The Big Day

It has become somewhat of a tradition that I send a long-winded email describing the events of the long-awaited marathon day to all my friends, family and supporters. I could not disappoint those who already told me they were looking forward to this email so here goes my recount of yesterday, the 112th running of the Boston Marathon (and my 5th!). After 5 Boston Marathons and 6 marathons total, it is hard to remember how this all started. But it did, and I have been sucked in. The memories of the leg cramps and fatigue I felt in the last few miles are already starting to fade and instead I can remember all those things that made yesterday fantastic. I read an adidas ad the day before the race and it had a runner and several sayings next to her, one of which was “Today I will run the best race I can” and I decided that would be my mantra for the marathon.

We arrived in Hopkinton at about 7:30, 3 hours before our start time. A few photo opportunities, 2 trips to the port-o-potty (those lines are LONG) and some time to get my gear together and it was 9:45 and we needed to make the walk over to the start. While it was overcast and a bit cool while we were in the Athlete’s Village, the sun came out just as we walked towards the start. I was seeking the same finish time as my teammates Ed and Peter and we planned to run together. The runners are lined up based on their bib numbers in corrals, with 1,000 runners in a corral. This year there was the largest number of entrants in Boston Marathon history and 26 corrals. We were pretty close to being BEHIND all those runners as we made our way into the 25th corral. When the gun went off, it took us about 12 minutes to get to the starting line and the first 2-3 miles were a zoo, with runners everywhere. But patience is a good thing at the start of the race. The course starts with a steep downhill and if you take off too fast, your quads will pay on the uphills later on. So I tried to be patient. We passed the biker bar in Ashland at mile 2 and at 11AM, everyone had beers in hand. Passing by several homes, folks had there stereos blasting “We are the Champions” or “Chariots of Fire”.

By mile 5, I eased into a more comfortable pace. On the side of the road I saw Santa and several elves cheering on the runners. A few miles later, Elvis stood on the back of a pick up truck singing “Love Me Tender”. Shortly after that, I came up on the Mansfield clan set up just after the 11 mile mark. The Mansfields have 3 family members on the Alzheimer’s team have a huge family, so we got a big cheer and great boost when we passed by. Ed dropped behind as we ran through Natick but Peter and I remained together. We didn’t speak much, but just having someone there was a great comfort. I did however have to say something when we passed the 2 guys running in speedos…yes, JUST speedos. I heard a woman behind me ask them “What bet did you guys lose?”

Peter dropped back at mile 15 and I was on my own for a bit. I was starting to feel the beginnings of fatigue, but I fought to not think about it. At about mile 16.5, the Alzheimer’s Association sets up a cheering station. As I got within about 100 yards, I could see the balloons and then my boyfriend Justin with his camera, snapping pictures. It was so great to see familiar faces and hear the burst of cheers as I passed. I felt a rise of emotion and a tear slipped down my cheek. My friend Molly jumped into the race, ready to help me run the last 10 miles. She was equipped with an index card of notes full of stories to entertain and distract me on the remainder of my run. Additionally, she became my water-girl, cutting over to get me water or Gatorade so I did not have to slow down to get it myself. She also helped out my teammate Brent. He to;d us he was struggling, but seeing us and hearing our words of encouragement (mostly Molly’s words – even talking takes a lot of energy by that point in the race) motivated him up the hills. I too was hitting a wall while running the hills, but I was passing people and I wanted to keep passing people, so I kept going. I saw Amy and Amy with a sign that read “Go Chrissy” with little running stick figures and their smiles helped me relax a bit. As I made it to the top of Heartbreak Hill and ran through the 21 Mile mark, I knew I would not stop and I would run the best race I could. There would be no giving up.

I slowed down a little in the last 5 miles but I was still passing people and I was determined not to let the slowly forming cramps in my quads stop me. I decided I could deal with the pain afterwards (and I did!). I had 2 things that were keeping me going…1) The Alzheimer’s Association President spoke at our banquet the Friday before the race and told us there were 120,000 patients with Alzheimer’s Disease in Massachusetts. Therefore, he said, each member of our team had 3,000 people behind them helping us to the finish. 2) I was running this race in memory and honor of several family members. As I have done the last 2 years, I was running for my grandfather, who passed away from Alzheimer’s Disease in 2005. But this year I was also running for my grandmother who passed away in December. She was one tough cookie and never complained if she didn’t feel well, so I figured that was a good example to follow when my quads starting screaming at me. Also, she was one of the most important people in my life and I wanted to make her proud by running the strongest race I could possibly run, and that meant giving all I had and not settling for anything less. I was also running for my uncle who has been battling cancer this year. He has conquered so much more than a marathon could ever equal and his perseverance made me want to run harder.

I ran past Summit Ave, where my roommate, June, was standing on a folding chair with holding a yellow sign. I ran into Kenmore Square where I saw Erika, Heather, Dave and the Joint Ventures crew. Their cheers as well as the sign reading “1 Mile to Go” gave me a push to get to the end. As I turned onto Hereford Street the noise was ridiculous and the crowds bigger than I had ever remembered. I turned onto Boylston and saw the finish line. My first thought was “I can’t wait until this is over so I can take a nap!” I passed Justin again who had made it to the finish to cheer me on. Then I saw my mom and dad…they have been to every marathon I have run and it means so much for me to see them as I near the finish. With about 100 yards to go I gave it a final push. I crossed the finish line at 3:52:48, a new personal best!

Your donations have helped me raised $5,080 as of today, for a 3-year total of over $20,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association. More than that, our team has helped increase awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease across the state and the country. If you haven’t donated yet, you still can by clicking on the link to the right. Thank you for supporting me through these past months of training and fundraising. I could not have done it without you!

1 Comments on “The Big Day

  1. Great recap of the marathon Chrissy and congrats on the PR!!!!!!!! This year’s run was awesome – so much fun! See you on the 16th!