Tag Archives: boston13

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

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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!

Recovering

18 Apr

I am recovering. Mentally and physically, I am feeling like myself again.

The last two days have been rough. I tried to go back to my routine yesterday…that was a mistake. I was not ready. People at work would ask me if I was ok, and I would cry. Then they would try to talk to me about actual work things, and I would cry from being so overwhelmed and not knowing the answers to their questions.

I decided today would be a mental health day, and also a day to rest. I think a huge part of my problem was pure exhaustion. Running a marathon takes a lot out of you, and the fact that I had not had a good nights sleep since the race didn’t help at all.

I went to bed last night at 10pm, and got out of bed this morning at 10am. Wow, it felt wonderful. Then I went back to bed for a nap around 2pm, and got up at 5:30pm. I felt insanely lazy, but also so much better.

On Tuesday, my friend Beth from NYC told me that when I was tired enough, my body would sleep. And she was right.

During the time I was up today, I read blog posts and articles from other people that experienced the chaos and horror at Boston. I also emailed and connected with KC runners about the race and how they are feeling. It has been so comforting to connect with people who know how you are feeling and can relate.

Tonight, my brother and his girlfriend drug me out of my house to get dinner with them. At dinner I was able to think about other things, but also talk about Monday without crying. That was huge. I ran into some family friends at dinner, and got even more hugs. I tell you, I am a huge fan of hugs right now.

Tomorrow morning, I will try the “getting back into the routine” thing again. And I have a good feeling it will be much more successful.

Wishing everyone a fantastic Friday.

xo,

Ali

P.S. Here are a few race photos from Monday. They were just posted on the site. While I feel a bit weird for sharing, I want to remember how happy I was during those 26.2 miles.

4-18-2013 8-05-29 PM 4-18-2013 8-07-10 PM 4-18-2013 8-01-16 PM 4-18-2013 8-04-16 PM

Boston: One Day Later

16 Apr

One day past the tragedy that occurred at the Boston Marathon, and I cannot stop thinking about it.

The sounds of the bombs, the smells that followed, the fear of the people – all of it keeps replaying in my head.

I should stop watching the TV coverage, but I just can’t pull myself away. Every shot I see reminds me of how close we were, and how so many people were affected by this tragedy. Lives were lost, many were injured. It was all so horrible.

My heart is aching for the people who were directly impacted. Whether they sustained an injury, lost a loved one, or witnessed the horror – my heart aches for them. I want to reach out and give everyone a hug. I want to do something for them to make them feel better, but sadly I know there is nothing I can do.

Everyone I know that was at the race is safe, and my family is safe. For that, I feel so lucky.

I went to bed last night and couldn’t sleep. Every time I heard a loud noise from the room above me, I jumped. Every time I heard a siren outside, I cringed. I wanted to get out of that city so bad. This morning, I was able to change my flight from a 5pm to an 11am (thank you SOUTHWEST!). I needed to leave and felt better immediately when we got to the airport.

When we got to the airport we were approached by Homeland Security. After we spoke with them, we settled in at our gate and found other KC runners traveling home. It was comforting to be around so many people with an experience like us. We could all talk about what we were doing when the bombs went off, what we heard and how we felt. We also took a moment to talk about our races. It felt so selfish to share new PR’s or goals we achieved, but we needed to escape for just a moment.

As we got off the plane in KC, we were greeted by news crews. Many of the marathoners were able to walk past them, but I was pulled in to stop and talk. This entire experience I have tweeted, facebooked and blogged how I felt and what was going on around me. I wanted people to know what we were experiencing in Boston, and the best way for me to do this was using social media. It was also therapeutic for me.

When I am upset, I want to write and share my feelings. This blog has always been used as a way for me to share my life with others and talk about my adventures. And right now I am using it in that exact way.

Tomorrow morning I will go back to the real world and my normal everyday life. I will go to work, and coach my girls at Girls on the Run. But I know this tragedy will continue to weigh heavy.

Please continue to acknowledge the heros in this situation. And please continue to send your thoughts and prayers to those that really need it.

Take care, and stay safe.

xo,

Ali

Post-Boston Thoughts

15 Apr

I have so many thoughts going through my head right now, and so many feelings.

I would normally start my marathon recaps with the everything that led up to the race. But this post will have to be different. This post, I need to start when we crossed the finish line.

Diana, Stacy and I crossed the finish line in 3:54. We held hands as we crossed, and hugged as soon as we were past. We were so happy to be DONE with this race. It was hard. Our legs were sore, and we weren’t feeling so hot.

We kept walking towards the water, med tent area, medals, and family meet up. We got our medals, and continued to head on to the family meet up.

When we arrived at family meet up we had been walking for about 5 minutes. We were beyond tired and all we wanted to do was lay down in the room. We took a minute to get some post race photos, and then things changed.

at most, 30 seconds before things changed.

at most, 30 seconds before things changed.

Boom.

We all heard it, we all felt it.

Boom.

Another one. My heart started beating rapidly. I knew those booms were not ok. I looked around me, everyone had a look of panic on their face. Seeing a huge group of people with a panicked look on their face was so scary. When I am scared, I like to look around and see calm. When I looked around today, I saw terror. We were scared.

Some people said, “oh it was nothing! just scaffolding falling!”. Another said, “well it is patriots day, it was the cannons!”

I knew it was neither. What we heard was bad.

Then the sirens rang, and we saw police officers running. We immediately started walking. We didn’t know where, but we were moving. I then checked twitter and saw my biggest fear. Two bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. My God, we were just there.

Before the bombs went off, my legs were on fire, I didn’t think I could go any longer. After the bombs went off I could’ve taken off in a sprint. Amazing what adrenaline will do for you.

We made it back to our hotel, which scared me. Our hotel was one block away from the explosions, but at least we would be inside. We got in, and within 15 minutes we were evacuated. We had nowhere to go, so we sat outside on a sidewalk across the street. Then they made us leave the sidewalk. We followed the masses and kept walking.

Nothing but emergency vehicles.

Nothing but emergency vehicles.

Finally we arrived in a little neighborhood nook. It was the cutest area and felt cozy. We found a spot on the ground and huddled together. There were so many runners wandering around, many that had not had the opportunity to change into warmer clothes. They looked like they were freezing.

Good samaritans in the neighborhood brought out blankets, coffee, orange juice and food. They offered their homes to anyone that needed to use the restroom. It was one of those moments when you say to yourself, “people are good.”

Doing good things.

Doing good things. He had such a happy heart and happy soul.

After over an hour of sitting on the street, we needed warmth. And a sweet woman named Marguerite saved us. She invited us into her home, fed us cheese and crackers and even gave us some beer. Another moment thinking, “people are good.”

Our spread at Margarets.

Our spread at Margarets.

After over an hour of invading Marguerite’s home, we decided to try to make the trek back to our hotel. We knew the lockdown was over, and had a route of streets we could take to get ourselves there.

We walked back and made it. We were so grateful to be back into our hotel with our possessions (and with a shower!!!). We settled into our rooms and just had some time to reflect. And I needed this time.

So many emotions.

So many emotions.

You look outside the windows here, and all you see are flashing lights and police. It is eery.

Around 9pm, we went to dinner in the hotel, as we were not able to leave. We sat at our table together, and decided we were going to put away our phones and talk about our race and our adventures that day. We had some fun stories to tell. However we were not able to focus on anything but the bombs. Every conversation went back to that.

So many people have said to me, “you should still be so proud, you ran Boston!”. But honestly, I could care less about that right now. I am not grateful for my medal right now, I am grateful for my safety and my families safety. That is what is important.

I keep thinking about the what ifs. What if we had not finished when we did? What if we were not with our families when the explosions went off? What if, what if, what if.

I thank everyone right now for their support. I am ok, but many are not. Please send that support to those who are still missing family members, were injured, or lost their lives.

xo,

Ali

Pre-Boston Thoughts

14 Apr

Right now, I am sitting on the plane to Boston. According to Ramsey, it is the fittest flight he has ever been on, as 75% of this flight appears to be people running on Monday. His comment made me laugh, but it is totally true! Surely we will arrive a little early due to the low weight we are carrying 🙂

Anyway…as I am sitting here on this plane, I wanted to take a moment (or shall I say, blog post) to reflect on my Boston journey.

It is crazy to me that Boston is finally here. It feels like forever ago that I qualified for this race and celebrated my BQ.

When I ran my first marathon in December 2011, I didn’t know what to expect. I had no doubts that I could do it, but there were little expectations on how fast I could run that 26.2 miles. Halfway through that race, I knew I could (and would) BQ it. And when I crossed the finish line in 3:32:06, I was a very happy girl.

Happiest moment!

Happiest moment!

Since that race, I haven’t really had another awesome marathon experience. Marathon #2, Chicagoland in May ’12, was probably the most painful experience of my life (mentally and physically). Until I experienced that race, I never knew how horrible running could feel. And while that was a terrible experience, I learned many lessons that day and never lost my determination.

In between the tears.

In between the tears.

Marathon #3, Dallas ’12, was also a bit of a heartbreaker. While I am still really happy with myself on what I as able to overcome, my heart was sad from not being able to run how I trained and not feeling satisfied with the finish.

Before and after.

Before and after.

When it came time to start training for Boston, I will not lie and say I was excited and motivated and thrilled. In fact, I was the complete opposite. I only had a month off between NYC Dallas training and Boston training and I didn’t feel prepared to start it all again. While many people would be fine with that, I am not one of them. I need my rest and my breaks from the strict schedule. I was suffering from a textbook case of mental burnout.

I decided that the best way to get myself out there again was to not admit I was actually training for another marathon. Stacy and Diana would tell me what we were running, and what time to be there. On days we didn’t run together, I would just wing a workout and do whatever I felt like.

This strategy went on for about a month of training. And it worked. I was slowly able to get myself in the training groove and get excited for the workouts. I was also able to start thinking more and more about Boston. It is sad (and annoying) that it took me so long to get excited about one of the BEST races you can run. I think in the back of my mind I was still thinking about the NYC experience and how sad I felt when it was canceled. I didn’t want to get let down again, so I just didn’t really think about it.

But these last couple weeks have been a new mindset, and new attitude. And I cannot freaking wait to run this race on Monday!

I couldn’t be more OK with the fact that this race will not be my fastest marathon, and I won’t be coming home with a PR. For me, running Boston is not about the time the clock says. It is about the experience. And it is about running the entire way with two of the most amazing people in my life.

We have put in the miles to get here, and done some hard workouts to make sure we can make it the 26.2 miles to the finish. And once we are done, we will celebrate our asses off for what we just accomplished.

The goal for Monday is between 3:50 and 4:00 hours. But we will be happy with any time we run. The time will not control the day, the experience will.

Some of my favorite races have been ones where I just relaxed, ran how I felt and soaked in the experience. And that is exactly how I will be running on Monday morning!

Thank you to everyone that has supported me and encouraged me through this journey. Your kinds words have meant so much!

If you want to track me on Monday, my bib number is 14445.

Until the next post….

xo,
Ali

A Boston Marathon Pasta Party

10 Apr

Last Sunday, I attended a dinner for all the local KC runners making the adventure to Boston.

This dinner was put together by a local KC runner, Greg Hall. And it was the perfect way to kick off the Boston Marathon festivities!

Placemat signed by the Boston Bound KC runners.

Placemat signed by the Boston Bound KC runners.

So many awesome people in this room!!

So many awesome people in this room!!

First of all, Greg is awesome. He planned this entire event so the KC runners could meet each other and share our stories. Again, THANK YOU GREG for putting this together and giving us all the opportunity to meet each other. It is so much fun to have dinner with 40 other people who share the same passion as you.

Greg reading some stories.

Greg reading some stories.

Our awesome name tags!! Which I am hanging on my desk this week :)

Our awesome name tags!! Which I am hanging on my desk this week 🙂

Aside from being introduced to each other, another great thing about the night was hearing the stories of our fellow KC runners. The adventures people have experienced and faced to get to Boston are truly amazing. There were SO many great stories, and here are a few of my favorites:

  • The 24 year old guy that was never the “best runner” in high school, but will be running Boston with a bib in the 300’s. That means he is really freaking fast (I think it was somewhere around a 2:35 marathon).
  • The US soldier who was deployed last year prior to his dream marathon, and didn’t get to run Boston. So he went out on the base and ran a 1 mile loop 26 miles while the Boston Marathon was going on.
  • The guy who ran his first Boston in 1969 and only paid $2 for his entry. He has completed many Boston’s since, and plans to continue to run Boston every 5 years. (He also had his first Boston marathon shoes plastered and brought them to the dinner!!)
  • The lady who ran her ass off through so many marathons attempting to qualify, and finally got her BQ. Hard work and determination will always pay off.
  • The guy who went from running an over 6 hour marathon to now running under 3:15 (and I am SOOOO excited that he has shared his training plan with me! Thanks again, Jeff!)
He runs really really fast.

He runs really really fast.

Ran on the base. So incredible.

Ran on the base. So incredible.

Shelled out the $2 entry fee in the 60's.

Shelled out the $2 entry fee in the 60’s.

Feeling super embarrassed to stand up and tell my story. A public speaker I am not!

Feeling super embarrassed to stand up and tell my story. A public speaker I am not!

The entire group. So many amazing people in this photo!!!

The entire group. So many amazing people in this photo!!!

And now my two favorite stories, which are my running buddies.

  • Stacy, who always loved to run, but just couldn’t get her time under 4:30. After so many attempts at breaking 4 hours, Stacy turned her focus on to having a baby, but couldn’t get pregnant. Finally, while training for yet another marathon, Stacy found out she was pregnant with one my most favorite people – Caden. After a hard pregnancy, Stacy (literally) almost died in childbirth, and was in ICU for 5 days. It was terrible. However this girl is so strong and determined, that she decided after surviving that, she could do anything. And she wanted to run the Boston Marathon. After an intense training, Stacy was able to cut almost 20 minutes off her marathon and QUALIFY! The 2013 Boston marathon will be Stacy’s 2nd Boston, and 13th marathon. I can’t think of anyone else I would love to show me the way through this amazing race.
  • Diana, who wanted to spend more time with her friends and decided that running would be a great way to do this. Diana signed up for a half marathon in 2009 and rocked it. We could tell that she had natural ability, but convincing her of this was a whole different story. In 2011, Diana decided she would run her first marathon right before she turned 40. Di ran her marathon, and broke 4 hours. Obviously the girl is awesome. Following the Dallas marathon in 2011 where Stacy and I both qualified for Boston, Diana decided she would qualify too. She worked so hard, and was so determined – Running 4 marathons in one year! Although our first attempt for her to qualify was a total bust, the second attempt went as planned and she BQ’ed with a couple minutes to spare. Diana is a rock star, and I think we are getting closer and closer to convincing her of this!
"No limits, No Regrets"

“No limits, No Regrets”

On April 15th, I will cross the starting line and finish line with two of the most amazing people I know. We will run this race TOGETHER, and celebrate our hard work TOGETHER. And I cannot imagine a better way to spend those 3:45-4:00 hrs than with these girls by my side. They are like my big sisters, have taught me so much over the years, and this experience wouldn’t be the same without them!!!

xo,

Ali

Boston Marathon Training – Week ???

29 Mar

It has been so long that I wrote a recap post for my training, that I don’t even know what week I am on!

Since I am a little lost of that, let’s just do a countdown instead…..

4 weeks out from the race and I think things are going really well!! The only negative comments I have to make are that it is cold and I am starting to get really tired of these early mornings.

However those early mornings will be over soon, and race day will be here. For that, it is all worth it.

This is what 4 weeks out of training entailed:

  • 49.3 miles
  • 07:30 time
  • 5832 calories
  • 5 workouts

I ran some great miles this week, however I am in disappointed that I never got in a cross training workout. I have really enjoyed going to spin, but this week I just couldn’t get it into the schedule.

Hard days this week were mile repeats and a 22 miler.

The mile repeats went great. I ran these how I felt and pushed myself to see what I could do. When I was training for NYC, I was cranking out repeats at some awesome paces for me (6:20-6:30). I was so happy that I ran all four repeats between 6:35 – 6:45. I was feeling great and these were a great confidence boost.

The long run this week was the highest we will go in training – 22 miles.

We were fighting some pretty insane schedules with work and life, and also battling weather conditions. To deal with these things, Diana and I decided we would run our 22 miler on Thursday.

The run started at 4:30am, and ended right around 8am. It was one of the hardest long runs I have ever done, but I am so thankful we did it and had each other. I was also thankful that I have a soft office chair and could take the elevator all day at work. I was also impressed that I was only 30 minutes late (sorry, boss)!

Collapsed on the floor after 22 miles.

Collapsed on the floor after 22 miles.

Now it is officially taper time for Boston. I cannot believe how fast this training has gone and that it is almost over!!!

Finish line….I have you in my sights!!!!!

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xo,

Ali

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