I've been trying to write this for a week now...It still doesn't seem real.
I ran the Boston Marathon!
I had big fears going into this race. BIG FEARS. I was afraid of my feet and my legs (getting injured). I was afraid of the weather (overheating). I was afraid of not finishing (what I thought would mean failing).
I felt pressure from so many people watching me, both in person and online. What if I choked in front of all of them?
But I was also extremely excited! Boston is an iconic race and living in the area makes it feel both like my hometown race and the prestigious HONOR that it is to run.
That's something that I don't think a lot of non-runners realize. The true honor that it is to run this race. (I had no idea about this before I ran.)
People train extremely hard, sometimes for YEARS to qualify and make it into Boston or they commit to fundraising (or paying) thousands and thousands of dollars for a charity. Neither are easy. And that's before you even get to the starting line of a 26.2 mile race.
The selectivity alone make this race an honor. Then follow that up with the pride everyone has in continuing the race post the bombings and being BOSTON STRONG. It's incredible.
I have to admit I had some fears about security. I didn't really think anything bad would happen, but it's in the back of your mind knowing what DID happen. I'm not sure if the military/SWAT people everywhere before the race made me feel more nervous or protected. Alas, they were there. On top of the school at Athlete's Village. On top of buildings next to the starting corrals. I'm guessing they were along the course and at the finish line too, but I didn't notice them once I started running.
Now let's see if I can remember any of this...
First of all...Downhill. I read about this online and it's true. The start is a straight up downhill. Trying to start out slow is kind of tough!
Second of all...So. Many. People.
Some people were darting around, but I knew there was nowhere to go and trying to dart around was a waste of time and effort. I had enough room to run comfortably so just rolled with it.
Before the start I programmed intervals into my watch (run for 5 minutes, walk for 2, repeat until eternity), but with the downhill start, the excitement, and the crowds, I couldn't make myself walk for the first 10K (6.2 miles).
I saw my parents around mile 3. They were the first people I was looking for in the crowd and I didn't want to miss them. Thankfully I spotted them and ran over to the sideline for the first spectator hug of the day.
At around the 10K mark I started following my intervals, knowing I would need to save some juice for the later miles and hills. I high fived kids, yelled back to people yelling at me, I stopped to take a selfie with Santa, I started eating the food being handed out by strangers. (That's a thing you never do outside of a distance race, eating unwrapped food from strangers' bare hands...)
Side note - Things I ate from strangers' bare hands in 26.2 miles:
Resume story telling - Mile 12 brought the Wellesley College Scream Tunnel then finding my Girls on the Run ladies at the half marathon mark (13.1 miles). More sideline hugs!
The GOTR ladies got an awesome video of me running over to them and then running off. When I got to practice the next day my 3rd and 4th graders all told me they had seen a video of me running the Boston Marathon...my heart!
I know I was still feeling pretty good in Mile 14 because that's when I ate a banana and a cupcake. You don't take a risk on a sideline cupcake mid-marathon unless you're still feeling good.
Then I stopped in the middle of the street and asked some lady to take this picture of me double fisting my snacks. Sidebar, I was really tempted to do a Boston Marathon edition of #WHATSMYSNACK in the middle of this race, but I resisted.
Mile 16 I saw some Team Challenge friends cheering for me. Sideline half hug/half high fives. They wrote online that I was looking good, so I'll believe them. Can't say I remember. Still sticking to my scheduled walk/run intervals in the watch at this point. Watch buzzing good. Follow it.
Mile 16 is also when you reach Newton. AKA the death hills are coming. Prepare yourselves.
Everyone has heard of Heartbreak Hill. What everyone does not know is that "Heartbreak Hill" is just one of 4 or 5 giant hills in Newton (What do I know? I don't remember how many). They all suck equally. They are all longggg, not the steepest in the world, but steep enough. Combine both of those things with the fact that you are in the back half of a marathon and it's pretty freaking tough.
Once you get through the Newton Hills people start congratulating you like you're done... Bitch shut up, I still have 6.2 more miles to run! Don't tell me I'm almost there! (The feelings are coming back to me now. Ha!)
I had a friend (who is one of the people I was running on Team Eye and Ear for) waiting to cheer for me by Boston College. She texted me as I was getting close to her and I warned her I was slowing down a lot. Through the hills I had thrown my walk/run intervals on my watch out the window. I walked as long as I damn well pleased!
Running through Boston and Brookline the last few miles was ROUGH. I passed Becca and just waved. I didn't have the energy to run over and high five anymore. There were so many people cheering and I just needed to breathe and finish this race. These last miles are when I started doubting myself. I was starting to get worried.
So I focused on my breathing. I didn't care how much I ran or walked. I tried to ignore everyone screaming my name since it was on the front of my jersey and written in Sharpie on both arms. I appreciated everyone cheering for me the whole race, but these last few miles I wished I hadn't written my name on every angle so I could slip by unnoticed.
I kept dumping water on my head. I drank more water and Gatorade. I made sure to grab pretzels from everyone who offered them. I was trying to make sure my hydration, sodium, and temperature stayed okay during this last bit of the race.
Again everyone cheered that I was almost there, but I still felt so far away.
I stopped to pee for the first time during the race.
I kept breathing.
My legs hurt. My abs really hurt in a weird way I had never felt before. My skin hurt.
I discovered it was easier at this point to keep running than to start and stop, so I tried to run longer than when my watch was buzzing in the background, followed by walking longer too.
Finally I could see the Citgo sign!
I kept taking long walk breaks, trying to make sure I had enough energy left to run all of Boylston Street to the finish line.
I turned that last corner onto Boylston and you can see it. The finish line! ...But it's still so far away.
I spotted the signs my sister and husband made and I waved to them. I didn't go over them. I couldn't. I just had to finish.
Just keep running. Just get to the finish line.
Put on a smile...
I did it!
I'm so proud of myself for completing this race. It was a hard one. I know multiple people who didn't finish the race this year and I'm proud of them too. It takes balls to put yourself out there, commit to doing something this hard, tell everyone and their mother about it, fundraise your ass off, and then have to drop out at some point due to a medical problem. That sucks. It sucks because it's not the outcome you expected or wanted. But you still did it. You still did all of the training for months on end through the horrible winter. You still raised a shit ton of money for charities that NEED THAT support. And you still pushed yourself further than a lot of people ever will. So I you win. You did it. Even if it's not how you thought it would look.
What's next for me? Well, it took me a week to write this because I didn't know how to say what I wanted to say, but tonight it finally flowed from my fingertips. I ran for the first time since the marathon this weekend and took this staged picture that required me running by my phone on the ground over and over.
I finally hung up all my medals and added my Boston bib to my bib wall.
And I'm continuing to fundraise for Mass Eye and Ear until I hit my goal of $8,000 for this hospital. New research typically isn't funded by the government or medical/pharmaceutical companies. For the most part they only fund things that are pretty well proven and very likely to succeed. New research is where all good ideas and eventual successes must come from, but they are largely funded by individuals like you and me. Cures for blindness, deafness, and diseases of the head and neck are the goals of Mass Eye and Ear. Will you help them achieve that?
Please help fund and support this research by donating here. I greatly appreciate any and all support on this front. I also greatly appreciate all of the love and support you have shown me as I completed this training and this race. You all rock.
Hi, I'm Jessie!
I live in NH with my husband and our pups. My favorite things are coaching Girls on the Run, eating good food that I didn't have to cook, helping other people work on their health, volunteering for and running races, watching tv, doing yoga, and spending too much time on social media. #Balance