, I became an emotional mess. Not only was I physically beat up, but I had to deal with what I had witnessed. DFMC volunteers helped me get myself together and I was able to make contact with my husband via text. The DFMC volunteer walked me to Fenway Park where I was reunited with my family and the Kennedys. We left Boston immediately. Surprisingly, we encountered way less traffic than you'd think during a time like that.  

What should have been one of the happiest, most accomplished days for me and many other runners turned into a day of terror. Terror that I witnessed first hand. A coward or cowards decided they would go out and hurt innocent people, for no reason. I had an angel with me that day. Thank you, Jennifer, for looking out for my family and your family. I am grateful and lucky that I decided to run and stay on the right side of the road that day. I am also grateful and lucky that the hearing in my left ear is totally back to normal and that there is no permanent damage. I am full of sorrow for those that weren't so lucky in this senseless attack. My heart is with you, Boston.


Thank you all for your continued support. xox

Sheila

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Home Stretch!

Last week I continued the taper process. Tapering is hard sometimes because the mileage is low. With the track at the YMCA still closed because of the fumes from resurfacing the gym floor below, I'm forced to use the treadmill. Even though I'd rather run on the track or outdoors, I welcomed the treadmill work. I ran on the treadmill for an hour on Tuesday and inserted 4x800 meters with a 400 meter jog in between. Finishing at an easy pace.


On Wednesday I completed a core workout. I felt pretty good. My body is starting to repair and recover.

Thursday, I completed my final marathon pace session. I hit the treadmill for 35 minutes easy pace followed by 20 minutes marathon pace. I finished with a 5 minute cool down.

Friday- REST DAY!

On Saturday, I ran my final"long" run. 60 minutes wasn't that long, but I stuck to the program. I know tapering is important if I want to push on marathon day. And, at this point in the game, the work is done. I won't get stronger, faster, or improve my stamina. That all happened in the first 13 weeks of training. These past few weeks are about staying HEALTHY! For 60 minutes, the sun shined on my face. I did everything I could not to go to fast. I enjoyed the music in my ears. I visualized myself on marathon day. I'm ready.

Ready for my last long run
Finished


You won't hear from me until post marathon day when I recap the race. This coming week I will complete two 45 minute running sessions with five 1 minute pick-ups with a 1 minute jog in between. Finishing the sessions at an easy pace.

April 15th... prepared to be amazing.

Thank you ALL for your support and encouragement during this time of training and fundraising. If you would like to lend your support, please visit my personal web page at:

www.runDFMC.org/2013/sheilac

Thank You,

Sheila