Saturday, April 24, 2010

Finally, Boston!

Okay, okay, I’ve stalled long enough, time to Boston. The happenstance of life in the non-marathon training world seems to be crazier upon return than it was before I left, so I apologize to all those curious as to how my Boston experience unfolded. I’ve been stewing thoughts for several days, trying to formulate words into complete sentences that are coherent enough to not seem like a contradicting blubbering idiot. Not an easy task for someone whose emotions are still all over the map.

I’ll start by quoting my fellow Bostonian marathoner blogger, marathon maiden, “So many emotions going through me right now. And somewhat surprisingly disappointment isn’t the first.” Her surprising non-disappointment emotion is because she raced superbly with an awesome finish line time. My surprising non-disappointment emotion is because I did the complete opposite and finished with the worst marathon finish time ever of the 15 marathons I’ve ran. Crazy, I know!! But something I learned out there on that course last week is that sometimes, not every race is about that illustrious finish line time. For the girl who always felt she had to over-train for every race so that clock read some grand number each race, I never thought I’d hear myself say it but my pathetic 4:30 finish actually was a number as gratifying on a whole different level than say, a PR number.

I had so many wonderful moments that it seems nearly impossible to do them justice with my meager descriptions. I think I’ll try to sum the weekend with a picture/description format so the words will paint a clearer story.

My girlfriend from home, Sheri, came with me. Sheri’s a non-marathoner but an awesome cheerleader, so she’s definitely in. We grabbed sandwiches in the airport within seconds of touchdown in Boston, here’s Sheri devouring hers:

Finally, after months of email planning for the weekend and developing a special e-world friendship, meeting Meg face to face finally was so exciting – she is just as personable and sweet in real-life as her blog-life reads. We instantly removed the “e” from our friendship and bonded like we’ve known each other for years. This picture is actually on my last day there but it’s the only one I have of just her and I so I thought it fitting to insert it here:

Sunday morning was the blog-fest brunch; it was so much fun to meet so many bloggers, many of whom I didn’t even know. Morgan has some excellent pictures of all those who attended so click on her name if you want more pictures, I’ll just include the ones at my table for the sake of this blog not being a 16-hour read. Clockwise: Emily (sweat once a day), Ryan (our love on the run), your truly, and Bethany (our love on the run). Excellent start to the weekend!


One thing I learned is that girls from California pack a LOT of clothes, but they were definitely the best-dressed:

Meet up with Rick (marathonman101108), and his lovely wife for a bit at our hotel as they headed out of town for a little R&R weekend. It was like 3:00 in the afternoon and yes, I hadn’t had a shower yet due to a really fun last minute expo seminar and lunch with Marcia (gotta love myself sometime when I asked Marcia if she wanted to do lunch only to get to said lunch and realize I have $7 to my name on me. ADD moments never leave you, even on vacation race trips. Thanks, Marcia, you are sooo much fun and I loved hanging with ya!!!). And yes, I felt like slime, and looked it:
Sunday night dinner with my dear friend, Elaine:
Monday wake-up came early and we all scrambled to get our acts together and out the door. I had hoped to get a picture of Meg and her track-club friend (and my other roomie), Jillian, before we all went our separate ways, but Meg left to get coffee and I had to meet my other girlfriend, Elaine, in the lobby so alas, I could only snap a quick pic of Jillian (who Meg deems “super model” – which is obviously fitting) as she was gearing up to go:

Meet Elaine in the lobby (Ryan Hall walked right past me while I was waiting for Elaine - a pretty surreal moment), pick up Marcia (Running off at the mouth) at her hotel along the way to the bus line, and find Katie A (One run at a time). Katie’s already been in line and is hesitant (bitching) to remove herself from the insane-ness of these long lines and start over with us but my persuasive powers (and me constantly reminding her it was my birthday) pull her over to our line so we can all hang together. I think she was glad she did; I mean, she got to hang with us AND I had a birthday balloon bopping everyone around me in the head from the wind (Meg had given it to me me to wear so she’d find me later at the Athlete’s Village. Which, unfortunately, we never did). Elaine, Marcia, me, Katie A.:
The start area is insane, like Woodstock but with sober people. Each line for a porta potty looks like the start of a 5-K back home. Still have that damn balloon and I never did find Meg with it, so I popped it – I was fearful someone was going to bop me one, it was hitting one too many participants in the face. Marcia, me, Katie A.

Katie A. coming out of the lovely facilities:
Marcia and Katie mere minutes before the big event (somewhere in the potty line, we lose Elaine. I was sad!):
Katie and I at the start:
This is kinda where the Boston weekend turns a little “touchy” for me. Katie, who is in corral 15, says she is running back with me in 18. I beg her to go with her group but she says she wants to start off with me for awhile, even though I say I’m not running fast, only running in survival mode of 9:00 – 9:10 min/miles (whereas she normally runs in the low 8’s and me in the mid 8's). She has Big Sur the following weekend so maybe she just wants to conserve, or maybe she just can’t get enough of my awesomeness, either way we start off together and run about the first 13 miles. We laugh, we high-five, we complain about how uneasy and forced the slow pace felt. I was having some major feet problems and her, being over the flu just a couple days earlier, was struggling. But I snapped some fun pictures in the middle of our big whine-fest:
Katie:

Me:


Gross leopard leotard woman (seriously, wth???):
My friends from RW I saw around mile 7 (me, Andrea, Elizabeth):

Katie again - her signature pose:

Cups galore:

At mile 13, my bladder, which was screaming to relieve itself from mile 1 (and me being too anal to stop for the massive potty lines en route), was about to explode and I HAD to stop here and take care of that business. I told Katie to take off and I’d see her at the finish in our designated “B’ sign spot. I have never been so relived to pee in my life; age and large bladders are not bff’s. After that almost 6 minute stop, my quads decided to hold a protest and revolt from further movement. My toes, apparently from all the downhills at the beginning, were swollen and hitting the ends of my shoes, causing me to actually curl them up while running now. Not an easy task, mind you. My right heel, which has been bothering me on and off for the past several months, was screaming. And the bottoms of both feet ached like nothing I’ve ever, EVER experienced (curse myself for not wearing those new insoles which I deemed “bothersome” before I left). Starting back up from this bathroom break again was proving to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And when you’re hurting bad at mile 13 in a marathon, you know it’s going to be a very, long, drawn-out second half.

I kept moving but it was slower now and when I got to the infamous Boston hills at mile 17, I decided I was just going to walk them; it was not going to do me any good to deplete any remaining strength on these beasts, there was still 6 miles to go after all this hill madness so I figured walking was the best way to conserve. Was I deflated? Kinda. I figured I’d have to walk at some point in this race so it was fine it was now, but what was bothering me so much was the fact my feet hurt so bad and I still had a major chunk of this thing to crank out. The crowds are enormous here, too, and ya sort of feel like you’re a big loser walking and they’re looking at you like, “Get your fat ass moving, girl!!! Yeah, well, whatever. I was there, qualified to run it, they were not. That stuff just always bothers me for whatever pride-related reasons, especially going by Boston College, where masses of college kids (mostly drunk – ha) assemble and scream their lungs out (I’m certain many could not speak for days after!); I have never in my life seen so many people congregated in one spot…yelling. It sends a chill right down your spine.
Anyway…..fiiiinnnnaaaallllly, get to the top of Heartbreak Hill at mile 20 and I’m spent. HUH? The idea to conserve here really didn’t pan out and though I was able to start running again, my feet were telling me that it was going to be at a ridiculously slower than snail’s pace and there was nothing I could really do about it.

I’m just slugging along for a few miles and when I get to mile 23, some mighty force above made me look off to my right and there I see Katie. Hurting. I couldn’t believe it. I ran over to her and she was literally in tears; she was having horrible leg cramps and told me she wanted to quit. No way, no how! I had her stop walking and stretch her legs for a few minutes and told her I was sticking by her side to the end, no matter how slow we went. Really, at this point I was beyond pulling any miracles out of my agonizing feet, an extra 15 or so minutes tacked on to my finish time to walk her in was A-ok with me. It was better than A-ok, it was the ONLY thing to do. After a little stretching, Katie actually felt better and so we took off walking a lot, running a little – yet somehow laughing and smiling the entire way home. She told spectators and runners around it was my birthday and it totally made my day when those around me started singing Happy Birthday; I’m certain somewhere in that mix of laughter, I shed a tear.
Katie Mile 24:

Me at Mile 25:

Coming down the home-stretch on Boylston Street with Katie arm and arm is an experience I will never, ever forget. It occurred to me that this…..this is the perfect illustration of a true friendship.
There is always a nugget for me in every marathon, a lesson that cannot be learned any other way than in 26.2 miles. I am certain had I not found Katie at mile 23, I would have finished this race feeling miserable and deflated. Instead, Boston #2 will go down as one of the best marathons ever, on a totally different level. Do not underestimate the intimacy of running and the people with whom you share those miles. It matters! When you are lucky enough to share your Boston birthday with intense feet pain, in the most under-trained condition you’ve ever been, but with a friend by your side, you learn that laughing and suffering are not mutually exclusive. I had a blast! A birthday I will never, ever forget!

As my friend, Garbo, posted on my RW blog, “I have always thought the key to running is having fun and sharing a kinship with fellow runners. In that department it sounds like you definitely smashed your P.R. Excellent run, chica. Well done.” I may not have thought that as I stood at the start line of Boston, but I honestly do believe it now. This is the lesson I learned in Boston this year!

I wanted to wrap up the whole Boston thing in one blog, as I didn’t want this thing to drag on forever, but this one got pretty lengthy, despite my quest to condense it as much as possible….yet I haven’t touched on the post-race emotions and fun-filled blog festivities Meg threw me after, so I will sign off for now and cover that later this week. But I can’t close without big HUGS and heartfelt THANK-YOUS for the amazing send-off comments – I am truly blessed for all the kindred soul friendships out there. I can’t even express in words how much that meant to me and carried me through. Thank you!!!!

"Everyone who finishes the Boston Marathon has their own great moment in sport - each one of us on this day has achieved greatness." -George Sheehan, M.D.

53 comments:

Christi said...

CONGRATS!!!! The pain you went through is made all the sweeter by the friendships shared and nutured! I am so happy for you!

Teamarcia said...

You've summed it up beautifully girlfriend. It's a lesson I learned last weekend in Boston as well as I approached the starting line in my worst ever marathon shape. It really doesn't matter how we finish but that we had the strength to start at all. And the special friendships we build along the way are what really matter. Congrats on a kick-ass Boston my friend--it was so great to hang out with you! : )

Glenn Jones said...

Jill: First off-congratulations Boston finisher!!! Never underplay the finish line. Finishing is what life is about. Lots of people start things (busineses, relationships, etc.) but those who are successful are those who finish.

What an experience too! Your descriptions let me escape my confines for a little and experience what Marathon weekend must be like. One of these days...

Finally, kudos to you for stopping and helping your friend. Sometimes things work the strangest ways for the not so obvious (at the time) reasons. You're a rock statin my book!

ajh said...

I LOVE this post. You and Katie helped each other throughout! It is great that would could have been a bad experience turned out so well! Good for you for turning lemons into lemonade. (not original - sorry) I love seeing pics of my Em in all these blogs! Wish I could have gotten there earlier to meet people too! Can't wait to read about your birthday bash.

Running and living said...

So great to read about your race, Jill! It is amazing what we put ourselves through with marathoning, yet somehow we forget it and get ready to tackle a next one. So wonderful of you to stick with Katie, and how awesome that helping her ended up helping you:)

Jennifer said...

Great post Jill! Wow such a hard race, all that I read makes me cringe, but on the other hand you followed through and finished! I think 4:30 is fast but I get your point. I am still happy to hear you are happy with your finishing. I am so jealous you got to meet Meg and all the other amazing blogger women runners! And Happy Birthday too! Rest up, you so deserve it!!!

Barefoot AngieB said...

What a great recap!! Congratulations!!!

ilikemargarine said...

Yay!

I would just add one scripture from the Gospel of Sheehan, written when as yourself he was returning home from a marathon and contemplating what to do next:
---

Was I ready, then, to have my heart weighed? Was this as far as I would go? Was I ready to rest, to obey the commandments and await my reward?
The plane was bringing me back to earth. Without thinking, I took my pulse. A slow, steady 48, and only a day after a marathon. And I knew then, as every runner knows, my heart is capable of anything. All it asks is the time to do it.
When I have run my best marathon and written my best piece and done my best deed of love for myself and my neighbor, I know the cry will still come from my heart: "There is more, there is more. I who have made you know." What else is a heart for, then, but to be uneasy, to ask for what seems impossible, and never be satisfied? So my heart will be restless until it finds its final rest.
Then they can weigh it.

----

Don't go weighing that heart yet, Jill. It's nowhere near being done yet.

Petraruns said...

Oh Jill - I cried reading this. And not just because I missed out on running with you here. But also because you DID capture that true sisterhood / brotherhood of man feeling that I always feel in a marathon - truly the best of people. I am SO glad that you made this into a positive experience and that you found Katie - what a friendship you two have and what a story to tell for years to come. Amazing.

I am just SO sorry I missed out on this and your party. But so pleased you had such a fabulous time.

PS - you're looking pretty fabulous in all of your pictures!

marathonmaiden said...

congrats!! loved reading this. you are such a trooper. way to gut out those miles post-heartbreak. glad you had so much fun at the race :)

elaine said...

LOVED the blog (caps just for you), and the comments too. I loved meeting Marcia and Katie, what a treat I get to meet runners through you!
E

MCM Mama said...

Awesome report and what an amazing weekend! I love that you and Katie finished together. So.very.cool. Congratulations.

saundra said...

This is a great post. A perfect illustration that there is more to running (and bloggers) than how fast you finish. Congrats on a wonderful marathon experience.

Velma said...

You made me cry - this is why we run. No question about it!

Marathonman101108 said...

Jill,
You know what? I'm SO proud of you.
You and Katie were meant to be together for Boston. Instead of both of you having it be a miserable experience, it became a positive one. Talk about "karma." You guys find each other for the last 3 miles, and finish together. Plus both of you realizing that it's OK to run and actually have fun! (Us slow pokes realize that right away). Glad to see some of you speedsters realize that now. I really didn't say what I wanted to say as well as I had hoped here, but hopefully you get the idea. I'm on vacation the week of Boston next year, so I hope to see and meet you again. Congrats on completing Boston and living to tell about it!

KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) said...

congrats! it was so much fun tracking you online. at each checkpoint, I would visualize where you were on the course and wishing I was there. it's nice to be reminded every once in a while that running a marathon isn't always about the finishing time.

Meg said...

Sweetie-Pie, in each and every picture you are smiling and I know you enjoyed yourself along the course, it's evident! You also stuck with a friend and both of you had the BEST attitudes that night. In the end, that's what counts; friends, memories and a good attitude. You'll move on from this a stronger person because we all learn something along the way...
I LOVE the leopard girl and the cups picture, by the way. I will never forget ice skating along on top of those cups, SO SCARY!!
I'll email soon, hope all is well on the home-front.

Run Jess Run said...

Great recap!! I'm so glad you finished the race and didn't bail! You are such a strong person!

shellyrm aka jogging stroller mama said...

Jill ~ That was great. I am so proud of you and Katie. That is what running is really about. Showing a persons true character. Many people would have finished and walked back to walk that friend in. I am so glad you set aside those few minutes off your finish time and shared them with Katie. I know those minutes held a lot more than if you would have just ran them away. I know you both will gone on to have "better" finish times but I wonder if you'll ever top the experince of sharing those few miles together!

Char said...

Thank you for sharing your Boston experience. It bought a tear to my eye and gave me such a warm fuzzy!What a memorable race.

onelittletrigirl said...

I loved you report!! And so many great photos! I love the leopard one- too funny! Sounds like a wonderful way to spend your birthday!

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

It's just amazing the things we learn through running and to share those times with friends that "get us" it's truly the best of times. Congrats for being able to see the silver lining. Enjoyed the recap.

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

The cup pic reminded me of my shoes sticking to the pavement at each fuel stop. I forgot to blog about it, but really, as if the hills we're not bad enough and then your feet stick to the ground. Come on!

DRog said...

Jill-
lol at leopard leotard! Congrats on finishing, good work...and happy BDay! Glad it turned out to be a positive experience!
-Derek

Heather said...

I am so happy to read your Boston report - I love your comment about the intimacy you share with the people you run with, so true. Congratulations and happy birthday!

Miriam said...

I love all the Boston reports I have been seeing lately. I didn't think I really wanted to run Boston someday until I started reading them.
That lady in the leopard print thing is scary.

Anne said...

What an amazing and touching story! I love how your experience turned completely around when you stopped to help Katie...what a wonderful gesture! Congrats on a great race Jill! Looking forward to hearing about your birthday bash :)

Julie said...

Hi Jill,
You did it!! You finished Boston with the enthusiasm, drive and kind spirit of a true athlete and gentle hearted person!! This is who you are and why people love you! You finished Boston with a time that most people only dream of having and you helped a friend in need:) I really enjoyed reading your race report and you know how much I enjoy looking at pictures! I am so happy for you and glad that you had a wonderful experience:) Your race report was very touching! Congrats to you Jill!

LMC said...

Fist, congratulations on finishing Boston! That's awesome! Second, thanks for your race report. I LOVED it! Honestly, this is one of the best Boston reports that I have read because it's not just about running and all the fun events of the weekend, but because it's about simple but totally meaningful gestures, Katie's and yours! That's the stuff that's memorable and that stays with you forever. You're both lucky! Rest up and have a great week! (Oh yeah, and try to forget about that gross leopard skin...WTH?)

Black Knight said...

Congratulations on finishing Boston, a dream for us in Italy. Beautiful report and great pictures: watching them we can imagine the atmosphere of that marathon.

HappyTrails said...

Congratulations on your Boston experience Jill and that was great that you could help out your friend!!! Sounds like you had an overall good time there with all the festivities thrown in. Sorry to tempt you with the Nutella - it is the industrial size from Costco, so if you see us ballooning out of control, slap some sense into us!!!!! We'll share if you would like - maybe we'll go for a trail run and then "tailgate" with Nutella!! Have a great week!

Marlene said...

I have GOOSEBUMPS! What a beautiful thing that thinga turned around so much when you found your friend. You are both troopers. Congratulations!

lindsay said...

congrats again! :) what an awesome recap. i am starting to feel like i shouldn't even write my own... just link to everyone else's! :) i'm glad you enjoyed your race, no matter the time.

wow leopard lady... where can i get one of those leotards!!

Badgergirl said...

Congrats on your Boston finish. And the part of your recap when you talked about mile 23, seeing Katie and helping push her to the finish line? Almost had me crying! Congrats again!

Jamoosh said...

Heavy sigh... Good job in bosotn and an excellent race report.

C2Iowa said...

Congrats and what a well written post.

Tara said...

I love your post Jill! It sounds like you made some great friendships and had a wonderful experience.

I wanna meet Katie! She sounds like such a fab person and I wish that I could have been there with you guys!

WTH is up with leopard woman? What WAS she thinking?

Anonymous said...

I wish I would have known how wonderful runners are as I would have started running a long-long time ago. This post is proof to that fact. Congrats Jill!! (CLT Runner)

26.2 Princess said...

What an amazing and inspiring race report! You are a true winner! I am so impressed with you...you really know what matters most in life. Congratulations on what will surely be remembered as your best marathon!

Abby said...

Wow, this report gave me goosebumps. What an awesome race-day experience. Congrats to both you and Katie for gutting out a tough run, and for being able to put it in perspective and come out with such a great frame of mind.

Suzy said...

Congratulations!!! Happy Belated Birthday!! Boston sounds tough and you did a great job. Plus, you got to meet some awesome people.

Irene said...

Yay!

Awesome how you and Katie pulled each other through at the end!

Jenn said...

How in the world did I miss this post? YES, NASTY leopard leotard woman! As usual, your post was a huge highlight for me. Seriously, I would not only subscribe to but wholeheartedly promote a magazine in which you were the editor!! Great race report! Thought about 3-way lunges today-didn't do them but thought about them! Good enough I think..lol! Great pics and SO great to meet you! Hopefully, you are enjoying your recovery more than I am...

Megan said...

Wow. You had a ton of friends with you. Congrats!

Morgan said...

I am teared up like it's my job right now. You ladies are awesome and have so much heart! Good job making it to the finish but more importantly how wonderful of you to bring Katie in and manage to lift both your spirits! Congrats ladies, it wasn't a pretty race but you made it a beautiful experience!

Tony said...

Congrats on boston and I love your lesson learned from the marathon. " Do not underestimate the intimacy of running and the people with whom you share those miles. " Your inspiring.

Psyche said...

Hi, Jill! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this Boston post. I completely agree with you that there is a "nugget" we get from each marathon- a precious thing that only the running of 26.2 can give you. Clearly, you were open to receiving it.
Race times come and go, but those precious experiences we garner during times of distress are what last us a lifetime and make us wise.

Thanks again for sharing your story. You are awesome!!!

Adam Culp (Crazy Floridian) said...

It is awesome that this turned out to be such a great marathon for you after such a terrible training cycle. Thanks for sharing.

Mikey B said...

Excellent pictures and the best quote out of the whole blog - "Do not underestimate the intimacy of running and the people with whom you share those miles".

Could not have said that any better myself.

Mikey B

I Run for Fun said...

What a wonderful report, Jill! I felt like I was there, running Boston with you. Congratulations!

Katie A. said...

So, I'm like the worst BFF ever! I just read this and cried! I am so thankful for you, more than words can describe! If it weren't for you, I probably would have missed my plane home on Wednesday because my ass would have been still stuck at mile 23!!!
I am so glad we had this opportunity to run together in one of the most famous races ever!!! LOVE YOU!

Adam said...

This is SOOOO awesome. congrats! I love all of the pictures and love that I got to share just bit of boston.

And yes - you are right. That is a LOT of clothes!! HOw long were you guys there? a month?! :)

Anne said...

I saw Meg last night and decided I needed to catch up on your Boston adventure. Definitely looks like you made the most of the trip and I like the little kernel of wisdom you pulled out of it about the impact of intimacy. So true! So true!

(And the good thing if it is a stress fracture vs. PF is bone heals more quickly than that tendon. You should be fine in about four weeks - versus months if its PF.)