Boston 2024

Boston Marathon #106

This was my 11th consecutive Boston and for those familiar with the registration, maintaining this streak is crucial for securing early acceptance to the marathon. Additionally, I have been fortunate to receive acceptance without requiring any time buffer. That alone is reason enough to continue running this marathon if you want to return year after year. People ask me if I love the course, and to be completely honest, it’s not the most forgiving. The initial downhills can tear up your quads if you’re not careful. Adding insult to injury, the hills beginning after mile 16 can be excruciating if you pushed too hard at the start. Despite the pain, the camaraderie, the cheering crowds and the sense of participating in such a historic marathon are what motivates me to keep returning.

This year I opted to participate in the B.A.A 5K for the first time, running alongside my son, Paul.  I had previously run his first 5K with him during a small race in December.  I had previously run his first 5K with him during a small race in December. The B.A.A.5K race had 10,000 runners and to me it was a mini-Boston Marathon. I was thrilled for Paul to undergo his first large race experience, from navigating the port-o-let lines to navigating through the congested sea of people trying to fit into the corrals. Right before I left Kim to go into the corral we turned and spotted our friend Jola! It’s amazing how you can be with so many people and find someone like that.  I call this fate.  She was in Boston to get her 6th World Abbot Major’s star. 

The race finally started.  We waited a good 10 minutes before we got to the start line.  I loved the course as it was part of the Boston course from the Boston Strong bridge to turning on Hereford to Boylston Street.  We got to run through the finish line of the Boston marathon and finished at the Boston Commons area.  I LOVED it! Having my son next to me while running brought such joy that seemed to fill the sadness, I had experienced the previous weekend when my beloved dog of close to 19 years passed away. It was something that I truly needed.

We parked in Framingham this year and took the train into Boston to save some money.  Our hotel, The Westin Copley, was quite pricey so anything to cut some costs helped.  It was pretty seamless to do with no surprises except that Kim left his glasses in the car for the weekend so the only way he could see was wearing his prescription sunglasses. 

We unpacked after our train ride from Framingham and headed to the expo. I'm unsure why they required crowd control corrals indoors, but we found ourselves weaving back and forth about a hundred times until we finally ended up near the entrance where we were directed upstairs to collect our bibs and shirts. I'm not particularly fond of this year's Boston shirt. Instead of the traditional yellow or blue, it's a powder blue race shirt, and the material doesn't seem as durable as in previous years.

Next, we went into the expo to check out the vendors. We started at the Adidas merchandise section where we searched every register to get the 2024 Boston pin to keep our tradition. We found the last 2 pins!

 This year, the expo felt more like an infomercial, featuring non-running booths ranging from hair curling stations to Leaf Gutter protection. I must admit, I wasn't impressed.  Someone told us that this was because Adidas didn’t want any competitor shoe companies to attend.

Sunday morning, we went to the Tracksmith shakeout run and ran into some old friends, and I made a new friend named Jeanne from London.  We ended up taking her for cookies at Levain’s and then to the Blessing of the Athletes the The Old South Church.  The service was absolutely incredible. I highly recommend it. The choir was spectacular; their perfect pitch voices of angels brought tears to my eyes. The message delivered to the athletes was profoundly powerful.

We had dinner in the North end again at Ricardo’s with it seemed the other 30,000 runners.  The T was slammed packed to the point where we couldn’t get onto the train and had to wait for the second.  After dinner we went to Mikes, the famous cannoli bakery and waited inline for about 45 minutes.  We headed back to the hotel and got ready for the race.

The next morning, we met Kaitlyn in the lobby and headed to get on the bus.  It seemed much more crowded this year than last.  We were directed to an endless line of runners waiting for the blue corral buses to load.  I looked into the crowd hoping to spot someone I knew to pretend they saved my spot and then I spotted John Williams.  My plan worked and we snuck into the line.  We were put on the buses pretty quickly and went to the back of the bus and sat.  The ride was quite bumpy!  There were times I was bounced out of my seat!  There was also someone that had their window open and we were all freezing in the back.  We arrived in Athletes village and headed right to the port-o-let lines that were a good half hour wait long.  As soon as we finished our waves were called. Kim had put our dogs name on our back with a paw print in his honor.  The announcer saw it and yelled “Go Team Andee!”  It brought a smile to my face.  I shed my throwaway clothes as we made our way to the start. Removing my heat shield that was meant to keep my shoulders warm, I realized I didn't really need it – it was already warm enough. We found Julie in the corral, took some photos and started running.

I felt my feet start to burn up with heat around mile 3.  I knew it was going to be hot, but I didn’t expect it to be that warm so quickly.  The first 6 miles went by quickly and I felt very comfortable with my pace.  Then I told Julie and Kim and I wanted to back off to a 9-9:30 pace because I was starting to get overheated.  We got to the 9-mile water stop where our Fleet Friends were and that’s when I felt overwhelmed with nowhere to hide from the sun. I have found that the older I get the worse my body tolerates the heat.  Julie stayed back with me and looked at me and said “Jeanne, your face if really red”.  I knew that I needed to walk to get my heart rate back down.  I told her to run her own race and Kim told her that he would stay with me. 

When I started walking, it took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust.  I’d start to feel better and go back into a slow jog.  This went on until around mile 10 or 11 when I saw a woman, walking and started chatting with her.  We both agreed this was not going well I said “Let’s suffer together.  We exchanged names and from that point on I switched gears from “help me I’m dying” to “let me help you”.  She said, “What was your name again”? and I said “Jeanne – like Jeanne Martini” and I had already forgotten her name and I had to ask her again.  Christine – my name is Christine.  Then, I did what I do when I’m coaching and asked her questions about her kids, we played the game “look ahead and pick something out and let’s run to it”, anything to break up the distance and to keep us  both distracted from the heat.  As much as I was trying to help her, it was helping me.  We met more women on the way and pulled them into our caravan of pain. As I ran, I began high fiving every child I encountered. The sheer joy on their faces infused me with the energy I needed to keep moving. With a smile on my face, I soaked in every second of the experience.  Don’t get me wrong, it still sucked – just not as bad.  I loved it when he said, “This hill coming up is not bad, it’ll flatten out’.  If I had a nickel for every time Kim told me that lie, I’d have like a million dollars!

At water stops, we slowed our pace, and I grabbed a couple of waters, pouring them over my arms, legs, and neck, the cold momentarily taking my breath away. Meanwhile, Kim engaged in conversation with Christine, guiding her through what to expect next. As we approached mile 16, I spotted my “running daughter” Kaitlyn among the crowd, shouting "Jeanne", "Kim". Her encouragement gave me another burst of energy. Kim then alerted me, saying, "Jeanne, John is coming up on the right, we have to keep going." With renewed determination, we continued running until we reached John, ran past him and then slowed down to tackle the incline ahead."

We maintained our cadence steadily until we reached Heartbreak Hill, where I caught sight of my friends Fernanda, Diane, Angie, and Molly. They appeared like angels in that moment. I hugged Fernanda; I didn't want to let go. Seeing them certainly gave me the energy to get up and up that hill.

We finally saw the Citgo sign.  Our walk/run continued but at this point I was not dizzy anymore, but my legs were just tired.  At some point I had accidently turned my watch off, so I was 2 ½ miles short.  I also had no idea where I was with my nutrition and kept trying to count back when I had it last.  Luckily, the Maurten gel is pretty forgiving so even if I overdid it, I wasn’t concerned about looking for a port-o-let.  Christine had said to Kim and I “thanks for adopting me and running me in”.  I told her ‘I wouldn’t have it any other way, and we will be friends forever”.  I noticed she started to slip away and moving ahead.  All I couldn’t think was, God, I must have freaked her out in a sort of stalker way.   When I caught up to her, I asked her if I freaked her out about the BFF thing” and she laughed and said, “No way!”

We looked ahead and recognized the Pikachu ears on my friend Joyce who was a guide for a blind runner who was also struggling.  We gave her huge hugs and told Ryan not to be discouraged that the heat had gotten the best of many runners including myself.  

Towards the end of the race, there were so many runners collapsing, struggling with agonizing cramps or being carried away.  I remember saying to Christine "How horrible to be within reach of the finish only to be forced to stop. It served as a reminder that we still have several miles ahead of us.

We finally saw the Boston Strong bridge.  Kim said “this is about as far out where our shake out run went Sunday morning” which gave me some comfort knowing that we were so close. The we turned down to Hereford Street.  I noticed that Christine started to pull away from us.  Then I saw her slow and turn to wait for us.  She put a smile on my face earlier, she had asked me, 'Is running down Boylston as magical as people say?' I told her 'Yes!' and knew she would now witness it firsthand. There's truly nothing quite like that moment. Despite any pain you may be feeling that stretch is indescribable. It's pure magic. The crowds are roaring, and you can see the finish line head.

As we began the last stretch of the marathon, my quads were screaming as loud as the crowds! Kim said "let's take it easy to the finish line"  We started looking for our friend John and Mary that were going to be in the bleachers on the right-hand side before the finish.  John was in Boston celebrating his 60th birthday.  We spotted them and started screaming.  It was unbelievable. To see familiar faces amidst the exhaustion of so many miles was truly priceless.

Kim grabbed my hand, and we crossed the finish line. I’ve never been so happy to finish a race!  I saw Christine and we hugged.  That may have been my slowest time running Boston but let me tell you I loved the experience.  When you slow down and just take it all in it’s pretty incredible.  I can’t wait until I come back next year!




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