Thursday, April 18, 2024

A Whole Decade of Chasing the Unicorn: Boston Marathon #10!

Race day - month prior

The path to finishing my 10th Boston Marathon was not a linear one. I ran a bunch of ultras over the last year and while I felt dialed in for the distance, I did not feel so sure about my speed.

The week after I returned from Antarctica, my runs were terrible. I'd been a complete slug on the boat after the 50k, enjoying being wined and dined and watching movies in between zodiac rides. I was stuffed with cheese and walking 1,000 steps a day.

Thankfully, I turned a sharp corner after a week of proper nutrition, sleep, and movement. I did a few workouts and long runs and was surprised at how good I felt leading up to the race. There was hope after all!

But the universe had other plans.

A week before we were set to leave to go to Boston, Adam wasn't feeling well and stayed in bed a couple of days. That Saturday, we assumed he had a UTI given his symptoms and he was prescribed an antibiotic. By Tuesday, I urged him to do another telehealth visit with the doctor because his symptoms weren't getting any better and she thought maybe it was diverticulitis and advised him to go to the emergency room.

He was in a lot of pain and coupled with the lack of mobility with his MS, it took quite some time to get him to the car and to the emergency room. But, within a few hours of bloodwork, urinalysis, and a CT scan, it was revealed that he had a 3mm kidney stone that was infected.

He was being admitted to the hospital and would have surgery the following day, a Wednesday. We were to leave for Boston on Friday.

Of course, at that point, I was just assuming I wasn't going to Boston. The surgery was fairly routine, but it was still surgery, and I had no idea how he'd feel after and how long he needed to recover. The emotional stress was overwhelming as I was trying to coordinate help for the dogs, stay present at work, and be there as much as I could for Adam.

I went home both nights for the dogs and honestly, to give myself a break. However, the night before the surgery, our oldest dog wasn't feeling well and I ended up cleaning up messes in the middle of the night. If anyone would have been filming me, they would have seen me laughing maniacally as I stepped into a pile of dog poop and wondering just how much more I was going to be thrown.

The surgery went well, and they were able to remove the stone. But the doctor told me they found a lesion on his bladder and though he didn't believe it was cancerous, they were going to do a biopsy to check, and we wouldn't know the results until about a week later. Spoiler alert: it was benign, thankfully.

All this time, Adam is telling me I have to go to Boston, and we'd figure something out for his caregiving. My mom and her boyfriend Jay offered to cancel their trip to take care of him. Other friends and family reached out to offer help as well, but I just couldn't make any decisions until we got him home. Megan and Frank (who are absolute saints in allowing me to travel as much as I do) were already going to be taking care of the dogs, but to ask them to take care of post-surgery Adam seemed like too much to ask.

The doctor said he could go home Thursday as long as everything went well and it took me going to track down help that afternoon to finally get him discharged. We got home and he was feeling well enough to get himself up the stairs. I had been putting off the inevitable, but I asked him what the plan was for the weekend.

Should I go ahead and go in the morning? Should I change my flight to Saturday or Sunday? And who did he want to have come to help him?

To my shock, he said he wanted to try to come with me to Boston. After much back and forth about weighing the pros and cons, we both checked into the flight for the following morning. Yolo or something.

I was thankful I'd at least made a pile of my own stuff to pack the day before when I came home for the night, but now I had to pack and get him ready too. It was chaotic, but I got it done so that we could get at least at little bit of sleep before the flight.

Race weekend  

Friday was a long day between the early morning flight, getting us and our stuff to the hotel, a short run (since I hadn't been able to run since Sunday) and bib pickup/wandering the expo. I was so exhausted by the time I crawled into bed that I could barely wrap my head around the fact that I was running the 5k in the morning.

Luckily, the 5k always ends up being a progressive 3.1 miles and my finish time is unimportant as the big dance is on Monday. It's a fun way to kick off the weekend and get a run in at the same time. This year, my mom and Jay were staying with my mom's cousin along the race course and they came out that morning to cheer me on. I got to give them all a high five when I came by!

After the 5k, I contemplated hanging around the city to do some shopping at the pop-up stores, but ultimately decided to walk back to the hotel and shower. This ended up working out well as I checked on Adam, met my mom and Jay for lunch, and did the shopping when I was clean and dry.

That evening, we went to dinner in Cambridge with the family at a lovely Italian place and I celebrated the last night of being 41.

On Sunday, I knew that even though it was my birthday, I wanted to lay low. The forecast was looking quite warm for race day so after I had 1 birthday beer flight at lunch, I drank lots and lots of water and electrolytes that afternoon. 

We ordered pasta for dinner, and I made all my last-minute preparations for race day.


Adam was still on the fence about spectating knowing it would be a long and exhausting day. But ultimately, my mom and Jay came up with a plan to help him get to the corner of Hereford and Commonwealth so they could all watch.

Race day morning

On race morning, I had a giant muffin and hotel coffee before I got into my scheduled Lyft that took me near Boston Common. I dropped my gear bag and then stood around for a short while until the white wave runners could board the buses to the start.

I sat with a runner from Cincinnati who was running his 3rd Boston. We chatted about all things running for the hour to the start and the time passed quickly. I ate a Snickers and a banana on the bus and sipped on some Skratch for electrolytes. At the Athlete's Village, we parted ways and I went to stand in line for the portapotties. It was more hurry up and wait after that and I found a patch of grass inside a tent to sit before they called my wave to the corrals. A guy from New York noticed my Maniacs visor and we talked until I had to leave for my next hurry up and wait.

I was grateful for the sunscreen available along the walk to the corrals as the sun was out in full force and I stupidly forgot sunscreen. The temperature was comfortable in just my tank top and shorts standing around, so I knew we were in for a rough day at the office.

I made one last portapotty stop and then started to walk to corral #4. Somehow, I spotted Allison who I knew from Instagram, and we got to finally have a conversation outside of drunkenly shouting at each other in the Rehoboth beer tent.

In my corral, I fired up my playlist and took a few photos. Time passed quickly though and soon, I was shuffling towards the start line.


The Race

It seemed surreal to be starting my 10th Boston (for the purists: 9 on course, 1 virtual for 2020). All kinds of things were rolling around in my brain as I stepped over the line.

I was proud to be there. I was mad it was going to be hot. Did I mention I hate the heat? I hate the heat. I was worried about Adam and if I fell apart, how he might have to go back early. I was happy I could selfishly do this thing I love for a few hours, blissfully unaware of anything else in the world. I knew it was going to be hard and it was going to hurt.

But I mostly thought about how it was going to feel coming down Boylston, no matter how long it took me, accomplishing something I never thought would happen, running 10 Boston Marathons.

Aside from when I peeked at the halfway point, I decided to not look at my watch and used the race clocks to do fuzzy runner math as needed. I didn't want to get in my head about it.

On the plus side, I had a lot of marathon and course-specific experience, had a squeaker BQ already for 2025, and was relatively healthy. The cons were the very stressful week/weekend leading up to race day, all the recent racing miles on my body, and heat is my white whale. If it had been 20° cooler, I would have been in a much different headspace.

Looking at my splits, I ran a lot of it like a rookie. Too fast in the early downhills, slower in the flats, and then chewed up by the Newton hills. But I did manage some sub-8 splits at the end, likely fueled by the fact that I was getting close to my cheer squad and almost done. And I never walked except for when I had to make sure I was getting water into my mouth and not all over myself.

I took water and Gatorade early and often, a GU every 4 miles, and stayed to the right as much as possible for any bit of shade that was there. I dumped cups of water over my head, down my neck and chest, and right into my face to cool off. It helped, but I was thirsty nearly the entire race.

I definitely felt like I was a more patient racer this year. I tried to not weave and dodge runners as much. I really listened to how I was feeling and let what felt like swarms of runners pass me in the beginning. I kept my effort honest, but I knew I'd be playing with fire to push any harder than I did. In my head, I was thinking, some of you will come back to me!


And some did. I don't think I've seen so much carnage so early and I swore at least half the people around me in the hills were walking. I saw medics attending to people on the course in droves and runners being hauled off on stretchers and in wheelchairs. The hydration stations got more and more chaotic as we all jostled to grab liquid in our depleted states.

Until I reached the top of Heartbreak Hill at mile 21, I was definitely stretching my limits to stay positive. I high-fived lots of tiny hands, smiled at funny posters, inwardly squealed at cute dogs, and thanked as many volunteers as I could. Sometimes you have to just fake it until you make it. The Wellsley scream tunnel is always a boost for me and with the gorgeous weather, the women were out in full force.


I met Joe and MJ on the Antarctica trip and knew that MJ would be spectating in the hills while Joe was racing. I started scanning the crowd for her where I thought she'd be around mile 16 and eventually assumed I'd missed her. But lo and behold, she spotted me after I stopped looking and not only got some great photos, but more importantly, gave me a boost of much-needed positivity.


The Newton Hills were rough for me this year, but I did manage to run up them all even though it felt like I was barely moving. 

At the top of Heartbreak, I was relieved to be running my favorite section of the course. The Boston College kids screaming in my face and a really nice downhill felt like magic. This is where I knew I was going to finish with some life still in me.

Knowing I had just over 5 miles left, I started counting down the last few sections. The streets narrow in Brookline and I love running in packs at this point again, letting other runners pull me along if they have any fight left in their legs.


I spotted the Citgo sign and hoped that I hadn't given too much time back to miss Adam. I estimated I was running close to 3:40 given how I'd trudged through the hills and I didn't know how much time he would be able to manage waiting for me. And this was assuming the plan worked in the first place to get him there.


I started scanning the crowd really early as I neared Commonwealth and Hereford, watching for someone to wave wildly at me. I thought they might be on the Hereford side this year and ran right past my crew on Commonwealth as Adam screamed my name. I backtracked a few steps, stopped to give him a kiss, and pumped my fists for my mom and Jay.

Knowing a PR was nowhere on the table, I went up Hereford without destroying myself and a smile on my face. I wasn't dilly-dallying, but I also wanted to just soak it in. I'd give it a nice push down Boylston, but I wanted to enjoy the final moments of the electric crowds, my fellow runners, and the madness that is this intersection.

As the finish line clocks came into view, I laughed that my fuzzy runner math was terrible and that I was nearly 15 minutes faster than I thought. 

Not watching the watch paid off again. I love surprises and this was a really great one! I had hoped I could run a 3:2x and was really, really happy with a 3:25:31.


I was all sorts of giddy when I finished. I did it! I let myself own the moment as I walked through the finish area, feeling all the feelings.


I made my way to meet my support crew and though they had a few snags in their day as well, we were all relieved we'd made it happen and there was a happy ending on the day. I know it was just as tough for them and I'm really fortunate they were there to cheer me on.

I'm thankful for my village who helped me get to the race, who took care of my puppies, who donated to the MS fundraiser, who tracked me from afar, who sent me good luck texts, and made another Marathon Monday feel so, so special. 


  1. Love you and your accomplishments! Mom

  2. What a beautiful writeup by a world-class runner. I feel so privileged to have you as my friend!