Hard to believe that it has been a little over six months since I finished the Boston Marathon with the Dana-Farber team! I’ve learned many things this past year, one of which is that I am not an avid blogger. But on to the update! It was a crazy and amazing race weekend! First and most importantly, thank you to all who donated to my Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge campaign! I received $1,700 in donations over marathon weekend alone
which pushed me to $13,700 raised for cancer research! Thank you! Overall the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge Team raised $8.2M dollars –our original team goal was $5.3M! This was a record breaking year for DFMC and I am so proud to have been a part of it.
Marathon Monday was a chilly morning but I can’t say enough about the DFMC Team indoor retreat near the starting line. We gathered at a local church and were able to wait indoors for the morning until our 11:30am start time. Boston is the first marathon that I have run that didn’t start before dawn, but you still get up in the wee hours to travel to the starting line and wait for several more hours. I was up by 4am for the journey out to Hopkinton to “hurry up and wait” as they say. At the Retreat, we got to socialize with the team, take photos, apply our running “flair”, eat, stretch, eat more, stretch more and start all of our pre-race rituals. At the Starting Line, there was so much excitement in the air. I had packed my phone and some GUs in my Spibelt. I planned for 5 GUs over the course of the race and decided to toss the 6th one at the starting line. For some crazy reason I thought to take only what I need and ‘travel light’. Of course when I went to grab my first GU, it fell to the ground and was gone in a sea of legs and sneakers. Lesson learned–bring one extra GU above what you think you need. 😉
At the starting line, ready to run.
The first 10-15 miles went well, i consciously tried to keep a slower pace and not ‘burn out’ in the first ten miles. Then came Heartbreak Hill. It does in fact suck as most Boston runners will tell you! Despite my training runs on the hill, it was like I had never run it before. I forgot where the “top” was and all my plans went out the window. Does that house or cross street look familiar? I think the top was by that house under construction? I struggled to get up Heartbreak and down shifted to a run/walk. I did catch up to my teammate Kerrie on the Hill and we ran together for a while and then leap frogged a bit with Kerrie running a head, then I caught up and ran ahead, etc.. At one point Kerrie caught up and pinched my bum which made me laugh out loud and did give me a boost! The crowds were amazing from about mile 15 onwards, there was a wall of people all the way to the finish. With my name on the front of my shirt, I was glad for some “Go Jenn”s going up Heartbreak hill. Finally we found the real ‘top’ of Heartbreak and had a nice downhill bit near Boston College. My goal was to get over Heartbreak Hill and the rest would be “gravy”, but I still struggled from mile 21 to the end. This is where my cheering section and the crowds helped me finish. I stopped to chat with my parent around mile 22, this was the first time they came to watch me run a marathon. My husband was at the “1 Mile to go” sign. The crowds were 20 people deep behind the barriers. He got everyone around him to yell my name which was great because I was stressed that I might have miss him. Then there was still 1 mile to go. Then there was just 1 kilometer to go!
I ran the last mile and when I turned on Boylston, I felt so many emotions but mainly pride and relief. I’m not a big crier but I had to hold the back tears, it was very emotional. I was so proud to have finished and represented all of you who supported my run and supported the Dana-Farber mission. And the post-race support by the DFMC was amazing. I met up with a volunteer who walked me back to Dana-Farber headquarters at the Marriott Copley. She held my water bottle and was fine with not talking for a stretch while I regained my composure. Back at the Marriott, the runner’s reception area had food, drinks, support folks ready to help. I have never been one to get a post-race sports massage but it was so worth it!!! I forgot that my husband was at the family reception area waiting for me. After a shower, I had the best victory dinner at Abe & Louie’s on Boylston, runners were still finishing and trickling across the finish line right out front of the restaurant. We could still hear occasional cheers of runners coming into the finish line and then the street sweepers started. This was my 5th marathon but by far my best marathon experience!
What happened since the marathon? Subject for my next blog but in short, I ran some races over summer and took a bit of a hiatus from running. But now I am back! With some distance, rest and reflection since the marathon, I’ve decided to run again with Dana-Farber in 2015! There is still cancer research to be done, the mission continues. While I am able, I plan to do what I can to support DFMC and the vital work that we fund. Many of my DFMC teammates run every year and we have one team member who has run 25 marathons in a row, since the team was founded. Wow. I’m proud to have been picked for the 2015 team for my second season and I am so inspired by those who have come before me!
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Thank you and see you out there,