I thought that I should write you a letter before the details slip my mind. Someday you'll hear this story, and I want to be sure to get it right.
When we found out about you in January 2014, your daddy and I couldn't have been more excited - and scared - but over the moon thinking about your arrival. We sincerely felt so lucky to know that we were going to have a little baby joining our team.
At that time, it was the middle of one of the worst winters in Wisconsin's history: cold, snowy and endless. It was also supposed to be the middle of my training for the 118th Boston Marathon. My training didn't go quite as I planned between the awful winter, feeling very tired (you were working hard to become a little person,) and feeling a little bit nauseated for a couple months. Needless to say, I would rather sit on the couch with a hot chocolate and your daddy while I read about what to expect when having your first baby! My priorities shifted pretty quickly, and running had to take a backseat to learning all about you.
Over the next few months, I "trained" when I could and when I wanted to. I didn't stick to a plan, and I wasn't worried about it either. I knew I would be able to go to the race in April and run the marathon - it just wouldn't be fast.
The weekend of the marathon arrived. Your dad and I were so excited to get back to Boston. We packed our bags and got to the airport at 4AM. The weather was beautiful in Boston that weekend - 50s/60s and sunny. The day before the race was Easter Sunday, so we went to a church service at the Old South Church right at the finish line of the marathon. We had to wait in line for two hours to get into the mass. The church was beautiful - and filled with local Bostonians and others in their blue and yellow Boston Marathon gear. At the end of the service, they did a very emotional athlete's blessing - asking God to protect all the runners and spectators the following day. I couldn't keep myself from crying. They also gave all the runners scarves that had been made by volunteers from around the country. My scarf was bright yellow with a blue peace ribbon, made by members of a church in Macfarland, Wisconsin. That made me feel like it had been made just for me and it put my mind at ease.
|Easter morning at the marathon finish line.|
The morning of the race, the local newspaper ran a very nice article about the people from Racine that would be running. The article talked about how we all planned to run the race to feel close to the running community and recovery of Boston after last year's tragedy - but for us, it also served as a surprise announcement to anyone in town that didn't already know about YOU. (You're not even here yet, and you are already making it into the papers!)
Your dad and I walked to the buses that would take us to the start of the race. It was a sunny and chilly morning, but I was so excited that it didn't matter. Your daddy gave us a good luck kiss and a long hug before we jumped on the bus to Hopkinton. They only let the runners get on the buses, so I got pretty sad as I had to wave goodbye to him.
Before the race started, I sat around the Athlete's Village sipping water and eating the worst bagel of my life. I was feeling a little nervous, so it was hard to get any food down, but I knew I would need the energy to get through the 26.2 miles that were waiting for us. I sat on the grass with other runners and waited patiently. They finally made the announcement for runners in Wave 2, Corrals 1-3 to proceed toward the start. I donated my extra clothes and started walking. For the first time, people were able to see my tank that read "BABY" in big, bold, proud letters and the reactions started right away. One lady couldn't even help herself as she put her hands on my belly and said, "Oh my God! A baby!" I just smiled - it made me feel really happy to know that you were completely welcome there.
As I waited in the corral, I went over my race strategy. It was never a "race" for me; it was always a fun run that we would do carefully together. My plan was to go very slowly for the whole race, so that I could take in the scenery, interact with the crowd and let the crowd interact with you. I also wanted to leave myself the freedom to stop for water, fuel, and rest as needed - so I put absolutely zero time expectations on myself. It was more important to make memories and to be careful (it was your first marathon, after all) than to take the risk of going out aggressively.
The race started - and I was surrounded by a really fast group of people. They were clearly well-trained and had goals of competing. I drifted off to the side of the course and found a much slower pace that was comfortable and easy to maintain. The number of spectators lining the course was just incredible. They estimated that there were about a million people watching the race that day, and it certainly felt like it. Whenever I would approach a group of people, their faces would light up when they read my tank. They had some pretty amazing reactions, but here are some of the common ones and some favorites:
- Go Baby!
- Aww, she's got a baby!
- Take care of that baby!
- Go momma!
- You're pregnant? That is so badass!
- You go, girl!
- Baby's first Boston!
- OH. MY. GOD.
- Congratulations, mommy!
- I'm not pregnant and I can't run this!
- How did that baby get in there? (haha)
I chugged slowly along as the day got warmer and the sun got higher. There was very little shade along the route, so I actually got too warm. I didn't want to overheat, so I got water whenever it was available and started to build in cool-down walk breaks towards the second half of the race. I called your dad at mile 15 to see where he was, because he was going to meet us. I was very excited to hear that he was just one mile down the road at mile 16.
|Mile 16: Our family of three, still smiling.|
From that point on, I REALLY took my time. Since I was so hot, my feet were sweating more than normal and I could feel my feet start to blister. I could also feel some chafing under my arms. I found a medic on the course and had him give me some Vaseline and about 100 bandaids for my feet. When I took my shoes off, I found a bloody mess - it looked like both of my arches had exploded. (They kind of did, I guess.) Once I was bandaged up, I was good as new and I was back on my way.
Around mile 21, I ran into my friend from Milwaukee (Sheila aka She-She of Oiselle and OlallieMKE fame.) She is a rockstar runner - running two marathons in one week! We ran together for a few miles and the company was more than welcome. She helped to push me through some of my aches and pains, but ultimately, I just wanted to slow down...so she ran on to finish while I kept up my "baby on board" pace.
Before I knew it, I was passed the Citgo sign and into the last mile. The crowd was deafening! They were all so energetic and excited. I made sure to record some of the crowd on Boylston, so I would always remember what it is like to finish the race. I crossed the line with my hands in the air and a smile on my face. We did it! It took 4 hours and 19 minutes - almost a full hour longer than last year, but I think one extra hour is the perfect amount of time to make sure we were both safe and happy the whole time. :)
After the race, I had some chocolate milk, a pear and found your daddy. He gave me the biggest hug in the world and congratulated us on a successful run. We walked (hobbled) to Boston Common where we sat on the grass and watched the people for about an hour. It was an absolutely beautiful day. I couldn't have asked for it to go any better and I couldn't have asked for better company.
I just want you to know that I ran this race to set an example for you, baby. Your daddy and I are tough, hard-working people. We love life. We love challenges. We love fun. We love each other more than anything in the whole world. We can't wait for you to join us in all of our many adventures...so get ready.
And who knows - maybe we can really run the marathon together one day.