Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Boston Marathon 2010

First, I cannot thank you everyone enough who donated and supported me in running the 2010 Boston Marathon to benefit GoKids Boston. All 20 of my team mates completed the marathon and raised over $95,000 for this wonderful cause! I personally raised over $3700, which exceeded my fundraising goal!!

I have put off writing my Boston Marathon Road Report for many reasons. First, I'm being lazy. Second, I feel like once I do this, its really over. I just got around to sending out my last round of thank you cards, so its about time I write this and close the chapter on my favorite race EVER!

I went to the Expo on Saturday with Christy, as after reading the message boards, they advise you to not walk around the expo the day before the race, which makes sense. I bought my Boston Marathon Jacket here. I made up my own rules about the jacket. I could try it on and buy it-but that was the only time I could wear it prior to finishing the race. No pictures of it, no mention of it, nothing. I felt I would completely jinx myself if I wore it, but I was clearly the only one who held this believe, as everyone was wearing them all over Boston.

Josh and I headed down to Boston again on Sunday. I chose a hotel "close" to the finish line (your definition of close changes when you have to walk back to the hotel after running 26.2 miles) and definitely paid for that "luxury." Well, I'm only doing this race once, I might as well do it up right!

What to eat that night was a serious source of stress for me. I lack the iron stomach gene my Grandpa Cavaiuolo had-instead, I inherited the nervous stomach of my Grandmother. I was very concerned about eating something that would land me in the port-o-potty for much of the race. I chose a real basic meal of salmon with vegetables, and filled up on bread to make sure I got that carb element. Of course, Josh stopped and got cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory on the way back to the hotel, so I may have had a bite or 2 of that.
I slept surprisingly well-I wouldn't say it was an award winning night of sleep but it wasn't as terrible as I envisioned. I was up by 5:15, and headed down to the lobby to walk with some other charity runners to the buses, which drive you to the start line.
I am terrible with directions, especially in a city, so I was happy to be walking with a bunch of people, including Susan Hurley, who runs the charity program. She was in charge of 6 charities this time, as well as raising money and running the marathon herself. She is the MOST enthusiastic person you could ever meet, along with being very funny and a great supporter of everything you do during the training. But she walks fast. How do I know this? Well, we had to follow her to the buses and honestly, her fast walk pace is probably my marathon running pace. By the time I got to the bus, which was maybe a ten minute "walk", I was sweating-a lot. And I wasn't even at the start line. It was a good warm up.

We all rode buses to the start line-our buses had the luxury of a bathroom, which I stupidly sat near to be with my fellow teammates. Sure, it was fine at first, but after there was no air on the bus and the bathroom got its own workout, it was not pleasant. We made our own fun, covering ourselves with fake tattoos and writing our names with sharpies, so people could cheer for us.

You arrive at the start and there is just a sea of people. Most people are lounging around, sitting on the ground, enjoying the view. Some people were actually sleeping, which I cannot imagine. With so many people, the Marathon has to be organized, and they are. We were given bags that we could put our belongings in, of item that we wanted at the finish line. These bags are put on buses that drive to the end of the marathon. Very efficient. I had started the day out with a sweatshirt and sweatpants (its cool at 5am), but was warming up at this point (my wave of runners didn't start until 10:30am), so I added those to my bag. I could have tossed them on the side of the road as well, as all discarded clothing is donated to charity. But I kind of like my pants.

We all waited around for about an hour, until we were ready to go to the start line. And I must say, port-o-potties galore. They even had a bunch RIGHT at the start line. That's my kind of race.

The walk to the start line is rather far-I could be completely off, but I would say it was probably a half mile. Or at least it felt that way. As I stood there, all you can see are people-in front of you, in back of you-what seems like miles and miles of runners and spectators. Its hard not to get pumped up. I start taking pictures with my iPhone and the guy next to me says,"You're not going to spend the race blogging are you?"

"Ah, no", I reply, acting as though that was the most ridiculous thought. What I really wanted to say was, "Yes I am, jerk boy." But that's just bad karma and I didn't need to start my race out that way.

Knowing that my back still wasn’t at 100%, I decided to have a few goals for the marathon-1. Finish! 2. Finish under 6 hours (if you don’t finish under 6 hours, you are not considered a marathon finisher and you don’t get a medal) 3. Enjoy every step of the way, knowing this will probably be my only chance to run the Boston Marathon.

Once we were off, it's really hard to pull back and not go out fast (a relative term). There are just so, so many spectators, you cannot believe it. I don't think there was one spot that there weren't people cheering you on. You see a lot of characters,not only running but on the side of the road. I ran with two men dressed up like Elvis, carrying a ipod and speakers blaring Elvis music and shouting,"Thank you,Thank you very much." I also saw a muscular man with a dress and a green wig. I was passed by a hot dog and french fries, which doesn't fair well for the ego. On the side of the road, I saw a big bosumed women who was very drunk at 11am, jumping up and down, spilling her beer everywhere. There were 2 more drunk ladies riding a motorized cooler. And there was also the drunk guy on the roof of the house, to whom I yelled, "Please go inside you are making me nervous."

Wellesley Girls-what can I say,other than you can hear their high pitched scream before you even see them. They are holding signs saying, "Kiss me, I'm a first year student. "(I guess freshman is no longer politically correct?) "Kiss me, I'm missing an exam to cheer you on." Its very fun to run by all of them.


The Boston College kids were more than just loud screams-they were high fiving, holding up signs, offering beers, calling for you by name. They won my heart.

And people aren't just cheering for you, they are giving you water, food, anything you need. Tissues,orange slices, Popsicles, bananas, and wet wipes were all things I took from strangers, even though I could hear my mother's voice,"Don't take food from strangers" ringing in the back of my head. I don't care-that was the BEST orange Popsicle of my life.

Ok, the actual running (as though that's what the marathon is about). I did really well, with no major issues until about mile 18-near where the hills start. I had run the first 17 miles and the last 17 miles on the course during the months prior so I knew what to expect. I started run/walking at this point,as I was starting to get tired. My legs cant keep up with my lungs,they give out first. I vowed to myself that I would run up the Newton Hills, including Heartbreak Hill. So when the hills started, I geared up my iPod to "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" then "The Climb" (an souped-up aerobic version with a great beat. Yes, its sung originally by Miley Cyrus, but how can you not tear up a little when you hear, "Ain't about how fast I get there, ain't about what's waiting on the other side, it's the climb.") I ran all of the hills.

Both Mike and Christy Thomas were volunteering, so I got to give them big hugs around mile 22 (I should apologize, I was sweaty). It was also something to look forward to that kept me moving.

My only real "physical"complaint wasn't my back. And this may verge on TMI. I think my bladder doesn't like being shook like a polaroid picture for 26 miles. By mile 18 it started to feel like I had to pee constantly. We all know what it feels like to try to do anything when you have that sensation. Needless to say, I'm sure the 5 bathroom breaks didn't do well for my net finishing time.

I met up with Amy, who was a charity runner for another one of Susan's teams, and she was struggling with a knee injury . To keep us motivated, I used the "Let's run to that sign "approach, but before long,I had gone ahead. This is the worst part of the race. You just want to walk, but you know walking will make it take even longer and you just want to be DONE. My Garmin watch got messed up from having to stop to pee so many times, so I had no idea where I was or how much was left. Once I saw the mile 23 sign, I decided to just go and not stop, no matter what. They started to let traffic by and I got worried. Did this mean I was close to the 6 hour mark and I wasn't going to get my medal?? This stupid medal was all I cared about. My sister (who I love with all my heart) said to me, "Who cares if you don't get a medal-if you finish the marathon, no one can take that away from you!" And she is right. But emotionally, I needed it.

I saw the Citgo sign and I knew there was one mile left. i was still surrounded by people, and despite the late hour, there were still people cheering you on! Towards the end I was really disoriented by not having my watch and I couldn't gauge how far into the last mile I was. I asked some elderly gentleman who was running how far was left, and he replied, "I don't even think I know what city I am in anymore."

And then there it was-Hereford. The magnet that hangs on my garage door-'Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston." Those are really the 2 last turns in the marathon and when I saw it, I knew I was so close to the end. I turned right, then left and I could see the finish line. Its a mirage though-you are running and running and its just not getting any closer. You want to sprint to the end, but it just feels like it is never coming. But at the same time, you want it not to be over, because its the most fun you could ever imagine. I was so, so worried about there being no one at the finish line. I am sure its crazy around the 2-3 hour finishing mark. But it was still amazing to see so many people still out there cheering you on. Josh was near the finish (you can't get to the actual finish line as a spectator) and I was able to see him and wave. I looked at the clock-5:41. I would get my medal.

On a side note, when I finished the camera crews were swarming around me. yes, I know I am famous, but come on now. I tried to remain cool and went up to a volunteer and asked, "Who the heck is behind me?" Ray Allen of the Celtic's mom ran, and finished right after me-so it was the 2 of them. That added another fun element to the finish!

I kept walking and walking, trying to find the medals. I did not see them. In a panic, I asked, "Are there still medals??" I was pointed to the "Medal Lady." I went up to her, took a very deep breathe and said, "I did it. I'm ready for my medal now." And yes, I was crying.

Sure, my time is nothing to brag about by any means. But honestly, other than being under the 6 hour mark, I didn't care what my time was. I took my time, enjoyed every step, and made sure to “high 5” as many little kids as I could.

Every picture of me from the marathon, I am grinning from ear to ear.

What a life changing experience! I will never be fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and being a charity runner was the only way I could ever get the chance to experience this amazing race. So for every one who donated-not only did your donation help me to run the most amazing marathon I could ever imagine, you have helped thousands of kids have a chance at fighting childhood obesity!

I'm sad its over. After training so hard, fundraising, and talking about it non stop, it feel like something is missing. I'm not sure any other race will be able to live up to this one either. But I am so grateful for everything this race gave me. I met some amazing runners on my team, as well as on the other charity teams. Every day I marveled at people's generosity when I'd see my donation page. I had unbelievable support from family, friends and co-workers. I learned I can really do anything I put my mind to, including running one of the most prestigious marathons in the world!!!
With this, I am proud to say I am a 2010 BOSTON MARATHON FINISHER!!!!!