Monday, May 3, 2010

The final entry

I started writing my final blog post almost two weeks ago. April 21st. The day my mom died. This year, it will have been 16 years. It has been so long that the anniversary doesn’t feel like the punch in the gut that it once did. However, you just never get used that the fact that your mom is gone. In a cliche way, it felt like the perfect day to make my last blog entry but it didn’t happen. That day, I sort of went off the grid. Didn’t answer the phone. Didn’t really go on the computer. Took a 1.5 hour nap. Started this blog entry and just stalled out.

SOOOO, here I am to tell you all about my 2010 Boston Marathon experience! Have you been on the edge of your seat?!?! I am feeling that emotional let down that commonly follows a big event, like the post-wedding blues. So much planning and anticipation and then “poof” it is over. Although, that marathon was no “poof”... It was more like a “SLAP, BAM, BASH, POW!” It kicked my ass.

Dana-Farber hosts a big pasta party celebration the night before the marathon. It is quite an affair and really hammers home WHY we are running this race. We were introduced to the “patient partners”--kids suffering with cancer who are paired with a number of runners. There is a video montage of former patient partners who have lost their battle. It is absolutely heart wrenching. We met Delores Barr Weaver---the daughter of Claudia Adams Barr for whom our fund is named. Delores’ goal for creating this fund in her mother’s memory was to have a world without cancer. Remember, 100% of funds raised by our team go to innovative cancer research--research that has a difficult time getting funding due to unknown outcomes. Translate: cutting edge, experimental and very important!!

After the party, Regan and I stayed in a nice hotel in the city while Theo took the kids out to Rockport. We took a stroll, checked out the Finish Line, got ice cream on Newbury Street and hit the sack early. Alarm was set for 5 am...I slept like a baby! Met up with my team in the lobby of our hotel and befriended a really cool girl, Mae. We are both moms to 3 kids, our mothers were treated at Dana-Farber for uterine cancer, both passed away. She was a great compadre that morning before we lined up. Once we crossed the start, I was on my own.

Mile 1-9, I felt really strong. I was determined NOT to run too fast, to stay in my zone and enjoy the crowds. I saw Theo, the kids, Sean, Emily, Henry as well as my friend Erica and her son, Jimmy (somehow missed Jonathan and his family) at mile 9, which was a great boost. From mile 10-13, I was starting to feel the same fatigue that I felt the first time I ran this course and it scared me! If I was going to beat my 2008 time of 4:28, this was not a good sign. During my training runs, even my longest, I never felt pooped out at 13. I did a lot of deep breathing, tried to find a good mental place and kept going. Passed through Wellesley College, Wellesley Center (Mile 13, 14) and was starting to struggle. I knew that my friends Danielle and Tim were at 15, so I just wanted to get there. Then I made a surprising decision--I walked. I have a strict “no walking allowed” policy, but it was not a choice. Nausea, fatigue, general dis-ease. FFFFF!!!! So, Danielle and I walked a few hundred feet and then I was on my way.

I knew Regan was at 17 and she was going to jump in and run with me. That got me through. I was hurting. Hit the wall early...with so much race to go. Regan was an amazing running partner--it was so nice to have moral support and someone to encourage me with every step. We saw Dad at 19 and Danielle and Tim bounced along the race course to a few different spots. The inebriated crowds around BC and BU were screaming “AMY! AMY! AMY!” thanks to Regan’s shirt...which instructed them to “Yell for AMY!” I walked intermittently until 23 and then made a commitment to myself to finish this thing out running. Which I did!!! Finishing time: 4:53

At first, I was disappointed in my time. I had fully expected to beat my 2008 time. I trained SO well and felt so great for every long run. But by mile 15, I realized that this race was going to challenge me in a way that I didn’t expect. That was very humbling, but in a good way. I have to be proud of myself for training for 16 weeks one year out from having Alice, my third c-section at that.

It has taken me almost 2 weeks to write this entry because I just couldn’t figure out the best words to describe my experience, especially what happened at the end of race day. Regan met up with me at the team headquarters and we hobbled back to the car to make the drive out to Rockport, where we had a whole crew waiting to celebrate with us! After running the 2008 marathon for Dana-Farber (on the day mom died, no less) Regan and I saw a rainbow on our ride home! It was magical and amazing and really felt like it was mom saying, “Way to go!” So, on this year’s ride home, I brought that up. The sky was strange--it had been a beautiful day. Partly sunny. But all of a sudden, the clouds were alive and strange and mysterious. As we made the 45 minute drive home, I obsessively stared up at the clouds. Regan joked that she was driving with only one eye on the road. As the ride was coming to an end, Regan said, “You know, I don’t want this to turn into a disappointment if we DON’T see a rainbow. It was so cool that we saw one last time and we KNOW mom is with us.” I agreed, but kept my eyes out.

As we made one of the final turns home, there it was. Huge, bright and laying right out in front of us! I screamed, “HOLY ****!!! PULL OVER!!!” Regan swerved to the right and stopped the car. We clutched one another, staring at the sky in disbelief! We noticed that this rainbow was right over the ocean, so we jumped back in the car and sped ahead about 1/4 mile to the end of the pier. Mom was there again! Winking at us. Letting us know she was there. That she was proud and happy. I was so lucky to have captured the rainbow on my phone because when I ran back to the car to get my camera out of the trunk, I turned back to take the picture and the rainbow was gone.

So, another Dana-Farber marathon on the books!! During the pasta party, I was inspired by those teammates that have done this race 5, 10, even 15 times! So, I think I am in for 5. Two down, three to go! My fundraising total jumped by like $2K in the week leading up to the race--currently, I am at $8,900! My goal of $10K is within reach! Donations will be accepted until August. If you are so inspired, please go to and click “support a runner.”

My decision to run the 2010 Boston Marathon was born out of my fear of this race. I remember sitting on the couch in the fall faced with the application. Do I or don’t I? It was so hard in ‘08--can I really take this on again? Training is practically a part time job and now I have one more kid? Then, I thought about my mom. She had no choice when she battled cancer. She took the disease head on and really fought until the finish. Her (and my) dear friend Jody shares that it was only after her doctors made the decision to stop treatment that my mom finally surrendered. Mom cried and said, “I never believed I was going to die.” For this reason, I ran and will run again.