I was really surprised when I opened my eyes and realized that it was already 4 AM! I couldn’t believe I actually slept throughout the night without waking up once, definitely much better then I thought I would and than the night before! I couldn’t believe the big day was finally here! I hopped out of bed and as the coffee was brewing I toasted a bagel, spread some almond butter on it and had that with my coffee. Even though the race started at 10:20 AM, the busses shuttle us to the start line much earlier. So, since I had few hours to hang around before the race would start, I got dressed with my running clothes and packed all the rest, like my number, our old camera, my cell phone, extra warm clothes, food, water and Gatorade.
Dustin dropped me off at the Boston Commons where the busses were picking the runners up, but before that we stopped by the North End to pick up my new friend Gina! The line of busses were more than a mile long ,from the TD Garden to the Common, the busses basically took over the whole city. It was quite a sight!
When we got to the Common, there were thousands of runners in line waiting to get on a bus. We found a line and waited. I looked around and it was so awesome realizing that I was standing there surrounded by people that worked as hard as me for that particular moment!
I have to say that it didn’t take long at all for Gina & I to get on a bus and began the journey to the starting line in Hopkinton. We were escorted by the police so our way to Hopkinton was nice and clear. I was amazed how the whole city was revolving around the Marathon! It took us about an hour to get to the Hopkinton’s high school parking lot, right outside of the Athlete’s Village!
The Athlete’s Village was spread on two fields of Hopkinton High School. There were large white circus tents with water, Gatorade, bagels, fruit and power bars. The music was playing too and a DJ was constantly announcing of the time to the starting gun and instructions for the day. There were literally over 20,000 runners sitting, laying, taking naps and walking around the Village. I could tell that some of the runners have done this few times as they were really prepared for the waiting around, some had cardboard or inflatable air mattresses to sit or lay on, foldable chairs to relax in and had wrapping plastic bags around themselves to stay warm. We, in the other hand, had no idea of what to expect!
Even though the village was very crowded, we were able to find port-o-johns with fairly short line!
The sun was shining and there were no clouds in the sky, the temperature was in the mid 4os and the wind was blowing pretty hard which made us very cold while we were waiting. So, since we had nothing to sit on the grass, we decided to walk around a little and warm up. We found the busses where later we would have dropped our bags off and realized it was much warmer and repaired from the wind there. So, we decided to stick around there and we sat down to rest our legs a little.
I have to say that from that point on the time went by very fast and before we knew it, it was time to pin our numbers on our tank top and to get ready to drop off our bags.
All the busses were labeled with the runners bib number. We found our busses and hand our green bags to the volunteers. Each bag gets a seat on the bus for a ride back to Boston. What a well-organized race!
We finally heard the DJ announcing that it was time for us to do the long walk to the start line with thousands of other runners. Eventually we were at the corrals, Gina was before mine (#5) so I gave her a big hug and wished her good luck. I can’t imagine having done all this without her by my side, it was so great to live this experience with someone to who I found I have so much in common with! The next corral, number 4, was mine! For those of you who don’t know – Boston is the only marathon that your marathon bib number is based on how fast your qualifying time was. Therefore, before the volunteers let me in the corral they checked my number to make sure I didn’t jump corrals. You can move back to a higher numbered corral but you can’t move up, forward movement is prohibited! While waiting for the start of the 2nd wave at 10:20am, I was chatting with few girls and few minutes later it was already time to get rid of Dustin’s threw away fleece. All the runners discarded clothes were collected by volunteers and donated to the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization.
Not very long later the gun went off ….it was show time! It took me about 2 minutes to cross the actual start line, faster that I imagined, and right away there were people from each side of the road cheering us on. The course starts off on a pretty steep downhill and then climbs a little hill, so when I saw the mass of runner covering the whole road ahead of me, tears came to my eyes. I couldn’t believe I had qualified and I was actually running the 115th Boston Marathon, the oldest and most prestigious marathon in the world where runners from over a hundred years ago run the very same path.
The field was immense; it took me awhile to settle into my consistent pace and even that, I was still bumping elbows with other runners. The race was unreal. There wasn’t a section of road for the entire 26.2 miles that didn’t have a fan on the side of the road screaming and cheering.
A mile in I was already warm and peeled off my gloves. The first few water stops were pure madness but I made sure to start hydrating right at mile one and continued to drink at each water stop. Overall, I probably skipped 3 or 4 water stops. I was really just looking at everything going on around me and soaked everything in. Before I knew it , I was at the 5k mark with the first timing mat was! I thought of everyone out there who was tracking me and I smiled.
The fans were unbelievable. As I made my way through each town I couldn’t believe at the number of spectators that were out there cheering for the runners. It was so great to see families out with their kids. I had so much fun giving out high fives to lots of little kids that they were holding up their hands while I was running by, some kids were handing out orange slices, twizzlers and little cups filled with water.
Next think I knew I was at the 10k mat!
Around mile 10 was Natick. It was incredible how many people were there in this big town square cheering their hearts out for the runners. It was at about this point that I felt that my right hamstring+ gluteus was getting really tight…..again! It started to hurt me a week before the race and even though my hubby massaged it and I iced it very often, the uncomfortable pain seemed to really never go away. It felt slightly better few days prior the race and I was hoping that during the race it would not show up. But there it was coming back! This was one of the many times that I remembered Simonetta words; ” If you are mentally strong, it is amazing what you can make your body do”. That helped me focus on the experience, I was having positive talks and did not pain much attention to the discomfort.
After Natick I came into Wellesley. Here was definitely one of the quietest stretch of the whole race, as it was surrounded by woods and there wasn’t really much space for the fans to hung around. After not too long, I started to hear the screams of the Wellesley College girls, also called the tunnel of sound. It was pretty loud and lasted for about a mile before I was actually in front of them. As I went by I saw guys stopping and getting kissed by the girls. The girls all have signs that say things like “Kiss me”. It was pretty entertaining!
Once I hit the half marathon mark, the crowds just kept getting thicker and thicker, people had music blasting all over, there were college kids hanging on the roof, it looked like everyone was having so much fun, it was contagious!
I came up to Newton/Wellesley Hospital and continued on until I reached the fire station where I took a right onto Commonwealth Avenue and started the Newton Hills. I knew that the Ciclismo’s gang was at the top of Heartbreak Hill, so I was looking forward to see them all!
The Newton Hills are a series of 4 hills that starts at mile 16 and ends with “Heartbreak Hill” at mile 20. The crowd support through this section was incredible. I got through the hills without my pace dropping too much and knowing that at the end of them, I had the Ciclismo’s family waiting for me, really helped me get up and over those hills.All of a sudden I heard a very familiar voice yelling my name.
I turned around and saw Valentina running with me with a cup of water on her hand, I started to get really excited!
It was really intense seeing Marc and Lauren running, each one on a different side of the road, and recognizing the voices of my friends/co-workers yelling out my name.
I tried to spot everyone through the thick crowd, and the last thing I saw when I turned around was Luca’s proud little face looking at me, I couldn’t resist and yell out from the top of my lungs “ I love you!”
After that I was breathing really hard, I definitely spent a lot of energy up there but it was all worth it! And, the good thing was that I was going downhill now, towards the Boston College. The BC students were really loud and fun, and when I saw a bunch of them holding up their arms and made a tunnel I couldn’t resist but run under it! I was one of the few who did that, but I had so much fun doing it!
At this point the spectators really started getting thick and louder, believe it or not, more than before! Around Brookline I knew there were my father-in-law Tom & Laura waiting to see me run by and when least expected I heard my name again and saw them waving and cheering on me, I got so excited again! Later Laura said how emotional and teary she got seeing me running by. I felt so loved, I was running on clouds!
I continued on, and at this point my legs were really sore and tired. Around mile 23 the Citgo sign came into view but it was still a ways away. I kept on running and before I knew it I was climbing the little hill just before the Citgo sign. At this point I couldn’t think anything but the fact that soon I was going to see my husband, Laura, Bob and Amanda who were watching near the Hynes Convention Center…. 800 meters away from the finish line! The next thing I knew I saw the one mile to go sign. Whoo hoo I thought! I went under the short underpass and in no time, I was turning right onto Hereford, the street I had ran once on training while imagining this day when I would turn the famous left hand turn onto Boylston. It was now happening!
The amount of people out there screaming was just out of this world. Now, I was just looking into the crowd trying to find my hubby. Finally, I heard Amanda’s voice yelling “ Bella” and slowly rising over the crowd, I situated Dustin’s bright yellow T-shirt attached to our Swiffer Sweeper’s handle (another Dustin’s brilliant idea, the swiffer ‘s handle comes apart so it’s easy to transport). Here he was, waiving “the flag” back and forth, with a beautiful smile on his face. I was so happy to see him, I felt I was on top of the World and got really emotional. He is my life and I couldn’t have done any of this without having him by my side! I started to blow him kisses. With him was Bob, who was yelling :” Go Cretti!”(my maiden name) my mother-in-law Laura, my friend Amanda with her sister Olivia and husband Chris.
Seeing them helped me to push my pace even faster, it was a long sprint though, the finish line looked closer than what really is.
Finally, I was crossing the finish line with my arms up in the air! I had done it and it was absolutely amazing.
I had to walk for a while before get to the water. After that, a volunteer put a heat blanket on me and finally I got my medal! It was a long walk and the whole time my eyes would fill up with tears. I was so happy I overcame the pain finishing strong, that I had so much fun soaking up every single bit I could of the marathon and that I was a Boston Marathoner. A runner next to me, who had a lower number than mine, asked me if this was my first Boston. With tears in my eyes I replayed that it was. She looked at my number and said:” You did amazing!” At that point I just wanted to see and hug Dustin! I quickly found the bus, got my bag that I left in Hopkinton hours earlier and called Dustin. He was so happy and so proud of me! We decided on a spot to meet in the family area and when I finally saw him I gave him a big hug!
Laura, Bob and Amanda with a beautiful rose, showed up shortly after.
There were people everywhere. We weaved our way back to the T where Dustin carried me down the stairs, my legs were DONE, especially with stairs!
Running the Boston Marathon was amazing and it was worth every second of hard work I put into it. It was truly an experience of a lifetime and it will stay with me for the rest of my life!
2011 Boston Marathon Results
I participated in a historic race as the 115th Boston marathon was the fastest marathon ever run by Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya who won in 2:03:02. However, the course’s average decrease in elevation is greater than what is allowed for world record consideration.
America’s Ryan Hall, who I personally really like (he can have fun running a 4.5 pace) was finished in 4th place (2:04:58), the best time run by an American for the 26.2-mile distance!
Kenya’s Caroline Kilel won the women’s race in a time of 2:22:36 after a thrilling back-and-forth battle with Desiree Davila who claimed the second place (2:22:38). Desi ran the fastest time ever for a U.S. woman.
My hero Kara Goucher finished fifth, setting a personal record of 2:24:52, only six months after giving birth to her son, Colt.
Simonetta Piergentili, my hero,mentor and idol, came 2nd in her division, first runner from Massachusetts to cross the finish line and 3rd place Female in all New England…. pretty amazing!