Friday, April 20, 2018

Boston Marathon Race Recap

I AM A FREAKIN' BOSTON MARATHONER! On Monday, which is considered Marathon Monday in the running world and Patriots' Day in the New England area, I ran the 122nd Boston Marathon! It was a dream (and goal) come true!


But let's not get ahead of ourselves... There is obviously so much that happened before I crossed the finish line on the infamous Boylston Street, so let's start at the beginning (and I promise to try not to make this the length of a novel ;)).

The hubby and I flew to Boston on Thursday (if you follow me on social media, you know we were on a three week road trip that we returned from only three days earlier - so to say it was hectic to get everything ready would definitely be an understatement). We met up with my parents (who flew in from Detroit) and were able to grab an Uber by about 9pm EST.

Boston Bound!

Friday, after the hubby and I got in a 10 mile run, we spent the day exploring the city (I plan to do a separate post about our Boston adventures so keep your eyes peeled) before going to Fenway to watch the Red Sox beat up on the Orioles.

Saturday was our EXPO day! I'll be honest, I'm normally not a huge expo fan (for most races I am in and out in a matter of minutes), but I was excited to check this one out. I had my Runner Passport in hand and was raring to go!

In my mind, I was expecting the majority of the vendors to have Boston Marathon specific gear. You see, I normally don't buy things at race expos, but had given myself permission to splurge and buy ALL THE GEAR since I was only planning on running the Boston Marathon once (this was such a huge goal for me that I figured I earned it and should live it up!).

You know I've gotta #KeepItReal, so let me tell you - I was a bit disappointed. The expo was similar to what you would find at most large races (think LA Marathon, Rock 'N' Roll San Diego, runDisney races). Don't get me wrong, there were tons of booths, but I wouldn't say that they had a ton of Boston specific gear. I would have LOVED to have walked away with a hoodie, maybe a jacket, etc, but instead I ended up with a $3 sticker and an autographed book from Scott Jurek.

At least my wallet was happy about the lack of goodies I bought at the expo

Sunday I met up with the #TeamSparkle #Boston4Rett ladies for breakfast. We made reservations a few days prior at a restaurant near the finish line (Brownstone) so we could snap some pictures together afterward. (Since we weren't all planning to run together we wanted to at least get a few team photos.) It was great getting to hang out with everyone for a bit, talk strategy and focus on the bigger purpose of our race - to raise money and awareness for Rett Syndrome.

This team... these ladies... 
If you've been following me for long, you know I am always the one who screws up the jumping photos (especially when it comes to our
#Ragner4Rett photos) so I was pretty proud of myself for nailing this one with everyone else!

And, of course, one of the main topics of conversation was also WEATHER... You see, although the date on the calendar said SPRING, Mother Nature had other ideas... She was planning to send cold (the temps at the start were expected to be in the 30s, but the real feel was supposed to be in the 20s), wind (they were predicting 25-35 mph winds with gusts upward of 50 mph) and rain (the weatherman said to expect 2-3 INCHES). The BAA did their best with sending out updates via email, but obviously the weather is one of the factors we have ABSOLUTELY ZERO control over on race day.

I've gotta say, I think the runs that the hubby and I did while on our road trip definitely helped prepare me (at least mentally) for the Boston weather. Don't get me wrong, I would have MUCH preferred 45-50* and sunny, but at least our recent PNW runs made me feel like I knew what to expect with the wrench Mother Nature was throwing into our plans.

During this trail run it was raining so hard that puddles turned to
streams and we tried not to float away!

I was pretty surprised I wasn't getting more nervous the closer we got to race day. But, like I had been telling everyone that week, this race was my victory lap! I wasn't planning on setting any records on the course - I just wanted to try my best to enjoy every moment. I guess that mindset really did help because I was feeling pretty cool, calm and collected.

Although you may never see any of my base layer, the #Boston4Rett team will all have a similar uniform for the race! Boston Inspired
PRO Compression socks
, yellow Handful bra, yellow Sparkle Athletic skirt, #Boston4Rett tank, #WeRunSocial thingamajigwhite
and blue QALO silicone wedding bands
, blue and yellow Momentum Jewelry wraps, MudLOVE bandblack RoadID, Nathan handheld,
PROBAR BOLT chews, "Carlee" hat (I made), my Garmin Fenix 5S, and Brooks Ghost 10 (with blue Shwings).

No matter what Mother Nature threw at us, I wanted to be ready. Thankfully there were stores like Target and Home Depot near where we were staying (we did an AirBnB in Dorchester that worked perfectly for us and we didn't have to sell any organs on the black market to afford it) so I was able to grab a couple last minute items to keep me warmer and drier.

I know, I know, everyone laughed at my dish washing gloves, but they were a LIFESAVER at keeping my hands dry during the race!

As you probably know, I'm a morning runner. I love getting my workouts done first thing in the morning. The Boston Marathon has a late start (or at least later than I am used to), but the nice thing about that is you can sleep a little later.


Okay, so technically the later start times SHOULD allow you to sleep in longer than your average race, but since runners are required to drop their check bags at the finish (you are only allowed a gallon sized clear plastic bag onto the buses to Hopkinton) and take a bus to the start, it is still a rather early morning when you work in all of the logistics.

Surprisingly I actually slept till my first alarm went off on race morning (probably due to the time change {our bodies still felt like it was three hours earlier} and the fact that we had been walking all over the city for the previous three days, putting in an average of 15 miles a day including our runs). I got up, checked social media and started to get ready.

Left: Without my rain gear / Right: With my rain gear

Since we were staying near a T station, getting to the finish line area was easy-peasy. Well, that was until I realized two stops in I forgot my gear check bag. I frantically called my mom, asked her to wake up Ryan and had him meet me where I would be changing trains. Thankfully I had added in a buffer and still got to gear check with plenty of time to spare. {FYI: I love public transportation, so I may be a little bias, but I thought getting to the race was extremely easy on the trains.}

Waiting at the station for the hubby to bring the gear I forgot...

I chatted with some of the #Boston4Rett ladies and we said it might be nice to have others to "suffer" with during the race conditions since we weren't running for time, so five of us decided to meet up and potentially run together. The game plan was to meet at gear check by 8:20am, but Elise also forgot her gear check bag and had to have their Uber turn around. Allison, Kristen and I got on the buses together and planned to meet Elise and Carrie when they got to Athlete's Village.

Kristen and I trying to stay dry on our way to the buses

Maybe it's just me, but for point-to-point races where you have to take transportation to the start, it always seems like the ride takes FOR-EV-ER and has me seriously contemplating how we RUN that distance (I usually tell myself they're taking the "long way" to make myself feel better). Even still, I was totally fine being out of the elements for the extra time.

Bus selfies are a must, right?!

I'm not sure what I was expecting when we arrived at the Athletes' Village (wouldn't it have been nice if the weather had cleared up by the time we got there and it was overcast and dry when we walked off the school bus?!), but what we were greeted with was the harsh reality of the day... It was soggy (like the fields were covered in pond sized puddles and caked in three to five inches of mud), windy (some of the banners and signs were getting torn off the scaffolding) and cold (it seemed like every one's teeth were chattering moments after stepping off of the buses).

Thanks to Allison for capturing some of the harsh realities around us!

We did our best to try and stay as dry and warm as possible (although this was a harder feat than we had originally anticipated). Avoiding puddles and mud-pits was near impossible, but thankfully we made it to some port-o-potties without slipping and sliding too much (and my eagle eyes even found some behind one of the tents with ZERO line - SCORE!).

Whenever I pictured myself snapping a photo here I never expected to be covered in so much plastic...

Since the walk from Athletes' Village to the starting line is almost a mile, they call the different waves at different times, have them wait in a holding area (based on the corrals within the waves) and then send the runners to the start. At races with strict corral placements, you can move backwards to a "slower" corral, but you aren't able to move up to a "faster" one (this is for safety purposes so everyone is running similar paces and there aren't a ton of runners you are having to bob and weave around). This means if all of us wanted to run together we would need to move back to the corral the last one of us was in (which happened to be Wave 3, Corral 5). Carrie and Elise still hadn't arrived to Athletes' Village by the time they called Wave 3 so we decided we'd head to the start and wait for them in the CVS bathroom near the corrals.


It's kind of crazy that the starting line of this HUGE race feels like it's just on some random neighborhood street. I love the hometown feel, even with having 30,000 runners taking over the area! (I've heard that normally the walk to the start is lined with spectators and community members, but the weather seemed to be keeping the majority of them away.)

FYI: This is a photo from 2016 hence why there aren't torrential downpours ;)

While we were waiting for Elise and Carrie to meet us, we did our best to get ready for the race. You know, by doing things like tearing off the plastic bags we had tied around our shoes, putting hand-warmers in our gloves, hiding our phones in waterproof plastic bags, etc. PS Although it's sort of strange they don't have a gear check of sorts at the starting line, I love that they do their best to donate everything to local charities (whether it's clothing or external phone chargers).

Thankfully around the time Kristen, Allison and I were deciding if we needed to head to the start Carrie and Elise arrived! It was great having these ladies by my side as I started the victory lap for the biggest goal I've ever tackled/ accomplished!

These ladies are AMAZING! Allison, Carrie, Elise and I qualified at the same race in 2016 to get us here!

I'll be honest, with the crazy weather conditions and being on the look out for the rest of our #Boston4Rett crew, I didn't really take in the moment at the start. It wasn't like the usual start I'm used to where you sing the national anthem, wait around in your corral, move up closer to the starting line periodically, get psyched up, etc. We sort of just started walking to the start and then started running. I think the lack of pomp and circumstance helped remind me that it wasn't necessarily about the destination of getting to the Boston Marathon that was so special, but the entire journey!

So, literally, before I knew it I had started my victory lap towards becoming a BOSTON MARATHONER! 


Now, let me warn you right here, between the starting line and the finish line I didn't take my phone out a single time due to the weather (my old iPhone is NOT waterproof and is only hanging on by a thread). Also, between the start and about Mile 25 I was wearing rain gear that covered my bib, so I don't even have any "official" photos to share for the majority of the race. With that said, there will be very limited pictures, but hopefully you still read about my experience. #BloggerFail

Although the five of us (Allison, Kristen, Carrie, Elise and I) started the race together, Allison soon sped off and left us in her dust. (She's speedy with a capital "S" so we didn't expect her to stay with us long and since she wanted to get out of the elements ASAP she decided to head towards the finish line at a faster clip.) The remaining four of us were able to stay together for a good chunk of the race. Around Mile 13 I noticed Kristen started falling behind us, so Carrie dropped back to run with her, which left Elise and I steaming ahead. Around Mile 16 I looked around and could no longer find Elise - oops! I don't know if I was charging a hill and didn't notice her slowing down or if we got split up in the shuffle of an aid station, but after that I was on my own. Even still, the five of us still were able to finish within 16 minutes of each other.

But again, I'm getting ahead of myself, so back to the race itself!

We knew that our mindset and perspective would have a HUGE effect on our race (go in thinking it is going to be miserable and it will be miserable). We decided that we were going to celebrate each and every mile, so whenever we passed a mile marker (and even some of the kilometer markers) we let out a hoot and a holler! Not every step was going to be sunshine and butterflies, but you better believe we wanted to enjoy as much of the experience as possible.


Like I said earlier, my runs while out on the road during March and the beginning part of April really prepared me for these circumstances. (The hubby and I did a 17 mile run along the Tillamook Peninsula where it was 35* and sleeting with crazy winds the entire time and a 26 mile run in Point Reyes National Seashore with sideways rain that had us running in full-flowing streams!) I absolutely believe that had I come to Boston after only running in SoCal "winter" I wouldn't have been able to take the conditions in stride as easily as I was. I have quickly learned that A) if you wait for perfect conditions you will miss out on a ton, B) you need to learn how to dance in the rain and C) the proper gear can make all the difference!

Can we all agree that this is LESS THAN IDEAL conditions?! 

As far as gear, on the top half of my body I was wearing a tank top and sleeves (which were actually knee-high socks that I cut the toes off of), a thin long sleeve tee, a rain jacket (that I was totally fine "donating" along the course) and a poncho. I also had a crocheted hat under my trucker hat, a "non-buff" around my neck and my dish washing gloves (with hand warmers inside). On the bottom half of my body I had on compression socks and capris, with my sparkle skirt over top. I also had toe warmers in my shoes that I forgot to take out before starting, but thankfully didn't cause any blisters. I'd say that the only thing that was ever cold were my hands when I was taking my gloves on and off to get my fuel out. And actually, I would say I was probably a little too warm but didn't feel like dealing with the hassle of trying to disrobe.

While we were chatting, Elise and Carrie (who had run the race before but not the same year) both said their only regret from their previous Boston was not kissing the girls of Wellesley College (which is a Boston Marathon tradition). Well, I wasn't going to make that mistake ;) In fact, I stopped to kiss FOUR! The signs of the ladies I gave smooches to said "Kiss Me - I'm from sunny California", "Kiss Me - My thesis is due tomorrow", "Kiss Me - I'm graduating" and "Kiss Me - I'm wet".


But in all honesty, whether the spectators were giving out kisses, licorice, high fives, orange slices, beer or "just" encouragement - it was ALL greatly appreciated! At least the runners were able to warm up a bit because we were running, but the spectators (and volunteers) had the hard part because they were standing still in the elements.

And around Mile 18 I saw some spectators I knew - HECK TO THE YES! In the hoard of November Project tribe members I found Kelly! I gave her a HUGE hug, thanked her for being there and stopped to chat for a bit. Then Kristen ran over and surprised me! I hung out for a few minutes before heading out to finish the race. Spectators have a hard (and often thankless) job and I wanted to make sure they knew how much I appreciated them, their energy and their encouragement!

Source: @peanutruns' Instagram 

Despite the rain (it'd go from a drizzle to full downpour on a moment's notice), wind (I'd say it was a headwind for 99% of the run) and cold (I think by the time we finished it had hit 40*, but the real feel outside was still in the low 30s), I couldn't stop smiling. I splashed in puddles, cheered on fellow runners, gave out all the high fives and continually praised God for the opportunity and ability to be running the Boston Marathon! If there was ever a low point, I would draw strength from the 27 girls with Rett Syndrome I was running for. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, running in less than ideal weather for four hours is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in comparison to what they (and their families) battle on a daily basis. It's all about perspective and I believe keeping that in mind helped me not only survive the race, but enjoy every step!

Source: Girl Power 2 Cure's Facebook Page
The 27 girls that each of my 27 miles were dedicated to! 

A few days before the race I put a call out on my social media channels to find the best place for my parents and hubby to spectate. I had a ton of great suggestions, but finally decided that the corner of Commonwealth and Hereford (just before you take the legendary right onto Hereford and then left onto Boylston) would be perfect. This area wasn't as packed with spectators as the finish line, but was still close enough so they could meet me afterward without either them or I having to wait too long. Another benefit was they could walk down Commonwealth Ave and miss the chaos on Boylston. Although they weren't going to be able to see me physically cross the finish line, they would have a better shot at actually seeing me on the course. (They'd totally recommend this location if you or your spectators are looking for a place to go!)


When I finally saw Ryan (he's the tallest one in the group so I spotted him first) I gave out a scream! I was so excited to see them out on the course. With my parents living in Michigan, they aren't able to make it to very many of my races (in fact, they've only been able to come to the Dopey Challenge) so it was awesome to have them out there to experience the amazingness that is Boston! I was able to stop and chat for a few seconds, snap a couple pictures and remove some of the layers (one of the nice ladies nearby even helped pull off my poncho for me). I gave kisses, waved goodbye and told them that I'd see them right after I officially became a Boston Marathoner!

Like I said, you couldn't get that smile off my face for any reason!

So stoked to see my family! 

Stripped down and ready to head down the home stretch! 

I knew those last two turns would be awesome, but they were even better than I had expected. I got chills and couldn't stop myself from hooting and hollering! I mean, I was living my dream right then and there and it was AMAZEBALLS!

This is a picture the hubby snapped just after I took my right onto Hereford

As I was heading to the finish line I heard people cheering for me and I was STOKED! (Although I had my name on my hat, my rain jacket hood was covering it for the majority of the time so most spectators couldn't see it.) I actually had a couple friends who were near the finish and snapped some photos of me which was super nice of them!

BIG PROPS to Kristen for snapping this shot!

Thankful to have Jen (from Run Ink) at the finish line to cheer me in and snag a picture!

As luck would have it, as I made my way to the finish line the rain started falling harder and faster. But instead of bumming me out, it just made me smile that much more! The weather was tough, but you better believe that I AM TOUGHER! 

And just like with the start of the race, the end of the race came before I was fully ready. Don't get me wrong, I was soaked to the core (and once I stopped running the cold factor definitely came into play), but I think I could have stayed out there all day! I put in so much time and effort to make this moment happen that I legit didn't want the race to end!

I snagged this screenshot from the NBC Sports App. If you go back and watch the replay I cross the finish line around 3:49:59 of the stream.
PS If you want to re-watch the broadcast, you can see it on YouTube HERE

Shortly after crossing the finish line I heard a familiar voice screaming my name... it was Dorothy! She was in a bus stop shelter watching folks finish. I gave her a big hug, chatted about the race and then had to make my way to get dry clothes!

The finisher shoot for the race is rather long (you pick up a bottle of water, then a cup of Gatorade, followed by your medal, a hooded Mylar blanket, a bag of refreshments {thank you, BAA, for putting everything in a bag so I didn't have my arms full of treats!} and then it was off to gear check to grab my warm, dry clothes). Unfortunately the line for the changing tents was way too long so I decided to head to meet up with my family and opted to change once I got back to our place.

A pile of all my soggy gear after I got back home

I've said it before, but I'm TERRIBLE at running tangents! If I see a little kid on one side handing out high-fives, I will run out of my way to go give him one. I'm sure some of the "extra distance" may have been due to loss of signal because of the buildings or the amount of GPS watches in the area, but I clocked over a mile more than the regulation distance ;)

I am #BostonStrong!

Although my teeth may have been chattering, you couldn't wipe the smile off my face! I DID IT! I went from runner to marathoner to Boston Qualifier to BOSTON MARATHONER! I realize some non-runners may not understand why this is such a big deal, but the Boston Marathon is like the Super Bowl of running. Some people train their entire running careers to be able to qualify and run this race. This race, this medal, this moment solidifies the fact that I can do hard things!

And besides the hot shower and dry clothes that I was craving, I was so excited to chow down on the donut my hubby grabbed for me the previous day (it was from Kane's Donuts and even though it wasn't fresh, it was DELISH!).


Now, I know what you may be thinking... I had shared in my "Plans for Boston" that this race would be a one and done for me. Now that I've tasted the sweetness that is the Boston Marathon you wanna know if I'll be back. Obviously I reserve the right to change my mind in the future, but for now this will be my one and only Boston Marathon. I want to give other runners the opportunity to experience the magic that is Boston. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with someone who runs the marathon more than once (and I definitely see why runners do), but for me, I don't want to take that spot away from another runner who worked their tail off if I've already been able to do it. Sure I would have loved to have better weather, sure I would have loved to have taken pictures on the course, sure I would have loved to really "seen" my surroundings, but you know what?! I wouldn't have changed a single moment. It may not have been what I was imagining when I pictured myself becoming a Boston Marathoner, but it was PURE PERFECTION - every cold, rainy, windy second!

Thinking a new tattoo that is unicorn inspired is in my near future ;) 

If you've stuck it out this long, THANK YOU! I know this recap was lengthy, but I guess it's fitting since my journey to this moment has been a long one as well. To all of you would have followed the roller coaster to this finish line - YOU ROCK MY SOCKS! Literally, I don't have the words to say that will can truly articulate my gratitude for you and your support. It means more than you will ever know and I am forever grateful! To the families who allowed me to run for their girls - it was an absolute honor! Please know I will do everything in my power to raise funds and awareness so that one day we won't only be running for your girls, but WITH your girls! I will continue running #UntilSheCan! To everyone - THANK YOU!


SD Mom said...

Amazing recap as usual! You gave me chills reading it!

Katy C. said...


Tim Peterson said...

GREAT recap. I also ran this year and agree with you in the expo. I was a bit bummed out 🙁. Epic day. One for the memory book!

Bree at Clarity Defined said...

I love this recap and I'm still just so thrilled for you! Congratulations!

Anonymous said...


Lisa3 said...

You are amazing! It was so fun to follow you.

Stacey N. said...

Super congrats to you! This is an amazing honor and I'm glad you enjoyed your journey. ❤️

Laura said...

Great recap, congratulations!!!

Unknown said...

Enjoyed reading this. Hearing your experience of the Boston Marathon. So happy for you. Now I believe I read before that you don’t keep your medals, do you plan to keep your Boston Medal?

Ben and Jack's Momma said...

Such a great recap! I can only hope that someday I can experience this...congrats again, you are amazing!

San said...

Wow, wow, wow. What an amazing experience, Carlee! I am so happy for you (even though the conditions were less than ideal this year).

So far, I've had major respect for marathons and I don't know if I will ever run one (let alone, qualify for a prestigious race like the Boston Marathon), but man, running in Boston would be a dream. Why don't they do halfs?? LOL

Cheryl said...

Excellent recap- felt like I was running with you! Oh wait...I don’t run full marathons.....YET!

Marta said...

I’m following you since, I think 3 years. I’m not posting tons of comments on your blog, but surely you are on my fave bookmarks.
You are super-though! And now a Boston Marathoner...many many congrats to you! ❤️ Marta from Italy