Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Post Boston Marathon

Where do I begin? I waited a whole year for the 118th running of the Boston Marathon. In that year of waiting, I had to deal with the demons of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. I am very fortunate because on April 15, 2013, an angel put her wings around me and shielded me from the second bombing on Boylston Street. Thankfully, on that day, my family and friends where no where near the finish. I will never forget that day. A day that started out prefect ended in such tragedy. My heart goes out to each and every person affected by the events of that day. But, our day would come. We (the runners and spectators) would take back our Boston Marathon finish line.

Wow, I had been waiting so long for marathon weekend in Boston. And it had finally arrived. How could I feel so excited and sad at the same time? There was no turning back. I was there to finish what I had started over a year ago. Not just for me, but for so many others. Nothing was going to get in my way. Everyone that knows me knows that I will physically and mentally fight to the end. 

My husband and girls were with me on that special weekend. We headed out to the expo and, to my surprise, I felt calm. I picked up my bib and did a little shoping. Then we headed out to Boylston St. My husband wanted me to point out where I had been last year. As we neared the site of the second bombing, my heart sank. But I didn't lose my composure. There was something about seeing all those people on Boylston St. There was life on that street. It gave me some inner strength. I was back in Boston with a whole new purpose. I was going to be a part of the healing process... not only for myself, but for others and the city of Boston.
At the Expo
Reading a note left @ 2nd bomb site

Marathon Monday began at 6am. I awoke and stuck with my marathon morning ritual of two hard boiled eggs, oatmeal and a cup of coffee. Before 8am, I was on a shuttle from the hotel in Natick to the State Park in Hopkinton. From the state park, all the runners were searched with a metal wand before boarding an official B.A.A bus to the marathoners village. I arrived at the village at about 8:30am. My start time wasn't until 11am. Let the waiting game begin. I did manage to kill one hour waiting in line to use the porta-potty. By that time, it was 10am and I was getting anxious. In the sea of runners, I bumped into a running friend, Kim. The chances were slim to none that I would bump into anyone I knew. So, it was a nice treat to see a familiar face.

Waiting to start
Finally, at about 1035am, my wave and corral were announced to begin walking to the starting line. The people of Hopkinton were all out cheering, clapping and holding up signs. The race had not even started yet. It was a little after 11am when I began my journey. 

The day I had been waiting for was finally here. I wasn't half way into my first mile when I heard someone yell SHEILA! I looked over my left shoulder and to my surprise it was Anastasia - one of the girls I had meet last year at the marathon who was also running for Dana Farber. We hugged and chatted for a bit. Then I took off. At about the 5k mark, another runner approached me and asked, "are you from Albany?" "Yes," I said. Her name was Audrey and she began telling me how she remembered me from the Mohawk Hudson Marathon a few years ago. She recognized me by the tattoo on my arm. We got to chatting and realized that we were soul sisters in so many ways.

At 6 miles, I began to look for my husband and girls. There was nothing better than seeing familiar faces along the way. I found them, we exchanged kisses and took pictures then I was off again with my soul sister. We ran together for a while, but then I lost Audrey sometime before the half-way mark. 

At mile 6 w/ my soul sista

Running into mile 13, I got ready to experience the screaming tunnel. The girls of Wellesley College were off the charts with the screaming. I was still feeling pretty good, but I also knew what was up ahead. The Newton hills were coming. Miles 18, 19, and 20 (heartbreak hill) were going to be torture. But, before I got to the Newton Hills, I had another running friend to look for. 

At about mile 17, I found my friend Judy. What excitement and joy I felt to see another familiar face along the way. I stopped, gave her a big hug and continued on my journey. At that point, I felt my left gluteus and hamstring start to nag me. So, I decided I would start walking through the water stations. I would be able to take in the full amount of water in the cup and second to be able to stretch my hamstrings. The stretching helped; the tightness never shortened my stride. As I went through the Newton hills, there was something a bit different from last year. The college kids were out cheering for us, but they were no longer running out on the course along side the runners. There were metal barricades preventing them from spilling out onto the course. Just another reminder of how tight security was that day. Throughout the course, police presence was high. There were local police, military police, ATF agents, MA State Police and I'm pretty sure I saw some plain clothes police officers roaming around, as well. I felt safe. Finally, I made it to the top of heartbreak hill. Which also meant I was just about to complete 20 miles. 

With just 6.2 miles to go, I broke the race down mile by mile. I expected to see my husband and girls at the 25 mile marker. Knowing that I would see their faces again kept me moving forward. I fueled for the last time at mile 22 and I made sure to stretch the hamstring again. Once I saw my family at mile 25, I had no intentions of stopping until I reached the finish line. As I approached the 25 mile marker, I began to walk. The crowd was so thick... I didn't want to miss my family. I walked the length of the the bridge but could not find them. For some strange reason, I gravitated to the left side of the road and... to my surprise... my friends Amy and Deb were waiting for me. Wow!!! They went all that way to cheer me on. How lucky was I to see family and friends on the course cheering for me? And, l can't forget all those spectators. What a big time boost that was. And I was off again to finish the race. 

I took a right turned onto Hereford St and I could feel the energy from the crowd steadily grow. My heart was pounding out of my chest. I knew once I turned on to Boylston St., the crowds would be the deepest. And, I also didn't know how I was going to react. Would I be scared or have flash backs? I wasn't sure. And, there it was... the last turn. Left on Boylston St, and the crowd's roar was unlike anything I've ever heard. YES, there it was, the finish line. "Go get it, it's your's" my inner self told me. So with excitement in my heart and for the whole world to hear, I raced to the finish line. I did it!!! I finished the Boston Marathon. I crossed that finish line happy and with beautiful memories of that day and weekend. A week later, I am still smiling about my experience. The feeling of crossing the Boston Marathon finish line was like no other marathon I have ran.

Hugs and kisses after my finish

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