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.

{Christine}

36 comments:

  1. I feel all the feels reading this! What an experience and a memorable one at that!! So glad they made it through, and you didn't melt either!!

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    1. It was such a neat weekend and I'm so glad I was there for Mom! :)

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  3. Omg, I love, love, love this! You're a great story teller. I teared up several times just reading it.

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    1. Oh thank you, Jaime. Like many things in life, I think I write best when it comes straight from my heart and soul.

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  4. Ok, not gonna lie, this brought tears to my eyes! I can tell you are one proud daughter and rightfully so! -M

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  5. Oh my goodness! Tears! What an incredible experience for you as a spectator and for Pam and Alison as they ran the biggest race of their lives!

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    1. It was SO awesome, Mindy! If you ever get the chance to go to Boston, do it! It was great to experience that race.

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  6. Love this post for so many reasons! There are always so many great stories to tell from incredible race weekends, both from the participants themselves as well as the spectators. Even though it meant an extra day off from work, I'm glad your flight was canceled and that you got to celebrate your mama's big accomplishment with her post race.

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    1. It really was so nice to see Mom after the race. I didn't really even sweat missing a day of work...until after we got home. :)

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  7. So many emotions reading this post! It sounds like an amazing weekend and that's so great that you were able to be there for your mom and aunt, plus the silver lining of celebrating with them post race since your flight was cancelled :)

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    1. Yes, it really was fun to be able to see them!

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  8. i got chills reading this. so amazing. so many feels. ahhhhh. love it!

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    1. Thanks, Courtney! It took me a while to organize my thoughts on this one believe it or not.

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  9. This brought tears to my eyes.

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    1. It was definitely an emotional weekend!

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  10. oh Christine!! what an amazing post <3 so amazing. I was happy to hear Pam was able to run even though she fell ill. What a wonderful family you have!

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    1. Thanks, Mar! I really can't wait to read Mom's recap because I don't know all that much about what she was thinking during the race :)

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  11. Christine, you have me in tears. What an incredible experience for all of you guys! I love everything about this post!!

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    1. It was such a great weekend! You definitely should go to watch if you ever have the chance.

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  12. Oh so amazing... makes me want to go to Boston so badly.

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    1. You definitely should go, Abby! It was awesome!

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  13. Oh my heart just swelled in my chest. I only hope that one day I make my kids as proud as you sound in this post. <3

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    1. Oh that is such a kind thing to say, Meridith. I can tell you this...my relationship with Mom hasn't always been rosy, especially when I was a bratty teenager! I'm glad to have our bond now.

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  14. What a beautiful post. It is evident you cherish your Mom very much. I'm so glad you were with her in Boston.

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    1. Yes, I am lucky to have a really great relationship with Mom and it was great to be there for her big day!

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  15. Thanks for the shout out ladies!! So awesome to see you on the sidelines :) You made my marathon XOXO, Kass

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    1. Of course! It was so great seeing you out there!

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  16. Loved reading this, so awesome. Boston is my city. One day I will run that race. Being from there, I can say that the vibe that you felt is there all of the time. It's such an amazing place! I miss it so much!

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    1. I love Boston too! Even though I never lived there, I spent so much time there as a kid with family. Definitely a special place for me.

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  17. This didn't just bring tears to my eyes... they actually fell out. A lot of them.

    Good storytelling.

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    1. Thanks Jen! It's easy when the stories just write themselves. :)

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  18. I heart this post so much. What a wonderful viewpoint as a spectator. I'm so glad you got to see her after the race. When I read you were in your way to the airport on Twitter I was so sad for you. Glad it all worked out. Go mom! She is pretty darn awesome. And so is your aunt.

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  19. Awh, what a wonderful post. I love hearing about the race experience from your perspective. And how much you just plain old love your momma! <3

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  20. Beautiful, well-written post. So glad you were able to experience the weekend with your mom, aunt, dad, adam and the rest of your family.

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