28 April 2014

I Ran the Boston Marathon - #WeRunTogether

I know you're on the edge of your seat waiting to hear about the weekend, so let's just dive on in!

Here's a quick recap video of the weekend, mostly in selfies :)

Thursday, April 17, 2014:

Linzie and I were set to arrive at Boston Logan within hours of each other, so after I arrived, I hung out in the SkyClub awaiting his momentary arrival. Luckily Linzie never flies without in-flight WiFi, so we were in constant contact as he made his final approach.  

I made my way to baggage claim to meet up with him, keeping an eye out for the closest Dunkin to satisfy his East Coast Coffee craving.  
After a little mix-up with the carousels to pick up his bag (apparently, 3=5=6), we were out the door with a little piece of Coffee Heaven to meet Adam!  It was a great little reunion out on the curb, and the weekend was only kicking off.  

Adam and Rachel (and of course Princess Caitlyn) were our gracious hosts for the weekend.  But before heading out to Attleboro to settle in for the night, we three had a little business in Boston.  

Newton Fire Station
Namely, getting familiar with the Newton hills.  Now, Adam was lucky enough to live and train in Boston, so he was quite familiar with the hills.  

And having him drive us through and talk through them made hitting them Monday afternoon a little bit easier (more on that later).  While we were in Newton, we made our first 26.2 Brew stop of the trip - Union Street Grill.  In case you don't know, 26.2 Brew is a special beer made by Sam Adams just for marathon weekend.  And it is only available at certain bars along the marathon route.  We were also able to meet Dani and Julie of the internet!  Seriously - I have so many awesome online friends and it's always so fun meeting them "IRL."
Adam's house was the
#CorralG Mission Control Center

It was time to head home and get some sleep - just as with every day in Boston, we had a packed schedule on the agenda tomorrow!

Friday, April 18, 2014:
We were up early to head back into Boston for another day of fun festivities.  Luckily, with Boston being significantly more eastern than Atlanta, the sun was coming up around 6am and it was super easy to get up early!  Our first stop of the morning was back at Logan to pick up Jen!  
Being familiar with the baggage claim area after yesterday's events, I agreed to run in and meet her.  It was so great catching up while we waited for her bag and then back out to meet up with the rest of the gang.  

Adam insisted that our next stop was Mike's Pastries for canollis!  I loved that Jen went straight into a Boston accent when ordering our "peanut buttah" canolis!  Breakfast was served and there was so much more on our agenda for the day.  We headed to Boston Common where we parked the car and strolled through the park, past the ducks in the garden, and up Boylston to the Hynes Convention Center for the Expo.  We made a brief stop at Starbucks where Linzie was immediately recognized for his internet fame! But then it was time to #buyallthethings.

Offical Team Jackets!
Our first stop HAD to be Ink n Burn where they were releasing a Boston Marathon surprise - the windbreaker!  Seriously - if you can get your hands on one of these, I highly recommend it.  Linzie and I immediately purchased ours, but it took a little convincing to get Adam to realize he needed one as well.  His concerns were quickly allayed when EVERYONE asked "is that your team jacket... or can we get one too?"  Seriously, the InB jacket was more popular than the OFFICIAL jacket!  (If you haven't ever ordered anything from InB, might I suggest adding this to your cart and using the code 'INBKP14' for 15% off your order)  

We then attempted to see as much of the expo as we could.  Seriously, of all the events I've been to, this was by far the LARGEST expo.  Honestly, we went all three days and I still don't think I saw everything there.  Not to mention the volumes of people there - I had a few minor anxiety attacks!  I was able to get my Feetures Red Sox, some fun freebies, and of course, a few more InB items (Patriot Tank anyone?).

Our plan for Friday evening was dinner in the 'burbs at Wahlburgers!  I was so excited to try out the famous place, but the highlight of the evening was the woman coming over to tell us her story of the 117th Boston Marathon, and thank us for being part of this year's event, and helping everyone in Boston take back that finish line.  Her story brought tears to our eyes, and I hope that her friend had as wonderful a marathon on Monday as we did!  I was also pumped to reconnect with Lizzie and get a sweet note before we even made it home that she wanted me to move to Boston!

Saturday, April 19, 2014:
Blury selfie on treamill
Saturday morning the gang was headed out for the BAA 5K.  Sadly, I was unable to participate because the event filled up before I had a chance to register.  I will not let the same thing happen for the 10K coming up!  Our friends Matthew and Angela had booked a great hotel near the Common and were so sweet to let us use it as a quick homebase during the weekend for showers after both the 5K and the marathon.  That morning I had a revelation that I could actually hit the treadmill in their hotel and get showered before the race even started and be able to catch my friends finish the race.
 Unfortunately it didn't end up quite that way, but I knocked off my last 3mi shake out and was ready for another epic day.  After the race I got a chance to catch up with Marcia and Lizzie as we grabbed coffee from the Starbucks right across from the Common.  Then Marcia was off again for her Butterfly duties at the expo, and Lizzie and I wandered to the expo while the morning runners were off to freshen up.  
Lauren, Kara, and me

Lizzie and I had a chance to meet Lauren Fleischman and Kara Goucher, and Marcia even made it over too!  That was about all we had time for before it was time to head off to the game.  See, Adam and Linzie had coordinated a great event on Saturday with proceeds going to their fundraisers.  A lunch buffet at the Baseball Tavern, followed by a game at Fenway!! I had my first taste of chowdah for the weekend, and lots of fun chatting with Angela, Matthew, Lizzie, Nick, Linzie, Jason, Adam, Kira, Rachel, Jen and the gang. 

We headed over to Fenway and all I have to say is - I love this iconic, historic ballpark!  It's nestled right in the middle of the city, and still has the great, classic, architecture of ballparks of the past. We don't have that in Atlanta any more, and for some crazy reason the Braves seem to think a new stadium is in order again (Turner Field is only 15 years old).  Wrigley Field just celebrated their 100th Anniversary... but I digress.  

The game was great - we had awesome seats in right field.  Justin and Devin finally made it and it was fun to catch up with them too.  And the Red Sox WON!!!  What a great day.  

"That's ME!" -Kira

We headed back to the expo because Linzie and Adam hadn't seen their photos on the Saucony "Find Your Strong" wall - and we managed to find 6 more photos of Linzie, plus pictures of Kira, Marcia, and Krissy!  

We decided to call it a day in Boston a little early and headed back to Attleboro, where Adam took us to his favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014:
The Easter Bunny - AKA Princess Caitlyn
Easter Sunday!  Well, that's what the calendar said anyway.  I had high hopes of going to Old South Church (where Linzie and I picked up our marathon scarves on Thursday) for Easter Mass and the Blessing of the Athletes.  Little did I realize how popular this event would be... even though they had two services, when I got there at about 10:50 for the 11:00 service, there was a line around the block and I sadly did not make it into the church for worship.  I was seriously bummed.  I had missed Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services, and was really hoping to make it to an Easter service.  It put me in a funk for awhile, but I had some great distractions.

Met up with the gang at the expo, and then we decided to head to lunch together.  Sadly the restaurant didn't have a table for all of us, but we were able to catch up and enjoy some awesome pizza (Adam, I hope you and Rachel polished off the rest of that pizza...).  We tried to make another stop at Marathon Sports, but the line was a little ridiculous, so we headed over to City Sports instead.  Marathon Sports is much more like Big Peach, as the local, hometown running store.  City Sports was HUGE!! Like, Dick's Sporting Goods HUGE (ok, maybe not quite that big, but I'm pretty sure at least 3 BPRC's would have fit in that store!).  I had decided I was set on #allthethings, so I didn't make any purchases, but the line moved quickly and we were off to the pasta party.

Ah, the Pasta Party.  So back in the fall when Adam got in to the race, Jen and I had signed up to volunteer.  We'd picked the pasta party as our first choice because it seemed like it would be super fun.  We were both chosen, and I was planning on volunteering... until I was picked for the marathon.  I debated about trying to do it, but I realized it might not be the smartest idea to be on my feet for 6hrs the day before the marathon (um, hello, working the booth before Donna...).  Jen was sad that I passed on my shift, but she understood, and I think she had a good time.  We each had different seating times in our race passports, but as we approached, it looked like no one was paying any attention to those times.  The line was AROUND THE BLOCK (this seemed to be the theme of the day).  We discussed going to dinner somewhere else - even walked to a restaurant in the financial district (on a Sunday night) only to realize it was closed - so in the end we were back in the monstrous line waiting for the white sauce pasta Jen had raved about. It took about an hour to make it through the line... and it was CHILLY in that line.  Good thing I had my sweet InB windbreaker ;)

Once we were inside, we forgot all about our griping in line. We had hot food and BEER!!  Angela and I went on an epic journey to find a bathroom that DIDN'T have a line (thank you 8th floor of City Hall).  We hung out, got awesome virtual support from Lizzie and Bella, filled our tummies with yummy food, and then it was time again to head home.  Tomorrow was THE BIG DAY!

Monday, April 21, 2014:

Y'all - OMG?!!?! We're running the Boston Marathon today!  Alarms went off early this morning.  Jason and Jen were driving us over to Hopkinton to ride the shuttle to the Athlete's Village.  I had a momentary panic attack when I realized (since I'd be rocking my SWEET InB denim capris) that I didn't have enough pockets for all my race fuel.  Adam saved the day (again - seriously, this guy... there are no words) with an Amphipod container I could put on my iFitness belt.  I also gave Jen a stash of fuel I would pick up when we saw her and Jason around mile 17.  

In order to get on the bus to the start, we had to get wanded.  Yes, security was TIGHT!  But it was something I was willing to endure (really, it was nothing) in order to make sure we all - spectators and runners alike - had a safe race.  Adam was pretty chill on the ride over, but Linzie and I were freaking out!  Adam said, at this point, it was just time to sit back and enjoy the ride.  

We got off the bus, but started heading the opposite way because Adam's mom had hooked us up with a fantastic pre-race location. One Ash Way - you know, where the BAA Hopkinon office is!!  Yes, we got to hang at the start with the Mass PD, security, and even the media - complete with DONUTS for breakfast - before the race.  Not to mention seeing Shalane and Meb rock the first 200m of the race!

Soon enough it was time for us to head to our corral to get started.  On the way, Adam lost a contact while we were putting on our sunblock.  I was so nervous when he picked it up off the street and put it back in. (ok, he "washed" it off, but I was still so nervous there was residual concrete flecks on it... not to mention I HATE the idea of sticking anything in your eyeballs)  Luckily all was well and we were on our way again.  A quick potty stop where we ran into Dani again, and then it was time to line up.  We even ran into Jeff and Barbara Galloway in our corral!

As we neared the start line, I was getting frustrated that my TomTom wasn't picking up satellites (it would take the first 1.5mi for it to sync, and then it would die before we even made it to Boston), but I had to soak it all in.  We were crossing the start of the BOSTON MARATHON!!!

I was so grateful to have Adam keeping the pace for us - nice and easy on the ~17mi downhill to start the race.  I had to make a pit stop around mile 3, but since I was in my InB, it was a quick stop.  Shortly after that, we got a text notification that Meb had WON!! Yes folks - we were around mile 3 or 4, and Meb had FINISHED the race!  Granted, he started before us, and finished in 2:08 and change.  But I was ECSTATIC!!  I started screaming, "MEB WON!!! MEB WON!!"  At first, people were a little confused.  But once they realized what I was saying, cheers rang out and we started a little "USA" chant.  It was fun to be part of that finish, even if we were 22 miles behind!

We rolled through the towns, and the crowd support was AMAZING!!  People had signs saying "You're Our Hero" and "It's Wicked Hard".  Jen had made us these great bibs with our names on them, so people would say our names and cheer for us.  It took me awhile to realize that when people would shout "GO BOSTON" they were talking about me - because I was wearing the Boston InB top.  Linzie would get shouts of "Bruins" or "Bs" because he was wearing his team shirt - and that's how I realized it.  I felt so honored to be at this race, part of this epic moment in history, and have people supporting me, "Boston."

Kira and Scott were the first that we saw along course, around mile 5.  It was the perfect time to pass off gloves and arm sleeves, as it was seriously warming up!  We saw them three more times along course - not to mention seeing Jen and Jason; Rachel, Melanie, and Chris; my parents; and Matthew and Angela (oh yeah, we also got to see Matthew at the start!).  Having crowd support that included our loved ones was SOOO awesome!

As we rolled into Newton, things were about to get real.  I had done my hill training and was ready to CRUSH some hills.  But this race was also about #WeRunTogether - especially #CorralGRunsBoston.  We abandoned our interval plan and just took it as we could.  I wanted to bust it out, but I also wanted to be there for my friends.  Linzie was having a horrible cramp, so just like Donna, I stayed with him, encouraging him to stretch it out, and even stopping to help him get a deeper stretch.  We let Adam go to conquer Heartbreak on his own (he OWNED that hill), but he was there waiting for us at the top.  Once Linzie was able to get past his cramp, it was all downhill cruising into Boston.  

We made our way past Fenway and the Citgo sign - 1mi to go!  Then under the 1km sign. The crowds were getting so thick at this point. I kept shouting at the spectators, encouraging them and thanking them.  Telling them "YOU'RE THE HERO."  Blowing kisses.  The moment was SO EPIC!  I had a fire burning inside of me to cross that finish line.  What I learned later was that Linzie and Adam were both having trouble breathing which is why they were a little behind me.  But there was no way we weren't crossing this finish together.  

I came up the street and realized it was time - I saw the Hereford sign and knew - Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston.  The finish was in sight.  I turned that first corner and the tears just started coming. I was SOBBING.  I was ready to run, but Linzie and Adam needed one last walk break before we ran it in on Boylston.  We hugged as we walked down that street, each of us feeling all the emotions.  We turned on Boylston - I knew my parents were just past the Convention Center on the right, so I made my way to that side of the street, scanning the crowd.  I was so elated to see my dad along the fence, and ran over and gave him a kiss.  My mom was standing on the wall behind, shouting "KATIE! KATIE!"  She had even recruited some strangers to cheer for me as well!  

Then we had to cut to the left to catch Matthew and Angela on the other side of the street, just past mile 26.  I think I scared the beejeezus out of a police office standing right in front of them as I SPRINTED over to give them huge hugs.  Then, it was time.  The three of us held hands and made our way the final 385m.  Boston was OURS.  That finish line was in sight.  I was still sobbing.  In fact, just like I said I would be, I was a sobbing, sweaty, snotty mess coming across that finish line.  But when the announced said EACH OF OUR NAMES, and we crossed the line, we had become Boston Marathoners! (seriously, I'm getting choked up writing this)!!  I loved the photos that started coming in of our friends taking pictures of us crossing the finish line - on TV!  They were watching the stream and were able to see us cross.  My favorite was from Courtney who not only caught us crossing, but this one of me breaking down as soon as we crossed.

We made our way to medals (I was nervous that since we finished at 4:55pm that we might not be getting them - I had read in the FAQs that you had to finish by 4:45, but I guess that changed), and a sweet heat shield - seriously, as hot as it was on course, as soon as we stopped running and got in the shade of the downtown buildings, I was glad we had it.  We grabbed food and then wandered over to meet up with our family.  My mom and dad had flowers for me - I felt like a real champion!  Kira, the official #CorralG photographer, was there snapping amazing photos.  

The day was AMAZING!!!  We headed off to get cleaned up - thanks again to Matthew and Angela for their generosity.  Mom and Dad offered to take me to dinner, so I said goodbye to my friends as they headed off to the House of Blues after party (we were too late to make it to the Fenway Open House, unfortunately).  Mom and Dad and I hit up a great restaurant right next to Matthew and Angela's hotel that wasn't busy, where I enjoyed Shrimp and Grits and a Koko Brown beer from Kona Brewing (they didn't have 26.2 Brew on tap).  I was lucky enough to catch a bus from the hotel over to the after party after dinner, but by that time there was, yet another LONG line to get in, and we were all getting pretty tired.  We headed back to Attleboro... I was told my choice to go to dinner was the better choice, since the after party had slim pickins.  In fact they even had to make a drive-thru stop on the way home to get dinner! (I won't divulge where they went...)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014:
Our amazing weekend was coming to an end.  We said our goodbyes to Rachel and Princess Caitlyn, thanking them both for letting us invade their home.  We packed up the van and were off into the city.  Before going to the airport, though, we had an important stop.  Sam Adams Brewing!! The brewery was offering FREE tours for marathoners and their friends/family, so we of course had to get that in!  Adam had left his ID in his running belt, but luckily was able to produce a valid copy so he could get his beer tasting on!  We toured the brewery, then had samples of Boston Lager, Summer Ale, and my personal favorite, Black and Gold.  Sadly, Black and Gold is only available at the brewery at the TD Garden where the Bruins play, as it is their special beer.  I decided at that moment I was moving to Boston and living in the Garden!  We also got a taste of 26.2 Brew out in the Beer Garden before hopping on the Party Trolley over to Doyle's for lunch.  Seriously - do this tour and ride the party trolley.  Not to mention - the chowdah at Doyle's was AMAZING!!! I also had a French Dip and onion rings - two thumbs up!  Sadly they had run out of 26.2 Brew, but they have more Sam Adams on tap than the brewery, so I had a Grumpy Monk.  Not my favorite, but Kira sure enjoyed it!

Sadly, after Doyle's, our time had come to an end.  We said goodbye to Matthew and Angela as they hopped on the T to go back to their hotel.  At the car, we said goodbye to Scott, Chris, and Melaine, our Chamberlain cheer squad, and thanked them for their support.  At the airport, I was the first to get dropped off, and said goodbye with in-van hugs to Kira, Jen, and Jason for being our ROCKSTAR support squad. And of course then it was time for one last team hug with Linzie and Adam, thanking them so much for sharing another 26.2 miles with me.  

I got to see Matthew and Angela again in the Sky Club before our flights left, but all too soon it was time to say goodbye again - to my friends and to this amazing city.  Boston, we love you.  I may have just written a TON of words about this experience, but honestly, there are no words for what it meant to be part of the 118th running of the Boston marathon, of helping this wonderful city and our amazing running community reclaim our finish line, and to show the world that we are #BostonStrong.

Special thanks to: Angela Amick, Jen Pelham, Linzie Starr, Jason Mendez, Adam Chamberlain, Scott Chamberlain, Kira Chamberlain, and Courtney Stevens for the photos!!


Angela said...

I don't know whether this blog post makes me horribly happy and warm inside or super sad that it's all over.
I am not sure if it will be next year, but I *will* run this marathon one year and we will do it alllll over again. :)

Jen said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE your recap! It was so much fun following along at home and seeing you guys cross the finish line :) I am so incredibly proud of you and can't wait to hug your neck and congratulate you in person!