Sunday, February 23, 2014

My Boston Experience...Part1

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So even when I was blogging last year I never addressed my experience at the Boston Marathon.  It always just seemed to raw.  It's only now as I am preparing for this years race that I am really processing what the Boston Marathon means to me personally.  Anyone who ran the race last April has a story.  They know exactly where they were when the bombings occurred. My experience is only a fraction of the terrible events of that day.  But it's my story...

The days leading up to the race my hubby informed me he was not going to be able to come to the finish line because he was initiating a computer "thingy" at work.  To say I wasn't happy was an understatement.  I remember saying to him, "I'm running the Boston Marathon, and your not coming?" I was crushed.  Our sitter, a MA native and 27 year old nanny was planning on bringing my three children into the city to see me cross the finish line.  But the night before she called me and explained "I just don't feel comfortable going in with the kids."  Ugh that was the icing on the cake.  So I would have no one waiting for me at the finish, except the group I was going to ride home with.  The night before the race I started to get antsy. I didn't know Boston at all and with over 25,000 runners I was afraid to get lost and not find my group.

The day started like any other race, tons of excitement and adrenaline flowing.  never...let me repeat never...ran a race with my cell phone.  But for some reason I was compelled to have it.  I had no plan of where I was going to put it or how I would carry it, I just took it.  So I jammed the phone in the back pocket of my running skirt & zipped it shut.  It wasn't pretty but I had it.  Little did I know it would be my life line later in the day.  We arrived in plenty of time to walk up the port-a-potties and drop off our race bags.  When I was putting my race bag on the bus I quickly asked for my bag back.  I took my cell phone out.  Something in me felt like I had to have it.  I have

I have to say I was so fortunate to run with my high school friends Tara an amazing ultra runner and Kim who blogs over at This Runner's Fuel.  I quickly became buddies with a friend of Tara's named Erik who was a first time Boston runner too!  We chatted and quickly knew our racing abilities were very much alike so we decided to start out together.  It was an amazing morning. Temps starting in the upper 40's with sunshine and blue skies.  As we started off I just tried to take it all in.  I was Hopkinton running the Boston Marathon!  I read every sign, watched the crowd, read the backs of every ones tee shirts.  The energy was palpable. I was so surprised at mile 6 when Eric slapped me on my arm & said "Do you know that guy?" I looked over to see my hubby waving his arms frantically and calling my name!  I bolted over cutting off a few people in the process (they were not happy & not good race equate, but I didn't care) I hugged him as hard as I could, he gave me a water bottle and off I went.  That gave me so much pep in my step I was beaming.  I just kept yelling I can't believe he came! Eric and I stayed together until about mile 12.  We lost each other at an aide stop.  I waited on the side but did not see him, so I went along by myself.

Mile 17 started the hill section of the course.  I had worked hard during my training to conquer Heartbreak Hill.  Every long run would end with a 1/2 mile incline to simulate Heartbreak Hill.   My goal was to run it, no matter how slow.  I hit the first two hills with ease and thought wow, I've got this! But little did I know that at Mile 20 the final hill, the legendary Heartbreak, that rises a half-mile would break me.  My legs were shot, it was now hot and sunny...I succumbed to walking.  I was so disappointed in myself, but I had 6 more miles to finish so there wasn't much time for sulking.

As I descended into the last 6.2 miles towards downtown Boston the crowds got crazy.  It was wall to wall people.  When I got to the last mile there were barricades holding back the crowds although it didn't stop people from running out into the street.  It was chaotic and I was just trying to focus on finishing.   I was keeping a close eye on my watch and my predicted finish time, I could not believe I was 20 minutes faster than my previous Marathon times!  I was on fire.  I was at mile 25.9 (according to my garmin gps watch) when the first bomb struck.  I did not hear the bombs because I had my headset on.  I remember running and then there were people running toward us saying stop and a massive human pile up began.  (Think about it this way, they estimate 150 people or more cross the finish line at that time.)  All those people just kept coming.  They had no idea what was going on.  It wasn't long before people said they closed the finish line....but no one knew why.  My first thought was "Ugh how are they going to calculate my time".  I know that sounds selfish but that's the honest truth of what I knew and how I felt in that moment.  As I stood there, ton's of helicopters started flying in over head.  It didn't seem unusual because there were helicopters following the elite runners earlier in the day.  I took my phone out of my pocket and tried to make a call.  Like everyone else we had no cell service.  Little did we know that cell service was cut off because they were afraid that more bombs were going to be ignited via cell phones.  My phone caught service after about 5 minutes and it was my husband frantic.  He was panicked asking if I was ok.  I was really not understanding his concern.  He told me there was an explosion at the finish line.  I said "they told us they are going to re-open."  He said "Deana they are not going to reopen, it's bad...get out of there."  It was then that it started to hit me.  We were packed in the barricades like sardines, sitting ducks.  I didn't know Boston or where I was, so I got my wobbly legs over the barricade and started walking.   At the same time my phone was literally on fire...text ringing.  I didn't have a full battery and could see it draining from all the calls.  My mother got through and said, "Deana where are you?" I said "Mom, I'm fine I can't talk I don't have much battery", click. (When I talked to her the next day she said that was the best conversation she's ever had).  By this time Tara, had reached me,  her husband and 3 children had been on Boyelston street but at the other end, thank god!  She said "I'm getting my kids in the car and getting out of here."  "Go!" I said, "I'll be ok."  She said Jay, her husband would come to get me, but as the city went into lock down mode all of our attempts to meet up were futile.  I made my way to the Charles River and walked over it onto the campus of MIT.  Some wonderful young couple saw me standing on the corner in a daze and asked me if I had just run the marathon.  When I said yes and she took the jacket she had on and gave it to me.  It was one of the most amazing acts of kindness and grace I have ever received.

I walked and walked every T-station I came too was shut down.  My husband was on the phone pleading with me to sit and wait for him to come. But the city was literally in lock down and there was no way he was getting in to get me.  I knew my legs were on the verge of quitting and if I stopped to sit I would not get up again.  I finally made it to a T-station that was going out bound only.
I pulled 5 dollars out of my zipper pouch of my water bottle.  That $5 had been in my zipper pouch for 2 years.  I bought ticket to a nearby town and got on the train.  When I got out I called Jay to tell him where I was.  But he was still unable to get me.  My heart sank.  I had no clue where I was.  I had $2 left and my cell phone was almost dead.  My husband told me to ask a cabbie if he could pay for my fare over the phone with a credit card.  I finally was able to convince a cabbie to take me to my friends house.  It was an hour and 1/2 cab ride because the grid lock was horrible.  When I arrived it was almost 7pm.  I was so sick...literally.  My body was revolting against me, I hadn't had anything to drink since the final aid station at around 2pm in the afternoon.  I had awful diarrhea and stomach cramping.  I had a headache and was sunburned.  I drank some coconut water, got in the shower and started to cry.  The 6 of us who started the day together met up to talk and try to make sense of the events that occurred.  But my mind was elsewhere and I just wanted to get home.  At about 9:30 pm I finally felt well enough to drive the 45 minutes home. When I got home I collapsed into the arms of my hubby crying.  I went upstairs and kissed my babies all of whom were sleeping like angels.  My sweet daughter Sophie had made me a "medal" and left it on my pillow because my husband had told her I didn't get to finish and get one.

Tune in for the conclusion and why I have chosen now to share my story with you.

xoxo- Deana

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