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.
(Pam)

54 comments:

  1. I have been waiting for this recap!!!! It is so wonderful that you had so much support along the course. Things may not have gone as plan, but you did it and with your sister by your side. It was an experience no one can ever take away from you. I am so proud of you! -M

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Meranda. I think that having Alison with me gave me the courage to run that day.

      Delete
  2. Pam, I am so incredibly proud of you!! Congratulations on an incredible accomplishment! (So sorry about your stomach...I'm glad you were able to make it through!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Karen. I still feel like the whole thing was a dream, and maybe a nightmare too with the food poisoning.

      Delete
  3. Such a wonderful recap. That sign saying heart will carry you to Boston is so true. You showed an incredible amount of heart and strength, and pushed through! Congrats to both you and your sister for finishing after such a tough time.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow Pam!!! What an amazing accomplishment...and you did it on hardly any fuel and an upset tummy! You are amazing!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't wait to run Boston again and hopefully next time I can start with fuel in my belly!

      Delete
  5. Oh, gosh, I have tears in my eyes! Way to push through and how great that your family and friends were there to support you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, they made all the difference for me.

      Delete
  6. I am so proud of you, Pam! You could have easily given up after all that you faced, but you didn't, and for that I truly admire you. Sometimes just getting to the finish line, regardless of what the finish time is, is an accomplishment all on its own. Way to go, Pam!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kathryn, It is not in my genetic makeup to quit!

      Delete
  7. You are amazing! Can't believe you ran 26.2 miles after food poisoning. What's your next act?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No next act Darlene, but I do hope to run Boston again with a full belly and hopefully in good shape at the starting line!

      Delete
  8. Way to go! SO proud of you and Alison. That sign is right - your heart got you through that tough race. So wonderful and I'm so glad you gals were able to achieve this milestone!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much. I wish I had seen that sign while on the course.

      Delete
  9. I am so impressed. After all the stomach issues - I would have just called it in. You are a FIGHTER!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wanted that finish line and medal too much to quit!

      Delete
  10. The recap we've all been waiting for! Congratulations again on making it to Boston and getting to that finish line despite your illness and stomach troubles. I'm so sorry the race didn't go as you planned, but I hope you know that you are a true inspiration!! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hopefully my next races will be totally uneventful in a good way!

      Delete
  11. I love this recap and have been waiting to read it. Congrats on running Boston! It may have not gone as planned but you did it: in the rain and after food poisoning nonetheless. You truly are someone to admire! WTG and I hope to run into you at Tinkerbell next weekend

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks I hope we meet at Tinkerbell. That will be such a fun weekend!

      Delete
  12. BIG CONGRATS!!! ------- Denise

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've been waiting for this recap!!! I'm so, so happy for you! I feel like we all got to go on this journey with you from start to finish!

    I'm disappointed for you that you were so sick and had terrible weather, but I'm so glad you crossed that finish line. Great job, Pam!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jamie. It was truly an amazing experience and I can't wait to go back for another race in Boston. Did you sign yp for marathon weekend yet?

      Delete
  14. Congrats!!!! This is an amazing recap. You had to work so hard to cross that finish line but you did it! I have no idea if I'd have even started after the food poisoning craziness - but when I get sick it's usually really bad so I know my body wouldn't be able to handle it. Great job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think if this had been any other race I probably would have had a DNS. But in Boston and having qualified, I just had to race!

      Delete
  15. Great recap, I think you did fabulously! Especially with when hit with the stomach problems just before, getting through stuff like that takes an incredible amount of mental toughness.
    Very impressed! Great job and congratulations on your first ever Boston Marathon finish!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kristy. Hopefully this won't be my last Boston. I need a redemption race when I am healthy!

      Delete
  16. You are amazing! I had food poisoning once and there is no way I would have been able to line up for a 5K, let alone the Boston Marathon, afterwards. Congratulations - while it may not be the race you had planned, it was one heck of a race all the same.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Food poisoning is nasty stuff, but this race was so important to me that I had to give it a shot.

      Delete
  17. Wow! What a tough go. That's amazing that you still committed to the race and powered through,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jen, it was a race finish that I had dreamed of for over a year. Just glad I could cross the finish line with my sister.

      Delete
  18. Congrats for pulling out such a tough, tough race! I can't imagine running those hills on a good day, much less after what you went through. You are a rock star! Congrats!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I think having a mountain goat for a big sister helped me alot on the hills! :)

      Delete
  19. Congratulations! This story brought tears to my eyes. Racing is so much more than just the race. What an experience you had, so proud for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maggie it was so much better having my sister with me. She helped me out so much during the race.

      Delete
  20. Love that you were able to make it through the race even though you were not there. How sweet that your group surprised you by staying to cheer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was so much fun to hear those cheers as we neared the finish line.

      Delete
  21. What an amazing accomplishment! Pushing through adversity and refusing to quit! I am sure that's not how you envisioned it, but wow you really rocked it despite the circumstances!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks April. The only rocking came afterwards when we celebrated with Christine and Adam at the Irish pub next to our hotel. That was fun!

      Delete
  22. Way to tough it out, Pam. This truly shows what you are made of! An AMAZING accomplishment. Congrats.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much. At times, we are tougher than we ever thought possible. And I wanted that medal so badly!

      Delete
  23. Congratulations! And great job for pushing through all of that discomfort. Stomach issues are hard enough to deal with on a regular run, let alone a marathon! You're tough! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yea, I would not wish food poisoning on an enemy. It's awful!

      Delete
  24. Good lord. GET IT WOMAN. Cold, rainy, trips to the hospital.... you are a champ. Congratulations, and so well earned!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My next trip to the Boston Marathon will not include a trip to the ER! Can't wait to cheer for you next year Suzy!

      Delete
  25. I was so excited to see the recap was posted. You are amazing, Pam and such an inspiration. It has been a joy following your journey to Boston, marathon weekend, and many more races to come! So excited you have NYC this fall :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jenny. I am excited about NYC and hopefully it will be totally uneventful in the food intake department.

      Delete
  26. Reading this gave me tears! I am so glad you were able to finish this race despite your pre-race sickness and also those conditions were pretty darn tough. I was on the sidelines cheering so I am sure one of the millions of screams you heard was mine! Congratulations on your great accomplishment! So great that you had so much family/friends there too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Diane. I am really proud of the accomplishment even though my time was nothing to get excited about!

      Delete
  27. First of all, the fact that you were even able to run this after your food poisoning is absolutely amazing. It was a tough race with tough conditions and circumstances and you still finished. That is a huge win in my book. Totally inspiring!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sue. I need a redemption race at Boston, but first I need to get three other marathon majors under my belt and off my bucket list!

      Delete