Monday, April 28, 2008

Easter 2008 of my favorite times of the year. 2008 was no exception...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

26.2...the Boston Way

Have you ever had one of those moments where you wonder if what is happening is really happening? You have to do a double check and make sure that you still are who you were yesterday? Maybe it's similar to what I've heard people describe as an out-of-body experience. That is how I felt while taking my first running steps in Hopkinton as I started a 26.2 mile trek to downtown Boston.
Looking back over the past 3 months I have to say that all of the physical therapy sessions, sports massages, and doctor visits for my irritated hip were worth it. All the cross-over training was worth it. All the celebrex, motrin, and tylenol was worth it. I think that even that 2-day bout with the stomach flu that I had three days before the race was okay- mostly because it has made me realize that I can put it all behind me and still live a dream. Cheesy? Sure, but I'm known to be sentimental after working up my happy hormones after 3+ hours of pushing myself hard.
Boston's weather was perfect for the race. After a bus ride to the athletes village I had time to sit and stretch and nibble on some food before being escorted out of the village and towards the starting line. I left my race bag in the bus I was supposed to and went and got into place. I had shed all warm gear and was wearing my shorts, tank, and trusty ole white hat for the race. I started in the 7th corral out of 30. We were placed according to qualifying times and there were 1,000 of us in each corral. Yup, in total, there were around 30,000 crazies out there with me. Contrary to what I'd heard, it didn't take long for us to reach the start line once the race was started- only 4:30 minutes. Even thought we were shoulder to shoulder in the corral, once we got past the start line I never felt like I was in need for space. I loved my position because I was among some strong runners who were holding a steady pace. It's easy to get sucked into their pace and be comfortable.
The amazing thing is that from the very start there were spectators- and lots of them! The third Monday of April is always reserved for Marathon Monday and Patriots Day in Boston. The city workers are off and the kids are out of school so it give lots of people a chance to spectate. The best way to explain it is that it was like a parade and I was in it. There was rarely a time when someone wasn't there on the side of the road. Sometimes the crowd was 6 rows deep of people screaming so loud that I couldn't hear the songs on the ipod. It was fun to run past the colleges, particularly Boston College, because the students were out there in numbers being the loudest of spectators. My neighbors daughter goes to school there and she and her friends had made some signs for me. I've always wanted to be running along and see a sign devoted just to me. It's fun to read what other people write- it's a nice distraction. The course goes through several small towns on the way to Boston so some people live right on the race route. Many of those people were out in their from yards bbq'ing and holding up signs with the Red Sox score to keep runners informed. There were even people bbq'ing on the median in the streets! All along the way we were given plenty of opportunities for water and gatorade by the marathon volunteers- every mile. But even in between there were random people with their own water depots handing out water and fresh fruit to the runners. Even otter pops- which made me think of my boys back home. And of course, no race is complete without someone dressed up as santa, a large man made up in a dress and makeup, and a giant chicken whose loose feathers gave it away 1/2 a mile ahead. I loved the spectators and, for me, they are part of the magic of the Boston Marathon.
I saw Darren and my parents at mile 21. My calves had started to cramp up around mile 17 so this gave me a nice thing to look forward to. This is also the location of the legendary Heartbreak Hill- which wasn't that much of a heart breaker. I had myself so worked up over it because of all that others had said that it really wasn't that bad. I told them that I'd see them in 5 miles and then the final countdown began. There was no way that I was going to stop now, even if my legs were cramped, because I was so close and because I felt like people back home were watching me. Via the internet, you could track my progress as every 5K was listed once I passed it. It was fun to find out that there were people tracking me. My friends are the best and even without them there they made the race better.
I remember hitting downtown Boston and running along the city streets by the tall buildings. I didn't know that the race took a few turns through the city blocks so when I'd turn a corner and see that I needed to turn another one up ahead I wondered when we'd see the finish line. There is a cool picture of me and the racers around me rounding the final corner. We all have the same look on our face as we stretch out our necks just a bit to see if the finish line is around this particular corner- and it was. I have to say that normally I don't feel comfortable throwing my arms up in the air in victory as I cross a finish line. But this was the exception because it was such a challenging thing for me. So don't laugh if you ever see those pictures!
After the finish the organizers continued to amaze me with all their attention to detail for so many people. A warming sheet was thrown on all of us, our timing chips were removed for us, and our finishers medals were hung over our heads. It's amazing to me how quickly (immediately) the soreness sets in as we all shuffled down the street hoping that we were not the next person to collapse with cramps (there were plenty of people in wheel chairs at this point). We were give a big bag of swag and then off we went to collect our bagged clothes and meet our families at the specified locations. Darren and my parents were there waiting with cameras and hugs. Even then I was asked if I'd do it again and, among the heavy dose of lactic acid (Okay it wasn't that bad- I actually like to be sore because then I feel like I worked hard. Sick, huh!) that had set in, I still said I would. With my finishing time being 3:34, I had qualified to return. It was awesome and probably the hardest race I've done. It was also the most rewarding.
We spent the next few days touring Boston and enjoying some nice late sleeping. I like Baaston and I can't imagine going there without the purpose of running that race again. Thank goodness I have such a supportive husband and family who help to make these opportunities happen. Any takers on doing this race with me? You won't regret it.

PS- A special thanks to: G and G Bryan for taking such good care of the boys for us. Also, all the phone calls before and after the race from such good friends- it made me feel special! Before we left for Boston I had several thoughtful friends bring over some fun "good luck" gifts that really made my day. I was happy to have my Mom and Dad come! I knew exactly who to call when I woke up too sick to take care of the boys on the Thursday before we left. There's no way to replace those friends. Thanks!

High Five

Can you believe that Blake is five!!! He has been anticipating a birthday for many weeks now. I love living a birthday in the eyes of my boys because they are so excited! Blake got a DS, among other things. But I quickly learned that he'd have been happy with just the game and a free pass to play non-stop for the rest of his life. He loves that thing and has to be reminded to turn it off a lot. I'm on the verge of regretting the purchase...but have decided to look on the bright side and use it to my advantage as incentive. Note the "expensive" watch that he got...this replaced the one that he lost on Easter Sunday when the Easter Bunny visited. We had an extra special day because Grams Bailey, Jill, Jackson, and Bowen were visiting on his birthday.

We had a birthday party at a favorite park where we played giant soccer, water balloon relays, and the boys (no girls allowed!) got their own disc-shooting guns. We went to enjoy a yummy lunch only to find that we'd gotten punked! Someone had stollen our pizzas! Thank goodness for go-gurts, fruit, veggies, cake, and short attentions spans on things other than toys. The kids didn't blink an eye and the party went on with good times. Blake has lots of good friends and one of my favorite things is to watch him play and have fun wtih them.

Side note: Blake wanted a bowling lane cake. Random but cute. We stuck a cool sparkler candle in the middle. The kids look scared of the sparkler!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Keaton's Shower

I had all the french doors open around the patio and I was setting up dinner outside in the backyard. You know how it is when you are vaguely aware that you haven't seen your toddler for a few minutes and you are wondering what he is up to but you haven't heard any crazy sounds or screams so you assume everything is okay for just a few seconds longer... I was outside but I could hear running water coming from just inside the doors to our bedroom. I went in to find that Keaton had gone from the backyard into my bathroom and he had turned on the shower. He was sitting in the rain as delighted as ever. Could he really have turned it on by himself? Did big brother have anything to do with it? Interesting.