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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Boston - The Marathon

Ten years ago, on my birthday, April 18, 2005, I ran the Boston Marathon.  A few years before that, I would not have ever thought it would be possible for me to qualify.  Speed is not in my genes, I am much more of a workhorse than a race horse.  However,we went to Boston in 2003 to watch my dad and after having a front row seat to the excitement, I knew I had to get back there to run.  The four-six months leading up to the St. George Marathon where I qualified were tough - really tough, and the race to qualify was even harder.  But that made getting there so much sweeter.  To be clear, I obviously had to run the race, but qualifying definitely didn't happen on my own.  Once I set the goal to qualify, Sean and my dad became two of my very biggest cheerleaders.  They coached, planned, wrote training schedules, and listened to me talk about splits, speed work, hydration, and every other little detail that went into making that race great.  On race day, they were my team.  I didn't wear a watch so they were the timekeepers, the pacers, the voices of encouragement when I was ready to sit down on the side of the road, and the sherpas who packed fuel belts with all of the fluids I would need to get me through the race without stopping at the aid stations.  I honestly don't think I could have made it without them.  So, it was only fitting that the three of us would run my Boston Marathon together.  The experience was truly indescribable, really just magical and I have always wanted a reason to go back.


Enter Sean as a perfect reason to go to Boston.  He has been running at least a marathon a month for the past three years and has posted multiple Boston Qualifying times.  This  marathon was especially significant because it was his 50th marathon.  Tim was so sweet to stay home with the babies and make it possible for me to go with Sean and my mom and dad and be there for the celebration.  For a runner, being in Boston on marathon weekend is like a magical running Disneyland.  Whether you are running or spectating, there is so much to see, experience, and purchases, and of course, everyone is talking about running.  We started off our first night with a "tour" of the finish line.  Slightly easier to see pre-race than it is on Marathon Monday.

I loved all of the official marathon flowers that were seen throughout downtown. 

Does it make me weird that I was at least as excited about going to the expo as I was about any other part of the trip.  It really doesn't even compare to other race expos - all of the companies that do running gear are there with their best and brightest.  We spent about 4-5 hours there and I still felt like I only saw a small part of what there was to see.  Don't worry thought, I still found plenty of treasures to remind me of my trip

The race posters throughout the city really are the best...
Some of my favorites

By the time Monday morning rolled around, I was antsy and anxious, as though I was planning to head out to run 26.2 miles.  I soothed my nerves with some time at the gym and then we headed out to start the intense sport of spectating.  We had been anxiously watching the weather for weeks, hoping that the weatherman would be wrong.  Unfortunately for the runners, the morning started with a slight drizzle and only got worse from there.  We had purchased rain ponchos the day before and were definitely glad we had them.  The day was very wet, windy and cold - really just the worst running conditions.  But that didn't seem to do anything to dampen the spirits of the runners or the crowds.    

After leaving our hotel we walked about a mile, went through one security line to have our bags searched, then got to a T station where we rode the train out to the 16 mile mark.  We set up camp there and watched the racers for awhile.  Even though I have been to Boston before, it is pretty wild to watch the non-stop packs of runners.  There are so many types, and styles, especially this year in the cold.   I think my ears may be permanently damaged from all of the cowbells, but apparently that is the ideal way to show support.

Once Sean had passed, we sloshed back to the train with a few thousand of our wet friends and headed back into the city.  We were able to find a great spot just after the right turn onto Hereford. At that point the runners only have a block or two before making a left onto Boylston and then crossing the finish line.  It was so fun to watch the runners at that point - their emotions were definitely raw and obvious to the crowds.  In a sea of runners, we were lucky to see Sean and have a chance to talk to him for a few seconds and cheer him towards the finish line.  

For a family who is known to take maybe a few too many photos, we really failed this time.  It was so cold and we that most of the time our phones stayed in our pockets.  Usually post race is prime time for taking photos, but this year post race was totally chaotic.  After crossing the finish line, Sean went through the athlete's area then around to our hotel.  We headed to the hotel as well but from a completely different direction.  By the time we all go there, we literally had to make a mad dash to the airport.  We were super concerned about Sean making his flight and didn't dare take any extra time - even for a post marathon photo session.  I guess this is one of those times where our memories will have to be enough.  And really, the memories were incredible.  Boston Strong 2015.

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