Team MTF-Running for Research: Final Thoughts
The Ultimate Finish…
“Receiving the bib would then mean that the Ultimate finish line is in the fundraising for an organization that I truly support.”…Yes, I said this…and mean it!
A week ago today, I was completing my very last run before heading into the city of Boston to meet up with the members of #TeamMTF to have a fun day of bonding before our big day at the marathon on Monday.
This last run was amazing. Not in the sense that it was long and fast, but in the sense that it was short, easy and “wicked beautiful” running during sunrise along the Boston Harbor. It was surreal as I was feeling strong. That nervous energy was turning to excited-nervous energy. After months of training and fundraising (walking on eggshells so not to get hurt),I felt as ready as I was gonna get…not where I had hoped, but ready. I was walking/cooling down around my hotel, not paying attention and stepped/rolled my foot off of a curb, awkwardly twisting my leg; the pain landed in my left calve muscle.
Throughout the day, I tried to “walk it off” at the expo, had taping done by the infamous Boston Bodyworker himself, Drew Freedman, and even popped a few ibuprofen. On Sunday, I did very limited walking, received a massage, and prayed that the pain would be gone by Monday AM.
Heading into Boston on Monday, I was feeling optimistic. The leg pain was not as bad, but I knew the pain was there. After walking with my team through the Boston Common to the busses (the busses to athletes village in Hopkinton and finally to the start) I had my leg on “ignore”. It did not take long after the start when the pain in my leg turned even more sharp and local – this was not the normal fatigue pain that I struggled with through training and came to accept, this was the kind that forced me to change my gait, eventually going from a run-limp, to a slow walk-limp.
By mile 11, my legs were heavy, I was MAD… and then leg cramps began. This is when an official walked up to me and told me they were concerned for my safety and due to time limits, I would be left (shortly) without services. I asked the official to let me get to mile 13 (half) and let me see how I was feeling. He walked with me as I entered Wellesley, and he passed me off to a couple of Wellesley students who then got me to the medic tent. For those that know me, know that this was not one of my prettiest moments. The ride back on the bus to the finish (filled with other distraught DNF’ers), was the quietest ride ever….every thought goes through your mind… “could I have pushed harder?”, “what will people say?”, “I’ve let down so many”. This was my pride yelling in my ear…. I have worked hard to get to the start, I really wanted to finish as well, making so many proud.
After arriving back at the finish, I found the family meeting area where I was to be eventually found (among people rightfully celebrating) where my support system picked me up, brushed me off, and loved on me. I am so lucky to have the loving support that I do.
After a few days of being home, I’ll admit, I’ve sulked, cried, slept…I have also eaten lots of cake. I’ve had a massage on the one day I decided to leave the house. I’ve definitely hosted my very own pity party… I find myself asking “what’s next?”…this is a good sign that the dust will not settle-for long.
I am reminded by so many that I should be proud of accomplishing what I set after….. That the “Ultimate finish line is in the fundraising for an organization that I truly support.” – I am so proud that I achieved this goal and it is an honor to be a part of an amazing, life-changing opportunity. The entire journey has been worth every second I have experienced – the good and bad. I am eternally grateful to all of the supporters of not only myself but those of my fellow #TeamMTF members. Who, by the way, all ROCKED the most prestigious 26.2 EVER!
On the Other Side of Monday…Epilogue
Waking up on any given Monday is the start of a new day and a new week. Monday, April 17, 2017, was waking up to a completely new experience. Something I had trained for, something I had waited for, something I had fundraised for my charity for…THE BOSTON MARATHON. The anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach was not staved off as I forced myself to eat breakfast. I rechecked my preparation list: compression socks, sneakers, pants, team shirt, etc. Showered and prepared, I gathered my things, kissed my husband and son, and headed down to meet my teammates. I headed to the lobby for some last minute photos, into the van that took us to the buses, and Boston Common. Praise the Lord, port-a-potties! What else does an anxious person look for?
Waiting to catch the bus to Hopkinton, we chatted, took some selfies and began to prepare. On the bus, we did more of the same and then some silence. Thoughts drifted, mind raced, stomach churned. Eyes closed, I admit to shedding a couple tears and saying a couple prayers…yes, I was terrified. No matter how prepared you are, you will always look at yourself as never being prepared enough. Holy moly…all those people counting on me, the Massage Therapy Foundation, my supporters, my donors, my team…can’t let them down, can’t let myself down. We arrived. Out to the athletes’ village and saints be praised more port-a-potties! Off to walk to the corrals. People were already lining the streets and cheering us on! I look to my right, team Fearless 216! Katherine Switzer! I am in the Boston Marathon with Katherine Switzer! Could this get better? Excitement really kicks in. Wave 4, Corral 7…ready…go!!! This is awesome!!! My foot that has been plaguing me is pretty darn good. My pace is pretty darn good, maybe a little fast..breathe…slow down a touch. Wait, did I say breathe? About 5 miles in…asthma attack! Are you kidding me? I used my inhaler! (Insert favorite expletive here) I slow down even more. They say when you are struggling, is when you are sent help. A lovely lady came up next to me and we started chatting. She asked if she could stay with me, of course I said yes and for the rest of those miles, we traveled together. My breathing improved and we continued on. It continued to go up and down, but soldier on I did. My foot began to act up, “quiet down crazy foot,” I said. Around mile 18…a nose bleed. Luckily, a spectator had paper towels and with those in hand, on I went. Little were children dancing, cheering us on. People had signs, cheering us on. Spectators with tables set up with oranges and water and the like. People shouting from their windows, cheers of success and inviting us back for parties! I could go on and on. Everyone was so very kind and positive…thanking us for running! After 25 plus miles, up and down hills, in weather the elites said was too hot, nothing was a more beautiful sight than the blue lines running down the street. Seeing my husband and son on the sidelines waiting for me, crossing the finish line was an amazing moment.
I know I will never forget everything that lead me to that day, everything that day carried with it, and all the love and support I received. My teammates are amazing people, whose efforts must be celebrated. We were brought together by a common goal, to support the Massage Therapy Foundation. We supported each other like old friends and that is something that warms my heart deeply. They say you are not a marathoner until you lose a toenail! Well, asthma attack, nose bleed, crazy heat and yes, the loss of more than a couple toenails, I AM A BOSTON MARATHONER, and I have the love and support of my family and friends, as well as the support of all my generous donors to thanks for getting me there. As I have said before, everything you want is on the other side of fear and THIS IS THE OTHER SIDE.
I see the finish!
It is hard to believe it has been a week since we ran in Boston. I can picture the finish line each time someone asks me about my race! All the prep in the weeks leading up: the long and short runs, cross-training days, speed work, nutrition questions, and logistics of the actual race course — not to mention the mental and emotional curve balls which occurred daily (or more!) — culminating in a 26.2 mile run around the streets of Boston!
I drove the race course Sunday with my mom and sister before the start on Monday. I looked for landmarks and decided where they would try to meet me along the way. It looked nothing like that on race day! The sheer number of people was astounding! Running with me and cheering us on along the ENTIRE route were incessant crowds of people… music, microphones, signs, shouts, mini-trampolines, water, bananas, orange slices, vaseline, kleenex…it was invigorating and amazing to witness.
The last 11 miles were fraught with sickness on my part, but I am thankful to the man in the bright green shirt at mile 21! He came up behind me as I mentally said, “10 more steps and then we run again” after finishing my water cup. The man told me, “You have been ahead of me the entire race…GO! If I can do it at 70, you can do it. I expect you to finish before me.” And I did. That was all it took and I ran the rest of the course (expect for the hugs to my mom and sister at mile 25!!).
Aside from the physical race, we were also in a fundraising race too! We had individual goals and team goals. I have been posting and soliciting and trying to come up with creative ways to get donations for Massage Therapy Foundation. It motivated me to run farther and faster in my training and on the day of the race. And it was ALL worth it! And we did it! I have far exceeded my personal goal and what I believed myself to be capable of accomplishing.
Thank you seems far incomplete for all the ways I have been touched, moved, motivated, inspired, and driven along this journey. I could never imagine being able to give back to even one person of the many who helped me. Thank you to you all!! #RunningForResearch #BeBoston
It’s Been One Week
WOW, team MTF has achieved their goal of raising over $60,000 for the organization. My personal goal was not reached, but as a team we got the funds we wanted, and for that I am grateful. We will be closing off the donation page at the end of the month, so if you are inspired to throw in a few extra $ to my cause, please do so quickly!
A little about the marathon: what a well-oiled machine. I will admit that I was slightly apprehensive about running with over 30,000 other runners – near the back of the pack. There were four waves (I was in the fourth) and eight corrals in each wave – I was in corral seven. I was told to not expect to move very fast for the first 3 to 5 miles, and that was true. What I could not imagine was how well the whole event went off – without a hitch on the part of the organizers. There was plenty of information and loudspeakers in the “athlete’s village” directing us to our start time and place.
There were aid stations at every mile after mile 2, with sports drink and water as well as plenty of porta-potties and medical tents. The medical tents got good use last Monday as we witnessed temperatures in the 70s with full sun – something we had not seen since last fall in New England. Going into this race, I was hoping to get fast enough times to qualify for next year. I quickly realized that was not going to happen as my body was not acclimated to these temperatures. It takes up to two weeks to acclimate to these hotter runs, and I just didn’t have it. Nonetheless, I had a great time and was mindful of my un-acclimated body. The result of that is that I was able to walk the next day – even went for a short run on Wednesday with little soreness. Plenty of fluids throughout the race assured me of no cramping muscles after the race. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to run for the Massage Therapy Foundation. I am sure they have not heard the last from me!