Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Road to Boston 2012 Comes to an End


The road to Boston was one marked with warm memories… warm training runs, warm encouragement from y'all, and a very, very warm race day.  As always, the journey to the race is what counts...and we have had a fabulous one!

TYPICAL race weekends are as follows:
Pack Saturday, get kids off to where they need to be, meet up, drive to whatever town the race is in, swing by expo to grab race packet, stay for free with a friend/family member, grab a carb-loaded dinner, stay up too late, sleep terribly, get up early, get to start line, run, run, run, take finisher photos, grab a bite to eat, jump in the car, drive home, back to mommy duty...and all of that is typically done in less than 24 hours!  We’re never sure what wears us out...the trip or the race!

BOSTON race weekend was totally different:
Left for Austin on Wednesday evening, flew out Thursday morning, arrived in Boston late afternoon, had a fabulous dinner with Jeri Lawyer and Cheryl Toole.  

Friday we slept until we woke up!!!  Toured Boston on a bus and then the Harbor on a boat, shopped a little, had a late lunch with Jeri and Cheryl, went by the expo to grab our packets, met Aunt Sharron for a late dinner and some fun girl talk, late to bed.  

Saturday we slept in again, went back to the expo to shop and browse, Niki met up with Madelyn, Janene, & Aunt Sharron, shopped some more.  Lisa went to the Miles for Miracles charity luncheon with Jeri, Cheryl, Mike and Avery.  We met back up, went to Red Sox's game, met family for fabulous dinner, late to bed.  

Sunday Lisa was up and out early to hang with Avery at the 5K finish line while Jeri, Cheryl and Mike ran.  Niki met family for brunch then more shopping.  Lisa, Madelyn and Niki then toured Harvard and tried to look super smart while doing so, more shopping then Lisa & Niki enjoyed an early dinner, super fans Connie and Lina came over for girlie visiting and lots of laughter, they left, we finished getting stuff ready for race day, late to bed.   Whew, we did a lot in 4 days! 

The days leading up to the race the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) sent out several strongly worded emails to runners as reality set in that race day would likely be the hottest on record thus making it very dangerous for runners.  Here are a few snippets from the BAA emails: 

·     We are making the recommendation that if you are not highly fit, you should NOT run this race.  Inexperienced marathoners should NOT run.  For those very fit athletes who decide to run, you should take significant precautions: 

Run at a slower pace and maintain hydration.

Frequently take breaks by walking instead of running. 
If you choose to run, run safely above all else. Speed can kill.

For those who plan to run you should adopt the attitude:   THIS IS NOT A RACE. IT IS AN EXPERIENCE.


The BAA announced that any runner who wanted to defer to 2013 could but there was no turning back for us.  We were going for it! 

This is where the journey would end!!! 

MONDAY/race day:
Up early, walked to buses, met a man along the way who was running his 22nd Boston Marathon and had run marathons on all 7 continents, road bus 45 minutes to start line, sat for 3 hours in the HOT sun at the Athletes’ Village waiting to start, race began at 10:40am.  Walked to the start line, Jeri and Cheryl were there to cheer for us.   WE WERE OFF and the temperature was already 80 degrees (for most Texas marathons 60 degrees is considered hot).  The temperature would indeed hit a record high of 88 for most of the race.    

I ran the first 13 miles then saw the cheer team...Connie, Lina, Madelyn, and Janene...with our BIG heads and blow horns.  It was a huge encouragement!  Ran until mile 17 while walking through water stations...I was hot and just mentally checked out.  I wanted to walk off the course...for real. 

Niki and I were assigned to different corrals at the start line and mine was ahead of hers so I started a few minutes ahead of her.  The first mile was very emotional as I thought about all that had gotten me to this point.   Plus, I couldn’t believe I was actually on the course at the BOSTON MARATHON! 

By mile 2 I was already thirsty.  Not a good sign. I took a drink of Gatorade and a drink of  water at the first water stop and by the next mile I was thirsty again.  Oh no.  I’ve never been thirsty on a marathon.  This was definitely going to be a different day.  I decided I’d walk through EVERY Gatorade/water stop from now on (one about every mile), drink a big cup of each liquid then dump water over my head and shoulders.  I had a game plan. 

At mile 4 I saw my first race casualty, she looked like she was in her early to mid 20s.  She was lying on the side of the road with a medical team around her and they were pulling out a defibulator.  Scary. 

Somewhere between miles 5 & 6 Niki came up beside me.  She looked strong.  We said “hey” as she passed me and within seconds I couldn’t see her anymore in the sea of runners. We’ve always said race day is race day – we don’t typically run together because Niki is faster than me. 

Miles 7&8 were the hardest miles mentally for me.  I was out in the countryside with few spectators to distract me, there was no shade and no cloud cover.  I was beyond hot and I still had A LONG WAY TO GO – even to get to the halfway point.  I continued on.  

I hit mile 9 and did a mental check of my body.  Yes, I was hot but my body actually felt pretty good.  Yes, I was running slow because of the heat but remarkably none of my past injuries were bugging me.  Hamstring?  Fine.  Left foot?  Fine.  Right quad?  Fine.   I thanked God and kept moving.

I thought Connie and Lina (with our big heads) were planning to be at mile 10 so I kept looking for them.  Mile 10, Mile 11, Mile 12…. No Lina and Connie.  At the half marathon point the streets were absolutely jam-packed with spectators.  I looked and looked for Connie and Lina but nothing.  Maybe they are ahead, I better keep moving.   Looking for Lina and Connie was a good motivator.  J 

By now I had seen several more runners who had been beaten by the heat.  I’ve never seen so many runners loaded onto stretchers and wheeled off of a marathon course.  Now that I think about it, I’ve NEVER seen a runner stretchered off a course.  Also, there were medical tents at every mile and they were packed full.  The feeling on the course was one of survival.  Today was about just trying to finish. 

Mile 14 – My best mile!  By now I had turned on my Ipod.  James Taylor’s How Sweet It is (To Be Loved by You) started playing.  I thought about my family – Les, Abigayle and Olivia and how they have supported me, loved me and made it possible for me to be here.  Mile 14 was a good mile.  Still no Lina and Connie.  L 

Miles 15 & 16 – I’m still moving.  I’d walk when I needed to but mostly ran.  The amazing fans along the course had pulled their water hoses and sprinklers out to the course and every time there was one spraying over the road– every runner was there, trying to cool down their bodies as much as possible.  Fans also had big bags of ice… runners would grab a handful as we ran by.  Sometime I ate the ice, sometimes I put it down my shirt and sometimes I just carried it in my hand.  Anything to keep cool. 

Mile 17 – How am I going to do 9 more miles?!?!?  I have no idea.  Then, I heard my name!  Well, that really wasn’t unusual because I had written “Lisa” on my arm and both Niki and I had written “Texas” on our legs, plus we were wearing our beef shirts.  So I got shout outs (Texas!  Beef!  Lisa!) all along the course. But this time when I heard my name the voice was familiar.  No, it wasn’t Connie and Lina (never did see them on the course L), it was NIKI!!!!  24,000+ runners and she found me! God had put us back together and I knew everything was going to be OK! 

Mile 17 - I was done.  I wanted to quit.  Then I saw Lisa!  She looked at me and could see in my eyes that I was done but she said, "Niki, we will walk this thing in.  We are not quitting." 
And it really made me stop and think...this is how my life has been. 

My life up until 2011 was like the days before the, relaxing, and smooth.  Then 2011, with Taylor’s diagnosis, it was like my race and hard and I wanted to walk off the course.  But by the grace of God, and just like Lisa on mile 17, each of YOU have been a source of encouragement and strength that have carried me through and continue to during this hard, most difficult time I have ever had. 

Lisa and I ran/walked until mile 20.5 then we walked the last 6 miles in.  I am serious when I say I would not and could not have finished without her. 

  This race was similar to life, we have a choice...not only a choice to continue or quit but a choice on how to respond and react.  My faith is the most treasured item I possess, it's the way in which I filter my choices and responses.  Because God loved me and sent His Son for me, I choose to obey Him...not perfectly but I try.  So when Lisa and I made a choice to finish we wanted to do so in a way to bring Him glory and we decided to have fun and enjoy each step we took for the next 6 miles...thankful that we were not in a 1st aid tent, thankful we had found each other, thankful that we were participating in the BOSTON MARATHON. 

So, we danced, we waved, we laughed, we gave high-fives, we thanked the spectators, we didn't stop, we didn't quit...we even encouraged the other runners passing us!  And right before the finish line we stopped.  We stopped and celebrated our journey by doing what we love to do – have fun – and right there we did a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader-style kickline for all to see!   Then we CROSSED THE FINISH LINE with smiles on our faces.  We did it! 

As we said, this race was totally different.  It turned out not as WE had planned but we know it was exactly how GOD had planned.  And although we’d never want to do it again, we’re thankful to have experienced it and again are reminded of how blessed we are that God has put us together and placed EACH OF YOU in our lives.  

We close this blog with one final thought...  
We have been on a journey - the Road to Boston 2012 - and our ultimate destination was the finish line.  We made it!  But we know, that in life, the true finish line is eternal life with Jesus.  We know that we will make it there too!  Our hope is that you too have chosen, or will choose, to walk your journey of life with Jesus.  Jesus says in John 14:6, "I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."  Romans 10:9 tells us how to be saved, "If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."  

Choose Jesus.  Enjoy the journey.  Cross the finish line!  

To see our fun photos from ON THE COURSE of the Boston Marathon click here:
Boston Marathon Race Day Photos

More photos below:  

Working the gate at Southwest
Modeling our Boston 2012 Race Shirts at the Expo

At Fenway.  Red Sox win!

Always having fun - a pull up competition on the subway while in transit!
Mike, Cheryl and Jeri after their 5K
With Avery at the charity lunch
Dinner with Janene, Madelyn and Aunt Sharon  
At the Expo.  Team Taylor!!!  
Getting at tan on the Harbor Cruise
Trying to look intellectual at Harvard
Niki's leg art
Lisa's leg art
Entering Athletes' Village
On the bus heading to the start line
Waiting for the bus 
Race morning!  About to leave the hotel.
Post race with Super Fans Lina & Connie and the famous Big Heads!
Body marked and ready to go!