|Krystle's team was seriously rocking the jerseys! We're just missing Jackie in the photo. She had the luxury of staying at her parents' place in Hopkinton the night before the race - lucky!|
I rode the bus to Hopkinton with Kelly. She was incredible. Funny as hell and full of so many great tips. Oh, and did I mention that she has run a marathon on every continent?? (My 12 year old wants to know if that includes Antarctica. I don't know about that. But, after hearing her story of running a marathon in a Kenyan wildlife reserve - where there are actual WILD animals - I feel like that should count as double!) **UPDATE** I talked to Kelly and she did, in fact run a marathon in Antarctica. If that's not total badass, then I don't know what is. PS she said the penguins act just like puppies down there. Best visual ever.
|Walking to the starting line with Kelly|
|Those t-shirts were a surprise from my in-laws. I cried actual tears when I saw this on the bus!|
As a charity runner, I was among the last group of runners to start the race. This meant we didn't even hear the gun go off until 11:15am. (And since there were so many of us, it took about 10 minutes before I actually stepped over the starting line.) It was hot that day, and after months of winter training, I didn't do enough to ward off dehydration.
Around mile 7, I started to get intermittent leg cramps. I knew this was a warning sign, but I trudged along. It definitely slowed me way down. I've written before about the fact that I'm a slow runner, but I've never had trouble like that so early in a run. The cramps continued on and off for the rest of the race and added probably an hour or more to the (already slow) time I was hoping to finish.
But, I kept going anyway. Because the last thing I was going to do, after all of the support I had received from everyone, was to stop. So I trudged along. I high-fived a million little kids because I know my own kids have a competition every year at the marathon to see who can get the most high fives. Plus, you have to keep going when people are calling you by name. I had written Lissie on both arms. So I got lots of "Go, Leslie!" and delayed "I mean Lissie!" when they figured out how to pronounce it. It didn't matter. Every cheer sounded awesome! And I got to see friends along the way.
My mother-in-law's best friend, Ditto, was waiting for me right at the end of her street in Natick (around mile 10). It was so great to see a friendly face! Then, when I was feeling slightly better than death in Wellesley (and realizing that I was barely more than halfway), one of my friends from college actually tackled me on the course. She gave me a quick hug and then physically pushed me and told me to keep going. Karen, that actual push through Wellesley center was just what I needed. We have good friends who live just off the course in Newton around mile 16. I was so happy to run up to them and see the signs their kids had made for me. What a boost! All along, I knew I was running much slower than any training run I had ever taken. It was so discouraging to worry about all of the people along the way who might be waiting for me. But I was so thankful to them for hanging around. I never could've gone all that way without them.
I finally got to Newton-Wellesley Hospital to see my friend, Erin, and the rest of the gang who organized the team for Krystle Campbell. Erin jumped right in the course and ran along with me. I think she would've kept going if I hadn't forced her to turn around at the firehouse. She was unbelievable. Erin ran along in her jeans just to keep me going (& offering to massage my leg right on the race course when it cramped up). I still laugh thinking about it. As she ran with me, I was talking myself through the rest of the course. I said, "Okay, you'll run me to the firehouse. Then, I'll do the hills and my family will be at the top of the last one. Then, it's mostly downhill after that. I've totally got this." I wasn't entirely sure that I had it at all, but I figured it couldn't hurt to fake it. Erin heard me and said one of the best things I heard all day:
"Of course you've got this. You're not going to quit now. You want me to do those fucking hills with you??"
And I don't doubt for a second that she would've. Erin is amazing. But, I sent her on her way and made my way up the hills. Those Newton hills were a bitch. I trained on them. I was ready. Until it was actually that time and my muscles were no longer cooperating. I could barely jog up - it was more of a power walk up with a run on the downhill. It sucked. Along the way, I was looking for a friend who is a Newton cop stationed along the route. That's when I realized that all of those guys look exactly the same when they're in uniform with their hats and sunglasses. At last, I found Rocco and he sent word along to my group that I was getting closer (finally!).
I texted PJ to let him know that I was walking up the hills and that it might be a while. I was feeling pretty down about being so far behind schedule. But he reminded me to just keep going and have fun. That's when I watched a girl drop right to the pavement. She got up and said she was fine, but was clearly wobbling on her feet. The police came over and called the EMTs for the poor girl. And I realized that I might not be even remotely fast, but I was determined to at least crawl across that finish line.
PJ and Patrick met me at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill. They walked up with me to keep me company. Along the way, a very nice, drunk college girl offered me two dixie cups of beer. Knowing I was probably already dehydrated, I told her to give them to my husband. She also wanted to give one to my "friend." Apparently, Patrick looks older from behind because when he turned around and smiled with his 12 year old face full of braces and she said, "Oh, God, I'm sorry!" It was pretty funny. Hopefully we've got many more years before Patrick is actually drinking dixie cups of beer.
At the top of Heartbreak Hill, I finally got to my squad. It was completely amazing. My mom, stepdad, stepmom, aunt, uncle, ALL of the in-laws, one of my nieces, two of my best friends from college (with family in tow), and my neighbor were all waiting for me in the t-shirts my father had made. It was quite a sight! I know they had been waiting a long time for me to make it 20 miles and it was such a relief to finally get to them.
|With my nephews included, it says, Go MOM Go!|
|Daddy & the gang|
|My squad. So amazing to see them all. Only sad that they didn't save me any of Lala's calzone.|
After hugs and tears and complaining about the fact that everything hurt (plus a salty snack), I had to go finish this damn race. Patrick decided to run to the finish with me. I kept trying to talk him out of it because I really didn't think he could run 6 miles, but he was insistent that it wouldn't be a problem. Sophie was so upset with me that I wouldn't also let her go, but I had to draw the line at a nine year old in flip-flops.
Patrick came along for the run. Right by BC we saw a mom from the kids' school cheering for us. Then, at the top of Lake St., I ran into another one of my very best friends. Annette gave me the best hug ever and told me to keep going. Although, I thought she was going to give me a ride in her stroller (which would've been nice).
Coming downhill into Cleveland Circle, my legs were toast and I told Patrick to slow down so I could walk for a bit. That's when we ran into some of my friends from work. This was around mile 22 and I felt pretty close to dead. I'm not even sure what I said to them. Something like, "I can't believe you guys are still here." and "Oh my God, everything hurts." It's a total blur, but I know I was happy to see them.
All along Beacon Street, I gained newfound respect for the spectators who hang on or come out for the late runners. It was so amazing to have these people camped out still cheering, high-fiving, and giving out treats along the way long after the bulk of the crowd has passed. I even saw some of the teachers from my kids' school and they had a great little cheering crew going!
|Patrick was a real trooper. He ran the 6 miles in untied basketball shoes. He also spent those miles assuring me that I wasn't last and that there were, indeed, still runners behind me.|
Sometime around Coolidge Corner, I saw my friend, Dawnie and her gang waiting for me with signs. There weren't too many people still cheering in that spot, so it was an awesome sight. Further down Beacon Street in Brookline, I spotted the Citgo sign for the first time. My breath hitched and I started to cry. It was just a tiny, red speck in the distance, but it was the first sign that I was actually going to make it to the finish line in my hometown.
Near Kenmore Square, the crowd got thick again. And thank goodness, because I had nothing left in me at that point. I was coasting on sheer willpower and the fact that I didn't want to stop in front of the crowds of people. As we were running under the little underpass outside the square, PJ texted me to tell me that the kids would be joining me at mile 26. Apparently, my father-in-law had asked the police officers if it would be okay, and they gave the green light. So, they handed the kids over the barricades and waited for me.
Coming down Boylston St., I could see the finish line. Finally. At the 26 mile marker, I slowed down because I couldn't see the kids anywhere. Then I heard this piercing scream and saw a little letter M jumping up and down. Naturally, it was Sophie. Patrick and I ran to the kids and they tried, in vain, to line themselves up so their shirts said, "Go MOM." They kept screwing it up, which was some real comedy, but they finally worked it out and made the run for the last 2/10 of a mile to the finish line.
It. Was. Amazing.
There were times during that run, that I was sure I couldn't possibly go all the way. But, to finally be jogging down Boylston, hand-in-hand with my five kids while crowds of people in the stands chanted, "Go, Mom, Go!" was a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life. All I could think right then was that I didn't even know these people and they were all cheering for me and my kids.
Luckily, there was a photographer who works for Boston.com who just happened to be there to catch this shot of us just after the finish line.
|People I knew were sending this to me after it went on the Boston.com Instagram page. I was the "Go, Mom" lady on the internet for a day. Fifteen minutes of fame, baby. Too bad Ellen never called. I thought, for sure, she'd want us on her show. ;)|
And my husband caught this video so I can relieve those 40 seconds forever. It really was the most incredible feeling.
After we crossed the line, I got my medal, and a blanket to keep warm. I saw my cousins there, too, and Martha made sure the kids got the royal treatment for their 2/10 of a mile run.
|Space blankets & snacks for everyone!|
|Lisa, Donnamarie, & Martha were the first to find us at the finish line. Love these ladies!|
|David Wade tweeted a picture he took of us just as we were crossing the finish line.|
My sister was working the race course as a nurse, so I didn't get to see her until the end, but it was terrific.
I received so much support during my training and fundraising. Special shoutout to PJ for getting stuck with the kids for every long run I did on the weekends. Being a slow runner means they really take a long time. And a shoutout to my friend, Erika, for listening to me go on and on and on about running on every lunch break. She said she was relieved when it was over because she felt like she trained for it, too. And another shoutout to Tina for driving the kids to school way more than I drove hers, so I could squeeze my short runs in before work. A shoutout to Elliott, Erin, & Bonnie for organizing the team to memorialize their friend. And to all of my donors to the Krystle Campbell Memorial Fund. I feel so honored to have run in her memory. As tough as it was, I would totally do it again. (Hopefully a little faster next time.)