Boston #9 - Marathon #90

Even though this Boston was my 9th consecutive Boston it still felt like my first one.  The excitement and nerves leading up to it were the same.  It was extra special because my friends Andrea, Colleen, Amanda and Kaitlin were running their first Boston, so I was able to help them with logistics and give them those tips that I wish I had for my first.  3 weeks prior to the race we ran the (HOP 21) 21-mile course preview from Hopkinton to The Boston College as their last long run.  After we brought them to our favorite restaurant at mile 2 - TJ’s  - for the best post run burger and ice cold beer ever.  We had told them on race day that we run by TJ’s and it’s jammed packed with people cheering.  Those 3 weeks flew by and finally it was the Boston Marathon weekend. 

Kim and I were supposed to arrive Sunday, but we kept reading weekend logistics and ended up going up Saturday and stayed close by in Quincy.  We got to experience Boston’s public transportation (the T) for the first time.  It’s amazing all the times we’ve been to Boston and never used it!  We hopped on the T in Quincy and headed to Copley Square Saturday morning. 

The expo was so busy, and it took about 45 minutes to get inside the expo.  Our first stop was the Adidas booth.  It was an absolute mad house!  All I wanted was one of the Boston pins that they sell at checkout, so I grabbed one of the stuffed unicorns to add to my collection.  When we finally got to the register, we found out that they weren’t selling the pins this year.  I was so disappointed.  We zipped though the other booths and headed back to the hotel to relax. 

Sunday morning, we headed to the Copley Marriott hoping we could check in early.  They were able to let us check in.  Our first stop was the shake out run with Tracksmith.  We got to run the last mile and ½ of the course.  We took some photos of the iconic Boston Strong bridge and Citgo sign. On our way back, we were surprised to see Stanley our Fleet Feet friend that had moved to Boston.  What a treat! 

We headed back towards the hotel as the sun went in, we were freezing!  On our walk towards the hotel when ran into Scott Benbow an ambassador of the San Francisco marathon we met in CA.  It was great to catch up with him! 

Finally, we got back to the hotel to clean up.  I jumped in the shower only to realize the water never got hot – just lukewarm.  I never seemed to warm up!  Then I heard drilling and hammering.  I called the front desk to see what was going on.  She politely told me that they would stop at 6 PM.  I felt panic set in, I was freezing and getting a headache.  I dried my hair and we headed out to meet Colleen to do some more sightseeing of the finish line and the Fan Fest hoping that by the time we got back the hammering would be done.  After we went over to Colleens hotel for some “arts and craft” to put our names on our shirts.  It started to get close to the time we had to leave for dinner, so we headed back to the room to change to meet for dinner.

We took the T to dinner in the North end at Riccardo’s.  Had some great Italian food and got to “photo-bomb” the table next to us as they took their family photos. 

After dinner we went back to the room to organize our race stuff.  I slept pretty good considering it was the night before the marathon.

Finally, it was race morning!  Kim and I left to meet Kaitlin, Colleen and Andrea.  Colleen lifted her throw away shirt only to show her name was peeling off.  I said “I have mine on” pulled up my throw away sweatshirt only to see the “e” was missing in my name, so now when the crowds cheered for me my name was Jan.  I pulled off the rest of the letters and headed out to catch the bus to Hopkinton.  We ran into Sharon Reiner an amazing runner that I seem to bump into all over the place!  We all walked over with her and got into the massive cluster of runners heading to the buses.  All of us grabbed the back of each other’s shirts to create a human chain so we wouldn’t lose each other!  It worked!  We chatted with some runners as we waited for the bus only to find out that they were both together on the bus that got lost last year on the way to the start.  I said “Kim, let’s make sure we sit in front so you can give directions”. 

When we were about ½ way to Hopkinton on the Mass Pike, I noticed our bus driver had slowed down to 40 MPH and was now in the breakdown lane. At this point there were no buses ahead of us. The driver now had his arm out the window trying to flag the buses behind us to go by.  I said “Kim, I think the bus is having mechanical issues”.  Kim asked the driver if he was having mechanical issues or if he wasn’t sure where to go.  He replied, “I’m not sure where to go”!  Kim said, “I know the directions. Let’s go. 10 more miles to the exit”.  I turned around and looked back, there was a caravan of yellow buses behind us in the breakdown lane. If we got lost, the rest of the buses would be too!   As we got closer to 495, we noticed there were volunteers at the wrong exits to tell the bus drivers to keep going!  We laughed thinking “those poor volunteers must have picked the short straw to have gotten that job”.  Finally, we could see our exit in the distance. It was completely coned off with 2 police cruisers parked there.  Kim said, “DO NOT go past this exit, they will let you in”.  The driver hesitated and asked are you sure?  Kim yelled “they will let you in”, so the driver finally slowed down and the police officers grabbed the cones to let us through.  Everyone on the bus started cheering.  From that point on Kim told him where NOT to turn and by the grace of God, we arrived at Athletes village.  Everyone cheered and we thanked the bus driver over and over! 

We weren’t in Athlete’s village very long before our wave was called.  Now it was time to head to the start. Colleen went to her corral and Kim, Kaitlin, Andrea and I went to ours.  Kim kept saying “we can go back and start with Colleen”, and I said “Colleen really wants to experience her “level 1” happiness and do her own thing.  She was so excited to run Boston and said she wanted to enjoy it and take everything in.

The race started! 

We started our journey to Boston! The start is downhill with a sea of colors of all the runner’s shirts.

Our first landmark was our favorite restaurant (TJ’s). I said to Andrea “Look there’s the place we ate lunch after our 21 miler”.  It was packed! At least 10 people deep screaming and cheering! Then around mile 2 ½ was Spencer, the famous Boston Marathon dog that has been on the course for years.  This year was extra special because he is a cancer survivor.  Kim made sure he stopped and grabbed his photo.

Andrea’s name was on her shirt (she used iron on letters). People were yelling “Go Andrea”! Each time she would yell back “Thank you”.  She said to me “Jeanne, I’m always putting my name on my shirt, this is awesome”!  Kim’s name was still on his shirt, so people were yelling “Go Kim”.  Since my Tracksmith shirt only has BOS (for Boston) across the front, people were yelling “Go Bos”!  I said, Kim – I guess I’m your Boss today.

Those first miles seem to go by quickly!  Finally, we got to see our Fleet Feet friends at the BEST water stop ever (mile 9).  I remember one year, after I saw them at mile 9, I started feeling horrible and had a tough time running.  This year, I was still running strong. I felt good.  Our splits were pretty consistent, and I was running at a comfortable pace.  There were so many funny signs too.  I have to say my favorite was a huge Will Smith head and a sign that said, “Slap me”.  People were running by slapping Will’s face.  I didn’t of course but having those distractions really helps to make the run go by faster. 

We approached the infamous “Scream Tunnel” that didn’t seem as loud as earlier years.  We ran past and were now heading for the ½ way point. Wellesley was Loud! Especially with Henryk screaming to us as we ran thru.  I never admitted to Kim at that point my right calf and Achilles were starting to get tender.  I feel like once you give in and acknowledge the pain out loud, it makes it worse and doesn’t get better.  At the water stops I would grab a cup of water, take a sip and then attempt to pour the rest on my calf.  It wasn’t very successful.  I’m not sure where Andrea started to slip a way from us, but I think it was around mile 14.  I started to look for Kaitlyn Deming, another one of my running daughters.  She said she’d be at mile 15.  I started to give up thinking that we missed her, or she didn’t make it until I heard her “Jeanne – Kim”!  I looked up to see her jumping and cheering!  It really gave me a burst of energy.

I’ve heard people say, “The Boston Marathon doesn’t start until mile 16”.  Boy is that ever true.  The first hill came, I put my head down and started with some of my mental toughness tips and counted steps.  I got to the top and tried to regroup, my breathing seemed off.  I felt like my heart was beating in my ears and I couldn’t catch my breath.  I took some deep breaths as tried to regroup only to get to the next hill.  Again, I put my head down, shortened my stride and started taking a million baby steps to get over it.  From that point on I felt “off”.  I kept thinking of Colleen, who was out there having her” level 1 fun”:, and I reminded myself “Jeanne, you are running your dream, enjoy this”.  I could hear Fernanda’s voice saying “Jeanne, you got this”, and I kept pushing through.  I feel like when you let those bad thoughts in, it’s a game changer and your race is pretty much over.  I did slow down quite a bit and kept trying to regroup.  I remember a couple running next to me and the woman saying, “when do we get to Heartbreak” and the guy said, “This is Heartbreak”, it’s just the little break before it gets steep.  Then we passed a medical tent, and a woman was spraying something on a runner’s leg.  I yelled “Is that Biofreeze”? She said “yes” and sprayed my calf. 

I knew that my friends would be ½ way up Heartbreak which really was the one thing that got me up that hill.  First, I heard Henryk with his cowbell yelling “Jeanne – Kim”, then I saw Jeff and Hir-shiu (more running children) and then Fernanda, Diane, Audrey, Suzy & Angie.  I stopped to hug them, and then it hit me.  I can’t breathe.  This sometimes happens to me when I finish a marathon when I go from running all out to stopping, I can’t catch my breath.  I kept my composure ready to start back up the hill only to see Jola!  I stopped myself for a second and said “JOLA”.  Angie gave me a water as I waved goodbye and started to chug up the rest of Heartbreak. 

We finally crested Heartbreak and now it was downhill for a while.  Around mile 22 I really started struggling.  I looked up and I saw Adrianne Haslet, who had Shalane Flanagan as her support.  I follow her on Instagram. She is one of the victims from the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that lost her leg.  She has such powerful posts and the last one I read she mentioned that she doesn’t want people to feel sorry for me and say “ah, look at that amputee, she wants them to say, “I wonder if she is a marathoner”.  That moment all I could think of was her courage and I started to pick up my pace.  We continued and finally got to the 7-11 where I had purchased dry/warm gloves on our rainy long run in Boston.  I knew we were getting close.  Then Kim said “Jeanne, I’m getting a cramp in my hamstring and as soon as he said that I got a cramp in my inner thigh.  We took more salt and muscled through. 

Those next 2 miles seemed liked 10.  We could see the Citgo sign and the Prudential Building in the distance. I tried to keep myself focused and just kept my legs moving.  Finally, we got to the last little uphill and turned onto Hereford Street.  Trying to get myself up that hill was tough; I had my head down shuffling up only to see a photographer.  Ugh – I said to the woman next to me, now that is cruel to have a photographer stationed on the top of this incline.  She agreed and we kept going. 

We turned onto Boylston, “Jeanne, you are so close, you got this”, I kept those positive thoughts in my head.  The crowds were incredible!  The streets were lined with people screaming and cheering!  This is the most epic part of the race.  Kim said “there’s the Mandarin hotel (where Colleen’s husband Rich would be) and as we ran by, I could hear him screaming our names!  It gave me more energy to get to the finish line.  I swear those last .2 miles felt like 2 miles.  Kim grabbed my hand and we finished together.  Thank God!

I turned and saw a few friends, Sue Chiovitti from CT, Almi from San Fran and then Joyce Lee our friend we met in San Fran that we keep running into (literally) at races all over.  We hugged her which made the Boston experience complete!

The walk back to the hotel was so cold and windy!  It felt like forever for us to get there.  I tried to avoid the curbs or any steps down. By the time we got back to our hotel, I was freezing!  I took a shower hoping to warm up only to have lukewarm water again!  I called the front desk, and they sent a maintenance guy up to fix it – but he wanted to take the tub apart.  I told him I just wanted to rest and please come back.  The next best thing to do was to dry my hair to warm up.  I turned it on and in minutes it made a loud noise that sounded like rocks were shaking inside of it. It scared the crap out of me!  I called the front desk again and they sent up replacement.  Kim said, “Jeanne, I’m starving can you get the leftovers out of the fridge?”  I opened the box from last night and everything was frozen solid.  Ugh!  I never called to complain, I felt like I hit my quota!

The next morning, we went to the Under Armour store to get our medals engraved and then back to CT.  The Boston magic was slowly coming to an end.  As we drove past Hereford, where we turned onto the final stretch down Boylston, both Kim and I said at the same time, “this is surreal”.  It’s hard to believe a few hours ago we were turning that corner heading to the finish.  We drove to Ashland to have lunch at TJ’s, our favorite post long run restaurant. We had the BEST cheeseburger with an ice cold 26.2 beer.  We were treated like celebrities.  The owner brought us Sam Adam Boston Marathon 2022 glasses, 26.2 hats, Sam Adams Boston Marathon 2022 bottle openers and beer koozies. We stopped in Hopkinton, for some photos of the start and headed back to reality.

Please don’t end!  But it did and we are left with such an incredible experience.  Can’t wait for next year!

Share this page