Dear Friends and Family,
So many of you donated to Seeds of Peace and supported my run at Boston this year, and together helped me raise $2,400 + to sponsor a Seed next summer. Every donation was like fuel to the fire - much needed through what was a very cold, long and dark winter of training. I blew through two pairs of running shoes and spent so much time in spandex I felt like Batman. My training partners and I ran through our first (and likely not the last) Polar Vortex (do not recommend). My feet look like a horror film.
But every week I got a notice from my fundraising platform on CrowdRise that one of you had donated to Seeds of Peace and it was the lift I needed to get to Boston.
Marathon Monday was a high of 66 and sunny, so the best conditions we could ask for and a very welcome change. I earned a PR of 3:17:26 despite botching my earnestly crafted running plan (don't go out to fast, respect the course!), and a sunburn that perfectly matches my high-vis orange Official Boston Marathon jacket. I also had the time of my life celebrating with the city of Boston. I feel very privileged to have been a part of it this year.
I've tried to capture some of Monday's experience below recognizing that for most, listening to a friend talk about their last marathon in any kind of detail is something you'd really rather not do. Reading further is entirely optional.
For now, let me say again how grateful I am for your support and generosity. I felt like you were with me on Monday and that was tremendous.
Thank you again!
Boston 2014 Highlights:
This was my first Boston, and my second marathon, but I don't think I'll ever be able to match the experience I had on Monday - certainly not in this lifetime.
36,000 runners + 1 million roaring, cheering, chanting, cowbell ringing fans, ten deep on each side of the street from mile one to mile 26.2...It. did. not. stop. It was like running through a soccer stadium or a Tour d'France crowd or, for a few hours, the greatest party on earth.
All along the route, high fives were given, the leather clad Harley riders from the biker bar offered beer, little kids offered orange slices. I've never interacted with a crowd like that on a run, it made what was a deeply physically painful time, an awesome time.
It was loud. So loud it was hard to think straight. Especially at mile 13, the halfway point in Wellesley aka the Scream Tunnel. Imagine a mile of screaming ladies offering kisses (many partook). It took the din to new heights.
Throughout, the crowds brought a raw, unrelenting and entirely positive energy that pushed us all along.
The Boston Marathon course has been described as "diabolical" and "deceptive". The rumors are true. My relative inexperience combined with a lot of adrenaline meant that my carefully crafted running plan went out the window as soon as I crossed the starting line. Lesson learned.
The route drops 459 feet (140 m) from start to finish and the first six miles of downhill feel fast and easy, but take a toll. By mile 15, my quads were aching and starting to cramp. I worried that I'd gone out too fast (I did). Just in time for mile 16, when the rolling hills began, a series of seven between 16 and 21, culminating in Heartbreak Hill. Not especially steep but poorly timed.
It hurt, but going uphill was a strange relief compared to going down. And all along the way, the crowd chanted, "no fear!", "no fear!". Even the stern-faced, Rayban wearing security forces lining the route quietly rooted for us as we ran past (nice job, keep it movin').
Not surprisingly, the hardest miles were between 22 and 26. I was in a dark, dark place. It was like Fight Club between my brain and my body. It was ugly.
Then I turned onto Boylston Street and the collective roar of the crowd nearly made me stop just to take it all in (and because my legs were not cooperating). Instead, all that energy helped get me and everyone else across the finish line.
This year's marathon was catharsis on a scale I've never experienced nor will ever again.
On their own, marathons are strange events. Practically speaking, people show up, they run from point a to b, it's extremely hard. Runners voluntarily sign up to suffer, spectators support the runners as they go by. Everybody runs for different reasons that are personal (a goal, in support of a cause or in honor of somebody else). It's something personal. Monday was all of these things but it was also collective. Everyone showed up that day so that we could move on together. it was a wild day but it was also a peaceful one. And in the process some records were broken in the sport of running that (when I finally got to watch the elite races afterward) were awesome to behold.
For example, this year's female winner Rita Jeptoo ran faster than a moving train, among other things:http://nesn.com/2014/04/rita-jeptoo-outruns-green-line-en-route-to-boston-marathon-record-gif/
That's ridiculous, superhuman, and so, so cool! Especially since until 1967 (for 70 years since the first in 1897) the Boston Marathon was an all-male event.
As for the rest...there were high fives in the street from cops...congrats from strangers in the bar...the whole city was supportive from the time we landed in Boston to the time we left. And despite my positive splits and foolish choices (really regretting not wearing sunblock), I ran a PR of 3:17:26, beating my previous time of 3:23 by more than six minutes. I still can't quite believe it...my legs beg to differ.
When I finally got my phone back at 5 pm that afternoon, I was overwhelmed (in a good way) by the messages of support and congrats from friends and family.
Yeah, there were some happy tears too...I feel like a very lucky woman.
Thank you to my hosts and bffs Sombit Mishra and Grace Lichaa, to dad and to Andrew Gerber for traveling to Boston and cheering (and for the Recovery Beers afterward), to Aaron Schreiber - Stainthorp for the cheering (and reporting) from DC, and to my running buddies in the trenches. It was a great day.