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Boston Strong

The alarm was deafening and I bolted out of bed. This was Boston and after the bombings in 2013, I didn't know what to think. It was the night before the 2015 Boston Marathon and my nerves were already shot between the ominous weather forecast and the plantar facitiis that had been haunting me for weeks and kept my training at a bare minimum. My injury reduced my running to 3 times a week with no hill work which was not the most ideal way to prepare for the marathon, but I wasn't about to give up on my dream of competing in Boston. After the alarm subsided and the all clear from the hotel was announced, I noticed the clock read 1 am. ugh not the best start to what would be a long day to follow. I woke up confidant however, despite the lack of sleep and the cold rainy day that loomed ahead.

The bus ride to Hopinkington was foreboding. The wipers were working extra hard to keep up with the rain which added to my nerves, however I wasn't going to let the weather define my race. Standing at my start wave I wondered if my decision to wear shorts was such a good idea. It was raining and seemed to be getting colder by the minute. I figured once I started running I would warm up quickly. It didn't take long for me to realize that was not going to be realistic.

Several experienced Boston marathon runners warned me not to start out too fast, ("it's downhill the first 6 miles so be careful" were the instuctions) so I was cautious. However when I wasn't warming up and I knew things would get harder down the road I decided to pick up my pace. I was feeling pretty good at that point. Then it started to downpour. I was soaked and cold and I could feel my legs getting tighter by the minute. If only I had worn the capri pants I bought at the expo the day before. Then the pain started. At mile 10 my quads were on fire. Every footstrike was a struggle and I knew I was in trouble.

When I saw my husband at mile 13, I actually asked him if he had any extra pants. As one would expect he didn't, but seeing him did give me a boost however short lived. Realizing I was only at the halfway point, I decided I was going to have to stay mentally focused and strong no matter what type of condition I was in physically. High fiving spectators along the way and taking in the energy of the crowd was going to have to be my fuel. A few miles later feeling I needed a distraction so I put on my music. Running by the medical tents were daunting. I was torn between wanting to stop for aid and finishing no matter what. Finally mile 20 was a huge boost for me because I knew my two sister in laws would be there. What a relief it was to see them, and yet I asked them for pants. I'm not sure what I was expecting them to say but I was desperate at the time. Their energy, signs and words of encouragement kept me going. One sign read "Mary Strong" which became my mantra the rest of the course.

The wind gusts and heartbreak hill were no match compared to my screaming legs. I forged ahead. At mile 24 I worried about the tightness in my legs-"what if I tear something" "I can just walk the last 2 miles" At that moment Eminem's Lose Yourself came up on my playlist and pounded in my ears. The words "you only get one chance do not blow this opportunity comes once in a lifetime" was enough to keep me running. Because I knew this was my one and only Boston marathon the words resonated with me. Don't stop, this is your moment, take it in, ignore the pain and finish "Mary Strong." When I heard the roar of the crowd and came upon Hefford I was overjoyed I knew it was one last turn on Boylson and the finish was up ahead. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I crossed the finish line. I was happy, relieved, cold, wet, and exhausted all at the same time.

Although I was dissapointed with my performance, looking back now I have so many positive take aways from the experience. The endless high fives, the woman who pulled out my cell phone from my running belt so I could listen to music because my fingers were too numb to do it myself, the spectators handing out paper towels for the runners to wipe off their wet soaked faces and hands, the family support and the cheers of the crowd were amazing. The best take away was the fact that I was able to fight through the pain and finish. The experience made me realize I could tackle anything I put my mind to and always stay "Mary Strong" Thank you Boston for challenging me and teaching me this life long lesson.

Check out the picture below from the Boston Globe. My sister in laws are awesome!

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