Saturday, April 26, 2014

Boston Marathon 2014 Recap: Dear "Baby"

Dear Baby,

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 night before the race, we got back to our hotel early so that I could get ready. I had one important thing to take care of before I could get to sleep: I had to decorate my running tank top to let everyone know that I wouldn't be running the race alone; I was running with you. I bought some silver duct tape and borrowed scissors from the front desk so I could spell out "BABY" across my chest with a little arrow pointing to my small-but-growing belly. No one would miss you - I made sure of that!

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 loved, loved, loved all the great responses. The women were especially responsive, because they could probably relate a little more. Surprisingly, a lot of the men laughed when they read my tank - almost in disbelief. The best part - I only heard one person say "That is not safe." Don't worry, baby. I wouldn't have done it if it wasn't safe.

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.
I was so happy to see him. I gave him a huge hug and we snapped a few photos. It would've been easy to stop there and just watch the race with him. I did have the goal to finish the race, so we made plans to find each other at the finish line and said a quick goodbye.

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 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 get ready.

And who knows - maybe we can really run the marathon together one day.


  1. I want to let you know that I nominated you for the Liebster Award. You can check it out on my most recent blog post. I hope you have as much fun with it as I did!! If you don’t have time no worries!!

  2. I teared up while reading this post. Although I didn't run Boston my heart was with everyone there as I watched the live feed. I also remember well running with my own personal built in BRFs and nothing compares. The conversations I'd have with my babies while we ran along are some of the best memories I have. Congratulations on your pregnancy and the marathon.

    1. Thanks Jen! It really is a special feeling to "have conversations" with these little ones that we don't even know yet, but to know we are sharing so much with them while we carry them. Your kids are so adorable. :)

  3. This is a very sweet post!
    I love that the scarf you got is from your state.
    Congrats to the both of you, for running Boston!

    1. Thanks Kristy - I agree about the scarf! Like I said in the post, it really did make me feel like everything would be ok. And it was! :)

  4. This was a very sweet post. Such an accomplishment. Congrats!

    1. Thanks!! I will certainly always remember it. :)

  5. this is a beautiful post, I especially love the last paragraph (or 2nd to last I guess)... I ran a marathon 7 weeks and 9 weeks pregnant and can relate to your feelings. great job :-)

    1. Awesome, Danielle! How was your experience? I am fascinated by tough mommas that stay committed to health/wellness during their pregnancies. It could be so easy to make excuses, but some women don't! Awesome.

  6. I teared up reading this post, it's beautiful! You're such an inspiration as I hope to continue running (someday, hopefully) when I am pregnant.
    Congratulations (on baby and Boston!) :)
    Karen @karenlovestorun

  7. Absolutely love this post. Thank you for sharing. Xo

  8. Awe, Michelle! This brought a tear to my eye! I'm so glad you were surrounded by nothing but supportive onlookers at the race (forget that naysayer!!!) I'm so happy for you and we (Jason and I) can't wait to meet this little guy! ...yep, it's official :)

  9. Love this post. Congratulations on running Boston with a baby on board. What a great idea to wear Baby on your shirt with an arrow pointing to your tiny bump! I look forward to running next year, my first Boston after cheering as a child and handing out oranges to the runners more than 45 years ago. It will be a thrill running through my hometown of Wellesley and having my Mom and daughter both cheering for me! And now I plan to wear my name on the front of my shirt too!

  10. Hi Michelle, I thought I posted this last week but I think maybe I forgot to click through. What a beautiful scarf you received! I stumbled across your blog via a Google Blog Search. I was a Marathon Scarf Project scarfmaker and volunteer. I hope you've been able to connect with your scarfmaker in McFarland! We love hearing from our scarf recipients! If you're interested in learning more about what went into the project you can read about it at my blog:

  11. OMG This made me cry! How beautiful!

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