We weave in and out of runners cloaked in full body ponchos, dodge massive puddles, grit our teeth through 30 mph head winds while the freezing cold, driving rain soaks us to the bone. The smile never leaves my face.
This is the Boston Marathon.
The words “Together Forward” cover marathon banners around town all weekend. How telling, foreshadowing, really.
You see, together forward is exactly how Allen and I tackled the Boston Marathon.
Monday I awake at five in the morning to the sound of fast, heavy rain drops on my hotel window. I can do this. I will do this.
We didn’t have to study the weather forecast long to know that Monday’s race would be brutal for runners, spectators and volunteers. The night before, I laid out my mental game just like my clothes.
You’ve waited so long for this day, trained so hard, brought your whole family here. The weather is the weather. Nothing you can do about it. Your attitude is everything. You’ve trained for this. Accept it. Do it. Crush it.
I emerge from the elevator at 6 a.m. and guess the first face I see? My sweet dad in the lobby with coffee, waiting for me.
Before the race even starts I will have to catch a cab to Cambridge, hop on a bus, ride 26+ miles out to Hopkinton and then walk a mile to a house where Allen is waiting for me. Honestly, this is more nerve wracking than the race itself. But as I take the last seat on the first charter bus, I realize the marathon guardian angels are with me. Four wonderful, interesting, talented runners become fast friends on our 45 minute ride.
Dara, Jim, Pat and Rachelle – all seasoned Boston Marathoners. We share stories, laugh, exchange tips on how to get through the race – physically and mentally. A favorite memory of the day.
Before the race, I am fortunate enough to hang with Allen and his Bull City running buddies at his friend’s house directly located across the street from the start line. Throw up a few “praise hands” for a fireplace to dry my wet shoes and a bathroom with a door and sink.
It is time. Allen and I jog over to Wave 2, Corral 7, covered in rain gear with high spirits.
I want to share every single detail, but it’s impossible. All the little towns, each with their own personalities and spectator parties. As we near the halfway point, 13 miles, I hear them before I see them. “We’re coming up to the Scream Tunnel… the Girls of Wellesley… it’s a thing,” Allen warns me. The screaming Wellesley College girls pour over the spectator barrier holding signs begging us to kiss them. Pretty sure I’ve never high-fived so many people in such a short span of time. I laugh about it well into mile 14.
Now the hills. Heartbreak Hill is really a series of four hills starting at mile 16, with the hardest, steepest hill at mile 21. Our family greets us at mile 17 – my favorite part of the entire race. “We’re right on time, right on time,” I yell as I throw my arms around each one’s neck. “We’re doin’ it!”
Let me tell you about my rock star cousin. Marathon Monday, he is everything. My goal is to run 7:45 minutes per mile. We compare the pace on our watches at every mile, laugh through the downpours, push up the hills, share runner fuel, exchange encouraging words. When the winds flare up, he motions for me to get behind him, acting as a human shield, literally blocking the head winds with his body. Allen runs along the line of spectators, arms up in the air, exciting the crowds along the way. He asks me how I’m doing. “I’m having a BLAST!” I shout back.
In the last four miles, after a torrential downpour at mile 22, I grow a bit weary. This is the hardest part of a marathon. “Allen, set the pace. I will follow.” He jumps in front of me, settles in just under 7:45. It’s hard. I’m focused, stay on his heels all the way to Boylston Street. Then, side by side, we push as hard as we can down the last long stretch, striding arm in arm across the finish line.
Together forward, we finish in 3:25:14, nearly a one minute PR for me. I know for certain that I would never have completed the race in that amount of time without Allen. My goal in the next marathon is to push myself the way he pushed me. We will talk about this day, adventure, experience that we shared for many years to come.
I cannot express how much it meant to have my entire crew in Boston this past weekend. We talk so much and love so hard. It’s difficult to get a word in edge wise. I never want it to end. All seven of them ventured into the freezing cold rain on race day, traveled on the T to mile 17, waited two hours to see me for mere seconds before I ran by.
I wanted to hug them and hug them. My people.
Here are some highlights of our Boston adventures:
Breakfast w/ AL, Dad and Philip after my Saturday morning shakeout run
Picking up my bib and race bag @ the Expo
Saturday lunch @ Legal Seafood
Just before the Duck Tour!
On the Duck Tour, which took us around the city and into the Boston Harbor
Delicious French dinner Saturday night
Mom and I saw a fabulous performance of Cabaret in a local theater while the rest of the crew saw an awesome Celtics v. Bucks game on Sunday
We gorged on Cannolis from the famous Mike’s Pastry after a big Italian dinner Sunday night
What a trip for the books!!
Thank you to all those who trained me, adjusted me, coached and motivated me for months of training.
Jamey Yon & Team TriYon
This was my first marathon after eight months of Wednesday speed workouts with Coach Jamey and Team TriYon. Every several weeks we run hill repeats up the notoriously steep hill in Myers Park known as “Tranquil Hill.” Some of my favorite memories of Boston were fighting up those four hills in Newton. All I could think about were Tranquil Hill repeats and how many times my teammates pushed me up that hill. I trained for this. I know this feeling. I can do this.
Coach Jamey, thank you for making us practice speed each week. Thank you for the delicious runner fuel you created and provided for race day. And thanks for all of your coaching advice. Team TriYon, thank you for showing up and hustling every single Wednesday. I’m so glad Cameron made me come to that track workout last fall. Couldn’t do it without y’all!
Jamie Scott Fitness
This stellar gym opened in South End last October and for the first time in my life, I have a “gym family.” I practically run to my cross training days at JSF. Thank you Jamie, Lindsay, Deia, Logan, Donald, Diggy and all of the instructors at JSF who made me pick up heavier weights, peddle harder on the bike and throw down the battle ropes with a little more force each week. I saw my body transform during this training season, in large part due to your efforts. Thank you!
Greenapple Sports & Wellness
A huge thanks to Dr. Goodman, Mike O’Doherty and all the staff at Greenapple. Without Dr. Goodman’s adjustments, I’d still be twisted from some long run back in January. He and Mike have taught me so much about my glutes, quads and hamstrings firing properly and how to train those muscles to trigger when you need them the most.
Thank you Brit and Melanie for not only dressing me in the chicest, most stylish workout clothes, but for fostering a community of hustlers in Charlotte. The trainers and workout classes you bring to your shop and host around town are such a treat and truly made me stronger and happier during my training. Love you both!
Friends Near and Far
Most importantly, thank you, dear friends and readers. Monday night, tucked under the covers in my hotel room, I read every single comment, text message and email with tears in my eyes. I’m overwhelmed by it, really. My only hope is that we can continue sharing these stories about setting and chasing down goals, motivating each other and pulling each other up, up, up!
This Boston Marathon will forever go down as the year of the terrible weather, the wind, the rain, the cold. But also the year an American woman won for the first time in 33 years — go Desi!! For me, it will forever be my first Boston. The race I ran and conquered with Allen, my coach-cuz, and with dearest family close by.
Together Forward. That’s what it’s really about. Every day. We all just have to keep moving forward, together.
On to the next one!
See you out there.