The marathon I had my sight set on since I ran my first marathon in 2009.
After attempting to BQ in the fall of 2010 and failing (missed by 4 minutes), I tried again in the spring of 2011. BQ-ed by over 11 minutes (3:28:29)! Registered to run in 2012 but found out I was pregnant. Due to the heat, the BAA offered deferment options as long as your bib was picked up. Lucky for me, my dad was there to run and claimed my bib. I had my daughter in June 2012, ran a marathon that following October and BQ-ed again for 2014 by less than a minute (3:39:02). fats forward to April 2013. Finally, my day has come. I will be running the Boston Marathon. The super bowl of marathons.
Friday April 12th-Saturday April 13th
We, and when I say we I mean myself, my husband, my son, my daughter, my dad and my step mom, all piled into my dad's van and made the 12 hour drive to Massachusetts on Friday, April 12th. We ended up staying in Framingham, just outside of Boston. We found a decent hotel for half the price of the rooms downtown. We left late Friday night in hopes my 10 month old would sleep through the night. She did amazing! Slept almost the entire way and when she was awake, was not fussy at all. We arrived to Framingham around 11:30 Saturday morning but were unable to get an early check in. We went to grab a bite to eat and drove to Hopkinton State Park to do a "dry run" for Monday morning. my husband would be dropping my dad and myself off at the park to catch the buses the morning of the marathon. Once we were able to check in, dad and I headed out for an easy paced 4 miler. Our last run before Monday's main event. We were so beat from the long drive, that we all opted to stay in and just order pizza. We wanted to be up and to the expo as early as possible Sunday morning.
Anna & I at a rest area just after entering Massachusetts
Sunday April 14th
We didn't get as early of a start as we had hoped for, and when we arrived at the expo around 11am it was packed!! We quickly made our way to claim our bibs and get our shirts, then headed into the expo. I had purchased my jacket, hat, t-shirt and hoodie prior to marathon weekend so I bypassed the chaos in the Adidas Boston marathon gear area. I did pick myself up a black sparkly sweaty band. I really wanted to purchase a BIC band since they donate to charity, but was unable to locate the booth they were being sold in. Anyway, we ate a ton of samples; Clif bars, Gatorade chews, Hawaiian rolls, fresh fruit made into a creamy frozen treat (wish I had purchased one of those machines), etc... After the expo, we made our way to the famous spot on Boylston... The finish line.
Monday April 15th
The alarm went off at 5:30am. We needed to be dropped off before 7:30am since that is when they close the roads in Hopkinton leading to the state park. Chris snapped a couple photos of myself and my dad, I gave him a kiss and on to the bus we went. It was long, maybe 5 minutes, and the bus began to move. We had a short ride to where we were being dropped off. If you take the bus from the state park, you are dropped off about .70 miles from athletes village. If you take the buses from Boston, you are dropped off in athletes village. Since we were staying in Framingham, it only made logical sense to be dropped off at the state park. The weather was great, breezy but sunny! The high for the day was to reach 52 degrees. Perfect running weather.
On our .70 mile walk to the village, we came upon this. Now THAT is a lot of port-o-potties!
Dad resting before the start
We waited around athletes village for our time to drop our bags and head to the start. We were in wave 2, so we dropped our bags and head to the start for our 10:20am start time.
Making our way to the start area
We started on time and I immediately felt the pull of the downhill. I told myself to run by feeling and not to look at the Garmin. Dad and I were cruising. The spectators were lined up and down the streets from start to finish. I wish I could break the race down mile by mile, but I can't. I had a smile on my face the entire time and the miles just kept going by so easily. Wellesley College was just what I had imagined. The girls were so loud and had some really funny signs. My dad had warned me that once we get into Newton (mile 16-ish) the hills would start. I don't know if it was the adrenaline of the race or the fact I trained doing all long runs on hills, but they didn't slow me down. Even Heart Break hill didn't break my heart. haha! I was clipping along up HB hill and a runner asked if I had done this before. I told him "nope, but I am loving it!" It was about heart break hill where my dad began to feel the pain of running harder than we planned. If I got too far a head of him, I made sure to slow up until he caught up. I still tried to push the pace a bit because I knew we were close to getting a PR for my dad and a BQ for us both. The last 3-4 miles were simply amazing. I had a permanent smile and even began to tear up a couple times. I now know how an elite runner feels when you have all these people screaming for YOU! It was one of the running moments I have ever had. Ever. My dad and I crossed the finish line at the exact same time at 3:29:46, with an 8:01 average pace. This was a new marathon PR for my dad and gave us both another BQ for 2014! I immediately took out my phone, snapped a photo of me & dad and then called Chris to tell him we had finished. He had seen us. He had been standing at the finish line watching and taking photos (the same spot the first bomb went off). We told him to find a place to wait for us, and we would call once we made it through the finishers area.
Seconds after crossing the finish line
making our way to the blankets/water/medals/drop bag claim
After making our way to the buses to retrieve our drop bag, I called Chris to find out where him and Josh (my son) were at. There were on the corner of Berkley & Newbury, one block up and one block over from the actual finish line. Berkley actually crossed the finishers area and was partially used for drop bag buses. We found them within a few short minutes.
Chris and I at the corner of Newbury & Berkely
We snapped a few photos and by 2:40 we made our way to the Arlington subway station, located exactly 4 blocks up from the finish line, to get on the green line. Chris had parked our car in Newton and took the green line into Boston earlier that morning.
The circled area is finish line/finishers area, the other two spots highlighted are where we met Chris and where the subway station was.
I want to say we were in the station for maybe 10 minutes, when all of a sudden the transit police were telling us to evacuate the station. Someone asked why and we were told all T lines were shut down. We went up to street level and you could hear sirens coming from every direction. I knew something bad had happened. it wasn't long after and we over heard someone on their phone say there was an explosion at the finish line. No sooner did we hear that, and I started to receive text messages from friends. We called my step mom to let her know that the transit system was shut down and we had no idea when or how we would get out of the city. Our car was parked in Newton at the T line station. We had been checking our phones and start to realize how bad it really was. In the meantime, the sirens had not stopped. They were still coming from all over. Ambulances, police cars, unmarked police cars, etc... flying by from every direction. We didn't know where to go or what to do. So we started walking. We walked and walked and walked. A local who had ran the marathon over heard us talking and asked where we were trying to get. We told him that our car was parked in Newton and needed a way out of the city. He told us to try the Backbay station. It houses the Amtrak train and orange line. Maybe we could get on one of those to at least get out of the city and then try to find a way to Newton. As we were approaching the station, a man asked where we were headed. When we said Newton, he said "oh, if it were Newport, I could help you. Sorry I can't help you." Dang. so close to having a ride out of the city. Chris suggested that if we can't get out through the Backbay station, maybe we could hitch hike on I-90. Um, no.
Anyway, once in the Backbay station, we began asking if anything was running (T lines) and if any of them could get us remotely close to Newton. One of the T line employees was super friendly and helped us. She made a phone call and said the green line has an outbound only train running, but we needed to make our way to the Hynes subway station. While in the station I observed a police officer with a bomb sniffing dog. And on our way out of the station I saw a man with blood splatter on him. He was trembling. I'll never forget what he looked like.
We left the Backbay station, headed across the street to the mall, cut through the mall and it was then that we saw the news coverage on TV. It was then when we actually saw what was going on. We exited the mall in hopes of crossing the road, but it was taped off. The street was filled with ambulances, police cars, SWAT team vehicles, etc....
We began to walk down the sidewalk to find where we could cross. We needed to get to the other side of this street. Eventually we were able to. There were 2 runners walking in the opposite direction who had clearly not been able to finish. They were freezing, trying to wrap up in pieces of garbage bags found on the ground. Luckily I had held on to my "blanket" from the finish line and wrapped one runner up while my dad wrapped the other in his. We offered runners along the way food, water, etc.... No one wanted anything except to know where they should go and how they could get to their hotels or vehicles. We ended up finally reaching the Hynes station but it was closed. One of the T line employees told us our only hope to getting west of Boston was to walk to the Fenway station. There is one single train running outbound only. That is what we needed. We needed an outbound train heading west. Riverside is the last stop of the green line and is the green line station in Newton. We needed to get on that train. So again, we started walking. We walked and walked and walked. We ended up picking up a family of 3 who barely spoke english. They, too, needed to get to Newton and asked if they could follow us. We were still hearing sirens. I was receiving phone calls and text messages from just about anyone who knew I was in Boston. After what was about 3 hours of walking and trying to find a way out, we arrived at the Fenway green line station. I asked one of the police officers if there were any trains running and he said "outbound only". That is just what we needed to hear! We hopped on the train when it pulled in and once it was full, we were on our way out of Boston.
I can't believe what once started out as the best Boston experience I could have ever asked for, instantly changed. I feel so badly for every one affected by this horrible turn of events. Will this keep me from running Boston again? Absolutely not. I fully intend on running it in 2014!
And the man I saw in the train station? Well, I saw him again a couple days later. He is the man wearing the cowboy hat in the photo of the young man being raced down the street in a wheel chair, missing both of his legs.
If you are interested in donating to the victims, here are a few ways you can help.
The One Fund
BIC Bands; $12 headband and 100% of the SELLING PRICE will be donated to the One Fund.
Adidas Boston stands as one T shirt (mens only, hoping they release more womens)