Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Marathon Wrap Up

Well a week has passed and I finally can process the crazy times that were these past 10 days.
Friday: Taking the advice of a teammate, I knew that my Friday at work was going to be junk. I prepared myself and colleagues for the knowledge that any deadline would probably not get complete. My coworkers wished me luck and I was out the door to drop off my medical forms. I originally thought that getting into the city would be a breeze, but I somehow forgot that people aim to check in for 2 pm which is the same time I was headed to the Marriott. After a long line at the Sheraton to drop off the first of the welcome bags, I headed through Copley over to the DFMC area for the weekend.  Along the way, I saw seas of orange and this sign and knew it was all real.

Once inside the DFMC drop off area, I was greeted by my team mom, Leslie. Seeing her calmed my nerves as she has provided such great encouragement throughout the season. I knew that if she believed in me, I could do it. I went along the line and picked up cookies, the medal for my in memory family, lots of papers and cheering items. Honestly, it was all a blur, but having attended the runner’s meeting a few weeks prior, I knew what was in the envelopes and I could read them at home. As I was walking out, I stopped to talk to Jennie, teammate and board member rock star, who calmed my nerves even further and was able to temporarily distract me from everything.
Back in the car and off to drop off the welcome packets, head home for a nap and clean and await everyone’s arrival. It was in the car that I realized I hadn’t eaten anything all day and probably should. Those cookies saved me on the drive over to Newton. As I had not been sleeping at all the last few days, that nap was epic and I awoke 4 hours later to my mom calling that she had landed. A quick call to the take-out place and she was at my house eating salad and pizza. Next call was from Rachel, one of my besties from college, saying she had landed. Off to the airport to pick her up and ½ of the out of towners had arrived. We went to bed shortly after midnight and I spent most of it tossing and turning.
Saturday: I ended up waking up way too early and convincing Rachel that it was the perfect time to hit the expo. We had been warned that the place gets busy Saturday and to go early. Score, we were finding on street parking at 10 of 9 and walking straight up to get my number by 9 am.

 The expo was a blast and I got to take a million photos, snag a ton of samples and buy stuff that I had been meaning to buy. Before we walked in, I had warned Rachel that her job was to limit my purchasing of marathon apparel as I had already bought the jacket. Surprisingly, I only walked out with an adorable shirt and nothing else. We headed home for a nap to check emails.

All week, there were talks about the heat and how awful it was going to be. At this point, I opened an email from the BAA urging all novice marathoners to drop out and defer to next year. They also let everyone know that they had extended the finish time to 7 hours. For the first time in weeks, I relaxed. I had worked all season to be able to run a 5:45 marathon finish and was worried if I had to stop for the bathroom or such, it would all be out the window. Giving me that much breathing room was amazing! In fact, as Rachel said, I was almost in tears from joy.
Soon after that awesome email, I was getting the call from my dad and stepmom letting me know they were on their way to my place. After a quick discussion of the weekend and receiving birthday gifts, we were off to lunch. Standing outside Zaftigs, I bumped into a friend and fellow runner who wished me luck and helped calm nerves a bit more.  My parents were exhausted after a redeye and shortly ditched us to take a nap as we did the same. The days of no sleep were getting quickly washed away now that my nerves were repaired. My mom called to let us know she was done shopping and ready to meet us for dinner. A trip to Summer Shack for dinner in Cambridge and home in bed by midnight. I finally slept well for the first time in weeks and slept through the night.
Sunday: I headed to the Sheraton to meet up with my dad and stepmom in the am and got amazing parking. We brunched amongst a sea of orange in the hotel restaurant sitting next to Team Hoyt. I figured it was a good sign that I was blessed to be sitting next to local legends and some other heroes including marathon winners. We finished brunch and headed out to see the finish line and festivities going on around town. It was a blast to get to walk around the finish and despite my horrible superstitious nature, still paused to take a photo or two. I left them at the Starbucks after a morning of fun taking in the energy of the city.

My mom and Rachel met me back at my place to head into the pasta party. Along the way I had a few marathon brain moments, but Rachel was quick to calm my nerves. I learned my lesson after nation’s tri last year that Rachel is a calming factor when I am in total freak out mode. We head into the pasta party and quickly find my in honor cards in which I am proud to show my family. The Cruz family overheard us and came over to say hi. For those that don’t recall, I was running in memory of their 3 year old Rylie. It was nice to catch up with them and talk about anything but the running. Karen was another great calming factor and I was glad to have been matched with them. All 9 of us sat down at our table and ate “linner” at 3 pm. The speaking portion of the evening started and they showed the in memory slide show. I started to lose it and could not look over at Karen or John for fear of totally losing it. After it ended, we talked briefly about how they know a lot of the patient partners and the in memory family. Man, are they tough and brave! Utta came on to speak followed by awards and then Jack. I had been talking up Jack all weekend so my family was excited to see who this hyped up man was. It turns out that they had also seen him on the news the night before which added to the hype. He provided humor to us stressed out runners. And like that the program was over, my family was all back in their hotels and I was alone for the first time awaiting the marathon start. A dose of Tylenol PM and I was sound asleep by 8 pm.



Monday: I woke up at 4:45, grabbed my bags and breakfast and was out the door by 5:15. On my way out, I saw my neighbors had decorated my door to give me some added pep. It should did make me smile seeing the pomp and circumstance. After parking the car so my dad could find it, I was over to the Marriott and walking to the buses with teammates. I pictured an orderly walk over with 100s of DFMC teammates on one bus. Man, was it the opposite; pure chaos and pushing and shoving. I was lucky enough to be on the bus with Giles, Alyse, and Pete. It was nice to know them and have run with them over the season as it provided some distraction on the hour ride out to Hopkinton. Soon enough we were departing at athlete’s village were Pete, Alyse and I banded together to find our way to the church. We got to the church and man was it packed. On the weekend runs, we usually had 100 or less people there so to see all 500+ of us was insane. I managed to talk to some of my track/Saturday morning teammates to distract me from the wait. I guess I wasn’t distracted enough as I put diaper rash cream all over my face instead of suntan lotion. At least it provided a good laugh. Shortly after that accident, the Fitbricks team was outside waiting for me to say hi. I hung out with them for a while through picture taking time. Jim came by in his police uniform to wish me luck and soon enough I was sending them on their way to the start. I ended up standing outside with Rob and others as we chose to walk to the start together. Having Rob there to talk me through it was key and I am so glad I got to meet him and his lovely wife this season. A quick photo was snapped and we were walking towards the start.
Jack was the announcer at the start which made me smile. I went the entire season picking his brain over and over and over and here he was in his celebrity mode. He was saying that Dana-Farber was in this wave and wishing us luck. And soon enough there we were crossing the start line. A note to laugh at, I had practiced my race day outfit, but not filled to the gills with GU. Sure enough, it kept riding down from the weight which forced me to hold on tight while running. My first mile was over faster than I expected as I looked down to see 11 minutes on my watch. I slowed myself down significantly and finished my 5k in pretty fast time.
Hopkinton was behind me and I was now in Ashland. Shortly after I hit the Dairy Queen, I saw Tracey jump in next to me and ran about 400 yards with me. It was nice to have my first fan out there. I also saw Captain Ben of Costa Rica fame which made me smile. At mile 4, my dad, stepmom and Ben B’s family was out there cheering me on. In the video they captured, you caught me saying it was hot. That was all that was going through my head…the heat! Soon enough I was rounding into Framingham and hitting the Bone. I know this road pretty well and knew there was no shade to be had. The heat started to get to me and I was doing a jog/walk. My time was still on target for the 5:45 finish as I headed into Natick and saw my mom, Rachel, and friends at my friend’s house at mile 10. Seeing them was key as it gave me strength to keep on trucking. I hit the half marathon point in the time I wanted and was ecstatic. Of course, that is when the proverbial wheels came off. The heat was starting to get to me and I was forced into a walk shortly after. I would jog occasionally followed by walking. As I hit Wellesley, I ended up walking with Liz and Christine, two teammates. We hit the scream tunnel and it was all it lived up to be. Shortly after we were headed to the first DFMC cheer zone where Christine told me that I was an inspiration this season. Of course that made me tear up to hear her kind words that followed. She and I played frog as I met up with a random lady named Laurie. She and I went up the hills as I talked her through what to expect. I jogged ahead as I saw the streets I knew I could push it up.
The hills were starting to be behind me when I saw a green shirt in the street. I knew that this was my next cheering squad as my neighbors, friends and family cheered me on. I don’t think the 10 of them will ever know how much it meant to me to have them there at Centre Street at a time I wasn’t sure I could finish. Ben R. ran with me for a tiny bit and told me how proud he was of me and that I was doing a marathon. That gave me strength to motor on through to the next milestone. My walking kept getting slower and slower, but I was joined with about 5-10 fellow DFMC people. It was a strength in numbers game as we mentally banded together to finish it all. Somewhere around Washington Square I saw my friend Claudia and her nieces. Seeing them cheer for me as if I was winning the race helped so much. Next up was mile 25 and the patient partner area. As true to what everyone has said, seeing all that support made me cry. They were there for us because of what we are doing to help in this awful fight. I am so glad I got to see them on the bridge.  I kept plugging along and soon enough I saw teammate Brian’s sister and her kids. Her cheering helped me speed it up for that last half mile. I was turning onto Hereford with screams of encouragement and shortly onto Boylston where I saw Rachel and my mom. I gave them hi fives before running across the finish line.
At the finish line, I stopped my Garmin to see 27.16 miles. Does this now make me an ultra-marathoner? Jan was there to give us hugs and I stopped to take a photo with my new bff Eric who ran the majority of 10 miles with me. It was on to grab water and get my medal from Janet. Janet and I met my first year doing triathlons and she has been handing out the medals at the finish since the late 90s. She made it a point to stick around and place the new bling over my neck and tell me how proud of me she was. That hug never felt better! I grabbed my bag and walked to the hotel with Sarah and up into the recovery zone. It wasn’t until seeing Leslie that it became real. I had finished the Boston Marathon! A trip to the massage room, to change and grab a sandwich at it was off to see my family and friends downstairs on our way to dinner. A celebratory dinner at Legals where we discussed the race was just what I needed. I said goodbye to my dad and dropped my mom and A off at their cars and Ben R., Rachel and I were off to the after party.
In 72 hours, the events of 18 weeks of training were over. It meant the world to me to have some of the people that mattered the most cheering for me along the course. These people took time off of work, traveled the globe and stood out in 90 degree weather for me. The experience of finishing was amazing. It may not have been in the time I wanted, but it was still a finish. I am so proud to have accomplished the goal while others were not as lucky. In the end, I can officially say I ran the Boston Marathon and have the medal to prove it!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Reality Sets In

This week has been a rough one. Everyone tells you how hard taper is, but I figured it was all a myth as I have taperd plenty of times in the past. I did not know what I was in for! I have spent the majority of this week in a complete panic frazzled state. I cried a lot, I stressed a lot about the wrong things and I could not sleep for the life of me. I really don't know how depressed people survive normal life as it was just super hard. With it also brought virtually no sleep as I tossed and turned in my bed. Life was in a funk!

Like every Thursday since February, I headed to my sport's massage. I talked it over with my massage therapist and she assured me it was normal. Something weird happened after my appointment and magically I was out of my funk. I am glad this period is over, but man do I not want to ever experience it again!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A great tradition

About 3 or 4 years ago a tradition was formed unbeknownst to all of us who took part in it. One of our teammates was competing in an Ironman and we all pledged miles to swim/bike/run that day virtually alongside them. The pledging continued for Ironmen and marathons and races worthy of distinction. As I have never gone further than an Oly tri or a half marathon, I have never had miles pledged for me. Then it happened, an email went out from my coach asking everyone to dedicate miles to my run. People came forward right off the bat pledging 5 miles upwards to 10 miles. Right now there are over 40 miles that will be virtually run alongside me on marathon day with many of those miles being run to watch me at the start. I never realized the power of a village, but it really makes me smile hard and tear up a bit.

So thank you to Diane, Christine, Sarah, Ali, Steve, Leslie, Sarah, Julie, Tracey, Jim and whoever else ends up running for being my support system along the 26.2 miles.

A fun tidbit

When I started this journey, I decided that I wanted to have a person to run in memory or in honor of every mile. This way I could focus on them and bring their determination and spirits with me for that distance. Even when writing my application to DFMC, I included this fun fact. I put that aside as I focused on training runs and fundraising. Then it happened...I was putting together the list for the back of my singlet to bring to the printers. I glanced at the list of people making sure everyone was covered and it happened, 26 names lined the sheet. Wow, is that fate! In addition to those 26 names, I have included the people that were not named when donating by putting a little in honor blurb at the bottom. I am super pumped to drop off my singlet at the printer and see what I get back in return.

Friday, April 6, 2012

In Honor Cards

The DFMC team has a tradition of filling out in honor cards for who we run for. The package came in the mail probably 4 weeks before they were due and in typical Jess fashion, I threw them aside. Fast forward to two days before the due date and someone at track practice mentioned filling them out. Eeekkk...I had a lot of work to do! I ended up staying up until the wee hours of the morning making sure they were all filled out and decorated in a true style that made me proud. These people are those near and dear to myself and my donors and I wanted to show the love felt. In the end, I created more than 15 cards that will be displayed at the pasta party and throughout the marathon weekend.

Look carefully and you may see one of your loved ones on there.

Once the cards were mailed in, it was time to start planning my singlet. As most know, the singlet we were can be customized to include our names and who we run for. With the list assembled, I wanted to make sure it was ok to include the people that were mentioned at the time of donating. Quite a few people donated in support of me without including a name and I wanted to make sure to honor those they might have missed. I sent an email to my donors and the responses back made me cry. Yes, this is a common theme this season, me crying! The words of motivation and thanks for running could fill up books and books of love. Just alone what everyone said makes me still tear up. I know I say it a lot, but I am so blessed to have such supportive people guiding me each step of the way. Thank you to all those that have shown support and encouragement throughout this journey!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Motivation to Calm my Nerves

Every time I think about the marathon, I get mini-panic attacks. It is real, all 26.2 miles of it, but man is it scary! I've made a wall of motivation thanks to pinterest which is now my background on my computer. Looking at it calms my nerves just a little bit.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Trying to fight adversity and failing

I woke up Sunday morning with the knowledge that I needed to run 14-16 miles. I was feeling a bit run down and tired, but figured the run would put me back in the right mindset. I finally threw on my running clothes and headed out the door. I have done this 16 mile course at least 3-4 times already and know it way too well. Run down the long way to Washington Street, follow route 16 for about 5 miles and turn onto Comm Ave following the course into Washington Square. At Washington Square, swing a left onto Washington Street and follow it home for the 2 miles.

As I was plugging along the first part on my way to route 16, the thought of running the course 3 times this week was making me sick. For those that live far away, you are probably ready to yell at me through the screen. People kill to train on the Boston course and yet it is the last thing I want to do. You see, I really have no choice when picking a run. It all at one point has to hit the course based off of where I live. There is almost no way to avoid it unless I run side streets up and down for the entire run and even then it would be parallel to the course. So, as I am not wanting to run the course, I devise the best plan ever. I am going to run 7 miles to the high school, run 5 around the track and then run 2.5 home.

I am instantly in a better mood when realizing that I do not have to do the same course for the 1000th time this year. I continue on my run in good spirits and make it to the track. Low and behold, what do I see, peewee lacrosse games occurring. Ok, I will just run on the side of the track in which no one is viewing the kids. I start until a stray ball comes into my path. The peewee kids may not have the best accuracy! I give up and decide that I will run to the middle school and do the .5 mile course 10 times to get my mileage in. I take the long way to the middle school in which I develop a blister. This blister is now my focus of the run. I threw on new socks for my run and am blaming them as the culprit. I make it to the middle school and the thought of running the block makes me want to kick and scream in a little girl tantrum. I instead call it a day and limp home.

All in all, I fell 1.5 miles short of my minimum goal. Was I disappointed? Surprisingly not. I really was not feeling the run from the start and was fighting it the entire time. Should I have continued? Maybe, but maybe this was a sign from my body that I need to let it rest sometimes. Heck, no rest day really wreaks havoc on your mental state. You feel like an endless exercise machine with only one goal out there. So, today will start a new week and hopefully a much better mental state. And you will see me on the course multiple times during the final push towards Boston.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The amber gold of running

This past Friday, myself along with 3 other teammates hosted a fundraiser for the marathon challenge. It was inspiring to see friends show up and donate and those that have already donated continue to openly give. All in all we raised close to $800 in one night. It was a fun event filled with coronas that went down a little too easy and meeting new people. Friends and I ended the night at the diner down the street. The cool part about this is that when I say friends, yes they are all my friends, but none of them knew each other. Here were 5 strangers to each other eating and laughing the night away. I always say how fortunate I am to have been surrounded by such amazing people over the years in Boston, but seeing them all connect solidified it. These friends, along with others who couldn't make it, have been my rock along these last 16 or so weeks. They've calmed my nerves and listened to my freak outs all while being there in all the right ways. Man, am I a lucky duck!

Saturday was another fun non-running day. I showed up to the Multisport Expo to compete in the team challenge with my tri team. I watched the runners as they were insanely fast along the course. I was part of the bike portion and this too was incredibly fast. While waiting for the bike to start, I talked with teammates and had fun shopping. The bike went off about an hour late which put a kink in my planning for the day. I ended up showing up to Shifter's 5k as the runners were lined up and ready to start. As I felt banditting would be uncool at a race like this, I instead chose to cheer them on at the finish. I headed home after that skipping the party in lieu of a good Saturday nap. I woke up around 5ish to a text from a friend seeing if I wanted to head over to his house for a drink. This means that I had now officially missed the 2nd fundraiser I had wanted to attend that day, Rob's pasta party. I was on a roll!

The plans of the evening quickly changed to going to CitySide. For those that do not know CitySide, it is a bar and grill in Cleaveland Circle that we all run by on marathon day and usually a minimum of 1 night a week in practice. My route for Sunday included running by it as does my route for this Thursday. I somehow was able to pull myself off the couch and away from Dr. Mario to head over and meet people. As we were all ordering, the guy next to me ordered the Sam Adams 26.2. Jamie was much more hip into beer knowledge as they had just released the kegs a day or two prior. Of course I had to order the beer as it was beyond exciting.

We all sat around the table discussing the upcoming marathon while drinking the special brew. I won't lie, it was possibly my favorite Sam Adams they have released yet. The light German style beer was going down super smooth and had all the flavors I like in a beer. In the end, my awesome friends picked up the tab for my 26.2s in honor of the marathon. Yes, I really do have cool friends!

I know many people reading this will vomit in the amount I am getting sucked up into the hype. Heck, I have not even crossed the start line. Yet, this season has been the experience. I started in December having never run more than 13.1 and now I can say I can run 23.5 and live to tell the tale. I can talk about the 800s on repeat that have been done at the track time and time again. I also can talk about the $7,500 I raised for Dana-Farber. So yes, if my running stops today, I would be devastated, but at the same time, I would be thrilled at what I've done thus far. It has been a good run so far with still so much more to come!