The Marathon Post I Didn’t Plan to Write

This is not the post I dreamed about for 26.2 miles. The post I planned was along the lines of Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After. Stereotypical in plot, with the main character overcoming the physical and mental challenges that go along with running a marathon but coming out on top, it would include all my unique experiences and observations, from running with the man dressed as a chicken to seeing Team Hoyt cruising along at mile 15. It would be the grand finale of everything that I’d trained for since December.

I wanted to tell you all about the ridiculous wake up time of 3:30am to meet at the Garden and be on the bus to Hopkinton at 5am. The bus ride out that was just as long and nerve racking as people say it is. That one of my favorite running partners, Chrissy, made sure to call me on her way to work to give me a pre-race pep talk. How fast the 4.5 hour wait time to head to the starting line flew by while the Bruins Foundation team bonded over drawing on each with permanent marker, rocking out to the DJ in our private heated tent shared with Team MGH (including private porta potties!), sharing training and life stories, and being fascinated with Shannon’s ability to consume so much caffeine and sport bean-like products in such a short period of time. How the walk to the start line with Brittany, Stephanie, and Shannon was just what I needed to get my confidence where it needed to be to start. And how for some reason, we were told by the lovely BAA volunteer to get in with Corral 4 even though we were supposed to start a couple thousand people back in corral 9.

I wanted to tell you how the first few miles is just as adrenaline pumping as it’s hyped up to be, with runners shoulder to shoulder as far ahead and behind as you can see. How I went out too fast, just like they warn you not to do. That people who say it’s pretty much a decline to Newton are nuts. Yes the elevation goes down, but the entire time it’s going down with rolling hills upon hills—People who say otherwise are lying. Trust me. I wanted to write how seeing my first cheerleaders, the Sharps, at mile 9 was perfectly timed as I needed a push. How the Wellesley College girls should get a medal for their scream tunnel and their signs that they make after taking requests via social media. That at mile 15 I was already hurting, the stupid heel of my shoe kept digging in my ankle and my calves were aching which was an annoying new development but knowing my parents were only a couple miles ahead was enough to keep me going.

I wanted to tell you that if you plan to run Boston, make sure you have a cheerleader at the Newton firehouse (between mile 17 and 18). Seeing my mom before the start of the Newton hills was a huge adrenaline boost (which I needed since you already know I’m terrible at race fueling and was running on mostly water and a couple sips of race provided Gatorade). How it didn’t dawn on me until about mile 19 how hot out and thirsty I really was.

I wanted to write about how despite my calves screaming and Heartbreak Hill truly owning me, I didn’t stop once. How my awesome brother, a student at BC, appeared at just the right time at mile 21 and leapt over the metal barrier and ran with me for almost two miles (and that he already worked it out with the cops that it was OK so he wouldn’t be tackled on the spot). That to my surprise my parents had sped from mile 17 to Cleveland Circle and I got to hug my Dad before taking off for the last 5k of the race. That seeing the Citgo sign really does give you that amazing feeling of “this is it”. That Anna and her insanely enthusiastic (and possibly intoxicated) boyfriend was another great surprise on Comm Ave that got me all smiles as I made my way downtown.

I wanted to share that even though you think the hills are over, the bridge over the highway by Fenway Park might as well have been Mount Everest. That it was at that point I felt a tight, ball like cramp form in my right calf making it almost impossible to move. That I paused for 5 seconds to kneed it out with my knuckles, almost started to cry, and that it was all the awesome Red Sox fans (of all things!) that started to cheer for this Yankees fan that made me say screw it and limp up that hill. That by some grace of God the cramp seemed to disappear on the downhill and it was almost smooth sailing.

I wanted to tell you how seeing Ryan, Meghan, and Raina at mile 25.8 cheering from the overpass right before I made it to Hereford Street made me pick up my pace about 30-45sec/mi. That the left hand turn onto Boylston Street felt like a kid walking thought the gates at Walt Disney World for the first time. That as I hit the 26 mile marker I could see the gun time was 4:05 and I knew I started a little back so the possibility of finishing Boston in under 4 was still within reach. That crossing that blue and yellow finish line is just as euphoric as I imagined, that it was even better than I dreamed. That the volunteers were so nice about not rushing me out and let me take my pics (and even took one of me under that glorious banner).  How I called my Dad, exclaiming “I FINISHED!” and he excitedly told me I hit it under 4. That walking through that threshold that only a small percentage of people ever will was amazing. How walking the 10-20 feet from that sacred line to get a water and taking that first sip of insanely refreshing H2O was when the whole “Wow I just ran Boston” really started to hit. And how turning around and watching more runners cross into the promise land just intensified my super-charged runners high.

Then I wanted to write about chatting with the other runners about their journeys. About how we all floated down Boylston St. on cloud 9 refueling with bananas, wrapping up in our space blankets, and being awarded “THE” medal. That I met up at Equinox fitness with our other speedier Bruins Foundation Runners, we high fived, showered up, and grabbed celebratory drinks. That Ryan and company all met up with me and we spent the next few hours cheering on other runners and drinking Sam Adams 26.2 beer. And that we all lived happily ever after.

Except that last paragraph never happened.

As I watched the other runners crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon I heard a loud boom that shook the ground. Immediately a plume of brown and grey smoke rose up in the air and my runners high turned into a rock in my stomach. Ten seconds later there was another boom, more smoke. My first thought was that something exploded underground in the T. An accident. Some type of mechanical malfunction. I was picturing the worst things since I couldn’t see clearly and thinking oh my god I was just running right there, what is going on, should I run? At first people around me just stood there frozen. And then there was panic. Being herded by volunteers, I headed down Boylston with other runners away from the smoke. The marathon volunteers were amazing, calmly funneling us down the street, handing us our medals and space blankets. I just grabbed them from them and called Ryan. What if they had walked up Boylston to meet me? Are they OK? At this point I was just picturing blasts traveling down the street towards me. Thank god he answered the phone. The next 15 minutes seemed like the longest of my life. In a state of dehydration, fear, and confusion I finally turned off of Boylston and onto Berkley towards Newbury street. I asked a man with a marathon official lanyard who was on the phone what was going on, he looked nervous and said he thought there was a bomb and that someone was shot (looking back he must have been told by someone that because of the way the man in orange who is all over the news fell over). A second wave of people started running and I stood in front of a car on the corner in front of the Church of the Covenant so I wouldn’t get trampled. Finally Ryan, Meghan, and Raina appeared out of nowhere and I broke down. They all grabbed me, hugged me, and said we needed to get out of there and that they had been in touch with my parents already. My first thought then was to the Bruins Foundation people who I knew were expecting me at Equinox. I didn’t want them to think anything had happened to me. However at this point, no calls were going through. I finally was able to send a Facebook message to Erin letting her know that I was OK and to keep my things wherever they were. My next thought was Meghan and Raina as they phoned their parents (and miraculously were able to get through to them). They were New Yorkers. They lived 9/11. This wasn’t supposed to happen here. They shouldn’t have to experience this. And then to Sarah and Jen. They came just to watch me. They were at the finish. Were they OK? We found a police officer on the street corner further down Berkley who already had people gathering around him. He just told us that he didn’t know much except there had been two explosions by the finish line and that there were thought to be more live explosives and to just get out of there. Getting a cab was impossible so we just walked. I saw the Charles River, the place that I had spent so much of my training circling getting ready for this day, it was like a haven. We walked to the esplanade and then headed up to the Longfellow bridge and walked to Cambridge. The fact that I had just ran a marathon barely phased me. I would walk all the way home if I had to. I finally was able to get cell service and the voicemails, texts, and Facebook messages flooded in. My friend Sarah’s frantic voicemail was the most comforting thing to hear because it meant they were OK. I called her back and left her an equally emotional voicemail letting her know I was fine and was unbelievably relieved that her and Jen were alright. We finally got a cab home and the rest of the day that was supposed to be spent celebrating was spent emailing and calling family, friends, coworkers letting everyone know I was safe. It was also spent glued to the television as details of what happened filtered in. I was relieved to finally talk to Erin from the Bruins who said that she had been in touch with everyone from the team. I was happy and angry and sad when I got texts from Shannon and Stephanie, saying they were alright but were stopped only a short distance from the finish.

Now, a few days later and it still seems like a bad dream. A state holiday in Massachusetts that is about patriotism and pride. A day in a runner’s life that represents strength, dedication, commitment, hard work, happiness, camaraderie, and just a plain good time. A day for a runner’s support system (aka all their family and friends) and for people who don’t even know runners to come out and watch people from the elite to the average Joe-Schmo (aka me) run 26.2 miles for fun. All of this was stolen in an instant.

I am still struggling with countless feelings around what happened. Still running every “What If?” though my head. What if I realized I went out too fast and slowed down? What if my brother had stayed with me? What if that calf cramp at Fenway stuck? What MY people had lingered at the finish? Every “What If” that would have made me a possible 2-4minutes slower. Someone attacked one of the greatest breeds of people there are: Runners and their fans. And not just any runners and fans, but the ones who know that the city of Boston and its marathon is one of the greatest things around. I’ve found comfort in the running community (social media is AMAZING) and in my amazing friends and family. I’ve also found comfort in “my” city and in seeing the entire country and the world show up and support #BostonStrong.

If I am being honest, I will admit I wasn’t sure I would run Boston again. But last night I got to see and hug some of team Bruins Foundation at the Bruins game, people who I hadn’t seen since Hopkinton. I was sold in less than 5 seconds.

See you at Boston 2014.

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To run or not to run?

I’m entering week 5 of official marathon training. Despite the usual hectic schedule, I’ve been getting my weekend long runs in (which is relatively easy this early in the game..) This weekend’s plan was 10 miles, a little scale back from last weekend’s 12 miler. Well Mr. Born To Run has had some kind of bad flu-like thing for the last 4 days so yesterday we called in lazy. It felt good to lay around and watch movies and do nothing for a change. That being said, I had big plans for Sunday morning.

Sunday PLAN:

6am: ALARM ALARM ALARM (wake up)

6:05 Get geared up for run

6:15 take dog for walk

6:30 drink coffee

6:45 mini warmup session with some lunges, squats, news watching

7am Hit the Road for a beautifully mapped out 10 miles

The weather forecast was even saying “YES, I’m perfect for running in today!!”

52deg in January?? Run Run RUN!

52deg in January?? Run Run RUN!

Well 6am came this morning and things changed a bit. My nose was running, I was breathing heavy, and my eyes were throbbing in their sockets. What the hell?? I thought “Ok, lets go back to sleep for a little bit, maybe in an hour things will be completely different.”

Well that evil hour had other ideas and things stayed status quo. I said to Ryan that I still think I might go out and run. He looked at me like I had just proposed a swim in the ocean. After days of telling him that he needed to rest to get better and now suggesting the opposite prescription for myself, he thought I was being slightly hypocritical. So here I am, on the couch, dreaming of lacing of my Brooks and having the fresh air cure this annoying cold thing that won’t give (ok so I may be being slightly dramatic, it’s only been a few hours).

Just wanted to run this today!

Just wanted to run this today!

 

Nurse Bailey

Nurse Bailey

SO– I need your advice. I still feel like a run would help. What do you do when you’re feeling under the weather? Exercise to help flush it out? Rest and medicate? 

A Tale of Two Winter Morning Runs…

Happy Post-Thanksgiving week! Is everyone else still in a food coma? In typical Katie fashion I ate normal portions of good things until the dessert showed up and it was oh sure I’ll have a cookie…you know the drill, one thing lead to another and I ended up leaving NY on Saturday in a sugar induced coma.

Bailey was Thanksgiving’d out too…

Good news is I got some running in over the holiday! First was the Thanksgiving day 5K in Schenectady’s Central Park where I joined Joe, Andrew, and 1700 other thankful people for a brisk 3.1 run. I was feeling surprisingly good even though I knew absolutely nothing about this race except that it was going to help me justify Thanksgiving dessert. No clue about the course’s route, elevation, etc. or even what the weather was supposed to be like (clearly, since Joe graciously gave me his gloves to run in since my bare fingers had turned blue). The course turned out to be a figure-eight type loop with rolling hills and the weather was nice in the sun and freezing in the shade. I definitely pushed every step of this run and was able to squeeze a PR out of it! I beat my October 5k race PR by 5 whole seconds!

PR! (what, you don’t keep track of all your races in an excel spreadsheet??)

Joe, Me, and Andrew Post Turkey-Trot

Saturday’s run was even more scenic than a run in the park. Ryan’s parents basically live at the top of a mountain so even though it means killer hill work, it also means the greatest running views.

How could you pass up a run with views like these??

It also means be prepared for National Geographic like encounters at all times. At mile 2 of this run I legit almost got run over by a reindeer. OK, maybe it was just a regular deer. But it was a HUGE deer. I stopped so short and almost screamed. The deer jumped right out of some bushes in front of me, hopped across the street (yes, deer hop like bunny rabbits), and into a field. I tried to get a pic but my gloves (Joe sorry those gloves are officially mine, I will get you more for Christmas 🙂 ) and iPhone don’t work well together.  Lesson learned, always have one ear bud out when running outdoors to listen for things like cars, people, WILD ANIMALS.

Now if that vacation running wasn’t exciting enough, I got to meet this cutie pie before we headed back to Boston.

Ryan’s friend’s 8wk old english bull dog, Halo. I almost took her home in my purse, but then realized they might miss her. I know, nothing to do with running BUT ISN’T SHE SO CUTE?!?!

Bailey’s trying to figure out WHY her mom is holding this thing..

Since the Thanksgiving holiday left me feeling slightly lethargic and sugar-soaked I was determined to start the week off sweating. So even though the forecast was 28 degrees with 15-20mph winds, I suited up in my winter wear and hit the road. 5AM is a very cold, dark place in November. And on windy days it is that much less enjoyable. After 5 miles I was happy I sucked it up and got out there, but I also had no feeling in my body.

Fast forward to this morning. I was determined to keep it going. Again, temps were forecasted in the 28-32degree range so I Underarmoured and earmuffed it up. I stepped outside and it felt surprisingly comfortable. Difference? Almost zero wind. I set out to cover similar mileage as yesterday and enjoyed every minute. Don’t get me wrong, it was still pretty chilly. But not having to bow your head into the wind just to move forward and still having some feeling in your extremities makes the world of difference.

I guess that’s one thing that makes New England runners special. Even though our weather is moodier than me on a day without running, we still suck it up and get out there regardless. So happy winter running season!

ONE LAST THING! According to this article it’s “Giving Tuesday” today, the unofficial holiday to be generous and earn back some good karma after spending ridiculous amounts on TV’s and iPads and tickle-me-Elmos (ok, maybe that phase has passed) between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Either way, if you’re looking to give back in some way today, please consider donating to the Boston Bruins Foundation through my marathon fundraising. CLICK HERE to donate. An enormous THANK YOU to all of my family and friends who have already shown their support.

Now you go. How was your Thanksgiving?? Did you have retail rage on Black Friday? What’s your favorite way to sweat during the Winter months? 

Eat Happy, Run Happy

Wow, it’s been almost 2 weeks since I’ve last blogged. Since then we’ve had Halloween, a snowstorm, and a presidential election! Don’t worry I’m not getting political on you—more important things, Halloween workouts! A CrossFit Halloween workout is exactly how it sounds—spooktacular.

Costume Encouraged WOD @ CrossFit. Teamed up with Christine to tackle this one.

 

CrossFitting Tinker Bell

Buy in for WOD, bobbing for apples. Option to run 400m if you were not a successful bobber…..

…well after a few tries, 400 it is!

I was good this Halloween; I didn’t have one piece of Halloween candy. I think this is the first Halloween in my lifetime that has happened. Now, before you go patting me on the back, this doesn’t mean I went all chocolate free or anything. Quite the opposite. While I was almost a perfect Paleo follower, last week was a chocolate chip fest for some reason. I somehow justified it because I was putting chocolate chips in almond butter and dipping apple slices in it (that makes it healthy right?….no—so wrong). Anyways, all that time I was getting chocolate-wastedddd (yes, I just made a “Grown Ups” reference) I was feeling more “blahhh I just want to nap” than “Hoorah lets go workout and attack the day!” I still got out there to run and WOD but wasn’t feeling the usual fantastic endorphin rush. While a beautiful surprise floral delivery to my office definitely brightened my day, I still wanted to nap.

Someone’s campaigning for husband of the year… 🙂

So Saturday I started with the right mind set—and meal. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you know!

My staple breakfast: Egg whites & hot sauce, fruit, turkey bacon, coffee, and water. Not gourmet, but oh so good.

Saturday was an awesome day of sweating. The weather was gorgeous. Started out at CrossFit and a great team workout with Jill and Hannah. Then stayed for 45min of mobility. Then headed to Brighton for a run date with Jess. We set out for a lovely 5 miler around the reservoir and through Chestnut Hill. It felt more like early September outside instead of mid-November. No complaints here!

Sunday was an unintentional rest day as it was full of exciting things like laundry, grocery shopping, brunching, and football. So I woke up Monday feeling refreshed and ready to go. I laced up the Brooks and hit the pavement by 5:30. I didn’t have a route planned but I DID have a new playlist. So I just went and rocked out. I was planning on around 6 miles. I got to the first bridge over the Charles and the sun was just trying to make an appearance.

Gooood Morning Cambridge!

I was feeling good so I figured I would run for a while along the river. Well, combination of running on rested legs and the unseasonably warm temps got me caught up in the run and before I knew it I was 5 miles away and realized I still needed to run home. Woops. It didn’t help that I was supposed to be home well before 7am so Mr.-Born-to-Run could use my AAA card to get his car towed to fix the battery. All of these factors resulted in a very fast 5.5 miles home (yay negative splits!)

Wouldn’t you want to get up at 5am for this view??

So my planned 6 miler turned into a 10.8 miler. A Monday morning long run, dropping Ryan at the car dealership, and still making it to work by 9? Yep, I’d call that a successful start to the week.

Moral of the story, my body performs better when I don’t have dark chocolate running through my veins (no matter how strong our love is) and I am at my best in the morning, and need to plan to get back into my 5am wakeup call routine.

Do you have any nutrition vices? What’s your favorite time of day to work out? What were you for Halloween? I wanna know! 

Fall Running

As a New Englander, I love my four seasons. Yes I have my favorites, but I look forward to and enjoy the quarterly change. Growing up, summer was always my favorite. As a kid it meant vacation from school, poolside afternoons, days at the beach, trips for ice-cream, and late night games of man-hunt. Even as I got older, summer was still the “season of all seasons” (except instead of ice-cream and man-hunt it was cocktails on the patio and hunting for anywhere with outdoor dining—actually who am I kidding, ice-cream has always been a constant). In fact, I loved summer so much that every other season was spent looking forward to it.

Well becoming a runner has completely changed that. I am now a full-fledged super fan of spring and fall. In fact, my ideal day is high 50’s to high 60’s, 0% humidity, sunny skies, and a slight cool breeze. Anything less and you have to start piling on the layers. Anything more and you are sweating within the first 10 minutes.

Yesterday morning was one of those perfect fall days. I had stayed at my parents’ house the night before and was pretty excited for some hometown running. I was out the door at 8am, just as the really cold air was disappearing and the sun was starting to get higher. I wanted to go all out and keep up with double digit weekend mileage, but coming off marathon weekend last weekend I didn’t want to push it so I planned for an easy paced 6-7 miles. Even though I was running on around 5 hours of sleep, I had a ton of energy and was feeling awesome (thank you fall weather!) so I picked up the pace and ran about 30sec/mi faster than originally intended. I finished my 7.5mile jaunt of leaf peeping (trees are at their prime right now!) with a lovely runners high. What’s even better than that? A post run coffee and leg soak in the hot tub! 🙂

Thanks for the reminder, coffee mug, life IS good

I’m hoping this fall weather sticks around for a while— I’m not ready yet for the snow covered sidewalks, the arctic air, the gloves, the earmuffs, and all the layers that come with winter running.

Now you! How was your weekend? Any races or awesome runs? What’s YOUR favorite season?  Hope everyone’s week is off to a great start!