Tag Archives: boston marathon

Taking a Break…

29 Jan

Recently, I have had quite a few people ask me “what’s next?”

The past 3 and a half years, I have had an answer to this question. But today, I do not.

Since fall of 2011, I have had a marathon planned. I knew what race was coming up for the fall and spring, and had it marked on my calendar when the 12, 16 or 20 week training would begin. While some days I hated the training, most days I loved it.

I loved the accomplishment of getting up in the 4am hour to complete an insane workout, checking it off my training schedule and documenting it on my daily mile. I loved talking to my running friends about our upcoming races and the goals we had. And I also loved the miles and miles of thoughts I had to myself, or those that I shared with friends. While there were days I despised my alarm clock, cursed the Garmin and was over the training schedule, I really did love it. As we discussed in my run group today, we hate the training schedule, but we love it more.

Today, I am not experiencing any of that. And I know I won’t experience it again for a while.

Over Thanksgiving, I decided that after I ran Phoenix, I would force myself to take a break from marathons. My body hurt, and I didn’t love running like I thought I should. With this decision, I removed the Boston Marathon from my list of upcoming races. It was a hard thing to do, but I knew it was the right thing to do.

I have done Boston the last two years, and had quite the experience at each one. I am not sure that any race will every top that of Boston 2014, and for that fact I accepted that I was OK with not going back. Now instead of running a marathon on April 20, I will be coming home from a wine trip with friends. I decided that a new experience with people I love took precedence over running the same marathon for the third year in a row. I also knew that the break was much  needed and would be good for me.

Taking a break while I am still on top and healthy is much better than being forced to take a break because I am seriously injured or hate the sport.

I also do not have any marathon planned for the fall, which is very strange. My husband and I are planning a big trip to Europe late summer, and I know it is not feasible to train for a marathon while on a two week trip. I want to enjoy every minute of this adventure, not be worried about hitting 50 miles a week while I am there.

One of the reasons why I decided to run Phoenix was because I had a feeling it could be my only marathon of 2015…and it looks like that will be right!

Even though my marathon schedule is obsolete, I do have some halfs on the schedule. I am beyond excited to run the United NYC Half Marathon in March! After that, I will be running as the 1:45 pace group leader for Running with the Cows, and the 1:50 pace group leader for Hospital Hill (my favorite KC race!)

Since I am focusing half marathons now, my flexibility will be much better with my training. If I skip a day, it isn’t the end of the world. And goodbye to 60 mile weeks. Which means more sleep and more of a social life (my friends haven’t seen my out on a Friday night in 3 years 😉 )!

My goal is to maintain 25-30 miles a week this spring, and focus much more on my cross training. I went to a class on Tuesday and I am still sore…which proves that I have got to get my strength training back! I will do a couple speed sessions here and there, but nothing intense like I had been doing. Hopefully with this rest, my body will heal and I come back to my next marathon mentally and physically stronger than ever!

IMG_6747

xo,

Ali

Have you ever taken a break? How was the transition?

Advertisements

The 2014 Boston Marathon

29 Apr

When I signed up for Boston this year, I knew it would be an amazing day. And amazing it was.

From the walk to Boston Commons, to the ride to Hopkinton, and the 26.2 mile journey back to Boston, it was amazing. And there is no better way to describe my experiences from April 21, 2014.

I thought about April 15, 2013 every day for the last year because it was terrible. Now I can’t stop thinking about April 21, 2014 because it was so much FUN.

Before the Race
When I woke up on Monday morning, I was instantly excited. The nerves were there, but not too crazy. I knew the day would be fun, and I could not wait. As I got dressed in all my gear and layered on all my throwaway clothes, I got more and more antsy to be at the start.

Love these socks!

Love these socks!

Thanks for the ugly shirt, Mom!

Thanks for the ugly shirt, Mom!

Ready to go.

Ready to go.

After saying ‘Bye’ to Ramsey, I flew out the door and started my walk to Boston Commons. Along the way, I started chatting with a few other runners that were as anxious and excited as I was. Once we got the Commons, we parted our ways. Last year when I got there, I had to wait in line FOREVER to board the bus. This year I sat outside gate and hopped right on a bus when they called my wave. It was pretty awesome not to waste an hour of energy standing in a line like we did last year.

On the bus I sat next to the awesome guy named Mark. I told him he was a good sign, as my Dad’s name is Mark. Then he informed me he had a sister named Ali! After that, we knew we were going to have a good day. The bus ride was long, made longer by the fact that we were all 100% certain that our bus driver was falling asleep on the drive. Not even kidding. It was terrifying. We had to keep whistling at him to keep him awake. That scare took some of the anxiety away from the 26 miles ahead…..

When we arrived to the start village, Mark and I parted ways. Then I immediately got in line for a potty and settled myself down on the ground. It was great that the weather wasn’t freezing so we were’t miserable before we started. I was able to see my friend Kerri in the village and sit with her for quite awhile before the race. That was nice to chat and catch up.

My friend Mark was fast...like, really really fast.

My friend Mark was fast…like, really really fast.

We were all best friends in there.

We were all best friends in there.

So many potties but still not enough.

So many potties but still not enough.

Hanging with Kerri.

Hanging with Kerri.

Start village.

Start village.

Trying to chill out.

Trying to chill out.

Then I saw Kathleen!!! Another running friend from KC.

Then I saw Kathleen!!! Another running friend from KC. Her throwaway clothes were much cuter than mine.

The process for getting to the starting line this year was much different than last, and felt very rushed. I liked that last year I could hang out at the start and watch the first wave go by. This year we were not allowed down there until they called our wave. When they finally called us down, I felt like I was in a HUGE rush to get myself in line and ready. Luckily – I made it in my spot with a minute to spare. I also got to see a couple more friends on the the way down – Jeff and Crystal!

It’s Go Time
When the gun went off, the enthusiasm of the runners and crowd was something I had not ever experienced. Everyone was celebrating, smiling and happy. We all wanted to have a great day, and the fans wanted us to as well.

Here we go!

Here we go!

I decided to run with my GoPro camera so I could capture moments and remember exactly how it was. Ramsey will be helping me make a video, but for this post I just added some of the photos.

My goal for this race was to have fun. My second goal for this race was to run under a 3:40. I had no idea what my body would be able to do, seeing that my training was a little different (ahem…slacking) than usual. I had some really good runs, but I also took two weeks off in the middle of training. I felt that 3:40 would be doable for me on that day.

Ashland - GoPro got a little sweaty.

Ashland – GoPro got a little sweaty.

I knew starting too fast was going to be an issue. I was corralled with people that ran 3:20 marathons….so I was not surprised when my first mile clocked in under 7:40. But I did say to myself, “you are running too fast….slow down”.

The first few miles blew by. I even got to run with Summer Sanders for awhile!!! That was pretty awesome and she seemed like a really nice girl. She even laughed at me when I made a joke (insert crazy happy face).

Summer is in the pink. And I am a creep for taking this photo.

Summer is in the pink. And I am a creep for taking this photo.

The towns promised that this year would be a Boston like none other, and they did not disappoint. Running by the Framingham train station was indescribable. The fans were screaming for strangers and thanking us for being there. Thinking about it now gets me all choked up, it was that incredible.

Framingham

Framingham. Can you see the “Run on Boston Strong” sign?

I continued a consistent pace of 7:50-8. I also continued to tell myself, “You are going too fast….” but I just couldn’t slow down. The crowd had me all jacked  (in the words of Greg Hall) and there was no slowing down while my legs felt good. I decided my new tactic would be to keep it going for as long as possible. Then I started thinking….”is a 3:30 in my future today?!?!!?!” (spoiler: it was not)

I was straight up giddy when we arrived in Wellesley. I heard the screaming before we saw the girls. Wellesley is the best part of this race, hands down. And this year, it went one FOREVER. I ran along the fence and high fived every girl I could. I watched the men getting kisses and some women too, and just laughed. It was insane and SO MUCH FUN!!!!

The best part!

The best part!

Please read these signs

please read these signs.

and these.

she’s a ginger.

and these

hippie girls.

Pure joy!!!

Pure joy!!!

When I hit Newton I knew the hills were coming. This would be my moment of truth and tell me just how long I could continue to run my 8 minute pace.

Newton Hills are upon us...

Newton Hills are upon us…

Then at mile 18 I made the huge mistake of stopping to walk through a water station and take my GU. I knew my legs were getting tired, but had no idea how tired they were until I started running again. Ouch ouch ouch. I remember thinking, “my legs didn’t feel like this at mile 18 in NYC….”

From that point on, I knew the rest of the race would be pure survival. My legs were burning bad, my asthma was horrible (I had to take my inhaler multiple times), and I was getting hot. We had super cold training runs all winter in KC, so running in 60 degrees and sun was not ideal.

I knew I was slowing down a lot on the hills, so I decided to stop looking at the Garmin. I didn’t want this race to go south mentally. The day was not about my time, it was about the experience. I made a rule that it didn’t matter how slow I was running, I could not walk. Walking is bad and only makes you want to walk more.

As I started heartbreak hill, I braced for what was to come. Then I saw a sign – “MEB WON!!!” As the runners went past this sign, we all cheered and celebrated. At that moment, it felt like WE WON this race. We were so proud and excited (I am crying right now writing this…that is how emotional it was). That sign was encouragement enough to get up that hill.

Heartbreak Hill!

Heartbreak Hill!

From that point on, I had my eye on the prize – finishing. I continued to soak it all in and enjoy every moment. I also continued to ignore the Garmin on my wrist because I did not want to ruin my moment.

With every hill I hit, I received cheers and encouragement. Wearing your name on your shirt is amazing in this race. A group of college guys started chanting “ALI ALI ALI ALI” around mile 23 and all I could do was laugh. That is why I was there. To have fun.

Every step was hurting. But every step was closer to the finish. In no time, I would be there.

Back in Boston

Back in Boston

I pocket face-timed Ramsey! See my yellow skirt?

I pocket face-timed Ramsey! See my yellow skirt?

Mile 25 I saw my amazing husband, as well as some of my blogger friends (Leticia and Michele!). This was one of the first times I looked down at my watch to calculate my pace. I realized if I kept going at the same pace, I would meet my goal of 3:40!!!!

This is what 25 miles of running looks like. I had to rub vaseline all over my shoulder, my inhaler is shoved in my bra and I am trying not to fall over.

This is what 25 miles of running looks like. I had to rub vaseline all over my shoulder because it was chafing, my inhaler is shoved in my bra and I am trying not to fall over. At this point of the GoPro video I am saying “This is the ugly”

GET ME TO 26!!!

GET ME TO 26!!!

See the Citgo sign???

See the Citgo sign???

As I turned right onto Hereford, I grabbed the GoPro to capture the moment. It was nothing I have ever experienced and something I never want to forget. So many people, all cheering for ME. And even better – yelling my name. I had nothing left in the tank, but this crowd got me through. (crying again right now!!).

So glad I got this photo. Ahhhhmazing.

So glad I got this photo. Ahhhhmazing.

Almost to the finish.

Almost to the finish.

And then I was on Boylston running to the finish.

Wow.

So much enthusiasm and encouragement there to support the runners, the victims, and the city of Boston.

26

26

As I ran by each bomb site, I blew a kiss to the victims and their families. Those victims were there on April 15, 2013 to cheer for the runners. And I could not pass by those sites without acknowledging them with some love.

When I crossed the finish I was flooded with so many feelings. The main one being happiness. I was sore, I was tired, I was struggling to breath, but it was still one of the happiest moments of my life.

Finishing the race. And healing at the same time.

Finishing the race. And healing at the same time.

Nothing like this finish.

Nothing like this finish.

And I crossed just fast enough to reach my goal – 3:39:14

Even in those painful miles at the end, the race went by so fast. I wanted the pain to end, but I never wanted the experience to end. I wish I could re-live that joy every single day.

Post Race
After crossing the finish line, I hobbled along for what felt like an eternity. I got to see Natalie Morales being interviewed by Extra and I thought, “damn that would suck to have to do an interview like that right after crossing the finish”. I also talked to a few other runners and we celebrated our races together.

Smiling right after I crossed the finish.

Smiling right after I crossed the finish.

When I saw Ramsey at the family meeting area, I couldn’t help but start to cry. So many emotions from the day all flooding out of me. I was so happy, and so thankful it had gone so perfectly. Even through the pain, the day could not have been any better.

We took photos and began the walk back to the hotel. I told him all about the race and how happy I was. I think he was expecting me to be disappointed, since he could see my splits significantly slowed down the last 8 miles, but I told him I had no feelings but joy. How could I complain or be unhappy about anything? I just completed my 6th marathon, which happened to be the best marathon in the world. And it was also my birthday – you can’t be mad on your birthday!

So happy!!!!

So happy!!!!

And so lucky!

And so lucky!

I still can’t stop thinking about this race and how awesome it was. I love the marathon, and I LOVE Boston. And I promise to be at that race as long as my legs will carry me there.

Thank you for the all the love, well wishes and support. I felt every last bit of them on this journey.

Wearing my Boston medal and jacket proud.

Wearing my Boston medal and jacket proud.

Splits:

  1. 7:37
  2. 7:50
  3. 7:59
  4. 7:39
  5. 8:08
  6. 7:41
  7. 7:52
  8. 8:01
  9. 7:55
  10. 7:47
  11. 8:04
  12. 7:45
  13. 8:04
  14. 7:54
  15. 8:02
  16. 7:44
  17. 8:26
  18. 8:33
  19. 8:39
  20. 8:40
  21. 9:31
  22. 8:47
  23. 8:51
  24. 9:04
  25. 9:19
  26. 9:30 + .45 @ 3:40

3:39:14

Xo,
Ali

TBT: The Journey to Marathon #6

17 Apr

In honor of TBT, I decided to write a little throwback post to marathons 1-5, and how I made it to #6. After I ran my first half marathon, I vowed to never run a marathon. I remember thinking to myself, “If a half was that hard, how could I EVER do a full??” It wasn’t gonna happen.

My mind was changed after watching my friend Stacy run her 10th marathon in Chicago on 10-10-10. I remember cheering from the sidelines thinking, “someday soon, this will be me. I want to run a marathon. I want to experience this excitement”

December 2011 – 14 months later, and I was scared to death at the starting line of my first marathon. Marathon #1 was so easy for me and felt so natural. I crossed the finish line and thought, “Bring on the next one baby!!!” It truly was one of the best experiences of my life, and I knew a marathon addict had been born. Finish time: 3:32

May 2012 – 4 months later, I brought on the next one. And it sucked ASS. A totally different experience than marathon #1. I had to walk. I had to cry. And I wanted to quit. But I didn’t. And in the end, I came out of it more determined for marathon #3. Finish time: 4:13

December 2012 – Marathon #3 was also a tough one. Right before the race, I got sick. The week of the race, I wasn’t sure if I could even run. I toughed it out, and ran my heart out. I had to take my inhaler 4-5 times during the race, stop multiple times to catch my breath, and shed a few tears. But after it was all said and done, I was so thankful my body could support me for 26.6 and my mind could make it too. Finish Time: 3:43

April 2013 – The months leading up to Marathon #4 were quite grouchy. I did not want to train. AT ALL. The 3 marathons before were all back to back (fall – summer – fall) and I was ready for a break. It actually took me until April to get excited. How silly that I would let my mind get in the way of being excited for BOSTON!!! I was about to run the most exciting marathon in the world, and I wasn’t excited?!?!?! This race ended up to be one of the most memorable I have ever done, and not because of the bombs. I ran this race with two people that mean so much to me. In my opinion, there is no greater bonding experience than surviving 26.2 together. Finish Time: 3:54

November 2013 – BRING ON NYC. The race I waited to run for 18 months. To say I was excited was an understatement. I trained hard, and I conquered the race. For days after this race, I was living on cloud nine for what I had just accomplished (in fact, I think I still am!!!). Finish Time: 3:21

Marathons are not always easy, and certainly not always fun. But every single marathon teaches us something. Through the good, the bad, and the really really ugly races I have experienced, I have never given up. These marathons have taught me what to means to be tough, mentally and physically. They have taught me discipline, and taught me how to set goals and reach them.

And even though I have not loved every step of these races, I can still say that after every 26.2 completed, I have said, “so when’s the next one?”

xo,

Ali

bb78df8ac62e11e3a8320002c9e17bee_8

If Not for the Perfect Stranger

14 Apr

Last fall I was contacted by a woman named Diane. Diane wanted to interview me about my Boston Marathon experience for a book she was working on. The theme of the book was strangers helping others on April 15, 2013.

I was immediately intrigued by this project and loved the theme. This book was about the good, not the evil. Love, not hate.

Diane and I had at least an hour long talk about my experience, as well as her Boston experience. Diana was at the finish of the race when the bombs went off. Something that I cannot even imagine being a part of. Talking to Diana and sharing experiences together was the best therapy session I had. It was so different to talk to someone that knew exactly what you were feeling, because they felt it too. I did many interviews about my Boston experience, but none were like this. Diane and I shared a bond.

I remember telling her about how hard it was for me to come home from Boston and return to “life as usual”. I could not get away from Boston. Wherever I went, people wanted to talk about it. Whenever I turned on the TV, I would go straight to CNN. When I was alone by myself, I would cry because I was still so sad. It was always with me, and very few people in my life understood that.

Diane told me that she struggled for quite awhile after Boston, and going back to normal life was very difficult for her too. I remember her telling me that she would get upset when people would try to talk to about something else, which is exactly how I felt. How could people think about anything else when Boston was the ONLY thing I could think about?

When I hung up the phone with Diane, I felt like a weight was lifted. Finally someone “got me” and felt the same as I did. This interview was truly a therapeutic experience, even 6 months after the race.

Last month, I received my copy of “If Not for the Perfect Stranger”. This book is full of stories of courage, love, hope, and strength. People in Boston all became family that day. We all stood together and helped each other. I am so lucky to have been helped by my Perfect Strangers. Without them, who knows how different my day would have been.

This book is a great way to learn about the goodness that happened on April 15, 2013. Through terror, love prevailed. And these pages are packed full of those amazing stories. Yes, you might cry reading this, but it is worth it. So many incredible people were among us that day, and this book pays tribute to those that truly deserve it.

My story is one of a few that was featured on their website. It is available here.

Where to buy:

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 3.24.57 PM

xoxo,

Ali

Boston 2014: How I got in the race

3 Apr

After Boston last year, I wasn’t sure if I would want to run it again. I was scared, sad and anxiety ridden. And for awhile, I lost the desire to race.

When it was time to train for NYC, I didn’t want to start. I actually decided that I wasn’t going to do it at all. Then I realized what I was about to give up, and give in to, and I got over it. And I am SO glad I did, seeing that it was one of the best races of my life!

After NYC, I was beyond motivated for racing and knew I had to get myself back to Boston. NYC had qualified for me for the 2014 and 2015 race, however the 2014 race was no longer an option, as it was full. I was sad I didn’t get myself a new BQ before the 2014 race cut off, but I accepted that I would just have to wait for 2015.

Then this happened….

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 8.42.30 PM

I saw it around noon, and by 12:30pm, my essay was written and submitted. It was one of the hardest, yet easiest things I have ever written. The words just flowed. It was like I didn’t even think about what I was writing. All of my thoughts and feelings poured out on the keyboard, and in the end, I had my 250 word essay ready to submit.

A couple weeks after submitting my essay, I received my good news. I was ACCEPTED into the race.

After I read my email, I was in shock. I immediately called my Mom and told her. Naturally she tried to talk me out of it with everything that was going on in my life. New job, getting married, honeymoon, etc was a lot to handle during marathon training. But I never thought twice. I knew I had to run this race. And I wanted to run this race.

On April 21, I get my Boston Marathon experience. I get to remember the day for what it is supposed to be – a huge celebration. Not for what I have stuck in my mind – a terrible tragedy. It won’t be my fastest marathon, but I have a feeling it will be my best marathon EVER.

And in case you’re up for some light reading, here is my essay:

On April 15, 2013, my life was forever changed. My Boston Marathon celebration was cut short when two bombs exploded at the finish line of the race. While I did not see the terror of the bombs exploding, I heard it and felt it. So many emotions came rushing at once, most of which were fear and sadness. Boston changed me in many ways. Many months following the marathon, I lived with fear in my heart and mind. Fear that my fellow runners and I would go through this situation again. And mostly fear that our Nation would have to experience this horror again. While I have been able to overcome much of the anxiety, fear and panic the Boston Marathon bombings had on my life, some of it still remains. I think about Boston every single day. To this day when I hear a loud noise, my heart skips a beat and I have to fight off an anxiety attack. My Boston Marathon experience was stolen from me, just as it was for many other runners. And I want my chance at redemption on April 21, 2014! The possibility to have another shot at Boston would be amazing. I want my chance at happy memories from the race and the opportunity to conquer a fear that was not there when I crossed the starting line in 2013. I also want to celebrate my finish by drinking a Sam Adams with friends that were accepted into the 2014 race. And lastly, April 21 is my Birthday, and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate than by crossing the most prestigious finish line in the world and finally having my closure!

Ready for redemption.

Ready for redemption.

 

Xoxo,

Ali

A New York State of Mind

30 Oct

I am currently sitting on my couch all cozy listening to the rain with the song “New York State of Mind” on repeat. I might be getting a little teary too.

I am so excited for the NYCM to be here, and I am so excited to be in New York on Friday. The trip could not come soon enough.

Today, my blog friend Doug sent me a list of questions and asked me to answer them for a blog project he is working on. The questions were about NYCM and my thoughts, feelings and goals towards the race.

As I sat there reading those questions and thinking about my answers, I reflected on how thankful I am to be running this race. This race has been nearly 2 years in the making, since I first received my acceptance January 2012. I have dreamt about this race, visualized this race, and planned this race. And on Sunday, the race will finally be here.

New York is not the only thing I have been thinking about though. I have been thinking about Boston too. A lot.

Boston will forever be a part of me. The experiences in Boston will always stay with me, and the memories of what happened will always live in the back (and sometimes front) of my mind. Boston changed me, but it changed me for the better.

The experiences there showed me what is important in life. And it showed me how precious life is.

I am not just lucky that I got into the New York City Marathon, I am lucky because I am able to run the New York City Marathon. I have my health. I have my strength. And I have my support system.

To me, this race on Sunday will be a celebration of what our communities (running, cities, nation, etc) have overcome this last year. We have stood strong together through hurricanes. We have been brave for each other through horrible attacks on our nation. We have stuck together through it all, and we will continue to do so.

I am not scared anymore to run on Sunday. I am excited. And I am ready.

On Sunday, I will run for the victims of Sandy that are still recovering from the aftermath of the storm.

On Sunday, I will run for those in Boston that continue to be affected – mentally and physically. Especially those that cannot run anymore.

And on Sunday, I will run for me. I will run to prove to myself what my body is capable of. I will run to see the pay out of the hard training. And hopefully, I will run to a big fat PR on the clock.

xo,

Ali

At the 2012 NYCM finish line.

At the 2012 NYCM finish line.

Lessons Learned Through 1,000 Miles

25 Sep

Today on my run, I hit 1,000 miles for the year 2013.

For me, this is a huge milestone. Up until last year, I had not ever thought I would be able to run this much in one year. I mean, 1,000 miles is A LOT when you think about it!!

As I ran this morning, I watched and waited for my Garmin to click 6 miles. At 6 miles into the run, I would hit my 1,000th mile for year. As soon as I saw it click over, I did a little dance and had a silent celebration (dancing was also due to finishing my tempo miles on my run!!)

I have been through a lot these 1,000 miles, and definitely learned some things during them as well.

Run for you.

With the sport of running, it is so easy to compare ourselves to other people. We constantly strike ourselves down with self doubt and negative comments.

“She is so much faster than me”
“I’ll never be as good as her”
“I wish I could as fast as other people”
“I am so freaking slow”

Those things above are just some of the negative self talk comments I have said to myself.

But why?

When we run, we are running to make ourselves healthier, happier and all around better people. It shouldn’t matter what other people are doing. What matters is ourselves. We should be proud of our accomplishments, not ashamed of them because they aren’t as fast as your best friend can run. Or your random instagram/twitter/facebook/daily mile freakishly fast fake friend can run.

Be proud of yourself. Whether you’re running 5 minute miles, or 12 minute miles, be proud of the fact that you are out there doing it. And that you are setting goals and achieving them.

Don’t take a mile for granted.

Probably the biggest lesson I have learned this year is to never take a single step for granted. Running is a gift, and we should all be thankful that we are capable of doing it.

You never know the day you could get a freak injury, like Kara Goucher recently encountered during her NYC Marathon training.

And you never know what tomorrow could bring.

Because of that, we should be thankful for every step, and especially every mile our body gives us.

——————————————-

Have you hit any major milestones lately?

What are the biggest lessons you have learned this year?

xoxo,

Ali

Some of my favorite adventures. Conquering the hardest half marathon EVER, Running with my GOTR girls, Crossing the Boston Marathon Finish line, and deciding to take the plunge and dive into NYC training.

Some of my most memorable adventures this year: Conquering the hardest half marathon EVER, Running with my GOTR girls, Crossing the Boston Marathon Finish line, and deciding to take the plunge and dive into NYC training.

Aside for the blog I am terrible at updating, we can also chat at the following places:

 

Boston Marathon Race Recap

12 Jun

Almost two months since Boston, and it is still on my mind every single day.

Every time I run, I think about it. Every time I hear a “boom”, I fear what it could be. Every time I hear a siren, I get chills. And every time I read something or someone talks about it, I have to hold back tears. Boston continues to weigh heavy on my mind and in my heart, and I have a feeling it will continue to do so for a while. Just as it will for the many others out there that experienced this, some not nearly as lucky as I was.

For the past few weeks, I have been debating whether or not I would write a race recap for Boston. Partially because I didn’t know if it was appropriate, and partially because I didn’t know if I was ready. To be honest, it has taken me time to even remember things from the race.

Well, I have made the decision that I am READY to write this race recap and I will CELEBRATE the finish of that race. I must remember that before 2:50pm on April 15th, I was having one of the most amazing days of my life. And I had been experiencing an amazing weekend in Boston prior.

Everything I write in this recap will be prior to 2:50pm. While much of my experience is still a blur, I do believe I have enough memories to write a pretty good recap!

Morning of the Race

5:15am on the morning of the race, I sprung out of bed. I was so darn excited! My clothes had been laid out since the night before, and I was ready to run. I got dressed, did my hair, put on some makeup (yep, I wear makeup when I race, judge away!), and headed downstairs to meet my friends.

Lulu all the way.

Lulu all the way.

I had my Girls on the Run girls with me.

I had my Girls on the Run girls with me.

At 6:15am, I saw my friends in the lobby and we had one big group hug. We were nervous but excited for the adventure to come. We took some pre-race photos with our families (we have the most amazing support systems!) and headed to Boston Common to meet our bus.

So supportive.

So supportive.

Looking our best in throwaway clothes!

Looking our best in throwaway clothes!

Mom and Dad :)

Mom and Dad 🙂

When we got to Boston Common, I was stunned by the lines. I had seriously never seen a line that long, and we had to wait in it in order to get to the starting line in Hopkinton! At first I panicked a little bit thinking we should’ve arrived earlier. The “what ifs” of not making it on the bus were going round and round in my head. Thankfully I had Stacy with me, who calmed my nerves and assured me we would make it to the start on time.

The insane lines!

The insane lines!

Happy, excited and nervous as can be!

Happy, excited and nervous as can be!

At 7:45am, we FINALLY made it to the front of the line and got on the bus. Note to self the next time I run Boston: get to Boston Common earlier!! We were one of the last buses to load up for the 26.2 mile journey to the start line.

Breakfast on the bus.

Breakfast on the bus.

Hopkinton!!!

Hopkinton!!!

Runner's

No Stopping Monday!!!

Around 8:45am, we got off the bus in Athlete’s Village in Hopkinton, MA. The sight there was amazing. It was FULL of runners and porta potties – I had not ever seen so many porta potties in my life. Photographic proof below!

CRAZY!!!

CRAZY!!!

We decided that our first order of business would be a trip to the previously mentioned porta potties before we were in an emergency situation (pretty sure I drank at least one bottle of water on the bus). We got into line, and 20 minutes later, we were still in line. All those porta potties, and they could’ve used 100 more. As we got to the front of the line, a man approached us and offered us toilet paper if we let him cut in line. Pretty smart guy if you ask me….as almost every porta potty was out of toilet paper!!

He was awesome.

He was awesome.

Diana did not cooperate!

Diana did not cooperate!

Stacy and I eagerly accepted his offer, but Diana did not…girlfriend had to go BAD and no one was cutting in front of her!!

We didn’t get out of that porta potty line until 9:30am, and by then it was time to start walking to the infamous starting line.

Pre-race jitters were in full bloom. I am pretty sure that everything on my body was shaking I was so nervous and excited for the journey ahead! When we finally got down the start (it felt like it was at least a half mile from Athlete’s Village) we found a little spot to sit down.

Follow the arrows.

Follow the arrows.

BABY GUURLL!!!

BABY GUURLL!!!

At our spot, we put Diana’s pretty pink blanket to full use. The story of the blanket could be its own blog post….we had to force Diana to bring “baby girl” (quick back story: the blanket was originally meant for Di’s “baby girl”…but Di had two baby boys, therefore “baby girl” never served her true purpose) to the start line of the race and leave her behind. We needed baby girl to keep us warm and shield us just in case we needed an emergency impromptu bathroom break (no comment on whether or not it was used for that…)

Baby Girl ended up saving the morning for us, and she will be remembered dearly. (Diana, I hope you read this so you can see that I paid tribute to your blanket in this post!!!)

At 9:55am, we went to the starting line and waited to be lined up in our corral. We watched the first wave start their journey, then made our way into corral #9.

At 10:15am, I posed for a pre-race photo and uploaded it to all my social media outlets. I wanted all the positive energy I could get, and I knew my social media friends would take care of that for me. You all are the best!

"It's go time"

“It’s go time”

Stacy at the start too!

Stacy at the start too!

Race Time

10:20am, the journey from Hopkinton to Boston began. I had just crossed the starting line of the BOSTON MARATHON. Holy freaking cow. I was living a dream.

I think I ran with tears in my eyes for the first mile. I was so excited to be there, and what I was about to accomplish really hit me. In a few short hours, I would be crossing the most exciting and prestigious finish line in all of marathon world!

The first few miles flew by. The main thing I remember about these miles is how many pregnant women I saw! I ran by at least three obviously pregnant women, all with little signs attached to them that said “running for two”, or something of that nature. Seeing these pregnant women out there running a marathon reaffirmed what I always thought and knew – you cannot stop a woman on a mission!! Especially a woman-runner on a mission. If she qualified for Boston, she is running Boston and you can’t stop her!

Around mile 6 I met a girl that reminded me of myself. We were almost the same age, and had both qualified for Boston at rainy races in Dallas. We ran and chatted for about a mile, and then she pulled back because she was battling an injury and had promised she would take it easy. I still think about this girl and hope that she was able to get her finish and was safe.

Mile 9 we hit Natick and I loved how familiar it felt. I used to have a client in Natick and have been up there a few times, so I could recognize the streets. I am sad I wasn’t able to see my old clients along the course, but I understood why I didn’t. Natick had some of the most amazing crowds along the entire course. I remember running through an intersection and I couldn’t believe  how loud it was. People were screaming and cheering to a point that I couldn’t have ever imagined. I remember looking at Diana and making eye contact with her. We both had tears in our eyes because we could not believe the experience. It was incredible and I cannot wait to experience it again.

Another one of my favorite parts of this race was leaving Natick and heading towards Wellesley. Around mile 12, we passed through an extremely loud cheering section with gangham style blaring. I love that song, so I perked  up immediately when I heard it. Then I saw something that made it even better. Lined along the right side of the road were at least 15 kids jumping on mini trampolines doing the pony. I still laugh every time I think about that.

Wellesley College was everything I heard it would be. Screaming girls waving their signs throwing out their hands were everywhere. I now understand why people say to watch your pace through Wellesley, because it would be so easy to get excited and run too fast. The energy passing through Wellesley was incredible, and it was one of my top 5 moments of the day.

My favorite sign from a Wellesley girl: “Kiss ME! I’m in a long distance relationship!”

After Wellesley we hit the halfway mark. It was so fun to hit the race “milestones”, because we would make sure we ran over the tracking device at the exact same time. When we hit them we would say, “HI!” to our family and friends we knew were following us.

My brother was tracking us! Loved how it showed us as little runners!

My brother was tracking us! Loved how it showed us as little runners!

We knew if we hit them at the same time, our supporters would know our plan was working out and we were doing it all together. No matter what, we would finish this race together. That was always the plan.

Following the halfway, we started to hit our big hills. I remember thinking on one of them that it might not ever end. This is the first time in the race when I felt tired and questioned if my legs would be carrying me 26.2 miles that day.

Diana zoomed up these hills with grace, while Stacy and I brought up the back. Di was having her “A” day, I was about a “B”, and Stacy was probably a “C”. Having a B or C day on the Newton Hills was tough. But with the help of each other we would make it through ‘em.

Running by Dick Hoyt and his son. Don't know who they are? Google it NOW!

Running by Dick Hoyt and his son. Don’t know who they are? Google it NOW!

Mile 16ish.

Mile 16ish.

Heartbreak Hill was something I feared for months. Mile 20 is one of the hardest miles of a marathon, and knowing we had a huge hill to face at 20.5 was terrifying. But guess what? I ran up Heartbreak Hill and didn’t even know it! At the top of the hill I saw a sign that said “You just conquered Heartbreak Hill!”. I didn’t believe it. I had to ask the give girl running next to me (remember…Di was A, I was B, Stacy was C, so we weren’t together at the top!) if I really just ran up Heartbreak Hill! She confirmed that I did, and when I saw Diana I screamed “WE JUST RAN HEARTBREAK HILL!!!!!”.

The last few miles of this race were miles of survival and getting to the finish. The downhills started to hurt far worse than the uphills because of the pounding on our already sore hamstrings.

We knew our families planned to be between mile 24 – 25, so we were on the look out. By this time of the race, we were hurting BAD. We were hurting so bad, we weren’t even talking anymore (that means it was BAD!). It was really a moment of thinking, “every step is one step closer”.

Mile 25, we saw our families and it was so exciting!!! We heard them yell and saw their excitement for us. We ran to them and got our high fives and the last bit of encouragement we needed.

ahhhhh hi!!!!

ahhhhh hi!!!!

I love our faces here. You can tell we were so tired, but so excited.

I love our faces here. You can tell we were so tired, but so excited.

We love you!

We love you!

The best support group!

The best support group!

After passing our cheerleaders, we had our eyes and minds on the finish.

We approached Boylston Street, and knew we were so close. The volume of the cheering on Boylston was incredible and I soaked in every step.

As we got closer to the finish, we veered towards the right side of the street and embraced our hands. We threw them up high in the air, and celebrated the finish exactly as we had planned.

The happiest photo.

The happiest photo.

The entire race went as planned and was one of the best experiences ever. For the first time ever, my running buddies and I all three ran a race together. And it was the best race we could’ve possibly run together.

I will be proud of this finish and celebrate this finish. I will hang my finish line medal in my home, and reflect on the amazing time we had during those 26.2 miles.

And I will run Boston again.

Xo,

Ali

 

Top 5 Moments of the Race

  1. Passing the Starting Line
  2. Wellesley
  3. Seeing Our Families
  4. Running 26.2 side by side with Stacy and Diana
  5. Crossing the most exciting and famous finish line in the world of marathons

 Splits:

  1. 8:31
  2. 8:33
  3. 8:38
  4. 8:20
  5. 8:48
  6. 8:23
  7. 8:35
  8. 8:41
  9. 8:21
  10. 8:32
  11. 8:37
  12. 8:35
  13. 8:40
  14. 8:48
  15. 8:45
  16. 8:32
  17. 8:53
  18. 9:02
  19. 9:07
  20. 9:10
  21. 9:47
  22. 8:53
  23. 9:07
  24. 9:33
  25. 9:14
  26. 9:43

 

More photos from the weekend (before the bombings)

The finish line on Saturday. I cried when I was taking this photo. So excited to be there.

The finish line on Saturday. I cried when I was taking this photo. So excited to be there.

14445 - my new lucky number.

14445 – my new lucky number.

:)

🙂

Excited!

Excited!

Glad they talked me into a jacket!

Glad they talked me into a jacket!

Cheers to us.

Cheers to us.

The whole group.

The whole group.

laying on the finish line. Dirty, but fun :)

laying on the finish line. Dirty, but fun 🙂

We did it!

We did it!

Mom and Dad.

Mom and Dad.

Finishing the Race

23 Apr

Last Saturday was the Garmin Marathon in Kansas City. This event had been on the race calendar for months, and would go on as planned following the Boston Marathon attack.

But this year, it would have a few race crashers they had not been planning on.

I decided to run the half marathon the day before the race. Normally, I would never try to run back to back races of these distances that close together, but this race I HAD to run.

I ran 7 miles of the race next to a man that also ran Boston. He was running for the same reason I was – to try to feel normal again by doing what we love. Every step of the race I felt a little more healed and a little more like myself. Running is my therapy, and it was certainly therapy on Saturday.

My legs burned the entire way, but every step was worth it!

My legs burned the entire way, but every step was worth it!

HUGE cheers go to my boyfriend, Ramsey!!! He ran his very first half marathon on Saturday in a 1:52!!!!!!

HUGE cheers go to my boyfriend, Ramsey!!! He ran his very first half marathon on Saturday in a 1:52!!!!!!

Another reason why I wanted to be at the Garmin Marathon on Saturday was to support 4 of our KC runners that did not get to finish Boston on Monday. These runners deserved that finish and earned that finish, and we were going to make sure they were supported while crossing that finish line.

A big group of people met .7 miles out, since our area runners were stopped right at mile 25.5. When they began running their final seven tenths of a mile, the rest of the Boston runners followed them with cheers and support. We were all together again, and that was one of the best parts of Saturday.

As our runners approached the finish, the crown roared and more Boston Marathon runners joined us. There were runners there from the 2013 race, as well as many past Boston races. Everyone was united as one group that day, it was awesome.

Running to the finish.

Running to the finish.

Boston runners from all years running to the finish.

Boston runners from all years heading to the finish.

Coach Eladio Valdez with Runner’s Edge in Kansas City did an amazing job of getting the word out, and putting this finish line event together. Thanks to Coach Eladio, so many spectators were there to cheer and support the group. While their finish would not be the same as a Boston finish, it would still be filled with enthusiasm, joy, love and support.

THANK YOU, Coach Eladio!!!

THANK YOU, Coach Eladio!!!

As they finished, Coach Eladio covered the runners in 2013 Boston Marathon heat blankets, and put a Boston Marathon medal around their necks. Medals that before Saturday, they had not received for their huge accomplishment. Eladio also gave each runner a bag of Hawaiian rolls, which was hilarious! (I remember how excited I was to get these rolls after I finished!)

Here come our runners!

Here come our runners!

Showing off the medals.

Showing off the medals.

Love those rolls.

Love those rolls.

Saturday reminded me once again that as tragic as the week was, there was so much good that came out of it. The Kansas City running community is closer now than we have ever been. And I have so many new friends today that were not in my life two week sago. We all share a bond, and will support each other through thick and thin.

Many runners were out there collecting money for the One Fund (I will not take credit for that, but way to go Amber and Krista!)

Many runners were out there collecting money for the One Fund (I will not take credit for that, but way to go Amber and Krista!)

Three of my new friends - Theresa, Greg and Kristin.

Three of my new friends – Theresa, Greg and Kristin.

Greg sharing Matt's story from Boston - we are SOOOOO proud of our 2:30 marathoner!!! (Matt got 80 something overall on Monday. Holy freaking cow!)

Greg sharing Matt’s story from Boston – we are SOOOOO proud of our 2:30 marathoner!!! (Matt got 80 something overall on Monday. Holy freaking cow!)

We are all united, and BOSTON STRONG!!!

We are all united, and BOSTON STRONG!!!

Photo credits go to Greg Hall, and Amber Rossman.

Read more about the KC women who finished here (YOU NEED TO READ THIS!): http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/45042310/

Watch the action here: http://fox4kc.com/2013/04/20/emotional-finish-highlights-olathes-garmin-marathon/

———————–

xoxoxo,

Ali

Stacy’s Story of the Boston Marathon

22 Apr

My very dear friend Stacy has shared her feelings about Boston. I thought Stacy’s account of what happened was very well written, and described the experience just as I would have. I want people to hear her story and experience, because through this I have found that the more blogs and stories I read that I can relate to, the better I feel.

Stacy is the reason why I ran Boston in 2013. She inspired me to become a marathoner the day I watched her run the Chicago marathon in 2010. On April 15th, 2013, Stacy, Diana and I crossed the finish line holding hands as happy as could be. We had never run a race side by side the entire time, but for this race that had always been the plan. And I am so thankful that we were able to experience it all together.

Stacy's 10th Marathon on 10-10-10.

Stacy’s 10th Marathon on 10-10-10.

This is Stacy’s story.

I am not a blogger or even a good picture taker anymore, but wanted to write
down my thoughts while they are still raw and engraved in my head. Getting to
Boston is a journey. It’s not something that happens over night. I got to
share this event with Ali and Diana. However, this is my second Boston
Marathon and nothing can compete with your first. I thoroughly enjoyed
watching them enjoy their very first magical Boston.

Because I knew what to expect I can tell you that things were smooth and
normal. We walked about a mile to yellow school buses and waited for about
an hour. We rode on the bus for another hour. We arrived to Athletes Village
and quickly moved another mile into the start area. We took a moment to sit
on our blanket and get prepared for the race. We eagerly lined up in Diana’s
corral. We were each in different corrals, but had a pact so share this
moment together no matter what. No solider left behind was our motto. Silly
girls, but we meant it. I was thankful for that because this solider had some
tired legs early on.(The next wave back would have placed us in harm’s way
or we would have been pulled off the course.)

We started the race like clockwork and ran taking in every mile of Boston.
My race was hard. Diana and Ali were soaking it and I was containing any
negative thoughts of my tired legs or the fear I had of the Newton Hills to
come. We made it all the way up Heartbreak Hill without even realizing it.
Diana lead the way while Ali and I followed. At that point I knew I could
make it in under 4 hours. This was a mental barrier I needed to break after
my last Boston in 09.

The girls teased me because the oddly quiet Stacy became positive and secure
at mile 24. I knew the crowds would get even bigger, louder and that I was
about to share a part of history with two of my closest friends. At mile 25 I
said, “Ladies, enjoy this last mile together because it may be the last time
we share a marathon where the three of us run side by side!” I became the
cheerleader for my two Boston first timers after they had encouraged me for
most of the race. I apologized for being the tired solider and they looked at
me and said, “You are why we are here!”

We ran down Boylston Street side by side and hand in hand at the finish. The
race was finally over. We just completed the Boston Marathon together! Our
clock time was 3:54:35. We took our time getting our medals, photos, and foil
blankets. Our legs heavy and minds eager to find our family. Jeff was our
point man for the family reunion. That was his job and he did it well. He
spotted us and quickly help Di and Ali find Lee, Ramsey, Mark and Nancy. It
felt great to hug him and be with our group again. We got on our warm clothes
and started taking some pictures to capture our accomplishment.
Suddenly, a loud explosion occurred.

Later we were able to see that the clock time was 4:09 when the bombs went off. About 15 minutes after our finish.
Our clock time read 4:00 despite our chip time of 3:54:35. My
heart sank and I felt confused. We looked for excuses and Di of course had an
answer. Must be part of the celebration. Ten seconds later a second
explosion occurred. My eyes began to water and I prayed immediately for God
to allow me to make it home safely to my son Caden. I had no idea what was
going on, but feared that if there were two explosions there could be many
more. The thoughts of 9/11 rushed into my head and again I just prayed that
we could get home safe. Please God let me get to raise my son. Those were
the thoughts in my head. Our group was scared, but fairly calm.

Stacy's sweet Caden (and husband too!)

Stacy’s sweet Caden (and husband too!)

Our goal was to stay together. The guys were problem solving and I was
following. I wanted to call my mom and tell her I was safe. After much
confusion and a lot of wandering we made it back to the hotel. It was if the
pain from the race was erased and we were in fight or flight mode. Making it
back to the hotel felt safe, but we were evacuated soon after. We were still
in shock so somehow this seemed ok. Just a normal procedure. We followed
directions and left. It was one of those moments where you think what should
I take. I grabbed my ID, credit cards, phone and wedding ring. This sounds
awful, but I wanted to have my ID on me in case something really bad happened
and someone needed to know who I was. Yes, I panic and think of the worst
sometimes, but this was like nothing I have ever experienced.

We headed out to the streets and were asked to move further and further back.
I still didn’t recognize the depth of all that was going on until sitting
outside in my sweaty race clothes and realizing that we no longer had the
luxuries of a shower, toilet, food or security. This sounds shallow, but we
hadn’t eaten since 9 AM. I hated to worry about that kind of stuff knowing
lives had been lost and that an act of terrorism had occurred. The unknown
and the inability to fix a situation and no control are very overwhelming.
The phone rang with calls from the media. It was crazy to think people were
wanting to talk to us. I talked to a former high school classmate from the LS
Journal. As I am on the phone with him I see Special Operations, HAZ MAT, the
bomb squad and countless police and emergency vehicles swarming by our hotel.
We stayed in the Copley Square Hotel which was being searched and was now
being called part of a possible crime scene. The FBI is on the streets, men in
army fatigues….. This was very scary.

We were given blankets by strangers on the streets. Our group of 8 debated on
what to do, where to go. That quote about how you respond in a crisis can
identify your true character kept running through my head. I just kept
thanking those that were kind to us. Eventually we were welcomed into a home
of a perfect strangers. Feeling very skeptical I was hoping she really was a
good person. You hate to go there, but like I said I do over think at times.
She was amazing. Offered us drinks and snacks. Very humbled by her kindness.
We were able to contact our hotel and return at about 7:30. I am a little
foggy on time. We finally got a hot shower and got to eat about 9:00 PM.
It’s the little things that mean a lot at this point.

I felt safe back in our hotel and eager to just get home. I interviewed with
channel 9 news at 6:30 AM. It was a little emotional to re-cap the event and
I can’t stop thinking of the “what ifs”. Thank you for your congrats, but at
this point it feels selfish to think about the race. I am grateful that I
finished and was with my family in such terror. I would never want any of
that to overshadow what those felt who lost loved ones or the heartbreak of an
8 year old boy dying. This is something that I have seen on TV, but have
never expected to be a part of. The reporter asked me, how do you make sense
of this happening. I really don’t make sense of it. There is no rationale
behind such evil.

My whole play on lucky number 13, running my 13th marathon
in 2013 and flying out on the 13th may not be so lucky. However, I am a glass
half full person and am going to look for the positive. It could have been
much worse. Part of my journey that started in 2008 to first qualify for
Boston was to not take life for granted. Believe in the best and seize the
moment. My ending journey in 2013 has the same message. Believe the best in
people, seek out the good and be thankful for your moments. Thank you God for
getting me home safe with my husband, friends and to be a mommy. If I can do
that I am happy. I hope next year Boston is shining even brighter because you
can’t dim the light for people who have hope, faith and believe in the very
best.

Could not imagine being with anyone else!

Could not imagine being with anyone else!

%d bloggers like this: