On the Plane...

Where do I begin?
Lyrics from a favorite song by Augustana perhaps...
".....She said I think I'll go to Boston..
I think I'll start a new life,
I think I'll start it over,
where no one knows my name,
I'll get out of California,
I'm tired of the weather,
I think I'll get a lover and fly em out to Spain...
I think I'll go to Boston,
I think that I'm just tired
I think I need a new town,
to leave this all behind...
I think I need a sunrise,
I'm tired of the sunset,
I hear it's nice in the Summer,
some snow would be nice...
oh yeah,Boston...
where no one knows my name... yeah
Where no one knows my name...
Where no one knows my name...
Yeah Boston...
Where no one knows my name....."
I've been listening to this song since I found it sometime last year and it has been a bit of a theme for me over the past several months...not so literally, but kind of. There was no snow this weekend.  And I still live in Louisiana.
The trip began with the typical craziness that comes with going out of town. I found myself getting on the plane happy to sit down and relax and leave it all behind. It's not like my life is super stressful or anything, but I was happy to leave it all behind for a while to escape.

Friday night I found myself at Boston Logan hopping on the Logan Express to a small town called Hopkinton, about 30 minutes west of Boston. This is where I was going to stay this weekend - a homestay with a family I never met (the Maloney's)set up by a network of awesome friends and their colleagues.  Turns out, Hopkinton is the town where the Boston Marathon starts, so this was going to be a great spot to call home for the weekend - and just an hour train ride away from Boston.  It wasn't long before I arrived at The Maloney Home and was settled in to a fantastic dinner and an awesome night's sleep. 

Today started off with a tour of the race start a nice 5 mile run around Hopkinton. This town was all a buzz hard at work preparing "the Commons" for the big day and the 27,000 official runners, thousands of unofficial runners, and countless spectators to arrive Monday morning. It was just what I needed to help me get a little mojo for the big day. After my run, I ventured into Boston to visit the expo and try to meet up with some peps for lunch. Richard Parker and his dad were the only ones I ran into - and "running into" anyone in a race this big turned into being kind of a joke - so it was nice to be able to actually find someone i knew and sit down for an awesome lunch at Faneuil Square. The rest of the day included lots of time walking around Boston and shopping at the square and the expo.
Exhausted from my day - I hopped on the train and headed back to Hopkinton for a gourmet dinner cooked up by my Homestay Kevin. How spoiled am I? Grilled Chicken, Rice, Veggies, salad, bread, and some nice red wine. It was fabulous - and a bit funny that they seemed to be a little surprised I was drinking at all, but c'mon....yeah, i like to run and race....but I also like to partake :)

Another Fantastic night's sleep and I was out for another run early.  This one was much shorter, and I noticed the weather was much warmer. Saturday, the run was a little chilly - long sleeves and a jacket.  Today, a long sleeved shirt that would have been peeled off if I ran more than 3 miles.  It was then I realized it might actually get pretty warm race day as they were predicting. I suppose I didn't really believe it could be 90 degrees up here by Monday, but that's what those wacky weathermen were saying...
After my run I took another trip into Boston into the expo early for some more shopping and some last minute stuff.  Getting there early let me be able to talk to the TRIGGER POINT, GU, and GARMIN reps and get any other stuff done so I could get home early and rest up for the big day tomorrow.
I spent the rest of Sunday evening resting up for the race.  My Home stay Kevin made a special early meal for me -- homemade tomato sauce, a perfectly cooked bowl of pasta,  a nice salad and some awesome Garlic bread.   I gobbled it all up, and then it was time to chillax for the evening. 
This was a strange evening for me.  its usually such a rush to eat early and get to bed because my races usually start sooo early! But since Boston didn’t start till 10am the next morning, and I was staying so close to the start, I actually didn’t  need to go to sleep until 10pm or so.  crazy running people...
For the third day in a row I awoke before any alarms went off – an unusual occurrence for this early riser. As I was lying in bed, I could hear the helicopters flying overhead and PA announcements down the street.  The big day was finally here and this sleepy town was WIDE AWAKE.
My morning was full of my normal rituals – coffee, breakfast, water, dressing – everything was underway as usual.  Kevin drove me up the street as far as the cops would let him and I was off to walk to the athlete staging area for bag drop and the porta potty lines.  I was feeling pretty good, ready for the big experience. 
I had packed a lot more cloths than I needed for this trip.  I kept hearing how cold it could be standing in the elements while waiting for the race to begin, and as big of a ninny I can be in the cold, I was sure to bring a few old long sleeved shirts and hot hands, etc., to be safe and just discard as I warmed up along the route.  It turned out this morning, all I had on was an old long sleeved shirt – and that was discarded 45 minutes before race time as I was already getting warm.  Down to the jog bra. They said it was going to be hot. It wasn’t until then that I actually believed them.
The walk down to the corrals was relatively uneventful.  It was getting warm, and lots of folks were commenting on how they thought their day would pan out.  There were LOTS of concerned runners, but I wasn’t too worried about the heat – I mean, can 90 degrees in Boston be hotter than 85 at home?  Or how about hotter than Kona?  Gulf Coast Tri?  No way.
I noticed the sun and the beautiful cloudless blue skies overhead and was wishing I had packed some sunscreen for my shoulders. A sunburn surely wasn’t going to help if it did get that hot.....wouldn’t you know, it wasn’t 20 seconds later that I came up on a tent propped up in someone’s front yard where the residents  offered  - get this –sunscreen!!!  And Vaseline, safety pins and any other pre race necessities free to the athletes.  How cool was that??? It was awesome.  I lubed up and was completely set for takeoff. 
Into corral #5 to await the start.  It was about 20 minutes in the corral before the elite men went off and then it was time for the thousands of runners in front of me (and over 20 thousand behind me) to begin crossing the timing mat.  It took a few minutes for me to make my way up to the starting line…
And my 2012 Boston Marathon was underway!!
Downhill.  More downhill.  More downhill.  Passing people. Weaving around people. Getting passed. Passing people who just passed me.  Downhill.  Uphill.  Passing people who passed me on the downhill.  Downhill.  Try not to trip.  Downhill.  You get the idea.
There were runners everywhere – as far as I could see up and down the hills in front of me – a sea of runners lined by rows of spectators.  It was just as someone had described it to me.  Like running along the parade route at Mardi Gras.   For those of you who don’t know, Patriot’s Day is a holiday in Boston, so it really is a bit like Mardi Gras Day in New Orleans.   Just like we line up along St. Charles Avenue with coolers full of beer and hang out, The locals from Hopkinton to Boston gather at friend’s and family’s houses along the marathon route to hang out and cheer on the masses running their streets for the day.  The energy was electric!
10k. Well, that was quick.  Both in pace and time.  It went by so fast.  Since the course had A LOT of downhill in the first 10k, I was expecting it to be a pretty good pace, but it just passed by so fast. 
I was a little concerned my legs would crap out later on from all of the pounding of downhill running so early on, but you never know till you try, so I just went with the flow and decided today was as good a day as any to see if I can handle it.  I had nothing to lose.  It they crapped out, so I walk.  I was just going with the flow today.

Aid station to aid station.  Water at every opportunity.
13.1m. Already?  Spectators everywhere = time flies.  Plus, running the same pace with a few people means some good conversation to take your mind off of what seems to be mild cramping issues in my legs and gut.  1st porta potty stop was around mile 10. And no, it’s wasn’t to pee.   Here we go again.  In and out quick.  Clean potty, that was an unexpected surprise J
Now the hard part begins.  The second half.  Uphill.  Downhill.  And a good bit of heat…. But I’ve been in worse.
The streets were still lined with spectators cheering and partying.  The college kids were out drinking just like they would be at Mardi Gras back home.  There was music playing, people barbecuing, families out and about, kids standing on the side of the street handing out freeze-pops and sliced oranges and ice – oh, the ICE.  Honestly, I think the smartest and best volunteers and race support I came across during the entire marathon were the locals who came prepared with bags of ice to hand out to us poor souls in need.  I could have kissed every spectator who let me have a few cubes of ice to hold onto while I made it though the last 13.1.  After all that warm water and Gatorade in the “official” aid stations, the ice was a nice treat….why the B.A.A. did NOT have ice on the course when they were so concerned about the heat before the race even started, I’ll never understand…
OK, back to the experience….did I mention there were people everywhere?  In every town, the crowds got larger and louder, especially the closer we got to Boston.  The local fire stations had their hoses out and residents had their sprinklers going.  Honestly, there was never a dull moment.  I’ve run 2 stand alone marathons and several Ironman marathons, and have never felt so lifted up and supported at every moment than in this race.  I know I keep mentioning it, but it really was awesome.
Heartbreak Hill.  Well, It got my heartrate up, but didn’t break me.  As a matter of fact, I was feeling pretty good at that point.  By this time, I had been in the porta potty twice.  I don’t know why this seems to keep happening to me, but it just does.  And I suppose the more races I do, the more opportunities I have to test something new out and see if I can figure it out.  Anyway, is seems as if the little rest stops gave my legs a brief rest and when I emerged – I just had a little more umph, so if that’s not a good way to look at it then I don’t know what is.  So up and down the hills I went – all the time trying to stay relaxed.  I knew the legs were tired, and I knew the muscles were ready to lock up at any moment – so I just tried to keep moving, press forward, avoid sudden moves, and NOT STOP.   Man, the crows were awesome.  I felt like they were all out there for me, and the more the cheered, the happier I was and the more optimistic I became. 
After heartbreak hill, there were not too many big uphills, but plenty of downhills, and I began to pass people left and right along the course.  I wondered early on in the race if this would happen, and questioned whether or not I would be the passer or the passed, and it turns out I ended up on the right side of that coin.  The carnage was upon me.  Surrounded mostly by men, an occasional woman around, runners were dropping like flies – tripping and falling, stopping abruptly, leaning over, walking, shuffling really slowly….you name it.  I could hear the ambulance sirens a buzz, and even saw one girl passed out flat along the side of the course (she was being tended to).  I had a few flashbacks to my experience at Ironman Louisville in 2010 seeing folks lying out on the side of the road – but I was a walker suffering among them that day. 
Not today though!  I just had to keep moving on this day in Boston, I was doing fine – maybe a little slow in the grand scheme of things, but fine in comparison to those around me.  I just kept my focus on relaxed legs, controlling what I could; keep the legs from locking up, hydrating, and making it to the finish line. 
Before I knew it, the final mile was upon me.  Unfortunately, I needed one more porta potty visit and was really worried about my legs cramping up getting in and out, but the alternative was less appealing, so I went for it…. it all went ok, and I was out and on my way to pass the “Citgo” sign and onto the finish line.  I couldn’t believe it was already here, but my body was ready to stop.   The streets in Boston were lined with loud cheering spectators all the way to the finish line– and before I knew it, I was there.  It was over.  WOW. 
What an experience. But it went by so fast…

75th overall Woman
12th (4th American) in my Age Division (40-44, incl. elites)
Top Female From Louisiana (say what?)

Post Race I collected my stuff, chatted a bit, changed clothes and was ready to take off to spend the rest of the day hanging around in the city. It was about 20 minutes after finishing the race that I realized something in my foot was not quite right.  I was beginning to limp a lot and found myself looking for a cab ride instead of walking around.  I found my way back to the Legal Seafood Harbor side, propped myself on a bar stool and had a few Sam Adams' and some lunch (post race food and lack of beer at the finish line was a bit of a disappointment).  It was here I met up with some awesome locals and some other racers who wandered in and out for the couple of hours I was there, and I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon!  after that, it was back on the train and time to make my way home to Hopkinton.  I sat next to other racers and volunteers and spectators on their way home and everyone was sharing their stories for the day and it was really awesome to hear all the different perspectives from all of the different folks along the course that day! 

Kevin picked me up at the train station, then it was off to an ice cream joint for some "unconventional" pre dinner sweetness that really hit the spot.  My foot was continuing to be an issue, and I was beginning to wonder if I didn't do some real damage to it. Ice & elevate...and time for another great nights rest...


The foot was not well.  This would prove to be a difficult day for airports, but I had to get home, so I had no other option!  It was time to say goodbye to my Boston family and head home to life in Mandeville, Louisiana.  Mary took me to the station around lunchtime and in no time I was on my way home.  I opted to forgo any special treatment in the airports, thinking that since I can still ambulate on my heel - albeit slow - I was ok.   I made it, but a week later as I finish this blog entry in bed with my foot iced and in a boot and crutches at my side, I am thinking that may not have been the best decision after all.  oh well.  I pay to play. Now It;s time for some rest.

No comments: