Monday, April 21, 2014

Marathon Monday take 2

The much anticipated Marathon Monday morning arrived after a good night's sleep. Ryan and I donned our running clothes and shoes, race bibs, sunscreen and matching throw-away sweats (added security meant no bags at the starting line for runners). Brad, our host, graciously drove us into Boston, dropping us as close to the finish line as possible. After about a half mile walk, we loaded the buses and drove for what seemed to be far too long, passing the time watching the elite runners on our phones. They would finish before we even started. 

The runner's village was just as I remembered it. We quickly found our teammates, took pictures, and made final preparations before we headed to the start. 

I ran with Elissa for the first 13.5 miles, which really means that Elissa was kind enough to slow her pace and stay with  me. Together we passed mile markers, waved at friends, drank a bit of water and gatorade, pumped our fists for cheers of "Go Purple!" or "You've got this Team Rett!!" and just chatted about life. It was a great reminder - after having had no running partners for almost a year - how nice it is to have someone by your side. 

Our friends and family were in the same place as last year - left side of the road in Wellesley right around the mile 13 marker - so there was no guesswork this time. Knowing exactly when to expect them made the miles leading up to them much more pleasant than last year! As we rounded the bend, I saw them. At least 18 people screaming our names, holding signs for Rett, wearing Leah Beans on their shirts, bearing smiles to lift anyone's spirits. The only difference from last year was the solid row of metal barricades blocking them from the street and me from the sidewalk. I gave each of them a half hug over the bars, was assured Ryan was behind me (!!!) and continued on my way. 

Not a half mile later, my right calf seized. As in, I could not run. I pushed Elissa on her way (she would finish 40 minutes ahead of me!) and I stopped to rub out my leg. Sadly, this continued for the remainder of the race. Run, walk, stop to rub it out, run, walk, stop to rub it out. And I'm here to tell you 13 miles is a long way to run like that. Luckily, there were plenty of friends (and strangers) to cheer me on. From Tuck to Rett families, I had company at miles 16, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25 and more, offering pleasant respite while I coaxed my calf into running again. 

I laughed as I ran behind a rather handsome shirtless man through Wellesley - he was VERY popular with the young ladies from Wellesley College. 

I was once again energized by the hundreds of high fives given at Boston College.

I gladly accepted Vaseline BEFORE it became an emergency this year. 

Ryan caught up with my on Heartbreak Hill. As we reached the top, I told him I wanted a picture. He assured me we weren't quite to the top. I assured him we were. He persisted, so we ran on. I was right, so we have no picture. After about a half mile, I stopped to once again care for my calf and gave Ryan permission to beat me this year (which he did by 8 minutes). 

I passed Team Hoyt and silently thanked them for all they've done to ease some of the burdens of the special needs world. 

I stopped for a moment at Charlesgate East and Commonwealth Avenue, 25.5 miles where they closed the course and my race came to an end last year. 

I ran under the bridge. 

I turned right on Hereford.  

I turned left on Boylston. 

And, with Leah on my mind, I ignored my screaming calf and ran the rest of the way. 

And then I finished. 

I finished for me. And all those miles and frozen eyelashes and hours logged on the treadmill. 

I finished for Leah. And all she does to power through all her days. 

I finished for Rett syndrome. And the $185,000+ raised for research by our team and generous donors. 

I finished for Boston. And everything this marathon represents. 

I finished for good. Because good will always win. 

It was a healing day for Boston. The crowds were bigger (if that is even possible). The cheers were louder. The smiles were wider. The congratulations more abundant, more genuine and more thoughtful. And everyone was kinder. More aware. Perhaps just overall stronger and a little better than they used to be. 

Marathon Monday 2014 is one to be remembered. We came. We ran. And we FINISHED what we started. 

1 comment:

Laura Lewis said...

I loved reading your Marathon Monday story Maren :) Such a special day. I'll never forget the feeling this year of cheering for all the Team Rett runners. It was overwhelmingly emotional all around. Congratulations on such an accomplishment and thanks for sharing your story and all the awesome pix!