April 20, 2016

I remember being surprised I qualified for Boston. I qualified with the Mobility impaired standards. In 2016 the qualification time for my division was 8 hours and I completed it in 6:43:plus change on Feb 1, 2015 running in Sugar Land Texas at the USA Fit Marathon. That is a whole ‘nother story…

I had no clue how to train for it so I read a book on Boston. 26.2 Miles to Boston so that I could learn about the terrain and some cool history behind this race. Honestly if you have run NYC, Hatfield and McCoy or Marine Corps Marathon you have got Boston in your back pocket. I found those to be more challenging. Just know the hills in Boston are at the end when you are already tired.

Registering

This was tricky because Athletes with Disabilities registered a month after everyone else. There are forms that your doctor signs and you have to return. It took a month to determine whether or not I got in. Keep in mind Boston is expensive before they jack up the hotel prices for the event. The hotels sell out and you have to pay a $250 nonrefundable deposit if you want to be close to the finish line. I was willing to lose $250 and I signed up with Marathon Tours and opted for the VIP package at the time I registered. Then I paid for a round trip shuttle to take me to and from my hotel to the airport.

The expo was the largest I had ever seen. Of course I hadn’t been to NYC. The expo is a tory within itself. However get there the first day the expo opens there are fewer people there. I went everyday for the race experience. I will share my Boston experience at a later time.

Race Morning

I paid for the VIP Package with Marathon Tours and stayed at the Marriott Copley. Marathon Tours had shuttle busses with a bathroom in them, but they didn’t transfer the mobility impaired athletes down to the start. Instead I had to walk .6 miles to the Sheraton to catch the Athletes with Disabilities Bus. I thought I would ride the school busses like everyone else. It wasn’t too bad because Jada met me at the Westin and we walked together and met some of her friends then loaded the bus. The bus was a charted bus with a bathroom. After we boarded the bus I ate my Subway sandwich. I wasn’t feeling to well, but it didn’t matter I was going to have to run this marathon. There were people that were so excited that I was running it. I was like, ugh it is just another marathon. I tried to get pumped up, but was hurting. I just need to get this run done. I had to finish it because people are really stoked for me. It was took approximately 45 minute to make it to the start line.

Once we got off the bus we went inside a gym and that is where I met the Famous John Platt

who runs for MS because he has MS. I met Katie

and Daryl. I interviewed Daryl on Facebook and asked him all kinds of questions about being an amputee and his pile of legs. Learning about others impairments motivated me a little. I didn’t realize that they were filming an HBO movie about the bombing and Patrick Downes. I found that out after it aired and saw myself in the video. They called to us and told us we needed to line up. I didn’t want to leave the gym we had food and drinks and porta potties.

Pre-Race

I had to leave the gym and line up we walked out and somehow missed the rest of the crowd the 5 of us tried to make it through the gate, but an officer stopped us and told us we couldn’t go through. We showed him our bibs and he still wouldn’t let us through. Just then another officer said they are running and need to get to the start line. Guess we didn’t fit his definition of disabled. We walked straight to the Start line. I stood there not knowing the cameras were on.

People in TV land are watching me taking selfies with my guide and other runners and with the Race Director.

That’s what I get for not following the Boston marathon.

I knew it existed all I knew was that it was bombed in 2013, I had no idea I was going to be there to run it.

Standing on the start line I started to feel giddy, I wasn’t nervous, because I had planned to take pictures, take in the sights and sounds and smells of the marathon and enjoy myself just like Coach Terrie told me.

I talked to the volunteers that blocked us from the starting and took pictures of them then I listened for the count down and the gun shot.

Start to Mile 4

I took off like a bat out of hell, partly because it was downhill.

The adrenaline had me and I needed to run it off. I led the crowd down the hill and sped by the cameras. We went down, down, down the street them up then down. It was warm out, but I was feeling ok.

My lower back had begun to ache from over compensation. I was having fun on the course. I was taking in the sights, smells and sounds. Most of the mobility impaired runners had left me in the dust.

I was catching up the the guy I videoed in an earlier post. It was his 1st marathon, he was a special case entry. Later he pulled away and left me. All I could think was I need to slow down and save my quads. It was a beautiful course with lots of energy. We had it good because the other wave runners were still in bed. We had the road to ourselves. We eagerly anticipated the arrival of the other runners. 1st the wheelchairs, then the handcycles. All of the amazing screaming and cheering was just for us. That was unique. At one point I was running alone with Jada. The crowd of the people on the side of the road was screaming, ” Go runners!”, I looked back to see who they were yelling at. Oh my they were yelling for me. They yelled and screamed as if we were runners, elite runners. I had yet to realize how elite I truly was and that kept me motivated.

Miles 5-10

By this time although I did not look disabled I felt disabled. My shoulders had tightened up my left hamstring was screaming. I thought oh heck all runners have aches and pain keep it going. Besides my guide is suffering from me going so slow. Poor thing, she had no idea what she has signed up for. Right now to heck with that 5:46 PR just finish this marathon. Crowd still showing much love and support. I expended too much energy slapping almost every kids hand for a high five. If you could have seen the look in the eyes of kids as other runners passed and giving no love, your heart would have broken as mine did.

We are heroes on this course and I took that seriously. I gave much love to my peeps, those kiddos. They were there with their hands out just for me. Although they didn’t know me they called my name, ‘Runner’. That’s right I’m a runner. I am not wogger nor a walker, but a runner. Yes I am a runner! Then I heard a motorcycle come up from behind. The RD was behind us telling us to get over. We were getting ready for the elites we slowed down and watch the road behind us. We made it to some porta potties. Each mile I sipped gatorade and participated in the runners wet t-shirt contest. Yes, I had water poured all over me starting with my head because I felt the fires of hell were burning inside me.

I kept thinking it could be 87, but it was only 67 at that time. I kept talking to myself. “Too hot to be in Boston, shut up this is a blessing. It was freezing and raining last year just be happy. ” Here comes the Police on motorcycles waving the crowds back so we can scoot over so we wouldn’t be trampled. He was followed by the soldiers on a back of a van with door open. They are followed by the press and then runners. Each wave has the same entourage so we had seen it with the wheelchairs, handcycles and now elite women and the elite men will follow minutes later.

I was basically running into the crowd. There was a sea of open palms facing me I slapped every hand in hopes to clear them from my space. They powered me up and there was no negative self talk only real pain. I listened to no music. The crowd was my music and they had one volume, LOUD! I thought it was cool that a few folks were jumping on trampolines.

I wanted to jump and I would have had it been a half marathon. I saw some good looking guys in uniform. I love a man in uniform so I had to pose next to one.

I love my service members! Mile 7. That was the best mile. Jada became famous. She ran with the elites to video record only to realize later she didn’t video. The coolest thing was she and I were both videoed by the news crew hilarious! We were had another famous moment.

Mile 11 to Mile 15

As I am running to mile 11 I see a fine gentleman a Korean Veteran. I ask him if he minds taking a photo. I thank him for volunteering and his service. I take off running I’m feeling great then I trip on a big rock. I didn’t face plant, but I tweaked my back trying not to fall.

I felt my foot dragging more from the fatigue and then I feel my toenail on my big toe pushed back into the skin. Ugh, I stubbed my toe and dang it. I just know I will lose that toenail by the end of this trip. I yelled out to Jada who is having the run of her life just bobbing and weaving as she continued looking for Blake. I was worried someone is going to hit her. I have to stop and walk I can not bare the additional pain at this time. I quickly start running because we are in a swarm of people and it makes navigating the water stations hard. I think back to mile 6 where I was given three snack bags of ice. Jada packed them in the back of my visor and the back of my bra. Now the water sack has made it’s way out of my bra and down my shirt into the street. I didn’t mean to litter, but I definitely was not going back to pick it up.

As we traveled past mile 12 I knew it was time to make another brief stop for a photo. We took a photo at every mile mile marker and places in between. Jada’s friend taps me on the back as he passes he calls out and taps her to tell her Blake is coming. Jada looks back every few feet in hopes to see him. It was just so crowded. Blake taps me as he passes a few minutes later. I call to Jada and she sees him. I love it, I’m in love with this couple. So beautiful…of course my thoughts of love and happiness are cut short because he is pointing inside his mouth. I’m think oh, gag me with a spoon oh no he threw up. Dang poor thing. Fatigue is on the rise, but of course it is. I’m running rolling hills for crying out loud. Let’s get this half over with. By now I’m a verbal picky runner. I scream out to the kids on the side of the road handing out Pop I”ce. I wanna red one.” I of course got a red one each time I yelled out. If a red one was available a kid would look back to their parent and say she needs a red one. Mom or dad picked up a red one cut the top of with scissors handed to the kid who then handed it to me. I of course said thank you. Hey hey hey mile 13 and now the halfway point.

“Can I go home now? I just completed a half in Massachusetts, hell no I got 13.1 more to go”. I think back to the 15k mark where Pam from the Fifty States Half Marathon Club called out my name. I didn’t hear her, Jada screams out hey some lady knows you. I wave oh my I can’t cross the road to hug her. I had forgotten I was going to see her. Dang it, gotta keep running. I snap out of that thought cause my right foot throbs. I’m thinking I’m going to walk every hill til heartbreak. I can feel my toes swelling. I wait a little longer before applying my Real Time ointment, but it is almost time. I tell Jada to hell with what I said, you can stop looking at your watch I don’t need a PR I just want to finish. She nods her head, but I know she is going to try to push me. Ah Man! I hate her right now! I asked her for this, what am I going to do cause she is gonna deliver? I’m thinking I’m gonna do what a dog on a leash does when they don’t wanna move. Pull back and sit down. Even I had to chuckle at the thought. I kept pushing through other runners.

FYI those Wesley girls can truly be heard for a mile. Folks are really kissing them too.

They even ran by an yelled that I or that I , was doing good. One guy tapped my butt and said, ” Way to go Eagle”! I wasn’t offended I was startled and I smiled with an epic smile. I loved the ladies and gentlemen who gave me gestures because they couldn’t speak while running, so encouraging. Mile 15, I finally get Jada in a photo at a mile marker.

I want to beat her up ’cause she won’t take a selfie. She said this was my race, well it’s her 1st Boston too. I need her to document that she was here. Some guy runs by us on the way to 16. I can’t remember all he said. He met her prior to race and said you guys were on TV. I saw you leading the pack. Keep it up you are doing great. I’m like what? TV? They started the cameras that early I thought that was for the real runners, the wheelchairs, the elites. So I am a runner, I am a real runner. I’m one of the elite- mobility impaired runners selected to run in the Boston Marathon. I reach out and grab a twizzler from a kid I bite down and chew, ouch…my crown it out. I had bitten down on my crown. I spit it out into my hand suck out the saliva and put it into place continuing on eating that licorice on the right side. I had to stop for a second, but I can’t play around. Let’s get to running again. I increased my pace start trudging on the my body says No! My mind says yes.

Miles 16-21

Ok, I am definitely happy to say I’m saved. I can’t do hell. Hell is hot! I hear it is hotter than this.

I can not take this heat. I am getting drenched at every water station, I have strangers pouring pitchers of water on my head.

I sipping gatorade at every station. I have done things I never do at races, eat people’s food. I do not know you sir do not offer me food. Ha, today it was thank you, gobble the food up, thank you. After leaving the Army I became a germaphobe. I’m almost OCD about the exchange of germs and cleanliness. So when I tell you I grabbed cut oranges from strangers it was because I refused to hit a wall. I knew I needed to keep fueling, I didn’t train on rolling hills I’m front flat ole Houston. I did part of the bridge series and ran in different states for different terrain on my long runs with a variety of weather. I ran parking garages and the Sienna plantation bridge. Thoughts flood my mind. “Yeah, my body is broken, but I am well trained. That right big toenail is detaching I can feel it. Oh man I can never wear sandals again! My freaking foot hurts. What another mile mark ok Jada take this picture I can’t keep breaking my momentum I want to walk. That’s it I want to walk. What the…where is this negative self talk today? What overridden by pain? That’s new, this Boston Baby and I can’t stop cause these runners are going kill me.” I am taking in the sounds o the crowds they are still cheering, what the heck? I look down and see a cute like black girl about 3 or 4 years old standing in the open with her hand out noone is slapping her hand. I maneuver through the crowd I yell out I’m coming! She smiles her face lights up and I slap her hand. I’m feeling great and wouldn’t you know it. Boom-pow, I trip what the hell, really? I feel a twinge in my back. I can’t stop running she just gave me a power up. I look up and see a hill, walk time. My hamstrings are tight, my quads are tight but only my left leg that is the good side. I’m compensating too much. I need to give this right leg more work or I’m not going to make it. These hills in Newton are not playing…I’m boycotting Fig Newtons cause it must have come from Newton and I hate hills. I wonder if these folks know their town sucks. They are cheering like crazy though, just smile and bare it. I’m reading signs my butt is tight. I’m thinking I’m going to be sexy after running Boston next year cause my training starts when I get home. The whole time Jada is more than 20 inches in front of me. She is constantly looking back and I’m getting it finally doing the best I can do in a marathon. I am giving more to this course than ever because there is something for me to ingest at every single mile. I am taking in everything. So the hill before Heartbreak. My goal was to run Heartbreak. So I’m running this mountain of a hill and fly down the other side. Ok my, my right foot gives out at the base of the hill seriously?

I need to walk a second. Oh Team RWB time I see my peeps on the sideline time to take a photo! Eagle Up!

I start walking oh man it’s another incline. I gotta stop and apply Real Time foot cream. Time to take off the shoe and sock. I plop down next a big dog that sniffs me. I tell Jada make sure the owner does allow the dog to sniff this stuff. I finish up and she pulls me to a standing position. I start running, I am getting it. Then I get a pain in my right kidney. My stride is lengthening because I feel the force of my right leg move forward. Some chick just punched me in my kidney and kicked my foot. Can I get an excuse me? I need a second I pause, no I need to catch her and beat her down. I gotta run. I gotta run Heartbreak, man the slowest run ever. I was initially sprinting cause I tried to catch my abuser. That turned into slow motion like Jamie Sommers (Bionic Woman) run only she was moving fast on TV like a cheetah. I was moving sllllooooow. Jada kept looking back to check on me. I’m like ole girl in Bridesmaids sitting in the sink. Stop looking at me! I told her to run ahead and I would catch up to her. She said no. I tried begging her, I’m sure she thought I was crazy. I told her if you run I’ll chase you. For the record that hill isn’t bad its just the location of it on the course. Note to self run long distance then do hills. I had miles to go! I wished I had run 10 miles of hill repeats and did more squats! So it’s photo time at mile 20 I can’t stop. I pull out a Honey stinger I start chewing again are you serious that freaking crown. I’m trying to not loose it and not swallow it. I’m in Newton and my body is falling apart.

Miles 22 to 26.2

I told Jada, we are going to have to take a picture of just the mile marker. She begins to take pictures as I run by. Ingenious! More crazy thoughts, how did I end up here in Boston at this marathon? Oh that’s right I met Dave, the race director, on an elevator at Schlitterban South Padre in September.

He was the guest speaker, a fabulous speaker! I hadn’t signed up for Boston yet, because for my division’s registration opens in October. I hadn’t really decided until he spoke. He told stories of the people whose lives he touched through running. He told us of his 1st Boston experience and how he didn’t finish he had his grandpa at the finish line waiting. There were no cell phones back then. His grandpa promised to be on the course to watch him whenever he ran it again. Before his next Boston his grandpa passed and he had gotten to a point in the race where he wasn’t about to finished he looked up at the cemetery and realized his grandpa didnt lie and was there watching him as he said he would, but from the cemetary. So I had Jada take a picture of the 2nd cemetery on the course.

Mile 22, I am crying I’m hurting so bad. Neuropathical pain is a burning pain and these extra aches on top make me just want to lay down and die. I am never running this stupid race again. I say to Jada I’m too close not to finish, but I hurt we slowed down to a walk. Then I thought back to all the people who say I inspire them. What the hell? I’m not inspiration. Perception is their reality, I got to make this real. Then I had burning in my nose, l nasal regurgitation, not good. Acid reflux up through to my nasal pharynx. I have got see a doctor after this. Nope I’m going to poor water from my water bottle down each nostril and spit it out. I can’t have acid in my nose. I keep running now my asthma wants to act up, my chest is tight, I’m coughing. Hell no! I thought of John the guy I met with MS. We have an Ironwill he said and he is right. Time to call in reinforcements, let us pray. Yup right there on the course I had to have little with Jesus. To tell him all about my troubles, my cry wasn’t faint and he answered by and by. I got a little pep in my step and ran on. The crowds were deep and fenced in with gates now. They were no longer standing on a curb fenced in by a yellow flimsy rope.

I’m looking for the Citgo sign. I got to get to Citgo. There are still rolling hills you loose 420 feet but you gain it all back. Don’t get it twisted I am putting in more effect in the race not because it’s Boston, but because of the course terrain in the Boston Marathon requires it. I see Citgo, but it’s not close yet. But I want a good picture of it. Jada gets in the mile 25 picture she knows I’m not quitting now. I’m going to run all the way in come hell or high water. Yeah my hometown flooded, but Boston was clear. Let’s get it! I say and she starts running again. The cheers were not as deafening as the college girls, but it was awesome. As I ran down the street I laughed at a crazy thought. The light changed to red. I wondered supposed I stopped until it turned green.

Just crazy random thoughts. Yeah, I’ll run this race next year I have qualified for it and improved my time each time. I am going to BQ at Boston!

Jada’s stride opens up I try to open mine, but I don’t have much more to give. We round the last corner to the left I see the cameras.

I’m in a crowd of people. Why in the world is there a man in his tighty whities, entire body painted silver in a cape with a freaking bib and a silver helmet on jumping and turning around in the street. He ran 26.2 miles like that? He is crazier than the guy running in the football gear with the helmet and the foot we saw around mile 18.

I still liked Waldo best he was at the 4km mark and we found him. This is it baby, I see the finish line. I’m going to finish this race and not die. No wall this race and that’s truly a blessing.

Big smile we did it! 32 minute PR at that! Only because Jada wouldn’t allow me to walk as much as I would have had I been alone.

That accountability was something I needed. It was my pace, but with a push. I love her for being there with me. We can be friends again, but she better learn how to take selfies. They better give her a medal I thought. She got her medal and we walked through to get our bag of goodies.

She didn’t run the race for a medal, but it was an added bonus. I would have given her mine. So now my journey begins in Boston. I qualified on the course, do I run it again another year? Time to bust of the jacket, I earned it. I will lick my wounds later and hold my head up high.

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