April 29, 2015

Boston Marathon Race Recap

My journey to the start line of the Boston Marathon was different than most due to my unfortunate trip to Tufts Medical Center late Saturday/Sunday morning.. Sunday was a day of resting, a stern talk from Tom telling me to stop my pitty party (which was badly needed) and time spent trying to ingest as much Gatorade and Saltine crackers as I could.  Two IV bags at the hospital had brought me back to life, but I still needed to try to hydrate even if I was not up to eating on Sunday. After speaking with my coach, we also made several short trips over to the Boston Common and Public Gardens for me to move my legs, each walk being about 15 minutes or so in length.

By the time Monday morning rolled around, my race outfit was laid out and I was busy getting ready to walk over to the bus loading area for the trip to Hopkinton.  On Sunday, Tom and I walked by the area so I knew exactly where to go on Monday.

Our only pic with our race shirts!
Alison and I made plans to meet at our hotel and then walk with Tom to the bus area.  It was really chilly as we walked to the bus and both of us had jackets, I had a throwaway sweatshirt on top and gloves.  When we found a bus line that was not too long, we got in line with other runners.  However, I asked the two volunteers if we could wait for the next bus so I could sit up front.  After my violent illness, I sure did not want to risk motion sickness on the bus. After a few minutes, we were loaded and on our way to the start.

Honestly the bus ride took quite a while, but it was in the middle of the ride that I realized that we had to run the entire distance back into Boston.  It seemed daunting, but I never said a word to Alison! Soon enough we were in the athlete's village, along with some sprinkles of rain.  Yup, we could not avoid the rain, but luckily we each had rain ponchos to wear over our outfits.  I ditched the poncho at the start and kept on my hooded sweatshirt for a couple of miles.  Finally after getting a bit wet after a couple miles the sweatshirt hit the side of the road too!

The race starts easy enough with a downhill for quite a while.  The first few miles ticked by and fortunately, my stomach was doing okay.  I had only been able to manage a couple bites of banana at the hotel and then about half a banana at the race start. Each one of the water/Gatorade stations was well stocked and I made sure to take something at the first 4-5 aid stations. Bringing extra gels was important since I could not fuel appropriately before the race.  I had 8 gels with me thinking that I would take one every 3 miles.

As the miles ticked by, I was feeling surprisingly good and so was Alison, or so I thought.  We were keeping about a 10 minute mile pace and soon we were entering Natick after getting through Hopkinton and Ashland.  While the course is crowded, we never tried to weave around runners, but after a while, we did pass a few here and there.  By the time we hit Natick, I was getting excited since I knew my family would be waiting in Wellesley and it would only be a few more miles.  The halfway point of a marathon is always a big landmark and we were doing well at this point.

My favorite race photo
Finally we reached the "scream tunnel" with the Wellesley College students, but sadly most of the signs had dissolved and fallen due to the rain.  After passing Wellesley Square and the library my heart was racing.  Mom, Christine and the rest of our family would be waiting for us at Forest Street and we were so close. Christine was the first person I spotted but then I saw my tiny Mom sitting in a lawn chair all bundled up.  I gave her a huge hug, hugged Christine, and then kept right on running.  I knew Alison was not waiting around for me! I was so happy to see them and I think I told Christine that "it was hard."

After running though the rest of Wellesley, we arrived at Newton Lower Falls after another relatively steep downhill.  Then we had the Rt 128/ 95 overpass which is probably the toughest part of the course.  It is very open to the elements and the gradual uphill goes on a long time.  It was around this time that my belly started giving me all kinds of trouble.  The glucose in the gels was causing lots of gas and honestly there were times that I thought I would have to stop.  But I refused to quit and walk, so I just kept trudging along and even held my belly.  Alison was kind enough to take my Flip belt until we met up with Tom so she could pass it off.  It was hurting my stomach!

Tom was waiting at around mile 16 just after the overpass and I was so happy to see him.  He had found two of our friends from Wilmington and the three of them were cheering for us.  It made me smile for a moment.  Having support on the course was more important to me at this race than any other.  As we passed Newton Wellesley Hospital, some of Alison's friends were out cheering so again we received a boost from the support.
Hugging my stomach, it was killing me
When I saw the Newton firehouse, which is located during mile 18, it gave me hope that we could finish the race. This landmark for the race is something I saw so frequently as a child and in fact it was built when I was young.  As we reached the Newton Hills Alison picked up steam and I tried to follow along. She is like a mountain goat going uphill!  At the base of heartbreak hill, there were Adam, Christine and my brother Jay.  I was feeling so lousy at this point that I missed my brother completely.  Adam was telling us how great we were doing and Christine told us afterwards we looked terrible.  She was right!  The gassy stomach was giving me so much pain and while I hated taking more gels, I really had no choice.  The fear of bonking was just too great.

As we crested heartbreak hill, I knew we could make it and then we just kept motoring along with a very enthusiastic crowd.  The miles ticked by and as we reached the corner to turn right on Hereford, I totally lost it.  I started crying and knew that this was the hardest fought race I would ever run.  With a final turn onto Boylston Street all of a sudden I heard my name and loud cheers.  It was my Without Limits group that had stayed to cheer.  They had all been finished hours before, yet they stayed to cheer for us.  As we crossed the finish line I smiled and turned to Alison and said, "We Did It"!

This sign said it all, and I missed it!
Sometimes a race does not go as planned.  Sometimes adversity gets in your way.  But this race was important to me and to Alison and we got to the finish line.  It wasn't pretty, a PR or anything close, but we finished and for me that day, it was a huge victory.

April 28, 2015

Stories from the Boston Marathon

Instead of writing a post specifically about spectating, I wanted to write about some of the stories from our weekend as spectators. These are some of the high points from our weekend and I hope they will convey the emotion, camaraderie, and joy from our Boston Marathon weekend.

The city: I really couldn't have imagined how race-focused the city was in the days leading up to the race. The entire city of Boston felt consumed by the marathon. The energy was really incredible. Every storefront, business, and restaurant had a sign or something to support the runners. There were daffodils everywhere.

The interview: When Mom and Auntie Allie were picking up their bibs at the expo, there was a news crew filming runners. Both Mom and Auntie were interviewed and Auntie Allie's statements ended up on the local broadcast on Saturday morning!

The camaraderie: Like the city's businesses, the residents and visitors all seemed there for one reason - The Boston Marathon. On Saturday morning, Adam and I took a stroll around the city including the Public Garden and Boston Common. It was a beautiful sunny day and it was great to get some fresh air and see the city. While in the Public Garden, we passed many runners - both running and just strolling. One couple who was running stopped and asked us to take their photo. The man was wearing a Boston Marathon shirt so I immediately asked if they were running. They told us that the man was running while the woman spectated (not sure if they were husband and wife or not so I don't want to assume). I told them we were doing the same for my Mom and Aunt. We chatted about the race and then parted ways, but not before they snapped a photo of us. It was a neat moment.

The unthinkable: When we returned from dinner on Saturday night, I beelined it back to see Mom. When I found her curled up in bed shivering and drinking ginger ale, I knew something was really wrong. I had simply assumed her nerves had gotten the best of her and she wanted to relax by herself. I told her to focus on staying hydrated and she'd be ok. A few minutes later, I heard her vomit in my grandmother's bathroom. I muttered some curse words and stepped outside. Then I started crying. Sobbing really. I simply couldn't believe this was happening. Not to Mom. She worked too hard for this. I texted a few friends for support. No one could believe it. Once we got Mom into my Aunt's car to make the trek back to Boston, I didn't really feel like socializing. I hung around with my cousin and her boyfriend knowing I don't see them much but my mind was constantly on Mom's health. I didn't really sleep much Saturday night. I simply wished and prayed for a miracle.

The final prep: The night before the race, I wanted to FaceTime with Mom. I hoped to chat with her and put her at ease a bit. I could tell from her voice and facial expressions that she was nervous. And honestly, I was too but I did my best to be positive and upbeat. That night, I organized my spectating gear at least 100 times. I was SO nervous. Race morning, I traded text messages with Mom to encourage her and then the photos started coming...Mom and Auntie were off to the buses to tackle their big race! A few hours later, we suited up in our rain gear to head out to watch.
Sadly, my sign melted in the rain and didn't make it until they came by! 
The unexpected: When Meb crossed the finish line, no one anticipated he would share that moment with a fellow elite runner. I simply loved reading the story of he and Hilary crossing together arm and arm. What a classy guy!

The cheerleader: As the elite men came through while we were watching in Wellesley, there was an elite woman who was running just ahead of them who was swept up into their pack. She cheered furiously for Ritz and Meb. I couldn't believe it. I had never witnessed an elite runner cheer like that. It gave me chills. And I was amazed that I eventually learned this was Carla McAllister after I posted the photo on Instagram and someone recognized her.
Carla is at the front in blue
The face in the crowd: One of my dearest friends from college lives in Wellesley and we had hoped to meet up while I was in town. With Mom being sick, many of my plans flew out the window. I had texted with Liza on race morning to see if we could meet up and we hoped to connect on the streets of Wellesley as we both cheered. Adam walked off to Dunkin Donuts to get some coffee to help keep us warm and as I was spacing out, I noticed a familiar face. After a giant hug, I was catching up with a dear friend while watching elite runners go by. It was a surreal morning.
We spent about 4 hours out in the rain but I didn't care one bit!
The speedy friend: As more runners started to come through, I knew that my friend Kass was probably getting close. Kass and I went to college together and were sorority sisters. I haven't seen her since I graduated and we've reconnected through running and blogging (Go read her blog - she's awesome and very speedy!!). She worked really, really hard to get to Boston and had big time goals. I told Adam I couldn't miss her. He asked what she was wearing and I shrugged but told him I guessed pink, blue or green. It turned out she had on a white throwaway top when she passed but she eventually shed that for a pink tank. I know my girl well! Anyways, I digress. We positioned ourselves where we could see the crowd of runners for a ways, giving us the best chance to see her. A few minutes went by and two police officers decided to stand on the other side of the barricade right in my line of view. I panicked. Nooooo! I had to see Kass. I wiggled and moved around them to another spot so I could see. A minute or two later, I spotted her and started jumping up and down and yelling for her. She spotted me and flashed me a big smile and a thumbs up. My job was done. It was time to wait for the main event...Mom and Auntie.

The joy: When we saw Mom and Auntie at mile 13.8-ish in Wellesley, I thought my heart might jump out of my chest. I was screaming and waving wildly...kind of like my life depended on it. They both stopped for quick hugs and kept on running. Adam and I ran alongside them for a moment...me just to chat with them and him to get a picture. We had some snacks for them and I wanted to be sure they didn't need anything. They declined the bagel and English Muffin. I even offered Mom one of the pre-made sandwiches I had in a bag for our own lunch (we think that's what made her sick on Saturday). She laughed and firmly declined. As long as she was smiling, she was doing pretty good, I told myself.  And in an instant, they were gone.
Running by the Mobil station where we always used to gas up my parents'
station wagon when we left my grandparents home
The uncertainty: After we saw Mom and Auntie Allie at mile 19, I knew Mom was hurting. I didn't realize my Aunt was struggling with her foot as well at that point. After seeing my poor Mom clutching her belly as she ran up Heartbreak Hill, I grew worried. I really hadn't thought about her not finishing. Once she started, I assumed she would finish and didn't give it another thought. At that point, she had 7 miles to go. Hard miles. Miles filled with hills. I felt really uneasy. Adam reassured me that they are really tough and would be ok. And then when the 35km split was slow to come in, I worried some more. The split eventually showed up and you all know that the rest is history...

The moment: Adam and I were driving to the airport as Mom and Auntie Allie finished the final miles of the race. Dad called me and was a little choked up, telling me he had seen them at mile 25 and they were "running it in." My heart swelled. They would finish. Together. Adam and I were navigating closed roadways all over the place so the journey to the airport was far from simple (read: pretty tense). Megan was texting me updates every minute or so and then I realized I could watch the live feed on my phone. "Right on Hereford" she told me. "They just turned on Boylston." My eyes glued to my tiny cell phone screen, I was frantically searching the crowd for a blue and white jacket. I saw the notification pop up that they had finished but never saw them. I was disappointed. I had missed them. But alas, the live feed was delayed and a minute or two later, I saw them. Arms raised, they crossed the finish line. "They did it," I whispered with tears brimming in my eyes. I'm not sure if I've ever been more excited for someone to finish a race. I immediately sent Mom a bazillion text messages knowing it would be a while before I heard from her.
Strong, determined sisters!!! 
The silver lining: After Adam and I maneuvered all over the Boston metro area to get to the airport, we learned our flight had been cancelled and there were no other flight options Monday night. We found a flight for the next morning and made our way back into the city to enjoy dinner with Mom and Dad. The minute we walked into their hotel room, I squealed "Mummy you did it" and practically tackled her with a big hug. It was so wonderful to spend the evening with them, even if it did mean an extra day out of the office for Adam and I. I really treasured that time with Mom.


April 27, 2015

An unexpected emergency room visit hours before the Boston Marathon

On Saturday April 18th, a sandwich eaten at lunch caused food poisoning and a trip to the Emergency Room at Tufts Medical Center on Saturday night.   While many scenarios had come to my mind about my trip to Boston and marathon Monday, my wildest dreams or nightmares never included a violent episode of illness less than 40 hours before the race start.

Back tracking a bit, we drove out to Needham on Saturday afternoon to visit with many of my family members and have dinner as a group of nine with my mother.  After a nice afternoon of relaxing and catching up, we headed to the dining room and sat down to eat.  After placing our orders, I had to excuse myself and go back to my mom's unit.  Within minutes of being back, I laid on the bed and then hit the bathroom for one of numerous episodes of being horribly ill.  When my family finally returned, my sister Alison offered to drive Tom and me back to our hotel with a stop at CVS pharmacy to pick up supplies.  At this point, I was feeling much better so Saltine crackers, Pedialyte and Ginger Ale sounded like a smart way to start refueling my body. After our hotel drop off, I had some of the items we purchased and then collapsed in the bed thinking that a good night sleep would put me in decent shape for the morning.  Turning out the lights at 9:45, and with no plans for Sunday, I was ready for a nice long sleep.

At 11:15, I awoke and headed straight for the bathroom and yet again I was horribly sick to my stomach from the food poisoning.  Tom was fast asleep, yet I got him out of bed and told him we needed to go to the emergency room immediately.  His response was, "What, Why?".  When I told him I was ill again, he dressed and within minutes we were in a taxi going to Tufts Medical Center emergency room which happened to be very close to our hotel.

After being admitted at 11:45, I was taken to a room, changed into a hospital gown and laid down on the bed.  Soon, a nurse named Jess came in and I answered lots of questions about my condition.  I explained that I was running the marathon on Monday and had to get well quickly.  Blood work was drawn, and an EKG test was run.  All my tests came back normal and within minutes they had me hooked up to an IV bag to replenish my fluids that had been lost during all the vomiting and diarrhea.  After a while, I was seen by not only a nurse practitioner, but also a doctor who is the assistant chief of emergency medicine.  I was in good hands.  When the doctor entered the room, he said something about how I had puked a lot!  This made me laugh because he also said, "you can run the marathon. you won't die, but it might not be pretty."  That was great news, no dying during the race.  After several hours had passed I was now pumped full of two IV bags.  My release papers were completed and included more information on how to prepare for Monday, including a Good Luck comment from the doctor!  We headed back to the hotel at 2:30 am on Sunday morning.  I had a little over 32 hours to get ready for my biggest race ever.

Carb loading!
All runners know that fueling the days leading up to a race is critical for your race day performance.  With a minimum amount of time and a stomach that was a mess from all the sickness, I spend much of Sunday drinking Gatorade and Ginger Ale, while dining on Saltine crackers.  Someone even joked with me that they should be blog sponsors since it was their fuel that got me through the marathon.  Most of all, I am so grateful that this happened on Saturday instead of Sunday and that we ended up in such a fantastic medical facility.  These medical professionals at Tufts did a remarkable job in a short period of time and I am forever grateful for the care I received.


April 26, 2015

Weekly Roundup: April 26th

The last two weeks have simply flown by! Between going up to Boston for the Marathon and then coming home back to the real world, it's been busy. I was diagnosed with a sinus infection before we left for Boston so my workouts have been minimal at best. I think the travel compounded the issues and I think I'm finally on the mend!  This week was busy with lots of wedding planning (catching up after a weekend away) and I volunteered at the annual golf tournament for a local nonprofit where I'm a board member. It was a gorgeous day and wonderful to get out on the course for an afternoon instead of being in the office!

Portsmouth Mayor, Kenny Wright, speaking before the rocket launch start at
the STARBASE Victory Golf Tournament
Leftover flowers from a florist consultation...they've
been a lovely addition to the house once I got them out
of my car cup holder!
It's hard to believe it's 2 weeks until we'll be in Disneyland for the Pixie Dust Challenge! I knew this race would sneak up on me and that it did. I've gotten in two good back-to-back training runs on the weekend so I'm feeling a bit more prepared. I'm hoping to buckle down on my workouts in the coming weeks so I'll feel more ready.

Sunday, April 12th
Pam: Rest day, volunteering at local race
Christine: 10.5 miles at 9:20 pace, stretching

Monday, April 13th
Pam: Rest day, lots of stretching and rolling
Christine: Rest day

Tuesday, April 14th
Pam: Ran 5 miles, average pace 9:30 after easy warm up
Christine: 4 miles at 8:55 pace

Wednesday, April 15th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: Rest day (diagnosed with sinus infection)

Thursday, April 16th
Pam: Travel day
Christine: Rest day

Friday, April 17th
Pam: Ran 3 miles average pace 9:28
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, April 18th
Pam: BAA 5k
Christine: BAA 5k

Sunday, April 19th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: Rest day

Monday, April 20th
Pam: Boston Marathon! 26.45 miles 4:46.10
Christine: 35 min elliptical, abs, push-ups, stretching

Tuesday, April 21st
Pam: Rest day/travel day
Christine: Rest day/travel day

Wednesday, April 22nd
Pam: Rest day
Christine: 3.75 miles at 9:20 pace with last mile at 8:30 pace, push-ups, abs, stretching

Thursday, April 23rd
Pam: Played 9 holes golf
Christine: Volunteered at a golf tournament with quick workout of push-ups, squats, lunges, abs, etc.

Friday, April 24th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, April 25th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: 4.5 miles at 8:35 pace, stretching

How was your week?

April 24, 2015

BAA 5k Race Recap

I may not have gotten to run the Boston Marathon but I got to cross its finish line! Now how is that, you ask? During the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) 5k, the course runs down Boylston Street past the marathon finish line. Now that was cool! But I'm sure you're probably interested in hearing more about the race than a brief moment...

Our morning began under a clear blue sky with crisp, cool air. It was a beautiful day and one that was perfect for racing. Our group decided a long time ago that we were running this race for fun and we would run together. I knew Mom wouldn't want to push the pace so as not to expend too much energy before the marathon on Monday. And my foot and ankle had been bothering me a bit so this definitely wasn't a PR-worthy day!

We easily made our way to the starting line from our hotel which was only a few blocks away. Quite convenient! We snapped a few photos with the starting (and finish) line and then explored the race area.

It was all very well marked so that made it easy to navigate. We didn't check any bags since Dad was hanging out at the finish for us. I passed off my half-zip top to him and then we headed to our corrals. the corrals were self-seeded and we headed very near the back. While we were waiting, a girl recognized us and introduced herself. It was wonderful to meet Candace and hear about her runDisney race experiences and incredible weight loss journey! That was definitely one of the highlights of the morning! And a moment or two later, we heard the starting gun and we were off.

Mile 0-1: The beginning of the race was a bit crowded which we had heard, but given that we weren't shooting for any specific time goals, this didn't really bother us. In the first half mile or so, we saw the leaders heading back to the finish which was very exciting!

Mile 1-2: This stretch was an out and back portion on Commonwealth Avenue and was lined with beautiful blooming trees and residential homes. There were also a fair number of spectators out on this part of the course. It contained the only "hilly" section which was going down and up (twice) on an underpass.

Mile 2-3: We took a right on Hereford and a left on Boylston just like the marathon! Pretty exciting, although in full disclosure, I didn't notice the significance until we were on Boylston Street which was really exciting. And then crossing the Boston Marathon finish during the race was neat. I offered to take a photo of Mom but she passed. After all, we took one the day before at the expo and she would get the real thing on Monday.

Mile 3-Finish: We enjoyed running down the finish line chute together. There were tons of American Flags and great music which made it quite fun!

After the race, we received our medals (which was a pretty major bottleneck) and then headed back toward the main area to meet up with Dad. As we were walking, we ran into Candace again and snapped a photo this time!

We were easily able to meet up with Dad and headed to get some snacks. I love when races do a snack bag - it makes life so simple!  Next we headed to get our race shirts which we loved! They are  simple and classic shirts, bearing the BAA unicorn and race logo.

If you have the chance to run this race, it was definitely a great warm-up event for the marathon, or the "main event" for Adam and I. While it was an expensive 5k, I thought it was a neat experience and worth the price.


April 23, 2015

Boston Marathon Expo Highlights

On Friday at 1:45, our group of four, Christine, Adam, Alison and I were ready to hit the Hynes Auditorium Convention Center expo by storm.  Our race passports were in our bags, ID cards were ready and it was finally time to pick up the coveted bib for the Boston Marathon.  But before we went to bib pickup, we had plans to shop the expo, and shop we did.

As we entered the building, after waiting 10 minutes in line, we were allowed to enter the vendor areas. Wow, this was going to be an expo adventure like no other.  It went on for what seemed like miles and I doubt we covered all the booths.  But we did get to the ones that we thought were most important and yes, I was prepared with a shopping list!

Our first stop was at Brooks Running and of course this made me happy to see the lobstah Boston Marathon shoes on display.  Their expo booths are always so creative and fun and this one did not disappoint.  They had a photo booth where you could wear funny lobster gear so of course we had to ham it up for the camera!

After perusing some merchandise at City Sports, we found the Runner's World booth and they had a camera area set up for a new cover shot.  Christine encouraged us to to participate and here are the results of that and yea, we are not cover material  #oldladyrunners

Soon we found the Nuun Hydration booth and the Boston themed bottle this year is so cute.  Of course I bought a few tubes of Nuun so I could get the free bottle.  Adam wanted to visit the Sam Adams booth and test the 26.2 beer. After that, he had his fill of the expo and went back to the hotel to make some work calls. The girls shopped on, and on and on.  Or rather this girl did!  The official merchandise booth had some great apparel choices and since our jackets had already been purchased as birthday gifts from our other two siblings, we did not need to try any on for size. The booth was busy with excited marathon runners and many people were trying on all sorts of stuff from hoodies, shirts, shorts etc.  It was a sea of royal purple and orange along with the traditional blue and yellow Boston colors.
Love my new beverage containers!

One of my favorite moments of the expo was meeting Katherine Switzer. Runners are such friendly people and despite our awe of her accomplishments she greeted us like long lost friends.   We had a lovely time chatting with her about running Boston and she even wondered what the time qualifying was for Alison's age group since it is also hers!  She posed with us for a photo and signed a copy of her book for me as well.

Now after expo exhaustion started to set in, we headed to the bib pick up.  I could hardly contain my excitement and honestly the place was not very busy at 3:30 pm on Friday.  With no line at all, Alison and I went straight up to our numbered area for the highlight of the visit.  I might have jumped up and down and squealed just a little when she handed me my bib!  Alison was all smiles too and then Christine took a photo of us at the wall!

After a great afternoon it was time for a Red Sox game to celebrate Tom's birthday while Alison and I attended the Meb for Mortals book talk with Meb!

April 22, 2015

Boston Marathon photos

Since we arrived home last night, exhaustion has totally set in.  Neither Tom or I slept much Saturday night due to the unexpected emergency room visit.  And unfortunately Sunday night I fell asleep quickly after a tough day recovering from food poisoning only to wake up several hours later.  Of course I started thinking about the race and how would I manage with so little fueling ahead of time.  Carb loading?  That did not happen this time.  I digress.  Back to the topic of the post, here are some photos from the start of our weekend that we wanted to share!

Loved seeing the finish line as they were finishing up with the race day preparations on Thursday afternoon.  I would cross this line both during the 5k and the marathon!

A beautiful tribute to the four who died because of the 2013 bombings.

Old South Church

I so badly wanted to attend one of these services, but due to my ER room visit on late Saturday night until Sunday at 2:30am, it was impossible. 

Attended the premiere of Run Free, more on this in another post when my brain is not mush!

And I finally met the speedy Kass from Lone Runner!  Plenty of recaps of our time in Boston will be coming soon.  Many thanks for all your support on social media throughout a very challenging race weekend.

April 20, 2015

Today is the day!

Dear Mom and Auntie,

Well today is the day. It’s hard to believe that it was nearly two years ago when the dream to qualify for the Boston Marathon hatched. You ran countless miles to nail the qualifying time, battling wind, rain, snow, and humidity to get here...obviously I’m talking about the North Carolina humidity and snow in Boston. And now you’ll walk to the starting line in Hopkinton today poised to run through Ashland, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, and finally Boston. 

I could not be more proud of you both. When people ask me if I’m running the marathon, I am genuinely excited to tell them “No, but my Mom and Aunt are. They both qualified.” When we stopped by the mall yesterday to try to find a rain jacket for me, I told every Eddie Bauer employee about your accomplishments. Some might call it bragging! I’ll never forget the moment when I learned you each qualified. From screaming “we’re going to Boston” in the Shamrock finish line tent when Mom called to jumping up and down in my kitchen when I got the text from Mom telling me that my sneaky aunt ran a marathon without telling us and qualified. 

I only wish that I could be with you during every mile of the route because I know this is an incredibly important day for you both. I would love to share those moments with you. But the moment I will share with you will be different. I’ll be standing on the sidelines in Wellesley with our mega family cheering squad, screaming my head off as you run by…and I’m hoping you’ll pause for a hug and a high five. And while I won't be there at the finish line for a celebratory embrace, I'll be cheering and celebrating the moment I see your finish times come through on my phone.

You are strong. You are fearless. You are determined. And you make us so proud. Now go get 'em out there today and show Heartbreak Hill who's boss! I love you both and am more proud of you than you'll ever know. 


April 17, 2015

Friday Five: Boston Brands

We're linking up with the girls in DC, MarCourtney, and Cynthia for this week's Friday Five. The topic is brands and we figured we would continue the Boston Marathon focus for our posts this week. These are brands that have a place during our Boston Marathon weekend fun!

1. Marathon Sports: Our friend Megan sent us great Boston Marathon themed shirts for this weekend. I plan to wear mine on Monday when we're watching the race! 

2. Red Sox: Tonight we'll be heading to Fenway to watch the game with my Dad. I'm a lifelong Red Sox fan and have never been to Fenway. I know, it's a real problem! I can't wait to enjoy a game there and best of all, we'll be celebrating my Dad's Borthday tonight! 

3. Adidas: As you probably know, Adiddas is the official apparel brand of the race so you know Mom will be picking up a lot of new duds including the coveted Boston marathon jacket. 

4. One More Mile: I used their custom design tool to help me in creating some unique race day shirts for Mom and Auntie Allie. I love One More Mile for custom shirts for several reasons. First and most importantly, you can order small quantities and there is no minimum for a shirt order. The shirts are also very reasonable. And the custom design interface is user friendly and easy to use.

5. Sam Adams: A favorite beer of most of the members in our family, I'm excited to try the 26.2 brew. I expect that Dad will have the low down on where to find a pint and some merchandise. It's funny, he has a knack for finding beer at races, just like Adam...it's unclear who mastered this skill first but it makes for a great quality in spectators. 

When you think of Boston Marathon, what brands come to mind? And don't forget to check out the other Friday Five posts! 

April 16, 2015

Traveling to Boston

Today I am flying to Boston for the beginning of a long weekend of fun and running.  It is hard to believe it is finally here after a long year of planning. Yesterday there was a total freak out moment for me when I logged on to US Airways to print our boarding passes.  When I entered our confirmation number, a message came up saying it was too early to check in. What?  It was less than 22 hours until our flight.  Next I had the pleasure of calling the help desk.  The girl who answered was professional and courteous quickly putting me at ease. She said there was a schedule change announced earlier in the day and our flight was not leaving until 3 hours later than what I had on my itinerary. This would not work with our evening plans, so she immediately found space for us on an earlier flight.  Best of all, we have TSA Precheck and Zone 1!  Now we don't have to worry about our bags getting on the plane with us!

With the schedule change, we now need to bring breakfast for the flight, so a quick trip to the store and muffins and bananas are packed.

Had to use my Without Limits bag for my breakfast!
Choosing a travel outfit was hard, but I ended up with jeans, my Brooks Running Ravenna shoes for race day and my sweatshirt from the race that helped me get to Boston! Normally I dress in nicer clothing for a plane flight, but this seemed appropriate for a trip to the marathon!
Quintiles Marathon sweatshirt!
There will be some Facebook posts from Boston, but I am not sure if Christine or I will have time for blogging but we will have plenty to say when we return home next week!  I also want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for the support I have received over the past 12 months leading up to this weekend. It has been humbling and so appreciated.

April 15, 2015

The Bride and her 'zilla alter ego

I really don't intend to write much about wedding planning on the blog, but this incident is too good not to share...in a self-deprecating, man-I-can-be-a-jerk kind of way. Generally speaking, I've been really low key about our nuptials. We agreed early on that this would be a low key affair and include a small crowd of family and friends. We have prioritized the same things, arrived at a guest list with ease, and our families are on board with all of these things. Simple right? My friends and coworkers have laughed at how laissez-faire I've been. Some call me the anti-bride. I take it as a compliment.

Color scheme? What do you mean? I'll just pick flowers based on what is in season. 

Cake tasting? Oh you don't do that for small weddings? Ok, well I guess we'll do cupcakes instead. 

We set a date over the weekend and booked a photographer and DJ. I couldn't be more excited about the location we've chosen. It works for us - includes some beautiful outdoor spaces, has some rooms to accommodate our out-of-town family members, and incorporates history (both Civil War history for Adam, and country antiques for me). It's a beautiful place and I look forward to tying the knot there.

I bought a dress at the first place Mom and I visited. It's simply perfect and I can't wait to wear it when I marry Adam.  I found a beautiful hairpiece and some sparkly shoes.
Behind the bride lurks a bridezilla. We don't want her to
appear again!
This is too good to be true isn't it? Why yes, yes it is. The big vendors have fallen into place easily. Given the size and timeline for the wedding, we decided to forgo a mailed save the date card and send one via email instead. I spent some time putting something together using the exact same font and color scheme as the invitation. I'm no graphic designer but I know details matter! I showed it to Adam and he gave it a thumbs up. We put together the email list for our guests and he agreed to send it. We reviewed the email 3 or 4 times, double-checked the image, and hit send. For some reason the file never went through. Apparently the file type doesn't work with gmail or something like that so Adam changed it. The end result didn't look the way I had hoped it would and I totally lost my cool. Bridezilla arrived with a vengeance. It was totally irrational and I knew it, but I was frustrated and unable to keep my cool. My perfectionist tendencies manifested themselves in a less-than-pleasant manner. Ugh! The good news is that Adam and I have shrugged this one off. If this is our "worst" wedding-related incident, we'll be ok.

I perused some photos we took of our venue and smiled, knowing this is the place where we'll become husband and wife. And really, that's all that matters!  I found some mental clarity after my long run on Sunday.

Ever experienced the bridezilla take over during wedding planning?

April 14, 2015

Training Tuesday: Dear Alison, Boston is our victory lap

Dear Alison,

In less than a week, we will lace up our running shoes for our biggest race ever.  I am both excited and petrified at the same time.  Yes, we spent time on Heartbreak and the other Newton hills more than once during training. Coach Sami has put me through a rigorous training plan and I know my body is ready.  But the mental challenge of the Boston Marathon will be tough.  Having you at the start will help calm me down and of course the running all along the course will be much more special with you by my side.

Because we don't have a time goal in mind, hopefully this day can be about all the special moments, reliving memories of all the areas in Natick, Newton, Boston and most of all Wellesley, the town where we grew up.  Walking home in our ice skates, trips to the Community Playhouse, walking to SS Pierce to buy a cake for Mom's birthday and bringing it home in a red wagon! It will be so much fun to see many of our family members at the corner of Forest Street and then further along the course towards the finish line on Boylston Street.  We definitely need to save some energy for the last push!

You have always been such a huge supporter of me, from coming to help with Christine as a baby when you were the doting Godmother to all those Christmas' I hosted and you were the superb sidekick in the kitchen.  There are so many things I could not have accomplished without your support and love.  Now we have a special day coming and I want you to enjoy this day so much.  As a selfless individual, you always give to everyone else, but now is your time to shine.  It is a victory lap that I am so excited to share with you.  But please be patient, as your running ability puts you in front of your "little" sister.  I promise to do my absolute best on race day and plan to grab your hand as we cross the finish line.  It will be so much fun to take that Right on Hereford Street and left on Boylston as we complete the biggest race of our lives.

Thanks for sharing this with your little sis.  Can't wait for next Monday!
love you,  Pam

April 13, 2015

Tangled Headphones? Try Cordskinz!

Disclaimer: We were provided with a complimentary pair of Cordskinz to try and review. No other compensation was received and as always, the opinions stated here are our own.

When I first heard about Cordskinz, I was intrigued! I struggle with perpetually tangled and knotted headphone cords. They're always a chore to untangle and because they've been twisted around my shuffle in my gym bag so much, they seem to be permanently curled and twisted. I find that they often rest up against my face or neck when I run which annoys me. They annoyed me but I never knew there was a solution. Enter Cordskinz!

They're a simple plastic casing for your headphones, to keep them protected and tangle free. They are easy to apply and each set comes with a "skinner" tool to slip them on your headphones. I didn't have any trouble putting them on and I immediately noticed that they made my headphones tangle free and straight!

I've used my Cordskinz for races and training runs and they have worked beautifully. I noticed a slight bit of weight on the headphones but they don't seem to bounce or move. I'll be keeping these around for a while and really appreciated the opportunity to test out a new product.
Rocked my Cordskinz for RnR DC Half Marathon
Check out Cordskinz website to learn more. This is a nifty product that comes in loads of colors and is very affordable!

Have you ever heard of Cordskinz or tried anything to detangle your headphone cords?