Boston 2021

Boston Marathon #8 – Marathon #84

We left CT the morning after we paced The Hartford Marathon. I have to admit, I was extremely terrified to run Boston with only 1 day of rest. We gathered all our race gear, packed up and were onto our next journey.  I brought my laptop with a goal of finishing my Hartford Race Recap before I ran Boston.   

We arrived in Boston on the early side but were pleasantly surprised that the hotel was able give us our room right away.  We unpacked and headed out to the Vaccination tent to get our wrist bands.  Our appointment was at 1:15 and I was already starving.  The walk to Boylston Street from our hotel was less than a mile.  We arrived at the tent.  There were vendors and live music.  People were sitting at tables waiting for their Covid test result.  The BAA race instructions were either providing proof of vaccination OR getting a COVID test in order to get your race package.  Once you are given the green light, they gave you a wrist band to wear as proof.  I was nervous it would fall off until I realized it has some sort of fastener that was impossible to loosen or undo.

When we were standing outside the tent we spotted our Fleet Feet friend, John Williams who was running for CMAK from CT.  We ended up walking to the Expo and had cheeseburgers and Sam Adams beer for lunch. John gave us bracelets to wear that were blessed.  I put mine on immediately with hope that it would get me through the race!

The Expo was not filled with vendors as in previous years and the lines to purchase merchandise were seamless.  We were pretty much in and out.  We had lunch and headed back to the hotel.  We went to bed around 8 PM and pretty much stayed awake on and off until 3 am.  I hardly sleep the night before a race!

I woke up at 5 am before my alarm went off and started to get ready making coffee and oatmeal.  My daughter had asked me to join her mindful morning challenge.  It’s basically dedicating 10 minutes to yourself every morning.  Kim was headed to the shower and I said “I’m doing Jennie’s morning meditation”.  I closed my eyes as she started and when I opened them for a second, I noticed Kim was laying on the bed listening too.  Her meditation for the first day theme was personal power.  I closed my eyes as she guided us to breath in positive energy and exhale any negative thoughts.  I wish I could remember everything she said but what I walked away with, was a clear positive mindset and I was ready for Boston.

We headed out to get the bus ride to Hopkinton.  The volunteers were extremely helpful and we were directed to the buses based off of our bib color.  Kim’s bib color allowed him to get on the bus 15 minutes before me but he was able to drop back to my bib color.  I was so relieved that we wouldn’t be separated and could run together.  The bus ride to me was frightening.  Before the bus departed, the bus driver asked a volunteer outside how long does it take to get to Hopkinton and the she said it was her first time.  All I could think was “holy crap, this is her first time driving a bus?”.  The panic set in as she took off and followed the other buses out of Boston and onto the Mass Pike.  Kim noticed me looking nervous and he assured me we would have a great race.  I said “Kim, I am not as nervous about the race, I’m worried about this bus driver that said she’s never done this before”, and he said “Jeanne, she meant driving people to Hopkinton not driving a bus”.  That’s when I started to relax. I looked outside and could see the convoy of school busses driving to the start.  On the other side of the highway were buses on their way back to Boston to get more runners.  Tractor Trailer trucks were blowing their air horns to the buses as they passed cheering us on.

When we got off the highway to Hopkinton, I noticed people’s homes had signs outside “Go Runners” and then it hit me.  My eyes filled with tears and all I could think was, “this is a sign that our world is getting back to normal”.

We pulled up next to the school that used to be Athletes Village and I couldn’t help notice that Boston had their MASS DOT plow trucks blocking off all the intersections.  Boston is pretty bad ass!

We got off the bus and were directed to the bathrooms near the start.  So many people that lived on that section were cheering for us.  After a ½ mile walk, we finally got the bathrooms.  They were lined up everywhere and I noticed in the middle there was a blocked off section.  My first thought “wow, they have a VIP section?”.  But then, as I looked closer,  I noticed they were men’s urinals set up in the middle of the parking lot.  I told Kim what I thought and he said “that is the VIP-Pee tent”.  We headed to the far end of the parking lot where the lines  were shorter. There was dude in line for the port-o-let in front of me that said “This is where the men go #2. 

As soon as we turned to walk to the start we were told by the announcer, “this is a rolling start, as soon as your ready – just start running”.  This was the first time I’ve run Boston where I didn’t have to wait until 10:40. I was pretty excited for the early start. 

We started running and Kim said “Let’s keep a nice easy steady pace”.  The first mile chimed 8:23. I said “Kim, let’s back off the next mile.  Then mile 2 – 8:23. Our pace never slowed down much after that.  I just felt awesome.  When we approached mile 3 Kim said “I want to stop and picture of Spencer the famous therapy dog.  I kept going but slowed down.  I kept turning back wondering where Kim was.  When he caught up he said “Spencer was sleeping, and they had to get him up for him to hold his flag in his mouth for the runners”

We kept on track and I said to Kim “I’ve run Boston a few times and I don’t remember any of this" I did however,  remember where the train tracks were around the 10K mark.  Then suddenly we were there.  All of a sudden, we heard someone screaming “JEANNE & KIM” and ringing the LOUDEST cowbell ever!  It was Henryk who had just ran Berlin.  We trained with him quite a bit this marathon cycle.  It was like seeing an Angel that gave us so much energy.  It’s pretty cool when you see someone out there how it will pull your spirits up and give you a rush of energy. 

Our next group of friends to look for was our Fleet Feet friends at the mile 9 water table.  When we got to their water stop there was so much cheering!  It was so awesome to see them.  The last time I ran Boston, as soon as I got to their water table, I crashed and burned and had to run/walk.  Not this year, I felt bullet proof. All I could think was what Jennie had said during the mediation.  There were NO negative thoughts.  Just positive energy.

As the miles started to go by I kept fueling and made a point of drinking a sip of Gatorade then then water at each water stop.  It was getting hotter now so we started to take salt. I had switched from performance Honey Stinger chews to Skratch chews.  I’ve been fueling with their chews for the last few marathons and they are really easy on my stomach.  My tip is to open the packages first and put them in the small pill zip lock bags for easy access. 

We continued on and were looking forward to the famous scream tunnel at Wellesley College.  As we approached the sound was deafening.  I said to Kim “you can’t even describe this to anyone”.  I had the biggest smile on my face as we ran by the girls.  The signs they had were hysterical!  I would be making this write up Rated R if I wrote what they said.  After the exiting  scream tunnel, we flew right into the ½ way point.  Wow – 1:53 for the first half.  I really think if those girls were on the entire course I would win the race!

Kim said to me “it’s 3 miles to get to the downhill in Newton let’s stay in the grove”.  We hit mile 16 in Newton Falls for our first climb over I95.  We both powered up the hill side by side and when we got to the top, Kim said “I hope Heartbreak hill is that easy”.  We were both running strong.

We ran by the Newton-Wellesley Hospital that had a sea of purple flags on the lawn in remembrance of the 2000+ residents lost to the Opioid Crisis.  It was surreal. 

After we passed the Hospital, we turned right at the Firehouse for our next climb.  We powered up that hill and Kim said “2 down – 2 to go”.  After we got to the top it was almost mile 18.  We got the 30K mat and we saw our friend Mena, from Empire timing that was screaming “Go Kim!  Go Jeanne!   Next up, hill #3 just before the Heartbreak Hill running store around mile 20.  Again, we powered up and were getting excited to see our friends on Heartbreak hill. 

We started our climb up Heartbreak that was lined with people cheering on both sides.  We were looking for our friends and as I looked up toward the top I saw Fernanda in her bright orange jacket hanging over the security fencing.  Kim said to me “I’m giving them my running belt and honey stingers” as he was starting to chafe.  Kim ran by first and threw everything over the fence.   Then I saw Angie, Diane and Audrey, cheering for us.  It was my turn to toss my gifts I collected along the way as well.  I grabbed Maurten gels at the mile 12 water stop that I held for the last 8 miles to give to Fernanda.  My intentions were to stop and take a photo, but we were running with such a mission to get to the top we ran right by.  Fernanda had fuel and water for us.  I grabbed the fuel and yelled “Thank you - I LOVE you”!   

We crested Heartbreak Hill and even though I felt the hard part was over, the last 5-6 miles are really where the mental toughness needs to kicks in.  The crowds were relentlessly cheering that helped distracts the pain. The signs people were holding were hysterical; “you run better than the government”, “never trust a fart at mile 18”, “find a cute butt and follow it”, “smile if you peed a little” and so many more that I just don’t remember. Kim said “we just need to run smart from this point, it’s downhill to Boston”

I had a blister on my toe from Hartford and I was pretty sure at this point it popped since I couldn’t feel the pain anymore. I was also fighting the need to use the bathroom but kept saying to myself as I passed one, “you can use the next one”.  I never did.  We kept powering over the last few hills and finally got into Brookline.  The streets were lined with crowds screaming and encouraging runners to keep going.  Kim was now ahead of me and I used him as a guide to move forward.  I was getting tired.  I had 3 miles left and knew that I had that last climb to Hereford Street. At this point I started following the blue stripes that were painted on the streets.  We were approaching the iconic Boston Strong sign that is painted on the over pass on Massachusetts Ave. Bridge.  Kim started taking photos of it.  I was just concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other.  Finally, we turned onto Hereford street that had the slight incline to Boylston Street.  My watch had just chimed 26 miles as I turned onto Boylston Street.  I looked down the street to the finish and thought, that looks a lot longer than .2 miles!

Kim started screaming to the crowds to get them to cheer as we were running the last stretch to the finish.  The crowds were going wild. The cheering was electrifying!  Kim grabbed my hand and we held our arms up high as we crossed the finish line at 3:46:27!  It was unbelievable.  I have no idea where the energy came from.  I attribute it to my morning magic meditation, knowing my friends were cheering and the constant alerts I had on my phone from my friends that were tracking us.  Every alert put a smile on my face and I felt their love and support with every timing mat I crossed.

What an epic day, not just for Kim and I but for Boston.  Having the Boston Marathon back vitalized the entire city.  I felt the cheering for people was also the cheering for hope and the end of these challenging times.  Cheers to you Boston! 

Now, time to rest up for the next marathon! 

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