Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Boston Marathon: Painfully, Wonderful

At the Expo, Claudia and I proudly display our numbers and shirts!

A Boston church made homemade scarves with personal notes.  They passed them out to the runners.

At the site of one of last year's bombs.  Most of the memorial was on display at the Boston Library.

Touring around the Expo.

These banners hung from a church on Bolyston.  They were tattered at last year's race.

Love my Boston shirt from Jessica!

Easter fell on the day before the race.  Bummer we couldn't break into the Easter candy!

Our handsome Easter dates!

We loved Mark and Jessica's house!  As a lover of historical homes, I found their 1850s abode to be completely charming.  Fun fact: It served as a funeral home for three decades.

Jessica's baby William is a complete doll.  Almost snuck him home in my suitcase!  I don't remember my babies being this easy! 

Chris loved cuddling too!

Jessica, her friend Caroline, Claudia and I rushed to the finishing line.  We had little time to appreciate that we were ready to start.

Being that it's my blog, I have final editorial say in what pictures are posted.  So, I decided not to post many of my running pics.  Between the pasty skin, pained expression, hunched shoulders, and vomit stains (story for another day), I appear moments away from a med tent visit.  You can catch a backside picture of me above.

Chris snapped this photo.  One of my favorites!  It shows a group of military amputee runners clutching an American flag. 

My view during most of the race.

The mass of runners.

Unfortunately, Claudia also didn't respond well to the warm conditions.  After her stint in the medical tent where they pumped her with fluids, we snapped this picture.  

Jessica sweet treat for the finishers!

 The next day, our legs were sore and backs sunburned, but we were still standing.  We hobbled around Jessica's quaint New England town.

My favorite spectator!

Claudia gave me this thank you for sticking with her at the med tent.  So yummy!

"How was the race?"

I've heard that question many times since returning back home.

Most people want to know, but they need a short answer, a concise summary of the experience.  I've learned to pare down my responses to a few words.  The problem is those words don't accurately and fully convey the adventure.

Running the Boston Marathon was the most painfully, wonderful experience I've ever had.

Let's talk about the pain first.

Pain is an inevitable part of running a marathon, but some courses inflict heavier doses of misery.  The Boston Marathon course is tricky.  It appears innocent enough.  The hills are no mountains.  The terrain even slants downward quite a bit.  But the rolling topography does a number on the legs.

Pair jiggly legs with warmer than expected temps (70s at race time...a stark contrast from my frigid training temps) and full sunlight (no shade to be found), and more than a few runners were cursing.  (I may or may not have been one of them.)

And for me, the later start (11 a.m.) required pre-race food intake.  Let's just say I won't reach for another peanut butter bagel anytime soon.

On to the wonderful.  

And there was wonderful.

The Boston Marathon is an epic event.  Thick crowds lined the streets from the start to finish.  They treated the runners like rock stars: waving signs, extending hands, and screaming words of encouragement.  The signs were colorful, touching, and funny.  The Wesley girls didn't disappoint.  They screamed and swooned at the masses, holding up signs that made us all giggle.  Churches and neighborhood folk distributed orange slices, napkins, and wipes.

But it was the runners in the race that really got to me.  I was inspired by so many.  I passed blind runners clutching the arms of running guides. About mile 17, I glided past Team Hoyt, the racing duo that competes with 74-year-old Dick Hoyt pushing his disabled son in a wheelchair.  There were people running for cancers, causes, and tragedies.  My very favorite sight was the group of amputee runners waving an American flag.  (And I didn't even touch on the very pregnant runners, still questioning if they were inspiring or crazy!)

The finish line was a party. Boylston Street, the site of last year's tragedy, was bursting with life.  The roar of the crowd spurred me towards the end.  Spectators waved signs that read, "Thanks for coming back."  But we runners were the ones thankful that the crowds returned.

In the end, I was a little disappointed in my finishing time, but any heartache was overshadowed with pure elation and gratitude over the experience.

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