Boston Marathon before the bombing

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As I was saying in my previous post, I want to write the story of what happened before the bombing occurred. I think it’s important to relive the incredible experience of being at The Boston Marathon, the moments that I will cherish forever. So here we go…

Flying Out

My husband and I left our home at 3am Saturday morning to catch a 6am flight out of LAX. My mom very generously agreed to say at our house and care for our three children while we were gone. We arrived at LAX, checked in, got some coffee, and boarded our flight bound for Boston. I loved looking around at all of the passengers wearing their Boston jackets from previous years, and a few with this year’s. (I did not wear mine, because I promised myself that I would not put it on until I crossed the finish line on Monday. I’m supersitious that way. Call me crazy, but that’s just me.) I packed my Nuun and my Mile Markers book, and cozied into our seats. As we flew out of LA, I looked out the window and saw the most amazing sunrise — it made waking up at 2am worth it. Simply amazing!

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As we approached Boston my excitment was growing. This was my first time to this city and running this marathon, I couldn’t wait for the plane to land and get into the city to explore. Little did I know, that the city would welcome every runner as if they were a first class athlete from the moment you walk off the plane.

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We took a cab into our hotel, The W Boston, got unpacked, and then met my Aunt and Uncle (who are from Cape Cod) and my Dad and his wife Lee, who flew in from Portland OR to watch the race. This was a big deal for me. My Aunt and Uncle drove 70 miles from Cape Cod and my Dad, who has a heart condition. flew out just to see me. I can’t tell you how much this meant to me.

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After dinner, Rob and I were exhausted and went back to out hotel to get some sleep. Of course, I had my typical race insomnia and only slept a few hours.

Hitting the Expo

The next morning, we woke up and headed to the expo, where I had an appointment to be interviewed by Hylands Homeopathic. I have been a huge fan of their products for many years, so I was extremely happy when Jordan from Darby Communications had contacted me at the beginning of April to see if I would interested in an interview with them. The interview was conducted by Rusty Howes, their Director of Media. We talked about me being at my first Boston and how dreams take hard work, but they are so worth all of the effort.

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Here is the video, from the Hyland’s interview. I am in a small clip, but more importantly it gives you a feel of what the Boston Marathon is all about and honors the people and City of Boston after the tragedy.

I was walking on air all day, so happy to be in Boston. It was a dream coming true and I was in heaven! After the expo, Rob and I walked around and looked at all of the booths and bought a few things for our kids. As I was leaving, I had the opportunity to meet two bloggers that I’ve followed since I first started: Jennifer from Running With The Girls and Jessica from Pace of Me.

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On our walk back to the hotel, I ran into another one of my blogging friends, Travis from Run 4 Purpose. I had never met him and only had seen his pictures, yet when he walked pasted me on the crowded streets of Boston, I imediately knew who he was! We laughed, it was a fun moment.

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The streets of Boston were buzzing with runners, a sea of marathon jackets and people doing their shake out runs. The vibe in the city was one of happiness, excitement, and anticipation for the race in the morning. We headed back to the hotel room, had a simple dinner, and watched the movie Zero Dark Thirty in our room. I tried to go to bed early, but once again was hit with my typical race and time change insomnia. I think I had about 4 hours of interrupted sleep when the alarm went off. As usual, I woke with a migraine, something I’ve had in every marathon. Sigh. I chose not to take my meds, which are very powerful and can interfere with my performance. In hindsight, I probably should have because I think the migraine interfered more than the meds would have. My Dad had the hotel send up a note the morning of the race, no one knew how later that day, this note would mean so much.

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Race Day!

Our hotel was just a block from the buses, so we grabbed breakfast at the Panera across the street, met up with my friend Travis, and walked to Copley Square where the busses were loading runners to take to Hopkinton.

At Panera, watching the first buses head to Hopkinton

At Panera, watching the first buses head to Hopkinton

On the bus ready to take off.

On the bus ready to take off.

My husband watching until our bus pulled away. The greatest husband ever.

My husband watching until our bus pulled away. The greatest husband ever.

Travis and I on the bus.

Travis and I on the bus.


 

The bus ride went fast. Travis was with me, and since this was not his first Boston, he walked me through everything and put my mind completely at ease. I had zero pre-race jitters, thanks to his knowledge and wisdom.

We arrived at the athletes’ village, happy and relaxed, but I was still fighting my migraine. Much to our surprise, it was warmer than expected and everyone was shedding layers while waiting for our waves to be called. I was texting my blogger friend Lisa from Mom2Marathon, since we were both in Wave 3 and I wanted to find her. We got to meet up before the start and I introduced her to Travis.

At Hopkinton... the athlete's village

At Hopkinton… the athlete’s village

Meeting up with Lisa

Meeting up with Lisa


 

Travis, who runs a 2:50 marathon and was in Wave 1, generously offered to stay with me and pace me. At first, I said no, but could see that he really wanted to do it. Yes, that’s the kind of person he is, a complete badass and selfless all bundled up into one. My nickname for him? The Bassass Philanthropist.

They called our Wave, so we dropped our bags and made our way up to Wave 3, corral 2 and before I had time to think, we were off and running. I had taken my first steps of the 26.2 and the energy and excitement flew through me like a bolt of lightening.

In my Wave and about to start! Pure joy and excitement! My dream becoming a reality!

In my Wave and about to start! Pure joy and excitement! My dream becoming a reality!

The miles flew by. The people of Boston line every inch of that course and they cheer for you like you’re the only one out there. Kids high five you, old and young are out passing out orange slices, ice pops, and drinks to the runners. They scream out “run children of Boston, run”. The marathon is part of their lives, it is in the fabric of their community. The energy is eletric and like no other race I’ve experienced. I don’t really like crowds and noise, but on the streets of Boston it makes you want to run your heart out. Most cities would be annoyed by the road closures, the crowds, the noise, the trash left on the streets – but not Bostonians. They welcome you and treat you like a rock star.

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As I continued along the course, around mile ten I had that feeling, that dull pain, and I knew it was not going to be the greatest race. But I did not care in the least. I kept on rolling and when I reached Wellesley, the half way point, I looked for my family, who were there waiting for me.

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Unfortunately, I never saw them, but I was so moved that they made such a huge effort to come out and cheer me on. As Travis and I approached the hills at the end of the course, I slowed my pace a bit. It was getting hot and there was no shade on the course. I kept telling myself, it’s uncomfortable, but that’s ok, keep pushing through it. I was saying things like: “you didn’t work, this hard and come all this way to slow down or stop,” “This is it, this is your chance.” Then, as I finished the last hill, the crowds thickened and became wild, and that energy propelled me forward. There was no better feeling than turning the corner onto Boylston and seeing the finish line.

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The crowds were positively electric! It was a moment I will never forget. Even typing now it brings me to tears. I finished in 3:45:52. It wasn’t the perfect race, but it was exactly what I was meant to do that day. It was an 8 minute PR and a BQ for next year… I’m am so grateful.

As soon as I finished, collected my medal and mylar blanket and was heading away from the finish, disaster struck. I saw and felt everything, it’s too difficult for me to write about and I don’t want to relive it in this post or maybe ever, so we will leave it here.

I finished the Boston Marathon 2013, years of hard work and persistence got me to that moment. There are no words to describe the feeling other than pure bliss. I can’t write this without acknowledging that just moments later I would have equal heartbreak for the victims and families whose lives changed in an instant. It has been a struggle to get sort through all of this, but in the process of sorting, I was able to reach a point where I could allow myself to be proud of my achievement.

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In the near future I will write a part 2, about after I crossed the finish line and coming home.

m4s0n501
About Lisa

Mother of three children under 9, including a set of twins, and wife of US Navy Diver. I love to run, write, and laugh. Yes, I have a slightly raunchy and dark sense of humor..life can be so funny.. it's how I deal with it all. Follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.

Comments

  1. What an amazing experience. I’m honored that you are sharing your story with us. Thank you.

  2. I am so grateful you posted this. I feel horrible for not having read everyone’s stories, but I felt like I was going down an emotional rabbit hole so I had to stop. I know that day will change you forever, but I am so glad you had these moments and this to share. congrats on your PR

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your marathon experience.

    I’m going to try to get together a post about the marathon as well, it’s so difficult to put stuff down into words. This past week and a half has been unbelievable.

  4. This is such a beautiful post — I’m so glad you allowed yourself to be proud of your achievement and that you wrote about it here for you and others to read, experience with you, and reflect back on the good of that day. While part two of this reflection, after the finish line, is no doubt equally important as it had a direct affect on you and others, I’m also glad you decided to separate the two events in different posts. For now, marvel in this moment. Marvel in your accomplished dream come true for as long as you can. <3

  5. Thank you so much for sharing:) Boston is an amazing city and their attitude towards the marathon and her runners are so welcoming and wonderful. I’m so glad that you have come to a place where you can feel proud of your achievement…because you should be:) xoxo

  6. Great Post Lisa!! My first Boston experience was much like yours as far as the race goes. The crowd is amazing and they make you feel like a star!! I couldn’t believe the amount of people that came out to cheer us on last year and this year!! It is an amazing race and you did amazing!! Even with all that happened, you do deserve to be proud of what you have achieved, as hard as it is at times!!

  7. I love this! Thank you for sharing the pre-bombing experience. There is so much to say about the post-bombing and yet, when something is that big and catastrophic it’s also difficult to put into words. Thank you for this. :)

  8. Love it! Great pictures, great story!

  9. Wonderful! It was fun to feel the same excitement and happiness through your experience, it could’ve been mine – nice to relive that part. It’s nice to see you writing and running, hope we can all meet one day.

  10. Congrats!!! You look strong and happy in all those pictures! Btw, I never wear a race shirt before I finish a race either.

  11. Beautiful post! I am so proud of you and your accomplishments. Hugs to you!

  12. This has to be one of the best race recaps I’ve ever read. It was pure emotions of joy and love. Thank you for sharing this. I know it must have been difficult to write. Be proud of yourself and for what you have accomplished!

  13. I love this post. Congrats on your PR and BQ. With all of the tragic stories and heart break that came out of Boston, I think this is the first post that I’ve read that talked about the actual race and the experience around it. I must say that knowing what happens after the race made your story more emotional to me. Kudos to your race photographer. Those pics were awesome :) I enjoyed every bit of it. Thanks for sharing your amazing experience. (btw, I watched your tv interview and read your hubby’s account…both very touching)

  14. Congratulations!!! A very well earned PR and BQ for 2014 :) Travis is one super nice guy! Im glad that you had him near/with you during the race and that you and all your family was safe! Great pics!

  15. so proud of you!!!!! xoxo

  16. Congrats on a new pr and another BQ!! So glad you can remember your run and all the positive aspects of that day. I love how you described the crowd- that’s definitely one of the reasons I plan to run it next year. Can’t wait to be there with you!!

  17. I am so happy to read this. Happy that you could enjoy the wonder that is Boston and it’s amazing people. Race weekend is like no other. Hold those memories close in your heart. Congrats on an excellent race–I am so glad you had family there to share it with you!

  18. Thank you my friend for sharing your story. I thought about you all through that morning, virtually cheering you on during your race. I’m glad that you shared this part of your story here because you worked so so hard for it and so deserve that PR. I can’t imagine the mix of emotions but I’m glad that you have come to the place where you can feel proud of your accomplishment.

  19. Congrats on a great PR!

  20. Awesome post!! I’m so glad you are able to acknowledge the amazing accomplishment it was. Yes it was followed by sadness and tragedy and its hard to not let that take away from what you were able to do. You should be proud regardless way to go!

  21. Really nice to hear about all the excitement and good things that came out of your trip to Boston. Looking forward to reading Part II! It’s a shame that the experience had to be tainted by the tragedy, but wonderful that you are safe and even PRed! Thanks for sharing your story :)

  22. The bombings were a tragedy but I don’t think we should let such senseless and malicious acts define the Boston marathon or your race. Amazing race and congrats on the PR! It is a significant accomplishment and should be acknowledged and remembered with joy.

  23. There’s so much to say, but so little needs to be said. I love you or running this – and for telling us about it. Congratulations!

  24. So glad you were able to share this story. Amazing job on a huge PR and qualifying to run again next year. You rocked it! Be proud of all you accomplished.

  25. hard work got you home safe and for that i am praising God!!

  26. Simply – THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Congratulations on your Boston finish and BQ! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I hope that writing it helps bring you one step closer to healing…

  28. I am just catching up on reading…you had a fantastic race, Lisa! An 8-min. PR is awesome, any day of the week. That race is just the best, isn’t it? I’m so glad you can still look on the race part as a positive experience. That’s my wish for all of you there..that you still have the actual race to hold onto and cherish, that the bombers can’t take that away from you.

  29. Congratulations on a PR and another BQ! You are so amazing and strong, I love reading your blog. Every time I need a little kick in the pants I visit so I can keep that fire lit and hopefully be there with you in April next year. xo <3

  30. You are so incredible– I can feel the love and energy of Boston just reading this post! You should absolutely be proud and running is the best way to both move forward and honor Boston.

  31. Love this story! So amazing! Congratulations on a great race! You are so inspiring!

  32. I love this!! And ok, I TOTALLY SAW YOU before the start. I’m sure of it! I was in corral one and I, too, felt like I barely made it there on-time. I feel like it was an opportunity missed to meet, but we will get another one! Great job on PR and so great that your dad was there, even. Hope your week is off to a great start. :)

  33. Congrats on an 8 minute PR — that is amazing! Especially on a difficult course!! And a big congrats on another BQ, too!

    And so sweet that your dad flew across the country to watch you race. I love that note he sent to the room. :)

  34. I am so emotional reading these amazing Boston Marathon recap posts. I am grateful that I can get an idea of what you experienced and you should be very proud of yourself. But I can’t imagine how hard all of this is to have on your shoulders. Hang in there. <3

Trackbacks

  1. […] of Ojai CA. and ends at the beach in Ventura. It isn’t perfect timing, since I just ran Boston, but my intention is to enjoy myself and see how I feel on race day. I have no expectation of a PR, […]

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