By the grace of God…I was able to complete the 114th Boston Marathon. I have NO idea how or why my leg held up but it did and I feel so unbelievably blessed. ELATED! On second thought I think I do know how….there is something to be said about the power of prayer….
As J and I packed up for Boston I was very relaxed about what I packed and how I prepared myself for the upcoming marathon. I just had it in my head that I was starting the race, running a couple miles, and then would have to pull out. I didn’t need the gu’s, the body balm, or even the proper nutrition for the expected 2 miles I was going to be able to run of the 26….so I brought the bare necessities. When our host and hostess (Julia and Carl) picked J and I up from the airport Julia asked if I was nervous…I wasn’t, because who gets nervous for a couple miles? I did so many things I would have NOT done had I known I was running a marathon in the proceeding days.
Sunday morning (1 day till marathon) J and I went for a swim. After, we joined Julia and Carl at their church. During church the congregation had an opportunity to express concerns they wanted prayed for. You could sense an amazing feeling of love and support from everyone. I’m not sure I have ever witnessed so much confidence in the power of prayer. Father Len came over to J and and Julia let it slip that I was running the marathon. So of course he made an announcement and with my two ears encompassing my bright red face I hear yewwwws and aweees and then prayers. I felt those prayers, I felt my parents, J’s, my siblings, and my friends thoughts and prayers. Afterwards people kept coming up wanting to talk about the marathon. For some reason this was the first moment where my thoughts changed from running just 2 miles to actually thinking I could complete the Boston Marathon! I walked out of church with a skip in my step instead of a limp.
Ok, but I still had to be realistic. Although, I had these new ambitions, the fact of the matter was my knee was still injured and I hadn’t been able to run more than 2 miles in the last month and a half. J and I headed to the convention where we got all the cool swag and perused through the venders. I purchased some of the stylin' official Boston gear but not the “jacket” which they are known for…..I just didn’t know if I could wear it if I was not actually going to complete the race. I got taped up with Kinesiology tape and headed back to our hosts exhausted and ready for bed. Quickdinner, quick stretch and “good night Irene.”
I awoke the morning of the race to PERFECT running weather….50’s and sunny. My dilemma was what to wear (typical girl). Do I wear capri tights so I don’t freeze when I might have to pull out OR do I wear shorts which is more realistic of 50 degrees and 26 miles. I decided to go with capri tights. As you can see my doubts still lingered however, I did decide to grab an extra gu just in case. Holy cow, it was a roller-coaster morning!
7:30am we headed out the door. I was dropped off at the “athlete village” and J went to our pre-scoped out meeting place about ½ mile into the course. This is where he would jump in to be my life-support and pack mule. Yes, he was going to “bandit” the Boston Marathon! After 2 hours in the athlete village, relaxing, stretching, using the port-a-potty I headed to the start. Of all 26,000 runners I start chatting to this older gentleman…we talked about Boston, the weather, I even caught myself saying, “it is perfect huh? Nothing to worry about… just go run.” I asked where he was from….Cedar Rapids, IA, so weird! Before you knew it...10:30 and bang – race time!
I was so happy to see J! He was the best support I could have ever imagined. 2 miles down, then 3….the pain in the knee started rising up; at 5 I was thinking “hey…I have already gone farther than expected!”, so J and I celebrated with a fist pump. I wanted to make it to 6 miles because that is where Julia and Carl were waiting to cheer us on OR to aid us with a change of clothes if we had to pull out. I was feeling good so we gave them a quick smile and high five and kept on trucking. It was great to see someone we knew on the course!
After 6 we decided to make 10 our goal. 10 came and we did our habitual celebratory fist pump. Let’s keep on rolling….next goal…Wellesley College scream tunnel where the street is lined with yelling college kids. Then it became 13 miles…half way! I could not believe it! We took it one yellow mile sign at a time. Every time we passed a 5k mark I knew people at home got tracking updates about me…that was a huge motivator. I pictured my family back in Iowa surprised with each update and cheering me on to keep fighting.
Along the way I thought about all the wonderful prayers that the church and my family had said for me. I had an incredible feeling of God’s presence and I just kept talking to him….” Philippians 4:13-“I can do everything through him who gives me strength” repeatedly came into my thoughts. Every time I heard a “Go Sara!” I knew it was probably someone around me who had Sara written on her shirt or arm, but instead I chose to think they were angels sent to cheer me on. :) Loved it!
The pain was growing and had started moving up and down my leg. It scared me because I was not ready to be done however I did not want to injure myself further…regardless I pressed on. The knee pain turned to cramping. To combat this I would stop and stretch while J tried to massage my calf or go fetch Tylenol. We then started walking but walking hurt so bad, it was better to run. So after a few painful steps I would tip toe back into my run until the clenching vice around my knee eased up.
A few key things kept my mind off the pain. J was giving me small goals…the stoplight, the tent at the top of the hill or making fun conversation. We also had a good time high-fiving kids and thanking all the armed service men and women who lined the course. We also passed Team Hoyt, a blind man, a man in a wheel chair, an amputee, and a man carrying oxygen…I thought to myself “if they can do it, I can do it!”
Mile 17 was the point of no return. I wanted to see Heartbreak Hill, I wanted to run that last exhilarating mile, and I wanted to cross that finish line. Mile 18 started the beginning of three long hills (the last being Heartbreak) it also brought on a massive side ache. I was now feeling the lack of marathon training due to my injury the last month and a half, regardless I kept saying…one foot in front of the other. My leg cramped so bad on the hills that I thought for a second I was going to have to crawl it in….I turned and looked at J and said “we will NOT walk Heartbreak Hill.” Now, I definitely wasn’t smiling, but we made it to the top and there was NO walking. At this point adrenaline and tunnel vision clouded any pain I was having.
Miles 22,23,24 brought Boston College and Boston U resulting in a sea of loud, partying college students…it was awesome!
25…this is it! J peeled off and I brought it on home with a huge smile…26.2! Despite the lack of preparation, training and injury… I did it! I ran the Boston Marathon! Did I learn a lesson? You bet I did!
1)The power of prayer… so thank you everyone who thought of me race day and perhaps said a quick word to God. I felt your thoughts and appreciated it! 2)The mind is a powerful tool – often times much greater than your own physical strength. The coach I work with at Solon High School has a rule that the girls do 10 pushups for every time they say “can’t.” I never really thought it applied to me until I reflected back on this experience, so don’t worry ladies, I will own up for all the times prior to the race I said I would not be able to finish. 3)And many more I may figure out tomorrow or in years to come.
I could NOT have finished without my wonderful husband. Heck…he ran the Boston Marathon without getting any recognition what so ever…give him props for that. Good thing he is conditioned as heck to be able to just “jump in” and run a marathon. He was soooo motivating and kind; helping me obtain my goal. He would constantly tell me to think about what does feel good…”your elbows?” “your nose?” THANK YOU honey! Love you!
My leg is rather stiff as I sit here writing, in fact it doesn’t want to bend at all. I also have one toenail that looks like the top of ET’s finger, blistery and swollen….but it’s all good because those things are temporary and will heal and the fact that I have my finishers medal from the 114th Boston Marathon will be with me forever!